Category Archives: China

Drunk and Jobless: The Comic

A few years ago I went on an epic journey through China, Malaysia and Brunei. I almost fell off the Great Wall, got into a fight with violent Hong Kong kung-fuists and passed out under more palm trees than you’ve had hot dinners. When the proud people of these wonderful Oriental nations finally decided they’d had enough of me and sent me back to Australia, I got some bloke with a pencil to draw up a few comic strips about my wacky adventures. They appeared in wank rag The Picture and really captured what the Drunk and Jobless World Tour is all about. Enjoy my rice wine-soaked awesomeness in animated form. I’m like a fucking Marvel superhero, so go fuck yourself Chris Hemsworth!

Shanghai scumbag – a Row Row rewind

Crapping your daks in public isn’t fun, but that’s what I did exactly five years ago. I was a 16-year-old girl, fresh off having my first period and ready to explore my bisexuality. Alright, that’s a lie, I was 29 and ready to explore China, and I wrote all this but never got around to actually posting it online. So let’s delve into my personal diary and see what I was up to way back when…

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There are few things more humbling than shitting your pants in public.

I was on a crappy old train, rattling through slums, half blind from food poisoning and stumbling through crowds of unfamiliar faces towards a filthy toilet, so I could chuck up another load of electric-orange bile. I stepped around one bloke, pushed passed another, and stopped in mid-step to squeeze out a little fart… and ended up with a river of liquid shit cascading down my leg.

And the best thing is, that was the day before I flew out to China.

Yeah, most people wait till they get to the exotic Asian country before they get food poisoning and start squirting from both ends like some sort of demented lawn sprinkler, but I’ve never been one to follow the well-worn path. I’m more likely to be swinging from a tree with my pants on my head or something (although, after the incident on the train, I won’t be plonking those pants on my bonce any time soon).

Thankfully, the effects of eating rancid sausages I’d picked up at a pub raffle were gawnski by the time my flight rolled around at 11am the next day, leaving me to enjoy the hospitality of China Eastern Airways without needing to wear a pair of adult nappies like some sort of perverted BabyMan.

The flight itself was painless enough. Being the only white person on board was good preparation for a trip to a country that isn’t known for its multiraciality, and the choice of in-flight entertainment was fantastic… as long as you like watching heavily-edited Leonardo DiCaprio movies and Chinese musicals so bad the People’s Republic probably use them to torture traitors. I was a little bit put off by the ancient woman behind me who seemed to be coughing herself to death, but when I realised she wasn’t going to hock up a lung anytime soon I was able to relax and settle in.

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Right, so Shanghai’s bloody huge. When the street lights first started burning through the pitch-black night below the plane I thought we were about to land, but then we kept on going and the lights went right on with us. Multi-lane freeways, industrial parks, houses, skyscrapers, unit blocks, it opened up beneath me like the embers of some world-ending fire. I’ve flown over huge cities like Bangkok, Los Angeles and Wyong, but nothing could prepare me for the size of this place. I now know how Tim Mathieson felt like the first time he saw Julia Gillard’s arse.

We landed without the wings falling off, I made it through customs without getting my cavities checked, changed some money, had a much-needed wee and navigated my way to the train station. With the previous day’s experience fresh on my mind I found a seat off by myself (not hard, ‘cos sweet fuck-all people were on there), and minutes later the little old rattler started clickety-clacking through Shanghai.

Only that’s not how it goes. See, China’s a proper first-world country, and first-world countries don’t have shitty trains that roll along at walking speed and break down if it’s too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry or there’s a full moon. Y’know, how it is in Sydney. Shanghai’s Maglev train belts along at around 300km/h, and makes the 30km trip from the airport to somewhere near downtown in around seven minutes. Seven minutes – that’s how long it takes a Sydney train to get from Central Station to four metres past Central Station.

I jumped in a cab at the other end, and 15 minutes later I was swaggering into the Oriental Bund Hotel. And it wasn’t a bad place for a young bloke from Gosford to stay. A king bed, lounge, 42 inch plasma TV, bathroom big enough to fit the New Zealand womens rugby union team – that’ll do, pig, that’ll do.

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After a quick shower I was back out the door and on my way to sipping a cold beer on the banks of the Huangpo River. Or I would’ve been if I’d walked East, where I meant to, rather than North, which took me into the strange and scary back alleys of nighttime Shanghai. Without a map, a GPS, a compass, or any fucking idea whatsoever where I was or where I was going. I didn’t even leave a trail of breadcrumbs.

Ah well, at least the architecture was nice. Heaps of 1920s-style Gothic buildings that made me feel like I was in a Batman movie. Heaps of scary homeless Chinamen, too, who were probably licking their lips and imagining me served up with rice and a side dish of albatross vomit or something.

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After wandering past an endless number of traditional Chinese chain stores like Starbucks and McDonald’s, I finally stumbled upon Shanghai’s famous Naning Road, renowned for it’s world class shopping. Perhaps during the day, but at night it’s better known for women (and blokes) offering sexy massages with the option of mouth-sex. Now, I’m used to women throwing themselves at me, but after the 27th offer in 27 seconds I started getting the feeling they weren’t being totally honest with me, and that maybe they were offering prostitution. So, as tempting as a quick, AIDS-encrusted shag with a street-walking, drug-addicted Oriental bint was, I said no, continued my walk and finally hit the river. And what a river! It was wet! And riverish! And there!

