Tag Archives: holiday

Ceremonial sacrifices

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The full moon makes people do funny things. Some transform into werewolves and go around eating anyone too fat to run away, while others dance naked around bonfires and have sex with goats. The Balinese don’t do anything stupid like that, though – the full moon is simply a reason to eat fish from the gutter and beat each other with bamboo canes. Every time the moon is big and round the Balos celebrate with ceremonies, and with one going on in the hills of Candidasa, me, the Hamster, Al, Luke, Benny, Ando and our token female Mel jumped on our motorbikes and headed out there.

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For 50,000 rupiah, she’ll carry you on her head

When we rocked up, thousands of locals were scurrying around like ants, dressed from head to toe in traditional sarongs and headdresses. The women had offerings balanced on their bonces, the children danced in the moonlight, and the men pretty much just lay around and did nothing. It’s the Balinese way. When we tried to walk into the street where the festival was being held, a beefy bloke with an eye patch and wicked body odour stopped us and explained that we couldn’t go any further unless we started dressing like the locals. We bought sarongs and funny little hats that made us look smart and sophisticated. Well, smart, sophisticated, and like the most half-arsed ladyboys of all time.

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The ‘Indo squat’ in action

The festival was absolutely fascinating. There were dozens of roadside stalls selling fried chicken, satay skewers, chicken broth and other delicacies, and the smell of sizzling fish and chicken wafted through the night air. Small children handed over piles of money as part of a dodgy gambling game run by an even dodgier old man. At the end of the main street was a temple where everyone was making their offerings to whichever god it is they worship, with incense burning amongst piles of fruit and flowers. Around that stood dozens of strapping young men, bruised and bleeding after spending the evening beating each other with bamboo. I was devastated to miss that, but was told that I can compete in it next year, so the Hamster needs to bloody well watch out.

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“We are going to eat you!”

As we strutted around, it became obvious that the locals were appreciative for us wearing their traditional clothes and doing our best to blend in, but also that they were all laughing and pointing at Luke, who was the only one wearing a bright green sarong. A little bloke with an odd face tapped me on the shoulder and pointed at him, shouting, “Benchong! Benchong!” Apart from Bintang, the word benchong represents the extent of my knowledge of the Balinese language, and means homosexual. Apparently Luke, in his quest to find the most exotic and handsome sarong to wear, had unwittingly chosen to present himself as the only gay in the village.

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Ketut likes wearing nappies on his head

It was a really brilliant night with fantastic people, and we all enjoyed this rare look into traditional Indonesian culture. We were the only westerners there, and enjoyed exploring the festival, eating the delicious food, and mingling with the locals. So, of course, I had to go and fuck it all up. I was swaggering around, slapping high fives and generally being cool, when I tripped over and bumped into a woman, sending the offering balanced carefully on her head crashing to the ground. The crowd fell silent and every eye in the place burned into me. The woman shouted at me, and then a few of the bamboo boys picked up their weapons and started strutting in my direction. It was time to get out of there!

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Kiddies being swindled of their money

We turned and ran in the direction of our bikes, the footsteps of the bamboo boys growing louder as we raced through the angry mob. Blinded by tears I tripped over a stray dog, crashing to the ground next to an old man wearing a dirty nappy. The boys surrounded me and lifted their weapons, ready to sacrifice me to the moon gods. And then my hero saved me. Al really enjoys his satay skewers, and was still clutching a dozen pointy sticks decorated with squares of smoked fish. He took a deep breath and gobbled them down, then used the slimy sticks as deadly missiles, firing them at the violent thugs. They howled as the tiny spears pierced their skin, then dropped their bamboo sticks and scuttled off into the darkness like bugs. Al picked me up and carried me in his arms back to the bikes, and we made our escape. All in all, a good night was had by all.

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Rat’s never tasted so good!
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Leaving Lanka

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I was never meant to end up in Sri Lanka, and wouldn’t have if not for a series of unusual events. I met a girl, cancelled my flight home to be with her, and when things didn’t work out I was left with no ticket back to Australia, and no burning desire to go there anyway.

In Santorini I met a strange man who told me that something I was looking for was in Sri Lanka. I often base major life decisions on advice for overweight strangers in Hawaiian shirts, so I organised to spend three weeks exploring the island nation on my way home. I didn’t know if I’d find what I wanted in Sri Lanka, but it seemed like a good enough plan at the time.

