The Most Bizarre Search Requests: Your Questions Answered (Sort Of)

I’ve mentioned before that I am able to see the searches the take place here. And I have come across some very strange requests. Some, I’m not sure if people think that my blog is Google, or if I am some sort of genius or something; and others I’m genuinely interested in reading. So here are some of the most bizarre (and surprisingly frequently-asked) questions or searches I have received, and my attempt at answering them.

My first ever strange request, and a very common one, is basically “how do I not get fat on Contiki?” – I have already answered this, and I stick to what I said then. If you are so worried about your weight that you don’t eat pizza in Rome or drink beer in Munich, you should probably re-evaluate your priorities in life.

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“Don’t go to kickstart” – why would you not want to go to the kickstart meeting? If you’re in that area, it’s usually a good idea to go. You might end up being the only person, or half your group might end up being there. Even if it just means you can go for dinner, or a drink or five, with your new mates, I think it’s worth it. The admin can all be done later however, especially if you already checked-in online and so that’s not really not that important. But I still had fun, especially because I was by myself – I felt far less lost the next morning.

“Working in child care” – this is about the Contiki Cough I’m assuming. I am not a doctor. The Contiki Cough I wrote about was my experience, and it can vary a lot from person to person. Having said that, I can tell you honestly, that if you feel even close to the way I felt it’s probably not a good idea to go near children. In fact, it’s probably not a good idea to do anything but lie in bed.

“How to get a cab from Dachau”. Firstly, Dachau is like the middle of nowhere and so I would guess that a cab is going to cost you an arm and a leg. Secondly, you don’t even spend that much time there – we had enough time to walk around and look through it in detail, go to the bathroom and grab something to eat before we were back on the coach. I don’t really know where you would want to catch a cab to anyway? I guess you’d need to pre-organise one because I definitely don’t remember seeing any around there.

“What time do we arrive in Venice from Munich?” I have absolutely NO IDEA. My tour didn’t run that way and so I can’t even guess. It’s a long drive though – going the opposite way we left Venice in the morning and arrived in Munich late afternoon I think.

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“Wet t-shirt” – Venice’s Fusina Beach Party is infamous for its wet t-shirt competition; a competition that it not so much about the t-shirt but far more about the lack of. My advice, if you really want a t-shirt but would like to keep some shred of dignity, is to try steal one from someone. I successfully managed to trade my sailor’s cap for a shirt, so that was cool. The competition also turns into a bit of a show – ask your TM about some of the previous year’s stories afterwards…

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“Don’t tip gypsies” – Gypsies are not exactly the upper-end of society in Europe. And I get it, they look sad sometimes and that’s not really nice. But they are also incredibly sly and can be kind of scary. Why would you want to tip someone whose sole purpose is to either rob you or scam you? Haha. No shame, that’s kind of mean, but seriously. If you want to tip them go ahead, but do it at your own risk. Personally, I think it’s better just to avoid them as far as possible.

“South African gypsies” – we don’t have gypsies in South Africa. We have beggars, and homeless people, and robbers, but they don’t usually come in one package. Which is fortunate. So no, you’re not likely to come across a “gypsy” while visiting South Africa. Obviously it is possible that you may come across someone who tries to scam you, but it’s not that common. Having said that, I’m not a tourist here, so I suppose I’m used to the environment and generally quite cautious. I will say, that if you would like to help out a beggar or homeless person or someone else, I strongly suggest giving food or milk or something solid, rather than simply giving money.

“When gypsies take your belongings do they feel as if they are stealing?” I can’t even attempt to answer this because I have absolutely no idea. I would think that they know what they are doing is not legal, considering how eager they are to avoid the police.

 “Can I cancel after I have paid in full” – I can’t remember completely what the Ts&Cs are from Contiki, but I think you can cancel up to 45 days before your departure. There might be a fee. I think the closer you get to the departure date, the more money you stand to lose by cancelling. And obviously you don’t get your deposit back. The best advice is don’t cancel Contiki! Haha. If something comes up and you cannot go anymore, try find another departure date or tour or whatever. You’re missing out on what could be the time of your life if you cancel! I think Contiki has some sort of “seal protection” thing or something you can buy when you book that covers you if you have to pull out though. Ask the Contiki reps or read the terms in the back of the brochure.

