The Year of the Box Office Bomb

So The Mummy dropped last week and it sucked, like really sucked. In all honesty, and without trying to sound too pessimistic, I thought it would. Cruise is too old for the action-star shtick, Alex Kurtzman has only directed two full-lengths including this and the trailers came across as flat, soulless and completely lacking the humour, pace and charm of there 1999 Brendon Fraser-led predecessor. At least we cant do them for false-advertising.

Not only was it received about as well critically as a Gary Glitter Greatest Hits compilation at a children’s party it didn’t make many waves financially either. Coming in with a budget of $125 million not to mention millions more in promotional costs it has so far made around $180 million worldwide. Don’t get me wrong such an amount could probably do a lot of deserving people a lot of good who once resided in the Grenfell Tower (don’t get me started) but with a budget like that the numbers just don’t cut it.
In fact The Mummy isn’t alone in its failings as this seasons Big Budget Financial Bomb-Squad is as stacked as I can ever remember it being with the likes of Power Rangers, Ghost in the Shell, Baywatch and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword all slumped up against the bar wondering what the hell went wrong. Well there’s a few things that it could be attributed to.

Power Rangers was a surprisingly competent and ambitious effort with some good acting and effects but it was inconsistent tone-wise and the marketing campaign made it unclear as to whether it was aimed at kids or older audiences; therefore alienating both.

Ghost in the Shell was far better than it had any right to be but by being yet another entry in the Japanese Brand Readapted for US Audiences Club, you know alongside Dragon Ball Evolution etc, it already had audiences turning their noses up before it even hit screens. Along with Scarlett Johansson’s failure to do any PR or promotion for it its safe to say Ghost in the Shell was dead on arrival.

Moving onto Baywatch… Come on, its Baywatch. The show that isn’t currently available on any mainstream streaming networks and hasn’t been socially or culturally relevant since Joey and Chandeler sat back in their recliners to watch it on TV in the 90’s. Need I say more?

As for King Arthur. Two words; Charlie Hunnam, yes he was the main guy in Green Street, and two shows; Game of Thrones and Vikings. Nowadays Fictional Period Films are not exactly in high demand, then again this film was originally conceived almost a decade ago which explains a lot, but when they can be obtained on Netflix once a week from the comfort of your front room it all but dooms the ones that hit the big screens. Plus, like Power Rangers, its promotional campaign was confusing and half-hearted. Double plus; Charlie Hunnam. FYI I really don’t like Charlie Hunnam.

All of the above could be considered valid reasons for why in ten years time the fan base for these films will be holding their reunion in a phone booth but perhaps the reason that they’re taking an early dirt nap and have about as much chance of receiving a sequel as Tha Bozz does of receiving a Grammy runs deeper than that. Except their financial failings what one other thing do these movies have in common? They are all reboots or reimagining’s of a franchise that came before them.

Reboots are the thing and have been for a while. The likes of Michael Bay have made a killing off them but if we’re honest a lot of them are not exactly up to much. It seemed like for a while that this was fine with the most recent Transformers and Ninja Turtles films doing good business but perhaps the game is changing and people are finally getting sick of these soul-less or at least average reboots and its time for Hollywood to make some changes? Unless your Disney, Disney will be fine…

I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.

Travel Blog 17; 5 Signs That You’re Growing Up

I turned 27 a couple of weeks ago.

Just had to let that opener sink in for a few minutes, I don’t quite know how it happened but I cant quite shake the feeling that this is all somehow Theresa May’s fault. I don’t know, seems like everything else going on at the moment is. This is not a political post though so I digress.

As a guy who lives in a hostel in Sydney in a dorm with 7 other beds, drinks beer and Goon most nights with Germans, South Americans and French people, smokes…Things. Listens to Hip Hop and proudly wears t-shirts emblazoned with Star Wars, Marvel, Super Mario and John Cena imagery its hard to admit that TECHNICALLY in the eyes of most civilisations I am growing up! As a guy who, in all honesty, fled my motherland with the full intention of prolonging this process its even harder to admit that its happening faster than I could have imagined and the signs are showing.

Now relax people we are going to have some fun here! I don’t have any grey hairs yet and I still find farts funny. Its just that as I sit here in a surprisingly comfortable bath robe that they gave me at a nightclub a few weeks back, for some reason, I cannot help but acknowledge the fact that I’m growing up. So what follows is a personal countdown of the 5 signs of maturity/growing up that I have recently encountered. Buckle up people and get ready for some references that if your younger than 23 you just might have to jump up and catch.

1. Beer Belly/Dad Bod

I swear to God when I was a kid I was the envy of every adult and adolescent in my circle. Even my teachers wanted to kill me, for other reasons aside from this but mainly because I could eat anything I wanted and wouldn’t gain an ounce. When I was in the swim team the instructor used to bring a pack of Polo mints to class and tell me they were for in-case I started drowning and this one time this tall kid 4 years above me put me through a low-level basketball hoop! I actually came out unscathed mainly because I slid straight through it like a needle through a thread.

