Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"why am I here again?"

Travel is an interesting concept. Most people only remember the glitzy, palm-fringed or snow-capped paradises of their trips.
No-one, for instance, is going to take happy snaps of Calais, France.

These places of non-destinatory splendour never make it into the albums. One only remembers them vaguely as the place “I stopped for KFC” or ‘I got stuck there while I waited for my new passport to arrive.”
Here is a list of some of the most non-descript places I have found myself in. No postcards available, sorry:

Pueblo, Colorado, US:
Point of reference/interesting scenery: A Taco Bell, one house, a bus stop.
Why I was there: Greyhound broke down on the way to a ski resort.

Livorno, Italy:
Point of reference: A large port, lots of Eastern Bloc refugees.
Why I was there: Missed the ferry. No money, had to sleep next to aforementioned Romanian refugees in port.

Llivia, Catalunya, Spain:
Points of reference: Difficult to tell. Blizzard engulfing vehicle.
Why I was there: To collect my hired skis.

Salida, Colorado, US: (pronounced Sa-LYE-da, like saliva)
Points of reference: a trailer park, the trans-Colorado highway
Why I was there: I needed a pee. That said, trailer parks look at their most desirable – if one can use a euphemism – when covered in blankets of snow.

Annemasse, Haute-Savoie, France:
Points of reference: The sign that says ‘Géneve, 3 kilometres’, the Swiss-French border post itself.
Why I was there: I forgot to check my visa beforehand, and realised if I went into Switzerland, I’d be denied access back into France. Problematic, since I lived and worked in France. The night was spent at the only pub there, drinking Beaujolais plonk with the locals.

Marseilles, Côte d’Azur, France:
Points of reference: The gateway from northern Africa, a giant slum, the black sheep of the French Riviera.
Why I was there: To see the slum. And change trains.

Stanford Lacey, Shropshire, UK:
Points of reference: A house, lots of hedges, a road.
Why I was there: Stuck with puncture on a bike. Don’t ask.

Chumpon, southern Thailand:
Points of reference: hotel rooms reeking in mould, excessive humidity, people that sing karaoke there all hours of the day. 7:00am breakfast-time included.
Why I was there: Overnight stay on the way to Phuket.

Hua Hin, 50 kms south of Bangkok:
Points of reference: a 7-Eleven, a noodle-cooking contest.
Why I was there: I was hungry. And noodles were being thrown around a-plenty.

Xai Xai, Gaza provice, Mozambique:
Points of reference: The mighty, muddy, shark-infested Limpopo River mouthing its way to the beach, various civil war bombed buildings, a fucked reef.
Why I was there: Overnight stay, with a crowd of hippies and old people. Who were keen to see the eclipse, a whopping 3 seconds of darkness and endless celebrations of this ridiculous lunar phenomenon thereafter.

Scranton, Pennsylvania, US:
Points of reference: A highway, clapboard houses, a Wendy’s, three pubs.
Why I was there: Pub stop on a road trip.

Hull, Quebec, Canada:
Points of reference: one half of a completely dull city (Ottawa is the other half), divided by the Quebec-Ontario border (the Ottawa River)
Why I was there: To visit a fifth cousin once removed. Not even kidding.

Dubai International Airport, Dubai, UAE:
Points of reference: Glitzy duty-free shops, large plastic palm trees, gold everywhere.
Why I was there: Connecting flight to Bangkok. Had severe gas. We sat up against the palm trees, with our asses in the air and farted up a storm. That's right.

Bethlehem, Free State, South Africa:
Points of reference: The Engen garage, a giant Jesus cross on the hill.
Why I was there: Twice, actually. To fill up my tank.

Shah Alam, Malaysia:
Points of reference: The largest mosque in the world, empty buildings.
Why I was there: The hotel came with the travel package, only one bus change into Kuala Lumpur.

Oakura, Taranaki, New Zealand:
Points of reference: Ostrich farms, Maori settlement.
Why I was there: To feed the ostriches and buy wool. I was forced by my mum.

Zoar, Karoo, South Africa:
Points of reference: desert, a cactus, a post office and SAPS station.
Why I was there: the name piqued my curiosity.

