Travel Blog 12; In Need of a Second Wind

Although it might not be The Ritz, more like The Nits, I must say that my last hostel had some surprisingly strong Wi-Fi going for it. So strong in fact that I was able to use it to catch up on the previous weekends card of boxing. Predictably enough Anthony Joshua did away with Eric ‘ Upper Mid-Card At Best’ Molina in efficient fashion but it was Whyte vs Chisora that was the real highlight. Two very good but not quite great British heavyweights trading blows for 12 straight rounds and although they may have been gassed after 5 of them and neither would have stood a chance in a title bout you cant deny that it was exciting and both guys showed more guts than a Romero marathon.

Now my mind works in mysterious ways and as one of my few readers you may wonder how and why it managed to draw a comparison between the sight of these two pugilists scraping all the way back in Manchester and my current mind state and stage of my journey. It did though and I felt inclined to write about it, that’s kind of how it works for me. The main reason for this being that, like the once mighty but ultimately underachieving Dereck Chisora at the sound of the fifth bell, I am frankly gassed and although I have the urge to keep moving forward I feel like I could use a second wind.

Now don’t get me wrong my travels are nothing like a boxing match. I don’t get paid to do it and only 3 people in the last 13 months have tried to punch me and only one of them succeeded (and that chicks hands were so dainty and soft it could hardly be considered a punch) but mainly due to some culture shocks, serious jumps in temperature, a bout of illness and the fact that I’m not a massive fan of my current location a few days ago I seriously contemplated packing up, saying ‘f*ck it!’ and heading home. I mean just because Australia have accepted me doesn’t mean I have to go.

Its true though, this writer is not a big fan of Malaysia. Thailand was great; the weather was pleasantly hot, the booze was cold and readily available. The locals ,although basic at best when it came to English, were still relatively warm and helpful and it was impossible not to meet other travellers and despite what some will tell you the country is well organised and the locals play a fair game. Singaporeans are also cool and having my own local guide and friend at hand made the country a particular highlight for me. Alternatively and I must stress that this is PURELY my own opinion derived from my own experiences but Malaysia feels like a direct paradox. The weather is sticky and suffocating, drinking is frowned upon and expensive and perhaps most distressing of all; the locals I have interacted with are flippant, rude, unhelpful and, dare I say, rather prejudice and incredibly dishonest. Oh and they spit, by God they love a good hawk and even more so when it almost hits your shoes and the sight of some 5,3 local Malay-Indian lass in KL with a pair of the fastest, hardest and most dangerously accurate fists I’ve ever seen literally giving some poor European girl the Floyd Mayweather treatment (complete with head movements, foot-work and taunting!) outside a restaurant nearly had me packing there and then. Swear to God despite the predictable size difference Whitey didn’t stand a chance and it took 3 guys to eventually pull the local girl away, one of those ‘you know its bad but you just cant stop watching’ type of scenarios! That along with the way that they pretend they cant understand you when you ask them questions, allow others to be served before you despite you being ahead in the lines, tut at you in the street and purposely block your way on pavements to try and force you onto the road all leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Oh and I once caught one guy in a hostel trying to go through my trousers (no I wasn’t wearing them!) thankfully a fellow traveller dived in as well meaning that he won’t be trying that again anytime soon and some jelly-brained chick at a bus station purposely sold me a ticket to Singapore for the wrong date forcing me to pay twice because, you know, white privilege and stuff right?

Don’t get me wrong its nothing I cant handle. Having people stare disapprovingly at me as I walk down the street and trying to block my path is eerily like what walking down the school corridors was like back in Corpus Christi High and for all the flaws the women in this country are often incredibly striking, when they aren’t Mohammed Ali reincarnated and trying to do the striking, but it does zap the soul a little. Making friends in Malaysia is more difficult as there are generally less travellers, they seem less inclined to socialise (with the exception of Penang) and as mentioned the locals just don’t want to know meaning it can even get a little lonely.

Couple this with the aforementioned intense heat of Asia, the different food and the fact that a lot of local people give off a ‘We want your cash but make no mistake you aren’t welcome here’ vibe and treat and speak to you in a manner that would have the socialists and liberals of the UK up in arms if we did it to our visitors and the whole thing has got me feeling a little disheartened.

I’m finding it harder to get up in the mornings, I walk around in directionless dazes, partly due to my British-ness but also down to past experiences I hate asking for directions or help and, for the first time in years, I’m struggling to socialise. I’ve also developed a greater sense of paranoia towards strangers and although I’ve secretly known this all along its still tough having to witness first hand that double standards and the judging of people before you know them based alone on their appearance or race is not an exclusively western thing. In fact if anything and for a number of reasons they’re worse for it here. Who would have guessed?

