Ditch the DEET, get a Cock ring in Peru
January 14, 2016 8:47 AM   Subscribe

In Zanzibar, life moves pole pole. Tunis does not rock the casbah. Barcelona is a gin and tonic town. Maps are worthless in Ulaanbaatar. Altitude is a bastard in Ganzi. Eating local in Hargeisa means devouring "a metric shit-ton of gamey, tough, and greasy camel meat." And nothing can prepare you for platzkart on the Trans-Mongolian Railroad. These are some of the many things you can learn from Roads and Kingdoms' regular feature, Know Before You Go.
posted by zarq (33 comments total) 62 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sydney:
Drink a pony, seven, pot, or schooner. Beer serving measurements are a little different here. Before metrication in Australia, beer was served in several different imperial-ounce measurements, with different names in each state. There is still some variation but in general, unlike the pint or half-pint options known to the British, pub-goers can order a pony (140ml/5 fl oz.), a seven (200ml/7 fl oz.), a pot (285 ml/10 fl oz.), a schooner (425 ml/15 oz.), or a pint (570 ml/20 fl oz.).
Pot is Victoria/Queensland. If you want a 285ml beer in Sydney, ask for a middy. (Is there anywhere that still has ponies & sevens?)
posted by zamboni at 9:18 AM on January 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


17 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO LIVE IN A CAVE IN THE YUKON

I didn't come here looking for this but I sure am glad I found it
posted by suddenly, and without warning, at 9:31 AM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


Things to know about Edinburgh:

12. Find your clan. So many Scots have left Scotland for better climates and opportunities that its greatest export is people. If you’re fortunate enough to have retained a Scottish name, you could have your very own clan tartan (check the Tartan Register) that will enable you to buy Anderson or McDonald clan-branded kilts, blankets and toilet paper.


Hahahahaha, no.
The different Tartans for clans are pretty much invented out of whole cloth (sorry) for tourists.
(Although the article does go on to suggest this)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 9:35 AM on January 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


Having bespoke toilet paper is how you know you have arrived, though.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:08 AM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


Used to live in Cape Town and expected I'd be able to nitpick their guide, but it's actually quite good. Spot on overview, and they have a few deep-cut tips you don't normally see in this sort of thing. Well done.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:13 AM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


13. Drinkers pay the sin tax. There’s an alcohol ‘sin’ tax in Singapore, so booze comes at a price. For beer, the tax is S$60 per liter (US$42 per 33 oz), and the consumer picks up those costs. Expect to pay about S$10-S$17 (US$7-12) — more often more if you’re in a posh place — for a pint of beer at a pub.

No thanks. Sydney it is.
posted by Splunge at 10:32 AM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Another data point, the entry on Sicily is bang on for the first time visitor.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:36 AM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is great; thank you.
posted by tofu_crouton at 10:59 AM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


The pictures on the Trans-Mongolian Railroad article are a delight.
posted by Existential Dread at 11:39 AM on January 14, 2016


This is highly entertaining and I would love to hear more obscure advice like this from ordinary travelers who maybe learned the hard way.
posted by ezust at 11:42 AM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've read like five of these so far, and I'm still going. Great site. Ah, to be independently wealthy...
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:28 PM on January 14, 2016


Tunisians believe eating spicy food is good for your health, though it might wreak havoc on an unaccustomed digestive system ... In 1881, France colonized Tunisia and 150,000 colons settled there.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:29 PM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


Pot is Victoria/Queensland. If you want a 285ml beer in Sydney, ask for a middy. (Is there anywhere that still has ponies & sevens?)

No, do not order a pot in New South Wales. I have successfully ordered a pony in Victoria moderately recently, but I do know the barman and I did it mostly for the reaction. Apparently the glassware still exists though.
posted by deadwax at 12:37 PM on January 14, 2016


Holy hell, Ulaanbaatar:
DO NOT GO IN WINTER. UB is pleasant in the spring and summer, but in the winter it gets bitterly cold. In January 2015 temperatures hit -41.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Within recorded history it’s gone as far as -86.8 Fahrenheit.
posted by Existential Dread at 12:48 PM on January 14, 2016


Keith Talent: "Another data point, the entry on Sicily is bang on for the first time visitor."

Especially the part about the Mafia jokes. Seriously, don't do it.
posted by Splunge at 12:48 PM on January 14, 2016


Jesus, do people actually go to Sicily and make Mafia jokes to the locals? What kind of a bone-stick-stone idiot do you have to be to do something like that?
posted by holborne at 12:56 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Somaliland looked like a fine adventure until I came to this: You’ll also eat a fair share of camel’s hump, which is a spongy, fatty tissue, resistant to all mastication, as well, followed by a picture. A shit ton of greasy meat and also that ... thing ... would be too much for me.
posted by kanewai at 1:12 PM on January 14, 2016


I regularly rode platzkart in Kazakhstan as a peace corps volunteer. The first time was miserable because you don't know what to expect and you see all sorts of discomforting things.

The 18 hour long overnight train ride, the fact that you were in the cheapest class of train so that meant you would regularly See the most colorful characters,

the filthy toilets with metal seats that had grooves cut in them to help facilitate you squatting on the toilet (in a moving train mind you), the fact that the toilet would empty out directly on to the tracks,

The two rows of bunk beds but sometimes the conductor would sell the third rack which was meant to store luggage to people wanting to sleep up there (and they would have maybe 3inches of clearance between their face and the top of the compartment)

The drunk Russian and Kazakh dudes that want to drink vile tasting vodka and moonshine with the foreigner...

Learning to navigate the transit police checking visas...