Philippi, Western Cape, South Africa:
Points of reference: low-cost housing, gateway to the Flats, wind and tumbleweed.
Why I was there: I got lost.

Dainfern, Johannesburg, South Africa:
Point of reference: A giant shite-pipe running through golf estate, lots of Tuscan houses.
Why I was there: To pick up a mate. It took 20 minutes to get through security.

Croydon, Outer-London, UK:
Points of reference: Kate Moss grew up here, lots of factories.
Why I was there: Fell asleep on the tube.

Arlon, Wallonie, Belgium:
Points of reference: factories, large court house, bordering Luxembourg, beer.
Why I was there: Had to get off the train to Luxembourg, because school was out and the kids took over. Drank beer and then still missed the last train to the Bourg.

Bresson, Alsace-Lorraine, France:
Point of reference: car dealerships, car parts specialists, factories and distribution centres.
Why I was there: I got off the train too early. I was meant to jump out at Lille, the next stop.

Totawa, New Jersey, US:
Point of reference: the carbuncle on the back-end of New York City, a Holiday Inn, warehouses.
Why I was there: I was meant to be in Ottawa, and ironically ended up in Totawa instead. Another bureaucratic fuck-up, where the Canadians threatened to arrest me.


Jam said...

Those are incredible experiences.
I haven't travelled as widely abroad but know every nook and cranny of South Africa - except Zoar. Where the hell is Zoar?
I fondly refer to Dainfern as "Dungfern".

Paul said...

Those are all awesome Peas - I also love the random travel locations...some of mine would be nearly hitting an elephant on an highway in Delhi at 2am in a very stoned taxi...chased away by Egyptians soldiers from a picnic at the shithole that is Suez....sleeping in an orange grove in a tent on a beach at Trinidad, Brazil...sleeping against a scooter after clubbing in Marbella...uh maybe I should follow your lead and make a blog entry...

Damn I can't wait to add to the list..

Peas on Toast said...

Jam - Ex S and I drove through Zoar, it's somewhere off the road to Calitzdorp if I remember correctly. Stuck in the middle of nowhere. Pofadder is still a place I want to go...

Paul - Nice! Syria and Suez! Those are terribly exotic Paul.

I officially tag you and Jam to do a blog post on your most random travel experiences....

boldly benny said...

Wow what a great post - it had me yearning to jump in a plane and just get out there.
I lived in Cape Town for 21 years so I had a good laugh when I saw Phillipi. I went to a wedding in Phillipi - first matrimonial celebration I went to where you had to pour your own champers (all the waiters were Muslim and couldn't serve alcohol).
I suppose you getting lost and landing up in Phillipi is fairly close to me landing up in the suburbs of Hillbrow when I first moved to Jozi! Luckily, I lived in Woodstock in Cape Town for a stint so crack houses weren't a new phenomenon to me!

Suavé said...

Like Jam, I've been EVERYWHERE in SAfrica and a stint in Botswana Swaziland and (soon to be)Moz. Your list is nothing short of amazing! Wow!

So with that said, I am extremely jealous and you suck major donkey balls(in the nicest way possible of course)! HAHAHA! :)

Peas on Toast said...

Boldly - hilarious - pouring your own champers in Phillipi, that's classic.
Woodstock is a stone's throw away from the back end of Salt River. I got lost amongst the tow truck driver depots there once, drunk and disorientated at!

tBerry said...

Cool post Peas. Also did lots of random travelling when I was yachting. One place which is supposed to have many points of reference, but actually only has one memorable one is Gibraltar. You'd think the big rock would be the memorable point, but nay, it was actually the scabby monkeys with pink arses! Friendlier than the baboons at Cape Point, but scabby none-the-less.

Peas on Toast said...

Sauvay - love the new touch to your name big guy!

I've yet to do the Transkei and Swaziland my dear, it's still a To Do on my list. But you're right, I'm very lucky to have travelled, and some of the places I have been have been sensational.

I'm dying to do it again, it's been too long...

