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Thread: Europe Trip

  1. #1
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    Europe Trip

    The first step to entering the UK is getting a visa stamp from the immigration officer. If you can convince him you are somewhat respectable, you’ll get a stamp that says “Leave to Enter for Six Months: Employment and Recourse to Public Funds Prohibited.” You are now permitted to enter Her Majesty’s Kingdom. But she won’t spot you a few pounds if you are skint. And after paying 13 pounds for a one ticket to Paddington, I imagine the Queen has a lot of friend’s asking if they can “borrow” a few bucks.

    If you ever wondered where the Thais came up with “Please Mind the Gap” on the rot fai tai din, wonder no longer. It’s painted on all the subway platforms in England. When you eventually end up on Tottenham Court Road, you’ll hear some familiar sounds. Actually, you can’t miss these sounds, because they will be very loud. It will sound like “Dude, that was awesome! Amazing, man!” It could be that the reverse colonization of England has been completed. The English will now drink their tea iced, talk to strangers on the subway, classify marmite as a Class A Drug, and drive on the right. Or you could just be in the London equivalent of Times Square, and be surrounded by tourist. Rest assured, the English will continue to drink hot tea, treat strangers trying to strike up a conversation on the tube as mentally unstable, eat marmite, and drive on the left. To remind you that they drive on the left, the crosswalks tell you which way to look before crossing the street. Because dude, getting hit by a car wouldn’t be awesome. Although our host might find it wicked.

    My cousin arrives at the “We Will Rock You” Sign by the Tottenham Court Road stop around 10pm. I tell him I am exhausted after the flight and need to take a quick shower before we go out. He says there is no time and to take my bags with me to the pub. We arrive at the pub five minutes later and meet some of the other students in his study abroad program. Three girls and one guy are at the table. The girls say hello and the guy ignores me. My cousin is off to the bar to buy a round. Apparently, there is no table service in an English pub. Two other guys show up at the table while my cousin is leaving and sit down with pints of Guinness. They are both friendly and we start talking. Once they know I am going to Amsterdam, they start telling me how fucking stoned they were. Trust me, they were really fuckin’ stoned. Surprisingly, they can’t recall much else about their trip to Amsterdam. Being the polite, well mannered person that I am, I engage the others at the table in small talk. Once the girls realize I am not English, they seem to lose interest. At this point the whole dynamics of the table become clear. It probably plays out in all the American study abroad programs in England. The girls are looking for their trophy English boyfriend. I take a close look at one of girls, who is wearing a blouse that reveals her ample breasts and has her hair cut short with blond highlights. Call her Sharon, buy her a pint, and she is yours for the night. The American guys , unfortunately, have no chance until the girls capture their trophy. I want to tell the guy at the end of the table that he doesn’t have to look at me as competition. And also that he has no chance of getting laid with these gals. But since he is such a wanker, I’ll let him continue to ignore me. When he doesn’t get laid for three weeks and ends up with three girl “friends,” maybe he’ll wise up. I doubt it.

    A bell rings and I look around expecting to see a bunch of Thai bargirls start to squeal with delight. Unfortunately, none appear. More depressingly, my cousin explains that the bell means last call is in ten minutes. WTF? I then see the guys next to me down two pints of Guinness in a matter of minutes. It was an inspiring display of binge drinking. And then they both got up to order two more pints each. I sit in awe nursing my pint, still jet lagged and now realizing that 11pm last call is for real. My cousin orders two more pints for us and tells me to hurry up, because we will have to leave the bar at 11:45, regardless of whether we had finished our drinks. The two other guys sit down at the table, down both pints in three minutes, and walk up to the bar again with two minutes to spare. Everyone eventually finishes their drinks and the waitress stops by telling us to leave. The two drunk fellows are hungry, and I tell them I want to try an English curry. They think it’s a brilliant idea. Although at this point in their inebriated state, if I told them I wanted to swim across the English Channel, they would think it’s a brilliant idea and tell me to wait for them to find their bathing suits.

    Next part, finding a curry at 12am in London….
    Last edited by njdesi; 04-03-2006 at 06:46 AM.

