Category Archives: Travel Humor

Advice From A…Ladies Man?

Pattaya, Thailand

First, some forthright Pattaya candor is called for. The ladies are here for the money. To take a bar girl home costs anywhere from thirty-five dollars for a few hours (known as “short time”) to the entire night for maybe twice that. Note that the prices will, from your perspective, fluctuate in accordance with the exchange rate. Not that this really enters into the calculations once you’ve had three Tiger beers and the girl is rubbing your arm and looking at you like you are the most handsome man she’s seen in years.

So how does one handle an evening with a woman more interested in the wallet in your back pocket instead of anything on the opposite side of the body? Here are some of my secrets honed over the course of almost ten nights of diligent study.

Apartment Setup
Toothbrushes
Have three or four in the bathroom ready and waiting. Recommend you keep a separate one for each of your special friends with their name on it. Do not be afraid to leave them lying out. This lets your date know you are a bona-fide Ladies Man (called a “butterfly” in Thailand) and gives you a bit of leverage in what is, after all, a business relationship.

Wine?
Do NOT make the mistake of getting some fancy-pants French vintage that you can barely pronounce. This only would confirm a Thai’s view of you as a rich wimp who cannot get girls without a barrel of alcohol. You might as well just open your wallet and shake out the bills.

Instead, consider Thai wine. Or Listerine Mouthwash to save a few baht. They taste about the same.

Condoms
The real challenge here is not in avoiding the life-threatening STDs, but rather the tenacious cellophane wrapping the packages come in, which seem to have been designed to withstand a terrorist attack. Begin your efforts to open these early in the afternoon while still sober. Use a sharp knife, or if the seal is particularly resistant, explosives.

Hitting The Streets
Choosing A Bar
Amble slowly down the street, keeping an eye out for ones that have a few attractive faces with hardly any foreign customers, thus assuring that you will have the bulk of their attention. This is called the “lone rooster in the hen house” approach and is one of my favorite methods.

Choosing A “Date”
As you enter the establishment, you will be confronted by a harem of smiling ladies. Slow down and give yourself a chance to select one that strikes your fancy. Do not worry about reciprocal feelings. Despite her attentions, she’s there for the money.

Now here is how the game is played: she will encourage you to buy a few rounds for the two of you. Do not take offense; this is part of her job. To pace yourself, go with mixed drinks, which the bartenders water down to the level of Kool-Aid.

Eventually, if you have not made any moves, she will ask if you would like to take her home. Hypothetically speaking, you now have a decision to make, but in reality you are as much in control of the situation as Custer at Little Big Horn. Do not waste precious energy deliberating. In many ways, the choice was made the day you bought the plane ticket here.

Home Again, Home Again
For most of the men in Pattaya, foreplay begins and ends with the sound of their trousers being unzipped. I would like to go beyond that pseudo-Neanderthal approach with a few romantic suggestions.

Music & Slow Dancing
For the first date, let her dial in one of the local radio stations to find something she likes. (All Thai music is going to sound the same to you.) Then, when a halfway slow tune is played, gently take both her hands and ask if she likes to dance. If so, try to keep it simple. The awkward, stuttering steps you learned in the junior high school gym will suffice. Pattaya is basically a bunch of middle-aged men reliving juvenile fantasies anyway. As you embrace and she rests her young head trustingly on you shoulder, run your hands through her hair and reflect that this could not happen to you in a hundred years in America. At least not without risking arrest.

I call this move “embracing diversity”. Keep this phrase in mind when you return home and are interrogated about your vacation.

Candlelight
This can really make a good impression, probably because fire was only discovered in this country within the last century. However, it can be difficult to start if you are using one of those cheap lighters from the 7-Eleven. Be especially careful if you are somewhat intoxicated; you might get the fire going, but in the process lose your balance and set more than just the candle ablaze.

The Act
Remember when those touchy-feely books came out with advice on how to give a woman ecstatic pleasure? Forget about them. Instead relax and immerse yourself in the moment. Get in touch with those inner feelings!

The Morning After
In many ways this is one of the best times. The lady sleeps in, then takes a shower, grabs her purse (along with your money) and is gone. No guilt or remorse. No concerns regarding whether you are emotionally available or are struggling with “issues”. No demands about being respectful of each other’s needs. Just the sound of the door closing.

