Bye (Dunc)

May 28, 2007

I started this blog back on May 23rd 2006 to record my exploits as I traveled around the world for 12 months and now some 370 days and 21,423 hits later it’s time to put this puppy to sleep.

As things turned out I only managed to travel for 9 months of the 12, but they were 9 damn fine months at that.

Highlights of my trip were people rather than places. An ugly place can always be made better with good people.

Fortunately, beautiful places and beautiful people tend to collide now and again – Nepal, Lithuania, Australia – I will be going back!!!

Things that I don’t like about traveling –

1. Becoming friends with people who you are never likely to see again in your life (the not seeming them again bit – not the making friends bit)
2. Having the shits with a hallucinating fever for 18 hours on a train in India.
3. Not having the energy to be sociable everyday.
4. Missing my family and friends
5. Taxi drivers.
6. Nepalese Visas.

The lessons I have learned –

1. Live in the now – appreciate what you’ve got.
2. You get the same mixed bag of people pretty much everywhere you go – we’re not all that different.
3. Everything in life is perception.
4. A 60p bottle of wine can taste better than you think.
5. A cocktail of salt and chlorine does not make for a pleasant swimming pool experience.
6. 12 months isn’t a long time.
7. I love my bouff more than I ever though possible.

I hope people have enjoyed reading my ramblings. I also extend my heartfelt thanks to Rory for being my partner in crime and making this blog more entertaining than it ever would have been if I’d done it alone.

The future? Well, I’m sure I’ll be traveling again sometime soon and if I do I’m sure I’ll brush the digital cobwebs off Too Many Ribs To Kiss Kojak.

Take it easy everyone and remember not to buy Nestle!

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Competition (Dunc)

May 17, 2007

Whoever can find the the best Country & Western or Blues song title wins a prize.

 A few starters for 10 –

“Baby when you leave me walk out backwards so I think you’re comin’ in”

“Most things haven’t worked out”

“How can I miss you if you don’t go away”

“If you can’t live without me how come you ain’t dead”

Bison Grass Vodka (Dunc)

May 17, 2007

I think it was my good mate Joe Clarke who introduced me to the joys of Bison Grass Vodka (Zubrowka) back in 2003. It’s basically Polish vodka which has been flavoured by a piece of “Bison Grass”. It tastes very nice mixed with apple juice over crushed ice.

I visited the Bialoweiza area where the vodka is produced and where the last European bison roam free in the wild back at the start of my RTW trip in June 2006.

So, what’s all this pontificating about? Well, I just found the Zubrowka website and thought it was cool – http://www.bisonbrandvodka.net/

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Riveting (Dunc)

May 10, 2007

Johan Vaaler, a Norwegian inventor with a degree in electronics, science and mathematics, invented the paperclip in 1899. He received a patent for his design from Germany in 1899, since Norway had no patent laws at that time. Johan Vaaler was an employee at a local invention office when he invented the paperclip.

paperclip.jpg

Static (ZAPOW!!) Electricity. (Rory)

May 1, 2007

Hi all. I came across this article. Found it interesting.

http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2005/10aug_crackling.htm

I’m going to hi-light a few things.

 Crackling Planets

August 10, 2005: Have you ever walked across a wool carpet in leather-soled shoes on a dry winter day, and then reached out toward a doorknob? ZAP! A stinging spark leaps between your fingers and the metal knob.

That’s static discharge–lightning writ small.

Static discharge is merely annoying to anyone on Earth living where winters have exceptionally low humidity. But to astronauts on the Moon or on Mars, static discharge could be real trouble.(Could? I thought people have been on the moon)

see captionRight: Beware the door knob. [More]

“On Mars, we think the soil is so dry and insulating that if an astronaut were out walking, once he or she returned to the habitat and reached out to open the airlock, a little lightning bolt might zap critical electronics,” explains Geoffrey A. Landis, a physicist with the Photovoltaics and Space Environmental Effects Branch at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

This phenomenon is called triboelectric charging.

The prefix “tribo” (pronounced TRY-bo) means “rubbing.” When certain pairs of unlike materials, such as wool and hard shoe-sole leather, rub together, one material gives up some of its electrons to the other material. The separation of charge can create a strong electric field.

Here on Earth, the air around us and the clothes we wear usually have enough humidity to be decent electrical conductors, so any charges separated by walking or rubbing have a ready path to ground. Electrons bleed off into the ground instead of accumulating on your body.

But when air and materials are extraordinarily dry, such as on a dry winter’s day, they are excellent insulators, so there is no ready pathway to ground. Your body can accumulate negative charges, possibly up to an amazing 20 thousand volts. If you touch a conductor, such as a metal doorknob, then–ZAP!–all the accumulated electrons discharge at once.

On the Moon and on Mars, conditions are ideal for triboelectric charging. The soil is drier than desert sand on Earth. That makes it an excellent electrical insulator. Moreover, the soil and most materials used in spacesuits and spacecraft (e.g., aluminized mylar, neoprene-coated nylon, Dacron, urethane-coated nylon, tricot, and stainless steel) are completely unlike each other. When astronauts walk or rovers roll across the ground, their boots or wheels gather electrons as they rub through the gravel and dust. Because the soil is insulating, providing no path to ground, a space suit or rover can build up tremendous triboelectric charge, whose magnitude is yet unknown. (Again. I thought we’ve been on the moon. And we don’t know what the charge is?) And when the astronaut or vehicle gets back to base and touches metal–ZAP! The lights in the base may go out, or worse.

Physicist Joseph Kolecki and colleagues at NASA Glenn first noticed this problem in the late 1990s before Mars Pathfinder was launched (Thirty years since we walked on the moon?). “When we ran a prototype wheel of the Sojourner rover over simulated Martian dust in a simulated Martian atmosphere, we found it charged up to hundreds of volts,” he recalls.

see captionThat discovery so concerned the scientists that they modified Pathfinder’s rover design, adding needles half an inch long, made of ultrathin (0.0001-inch diameter) tungsten wire sharpened to a point, at the base of antennas. The needles would allow any electric charge that built up on the rover to bleed off into the thin Martian atmosphere, “like a miniature lightning rod operating in reverse,” explains Carlos Calle, lead scientist at NASA’s Electrostatics and Surface Physics Laboratory at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Similar protective needles were also installed on the Spirit and Opportunity rovers.

Right: Electrostatic discharge points at the base of Sojourner’s antenna. [More]

On the Moon, “Apollo astronauts never reported being zapped by electrostatic discharges,” notes Calle. “However, future lunar missions using large excavation equipment to move lots of dry dirt and dust could produce electrostatic fields. Because there’s no atmosphere on the Moon, the fields could grow quite strong. Eventually, discharges could occur in vacuum.”(Problem solved then. Use the same materials as were used on the first (and subsequent) moon landings)

“On Mars,” he continues, “discharges can happen at no more than a few hundred volts. It’s likely that these will take the form of coronal glows rather than lightning bolts. As such, they may not be life threatening for the astronauts, but they could be harmful to electronic equipment.”

So what’s the solution to this problem?

Here on Earth, it’s simple: we minimize static discharge by grounding electrical systems. Grounding them means literally connecting them to Earth–pounding copper rods deep into the ground. Ground rods work well in most places on Earth because several feet deep the soil is damp, and is thus a good conductor. The Earth itself provides a “sea of electrons,” which neutralizes everything connected to it, explains Calle.

There’s no moisture, though, in the soil of the Moon or Mars. Even the ice believed to permeate Martian soil wouldn’t help, as “frozen water is not a terribly good conductor,” says Landis. So ground rods would be ineffective in establishing a neutral “common ground” for a lunar or Martian colony.

see captionOn Mars, the best ground might be, ironically, the air. A tiny radioactive source “such as that used in smoke detectors,” could be attached to each spacesuit and to the habitat, suggests Landis. Low-energy alpha particles would fly off into the rarefied atmosphere, hitting molecules and ionizing them (removing electrons). Thus, the atmosphere right around the habitat or astronaut would become conductive, neutralizing any excess charge.

Right: Note the marsdust clinging to Sojourner’s wheels. This is indirect evidence of electrostatic charging. [More]

Achieving a common ground on the Moon would be trickier, where there’s not even a rarefied atmosphere to help bleed off the charge (Would? Have we been there or not. If we have then why the speculation?). Instead, a common ground might be provided by burying a huge sheet of foil or mesh of fine wires, possibly made of aluminum (which is highly conductive and could be extracted from lunar soil), underneath the entire work area. Then all the habitat’s walls and apparatus would be electrically connected to the aluminum.

Research is still preliminary. So ideas differ amongst the physicists who are seeking, well, some common ground (Forgive me for being sceptical. But the ‘reaserch is preliminary’? 40 years after Appolo, Neil armstrong etc..)

All the other ‘moon landings were faked stuff pales in comparison to this. NASA have admited that either; the moon landings took place (although the author of this article is confused) and we used materials for which this phenomenon does not occur (god, they were lucky! “Physicist Joseph Kolecki and colleagues at NASA Glenn first noticed this problem in the late 1990s before Mars Pathfinder was launched “ )

Or.. Well?

The Apprentice (Dunc)

April 30, 2007

I’m not a big fan of these “Reality” type TV shows but must admit to having a soft spot for “The Apprentice” (BBC1, Wednesday at 9:00pm).

Tre” is currently my favourite nugget. He says “fuck” every second word, is offended by nudity and doesn’t believe in evolution

“She fucking may have fucking came from a fucking fish fucker but I’m fucking sure I fucking didn’t fucking fucker”.

What a complex character….

Just had a quick whizz on Google to find out what’s happened to past contestants. Last years finalist Ruth “Grrrrr” Badger has started her own business consultancy. According to her online profile:

“Ruth has very fond memories of The Apprentice which has left her with some life-long friends. We wish Michelle well. But what’s important for you, our new friends and customers, is to know that what you saw on The Apprentice is 30 per cent of what Ruth is capable of.”

I wonder how she came up with the “30%” figure? Who knows what she or anyone else is capable of? Perhaps she could have bumped this up to 80% during the show if she had smeared her own warm shit into Alan Sugars beard while dancing naked with a dyed pink Yorkshire terrier stuck up her arse.

ukapprentice.jpg

Having Your Cake & Eating It Too (Dunc)

April 27, 2007

Michelle Malkin doesn’t seem to be aware of this old English proverb.

Check out the “Students Against War” Article HERE

Nearly pub time. I’m off to warm up my elbow. 

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T10 – TV Shows (Dunc)

April 24, 2007

So here you have my list in no particular order –

10. BlackAdder – Undoubtedly the best British sitcom ever:

Captain Darling: “I’m as British as Queen Victoria!”
Blackadder: “So your father’s German, you’re half German and you married a German?”

9. Deadwood – It’s stars Lovejoy and it’s set in the Wild West but don’t let that put you off.

Al Swearenger: “Get a fucking haircut. Looks like your mother fucked a monkey.”

8. Freaks and Geeks – A little gem of a show that was axed by some corporate TV Exec bastard after just one season.

7. The Sopranos – Not as good as it once was but still wipes the floor with most of the crap on TV today.

Bobby Baccalieri: “To the victor belongs the spoils.”
Tony Soprano: “Why don’t you get the fuck out of here before I shove your quotation book up your fat fucking ass.”

6. The Wire – It’s a cop show largely about surveillance with a bunch of cop characters that on the whole aren’t too original. Sounds crap but it ain’t.

5. Quantum Leap – Sam and Al jump around in time. Perhaps my favourite show when I was a kid.

4. Red Dwarf – Low budget and geeky but still great.

 Lister: “Communicate in all known languages..including Welsh”

3. The Shield – Corrupt cops in Los Angeles having fun.

Vic Mackey: “Put your clothes on, get out of here, and change your taste in men.”

2. The Wonder Years – Spawned a great urban myth. Marylin Manson was allegedly Kevin’s mate Paul Pfieffer. Winnie was hot.

1. Columbo – Detective Columbo outwitted criminals by dressing like a paedophile/flasher.

Det. Columbo – “Just one more thing….”

Hullaballoo (Dunc)

April 16, 2007

The BBC is currently dedicating 95% of broadcast news coverage to the student shootings in West Virginia.

I’ve just been hooked to the TV for the past 3 hours. It’s like watching a very slow episode of 24 unfold. The expertly contrived tension is broken every hour or so by a smiley, Marks and Spencers clad bint harping on about “frosts in Wiltshire”.

The shooting is undoubtedly a sad event.

But Duncan, so are the multitude of deaths occurring in Darfur and Iraq everyday, I don’t see you transfixed to the TV to watch those stories?

Well, the news doesn’t put on as good a show. Plus, those people look a bit different from me, speak a language I don’t understand and probably haven’t been out on a student piss up recently.

Shucks, well that’s OK then. You just feel more sympathy for those you perceive as “your own”.

Hey, I don’t like what your implying chump! I buy the Guardian I’ll have you know and I’m a member of Amnesty International. I also thought “serves you right” when one  local student mother (student not harmed) stated she was still “pro gun” because ” I always hev bin, uh-huh”.

I stand corrected. You’re obviously a candidate for “Humanitarian of the Year”.

Yeah, yeah whatever. I bet you’re terrorist. I’m off to watch FOX News.

Rabbits on the Loose (Dunc)

April 16, 2007

I sense the Apocalypse is upon us!! 

Story HERE.

Give it a couple of more hours before people start blaming this on avian flu, Jade Goody and the CIA.

I wonder if they’re the new luminous ones?

Snorting Horse (Dunc)

April 13, 2007

I’m off to the cosmopolitan city of Huddersfield this weekend to celebrate my good mate Pete Heyes‘ 30th birthday.

Of lesser national importance is the Pritstick Grand National pony race taking place at Aintree in Liverpool on Saturday afternoon.

Failure to put a random annual bet on the National is a serious crime in the UK It’s one of two remaining offences that you can still be hanged for, the other is pissing in the Queen’s rice pudding.

I’m putting a £2 eachway bet on both MCKELVEY and LONGSHANKS. I’m gonna be rich!!

Luck Changes for 2006 Grand National Winner

horse.jpg

Being Drunk (Dunc)

April 12, 2007

Mmmmm, booze. The elixr of the Gods! 

THINGS THAT ARE DIFFICULT TO SAY WHEN DRUNK:

1. Innovative
2. Preliminary
3. Proliferation
4. Cinnamon

THINGS THAT ARE VERY DIFFICULT TO SAY WHEN DRUNK:

1. Specificity
2. Anti-constitutionalistically
3. Passive-aggressive disorder
4. Transubstantiate

THINGS THAT ARE DOWNRIGHT IMPOSSIBLE TO SAY WHEN DRUNK:

1. Thanks, but I don’t want to have sex.
2. Nope, no more booze for me.
3. Sorry, but you’re not really my type.
4. Kebab? No thanks, I’m not hungry.
5. Good evening, officer. Isn’t it lovely out tonight?
6. Oh, I couldn’t. No one wants to hear me sing karaoke.
7. I’m not interested in fighting you.
8. Thank you, but I won’t make any attempt to dance, I have no coordination. I’d hate to look like a fool.
9. Where is the nearest toilet? I refuse to vomit in the street.
10. I must be going home now as I have work in the morning.

drunkn-scot.gif

Climate Change (Dunc)

April 11, 2007

It’s easy to become apathetic about climate change. I draw my motivation from two places: 

  1. I know that every little bit I do contributes ever so slightly to annoying Jeremy Clarkson and Daily Mail readers.
  2. I want to shoot a wild tiger before I die.

If you’ve got time click on the link and support the UK’s “Climate Change Bill”.

The terrible impact of Global Warming

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Bastards!!! (Dunc)

April 10, 2007

http://www.slc.co.uk/

Nuff said.

Bloody public transport!. (Rory)

April 7, 2007

Last but not least, Part 4

Steph, Alana and Amy all looking lovely (If more than a little cracked)

Dave Clarke. What a sour beaked cunt he is.

Dunc and Rich. Loving the Techno

Jose loving the Techno

Steph, Neal and Boz all loving the Red Stripe and Techno.

