Saturday 30 January 2010

200 Posts and 100 Travel Snippets

This is my 200th post and in order to celebrate it I am going to give you a few snippets and thoughts from my weird mind about some of the places I have visited. I have travelled to quite a few places in the world; most of them were great (though some were strange).

I haven’t finished travelling by a long way – this year alone I am going to Iceland, Spain, America and Canada. There may even be a business trip to China too.

Anyway, without further ado, here are some of the places I have been to and a few opinions and tiny adventures in those places.

(1) Johannesburg, South Africa – One of the weirdest things I have seen is a man welding and using only a piece of cardboard to protect his eyes.

(2) Guangzhou, China – One of the delicacies on offer in a restaurant in Guangzhou was “cat, snake and chicken soup”. Alternatively there was “fried insect in pot”. I ate something else.

(3) Porec, Yugoslavia (now Croatia) – I entered a Mr Universe contest in the hotel we were staying at (or was quite literally dragged up by an over-enthusiastic holiday rep). I was eliminated when I lost an arm-wrestling contest to the eventual winner. The sight of me posing like Arnold Schwarzenegger still fills me with colossal embarrassment.

(4) Xi’an, China – The terracotta warriors discovered in the 70’s are a sight to behold. I actually met one of the men who discovered them (though all I did was smile at him).

(5) Cleveland, Ohio, USA – The most stupid question I have ever been asked was: “Do they have microwave ovens in England?” I resisted the urge to answer “No – we still live in caves!”.

(6) Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada – I have seen this beautiful natural sight from above, below in a boat called Maid in the Mist and behind. Truly spectacular.

(7) Sorrento, Italy – Sorrento is a fabulous place with fantastic restaurants and bars. The scenery is stunning, even with Vesuvius looming in the distance.

(8) Phuket, Thailand – I stood on the beach that Roger Moore stood on, playing James Bond in “The Man with the Golden Gun”. It is a spectacular place.

(9) Sydney, Australia – In order to conquer my fear of heights I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge – it failed. I am still scared of heights.

(10) Paris, France – The first time I had a steak in Paris, it was still alive – I swear it moved when I cut it. Blood was everywhere.

(11) Bangkok, Thailand – I laughed and mocked when I saw that a Thai Beatles tribute band were going to perform in a bar. The shock was that they were one of the best Beatles tributes I have ever seen and I simply ate my words.

(12) Guilin, China – I saw a woman on a bus with a kitten tightly wrapped in a bag, howling. I think it was dinner.

(13) Cleveland, Ohio, USA – The second most stupid question I have been asked is “Wow! You’re from England! Do you know the Queen?” I resisted the urge to answer, “Yes – she’s my mother.”

(14) San Sebastian, Spain – The waves here were so huge that I almost drowned. I recall seeing the wave that hit me towering above before thinking “I’m screwed!”. Next thing I know I was on the beach with my trunks down to me knees and full of sand. Most embarrassing.

(15) Port Douglas, Australia – In Australia I discovered that you can be injured by trees. So if the crocs, spiders and snakes don’t get you, the foliage will.

(16) Prague, Czech Republic – Prague is like a fairy tale city full of picturesque buildings. I loved the place and the beer is absolutely wonderful.

(17) Porec, Yugoslavia (now Croatia) – With rampant inflation bearing down on Yugoslavia, we changed our cash on a daily basis because every day we got more local currency. Beer and food got cheaper and cheaper by the day, in the end costing something ridiculous like 10p a bottle.

(18) Brisbane, Australia – Australians are fabulous people but all the ex-pats I met in Brisbane were taxi drivers who did nothing but slag off Britain. It’s okay to move to Australia – just remember your roots.

(19) Amsterdam, Holland – On a weekend in Amsterdam, two friends of mine were thrown out of a peep show. What they were doing in there that warranted ejection is beyond me but it was funny and we have never let them forget it.