Suggest going right back to sleep. You will be needing the energy, for tonight the game begins anew!

james-bond

The Good Sisters of St. Mary’s

Taejon, South Korea

Saint Mary’s is the name of an all-girls Catholic high school in Taejon where I taught English for three months way back in 1996 before abruptly departing. As part of my Round the World Trip, I decided it would be interesting to return there.

The main character in the teaching drama I endured was the difficult and rather disagreeable principal, Sister Park. In hindsight, it’s clear she did not really trust foreign instructors and had her own ideas about how the language should be taught. Having her looking over my shoulder while trying to deal with classrooms of often unruly girls ultimately proved be too much. During my final weeks of working there I sometimes harbored fantasies of splashing her with water, causing her to melt.

To my surprise, Sister Park is now the Spiritual Director of the Convent! The day I stopped by she had just left for a conference up in Seoul, so I ended up drinking the bottle of mineral water I had carefully concealed in anticipation of a confrontation. However Sister Jang, the nearest thing I had to a friend amongst the Korean staff, was still teaching at the school and we enjoyed a pleasant reunion. She had retained some of her prettiness and my first words to her were, “You are still nice looking!”

The fact that I was flirting with a nun suggested I had not fully made the transition from Thailand Decadence to Korean Catholic Abstention. This is particularly strange since my sex life had closely resembled that of the Sisters until about five weeks ago. Perhaps I enjoy the challenge. In Pattaya, I could hardly get my pickup line out of my mouth before the lady was taking me by the hand out of the bar. So nowadays I welcome situations where one’s chances of success can be measured in fractions of a percent.

Sister Jang and I had non-romantic lunch in the school’s cafeteria, whose nondescript food had remained unchanged. It was there I received a shock when one of the Sisters at first glance appeared to be my old Korean girlfriend of a dozen years before. What a blow to my masculinity, the knowledge that I had driven a woman into the Catholic Sisterhood! On closer examination, however, I concluded the lady was too young to have been my “ex”.

To have some fun and help out at the school, I taught Sister Jang’s English classes for three days, regaling the students with stories from my recent travels plus my special rendition of the Beatle’s “Yesterday”. They got a big kick out of my theatrics. After the final class on Friday,  Sister Jang took me to a small, pleasant restaurant near my motel and ordered a scrumptious Korean dinner for me, explaining that she could not stay because of the Good Friday Worship Service that night. It was at that point I began to realize the effort that would be required attempting to make a dinner date with a nun during Easter Holy Week.

Sister Jang has promised to email me when the cherry blossoms come out in Taejon, giving me a reason to return in another week or two after I’ve finished seeing a bit of the country. She also says that next time she will join me for dinner, which I take as a sign of progress. Having for a few unsettling moments thought I had lost my old Korean girlfriend to the Catholics, it’s time to even the score by trying to steal one back!

taejonhsgirls

Cherry blossoms in back, students in front.

Korean Cuisine: Self Defensive Eating

Pusan, South Korea

Hello Boys & Girls!

Today we are going to have lunch in a Pusan restaurant in Korea. Can you say “Pusan”? If you are unable, don’t worry as that is going to be the least of your problems.

The area of the city we will have our meal in is called Haeundae Beach. Because of its popularity with foreign tourists, most of the restaurants have pictures of their dishes posted outside. As an aid to understanding what you are going to eat, the names often have Japanese subtitles. A big help for those of you who can read Japanese (and what red-blooded American cannot?).

As you scan the photos, you will notice that red is the predominant color. Meaning spicy. Meaning be careful! The Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do actually utilizes some of the local cuisine as a means of attack, so it will behoove us to make our choices with care.

Your first impulse will probably be to try and figure out what the hell the dishes are. This would also be your first mistake. If you by chance end up ordering something like octopus tentacles in eel sauce, ignorance is bliss.

OK, we’ve selected a restaurant and have pointed out the meal we want. Usually this will be some kind of stew or soup. While waiting for the order to arrive, you will notice the waiter bringing half a dozen small plates of various colored organic materials to our table, little of which resembles food as we know it. These petri dish arrangements are in side dishes, intended to be enjoyed with the main course.