Ich bin eine bovvered? Dry your eyes bitch…

You wouldn’t get this nonsense if the red army had continued west…

Some of the exit crew. Nice tits Steph.

Jose, Boltz, Alana and Dunc in Exit.

The last word goes to Mr Bin Lairden.

Right peeps. That’s your lot for now. All this while listening to Elliott Smith. No stabbing in the dark with this lot of posts. (Boom Boom!)

at once. (Rory)

April 7, 2007

Part 3 for yo’all

The Virgin Mary (Is Sinead, Mary in Irish?)

Who’s that on the left? SPLITTER!!

Here be the lord himself!

It’s Bozzley!!!

Oi OI!

Cheer up Boz and Creegan.

Dunc and Neal. Dunc had a horrible accident while w*%king in Stockport.

Jose, looking special

Rich, some chick and that minx Tam

Mr James Murphy and Mr Richard Parks. Fucking alcos…

It’s that time again. So long for now

they come… (Rory)

April 7, 2007

Part 2 for all you dunces.

A battleship from Eire’s navy. Note the naval base behind.

Some rocks and grass of note

Even the traffic lights are red!

Note the young scallies in the top left making off with that light fixture.

L’pool’s renowned fountain of football sucess.

A small church, somewhere in L’pool.

Duncan of TMRTKK (this site) fame says; ‘IT’S NICE!!’

Neal’s related to a famous snooker player you know

Me and Bill. Christ I need a shave…

Fall asleep in our flat at your peril.

That’s all for now folks!

Like busses…(Rory)

April 7, 2007

Neal, my flatemate gave me a good idea for a post where I shamelessly plug his photography.

Here you go!

L’pool!!

Lahn. Smells of rat piss!

Joe catchin zs

Alan and the laideez.

Quack, quack mutha fucka

I honestly don’t know what the fuck this is. Some kind of pagan mural about snakes?

Some lifelike, cow sculptures from the North coast of Norn Iron.

Carrick-a-reed rope bridge, North Antrim (I think).

Here’s one for Led Zep fans. Backdrop to cover of ‘Houses of the holy’

Arr! That be pirate cove!

That be your lot for now landlubbers!! Arr!

A life more interesting? (Rory)

April 7, 2007

I’m not in a populist mood. I have writer’s block.

I’m not in the mood for entertaining or facilitating at the moment.

So I’ll say this: dry your eyes.

If you want more from life, do more. Think and talk less. Harsh but fair.

Love and kisses xxoo

Bryan Robson & Baby Campbell (Dunc)

April 5, 2007

Just nipped down to Stockport’s  Waterstones during lunch to have a gander at the books and lo and behold ex-England football superstar Brian “Capitan Marvel” Robson was in there siging copies of his book.

He refused to sign my Maradona autobiography or my recently blessed hand. Swine.

On to more important matters. I’ve found the first bonafide lookalike for my mate Neal Campbell:

neal-1.jpg

There’s no denying this one Campbell!!

Hope ya’ll have a smashing bank holiday weekend.

Kiss Kojak Turns PLC (Dunc)

April 3, 2007

Some oik has took it on himself to float my blog on the “Fantasy Blog Stock Market“.

It’s all very bizarre. I t’s probably related to those pesky bulls and bears fighting and trouble in the Middle East forcing up the price of crude bananas.

I’m waiting for my dividends to mature so I can claim £100.  

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Glasgow Stock Exchange

Looooooooooooserrrrrrr (Dunc)

March 29, 2007

I played in a 5-a-side footy competition recently at the JJB Soccer Dome in Manchester. I was an incontinent part of the Stockport Council team, or “Stockportina” as we were renamed:

We didn’t win, in fact we lost. I ran into a mystic after the game and she assured me that George Best’s liver was turning in it’s pickle jar at the shocking display of football put on.

It’s reinforced my outlook in life that you should never try anything because you’ll ultimately fail.

Have a good weekend!

Soap Box (Dunc)

March 28, 2007

Michelle Malkin crops up in the latest post on the excellent “Chase Me Ladies I’m in the Cavalary” blog.

She’s been voicing her displeasure on her blog about anti-war protesters shitting on an American flag and then burning it.

After looking at the books she’s written I doubt she’ll be getting an invite from Tony Benn to nip around for tea and muffins anytime soon –

  • “Unhinged – Exposing Liberals Gone Mad”
  • “In Defense of Internment – The Case for Racial Profiling in WW2 and the War on Terror”
  • “Invasion – How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores”

I like the way the wording for the title of her”Invasion” book infers that terrorists and criminals in the US are foreign.

On a broadly related topic there was an excellent series on BBC2 a year or so ago called “The Power of Nightmares”. You can download and watch it by following this LINK.

I’ve not usually got the patience to sit through political documentaries but this is well worth the watch.

T10 – Kids TV (Dunc)

March 26, 2007

For some reason I thought about a 1980’s cartoon called “Alias the Jester” the other day. This got me thinking about TV programmes I watched as a kid. I went on the interweb found a couple of sites which gave me shudders of nostalgia as they triggered fond memories of yesteryear sitting in front of the TV after school.

http://www.toonhound.com/index.htm
http://www.thechestnut.com/index.htm

Top 10 list of my favourite TV programmes when I was kid in no particular order:

10. Alias the Jester – A short cartoon about an alien who hid his identity as a jester in King Arthur’s court.

9. Dungeons and Dragons – Great cartoon almost ruined by the smug dungeon master and his mis-information campaign – “Take the fifth road at the crossroads in order to get home”. Give me some useful advice or I’ll stamp on you, you little fucker!

8. Scooby Doo – No introductions needed. People always said Daphne was the fittest but I always liked Scrappy.

7. Willow the Wisp – A bit weird and scary. Oddly scheduled after 5pm. You don’t really get weird cartoons anymore. Hmm, maybe I’m out the loop.

6. Spiderman & His Amazing Friends – Iceman, Firestar and Spiderman mookig around doing stuff.

5. Jimbo and the Jetset – From the early days of the broomcupboard on BBC1. I think it’s the reason I don’t like flying.

4. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe – I liked that guy who was a batering ram. On retrospect, what right have they got to declare themselves “Masters of the Universe”. A definite Bushism.

3. Ulysses – “Ulysseseseseseses. roaming through the galaxy….”

2. Super Ted – The best thing ever to come out of Wales.

1. Banana Man – The best theme music. Sends a shiver down my spine when I listen to it.

And of noteable mention – Wacky Races, Dangermouse and Tom’s Midnight Garden

Bob Woolmer (Dunc)

March 23, 2007

Chief Inspector Taggart of the Jamaican police has just announced “There’s been a murrrrdeerrrr”.

According to the autopsy report, Pakistan world cup cricket coach Bob Woolner died of “Manuel Strangulation”.

Basil Faulty has been taken into custody.

BOOM-BOOM-tisch!!

Conservapedia (Dunc)

March 20, 2007

Those American God botherers are at it again.

Conservapedia is “an online resource and meeting place where we give full credit to Christianity and America”. It was set up by Andrew Schlafly (Son of right-wing activist Phyllis Schlafly), to counter the supposed anti-Christian and anti-American bias in Wikipedia articles.

Dinosaurs – Creationist scientists believe that dinosaurs and man coexisted based on a number of pieces of evidence rather than the evolutionary view that dinosaurs existed millions of years ago. There are a number of lines of evidence that point to dinosaurs and man coexisting. For example, explorers have reported seeing a live dinosaur. Pairs of various dinosaurs were taken onto Noah’s Ark during the Great Flood.

The Moon – There is no plausible non-creation theory of the origin of the moon at this time.

Atheism – Since atheists have no God as a physical framework atheism simply provides no logical basis for any moral standard. This has led to a large rise in crime, drug use, pre-marital sex, teenage pregnancy, pedophilia [sic] and bestiality. George H.W. Bush has previously stated that he does not believe Atheists should be considered citizens of the United States. Famous atheists include Richard Dawkin and Stalin.

The Earth – In the view of the bible the earth is fixed and the sun revolves around it.

Kangaroos –Modern kangaroos, like all modern animals, originated in the Middle East and are the descendants of the two founding members of the modern kangaroo baramin that were taken aboard Noah’s Ark prior to the Great Flood. There is debate whether this migration (to Australia) happened over land or if they rafted on mats of vegetation torn up by the receding flood waters

Bonobo Chimps – Proponents of evolutionary psychology often point to bonobos as examples of an evolutionary adaptation in which a species acquired the strategy of bartering sex to enhance social status or to resolve disputes. Homosexual activists haved cite bonobos as examples of animals who perform homosexual acts. The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a group which believes that homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be cured argues the bonobo behavior is is not sexual but rather are aggressive acts to assert dominance much like when a dog mounts a person’s leg.  Pedophilic [sic] behavior is also common in bonobos.

At least they’re entertaining…

T10 – Conspiracy Theories (Dunc)

March 19, 2007

A new feature on the Blog – Top 10 lists! I’m surprised no-one has thought of the concept before.

In the spirit of recent posts and comments, the honour of the first T10 list goes to Conspiracy Theories:

10. Kentucky Fried Chicken makes black men impotent– It is sometimes claimed that the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise is owned by the Ku Klux Klan, and the chicken is laced with a drug that makes only black men impotent. Ironically, the KFC franchise is actually owned by an African-American. (www.2spare.com)

9. World leaders are lizzards from outer space – According to David Icke who also claims to be the Son of God. Smashing.

8. Microsoft sends messages on Wingdings Font– The Wingdings Font included with Windows has a history of controversy. In 1992, only days after the release of Windows 3.1, it was discovered that the character sequence “NYC” in Wingdings was rendered as Skull and crossbones symbol, a Star of David, and thumbs up gesture. This could be interpreted as a message of approval of killing Jews, especially thos$e from New York City. (www.2spare.com)

7. No ice – Ice ICE?! – There’s no such thing as ice! Ice is just a myth!

6. U.S. military caused the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami– Popular Arab news services claim the U.S. and Indian militaries deliberately caused the Indian Ocean tsunamis with electromagnetic pulse technology. (www.2spare.com)

5. Scottish Football Team – The referees of the world have joined together in a pact to prevent the Scottish football team from ever progressing to the second round of any football tournament. It’s a widely held belief that if Scotland were allowed to play on equal grounds against any other team they would never loose a game. TV viewing figures would plummet and sponors would be out of pocket.

4. God – Some suggest he may not actually exists. If he does, he’s probably from Glasgow.

3. Moon Landings – William “Braveheart” Wallace actually landed on the moon first in 1301AD.

2. No Middle Ages – Phantom time hypothesis is a theory developed by Heribert Illig which suggests that the Early Middle Ages (614–911 CE) never occurred, meaning that all artifacts attributed to this time period were from other times, and all historical figures were outright fabrications. (www.2spare.com)

1. Heroin – Some suggest it can be a bit moreish.

Music on the Interweb (Dunc)

March 15, 2007

This interweb thingy is full of good free music don’t you know. 

A little gem for Radiohead fans:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XodXYdu7qOQ

Check out “fuck was I” and “Hot in Herre” cover. Suited to bed wetting fans:

http://myspace.com/jennyowenyoungs

Some dude called Alexi Murdoch:

http://www.myspace.com/aleximurdoch

 Clap yer hands and say yeah:

http://www.myspace.com/clapyourhandssayyeah 

God Speed You Black Emperor. Ace:

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=125114977 

The Black Keys doing some rocking:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoX_VuPAARQ

Smashing. Back to work.

I Watched “World Trade Center” [sic] (Dunc)

March 13, 2007

An Oliver Stone movie (based on a true story) about, you guessed it, the attack on the twin towers.

Ultimately, the film is really about rescue workers successfully getting two chumps out of a 20ft hole in the ground. This event is used by Stone to explore themes of such outlandish originality that I was struck speechless, namely:

1. Families get upset if one of their own is stuck down a 20ft hole covered in chunks of concrete
2. Being down a 20ft hole isn’t a barrel of laughs
3. Camaraderie (verging on Brokebum Mountain) exists amongst policemen and firemen
4. How unbelievably fantastic it was to see members of the public helping the emergency services out (mainly clapping) instead of stealing stuff and making crank phone calls

Even a dullard like me can see that there are perhaps deeper topics to be explored, errr, like maybe why it happened?

I suggest you fast forward the film to the best part at 1 hr 51 mins 30 seconds. Here we see Dave, the retired marine, walking around the ruins and growling into his mobile “We must avenge this!!!!”.  We’re informed a couple of minutes later in the credits that Dave re-inlisted soon after and served 2 tours of duty in Iraq. Well, we all know the evil doing Eyerackeess were responsible. I’m also pinning Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment, Vanessa Felps’s arse and my big nose on them. The bastards.

Stone is now dead to me….. I’m sure he’ll be gutted when he finds out.

twin-towers.JPG

Back to Work (Dunc)

March 12, 2007

So, the circle is complete. I left work (with a broken hand) on May 31st, 2006 and now 286 days later I’m back again. Same desk. Same job. Same shit.

I had a blast travelling the world. I met some great people and had some great experiences.

After 30 seconds thought I’ve decided to continue my blog. I’ve got a busy year coming up with lots of potential for things to go wrong and the site is still getting a healthy amount of hits per day. Hopefully, Rory will get his finger out of his arse and start posting a bit more too.

Here’s a photo of my last night out in Newtown. I suppose officially the last piss up of my trip:

Thanks for reading.

I’m Bored… (Dunc)

March 10, 2007

Stitch that muggers: 

http://www.i-am-bored.com/bored_link.cfm?link_id=22242

Cartoon bunnies re-enact famous movies in 30 seconds:

http://www.angryalien.com/

 Create your own M&M (Cheers Hailey!):

http://www.becomeanmm.com/

Online cricket game:

http://www.stickcricket.com/game.php

 A funny video clip:

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/29480/one_final_prank/

Another video clip:

http://www.stupidvideos.com/video/just_plain_stupid/Extra_Wheel/

Harsh… but fair:

http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=irule 

Check out the anamophic illusions:

http://users.skynet.be/J.Beever/pave.htm 

Odd Google (Dunc)

March 9, 2007

There’s a section in my blog admin pages which lets me see the terms people have typed into search engines which has then led them to pages on my blog. Usually, these terms are what you’d expect i.e. “Too Many Ribs”, “Kojak Ribs”, “Duncan Laird”, “round the world” etc. Now and again I’ll get the odd weird one like THIS. Yesterday, things went a bit bonkers –

chimps – 5 hits
fashiontv alexa chang – 2 hits
man eating bear – 2 hits
big raz mate – 2 hits
humpig dog – 1 hit
bison shit – 1 hit
fast foods are becoming normal in our da – 1 hit
animals kiss – 1 hit
how many ribs does woman have? – 1 hit

I’m pretty sure I haven’t posted about a man eating bear or bison shit come to that. Surely I’d remember?

Long Live the Bouff!!!………..the Bouff is Dead (Dunc)

March 9, 2007

The last time I had my haircut was in Mumbai, August 19th 2006. You can read all about it HERE. This is the result of such neglect:

Well, the time had come for me to say bye-bye to my bouff. We’d had some great times together travelling the world. I’m gonna miss you buddy:

Old Films Are Crap (Dunc)

March 8, 2007

I watched the “The Godfather” (1973) a couple of nights ago. It’s a film I’d amazingly managed to side step in the past given that I like mob films such as Goodfellas, Casino, etc. and of course the HBO TV series Sopranos. Anyways, I thought it was shit and nearly turned it off half way through. 

I regularly annoy my film buff mate Alan by telling him that all films made before 1975 are crap and the golden age of movies was the 1980’s. Surprisingly, I don’t just say this to irk him but genuinely believe it. 

As a general rule of thumb, the older the film the more I hate it. It turns my stomach when I look at BBC2’s weekday, early afternoon schedule full of duff 1940 and 50s black and white films. They’re always full of characters with plumby English accents over acting their way through cheesy, overly contrived scripts, with crap cinematography and a grating God awful orchestral soundtrack.  The only anomaly to the rule I can think of is “Ice Cold in Alex” (1958), and I think I just like this because a glass of beer stole the show as the best actor.

