Passport to Censorship

Yesterday I attended the New York Times Travel Show at the Javits Center. It was a great opportunity to meet people, promote this website, and learn about destinations and tours.

In the afternoon, I listened to Samantha Brown’s seminar “A Comedy of Errors,” which focused on her missteps in traveling while working on her Passport series. It was rather amusing, and brought back memories of my own difficulties in foreign countries. She operates on a similar philosophy as I do, learning a couple basic words of a language and the ever-useful phrase, “Please give me a cup of coffee.”

Samantha Brown’s seminar also reminded me of the first time I saw her show. During my first year in China, I found that one of the English-language Hong Kong channels broadcast the US evening news in the morning. Usually, when sensitive information about China appeared, the news cut out and the channel showed public service announcements. However, some days, they didn’t broadcast the news at all.

When the news was cancelled, it was replaced by a half-hour TV show. On many occasions, this show was Passport to Europe. I would have welcomed this change in programming had it not been for the fact that they only showed one episode. Every time the opening for Samantha Brown’s show came on, it was followed by the same episode of her in Spain. This went on for months.

When I told Samantha about China’s censorship with Passport to Europe, she was a little confused; she thought I meant that they censored her show. I explained that the Chinese government used her show as censorship. She seemed amused  and joked that she never got royalties for it.

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