Now please don’t get this twisted I am not trying to discourage people from visiting SE Asia, or even Malaysia, rather just exposing a few home truths that are not going to be exposed in the brochures, on the websites or by the travel agents. You will get heat stroke, you will get sick, you will get scammed and quite a few of the people there perceive you as a millionaire who has never worked a day in his or her life (when ironically their job consists of sleeping on a desk and telling people ‘no have’ or ‘don’t know’ in response to simple questions) so in their eyes you deserve such treatment and aren’t really a human being like they are. Not always the case but often enough to make it worth mentioning. Fact is that as rewarding as it is long term travel can become oddly stressful and can tire you out and you’ll certainly find yourself going through peaks and troughs. Mainly because when things do go tits up there’s nothing you can do about it. Most times its small things that are worth just laughing about but occasionally it can throw things into chaos and the lack of empathy from the people at fault can be enraging and believe me they are usually at fault.

Metaphorically I guess I could say that this stage of my journey is like that 6th round in the fight where exhaustion is starting to set in and I need to land something good to spur me on. However as mentioned, the situation isn’t nearly that desperate or strenuous and its important to keep that mentality in mind as even through the tough times being able to travel is a privilege. It is however a personal challenge at times and like our old boys Dereck and Dillian I plan to power through and go the distance. I just hope that Cambodia is bringing a different vibe to the party. Just calling it how I see it and have experienced it as always so I sincerely hope none of the opinions in this piece have caused any offense and as previously mentioned I am not judging entire races, religions, groups or genders; just the ones I’ve met.

I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.

How did it take-off!?

While walking through an isle of a clothing shop full of garments that I wouldn’t be able to afford if my work hours doubled, my rap career took off, I sold my freedom into slavery and my body to chemical testing I was greeted by a ridiculous item that like Revenge on E4 is sadly catching on; the onesie. What’s even sadder is that the shop in question was only Primark and I still felt like I was punching above my weight like Manny Pacquiao climbing into the ring with Nickolai Valuev in the budget department but I digress, why are people wearing onesies on the street in broad daylight? They were originally advertised as comfort clothing to be warn at night but to be honest when told to wear one in the bar I work at for a themed night I pulled the tighter than tight garment over my body, pulled the zip up and felt what I can only describe as the clothing equivalent of being in a prison cell. I’m a skinny individual and as a result I barely touch the sides of most of my clothes so this was a shock to the system. Due to the ‘strapped in’ nature of the item I was sweating to the point that most punters could probably see their faces in mine and the tightness of it was causing my movements to resemble those of C3-PO.

What’s even more shocking is that in some shops these hideous and ridiculously uncomfortable items, by the way the zip-lines on them rub so bad that you would think they were made of barbed wire, cost upwards of £50! I’m going to Wembley for an FA Trophy final next weekend and that only cost me £60, this all leads me to ask the simple question of how did it take off?

There are many items that have led me to ask the very same question and as I often do with things that annoy me I have decided to put them into a list and have a good old fashioned rant. You may like some of these items and I could be completely off the mark but guess what, it’s my post and I’ll cry if I want to.

The Tamagotchi – This item was originally sold in Japan by Bandai in 1996 and the concept was at the time quite ground breaking. The Tamagotchi was a small egg-shaped computer with a few buttons attached and a baby animal, monster or even dinosaur living inside the screen, depending on which version you bought. Once you activated the computer your job was to keep the creature alive by feeding it, playing with it, getting it to sleep at a reasonable time and even teaching it tricks. The problem is that if you didn’t actually own one I don’t think you would possibly understand how fitting the word ‘job’ is when describing the process of keeping these little buggers alive. In a way the creators of these digital devils deserve some credit for crafting an experience that is probably very much like raising a real adolescent. The creature slept for hours on end, threw strops when you didn’t give it any attention, ate like a pig after a hunger strike and if you missed one item on its list of demands it would pack its bags and threaten to leave. All it needed was bad acne, wet dreams and absolutely no chance with the opposite sex and they would’ve gotten full marks.

However, even with full marks the truth still remains that these digital monstrosities lacked a serious fun-factor. They were ridiculously time consuming, they would always get you into trouble in school when they went off every 10 minutes demanding food, the games were automated so involved no challenge or interaction at all and if I’m honest the black and white sprites were hideous and had all the charm of the Emperor breaking the news to you that he’s just turned your puppy to the dark-side of the force. Alas by 2010 over 76 million of the things had been sold worldwide, how and why are two things I may never know the answer to.

Structured Reality Television – You can probably already see where I’m going with this one. I would like you to say the phrase ‘Structured Reality Television’ 3 times, aloud or in your head.

I know right!? The phrase doesn’t make any sense. How can something be called ‘Reality Television’ but then still bend to the will of a structure and therefore a script? The answer is quite simple, it can’t and that is why I can’t for the life of me understand how these shows have managed to do so well.