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Sri Lanka is a fantastic country that I will remember fondly for the rest of my life. It has a personality all of its own, a positive vibe that stands out amongst the poverty. The people are wonderful, the beaches at times magnificent, and travelling from place to place feels like an adventure without ever feeling like a massive chore. On top of that, the weather is perfect and the clash of cultures – Sri Lankan, British, Dutch, Portuguese – makes for a fascinating nation that is unlike any other. They also love their cricket, which is never a bad thing.

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While it’s not a place to go to if you want to party or get drunk (and, to be honest, after two months of near-constant boozing in Europe, I needed a break) the food makes up for that. Sri Lankan food is simple but delicious – lots of seafood, tomatoes, onions, rice. I truly will miss this place, and I’m so happy I was able to spend an extended amount of time here, without having to rush from one place to another. I’m so glad I did make the journey, because I did find what I was looking for.

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Last year, fresh off receiving my redundancy from the evil bastards at Bauer Media, I set off on a trip through Asia, with no steady plan to return, wanting to go as far as I could and let the experience change me. I was back inside six weeks after struggling to cope with life on the road, feeling ashamed of myself. I barely thought about travelling for the next year, which is unusual for me because I’m always thinking about places I’d rather be.

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That’s why this trip was so important. I originally planned to be away for nine weeks, making sure I booked a return flight that I couldn’t back out of. I ended up staying 13, and could happily travel for longer that. I climbed mountains and walked through ancient cities, kayaked along lonely stretches of water and got chased by drunk Polish dudes. I chased waterfalls and danced with beatniks and rode up a mountain on a fucking quad bike. I met people who changed my life, some for a long time, some for a night. I had the adventure of a fucking lifetime as I travelled from the top of Europe to the bottom, but it was coming to Sri Lanka that enabled me to find what I’ve been searching for.

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In Sri Lanka, I came to realise that I can stay overseas by myself for a long time, and that I don’t need other people. I don’t need to scurry back to my house, I don’t need to go back to Australia. I’ve always been independent, but I was never sure of just how independent. This trip has set the foundations for something much, much bigger to come – an epic journey around the world that will push me to my limits and open my eyes to new people, countries and cultures. But until then, I need a sleep, because all this adventuring has made me fucking tired.

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You son of a beach!

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Sri Lanka doesn’t have a whole lot of Olympic gold medal-winning racewalkers. Alright, there’s Surav Fingabang and Karu Sukadingdong, and Anil Pushapooalong probably would’ve won in 2012 if he hadn’t been bitten by a dog during his warm up, but the fact is these people don’t like walking. There’s a reason for that – it’s really fucking hot.

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Don’t have a cow, man [polite chuckles]

That didn’t stop me pointing at a spot on the map six kilometres from my hotel and saying, “I can bloody well walk there!” That’s because I’m a complete dickhead. I toodled out the door with a smile on my face and a song in my heart, aiming to get to the end of Batticaloa’s famous Dutch Bar, so that I could catch a glimpse of the legendary Batticaloa Lighthouse. After a couple of kilometres of I was huffing and puffing in the 37 degree heat, so I stopped off for a swim.

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Can you spot the mermaid?

Kallady Beach is wide and sandy, and the water is warm and clear, but it’s not one of the world’s best beaches. It’s very Asian, in the sense that there’s rubbish everywhere. If you’re after a broken pen and couple of hundred bottles full of seawater, this is your place. In saying that, it’s still a beaut place for a swim on a bloody hot day, and it has some waves. which sets it apart from every beach I’ve been to since leaving Aussieland.

I made it another couple of kilometres along dusty, abandoned roads, before calling it quits. I was dehydrated and overheated to the point where I seriously considered sucking the milk out of a passing cow’s teat (even worse, it was a male cow), so I turned around and started back along the road, without ever seeing the lighthouse.

Oh, and I stopped to ride a merry-go-round. Weeeeeeeeeee!

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I don’t have to stay 200m away from playgrounds in Sri Lanka

When I finally made it back to m hotel I was half-mad from exhaustion and dehydration, and brought myself back to life by swimming in the pool in my undies and doing bombs to impress some big-titted Norwegian sheilas who were hanging out there. They weren’t impressed at all and asked me to stop, which leads me to believe they’re probably lesbians – gay lesbians. happens all the time.

