Stories of the world

This page has a few stories from my travels so far. Enjoy.

LOS BANDITOS:

We were travelling to an isolated surf spot called Chicama on Peru’s west coast. There were four of us in the taxi – my friend Nick and a German couple we had just met.
A few kilometres out from Chicama we passed through a small shanty town. The houses were makeshift shacks made from old bits of currogated iron and clay.
As our taxi slowly crept through town, local women picked up their children and scuttled inside. Black vultures were circling overhead. It was like something out of a movie.
I felt a deep sense of dread.
Our taxi slowed right down to negotiate some speed bumps.
And then, I saw them. Two bandits, complete with red handkerecheifs over their mouths, guns in the air, were running towards our car.
I was in the back seat and decided that the macho way to deal with this situation was to duck down like a turtle and scream at our driver to keep driving.
Nick didn’t appreciate this. He was in the passenger seat and within shooting distance. He desperately yelled for the taxi to stop.
The bandits took one side of the car each. Nick handed over all his cash. The Germans followed suit – bum bags and all.
Then one of the banditos opened the back door where I sat and started yelling at me.
There were no sub titles so I had no idea what he was going on about.
If I spoke Spanish I would’ve told him that I had no cash on me, just a wallet full of bank cards and IDs. And it’s a real hassle to get new cards re-issued so I’d prefer not to give him my wallet.
This angered him greatly.
So he kicked me in the guts.
He then took our relationship to the next level by grabbing me by the scruff of the neck and dragging me out of the car.
He then put the gun to my head.
So there I was on a deserted highway with a gun nozzle making a dent in my temple.
It was grim.
I looked down at Nick in the passenger seat. Nick is usually frustratingly stoic. A true master of his emotions and far too proud to ever show any fear. But he was ghost white, shaking and staring at me with unmistakable terror in his eyes.
But for some reason I wasn’t panicking.
I felt serene… at peace.
A clear thought passed through my head:
“Nige, you’re going to die for being a cheap bastard.”
Those were going to be my last words to myself. Seemed appropriate.
I was full of content resignation. I truly believed I was about to die. But fuck it, I’d had a good year of travelling.
The cold steel of the pistol nuzzle had made itself at home on my temple. It felt like a lifetime.
I was just waiting for the click.
Then, like a drunken rendezvous, it was all over.
The two bandits suddenly bolted.
I got back in the car.
Everyone was silent for a minute. Then the girl sitting next to me said with a thick German accent:
“Oh my God, I pissed my pants”
Turns out it’s not just a saying. She had in fact, pissed her pants.
Everyone laughed like it was the final wrap up scene of an 80s American sitcom.
Lucky I was wearing my board-shorts.

THE BLIND PERVERT:

We were staying in South Beach, Miami at an AIR BNB – the host was named Erica. She explained to us that she works as a promo girl at a bar and that it’s her job to help fill the place up.

She then said that if we came along with her, we’d get free food and booze all night.

Sounded like a fair deal to me.

We got in her car and after about 20 minutes driving, she laughed and said:

“Oh My God, I totally forgot….Ok, I have to tell you something…”

Here comes the catch I thought.

“The thing is, I work at a strip club” she said.

Things are looking up I thought.
I looked over to see Kana’s reaction.
She laughed and said “Nige will be happy with that.”
I pretended like I wasn’t. I supressed the creepy grin creeping up from the bottom of my creepy face.

Erica assured us it was a classy joint. Miami’s number one strip club apparently. Not sure what the criteria is and who’s doing the researching. Maybe AC Nielson has a special department for it.

A minute later we pulled up to Wonderland (not a bad name for a strip club).
We were led to our own area. Half naked ladies were pouring us vodka cocktails and serving us quesadillas.
Not a bad deal at all I thought.

On stage, highly talented individuals were climbing up poles and then sliding down them whilst doing the splits. Looked like hard work to me.
My lower back starts hurting after 10 mintues of just standing up so I had nothing but respect and admiration for them.
These girls were like trained acrobats. Naked trained acrobats.

Problem was, no one was watching. Everyone was on their smart phones. Staring at their little 5 inch screen in a trance-like state.

Now, in my day, strip club ettiquette was simple.
You pay attention, you clap. You show a bit of appreciation for the craft.
And of course the odd dollar bill stuffed into the wazoo area never goes astray either.

But everyone had their faces down, totally ignoring the hard work and effort of these talented girls.
What could they possibly be looking at on their phone that was better than the performance taking place in front of them?
A juggling dog? A rapping toddler? Two girls one cup perhaps?
I was watching the show though. Call me old fashioned, but it was the least I could do.

The only problem was, my eyes aren’t so good.
It was hard to appreciate the skill, choreography and athleticism being displayed by the girls on stage.
Plus their boobs looked all blurry and shit.

So I took out my spectacles and put them on.
Now, hear me and hear me good.
There is no way to put on a pair of eye-glasses in a strip club without looking like a grade one creep. A slime-ball. A filthy perv. A masty machine.

Of course, at this point, everyone around me finally looked up from their smart phones and had a good look at the little long-haired scumbag putting on his glasses so he could get a better view.
Embarrassing.

image

Wonderland. Wonderful.