The reason for the envy though was because although I had a body like a Timon I had a diet like Pumbaa! The trend of non-consequential eating continued until about 3 months ago when I stumbled out of bed to the bathroom, took one look in the mirror and was greeted by a very real voice in my head saying a very real thing; “Bozz you look terrible!” He was right as well. With my bald head, sticking out belly and less definition than an empty dictionary I looked like a white Skin from Skunk Anansie going into labour.

Gone is the care free diet. Don’t get me wrong I drink and smoke whenever the feeling comes over me (pay day, when I have to talk to girls, Sundays etc) but I’m trying to limit the amount of red meat, sugar and fast-food in my diet and although I slip and slip hard its starting to pay dividends.

2. Nightclubs Suck!

They probably have done for a while, particularly in Australia, but I’m just really not feeling the scene these days. I cant be arsed dressing up too much, the drinks are overpriced, the bouncers operate an ‘If Your Happy and You Know It Your Too Drunk’ policy and the music…Well that’s something else.

I haven’t heard any of it before! Hell, I didn’t even know what ‘Dabbing’ was until somebody in WWE started doing it during their ring entrance and its probably outdated by now as well. The other night me and a friend were standing around in a Sydney Nightclub as the DJ played, what sounded like 20 straight minutes of Lil Kendrick Dolla Sign until he randomly threw in one of my personal guilty pleasures; Right Thurr by Chingy. I hit the dancefloor like a Whale to a paddling pool and the shapes came out. Problem is that out of everybody in this place 50% of them might not have even been alive let alone listening in 2003 and after one run of the chorus instead of being told how he “Likes the way she looks in them pants” it was back to the Swag-Pack. This definitely never used to happen but the truth is musically my finger hasn’t been on the pulse for so long that I’m not even sure its still beating!

*And the music’s so bloody loud!……Jokes….*

3. Hangovers

Most people go travelling in search of life-changing experiences. This starry-eyed wonder is no exception but on the way I also went and found some life-changing hangovers. Up until about 5 months ago week-long benders were not uncommon. Yet its like something fell out of place inside me as now I find myself in a place where every time I choose to get on it I need to take into account the very realistic possibility that the next day will be a complete right-off. Do not schedule any work appointments, dates, sporting activities or social interactions of any merit the day after a sesh and for God-sake keep the route between you and the toilet bowl clear…

4. Less Tolerant

I actually don’t see this one as a bad thing. By less tolerant I by no means mean less accepting of any colour, race, gender, orientation, political or religious belief. I hate you all and I always have.

What I mean is less tolerance towards b*lls*it. Once upon a time I was the type of person that would run my mouth until it started sweating and losing weight trying to force conversation with people when I met them. The type of person that would hold my tongue tighter than a pair of tweezers when a person downright besmirched me for the sake of a quiet life and to not offend. The type of person that would become infatuated with members of the fairer sex and chase them blindly ignoring the way that they treated me like something that they stepped in, displayed insufferable personality traits or just downright weren’t interested.

Now if you are a reader who is also a Dyspraxic with their feet planted firmly within ‘The Spectrum’ then you will fully appreciate how exhausting the above can be. If your not just take my word for it; it f*cking is! People take the p*ss. Sometimes you do, sometimes I do, sometimes we don’t realise we’re doing it and sometimes we downright do. Sometimes people click and are meant to share good times and sometimes they just aren’t and this is fine.

Nowadays I make my mind up on whether to pursue a conversation with a person within the first 2 minutes and base it on a few things; eye contact, tone of voice, returning of questions and faith in my own judgement of character. If they don’t want it I’ll stop giving it after those 120 seconds. If a person moves my stuff, steals my food, wakes me up when I’ve got work or insults me personally they will know about it. Woman doesn’t want to know? She’s not going to and I don’t break my back trying to force a stone to bleed blood.

I suppose the long and short of it is I’ve KIND OF stopped giving a f*ck. Don’t get me wrong I still endeavour to be polite (no, seriously), endeavour to be kind and helpful (NO, SERIOUSLY!) and treat people with respect. I just expect it back and if you find the way that I strut around singing the music from my headphones enthusiastically, drape my Welsh flag across my bed in hostels when I’m on bottom bunks and how every now and then I just flat out do not want to be around other living things to be problematic then I don’t know what I can do for you buddy.

5. You’re not Proposing Are You!?

Yeah, my friends back home are moving on up like M People. Now I wasn’t one of those chumps who really believed he could go away for more than a year and everything would pause like an episode of Bernard’s Watch until I came home but this is scary!
Since leaving 2 of my besties have decided to tie the knot. I’m over the moon for them not least of all because they’ve chosen to do it with exceptional people who couldn’t have been more made for them and the stag doo’s will be heavy (better write off the next two days after those!). However as I tuck into my noodles and tuna and pour myself a glass of white wine that came out of a cardboard box with a bag inside this information does set the voice off again. This time with a statement along the lines of “S*it dude where’s your lady? Where’s your career? Where’s your Car and seriously do you really hand-wash your Draws!?”