“Why are the Contiki farewell dinners so expensive?” – First off, let me say the farewell dinner we had in Amsterdam was pricey, but was also worth it (read here). I don’t think you could do it cheaper by yourself. Having said that, some of the things are definitely cheaper if you do it by yourself, but then you also have to organise it which can be a pain (especially if you’re feeling hungover and/or lazy). I read quite a lot of posts about people saying these dinners (and the other optionals) are over-priced. It’s possible. But also, consider the risk that the places hosting the dinner is taking. They’re agreeing to let 50+ (and there’s usually more than one group at a time) young, excited, and likely drunk, tourists/travellers into their place of business. I think that I’d also raise the price a bit. But you get lots of free wine and so it’ll all be okay in the end…

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I honestly recommend attending the Paris (Catherine’s) and Amsterdam (Sea Palace) dinners if they are start or end of your tour. You get to be with a large amount of the group and the food is really decent. The other dinners you could probably skip and find your own nice restaurant for a better price.

This last question is my absolute favourite question of all time – “Should I go on Contiki if I am a virgin?” Yes. Obviously. No one cares if you are a virgin or aren’t a virgin. It might not even come up, unless you’re playing “I have never” in which case you might want to sit out. None of it matters. What matters is how you treat those around you, and so if you’re going to call every girl or guy who hooks up on your tour (or on the other tours) a slut, then you will have a problem. Let people live their lives, and you live yours.

Looking forward to more bizarre requests in the near future :) 

Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It…

Super jealous. My sister and cousin were fortunate enough to head off to London for about two and a half weeks in total. It was my sister’s first time in London and while I am super jealous, I am also super excited for her because I was sure she was going to have a great time. And she did!

Just before they left, I gave them “Top Secret” envelopes. In these envelopes were letters to them, instructing them of their “Top Secret” Mission – should they choose to accept it. Their mission was to be the best tourists London has ever seen. I know people frequently say “be a traveler and not a tourist”, but sometimes being a tourist is the part of the fun! There’s a reason the iconic sights are iconic and so many people flock to see them. And so, attached to their letters were “Photo Bucket Lists” consisting of a number of these cliche tourist-type things to do in London, and some of the things that I enjoyed most. I kept them pretty ambiguous so that it doesn’t become a complete checklist, but is rather a guide for things to do. And to make sure my sister brings back the photos that are expected. Haha.

Here is the list I sent them with for their mission (in no particular order):

□Platform 9¾

□Drinking a Cup of Tea

□Oxford Street

□Christmas Tree

□London’s West End Musical

□Red Double Decker Bus

□The Queen’s Guard

□Drinking a beer in an English Pub

□Red Telephone Box

□A model (hint: Abercrombie)

□Big Ben

□The Queen

□Tower Bridge

□Shakespeare

□Buckingham Palace

□The Union Jack

□A Lion (hint: Trafalgar Square)

□Drinking Starbucks

□Eating Mushy Peas

□With a Mime

□As a Mime

□Eating a Scone

□One Direction

□With Ms. Brown

I thought I’d share this list on here as an example of things to do while in London. It is such an amazing place, I think you could spend months there and still learn something new every day. Most of us are only lucky enough to get there for a few days unfortunately, and as such have to cram a massive amount of awe-inspiring sights into what effectively becomes a total blur. Its quite funny though, because they came back saying that they felt like they had “failed” at seeing London because every time someone asked if they had done something they said no. Which just goes to show that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks you should do on your holiday – as long as you have a good time and make memories you will have been successful!

Become A Storyteller.

“Traveling- it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller”

- Ibn Battuta

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Where Douglas Green?

