Well, I suppose you might be wanting some explanations to my last post – and here they are:
1. I arrived in Buenos Aires the day the Argentinians were celebrating the Falklands War and as an English person I thought it might be a little bit of a problem. And you know what? It wasn’t at all! I was smilingly welcomed and the whole time I was there was treated with respect and curteousy. I loved the Argentinians, their civilised way of life and their beautiful country and hope to go back again one day.
2. I was treated like a movie star in Shanghai. And it was most weird! In my own country, and most others I’ve been to, I can walk the street and not many people notice me particularly, I can be lost in the crowd. But in Shanghai at the time I went they were not used to foreign tourists; although they had many tourists visiting the city, they were Chinese and a lot of them from the rural areas, who had not seen Westerners before and found the whole concept of them fascinating. The fact that my hair colour is blonde, was of particular fascinated interest. So, I’d be walking along the street, and the Chinese people would grin and call out “Hello” (in English) and want their photos taken with me and my companion. (No doubt so that they could show their friends and family on their return home about their exciting interaction with the wide-eyed and big nosed Westerners!). The high light of the phenomenon was sitting in a restaurant one night and the guy at the next table was so besotted with me, that he was spooning his dinner into his left ear, with his mouth wide open in total amazement at me! Much like Madonna must get when she’s out in public I suppose! And just to add to the tale, I met a white-blonde American girl during the visit and asked if she had experienced the same interest, and she said she’d had a whole class of Chinese schoolchildren ask for her individually for her autograph and to be photographed with her!!!
3. I’ve seen the lights come on all over New York standing at the top of the Empire State building. I went up late afternoon and loved the experience of looking at the tiny buildings and cars below me, and as the day waned, and the purple of twilight faded into the deep dark of the night, the lights came on, one by one, and changed the vibrant city into a magical sight before me. Wonderful experience!
4. I’ve been on the Orient Express over the Andes from Cusco to the shores of Lake Titicaca. Watching the beautiful Peruvian landscape open up before me, the towering mountains and endless grassy plains, with perhaps a lone figure in the distance, spending the day looking after two shaggy cattle, or a goat. And being waved at by the grinning young children as the train sped by. To be served a delicious lunch in sumptuous surroundings just added to the wonderful experience.
5. I’ve seen the surreal landscape of New Zealand where the earth boils in poisons and water is hot enough to melt metal. This was at Rotorua on the North Island, where everything you think you know about geography and the landscape is turned on its head. The surrounding forests hide white plumes of steam, the mud bubbles and boils away at your feet, the whole place stinks of the bad eggs of sulphurous gases, and a wrong foot could get you tumbling to your death in boiling water or sinking churning poisonous mud. You think the world has gone mad, and could quite easily picture yourself at the beginning of time itself when the world was young and dinosaurs walked the earth.
6. I’ve been to the Rugby Sevens in Hong Kong and even for someone who is not remotely interested in sport, it was a great day out. Loads of fun, loads of boose, loads of hunky men. Yep, I enjoyed it!!!
7. I was kidnapped in Bangkok by a tuk-tuk driver. The day I arrived in Bangkok I was unprepared for the thumping humidity, the pollution and the blinding heat. Having spent the morning visiting the famous sites, I had a blazing and blinding headache and just wanted to go back to my hotel to get some headache tablets and have a lie down. My companion agreed it was a good idea, and we headed to the nearby taxi rank, knowing a taxi could get us back to the hotel within 10 minutes. Then, up drove the tuk tuk driver (the tuk-tuk is a cheap form of transport in Bangkok, its basically a three wheeled moped with a roofed open sided carriage on the back for carrying 2 or 3 passengers). He was all smiles and asked where we want to go, we told him the name of the hotel. No problem, he said, he would take us and get us there quicker than the taxi. Ideal as far as I was concerned, as the headache had worsened considerably. Off we went……… and then he said that on the way he would show us a beautiful golden Buddha, and he was off, down a side road, into a confusing maze of little backstreets and into the city, driving at a mega speed, turning this way and that, until we arrived at the golden Buddha. We were lost. The last thing I wanted to do was look at it, but I managed to drag myself out to view it since we were in his hands. We couldn’t walk away, since we had absolutely no idea where we were, it was our first day in Bangkok and had no knowledge of whether wandering around away from the touristy spots was open to being mugged, raped or murdered. So we looked at the golden Buddha. Can we go to our hotel now please? Yes, certainly, he said, and we set off. Good. Then he announced that on the way he would take us to a jewellery shop where there were wonderful things to be had for a good price, and off he took us. We had no choice. He stopped outside the shop, we were ushered inside and were shown around and got out as fast as we politely could without giving offence. The tuk-tuk driver was upset we hadn’t bought anything. Then we asked again for him to take us to our hotel, since we had absolutely no idea where we were or which part of the city we were in. He agreed he would take us……….. but on the way he just wanted to take us to see another Buddha. No! No more Buddhas!!! Okay then, he would just take us to a tailors where we could have beautiful clothes made for us. We had no choice. He took us. We were taken in, and the owner of the shop spent ages showing us patterns for dresses, suits, trousers and skirts. No thank you we don’t want them. No thank you. Then he got shitty with us for wasting his time. HIS time!!!!!!! What about our bloody time? He wanted us to buy something, anything. So in the end, to appease him, we bought the cheapest thing he’d got in the shop, a silk tie for Â£5 (and probably paid WAAAAAYYY over the top for it at that price!) but at least we could get out of the shop. Back to our friend the tuk-tuk driver who was happily waiting for us and who THEN took us back to the hotel. Thank goodness. Two bloody hours after we’d met him. My headache was abysmal by then and all I wanted was a lie down in a darkened room, a cold drink and some aspirin after my ordeal!