And yes, I unerstand the argument that back in the olden days they were restricted by technology and we should all be impressed with the films that they made. Meh! Why waste your time watching practice runs?

Mooking Around England (Dunc)

March 7, 2007

It all kicked off with a train trip down to London town last Wednesday. The Back Keys were playing Shepherds Bush Empire and I was lucky enough to have a ticket:

The Blacks Keys are a two piece band from the US who play gut wrenching, old skool blues. On the night they were fantastic. The drummer played like a beast and I was in awe of the midget singer/guitarist.  They’re one of the best live acts I’ve seen who make a sound much bigger and more complex than any two piece has the right to do. Highly recommended.

The night was slightly tarnished by a deeply distrubing flyer I chanced upon: 

Yup, Steven Segal and his band “Thunderbox” will soon be playing in a town near you. The choice of flyer photo is inspired. Segal looks like he’s trying to figure out what the thing in his right hand is while scratching his balls with his left. 100% cock.

 I caught the train up to Stockport the next day in order to find a room to rent before I start work again on March 12th. My friend Richard and his Nepalese wife Milly put me up at their house (and fed me lovely dhal bhat) for a couple of days while I house hunted. They both speak fluent Nepalese. I tried and immediately discovered I have forgotten almost all the Nepalese I learned in Nepal. Damn drugs. Damn beer. Fortunately, the house hunting was successful. I’m moving into a great house with two lovely girls (Rachel and Emma) on Saturday.

Jumped on yet another train on Saturday afternoon to visit my great buddy Joe and his girlfriend Bri in the Retoford Ghetto:

I hadn’t seen Joe in over 10 months so it was good to catch up. Me, Joe, Bri and her friend Lucy headed out for beers and food at their local pub. I ate one of the best pub meals I’ve had in my life. Homemade steak and ale pie with mash potatoes, peas and gray. Top notch.

Beers flowed freely during the rest of the night. The girls went home at 11:00pm but we carried on bravely into the wee hours chasing Guiness. Finally staggered back to the house at 3am and quietly crept to bed like tiny, timid mice….. Well, not exactly. Joe made Zubrowka vodka and apple juice drinks, we watched an hour of Jackass the movie 2, I played drunken guitar and we laughed and talked loudly. Unfortunately, Bri isn’t deaf and we woke her up. Ooops. Well, we only stayed up until 5am:

Felt a bit guilty on Sunday morning due to our late night antics.. The guilt wasn’t relieved any when Bri cooked us a lovely fry up. Definitley not deserved. Lounged about the rest of the day nursing a nasty hangover and watched Clerks 2.

In the evening using the magic of new technology we chatted to our mates Owen and Murv(visiting Owen) in New Zealand on webcam and Windows Live messenger:

I remember when all you could do on a computer was change the screen colour and make beeping noises. Must be getting old.

Trip to Norn Iron (Dunc)

February 27, 2007

After 12 long hours of train and ferry travel I eventually made it to war torn Belfast on Thursday evening:

war.jpg

These are the scenes that greeted me as once again troubles flared between the Islamic Republican Army (IRA) and the Buddhist Militants(Orange Men). Nasty business.

I took the risky trip to Belfast to meet up with my good mates Neal and Rory. After dropping my bags off at their flat it was straight back out the door and down to their local pub (“Ryan’s”) for a few bevies and to catch up. The beer had a strange effect on Rory:

On to Friday. My good friend Alan “Barney” McGarvey picked me up and drove me to his hometown and Buddhist stronghold of Randalstown. We had a quiet night drinking and catching up at his local and Randlastown’s only gay bar “O’Caines”.

On to Saturday and the 6 nations rugby on telly. In a most noble gesture, Scotland, feeling sorry for Italy on the anniversary of Mussolini’s death let the the Italians beat them. Wales looked good for a few minutes but then the match kicked off and the dirty English scumbags were soundly thrashed by Ireland in a historic game at Dublin’s “Coca Cola Park”. Good stuff.

On to the evening, in buoyant (pisssed up) mood me, Alan, Neal and Ali (Neal’s missus) headed out into Belfast town. Unfortunately, Rory couldn’t make it becasue of a bad back. I can’t remember much of the night but I managed to take some photos:

I can’t make up my mind whether Alan looks more like a vampire or WWF’s Paul Bearer?:

paul-bearer.jpg

For a few more photos please click HERE.

Rufus Must Die (Dunc)

February 22, 2007

It appears the American “Hearts and Minds” campaign in Iraq could do with a bit of work.

Well, they say practise makes perfect. Hopefully by the time the Coalition of the Willing get around to Iran they’ll have the right tools to end those evil fundamentalist mother fuckers once and for all. We can only hope and pray.

Selective videos you may argue? Well good for flipping you…….. Aw shucks, Im sorry.

You best click on THIS link to find out how the experts professionally cover the horrors unfolding in the middle east. They’re an example to us all.

And why the hell hasn’t Rufus Wainwright become a suicide bomber yet? For the love of God please.

Norn Iron and Happy Hearts (Dunc)

February 22, 2007

I’m very excited – I’m hitting the road again tomorrow! 

It feels like I’ve been back in the UK for an age but it’s only been a couple of weeks. I’m off to Belfast for the weekend to meet up with some very good friends – Rory (Other Blogger on this site), Neal (Mick Hucknall lookalike and prolific commenter) and Alan (Hairy chimp). Much beer, Buckfast and spirits will undoubtedly flow. I’m mentally and physically prepared to face the wrath of the beer monkey.

In a bid to stem the amount of airplane related carbon dioxide I’ve been indirectly pumping into the atmosphere in recent times I’ve decided not to fly. Instead, I’m getting the train to Hollyhead, then ferry to Dublin and then train to Belfast. It’s going to take a lengthy 12 and a half hours but I’m a tree hugger at heart and it’s always good to keep your heart happy.

buckfast.jpg

It’s What Bill Would Have Wanted (Dunc)

February 21, 2007

I stumbled across the question below on the website for an ABC quiz show called the Einstein Factor:

Bill Hicks died at the age of 32 from cancer of which organ?

Wow! Who would have thought topical cancer death questions were the meat and potatoes of light entertainment shows in the US? I’m cashing in and sending this question idea to the producers of “Family Fortunes”:

 “Of 100 terminally ill patients surveyed the most popular cancer was …?”

Channel Five is allegedly expanding the “cancer” concept with a new Big Brother type show. Viewers will be asked to vote patients “out” of the Big Brother Ward and future chemotherapy treatments. Gary Bushell is rumoured to be the front runner to host the show, a whisker ahead of Davina McCall who is shortly expecting her 15th litter of pups. TV execs feel the new series will help to improve the tarnished image of the current crop of reality TV shows.

Who am I to argue with television progress?

Ignorance is Probably Bliss (Dunc)

February 20, 2007

A friend just e-mailed me THIS YouTube video link.

Aside from the biased editing and obvious targeting of the most gullible people they could find……Well, quite frankly, it’s just not right. On this evidence I’m turning my back on Darwin and throwing my lot in with the Creationists.

I also think it’s a bit unfair constantly picking on the “Septic Tanks”. I think you’d get a similar response by targeting chumps in any country of the world. Except Scotland of course where people would be too pissed to answer, or fucked off their heads on smack or struck speechless by the painful grip of deep fried fuelled heartattacks.

Rab C. Nesbitt

Noel Gallagher (Dunc)

February 18, 2007

Noel Gallagher of Beatles Cover Band Oasis fame made a recent appearance on BBC2s Newsnight to chat about politics. Given his vast experience of the political arena I can’t think of a more worthy guest. The interview had one high point when Noel was asked to comment on the current Tory leader:

“He (David Cameron) is like a songwriter who’s eternally ripping off someone else’s song and just changing the odd line a little.”

Ahem…

noel-g.jpg

Black Keys Ticket (Dunc)

February 16, 2007

G’day.

Got a spare ticket to see my current favouthe band the Black Keys playing at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London on the 28th Feb.

Send me an e-mither if you’re interested – dlaird78@yahoo.co.uk.

My Look-a-Likes (Dunc)

February 14, 2007

This post has been in the pipeline for some time. Thanks to friends, travellers I met on my trip and complete strangers for coming up to me and saying “Oh, you look like so and so”. I’ll let the pictures do the talking:

1. Bin Lairden – Who can argue with genetic links?:

Bin Lairden

 2. That guy from the 80’s motorcycle cop show “Chips“:

erik_estrada.jpg

3. Fito Paez – Some Argie singer:

fito-paez.jpg

4. Guy Smiley from Sesame Street fame:

guysmiley1.jpg

5. Jason Gillespie – an Australian cricketer!:

jason-gillespie.jpg

6. Mars Volta. Another singer. Dunno which one is Mars?

mars-volta.jpg

7. Raul – The Spanish football player:

raul.jpg

8. Willy Mason – An Australian rugby player with fantastic hair:

wille-mason.jpg

So there you have it! I’m surprised that no-one has ever mentioned Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp to me. If anyone can think of anymore tell me via comments and I’ll stick ’em up.

Further blog updates to come. I’m still technically on holiday and I’ve got a few more trips planned before I start work again.

Snow (Dunc)

February 14, 2007

One day after I arrived back in Newtown the skies opened and dumped a hefty covering of snow:

I blame my jet lag.

I’m Back in the UK (Dunc)

February 7, 2007

To be precise in London. To be even more precise in the Britania Pub, Euston station where I’ve just sated my appetite with a full English Breakfast. Thoroughly deserved after a 22 odd hour flight from Sydney. I’m using the wizzardry of Wi-Fi to connect to the web as I wait for my train back to the Newtown Ghetto at 12:40.

 It’s friggin’ cold – minus 3!! Being back hasn’t really sank in yet. I think I’ll leave the trip summary, “best of…” and “What have I learned” update until later in the week when I’ve had a few days to think about stuff.

So, I left you poised to go out on “Mad Monday” with all the Asylum Hostel regulars. Here’s (not a very good) photo of us before we hit the bars:

To say the ale flowed after this photo was taken is by no means an understatement. We moved off and claimed our free drinks and meal in the Fitzroy Hotel (my local), back to the hostel to drink “Goon wine” then on to the Irish bar, then the World Bar and then finally the “Empire” club for free drinks. Empire is just like “Crystals” in Newtown, Jabez Clegg in Manchester and “The Raz” in Liverpool. Expensive alcohol, shite music and tarts galore – both male and female.

Coincidentally, “Mad Monday” happened to be Fernando’s 20th birthday. Fernando is a long-term stayee, stayer resident at the Asylum Hostel, is from Argentina and is a good lad with more than a passing resemblance to the “Karate Kid”:

Fernando had managed to get a couple of hanfuls of free drink vouchers for Empire. These were quickly cashed in for pints, jugs and schooners of snakebite and black. By the end of the night I had the telltale blackcurrant dribble down the front of my shirt. I was pretty  wasted as these picutres well attest.  First me with Joe and his South African girlfriend:

Lovely couple. Next me with a Canadian. Note the snakebite stains on the front of my shirt:

And finally me with Kelsey (Canada) and Amy (HongKong/England).

I’m very proud of my dirty old man leer….

In a state of severe drunkardness I decided to make it a night at 3am. On the way out of the club I spotted something that I hadn’t seen in ages. A Pacman game table:

Undoubtedly one of the finds and highlights of my trip. Too bad I was too drunk to have a go. Just thought. Another good point about Empire is that no-one can smoke – like in many bars and clubs in Sydney. As a non-smoker it really is refreshing not having to breath in clouds of smoke all night and not having your clothes stink of fags the next day.

Upon exit of da club my homing instinct served me well. Mere minutes after leaving I ended up in a kebab shop. As so often happens in these establishments the Turkish/Greek owner thought I was Turkish/Greek. I ordered a $6 donner kebab. Most surprised to find beetroot and cheese hidden in the blighter. Less surprised to find most of it down my shirt the following morning.

Ah, the following morning. Fond memories. Not really. Hangover from hell. It felt like the beer monkeys from all the countries I’ve visited had got together for one final hurrah. They’d also somehow managed to steal all my money even though drinks were free most of the night. Dirty little blighters!!

Early afternoon I packed my rucksack for the last time on this trip. Caught the shuttle to the airport and crawled on my flight to the UK. End of my trip. 246 days. It’s been a blast.

 For a couple more photos please click HERE

Still in Sydney – But I’m Coming Home Soon (Dunc)

February 4, 2007

I was due to fly from Sydney to Auckland to LA to New York to London arriving home on the 25th of Feb, 2007. My plans have changed somewhat. I’m now flying back to the UK directly from Sydney and will arrive in London on 7th Feb – basically in a couple of days time!

 I suppose I must explain myself. Fundamentally problems with my RTW ticket are to blame. Money is also becoming a issue. Throw in a bit of travel fatigue – whatever that is. Add a dash of future employment decisions that need made  toot sweet [sic] and the fact I want enough time and money to travel at least a little bit in Europe before starting work again.

So there you have it. Now on to an overdue update from Sydney.

Shortly after I posted the last update Murv left e to go up north on a kangaroo, penguin and shark hunt. Sad to see him go. We had  a reet good time mooking around Sydney drinking our livers yellow on tasty TwoBuckAroo wine!!

Not one to dwell on the past I soon replaced the empty Murv shaped hole in my life with new mates to bum around with –

From left to right – Fran from Italy, Amy from the UK and Kelsey form Canada. This photo was taken on our way to Taronga Zoo (probs would have been a better photie if I’d have told everyone I was taking it!). Murv and I had tried on numerous times to make it out there but always failed to get up in time – that is before midday.

Although I’m a big fan of animals and wildlife it had been some time since I’d been to a zoo. I think the last time was Budapest Zoo with Barney McGrumble back in the day. Well, from this day forth I’m gonna make it my business to go to more zoos. – it was ace.

My favourite animals were the chimps but alas I forgot to take any pictures because I was so awestruck by the hairy devils. My other favourites included the lions (friggin’ huge in real life!):

The gorillas (This one appears to be giving me the finger):

And the orangutans (a lot more hairy than I imagined):

Err, so basically all the primates really.

 It’s the last full day of my trip tomorrow. Fortunately it’s mad Monday here at the hostel. Ten Ozzy bucks (£4) buys you a full meal, 4 beers, a shitload of terrible wine and a big pub crawl. I reckon I’m gonna get pissed. Will update before flying out on Tuesday evening.

For a couple more photos please click HERE

WARMASTER (Rory)

February 2, 2007

Not a long post for yo’all.

The Botanic Inns group have purchaced an outlet in my native Downpatrick.

This means only one thing…

Downpatrick now has it’s first WARMASTER tap!

WOOHOO!!!

Those fools might call it Warsteiner but I KNOW I’m right.

It is second (in Northern Ireland in my rightious opinion) only to BITBURGER

The outlet is Denvir’s

Happy days!

Rejoice all ye sinners for the lord hath taken thee in his mercy and brought the holy nectar to within reach of your unworthy lips.

Rory 3.69

Australia Day!!! (Dunc)

January 27, 2007

For those who don’t know,  the 26th January 2007 was Australia Day! Being in Sydney and all we thought it would be rude not to celebrate in the traditional Australian way i.e. drinking many schooners of beer throughout the day and getting thoroughly pissed.

Here we are in the morning cracking open the first beer of the day on a grass verge beside a busy road:
 

From left to right (Murv – Doncaster, Martin – UK, Oscar – Lithuania, Nemah – Iran, Nick – Sweden). A good multicultural mix by anyones standards.

As we walked around in the glorious sunshine it become apparent that Australia Day is a pretty big deal here. Most people were wearing some form of patriotic adornment, be it an Australian flag painted on their cheek or full body flag wearing. Parks were full of different events from music concerts to vintage car displays. The sky was often dotted with planes and paragliders writing nonsense in white smoke. It was all very festive and good fun.