Peas on Toast said...

tBerry - LOL, seriously? It sounds so exotic, Gibraltar. Baboons with scabby asses aside. :)

tBerry said...

Peas, exotic it isn't. Its about 15kms long and full of crappy English pubs and half drunk ex-pats. History aside, it ain't a great spot at all.

Peas on Toast said...

tBerry - I like this, because it's like a Let's Go Guide to places people shouldn't bother with. So you reckon I skip Gibraltar and just carry on towards Malaga then? ;)

paul said...

hah yeah, i think i should make a post with events such as getting stoned with George Bush's daughter in an Austin frat house while trying to avoid the Secret Service...

I had fun in Gibraltar, even with the monkeys (they know how to pose for hilarious photos)...i think i enjoyed it because i got all homesick staring across the straight to Morocco and bizarrely missing Africa intensely..

Lollipop said...

Life is not fair. You have travelled a lot. The most of Europe I saw was with my family when I was about 14, the most exciting thing we did there was steal a bag of chocolates from Harrods. Shit man, at least you gave some good tips on where NOT to go for my next overseas adventure.

Peas on Toast said...

Paul - Dude! That's awesome. :) I ID'd her when she tried to buy booze at our ski resort (Not to be a party pooper, but I had to, the manager was watching me)
Your story is waaaaaaay better though.

Lollipop - I'm sure there's plenty more time for you to travel dollface. Besides, nicking a bag of chocolates at Harrods isn't anything to be scoffed at! :)

tBerry said...

Malaga is great. You should also go to Seville, had a fat jol there with some varsity students, we communicated through tequila cos my Spanish is dodgy at best. Cordoba is amazing with the Lipizzaner horses which are bred there. Was bown away at what they can do.

If you want exotic, head to St Barts in the carribean. Its got French sophistication with island style laidbackness...amazing combo.

Peas on Toast said...

tBerry - these places all sound heavenly. Can I catch a ride on your boat?? ;)

tBerry said...

Unfortunately I gave all that up to be tied to a desk in Cape Town. Kinda exotic in itself, but no Isla Grande off the coast of Brazil...

I sometimes wonder why?

Peas on Toast said...

Ah shucks!

Well if you ever decide to embark in the exotic pirate-style life again tBerry, care to bring a wee Pea along with you?
I'll be in charge of the drinks and beautiful people stepping aboard. Keen?

tBerry said...

I'm in! Unfortunately you'll have to wear a bikini and take part in activities such as scuba diving, snorkelling, windsurfing, sailing, water skiing and occasionally funnelling, but thats only when we get completely out of hand!

Peas on Toast said...

tBerry - sold. Just one request: can we stop in Cuba too please? Always wanted to go there.

Third World Ant said...

me too please!

and... great post Peas!

Peas on Toast said...

Thanks dollface :)

Have you updated your post today?

Ant's been tagged :)

Peas on Toast said...

Guys, The Ant has updated her blog with her tag about the ten dinner guests.

Only she's taken my dinner guests and given them all fantasy waiters - it's priceless.

Revolving Credit said...

Office, Jobsonville, Workers Democratic Republic
Point of reference: Interesting coffee machine
Why I was there: Fulfilment of masochistic tendencies/Hiding out from clients

Peas on Toast said...

And to satisfy the means: a paycheck at the ned, hopefully, right? ;)

Insane Insomniac said...

Shit Peas, you've been all over!!
And i'm sure you're all the richer and poorer for it.

Reminds me of some of my exploits recently...hmmm should blog it too.

Revolving Credit said...

I did once stop in Bethlehem on the way to Durbs to by booze.
No idea what the town even looks like but the 'drankwinkel' prices were quite cheap.

Bit far to drive for cheap booze though.

Peas on Toast said...

Insane, consider yourself tagged, would love to see your list!

Rev - Ah those drankwinkel prices are the best. Especially in the FRee State. Especially when you're having a cash flow problem. Viljoenskroon's aren't bad either...

tBerry said...

I also went to Marseille, to US Embassy for a visa. Quite a shithole.
Only entertaining thing while waiting around for 5 hours was the France Telecom workers strike. They were teargassed while we sat in a Cafe drinking beer!

