Travel Blog 18; Just Think!

We’re living in a time where a lot of folks booze
Whether sitting in a bar or sitting in their front rooms
Some say its made for profit some say for fun
Some say its even made to keep the population dumb
It can loosen you up when your out with your friends
So you can finally approach that girl from your ends
Have a dance, lock lips, fall under the spell
Then wake up in the morning with a story to tell
It should come as no surprise I was a fan of the drink
Used to go through Whiskey till my nose turned pink
Jaeger Bombs by the tonnes, puking up in the bogs
Waking up without a clue how we got home from the clubs
Now don’t get me wrong it was all good fun
Cos we stayed smart enough not to leave in handcuffs
I know you’ve heard this and it sounds like a gimmick
But it always pays off just to know your limits
When your crowds buying rounds things get out of control
But try to keep your Ps and Qs try to balance your tone
If she just wont respond she just ain’t feeling you
Don’t persist don’t let the gesture get misconstrued
If your out and about and lose one of your friends
Take a second just to call them or a drop them a text
If your mixing your drinks your gonna get a sore skull
Morning after’s not for studying or visiting Mum
And if you see a sign of trouble don’t try to get involved
Don’t try to be the hero cos its not your job
You may think your the answer when you’ve got no hope
Plus the Bouncers get paid to stop fights you don’t
Wont bother saying don’t get drunk; you will
But try to keep below the point you turn violent and kill
Don’t try to walk home if its way too far
And for God Sake don’t try to jump in your car JUST THINK!

Most kids try drugs ‘cos they’re all the rage
I reckon most people have who are round my age
There’s nothing wrong with some weed once or twice a week
Laugh at jokes, eat Pizza, get deep, fall asleep
But you really need to think when your out in the street
When your looking for your MDMA and your Speed
Listen these things kill if you take them every day
But then again so does Macca’s, KFC and Subway
I’m not going to tell you don’t do drugs
But I’ll tell you to do them round people you trust
Like the type of friends you had since you were kids
‘Cos if you have a bad trip you’ll be thankful you did
If you don’t know what it is don’t put it in your mouth
Don’t snort it up your nose if you don’t know what its about
If your sniffing off a surface use a surface that’s clean
Don’t buy off a dealer that you’ve never ever seen
Don’t try to sneak the stuff inside of a bar
‘Cos if you get caught your leaving in the back of a car
Don’t take it at your job just to get through the day
If you cant go without then its time to walk away
to you its just a boost just to help you maintain
but I guarantee your boss wont see it that way
Have a good time and if its drugs your feeling
Do them at the right time do them for the right reasons
If your thinking that dropping will improve your night
Then why not drop something every once in a while
Nothing wrong with some dropping if your hitting the floors
Its just a problem when your dropping just to get out the door
Enjoy the rise but just consider the fall
Cos I can tell you coming down’s not pleasant at all
Don’t fall into the trap of doing drugs when your bored
And for God Sake only buy what you can afford JUST THINK!

I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.

 

 

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 14; SE Asia Worst & Best Part 2

Alright! Now that we’ve got the negative points out of the way we can start to focus on the real fun stuff; the best things to do and see in SE Asia.

Now I must ask you to keep in mind that unfortunately I did not get a chance to experience Vietnam, Myanmar or Borneo (ones for the future) and that, again, this list is purely subjective. All of the items listed are in no particular order and I haven’t reserved one spot for each country as I feel that some countries were more deserving of more spots than others. It was a little tough to narrow it down to the final six and I had to make a few cuts here and there that I’m sure were achene to a Father having to cut his kid from the soccer team because, and although the wife will never forgive him for it, the kid just sucks! Not completely sure though as I don’t currently own a soccer team or a kid but you get what I mean when I say it was tough!

So here we go with Tha Bozz’s personal list of the six best things to do/see/experience in SE Asia. Why six? Because I have way too much time on my hands being stuck in this airport for five but seven would take me over my word count.