Of course, the main visual attraction is the truckload of futuristic buildings over the side of the water in Pudong, which are covered in flashing lights and look really cool, like giant Christmas trees. Sadly, I’d spent so long wandering the back alleys that I was too late for the light show, so the only thing I got to enjoy was another 11 people asking me if I wanted a sexy massage.

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Still unfed, I started making my way towards where I thought my hotel was, hoping to find some sorta kooky Shanghai street food on the way, if only to relive my brief-but-torrid love affair with food poisoning. I didn’t find any food, I barely found the hotel after an hour, and I wound up my first night in the exotic Far East with an exotic meal of Pizza Shapes.

Oh, and a sexy massage. But I didn’t charge myself for that one.

And thus the saga ends…

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I’m 10,000 metres about the earth, with endless darkness outside my window and an overweight Malaysian dude drooling onto the lapel of his Hawaiian shirt next to me. My holiday is over, and it’s time to head home and face the real world.

Fortunately, my last day in Asia provided all the drama and excitement that I could hope for, which is why I’m currently so tired I can barely lift my can of beer to my lips. With a boat taking me back the Malaysian mainland at midday, I headed out for one final snorkel in the delightful ocean. All I wanted to see was a turtle. Just one. They’re all over the place in the Perhentian Islands, but in three days I hadn’t seen one. I splashed around, chasing fish and savouring every minute of my time in that underwater kingdom, but there were no turtles. Finally, reluctantly, it was time to head back to shore and pack my bags.

And there it was.

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Centimetres from me was a giant sea turtle, elegantly soaring through the water while I stared in amazement. I just stopped, treading water while I soaked in the beauty of this incredible creature. As the turtle swam further out into the blue, I paddled alongside her, diving deeper into the ocean, not wanting to lose her. I finally had to let her go, and she disappeared into the deep while I reluctantly returned to shore.

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I dragged my bags out into the sun and waited for my ride back to reality. And waited. Turns out they forgot all about me, and a special water taxi had to be called so that I could actually start my journey back to Australia.  When it finally arrived, there was a pretty Japanese girl in it. Her name was Anri, and she’d also been forgotten by the ferry, so we travelled back to the mainland together, struggling with the language barrier as we both tried to come to terms with our holidays ending. We shared a taxi back to the airport, then caught the same plane back to Kuala Lumpur, where we both faced a few hours of waiting around for planes in opposite directions.

We had time to get to know each other. We shared photos of our families, talked about what we’d seen and what we had to go back to. She was off to teach scuba diving courses in Thailand, which I thought sounded a lot better than writing about tits in a cold office in Sydney. We held hands, an innocent act that meant so much. Anri couldn’t even pronounce my name, but when it came time for her to catch her plane, I farewelled her with sadness. I wish I’d kissed her as she left for her flight, but I didn’t.

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In six or so hours, we had a complete relationship – from meeting each other, to being introduced to the family, to breaking up. In some ways, it was the best relationship I’ve had, one without the inevitable fighting and sadness. And it was the perfect ending to a great holiday.

And now here I am, fighting the need to sleep and cradling a warm can of Heineken. The Great Wall of China and the Petronas Towers are behind me. Cled and the Chinese bloke who liked Norm Peterson from Cheers and the dude in Guilin who rooted the dog are nothing but memories. It’s been an incredible experience, one full of wonder and excitement and adventure. It’s been my first solo trip overseas and I’ve grown so much. I grew up thinking I could barely go to the shops by myself, and here I am, coming home from a month in Asia on my Pat Malone.

And thus the saga ends…

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So long, Hong Kong (and hello, creepy Malaysian perverts)

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After thee days in Hong Kong I was ready to get out of the place, but I had a full day to kill till my flight at 8 o’clock. I slept in, then thought about taking a ferry to the ancient land of Macau, then decided to just catch a ferry to Wan Chai, then was pissed off because it was busy and hot and I had chafing between my legs that made it feel like my balls were going to catch on fire at any minute. I grabbed a beer and wandered aimlessly, ending up at the Happy Valley Racecourse. Which was closed.

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I can see the Hong, but where’s the Kong?

Luckily, there was a bus stop advertising trips to Aberdeen, which was the only major place from Shenmue II that I hadn’t visited. It’s funny, I saw every place backwards – in the game, Ryo goes to Aberdeen, then Wan Chai, Kowloon and Guilin, and I did it the wrong way. Still, that’s better than wearing my shirt the wrong way or something. I remember my father did that one day, and even though I told him about it he still went to the shops with his bloody shirt on backwards. He’s a lot older now, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he now goes along to Bi-Lo without any pants on or something. Still, at Green Point Bi-Lo that would probably make him most fashionable person there.