Truth is this guy isn’t too hard to drown out but it doesn’t mean he isn’t there and it doesn’t mean that he isn’t a sign of the times. In the eyes of a lot of people me and my cohorts live a lifestyle that’s unorthodox. Believe me explaining it to the average 21-30 year old lady in Sydney is as much of a turn-off as handing her a handkerchief and asking her what it smells like. So I just tell them I’m an Astronaut and they don’t respond to that either. WHAT DO YOU WOMEN WANT!? Most job openings finish with a statement along the lines of ‘No Backpackers’ and like any of us could ever afford a car or regular use of the laundry machines!

Seriously though this last one is probably the biggest sign of growing up and it does hammer home the reality that nothing lasts for ever and at some point I will be forced to live a somewhat normal life. Hoping this doesn’t end things on a downer because on the whole my life at the moment is a blast, has been for some time and I don’t intend it to stop anytime soon its just that…27 man! Twenty-F*cking-Seven!

I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.

Travel Blog 16; Australian Scams & What to Avoid

I’m hoping that just the title of this piece will land me a few clicks alone due to the fact that its on a travel blog, features the word ‘Scams’ and doesn’t feature the name ‘Asia’ or any of its interior nations.

You would be forgiven for thinking after 3 months of frolicking around Thailand and its neighbouring countries in search of cheap booze, cheap food and cheap women that Australia should be a doddle. Its First World, is part of the G8 and is run almost entirely by middle-class white people. Plus they welcomed you (and your credit card payment) into the country with open arms with the promise of sun, sea, adventure and work along the way.

Honestly all of the above is true for Australia. Its a beautiful country with some beautiful and welcoming people. The weathers great, the transport links are pretty decent and so far I’ve yet to feel unsafe but, unsurprisingly, its not all as it would seem. I’m not in the business of b*llshit, know body’s paying me to be, so I’ll cut right to the chase; living and working in Australia as a backpacker is no cake-walk and the terrain is littered with a lot more scams and under-handed tactics than you might expect. Due to this and due to the country having an incline to lean towards keeping its, even basic, amenities in the “Extortionately Expensive” region its easy as pie to go broke and fast and don’t even think that just because you’ve done New Zealand before hand that you know what your in for. You don’t have a clue Sports-Fan.

What follows are a few tricks to watch out for when your on your Working Holiday. I am in no way implying that these scams exist only in Aus or even that they were invented there but it does often appear that they’ve been invited in with open arms and given a nice car, a free ride and the kind of benefits that even a mother with as many kids in her house as years in her life could get.  Coming from a man that’s only been here two and a half months and only been to two major cities, neither of which were Sydney, this list is likely incomplete but here we go. Just as a side-note; if your a backpacker who gets caught in any of the following nets don’t bother complaining to any of the relevant authorities because if they answer with their left hand chances are at least one of their genitals is in their right and they wont do a damn thing….And we aren’t even going to talk about Farm Work yet…

Bank Account; Paying for the Pleasure

So your in Aus. You’ve landed safely, its your first day in your new home and you want to get the ball rolling on the job hunt because you just spent what would be a weeks budget in Cambodia on a Chicken Wrap that looked like it had an eating disorder of its own, a small (and I mean small) Fries and a can of some kind of soft drink that tasted like p*ss that somebody farted in. First things first; bank account!

So you just head into the first branch you see, I mean they’re all the same right? Standard Debit Account, Savings Account attached, $1 fee for using card on other ATM machines; the norm. WRONG! Some dumb f*ck however many years ago thought to himself that it would be a great idea to make bank customers pay for they’re bank accounts. Unfortunately this guy didn’t keep his thoughts in his head and wasn’t actually as much of a dumb f*ck as it seemed because now most of the banks in Aus are doing just that and the customers are eating the s*it and liking the taste.

Commonwealth Bank charge standard customers $5 a month, ANZ charge $10 and so do Westpac and many of their peers. Although this isn’t technically a scam as its government approved (not that this should really make any difference) what is flaky as that the person setting it up for you will make no mention of such stipulations as they will assume you were aware all along. The fact it exists is a joke. The fact its not promoted is plain devious. Go with NAB they are the only ones that don’t charge, to my knowledge.

Job Hunting; The Kangals of Kings Kross

 So now that your account is all set up and after reading the small print your safe in the knowledge that your charges wont apply as long as your earning $55,586 a month you figure its time to hit SEEK and see what’s popping on the job front.

What do you know? There’s loads here and they all sound like really good crack as well; “Are you hardworking, ambitious, driven and have the skills and tools necessary to be your own boss!?” Well I’ll bet you do, or at least that you think you do so you go right ahead and apply for these positions with no mention of salary, hourly pay or what you’ll be specifically doing.

Sure enough 2 maybe 3 hours later you get a call from an attractive sounding secretary named Daphne who invites you to an interview the next morning. Great and even better is that the office is conveniently located only 15 minutes away from your hostel! So the next day you iron that crumbled up work shirt that you’ve been keeping in the bottom of your backpack, borrow your room mates tie (probably get him to tie for you as well), spray some Diesel Bad and set off on your way.

When you arrive at the office your taken aback by how swanky it all looks. The floors are polished, the walls are covered in $2000 artwork with titles like “Inner Expression” and sure enough Daphne the secretary is a real knock-out. However, Its at this point that if you know what to watch out for that you’ll be pivoting as sharply as your flat black shoes will realistically allow you to and heading for the door.

