I’ve been to a fair few places, but I’m not a massive fan of travelling. In fact, I sort of hate it. Specifically, the amount of hype, hoopla and horse-poo which is written and spoken about it.
The worst thing is how travelling inculcates an intolerable self-satisfaction in devotees – as if they pick it up on their journey, by some strange metaphysical process, along with email addresses of Kiwi students they’ll never contact, one of the nastier STDs, and a prodigious collection of foreign currency in denominations so small the bank’s foreign exchange teller glares at you as if to say, ‘Are you taking the mickey or what?’
‘Oh, but you have to travel!’ the returned voyager will shriek. ‘It’s changed me forever! Travelling totally broadens the mind.’ Does it, though? I guess it depends on what sort of mind you have in the first place.
Any moron can backpack around the flesh-pots of the world and return an even bigger troglodyte than they were leaving. By contrast, many writers, philosophers and other beautiful minds spend their lives in the same small town and yet are truly perceptive, liberal and open-minded. So put that sticker on your backpack, dude.
You don’t need to actually go anywhere to be ‘well-travelled’, a fact I am about to prove. I’ve seen next to nothing of Planet Earth but now present the world’s first speculative atlas, based more on hearsay, assumption, national stereotypes and random junk pulled out of the ether, than real knowledge.
So it’s informative, as well as entertaining.
Enormous blank space on map of Asia. Location for Soviet A-bomb tests. Supposedly has lots of oil, but who can say for sure? Dusty. Made famous by unfunny 2006 comedy starring that git in the cheap blue suit. Population: sixteen million (fourteen million humans, two million irradiated monsters underground). Main tourist attraction: it’s not Kyrgyzstan.
Large Western European nation. Bad at wars since Napoleonic times. Good at shrugging and being blasé about spouse’s affairs. Said to be cursed with wicked garlic breath. Women beautiful and ‘complicated’. Interesting fact: only people on earth allowed hold arrogant notion that their culture is superior to all others. That’s because it is.
Small Caribbean island. Former colony or sugar plantation or something. Home of Rastafarian religion, horrible reggae music, enormous multicoloured woollen caps. Once ran bobsled team in Winter Olympics. Population: what am I, National Geographic?
One massive country south of Mediterranean (note: check veracity of Sarah Palin statement before publication). Very hot. Setting for racist Johnny Weissmuller movies in the thirties. Fauna includes lions, hyenas, Indian elephants and Venus flytraps the size of the Sears Tower. Main exports: aid money to Swiss banks. Main imports: luxury cars, high-end weaponry.
Troubled history of internecine slaughter and needlessly depressing epic novels. Funny alphabet with backwards letters and nonsensical squiggles. Industry based on steel, vodka, international espionage, ice-skating and ice-skating-related enterprises. No longer cannibal except in outlying regions. Area: enormous. Christ, it really is. It’s gigantic. I mean, have you seen it on the map?
Smallest of the continents but also a country, which is just confusing. Stolen from peaceable natives in nineteenth century. Full of kangaroos and discarded beer cans. Approximately six months behind rest of world, hence celebrate Christmas in June which is actually the previous January. Weird/comical accents. Famous sons: obnoxious former tennis champ Pat Cash, guy who directed Moulin Rouge.
Makey-uppy Middle Eastern state. Political system: sand-blown theocracy. Currently celebrating arrival of twelfth century. Don’t seem to like women very much. Floating on endless oceans of oil, hence Western world’s indifference to fact they don’t seem to like women very much. Main industry: marrying six-year-old girls to their geriatric first cousins.
Island in northern Atlantic. Comes in forty shades of green (see accompanying shade-card for full selection). Birthplace of Bono and notorious Prohibition-era hoodlum Vincent ‘Mad Dog’ Coll. Blew up a whole bunch of stuff in Britain during the 1970s. Climatically temperate, meaning soft drizzle for 362 days every year. Hard drizzle rest of the time. Religion: Catholic, Church of Ireland, cult of hating Bono.
East Asian country. Famed for politeness, intricate art of folding paper, rice-based alcoholic drinks, vacuum-packed schoolgirls’ panties. Incredibly over-populated. Really, they’re living on top of one another. Lost WWII on a knockout. Periodically beset by earthquakes and bouts of national self-flagellation. Main industries: potentially fatal raw fish-based delicacies, tiny electronics, vacuum-packed schoolgirls’ panties.
Doesn’t exist either.
Does exist, but really, what’s the point?
South American slum. I mean nation. Most dangerous place on earth ™. Torn apart by politically obsolete narco-guerrillas and fat druglords in linen suits and oiled-back hair. Considerably more depressing to visit than Paraguay, but pees all over El Salvador. Interesting fact: fat druglords always call their daughters ‘my little princess’. Yecchh. Creepy.