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The hilarious gap-year emails that never reassure parents


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The hilarious gap-year emails that never reassure parents


Last updated at 11:18am on 7th November 2006




When intrepid teenagers set off to explore the deepest, darkest and most dangerous parts of the world during their gap years, it is a nail-biting time for their worried parents. But, mothers and fathers console themselves, at least their little gapper can send reassuring e-mails home. However, as a hilarious new book reveals, the messages they send, describing the scrapes they have got into, can have the opposite effect...


DEAR Dad, to say we were held hostage would be overshooting the mark, although technically it's true. We all went to get the 11am bus to Ghorabi in Nepal, and as we approached the place where the bus sits and waits we were surrounded by six men, none older than us, brandishing Kalashnikovs.

They told us to sit down (we did) and said we were not allowed to leave until the rally, which we'd inadvertently stumbled upon, was finished. It was scary: they were painfully young and they had guns that they chose to point at us.

So for four hours we sat and listened and watched while these Maoists preached their message to the masses. After the initial fear wore off, it simply became a bit boring. When it was finished we walked home, and that was that. Love to Mum, Matthew.


DEAR Mum, last night we arrived at the most fantastic hotel in Arequipa, Peru. The en-suite bathrooms, high ceilings, balconies, sheets and bedside lights were the star attractions, and we slept like logs on Night Nurse, stirring from sweet slumber only once, when the earthquake struck.

Panic not, mother. After the initial confusion I fell back to sleep straight away and woke up in the best of health, regardless of gaping cracks in the walls and pavements!

Lots of love, Karen.


HELLO all. I really enjoyed shark-watching. We waited for a couple of hours on a boat in a scene which couldn't have been more Jaws-like.

Then a 12ft mako shark turned up, and though not a Great White it was definitely Jaws-looking, especially when the captain was pulling the fish away from it and it came out of the water. The cage was bouncing around in the water and you had to be careful not to put your hand through the bars when you were holding on. It was fantastic! Speak soon, Patrick.

HI DAD. Well, I got mugged again, trying to get across eight lines of traffic from Cinelandia to the Modern Art Museum in the pouring rain. He did have a knife, but he wasn't particularly threatening, and he let me open my wallet and give him the notes, rather than taking everything, which would have been a pain.

It's OK. I'm used to it now. So long, David


DEAR Mum and Dad, I know it is very dull to talk about the weather, but it is minus 30 degrees today (in northern Russia), so I think I am allowed.

My shampoo freezes every night and children aren't allowed to go to school because they walk too slowly and tend to freeze to death before they get there. Nice.

I am slightly worried, because I walk at the speed of a lobotomised snail, there is five inches of ice on the roads and my new boots have strayed far from their natural habitat (the wilds of High Street Kensington).

On the first day of unbelievable iciness I happily stepped outside and within minutes my mascara had frozen my eyelids closed and my nostrils had iced over. After another few minutes I lost all feeling in my extremities, so by the time I reached the institute I couldn't see, smell or feel.

I walk so slowly I am often overtaken by octogenarian babushkas shuffling along in felt slippers with massive sacks of turnips on their backs. Every day Ludmilla smugly informs me that it is another 10 degrees colder than the day before and happily tells me how to notice the first stages of frostbite. Can't wait to warm up, Lynda.

HI THERE. Tracey, my flatmate (the semi-professional boxer who keeps a knife by her bed), has been sent home (from the ski resort). She toppled down the mountain the other day.

I now find myself living with just Peta, the 20-year-old bisexual, dress size 22. I have, however, established she does not see me 'in that way' so it's all quite chummy. I ply her with leftover brownies, which keeps her sweet.

Miss you all, Kate x x.


DEAR Mummy and Daddy, how are you?

This may come as a shock, but I am thinking of eloping with one of my students to Assam, coz he is from the Naga tribe, and I want to be a Naga girl and go hunting monkeys with bows and arrows and fishing with spears like they do, and then come back and do tribal dancing all night, coz it's so much fun, and all the tribal people here are so great and brave and strong.

Obviously the political situation in Assam isn't ideal, but I'll be OK.

Love you lots. Only an idea at the moment. X, Me.


HELLO. I've taken to teaching my children [in a school in India] about England — last week we learned about Sloanes, Geordies and lager louts. I have become the chief slayer of insects, having fought cockroaches in my sleeping bag, wash bag, pants and hairbrush. I'm indestructible — though dysentery wasn't great. Had a nasty run-in with a leper carrying a python this morning. I am now slightly worried about how contagious leprosy is. Hope you are all well and disease-free. Love and kisses, Chrissie.


HELLO Daddy. Going travelling this weekend with five boys. Am making everyone share one bed under the false pretence that it's budgeting. It's actually because I can't not pull if there are five of them. Can I? (That was a joke, in case you didn't get the sarcasm. I am not a slut.) Love Sue x.