The reason for the advertisement not mentioning money is for the same reason that leaflets for Saudi Arabia don’t mention political freedoms; their isn’t any. These “Companies” will attempt to hire you on a “Commission Basis” and whilst disguising it with wording such as “The Harder you work the more you earn”, “Limitless earning potential” and “Your only limit is yourself” the Skinny on this is that they pay you nothing. Peddling whatever s*ite it is they’re trying to push is purely a game of luck involving little to know skill and its realistically possible that you will be working for free.

These people are scammers who will attempt to counter this argument by telling you that you “Obviously don’t have a lot of faith in your talents and worth”. No mate, we do and that’s the f*cking problem. Give me a blank sheet of paper and 10 minutes in a bathroom cubicle and I’ll show you my “Inner Expressions” and I wont charge you $2000 for it, good looking women in Aus are a dime a dozen and your colleagues will be the sort of people that haven’t yet realised that The Wolf of Wall Street was a cautionary tale. Be careful.

Fund Raising; A Free Ticket to the Cells

 So the interview with Jordan Belfort didn’t go as well as hoped. So you head back to the hostel feeling slightly disheartened and dreading the inevitable barrage of phone calls that you’ll be receiving from the 7 other similarly worded vacancies that you applied for.

All is not lost though as when you walk through the lobby of your hostel your vision is directed toward the notice board and you notice a certain notice almost immediately. No, not the one about “No drinking after 11pm” dummy! That’s more of a guideline than a rule anyway. The sign in question printed on plain white paper and written in bold black font reads “Want extra cash, Backpackers needed, immediate start, average earnings $130 a day, contact Tim on 042XXXXXX, no time wasters.” Well, s*it $130 sounds like a good piece of the pie and you need the money so who cares what the job involves right? So you call the number on the Sheet and it turns out that all you have to do is stand outside some supermarket and collect money for a “Charity” and that at the end of the day you get 32% of the takings.

Sounds easy enough doesn’t it and, as it goes, your actually doing something nice for those less fortunate as well. WRONG! You’ll find these b*stards have plastered their advertisements all over every hostel in the city and the reality is far from charitable. Before being driven to your supermarket your boss who operates out of a crappy bungalow in one of the rougher city areas and who looks disturbingly like Kool Moe Dee’s Albino brother will hand you 4 buckets with a badly laminated sticker for the charity in question attached and a phone number to hand out if the store gives you any hassle (warning bells anyone?).

Okay, here’s how this is going to go down; within a maximum of 60 minutes the Store Manager will approach you saying you don’t have permission to be doing what your doing, that the number you told him to call is faker than your Ray Bans and that if you don’t hustle in the next 5 minutes he’s calling the police. At which point you’ll contact the boss who conveniently wont be near his phone and his answer phone message will sound strangely like another human being. When he does eventually text you back you’ll get either picked up and driven to another spot or told to make your own way where the story will restart itself and you’ll ping-pong around locations for around 10-12 hours with a final taking of $198, meaning that you get $63.36 to be precise and three near arrests. Oh and the boss will also demand a copy of your passport.

In case you haven’t sussed it out yet; this “man” does not have permission to fund raise, sends you out to do his dirty work for chump-change, scolds you when you get moved on and, shockingly enough, when you get in contact with the relevant charity you’ll soon discover that they’ve never even heard of him. Be careful.

 Bottle Shop Lucky Dip; Mystery Pricing

 Well what a few days its been! Like any backpacker in this situation, or out of it quite frankly, you’ve got beer on the brain and why not? Alcohol makes you sexier, more confident, better at pool, better at dancing and makes you feel like a big man. So you and your new cronies decide to hit the local bottle shop and have yourselves a sesh.

When you get to the bottle shop and hit the fridges everything seems to be present and correct with your favourite brand, or what you assume will be your favourite brand, except one thing; the price. In fact the whole stock has no pricing on it anywhere. So naturally you ask the, hopefully, friendly old lady behind the till and she barks at you with the extortionate fee of $28 for 6 bottles of p*ss and gravy that isn’t even cold. After returning with several other brands you get similar rates until one finally comes in at around $18; deal!

If this all seems a little strange then that’s good because it is. Especially when you come in a few days later and the lady is quoting completely different prices to you for the same items. Price rigging in Australia is very much illegal and even in everywhere I’ve been in Asia its non-existent when it comes to alcohol in shops. The prices are obviously rigged based on how much a brand is selling but you can bet that even at its lowest it’ll never hit the levels of any legit liquor store likely 5 minutes away so save yourself the hassle and avoid these spots.

“Working Hostels”; Journey to the Edge of the Earth

 Its not been the smoothest of first weeks for you has it? Money’s running low and legitimate work seems hard to find in this city so you and your new friends think it might be time to get out and try somewhere else.

So you start looking into nearby towns and smaller cities and you think you’ve hit the jackpot when you stumble upon a Working Hostel in a town just a train ride away from the smog then speak on the phone with the manager who tells you that not only is work in the town plentiful but that the hostel will also help you find it. Jackpot! So you book the tickets, hop on the train and head to the promise land. The promise land that comprises of a Coles, 2 pubs, a petrol station, a bottle shop and, sure enough, your new hostel that you, just the day before, booked a week long stay at and gave the manager your card details whilst you were at it. Oh s*it indeed.

