1. Stunned and disgusted, Dave rushed back to the hostel and dumped an entire bottle of shampoo on his face.
You know that person on the subway that everyone slowly inches away from? That person who makes you sip air from the opposite direction to avoid inhaling anything they may have exhaled?
Well, that person was on the Hong Kong subway, and she was staring at us. To be more precise, she was staring at Dave - the apparent apple of her wandering left eye. In fact, the only thing she paid more attention to than Dave was wiping the drool coming from her toothless granny grin.
We try to ignore her, pretending to be really engrossed in our subway map. But then the train stops, and she gets up. Whew! Thank God she’s getting off, we think. But then she shuffles not toward the door, but toward us. Gripping the bar next to Dave with her veiny hand, she looks up like she’s about to say something, but we whip around to face the other direction before she has the chance.
We can feel her presence behind us, tapping her foot, giddily talking to herself off and on. The train stops again. Dave, in what would later be called a “poor decision,” turns slightly to peek over his right shoulder and see if crazy lady is getting off. And that is just the opening she needs.
With lightning speed, she plunges her hand deep into Dave’s beard. Like an arcade claw trawling for a prize, her dirty fingers fondle every hair. Terrified, Dave looks up to see the beard rapist looking like she just won the lottery - mouth and eyes wide open with excitement.
Dave’s instinct, of course, is to pull away, but the overcrowded subway has him trapped. A few seconds later, the train stops. Crazy lady gives the beard one hard final tug, picks up her bag, and shouts (in the squeakiest voice you can imagine): “Bye, bye!”
Hue, Viet Nam
You’re in the desert. It’s 95 degrees. You can feel UV rays penetrating every bit of exposed skin, and your sweat is slowly glueing your shirt to your back.
What better time for a steaming hot cup of coffee!
At least that’s the mindset here in Jordan. No matter how horribly hot it is outside, they insist on sipping the closest thing that has reached a full boil.
What about iced tea or iced coffee? We’ve never seen it. And since it’s rude to turn down an offer for a drink (a very common form of hospitality), we’ve had to endure it. And it’s like drinking fire in hell.
So, when our driver offered us coffee on our long drive from Madaba to Petra, we happily accepted while thinking “crap, here we go again…”
Not only was it scorching outside, but we weren’t exactly in the coolest ride. It was decades old, missing most of its paint, and the air conditioner didn’t work, which, at one point, made us seriously consider if this dude had retrofitted his 1950’s convection oven with wheels and a leaf blower motor.
“This isn’t just any coffee,” he tells us with a gleam in his eye in the taped-together rearview. “This is the best.”
“Yeah ok, whatever. Please let it be a really really small cup,” we dismissively think.
He starts to slow down, which confuses us cause there’s nothing but desert sand in sight. Then all of a sudden he jumps out! We look around, wondering exactly which mound of sand he’s going to magically procure coffee from when we see a little store. Although, just as “car” would be an exaggeration of what we were riding in, this “store” was more like a dude on a stool with a bunson burner and a makeshift roof made of trash.
After a minute, our driver comes back with three LARGE cups of coffee, and instructs us on how to hold them so they don’t spill while he drives the oven.
But, to our surprise, as much as we were dreading that hot coffee, it had us at the first sip. We looked at each other, wide-eyed, and proclaimed: “Holy crap! This is the best coffee I’ve ever had!”
It was intense. Strong, thick, and…herbal. More the consistency of a sauce that’s been reducing for hours than a drink.
“Cardamom! Made with cardamom!” the driver announces.
“Wow, what else?”, we ask.
“…cardamom and camel’s milk,” he gleams.
We look down at our coffee, mostly gone at this point, and briefly wince while imagining someone squeezing a camel nipple into our cup.
But the wincing quickly passes as we drink (and chew) every bit of the half inch of silky sediment sitting at the bottom.
In fact, we were so distracted by the best coffee of our lives, we totally forgot we were sitting in an oven.
4. “Attention. Two sheep are missing. If you see them, please tell the mayor.”
We first noticed the bright orange hair on the owner of our hostel in Alleppey, India. During our tour of his garden, he pointed out the henna plant, which is used to make the dye for henna body art, and also, he informed us, his hair.
Since then, we’ve noticed lots of Indians sporting the peculiar orange dye job. But it wasn’t until we got to northern India that we started getting comments on Dave’s beard.
Museum security guard (whispering): “Nice mustache.”
Shop customer (to Emily) sheepishly stroking his own patchy facial hair: “Your husband…VERY nice beard!”
Internet cafe clerk: “Hey, where did you buy your beard?”