The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Chiang Mai, Thailand – Its a day of hanging out with Elephants; what’s not to like right!? Now please be aware that there are a number of legit and not-so-legit equivalents of this dotted around Thailand and the rest of Asia for that matter. However this day with the majestic, big nosed beasts (that eat and s*it like there’s no tomorrow by the way) featured no riding, or ‘ridding’ as its referred to on many flyers but this isn’t a spelling bee, no painting, the Elephants were never tied, chained or forced to go anywhere or do anything that they didn’t want to at any point.

Whilst there you get to feed, bathe, walk with and, if there up for it, have a good old fashioned cuddle and a heart to heart with some of these amazing animals. I had a heart to heart with Stevie the Elephant about this girl I liked and he told me to relax and just be myself. Don’t get me wrong she dumped me the next day but at least we both knew where we stood.

Truthfully; this isn’t the cheapest attraction in town but as a truly unique, ethical and above all else fun day out I’d highly recommend it. Follow the link for info https://www.elephantnaturepark.org/.

Yi Peng Lantern Festival, Chiang Mai, Thailand –  Its another one for Thailand and although this one is time of year specific I’d highly recommend catching it if you can. Granted the Lantern Fest isn’t as mental as Songkran (which I’m gutted that I didn’t get to experience personally but I’ve heard…) but the sight of so many people coming together to set off their lanterns at the same time and then seeing them literally coat the sky needs to be seen to be believed.

Now I’m not a superstitious person and I don’t believe that the lantern that me and my friends set off (complete with Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Sting quotes) is going to grant us good luck, help us win the lottery or get JLo to return my calls (don’t ask how I got the digits). However their is something oddly majestic, peaceful and uplifting about the whole scene and I’d personally recommend it over a p*ss up in the Old City. Or you can just go and have the p*ss up afterwards like I did and that would be good as well. More info including dates etc can be found here http://www.thaizer.com/festivals/yi-peng-lantern-festival-chiang-mai/.

 Boat Party, Anywhere in SE Asia that does them! – Okay; here comes the part where I feel like an uncultured British swine who only goes off on his holidays for a fore mentioned p*ss-up but it could be worse, I considered putting Khao San Road on the list…

Though on as serious a note as one can write when discussing such a subject the boat party that I attended in Siem Reap, Cambodia was epic! Rather hilariously it was advertised as a ‘Cultural Booze Cruise’. Truthfully the things in question exist together in about as much harmony as a full Bathtub and a plugged in Toaster but we did go through a few Floating Villages, got to hang out with some Crocodiles and took a dip inside as well. Not with the Crocodiles though; that’d be f*cking crazy.

Yes there was alcohol, excessive amounts of it in fact. We played drinking games, blasted loud music, enjoyed a gorgeous sunset and by God had an awesome time. Plus these events are a great way to meet people, make friends and then tell them about your near-escapades with a Transgender person in Bangkok…Not making that up folks, no reason to do so…

The party I went to was organised through Mad Monkey and you can get more info here if this sought of thing floats your boat…Sorry. http://www.madmonkeyhostels.com/

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum & Killing Fields, Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Now this one doesn’t have a light-hearted tone surrounding it unfortunately. I’m sure many readers are familiar with the events that took place in Cambodia in the mid to late 1970’s and many people who are still with us are haunted by the memories.

The truth be told, and without going into too much detail, the Museum and the Fields are not easy going and leave little detail unexplained. Literally everybody present was either crying real tears or was damn close (myself included) and its for this reason that I would recommend making yourself experience these two sites. The fact that the events that took place in this lovely country happened relatively recently and the fact that despite these horrors the country still remains so welcoming and upbeat is a true credit to the people that live there.

I’m not generally one to put myself through too much heartache but in my personal opinion this is a massively important piece of history that you owe it to yourselves and the people affected by the events that proceeded it to visit and get to know the details of. They are truly shocking. More info can be found here as I would recommend a basic understanding before visiting to give yourself an idea of what it is that your going to see http://www.killingfieldsmuseum.com/.