Let’s get to work! Choose the dish that appears to be the most appetizing and use your chopsticks to dig out a small portion. Quickly put this in your mouth and begin chewing. Do not stop to think about what you are eating! We are simply trying to get some of this stuff out of the way without offending the waiter through gagging or involuntary regurgitation. Once you’ve got the first bite or two down the hatch, move on to another selection and repeat the process.

One of the side dishes will be a kind of cabbage in a red sauce with red sprinkles. This is called kimchi and is a Korean favorite. It is made by burying the cabbage with spices and letting the concoction ferment (as in rot) for a few weeks before finally digging it up and…you know, on sec-ond thought, let’s skip the kimchi preparation details until well after the meal.

At last the stew or soup arrives… But wait a minute! It doesn’t look at all like the picture. Where are all the scrumptious vegetables? And what is that big white thing floating on top? Are they breaking in a new cook to-day?

Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do. The contest has come down to you and the stew, and only one of you is getting out alive.

Begin the attack by deploying the bowl of rice that came along with the other side dishes. For Koreans, this is almost always eaten separately. But not for you! Take the small metal bowl the rice comes in and scrape some of it into the soup/stew. Do this in jerky, clumsy motions to make it look like an accident. What we are attempting here is to mix in the rice to dilute the napalm-like potency of the stew. Even then you must eat cautiously, following every spoonful with almost waterboarding-level self-dowsing.

Determining when you are done is a tough call. The table will look like a food fight has taken place, with enough left over to go into hibernation with. But set aside your mother’s admonitions about cleaning your plate. There are no extra points for neatness here. If you are full, call it a night.

As you pay your bill, be sure to smile at the waitress (who has to clean up your mess) and the cashier as your stomach prepares to reenact the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. As you wander out onto the street, begin looking for your next destination: a pharmacy that sells Pepto-Bismol.
spicy-stew

Foreign Teacher of the Year

Taejon, South Korea

Letter to the South Korean Minister of Education

Dear Mr. Kim,

To begin with, I am writing to bring to your attention to what I consider a serious error in my recent selection as Foreign Teacher of the Year in South Korea. As I valiantly tried to point out to the awards committee, I was only visiting this country for a month and was simply helping a few of the Sisters at the St. Mary’s High School with their English. Teaching a class of nuns does not strike me as being worthy of any kind of special recognition. For one thing, I had no discipline problems at all. And yes, I refrained from becoming romantically involved with any of them, but it wasn’t as difficult as it sounds.

I will admit that during this time I was working without a salary, but the committee’s declaration of this as a shining example for other foreign instructors here to aspire to strikes me as misguided.

In any event, I have reluctantly decided to accept the award: a round trip ticket to Tacoma, Washington (also known as “The Paris of South Puget Sound”). Strange that the second place winner will receive two round trip tickets. But I will try to use them as soon as I receive them.

Now, at the risk of causing an international incident, I must nevertheless continue to protest your decision to present the award next week at St. Mary’s school. The 8:00 a.m. time in particular strikes me as especially inappropriate. I mean, have you ever actually SEEN an early morning Korean high school class? Some of the students (most of whom study four to five hours a night before leaving the school at ten) wobble in like twelfth-step alcoholics following an all night binge. Others lie sprawled across their desks, semi-conscious. An ambulance team presented with this scene would find itself performing emergency triage.

May I ask what, exactly, are you preparing your students for, extended POW internment? High School should be one of the best and happiest times of our lives (and would have been in my case if it wasn’t for the acne attack my junior year). From what I have seen of your educational system, it’s only a matter of time before President Bush sends over a hostage rescue team, then orders a follow-up air strike. Do you really want to visit Guantanamo Bay that badly?

I know, I know. Foreign teachers in Korea, like small children, should be seen and not heard (and maybe not even paid). I just felt it my place to use my brief, exalted status to speak my mind. And having the Education Ministry Police confiscate my passport will not change my views nor my plans to escape. For I, along with a dedicated group of seventeen-year-old freedom fighters (who, by the way, have permission from their parents), are determined to break out of this educational hellhole, bound for a place where we can teach and learn in genuine harmony. Under the cover of darkness we will boldly strike forth…for the Worker’s Paradise of North Korea!

