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Beetles There are a huge number of Volkwagen Beetles, in mostly great condition, being driven around Peru. It was not uncommon to see 15 to 20 different Beetles each day in the larger cities. The reason for this is that Beetles were used for taxis in Lima 20 years ago and when they were phased out to make way for newer cars, there were a surplus for people to buy. Brazil also produces the cars which means that it is easy to get cheap spare parts. Typewriter A typewriter is an unusual sight in the age of computers, but what... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2011 at The Itinerants
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Juan Paddington Bolívar better known as Paddington Bear arrived in Britain, as a Peruvian immigrant, in 1958. Speaking little English, he initially found work as Winnie the Pooh's stunt double but caught the attention of a BBC producer looking for a bear to star in a fly on the wall documentary. 'Paddington', as it was simply titled, followed the gritty day to day survival of young Peruvian bear, trying to integrate into British life. Paddington Bear presented a complex picture; appearing polite and benign on the surface but hiding a violent past forged in darkest Peru. A production insider from... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2011 at The Itinerants
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Contrary to popular belief, Jesus was not born in a stable but rather in a Peruvian mine. It is also rarely mentioned that he was visited by Al Jolson before the Three Wise Men arrived. Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2011 at The Itinerants
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Dear friends, It's been a spendid 2010 for both of us, starting the year with Anna launching her new cosmetics range and Craig getting nominated for an OBE. Of course, things had to be put on hold while we travelled the world to meet world leaders in our capacity as Scottish cultural ambassadors. Our first stop was Vietnam where Hanoi was celebrating its 1000 year reign. Anna was invited to sing at the celebrations where she sang a traditional Vietnamese song praising Ho Chi Minh. She received a standing ovation from the 100,000 guests in attendance and was the darling... Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2010 at The Itinerants
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Zebras We have become quite adept at crossing dangerous roads where there appears to be few rules for traffic and pedestrians alike. Thankfully, in La Paz, help is at hand in the form of a herd of zebras. On the chaotic streets of the Bolivian capital, people dressed up as zebras and frolic and skip on the busy roads stopping cars and buses from going through red lights and assisting pedestrians to cross where there are no crossings. The aim of this simple yet effective idea is to re-educate both drivers and pedestrians about road safety, which is definitely something... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2010 at The Itinerants
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There's nothing quite like relaxing in a hammock, reading your book on a warm afternoon while occasionally looking up to admire the beautiful view. We are wiling away our last few hours in the Amazonian village of Rurrenabaque as we await the departure of the night bus. Our accommodation has a number of hammocks in a porch area which is ideally situated overlooking the River Beni. The owners also seem to have what is their own private zoo with a collection of animals wandering around the surrounding garden. This is not unusual in Bolivia and it is common to see... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2010 at The Itinerants
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Craig is dubious as Anna dispenses advice in her new role as Jiminy Cricket lifecoach. Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2010 at The Itinerants
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As the bus slowly climbs the dizzying (quite literally) heights of La Paz, we survey the thousands of tiny matchbox buildings which cling impossibly as the city spreads out from the valley below. We arrive at our destination in El Alto, which overlooks central La Paz below. It is freezing, yet there is a lively atmosphere and Bolivianos stand outside playing table football and eating the usual fried chicken. Once inside the venue we take our ringside seats and wait for the rest of the spectators to file in. We are here to see the Cholitas Wrestling. Cholitas are Bolivian... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2010 at The Itinerants
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Space, or rather lack of it, is a central theme among the backbacker community. Even before you set off, issues of space dominate your thinking as you try to condense you life into the little canvas world you will carry on your hump around the globe. The term 'backpacker' has emerged to illustrate how this tiny space becomes the best way to define yourself. Snobbishness among backpackers prevails and advice on what size of backback to take will aways follow the same pattern of one-upmanship, starting at 200 litre backpacks the size of portaloos worn by the novices and ending... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2010 at The Itinerants
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Cambio There is no change in Argentina. At least that is the impression that we got when trying to pay for things. When handing over money for a purchase, more often than not, the response would be: “Cambio?” (cambio meaning change). We would then respond in the negative after having given away all our change that day already. This reached an absurd level when one day I was buying something for $8, handed over a $10 note, only to be asked, “Cambio?”. Where does all the change go? Lab coats At first we thought Argentina was festooned with a flotilla... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2010 at The Itinerants
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Hola chicos! My name is Alberto and I am an Argentine Daschund. I've been asked to write a bit on perros (that's dogs to you) in Argentina. It's true to say that we live a privileged life; we are much loved by the humans and they generally like to have us around. I live with my owner, a banker, in the beautiful and leafy barrio of Palermo in Buenos Aires. My owner is usually at work so can't walk me, so she pays Juan to take me and a bunch of other perros to the park. This sounds like a... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2010 at The Itinerants
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The expanse of Argentina is best traversed in style; air travel is so passé and in true Argentine style, the mode of transport most lauded is that of the bus. Here the bus is king and is elevated from its humble roots to become the vehicle of unabashed luxury, a vehicle designed to transport dreams and cradle your weary body in leather upholstery that is as soft as a seal's scrotum. A huge number of operators cover routes that span the country in its entirety, offering every conceivable variation on the price/luxury continuum. Sparing no expense we decided the added... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2010 at The Itinerants