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Aberdeen there, Aberdeen that

Aberdeen was a nice place, relatively quiet and with a pleasant harbour to walk along. There were heaps of those junk boats floating around, some pretty sailing ships, and all up it made for a pleasant way to spend a day. And then my Hong Kong adventure was over, and it was time to move on to my next port of call – Malaysia!

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Well, it sure beats swimming

The plane to Penang was almost empty, but a young Chinese couple still had to sit next to me the whole way. I was annoyed at first, but then I noticed they were very nervous, like they had drugs stuffed up their blurters or something. The the girl went off to the toilet, and the bloke headed off a minute or two later, trying (and failing) to act cool. The cheeky bastards were trying to join the Mile High Club (incidentally, both me and my brother are members of the Metre High Club, which simply involves masturbating on the train from Central to Gosford. Uh, we didn’t do it together).

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Yay! A plane!

Anyway, a couple of minutes after old mate’s tottered off, I hear a scream from the back of the plane, and rushed up there with a couple of hosties. I forced the door open, and inside was the Chinese couple, all twisted around each other like they’d been in a car accident. They were screaming like they were being stabbed, and even though I couldn’t understand them it wasn’t hard to work out what had happened – they’d popped in for a root, and doing the dirty in the cramped Air Asia brasco had caused thee fella’s back to lock up, and the girl to get stuck between the sink and the wall. They had to stay that way until we landed an hour later, and some firefighters raced on to save them and probably have a good laugh.

Penang Airport was about as technically advanced as a Down Syndrome person’s lunch, but I raced through it and into a taxi, and was soon burning through late-night Malaysia. It was such a change from China – quiet, with clean air and English words written on buildings everywhere. It really felt like home after being in such a strange place. And then I got to my hotel, and it didn’t feel like home at all.

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Palm trees in paradise

I was only using this joint as a flop house for about six hours till I caught a ferry out to the island paradise of Langkawi the next morning, but it was horrendous. When I walked in the front door, two old men were sitting in filthy chairs watching a hardcore porno on a black and white TV, joined by about half a dozen rats. The whole place smelled of rotten cabbage and sweat. Paint peeled from the walls, the carpet was ripped with patched of what looked like dried puke, and a dim corner of the room held what appeared to be a dead prostitute. It was like something out of a horror movie but fuck it, I had to sleep somewhere.

I called out to one of the perverts and he jumped up and walked over to a counter without putting his pants on or taking his eyes away from the TV. He threw a key at me, pointed up the stairs, then went back to jacking off with his mate. I went up the stairs as quickly as I could go.

My room smelt like piss. There were blood stains on the walls, and I’m pretty sure there was a peep hole drilled in the wall of the toilet, so I didn’t use it. I just pissed in the corner, figuring it would only improve the stench in the room.

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The grundies on the floor weren’t even mine

I tried to wash my hands in the tap, and something that looked like black tar drizzled out, so I didn’t bother. I slept fully clothed, with a shirt between my head and the pillow, only waking up when someone in another room would scream in either ecstasy or terror. Around four, I woke up with the sensation of something sitting on my chest, and opened my eyes to see the biggest, meanest rat sitting there. I threw it off, and spent the next couple of hours crouched on my bed, kicking at rats, squashing cockroaches, and wondering if it’s possible to catch AIDS just from spending enough time in a horrible room.

When I left the next morning, the perves were still there watching porn, so I chucked a mandarin a one of their heads and ducked out the door… But it was all worth it, because a few hours later I was in Langkawi, and it was beautiful.

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Sunrise over Penang – see, it’s not so bad after all!

I originally wrote this on May 8, 2012, which was the day the Earth stood still.

The King of Kowloon

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When I stepped out into the streets of Hong Kong I expected to see Oriental dudes doing flying kicks and those big, ceremonial dragons dancing down every laneway, but there was none of that. It turns out that’s just a cliche and the Chinese don’t really… oh wait, that’s exactly what I saw as I left my tiny hotel room.

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Luckily, I don’t think it’s a real dragon

After escaping the madness, I made my way to the train station and caught the subway up to the northern end of Kowloon. The train system really is fantastic – turn up to the station and within two minutes you’re on your way to your destination. I can’t imagine what international tourists think when they jump on a Sydney train and have to deal with constant delays, rare services and blokes crapping themselves in the aisle.

Hey, come on, I had food poisoning!

A few minutes later I was walking through the gates of Kowloon Walled City Park, which stands on the site of the former Kowloon Walled City, which was the world’s most densely populated place until it was torn down in 1994. How densely populated was it? Thirty-three thousand people in a space the size of four football fields – or 200 times as populated as the rest of Hong Kong, which is simply mind-bending. They wouldn’t have been able to fart without giving their nextdoor neighbour written notice.

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A model of the Walled City of Kowloon. I felt like stepping on it and pretending to be Godzilla

The city served as a major location in the greatest video game ever, Shenmue II, so walking through the remnants of it was a lot of fun, but it’s as far removed from what it used to be as possible. The walled city was a melting pot of crime, prostitution and poverty, a lawless place full of rotting buildings and extreme violence. The park, on the other hand, is incredibly calm, with water features, carefully-prepared gardens and temples taking the place of the home-made towers and drug ghettos that had been there. All up, it was pretty bloody cool.

