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Literature / Jetlag Travel Guides

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Clockwise from top-left: Molvanîa: A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry, Phaic Tăn: Sunstroke on a Shoestring, San Sombrèro: A Land of Carnivals, Cocktails and Coups and Traditional Molvanîan Baby Names: With Meanings, Derivations And Probable Pronunciations.
Szlengro! Translation 

The Jetlag Travel Guides are a collection of books parodying travelling guides, relying on Rapid-Fire Comedy and the perceived stereotypes surrounding the people living in the regions portrayed within. The books were written by Australian comedians Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner and Rob Sitch of The D-Generation fame.

The guides all feature a Fictional Country, all exaggerated versions of stereotypes about real-world regions. The first and most well-known of the guides is Molvanîa: A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry, released in 2003. Its popularity spawned two sequels, Phaic Tăn: Sunstroke on a Shoestring, released in 2004, and San Sombrèro: A Land of Carnivals, Cocktails and Coups, released in 2006, as well as a Spin-Off called Traditional Molvanîan Baby Names: With Meanings, Derivations And Probable Pronunciations, released in 2011.

All of the books look and feel like actual travel books made by real companies, such as Cadogan or Lonely Planet guides, complete with information about history, culture, maps and special offers for other (nonexistent) guides. Some people have even been fooled into thinking the countries present actually exist. Each book features several "contributors", such as Philippe Miseree, who is present in all of the main three guides. The jokes are mostly scatological and sexual in nature, with puns and Bait-and-Switch comments of all kinds being present. The Rapid-Fire Comedy and exploitation of stereotypes will make the reader either suffer from uncontrollable laughter or feel offended.

An official site and an app have been created containing several other countries without physically published guides. In addition, an anthem for Molvanîa, a clip of a soap opera for Phaic Tăn, and a dance for San Sombrèro have been made and uploaded to YouTube. Molvanîa even has an Eurovision entry! Molvanîa is also the birthplace of Zladko, of Elektronik Supersonik fame.

The Jetlag Travel Guides provide examples for the following tropes:

    open/close all folders 

  • Anachronism Stew: Most of the countries contain a blend of ancient or pre-WWII structures combined with modern hotels.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The heart and soul of the series. All types are present.
  • Bar Brawl: Referenced constantly. If a bar is listed under "Inexpensive" then this is what you can expect.
  • Black Comedy: Jokes about poverty and people dying in weird ways are the norm.
  • Bulungi: Several other countries are mentioned in the guides, among them Bongoswana and Despotswana, African nations with brutal colonial pasts.
  • Corrupt Politician/Corrupt Bureaucrat: Lots of them can be found in the governments of all three countries to get published guides.
  • Culture Chop Suey: All of the countries presented in the guides are a mish-mash of stereotypes from the region in which they belong. Molvanîa represents all of central and eastern Europe, Phaic Tăn represents Southeast Asia, and San Sombrèro represents Central America.
  • Dirty Communists: Molvanîa is an ex-soviet republic, and the populace isn't exactly the friendliest. Meanwhile, several guerilla groups in Phaic Tăn have adopted Maoism.
  • Fictionary: The guides all feature useful phrases, such as greetings and requests to not be shot.
    • Even San Sombrèro, where Spanish is spoken, contains words unique to the country, mostly US neologisms, like "drivebyshooting".
  • Foreign Queasine: Many of the dishes discussed in the guides range from mildly off-putting to absolutely revolting.
  • French Jerk: Philippe acts condescendingly to basically everyone he meets. Downplayed, as he doesn't use french words, unlike Jonathan.
  • Hurricane of Puns: All of the foreign names are basically English-language puns. For instance, Whét pù apparently means diarrhoe in Phaic Tăn's language, or San Sombrèro's San Abandonio city. Phaic Tăn is pronounced as "fake tan". Some puns are specifically Australian English puns, such as the city of Bung Lung ("bung" in Australian English meaning "failed").
  • Lethal Chef: Everything that street vendors sell will give you some type of disease.
  • Longing for Fictionland: Some people would really like to visit these wonderful countries.
  • Namedworld and Namedland: The Nordic country of Pfaffländ.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Nothing has any compliance whatsoever in these places.
  • Properly Paranoid: Zig-zagged with Tina Payne. Sometimes people really are trying to steal her stuff (jokes about stolen wallets are omnipresent), but sometimes she will refuse to even look out of the window of a bus in fear of getting her luggage stolen.
  • Qurac: The Unaudited Arab Emirates, a Pun on the United Arab Emirates, is mentioned several times in the guides. The country is a desert republic and a "shopper's paradise", full of luxurious hotels and BMWs.
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy: How most of the books operate. Every page will have roughly three paragraphs with two jokes each, pictures with a caption underneath, or fact boxes/tips from one of the contributors. With about 6 jokes per page, you'll be hard pressed to not find something that at least makes you smile.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: There are several paragraphs throughout the books clarifying a typo made in a previous edition. For instance, a note on one of the restaurants says that it was described as "appealing" when, in fact, it should have read "appalling".
  • Running Gag: Several:
    • Across all of the books, the poor hotels and their large distance from the town centre, despite being described as "central", pools which lack water etc.
    • In Molvanîa, tips about avoiding gypsy beggars.
    • In Phaic Tăn, Her Royal Highness Queen Suahm Luprang's weight is mentioned constantly.
  • Stock Footage: Several of the pictures used are stock images, a few appearing twice in the same book.
  • Take That!: To all travel guides who persuade you to visit the country/region which they talk about, especially the Lonely Planet guides. None of the places portrayed in the Jetlag Travel Guides are worth visiting (or safe).