I implore anyone when looking into such moves to do as much research as they can before hand. Some towns are just dead others change with the seasons but one thing that wont change is the sales pitch of whoever’s running the hostel. Truth is, whilst many aren’t, a good deal of these owners are greedy, dishonest b*llshitters with a bad attitude and a crappy establishment to boot.

Don’t even start me on the agencies; Peter Pan’s have the neck to charge you $79 just to look on their job searches and Job Shop only lets you apply for two at a time. BE CAREFUL!

In-short Aus has its share of snakes, in every sens. Its a great country that should be experienced and despite the above its actually home to people that can be as warm as the temperature but keep your wits about you as much as you can. Truth is these scams exist and they exist relatively unchallenged because either the people in charge don’t no or don’t care, either is quite embarrassing and if you do get caught you wont necessarily get a lot of help. In closing; be safe, have fun, watch your back and my God if anybody in the WA area wants to give me some legit work please pipe up now!

I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Blog 15; Hostel Living

As someone who has been aboard the Travel Train for well over a year now its safe to say that I’ve stayed at my fair share of hostels. Just in case anybody reading is uninitiated; a hostel is a type of board accommodation. They are very rarely on par with a hotel but are usually better than sleeping outside…Usually. Shared dorms, kitchens and bathrooms are the order of the day and these places are frequently frequented by travellers of all shapes, sizes and ages.
The reason that I am writing this post, aside from currently being based in Berri aka The Arse-End of Nowhere knee deep into my riveting new occupation that involves pulling weeds out of the ground in 30 plus degree heat for 9 hours a day and having a ridiculously large amount of free time in-between (I mean come on, its only been about a fortnight since the last post!) is because my current hostel is particularly cliché. By this I mean that it possesses just about every positive and negative hostel trait that I have seen, heard or smelt in the last 14 months. So in light of the brashness of my new temporary home I have decided to compile a list of, what I believe, are the most common features of hostels that you can expect to encounter when your on your jollies.
Understocked Bathroom Facilities – Where diving in deep here people as this, despite being a fairly essential thing to get right, is very much wrong an astonishingly frequent amount of the time.
It is not at all uncommon to finish up a big, weight-shedding, triumphant *insert personal favourite noun* and find that the bathroom has no soap for afterwards. In fact before the issue of the soap arises its also not a rarity to turn to your left then your right and find that there’s not even toilet paper to deal with the first issue! Couple this with the embarrassment of not being able to flush away the evidence (broken flush) and the wet floor that you insist is from the shower but your just not sure and all of a sudden those train station toilets back home don’t seem so bad.
Ridiculously nice or ridiculously prick-ish staff –  Its true that first impressions are golden. So for this reason you’d think that hostel owners would be keen to make a good one. Sometimes they do; I’ve stayed at places where the staff have been ultra-helpful, sweet and funny greeting me with a smile,  when I wasn’t even staying at the place! Yet for every friendly Nomad there’s also a gangly, long-haired, shruggy, broody little s*it who’s still suffering from the night before, looks like his clothes have been slept in and huffs and puffs more than the Big Bad Wolf and Phil Mitchell combined whenever you ask him/her the simplest of questions.
Don’t get me wrong know body needs perfection but when the person can barely speak English, hurls your bedding at you like stale confetti, leaves 5 foot nothing Indian girls to carry 2 suitcases that they could (and probably should) sleep in alone up 4 stories and is so stone faced that, as far as you know, he/she doesn’t have any teeth then there could be a problem.
Then there’s when you try to check-in and there’s know body at the desk at all and nobody knows where he/she has gone or when they’ll  be back. Not like your paying to stay or anything is it?…
Crap Wifi – One router/modem, hostel slap-bang in the middle of Nowhere Avenue just left of East Bum-Ville and around 75 90’s babies all packing Smartphones and Netflix subscriptions; ‘nuff said.
Bed Bugs – Moving onto one of the more sinister features to look out for during your time away from home this one is actually far less common than the others but when you do inevitably encounter it its a f*cking nightmare! Bed Bugs, like Mosquito bites, are torturously itchy, make you look like an overused dartboard and have a nasty habit of appearing on your face.
What’s most scary about these little wankers is that they are actually very capable of thriving in clean environments, making them tough to pre-empt, and unless faced with extremely hot water, intense sun and humidity they’re tougher than Asian Steaks and can contaminate a whole backpack of clothing in hours. Be careful.
‘Spirituals’ and Guitars – Okay look; before we start I have no problem with people with long hair, who suck at playing guitar but love to do it in public, don’t wash, don’t shave, wear sandals when its zero degrees outside and dress how people who’ve never been to Asia imagine that Asian people dress. In fact I have actually made several friends who fit this description but MOST hostels have at least one of these stereotypes who posses a few more frustrating habits. Examples include hitting on girls that your seeing in front of you, judging people for using plastic bags and dropping cans in the wrong bin when he/she drives his car to the corner shop and insists on taking 25 minute showers and has to turn the slightest mention of Brexit, the Middle-East or America into a one-way pseudo-intellectual debate where he/she has no idea about the subject but hides this fact by using big words. A bit like Russell Brand.
On a good day there’s just one and you can exist harmoniously around each other. On a bad day its 80% of the hostel, you feel like even the walls are judging you and even a mere mention of Football, Lost or WWE will earn you a lecture about corruption, the deeper meanings of life and how its “All faaaaaake anywaaaaaaay.”; no s*it Sherlock.
Insane Heat or Cold – Now don’t get me wrong I don’t expect hostel owners to be able to manipulate weather conditions. That’s not work for non-Jedi folk. However checking into a hostel in SA where its 38 in the shade and your sharing a room with 7 other guys only to find that the fan is broken and the air con was doomed from the get-go, mainly because it never existed, is quite distressing.
Similarly; wafer thin blankets that are basically just second bed sheets, windows that don’t close properly and heating systems that sound like planes when they start taking off in zero and below are about as welcome as sandwich making jokes at feminist rallies.
Crowded Fridges and Walking food – Inevitably during peak periods hostels will become crowded. What’s not as inevitable however is a lack of storage space for food, luggage and other basic amenities. The solution to such a problem; create enough storage space for the amount of people you intend to be billing at the end of every week. Sadly this solution is not as obvious to every hostel owner on the circuit.
Due to this it is not uncommon to rock up to a hostel and find that every refrigerator and cupboard is at bursting point and when you do finally finish your game of Cooling Bag Tetris in order to negotiate yourself a tiny space you’ll likely return hours later to find your bag on the unit with your Mince Meat rotting into something that looks like Dog Food. This will be due to one of the ‘Long-Termers’ deciding that its actually his/her space leaving you back where you started. Yeah; ‘Long-Termers’ can occasionally forget that they don’t actually own every inch of the hostel, don’t pay anymore or carry anymore rights than anybody else and cant dictate the lives of ‘newcomers’ to them. Just be warned.
Your New Best Friend(s) – Seriously despite the sometimes cramped, awkward, dirty and confusing conditions you will make some awesome friends at these places. The brightest of the many bright sides of hostel living is that its almost impossible not to make friends. Just simply rock up and say ‘Hello’ to the first person you encounter. If he/she is worth knowing then they’ll talk back and more often than not you’ll end up drunk in some bar 4 hours later with them and several others talking about how your all going to go to the temples together tomorrow, how Die Hard is one of the greatest movies ever made and how Grime music isn’t a patch on how it used to be.
If they don’t then they’re probably p*icks and you can just move onto the next one.
No Sleep – S*it tonnes of travellers, bars as close as downstairs and across the hall, thin walls, thinner mattresses, creaky bedframes and more body heat than 6 Tony Soprano lookalikes in a steam room. You do the maths.
The Smelly Guy –  You know how every class in school had the smelly kid? Well it turns out most hostels do as well.
Feet like a Cheese Factory, armpits carrying more perspiration than a Fish Tank, breathe that could mould a wall and give the room Asbestos or just all of the above. Unfortunately during your time in one of the many hostels that you will likely frequent you will more than likely be gifted a roommate that possesses at least one of these traits.
Even more unfortunate is that they probably aren’t aware of it, probably do clean themselves thoroughly and regularly to no avail, probably snore in their sleep as well and are probably a really nice guy/girl to boot. Awkward. Maybe his/her Father was a Skunk or something…
So there you have it. Hostels are convenient, cheaper than alternative accommodation, are a great way of making friends and if the one you check into sucks you can always just leave and go somewhere else. The pitfalls are very real but don’t be put off by them and have fun!
I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.

