Tag Archives: humour

Machete Lessons for Beginners

3 Oct

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]It would be fair to say that watching one’s nine-year-old son improve his machete skills while 8-12 hours from *any* form of medical care, however basic, is not a relaxing activity.

And indeed, a perhaps unnecessarily large number of utterances such as, “Christ, Z, AWAY from your fingers, not towards them,” and, “F***sake, darling, do you really need to take such a big swing? Remember when the blade flew off in Laos?” have echoed through the jungles of Halmahera of late. Continue reading

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Expedition Outfitting in Pidgin Indonesian*

25 Sep

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The scene? In and around various shopping establishments in Kota Ternate, the de facto capital of Indonesia’s Spice Islands, and home to more English language students per head of population than anywhere in the world.

An increasingly harassed single mother is wrangling a small boy in khaki with a motorbike helmet over one arm and the beginnings of an emo haircut. Continue reading

13 Things You’ll Learn Travelling Indonesia

15 Sep Ferry at sunrise in Ampana Port, Sulawesi, Indonesia.

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1: There is a Nadir for In-Vehicle Entertainment
Audio-visual torture of various kinds is an intrinsic part of the South-East Asian travel experience. From bootleg DVDs with subtitles straight out of Finnegans WakeContinue reading

Slik Insults: Lost in Translation

1 Sep

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As a language, Bahasa Indonesia, the lingua franca of Indonesia’s many different peoples, is famously easy to learn.

It is not tonal, has sweet FA by way of grammar and syntax, a generally regular stress pattern and a word order and pronunciation not wildly dissimilar to English.

So, having bought a dictionary in Makassar, I figured I’d cope OK as we head east across this vast nation. At our cheap hotel in the little silk town of Sengkang, however, it became abundantly clear that not all dictionaries are created equal. Continue reading

6 Signs That Say You’re a Long Way from Home

29 Aug

Sign in Indonesian airport toilet, showing users not to squat on the toilet, throw food, utensils or bottles into the toilet, or flush the toilet using a hose.
1: Instructions on how to use the toilet. [tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]

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Makassar airport, Indonesia, caters both to Westerners and locals on, perhaps, their first flight ever. Which is why the Western-style thrones have these handy instructions on the side of the cubicle.

For safety reasons all weapons must be kept by air crew during flight.
2: Weapons? Just leave them with the cabin crew. Continue reading

In Which the Family Dines in Considerable Style

19 Jul

view of revolving restaurant atop the bayview hotel, georgetown, penang[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]It was my Dad who said it first. “That singer,” he whispered, over the sound of a particularly special Malaysian band. “Is she actually a man?”

He is, I realise, very possibly still scarred from my parents’ last trip out to join us on our travels. That was the Philippines. A nation where he couldn’t walk more than thirty yards down the street without some chancer endeavouring to sell him Viagra.

I think his personal record (best? worst?) was six pushers over two hundred yards in Manila.

Perhaps the nine year old was dawdling at the time. But it wasn’t good for the ego of a man who, although a grandfather, only just passed sixty.

Anyway. My dad has a point. Were we in Thailand, or, for that matter, the Philippines, at least one of the chicks would have been born with a dick, and most likely still retain at least an attenuated version of the original. Continue reading

Putting the Graphic into Ethnographic

9 Jun

As you can probably tell from the picture the Vietnamese Museum of Ethnography in Hanoi offers infinitely more fun than the rather cumbersome title would suggest. (It’s slightly shorter in Vietnamese. But not much.)

sexual wood carving of man and woman on tribal tomb, Museum of Ethnography, Hanoi, Vietnam.

'Your wife, you say? No, no, sir, that is definitely not your wife.'

This depicts, believe it or not, a traditional tribal tomb.

Can you imagine what the funeral was like?! I mean, seriously. Continue reading

The Inflatable Waterpark

16 May

Ek biki inflatable waterpark, Santa Rosa, Philippines

The magic of childhood. Or something.


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This technicolour dream palace is indisputably special. Possibly a little “special needs” too.

What is it?

You may well ask. For this, my friend, is an inflatable waterpark.

Occupying 5000 square metres of apple-green Astroturf in the middle of nowheresville, Luzon, EK Biki comes complete with dangling sharks, inflatable dragon slides, slightly forlorn clownfish and, weirdly, an Olympic-sized paddling pool.

All, like the giant hamster’s wheel and spinning top on which Z spent many happy minutes scrambling, entirely blow-up.

To add a further note of the bizarre, it caters entirely for non-swimmers. Continue reading

Short Trousers…

26 Apr Me from behind, walking through coconut forest, Mariquit, Palawan, Philippines

Why is it that someone capable of the Wildean (or Timmy Timpson-esque) remark — “I’ve just been stung by an aquatic delicacy; I am hardly in the mood for seafood?” –- is reduced to howling, “Noooo, mum, seriously, please don’t! Please! Don’t do it!” when I attempt to buy a pair of shorts?

I’ve posted before about my spawn’s touching concern for the size of my arse. However, here in the Philippines, they use American sizes, which not only means that any shop will contain some clothes that fit you, but is particularly wonderful for Brits.

By the simple trick of switching from UK to US labels, one can, as if by magic, lose at least two sizes overnight. After my “XXL or XXXL, Madam?” trauma in Cambodia, a tense forty minutes squeezing into swimsuits in Saigon, and the horrors of knicker-shopping in Bangkok, this is all to the good.

What is less to the good, perhaps, is the preferred sizing. Continue reading

The Pocket Diplomat

23 Mar

Z at the dividing line on the Vietnam-Laos border

The Thin Red Line.

Whatever our struggles with formal schooling, Z’s certainly learning a lot as we travel. And he sure does choose his moments to show it.

We are literally halfway between Vietnam and Laos, him ceremonially straddling the red line dividing the Laotian end of the (small) bridge from the Vietnamese end, about three stamps and five sets of uniformed officials into the border-crossing process, when he pipes up.

“Mum,” he says. “Vietnam and Laos are both communist, authoritarian states, aren’t they? Which one is worse?” Continue reading