Travel Talk: An Idiot Abroad

I’m currently reading “The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington,” by Karl Pilkington – and that incredible TV duo Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais (who you know from “The Office” and his hilarious self-named TV show). The book is based on the TV show, An Idiot Abroad, which has aired in Canada to wide appeal.

“An Idiot Abroad” documents Karl Pilkington’s journeys to foreign countries under the guise of visiting the New Seven Wonders of the World. The premise: Pilkington has no interest in global travel, so Merchant and Gervais make him travel while they themselves stay in London and monitor his progress from the comfort of their studio.

Poor Karl struggles with unorthodox bathroom facilities, skimpy bathing suits (he’s British, after all) and food he can’t pronounce. The production team contrive each escapade in order to challenge (translate: embarrass) Karl.

Idiot Abroad

And there are bloopers. Bloopers are a part of travel. If travelling were without mishap, it wouldn’t be worth the price of a plane ticket.

A couple chapters, especially when Karl lands in Egypt, remind me of some of my own embarrassing travel moments, especially trip to Morocco last year when I discovered, upon arriving in Casablanca on a Holy Day, that my luggage had disappeared. The embarrassment that ensued as I tried to purchase mens underwear in a Muslim country on a Holy Day (Friday) will haunt me forever. Going from shop to shop, alternating between my rusty French and guide-book Arabic, and then resorting to miming.

Picture this: a Canadian guy standing in a tiny shop that wasn’t officially open, gesturing to his backside, trying to explain, without words, that he wants to buy a pair of undies before heading off the next day on a camel trek into the Sahara. It was the most hilarious shopping experience of my life.

And then there was me on camel back, in the middle of the Sahara, without a hat. What’s a guy to do but drape his head in a scarf in the tradition of Lawrence of Arabia. Talk about an embarrassing photo op (which you can see here). Looking back, I feel an unexpected kinship with Karl Pilkington.

Sahara, camel, bad head piece

That’s me, trying to channel my inner Lawrence of Arabia, Sahara Desert.


Tell me about your travel bloopers! Come on, I know you’ve had them.