STABBED IN MEXICO:

We were in Puerto Escondido. A small beach town in the south of Mexico.
To be honest, it’s a pretty safe place. That’s why I was taken by surprise.

It came from out of nowhere. I felt a sharp, piercing slash. Then instant pain. There was blood everywhere. I screamed at the top of my lungs. I was disoriented but hobbled my way out of the water and limped up the beach.

A local surfer saw my distress and said:

“Hey man. You just got stabbed by a manta ray. Gonna hurt like hell in 30 minutes. Put your foot in a bucket of boiling water brah.”

I put on a brave smile and tried to regain my dignity. I was acutely aware that my high-pitched scream had been heard by the whole beach moments earlier.

My leg was numb and feeling a bit paralysed at this point though, so it didn’t take long for the mask of fear to slip back on my face.

As I limped on heroically, I passed another local sitting on the dusty road.
He looked at me and said:

“Hey man. You just got stabbed by a manta ray. Gonna hurt like hell in 30 minutes. Put your foot in a bucket of boiling water brah.”

Tell me something I don’t know you prick, I thought.
Of course, I just smiled and thanked him for the warning. To be fair, like most people I’ve met on my travels, he wanted to help. And help with no hidden agenda. People, mostly, are sweet as.

I arrived back at the hotel and as instructed, bathed my foot in a bucket of boiling water. It worked a treat.

See, stingray venom is composed of heat liable proteins so hot water alters the structure of the protein molecule which deactivates the poison. In other words, hot water is good.

I was feeling better, but Kana was looking violently ill. She’d been sick for a few days but we hadn’t done anything about it yet. By the pale look on her face, it was time to act, so we took a taxi to the local medical centre. This place was a dive, it seemed like you could only get sicker there, not cured. When we finally saw the doctor, we had to communicate through Google Translator because our Spanish is muy malo.

Turns out Kana had a kidney infection and needed to be treated straight away. Bummer. The treatment included pills, antibiotics and injections.

Injections in the ass. Double bummer.

At the pharmacy, a middle aged, pot bellied man in a white cloak took her into the store-room. I assumed he worked there but followed just in case. It all seemed a bit rapey.

He shut the door and calmly said to Kana.

“Drop your pants.”

She was standing up in what was essentially a broom cupboard. It wasn’t very romantic.
She dropped her pants and he put one in her. A needle that is. There was little warning.

So, by the end of the day I’d been stabbed in the foot by a stingray and Kana had been stabbed in the ass by a middle-aged pharmacy clerk.
Think I came out better off.

Barbados-2010-127

Foot Stabbing: The culprit.

mexpharm

Butt Stabbing: The scene of the crime.

FRENCH TOURETTE’S:

Paris, France.

I like learning as much of the local lingo as possible when travelling.
My first night in Paris, I tried to speak French to some people sitting next to me in the pub. I pointed at the long queue at the bar and said with a smile “Gross Queue”. They frowned at me.
I was trying to say “that’s a big queue”. I had said “big penis”. With a creepy grin on my face.
I tried to redeem myself by blurting out random French words I know. “Chatte” I said to them (the French word for cat).

Turns out “Chatte” is slang for Pussy. I did not know that. So, like some type of tourrettes bogan, I had just yelled out “Big Penis!” then “Pussy!” They didn’t talk to me after that. The End.

HIGHWAY TO HELL:

 Scepan Polje, Montenegro.

I was with my mum at a Montenegro river camp just under Bosnia.
The camp is in the middle of nowhere. Deep in the mountains and far from civilization. The closest town is over 2 hours away. The scenery is beautfiul. The locals working at the camp, not so much. They were strange, a little bit off kilter. One young guy just kept cackling to himself all day long. Both lovers and family members looked suspiciously similar. Their eyes weren’t symmetrical. I kept checking people’s hands for an extra finger. And was that a banjo I could hear in the distance?
I wondered if they were going to rape me. I wondered if I’d enjoy it.
To be honest, I’m pretty sure they all hated me. Even the kid who cackled to himself all day. The bad vibe of the place was mainly because the manager of the camp was a joyless old hag. In the 2 days we stayed there she didn’t smile once.
She reminded me of Madge from the Dame Edna show. A grim expression permanently plastered to her face.
But people can surprise you. We were having a mare because we had no way of getting to the town 2 hours away where we needed to catch our bus. Someone translated this to Madge and she offered us a lift.
What a sweet lady I thought. I got her all wrong. We still probably wouldn’t make the bus in time though, because old ladies aren’t exactly known for their hasty driving.
Then she surprised me again.
She drove like she was the result of a 3-way between The Stig, Tiger Woods and Lindsey Lohan.
One hand on the wheel, the other texting on her phone, the old Madge-meister was driving over 120kms an hour through winding mountain roads and tunnels. In torrential rain. She was overtaking, swerving like mad and driving on the wrong side of the road. One mistake and we’d fly off the cliff, and drop over a kilometer to our fiery death. Mum was sitting next to me with a mask of fear strapped to her face. She was making wincing noises every 30 seconds.
It was the most scared I’ve been in my life. More scared than my first day at school. More scared than when I was held at gun-point in Peru. More scared than my first STD check.
Two hours of constant fear.
I had resigned myself to the fact we were definitely going to crash at some point. I had imagined how I’d drag mum out of the window and away from the flames, leaving Madge for dead in the carnage she’d created. Theoretical courage. I started contemplating whether I’d rather lose an arm or a leg when we crashed. I decided I’d be happy to lose my right arm. That’s because I hate giving people high 5s. And with no right hand, no one would ever try and high 5 me again.
Then, like a drunken rendez-vous, it was all over. After 2 hours of pure terror, she parked up and for the first time ever she smiled at us.
And what a smile.
It made her face look like an inside out tennis ball. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t smile so much.
I later read in a Lonely Planet book that the biggest hazard in Montenegro is the drivers. Wonder if old Madgey girl took them for a ride too.