With Best Wishes for Your Health,

A Determined Foreigner

ministry-education

Pyongyang Lecture

Pyongyang, Democratic People’s blah blah blah of North Korea

Greetings comrades! Today I understand we are making history with me being the first non-kidnapped foreigner to be lecturing at the Kim Il Sung Center for the Performing Arts and Regimental Rifle Practice. As you all know, this convention’s theme is the promotion of World Peace through the annihilation of the wicked United States. It seems to me that with the recent financial crisis, the country is doing an adequate job of imploding without any assistance. But who am I to dissent, especially with these leg irons I am having to wear?

Anyway, let’s get started. First, a bit of personal background is in order. I grew up and was educated in the Imperialistic U.S. However, I have also lived amongst the Militarists in Japan and the American Lackeys in the south. With the exception of chronic dysentery, I am thus well acquainted with all your foes.

I will now take questions. My translator is holstering his pistol and will be writing them down in English for me to answer.

The difference between our country’s leaders? Your current numero uno, Kim Jong Il, ascended to his position only because his father had been running the country. Sadly, Mr. Kim the younger has turned out to be a mediocre and stubborn man, unwilling to alter his world views in the face of increasingly contrary evidence. By contrast, President George Bush Junior is…er…

Let’s move on to the next question, shall we?

No, the 1987 action movie Predator, that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger along with Jessie Ventura, is NOT a nominating film used for selecting our state governors. It only seems that way.

How to foment unrest in America? For Seattle, where I come from, take away everyone’s cell phone, or hold another meeting of the World Trade Organization there.

The most vulnerable place to invade America? That’s easy, Alaska. Just be sure your troops hit the beaches wearing big “Palin for V.P.” buttons. They will be warmly welcomed.

A sporting event that offers maximum propoganda value? How about holding a college bowl game here in Pyongyang? Call it “The Kimchi Bowl”. But unlike the contests in America, instead invite the two worst NCAA Division I teams. Make them play outdoors in January as a form of humiliation and punishment — treatment I understand you people take special delight in dishing out. It might even be worthwhile to lock in the Washington State Cougars to a long term commitment.

Oops, my apologies. I just realized I have left the blueprints for building a ballistic missile with multiple nuclear warheads in my backpack at the foreigner’s hotel. But don’t despair. I doubt any thief is going to slip in through the barred windows. Perhaps I could be unshackled and allowed to run over there and retrieve the documents? It will only take a few minutes. I’ll be right back…I promise!

Not so fast!

Taipei Subway

Taipei, Taiwan

Having lost the Chinese Civil War on the mainland to the Communists some six decades ago, there is a definite air of one-upmanship as the Taiwanese try to prove they are the true heirs of China. Kind of like Jimmy Carter and his lifelong mission to convince America of the horrendous mistake it made in voting him out of office back in 1980.

For example, Taipei 101, proudly billed as the world’s tallest building. Then there’s the Oldest Chinese Confucius Temple. Nor are the leaders content with mere adjective-inspiring architecture. A relocation invitation was sent out last month to my old company DHL — whose harebrained decisions had killed its U.S. shipment business — so that Taipei could lay claim as the headquarters of the world’s clumsiest corporation.

This inferiority complex has also motivated the Taiwanese to create an impressive, thoroughly modern, subway system. But though the station maps and signs all include easy-to-follow English translations, it is still helpful to know a little bit about the main features of this transit marvel.

Ticket Machines
To operate one of these, look at the map above them and find station and its fare. Then press the button representing the amount you will be paying. The machine will provide some verbal assistance, but don’t fumble around; its patience is limited:

“Please kindly insert coins…………….”
“Did you hear me? I said insert the coins…………..”
“Quit f*cking around! Put in the damn money or step aside.”
“Enough! Go hail a cab, you ignorant foreigner.”

Ticket Windows
If you find the machines a bit too hostile, purchase a ticket from one of the clerks. Most of them understand but a few words of English, so there is no need to risk confusion with long, polite sentences.

For example, instead of:
“I would like to purchase a one way ticket to Chiang Kai-shek Station. How much will it cost, please?”


Consider using:
“Me go Chiang Kai-shek. No come back. How much?”

Train Announcements
Once you have your ticket and are on your way, there will be a seemingly endless series of announcements. What follows are translations of what is really being said.

Chinese: Gua xia ni. Koa ping dong!
Translation: Train derailment ahead. Brace for sudden stop!
English Announcement:  The next station is Zhongxiao.

