Originally created 05/01/01

Travel tips are useful about now



Drawing on my fine command of their language, I said nothing.

- Peter Benchley

Vacation time is drawing near, and most of us will be on the road in the months ahead.

Statistics compiled by AAA show that 237 million Americans took a summer vacation last year, up 3 percent from 1999.

Forty percent of these hardy souls took children with them.

Now, if you're traveling overseas, there is no one better to ask for tips than David Borgenicht and Joshua Piven, the co-authors of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook.

Here is some useful advice they shared with U.S. News and World Report magazine.

The most surprising travel problem abroad? - Unintentionally flashing an obscene gesture. In Brazil, Germany and Russia the "OK" symbol we make with our hand indicates "a very private place."

In France, it means "You're worthless (a zero)."

In Japan, it means, "I want change."

In Australia, never turn your water glass upside down at the restaurant table. That means, "I challenge anyone in the room to a fight."

Things to carry with you - A pocketknife and cash for bribes.

How do you offer a bribe? - Be polite and ask if it is possible to pay any "fines" on the spot, or offer to make a "donation" to the official's organization.

What's the best place to keep your money? - In your pocket in a billfold with a rubber band wrapped around it. It makes it harder for pickpockets to slide it out.

How do you leap from a moving train? - Jump straight out, not forward or backward, and cover your head when you land.

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LOCAL TOURISTS: Of course, you could stay home and take part in Augusta's "Be A Tourist in Your Own Hometown" program from Friday to May 12.

It features all sorts of unusual views for Augusta, including a tour of The Chronicle's printing press.

Complimentary tourist badges may be obtained at the Cotton Exchange Welcome Center on Eighth Street. Call the Convention and Visitors Bureau for more information at 823-6600.

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TODAY'S JOKE: In a train carriage sits Bill Clinton, George Bush, a spectacular-looking blonde and a frightfully awful-looking fat lady.

After several minutes of the trip, the train passes through a dark tunnel and the unmistakable sound of a slap is heard. When they leave the tunnel, Clinton has a slap mark on his cheek.

"That rascal Clinton," the blonde thinks. "He wanted to touch me and must have mistakenly put his hand on the fat lady, who slapped his face."

"That sneaky Bill Clinton," the fat lady thinks. "He must have put his hand on the blonde, and she smacked him."

"George put his hand on that blonde," Bill Clinton thinks, "and by mistake she slapped me."

And finally, "I hope there's another tunnel," thinks George Bush, "so I can smack Clinton again."

Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 107.