You’re going to like this one! Well, if you like funky little travel accessories that you didn’t know you needed and, come to think of it, you don’t really need but they make your life easier. Or do they?
With the advent of modern food-grade silicone many products have received design updates and others have become feasible for the first time. The Go Toob is an example of the latter – a squeezable, handy-sized container with a leak proof nozzle through which to dispense whatever it is you need to use, and the possibilities are many and varied: sun cream, shampoo, honey, condensed milk, hand gel, lube, massage oil, peanut butter... There are even little labels built into each Toob so you don’t get your toothpaste mixed up with your haemorrhoid cream.
The soft silicone body is easy to squeeze and (probably) won’t explode in an aeroplane’s baggage hold, and the silicone nozzle looks, let’s face it, like a tiny sphincter exploding outwards with each burst of shower gel. It’s quite fascinating to watch.
An assortment of Toobs complete with putrefying gunk
But are they useful? I suppose it depends in what size container your chosen sludge comes, and for how long you will be away. There are three sizes of Toobs (37ml, 89ml, and the 60ml has a handy sucker for attaching to a tiled surface) and I suppose if you could calculate roughly how much of said sludge you need for a certain time period, and that amount fitted in one of those three sizes, then bingo. It beats carrying a whole bottle of shampoo all the way to Bhutan and back, besides the frustration of trying to replenish your supply once there when you have no idea how many ngultrum it should cost. Chances are, you’ll pay over the odds.
Of course, if you’re a seasoned traveller you will have acquired the ‘art’ of immediately knowing the prices of all useful goods upon entering a new country. Once across a border my eyes and brain go into overdrive, automatically registering and cataloguing a range of prices in a variety of shops to ascertain a) the average, and b) the cheapest. Usually, within a day, I can haggle like a local. “Ten for this oil?” I can say in 70 languages, “Do me a favour!”
Even with this skill, you are almost certain to be overcharged on your first day; it’s practically the law in Morocco. As careful as I am, I have still been party to some embarrassing and colossal gullible moments. On our first day in Indonesia we paid 100,000Rp for a bus ride that should have cost 30,000Rp. And this was my 85th country, or something. I was so angry it took me a day to get over it.
Probably my proudest moment was 25 years ago, on my first big trip. It was early morning in Naples, having just disembarked from some night train. I had a bunch of lire in my fist, still impressed by the thousands into which my measly day’s budget had translated (£1 equalled 2000L in 1990). Wandering the streets around the Piazza Garibaldi I came upon a wizened man selling bread rolls. “Aha,” I thought, “Breakfast.” I pointed at a lump of doughy goodness and shrugged at the toothless old bastard. He wrote down the price on a piece of cardboard – 2,500. Smiling, I handed over 25,000 lire and walked away, chewing my roll. It was still warm – lovely.
It must’ve been an hour later that it struck me. I think I was checking out the prices of postcards or something when it clicked – I’d overpaid him by 900%. My eyes closed and my palm struck my forehead in slow motion. “Nooooooooo!” I silently screamed, like an anguished cop realising he’s sent his partner into an ambush. I retraced my steps, searching the piazza until I found him. As soon as he saw me, he knew. I didn’t need to speak Italian; I just made a hand gesture that said: ‘Come on, don’t play the innocent with me. Hand it over.’ He sheepishly rummaged in his coat pocket and brought forth some grubby notes, then some more, small denominations slowly accumulating. After each note his rheumy eyes questioned me: ‘Is that enough?’ they said. I stopped him at about 20,000. It was my fault after all.
Even the staunchest nWD can be forgiven for paying First Day Taxes. All you have to do is quote Homer Simpson: ‘D’oh! It’s my first day!’