image

The drop

image

The Madge

IN THE GHETTO:

Mumbai, India.

Mumbai is a two faced bastard.
It’s a beautiful city. It’s an ugly city. It’s clean. It’s polluted as all hell. It’s glamorous. It’s ghetto.
You can stay at the most expensive hotel on Earth. Or the cheapest. The richest people in the world rub shoulders with the poorest. The streets smell of sweets and spices. The streets smell of faeces and vomit.
To better understand the contrasts of the city, Kana wanted to do a slum tour. I didn’t.
“Let’s go look at the poor people.” Seemed like a pretty stink idea to me.
I was wrong. It turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences we’ve had.
We took the local train out there. This train line is used by 6 million people a day. That’s one and a half times the population of New Zealand. On the train. Every. Day.

5,000 people a year die just getting on and off. That’s 164 deaths a day. People with friends and families – fathers, sons, daughters, wives and children. Dead. Every bastard day.
But, they just get on with it. They have no choice. Missing the train means being late for work, which means losing your job, which means being unable to feed your family.
There’s no time to whine about the short battery life of your smartphone. Or someone not texting you back. They just keep moving. Keep doing. They have a pragmatic, ambitious attitude born out of necessity.
The slum we visited featured in the movie, SlumDog Millionaire. It’s only 1.5 square kms and is home to over 1 million people. The population of Prague in the space of a mall.

Families of 15 sleep in the one room.
There’s one toilet block per 15,000 people. Most people pee in the river. Kids play in rubbish dumps. I know, it all sounds pretty depressing. Slit your wrists material.
But it’s not all bad. A huge amount of industry takes place in the slums. A majority of the people are employed and 85% of the children go to school.
The bright, smiling kids are all immaculately dressed in uniform. They look a lot smarter than I’ve ever looked.
When we turned up, there were a bunch of teenage school boys hanging out on some steps. I thought they wanted to be my friend. I was wrong.
They were bullies. They pointed at my scruffy ginger beard and laughed. It had taken me 3 months to grow. It hurt. A lot.
They then stole my water and playfully slapped me on the head. Next they tried to steal my sunglasses. They were tormenting me.
Kana and the guide were way ahead, almost out of sight.
It was just one Nige against ten little shits. The only way to make it out alive was to put on my best power walk. The one where your elbows go out like chicken wings and you walk like you’ve got a carrot up your arse. Each foot criss crossing the other. I looked stupid but I got away from them.
Once I caught up with Kana and the guide they were at one of the many tiny make-shift factories that are peppered throughout the slums.
The first one was a leather factory. 30,000 people in the slums work in leather. It’s their biggest industry. It’s them making your Prada belts.
Italian leather bags worth over $2000 are made for less than $4 a day. I like to think that the reason I never buy expensive things like that is because I’m taking a stand against capitalist exploitation.
Really, I’m just cheap. But still, makes you think twice about buying brands that are making so much by paying people in the slums so little.
But to the workers, it’s better than nothing. And I guess that’s the way Mr Guccimani looks at it too. Still, it’s pretty shitty. They can definitely afford to pay them more.
After the leather factories, we visited a factory that recycled plastic. But they’re not recycling the plastic that over-flows in the streets of Mumbai. They’re recycling plastic from China and the States. Seems hard to believe, but tonnes of plastic consumed in China and the U.S gets shipped over to the Indian slums where it’s recycled into little plastic buttons and stuff like that. Crazy but true.
The final factory we visited made hand-carved Hindu shrines. The catch is, the people making the Hindu shrines are all Muslim. The Muslims then sell the shrines to the Hindus. I thought that was kinda beautiful. Commercial Harmony. Peace through profit.
But to be honest, everyone in the slums seemed to get on. I saw no sign of discontent or violence.
People just get on with it. No fuss, no complaints. It made me want to adopt this attitude to my life.
I thought about this in the taxi back home.
I then whinged to Kana about the $4.50 fare. Outrageous. You can get a $1000 leather bag made for that.

image

THE DAY I WAS CURSED BY A TRANSVESTITE:

They say that the key to happiness is giving to others. I’m a bit of a jippo, so I’m not sure about that.
But the good thing with India is that a little goes a long way. Handing over 40 cents is doing your good deed for the day.
It’s generosity and being a tight ass at the same time. That’s the key to happiness for me.
And in India, I had ample opportunity to give away a bit of money so I could feel all smug about myself.
Begging is big business. There’s lots of competition. The beggars constantly need to come up with new and innovative ways to guilt you out of your money.
The most creative and profitable beggars I came across were the transvestite beggars. They’re big and aggressive and look like they’re a dude who’s just slapped a bit of make up on and jumped into a sari. Which is exactly what they are.
They come up to you and chant in your face until you hand them over some cash.
I had one of these enterprising fellowettes try their luck on me on the train. He/she shook his/her tambourine in my face. I just stared him/her down. I wasn’t going to let him/her intimidate me. I even started tapping my foot. He/she put her hand out for money. I smiled and shook my head. It’s not like I enjoyed his/her tambourine skills. It sounded off-key to me. And I’m tone deaf.
The muscle-bound she-man grunted at me and thrust their hand in my face again, demanding money. But I had ignorance on my side. Little did I know that not paying up would get me cursed. They waved their hands around me. I thought it was part of a sexy dance. I was being cursed.
Later, my friend Varoon told me that that’s the reason they make so much money. No one wants to be cursed by a transvestite.
Like any good salesman, they play on fear. And they target young families. They threat to curse a couple’s baby or young child if they don’t give them money. I guess the curse means the child will grow up to be a transvestite. This freaks families out. They nervously and quickly hand over cash to the chanting cross dressers. Transvestites, it seems, are bad luck. And best to get the bad luck away as quickly as possible.
They also target the weddings of the rich. They hang outside the ceremony until they’re paid hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars. They make more than most office workers. Cheeky beggars.
It made me wonder whether some of them are genuinely transvestites or are just doing it for the money.
They probably swap their sari and bangles for a shirt and tie before they get home to their wife and family. They then complain about another hard day at the office before sitting down in front of the TV with a beer.
In retrospect, not many beggars asked me for money in India. Must have been my unkempt beard. They thought I was one of them. And could do with a nice bath and a bit of food myself.
I have been cursed by a transvestite though. I’ll let you know how that works out for me.

image

THE MAN WHO WANTS TO BE A MONKEY:

Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka is the place for me. Good surf, ping pong tables at every bar, turtles everywhere, and friendly locals who love the cricky. It’s my Mecca. In Mecca, Kana and I met an Israeli guy named Liev. He was 39 years old and had long untamed frazzled hair and a beard. We were having a beer, talking the usual nonsense when out of the blue he put me on the spot.

“So, do you want to have kids?” he asked.

I hesitated. I could feel the pressure of Kana’s eyes piercing right through me. “Err…s-sure” I stuttered. “Just…not yet”.

He looked me dead in the eye, and said:

“Why? Why do you want to have kids?”

As he was saying this, his 3 young kids were climbing all over him. The irony wasn’t lost. “Eeer, well I dunno” I weakly blurted out. I then started bumbling away about how it must be amazing to bring a human being into the world and all that stuff. I could still feel Kana’s eyes on me. He slowly shook his head and put his hand up to stop my bumbling.

“Don’t do it.” he said. “It’s a trap”. “The whole concept of marriage, monogamy, having children, school…they’re all traps. They’re systems. And systems are fucked.”  I raised my eyebrows in non-commital agreement. As he was saying all this, I couldn’t help but notice that his wife wasn’t in ear shot. I wondered what she thought about his anti marriage, anti system, anti children ideals. He said that the way our society works, doesn’t work. Humans have got it all wrong.

He said we should all live like the Bonobo monkey. I didn’t see that coming.

He then told me why. They’re the most intelligent chimp around. They’re also the most horny. The Bonobo monkey lives in big, free loving communes of up to 100. And they bonk each other all day. They’re like furry hippies. There’s no strings attached, no monagomy. No “systems”. Liev says this is the way to live. Basically, it’s a free for all. The Bonobo has sex with anyone, anytime. Free of jealousy and conflict. The only real sexual faux pas is doing it with your mother. Fair enough. Kana and I found thıs all very ınterestıng and wanted to find out more about this highly sexual monkey. So we googled it. Here’s what we found out:

  • They’re the only animal besides humans to have face to face sex, oral sex, kiss with tongues and have orgies.
  • Sex is used as a greeting and to relieve stress. (No awkward hellos when you meet someone for the first time then.. Just straight into it).
  • They are the smartest chimp. Some have been trained to understand over 3,000 words and communicate via computer.
  • The females’ clitoris has evolved to maximise sexual intercourse pleasure.
  • They have sex to resolve conflict. Monkey Make Up Sex. Just like humans.
  • They have massive orgies that would put the ancient Greeks to shame. We’re talking over 100 chimps going at it for days.
  • Males will rub penises together to resolve conflict. Or they stand back-to-back and rub their scrotal sacs together. They prefer this to violent confrontations. This makes them the least aggressive chimp around.

That last fact made me wonder. Maybe our aggressive, macho society could learn a thing or two from the Bonobo. Imagine that, instead of a big, burly bouncer chucking you out of a club, you just have a good old penis grind with him and everything’s dandy. And wouldn’t the world be a better place if Obama and Kim Jong got on global TV, turned around, dropped their pants and rubbed sacs with each other to settle their differences. I’d watch the news if that was the case.