It made me a bit sad to think that a “United Kingdom Day” along similar lines wouldn’t work. Union Jack waving in Britain is synonymous with nasty things like the BNP, the Tories and Alf Garnett. I’ve also got no doubt people wouldn’t behave themselves and there would be mas rioting all over the country. It’s just occurred to me. I didn’t see any policemen/women while walking around on Australia Day – they really weren’t needed.

We spent a good portion of the day in Darling Harbour discussing national GDPs(?), laughing at the English cricket team’s horrendous performance and trying (and failing) to spot additional Iranians. Nemah is the first Iranian I’ve met on my travels. He’s a dentist who flew in from Iran a few days ago. He’s planning to emigrate to Oz. He’s the nicest fella you could hope to meet – definitely not a “Doer of evil”. He only gets pissed off when people (Yanks) call him an EYE-ranian. While chatting to him I suddenly realised that bombs could be falling on him and his family in the near future if BushBlair decide they want Iranian oil. It’s fucked up that’s what it is.

Late afternoon it was back to the hostel to refuel with a selection of finely barbecued meats:

And quaffing of $2 Buckaroo wine:

Then it was back out to hit a few bars:

Sweet as a bag of nuts. 

For a couple more photos please click HERE

Sights of Sydney (Dunc)

January 25, 2007

The beautiful Sydney skyline:

Me and the Sydney Harbour Bridge:

A view of the Opera House from the top of the Harbour Bridge:

Murv and Bondi Beach:

And finally the local meal – a Chunky Steak Pie Mushy Pea Floater:

For a few more photies please click HERE

Sydney, Where Smack Grows on Trees (Dunc)

January 23, 2007

I’ve made many foolish decisions on my trip so far but catching the train form Brisbane to Sydney opposed to flying is up there with the best of them. I left Brisbane at 6:00am and finally got into my hostel at 11:00pm. I did get to see a bit of the countryside though which was nice.

After many months of chasing his shadow through SE Asia I finally caught up with my good mate Murv here in Sydney (Click HERE for his travel blog). He was waiting for me in the hostel when I arrived armed with an ice cool beer. Unsurprisingly for the last 6 days ice cool beer and Buckaroo wine (AU$2 a bottle!) hasn’t been far from my lips. He’s a bad influence.

The hostel (“The Asylum”) is pretty good. It’s in the King’s Cross area of Sydney famed for strip clubs, drugs and prostitution. Murv was offered smack in broad daylight on the main street the other day – turned out to be good stuff too. Even though the area is a bit rough it feels safe, reminds me a lot of Liverpool. The most dangerous things around appears to be the trees. We saw this big branch fall from a tree on to a couple of cars just outside the hostel while we were sitting on the balcony… drinking of course:

There’s also a nice view of the city skyline from the balcony in the evening:

Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to. Everything is pleasing to the eye, there’s no litter, no bad smells and the people all seem to be chipper. Another thing, everyone is fitness crazy. People play sports 24/7  on any available green patch and joggers swarm all over the place. No wonder they’re so good at sports. I’ve even caught the bug and have been to the swimming pool a couple of times. Unfortunately, budgie smuggling is very popular here.

Quick count of Oz animals I have and haven’t run into since I’ve been here –

Koalas = 0
Kangaroos = 0
Snakes = 0
Sharks = 3
Possums = 0
Flying Foxes = 100s
Parrots = 4
Neighbours Stars = 0

Another update from Sydney tomorrow!!

Aiight! (Rory)

January 19, 2007

Not a long post. (Although I promise to write a proper one soon)

To the google people adding ‘Google is the best search engine’,

FUCK OFF YOU SACK OF INSIDIOUS MONG, WHELPS

I’m serious I will hunt you down and kill each and every one of you.

I’ll hack google and re-direct every enquiry to ‘Ask-Jeaves’ or ‘Lycos’ or some shit.

 Then I’ll hack you up!

Don’t doubt me for a second mutha fuckers.

Ok. Thanks for your time. Scroll down and read Dunc’s adventures in the antipodies..

G’day from the Gold Coast (Dunc)

January 19, 2007

Last Saturday me, Owen and Rich jumped in the car and headed up to the Gold Coast for the weekend. We had booked a room at the British Arms Hostel a few minutes away from Main Beach.

In an action packed day we first headed to the beach for day two of the cricket tournament. Here some action shots:

After cricket and a quick nap it was off for a round of Crazy Golf at “Put-Put”:

Back to the hostel for the obligatory shit, shower and shave before heading off for a night out in “Surfer’s Paradise”. All the taxis were booked up so we had to get a bus into town. On the way to the bus stop we were nearly run over.

 Surfer’s Paradise turned out to be a group of bars, strip joints and takeaway food places. Lots of neon lights. Lots of drunk idiots. Lots and lots of bad haircuts. My bouff was one of the better haircuts on dsplay if you an believe that. The whole place was packed because it was the big race day on the Gold Coast.

 We hit a few bars, drank lots of James Boags beer, nearly went into a gay club and in general did a lot laughing:

Up early the next day to check out the hostel. Few more overs of cricket were bowled and we sneaked in another round of crazy golf before making the drive back.

 Top notch weekend.

 For more photos please click HERE 

It’s Brisbane you Flamming Gallah!! (Dunc)

January 16, 2007

A couple of short flights with Virgin Blue and I suddenly found myself on the other side of Australia in Brisbane. I was there to meet up with my good mates Rich Bibby and Owen Gartside.  Rich moved out to Brisbane from the UK a few months (See leaving party post HERE)  ago and Owen moved to Auckland about a year ago (See Owen’s blog HERE).

I was pretty knackered but was soon perked up with promises of beer and BBQ. After a quick trip to the local supermarket it was back to Rich’s house to fire up the barbie. On the menu was chicken, spicy sausages, beefburgers and a first for me – kangaroo fillets.. Here’s Rich doing an outstanding job at the helm:

 On to Friday the first day of the triangular series cricket tournament. The venue – Rich’s back yard. The wicket favoured the bowlers while the outfield favoured the batsmen due to the hefty amount of Milo (Rich’s housemate’s dog) poo scattered around:

On to Friday night and hitting the toon. First we met up with Rich’s workmates in a bit of a poncey restaraunt and then we bar hopped for a bit. Really good fun. Three things really stick in my mind about the night. The first was a weird coincidence involving the songs “Eye of the Tiger” and “Final Countdown” ( That’s right, I can’t be arsed to explain further). The second was a crazy chance encounter of three top quality bouffs (I’m on the right):

The final incident happened towards the end of the night. Rich was waiting to be served at a bar . There was a big vase of flowers straight in front of him so he moved it no more than a few inches to the left in order to get at the bar better. The barmen saw this and moved it back but didn’t serve Rich. A few minutes passed so Rich moved it again. The barmen scampered over, moved it back again and again walked off without serving. After a few more minutes waiting with no service (the bar as pretty much dead) Rich shouted over to the barmen for “3 bottles of beer” to which he responded in an angry tone “Be more specific” and walked off. 

“Fair dos” we thought. If he doesn’t want our money we’ll go somewhere else. We supped up and headed out the door. As we did so in a moment of genius Rich moved the vase a couple of inches back to the left when the barmen’s back was turned. We were safely out the door and a few yards down the street when the numpty barman rushed out the building obviously having just spotted the vase’s new location. He angrily told the bouncer to bar Rich from entering the establishment again. Who’d of thunk you can be barred from a pub for moving a vase eh? Must be something to do with that FengShooWee nonsense.

Strewth, I’ve Made it to Perth (Dunc)

January 14, 2007

Bangkok (Photos finally added to the post below) to Perth. Twenty-four hours of non-stop travel. Stumbled into my Hostel (The Witch’s Hat) completely knackered at 4pm. The weather in Perth was surprisingly dull and mild:

First things first – a carry out. The trip to the offy proved to be a bit strange. For the first time in many months I could –

1. Understand all of the street and shop signs.
2. Understand what most strangers were chatting about in the street.
3. Buy things without the need to point.

It was pretty refreshing to be back in an English speaking country. The one thing I didn’t like was the price of everything. After Eastern Europe, India, Nepal and SE Asia Perth seemed to be one big Harrods shop.

Only had one full day to explore before flying out to Brisbane. Top of the list of things I wanted to do was visit the Aquarium of Western Australia (AQWA). It’s situated in Hilary’s Harbour north of Perth. I thought I’d have trouble getting there but public transport in Perth is second to none – everything is fully integrated. I bought my train ticket from the bus driver on the way to the station. We can only hope in the UK.

Even though AQWA was full of screaming kids I had a great time strolling around for a couple of hours. The best thing has walking through a transparent tunnel running along the bottom of a gigantic tank full big sea beasties and odd fish: 

Not quite sure how the sharks are persuaded not to eat everything else. Must be XXXX in the tank. Also saw some staff training rescued seals:

Good fun to watch but admittedly not as exciting as live seal pup clubbing.

Had a stroll around central Perth for the rest of the afternoon. It’s a really nice, clean city and I was surprised how small the city centre was. Definitely a place I want to visit again. There’s loads of stuff to do in and around Perth, especially things to do with wildlife and outdoor pursuits. I only wish that I could have spent more time there.

Caught a flight to Brisbane via Melbourne early the next morning.

Bangkok and More Travel Woes (Dunc)

January 8, 2007

After festive fun in Chaing Mai I headed back south to Bangkok in yet another overnight VIP bus with an Irishman called Barry.

Arrived weary eyed at 6am in the morning at one of Bangkok’s 3500 bus stations. The Poh-leese were out in force because of the recent bombings. We were sniffed by ladyboys trained to detect bombs. It always seems odd to me that security goes crazy just after a terrorist attack when this is statistically the time when terrrrrrrorists are least likely to strike again. 

Met up with French Tiff the next day. Over the following  few days we went out on boat briefly, got lost in Chinatown, did some shopping and ate some nice food. There’s not an awful lot to do in Bangkok other than eat, shop and drink.

At this point (Sunday) my travel demon reared it’s ugly head again.  I logged on tinternet to confirm the time of my flight to Singapore the next day. For some reason Singapore Airlines had cancelled my reservation which was perfectly fine the day before. Arse.

After trying over 5 billion different numbers I eventually got hold of Singapore Airlines call centre chump. A nice lady told me my RTW travel agent had forgotten to issue the ticket and therefore they (Singapore Airlines)  had cancelled the reservation. Arse.

Now, here’s the big problem. I had to be in Singapore by 9:10am Tuesday to catch my flight to Perth. It was 2pm Sunday. The problem was potentially even worse because I had to be in Perth by Thursday morning to catch my connecting flight to Brisbane.  Arse.

 A mad dash around travel agents proved initially fruitless. Finally, I found one that could do me a flight to Singapore at 8:05pm on Monday evening arriving in Singapore at midnight. I had to fork out 5,000 dib-dobs (75 quid) for the ticket. I should get the money back from by RTW travel agent who fecked up issuing the ticket but I’m not holding my breath. Arse.

I’m actually writing this post from a 24hour coffee shop (with free internet access) in Singapore Airport after flying in from Bangkok. It’s 3am. I’m tired. I smell. Another 6 hours before my flight to Perth.

I’ve shrunk –

Bangkok bomb –

Not really

Photos click HERE

Chiang Mai (Dunc)

January 8, 2007

Bit of a catch up post…  Spent Christmas and New Years Eve at the excellent Spicy Thai Backpackers hostel in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai is a pleasant town in Northern Thailand with a feck off big moat around it. The moat causes a few navigation headaches because all sections appear to be identical, It’s hard knowing exactly where you are other than knowing your standing next to the moat. All very confusing for a simple mind like mine.

For Christmas everyone chipped in 200 local dib-dobs (Three quid) and we had roast chicken, bit of stir fried veg, sticky rice and noodles. Not very festive but the consumption of vast quantities of alcohol thereafter was. For NYE we had a bit of a quiet one. Drank beers and then sat up on the roof watching the various firework displays and hundreds of fire lanterns floating slowly towards the heavens. It was pretty cool. Better than any display I’ve seen in the UK – and it wasn’t even proper Thai NYE.

I also went to a bonafide tourist free Thai barbeque in a big warehouse. We were taken there by Pong – the hostel owner. The basic deal was that each table had a little cooking device shaped like an upturned bowl with a small moat around it. The moat was filled with some type of soup. The whole thing was heated by burning coals form below. You had to go and pick your own raw food from a huge selection of various meat/fruit and veg and then cook it yourself at your table. It was good fun (as you can tell by my face in this photo) –

Readymade pudding was also provided. The coconut and chocolate ice cream was bob on. The best  bit of the whole thing was that it was all you can eat for only 200 dib dobs (3 quid). Sweet as a bag of sugary nuts.

Also absorbed some culture by humpig up to a big temple on a hill – best in Northern Thailand apparently. Wasn’t too chuffed with the congenial welcome after climbing 500 friggin’ steps to get there –

Took some photos of golden buddhas, saw some big bells and generally got bored. In my book the he average Buddhist is boring bastard. Don’t drink, don’t eat meat, forever doing vows of silence and generally just sitting on their holes smiling. On the rare occasion they do say something it’s usually a smug remark about how great they’re feeling with their place in the Cosmos.

And finally, I spotted this on a street here –  

If ever a picture speaks a thousand words…

For a few more photos please click HERE

BBC Article Schmarticle (Dunc)

January 4, 2007

I’ve just be browsing the BBC news website to see what’s been going around the world when I came across an articleon the Saddam Hussein hanging by John Simpson. The article is an editorial on the release of the execution video (HERE) and the “appalling” behaviour of those involved. 

Now Simpson is a man I’ve got some respect for after reading his autobiographical books but quite frankly I think this particular article is  a pile of shit that weaves all over the shop with conflicting sentiments. Take this paragraph –

“Far from being a quiet and dignified business, the new video shows that several of the witnesses taunted Saddam during the last seconds of his life, chanted the name of one of his many enemies, and told him he was going to hell.”

Awwww, poor Saddam. Some big boys shouted names at him. Diddums. Perhaps it was the brother of one of the 10,000s of Kurds killed by Saddam’s chemical attacks in the 1980s. Or maybe the father of a daughter tortured, raped and then killed by his secret police. As for the “going to hell” remark. I don’t think it’s too slanderous a prediction if we make the massive assumption that the brimstone and fire is eternally burning below us.

He then goes on – 

“Altogether, the execution as we now see it is shown to be an ugly, degrading business, which is more reminiscent of a public hanging in the 18th Century than a considered act of 21st Century official justice.”

What did you expect Simpson!!! A Walt Disney sponsored affair with balloons, popcorn and a Tom Hanks guest appearance. How the hell can killing a person ever be a “considered act.. of justice”. In my book it can never be anything but pure, nasty, brutality regardless of whether the room was silent or not.

And more –

 “Saddam Hussein scarcely has an instant to collect his thoughts. He starts to mutter a prayer, but just as he speaks the name Muhammad, the chief hangman pulls the lever and the trapdoor opens…His death must have been virtually instantaneous.”

A quick death eh? With him standing on a gallows with a rope around his neck and everything. Well, I don’t know about anyone else but that surprised me. My money was on a Tom Hanks rescue. What in fact did you want Simpson? A few more hours of insults or perhaps one of those “Hangings gone wrong” that you could send to “You’ve been Framed” dictator special?

I’m against the death penalty for Joe public. World leaders, politicians and children’s entertainers on the other hand are a different bag of gobstoppers. When they intentionally do bad lots of innocent people tend to die. Perhaps the threat of hanging might make them buck their ideas up a bit and make the world and late afternoon TV a better place. 

And yes, if a few aggrieved relatives want to shout out the odd nasty remark so be it. It’s not like the person getting executed is going to need counselling for the rest of their long, fruitful lives to get over the comments. 

Back to RTW trip stuff tomorrow. I promise.

Bombings (Dunc)

December 31, 2006

I just want to clarify that I was nowhere near Bangkok when the bombs went off.

