At first I was afraid, I was petrified
I hit you with my shoe- how are you still alive?
But now it’s so much worse
You could be lurking in my purse
You little creep – now I can’t sleep!
Under the bed?
Inside the drawer?
Or have you gone back through that gap under the bathroom door?
No, I heard your nasty tick
The noise that really makes me sick
If I turn the light back on will you be scuttling on the floor?
Go on now go! Back down the drain!
Or – I don’t know – wherever that it was from whence you came
Weren’t you the one that I sprayed with all that DEET?
Why aren’t you dead? And will I ever get to sleep?
Oh no not I!
Where did you hide?
As long as I’m left wondering, I cannot close my eyes
There’s a lot of night ahead
Please don’t get into my bed…
Where did you hide?
WHERE DID YOU HIDE?
… Ah, the joys of life in Cambodia
The air is heavy with smoke. All I can see is a carpet of red shells, strewn across the ground like rose petals, and the sparks of fire that rip through the endless cloud.
The angry splutter of explosions intensifies – the procession must be approaching. I see the Gods first, carried high on a litter, impervious to the firecrackers launched into their thrones. Before them emerge devotees, both men and women, in vivid silk robes and huge blades or metal poles pierced through their faces They shout and quivering in religous ecstasy, some whipping themselves as they walk. Here and there, a trickle of blood runs down the steel, but mostly – and miraculously – the knives seem to pierce their skin without serious damage.
Whether you define yourself as digital nomad, a long-term backpacker or simply a very frequent flier, there are some hassles that come up again and again… and are guaranteed to drive you nuts. If you’re as scatty as I am, they might well have cost you a ton of time and money, too.
But life is all about learning, eh? And to help you learn from my mistakes, here are six genius travel hacks I wish I’d known about years ago.
Part 1: In Which We Lose All Our Money and Survive Entirely on Mama Noodles
Just over a year ago, the bear and I embarked on a long, perilous, chaotic journey across Thailand, China, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Turkey.
I wasn’t able to blog about it at the time, partly because I was busy posing as a hapless tourist rather than an equally hapless journalist in front of the authorities, and partly because we spent a fair bit of time either in remote gers (yurts) or trapped on endless bus journeys across the desert, stopping only so the driver could proudly take a dump next to the window in the snow.
But now that the story we went out there to write is published – and more importantly, I’m now at a comfortable distance from the Chinese secret police – It’s probably safe to divulge the sheer absurdity that shaped much of this trip.
Distressingly, we wake to find that we are still in a car, in a field, in the cold, surrounded by mist, using towels as blankets, and with only some 3-day-old bread and a slightly sad looking carrot for breakfast. On the plus side, we’re already in the car. And there’s a text from my Aunt Josie so say the Lindauer is already chilling in the fridge. To Nelson!
Oh, wait, Mum can’t find her keys. She rummages around on the floor under her seat looking for them. “Oh, I’ve found your passport,” she says. “OHMYGODREALLY?” I squeal. “No, not really.” Mum finds her little joke inordinately funny.
10:30am: Head out to pick up our hire car. We are met by a very sweet, very camp boy who describes everything as adorable. After giving us a list of adorable towns and adorable places we should visit, he takes us to the “adorable” car. Mum immediately crushes his enthusiasm by suggesting that the car, which is tiny, mustard-coloured and looks a bit like her old KA, is not adorable. “That’s no way to talk about the Golden Chariot,” I venture. Car boy brightens up. He finds the new nickname adorable.
After the best part of a year apart, I’m finally reuniting with my Mum (who is Kiwi) in New Zealand. After scooting around the North Island visiting family and old friends I haven’t seen for over a decade, we’ve now embarked on a three week road trip around the South Island, which neither of us have properly explored before.
Three weeks in a tiny car with your mother might sound like a recipe for disaster, but luckily my Mum is nuts in all the best ways….
Who wants to hear about my latest international-travel-related drama? OH YOU DO? Well you’re in luck. Because I’m stuck at Melbourne Airport and I’ve run out of book. Here is a timeline of today’s ineptitude, for your very own amusement.
On my second night in Hua Hin, I make an elaborate show of pondering the wares of every food stall in the night market, despite knowing full well that I would end up back at the same stall as the previous night, working my way down the menu rather than working my down the street. Not that it’s a very long menu: I’d tried the noodles with tofu and prawn, and now I’m dying to try out the crispy mussel pancake with beansprouts. As far as I can work out, that is the menu.
One of my favourite things about night markets is pulling up a chair at a shared plastic table in the street, giving you a legitimate excuse to people-watch and chat to fellow diners without looking like a nutter. Yesterday this had not worked out well – a grumpy German group that seemed unused to the system had grudgingly let me take a chair at the end of their table and then pointedly ignored me in silence – but this evening, a jovial middle-aged Thai man and his Mexican friend wave at me to join them and I gratefully accept.
Thailand is famous for its fabulous street food… and the night market in Hua Hin, a little coastal town three hours from Bangkok, certainly doesn’t disappoint. Continue reading