An afternoon in Mexico

Nothing so liberalizes a man and expands the kindly instincts that nature put in him as travel and contact with many kinds of people – Mark Twain

At the end of 2007 I went on a group trip to the West coast of America, going from San Diego to San Francisco and what a wild 10 days it was! We went to Los Angeles, then Phoenix, partied hard and went on the highest thrill ride in the world in Las Vegas, rode a helicopter to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and hiked through some waterfalls, visited Yosemite Park and had a quick stop at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

We started off though in San Diego, a city I loved instantly and after a quick boat ride tour we crossed over the nearby Mexican border into Tijuana. It was pretty hassle free getting through and we entered onto the main street which just seemed to be an endless stream of restaurants and drug stores. We had a lovely meal in a Mexican (fancy that) restaurant and soon after one of the waiters seemed intent on getting us absolutely pissed. He appeared with a huge bottle of tequila and a whistle…I’ll be honest I was scared. He then proceeded to go around the table, grab one of our heads and force it back to pour the tequila in, whilst blowing away on his whistle. There was definitely no arguing here, we were getting wasted if we wanted to or not! Before we’d almost finished off the whole bottle he started to pour our beers in at the same time. Then we had a few Margaritas and we were all well and truly gone, definitely a lunch I won’t forget!

On the way back to the coach me and a few of the guys kept getting men shouting at us “DONKEY SHOW, DONKEY SHOW!” Now we honestly had no idea what this was but it sounded like fun, especially after finishing off a bottle of Tequila. We headed in and a group of old men sat us down, we were excited…maybe the donkeys would do some tricks for us. An old woman then suddenly appeared and asked us in an erotic kind of way if we were “up for a good time.” We bolted straight for the door, she must have been about 50. Definitely not what we had in mind and not a donkey in sight.

Up until a few months ago I stayed completely oblivious to what a donkey show actually was and just presumed they messed up the translation or something, how wrong could I be. I can’t remember how it came up in conversation but my friend sent me the Wikipedia page and I felt sick.

“A donkey show is an alleged type of sexual performance most often associated with Tijuana, Mexico, in which a local woman engages in zoophilia with a donkey”

Well well…what if we had stayed in that strange little bar a few more minutes, what horrors would we have seen? Let this be a warning to anyone visiting Tijuana…enter these places at your own peril!

10 Tips for driving in Thailand

Maniac: ma·ni·ac/ˈmānēˌak/ A person exhibiting extreme symptoms of wild behavior, esp. when violent and dangerous: “a homicidal maniac”

I was coming to the end of my third visit to Thailand in November 2011 and had about 5 days to spare. I was in Krabi and had originally planned to go to Ko Samui but as it was the wet season I didn’t really fancy being on a beach in the rain! I also thought about going back to Phuket but I had been there the previous week and wasn’t sure if I could handle the craziness of Patong again! So I decided I would drive from Krabi to Bangkok, about 800km in total so plenty of time to do it in 4-5 days. I’d always wanted to see that center part of Thailand as I would normally fly right over it. I loved driving and it would be a good chance to get some freedom on the open road, on my own, exploring some new places.

I went to Ranong first of all which was a beautiful drive through rainforests and waterfalls. The actual town wasn’t really much to look at though and it was pretty deserted. I pushed on to Chumphon hoping for bright skies and beautiful beaches but it was depressingly wet and windy. Hua Hin wasn’t much better but I had a nice time looking around the night market. On the whole the driving was fine, apart from the points below! Bangkok was a nightmare and it took me a good few hours to get into the city. Once I arrived at my hotel I felt like I had been through a serious ordeal and vowed never to drive in Bangkok again!

  1. Thai people are on the whole very welcoming, friendly and laid back but when they get into a car something changes. They turn into suicidal maniacs, out to overtake everyone and get ahead no matter what the cost!
  2. Therefore: always assume that the person behind you is going to try and overtake. Even if there is no place to overtake except round a corner, on the wrong side of the road.
  3. Out of the main cities you will most likely come across stretches of road that are full of pot holes. Do whatever you can to avoid these, even if it means going onto the wrong side of the road as some of them are HUGE!
  4. Drive as fast as you like as you will hardly ever see any speed limits and when you do they will be ridiculous, like 30km/h on a dual carriageway.
  5. If you see a dog, do not assume that it will get out of the way even if you beep and shout at it. Dogs in Thailand are not domesticated (e.g. stupid) and they will stand their ground. Unfortunately I saw the reality of this as I must have seen about 10 of them dead by the side of the road in my 5 days driving.
  6. Make sure you take some CDs or have some way of playing music as the radio will drive you insane. They seem to only play love songs.
  7. Don’t drive in Bangkok unless you want to have a mental breakdown.
  8. Also be wary of policemen! One stopped me in Bangkok because I was apparently driving through a bus lane even though I saw no buses and everyone else was driving through it anyway. He said he would fine me 600 baht (£12) and stop me from driving for 2 weeks. Luckily I was with a Thai friend and he managed to pay the policeman 200 baht (£4) so we could be on our way! Ahh corruption at its finest!
  9. Drive in whatever lane you like as nobody seems to understand that the far right lane should be the fast lane. People will overtake in ANY lane which is one cause of all of the horrendous traffic, especially around Bangkok.
  10. There is no hard shoulder; it is an extra lane for overtaking.

Every journey begins with a blog post

Broaden: broad·en/ˈbrôdn/ – Expand to encompass more people, ideas, or things

Sunset in Thailand

I’ve always loved to travel. Ever since I first boarded a plane bound for America at the tender age of 12. I can remember it well. I was with my auntie, uncle and cousins on a Virgin Atlantic flight to Florida. I spent the entire 8 hours playing on the Super Nintendo in front of me which I thought was amazing and never once felt frightened or worried about flying an aeroplane for the first time. I felt excited and obviously glad to be going on holiday to some distant land!

Maybe that’s when my interest for travelling sparked as I’ve always been one for discovering new places, experiencing new cultures and opening my mind to something entirely different. I’m never one to stay in the same place very long, I very quickly become bored with the mundane routine of daily working life – especially in the UK. Whenever I had holiday to use I would groan at the people around me wanting to go clubbing in Ibiza or to lie on a sunbed bored out of their minds on some other predictable package holiday. I wanted adventure, something I’d never done before. Skydiving, climbing a mountain, hiking a glacier, quad biking through the desert, skiing, being out of my comfort zone…those were the things I considered a holiday.

So I created this blog to write about my travels, keep my family updated and mainly to remind myself of what I’ve done! I’ll be writing about the last year where I travelled around Asia and Australia as well as my journey now to become an English teacher, hopefully in Japan.