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The trains are packed tighter than an AFL player’s short-shorts

From there I strutted over to Kowloon’s shopping district, which is famous for its video game stores. The Golden Shopping Centre was dirty and busy, with aisles between stores as thin as a Labor Party policy. I tried to bargain my way to a cheap PlayStation Vita, wasn’t able to find one that was remarkably cheaper than the price back in Oz, and soon cracked the shits with all the people and noise and Indians trying to sell me drugs. I hate shopping at a place like Erina Fair, so this was a nightmare for me. So I escaped south to… Wan Chai, which was even busier.

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I want a Slurpee!

Wan Chai, which is across the water on Hong Kong Island, was even more packed, and the beating sun made it a pretty unpleasant place. Still, it was a featured area in Shenmue II, so I walked around asking about the four wude and generally making a nuisance of myself for my own amusement. That’ll be a lot funnier if you’re a video game nerd. I also discovered that there’s a bakery selling hotdogs every few metres. Yep, there are delicious dogs everywhere, so I barely went five minutes at a time without having a sausage in my hand – but enough about my sex life!

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I love sucking Asian sausages

Next stop was Man Mo Temple, up the road in Schen wang. It’s a fairly run-of-the-mill temple, but featured prominently in Shenmue II, so it was a must-see for me. And it was great! Unlike the other areas I’d been to, Man Mo was very similar to how it was shown in the games. I really felt like I was wandering through a video game. And then I got thrown out.

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The Man Mo Temple. The bloke in the green shirt is my life partner, Trent Wu

Why did I get thrown out? Well, I was happy and a bit drunk, so I started dancing around inside the ancient temple. And the more I danced, the more I became lost in the moment, throwing my arms and legs this way and that, singing and thrusting my pelvis in a way I’d seen Elvis do. Wild dancing is probably frowned upon in Buddhist temples, but I think what really pissed them off was when I kicked over some big alter thing full of flowers and incense sticks. A bloke immediately grabbed me by the arm, and I turned around, ready to fight him. The only thing that stopped me was that I didn’t know if he was Master Man, the master of literature, or Master Mo, the master of martial arts and kicking heads. I could take the book nerd any day, but if he was the kung fu dude I was in for a world of hurt, so I ran out of there like a girl.

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Can you blame me for mistaking it for a nightclub?

It was getting late, so I contemplated going home, but decided instead to catch a tram to the top of Victoria Peak and check out the city. I love looking out at wonderful views, but there was nothing wonderful about this, ‘cos it was absolutely packed up there. Like, hundreds of people crammed onto a platform, jabbering away and pushing and shoving for position. It was about as relaxing as getting sucked off by a cannibal.

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“Hey, I can see my rickshaw from here!”

Alright, the view was incredible, especially as the sun set. The skyscrapers stretch out forever, and as the sky darkened and the lights came on, it was like looking out over the future. But I soon tired of it and raced out of there looking for some peace and quiet. Luckily, with such good public transport I was back in my room half an hour later, with a bag full of assorted beers to keep me company. I just couldn’t face another night of fighting through the crowds and telling curry munchers to fuck off, so I watched some Californication and wrestling, listened to some music, wrote, and passed out in my cell. Yeah, I really, really need a day at the beach.

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Sunset over The City of a Million Ping Pong Balls

This was originally written on May 6, 2012, the day that Princess Diana died. Do you remember where you were? I was in Hong Kong, trying on hats. A stranger on the street, Dudley Wong, broke down in my arms. We’re now best friends.

Doggy Style

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After three days in Guilin that were as sweet as the contents of a fat kid’s lunch box, it was time to jump on a plane and fly over to Hong Kong.

With a mid-afternoon flight, there wasn’t a lot of time to do anything special, so I took one last walk around Guilin and had a terrific lunch of fried chicken on a stick, beef on a stick, and something else on a stick. When I asked the dude behind the counter what it was he made a roaring sound, which could’ve been a dog, a cat, or an elderly person taking their last breath. Old person or not, it was delicious.

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Deep fried dildo?

But the real action came on the taxi ride out to the airport. There’s no delicate way to put this – I saw a bloke fucking a dog. Right there by the side of the road, like it was the most normal thing in the world (hell, this is China, maybe it is). Don’t worry, though, the dog looked like it was having the time of its life, and old mate seemed to be a good sport because he have me a wave and a big smile as I went past. I waved back, and then he continued fucking Fido and I continued on my way.

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It looked exactly like this, only the dog was bigger and the dude didn’t have any pants on. On he was Asian, not black, and didn’t have a beard. Other than that, it was exactly the same

My China Southern flight was chockers with geriatric Seppos, who gave me the shits with their constant talking and stupid jokes and colourful shirts and Americanness. Luckily, the flight was only an hour or so, so I was able to escape Air Fuckwit and make my way into Honkers.

The train ride from the aiport is a great introduction to the place, as the ultra-modern rattler zooms between gigantic glass buildings, through mountains and over beautiful blue waterways. It’s such a modern and exotic city, and once the train stopped off at Tsim Sha Tsui, I was overwhelmed by the hectic pace of the town, with people and taxis zooming this way and that while neon signs flashed above.