On one hand you have a show like Geordie Shore that centres on a group of girls, in which only one of them is actually worth a spot in the bank, and a group of guys who would probably tell you that a Quarter-Back was a refund. This group of rowdy and obnoxious Newcastle natives are basically paid to get as drunk as they can in the city centre and then argue with each other. That really is pretty much all they do, none of them seem to have any background or other hobbies and it’s almost as if they were grown in test tubes somewhere in the MTV headquarters and then released into the wild to draw revenue, a bit like Britney Spears really.

Then on the other hand you have a show like Made in Chelsea which is of course set in the disgustingly fortunate district that it’s named after. This show also features an ensemble of male and female characters but unlike their Geordie rivals these characters are more content to experiment with hairstyles that would get you a firm beating in any other part of the UK, swan about throwing their Daddy’s money around like its water and speak with the sort of tone that would lead you to believe that at some point in their lives they actually suffered a fall so bad that it broke their accents. They try hard to convince us that ‘rich people have problems to’ but the only problem is that it’s so contrived that it becomes hard to buy into and we all know that rich people don’t have problems anyway.

These two main culprits may seem very different at face value but you’ll soon find their similar in almost every way and the characters are equally as big a bunch of twats as each other; it’s just a different shade of twat. One may smell a little better and the other may be a bit better to have around when it all kicks off but rest assured their both the type of people I would get my phone out to avoid and I simply don’t get why people tune in every week. Rest assured they do though, the ratings for these two shows and there other rivals have often been very high. It’s just hard to understand why when there is no talent of any kind on display and it all plays out in such a way that shows that it’s so obviously scripted.

Rihanna – Okay, maybe this last one is a bit harsh but I really do genuinely struggle to understand how this money making Barbadian cash injection has managed to become just that.

Let’s start with the fundamentals; she isn’t a particularly good singer. Granted, she sounds better than a cat getting run-over or Whitney Houston by the end but is that really worth over 25 million albums. Couple that with the fact that one of her more recent singles is just her repeating the phrase that she once found love in a really rubbish place and some meaningless shite about some yellow stones and to an impartial ear she’s really not that impressive.

It is often the case with music though that it’s more about image than actual talent, which makes Rihanna’s success even more surprising. The girl has a terrible image, back in February 2009 she took a beating from Chris Brown maybe she got the ingredients of his sandwich wrong or something? Now in 2013 she is back with him, therefore contradicting every statement she made on it at the time and on a serious note frankly setting a horrible example for her younger female fans to follow on what they should be expected to tolerate from a male partner.

Her shows have faced criticism for being provocative to the point that their unsuitable for her audiences and even border on a level of smut that isn’t particularly sexy anymore, it must be pretty bad then. A friend saw her in Manchester last year and said she was dry humping what appeared to be a 15 year old girl and barely did any singing at all.

Her acting career hasn’t exactly flourished. Her most notable role in Battleship was criticised for being bland and let’s face it how many military figures do you know who look like that? Yet despite the bad acting, smutty shows, terrible personal decisions and inconsistent musical material Rihanna continues to flourish. I don’t particularly dislike her any more than any other modern female pop singer around at the moment whose name isn’t Emeli Sandé or a few other examples but I do find her continued success and momentum nothing short of a mystery.

Have your own examples? Agree with mine? Disagree with mine? Or just have something to comment on? Please feel free to post below, many thanks for reading.Image

Money in a Zip-bag

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I recently recorded a song called ‘Money in a Zip-bag’; it was written by yours truly, produced by Deeside Beats and recorded at Aerial Studios, Wrexham. Although I have not released the song yet I decided to send it to one of my harsher critics to get his opinion. Saying that this critic, who will remain unnamed, doesn’t particularly like me would be like saying that Adolf Hitler didn’t particularly like the Jews and ironically enough I sometimes get the impression that he would love nothing more than the chance to dispose of me in an orderly fashion. Due to the fact that I don’t own a single KRS-1 CD, have a single blemish on my non-existent police record and require a layer of factor 20 just to sit in the shade for 30 minutes in April this critic believes that like a deaf person at a listening party I simply don’t belong.

The critic sent me a harsh response to the aforementioned song citing that it is ‘shallow’, ‘materialistic’ and above all else focuses too much on money when there is apparently ‘so much more to life’. Believe it or not I recognised almost instantly that he didn’t approve of the song and my previous feeling of optimism bombed faster than the ratings of my last music video, yes it has now officially been long enough that I can find it amusing. Not only was I ever-so slightly disheartened by the fact that the feedback received was the sort of harsh that’s reserved for when you deliberately stab a full volume microphone into a god-knows-how-many-watt speaker when both objects are plugged in but also by the question it raised in my mind. This question was not whether or not I should get a few tattoos, pick up some ‘street slang’ and book myself in for a 6 month stay at Hotel HMP but rather one that referred back to something said by my critic in that is their really ‘so much more to life’ than money?

