Missed the first one? Check out the original Tiny Ramblings here.
In Bangkok there are massage salons with “balls massages” on the menu. Just down the road from one of the fanciest malls in the world. It’s up there on the window for everyone to see. Balls massage. And you got ladyboy hookers and businessmen eating noodles at the same street food stand at 4 o’clock in the morning. Rats the size of cats hiding in the garbage bags. Two blocks down you got a street stall where you can buy boner pills. Some 60 year old white boy walking down the street with 3 gogo girls on his arm. His wife five steps behind. And people think Vegas is crazy. You think Vegas is sin city? Bangkok eats Vegas for breakfast.
Switzerland is so nice. You walk around that country and you’re just like, how is this place so nice? I was with a friend in Zurich, and she goes, “So yeah, this is one of the not so nice areas.” And the streets are spotless, no graffiti or trash or anything, there’s a BMW parked on the side of the road, Audi’s are driving past. That’s what a rough neighbourhood in Switzerland looks like. So now I know why there are no good boxers or rappers from Switzerland.
There’s this really funny dynamic when you hitch hike. Because as the hitcher, you’re thinking “Shit I hope someone crazy doesn’t pick me up.” And the driver is also thinking, “Shit I hope I’m not picking up someone crazy.” So a car stops, and you’re afraid the driver might be crazy, the driver’s afraid you might be crazy, and you both tentatively introduce yourselves hoping the other one isn’t crazy.
Finland is such a self-hating country. They have nothing nice to say about themselves. You ask a Finn what Finland is like, they’re going to say, “Oh it sucks, no one smiles, it’s always cold, it’s so boring, everyone is so rude and ignores each other.” So I went to Finland expecting some screwed up place, and it turns out to be one of the nicest places ever. People are nice, girls are pretty, food is good, everyone is welcoming and happy to see you, it’s super polite and pleasant. I would even live there. And then you kinda figure out the Finns are just real humble people. That’s why they talk like that. But I hope deep down they know they come from a really awesome country.
Germany needs some problems. If you walk on the wrong side of the sidewalk in Germany, people will literally stop and have a meltdown in front of you. Don’t believe me? Try it. I’ve seen people get punched for walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk in Germany. Now think about what that means. For you to have a meltdown, someone needs to really, really fuck up your life. Like some guy goes bankrupt, loses his job, his wife leaves him, okay fine, he has a meltdown. But in Germany you just walk on the left instead of the right of the footpath and they’ll have a meltdown. Screaming, pulling their hair out. You think I’m joking. I’m not joking. And they got enormous sidewalks there too, like five metres wide. But that’s a meltdown-level problem for a German. That’s literally the biggest problem in their life, having to walk around someone on their enormous sidewalk. So I feel like they need some real problems there. Someone needs to go to Germany and just slash tires or cut the power or something so they can have some real problems.
The French are too funny. If you’re at a table with some French people, they’ll just speak French with each other. And they know it’s rude. They’ll even say to you, “Sorry, that was rude, we shouldn’t be speaking French.” And then two minutes later they start speaking French again. And then they’ll apologise again, and then start speaking French again. Honestly I don’t even consider it rude anymore when French people do it. I just consider it a bad habit that they can’t break, like Chinese people talking really loud in restaurants or Italians flirting with the reception lady.
I find it weird how we speak English everywhere. In every country in the world, without exception, people either speak English, or are trying really hard to speak English. So England kinda still rules the world. They invade the whole world, take all this shit over, kill everyone, and then they give it all back. They’re like, okay, you can all be independent now, we’re sorry. So it’s like, cool, now we’re all free. But we still all speak English every day. I’m Chinese, from New Zealand. So I should speak Chinese and Maori. But I speak English. Why do I speak English? I’m not from England. Queen Elizabeth is on our money. Why is she on our money? We’ve got some Maori queen down in Rotorua or something but I’ve never heard of her, because she isn’t on our money. So to me it still feels like England owns everything. But you also gotta admit, every country colonised by England is usually quite a nice place to live – safe, civil, nice roads and stuff. So I don’t know if I’m supposed to love them or hate them.
Is it just me or are the Aussie travellers getting tamer? Because the Americans have this reputation for being geographically retarded, like they think China is by Antarctica and South Africa is a separate continent. So nowadays it’s not uncommon to meet an American traveller who just knows everything, like the capital city of Yemen and it’s population and what its flag looks like. Because they’re so aware of the stereotype that they do everything they can to be a geographical genius and prove everyone wrong. So now it seems Aussies are doing the same thing. Like you’ll all go for a beer and you ask the Aussie guy in the hostel, yo, wanna come for a beer? And he’s like nah I might stay in and read. And everyone’s like, what the hell? Since when did you Aussies read anything on holiday other than the cocktail menu.