  • The Alleged Car: The guide makes mention of the national car, the Skumpta. The car is described as having a single headlight, a three cylinder engine, and a candlelit interior. The car is also said to have performed best out of four leading European car models in a crash test involving being driven into a wall at 60 kph, but that's because the car broke down repeatedly and never reached the wall.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Molvanîa apparently borders Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, and Romania.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Molvanîans claim, among other things, that one of the thieves which were crucified next to Jesus was Molvanîan and that the 30 pieces of silver given to Judas actually came from the town of Dzrebo.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: The "Father of Modern Molvanîa", Szlonko Busjbusj, died of natural causes: "he was assassinated".
  • Girls with Moustaches: Saint Cvorbcek, a woman, is described as a "bearded figure".
  • Gonk: The man on the cover.
  • Hammer and Sickle: The book explains the presence of a modified version of this symbol on Molvanîa's national flag:
    "After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Molvania was the only ex-Soviet state to retain the hammer and sickle. So enamoured were they with the symbols of workers' unity, they added a third tool - the trowel."
  • The Mafiya: Aside from the home-grown Slavic Molvanîan mafia, the Russian mafia is also present, many of its members being foreign dignitaries.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Despite the nation's flag being called the Trikolor, it has only two colours: red and yellow.
  • Overly Long Name: In the town of Dzrebo, there is "The Church of the Blessed Holy Sisters of the Discalced Flower of the Immaculate Virgin Incarnate".
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: The guide parodies the hyper-inflation faced by The Weimar Republic. An enigmatic leader of the country faced widespread inflation, the book mentioning that the people had to carry wheelbarrows of money to purchase simple goods. The leader solved this problem by declaring wheelbarrows legal tender.
  • Ruritania: An exaggeration of the worst aspects of the trope. The country is an ex-Soviet republic run by the mafia, everyone is poor, the country is embroiled in a war with Romania, the language is hideously difficult to learn, the people are unfriendly and the cafes are over-priced.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: The Vcetrezen art gallery has a minimalist style, with one room being completely empty, save for a small fire-hose. Philippe, of course, thinks it is high art, better than the "populist" national art gallery.
  • Ugly Slavic Women: Local Molvanîan women are described as very, very hairy.
  • Vodka Drunkenski: Aside from Vodka, garlic brandy (zeerstum) is also very popular with the citizens of Molvanîa.

    Phaic Tăn 
  • Adipose Rex: Her Royal Highness Queen Suahm Luprang's weight is a Running Gag.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The doctor in the Hospital of Hearts clip speaks in vaguely Korean-sounding gibberish.
  • Big Eater: Jonathan Quibble, who writes "for the luxury traveller". He is awaiting quadruple bypass surgery.
  • Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: Sambal is a concoction of shallots, turmaeric, onion, ginger garlic and red pepper, used in food and for treating colic in babies.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Nearly everyone in Phaic Tăn has poor eyesight. Wedding couples even ceremonially exchange glasses.
  • Boomerang Bigot/Self-Deprecation: It is mentioned in the description of one of Phaic Tăn's restaurants that, because no drinks are allowed, you won't be bothered by Australian tourists.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Appears in the list of payment abbreviations used when recommending restaurants:
    "Credit Card Abbreviations
    AE      American Express
    DC      Diners Club
    MC      Master Card
    V         Visa
    CO      Cash Only
    OD      Or Drugs"
  • Bruce Lee Clone: Trong Tchen, kickboxing champion who starred in a number of action films, including a movie adaptation of Hamlet.
  • Cool Helmet: Military rank is indicated by the size of one's helmet.
  • Fat Bitch: Mentioning Her Royal Highness Queen Suahm Luprang's "ample girth" is punishable by law.
  • Gratuitous French: Jonathan Quibble is "a self-confessed connoisseur, bon vivant and user-excessif of the French language".
  • Holiday in Cambodia: Phaic Tăn presents virtually all of the subtropes associated with Southeast Asian stereotypes: jungles, guerilla warfare, near-constant rain, Buddhism and others.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Phaic Tănese warriors carried the "traditional attack arrow".
  • Interfaith Smoothie: Played for Laughs:
    "Whilst primarily Buddhist, over the years the people of Sukkondat have absorbed a wide variety of religious influences, including Taoism, Animism, Hinduism and Sikhism. Because of this the dominant religion throughout the province could best be described as Confusionism."
  • LEGO Genetics: Phaic Tănese botanists have apparently managed to graft watermelon with cressantheum and orchids with kidney beans.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: In the famous allegory The Ranayayan, Tekhnah is "the god of disappointment, features the head of an elephant, the body of a horse and the genitalia of a wood mouse".
  • Numerological Motif: Exaggerated and parodied. Phaic Tăn has 3 very lucky numbers (12, 57, 4189), over 300 lucky numbers, a "mildly auspicious" number (4993), and two unlucky numbers (3 and 6). An entire appendix is needed to list them all.
  • Odd Job Gods: The Phaic Tănese mythology has a few, including Lahksma, the goddess of middle distance running, and Tekhnah, the god of disappointment.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: A famous Phaic Tănese allegory, The Ranayayan, contains the character of Kiamya: "a traditional Phaic Tanese mermaid, featuring the body of a woman and the head of a garfish".
  • Pelvic Thrust: A common gesture among the Phaic Tănese people:
    "As in many Asian cultures, it is considered rude to point with the finger. If you need to indicate a direction or signify something, do so with a series of sharp pelvic thrusts that will generally get the message across."
  • The Performer King: King Tralanhng fancies himself a talented musician and composer. The reality is very different. Likely a parody of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand's musical achievements.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: In a list of NGOs, a charity dedicated to demining minefields directly precedes a rebel group dedicated to remining them.
  • The Scrooge: Sven Teitarssen, who writes "for the budget traveller". He will do anything to save money, even ludicrously small amounts (like 8 cents), such as, for instance, taking the batteries out of the hotel room TV remote.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: Several counterfeit goods sold in Phaic Tănese markets come with a "Certificate of Inauthenticity".
  • Show Within a Show: The soap opera Hospital of Hearts, a clip of which you can watch here.
  • Teeny Weenie: Tekhnah is described as having "the genitalia of a wood mouse".
  • Translation: "Yes": An ancient sign discovered in Phaic Tăn has some very lengthy writing which translates as "Beware of Dog".
  • Umbrella Drink: One of Phaic Tăn's biggest exports is the small paper umbrella which is put in cocktail glasses.
  • When It Rains, It Pours: The country has ludicrously high annual rainfall, always exceeding 500mm. The only months with very slightly less than average rainfall are June and July. This is the ideal time to visit.