The Borobudur Temple, Java, Indonesia – Well there was no way that I was missing this when in Java. If I’m honest the journey to get there consisting of a bumpier than bumpy bus ride and 4 human beings climbing into a wheelbarrow attached to a car less than the size of the average car boot was as much of a highlight as anything. All in p*ssing rain as well.

Once we arrived the real fun kicked in when we realised what a money-making opportunity we’d missed out on when every kid and their parents wanted a photo. Seriously, we couldn’t take two steps without it. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life. I had been asked the odd time in Cambodia and Fiji in the past but nothing to this extent. Honestly though; it was a blast. The people were so polite, chatty and kind that it felt more like a privilege than anything else. Many groups of kids learning English were asking to interview us for school projects as well; I swear to God if I ever have a daughter who’s half as cute and charming as some of those kids then I’m getting a gun and she’s not going out without a chaperone.

Oh and The Borobudur? Yes its cool and looks amazing up close but honestly it wasn’t the highlight of this very special day. Indonesians are great it must be said…

Eat, Eat, Drink, Drink!, All over the Place – It goes without saying that the food in SE Asia is phenomenal and as a self-confessed foody myself this for me is a particular highlight. The noodles, the rice, the chicken, the beef, the pork, the eggs, the fruit I could go on forever!

If I absolutely had to pick a favourite country in this department I THINK I would have to go with Thailand but its a close one and it changes by the day.

Whether its the small restaurants or the street food its never expensive unless you really want it to be and its never unsatisfying, again, unless you really want it to be. I would actually make a habit of ordering something I’d never eaten at least once a day or sometimes something that was literally written in the local language because I was that confident that it would rock my world. Just as a side note though; some of it might also rock your belly the first time you try it so take it slow and no your levels as things can get insane, as I learnt the hard way once or twice.

There you have it folks my completely un-definitive guide. Well, no actually, its just a list of some cool s*it that I’d recommend doing whilst in SE Asia. There’s loads of other stuff that I did and didn’t do that is equally awesome. In all honesty the best experiences are often the smallest and most inconspicuous anyway; jumping out of moving Buses, sneaking into 5 star Hotels, snorkelling in the Sea, pulling all-nighters on party roads and just meeting awesome people and having a laugh and a good time with them.

I’m still at the airport and I still kind of miss SE Asia but I’m optimistic about Australia and I’m sure there’s more good times ahead. Shame that I’ll have to get a job though!…

I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.

Travel Blog 13; SE Asia Worst & Best Part 1

I left Asia today. Well actually I left it yesterday but due to yesterday being a day of minivans, buses, aeroplanes and layovers it all went by in such a haze that it feels like it was part of today. Plus I haven’t slept and am writing this here piece from Terminal 3 of Perth International.

You don’t need anybody to tell you that SE Asia is a gem worth uncovering, probably because these days so many 18-100 year olds (and maybe beyond) have done it that there isn’t much left to actually uncover but still do so! During my 3 month trip I spent time in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos. Just to get the basics out of the way; barely anybody in any of these countries knows any Kung Fu/Muay Thai/Shaolin Soccer/has Jedi powers, the levels of English in all except Singapore are not a fraction as advanced as you may be lead to believe but you can still get by, food and booze are mostly cheap, the first time you use the ‘Bum-Gun’ is an unforgettable experience and if a bus ride is advertised as 3 hours long its best to assume its actually 6. Oh and they’re getting taller, seriously they really are.

So I’ve landed in Perth and I’m waiting for my flight to Adelaide (the lay-over is around 11 hours!). I’ve left Asia with an extension on the old gut, an impressive array of Mosquito bites that if you join together with dots almost spell the word ‘Dengue’, a valiant but ultimately un-earth-shattering sun tan and a t-shirt or singlet advertising a beer brand from each country; that’s Chang, Tiger (both Malaysia and Singapore as Malaysia don’t have any!), Cambodia Beer, Bintang and Beer Lao for those keeping score.