They drink hot, mint tea in Morocco. It makes no sense. You’re living in this hot ass country, the Sahara desert is two blocks down the street, and you’re sitting there wrapped up from head to toe drinking hot tea in the middle of the afternoon. Shouldn’t your national drink be like, iced tea, or if mint is really your thing, maybe a virgin mojito or something. At least in other hot ass places like Spain they drink little cups of cold beer in the afternoon. But in Morocco you come in from the street dripping in sweat about to pass out from Vitamin D overload and the first thing they offer you is a cup of hot tea. Figure that one out.
Lithuania is an interesting one. Tiny little country. All nice and developed and everything. Peaceful. Maybe the most beautiful women in the world. But nobody living there. Refugees don’t even wanna go there. Most well-to-do Lithuanians have skipped the country. They’re all in London or something. And to me it just feels like a little New Zealand. Because all the smart New Zealanders are overseas as well, because of all the bullshit in New Zealand. So I walk around Lithuania and I’m just thinking, what is it? Tell me what it is! What is the bullshit here that everyone’s fleeing? I can sense it, I know it’s there, because we have the same thing in New Zealand. But I have no idea what it is.
You wanna know the truth about people? Look at their food. It tells you everything. Like the Chinese – they throw all this shit into the wok, turn the heat up to max, and just throw it around like a cyclone. And they chuck it on a plate and they don’t care what it looks like. Fast, efficient, to the point. That’s Chinese people. Then take the Japanese. It’s all about appearances. They give you this real simple dish, like rice and fish. But it looks bland, so they put a piece of pumpkin there for some orange, and some ginger for some pink, some green beans. Just to make it look nice. And it comes out all tidy and delicate and polite looking. Like Japanese people. Then you got the French. When they eat steak, it’s not just steak. They make this fancy sauce and give it a fancy name, pile the potatoes up like they’re playing Jenga, make a tic tac toe grid with the asparagus. All served on a square plate that probably cost more than your shoes. It’s all very dressed up and pretentious. Like French people.
When you meet Korean people on the road, they’re so insular. Like you can actually go up and say hi to them and they’ll still ignore you and turn you away. And at first I thought it was just because they hate me, but then you meet a few Koreans who speak English and they’re like the nicest people ever. So I still don’t really know. Either they’re just really shy, or they’re too polite to speak English badly, or they just don’t like you. One of the three.
I want to know where the “bad Asian driver” stereotype came from. Because Asian people are seriously the best drivers in the world. Go spend five minutes watching the traffic in any big Asian city. Saigon, Shanghai, Delhi, Bangkok, whatever. Doesn’t matter. You gonna see people whizzing in every different direction weaving between motorbikes and buses and food carts, no one gives a shit about the traffic lights, people speeding their faces off. And not a single accident. And they’re all calm too. All that madness and they’re all as calm as monks, no stress, and none of them crash. Now take your average Susan or Philip from America and throw them in there. Give them a set of car keys in Guangzhou and send them to the grocery store. Bet you a thousand bucks they crash within five minutes.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I’m too worried about this global warming thing. Sometimes you’re up in Europe somewhere, and you can’t even go outside because your afraid your toes are gonna freeze off. They’re living in single digit temperatures 11 months of the year. And people are saying some places will get too hot to live. Well guess what. A shitload of places will finally be warm enough to live. Like the north of Canada. Ain’t nobody living up there right now. Why? Too freaking cold. But once this global warming shit starts happening it’s going to be real nice up there. Everybody going to be moving from Hawaii to the north of Canada. It’ll be like the next California. Kugluktuk could be the new Beverly Hills. Would that be so bad?
There are places in Sweden that don’t accept cash. It’s freaking weird. I got on the bus, and I give the driver some kroners and he’s like nah, no cash. And I’m like what? What do you mean? I can’t pay for stuff with money in this country? So luckily I had a Mastercard, and I’m standing there while the bus driver fires up his credit card machine. And I’m just bewildered. Then the next day I go to the market and I order some fish tacos, and just as the guy is wrapping em up I suddenly think shit! I only have cash! So I ask the guy, “Uhh, can I pay with cash?” And he looks at me like I’m brain damaged or something and is like, “Uhh yeah, of course.” And I just think, well this guy obviously doesn’t catch the bus to work.
