Feb. 15, 2013 at 11:26 AM ET
At some point in every traveler’s life, they come across a map or place name that brings out their inner eight-year-old: Intercourse, Pa.; Beaver, Okla., Lake Titicaca.
Now, you don’t have to peruse a big stack of individual maps to get your giggles. Recently released online, the interactive Vaguely Rude Names of the World map provides a humorous (and possibly NSFW) global atlas of places that share their names with body parts, bodily functions and intimate activities you can do by yourself or with friends.
Trust us, Brest (France) and Slut (Sweden) are among the few we can mention here.
The map is the brainchild of Gary Gale, a self-proclaimed “geek with a life” whose own love of maps was sparked the first time he saw a map of the London Underground as a young boy. Since then he’s turned that passion into a career in geography and cartography for major tech companies around the world.
The VRNM, on the other hand, owes its existence to a friend’s curiosity about Gale’s file of place names, an offhand suggestion that he create a map of the naughtier ones and a transatlantic flight in which Gale says he “could sleep, watch the same movie three times or write a bit of code.”
Opting for the latter, he uploaded the result to the Internet on Feb. 6, where it’s now received more than 660,000 unique visits.
“I had no expectation that anybody would like it, let alone come and see it. Yet it seems to have hit a chord in some way,” he told NBC News. “People have been emailing me and saying that this or that place is in their neighborhood and it should be on the map.”
According to Gale, the map has less to do with childish humor than it does the uniquely British approach to comedy, which he says combines sarcasm, self-deprecation and “an element of prudish, Victorian rebellion.”
Then again, when you’re talking about places like Crap, Albania; Poo, India, and multiple Climaxes (Georgia and Colorado), it’s clear that sophomoric humor respects no boundaries whatsoever.
As for those who might be more offended than amused, Gale points out that there’s nothing gratuitously profane about the project. Instead, many of the names simply show that words in one language can have very different meanings in others.
“These places exist and you can’t just rewrite the names of places because they don’t happen to fit into your particular worldview,” he said.
As for Gale, his favorites are more PG-rated than anything else.
“They’re not the ones that have a straightforward correlation to words that are universally accepted as not-so-nice,” he told NBC News. “It’s the ones that sound vaguely rude, places like Upper Piddle.”
Frankly, it’s hard to see how anyone could get offended by a name that recalls a dog going wee-wee. And while it may not be laugh-out-loud funny, either, it did make us titter.
Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.