But then by the second and third time you ride it its a much more natural experience because you've picked up tips from journeys on how to make the journey more comfortable, as you get to know your row mates, share bread and snacks and instant noodles and tea with one another, you learn which stops had the best dried fish and Popsicles from hawkers running alongside the train, that you should bring earplugs and throwaway sandals and a good long book and enjoy that you'd rarely have another straight 18 hours to read and read and read, and that everyone else bustling along in the train with you, not having known the word "discomfort" because this was their everyday life...

Those sorts of experiences make the world seem much smaller, and really puts minor experiences of discomfort in perspective.
posted by Karaage at 1:35 PM on January 14, 2016 [16 favorites]


Pretty much all of the Peru tips are spot-on. I would just amend the "get off the gringo trail" suggestion by saying that you should always add more days to your stay in Lima. Not to see the sights, but just so that you can hit more of the restaurants and cevicherías.

(p.s. bury my cholesterol-clogged heart at Pescados Capitales)
posted by LMGM at 1:38 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


as the new nation formed, discriminatory racial laws – and worse – meant Aboriginals became second-class citizens

Nice bit of revisionism there. Aborigines weren't granted citizenship until 1966 or so.
posted by acb at 3:23 PM on January 14, 2016


Everybody takes plastic, but nobody takes credit cards. If your card doesn’t have a pin, it won’t swipe in most Denmark establishments

This sounds more like an indictment of US credit card technology than of Denmark. (I've had no problems whatsoever with my UK cards.)
posted by acb at 4:25 PM on January 14, 2016


I have never heard 'exy' used in place of 'expensive'.
posted by unliteral at 4:41 PM on January 14, 2016


Exy is common 'round here.
posted by Mezentian at 4:46 PM on January 14, 2016


acb: "Nice bit of revisionism there. Aborigines weren't granted citizenship until 1966 or so."

It's not revisionism, it's just the English language. "Second-class citizenship" doesn't refer to actual citizenship, just as it doesn't refer to specifically numbered classes.
posted by Bugbread at 4:48 PM on January 14, 2016


Plus it's a travel guide site, so I'm OK with them not being up on the nuances of Australian citizenship laws so long as they convey the gist of Australia's appalling racism towards Aboriginal peoples.
posted by Panjandrum at 5:09 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Aaaand my city is only there because of its high-class brothel.

(And seems to have made at least one error, as near as I can tell).
posted by Mezentian at 5:50 PM on January 14, 2016


Exy is common 'round here
Aaaand my city is only there because of its high-class brothel.

Hmm.
posted by unliteral at 3:30 AM on January 15, 2016


Can vouch for the Denmark piece being mostly correct - small nits to pick, but no glaring errors. And now this expat is actually feeling a bit homesick.
posted by brokkr at 5:04 AM on January 15, 2016


It's not revisionism, it's just the English language. "Second-class citizenship" doesn't refer to actual citizenship, just as it doesn't refer to specifically numbered classes.

Still, calling Aborigines before 1966 “second-class citizens” implies that they were considered as citizens and reads as an attempt to euphemise and trivialise an injustice; it's jarring, like that US textbook that euphemised slaves as “immigrant workers” from Africa.
posted by acb at 6:10 AM on January 15, 2016


Barcelona is a gin and tonic town.

This is true for the whole peninsula. I remember very well the first time I went to a bar in Madrid that served something other than gintonic, mojitos, and five variations on "x with coke". I got incredibly excited. Could they make me a negroni?!?

Yes, but it was going to be 35€. Goddamnit.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 6:20 AM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I live near brothel central, and this one is famous.
And I drive past it often while buying fish (I know, the jokes!).
It's a corner block, there is not, as far as I know, a "discrete rear entrance".
posted by Mezentian at 7:33 AM on January 15, 2016


You don't *have* to eat the camel in Somaliland. I mean, I tried it, but there's generally other options, at least in town. When your out and about however, the roadside stalls with the camels standing out back can be your only option, if you forgot to bring snacks.

Basically, you pull up alongside of a few corrugated tin walls flimsily pushed together around a brick oven where the wood fire heats the stove. There's generally a slanted roof, but no front wall, so it's open to the road. There's a bunch of plastic Chinese patio furniture typically in a multitude of colors and styles forming 4 or 5 tables to sit around.

If it's a particularly ritzy joint they might have cold cokes and fantas by the bottle, but most likely whatever you're getting to drink is warm.

You sit down and the first thing you notice is that your driver has left the car running with the doors open, as a security measure. He and the minder will order the only thing on the menu, in Somali, which sounds something like angry, drunken German.

The next thing you will notice is the flies, that are everywhere. The camels are literally being butchered outside the back wall and there's no where but the open air to hang the meat until it's time for it to be cooked. So it's fly heaven, basically. You realize pretty quick that you are pretty much guaranteed to get the shits during this visit.

Eventually a big round plate with a huge heaping mound of rice in the middle comes out, with a bunch of strips of camel meat and similar strips of the hump fat layered around the edge of the rice mountain. There are no utensils, and no napkins, and it's family style - everyone just starts digging in with their hands, which are instantly greasy. If you're smart, when you don't have a handful of food, you'll plug the top of your soda bottle with your thumb to keep the flies out.

Ah, the cuisine in rural Somaliland.

All in all I'd say he presented a pretty accurate view of getting around in Hargeisa. I noticed he didn't mention alcohol - it's pretty much non-existent, so if you're pining for a drink your best bet is to bring along from the duty free shops at the airport in Nairobi, or befriend some folks who stay on the UN compound.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:39 AM on January 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


acb: "Still, calling Aborigines before 1966 “second-class citizens” implies that they were considered as citizens"

I disagree.
posted by Bugbread at 7:19 PM on January 15, 2016


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