I suppose this doesn’t technically absolve me from any involvement and may in fact just suggest I’m a competent terrorist.

 Bin Lairden out.

Royal Encounter in Chiang Mai (Dunc)

December 30, 2006

Nipped out to buy some crunchy peanut butter a couple of hours ago. On the way back from the shop I was surprised to see the main road leading to my hostel was completely blocked off by Thai policemen. Within minutes a huge convoy of over 40 police cars, 10 Thai army cars, 10 blacked out Mercedes, 4 ambulances, a couple of Chiang Mai “Special Unit” pick-up trucks and a fire engine turned up along with a hundreds of policemen/army/bodyguards and one nanny.

I thought to myself “This is mighty peculiar!”.

Managed to walk halfway up the street before being stopped by a very polite uniformed fella. I then run in to an Australian couple who informed me the Crown Prince of Thailand (next in line to the throne), his missus and their little tyke (2nd in line to the throne) had decided to drop by the neighbourhood.

I though t myself “Surely this doesn’t happen everyday”.

And indeed it doesn’t. Chatting to one local revealed that in his 50 odd years of life he’d never seen height nor hair of any of the royal family. There was quite a buzz amongst the small group that had gathered to gawk.

I thought to myself “Blimey”.

At this point no-one in the crowd seemed to be sure where the prince was. His little son however was running around like an e-number intoxicated nutter in the middle of the road. He was closely followed by his nanny, a soldier holding anumbrella (no rain?) and a soldier carrying what appeared to be a box of baby wipes. Everytime the kid looked/turned in one direction all the facing policemen and guards had to salute. It was most amusing.

I thought to myself “Ha, ha”.

After 15 mniutes or so the big man himself appeared out of a shop 15 metres or so straight in front of me.  His immeadiate entourage included a couple of burly guards, an old geezer and a guy with a torch to “light the way” even though it wasn’t dark. The group headed towards us before turning into a restauraunt. After another 15 minutes or so he appeared out of the back door and walked past within a couple of metres of me.

I thought to myself “I’d probably get shot if I run up to him now”.

I didn’t do anything stupid. His missus (ooouussshhh!!!!) appeared a couple of minutes later and then they all jumped in a car and buggered off.

I thought to myself “Well, how very exciting”.

The Prince:

 prince.jpg

 The MILF and Kid:

princess-and-baby.jpg

Bangkok – Again!!! (Dunc)

December 27, 2006

Caught a “VIP” bus from Sihnoukville to Bangkok. It left at stupid o’clock in the morning. We had to get out every hour or so to cross a river on a river barge thingy. It was kinda fun. Here’s a photo of one of the crossings:

Eventually arrived in Bangkok at 8pm 14 hours after setting off. Checked in to “My House” guesthouse for the night – bit of a shithole but clean enough. Had a nice meal of BBQ’d red snapper. Here’s the BEFORE and AFTER cooking snaps.

The next morning two bits of good news. I checked into a relatively fancy hotel – Hotel De’Moc and I met up with a friend and fellow animal centre volunteer (Tiffany). Over the next 3 days we intended to do some good old fashioned sight seeing but got sidetracked and overwhelmed by shopping trips.

We spent the majority of one day looking around Pantip Plaza. It’s a big electronics shopping mall. Six floors of electronic equipment, copied software and pirated films. I bought a laptop. You start to go crazy in there after a couple of hours wandering around in the electronic buzz and fluorescent lights. The other days were spent shopping for jeans, getting lost and posting presents back to the UK. Exciting stuff….

At night we hung around the Khao San Road most of the time:

It’s a 300m long and full of shops , restaurants, bars, stalls (t-shirts, pirated CDs/films/games), massage parlours, prostitutes, street food and guesthouses all designed to extract money from poor backpackers. A women was also selling lovely balloons:

And another woman was literally selling her ass:

Some of the bars were pretty cool with live music (most were shite). Every band I saw played “What’s going on” by 4 Non-blondes. It also seems to be obligatory for every place to play a Bob Marley song on the hour, every hour. No woman no friggin’ cry.

It was a fun 3 days. Parted ways with Tiffany for the time being and caught another “VIP” bus north to Chiang Mai where I was to spend Christmas.

For a few more photos please click HERE

Happy Christmas (Dunc)

December 25, 2006

Season’s greetings and a big kiss from me and my ever expanding bouff!!

Xmas Greetings

Hope everyone has a great time opening presents, getting pissed and eating too much. I will be eating Christmas dinner and drinking Christmas bevies in a very nice hostel in Chiang Mai Thailad. It’s currently very hot and sunny.

Peace out to the world (except Nestle

Duncs’

Sihanoukville (Dunc)

December 24, 2006

After Phenom Penh I headed by bus to the seaside town of Sihanoukville for a few days of beach bumming.

There are a few different beach hangout spots – Victory Beach, Ochheteual Beach and Serendipity Beach. I headed to Seredipity, which according to the ever so useless Lonely Planet was the backpackers hangout.

On this occassion the LP was spot on. Serendipity Beach was pure quality. A 2km curved stretch of beach lined with pub shacks, restaurant shacks and guesthouse shacks:

I stayed at a pretty nice guesthouse called Coasters. It was literally on the beach. I surfed the net with my toes in the sand. I spent most of my time  hanging out at the Frog Shack with Craig(US), a guy from Germany and Joanna (Oz). Activities included playing footy, swimming in the warm sea, drinking cocktails, eating fresh seafood barbecue, sampling the local herbs and quaffing the odd cold Chang beer. Good times.

The people were all very friendly. Got a bit of hassle from kids and beggars  on the beach but even they were quite funny and laidback. By far and away the best character I met was Mr. P, the main drug dealer. It was said if you wanted any type narcotics he was the man who could provide. I didn’t utilise his services but if I did I would have done without fear of the local bizzies. Mr P. was the law – quite literally. During the day he is Sianoukvilles chief policeman.

My favourite memory is driving 5km on uneven dirt tracks on a 75cc moto in the middle of the night – with four people on it. I think we reached a top speed of 20mph.

The only dark spot on the trip was the tidal wave that nearly washed away my guitar one night as I was sittin at a beach fire watching the stars. I think I may have forgotten to mention that I bought a guitar 5 months ago in Serbia and have been hiking it around with me ever since.

Anyways, here is me on the beach with my shorts pulled up way too high:

 For a few more photos please click HERE

Manc Land the Conker delusion… (Rory)

December 24, 2006

Aiight mutha fuckas. Gots to get this shit on da road.

When I left off football had been played. We all went back to get our respective shit toegether. Rich, Alan and I got some booze and grub.

This was a bleak time as all maner of reality tv shite was tainting our collective unconsious. Saldly no one else saw the wisdom in putting FTV on, to help redeem our eternal souls by admiring the beauty of god’s creation. However, inch’Allah, fire will rain for 40 days and 40 nights on the unbelievers. Sorry if that seems harsh.

So I went to get a curry and what a good decision that was! (I like curry).

 As more and more people were arriving the flat was getting too busy. A change on scenery was needed. Some other smart people and I went to Revise to consume cold beer.

 Andy C, Raf, Alan, Sinead and I had some lovely cold beer. We talke about stuff and it’s all good. (My mind is in the midst of an imagination slump. I had several cold beers last night and can’t be fucked to be honest).

 So time was a ticking we decieded to make our way to the Southern. Outside the pub we encountered Afro-Joe (or Joe Clarke), Mark and Kirsty (Lovely people). I had the bright spark of leading everyone on a merry dance across Chorlton. I thought I knew the way having lived and worked there. Not so. We eventually reached a cul-de-sac (bloody French). Mark then came to the rescue by asking directions and we eventually got to the pub.

I’ll let the mo fo photies tell the story,

***UPDATE***

I had a moment of inspiration and a few beers. I’d just like to say to everyone reading this that I hope for many orgasms to come yo way mo fos!! Wank and fuck mutha fuckfas!!!

SPREAD THE LOVE

Aiight. May the mo sensitive of yo’all dry yo eyes and read on. This be the shit…

Alan, SInead and Neal looking happy

Mo Fo Joe, Super fro!!

Rich, Paul and Alana. Oh, and Jose looking exceedingly gay…

Sophie and Amanda in some kind of deltal exposure pact.

The lovely Mark and Kirsty

Rich, Jose, Me and Tamlyn. Someone’s lapping up male attention eh?

IT’S VERY NICE!!!

Alan’s not impressed…

Les freres Creegans!

The Rafatola sandwiched by Rorys

Sinead looking good at her most drunk

I could say more but then I’d have to kill you all (does that ring any bells?)

I’ll finish this off some other time. Have a good time yo’all. Fuck negitivity, fuck government. Love peace and fucking.

Murv’s Blog (Dunc)

December 18, 2006

Err, I’ve lost the link to Murv’s blog. Can someone please enlighten me…

Cheers Neal – http://broadwoodwidger.wordpress.com/ – I’ve linked it on the side.

I’m in Bangkok after a mind/arse numbing 14 hour journey from Sihnoukville. More on Cambodia tomorrow…

Just saw the cricket score. Shite.

Anyone got any good jokes?

Off to eat landmined dog.

UPDATE

Just been for a pleasant stroll up and down the famous Khao San Road. I was surprised to run into a “sadness” (collective noun) of Yank God botherers howling laments at the passers by. The cheek of it.

I like Bangkok. True, it is full of neo-hippie knob jockeys on “spiritual journeys”and endless streaks of spurting students but the city has a good vibe.

Managed to grab some food to sate my appetite. Ate nice pad thai from a street stall. I also had what I thought was a chicken kebab skewer. Turns out the lumps of meat weren’t chicken. Shaped like a 50 pence,  soft and greasy outside with a hard chewy bit in the middle. The individual lumps seemed to be whole animals or at least a significant component. They did taste a bit like chicken though but that’s no help in unravelling the mystery. Top NASA scientists have proved that over 98% of meat in the world tastes like chicken.

Off to have a beer and catch a ping pong show. Wonder if I should take my bat?

Phnom Penh (Dunc)

December 16, 2006

I spent three days doing some serious mooking around in the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.  PP is a pretty big city situated on the banks of the Mekong river. It’s changed a lot since I was last here with the green berets back in 1971.

I’m pretty sure all you educated folks out there have heard about one of the most winningest dictators of all time and arguably most famous Cambodian – Pol Pot. He was leader of the Khmer Rouge when they held power in Cambodia in the late 70’s.

Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge were thoroughly bad eggs. During three years in power (1976-79) they managed to kill and estimated 1.5 million people out of a total population of 7 million (1975).

Not happy with killing people quietly the Khmer Rouge were rather fond of torture. To find out more about this unspeakable beastliness I visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. The site is a former high school which was converted in 1976 to the main Khmer Rouge torture and interrogation centre (S-21). Over 17,000 men, women and children were tortured and killed here.

In a scene that took me back to my visit to the Aushwitz museum I walked into a room which was filled with the mugshots of S-21 victims.:

It also had mugshots of the prison guards and torturers:

Kids killing kids. 

Later in the day I visited the site of Phneom Penh Killing Fields around 10km from S-21. All prisoners from S-21 were sent here to be executed and buried following interrogation.

The site is pretty disturbing. There is a large memorial pagoda which looks nice from the outside but is filled with skulls. It’s very cramped inside so as you walk around your face is only a few inches away from human bone with no glass partition. I thought it strange the number of people who were taking photos of the skulls.

You can also walk freely around the sites of the mass graves. I was amazed to discover the crunching under my feet was human teeth and bones. Scraps of clothing poke through the ground here and there along with the remains of the odd sandal. No holds barred memorial.

Here are two signs from the site:

No need really.

A Poem (Rory)

December 15, 2006

Here’s something for you all to contimplate.

For the world is ours and we are of it’s stuff. It is full of love and beauty as are we.

Never forget yourself.

Peace and love to you all,

Rory 

Desiderada

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,

be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant;

They too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons;

they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,

you may become vain or bitter,

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

It is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,

for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

Many persons strive for high ideals,

and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.  Especially do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love;

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment

it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the council of the years,

Gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a healthy discipline,

Be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here,

and whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God,

Whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life,

keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.”

Special thanks to the lovely gent who brought this poem to my attention, Thanks mate.

Alexa Chung (Rory)

December 14, 2006

I discovered this young lady used work of Fashion TV. What anout that for syncronicity!

The least I could do is post a picture of her lovleyness for yo’all to admire.

Enjoy!!

From http://alexachung.awardspace.com

Temples of Angkor (Dunc)

December 14, 2006

You’d have thought I would have heard about these Temples of Angkorbefore arriving in Cambodia – me being a bonafide archaeologist and Indianna Jones fan and all – but alas no. Angkor is the site of the ancient Khmer Empire capital with over 1,000 Khmer temples and the site of Angkor Wat –  the world’s largest single religious monument! On my last day in Siem Reap I hired a moto driver for the day ($8) for a short tour around some of the major temples.

First stop was the biggie – Angkor Wat. Three things immediately struck me as I walked along the causeway to the main entrance –

  1. It’s very big
  2. The steepness of the steps people are forced to climb to get in
  3. 9.3 million Japanese tourists

Strolled around a bit stepping on the Japanese as I went. The experience reminded me a lot of walking around a big temple. Saw some wild macaque monkeys feasting on a Japanese grandmother and hid in a lovely corridorto escape the heat. Jumped back on the moto and headed off to the Bayon Temple.

The Bayon Temple was built back in the olden days to commemorate the diaganol achievement of King Duignan 15th. King Duignan was honoured for creating the first Book of Bob which secrets have been passed down through each generation of Duignans to the present day. The temple is adorned with millions of stone carved faces said to be images of the big chief himself:

I have to say Rory, the family resemblance is uncanny.

Next on to my favourite temple of the day. Can’t remember what it’s called. What’s important to know is that scenes from the Indiana Jones films were filmed here:

I like it because it’s been left in the same rundown/overgrown condition as it was when “discovered” by French explorers in the 18th Century. When I was walking around I really got the sense of going back in time. I had an eerie and exciting  feeling of how the initial explorers must have felt when they stumbled across the temple in the middle of a jungle. That was until I was literally run over by a Japanese tour party. Why does it always have to be tourists. I hate tourists.

Went to see a few more temples but blah di blah. Headed back to Siem Reap. Packed my bags and set off to the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh early the next morning.

For some more photos from Siem Reap and the Temples please click HERE

Manc Land (Rory) Part 3

December 13, 2006

So I woke on Saturday morning feeling all queer and knowing something’s not right. Then it hit me. The sun was shining brightly. In Manchester.

Obviously I took this as a sign and immediatly turned on the best tv station in the world. Fashion TV.

How I missed you FTV. The girls are just as fit as I remember them and boy do I remember them. (Caroline Ribero and I will wed one day when she finds me)

After an hour or so of my contented purring Alan woke up and joined me in watching FTV. Sadly he has suffered permanent brain damage and isn’t able to enthuse as a normal person might. We were able to settle on the neutral ground of watching Baywatch repeats, Charmed and Popworld. (she’s fit so it’s worth it)

Ok. So after several hours of this Saturday morning fare, Alan and I went to visit Jose and rouse him from his casa. We walked through Guardian land, across cum-hardy and after some cajoling managed to get him to accompany us for food in some wanky new place on Beech Rd. It replaced a wankier place and the waitress was cute so I’ll give it a break. We had a fried breakfast and then left Jose to go and meet young Rafalitio in town.

I then persuaded Alan to take a ‘short cut’ back to James and Rich’s place. Sadly my sense of direction is worse than I think it is. This would lead to further ‘short cuts’…

We arrived back to find James, Rich and Shelly alive and well. As we were playing football at the JJB we needed to get our proverbial skates on. After some last minute calls and negotiating we arranged for the Donovan brothers to meet us there and have some footy mayhem.

It is situated beside the Basilica of Mammon, The Trafford Centre. Fuck it’s corrupt, corpulent soul. May a pox be on those who profit from it’s existance.

The match.