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Havin’ a pool…

To make up for that disappointment, the sun put on a fantastic performance as it went down (I’ve described my ex-girlfriend in similar terms). The sky burned orange as I said goodbye to another brilliant day in Sri Lanka, and turned my sights towards the long, difficult journey back to Australia…

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Tallinn Callin’

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I can’t spend my whole time in Europe hanging out with a pretty girl in Riga (as fun as that sounds), so today I headed off to the ancient city of Tallinn, Estonia. It promised all sorts of history and fun stuff to see, and it delivered in spades. In return, I acted like a drunken idiot.

I hopped on an Ecolines bus (just 16 Euro Spacebux) and it was an easy, comfortable trip. The outskirts of Riga are sparse and depressing, looking straight out the Cold War era, but soon give way to pretty farms and dense forests. While the ride between Latvia and Estonia isn’t the most incredible journey of all time, it’s certainly pleasant.

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All aboard the party bus!

And it would’ve been a lot more pleasant if the angry Latvian dude in the seat next to me didn’t keep shouting sweet nothings at me while I tried to sleep. I don’t know what he was saying, but from the way his eyes were spinning in his skull and he kept balling his hands into fists, I’m guessing he wasn’t asking me out for coffee and croissants.

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Where dreams go to die

The bus dropped me off a couple of kilometres from my ultimate destination of Tallinn’s Old Town, and so my first impression of the city wasn’t the best – endless cement buildings stood sternly by as I trundled along to my hostel. Things improved as I made my way through the wide, open spaces of Freedom Square, and then I was overwhelmed as I stepped into the Old Town proper.

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The whole place is built on a really shitty angle

There are castles and churches and steeples and weird little buildings everywhere, meaning that stepping into Tallinn’s Old Town is like stepping into a time machine (although, if I actually did have a time machine, I’d use it to go back in time and ride a dinosaur). There’s so much to see and it’s all so well preserved that it’s easy to spend hours just swaggering down alleyways and finding out what’s around the next corner.

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Hello, church

Unlike Riga’s Old Town, which feels like a functioning part of the actual city, Tallinn’s version feels more like a tourist attraction, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are olde timey stores, historical music, and all sorts of idiots hanging out in flowing dresses and bonnets and shit like that. It gives a good impression of what this place was like before the Nazis and the Russkis got their hands on it. It’s such an inspirational city that I actually acted very sensibly, by which I mean I got drunk in front of ancient buildings:

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I love being me

and had a threesome with some sexy statues:

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If they didn’t make them so fuckable, I wouldn’t have to fuck them!

On first impressions, Tallinn reminds me of a much bigger, much busier version of Carcassonne, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. It’s bloody cold and the streets are confusing, but it has a good feel to it and I look forward to checking it out in more depth tomorrow.

Beer of the day:
It’s actually pretty tough to find a shop selling cans of beer in Tallinn’s Old Town, but I’m a survivor, and found a few cans of something called A. Le Coq Alexander (literally, Alexander Juice). It was cold and wet and alcoholic, but the taste was on holidays. Perhaps they should try getting the juice from someone other than Alex next time.

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Kebab of the day:
I had a rough time locating a kebabery, too, but I’m happy to say that the mission was worth it. It takes a lot to surprise me, but my first kebab in Estonia did just that. Its unusual presentation and unexpected mix of ingredients and spices left a last impression every bit as awe-inspiring as Tallinn’s famous walled city. I bought it from a place called Grill Stop, it came with no wrap, but plenty of succulent meat, and it was awesome.

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Sex, drugs and techno music: Living large in Ibiza

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Alright, that title might be a bit of an exaggeration. While on the party island of Ibiza a couple of years ago I took as many drugs as a Jehovah’s Witness and I didn’t go to any of those parties where they play all the bippity-boppity robot music, but I still managed to rip it up in a way that only your Drunken Hero can.

Strap yourself in, you know it’s gonna be a helluva ride.

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Blue and wet, like a whale

After a month or so criss-crossing western Europe, I was burnt out and needed a place to chill out, so I flew to the island of Ibiza, a rocky island in the middle of the Mediterranean with a reputation for being one of the best party spots on the planet. Superclubs light up the length and breadth of it, Ferraris and Lamborginis cruise the streets, and beautiful people strut up and down the beaches to the hippest music from the hottest DJs. My social life usually involves listening to punk music on my phone while wiping vomit off my shirt in the toilet of some dingy pub, so I was something of a squared peg in a round hole.