(20) Yangshuo, China – The limestone peaks in Yangshuo are one of the most incredible natural sights I have seen. They are truly beautiful.

(21) Chongqing, China – The scariest taxi ride I ever had was in this smog-filled city. The lunatic driver took his hands off the wheel and turned around to negotiate the price with us. He was doing 60 mph on the motorway at the time.

(22) Bangkok, Thailand – Bangkok is the only city I have ever been to where you can see an elephant walking on the pavement.

(23) Los Angeles, California – Nobody walks – anywhere! I walked to the supermarket about 200 yards away to get some milk and when I returned, our hostess said “You WALKED to the supermarket? Why didn’t you drive?” She simply didn’t believe that I walked.

(24) Washington DC – I had a taste of fame when I caught a limousine from the hotel to the airport. I thought I was going to be ripped off but it cost about the same price as a taxi. And the number of people who tried to stare inside was incredible.

(25) Beijing, China – Beijing is one of the finest cities I have ever been too. There is so much to see: Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City and, best of all, The Great Wall. If you can avoid touts you will love it. One trick – pretend to be French – it works a treat.

(26) Rome, Italy – I have only spent six hours in Rome (on the way to Thailand) and somehow managed to see most of the sights. The Colosseum and the Vatican were the highlights.

(27) Port Douglas, Australia – I was too scared to snorkel around the Great Barrier reef because there was all manner of wildlife that could injure or kill me. If not the box jellyfish then definitely the irukandji, a tiny jellyfish that you can barely see.

(28) Kuranda, Australia – I held a koala in Kuranda. I would have said “cuddled” but it stank.

(29) Nassau, Bahamas – I snorkelled for the first time in the Bahamas on a booze cruise. I was slightly merry but ended up spending more time in the water, marvelling at the fish than drinking free cocktails on the boat.

(30) San Francisco, California – The hills in this city are amazing. I walked up one of them and by the time I got to the top my calves were aching.

(31) Magalluf, Majorca – Is this place really Spanish? Why are there places where fish are imported from England for the fish and chip shops? Why would you want to watch British soap operas in a British pub full of British people drinking British beer in a Spain?

(32) Bordeaux, France – Mrs PM speaks fluent French and is a keen photographer. In a café, she somehow gave the impression to a local woman that she was a journalist and that I was somebody famous. When the woman learned the truth she simply laughed.

(33) San Francisco, California – Alcatrazz is an incredible place. I can’t begin to imagine what it was like being imprisoned there and escape would have been a nightmare.

(34) Singapore – I bought a round of drinks for ten people in Singapore and it cost me several limbs. It is the most expensive place I have been to for alcohol.

(35) Orlando, Florida – Have you ever stroked a dolphin? It’s weird – I can tell you.

(36) Venice, Italy – At a café in St Mark’s Square I saw an American order the most expensive cup of coffee in Europe. It is legitimate robbery.

(37) Bangkok, Thailand – I was shown a menu for a girly bar consisting of various acts performed by the staff. “I’m with my mother-in-law” I cried, pointing to Mrs PM’s Mum. “It’s OK,” came the reply. “She can come too!”. I never knew a ping pong ball had so many applications.

(38) Port Douglas, Australia – I read in a local newspaper that a Brit had been eaten by a “salty” while I was there. There was definitely no way I was going to step into the sea when there was a chance of having my foot taken off by a bloody croc.

(39) Pompeii, Italy – The ruins of Pompeii are incredible and Vesuvius looms like a dormant monster. It is an incredible place.

(40) Funchal, Madeira - In order to conquer my fear of heights I rode on a chair lift up a mountain. It failed. I am still scared of heights.

(41) Boston, Massachusetts, USA – Touring the USS Constitution, I was asked where I came from. “England,” I replied. The rest of the group were all Americans and immediately became somehow fiercely patriotic. “You’re outnumbered, my friend,” said one old guy with a smile. “We kicked your ass,” said another. My reply? “We let you win. It’s nice to know that you are still doing a good job looking after the colonies for us.” My sense of humour went down quite well – or maybe it was my accent that helped. Good banter though.