We lined up as; Parks, Raf, Breeny, Alan and Jose. Against; A Creegan, J Creegan, Simon, Seb and myself. The first 10 mins were one sided. Parks’ team running riot, scoring freely. Obviously it was an early setback. I had yet to unleash a touch, let alone a bosh.

Then we got our passing in gear and Seb cleared the cobwebs to pull off some stunning saves. With a shut out on the cards we piled on the pressure with the Creegans and Simon smashing the ball past Jose many times. I too was on hand with some deft ‘outside of the foot’ finishes.

I wasn’t sure about astroturf having never played on it before but it’s ok. I take Alan’s point that slide tackling should be avoided though.

Rich and Shelly watched the proceedings and Shelly pronounced a joint man of the match award to Richard Parks and Andy Creegan. Well done lads! I was too lazy to have much of a sweat on but scored 5 past Jose (just to give added value to my finishing).

5 a Side wasn’t actually as insane an idea as I first thought. It refreshed the system ready for more drinking! Later homes

One Dollah (Dunc)

December 12, 2006

Spent four days mooking around in Siem Reap. It was nice to relax a bit after the Wildlfie Centre, specifically not getting up at 6:15am every morning was nice.

Siem Reap (Translated to Siamese Defeat in English) is a bit of a tourist trap. It’s the main base where people stay to explore the world famous Angkor Temples. More on the temples later.

In Siem Reap everything that is worth less than $1 costs $1. If someone were to set a stall selling individual sheets of toilet paper then each sheet would undoubtedly cost $1. A tuk-tuk or moto trip anywhere in the city, whatever the distance, costs $1. I asked the price of various items in an open market. They all cost $1 or more. I think there’s something funny going on – I bet it would cost me at least $1 to find out what.

A few notes of interest –

  • As I was perusing the many shops in SR full of tourist crap I happened to come across this gem of a book –

Don’t worry Rory, I’ve bought you a couple of copies for bed time reading. It amuses me that he’s placed between Jesus Christ and Brian Lara – subjects of the same series of books – “The Luminous Life of ……..”

  • The three most popular careers for Siem Reap natives appears to be moto/tuk-tuk driver, masseuse (happy ending variety) and street beggar.
  • One night, while quietly slurping the Lord’s fine beverage in a Siem Reap pub (this particular drinking establishment had strange writting on the walls)  I had the misfortune of hearing the following bile spew forth from the mouth of a Yank trying to impress a girl at the next table. He appeared to be yacking about his previous bint – “When we were phasing out our relationship she became OH so incredibly ant-EYE-social”. It bothered me greatly. I wanted to stab him in the eye with a spoon.
  •  As I walked along a SR highway I saw the sign below. I can’t decipher it. Is it advertising a zoo, animal supplies or restaurant? Suggestions welcome:

  • The food here is absolutely delicious. Everything from the stuff they sell on the side of the road to “cuisine” offered at decent restaurants. Here’s my latest local meal – Cambodian Green Curry with rice:

Update on my trip to the Angkor Wat Temples tomorrow.

Interlude (Rory)

December 11, 2006

Before I get my lazy, workshy ass back to finishing the Manc Land chronicles I have something to say.

 Lambs are not more deserving of your sympathies than other animals.

Is that clear?

Why should someone be critisised for eating Lamb as opposed to, lets say beef?

Is it the age of the animal in question?

Is there an age limit such that older animals are off your love list?

If that’s the case you are a deluded fuck.

Maybe it’s the cuteness of the animal in question.

Ickle bunnie wabbits are sooo cute!

Fuck you you moron. They’re fucking suculent and tasty.

This false morality regarding animals needs to stop. You are either; in favour of the ‘meat is murder’ philosophy. (i.e. all consumption of meat is wrong),

or; don’t give a fuck.

It’s that simple. Seriously. If your ethical whirlygig of whim and fancy disagrees then you’re a hypocrite. And plain wrong.

I would like to say that I am a vegitarian (argie style) who eats meat every day. Stuff that in your herbal pipe and smoke it.

Cha ‘am to Bangkok to Siem Reap (Dunc)

December 10, 2006

NOTE TO JOE CLARKE: Send me an e-mither you arsehole.

Bid the Wildlife Centre a tearful farewell on Wednesday morning. Caught a taxi with Hester (Holland) and Jillian (Canada) to Bangkok. 

I intended to spend the next few days hanging out with Jillian in Bangkok before she flew back to Canada. A visit to the Thai Immigration office but a spanner in the works. A 7 day VISA extension cost 1900 dib dobs (30 quid) opposed to 500 dib dobs quoted in the Lonely Planet. The Lonely Planet is shite.

 So, I had to high tail it to Cambodia the next morning before my Thai VISA expired (the  bastards weren’t gonna sting me again!!). Bought my bus ticket to Siem Reap through my hostel for 800 dib dobs and off I went the next morning.

 The bus ride was one big rip off. We had to pay double the price for a Cambodian VISA ($40 instead of $20), we were given a horrendous currency exchange rate for Cambodian dib-dobs and the trip took 15 hrs when it should have taken 8 or so. The reason for the long trip is explained in the Lonely Planet as the “Bangkok to Siem Reap Bus Scam”. If the bus arrives in Siem Reap late with tired passengers and stops outside a specific  guesthouse then the passenegers will more than likely stay at that guesthouse. The guesthouse is always owned by the bus company. How very convenient.

There were a few bright spots of the journey. There was a great thunderstorm and I watched a golden moon rise from really low down on the horizon.  Also, a really annoying Aussia guy and his girlfriend moaned for 4 hours over the fact they were getting conned as part of a bus scam. Fair enough to moan for a bit but 4 hours was a bit much. Spilt milk and all that. He told everyone to stand firm and not stay at the bus company’s guesthouse when we arrived.

I was most surprised when we reached Siem Reap at 9:00pm that he was first through the door of the bus companies guesthouse. I heard hmm muttering “It won’t hurt to take a look”. What a tool. I hailed a tuk-tuk and scarpered to the “Popular Guesthouse”. Smack bang in the middle of town, $6 a night with en-suite bathroom and TV.

More from Siem Reap later.

Adios Wildlife Centre (Dunc)

December 8, 2006

NOTE FROM DUNC: A bit of a post log jam today. All you good people scroll down to Rory’s post below and read it/add comments before this one otherwise I’ll murder you all.

First of all a happy belated birthday to the King of Thailand. He reached the grand age of 127 on December 5th – a good innings by anyones standards.  On the big day there were lots of fireworks, human sacrifices and people wore yellow all day. The locals constructed a neon birthday shrine to King Dudley down the road in the village. Good show. Buckingham Palace should invest in some regal  neon lights….

Sadly, my time has come to an end at the Friends of Thailand Wildlife centre. Things started off a bit shaky but I can honestly say I spent a really fun 4 weeks here. Who would have thought scrubbing bear shit could be so much fun. On that very subject here’s a photo of us scrubbing one of the Sun bear’s (Oompoom’s) swimming pool:

Here’s a quick run down of my favourite animals at the Centre.

1. Gilbert the Gibbon

Gilbert is one of the friendliest gibbons at the centre. He likes it when you scratch his back and returns the favour with a big gangley (sp.?)  hug. He’s prone to searching pockets for various items which he then tries to eat. He likes to suck on ice cubes.

My fondest memory of Gilbert happened when I was feeding his neighbour –  a particularly irksome white gibbon. The white gibbon attempted to literally bite the hand which fed him. Gilbert took exception to the attack and threw a well aimed right fist through the cage into his neighbour’s face.  Stitch that white gibbon.

Click HERE to see a video of Gilbert singing his little lungs out.

2. Alpha Male Pig Tailed Macaque

This monkey has a severe attitude problem. He’s governor over a troop of 10 macaques which live in a large field. Everytime  I walked past his field he would confront me with a display of dominance. This basically involved him sticking his nose up in the air, running up to me, staring into my face sternly and then turning away while grabbing his back leg.

Click HERE to see a video of him with his attititude turned all the way up to diva rap star. It’s funny.

3. The Langurs

Ridiculously cute little monkeys. They remind me of the Gizzmo thing in the film “Gremlins”. They like to groom my bouff (which by the way is getting quite big now).

Click HERE for a video of one of the blighters chowing down on lunch.

Honourable mentions must go out to the otters, elephants and Miaow the tiger.

For a few more photos from the centre please click HERE.

Manc Land (Rory) Part 2

December 8, 2006

Aiight homies. It’s all love, ye hea’?

So I arrived in Manchester on Thursday night and went straight to the pub. (That’s what I’m talkin about!). I met with James and Rich in Revise and we had some pleasant, cold lager.  There were a couple of their friends there (can’t remember names), nice blokes but they left after a while. So as we caught up and chatted shit we were joined by a lovely girl named Rachel. She said she designed trainers and was from Rhyl (”full of bloody paedophiles!!” we were told). It seems she was fighting a losing battle with her blood-alcohol levels.

James asked her the question; ‘If you could kill one person in the world, who would it be?’. Rachel, quick as a flash (from a Rhyl paedo no doubt), replied; ‘The bastard who killed Diana!!’.

Wow! They better watch out! I tried some of my conspiracy shit on her but to no avail. Seems she is convinced it were Charlie wot dun it. Her somewhat fit, geordie mate joined us briefly but nothing would save this conversation. After she went to powder her nose we drank up and scarpered. Never mind Rachel; if your reading this; ‘It was the queen mum.’ (mind she wasn’t driving a moped. she called the hit) 

James, having work in the morning went to bed. Rich, being workshy (only joking) stayed up for a while and we drank some tasty rum.  On Friday Rich had to go into town for a docs appointment so I went along.  Apart from having to give Rich directions into town and industrial extortion at the hands of NCP carparks, everything went ok. I left Rich to his appt and went for a dander round the city centre. Everything seems brighter and bigger than I remember. I felt a bit self consious as a scruff, particularly when a big issue seller declined to offer me one and turned his back on me! (fuck you man. I can afford the big issue. It’s just that I’m a tight bastard!).

There’s a massive ferris wheel (the ‘manchester japs eye’ or summit) by Exchange Square and it appears they’ve finished the Arndale shopping centre. That nicotine stained brick effect was so 1970s.

I don’t remember being hassled by so many chuggers (charity muggers). The mutha fuckas are on yo ass from when you step onto Market street and every 10 meters or so there after.

Anyway, Rich and I met up again and went back to Chorlton, bought some ‘del-italia, half chiabatas’, avoided some soap dodgers in Unicorn and settled in for an afternoon of nothing at all.

Later, Alan and a lovely lady by the name of Shelly came via their respective trains for the weekend of festivities. We got some wine and some curry before going out. Rich had his Chrimbo, work party. James and Shelly went for some karaoke. Alan and I waited for Jose before going for a quick local beer and then settling in for a couple at the house. Several hours later after borrowing James keys mind, a volley of stones hitting the window woke me.

 It seems James, Shelly and Rich wanted in and were fed up standing outside. I did the decent thing and let them all into their house. Sorry.

Right. Lunch over. Will be back on Monday for the latest instalment. May all of you find contentment and fufilment this weekend. Love and kisses.

Manc Land (Rory) Part 1

December 7, 2006

Good day to you all. May pleasant things be forthcoming and for love and contentment be bywords in your life’s tale.

 I was in the Northern English metropolis of Mancheater this weekend past and nothing was to my disapointment (except for the unreasonable demands sleep made of me Sunday morning. More on this later)

I will add that I dispise airports, the mindsets of their security staff and the processed nature of traveling trough them. Fuck you airports!

 The occasion for my visit was the joint goodby party for the gentlemen, Richard Bibby and James Creegan. They have been sharing a flat in Chorlton-cum-Hardy but are traveling to antipodean and oriental shores respectively. Work demands that Rich be in Austrailia for Thursday but I believe that James will be around till new years.

 I flew over on Thursday from Belfast. Having not flown for a while and the fact I was flying domesticaly, I was unprepared for the fucking Nazi like behaviour of the security. Don’t get me wrong. Individuals doing their jobs were pleasant if humourless.  Would I be prevented from carrying a bottle of water onboard a train or bus? Would I be ‘patted down’ in a manner which bordered on the sexually invasive? 

Of course if I were to get a train or bus from London to Manchester, none of this would happen. I believe (unless I slept in and missed the changeover) Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. I am also of the belief that the manner of the searches, ridiculous prohibition of liquids and unessesary powers given to underpaid, overworked, bored airport security, is all about conditioning us for future restrictions/conditions in travel.

How long before the same happens when boarding a train or bus? Accept this unessesary shite now and expect more later! ***NO LIVES HAVE BEEN SAVED BY BANNING BOTTLES OF WATER FROM AIRPLANES*** Ok? ***NO LIVES HAVE BEEN SAVED BY MAKING PASSENGERS TAKE OFF THEIR SHOES AND PASSING THEM THROUGH THE X-RAY*** Is this clear enough?

 Alright maybe I’m getting a bit too emotional but think about it…

On with the show next time.

Day Out At The Seaside (Dunc)

December 4, 2006

Went to the seaside town of Cha ‘am with my friend Tiffany on our day off from the wildlife centre:

Cha ‘am is full of ex-pats and old white geezers with young Thai brides. It was a really fun day with really nice weather to boot. Saw the world’s biggest Budha standing 3,145 metres tall amd lots of live fish and crabs in tanks at the fish market.

On the subject of Thai brides and old geezers I’m having trouble forming an opinion either way on whether it’s bad or not. It’s kinda weird/gross seeing it in the flesh – a 60 year old ugly fat bloke with a 20 year old beautiful Thai girl. Then again, why is this so different to all the rich blokes in the world with trophy wives? Heff, Stringfellow, Branson to name but a few…. Their exploits with younger ladies seems to be more socially accepted. Please discuss.

Here’s a picture of a Cha ‘am road at night. How very exciting:

Err, so that was that really. More about the animals in the next post I promise.

For a couple more photos please click HERE

Stuff, Things and This and That (Dunc)

December 1, 2006

I’ve been getting in the the swing of things here at the centre. I’m having a really good time despite not sleeping very well and having to get up at 6:20A.M. every morning. I saw a big 7 ft long copper brown python slither across my path the other day. It made the monkeys I was feeding at the time go crazy (bananas even). I’ve seeen more wild snakes and scorpions in the last two weeks than I have done in my entire life. Hope I don’t get Steve Irwin-ed.

One of my favourite jobs at the centre is feeding the bears. This involves cutting up a variety of fruits vegetables and the odd supplement of meat, heading down to the bear enclosure and errr… feeding the bears. The enclosure is split into two sections. The trick is to get all ten bears into one secton, lock the partition gates and then go in and put the food down in the bear vacated zone. The only skills you really need are the ability to count to ten, use a lock and key and to recognise what a bear is. I just about qualify:

We try to make it hard on the bears by placing the food in difficult to reach places. I usually dump a load outside the cage where the bears can’t reach it. Stupid bears.

Another fun thing to do is enrichments. People are paired togther to come up with ways to entertain the animals and enrich their lives. My enrichment partner (Jim from the UK) came up with a sweetcorn and vine idea. Here I am helping him to prepare using the Joe Clarke Tea Drinking method of working:

The idea involves tying a piece of sweetcorn to a vine. The non-sweetcorn end is then handed to the monkey/gibbon/macaque. In order to get the treat the afore mentioned critter must pull on the vine reeling it in through it’s cage. HERE is a video of a successful macaque in action.

Sad news this week – Camille left the centre. We went out in Cha ‘am for a few beers, a meal and a piss up on the beach to wave her off in the correct fashion:

 

I wish her all the best in her travels through SE Asia and I hope I bump into her again sometime in the future.

And finally some doggy news. Meet the puppies Daisy and Scrappy. They live at the centre. They mostly fight, bite and lick. Everyone a big awwwww:

For a few more photos please click HERE

“The Resort” (Dunc)

November 25, 2006

Crappy internet connection so only a short post. 

