Showing posts from July, 2010

Trip part 3 - the USA - Peacock on a hot tin roof

Judging the States on brief visits to New York and Miami is like judging an extended family by having one night stands with two of the prettiest members. You have got a feel for it (so to speak) but you’re still missing out on all the normal day-to-day issues.

And it doesn’t help that New York and Miami are a typical of American culture in many ways. New York because it is so very diverse, a city that has inspired enough purple prose and invective over the years. A city that is all things to all men - a business metropolis, a city of slums, 5th Avenue and Harlem, the New Yorker and Sex in the City, Friends and Sopranos.

If you want to recreate the New York in the summer experience, take twenty strippers, thirty assorted religious ministers, forty crazy people, a goat for aroma, fifty feral pigeons and one coked-up DJ. Put them all in an tiny art gallery. Turn the music to loud and make the booze and drugs free. Crank up the heat and you have it; frenetic, diverse, bizarre and oddly in…

Big Trip - next stop Ireland

After luxe-ing it up in Bangkok, my next stop is Ireland, which is lacking in outdoor Jacuzzis and infinity pools but utterly teeming with booze (which is normal) and sunshine (which certainly isn’t). The beach wedding that I have flown over is surprised by unseasonably pleasant summer weather. All the guests have brought umbrellas. None of us have brought sunscreen. P, my travelling companion and an Australian of the “Slip, Slop, Slap” school*, stares in horror at the guests, all turning steadily pinker and visibly dehydrating, who are making no attempts to cover up.

He pokes me and whispers. “The Irish don’t know how to deal with sunlight!”

True, but we know how to enjoy it, and everyone is maximising their chance of getting a bit of vitamin D to last us through the winter. There is a joke in Ireland about the odds of a sunny day coming up. “Did you have a nice summer in Ireland this year?” “We did, it was on a Wednesday”.

In 2010, the summer was on my friends’ wedding day. We stan…

The Big Trip, Country 1 - A Party in Thailand’s Pants

There is a saying. “There is a party in my pants and everyone is invited.”

If someone were to actually try to fit a few million party people into their pair of pants, that hot, humid and thoroughly frenetic gusset would be Bangkok. The city assaults the senses with it‘s sheer vibrancy, teeming and steaming in humidity so intense that to step out of the air conditioning for the briefest moment is to look like a marathon runner in their last mile. The city’s buildings and temples sparkle in the sun by day and are festooned with neon and fairy lights by night. The river throngs with boats, the dragon boat dangling flowers from their pointed and multi-coloured prows as they skim over the sullen and silt-filled water. Bangkok never sleeps. It might miss something.

On our first day and fighting lack of sleep, we are dazzled by the noise, the smells. Street vendors hawk dried fish heads and fruit next to the stench of an open sewer; tuk-tuk drivers chase tourists offering a ride; taxi drive…