Although I’m quite literally buzzing like the aforementioned Mosquitos for Australia I will miss the cheapness of Asia, how easy it is to make snap decisions, how you can remedy the rudeness of the locals by just being rude back because they cant understand you anyway and how despite the way that most barely tip the scales at 5,4 most of the women have such phenomenal legs! Seriously its f*cking crazy!

Everybody’s travel experience is going to be different and by writing that I’ve just rattled off another traveller clique, still working on the dreads and the beard and the love I have for my morning shower hasn’t quite waned enough for me to give it up entirely just yet folks. However with that said I’m going to quickly get the Negative Nigel s*ite out of the way and then move onto what were my personal favourite things/activities in and about the countries I touched down in.

Here we go; Thais cant speak any English by and large, their obsession with their King seems sweet at first but is bizarre, overbearing, perverse and borderline unhealthy; they call him ‘Dad’, think he still lives in the ground and the water (you know, like a God), had magical powers and you can go to jail for 15 years for saying otherwise. You know less time than you get for Rape or Manslaughter. Also the traffic is a nightmare.

Malaysians have an incredible penchant for rudeness, will intentionally give you false directions, have WAY more of an incline to scam you than any other country listed (only one that I legitimately got done over in actually!), the men have a thing for spitting and the women have a thing for cracking their knuckles, they refuse to serve you anything on their menus that they cant nuke in 2 minutes but then serve it to someone who looks more like they do minutes later after telling you ‘No have’ and pretend they cant understand you when your asking them to be helpful.

Singaporeans live in a far more expensive place than the other countries listed but still take the same lackadaisical approach to customer service; Me and a friend were charged the full rate for a hostel that was only actually half finished (like getting a donut with a bite taken out of it) and when I handed my money over to a barman he disappeared with it for over 30 minutes before I had to physically stop him (as he ignored me several times) at which point he informed me, with a smile no less, that he ‘forgot’. Wouldn’t have been quite so hard to swallow if the bed wasn’t $40 and the drink almost $20; both are amounts that I’m currently willing to do things you wouldn’t normally do in order to possess by the way.

Cambodians; I really don’t have much negative to say about. They’re mostly polite, have a good sense of humour and they look phenomenal. I guess if I had to I’d say the touting (that’s lingo for ‘Tuk-Tuk! Tuk-Tuk! and ‘Cheap Price! Cheap Price!’ by the way) can get a little long in the tooth but ultimately they’re just trying to make a living and when the coffee stand owners at Angkor Watt are telling me their names are David Beckham, Mike Tyson and Darth Vader I cant help but smile.

Similar thing with Indonesia to be honest. In fact out of all the countries I had the pleasure to visit I’d say the people of Indonesia were my favourite, especially in Java. Although I did lose a perfectly good debit card to a perfectly sinister ATM whilst on Gilli T this could have happened anywhere. I guess at a push I could say that the touting folk of Bali can get a little sinister, though one did return our bike key to us that we’d dropped nearby earlier in the day and didn’t ask for anything in return. Speaking of bikes though; the roads are insane, like Gus off Breaking Bad insane.

As for Laos? Again, the language barrier is insane but frankly I didn’t even no the meaning of the word poverty or undeveloped until I touched down in this country so I feel like that needs to be kept in mind and the locals are largely pretty sweet. There is touting but not as much as Cambodia or Bali and I got particularly p*ssed off when I almost missed my flight out of Vientiane because when I asked the guy at the hostel to book my taxi for 11am he basically just…didn’t. Despite saying that he would and despite it being a 2 minute job that you can do whilst sitting down he simply didn’t. I’m basically saying the people aren’t exactly the most efficient and most of the hostels look like halfway houses and their still working on soap. So when I checked into my first hostel hoping to catch some winks the only thing I was actually in danger of catching was Pink Eye.

Okay so that’s the worst bits out of the way. To be honest they’re probably all part of the experience anyway and now we can get onto the fun stuff. Part 2 is coming later today so keep it locked!

I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.

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.