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Honk Kong or Wyong? You be the judge

It’s a fantastic place to visit, but also busy and noisy and full of people trying to sell you shit or rip you off, which makes it the opposite of the sorta place I like spending my time. I took my camera out to take some snaps of the signs and tidal waves of people, got lost, didn’t drink beer ‘cos I don’t know if you can do that in the streets. Despite the number of people of the Asian persuasion, it’s a very, very western city – it was hard to get used to being able to walk across a street on a green light without having cars or bikes race through anyway – but also a bit stale and lifeless. It’s sort of how I felt about Las Vegas – lots of lights and action, but that’s only a facade. I think you’d really have to live in this place to get a proper feel for it, and to truly understand what Hong Kong is about

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Where’s Warry?

It’s also quite annoying to actually walk anywhere. Every five metres is a woman offering a massage, or a seedy Indian chap offering fake Rolexes, tailoring or weed. It’s really just a den of rip-offs, and makes a walk through Patong seem tame. There’s also not much of a street food culture here, with barely any nibblies available without going into a restaurant and paying Aussie prices. Of course, if I’d wandered out of the main part of Kowloon and visited some of the side streets, I would’ve probably found all sorts of amazing animals being fried in the gutters, but doing so would bring the risk of a stabbing, so I ended up grabbing a sandwich and some chips from a 7 Eleven and heading back to my room.

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Is that Yik Yu from Degrassi Junior High?

My trip through China has been incredible. I’ve seen amazing things, met wonderful people, and been challenged in a lot of ways, but it certainly hasn’t been a relaxing holiday. I’m a pretty simple dude – gimme a day at the beach and a good book and I’m happy. Chuck in a 49kg 19-year-old in a bikini and I’m grinning like a priest with a 12-month subscription to smallboyswithnoclotheshavingsexwithmendressedasclowns.com. In that way, trekking through some of the biggest cities in the world, and a ‘village’ bigger than Sydney, hasn’t been the best fit and has left me feeling frustrated and burnt out. But I wouldn’t change a thing. It has all been wonderful. Shit, I could really spend a day or two on the beach, though.

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Why can’t they have their signs in bloody English?

I originally wrote this on May 5, 2012, which was the first day of the rest of my life.

You put your right foot Guil-in, you put your right fot Guil-out

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For a city of five million people, Guilin is simply stunning. Its natural wonders of green hills and sparkling rivers meld perfectly with housing blocks and busy streets to create a completely unique city unlike any other on the planet. So today I decided to get out there and explore it.

First stop was Guilin’s underground markets, which are kinda like Paddy’s but with less Asians. There’s 800 stalls tucked away under the streets, and each sells the same set of Asian-style T-shirts with wackily-misspelt English words, and seeing as I’m not Asian and don’t like wearing shirts that are misspelt, I bought nothin’. I did, however, purchase a bag of pohokey, which are these delicious meat snacks that aren’t really called pohokey. They’re covered in really hot chilli powder that must always be washed off one’s hands before one attends the bathroom. I didn’t, and my penis was burning like I’d just chucked one up Candice Falzon.

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“Hey, I can see popular basketballer Yao Ming from here!”

I then swaggered up to Solitary Beauty Peak (isn’t that the best name of any place ever?), which is a big fuck-off mountain that jumps right out of the ground in the middle of town, and doesn’t live up to its name at all. Yeah, it was certainly beautiful, but it was absolutely infested with tourists – it was busier than that time I took my trousers off at Hyde Park at lunchtime, only this time I didn’t get arrested.

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Solitary Beauty Peak is the little hill by itself on the far left of this photo. Not pictured: Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin

It was a real hike to the top, straight up narrow stairs, and I got to laugh at the many fatties as they collapsed to the concrete. One big bloke with plenty of tatts and a mohawk cracked the shits when I laughed at him and said he was gunna bash me, so I just took three steps towards the top and told him to eat my arse. He found my words tough but fair, and wished me all the best for the future.

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It’s really quite geographically similar to Mount Druitt

The top of the mountain had extraordinary view over the city. It’s such a strange place, with five million people (a relative village, by Chinese standards) stuffed in between mountains and lakes and parks. From there I could see another, similar mountain not far away, and it seemed deserted, so I scrambled back down and went over there. I never caught the name of this other mountain, but it was deserted and provided an epic view out over the countryside, and I wasted an hour or so just looking out in wonder.

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Crossing the river to Guilin’s wonderful Seven Star Park

Then I went hiked over to Seven Star Cave which is, of course, the setting for the final scene in the video game Shenmue II. With visions of floating swords dancing in my mind (that’s something that happens in the game – it’s not like I was on the drugs or anything), I made my way along ta stone bridge and into the park. Birds sang sweet songs from the treetops as I walked through glorious gardens… and then I FELL INTO A CAVE.

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This is not the cave I fell into. As you can see, this one was very nice, and I could see myself living there

It was down a steep slope with heaps of mud and I actually slid right into it, cutting myself quite badly. It was cool once I got down there and was able to enjoy the cool quietness, but I had no way to get back out. And then Norm came along.

