I like juxtapositions. They make you pause and think, jolt you out of the mundane.
One of the reasons I love travelling is that it constantly throws up bizarre contrasts. Like washing with Jo Malone shower gel and cold water from a bucket in the middle of the jungle. Or saying to the children, “If the boat starts sinking, grab one of the chairs to help you float”, and meaning it, when you’ve just spent months lugging car seats tens of thousands of miles.
You move from five star luxury (OK we only did that once) to tarantulas in the bedroom and no running water in the space of a week. Or emerge, filthy, dusty and flyblown from weeks in the virtually uninhabited desert, shops a rarity, traffic lights non-existent, to wander dazed round one of the richest cities in the world, people hurrying like ants, sun glinting off sparkly buildings.
Some places are so rammed full of contrasts they’re a sensory overload waiting to happen. Singapore with its beautiful, shiny, modern museums, and its Sunday pet bird showing off session, largely unchanged since the Island was more trees than concrete. Bangkok is perhaps the pinnacle of juxtapositions, with it’s jaw-dropping temples to shopping sitting on top of the smoky, prayer filled temples where ancient rituals are performed in a continuous conversation with the past.
There’s nothing like lying in the dark on a sweaty mattress, in a bamboo hut in the jungle, watching The Good Life on a tiny iPhone screen, turning the volume up to hear Tom and Barbara over the cacophony of the jungle at night, to make you laugh at the ridiculousness of life.