Friday, July 25, 2008


Terrifying tales of travel abroad

As the WaiWai has died (Say what? click here. None the wiser? Click here.) I am in search of an alternative source of badly-written badly-researched baloney.

Fortunately, with what Japanese I have, help is at hand in the unlikely form of The Books You Can Buy In Convenience Stores. Last month, I picked up a volume on the world's poisonous animals, and then last weekend I was doing some window-shopping in Nagoya when I stumbled across this little honey:

The title is Kaigai ryoko no osoroshii hanashi, or "Terrifying tales of travel abroad." ("crimes to make you shudder are lying in wait for a Japanese!")

This thing is a hit from the word go: inside the front cover is a world map on which each country is graded from one to five according to kiken (danger), sabetsu (discrimination) and bukka (cost.)

How does England fare? Two for danger, THREE for discrimination (putting us on a par with the French, for goodness's sake) and a world-record FIVE for cost. Outstanding.

For the record, Japan scores two for discrimination, now show me your alien registration card. Oh, and four for cost, which explains why I'm living like a king after having survived the hardships of British pricing for so long.

The stories are pretty good, though: my favourite thus far is the guy who has his pocket picked in a station in Spain, gets on a train afterwards, turns to look away from a couple who get on board and start snogging right in front of him only for them to start rummaging through his pockets too.

I award this book three bog rolls out of five for recycleability.

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