I will make it clear before I continue that I am for the most part of a completely sound state of mind. I have no desire to take any dirt naps of any kind and my therapist is fully aware that I frequently don shoes with laces on both feet and she’s perfectly fine with it. The comment simply got me thinking because I believe that when the critic made it that he was eluding directly to a specific line in the song. The line is ‘I want money from the street, I want money from the bank, they say it won’t make you happy, but I bet that it helps’.

Many people claim that money is the route of all evil, I disagree, being a complete and utter tosser is the root of all evil and that’s the case whether you drive a BMW or you drive your Mother up the wall because try as you might you simply can’t afford to move out of her basement and give her back the free access to her book club meeting room. It also seems to me that the majority of the people making this ridiculous claim don’t buy their clothes from Primark, drink their bottles and spirits with a straw and think that riding the bus is ‘beneath them’. The sad reality is that there is not a whole lot more to life than money as you don’t strictly need it to be happy but I dare you to try and be happy without it.

Disagree with me? Okay, I invite you to wake up tomorrow morning, quit your job and tell your girlfriend, whose father probably hates you by the way, that money is not important and all you need is love to be happy. If you manage to survive the monstrous tirade from your girlfriend that will inevitably follow and will involve said girlfriend transforming from a creature that resembled Tiara Banks into a creature that now looks more like Phillip Banks then strap in and get all of that sweet love that you can because you are going to need it.

For the first week or so everything is great. You and your companion wake up whenever you see fit, you strut around the flat in your matching onesies, watch Jeremy Kyle all morning and spend your afternoons strolling around town with your other-half in your arms and that smug ‘don’t you wish she was yours’ look on your face. The sun is shining, the lager is cold and Wrexham FC are going to get promoted that is of course until rent day. Despite the fact that all of this warm and fuzzy love is sustaining you beautifully the landlord doesn’t quite share your optimism with regards to your current situation. Over the last week you spent all of your money on brand label onesies, I can’t believe they exist either, candle lit dinners and bags of those same green substances that you used to try and pass off as pencil shavings whenever your mum used to find them in your school bag because sometimes doing nothing can all feel like too much. The landlord puts up a notice of eviction, the lights go off and your girlfriend moves in with your best friend because she decides that without the perks mentioned above putting up with the friction burns that she gets off your facial hair, your beer gut and the way that you always leave your toe nail clippings on the bathroom floor is all too much for her to handle. You’re left in a sobbing state and you can’t even drink yourself happy because low and behold you have no money!

The point that I am trying to badly illustrate is that although money may not be the sole component needed to achieve happiness it is very hard to achieve happiness without it. I see people with no money on the street all the time, we call them ‘homeless’ and they look about as happy as a catholic priest locked in a 6×9 with 3 un-baptised homosexual couples obnoxiously ‘making-out’ in front of him while simultaneously being lectured by Richard Dawkins on the theory of Evolutionary Biology. The fact is that most of the things we do are centred on making money. I did 3 years of study at Glyndwr University so that I could get a decent job and make some good money. Granted, I went out and partied a lot but I wouldn’t have lost any points if all I did in the 3 years was eat, sleep, sh*t study and masturbate in fact if I had done just that I would probably be a lot more employable.

This post wasn’t written to make you feel sad and it sure as hell wasn’t written to plug my music, I have a Facebook page and a Twitter account full of unfortunate homo-sapiens for that which I am more than ready to flood with my obnoxious and irritating music-related statuses and tweets. The quote from my critic, who truly is the Roger Ebert to my Uwe Boll, just happened to get me thinking. All of the conventions of what truly make a person happy are unachievable without a substantial amount of money. The chances of a person marrying the person of their dreams, moving into their cosy love nest and raising 3 demanding children without money are about as high as Jordan winning next year’s World Cup, the country not the super model by the way. The person of your dreams is hardly going to want to stick around if your home is made of cardboard and your idea of a romantic evening is cuing up at the soup kitchen and handing your future kids a spear and sending them to the park whenever they get hungry may very well get you institutionalised.

In closing I will say that in my opinion happiness comes in many forms. I believe that in order to truly achieve it a person needs a number of factors to work in his favour but you would be a fool to believe that one of these factors isn’t the same one that makes you get up and go to work every morning. As a result wanting money doesn’t make you a bad person and getting happiness out of it sure as hell doesn’t either.

Completely agree? Completely Disagree? Please feel free to leave any thoughts below; all opinions are welcome and many thanks for reading.