Luckily, it’s not just the males that do this kinda thing. The female Bonobo often “engage in mutual genital behaviour to socialise with each other”. They do this every couple of hours and “it’s usually accompanied by shrieking, grinding and clitoral engorgement”.

This is how the females bond with each other. A lot better way to bond than gossiping, talking about clothes and giving false compliments. Just jokes ladies, I’m a feminist.

And here’s another fun fact about the female bonobo – They have a clitoris 3 times bigger than a human females’. Their clitoris is “visible enough to waggle unmistakably as they walk” (this is a direct quote from wikipedia by the way). A grin spread across Liev’s face as that last fact was read out. He had a glint in his eye and nodded as if to say “that’s what I’m talkin bout”. I liked Liev.

But the colossal, easy to find sweet spot of the female Bonobo isn’t the only reason Liev wants to live like them. No, the main reason Liev wants to be like the Bonobo is because they don’t believe in monogamy or fatherhood. What with all the primate gang banging going on, there’s no way to know who the father is. They’re not so smart that they’ve got paternity tests. Instead of the children having one father, all the males in the community play a shared role in the childs’ lives. It’s like having heaps of cool Uncles. So basically, the males share the responsibility of children but don’t take on full responsibility of any one child.

To Liev, this is the clincher. He thinks if we adopted this way of life, our children would be more rounded and end up with a lot more skills. After all, they’d have a bunch of male role models instead of just one. Liev says this is the ultimate society. He thinks we should all live like this. He thinks it’s about peace, sharing and communal love. He thinks it’s about freedom. I think Liev is just a horny little chimp.

th

FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT TO PARTY:

Here’s a good idea. Get a bunch of young idiots blind drunk on buckets of Thai rum and red bull. Then offer them free buckets of Thai rum and redbull if they get in a kickboxing ring and belt the shit out of each other.

That’s the genius concept behind The Reggae Bar in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand. It’s ridiculous. It’s packed every night.

People who have never fought before, full of Thai courage, get in the ring and fight. They duke it out with complete strangers. Or settle old scores with friends and family. I kind of wished my older brother Miles was there. I’d kick-box him in the balls for years of injustice. Boom! That’s for not letting me use your BMX when I was 7. Pow! That’s for always serving yourself the best bits of chicken and leaving me the dirty drumsticks. Boo-yah! That’s for ruining my best board-shorts 14 years ago. Not that I hold grudges. Prick.

Anyways, Kana and I were watching the action from the front row. Kana was loving it. Kana – the compassionate, anti-violent social worker. She was baying for blood. She was vicious. She was a bit pissed. Kana had been on the Thai rum and red bull buckets. Thai rum is rumored to contain amphetamines and the local red bull is like liquidized crack. It was all a bit much for a 45 kg Japanese girl to handle. She was screaming her heart out. Cheering on the winners and booing the losers. She wanted blood to be spilled. It was actually quite sexy. She was like an Asian Cersei to my Jaime Lannister. Minus the incest.

Problem was, all her shouting was attracting a lot of attention our way. The fight organisers kept turning to us and beckoning me to get in the ring. Now, I know I’ve hardly got the physique for ping pong, let alone kickboxing. I’m a realist. A hater, not a fighter. I don’t even back myself to beat Kana up. She might go all ninja on me or something. The only solution was to get Kana another drink to keep her quiet. It seemed to work.

We kept watching for another hour or so. Some of the fights were just for fun – like the two Swedish girls with big boobs bouncing around the ring. But some of the fights were more serious. Like the big, athletic, muscly Poms who got in the ring. They both knew how to fight. They were exchanging massive blows that echoed off the walls. It was psycho. One of them went for a killer hit, swinging a big right with all his might. And… POP! He dislocated his shoulder.

The ref tried to pop it back in. Not sure if he was qualified to do that. It looked painful. And hilarious. To be honest, this is what we were all here for. Watching people hurt themselves. Taking pleasure in other people’s pain. It’s what separates us from the animals. Kana was hooting and yelling again so I decided we should go before she got my ass kicked. My plan was to take us for a nice, quiet, romantic walk on the beach. Turns out the beach was a fucken mad-house. But if you want to find out more you’ll have to read the next story. This is like the literary equivalent of a To Be Continued…..

dislocated

IMG_2088

IMG_2093

 PLAYING WITH FIRE:

OK, where was I? Oh yeah, crazy beach madness.

Here’s a recipe for disaster. Take a bunch of drugged up clowns from all over the world. Throw them on a beach. Add gallons of kerosine. Then light a match.