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Buenos Aires is renowned for its passion and vibrancy and the dance of the tango epitomises this perfectly. No visit to the city would be complete without seeing a show in the birthplace of tango. Getting what we thought was a bargainous deal on the usual ticket price, our evening of tango includes a lesson, followed by dinner and a show. The evening starts with the hour-long tango lesson; a room which can accommodate 20 sees 40 bumbling tango novices attempting to get to grips with the basics of the dance. This scene is soon reduced to a farcical scrum... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2010 at The Itinerants
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'n' All over New Zealand, we came across similarly named shops: Bras 'n' Things, Mufflers 'n' More, Petz 'n' All, Saks 'n' Such. Clearly the proprietors are trying the hedge their bets. We thought the 'n' abbreviation was pleasingly dated, and was well-suited to New Zealand, much of which seemed to exist in a curious time warp. The other day we heard out that a new shop is to open in Buchanan Street in Glasgow called Hats 'n' That. Youth fashions Like any country, young people in New Zealand pledge allegiance to the chosen fashions of their time. One look,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2010 at The Itinerants
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It's almost impossible to prepare for a visit to Dunedin's Cadbury factory without making references to Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. After spending the preceding week singing 'I've Got a Golden Ticket' and likening Craig to Augustus Gloop stuck in the factory plumbing, I am ready to see the magical interior of a chocolate factory. Our visit begins in the small museum which details the history of chocolate from its origins as a refined drink of choice (in the form of cocoa) for the bourgeoisie, to the moment when the grubby hoi polloi got their hands on it and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2010 at The Itinerants
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New Zealand is slightly bigger in size than the UK but has a considerably smaller population of 4.3 million, compared with 62 million in the UK. About a third of Kiwis live in the Auckland area, while the majority of the country is rural. New Zealand has an incredible wealth of natural beauty, from snow-covered Alps to stretches of white sand beaches, ancient forests and bubbling volcanic mud pools. Quite remarkably, the scenery is completely unspoiled; often it felt as if we were the first people to have set foot on some forgotten world. In order to explore as much... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2010 at The Itinerants
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During our short stay in Australia, we discovered a number of interesting facts about kangaroos: 1. Kangaroos can jump 10 feet high. 2. The modern airline seat was designed by Australian airline Qantas. The design was based on the shape of a kangaroo, with the pouch becoming the pocket on the rear of the seat. 3. There are 14 types of kangaroo including the tree kangaroo (pictured below). 4. Kangaroos cannot swim as water fills their pouches causing them to sink and drown. 5. Kangaroos were allowed to box professionally until 1972. Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2010 at The Itinerants
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Five star treatment It became quickly evident that there were considerably fewer western tourists in Borneo than there were in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos. In the bigger cities, we would be lucky to see another westerner during the day. In smaller towns, our difference was even more noticeable. Although this could make us feel somewhat isolated, there were also times when it worked to our advantage. In Sandakan, we were treated like big-name celebrities. The younger locals, in particular, would whisper excitedly as we passed by wearing the only sunglasses in town. When we went to buy a drink, there... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2010 at The Itinerants
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Overlooking the city of Kuching in Borneo stands what could be the villainous lair of a Bond nemesis. A glass, domed palace of overwhelming grandeur dominates the skyline atop a steep rocky mount covered in thick vegetation and accessible via a solitary long winding drive. The drive spirals skyward and eventually opens into lush ornamental gardens. As you stand dwarfed at the foot of a gleaming concrete citadel, your eyes rise and you strain your neck to absorb the full splendour of a magnificent coat of arms on the façade before you and you wonder who or what could reside... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2010 at The Itinerants
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Post-op Anna The New Anna Anna decided to take advantage of the cheap cosmetic surgery before leaving Southeast Asia. Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2010 at The Itinerants
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Borneo possesses some of the rarest and strangest fauna and flora on earth. Our cute ginger cousin, the orang-utan, is one of the more recognisable and has taken the limelight from some of these other rising stars of the Borneo jungle. The Proboscis Monkey Pot bellied, a huge nose and almost permanently aroused these handsome fellows are always a hit with the ladies. If it's facial hair that floats your boat then look no further, Borneo has it all. The Bearded Pig- the official mascot of the Brian Blessed society, often called the Henry VIII Pig after its boorish nature... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2010 at The Itinerants
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The Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon is billed as 'The World's Toughest Mountain Race'. Now in its 24th year, the race sees 250 local and international athletes run up and down the mountain, a distance of 21km. The race was first conceived as a test for potential members of Sabah Parks rapid rescue squad; contenders had to be strong enough to carry down injured climbers in minimal time, especially during times of bad weather or when helicopters are not available. Unlike other races, there are no charity-collecting people in teddy bear costumes allowed; the strict time limits mean that serious contenders... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2010 at The Itinerants
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Mount Kinanbalu is the highest mountain in Southeast Asia standing at 4095m. The terrain is varied, ranging from thick shrubs, to slippery mossy rainforest, then onto rocky ground before finally reaching granite slopes. Although the majority of the mountain shares Borneo's tropical climate, and accompanying 85-95% humidity, temperatures at the summit can drop to low as -2c. Each climber, or group of climbers, is required to hire a guide to accompany them up the mountain. Our guide, Safrey, is friendly, informative and patient. As we being to feel the strain, he is casually walking along with his arms folded, without... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2010 at The Itinerants