Travel Blog 11; The Quest for the Train Ticket

So yeah I’m in Thailand now. Have been for over a week in fact. In very much the same way as James Buckley’s character in the first Inbetweeners movie greeted the shores of Malia (which was actually Magaluff but, you know, logistics) my initial reaction was as follows;

“F*ck me its hot. Might be too hot…”

It still is an all, hot I mean. It doesn’t matter if the sky is full of sunshine, cloud or even torrential (and I do mean torrential) rainfall it is sweltering over here. Don’t get me wrong I fully expected it but the first few times you feel it are a shock to the core and all points in-between. Luckily, as mentioned in a previous post, I was met by a good friend of the family at the airport which certainly took the sting off things a bit but after an initial run-down of the ‘hood, so to speak, I was left to my own devices. In a city the size of Bangkok this is somewhat daunting but not quite as much so as you may imagine.

The reason for this? Firstly the transport links are good, like really good. Buses run regularly and often, the underground and BTS systems if anything are more reliable than the London Underground has ever been to my knowledge and even though the traffic is a slog, even on Sundays, you will get where you’re going with a little bit of patience and it won’t cost you much either. Secondly the people. Now before I go into this I want to do away with a false and shockingly common misconception that I think has probably been created by travel brochures and other marketing ploys and it kills me to do this but here goes; Thais DO NOT speak good English. Many speak non at all and although some are, many signposts and street names have not been translated. Yet despite this, by and large, the people are often still helpful. Hop on a bus and 9 times out of 10 if you tell the money collector where you want to go they’ll give you a shout when its time to get off. Ask for directions in the street and more often than not they will try and direct you and if you do happen to get on the wrong bus, minivan or boat then they’ll let you jump out and redirect you without a charge; least that’s what happened to me.

