Awkward Situations: When Is Friendly Too Friendly?

I recently read a rather brilliant pair of books by Shortlist columnist Danny Wallace: “Awkward Situations For Men” and the sequel, “More Awkward Situations For Men.”

Mister Wallace (as he goes by on Twitter) is a fantastic writer. His hilarious navigation of uncomfortable situations in the life of a man – how do you walk behind a woman at night? What do you do when you get stage fright at a urinal? – are not things I can relate to, but nevertheless I enjoy reading about them. Which probably makes me a little odd.

I started to think about the awkward situations in my own life. I mean, there must be loads. I’m sure I make people feel uncomfortable all the time! Yet, for a while, I couldn’t think of anything. (Just a bit of Writer’s Block – nothing an aspiring journalist should worry about). Eventually, inspiration struck, as it so often does, while on the tube. Continue reading


What No One Tells You About Leaving South Korea

I’ve been back in England for just over three months now, which means it has been three months since I last drank soju, smelled dried squid in a movie theatre, or was referred to as “Stacey Teach-uhh.”

In many ways, it’s wonderful to be home. In other ways, I feel cheated – there are a few things nobody warned me about before I left the land of the morning calm for the land of home comforts. So that my ignorance can be of benefit to others, here are the things no one tells you about leaving South Korea. Continue reading

The Tarsier Diaries: Adventures in the Philippines (7)

In Which Stacey And Rhys Bid Farewell To Paradise and Take A Midnight Boat.

Saturday, 24th July 2010

To get back to Cebu in time for our flight, here’s what we did: a ferry from Siquijor to Dumaguette, which took less than an hour. Followed by a few hours stay in the Vintage Inn for showers, relaxation and a quick cut-throat shave across the street (for Rhys. Not me). And then a midnight boat trip from Dumaguette to Cebu.

The midnight boat was huge, and at first we were worried that we’d have to sleep on one of the innumerably bunk bed cots on the deck, but that turned out to be economy class. We were sleeping in tourist class, which still included small, metal bunk beds but with bedding, down below deck. I did worry that in the unlikely event of a Titanic-esque situation, surely it would be better to be up on deck rather than in the middle of the boat as it filled with sea water? Perhaps. We’ll never know (and don’t call me Shirley).

Once we were snuggled in the bottom bunks across from each other, it was oddly comfortable and I managed a few hours of shut eye. Rhys, on the other hand, had yet another run-in with his nemesis, the mighty cockroach. The next morning he recounted the thrilling tale of how he’d killed one that was trying to climb ONTO MY BUNK! My hero!

We headed up the deck about 20 minutes before the boat was due to dock. Leaning over the rails and looking out over the pier, we noticed some people approaching the ship in tiny paddle boats. We didn’t realise what they were doing until they got up close and raised their hands, palms upturned, pleading. They were beggars, asking for something – anything – from the passengers. On one boat was a young girl with a tiny toddler, on the other was a man with two small children. Some of the passengers, ourselves included, gave what they could – some change, some fruit – and the man would dive down into the water to retrieve whatever he could. I have never seen anything like that before. It was difficult to watch.

Once we got to Cebu Airport, we checked in for both flights – to Manila, and then to Incheon. . Manila Airport is mental, by the way. No clear directions of where to go, NO SECURITY flying in from Cebu, and home to what must be the only surly people in all of the Philippines (they live in duty free).

The end of a holiday always brings me the same rush of contrasting feelings. There is some sadness that this carefree existence of eating/tanning/travelling is coming to an end. There’s a healthy dose of neurotic fear – did I frolic enough? Is my tan deep enough? Did I eat my fill of fried foods and dried mango? (Yes, No, Definitely).
I must admit as well, to a feeling of relief – what a joy it will be to sleep in our own bed, have hot showers, type away at the laptop, catch up not only with real life family and friends but also TV loved ones, like Richard Hammond and Eric from True Blood. Also, not to be hounded by mosquitoes, sand in pants, the fear of drowning (me) or being burnt to a crisp in the sun (Rhys). And of course: no cockroaches.