But enough about my sex life!

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Don’t they know I’m a fucking celebrity?

I decided to stay in a town on the south of the island called Platja d’en Bossa, which has the twin advantages of being close the airport, and largely free of British pissheads (the frequent the northern town of Sant Antoni – so if you want to finger a fat chick from Warrington, that’s the place to be). The surrounds are as dry as a lesbian’s fanny at a penis convention, which I became all too aware of during my hour-long walk from the spot where I (incorrectly) got off the bus to my hotel. When I got there, the place was crawling with Euro chicks who were almost wearing bikinis and tattooed dickheads who must’ve lost the directions to their shirts and decided to go without. After all that, I needed a drink.

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Just out of the shot: all the women I was impressing

And bloody hell, did I drink. While in Europe I fell in love with a bizarre beer called Desperado, which proudly calls itself the world’s first tequila-flavoured beer, has a higher alcohol percentage than Amy Winehouse’s liver, and comes in half-litre cans for maximum pissing-up-ability. It sounds rough, but is actually pretty awesome, so I took a bag of them down to the beach, where I sat and drank and talked to pretty girls and got pissed. When they were finished I went to a little bar on the beach and drank more beers and chatted up more pretty girls and talked shit as the sun went down and the bongo-bongo music in the background started sounding better.

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It’s surfboard time, dudes!

I sat by the pool at my hotel and drank more, went to a cheap restaurant and drank more while eating Spanish sausages (the foot, ya dirty bastard – I wasn’t sitting there, beer in one hand, European penis in the other or anything like that), then drank more Desperados in my room while getting ready and dancing around in front of the mirror. I was ready for a big night out on the sauce, but the thing is, in Ibiza everyone goes to the superclubs – and I mean everyone.

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Sunset over Sri Lanka

For those who don’t know, the superclubs are the reason most people head to Ibiza. They’re massive, multi-story discos that cater for thousands of people at a time and run all night. I definitely could’ve gone to one of them myself, but didn’t find the thought of spending $75 to be hugged by a drug-addled stranger appealing – I can just head up to Gosford station if I want that. So when I rolled up to the bars on the main street of Playa around 11pm, they were deserted. I found one that had five other people in it and ordered a drink, but then three of the people left, and then the other two, leaving me all alone in the bar with a drink in my hand and a sympathetic barman giving me a sad look.

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I’m pretty sure I got thrown out of this place

I wandered up and down the strip, ducking into sparsely-populated bars and getting progressively pisseder (it’s a word), while talking shit to anyone who would listen. I’m not going to pretend to know what happened that night, but I woke up in a room I didn’t recognise, with an attractive brunette woman I didn’t recognise, wearing nothing but underpants that clearly weren’t designed with someone of my size in mind and a singlet that suggested I had drunk 10 shorts of something called a gallo rancia, which I later learnt is Spanish for ‘rancid cock’. No wonder I was so sick the next day.

To give you an idea of how pissed I was the next morning, I became convinced that I needed to call my father, and that the only way to do that was to walk four kilometres to the nearest Maccas. Fucking hell.

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Rougher than a lesbo’s pubic region

I was understandably rough for my next two days in Ibiza, so i spent most of my time lazing around on the beach, or watching beautiful sunsets over the ocean. The ancient city in Ibiza Town is glorious, and well worth exploring. All of the towns and villages are wonderful, with fountains and statues and cafes and restaurants. During the warmer months the whole island is alive with happy people, and it’s fun to simply walk around and enjoy the ambiance.

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Where the action is

I even caught a bus to the other side of the island and checked out Sant Antoni. It’s a little slice of England in the middle of the Mediterranean, with fish and chips shops everywhere, along with a matching set of fat, tattooed, sunburnt Poms doing their best to guzzle their bodyweight in cheap booze. While that might not sound great, the sunset from this place most certainly is – I sat out on a pier with a can of beer in my hand, toasting the end of three wonderful days in Ibiza.

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Bye-bye, sun. Don’t go kissing any ugly women!

And then I went off to find that fat chick from Warrington – but that’s a story for another day.

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Show us ya map of Tassie!

treemanAfter a restless night’s sleep due to the nocturnal actions of a hairy stranger (a possum that wouldn’t stop messing around outside my tent, that is – get your mind out of the gutter, you bloody sicko!) I woke up to the morning I wanted yesterday. The sun was out, birds were singing, potoroos were dancing, echidnas were wearing tophats and twirling canes around. It was my last day in Mount Field National Park (and my last in Tassie), so I had to get out into nature again.