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    The bar empties out by 12am and large groups are now in the streets. My cousin says getting Indian would be a hassle, why don’t we head out to Chinatown instead? The two drunk guys ponder this abrupt change in plan. That is, if “Fuck yeah, fuckin’ Chinese” is considered a coherent thought. My quest for an English curry will have to wait another day. We start walking towards Chinatown and I notice something strange. There are very few cars in London. The only vehicles I see are black taxis or buses. The Mayor of London, a socialist, imposed a $30 tax on cars entering the city center. Even the English, who will pay 3 pounds for a pint of beer, found this tax to be exorbitant. As a result, you don’t have cars packed with drunken teenagers yelling out their windows. They have to yell their nonsense on the sidewalk, like proper madmen.

    We finally arrive at Chinatown and enter a restaurant called the “New Laughing Buddha.” After being seated upstairs, we then take turns going to the bathroom. As is the custom, only one man at a time can go to the bathroom. Otherwise, we will become homosexuals and have to listen to Depeche Mode.
    While my cousin takes a leak, I peruse the menu certain of my sexuality and hatred for Depeche Mode. The prices are actually quite reasonable. 7 pounds per person for the vegetarian set menu. Add another pound for the chicken set menu. Since my cousin is vegetarian, we order that and the other guys order the chicken set menu. The food arrives and I notice the portion sizes are not like the US. The chicken menu would not only include one cooked chicken in the States, but his family and a few of his second cousins. No wonder us Americans are such fat bastards. It takes us a while to finish everything, but I am now full and ready to crash. The long flight, the three pints, and now a three-course Chinese meal have exhausted me. Unfortunately, it is too late to crash at my uncle’s apartment, so I will have to sleep in the university dormitory on Russell Street. We walk back to my cousin’s place and go up three narrow flights of stairs to his dorm room. There are three beds, beer bottles on the dressers, wine bottles on the floor, and very few books or evidence of any academic work. In other words, it looks like every other hovel college kids live in. But at the moment, it looks as good as the bed at the Peninsula Hotel. Before going to bed, my cousin maps out my itinerary for tomorrow morning at 8am. I will be taking a bus tour of the city. I nod and go to sleep. I don’t wake up until 12pm. I guess the tour of London will have to wait until the end. Our flight for Amsterdam leaves at 3pm. Knowing about this trip three months in advance, my cousin does what any other college student would do. He waits until three hours before our flight is to depart to figure out how to get to Stanstead Airport, get a few Euros, and pack for the six day trip we will be taking. I then realize I told him to learn some basic Spanish a few months ago so that we can find our way around Barcelona without any problems. Judging by his preparation so far, he would probably have difficulty understanding “Yo quero Taco Bell.” Which, of course, was the only Spanish I knew. But that was a worry for another day. Amsterdam is where we were headed to next………

    Next part, “Somebody’s Watching me” Michael Jackson, and he looks like a old Dutchmen……

  3. #3
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    Absolutely spot on with your observations of pub culture, Desi.

    Encore!!!

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    great reading as always, Nj!

    Thank you, and keep it coming please!

  5. #5
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    ^Great one njdesi. I laughed out long and loud at your pub story.....unfortunately it wasn't until two hours later when I was attending a funeral, but nonetheless....Keep 'em coming.

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    There are people who have lived here all their lives and not gained as much insight into British 'culture'.

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    We arrive at Stanstead Airport on the outskirts of London. Stanstead Airport is home to European budget carriers, like RyanAir and EasyJet. I purchased two tickets from Stanstead to Eindhoven for $30 each a few months ago. It seemed like a bargain at the time. Looking back now, I would have gladly paid an extra $30 for a flight directly to Schipol. Ryanair firmly believes in keeping their cost low, as a result they have hired one person to handle all check-ins at Stanstead Airport. And she is a recent émigré from a breakaway Soviet republic that ends in “stan” and starts with “Nvlh” or some similar combination of consonants that sound like a Hasidic Jew hacking phlegm. I may be exaggerating a little here. For ten minutes later, a flight from Blchhwanistan arrived. One of the arriving passengers was given a Ryanair uniform and told to start checking in all passenger to Eindhoven.

    So there was nothing left to do but wait in thirty person line. I absolutely detest waiting in a line (or queue). It is combination of my impatient American upbringing and Indian blood. Now that I stop to think about it, it probably is the main reason I like vacationing in Thailand. I hardly ever have to wait in a queue. The English, on the other hand, seemed perfectly comfortable waiting in line. If they were alone, they had an i-pod or a book to keep them occupied. If they were with someone, they would engage in small talk. Mostly about the weather. That seems to constitute small talk in England. I can imagine it now. King Arthur and his knights are sitting at the round table. King Arthur decrees, “Once our subjects live past the age of 22 and advances in dental hygiene allow them to have a full set of teeth, they will need something to talk about. They shall talk about the weather, and use words like ‘a chill draft’ and ‘a bit nippy’ without laughing.”