(42) Yangshuo, China – “Where are you from?” “I’m from Manchester!” “AAAHH!!! MANCHESTER UNITED!!!” “GRRR!!!!!!!!”

(43) Los Angeles, California – “Can you give me four quarters for a dollar”? “WOW!!! For an Englishman I’ll do ANYTHING!!” Sadly, she was old enough to me my mother so I simply took the quarters.

(44) Split, Yugoslavia (now Croatia) – My one attempt at water skiing saw me being dragged around a bay by a sadistic speedboat driver. I will never attempt water skiing again.

(45) Bridgetown, Barbados – Barbados is one of the most laid back countries I have ever visited. Pink sand and fine food. No better place to de-stress.

(46) Port of Spain, Trinidad – I worked here after a coup attempt in 1990. There was still a curfew in place and on my first night I heard a gunshot directly outside my hotel window.

(47) New Orleans, USA – There is nothing better than sitting in a bar just across the way from Preservation Hall and listening to old-style jazz whilst drinking local beer and chatting to a very attractive barmaid who thinks my accent is sexy. Bliss!

(48) San Francisco California - In order to conquer my fear of heights I took a lift halfway up the Transamerica Pyramid – it failed. I am still scared of heights.

(49) Paris, France – Parisians are an unfriendly bunch who do not like to speak English, even though I suspect they can. I have had to buy hay fever pills and travel sickness pills armed only with my memory for words and a barrel load of desperation. I succeeded thanks to some good use of sign language; I excelled at miming puking – Marcel Marceau would have been proud.

(50) Hong Kong – I love Hong Kong – I would move there tomorrow if I could. It is the city where I got together with Mrs PM. I have spent over a year of my life there on various travels.

(51) Key Largo, Florida – Never go out on a rough sea in a glass bottomed boat if you suffer from sea-sickness. My ex-wife and well over half of the other tourists ended up throwing up. Strangely I was okay.

(52) Guangzhou, China - “Where are you from?” “I’m from Manchester!” “AAAHH!!! MANCHESTER UNITED!!!” “GRRR!!!!!!!!”

(53) Los Angeles, California – I met KITT, the Knight Rider car. While I was waiting to have my picture taken I was reprimanded for putting my dirty fingerprints all over KITT’s bodywork. My ex-wife, who was a distance away, thought I had gone mad. “The car’s talking to me,” I wailed. “Yeah, right!” she said. I was definitely not drunk.

(54) Yangtze River, China – A first class cruise to see the three gorges was a nightmare and a total disaster. We were robbed and a rat ate all of our toilet paper. The room was a toilet and stank of urine. We were stuck on it for three days.

(55) Guangzhou, China – Mrs PM and I spent twenty minutes stuck in a railway station trying to find our way out.

(56) Atlanta, Georgia, USA – I decided to go for a “snack” at lunchtime and ordered what I thought would be a small burger and fries. What arrived would have fed ten people. As I struggled through the mountain of food I noticed a colossally fat person. I could have used his T-shirt as a four man tent. No wonder people think Americans are obese – given the huge portions served.

(57) Yichang, China - “Where are you from?” “I’m from Manchester!” “AAAHH!!! MANCHESTER UNITED!!!” “GRRR!!!!!!!!”

(58) Split, Yugoslavia (now Croatia) – I was in Split, just a few months before Yugoslavia self-destructed.

(59) Washington DC – The museums in this city are amazing. We planned to spend two hours in the Natural History Museum and spent the whole day there.

(60) Faro, Portugal – The only place I have asked for a Sloe Comfortable Screw without being battered.

(61) Toronto, Canada – In order to conquer my fear of heights, I climbed the CN Tower. It failed – I am still scared of heights.

