Flushing away your dignity in France
So this is kinda embarrassing. But funny, so bear with me. My first experience of the frankly baffling concept of the self-flushing lavatory was in the train station of Aix-en-Provence. Now this is a French town famous for its fountains, so perhaps this informs their attitude to public conveniences. Let me explain. The self-flushing toilette on platform two – direction Avignon, if memory serves – sat inside its own wet room. For it was less the lavatory that flushed than it was the room that gave itself a cheeky shower. In France as in Britain, the hapless traveller is required to pay to pee. Mum and Dad were having one of their stingy days, so Mum went in first and I had to follow. The door wouldn’t lock unless you put money in, so said parents stood guard while I made myself busy. But the lavatory had other ideas. Mid wee, the room flushed. Water ran down the walls. Water drowned the floor. Water spouted forth, jacuzzi-like from jets beneath the sink. To the innocent 13-year-old, this was quite the surprise. So I squeal my way out onto the platform followed by a mini-tsunami of a variety of cleaning fluids. Clearly at this stage we have marked ourselves out as hapless foreigners. Cue condescending Gallic sneers.
American boy in Croatia
On a group holiday travelling around Croatia, the windy weather inconveniently called off our bus to the next city. We had decided the best step forward was to haggle with a taxi driver to get a mini-bus for us all. Upon reaching success, we spent the next two hours cooped up in a taxi, sharing liquorice scented cigars with the taxi-driver and blasting Estelle’s American Boy out on top volume, while the driver dangerously navigated up a windy, stormy and altogether dangerous hill.
I once got so lost in Montreal that I ended up on the top of a mountain.
Fun guys in Gili
If you’ve ever been to Indonesia, you’ll know the place is rife with all kinds of drugs, despite the fact that drug offences carry the death sentence there. Not being into drugs myself, this wasn’t of much coincidence to me, until I took a trip to the Gili Islands. It turns out that if you order a pizza with mushrooms on when in Gili Trawangan, they don’t mean the normal closed-cup kind you pick up in Tesco. No one will tell you this until you arrive back at your dorm room at 7am, having danced in the sea in your underwear for most of the night, and wondering why half a beach – pebbles and all – falls out of your bra when you take it off to get into bed. It was on the same trip that I got stranded on Gili Trawangan because a storm meant that the small boats that ferry people between the Gilis and mainland Bali couldn’t run. Hitching a ride on a fishing boat to Lombak, a four hour taxi ride to the other side of that island, then an eight hour slow ferry ride of sitting on the top deck in the blazing sun later, I was very pleased to have arrived at the airport on time for my flight to Vietnam. Except that it was cancelled. Because of the storm. Screw. That.