Sunday, March 05, 2006

Mahd's Guide to the World, Part 5: Australia and Oceania

In this section of the Guide, I'll be discussing Australia and Oceania. Not to be confused with one of the Orwellian super-states of 1984, Oceania is really just a bunch of really, really tiny islands that, when combined, form a giant robot that battles space monsters.

American Samoa

Tropical Islands, Tropical Heat, Tropical drinks. These three things will be a constant in our travels throughout Oceania. Just like when 50's sci-fi movies wanted to make something sound futuristic, they put "space" in front of it (i.e. The Space Toothbrush), so do these islands put tropical in front of words to make them sound more, well, tropical.

American Samoa was a nice place way up until it was exposed in the US for it's primative living conditions in the 60's. The locals were fine with this, but in true American fashion, the US knew what was better for them, and spent a ton of money modernizing the island. The money ran out right about 1970, though, so if you visit here, they're just entering the disco era. Exercise extreme caution

Cook Islands

The Cook Islands are a bunch of pariah islands. The first explorer came here in 1595, but didn't even bother claiming them for his country. Captain Cook himself passed on through to Hawaii, and then realized that maybe he shouldn't have gone there.

Missionaries came and converted the populace, or at least they think they did. The locals would mimic them and make fun when the missionaries weren't looking.

Today, the Cook Islands' motto is "If you can't go anywhere else, come here, I guess."

The Federated States of Micronesia

These islands are, on the exterior, doggedly hanging on to their traditional culture. Loincloths and stone currency are still used, at least when tourists are around.

Underground, though, a strange and alien culture thrives. Suboceanic tunnels connect the islands and also lead to a giant cavern where factories continually pump out new weapons. The Federated States of Micronesia's aim is none other to take over the entire world, thus creating the Larger Federated States of Micronesia.

Nefarious, isn't it?

Fiji

It's a sign of just how many islands are in the area when these countries are made up of a number of them. Fiji, for example, is made of 381,000 islands. You'd think it would be hard to administer all of the different islands, and you would be right. Half of the people think they're in French Polynesia, and when told differently, they just shrug.

Guam

Another unincorporated American territory- this basically means it's a testing ground for American ordinance as well as all of our unused copies of TV Guide from March 3, 1996.

Guam is best known for being captured and then liberated in WW2. Today, it's a big tourist destination for Japanese people, which leads me to believe they're conducting a second invasion. At someone's signal, they're all going to drop their cameras and fanny packs and pick up rifles, and then it will all be over.

Kiribati

Imagine if you planned a trip for weeks to a beautiful tropical island, and when you got there it was a Catholic church. It would suck. Nuns would be running around the beaches in flip-flops, Priests would be giving sermons aboard surfboards and altar boys...well, they'd still be molested, but they'd have tans.

The rest of the story isn't so rosy either. Hydrogen bomb tests by the UK in the 70's gave everyone a healthy glow. Rising ocean levels mean the the island may be going underwater. So in a few years, there will be lots of interesting snorkeling.

Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands are a perfect paradise. Sun-kissed islanders with joyful dispositions float gracefully over the clean beaches, serving pasty foreigners in folding chairs ice cold drinks. The waters are crystal clear and full of varied sea life, and there is plenty for all to share.

Um, just stay away from Bikini Atoll.

Nauru

If you lie down, you will cover the entirety of Nauru. Where the rest of the world is concerned about oil supplies, Nauru worries about the decline of their phosphate mining industries. Like all suddenly-rich people, Nauru went on a spending spree, and bought a bunch of cars they didn't need, and got those heated tiles in their bathroom floor; that's just wasteful.

Needless to say, get there before the phosphate runs out or you'll encounter an island where the living envy the dead, and the dead envy nobody, because they're already dead.

New Caledonia

This island made me look up where the original Caledonia was, and it turns out it was in Scotland. Now, maybe I'm missing something, but it seems wrong to compare a beautiful tropical island with the foggy cold north of England. On the other hand, if everyone here speaks with a brogue, that's totally awesome.

New Zealand

Until recently, New Zealand was a relatively normal place. Then everyone started filming their fantasy epics here, and now orcs have overrun 72% of the island. Where they have conquered, there are no survivors. Fortunately an army of dwarves and elves are marching from the south to meet the evil menace.

Worse, the entire population has become a bunch of D&D nerds, and have developed skin conditions, bad eyesight and awkwardness around girls.

The US is currently planning a mission to airlift 2 tons of malt liquor and over a million copies of Playboy to the country. Taking up this mission is the 82nd Noogie squad. We can only pray that it is not too late.

Niue

Captain Cook originally called these the "Savage Islands". Why they ever changed the name, I will not know. The whole island has free wireless internet, which is really what you should be spending your time doing on a tropical island.

Northern Mariana Islands

Let's say you're a company, and you need cheap labor. You can't depend on China, because of the communism, and Latin America is so passe. Come here, to the Northern Marianas. Poor labor laws make it the perfect place to exploit the workers.

There are also a lot of tourists here. If you see a big bus filled with old men in too-short shorts and women wearing fuschia visors, you've found them.

Palau

Blah, blah, blah... paradise-like island... blah blah blah.. ecological wonderland of delight. Ho hum.