The food is awesome, as I knew it would be but not going to lie after almost 12 days of eating it I have had a mild touch of the ‘Thailand-Tummy’ and the ‘Changovers’ can get a little rough but there’s usually a lavatory near by oh and by the way, the whole low toilet with a shower spray thing is very much in around these parts. Just thought you might want to know. The nightlife in Bangkok is pretty live as well and there’s plenty of sites to see. Even with the country currently being in mourning all these aspects are still very much alive and the grand palace at night when the Royal’s come driving through is quite an amazing scene and one that you can’t help but join the locals in unison with, even though you technically don’t have to. I don’t know it just feels respectful and like the right thing to do if you know what I mean.

Only been in Bangkok so far and just got into Chiang Mai via a night train and what a mission to get that ticket it was. As I said before; getting around Bangkok may not be too difficult but it can certainly take a while. Rising early (ish) I headed to my usual market place to see if I could grab a minivan heading there, they usually take me to Victory Monument so I figured why not? No, that’s why! So that idea went begging but the guy holding down the station gave me a number of a bus that goes to an underground station that I can THEN use to get to the main train station to book my ticket.

So I dash across the street, not literally people, with traffic like Bangkok’s its just not worth the risk, to catch this bus and after a pretty tolerable wait it turns up. So in I hop instinctively. The bus gets halfway up the street before the lady giving out the tickets reveals that THIS particular bus isn’t going to the station I need to get to and that the ones that are carry the same number but are in-fact Yellow in colour. Rather than any other colour under the sun.

 What followed would not have been out of place in one of those Hangover movies. Hearing this news I was in a hurry to get off but the driver didn’t seem to into my request and the previously mentioned lady didn’t seem to understand it whilst all the while this bus was getting further and further from the stop I needed to be back at by the second. The door was open, the pavement was in leaping distance, due to the build-up the bus was slowing down a little and…yeah. Not going to lie I didn’t land as elegantly as I had envisioned and had a couple of grazes on my elbow and leg to show for it but I was out of the bus and knew now to get on the right one. Actually, as it goes, the Yellow’s stopped at a different stop just ahead of the original one but it didn’t take long for that to get pointed out so no harm done. Ten minutes later I was on-board.

This journey went on, like ridiculously, to the point where I thought we heading for the end of the earth, clearly I had forgotten about how big these ‘big’ cities really get. Honestly, I was starting to think that I’d missed the stop but every time I asked the lady she insisted that all was good. Seriously, I’d been on this thing for a while though but out of the blue when I was just about ready to consider getting off and risking it on foot the lady who gave me the ticket all of a sudden pops up behind two other standing passengers and tells me that we’d reached my destination. Seriously though I was sweating bullets at that point; I’d never been in that part of the city before and all I knew was it was a long way back to familiar territory!

So having hit the underground I got my ticket from an attendant who actually spoke very good English and was offering a lot of help. The underground, as I said is very simple though so didn’t need it but the gesture was nice. Once I got to the main station purchasing the ticket was a piece of p*ss and after all that I had beer and food on the brain; off to Khao San it was but not in the way I had envisioned.

Outside the station, shockingly enough, were a slew of taxi drivers and I had every intention of trying to flag one (meter only though, mind you) but was instead advised by a security guard that I could get there for free or at least as far as The Palace, which was close enough, using a free Shuttle Bus. So your damn right I did and once I got there I happened to witness a few members of the Royal Family passing through (kind of a big deal or it was at least for me!), got given free food and water by some volunteers and was directed the rest of the way to Khao San where, predictably, I got steaming drunk, ate more food and didn’t get back until gone 9:30am the next morning. Sweet!  

So that was my Quest for the Train Ticket and I’m happy to say that with some help from some lovely locals and a few mighty bounds of my own (literally) it was a success. Not going to lie I am not used to countries like Thailand and this whole thing is being run on a strictly day-to-day basis at the moment. Its hot, it kind of stinks in places, I’ve seen more rats than I care to count and this place has got more Thai’s than The Godfather (yeah I know, not my best but couldn’t resist). Still, its exciting and whilst still keeping my guard up I am starting to feel more comfortable.

Who knows what’s next and how long it’ll be before I hit Australia for the next main leg of Tha Bozz on Tour. All I know is I’m in Chiang Mai, I want Elephants, Muay Thai (watching not playing!) and maybe a few more sneaky bevvies.

I’m Tha Bozz & that’s my opinion.

Travel Blog 10; Goodbye New Zealand

I can hardly believe that these next words are about to be typed by the fingers attached to my not-Donald-Trump-small-but-still-surprisingly-small hands but here goes; tomorrow afternoon I will be leaving New Zealand. For good, or at least for the foreseeable. Even more unbelievable is what comes next; give or take a week or 2 I have been travelling this side of the world for a year. Between Fiji and New Zealand its been about a year and a major chapter in my metaphorical book (maybe one day but don’t pressure me!) is coming to an end and I guess a new one is about to begin.