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It’s the possum version of a blow-up girlfriend

The Lady Barron Falls are about half an hour’s walk from the main campsite, and the walk is really cool. Dense rainforest, sparkling creeks, massive trees, it had it all. There was no-one out there, but I managed to keep my shorts on the whole time (sorry ladies).

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I wish I was a platypus

This is just such a bloody good park, with something for everyone. If you just want to have a leisurely stroll around, see some animals and heaps of trees, you can do that. If you’re an idiot like me, and enjoy going on monstrous hikes, you can do that. There are even ski runs at the top, so if you’re the sort of dude who likes strapping bits of wood to your food and sliding down a hill like dome sort of demented octopus, that’s also on offer. My advice is to bring a tent, though. There’s no point coming to a place like Mount Field, which is so full of nature, and sleeping in a camper van. It would be like having sex with a hot woman while wearing a hand puppet on your cock.

Yeah, that makes no sense, but I’m drunk.

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See, if I was a platypus, I could live here. I wouldn’t be able to afford a PS4, or have any hands to play it with, and no women would wanna root me on account of being a platypus, but it would be a good life. Unless I got eaten by a dog. Speaking of being eaten by a dog, I should tell you about this chick who sucked me off in Prague sometime. Head like a Chinaman’s arsehole, but she could’ve sucked a golf ball through a drinking straw. But I digress…

The falls themselves are definitely worth checking out. With the water running down and the sun painting the world gold, I just sat there, taking it in and feeling grateful that I’m allowed to experience places like this. Just don’t tell anyone I told you that, I’m supposed to be cool.

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This, apparently is where Lady Barren fell. On her arse, I suppose

When Mick picked me up after lunch, he was kind enough to drive me to the top of Mount Field (alright, not right to the top, but to as far as cars can go). It’s another world up there; barren and rocky, speckled with azure lakes and ringed with snow. There are still so many tracks up there, so I’ll definitely be back to explore them.

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Giz me jestski, bruh

Since getting back to Hobart, the night has gone how you’d expect – with lots of alcohol, some dancing, and the occasional funny hat. I’ve got an early flight in the morning, and a lot of cider to drink before I go to bed, so I’ll have to love you and leave you. Another quince cider? Don’t mind if I do!

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Bye bye, sun

Port Arthur McArthur

Tasmania is a wild land, so today me and my brother hired a wild car to take us around the island – an automatic Nissan Micra that is as powerful as Josh Thomas with a turnip up his blurter. Ben was particularly proud of his snazzy new dream mobile.

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We headed out to Port Arthur, a penal (hehe) colony that was also the scene of the worst mass shooting in Australian history. But enough about the negativity, it was actually really interesting and very pretty. We started our tour of the place with a boat trip. It was like going back in time, without stepping into a time machine… or going to Adelaide.

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Guy Sebastian lives in the house on the left

We checked out the old gaol and the gardens, which are truly beautiful. It’s a lovely part of the world, and it’s wonderful to simply walk through the ruins, which have been poorly maintained but show the brutality of convict society. They had all sorts of weird and wonderful ways of controlling the prisoners, including mental society. Sounds like marriage to me.

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Is that Ben, or international supermodel Stefan Penise?

The first I ever heard about Port Arthur was during the tragic mass shooting in 1996. It was a fucked up situation, and one that has troubled me for many years, so it was good to visit the site of the tragedy. The memorial was understated and bare, which in some way is appropriate for such an awful thing. I took some time to sit and think about what had happened, and then we moved on.

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With all my mates

From there, we headed to the Devil’s Kitchen, which sounds like the sort of place where someone who can’t cook makes bad food, but is actually a massive ocean trench. We also went to a blowhole, which reminded me of a woman or two I’ve known.

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I had a HOLE lotta fun here!

Ben wanted to head to Tiny Town, a miniature version of Hobart, but we didn’t make it. Instead we headed to a hobby store that had a giant Terminator in it. He was shooting at that stupid bug thing from Star Wars, which was amusing.

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I’ll be back… to purchase hobby-related items!

When we got back my uncle and auntie were thirsty, so we headed out for a drink. Which means I’m drunk and sitting at their house, drinking wine and being rude by tapping away at my computer so you lovable cunts can have something to read. So, ah, I’d better go. I’m heading to a beer festival tomorrow, so if I make a post I’ll probably be making as much sense as a chicken with a keyboard.