I’m finding evolution hard to understand. Because I want to know why we all look so different, and the Wikipedia answer is “evolution.” So we all start on this big piece of land, and it separated into different continents. And Africans stayed dark because it’s really sunny there, and white people are white because there’s no sun up in Europe so eventually they all turned white. I guess down south it was somewhere in between, so the South Americans are all olive, and the New Zealand and Aussie natives are all Nutella colour or whatever. But let’s say you take 1,000 people from Ghana, and you put them on a deserted island up by Scotland somewhere. How long is it going to take that group to evolve from black people into white people? Are they really just going to start growing blonde hair and running slower because there’s no sun up there? I can’t see it happening. Maybe in like a million years, maybe. But we haven’t been around that long have we? Then again, Michael Jackson evolved in like eleven years, so maybe I’m wrong.
Every single German person I’ve met travelling has been cool. And I’ve met a lot. Probably over a hundred. And I never understood how they got their reputation. All the Europeans always screw up their face when you mention German people. I’m like, what you got against the Germans? They’re so cool. And then I went to Germany and I was like, ohhh okay. Got it.
I’m noticing a culture change in the world. Back when I was a kid, everybody wanted to be rich. If you were a kid from a rich family and you had a nice car and all that, you were cool. Everybody wanted to be your friend. Nowadays, people are changing. It’s not cool to be rich anymore. You meet some rich kid from a celebrity neighbourhood, and you meet some cool guy from the ghetto who paints pictures and plays the guitar, guess who everybody wants to be friends with? Not the rich kid. When did people stop wanting to be rich? Was it Lorde? Did Lorde do it? Because kids are actually starting to get over the rich thing. You wanna know what that means? It means if you want this generation to work for you, don’t offer them a big salary. Offer them an average salary, and let them wear sneakers to work and give them eight weeks to travel and free yoga lessons and lunches from Whole Foods on the house. You don’t need to pay them much. Just give them a parking space for their Vesper, let them vape at their desk. That kind of thing. You’ll have more applicants than you know what to do with.
In China, love is practical. You get two sets of parents and they’ll kinda sit down and play checkers and drink tea and say, you want your son to marry my daughter? Show me his résumé. And if he has at least an A- average and isn’t too ugly they’ll set it up, make the kids get married, have some babies, and learn to love each other. It’s like marriage comes first, worry about love later. And they do usually end up loving each other. But in America, you just send your daughter out into the world and tell her to find someone to love on her own. And of course she’s looking for some Sleepless in Seattle shit which never happens, because life ain’t a movie, so she gets depressed and spends her twenties posting Instagram photos about true love and happiness and being lonely. And because life is impossible to figure out before 40 anyway she usually picks some idiot and gets divorced twice before she finally gets it right. So maybe the American way feels right but the China way gets results. So which is better?
One of the most fascinating things about travel is eating bread. Every single country makes bread, and they all make it differently. So after eating like 100 different breads you start to ask yourself, how the hell did all these places come up with totally different ways to cook flour and water? But they did, somehow. India, Turkey, France, Italy, Spain, they all make it so differently. Every country. It’s like basketball. Every player shoots a jumpshot the same way – they pull up, jump, release. But it’s unique. If you blot out the faces, most people will still be able to say, that’s a Kobe jumpshot, that’s an MJ one, that’s Steph. Same with bread. Same ingredients, but different every time. If you’re bored while you’re travelling, just go start eating bread. It’s fascinating.
I have a love hate relationship with the airport. There’s all these people standing around pretending to have important jobs. You go through security and the guy tells you off for not taking a receipt out of your pocket. It’s like, oh really, you’ve seen a receipt bomb before? Is my receipt going to set off your stupid X-ray machine over there? Dickhead. But then it’s also the realest place in the world. The realest tears in the world are cried in the airport. The realest hugs and kisses and joys and heartbreaks are in airports. You see a couple kiss at their wedding, it’s the lamest shit ever. I mean, what the hell was that? That’s how you kiss the love of your life? I kiss my biceps with more passion than that. You wanna know if love is real, you wanna see if people really love each other, watch them kiss at the airport. Then you’ll know. I’ve seen more Romeo and Juliet scenes at the airport than the rest of the places in the world combined. So I hate the airport, but I love it too.