DEAR Mum and Dad, the local culture in Auckland is all about 'kandi'. It's a drug that is very similar to ecstasy, with one major exception — it's completely legal. I figured that as it was legal it couldn't be that strong, so I ignored the warning not to exceed four pills per week and took 12 in one night . . . Going to bed now, Nick.


MUM, I have no clean clothes. Literally everything is smelly and wet. I haven't smelled nice for a month, cos even after a shower I have to dry with a dish towel. Please, Mum, could you fly out here and do my washing? Love, Peter.


MUM, went to visit a prison in Quito yesterday, which was pretty scary, but interesting. Was talking to one inmate in his cell (bit of an anticlimax that I wasn't raped) and he said that you get 12 years for drug-trafficking and only two for murder! So if I feel the urge to be naughty here, I'm going to kill someone. Stay well, Ollie.


HI ALL. Now, my third bungee jump in New Zealand was a piece of cake. The rope is attached to your waist and you can run and jump off, and despite falling 43 metres it was all over very quickly.

However, I got to dangle for a while as I hadn't listened to the guy explaining the harness he uses to pull people up with, so I put it on all wrong. Love to all, Maria x x x.


HELLO, sorry it's been so long. Had an eventful rafting trip. We were all kitted out in our wetsuits, waterproofs, helmets and lifejackets, and had just started out on the river (in Peru) when our instructor started shouting instructions to us to turn the boat and back it up.

I turned around to see the body of a young woman not much older than us floating in the water face up. Our instructor asked us to grab the body and attach it to the raft.

The six of us were all in shock, as it was for all of us the first dead body we had ever seen. So, dumbstruck, the only thing we could do was to keep paddling. We got her to the side. We all stood in a circle and said a prayer for her.

We carried on rafting, and luckily all was not ruined, as champagne was bought to celebrate my birthday and we stayed in a lovely campsite with an excellent view of the mountains. So long, Rachel.


HI MUM. The accommodation here is OK. Well, it's interesting, a bit sticky on the floor and a few cockroaches, but it's OK. I'm staying in a little place about 40 minutes from Sydney on the train.

It's a small town, loads of crime, drugs etc, a bit like Stoke — only less pottery. Love Ben.


HELLO Mummy, Daddy and Sophie. Yesterday afternoon was spent fruitlessly piranha-fishing from the canoe, before Victor insisted that we all jump into the muddy brown water — apparently it didn't matter that we'd just been tempting man-eating fish with pieces of meat, and the water was 'perfectly safe apart from the fish that swim up your rectum'.

However, having survived swimming in the Amazon, we were able to enjoy another amazing sunset fishing from the banks this time.

Unfortunately, we forgot a torch, so Will and I were almost snapped by a crocodile while trying to get back to the shore once it had got dark. Lots of love, Charles.


MUM, guess what happened to me last night (in Sydney)?

We were walking back to the hostel and some guy jumped out of his car and whacked me across the head with a hammer — the bit you take nails out with. Then he punched George in the face and drove off. Fine now, Simon.


HEY Mum and Dad. Don't fret, cos I am still alive, and you always said that was the main thing.

I should probably mention that I am not pregnant. I am also not yet a heroin/coke/ecstasy addict. I have definitely 'found myself' and also made a huge difference to the village where I am staying.

I have lots of good intentions, like building wells and libraries. I have given up smoking. I have started writing poetry. I have found God. I miss you and love you all so, so, so much and can't wait to see you.

Love Tasha. PS I may have been shopping, courtesy of Daddy's Mastercard.


HELLO all. Have just spent 30 hours on a yam transportation ferry, where mice crawled all over our bodies at night, followed by several hours in a city I'd wish upon only the worst people in the world. Then went on two seven-hour bus journeys. So much sweat, so many flies due to neighbours eating fish for all seven hours and then dropping bones on my feet, then some goats and chickens decided to join us. Was just about tolerating this, until a chicken pecked my a*** and I promptly burst into tears, much to everyone's amusement. Eventually arrived, and for the next five days my body was consumed by the most horrendous rash — incidentally, bird flu has reached Ghana in a big way. Speak soon X X, Laura.


HEY Ma. Must be quick cos late. Just to warn you, met some awesome Aussies last night, who are going to London next week. I said they could stay with you to save money.

Gave them your number, hope you don't mind, they're all lovely. Can't remember names, but all (four in total) are lovely and super-fit. Xxx Andrea love you.


DAD, you keep complaining about my spending but the longer you fail to get this problem sorted out, the more money will get spent.

Beijing is an expensive place to p*** about going to banks all day, plus it's 39 degrees outside, which makes me annoyed the minute I step out of the hotel.

Seriously, I don't know how much longer I can last ... I'm f*** ing fed up with this, stop sending me sarcastic e-mails and telling me 'it doesn't add up'. I DON'T GIVE A F***.

Just go down to HSBC and don't leave until you're convinced that something has taken place which will enable me to come home . . . I don't care if you have to use all your savings to pay off my overdraft, or if you have to sell your car, PLEASE JUST GET ME HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Paul.

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