Why would an Asian be called Norm? Well, he was wearing a shirt with Norm from Cheers on it, and appeared to have an afro wig on so he would look like Norm. I guess he idolised Norm or something but who cares, he threw me a rope down and pulled me out. I thought he seemed like a pretty good bloke but he tried to kiss me when I got out, so I left. I’m more of a Cliff Clavin man, really.

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“Another beer, Norm?” “Sure, Woody, right after I try to molest this Aussie guy.”

I made it to the top of a big mountain with a little pagoda at the top and sat there for a good hour by myself, looking over rivers and lakes towards a scarlet sunset, just thinking about what an adventure it had been to get to that point. From sitting in my room at Green Point, playing Shenmue II on my Dreamcast 12 years earlier, to actually experiencing the place for myself. Guilin is a part of the world that simply needs to be seen and experienced to be believed – this mesh of nature and dense population shouldn’t exist, but it does. This place is magical and inspirational, and to visit is to feel like an alie on your own planet. I just sat and felt inspiration and peace flow through me as the sun sank and the world went dark.

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A flower

And then I heard a panting, and looked around to see Norm with his dick in his hand and a lustful look on his face. He was hungry for love, and to him I was an all you can eat buffet. He had the only path off the mountain blocked, but I ran at him, jinked off my left foot and then stepped off my right, adding a fend that knocked his wig off into the bush. I ran away and didn’t look back, leaving Norm lying on his arse, his attempts to block me from getting through as effective as a Josh Dugan tackle.

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The Chinese love decorating things. They’d put colourful flowers on a dead dog if given half a chance

After a stroll along Guilin’s famous Two Rivers and Four Lakes (guess what they were), marveling at them as they glowed by the power of neon lights, I ended the night by having a romantic dinner for one overlooking a river, and drank so much beer that I had to urinate by the side of a path. I was photographed by a Chinese man. He’d need to have a very, very good camera to be able to see anything.

This was originally written on May 4, 2012, which was the National Day of Dancing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Endless River

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I think it’s fitting that Guilin, a place I’ve been trying to get to for half my years, is a great metaphor for life. Ready for it? Sweet! For me, Guilin is like finally scoring with the girl of your dreams, only to have her tell you about that time she pulled the train for the local footy team. Sure, it’s still beautiful and fun and you can tell all your mates about it, but it’s tainted somehow. Not quite what you were hoping for.

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Yes, this is actually on Planet Earth

Don’t get me wrong, the scenery around here is so mind-blowing I almost felt like I had to wear a Stackhat. I was late for my pick-up, of course, but an hour later I was cruising the Li River, and it is incredible. It almost doesn’t feel like it’s part of this world. The emerald hills climbing out of the water were strange and surreal, as if I’d just eaten a bad chicken pie beforehand and was in a food poisoning-induced craze. This actually happened to my father during one of our bi-monthly family trips to Spencer when I was a young boy. Whatever was in the pie must’ve worked a treat, because he became convinced he was a helicopter and was found in Parkes a week later, wearing nothing but a knitted beanie and a smile.

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I don’t go anywhere without a lukewarm Tsing Tao

Even though I was on a tourist boat full of people, when I stood out on the deck with those green hills reaching to the sky in front of me, I felt as if I was alone in this world. Guilin has beautiful, untouched wilderness as far as the eye can see. Trees, waterfalls and cliffs come together in a dizzying assault on the senses. I will never, ever forget the feeling of sailing down that river, past that wonderful vista.

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The ‘water village’ of Yangshuo

At the end of it was Yangshuo, which I’d been led to believe was a water village, but was actually a city of several hundred people. So it was a bit like Newcastle with pagodas. It was heavily touristic but still charming, with shear cliffs rising up behind the shops and houses. I enjoyed just strolling around, hearing birds chirp in cages and locals yelling and rushing around, while the enchanting scent of Chinese cooking wafted through the cluttered streets.

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Yeah, it was worth waiting 12 years for

From there the tour moved on to a short raft ride through the most amazing landscape I’ve ever seen. I saw old men catching fish with the help of birds, small children riding strange animals, and green foliage as far as the eye could see. I shared my small boat with a South American chap named Carlos. However, Carlos exposed himself to one of the many brides by the side of the river and was taken away and beaten.

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I swear that’s not me behind that bride

This area was too pretty for words to do justice. But anyway, getting back to the whole life analogy; in life there are moments of such beauty that you almost fall to your knees because it’s too much to take in. A smile from a pretty girl, for example, or handing over a tenner at the pub and getting change for a twenny. My trip down the river was like that.

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I remember when I was as cute as that child. Who am I kidding? I still am as cute as that child!

And then comes the bad shit. For me, that was walking through downtown Guilin, a town I have looked forward to visiting for so long, and having elderly Chinese men do that finger-through-the-OK-sign thing to me. You know, the international symbol for making le root. Over and over and over again. I stop to get a beer – an old man asks me if I want sexy time and does the sign. I stop to take a photo – an old man pops out from a bush, licking his lips and rubbing himself. I’m an open-minded dude, but it was just sad and wrong. I mean really, come on, how many blokes are walking down the street, see an old Chinese man jacking himself off and think, “I’m gunna get me some of that?”