Peas on Toast said...

tBerry - brutal! Only in Marseilles. I imagine that Tunis or Casablanca is very similar, except that they're probably clean...

Marseilles: France's dubious little shithole.

kyknoord said...

Bethlehem, Free State, South Africa:
Points of reference: The military base.
Why I was there: Basic training. Lucky me.

Peas on Toast said...

Kykie! You're back! Excellent news. You've been missed. :(

Koekie said...

I ended up in the middle of nowhere in provincial France, trying to get to Belgium... we were so far off all the locals could do was stare in bewilderment as we tried to act out B-E-L-G-I-U-M. One platform, one train, no driver, no conductor. Don't even remember the name.

Best part was my friend and I were both wearing out brand-new pink PARIS! T-shirts. Spot the tourists.

Peas on Toast said...

Brillaint Koeks. That reminds me of a favourite Bill Bryson quote: (He really is incredible)

"One is often too scared to ask directions, in my case to get to Brussels, in acse they look at me and say: 'What? You want to go where?
This is Lille you dumb shit," and then gather their friends around, wiping tears of mirth from their eyes and patronise you with: "Tell them where you think you are!"


PS: Neither Here Nor There. His travels across Europe. Priceless read.

Koekie said...

That was me... almost to the last tear of laughter!

Urk said...

naughty...dirty peas. you really do get around, dont'cha? :-)

Peas on Toast said...

Koeks - classic, would've loved to have seen it. "Ou est la belgium?" (I can't believe this woman in the pink shirt is asking where la belgium is. Sacre bleu.)

Urk - I wouldn't be worried, but I have spent more than 24 hours in Marseilles.
So you may be right about the dirty part. :)

Redlorry said...

Hehehe... Nice one! I was at that very Engen in Bethlehem on sunday. Don't eat the Pies!!

Urk said...

doesn't it NOT matter where in France the dirt is? You frenchies are all the same - eat onions, don't bath and design bad cars. ;-)

tom said...

don't forget the no-no on shaving urk ;P

....wait - so does that make peas a frenchie or is she now disqualified?

Insane Insomniac said...

Ok, Peas, the post is up. check it out!

Peas on Toast said...

Redlorry - And don't hang around the Engen either...the locals think you're up for a house party around the corner. Seriously. ;)

Urk and Tom: Things I do that are French;
1) Eat lots of garlic
2) Wear perfume
3) Eat lots of cheese
4) Drink shitloads of wine
5) Speak French

Things I do that aren't French:
1) I shave
2) I don't drive a Citroen/Peugeot/Renault
3) I bathe at least once a day
4) I do't eat snails
5) I talk about sex and politics in two different conversations.

That said, I'm only half-French, comprehendez-vous?

harry said...

Peas, you're french, right??

Can I have a side order of fries??

Peas on Toast said...

'Arry - Eef you demandez-moi one more plate of frites, I will slapper-vous avec une grande grenouille in those frites.

Peas on Toast said...

Fuck my bad: just realised it's comprennez-vous. In case anyone picked that up, which they didn't, so ignore.

Urk said...

Question: How many generations does it take to learn ingratitude?
Answer: Trois

tom said...

yeah we were wondering what the hell you meant. typical - using comprehendez-vous instead of comprennez-vous. no wonder we couldn't understand you. it's a totally different word in a language we don't speak ;P imagine that! whats the french for pretentious? :P

other-duke said...

That's a very interesting list. Remarkable how you managed to remember them.

Reminds me of the time i was touring Israel and we ended up at a service station filling up the bus at around midnight, a few of us bailed off the bus and played backgammon and smoked hubbly bubbly with some locals on a bench, it was awesome by it's randomness. But, i'd be damned if i could remember the name of that town and besides, Blogger only supports an english typeset ;)

harry said...

With Ketchup, not Mayo please

Champagne Heathen said...

Hey, I have a photos of Calais!! Cause our bus broke down there for 5 hours just after we crossed the channel, so into Hour 3 we got bored & hauled out the camera.