When the volunteers here want a nice relaxing break they often head to “The Resort” for a night of pampering. It’s a small hotel complex with restaurant on the banks of  a river in the middle of the Thai countryside. Very beautiful and relaxing.

On Thursday evening me, Max, Chris, Camille and Tiffany headed to “The Resort” for a most pleasant evening. The cab arrived bang on time at 6pm sharp. When I say cab I should really say pick-up truck. We all jumped in the back and braved an insect splattering for the 20 minute journey:

Click HERE for a short (and pretty dark) video of the trip in. (Turn the sound up).

The meal was pretty good. I had some sort of chicken kebab with satay sauce and a squid and tiger prawn salad with nuts. The salad was friggin’ hot a spicy. My dirty balloon knot certainly knew about it at the following morning’s board meeting I can tell you.

Here’s a photo of us pre-meal and cocktails:

After the meal we headed off to a bridge and looked at the stars. I farted – on the bridge.

And HERE is a video of the trip back in our cab. Again needs sound or perhaps even deleting.

For more photos of the night please click HERE

Off to Hua Hin tomorrow for more partying with the volunteers, ho’s and ladyboys. Nice. 

Hangover in Hua Hin (Dunc)

November 21, 2006

Currently in Hua Hin enjoying my day off. A pretty big group of us travelled here last night for some good old fashioned drinking. The drinking took place mainly on the beach at a chilled out bar with deck chairs strewn around in the sand. My tipple of choice was Tiger beer followed by numerous mint mohijto cocktails. The stars were out. I noticed the constellation Orion is the wrong way up here in Thailand. Bloody foriegners.

Hua Hin kinda reminds me of Benidorm. Lots of elderly ex-pats walking around with tanned leather skin. Lots of “Irish” bars and unfortunately a “Celtic FC” bar which I had the mispleasure of visiting:

The observant among you may have spotted the Chelsea flag on the wall. Bit of a faux paux made by the management there me thinks.

There are a few differences between Benidorm and Hua Hin. Primarily the lady boys, prostitutes and lack of Spaniards. The prostitutes sit at tables outside bars  and heckle you as you walk past. They’re at it 24/7. I was heckled at 10:00am this morning. “Hey Sunglasses, come sit by me”.

Went to look around the big mall here. Bought a football and some new trainers to replace my hiking boots that were half-inched in Nepal. Did a spot of bowling with Max (A Canadian volunteer) and Chris (A Dutch volunteer). Amazingly, I scored my personal best of 179. I’m “Dirty Ballon Knot” on the scorecard below:

Went for sushi and I’m now waiting to get the taxi home.

Some other bits of news from the past week.

Went to the “Hilton Hotel” club with sandals on. A crazy band was playing.

Drew a very accurate map of the USA in the volunteer house to educate the American’s:

Went to the local market and bought popcorn.

Was most surprised when I ran into Mr. Miagi and his Gremlin breeding program. Better not get this little critter wet or feed it after midnight (but in which timezone?):

And finally, I spotted Jose doing some advertising moonlighting in a magazine here:

 For a couple more recent photos please click HERE

Dunc “Rolf Harris” Laird (Dunc)

November 17, 2006

For the past week I’ve been volunteering at the Wildlife Friends of Thailand rescue centre near the seaside town of Cha ‘am. The work involves a lot of shoveling animal shit and feeding the ungrateful critters. Some of them are cute and cuddly and some of them will have your arm off as soon as look at you – mainly the gibbons and macaques. My bouff seems to be drawing a lot of attention from the monkeys – they all want a handful. Obviously jealous.

The cutest monkeys are the langurs. If you stick your head against the cage they’ll groom your hair for lice and bugs. Would have been a very useful addition to some of the orphanages in Nepal. They also like holding hands as do some of the friendlier gibbons. There’s also a disabled tiger (called Miaow)  here which is pretty cool. It’s nervous system was severly damaged because it was fed mainly crisps and sweets growing up. Even in it’s beat up state it’s still beautiful and a lot bigger than I expected a tiger to be:

Although I’ve been having fun at the centre a number of things are pissing me off. Some of the longer term volunteers remind me of call centre middle management and team leaders I’ve been unfortunate to work with in the past. They have a little whiff of power for the first time in their lives and really revel in dishing out “advice” and criticism for the pettiest of things. I’m close to snapping. I paid to be here. Show me some God damn respec’ bitches. I’m a race car in the red. I’m a mushroom cloud laying mother fuc….

 We’re also not allowed out the compound until 5pm and only have one day off a week. Only three volunteers are allowed off on any one day so it’s tough to get a good group part together. We’re also stuck in the back of beyond and it costs a fair bit in a taxi to get anywhere. Oh yeah, and the centre director is a complete and utter prick. He constantly likes to tell everyone how important he is and recounts his heroic (yawn!) stories of animal rescue every ten minutes or so. Arsehole.

Sorry for the moan but I’ve been having a bit of a tough week (relatively speaking of course). I’m a little bit travelled fatigued (I’ve been travelling for over 160 days now) and I’m missing family anf friends. Also, my perspective on a few things has changed after my experiences in Nepal. Why spend so much money on animals when it could be spent on helping kids? I think we get our priorities mixed up sometimes. Why can’t we all just get along.

Well, enough of that. Check out the photos below and at this LINK

Oh yeah. I’ve received my first ever bitchy comment from a stranger (Miere Buna)yesterday. It’s on the Bucharest post I wrote back in August. Here’s the LINK. The comment doesn’t really make sense, however, I am grossly offended at being mistaken for an American.

And another thing. For all of you who don’t own a Tom Waits album go out and buy one now – preferably “Mule Variations”. The man is a friggin’ genius.

You scratch my back…

November 16, 2006


 

Nepal Tidy Up (Dunc)

November 13, 2006

Couple of things to finish off with Nepal before moving on to my second Thailand update.

Here are some photos from what was supposed to be my last night in Kathmandu but unfortunately, due to well documented VISA problems, wasn’t. How about this for a triple hang loose:

And this is a photo of a steak meal I had in Pokara after nearly dying kayaking. The apple and banana combo clearly breaks Pete Heyes’s rule of mixing savoury and sweet foods and I’m sure Mary Whitehouse wouldn’t approve of the copulating arrangement:

A truly classic local meal!

So the verdict on Nepal….best place I’ve been to so far. Had a fantastic time and met some fantastic people to boot. They only slight cloud was the VISA debacle but it years to come I’m sure I’ll look back on it and be pissed off.

Top 3 Weird things in Nepal

1. Dhal Bhat: Twice a day. 365 days a year. You’ve never lived until you’ve eaten dhal bhat. Go on. Do it. Just once. It’s what all the cool kids are in to. It will make you fell good inside. Get the pure stuff not cut with any other crap like peas or noodles though.

2. Israelis:They’ve got a bad reputation here. I really don’t like believing in national stereotyping, however,  from what I’ve observed it seems to be pretty much deserved. I’ve never met a nationality of people who whinge, moan and aggressively bitch as much as the Israeli’s do. Having said that I did meet one or two very nice people from Israel.

3. Bathing:The majority of the population do it outdoors with a cold tap. No need. Get some hot water. Even more pertinent when it gets down to freezing during winter. It’s even more crazy for women. They have to wear a full body garment (lugi) while bathing and wash themselves through it.

Bangkok – The first 4 hours (Dunc)

November 8, 2006
  • The brand new airport is poo. An internet machine stole 100 dib-dobs (1 quid 40)  from my MASTERCARD and people hounded me to jump in a limo to Bangkok centre for 8oo dib-dobs. Grrrrr.  
  • Taxi drivers here – like everywhere in the world – are James Blunts’. Pity the IRA didn’t blow up/kidnap/kneecap more of the buggers.
  • Banglok smells, but not as badly as India.
  • The street food is good. Tad Pai and spring rolls. Mmmm.
  • The Thai beer – “Singha” – is tasty.
  • Yet to spot a ladyboy. I’m looking under every skirt but to no avail.
  • My hotel room smells.
  • It’s hot and muggy.
  • There are way too many friggin’ posh English students here for my liking.
  • I’m still a bit pissed off about the VISA thing. I’m thinking Creegan should reimburse as he thinks 250 quid is nothing to worry about. I’m surprised at his words given his frugal nature.
  • I’m missing my chums from Kathmandu already, especially my FT.

Off to my volunteer placement in Cha ‘am tomorrow.

Disaster Strikes!!!! (Dunc)

November 7, 2006

So, I turn up at Kathmandu airport on Sunday (5th Nov) with plenty of time to spare to catch my flight to Calcutta. I needed to be in Calcutta on 6th November to catch my flight to Bangkok as part of my Round the World ticket schedule. Everything was going to plan until while waiting in the check-in counter I glance at my Nepali tourist visa. Can anyone spot the significant problem?:

Arse. They wouldn’t let me board. The immigration office was closed. I mopped back to my hotel to headbutt a door.  

$110 for a flight from Kathmandu to Calcuta down the shitter.

The first thing I did was to e-mail/call my Round the World ticket travel agency to rearrange my flight from Calcutta to Bangkok which was due to leave the next day. I couldn’t get through. They didn’t reply to my e-mail.

On to Monday (6th Nov). I went to the Nepali Immigration office to renew my VISA. The sign on the door said “Prosecution for late VISA application – 50,000 rupees to 5 yrs in prison”. Ahem. Turns out that sign was lying. I only got fined $16 plus $30 for new VISA. Wasn’t an enjoyable wait in the queue though I can tell you.

$46 for VISA extension and fine down the shitter (TOTAL: $156)

Still no contact with my RTW travel agency. My flight leaving Calcutta was mere hours away. To compound the problem even more my Indian VISA was due to expire on the 10th November. Any flight rearranged by my RTW travel agency would need to be arranged to leave before then. I’d also have to somehow get to Calcutta from Kathmandu in time to catch the rearranged flight. Arse. Decided to go to a travel agency to book a flight direct from Kathmandu to Bangkok and forget about catching my RTW connection in Calcutta to Bangkok. Only one seat available on Royal Nepal Airlines leaving 13th November. I booked it. Unfortunately, it means I’ll miss the start of my volunteer stint in Thailand by a week.

$253 for Kathmandu to Bangkok flight down the shitter (TOTAL: $399)

On to today (7th Nov). Called into the travel agency in the morning to pick-up my ticket. They had somehow managed to arse something up. No ticket. I was told I now needed to buy a Thai Airlines ticket for the 8th or 9th November. Cost $329 minimum.

$76 additional fee for flight down the shitter (Total: $475)

So it’s now 15:20 and I’m in an internet cafe. I need to call into the travel agency at 16:00 to pick up my Thai Airlines ticket. Failing this another travel agency has told me there is a seat on a flight leaving on the 15th November but this is going to eat even further into my volunteer work in Thailand.

Please deposit all laughs, “Ha-Ha’s” and smart arsed remarks in the comments section.

Will update progress at 7pm Nepali time (Around 2pm UK).

UPDATE

Got a ticket to Bankok tomorrow with Thai Airlines. Price $332.

$3 additional fee for flight down the shitter (Total: $478)

TOTAL = $478

I don’t even want to know what that is in sterling. Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned here. To be honest I’m not interested in learning it.

Please visit this blog again for further fun filled VISA disaster stories. I’m off for a drink.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek Pt3 (Dunc)

November 6, 2006

Day 7 – Annapurna Base Camp to Bamboo

Again woken up by Yubraj before dawn. Again it was well worth it for the mountain views. Annapurna 1 (8,091m):

Annapurna South (7,273m):

I also took another “fake”photo of myself but here’s a bonafide real one:

At around 10:00am after breakfast of milk tea and Tibetan bread with honey we packed up and headed back down the mountain. Passed lots of porters on the way. Definitely not a fun job. It’s about time they opened a helipad and adjoining McDonald’s up here.

That reminds me. One fat American hired three porters to carry him up to ABC two weeks ago. He drank and smoke as they took turns to carry him on their back. Not really in the true spirit of trekking.

Made really good pace and reached our guesthouse at Bamboo in mid-afternoon. The owners had some interesting “pot” plants scattered around:

Unfortunately, no hairdryers around. Satisfied myself with lovely Daal Bhat a fantastic hot shower (first for 4 days) and hot chocolate with rum. Slept soundly.

 Day 8 – Bamboo to Jhanu Dada Hot Springs

Woke up feeling ill. The squits had struck big time. Hard going trekking today. 10,000 odd steps up and down and up and down really were tough:

Fortunately at the end of the day we pulled up at a thermal hot springs resort. It was a bit of a hike down to the thermal baths from the hotel but well worth the effort. Stone lined pools of steaming hot water were strung alongside a river bank:

After a hard weeks trekking sinking in to the hot water was just the best feeling in the world. Coincidentally a number of people I had met over the course of the trek turned up at the springs at the same time. Fun times in the pool:

Nepali dancing at night but I missed it because I went to bed early ill.

Day 9 – Jhanu Dada Hot Springs to Naya Pul to Pokara

The last day of the trek!! Going up to ABC was definitely better than coming down. Felt pretty ropey all they way back. It took us a long 7 hours to reach Naya Pul. Didn’t take many pictures. Only this one of rice paddies of any note:

So, the ABC trek ended in a whimper really. Caught a taxi back to Pokara and that was that. I thoroughly recomend trekking in the Himalayas for anyone that travels to Nepal.

For more pictures of Part 3 of my trek please click HERE.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek Pt2 (Dunc)

November 3, 2006

Day 4 – Tadapani to Chhomrong

Yubraj woke me up at 6:00am. I would call him an arsehole but he did it for good reason. I was treated to a spectacular sunrise and mountain views:

The day soon got even better. Five minutes after setting off we literally run into a troop of langurs pissing about in the trees:

After travelling through the jungle we went up and down the sides of a large river valley. Climbed loads of steps. We walked through thick clumps of beautiful smelling Camoline flowers. Yubraj got sucked at by a leech. Reached our guesthouse in Chhomrong at noon. Met some Israelis (Raki and Atna) and a nice French lady (Patti) at the lodge.

It turns out the Israelis have got a really bad reputation for being arseholes on the trekking circuit and amongst guides. Lodges regularly turn them away even if they have space. I was told they often won’t pay the bill or demand free stuff and would get drunk, aggressive and violent. Many of the Israeli travellers are fresh out from national service which may explain this. In defence of the Levantine travellers all the Israelis I met were pretty nice, even those right out of the army.

Day 5 – Chhomrong to Deurali

Had a chat to Yubraj in the mornig and told him I wanted to shorten the trek because I wanted to do more walking during the day. I was getting kinda bored sitting around the lodges all afternoon and evening.

We had to leave early (7:00am) to catch up with the German girls who had went ahead to the next village the day before. We also met up with a Chinese girl we had met earlier on the trek – Rebecca. We really hiked hard and reached Deurali in late afternoon. The path got a bit tricky in places (below) with some crazy bridges thrown in:

Fortunately we were helped by the odd useful sign.

I felt sorry for the porters we kept passing carrying 50 odd kilos of stuff in crappy baskets:

Had a good time in the lodge at night. Found a guitar. Played some Jose Gonsalez and was taught how to play Hotel California by the owner:

Day 6 – Deurali to Annapurna Base Camp

Had a pretty shitty nights sleep. Lots of weird dreams. Yubraj told me it was common due to the altitude we slept at. Had a nice cup of milk Chiyaa and ate some Tibetan bread and felt fine. Off we headed to ABC!

Going was pretty hard all the way up. We approached along a narrow corridor like mountain valley. Shadows shrouded both sides in the early morning but beautiful mountains shone brilliant white in the distance:

Every now and then the valley wall would split to give us a glimpse of other nearby mountains:

After 2 hours trekking we reached Machhapuchhare Base Camp (MBC). A couple more hours trekking we finally reached our goal – Annapurna Base Camp at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. Sweet:

The altitude is pretty thin at ABC given it’s at 4130m above sea level. It really is tough to breath properly. The last few hundred metres up to ABC I really felt my lungs straining.