Why does it always rain on me? Is it because I masturbated too much when I was seventeen?

IMG_8975I was up at 6:30 and, unlike the morning after most alcohol-fused binges, I felt great. Shit, I need to skoll kava and dance with Fijiian men every night. The weather wasn’t feeling so beaut, though, and it was piddling down on the Yasawa Islands, Fij. I spent the first half of the day just bludging around like a drongo, reading and watching episodes of Californication. Fuck it, I’m on holidays, I can sit around wanking into half-eaten bags of chips if I want… uh, not that I actually did that. Promise.

At lunch, I was talking to a slightly slutty Pom chick, and impressing her with stories of spewing and stuff, when a goofy-lookin’ bloke with slicked back hair  and a button-up shirt sat down next to us and flipped open his laptop.

“”Unfortunately, the stockmarket doesn’t stop just because I’m on a tropical island,”” he gasped, then stuck out his hand. ““Hi, I’m Buster.”” Buster is a cunt.

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Buster looks a bit like this bloke… only less Asian

He wouldn’t shut up about shares and money and other crap that has no place on a beach holiday. I steered the conversation back to something vaguely interesting, but Buster kept swerving it back to the most boring shit you’ve ever heard. And he kept acting like he was my mate, making me look like the second-biggest turd in the room. The Pommy girl left in a huff, and I was stuck there with bloody Buster. After a particularly long spiel about being a maverick investor and a bit of a punk, which he proved by showing me a small tattoo of a pig on his butt cheek, I gave him the sound advice to invest in a fucking personality, and headed off for a snorkel.

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It never rains in the ocean

Despite the weather, it was nice out there. Lots of fish and some decent coral. Despite the grim skies, it was still bright and bubbly in the drink, and I couldn’t help wondering how glorious this place is when the weather’s fine. I splashed around for a good hour, then flopped back onto land to put a dent in the litre of vodka I’d smuggled from the mainland.

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Mouths open like a Kings Cross hooker

After dinner I was well sloshed, and we were all herded to the main bar for a traditional Fijian dancing demonstration. The music started, and then all the fellas we’d drunk with the night before came out dressed in grass skirts, prancing around. I don’t know how they feel about it, but I found it humiliating, and very uncomfortable to watch. It was like we were in a zoo, with these savages paraded in front of us for our amusement. Only they’re not savages, they’re normal dudes, born into unfortunate circumstance and forced to dance like monkeys for a rich white boss who was the only one making money. Yeah, I empathised with them.

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The Maccas is just out of shot

On the other hand, all the girls in the room were getting massive wide-ons, so the boys don’t have it so bad. Then Buster cornered some of the Fijiian fellas and started telling them what markets to invest in, and aggressively telling them that the only reason they had to wear grass skirts was that they’d missed the IT bubble or something.

“The stock market isn’t only for devil-may-care mavericks like myself, you know,” he espoused. “I didn’t make my first million by wiggling around in a grass skirt, nor did I make my second million by singing a strange ethnic song. It was bravery, skill and an impish grin that got me where I am today.”

I’d heard enough, so I took a half-full coconut, swaggered up to Buster and poured it down the front of his pants so it looked like he’d pissed himself.

“Did you make your third million by pissing yourself?” I asked, then gave one of the Fijians a high-five as the room erupted into laughter and Buster left in tears.

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Even when the weather’s crap, the view is great

The scene degenerated into a bunch of hippie backpackers talking about bullshit, which isn’t for me, so I retired to my balcony to listen to Billy Bob Thornton and get quietly sloshed. Jojo rocked up and we talked about the differences and similarities in our lives until he started having trouble understanding me. He said he wanted to move to Australia and play football, and I told him that one of the many women I had disappointed in the past had moved over from Fiji. I tried in vain to work out how to contact her on my phone, until I passed out.

Oh well, at least I tried.

IMG_8954I wrote this back in 2013, but don’t worry, I head out on a new adventure in just one week! I’ll be in Tasmania for a week and a half on the Bauer Media World Tour, and the place will never be the same again! Actually, it will, but that just sounds cool.

Kava Chameleon

IMG_8906Everyone knows that Fiji is always sunny and beautiful, so I was shocked and appalled to wake up in the middle of a cyclone, with rain and wind smashing the fuck out of everything around me. Ah well, it would have to be nice and sunny out on the islands, right?