That’s a Koh Phi Phi beach party. There was fire everywhere. 2000 degree flames of death coming from every direction. Young Thai guys (who I assumed worked at the beach bars) were spitting long streams of fire into the sky as you walk past. Rings of fire were set up that drunken Russians were jumping through. It was like a circus in hell. People were even skipping jumping ropes that had been set ablaze. It looked fun until the burning rope smacked them in the legs and they stumbled off with singed shins. But without a doubt, the dumbest thing there was the fire limbo. People were lining up like suicidal lemmings to wiggle under a blazing stick of fire. I turned to Kana to comment on how stupid and dangerous it all is. She wasn’t there. I looked around and yup, there she was – limboing under the blazing stick of fire. Jesus! I thought. What the fuck’s she doing? She didn’t seem to be too worried though. She was hooting and laughing and carrying on. I’d forgotten that she’d had a Thai Rum bucket. The booze had hit her hard. Luckily, she’s not the tallest person in the world so she could easily limbo under without getting burnt. Back and forth she kept going. Wiggling away. Having the time of her life. She kept reaching out her hand for me to join in the fiery fun. No fucken way. As our friend Kate said, I’m about as flexible as a brick.

They kept setting the limbo bar lower and lower. Before long, it was only a few feet off the ground. Even the most stupidly blind drunk and pill popping party animals weren’t trying it. Except Kana. She leant way back and shuffled on forward, gyrating to the music. Hundreds of wasted wastoids were cheering her on. Maybe they were secretly hoping for her to get burnt. People are like that. They like to see other humans fail. It’s what the whole Reality TV industry is based on. She inched up to the bar of fire, flames licking her beautiful face. Then at the last moment she pulled out. Everyone sighed. They were keen for a bit of horror.

Next thing you know a young Thai guy offered to carry her as he attempted to limbo under the extremely low bar. This could go very wrong i thought. I got the camera ready. Everyone amped up again. There was still a chance of someone getting badly hurt.

The Thai dude picked her up and slowly inched under the bar with her. Her face was so close to the flames I thought her eyebrows were a gonner. They made it. Just. Everyone cheered. Although I think they were disappointed. If only someone had just got mildly disfigured they’d have a good story to tell.

For me, that was enough excitement for the night. I dragged Kana from the flames and we made our way back to our hotel. Before we got home, we walked past the island emergency room. A long queue winded down the street. There were tons of drunken idiots who’d burned themselves, waiting to be treated. They looked confused. It was as if they couldn’t understand how getting shit-faced then frolicking in fire could possibly go wrong. At the front of the line was the kickboxing Pom with the dislocated shoulder. He was full of seIf pity. I just chuckled to myself and kept walking.

The next morning we took a boat out of Koh Phi Phi to the mainland. There were loud Poms, still drunk, recounting tales from the night before. Others were deadly quiet, looking shell shocked. Some were literally shaking as they slowly rocked back and forth. Others were asleep. Or maybe dead. So, this is what the human race does with paradise. I think the Bonobo Monkey is going to outlast us as a specıes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA kanafirelimbo OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

THE MAN WITH THE PERFECT POO:

The Perhentian Islands, Malaysia.

I was in the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia. This place is paradise. But I’m not going to rabbit on about the colourful coral, the white sand, secluded beaches, crystal clear water and the care-free turtles that lay beneath. That would be frustrating for you. Sitting there in your office cubicle.

Instead of talking about the place, I’ll talk about a person I met. His name is Nico. He’s a 39 year old post office clerk from Austria. He’s slight of build, has a cheerful demeanour and the animated, high pitched giggle of a child. And he says he has the perfect poo. But more on that later.

First I have to explain that Nico is a raw vegan. He only eats raw fruit and veggies. Nothing processed, nothing cooked, no dairy or eggs. He doesn’t even drink. And I’m not saying he doesn’t drink hard liquor like most of you good for nothing booze hounds reading this. He doesn’t even drink water or fruit juice….or coffee. Sick bastard.

He gets all his fluids from coconuts, water melons and other fruit. And he knows a fair bit about the stuff. Thanks to Nico, you now know there’s over 40,000 fruit species in the world. And that durian (the fruit that smells like vagina vomit) has 100 different varieties alone. Another thing you might not know about durian – if you eat it with alcohol, it can kill you. Try it some time.
Its high sulphur content impairs the enzyme that breaks down the toxins in alcohol. On top of that, both durian and alcohol raise your blood pressure which can lead to a heart attack. This information could save your life.
Nico just saved your life.

Talking about smelly, killer fruit was all very interesting, but I wanted to know why he became a raw vegan in the first place. He said he read a book 10 years ago. The book said it was cruel and unnecessary to kill animals just for our eating pleasure. Books can be dicks like that.
His philosophy was this: If superior beings came down to Earth and decided to farm and eat us, how would we feel? I pondered this for a moment.
Well Nico, I feel like that’s not gonna happen so couldn’t care less. I said this in my head. Not out loud. I didn’t want this postal worker to go postal.

His vegan lifestyle has come with some big sacrifices though. The main one being his wife. Ex wife that is. He said she divorced him because it was all too inconvenient for her. Dinner parties were a social fiasco. Nico would sit there crunching down on a cucumber while everyone else was wining and dining. She couldn’t handle it. He solemly looked out to sea and told us he hadn’t seen her in years.

It was all getting a bit heavy for me. My only choice was to change the subject to poo.

“Hmm, interesting, but does eating all that fruit give you loose movements?” I said.

