Don't Try This On The Road

I remember reading once in Paul Theroux's Happy Isles of Oceania how "tourists can get away with murder." He didn't mean literally killing someone, but what he meant (and means) was that tourists can do a number of things while traveling that they otherwise wouldn't or couldn't do—and try to get away with it! It seems that all we have to do is act sort of dense; sort of blasé; or, sort of misunderstanding and we can get out of anything abroad. This works especially well when you don't speak the language, or pretend you don't speak the language, of the country where such offences have taken place. If you are an American pulled over for speeding in Canada, this will not help you much except for maybe in Quebec ("But, Mr. Mountie, the sign said 100 kilometers per hourerrr "Sprechen sie Deutsch?"). Most other places just accept the dense American traveler routine. However, before you push your luck too far, how about I tell you some things that you just shouldn't try while traveling. Feigning stupidity may not get you out these traveler plights (mine and some to think about).

Bush Bathroom on Dark Safari

If you're out on a camping-walking safari in Tanzania (or Kenya), it's best to hold in the urge until daybreak. If you've never seen the movie with the killer lions that pounce and then eat the people, then you should rent it ASAP before heading to Africa. Apparently lions actually PREFER the taste of humans (yum-yum). Most camping-walking safaris don't even have an outhouse—you simply deposit waste into a hole in the ground. Of course, some of the more expensive tours, like those offered by the Four Seasons, may have a communal outhouse, but most of the time, you're free to let loose in nature. Disgusting you say? Well, Africa is a big place with nary a McDonalds restroom in site so, yes, you just whip it out or squat behind a tiny tree and let it fly. Doing said act in the daytime assures safety, if not modesty, like those little dogs in Paris going hitherto as they please (now that - IS disgusting). Doing so at night, however, may find your carcass in the rocky layer of a lion's den. And "no" -, making lots of noise and shining your flashlight all around while you are squatting behind the tent just lets them know right where you are. Yum-yum, said the lion.

Fruit From US Islands

I simulated stupidity to the utmost degree on my way back from Hawaii into the mainland US. I tried sneaking fruit back with me. Yes, there are warning signs all over the place warning you not to do this for very good reasons I am sure. They are probably not THAT jealous of their fruit in Hawaii - or scared of ours. I'll tell you what, those x-ray machines have come a long way over the years, as the scanners (a.k.a. cops; a.k.a. border control) knew exactly what I had with me. It was either the scanner or the fact that I have no ability to sport a poker face or lie convincingly and I probably looked like a sweaty nervous American that I am trying to get some Cuban cigars back in the country from Canada (" sir ..I..I..I,, have nothing to declare"). So, yes, I had a bag of fruit because you just can't get this stuff back home: sour sops (great for mixed drinks), apple bananas (so cute), coconuts (great for gifts), pineapple (like no other), breadfruit (fun to show off) and starfruit (like $2 bucks each back home!). My hope was to check the fruit in as checked-luggage. The cops (actually the rented type of cops) made me empty the bag and said they were going to charge me. "I haven't even gotten it out of Hawaii yet." They took my point with good humor and let me go, giving me back my empty backpack on the other side. And I have no doubt that they were swiveling those sour sops around in a fruity drink that evening, talking about the stupid mainlanders that supply them with such an excellent quantity of free fresh fruit. If you want to sneak fruit, try either separating it or carrying it in your pockets. I'd still probably get caught because I always get caught, but you could probably get away with it.

Chillaxing in Singapore

Most of us like to go on holiday and chillax at least a little bit (you know what I mean..wink-wink). For some, this involves a morning or evening cocktail, or two or three or four - a shot of this or a pop of that. It's a vacation, you mustn't try to face all that fun in the sun stone cold sober. For others, this is lighting up a cigarette, perhaps with an mélange of this or that specially added ( I think you Canadians know exactly what I mean, yes?). Even in the most conservative of countries, like Britain and the United States, this is deemed passable as long as you keep it to yourself and stay inside or at least out of the streets hollering about your 6th grade girlfriend. However, in Singapore, just don't do it, buy it, sell it, or get caught with it. In fact, don't even let the thought cross your mind, ever, never, ever. The penalty for a drug trafficker in Singapore is death. The penalty for a user is intense rehabilitation, which seems to work. The only people offering to sell drugs in Singapore are the cops trying to snag a few foreigners for examples or the truly deranged. So, if you don't want to be swinging neck bent from a gallows or stuck for three years in a white-coat facility, straight jacketedand painting with your toes or humming Singaporean folk songs, then head to Amsterdam for a stimulant-filled vacation - they will gladly tend to your head-adjustment needs. Because in Singapore, no version of "what are you talking about" or "it's not mine" will do you any good here—to the gallows!