A Song Dedicated to the Cockroach Hiding in My Bedroom

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?

Hey, hey!

(Instrumental)

-—-

… Ah, the joys of life in Cambodia

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6 Travel Hacks You’ll Wonder How You Lived Without

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.

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I Was Followed By Secret Police In China and Here’s Why

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.

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Going the “Last Mile” in Indonesia: Reporting Off the Beaten Track

On the crumbling road to the village our pickup truck is pulled over by the police. “What’s happening?” I ask. “They want to see if he has licence, they just look for money,” she tuts. “Always like this.”

Our young driver flicks down the sunshade with a long, green-painted fingernail and nervously retrieves his papers. All in order. They keep fishing.

25 minutes later, Irma is still calling around for someone to use as leverage. “We also have someone with power,” she says. But a cousin in the police force is too busy to help and eventually the truck’s owner arrives on his motorbike. We leave him negotiating and the driver makes a dash for it, relieved. We’re running an hour late, but we’re on Indonesian time. “It’s normal,” she sighs.

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The day that it all went wrong

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.

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