Guy sitting on a bucket in the street (motioning to Dave’s face): “Good color!”
It went on and on. Comment after admiring comment. People across the street motioning to their face and smiling.
“What is up with this?” we wondered. Is orange hair the latest fashion trend? Why did that guy ask where I “bought” my beard? Did he think that I had it professionally dyed?
Well, after a little Googling, we found out that it IS a fashion trend. Albeit a centuries old one. The Prophet Muhammed is said to have dyed his beard with henna. Seeking to emulate the Prophet, it has become tradition for Muslim men who have made the Hajj to dye their beard henna-orange as well.
So why didn’t we get these comments in the Middle East? There are certainly fewer Muslims here in India….
Maybe because Dave’s face forest wasn’t as thick a couple months ago. Or maybe it’s because Indians are far less shy with their questions and opinions.
Either way, it’s quite appropriate. Just as a dyed orange beard marks a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca, Dave’s naturally ginger thicket marks a major journey in our lives as well.
You know that awful moment when you reach for the toilet paper…and it’s gone? Blaming your spouse/kids/houseguests under your breath, you fumble under the sink…surely there’s another roll…ARGH!
It may be embarrassing to call down the hall to someone (anyone!) to fetch you a new roll…but, hey, at least you have that option.
We’re thousands of miles from home in a country that considers toilet paper unsanitary. That’s right. They think, with toilet paper, you leave too much behind …on your behind.
We have no idea how the heck you’re supposed to use the little hose coming out of the bathroom wall. So it wasn’t long until we became hoarders. Toilet paper hoarders. We rationed our supplies and took new ones whenever possible. No unguarded roll was safe.
When we were in a nicer hotel that did provide them, we yanked it before they would clean our room in the morning (right along with the soap, of course). Man, the cleaning ladies must’ve thought we had super sphincters.
Yesterday, though, we noticed that our backpacks had ballooned. And when we went in search of the culprit, we were confronted by our hoarding problem.
Eight full rolls.
Good thing tomorrow is Halloween.
(from Dave the Mummy/Burn Unit Patient)
The beautiful Wisma Maria Hotel is situated in the heart of Sulawesi. Within walking distance of 17 fried tofu stalls (all ranked #1 in the area), it’s the perfect place to base your exploration of the Torajan countryside.
Your room choice, “Budget III”, is well-appointed:
Plush linens from our forward-thinking design team.
A new shower concept that takes the size of a shower and the size of a sink, and splits the difference for remarkable versatility.
Plus, in our quest to offer you unparalleled choice, you can decide whether to step on a tiled portion of floor…or not. It’s completely up to you!
Our staff artists opt not to use paint to decorate, but rather to remove it from the walls entirely. This bold and unexpected technique is exclusive to “Budget III” accommodation, where we channel water gathering on the roof into the walls through carefully chiseled crevices, producing a raw aesthetic that’s sure to take the art world by storm.
In celebration of our Go Green Program, “Budget III” now features small green fauna growing right on the walls!
Book now. We look forward to making your stay with us unforgettable.
We’re on a bus in Turkey. It’s 5am. And we’re ripped from sleep by none other than Celine Dion. The bus driver has put her Titanic hit on repeat and cranked the volume to 11 which, as you can imagine, kind of felt like an iceberg repeatedly ramming your face. At first we thought the driver had gone nutso, but as we me made our way around the world, we realized he wasn’t the only one.
We heard it blasting from a knock-off purse stall in a Bangkok night market. We heard it on Bali beaches, in Cambodian bars, Indian airports, and Saigon taxis. Then on a misty mountainside in the Himalayas, just when we thought we’d escaped it, our guide’s cell phone rings. Yup, it’s also a ringtone. The world’s obsession with the Titanic tune is unmatched. Near, far, wherever we were, it found us.
We were expecting to hear a lot more local music, whatever that means. Maybe some pan pipes, exotic single-stringed instruments, or warbling tribal vocals. But, as we found out, most people listen to American music (albeit a few years behind).
It wasn’t unusual to hear someone who speaks not a shred of English bust out with something like “Drop it like it’s hot!” and have no idea what it means. And we definitely weren’t expecting the black Escalade with ground-shaking bass, tinted glass rolled down to reveal Bedouins in white robes car-dancing to “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”. Or the Korean man who desperately wanted to know if Boyz 2 Men was still together, but had to ask us using hand signals and his cell phone playlist.
As surprising and, thanks to Celine, creepy as it was, hearing familiar music made us feel closer to the people we were meeting. It gave us instant commonality. And as much as the world disagrees about, um, everything, it’s really nice to know that we can all agree Snoop Dogg is the shiz.