    ….Two hours later we arrive in Eindhoven Airport, and buy tickets for the Ryanair bus to Amsterdam. We board the bus, along with a large group of young English lads out on a weekend bender. The bus driver, an old Dutchman, speaks into the intercom. “Ve will be arrifing ut Umsterdam in one hoor unt forty fife minutes. Thank you.” The English lads start launching into their “Orgy, Borgy” Swedish chef imitations immediately. I found this peculiar. The Netherlands is only a 50 minute flight from England. They are a western culture with many of the same values. I never have seen a Dutch guy, upon hearing someone speak English, start saying “wanky,fanky,matey” and make funny faces. As far as these lads were concerned, the Netherlands may as well been on the moon. It seems like the world is divided into England and “not England.” Which is, of course, completely different from you are either with us or against us in fighting terrorism...

    The bus driver turns on the radio, and a stream of Eurotrash pop music follows. First “Somebody’s Watching Me,” then “Sweet Dreams,” and finally some Dutch women singing in English about her long lost “luf.” The only thing that could top this is…..“People are people so why should it be….” With that song to top off Ryanair hell and being stuck with a bunch of English lads, I doze off to sleep. An hour and a half later my cousin shakes me awake. I open my eyes and see Centraal Station. We have finally arrived in Amsterdam….

    Next part, Gay Veggie Burgers and Wally Wants A Hooker…

  8. #8
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    well written mate, keep going.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by njdesi
    Laughing Buddha.”As is the custom, only one man at a time can go to the bathroom. Otherwise, we will become homosexuals and have to listen to Depeche Mode.
    wheres Poolie - i'm sure this calls for some righteous indignation!

  10. #10
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    also, I had no idea that there were no cars in London. It cannot be because of the Mayors $12 charge, as that only operates in the daytime

    maybe it is the drink driving laws? or maybe Njdesi did not recognise the cars? dunno

  11. #11
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    ^
    Just basing the 12 pound charge on what my cousin told me. I was only in England for two days. Maybe it is because of the drinking laws. I stand corrected.

    Also, I said,"There are very few cars in London." I did not say there are none. Having travelled throughout the States, Europe, and Asia that is a valid statement. For the two nights I spent in London, there were very few private vehicles compared to other major cities at night.

    This is just a stream of consciousness rant on each country I visited based on my brief stay. This is not a factual guide. Just my experience.

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    ...my last visit to Amsterdam was in 2001. I was 22, fresh out of university and on my first trip abroad alone. Normally, your first trip to a foreign country should be an unforgettable experience firmly etched in your brain, even when you’re old fart who drives 50mph in the left lane, wakes up at 4am every day, and can’t remember what someone told you ten minutes ago. Due to an over indulgence in a certain intoxicant, however, my memories of Amsterdam were a bit…cloudy. I vaguely remember seeing canals, big groups of Japanese tourists being led around the infamous red light district, and Centraal Station, which is the first landmark my cousin and I saw after getting off the Ryanair bus. To get your bearings in downtown Amsterdam, imagine the city as a semi-circle composed of concentric rings. Centraal Station is the midpoint if the city was a full circle, and Damrak Street is a line cutting through the center of the circle. For the most part, Amsterdam is an easy city to navigate. After a few joints, however, you end up in the Red Light District thinking, “Didn’t I just pass the Goth Dominatrix five minutes ago? Or was I supposed to turn right at the Indonesian chick dressed as a cowgirl….”

    Our first task was to check in to the hostel, the Flying Pig. For the most part, it is not fair to judge based on name alone. This, however, is not one of those situations. The reception desk was simply the part of the bar closest to the door. The crowd at the bar and the "chill" area would be familiar to anyone who has wandered through Khao San Road. Simply subtract the henna tattoos and fisherman pants. But, you can still keep the white guys with dreadlocks. You can’t seem to avoid these twats anywhere.

