In August of 2000, I obtained my last USA passport under auspicious circumstances. I had a trip
planned to England and with only a few weeks to go I noticed that my previous passport had expired. At that time, there was no expedited passport process so we immediately did the next best thing and lied. We had my Grandfather write a very formal letter saying that his wife, my Grandmother, was doing very poorly and it was imperative that I was present at her side during her final days. It worked. There after this passport served me extremely well and saw many an airport. I even had to have 25 pages added to it to accomodate more stamps. Well in August of 2010, it expires so I thought I would give my passport Justice and try and recount some of the memories that spring to mind while gazing through some of the stamps and visas.
I am birthed from two British parents. My immediate family is the only part of my family, that I am aware of, that is not in Europe. My grandfather was a pilot for British Airways. Put all this together and you get a whole shit load of stamps from Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, and Luton. I like England. I found my cycling skills there. I enjoy a snowy Christmas. I absolutely love round-a-bouts and think the whole world should adopt them everywhere. I like the idea that there are only four channels but the programming is generally really good and there is a good chance that you can talk about a TV show the next day since the whole country is watching it. I find it mesmerizing how the country can fanatacize. Music group, sports celebrity, TV show, not important, they will be head over heels for whatever, especially if you are a young teenage girl. I enjoy discussing the weather in depth as if I have a degree in meteorology with an old lady at the bus stop who got a degree at the same meteorological school. I generally agree with the lack of police since the whole country is littered with speed cameras and closed circuit television. I find it quite hilarious the lack of skin color. England is worth a visit, maybe for many years, but not to live in my opinion. I recommend you to read the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books by Douglas Adams to really appreciate what I mean.
So for the countless stamps I have from England, I would like to say that Stansted is my favorite. It is in the middle of no where, relative to my family that is there, but you get to walk on the tarmac to get to the airplane and with my new computer chip passports, I can just walk right through customs laughing and giggling all the while as there is an enormous line of people wondering why that greasy looking gringo is so special. Heathrow recently built their latest and greatest Terminal 5 which is pretty cool except they forgot to think of one thing, you fly half way around the world to get to London, then land at this fantastic new terminal, and then you have to take a 2 hour bus ride from the new terminal to the rest of the world since they built it as far way as possible form everything.
Skavsta Sweden – 9th of August, unknown year
A trip my dad will never let me forget. My cousin Rikard, who lives in Stockholm, invited me to join him for his friends Bachelor party he was hosting. A swedish bachelor party begins at 6am and goes all day. We wake the bachelor up at this ungrateful hour and dress him up in some very tight and feminine clothes and got him drinking early. We headed off to an island that was maybe 100 meters square and the only thing on it was this giant fortress. Inside the fortress we were split into two teams and we started the game. The game was to go to different rooms in the fortress and do challenges. The challenges ranged from brain challenges like doing some math or mixing words, to dexterity challenges like moving a ring down a pole to release a key to open a door that let a chicken out who then gave you a crystal that gave us five points, to physical challenges like shooting a water cannon into a hole while balancing on a pyramid that is spinning and trying to not laugh at the dude with his left testicle hanging out. Good times although we lost, mainly due to the fact that no one would explain the rules to me for each room so I had to just figure things out for myself. We then ate some really awful seafood mushed onto crackers. Our group of about 15 went back to the main land to find a park and we all drank heavily and played some cone football. This is maybe the funniest game I have ever played and I hope someone reading this blog tries this out. This is a regular game of soccer, but every one has one of those paper cone hats you use at a child’s birthday party. You cut off the top two inches of the cone so there is a small hole, then put the cone over your face so you can only see out of the small hole, then play. Now, it is pretty funny to watch two dudes side by side kicking at air when the ball is not even near them, its even more funny to see a guy on his hands and knees putting his head right to the ground so he can spin 360 to see where the action is at, but it is absolutely hilarious to see two grown men collide without any warning and fall. This makes me want to do many things with cone hats on my face. We then took all our clothes off, jumped into the water and swam and bathed with some giant swans. At this point, I do not really remember how it happened, but I got lost, as I do, and found myself surrounded by about 12 fourteen year old girls who I had befriended because I was using their cell phone to try and figure out what happened. I had missed dinner and when I finally found Rikard at the club that night, I gestured to him to meet my new friends, but they were not there as they could not enter the club since they were not over 18. I waved “thank you” and that was that. So the point of this story is that Skavsta is the airport that RyanAir says is in Stockholm but really is about 130km away and of course RyanAir flights are at 7am. So the following morning I had to catch a 5am bus to make it to the airport. I slept through the bus and woke up to Rikard kicking me, the force of his kicks made it clear that I had overstayed my welcome, so I rushed outside and got a taxi which cost my dad about $120. He will never let me forget this trip.