(62) Moscow, Russia – Upon returning to my hotel room at the end of a busy day’s sight-seeing, the telephone rang and a female voice said “Hello! Would you like a Russian girl for sex?”

(63) Port of Spain, Trinidad – I had a chance to play steel drums and have a photo of me (somewhere) fronting a superb band as they practiced.

(64) Dublin, Ireland – A lovely Irish lady, with an accent to die for, tried to chat me up too. It doesn’t happen very often to me so I had to boast to Mrs PM when she returned from the bar – except I discovered that at precisely the same time an older man had been chatting her up too. Don’t you just love Ireland?

(65) Johannesburg, South Africa – There are metal detectors to stop you taking a gun into the casino area of a hotel I stayed at – but not to stop you taking a gun into the hotel itself.

(66) Boston, Massachussetts, USA – Sam Adams – America’s tastiest beer. And the bars in this city are absolutely great, particularly the one that is a shrine to the Boston Red Sox. You can’t help but feel the enthusiasm for the baseball team while in a bar like this.

(67) Washington DC – I was quite surprised at how small the White House was.

(68) Yangtze River – Fengdu, China – We were the only Westerners on the cruise from hell. The rat had eaten our toilet paper so we had to buy some more. In the sleepy Chinese town of Fengdu, the locals had never seen a foreigner, let alone a blonde pillock with a wispy ginger beard. We were followed by a crowd of Chinese people who simply gawped at us with mouths wide open. I felt like an alien (and probably looked like one too).

(69) Seville, Spain – If you want just about every red-blooded Spanish man to gawp at you in the streets of Seville, simply befriend a beautiful blonde haired scantily clad Scandanavian woman and let her wander around the city with you. Works a treat! Phew! I can still picture her.

(70) Bordeaux, France – How about this for English/French relations? An English style pub, staffed with bi-lingual bar staff, serving English and French beer and cuisine and called “The Frog & Rosbif”? A wonderful place.

(71) Munich, Germany – At the Oktoberfest, I got involved in a race drinking a stein of German beer. I was young and totally foolish.

(72) Singapore – The cleanest city I have visited is Singapore – it is a “fine” city, in that you can be fined for throwing litter, being gay, failing to flush a public toilet, spitting and jaywalking – or so I’ve been told.

(73) Bordeaux, France – The best way to enjoy French wine is to go to the best place that produces it. Bordeaux has the finest wine in France and it is like nectar in a glass.

(74) Xi’an, China “Where are you from?” “I’m from Manchester!” “AAAHH!!! MANCHESTER UNITED!!!” “GRRR!!!!!!!!”

(75) Venice, Italy – Venice is a wonderful and unique place – but, boy, do the canals stink.

(76) New York, USA - In order to conquer my fear of heights I went to the top of the Empire State Building – it failed. I am still scared of heights.

(77) Port of Spain, Trinidad – I suffered the worst sunburn ever in Trinidad. My skin was peeling for months and I got sunstroke for the first time. I couldn’t sleep because the pain was so unbearable.

(78) Moscow, Russia – I checked into the hotel at the same time as Jarvis Cocker – but was too cowardly to speak to him.

(79) Miami Beach, Florida, USA – Americans clearly aren’t used to seeing Europeans sunbathing topless on a beach. Some Scandinavian beauties decided to whip off their tops and caused quite a stir I can tell you. Of course, I looked at their faces.

(80) Lisbon, Portugal – the worst toilet in the world in 1984 was won by a toilet in a youth hostel in Lisbon. It was blocked, completely. I tried to flush it but the hellish contents rose as if to attack me. Thankfully I got out of there before the inevitable happened.

(81) Samaria Gorge, Crete, Greece – on an exceedingly hot day, my ex-wife and I did the small version of this hike – and promptly got lost, walking miles and miles before eventually finding our party.