And careful about you say about Marseille! I loved that dodgy little town. It is great fun, in its skanky way.

Mt Frere, Transkei, SA:
PoR: A 4-rd town on the N2 in the Eastern Cape.
Why: Staying in their only (BRIGHT GARISH no-cold-water-one-night-no-hot-water-next-night GREEN ROOMED) hotel during a work trip. Places I visited from this base were more obscure, but I forget their names now.
Only white to seem like a local.

Chokwe, Gaza, Mozam:
PoR: A 3-road town 3 hours north of Maputo. Any road further requires serious 4x4.
Why: Fieldwork assessment trip for work.
Only white chick AND 1 of only 2 people in town able to speak to seem like a local.

Peas on Toast said...

Urk - good one. ;)

Tom: the phrase for pretentious - because it would only be a phrase - is va te faire enculer..

O-D - sounds awesome. What's that they say about life happens while you're making plans - same with travel. It's the journey most often that one remebers than the destination. :)

Harry - if you're not careful, I'll add a little Salida in there instead.

Champers - notice how all these stories converge: buses breaking down. In godawful places. Mrseilles isn't a town Champs - it's the third biggest city in France, and I'm sorry but it's a slum babe.Although that said, slums have their own charm...

harry said...

On 2nd thoughts, make it a chip roll, I'm quite peckish.

harry said...

PS. Does Chewy speak better French than you??

My oh my, how the aristocracy have fallen.

ChewTheCud said...

harry - chewy can insult you in about 10 different languages so far, and counting ;P

as for the french - in the words of sasha (baron cohen) - they gave the world the Ménage à trois and the french kiss. Piss poor military though (i think the germans would back me up on that) ;P

Urk said...

yup! The germans have your back, Cud. how did the germans take over France? They marched in backwards, and the french thought they were retreating!

Peas on Toast said...

Harry - excellent. Then I can disguise the jus de escargot easier that way... :) Et eet eez entirely posseebl that Chew speaks za mieux French zan moi.

Urk and Chewy - as the saying goes: Why do the French have so many tree-lined avenues? Shade for the marching Germans.


Daedalus said...

Ek weet nie wat te fok jy nou gese het nie. :o

Third World Ant said...

Sepoenda sepoenda sepoenda! (and occasionally, it's neighbour, Trichardt).

You STILL have to come visit that arb spot on the planet, Peas... I'll buckle and do a Mandog's if you come with me one time :)

Peas on Toast said...

D-Guy - neither do I mate. :)

The At - now that's more like it. Compromise.
Although Mandogs is easy in comparson to a two hour trip to a mining town china. Two nights at Mandog and you've got a deal!

Kate said...

First plan when I get home from the uk: Hire a convertible (preferably not snazzy, just top down) and drive JHB to CT keeping inland, stopping only in "one horse towns" and staying only in BnB's run by grandmothers. When its really cold and grey here, I google for routes I would take and imagine the sun on my shoulders, while driving.

harry said...

Chewy let here your dirty french poetry as it's better that the confusion Peas is sewing with her version of the French language.

Redlorry said...

Most Definitely... I know what you're saying about those locals... although there were one or two hot locals that we coulda partied with... hehe...

Wezzo said...

Scranton, Pennsylvania? Sweet, I just know it from the few American The Office episodes I've downloaded.

Kevin Cadman said...

Hello Peaslet dear!

Wow, you've sure been to some obscure places eh?

I haven't even left the country - such a shame :(

I'm confident that one day I'll venture outside of the country's borders.

How've you been hey? I've been a bit quiet lately, but have still been reading.

Congrats on getting laid! I especially liked the way it was all so aloof.

'So... I got laid.'

Haha, you make me laugh, you nut.

Peas on Toast said...

Kate - it sounds wonderful! Do it I say!

Harry - 'let here your French poetry', let here your English first china.

Redlorry - serious? The locals I bumped into looked a little dodge...

Wezzo - Bless. :)

Kevvy - hello my dear! You have to go travelling, you gotta! You'll meet some hot Betty's in some obscure places and all your Carla troubles of yesterday will be comletely forgotten, I assure you, guy. xx