Papua New Guinea

There are certain places where cultures collide, and PNG is no exception. There are approximately 5 million people in these islands, each of whom belongs to a different ethnicity. Be sure to study each one, as incorrectly identifying the one you're dealing with will have a penalty ranging from death by poison needles to death by marathon sex, depending on the culture.

Pitcairn Island

These islands were settled by the mutineers from the HMS Bounty. You might think there's no better people to live with than mutineers, and you would be right. There's just under 50 people on the island these days, and that comes with all the benefits and negatives you might expect; miss a day of church and everyone will wonder where you were. Everyone is a star on Pitcairn.

Samoa

Samoa has one purpose, and that is to be devistated by natural disasters every 6-9 months. Every time you see some typhoon or cyclone or ufo attack, there's a good chance that it happened in Samoa.

This situation does not detract from the Samoans favorite pasttime, which is making fun of people in American Samoa.

Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands decided to get their system of government from South America, which explains why there hasn't been a stable government since the late 90's. There's been relative calm since 2003, so if you wear a fancy disguise, you may be able to visit. Just be aware that the leader when you arrive may not be the leader when you leave.

Tahiti & French Polynesia

Shockingly, these islands are French. These are the islands most people think of when they imagine the South Pacific, and boy do they try to live up to the image everyone has of them. It's like they looked at every Gaugin painting and said "That's what we're trying for." Crime is not allowed, since it doesn't fit in with the theme.

Still, it's rather unnerving to see them celebrating Bastille Day.

Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu

You will be cursed and set upon by crazy natives if you come to any of these nations. Giant apes, dinosaurs, insects and bears fight for supremacy in unspoiled jungle. Currently, the ruler is Humongous Bear, but there's rumor that the Dinosaur party has a young up-and-comer that might challenge in Parliament, especially given Humongous Bear's atrocious domestic policy record, which included the failure to keep Massive Bee from stinging Colossal Tiger.

Wallis & Futuna

As far as I know, this is a sitcom, not a pair of islands. Apparently, they are islands, and they don't want any of your dirty tourist money. They work the land, and if they get to retire to oceanside homes beside clear, sparkling oceans, that doesn't make them any different than the guy working in the coal mine in Virginia.

Australia

Australia has five beautiful coastal cities; Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. 90% of the population lives in these cities. As far as I can tell, the rest live in the mysterious and 80's-popularized Outback. The Outback is described by Australians as a place of varied climates and ecologies; for everyone else, it's called a desert.

Australians are characterized as tough individuals. This is reflected in their sports, such as twelve different versions of rugby that vary only in how much you can hurt the opposing players. In the most deadly version, they get rid of the ball altogether and just have a big brawl in the middle of the field.

Australia lies in the Southern Hemisphere, which means that everything is backwards there. Water spirals the wrong way down the sink, the seasons are completely wrong, and I believe they all walk and talk backwards, which may also explain some of the more interesting colloquialisms, such as "illywhacker" (a trickster), "ocker" (uh, someone with a name of Oscar) and "gullabullee" (tree). When an Australian comes up to you and starts speaking in this strange tongue, just ask them as loudly as possible if they speak English.

Australians are happy people, but they are invariably tied to their beaches. If they travel 20 miles away from a beach, they begin to feel a slight discomfort. If they continue to move away, death usually occurs at around 85 miles. The only way to keep an Australian fresh is by packing him or her in sand and occassionally splashing salt water on them.

Culturally, Australians have a rich history of distinctive visual artists, but they are best and most accurately portrayed in the movies Mad Max and Crocodile Dundee. These films show that if Australians aren't guiding foreigners through their native Outback with giant knives, they're fighting in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Surely, this is how Australians want the world to see them.

5 Comments:

At 3:14 AM, Blogger ChickyBabe said...

For most of the countries you describe up to Australia, I want to pack my bags and set off on holidays, especially to Tahiti!

Love your description of Australia, particularly the part of being "invariably tied to their beaches". You've described me perfectly. Sand, salt and ChickyBabe make a happy combination!

 
At 5:08 PM, Blogger jungle jane said...

okay i am officially in love with your blog. your guide should be compulsory study in all schools. and more folk should wear loincloths...

 
At 10:05 PM, Blogger Gordon said...

Yeah, everything was hunky dory in American Samoa until the missionaries and the Americans came along. Then it was all, "You can't walk around topless!!" and "You can't have sex with your cousins!!!" It was a to deep plunge downhill from there. Oh, you failed to mention that the AFL and NFL love to recruit football players from AS. Cuz they're built like walls on legs.

 
At 11:03 AM, Blogger Fuckkit said...

While Scotland is indeed located north of England it isn't in fact The North Of England. I'd reword that if I were you. Y'know, just in case you ever meet a Scot ;)

 
At 8:21 PM, Blogger Mahd said...

ChickyBabe, I don't think I'd turn down a trip there!

Australia is a very strange place to us- there was a guy selling Energizer batteries and Paul Hogan and then it's all a blank

Jungle Jane, Thanks! As I stated in the beginning of the series, I think we can all agree that world cultures should be taught by an American with little personal experience of the places he's describing.

Gordon, seriously, the NFL once prayed for a land of giant men whose size was beyond imagining. Then they discovered Samoa.

Fukkit, You are entirely correct. I'll leave the error in there, but your words reflect my intent. I wouldn't want to make any Scots mad- they have those giant swords! ;)

 

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