Where to next you may ask, well not home that’s for sure. I miss the people I left behind and I even miss Britain itself for everything wrong with it its still bloody good but I’m not ready to see it again yet and having just had my Working Holiday Visa for Australia signed off on I now have a perfect excuse not to. However, before heading down under there’s a certain other part of the world that I’ve had my apprehensive but still excited eye on for some time; South-East Asia.

I know, I know:

“Its the typical ‘Backpacker’ route, its sooooo clique and spoilt now not like it was 20 years ago…..”.

Well I was watching Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, sleeping with Pooki The Teddy Bear and believing that every 24th December a fat guy slid down the chimney of my house (that actually didn’t have a fireplace or a chimney now that I think about it) to deliver me and my older brother presidents if we behaved 20 years ago. So you can see why boozing on Khao San Road in Bangkok, Scuba Diving in Ko Tao and Tubing in Vang Vieng weren’t on the cards. Also, you try going to these places after almost a year in a country where they ID bearded 30-somethings for cigarettes, the police voluntarily walk you back to your accommodation when you’ve had a skin-full, neighbourhood watches are a thing and the most dangerous creature in the forest is a Possum and telling me that its not a change of pace or a shock to the system!

Alas though its happening. Tomorrow afternoon I will board a plane from Christchurch to Bangkok and feelings that I haven’t quite felt for, funnily enough, about a year are creeping back in. Excitement, confusion, intrigue and if I’m being totally honest fear. Luckily a friend of the family has agreed to put me up for a few days whilst I find my feet (metaphorically not literally; I know where my feet are and I can hardly stand them) which will hopefully take the initial sting off a little bit but still, s*its getting real.

As jittery and anxious as I may come across in this post its actually nothing compared to how I was this time last year. In fact at this precise moment I’m sat back in a comfy chair in a hostel lounge, sipping my drink and listening to Oasis, perhaps its partly down to so much time in such relaxed countries as Fiji and indeed New Zealand or just that I now actually have some travel experience, limited as it is.

On that subject though I feel I need to say something in this post; New Zealand, I am going to miss the hell out of you! I have had my loves and my hates and my ups and my downs with this place like I would have in any place that I called home for almost a year but by God NZ you varied, laid-back, easy-to-travel, over-priced, lazy, beautiful, friendly, pedantic, ridiculously safe, nanny-stated, surprisingly historical, boring, proud, exciting, multi-cultural, fun and loveable pair of rocks in the middle of the water I’m going to miss the f*ck out of you and everything you do!

Since getting here I’ve practically top-to-bottomed both islands, been hundreds of feet in the air and several feet under the water, been in boiling and freezing temperatures and been on-top of a mountain of snow and a mountain of sand (traversing both with an equal lack of grace). I’ve met people that I absolutely adore and would love to see again outside of my travels and I’ve met people that I absolutely despise and would also love to see again with matches. I’ve worked as everything from a Salesman at a crappy Call Centre selling online diplomas because why not? All the way to a Kitchen Hand at an Indian Restaurant and a Scaffold Assistant on a building site; both are positions that I was fortunate to walk away from with my limbs not to mention dignity intact.

I have also learnt what we all secretly have always known but occasionally forget until we get lovingly reminded and that’s that the best things that usually happen are unplanned. Just recently I hit Paihia intending to stay for 3 days and low and behold after 6 I was still there. Long story but an awesome hostel, an out of the blue road trip to Cape Reinga (one of my favourite spots in the country) an excessive amount of beer and some wonderful humans and hot girls played a massive part. The amount of times that one has checked into hostels with an early night on the cards and ended up steaming at 4am, stumbling through clubs, house parties and karaoke bars with people who 7 hours earlier were complete strangers is overwhelming. The hangovers were to.

The levels of kindness and generosity displayed by the people that I’ve met has been overwhelming as well. I’ve had everything from beer and homemade pizza all the way to rides and floors and couches to crash on offered to me and its my full intention to pay these warm souls back whenever I can.

Its funny, I’ve just read those last paragraphs back and they’re written as if its all coming to an end when its not. I can do all the research, ask all the forum members and friends in the world but truth is I don’t know what to expect from SE Asia, Australia or anywhere else this wily-Welshman, with a bit of Italian, may end up. All I know is there will be other people and although this can sometimes be a f*cking nightmare it does also ensure that similar good times are eventually certain to role.

Going from a place like New Zealand to a place like Thailand is like going into a fight with Anthony Joshua when your last opponent was Audley Harrison (Google him if you need to.) and Fiji wasn’t exactly the most intimidating environment you’ll ever see either. We have to step up one day though and part of the travel experience, as they say, is about stepping out of the comfort zone so that’s exactly what I’m doing. So next on the cards is hot food, hot weather, hot water, hot women (hopefully) and a lot of time spent feeling like the tallest man in the room.

NZ I love you, I’m going to miss you and I’m going to see you again I’d wager. So its haere rā New Zealand and Kia Ora SE Asia. Be safe!

I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.