After gobbling some leftover pizza and stashing the rest in my bag, I jumped in a little Indian bloke’s cab for a ride through the storm to Port Denerau, situated on the holiday island of Denerau. Calling it an island is a stretch – it’s separated from the mainland by a short bridge and a boom gate, to prevent any of the fat tourists who populate it from ever having to come face-to-face with any of the people who, you know, actually live in Fiji. I had a boat to catch, and I made it onboard only a minute or so before it left I live my life like Indiana Jones, always escaping under the closing door of a tomb at the last second.

IMG_8871The boat ride out to the far-flung Yasawa Islands is supposed to be beautiful, but for me and the other people going out that day it was nothing short of terrifying. The rain was coming down so hard that I couldn’t see more than 50m to any side, and it was as if we were all on a boat taking us to the next life. Every now and then a mountain would slide into view, before being replaced by a wall of white once more. It was as far from the photos of the islands I had seen as Wayne Swan is from a person with a basic grasp of economics.

IMG_8875After three hours we pulled up at Baluya Island, where I’ll be staying at the Manta Ray island Resort for the next three days. It was in there somewhere, under all that rain, and when I hit the sand I was impressed by the set-up. Wooden bars stand by the water, and the hill that reaches for the sky behind them is laced with delightful wooden bungalows. It would’ve looked perfect if not for the weather.

I wasn’t quite as impressed with our introduction to the island, though. While the woman who welcomed us was lovely, the whole thing gave me flashbacks to school camp, which is the opposite of what I want on a holiday. I spend my whole life being told what to do, when and how, so learning that drums would beat when it was time to eat filled me with a slow-creeping dread.

IMG_8892Lunch was served straight away, and again it was like school camp. The restaurant looks out over the misty beach, and is filled with long, wooden benches. I fell in with a couple of blokes from Sydney, Ryan and Simon (hey, that almost rhymes!), and we all decided that the only way to deal with such foul weather was to drink the day away.

I’d pictured myself snorkelling and lying on the beach, instead I spent the next eight hours drinking Fiji Bitter (which, according to my brother, is actually Victoria Bitter. But he also tells people he has a six-inch penis, while I’ve been reliably informed that it’s actually four-and-a-half and tastes like Doritos) and perving on backpackers, who were wearing far too much clothing due to the weather. Fuck.

IMG_8944I’d been wanting to get stuck into the kava while overseas, so I was stoked when the bloke who ran most of the activities, Solo, came over and asked if we wanted to have some with the boys that night. Of course we did! We headed away from the glossy facade of Manta Ray, and ended up on the dark western side of the island. Here everything wasn’t so glossy. We ducked into the shed where the boys at the resort live, and it was sad what they had compared to what was given to the guests. Their room was as big as mine, but nine dudes shared it. They slept in beds with thin mattresses. One fella slept on the floor. When we got there they were sitting on the floor, cross-legged, waiting for the kava.

I was already pretty sloshed, but lapped thirstily when the bowl was passed to me. It tasted like what it was, dirty water, and did nothing at first. But the boys were good company, and the conversation started rolling as more and more kava was passed around.

vlcsnap-2015-09-14-09h10m59s830I became incredibly relaxed, without losing control of any of my faculties like I do when I drink. Time slowed down and ceased to mean anything. I got talking to the young bloke next to me, Jojo. I don’t know if it was the kava or what, but we really got on, despite the societal, economic or racial boundaries.

He’d grown up on the island, and had been at Manta Ray for the same amount of time I’ve been at The Picture, and was sick of his work as I was of mine. He’d actually been fired a few years ago, after some German bird like the look of him and asked him to meet her in the dorm later that night. Jojo went along, of course, and porked her rotten. Unfortunately the kraut had been a virgin, and Jojo hung like a horse, and he pretty much split her in half. The next morning the German chick’s bed looked like a murder scene, and Jojo was gawnski.

He was working security that night back at the bar, so I headed back with him to see if there were any Germans who I could maim in a similar way. There weren’t so we lay back, both completely relaxed and barely able to speak.

When I got back to my hut and checked my phone, there was a frantic email from my mother, who obviously assumed I had been stabbed in the brain or something, due to me not having contacted her in over a day. It probaby took me an hour to tap out a 10-word reply, then I dozed off for one of the best sleeps of my life.

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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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