(82) Munich, Germany – Always find a place to stay before going to a beer festival. Having drunk an unfeasibly large amount of German beer at the Oktoberfest, my mate and I slept rough at Munich station and were woken up at 6am by a very irate policeman. I have never needed a bed so much in my life. I was young and very stupid.

(83) New York, USA – I welcomed in the year 1999 in Times Square in freezing temperatures. It was bloody cold but worth it.

(84) Amsterdam, Holland – The first words ever spoken to me in the city of Amsterdam in 1984 were “Do you want to buy some crack?”

(85) Johannesburg, South Africa – The driver taking me to work decided it would be a good idea to drive me through a township; a week later that very township hit international headlines because of rioting. Thanks, driver!!

(86) Lefkas, Greece – I had my one and only attempt at wind-surfing. I spent the entire time falling in the water – but I did manage to get a photograph taken looking as if I knew what I was doing – a split second before I crashed into the water for the umpteenth time.

(87) Chiang Mai, Thailand – I unwillingly got involved in a tuk-tuk race and thought I was going to die. Our tuk-tuk won and when it dropped us off at the hotel, I almost murdered the driver as he boasted about his achievement.

(88) Singapore – Drinking a Singapore Sling in Raffles is the height of sophistication – but bloody expensive. I cried as I paid for the drinks.

(89) Paris, France - In order to conquer my fear of heights I climbed the Eiffel Tower – it failed. I am still scared of heights.

(90) Miami, Florida – I read about British tourists being shot after they inadvertently drove into a bad neighbourhood. Two days later, I was driving around and got lost, ending up in a rather dodgy place. Thankfully I somehow managed to find my way out.

(91) Amsterdam, Holland – I was told by a bunch of Scientologists in 1984 that I was a suicidal maniac who needs to become a Scientologist in order to be saved. Being young and impressionable I believed them for a time – until my mate was told the same thing. Thank goodness for common sense.

(92) Capri, Italy – Capri is a wonderful and very expensive place. In order to get a great view of the place and to conquer my fear of heights I rode a simple chairlift to the peak of the island. It didn’t work. I am still scared of heights.

(93) Portimao, Portugal – What wondrous places mixed youth hostels are, particularly when the women sharing your dorm are not shy.

(94) Koh Samui, Thailand – a beach holiday turned into a disaster as Mrs PM booked us in the rainy season. We had a continuous thunderstorm for days and I spent most of my time in a bar drowning my sorrows.

(95) Port of Spain, Trinidad – I heard about curfew parties, here. Basically the curfew was from 11pm to 6am so parties would take place between those times in locked bars. Sadly, people got drunk and spilled onto the streets, where they were promptly arrested.

(96) Beijing, China - “Where are you from?” “I’m from Manchester!” “AAAHH!!! MANCHESTER UNITED!!!” “GRRR!!!!!!!!”

(97) Shanghai, China - In order to conquer my fear of heights I climbed the Pearl Tower. It failed - I am still scared of heights.

(98) Parga, Greece - In order to conquer my fear of heights I had a go at paragliding. Thankfully, I didn’t wear my glasses so I couldn’t see enough to be scared. I am still scared of heights.

(99) Las Vegas, Nevada, USA – The hottest place I have ever been to is Las Vegas. The temperature was 45 degrees Centigrade and I could barely stand outside for more than five minutes without melting.

(100) Moscow, Russia – The coldest place I have ever been to is Moscow where the temperature was a cool – 25 degrees Centigrade.

I think 100 is more than enough – so I’ll stop there. However, I have loads of other little snippets about those and other places I’ve been too. One for a future post I think.

Have you ever been to the places mentioned above? Do you live in one of the places mentioned above? If so, I’d love to hear what you think.

And once more, I would like to thank everybody who has commented so far. Feel free to comment in future – I always try to reply.




A Blog In The Rough said...