People ask me about Copenhagen, and I kinda shrug my shoulders. Because Copenhagen is seriously beautiful. Everything is colourful and stylish and every third person you see looks like a Calvin Klein model. But you’re going to go bankrupt just standing around on the street there. So it’s hard for me to love a city like that. If you’re going to charge me that much to live in your city, I’m telling you, it better be the best freaking city I’ve ever seen. With those prices there should be matcha latte coming out of your drinking fountains.
I’ve noticed this funny thing in New Zealand. When white people go on holiday, it’s no big deal. Honestly, you see some girl show up at the airport, maybe her Dad just waves her goodbye from the car and she goes and checks in like she’s going to the movies or something. Even if she’s going overseas for a year, she’s moving to London, it’s like whatever, have a safe trip. But you get someone from Samoa or Tonga, some Polynesian kid, maybe even a Filipino, you can be sure the entire family is going to be there to say goodbye. I’m not just talking about Mum and Dad and little brother. I’m talking Grandma, Grandpa, all the cousins, Auntie Moana, Sione from church, your best friend Rangi from high school. They’re all there in one big group taking up half the departure hall. And they don’t just show up in their pyjamas. They’re wearing number ones like they’re going to a sacred ceremony or something. And they’re there until the last second, to say goodbye with hugs and kisses, every single one of them, watching as you go through the gate to bid you good luck on your journey, singing songs, tears rolling down their cheeks. You can see how much family means in those cultures. It’s really beautiful.
You know I heard a rumour, that the reason all the blonde girls are up in Scandinavia is because them Vikings used to really love blondes. So back in the day the Vikings just went around Europe and raided everyone’s village and took all the blondes home. So you walk around Denmark and Sweden and stuff, and you see some tall blonde girl and you’re like ooh shit, don’t mess with her, she’s a Viking. Maybe her grandfather even has dreadlocks and an axe collection at home. But what about the boys? They all got combovers and skinny jeans up there now. They don’t look so Viking. But before you mess with one of those guys just remember, he might have Viking blood. And a bunch of Viking cousins too. They’re just all disguised as hipsters now.
Malaysia is awesome. You know why it’s so awesome? Because you don’t need to fill out that stupid form at the airport. You just give them your passport, they put it in that little scanner machine thing, and then you go in. No form. And you know what? Malaysia is still there. It’s fine. Hasn’t blown up or anything. So all you other countries that still make me fill out that stupid form at the airport, can you please call Malaysia and ask them how they do it? Because I know you don’t even read those forms, I see you, you just throw them all in this box and then probably send it straight to recycling. So you’re wasting everyone’s time and you’re also killing millions of trees. Seriously, don’t be too proud. Just pick up the phone and call Malaysia. It’ll take you like five minutes.
I’m gonna be real. India annoys me. Its the hustle. They are going to squeeze absolutely every last penny out of you. You give some guy a tip and he’s just going to look at you like you’re a frikkin gypsy. Even if you give him like five bucks, he’ll stand there shaking his head like you gave him a couple of Tic Tacs or something. And then you actually feel bad. You’re like, shit, was I supposed to give him more? If you make a deal with someone, no matter how set in stone it is, they somehow change it. You can even confirm it like seven or eight times. “200, right?” And he’ll be like, “Yes 200.” And you’re like “Really, just 200, yeah?” And he’ll go “Yes yes yes just 200.” And he’ll do that funny shake of his head and you’re like cool, 200. And then it comes time to pay and now somehow the price is 400. And he tells you this huge story and it kind of even makes sense, and you’re like shit, am I really gonna give this guy 400 now? So I’m always a little on edge in India. But then you eat their food and you’re like, you know what, I don’t care. Take all my damn rupees. When your food is this delicious you can do whatever you want.
If you go to Germany, you’re gonna find really good Chinese food. Sometimes it’s even better than the stuff in China. And Vietnamese food too. You’re going to find noodle soups and fried rice and roast duck and it’s gonna be the real shit. And then just down the street in France, you’re going to find the worst Chinese food in history. I don’t even know how a Chinese person can stand behind the counter and sell that. They’re gonna charge you 8 euros and then serve you some Uncle Ben’s rice with salami or something and call it a Chinese fried rice. Go order a riz cantonais in France, I dare you. I’m pretty sure you won’t eat it. You’re gonna feed it to your dog or fertilise your garden with it. So how is it that Germany and France are right beside each other and one of them is cooking Hong Kong level food and the other is serving rice porridge from a can? Those two need to get friendly and sort that out.
Missed the first one? Check out the original Tiny Ramblings here.