Chinese: Yeng ching! Ling ping pong, tic tac toe.
Translation: Nerve gas! Grab a mask, and lie on the floor.
English Announcement: Please exit on your right.

Station Names
Special attention must be paid to these due to their similarity.

Guangxian Ding
Guangxian Dong
Guangxian Dong Dang

Soonfuk Du
Soonfuk Hu
Soonfuk Yu

Exiting
Stepping off the train, you will soon find yourself engulfed in a riptide of humanity. Simply go with the flow; you have no other choice. To regain your balance, consider climbing up the open stairs rather than riding the packed-as-sardines escalator.

Arriving at the top floor, there will be a line of slender red machines that will take your ticket. Walk to one that is showing a green “O”, then gently but firmly slide your ticket into the slot. Don’t force it or do anything else to cause the machine to lose face.

If your ticket is accepted, a pair of waist-high red doors in front of you will reluctantly open. Calmly walk through them. Do not hurry. These mechanisms are like wild animals. If they sense fear, they will suddenly turn on you, snapping their doors shut like an alligator’s mouth. (That’s where those blood-red stains come from, in case you were wondering)

Free at last! Head towards one of the exits and begin your grateful ascent into the sunlight. You have lived to travel another day.

taipei-subway-entrance

Take a deep breath.

Boracay Beach Buddies

Boracay Island, The Philippines

The island of Boracay is one of the more popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. The beach is postcard pretty, with a gentle slope and non-threatening waves. Relaxing in the warm water is akin to being in a giant bathtub.

It’s almost enough to make you forget the scantily clad women on the shore. They can drive you to distraction regardless of what you are doing, their dusky sexuality twisting your thinking. For example, last evening I tried reading my astronomy magazine to prepare for some stargazing, but when I opened to the page that talked about how Mars was once hotter and wetter than it is now, all thoughts of finding the Southern Cross went right out the window.

Clearly I had to get out and meet the natives of the female persuasion before I began forgetting meals.

This did not require much effort. The beachfront on Boracay is basically one big red light district. The ladies congregate out in front of the bars, focusing their attention on middle aged men, especially those who look like they have gone a long time without companionship and thus might be susceptible to the charms of a younger woman.

I have never been so popular.

I had just finished my first drink of the evening and was fighting off the audio-induced nausea of a disco bar when a lady wearing plaster of Paris makeup sidled up to me. Grabbing one of my arms, she exclaimed that she loved old men.

My first reaction was to look around to see whom she was referring to. Certainly not moi? And what a crappy pickup line. I should have replied, “Oh, you are in luck then, because I love women who resemble walking statues!”

Leaving my initial encounter behind, I began strolling down the sandy path towards other watering holes, running the gauntlet of admirers at each. It seemed they were all working off the same tiresome script. What these charming hostesses fail to understand is that for us middle-aged men, eating is the activity we have real enthusiasm for. So instead of, say, Golden Showers, they should be trying to pervert us with Golden Arches.

Most confusing for me were the ones operating in pairs, offering a “special massage”. But who was going to be massaging who and when? I sat down on the beach with one of these duos and tried to map out the possibilities in the sand, but it ended up looking like an NFL punt return. All I could tell was I’d be in the center of the action, but there would be bodies coming at me from all sides.

In one instance I found only one of the women attractive. Wanting to get rid of the other (named Loi) via a tactful and seemingly fair process, I resorted to trickery:

“OK girls, this is a coin I’m going to flip. If it is “heads”, then Layla (all their names start with “L” for some reason) will go home with me and Loi stays here. If “tails”, Loi goes home with me and Layla stays. (I flip the coin.) It looks like… tai… oh darn it. I dropped it in the sand. We’ll have to try again!”

But Loi’s luck was a juggernaut that evening. Some twenty minutes and many lost coins later, I was still trying to eliminate her:
“Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a ni…, er, African-American by his toe…..”

As midnight approached:
“No Loi, you don’t understand. Scissors cuts rock!”

Finally exhaustion set in and I had to call it a night, but not before giving Loi some money to purchase tickets in the Philippine Lottery. I figured with her luck, she had at least a fifty-fifty chance of getting set for life, and without having to sleep with me. Above all things, one must know how to keep a woman happy!

boracay-massage

And that’s not all!