Eindhoven Holland – July 24th, 2003
I was visiting a family friend in Den Hague, Christine, with her two lovely children. I learned a lot about the Anarchists Cookbook that trip as her son was quite well read and had constructed a fanasticly loud potato gun launcher. I decided to return to England through Eindhoven but on the day of my flight, I would take a few hour train to Amsterdam to take in the sites and activities, then get on another train to go down to Eindhoven. I invite you to look at a map of Holland to understand how ridiculous of a trip that is to do in a day, but no matter, I had it all planned. The problem was that the train south to Eindhoven from Amsterdam was delayed and when I arrived at the Eindhoven airport I was greeted by the RyanAir douchbags that said I could not go to my flight even though I could see the people, the plane, and pilots having a smoke, about 80 meters away from me on the other side of a pane of glass. So I had the lovely opportunity to stay in Eindhoven for the night and call my family and say I had missed my flight out of Holland due to a late train, their reply of course was “Yeah, right.” Eindhoven sucked and I stayed in a closet for the night that had very manky smelling, feeling, and looking sheets.
Malaga Spain – January 25th, 2006
Pat, Kourosh, and I are sitting in my hotel room in Ireland skipping out on a mandatory IBM/Telelogic training session trying to light our farts. Pat was the best and had obviously done it before. We determined he has a large ass hole that lets the air out slower for increased efficiency. Kourosh and I have way to many hotel points and air miles racked up and we decide to take a week ff after the week in Ireland. We decide on the Spanish Riviera, “oooo aaaaa” we said. Kourosh got us the best thing that Marriot had to offer in Malaga. My girlfriend at the time decided to join us so we were three. We arrive in Malaga and the weather is piss poor and raining. No one goes to Malaga in January. The Spanish Riviera in winter might as well be called the Spanish pffffff. But the apartment we got was baller so we made the most of it. We watched every season of Nip Tuck which I think inspired my girlfriend at the time to be a nurse. Kourosh and I got drunk and I taught him to drive a manual transmission. We drove to the rock of Gibraltar, only to arrive, and Kourosh did not have his passport so we could not enter the famous British rock. Most everything was closed and we never went in the ocean. Good times though.
Thailand – July 8th, 2005
I was about to graduate from UCI and I thought I would ask my aunt if she would help me get a car. Her response was to offer me a trip to Thailand. It was the best graduation gift I had never thought of. I arrived in Thailand with the least amount of preparation I had ever done for any trip. I had the smallest backpack I had ever brought on any trip. I did not even know what the currency was there. I arrived without a reservation and while waiting in the customs line, I befriended an English guy who I followed to his Australian hostel. He ended up being a good travelling partner and told me of his stories of amputating legs in Africa. The two months in Thailand were supposed to be two months in South East Asia so I had purchased the lonely planet on a shoe string book which had only a small portion dedicated to Thailand. What a waste of energy to carry that book. A must read for anyone is my blog on the Bangkok Ping Pong Show. I learned to dive in Thailand and am now an “advanced diver”. Soon to come will be the transcribed travel blog from this trip. One of the better travels of my life thus far.