Travel


Aug
19
2006

You Need To Know This About Taiwan

I've been in some fairly disconcerting situations in my 26 years. The time I bounced through a Thai thunderstorm at 30,000 feet while the flight attendants screamed and clutched each other springs to mind, as does the moment the man next to me---pre-9/11---suddenly got down on all fours on the subway in Barcelona and started wailing and praising Allah. And yes, there was, of course, that time those toothless drunk men crashed into the back of my car and then started telling me about the gun they had in the trunk.

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Aug
15
2006

China For Beginners

The beauty of traveling in a foreign country where most people don't speak English is that you're free to discuss the workings (or failings) of your digestive tract in public without anyone around you raising an eyebrow. You should be sure, however, that when you accidentally slam your foot into a bicycle pedal and unleash a torrent of expletives hitherto only heard in a Sex Pistols interview circa 1978 that you're not standing in front of a tour group of bemused schoolteachers from Dayton, Ohio, who are hardly able to hide their mirth, but are neverthless impressed with your vocabulary.

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Aug
13
2006

There's No Crying In Youth Hostelling

So you may have noticed that my website just DISAPPEARED FROM THE INTERNET for a few days. My mother certainly did; I received a worried text message from her this afternoon that said "Are you okay? We can't read Nothing But Bonfires! Daddy is getting with withdrawal symptoms. How are you doing?" (My dad, by the way, is this site's biggest fan. He reads every post voraciously while eating his lunch at his office and he has his favorites among my regular commenters, some of whom he likes to discuss over dinner.

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Aug
07
2006

Lost In Translation (And Also Lost In Hangzhou)

You've never been lost until you've been lost in China. After three hours on the train, we arrived this morning in Hangzhou---a place we'd only decided to visit because a man we'd met in a bar the night before we left Singapore called it "the St. Tropez of China," which, um, it's totally not---and promptly got on a bus going completely the wrong way.

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Aug
05
2006

Culture Shock

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I realized yesterday why people go traveling; there's something so gloriously alluring about getting to a place and a point where you don't understand a thing that's going on.

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Aug
01
2006

Brother Knows Best

Hols,

Think you're leaving pretty soon, so just a few last minute things:

1. Don't take too many clothes! I honestly lived in two pairs of shorts and a couple of t-shirts. Things are going to get dirty, so deal with it. Perhaps it was poetic effect for your blog, but I'm seriously worried about your clothes list!!!! If I went again I wouldn't take anything, just pick stuff up as you go. Get some comfy fisherman trousers in Hong Kong and you have your kit for the entire journey.

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Jul
28
2006

Adieu! Adieu! To You, And You, And You!

In exactly 12 hours, I will be leaving for the airport to catch a plane to Hong Kong. Because it's finally, finally, finally here: the day we leave for The Great Southeast Asian Adventure. Would you believe me if I told you we'd been planning this for, ooh, about a year and a half? Would you believe me if I told you I haven't even started packing, I'm confused about how many pairs of pajamas to take, I have yet to buy a combination lock or photocopy my passport, and the teeniest, tiniest part of me doesn't want to go anymore?

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Jul
26
2006

Balsamic Vignettes

"Whoa, look at all those grapefruits. I can't believe grapefruits still exist."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, do people even eat grapefruits anymore? They just seem so ... retro."

"Yeah, actually, I do see what you mean. Like maybe they should have become obsolete when the 80s ended."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"What do you think of 'coagulate?' As a word?"

"I don't mind it. Why? What do you think of it?"

"I like it, but I didn't think you would. What about 'defenestrate?'"

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Jul
21
2006

The Youth In Asia

I was sitting out by the pool yesterday, working my way through a novel so trashy and horrible that I'm ashamed to tell you what it was---really, being unemployed in a tropical country is TERRIBLY taxing, now if I could just get Sean to polish each gummy bear to a high sheen before I put it in my mouth---when a couple of little Singaporean boys started splashing around in the shallow end next to me, forcing me to listen in on their conversation, which was mostly centered around weine

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