Put your hand down, Rolf Harris!

I wrote this on May 3, 2012, which was International Wear Underpants to Work Day.

Beijing to Guilin in 27-and-a-half hours

Oh, bloody hell, I’m pretty sure a homeless Chinaman snuck into my room while I was asleep and shat in my mouth. I woke up shortly after passing out, feeling rubbish and needing to quickly pack my stuff and get out of there. My train was at 3:44pm and I wanted to check out the Beijing National Stadium first, hangover or no hangover.

Give me the gold medal for sexiness!
Give me the gold medal for sexiness!

I made it out there without much trouble and, while the stadium was fantastic, it was also kind of like a mausoleum. Since the Olympics it’s only held a handful of events, and these days the whole precinct is blasted with sound effects to make it appear the Games are still on. It’s truly weird. Homebush Stadium might be rubbish, but at least they’ve moved on and use it for other events – this place is like a grave.

I got out of there and along to Beijing West Railway Station, the biggest in Asia with up to 400,000 people going through it a day. Having not eaten a proper meal in a day, I grabbed whatever they had there – McDonald’s. Shit, I’m keeping those pricks in business. After eating my burgers I rolled onto the train with visions of a 22-hour booze-fuelled party with a bunch of slutty European backpackers. What I got instead was a cramped, dirty crypt to sleep in and three elderly Chinese peasants for roommates. They hated me and I soon learnt to hate them, because they sat around eating seeds from a huge bag and yelling at me. It was like sharing a room with a bunch of mean-spirited parrots.

Where the nightmare began
Where the nightmare began

The trip got underway and I settled in for 2500km of awesomeness. I had no food and there was nowhere to buy any, so I just sat and got hungry while cities and towns and villages sped past the building. As the world outside darkened and we sped into the wild heart of China, I felt myself becoming increasingly shell-shocked by the massive cultural divide between me and the other passengers.

Hangovers leave me feeling scared and weird at the best of times, but this was something different. This trip is changing me in wonderful ways, making me a stronger and more independent person, a more worldly person, a more interesting person (well, I think so), a better person. But I feel I’m changing at such a speed that sometimes I wonder who the fuck I am, and that’s hard. I’m over the other side of the world with no-one I know, and I can’t even recognise myself sometimes.

At one point I felt so detached from the world around me that I actually started talking to myself, just so that I could hear someone speaking English. Luckily, before I could go completely mental a Chinese bloke came up and started talking to me in perfect English. We ended up chatting for three hours, mainly about Australia, and by the end of it I was in a much better state of mind. Thanks, Greg (dunno if that’s his name, but let’s pretend it was).

Being hungover, eating Maccas and hurtling through the Chinese countryside wasn’t great for my guts, and around midnight there was something very troublesome going on. I needed to take a shit, and badly. I made it to the toilet without a problem, but there wasn’t a bowl there, just a damn hole in the ground, with the ground flying by underneath it. It didn’t go well. With the train rocking from side to side, I was spinning around and squirting like a busted hose. I hit the wall, I splattered the floor, I probably even got some on the roof. There was shit everywhere. When I got out the dunny there was a line outside the door, and the first bloke who walked in started yelling at me and chasing me through the carriage, as if it was my fault they still use stupid bloody holes in the ground rather than toilets.

Of course, a few hours later I realised there was a very nice toilet right across the hall. Oops!
Of course, a few hours later I realised there was a very nice toilet right across the hall. Oops!

I finally fell asleep, but something very, very strange happened during the night. I woke up and the Chinese people in my cabin were taking turns photographing each other in front of me. When I opened my eyes they immediately jumped back into their beds and pretended to be snoring away. It was weird and creepy, and I couldn’t help wondering what else they’d been doing while I was asleep. I can only assume they all sucked me off or something. Shit happens.

The hours rolled by, my roommates kept eating their seeds, until finally the boring, flat landscape outside my window was replaced by huge mountains and beautiful lakes. I was nearing Guilin and, soon after, I was back on non-moving land for the first time in 27-and-a-half hours.

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Just sit back and bask in the loveliness

I cabbed it to my hotel, which is a truly lovely little place in a quiet neighbourhood, surrounded by trees and filled with all sorts of Chinese artifacts. Then I set out to explore the town of Guilin, which is truly beautiful, especially compared to Beijing. Trees, lakes, bridges, temples – it has it all, and without the swarms of people. I explored parks, crossed bridges, walked over hills, stared in awe at mountains and ended up having a delightful dinner at a little cafe by the lake – and followed up my bowl of fried rice and massive chicken sandwich with a burger and chips from KFC, seeing as I hadn’t eaten for more than 30 hours.

The scenery of Guilin is as unique as an honest politician
The scenery of Guilin is as unique as an honest politician

I first wanted to come to Guilin in 2000, after exploring it in the video game Shenmue II. Back then, it didn’t seem possible that I would ever actually make the journey. After dreaming of this place for close to half my life, it’s hard to believe that I’m finally here. It’s weird to be walking through a place that I’ve pictured in my mind for over a decade. But it is a beautiful place, a magical place, and I can’t wait to get out there and see what else it has to offer.

