A weekly ode to the joys of moaning about your holiday.
Remember those flashback episodes of your favourite TV shows where instead of a normal 30 minutes or hour of plotlines and laugh tracks you'd get a highlights reel? Some people would complain it was a cop-out but I always loved it. "Yes! It's a flashback episode of Macgver/Seinfeld/Starsky & Hutch!" I'd scramble to get a blank video, fire up the VCR and do my best to not record the ads.
As a pop culture-obsessed geek of a child, I remember that excitement so much. And given it usually happened at the end of a season or when a show reached a milestone like 100 episodes, I perhaps somewhat self-indulgently thought I'd do the same today.
That's right! Two years and 99 columns ago, the Herald published my very first "Travel Bugs" piece. In that time I've documented 182 different bugs, all under the banner of "the joys of moaning about your holiday". I never wanted to sound like a whinger because being fortunate enough to travel is a something no-one should take for granted. But rather, it's an acknowledgement that so often it's the things that go wrong or the things that frustrate us that can be the yarns that bond us and the yarns that make us smile. Just not necessarily at the time.
Across these now 100 columns, I've subjected readers to tales of being poohed on by pigeons in London's Trafalgar Square (May 9, 2017), the bladder-related pitfalls of mixing cheap Mongolian rice wine with Chinese bus trips (April 25, 2017), altitude sickness of the Guatemalan persuasion (August 1, 2017), "code browns" in not one but two Club Med swimming pools (October 10, 2017), how best to avoid diarrhoea on holiday (May 29, 2018), luxury hotel room bathroom doors that — by design — don't fully shut (June 12, 2018), violent Interislander crossings (June 19, 2018), and being interrupted while using the toilet in the wrong hotel suite, when the unsuspecting couple who's room it was meant to be walked in (November 20, 2018).
And let's not also forget the "Overnight Train Farter" of May 9, 2017: "Sleeping on overnight trains has never been my strong suit and I'd started to have regrets about those spicy bhuja snacks we'd shared with a tubby local, but this was India and I wasn't going to say no to authentic bhuja". It's fair to say that tubby local was the least embarrassed, most blatantly, rambunctiously flatulent person I've ever met.
But believe it or not, most of the 182 travel bugs in these 100 columns have been non-toilet related. There's been everything from rants about getting conned in Vietnam (April 18, 2017), Floppy-Head Syndrome on planes where your head repeatedly drops forward each time you fall asleep (April 25, 2017), to being chased by kangaroos in rural Victoria: "… my arms flailed in a manner reminiscent of George Costanza escaping a minor kitchen fire at a child's birthday" (May 2, 2017).
October 9, 2018 saw an entry on the bizarre things you can find while snooping in the houses you rent out ("The Placenta In The Freezer Incident"), while later that month I was ridiculing bad holiday marriage proposals, including the tale of a sorry chap who tried to pop the question while snorkelling only to have his bride-to-be unable to comprehend a word he was saying (October 23, 2018).
Not surprisingly, I've offered thoughts on the greatest travel bug of them all, the "put your seat back dilemma" (I'm a resolute non seat-backer — October 23, 2018), and there's also been room to put the boot into people who only holiday in Fiji, the Gold Coast and Hawaii because they're too scared to set foot in Southeast Asia (January 29, 2019).
If there's a bug I've missed or just as likely, you're in complete disagreement with something I've said, it's always great hearing your feedback. Indeed, a while back someone complained that my photo is so bad it looks like I've just stepped off the near 18-hour Auckland-to-Doha flight having drunk the plane dry. Ouch! I should write a Travel Bugs piece about that!
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's Weekend Collective and blogs at RoxboroghReport.com.