I’ve been mentioning that we were having “Douglas Green” days in the Kruger National Park, and so here is the video that explains what that means. It’s an old South African ad for Douglas Green wines, and sees two men driving frantically around searching for “Douglas Green”.

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Mopani, Harrie’s and Nelspruit.

Tonight we are spending the night in Mopani Camp, which is a camp in the Kruger National Park. It’s much further North than you can reach on a normal day trip if you enter through Crocodile Bridge Gate, because it’s basically in the middle of the Park. We started out at about 7, because we figured that after the wait he had at the gate the other morning it wouldn’t help to get there much earlier. The line was still kind of long, but we got to skip it because we had a reservation, so that was cool.

We drove through the Park only on the tar road – another “Douglas Green” type of day. But somehow we still managed to have the best sightings! We saw the Big 5 again. We saw a leopard on a river bank, and then we were fortunate enough to see a lion on the move. It ran parallel to the car for quite a while before crossing the road, running off to scare away a massive group of vultures and then going off in the distance with something in its mouth (we couldn’t see what it was). We were also lucky to see a herd of elephant with some young taking a stroll across an open plain after playing in the water.

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Herd of Elephants - the young ones are so small in comparison.

Herd of Elephants – the young ones are so small in comparison.

We arrived at Mopani. The camp is nice, with a variety of accommodation types. We were in a chalet on the end. The bedrooms were big, and it had air-conditioning – something we welcomed as it must have been close to 40 degrees outside. The kitchen was outside on the patio which was something new for me. We went and had a drink at the bar and watched the sunset over the dam that it looks over. Later, we went back for dinner – really good standard food for a rest camp!

View from the deck of the bar/restaurant

View from the deck of the bar/restaurant

It’s unfortunate we only had one night there, as it was very rushed. But that was all we had and so we were off early the next morning again.  We stopped to look at the Baobab tree on our way out. I love Baobab trees – I saw them for the first time that I remember on my trip to Zimbabwe last December. They always remind me of the Lion King. It was cool to learn some more about the Baobab from the signs around the tree, and we also had a chance to see where the Barn Owls were making their nests. We would be going out a different gate to normal, because today we’re off to Nelspruit, instead of straight back to Marloth Park.

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The Baobab Tree

The Baobab Tree

We saw two Hyenas’s lying in the road as we were driving out. They looked very annoyed that we had come past and woken them up, but we were so excited to see them up close again, and when we were the only car there. That’s one of the advantages of staying in the Park, especially in a camp in the middle – there are long periods of time where you are the only car around.

Hyena in the road.

Hyena in the road.

We drove past some forests, and then got to Harrie’s Pancakes. You can basically get anything you want on a pancake – it’s amazing. I had a strawberry compote pancake. Once we were done, we were off to Nelspruit. We went shopping at the mall there and had lunch at John Dory’s. And then on the way home we sat for hours at the Stop-and-Go’s. It was completely ridiculous.

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My yummy pancake.

My yummy pancake.

But eventually we were home, and off to bed we went.

Kruger Park Day Four.

This morning we had visitors again; two Zebra this time. They came right up to our front gate like they were expecting an invitation inside for coffee or something. They moved around front eventually, where it’s much easier for us to watch them clearly, and they were making noises and scratching themselves and biting each other (play biting I hope). We filled up the “watering hole” outside and while we were doing this we saw a colourful lizard on the tree. We watched him basically change colours as he moved which was very cool. I also saw a butterfly (I love looking at butterflies) and we later identified it as a “Blue Pansy Butterfly”. Just spent the day chilling at the house and relaxing instead of driving around.

One times curious Zebra at the door

One times curious Zebra at the door

Me with the Zebras outside on the deck

Me with the Zebras outside on the deck

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The lovely Blue Pansy Butterfly

The lovely Blue Pansy Butterfly

We went down to the river for sundowners, and we got a really good spot because we were there quite early. So we set up our chairs with our drinks and our chip and dip and watched the herd of elephants in front of us (on the other side of the fence). There was even a little one with them. Then we saw what looked like about a bazillion buffalo coming down to drink a way away from us, and so my sister and I took a walk that way. There were so many of them, and we couldn’t even see them all!