The Sun and Moon Twin Pagodas
The Sun and Moon Twin Pagodas

Another Dick on the Wall

What do China and Kings Cross have in common? You can’t visit either of them without checking out the wall. Unfortunately, the Chinese version didn’t have any heroin-addicted blokes to root, but it was plenty of fun just the same.

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I wasn’t keen on visiting the main tourist part of the Great Wall ‘cos it’s crawling with people and has been rebuilt in the last few years and so isn’t authentic, so I found out about a quieter part a little bit further out of town. The problem with this was that I had to get out there by myself and, like everything else in China, it was bloody hard work. First I had to make my way to DongZhiMen Station (which I, of course, called Dog Semen Station) which was a challenge in itself because no taxi drivers here speak English, and once I got there the place was so yooj and infested with people that I had a hell of a time finding my bus. Finally, after dodging a bunch of dodgy scammers, I finally found the right bus, and started out on a trip that was supposed to be 90 minutes but was actually closer to three hours. With a full bladder. Just as I was about to embarrass myself on public transport for the second time in a few days, I saw the wall scrambling down a mountain and it was actually breathtaking. It really is an amazing structure when you see it with your own eyes.

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“Hey, where’d ya put the wall?”

I got out, bought myself some bizarre processed meat for lunch, and headed out to explore the wall. I first had to walk through some sort of water fun park complete with bungee jumping and speed boats, and it didn’t take long to notice everyone was staring at me. I was the only white person in a crowd of thousands and stood out like a person with a full set of teeth at a Souths game.

I took a chairlift to the top of the mountain and the view was simply incredible. Rivers, lakes and cliffs opened up below me as I zipped along far above the ground. And best of all, upon reaching the top, there was a cold beer waiting for me. If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing with beer.

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“Oh shit, I dropped my chopsticks!”

It didn’t take long before the Chinese stopped merely staring at me and started asking to have their photo taken with me, leading to the unusual situation of being at one of the world’s most famous attractions, yet having everyone wanna snap shots of me. Take that, Great Wall, you glory-hogging bastard.

I took a stroll along the ridge towards a big, brick turret that was part of the wall and then… the walk stopped before it really started. I was pissed off, because I didn’t really get to see anything, and there wasn’t really any wall to walk along. So, in the spirit of adventure, I hopped a barbed-wire fence and started exploring the place by myself, away from the crowds. And didn’t I have a time! After scrambling down a cliff I found myself on a long-abandoned part of the wall on my lonesome. It looked nothing like the bit of the wall you see in the photos – it was little more than a pile of rocks, really – but that’s exactly what I was after. Authenticity.

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The line of horny ladies is just out of shot

I bush bashed a bit, stood on the edge of a cliff and looked straight down on a 200m vertical drop, and felt like the last man on Earth, a wonderfully refreshing sensation in the most populous country on the planet. The only thing that could’ve made it better is if I could’ve seen more than a few metres through the fog. Oh, and if there was a chick there begging for a root that would’ve been cool, too. Just sayin’.

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More trees than… uh… a tree convention. Gimme a break, I’m drunk

All good things must come to an end, so I finally ran back through the bush, over the wall, through the barbed-wire fence, down the chairlift and onto the bus for another epic journey back to Beijing. By the time I got back to my shitty little room I was stuffed and debated staying in and watching TV, but what would be the fun in that?

I grabbed a massive can of German wheat beer and strolled back to the Bell Tower district while smoking a durry and feeling like king of the world. I don’t usually smoke, but they’re cheap and the air quality is horrendous anyway, so why not? In my search for dinner I found a wonderful little hutong (that’s Chinese for alley… I think) full of restaurants, clubs and street food. Taking a break from Maccas and KFC, I went for something a bit more exotic – deep fried scorpions, cicadas, grasshoppers and silkworm crysalises! And they were actually pretty nice, even if they didn’t provide a lot of meat to murder my hunger.

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Get over here!

Not that it mattered too much, because that just left more room for beer. I found a fun-looking bar full of hot chicks and good music, and ordered myself a massive jug of beer for the grand price of 20 Melmac Bucks. As usually happens in these situations, it wasn’t long till I was having a mag with a bunch of strangers – in this case a couple of Aussie filmmakers in town for the Beijing Film Festival. They were good blokes, and it was a relief to hear an Aussie accent and be able to carry out a conversation in proper English.

We got absolutely shithoused and, of course, I ended up picking up the best-looking sort in the place, a gorgeous little brunette from Goulburn called Sara. At 29 she was many years older than my usual cut-off, but I forgot all about that because she was hotter than a Pakistani’s lunch. Go, Row!

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Smoking may cause sexiness… and blindness (actually, the chronic masturbation was probably behind that)

It really was a great night, one of the best I’ve had in a long time (which is saying a lot, because I’ve had some killer piss-ups lately) and things just got better when I sprayed the footpath with half-digested insects on the way home. You can’t buy class like that.

I wrote this on May 1, 2012, which was International Pumpkin Pushing Day. Push those pumpkins!