    San Sombrèro 
  • Alcoholic Parent: Played for Laughs. Heavyweight boxer Luis Gonzales developed unusual physical strength because he had to carry his father home from the local pub most nights.
  • Ascended to Carnivorism: The country is home to a species of meat-eating tapir. Attempts to train them for racing were abandoned when one ate its jockey.
  • Banana Republic: San Sombrèro is a Central-American nation run by warlords, suffering from endless military coups.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: Bullfighting has a large following in San Sombrèro, though their take on the sport has a unique twist: a fourth act where the trumpeter gets hog-tied.
  • Cigar Chomper: The bollivquar indigenous people have sombreroes which double as ashtrays.
  • The Coup: San Sombrèro is estimated to have one an average of every three months.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Metizo people confronted the Spanish conquistadores with brightly painted masks. It ended poorly; the Spanish won a crushing victory, with no deaths and only one injury (one of their officers sprained his ankle during an overly energetic victory dance).
  • Fake Shemp: El Pauncho Lives! was shot several months after the death of the title character's actor. His replacement was a poorly-matched body double who spent much of his screentime falling off a horse in long-shots.
  • The Generalissimo: San Sombrèro has had a lot of these.
  • Girls with Moustaches: The book discusses a Portuguese girl named Isobel Alvarra who spontaneously grew a beard to prove to her parents she was serious about becoming a sailor.
  • Granola Girl: Helena Ddø̈rk (the "ø" has an umlaut, creating a letter which doesn't exist), an eco-tourism expert, will do anything to protect the environment, up to and including not stepping on the ground.
  • Military Coup: San Sombrèro has had a lot of these. The first one occurred three days after the first elections, in an event known as "the stillbirth of the nation".
  • Morton's Fork: La Diabla flogged one young man for making sexual advances towards her, and another for failing to do so.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Silvio Enrique's song "You Drive Me Crazy" was mistranslated into English as "You Crazy Driver".
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Luis Gonzales has a few elements of George Foreman in him, most notably him selling cooking appliances.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: According to the book the "full and technically correct" name of San Sombrèro is the "Democratic Free People's United Republic of San Sombrèro". The country is run by warlords.
  • Pirate Girl: The feared pirate "La Diabla" was a woman, albeit one who could grow impressive facial hair.
  • Really Gets Around: San Sombrèro's first official governor, Estrillio Vellasquez, had numerous illegitimate children.
  • Revolving Door Revolution: To an absurd degree. Saying San Sombrèro changes its government as often as most people change their sheets would only be a slight exaggeration.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: San Sombrèro has 23 species of venomous snakes, some of which have been known to attack out of boredom.
  • Soap With In A Show: Latin American telenovelas are lampooned in the book, with one show being notable for not having any characters get amnesia (the scriptwriters were a different story).
  • Strongly Worded Letter: Natives responded to Captain Estremoz's landing party with a strongly-worded smoke signal.

    Molvanîan Baby Names 

Alternative Title(s): Molvania, Phaic Tan, San Sombrero