WHAT?! You haven't visited Dela-where?!
Ok so it's no where near as exciting as the most of the places you've been, but we've got some nifty things, and hey, I live here...'nuff said :)

Btw, I'm beginning to think us Americans have some kinda gene in us that constantly asks Brits a million "do you have..." questions, I find myself inundating Mark with them all the time.

A Blog In The Rough said...

PS - Mr. PM

Congrats on the 200 posts too!

Kath Lockett said...

Bloody 'ell!

I've been to Australia (obviously, and Port Douglas/Daintree is one of my most FAVOURITE places on earth, your foliage injury or not), France, Italy, Hong Kong... but not the US. And I don't think I want to, after reading your blog post! :)

River said...


Ha Ha.
You've certainly been to a lot of places. Can you speak all of the languages, even a little, or do you rely on mime and hoping "they" speak enough English to understand you?

Had to laugh at several of these, in particular, 5, 13, 23; why do people ask such silly questions? Here's a quote from my Sunday paper. The writer of the article was on a cruise ship spending 3 amazing days at Antartica. " American tourist asking "Is that the same moon as we see in California?"...."
I gather by several of these that you are afraid of heights. Why keep trying to conquer this? Accept your fear and stay on the ground. I've never understood why others (or ourselves) try to help us get over things. Does it make us a better person somehow to be able to say, I was afraid but by golly I did it! I don't think so, I think a little fear of something that maybe should be feard is probably a healthy thing. After all, if no-one was afraid of mountain climbing, (for instance), those few who have scaled unspeakable heights would have nothing to brag about, we'd all have done it......
okay, I'm rambling. Bye now.

Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day kath,

Port Douglas was wonderful - as was Australia generally. I will head beack there one day.

The US is a great place too - particularly New York, Boston and San Francisco. They would certainly appreciate your humour over there.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Lady from Delaware,

Nope - I think the nearest I've been is Washington DC - or perhaps Philadelphia (I only landed at the airport there).

I did vaguely know where it is. Mark still talks about a huge crazy golf you have there.

I think that Americans are genuinely fascinated by Brits - we are funny and we are weird - so I kind of expect the "Do you have ..." "Have you met ..." questions. But rest assured - we have everything on our island that you guys have (though not necessarily as big - I still shudder when I think of Skyscrapers ...).




Plastic Mancunian said...

Ah - lady from Delaware - thankj you v.much.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

Yes - it is irritating that everybody thinks I support Manchester United just because I live hereAs I said - "GRRRR!!!"

Yes I am scared of heights - and I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge because Mrs PM shamed me into doing so. I will never do it ever again and I have no desire to conquer the fear any more.

Languages? Well I speak a little French, a little German and that's about it. I can order beer in Russian, Portugese, Czech and Spanish and say "thank you" in Cantonese, Dutch, Spanish and Mandarin.

I usually have a phrase book to help me. I'm not one of these people who thinks that screaming loudly will somehow miraculously make foreigners understand me.




Anonymous said...

You've been to Moscow 3 times already? Strange thing we've never met :)
What was the hotel's name where you they asked you about russian girl btw?

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Aluajala,

Yes - three times - all working I'm afraid (though I did get weekends off). I was based at Domodedovo airport but I managed to get into Moscow itself for two of the trips. I stayed at the Hotel Ukraine when I stayed in the city itself - a magnificent hotel if I may say so. I was there in the summer (with temperatures of 35 degrees and the other extreme in the winter).

I loved the city - so much to see and so much to do. ANd I love St Basil's cathedral.

One day, I'll go back there - hopefully for a holiday rather than work.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Bebedores do Gondufo,

Thanks very much.




bingkee said...

Wow, you have traveled a lot. But you should try going to the Philippines too. The coldest place I'd ever been is in was negative 25 F ( negative 31 Celsius).

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Bingkee,

I would love to go to the Philippines - in fact had we had enough cash when I was in Hong Kong we would have done.

One day perhaps ...