Not even 1/3 of the Buffalo who were down at the river

Not even 1/3 of the Buffalo who were down at the river

Went back to the chairs, fought off some ants and enjoyed the sunset. The elephants were trumpeting and then eventually they crossed the river to head off. Watching elephants is fascinating because they’re so family-oriented. For example, when an elephant (relation not known) came towards the group where the baby was, all the elephants moved around it like they were forming a barrier. And then the one trumpeted and all the others starting making their way there, and then they all moved off in a line. There was one lone elephant that didn’t seem to be with the herd, but was also eating on our side of the river. When he realised the others had moved off, he basically broke into a run to cross the river as close to them as possible and then went his separate way. I wonder if this is a safety thing?

Nothing quite like a cold Hunters and an African sunset

Nothing quite like a cold Hunters and an African sunset

My dad was happy because we saw a fish eagle and it made its sound – this is his favourite bird!

Tomorrow we’ll head into the Park again, but it was nice to have a day just hanging out here.

Kruger Park: Sunset Game Drive.

And we’re off on our Sunset Game Drive from the Crocodile Bridge Gate. My sister and I very quickly volunteered to sit in the middle and not on the sides by the windows (or lack thereof). The cool part about the game drives is that you’re higher up than normal, and you also drive on the “no entry” roads. We’ve always had this theory that the animals actually sit on these no-entry roads having a party and discussing how close they are to the people who are searching so hard for them on the normal roads.

We saw some Giraffe and also some Zebra who crossed the road in front of us. Then we saw a Spotted Hyena, which was awesome because we haven’t seen one yet! He came out from deep in the bushes on our left and crossed right in front of the vehicle and disappeared into the bushes on the right moments later. Amazing how timing is everything in the wild! Another second later and we probably wouldn’t have seen the hyena at all.

The hyena coming out of the bushes

The hyena coming out of the bushes

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We saw a rather lovely sunset happen, and an elephant. We saw a Lilac-Breasted Roller which is one of my mom’s favourite birds. We later learnt that this bird is called a “troupant” in Afrikaans. Another interesting thing we learnt (thanks to our driver) is that Praying Mantis’ make nests. I did not know this. I also did not know that the Red-billed Buffalo Weaver makes its nest on the West-side of the tree it is built in.

Beautiful sunset

Beautiful sunset

Our next sightings were awesome, because they’re animals that are not often seen! We were fortunate enough to see a Honey Badger, as well as three Civets. We’d been talking about seeing a Honey Badger – they can be super fierce when they need to be. The Civets are beautiful, with their spotted coats. Throughout the rest of the drive, we also saw some bushbabies, which are also really cute.

The civet that I was lucky enough to get a decent(ish) photo of!

The civet that I was lucky enough to get a decent(ish) photo of!

The story of the evening has to be a result of one of the children behind us in the vehicle. What happens on most game drives is that if you see something you yell “Stop!” and the driver stops and gets in a position to identify wha tit is you have seen. We had plenty of false alarms, mostly for Impala, and then people started getting over excited about the bushbabies eyes. Now this boy had a spotlight he was using at one point, and suddenly he starts yelling “stop, stop, stop!” So we stop, and as we’re reversing, he says that he saw a butterfly. But not just any butterfly, no. He says he saw a “butterfly without a body”. Yeah. I do not even know what that is supposed to be or how that made sense at all, but thank you for the laughs it supplied.

Every time we rounded a corner I had like a mini-heart attack (surprising considering that I had been taking Rescue tablets before we left) that there would be a leopard or a pride of lions in the road. This isn’t unusual for evening drives as the lions lie in the road to get some of the warmth. Obviously that’s what everyone wants to see on a game drive, and so even though I was scared I was hoping we would see a big cat. But we weren’t lucky enough. Maybe next time…

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