A weekly ode to the joys of moaning about your holiday.
I used to claim I'd been to Tahiti and the Netherlands. Always a fan of numbers and lists, I was anxious to bump up the total number of countries I'd visited. Not really in a shallow attempt at impressing other people; more as a shallow attempt at impressing myself. It's weird the mind games humans are capable of playing on themselves. Like how I hardly ever fill my car with petrol because psychologically it feels like I'm saving money by only putting $50 in. It doesn't matter that I know it's cheaper and less hassle to press "Fill", I'm all about the feels.
Same with bragging to myself about how well-travelled I was by adding two countries where I'd only transited. I knew that the rule was, if you haven't left the airport it doesn't qualify, but when my country count was sub-20, those two extra nations really helped out. So I added them to my list and boom! All of a sudden I could trick myself that I'd been to 20 or 21 countries when really it was 18 or 19.
Part of the finessing of my country count was because I had specific memories of those airports. If there were actual tales to be told from those transits, then surely I'd really been in those countries? In Amsterdam my boarding pass fell out of my passport and I only noticed when I got a message over the intercom calling my name. Some kind soul had picked it up and handed it in — thanks Amsterdam Airport. It's not quite a yarn about navigating red light districts or cycling through pretty fields with flowers and windmills, but it's all I've got.
On transit in Tahiti in 2009, on my way back to Auckland from Guatemala via Houston via LA via Tahiti (what a hoot those 40-hours of travelling were), I was literally the only non-staff member in the entire airport. It was surreal. I had about four hours to kill overnight and they did not pass quickly. Again, perhaps not as gripping as diving in lagoons or hiking to paradisical waterfalls, but hey.
You'll be pleased to know I've long since removed Tahiti and the Netherlands from my country count, though hopefully it's not too long before I can reinstate them properly.
What a coup if my future Tahitian and Dutch adventures are able to rival the ripping yarns as described above.
People who think Singapore is boring
I don't understood why some people think Singapore is boring. It's almost as if there's this patronising notion that Asia isn't authentic unless it's a bit chaotic. And sure, chaos can be terrifically entertaining, but that doesn't mean that the opposite is a snooze-fest.
My wife and I recently had four nights in Singapore and on one manic day we visited the zoo (arguably the best in the world), the new River Safari next door, a couple of the mega malls on Orchard Road, sunbathed at our hotel pool and hired bikes to cycle by the river to Marina Bay where we ate dinner and watched fireworks.
It was one of those days that was brilliant while being vaguely ridiculous too. "We're trying to do too much!" we both said to each other, but when there's so much you want to do, it's hard to know how to pare it back.
From rooftop bars to theme parks to historic neighbourhoods to the mind-blowing Gardens By The Bay development to pockets of jungle like the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore may be devoid of chewing gum, but it's hardly devoid of stimulation.
For a long time the accepted wisdom about Singapore seemed to be, "it's good for a couple of days and then you'll run out of things to do".
I never accepted that wisdom.
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's Weekend Collective (Saturday and Sunday 3pm-6pm) and blogs at RoxboroghReport.com