I figured with the kilos of fruit he eats each day, he’d be pissing out his A-hole 24/7. He just let out a high pitched laugh, slapped his hand on his knee and said:

“No, in fact, my poo is perfect.”

And there it was. He dared say what many men have thought but never said. It’s a proven fact that taking a dump is the closest men get to giving birth. We’ve all had a peek back at the bowl and if it’s a good one, smiled proudly at what we’ve made. If you haven’t, you’re weird. But this man claimed to have the perfect poo….every time. And he said he owed it all to his raw vegan diet. I was intrigued, so I asked him what exactly makes his poo so perfect.

His reply seemed well rehearsed: “Bouyant, solid, light brown, no mess and no smell” he said.
His face beamed with pride, as if he was talking about his son who’s a straight A student and captain of the football team. He’d basically just said his shit don’t stink. Unbelievable.
But then I looked at this passionate guy munching on a water melon, big blissful grin on his face. I couldn’t help but like him. He’s dedicated his life to fruit and it takes him all over the globe. Some people travel to run away  from something or find themselves. Others follow a season around the world – the surf season, the diving season, the snow season. Nico – he follows the fruit season. Turns out he was only in Malaysia because it was durian season. This need to eat fruit for basic survival gives his travels and his life purpose. And if it doesn’t hurt anyone (or anything) and most importantly, gives you the perfect poo, well, maybe he’s on to something. Pity bacon is the taste of awesome. Time for breakfast.

THE TRAVEL AGENT WHO CAN KILL YOU:

Cherating, Malaysia.

The bus dropped us off in the middle of a dusty highway. We crossed the road and walked down an empty street. An empty street filled with feral cats, aggro monkeys and surprisingly handsome roosters. But not a human in sight. The only sound was the squeaky wheels of Kana’s luggage as she dragged it down the street.  It was eeirie. And a little bit scary. I couldn’t say I was scared out loud though because I had to act the man. Mainly because there were only two of us and Kana’s a female. I had little choice. Despite my feebleness, we made it to the small surf town of Cherating safe and sound. There, we met YaYa. YaYa is a Malaysian local in his late 40s. Cancer almost killed him so he had his throat box cut out. Before that, everyone was trying to kill him. Yaya’s spent most of his life in the military and fought in the Malaysian civil war against the communists between 1969 to 1989. But YaYa’s a survivor. The Bear Grylls of Malaysia. He’s an expert in jungle warfare – close quarter combat his specialty. During the conflict, he would silently rise out of the ground and slit his enemies throat. He’s watched his friends die and he’s watched his enemies die. He can kill you in seconds. And he can also organise your next bus trip. YaYa is a travel agent now. And a good one at that. Anything you want to do, anywhere you want to go, he can organise it for you. He has the timetable of every bus in his head. Because of this, other travellers have coined him “The Human Computer”. And he’s a caring soul, who genuinely wants the best for his client. He organised our bus trip out of town for us. Not only did he personally drop us to the bus station on the highway (free of charge), he also sat there with us for an hour until the bus arrived. In between ringing up the coach company to see where the bus was, he told us about his time in the military, his army training in Australia (Australia were pioneers in jungle warfare apparently), and his view on international politics. When the bus finally came, YaYa waved us goodbye until we were out of sight. And that wasn’t the only time we saw his kind side. When a python turned up in a neighbouring bungalow’s toilet, YaYa captured it. Him and the snake became buddies over the next few days. YaYa would sit on his porch tenderly patting it as we walked by. He said he was waiting for it to digest the rat it had just eaten before he’d release it. He didn’t want it to be preyed on while it was weighed down. He loved that snake. After a few days, we ceremoniously released it back into the river. It was special. YaYa’s special. A helpful, gentle, caring man. Who can kill you with his bare hands.

