Yours truly, She That Must Be Obeyed, and two sprogs, undertook a hazardous, perilous, journey over 10 nights that included the swap over to a new decade.
Yes, reader dear, we went on our first cruise. This was to the islands of Mare, Isle of Pines, Mystery Island (woohoo), and Vanuatu in the balmy South Pacific.
It’s here that I’d break into song and sing “I’m gonna wash that man right out’a my hair” but that’d be both weird and impossible, thanks to not having much thatch on the roof.
The second night at sea was New Year’s Eve and that was a hoot in itself. What wasn’t a hoot was being told the first island stop was cancelled due to planned maintenance . . . hmmm.
Here in Australia and New Zullund, and some other countries such as Engerland, we drive on the right side of the road — the left.
Jeremy Clarkson, gawd bless ‘im, used to like to take the piss out of unsuspecting Yank guests when they appeared on Top Gear because they drive on the wrong side of the road — the right.
The Isle of Pines is accessed via tender from the cruise ship and it was here we experienced driving on the right side of the road for the first time.
Entering a mini-bus from the right hand side, not the left, and seeing the smiling driver on the left hand side of the vehicle didn’t sink in immediately as out of the ordinary — as the island has few operating vehicles.
It was a couple of minutes later when realisation hit: we were driving on the wrong side — the right side of the road!
After a 60 minute tour we were back at the dock, exiting through the wrong side, that is the right side of the bus.
Mystery Island is a thin strip of land, a bare kilometre from the coast of the dual volcanic peaked mass of Aneityum.
It’s tiny, and there are no vehicles here as the island is only occupied when a cruise liner arrives.
The locals believe the island is inhabited by evil spirits at night and make their way back to the larger village on the large island.
Vanuatu and the ship is dockside.
There is literally more than 100 locals waiting and yelling “taxi, taxi”.
The dock is some distance from the capital of the island, Port Vila, and a water taxi was taken to the centre.
Some shopping for essentials at duty free. Scotch is essential to life and happiness, as is, apparently, Chanel Number 5 (the only stuff Marilyn Monroe wore to bed).
Then it was on to our meeting with a mate named Tuli.
The outskirts of Port Vila have a number of villages, with Tuli’s village population numbering some 7000. That’s almost double the home of the world’s best cheese, Bega.
Tuli gave us a tour of Port Vila and his village in his Toyota van. And again, he drove on the wrong side of the road — the right.
However, along the way, he gave us some titbits that showcased just how average Australian driving standards are.
Pedestrians, said Tuli, have more right to be on the road, than cars. Their culture in regards to driving is simple: if a driver sees someone place a foot onto the road, they have right of way and all vehicles must stop to allow safe passage.
Here in Australia we have a different way of looking at this; how many points per person can we get for being stupid enough to place a foot on the road?
Another driving habit quickly made itself known . . . traffic lights are virtually non-existent, yet traffic flow is constant.
Drivers are in the left hand seat and somehow manage to change lanes, merge like a zipper, and miss impacts as easily as a supermodel can sashay up and down a catwalk, without falling over like a drunken football supporter after their team has won the Grand Final.
Importantly, the island’s road toll is virtually non-existent. That’s pretty good for a country that drives on the wrong side the road — the right side of the road.