    Before I went off searching for a pad thai/spring roll vendor, some hippie chick probably wearing a 100% hemp-based outfit with ironically cool black rimmed glasses asked for my passport and confirmation number. Because she was the most respectable looking person in the hostel, I took out my passport and went through the check-in process. We winded our way through the bar to the rooms housing the barrack style beds, washed up a bit, and then threw our packs in the locker. It’s 11pm, I am in Amsterdam and on vacation. I then realized something terrible. It has been four hours since my last beer.

    And alcohol would be the only intoxicant this trip. The War on Drugs is in full effect in the US. Even though I do not operate any type of machinery (unless, of course, you count the paper shredder or the stapler. Staple fights in cubicle land can get heated at times), I am still subject to random piss tests. And my cousin is a conservative Republican. I won’t even attempt to explain it. He has never smoked grass and had no plans to on this trip. The situation did not bother me. I was actually looking forward to a weekend in Amsterdam in a somewhat lucid state of mind. The “somewhat” qualifier would come into play once I downed a few beers. So enough with this idle chatter, it’s time to head to the lobby and have a pint. Most of the tables are packed, but we see a table with two empty seats. I ask the guy at the table if we can sit, and he says, “Yeah, have a seat dudes.” I go to the bar, get two pints, and then we start chatting with young Wally from Arkansas. He is tall, skinny kid, always flashing that goofy grin that seems to be common in the South. Like my cousin, he is studying abroad in England. England, he says is awesome. Amsterdam is awesome, too. Paris was awesome too, dude. My cousin agreed. Paris was awesome, dude. This is a pattern I would notice in all conversations with young Americans studying abroad, whether male or female. The only adjectives they would use to describe 90% of their experiences were awesome, amazing, or sucked. Nothing was ever memorable, unique, scenic, clever, inventive, dreadful, odd, etc. These repetitive conversations were quickly becoming tiresome. If American universities want to prepare their students, they should also include a thesaurus in their foreign survival pack. At least when the students ignored this, I would have something handy to bash them over the head with. Now that would be pretty awesome, dude.

    After a few beers, Wally starts to excitedly talk about the Red Light District. This is his first night and he hasn’t visited yet. He has never been with a hooker before, but is considering trying it since he is here. I tell him not be shy and tell the girls exactly what you want to do and bargain from there. You are simply paying for a service. You want a fun time, the girls, literally, want you in and out as quick as possible. That’s all there is to it. Nothing more, nothing less. His response: “So I give’em 50 euros and they’ll really have sex with me?” My little lecture on the industrial nature of the sex industry has been lost in a haze of testosterone. It’s around 12:30am when we finish our beers. 12:30am, the perfect time for this motley crew to visit the Red Light District….

    ( I was going to write about my cousin and not realizing we went into a gay restaurant, but it didn’t seem that interesting. Aside from the drunk lesbian couple making out two tables down. But teakdoor members, of course, aren’t interested in such licentious displays of girl on girl love. )
    Last edited by njdesi; 10-03-2006 at 08:56 AM.

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    On my first trip to Amsterdam we sat in a bar adjacent to one of the girls doors and timed the customers going in and out. The average was about ten minutes and the longest twenty.

    I think she serviced eight guys in the couple of hours we were there.
    Lord, deliver us from e-mail.

  14. #14
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    On my first visit to Amsterdam wandered into an Indonesian restuarant and had my first Rice Tarfel (sp). That was some meal 44 differant dishes between the 4 of us. Absolutely bloated when we finished eating and drinking large amounts of beer.

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    I have been receiving some negative feedback from this. I don't have any illusions of being a decent writer, just posting this so a few of my mates from thaizine can have a laugh.

  16. #16
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    Bollucks mate.
    Your writing is excellent, always worth reading.

    I would however like you to tell us the cousin with hooker story, also interested to know if his political values have changed at all since being abroad and how can anybody be fully grown and not have taken a drug of some kind.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by njdesi
    I have been receiving some negative feedback from this.
    That's surprising. Your writing is always good to read.

    More please.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmite the Dog
    Quote Originally Posted by njdesi
    I have been receiving some negative feedback from this.
    That's surprising. Your writing is always good to read.

    More please.

    I agree. Great stuff.


    I think you should see a publisher.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by njdesi
    have been receiving some negative feedback from this
    Not from me. I'm enjoying it.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by njdesi
    I have been receiving some negative feedback from this.
    Not from me, I just gave you a big plus

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