image

WORLD FAMOUS IN JAVA:
My first stop was Java, Indonesia.This is the place to go if you need an ego boost.
Back home, you could be less popular than a fart in an elevator. Or a pork chop at a bar mitz vah.
But in Java, the locals will treat you like a rock-star.
When I was there, kids flocked to me in the streets yelling “Heellllloooo Mister!!” Wrinkly old men would miraculously spring to their feet and flash me a big toothless grin. Gaggles of young Muslim girls even wanted photos with me. (Which was awkward ‘cos I didn’t know whether I should put my arms around them or not – could be a cultural faux-pas). Other friendly locals would give me a big wave whilst simultaneously talking on their phone, holding a small child and driving their scooter. With all the public waving I was doing, I felt like the Queen. Queen Nige.
At first, all the attention made me feel all warm and fuzzy and shit. It made me think that maybe mum was right all along. Maybe I am special. Maybe the locals have a genuine connection with me. Maybe they can see the kindness in my eyes. The compassion in my heart. I quickly snapped out of these delusional thoughts when the locals abandoned me to wave at some old fat German guy walking past.
But the fact is, the Javanese love tourists. It’s like they’ve never seen an orangey-pink, white man before. And it’s not as if the Indonesians are new to people visiting their country either. In the 7th Century, the first traders from India arrived. Among other things, they introduced Indonesians to Islam. Now Indonesia is the most densely populated Muslim country in the world, with over 90% of Java’s 143 million people devout followers. Mosques, preying, Muhammad. They love all that.
In the early 1500s more visitors arrived, this time the Portuguese. Then in the 1600s, the Dutch came to trade clogs, cheese and windmill souvenirs*. The cheeky shits decided to stay and ruled the place until the Brits rocked up in 1811 and captured the island. This was short-lived though, and the Dutch regained power in 1814. Over a century later, in 1940, the Japanese invaded. They were doing a lot of that kinda thing at the time. But by the end of WW2, the Javanese drove the Japanese out and finally regained their independence. This got me thinking. With all these uninvited visitors who’ve come in and taken over in the past, you’d think the Javanese wouldn’t be too keen on foreigners anymore. To be fair, you’d think they’d think we’re all a bunch of jerks. But they don’t. They’re genuinely friendly to visitors. And friendly without trying to sell you a trinket or beer singlet or something. They’re all smiles, all the time. And smiles are contagious. Truth is, when you’re travelling and don’t speak a word of the native language, a smile is all you’ve got. I think I have to work on my smile though. A few local toddlers have run away from me crying.
*may or may not be true.
                                   meandgirls
THE BLACK COCK:
Cimaja, Java, Indonesia.
I was staying in the small West Java surf town of Cimaja. It’s kind of like Indonesia’s version of Home and Away. Everyone knows everyone. So before long I knew a lot of the locals too. In particular, Eeis, a small guy with a big smile. And nothing makes him smile more than badminton. He’s bat-shit crazy for it. So when I told him that I’m from New Zealand and our national badminton team is called The Black Cocks he thought this was probably the funniest thing to happen in the history of history.
“Black Cocks?” he cackled, his eyes wrinkling up with glee.
“Yes Eeis. Black Cocks.” I calmly told him for the 5th time.
From then on in, I was known as “Mr Black Cock”. I couldn’t go very far without hearing “Blaaack Cooock” being hollered down the street. It was sweet.
Anyway, turned out that Eeis plays in a social badminton competition and he wanted me to team up with him in the doubles.
I used to play when I was young so was dead keen. I can do this, I thought. I can win the whole competition for us. My badminton skills will become legend here. The villagers will sing songs of my glory for years to come. My delusions were running wild. What I didn’t realise is that badminton is Indonesia’s national sport. When we rocked up to the court, I watched the locals play for a while. They were good. Really fucking good. Plus it was about 38 degrees outside and felt twice that within the confines of the indoor concrete court.
After a tense hour waiting on a sweaty bench, it was crunch time. Eeis and I started surprisingly well. We were hitting it clean and true and raced out to a 10-nil lead. The locals were cheering us on, clapping and laughing. I was pumped.
And every time I won a point Eeis yelled out “BLACK COCK!” (To him, this joke never got old).
But before long, I felt much less powerful than a Black Cock. More like a flacid little white cock – sagging and futile.
This pink faced fool was huffing and puffing, wet with sweat, flopping around the court like a dying fish. The locals on the sidelines stopped cheering. They either pitied me or were embarrassed for me. Fickle bastards.
My heart was pounding. I was seeing little silver squiggles in my vision. My body, which is scrawny but pot bellied – like that of an obese 10 year old – was yelling at me to give up. To throw it all in. Never! I thought. I’ll do it for New Zealand. For the Black Cocks. No, I’ll do it for me. I battled on with gusto, with honour, with pride. And we lost miserably.
Despite my shitness, Eeis was still stoked to have me on his side. He said at least the Black Cock didn’t give up. I said “Yeah well, I broke the strings of the racquet you let me use”. He just smiled his big smile and said “that’s because Black Cock strong”. Good cunt.
badminton
EEIS AND THE URCHIN:
 Cimaja, Java, Indonesia.
Eeis is the kinda guy who always wants to help out. So when I got a bunch of sea urchin spikes stuck in my foot from surfing, he volunteered to get them out for me. With a big goofy grin, he said “I am Doctor. I make operation on you”. Now, Eeis is a nice, kind-hearted guy, but I wasn’t sure I wanted him digging into my toe with a rusty needle. A few beers later, I decided it was a pretty good idea after all. Plus I’d paid a fortune for my tetnus shot, may as well make use of it. He set me up on a chair in the middle of my guesthouse foyer. A bunch of other local boys crowded around like it was the most exciting thing to happen all year. I sat there with my foot out and these people crowded around me, feeling like a King. A pathetic King, but a King all the same. Eeis got stuck in straight away, digging into my big toe with a burning hot needle while another friendly local, Eman, poked around with tweezers to pull the bits out. Another dude had the more shit-house job of shining a small torch on my toe the whole time. It was an ordeal. Luckily I was taking my local anesthetic (Bintang) the whole time so it all seemed to go quite smoothly. Within the hour, they’d carefully removed all the festering spikes from my feet. No more worrying about it getting infected and ruining my surf trip. I was so happy, I bought them all a pack of cigarettes. I know…Good cunt.
               1604375_10152574863135898_1146654174_n
                1620937_10152574863010898_555392054_n
Dr Eeis, Nurse Eman and Mr Photobomb.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s