Felt really good to make it. Celebrated in the lodge at night by drinking rum and hot chocolate with a raft guide from Colorado, Rebecca the Chinese girl, the Israelis and the German girls.

Went to bed and shivered the whole night. Friggin’ freezing cold. It was 0 degrees celcius in my room and my spring/summer sleeping bag wasn’t up to the job. The mad dreams didn’t help matters. Still, I was halfway up a friggin’ mountain in the Himalayas!

For more photos from Part 2 of my trek please click HERE.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek Pt1 (Dunc)

November 2, 2006

Right, been putting it off for long enough. Time to post about my recent trek to the Annapurna Base Camp. Here goes.

Click HERE to see a map of the area I trekked.

DAY 1 – Naya Pul to Deorali

My trekking guide (Yubraj)  picked me up in a taxi from my hotel in Pokara (The Peace Eye) at 6:30. We drove for a couple of hours to our start point at Naya Pul. I was told only to bring a daysack with a change of clothes and a sleeping bag. Only 10 kilos to hike up the mountain – the less gear the better since we didn’t have a porter. We intended not to camp but stay in the many guesthouses along the way.

Within 5 minutes of setting off from the start point in Naya Pul we hit the Maosist tourist check point. I had to hand over 1000 rupees to the young scallywags. They were pretty friendly chaps. Perhaps less so if we didn’t cough up the dough. Tourist taxes are one of the main funding streams to support their “terrrrrrorist” activities in Nepal. Specifically, it helps to pay the wages of the 30,000 strong Maoist army.

On the subject of young scallywags we soon bumped into a couple of young German girls – Sophia and Alex. They were also heading to the ABC but with no guide. In fact they were heading in the wrong direction until Yubraj shouted at them. They ended up tagging along for the day and as it turned out the whole trek.

The first day was pretty hard going since it was pretty hot and sunny. There were lots of stone steps up and down. The landscape was beautiful. We walked through lush green valleys filled with paddy fields and alongside tuorqoise blue rivers:

Just after lunch Yubraj pointed out a landslide which had killed over 30 people, many of them children, just a couple of months ago. It happened during a rainstorm at midnight:

Reached our guesthouse at Ulleri late in the afternoon. Met some nice Americans at dinner and headed off to bed.

DAY 2 – Deorali to Ghorapani

Set off form the lodge at 8:00a.m. The German girls “officially” joined my trek in the morning. They are also volunteers at an orphanage in Kathmandu  so one good deed deserves another in my book.

The main thing to note on Day 2 was the amount of animal traffic on the route. There were a flock of mountain sheep, an angry buffalo, a pissed off calf and a tarmac chomping mule.

Arrived at Ghorapani at noon and finished for the day. I was urprised that we did so little walking.  Ended up mooking around the place buying presents and whooping a kids ass at basketball:

DAY 3 – Ghorapani to Poon Hill to Tadapani

Up before dawn to climb the 3000 odd metre mass known as Poon Hill. The view from the top is spectacular. You can see a panoramic view of much of the Annapurna mountain range. That’s if the weather is nice. It wasn’t. It was cloudy:

Fortunately after 30 minutes or so as sunrise approached the clouds cleared given the 300 odd people at the top of Poon Hill a glimpse of the 6441m Hiunchuli mountain:

As we headed down the mountain we were fortunate to glimpse of Machhapuchhare (Fishtail) Mountain. A beast at 6997m.

THIS photo suggests that I wasn’t really on Poon Hill but was standing in front of a blue screen somewhere. Hopefully this photo will nip that conspiracy theory in the bud:

Back down from Poon Hill we headed off along the trail into a cloud forest and then into a beautiful river gorge and then into a jungle valley. Yubraj pointed out a plant from which a skin cancer drug is extracted. Unfortunately a large US pharmaceutical company has bought the patent and it is now grown in the US somewhere. Unfortunate because it deprives Nepal of much needed income. Arseholes.

Happier news round the next corner. We got to see some monkeys! Langurs to be specific:

Also, I think I’ve solved the Yeti myth. Take a look at this bad photo of an out of focus Langur. Look familiar to other photos of Yeti?:

Ended a long but fantastic day of  trekking at Tadapani totally knackered.  Met a nice American couple. Talked about transport key performance indicators. Definitely didn’t think I’d be doing that in the Himalayas.

For more pictures of Part 1 of my trek please click HERE

Kayaking Madness (Dunc)

October 31, 2006

A conversation a couple of weeks ago in the “Ultimate Descents” river sports office –

Me: I want to do some kayaking. I’m not very good.
Ultimate Descents Guy: Oh, you should do the 4 day kayaking course for beginners.
Me: Ah, for beginners eh? Sounds good to me. Not dangerous is it?
Ultimate Descents Guy: No. not at all. The course is designed for beginners and the river is safe.

Ahem. Skip forward a couple of weeks to a Nepali river and picture me being capsized from my kayak and hurtling face first towards sharp rocks in a class 3 rapid. Safe my arse. To quote Wikipedia’s online description of white water categories:

Class 3 Rapids = Difficult, irregular and requires expert navigation to successfully travel. These rapids are best left to paddlers with good to expert skills

Ahem! Me, Carolyn and an Israeli guy (Yarev) were literally thrown into the deep end for 3 days of kayaking down the Seti River. We were joined by two Nepali guides (Dil and Som) and a cool Canadian called Bernie.

Bernie is a 50 year old Hippie who was working with Ultimate Descents for the first time. A really funny guy who paraglides, snowboards, surfs and kayaks

On day one everything started out pretty well. We got the bus out to the river in the morning and ate dhal bhat and jumped in the boats. It was the first time any of us had been kayaking in a river. We expected things to start easy. Nope. Within 5 minutes we had to negotiate a Class 2 river rock garden. We all capsized. We all narrowly missed hitting rocks.

Things went OK for the next 30 minutes or so. No-one fell out. Then a class 3 rapid appeared on the horizon. We got out our boats and scouted it on the banks. Dil, the guide, told us the line to take. We followed him. Fucking crazy. Burst through a big whitewater hole without falling out and smashed tyhrough some big waves. Amazingly me and Carolyn made it through but Yarev capsized and hit some rocks. Felt really good to make it and my confidence surged. It turned out my new found confidence was sorely misplaced. I capsized a couple of more times (Along with Yarev) but nothing too bad. Carolyn was ace and made it through the rest of the day unscathed.

Finished paddling for the day and pulled up to a teahouse for the night. We were entertained during the night by Nepali women dancing as part of the Tihar festival, Bernie’s hippy/kayaking/paragliding stories and Yarev’s pro Israeli rants. It was a fun night.

Day Two was pretty good. Not too many crazy rapids and we saw monkeys on the riverbank. Only capsized once. Carolyn made it through the day unscathed. She even made it through a 3-plus rapid which me and Yarev decided to walk around because it looked too dangerous. We camped on the banks of the river at the end of the day. Went swimming, made a camp fire, ate Dhal Bhat, picked up a baby goat, watched fire flies, looked at the stars and then went to bed in a tent.

On to Day 3. The first 2 hours were great. I didn’t fall out. Lots of fun crashing through big waves. My confidence again was high. The next 2 hours however are a bit of a blur. We went through fourclass 3 rapids. Both me and Yarev capsized in all of them. It’s pretty scary being dragged face down along the bottom of the river into rocks while stuck in a kayak. It gets pretty tiring swimming for 100 metres through rapids trying not to get dragged under. It hurts when your feet crack against rocks.

The last rapid of the day was the biggest and longest of the 3 days kayaking. Both me and Yarev walked around due to injuries and  being knackered. Carlolyn went for it. Unfortunately, she capsized along with the Canadian guide Bernie. Bernie banged his head. Carloyn got dragged through 150 metres of white water and was dragged under by “Boogie Water”. Fortunately she made it safely just a little shock up.

So that was that. Good job to coz I was banged up pretty badly and for want of a better word scared to continue. Caught the bus back to Pokara and went for a beer with Bernie and Carolyn.  At this point Bernie decided to tell us that he was surprised that no-one had died on the kayaking course we had just completed on this occasion or when it had been run in the past. No way in hell should we have been let loose on the river with only a couple of hours practice on a lake. He also told us the safety equipment was dodgy, we were in the wrong type of boats and the guides, although good,  weren’t trained to the appropriate safety standards. He won’t be working with Ultimate Descents in the future.

Ah well. We all made it through and were still smiling at the end:

I’m definitely going to continue kayaking in the UK when I get back. Preferably in safer conditions.

Unfortunately, no photos from the river because we were told not to bring cameras. If you’d like to see some pictures of Class 3 rapids click HERE.

Pokara and Rafting (Duncan)

October 26, 2006

It’s been a busy past week here in Pokara.. It all started with beard removal. Here’s a photo of me pre-shave a couple of hours after I got back from trekking:

Because I arrived home early I was expecting to spend the next few days mooking around on my own in Pokara. Fortunately, I ran into a couple of VSN volunteer buddies (Matt and Halley) who were swinging through town after a visit to the Chitwan NP. Good times were had. We hired a boat and a fishing roa and went out on Pokara Lake with a couple of beers, a lighter and a toilet roll:

On Saturday Matt and Halley headed back to Kathmandu but fortunately for me new volunteers arrived (Jason, Carolyn and Sam). Spent the weekend chilling out. Went for a hike with Carolyn to the World Peace Buddhist Pagoda. It’s located up a ruddy big hill which overlooks Pokara. We got lost finding it and hadd to hire a local kid to show us the way for 40 rupees. Well worth the visit. The panoramic views around are pretty amazing and it is really peaceful up there. (I farted on the Pagoda):

On to Monday and white water rafting. Up at the crack of dawn me, Carolyn and Sam headed off to the Kali River with 14 other muppets for 2 nights and 3 days of white water rafting. It was great fun. The water was friggin’ freezing but the rafting was ace and scenery beautiful. We camped at the riverside during the night and ate surprisingly decent food cooked by the guides. Using my expert reflexes and super fitness I managed to stay in the raft until the last day when I was jealously thrown out the boat by the Carolyn and the guides. Here’s a photo of part of our rafting “Team”:

I didn’t drown which was a bonus. I nearly drowned today though in my first day of the 4 day kayak clinic I’ve signed up for. I swallowed a couple of gallons of Pokara lake water learning how not to die while white water kayaking. Off to the Seti River tomorrow to start the real deal.

Two other notable things of the past week. My hiking boots were stolen from outside my room (arse) and the Tihar festival has been in full swing. Main activities include dancing,  kids making road blocks and extorting money from drivers to get out of the way, kids going around singing annoyingly in shops and restaurants until the owners/tourists give them money to go away, dogs being “tika’d” and the theft of hiking boots from tourists.

Update in a couple of days when I’m back from kayaking.

 More photos click HERE.

Back from the Mountain!!! (Dunc)

October 19, 2006

I’m back early. I’m not dead. I’m in Pokara and internet is very pricey so this update is a short one. I’ll do a proper update when I’m back in Kathmandu.

Well, the trek to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) was unbelievable. Had a fantastic time. Only slightly marred by being ripped off by my trekking company. I paid for 12 days (guide, food and accomodation) on their explicit recommendation. I completed the trek relatively easily in 9 days but they won’t give me a refund for the 3 days I didn’t use. Arseholes.

Anyways, here’s a cheesy one of a flower and mountains:

Word up (Rory)

October 17, 2006

Whas’up my nigga?

How’s it hangin?

Arright homes, where you been at?

How the game playa?

What the fuck goin on up in this mutha fuck?

Is it all love homes?

Who dat ho? Hmm, mmm. That’s right. You know it’s true.

Nigga, what the fuck goin on?

Shit negro? Mutha fucka you know dat dem ho’s gettin it on is da bomb. Shee’it playa.

Late’a homes. It’s all love xxx  

Hello(Rory)

October 16, 2006

Hello, how are you?

Is all right with you?

What stories have you to tell from the last time we spoke?

Work treating you ok?

What would you like to do given the time and space?

Is love in your heart?

Who do you want to make love with?

Can anyone explain what goes on and why?

God created lesbianism. Is this his greatest gift to mankind? (discuss)

I love you all xxx 

Himalayas Here I Come… (Dunc)

October 9, 2006

I’m in Pokara after a crazy bus ride. We were airbourne about 20% of the time. I think I’ve got piles. Pokara is a very beautiful place situated on the side of a lake. A lot quieter than Kathmandu.

I start my 12 day trek tomorrow morning to the Annapurna base camp some 4130 metres above sea level!I don’t think they have internet access in the Himalayas so I won’t be updating the blog for a couple of weeks so it’s up to Rory to entertain you in the meantime.

I’ve been warned to expect armed Maoist terrorist demanding money, yeti’s and killer avalanches. Meh! Scotland have more chance of beating France at football than anythig like that turning up.

 Next time

Past Week Stuff (Dunc)

October 8, 2006

So, after Dashain celebrations on Monday it was back to “work” with Canadian Halley at the orphanage during the middle part of the week. All the other volunteers buggered off at the end of last week leaving us in charge. Luckily the work mainly consisted of playing footy and guitar with the kids and watering the brand new vegetable garden:

Some more photos of the kids HERE. They’re all as cute as chocolate buttons.

Thursday was my last full day in Bistachhap so I decided to go exploring with Halley. We headed off in the direction of the Botanical Garden in search of adventure! We found some weird stuff. Perhaps the weirdest was a Polish tourist wearing incredibly tight jeans and his Nepalese wife. This was closely followed by discovering what looked like an abandoned science lab, a sideshow Bob impersonator and a group of monks playing cricket.

For some more photos of the hike click HERE.

On to Friday and I said my goodbyes to my host family and the kids at the orphanage. Earlier in the week I had a chance to read the kids personal history files. All pretty sad stuff and in a way made it even harder to leave. I’m amazed about how much I got attached to the kids in such a short space of time. I wish I could have spent longer in Bistachhap. I’m really going to miss the place.

To help drown my Bistachhap blues I helped to celebrate a fellow volunteers birthday in Kathmandu on Saturday. Bart, from North Carolina reached the mighty age of 22.

To kick off the night we went for a meal at our regular weekend restaurant Roadhouse. Everything was going well until the bill arrived. They hadn’t taken 10% discount off we were due because we were volunteers. I complained to the waiter, he said there was nothing he could do because the bill was already written. Bunch of Nepali arse. On closer inspection of the bill I noticed they had forgotten to charge us for drinks. Stitch that waiter!!

Unfortunately, half way through paying the bill the waiter came over and pointed out his error. An argument insued. Voices were raised. I demanded to see the manager. More voices were raised. We ended up getting the 10% discount. Just shows you that moaning does work sometimes.

After the restaurant it was on to Sam’s bar for some serious boozing and a strange but rousing  rendition of the 4-non blondes hit “What’s Going On”. Good times:

Tried to get people to compliment my new “Hang Loose” t-shirt for the rest of the night. I think it’s probably the best t-shirt in the world:

Stumbled back to the hotel in the wee hours and tried but failed miserably to hide from the beer monkey.

For more photos of Bart’s b’day click HERE

I’m off to Pokara to start my 12 day Annapurna trek tomorrow at 6:00am. I’m gonna bag me a Yeti.

Bye-Bye Bistachhap (Dunc)

October 6, 2006

Said goodbye to my Nepali family, the orphans and Bistachhap village this morning. Very sad way to end another really good week. Welled up inside a bit walking away from the orphanage. I got quite attached to the little tykes and my host family in the short time I spent with them. But, as with everything in life though things come to an end and we have to move on.

As I mentioned in my last post the Nepali Dashain festival is in full swing at the moment. On Monday I was privileged to be part of my host families celebrations on one of the most important days. Baa and Aamaa put tika’s on the whole family (including me!) and exchanged fruit, gifts and money (I got socks and a selection box! – just kidding). The mood and the feeling reminded me a lot of Christmas day. Instead of turkey we ate roasted goat (sacrificed the day before)  and as with turkey in the UK we ate goat leftovers for the following 4 days. Quite a pungent taste on day 4.

My Baa preparing to tika the family: 

Me tika’d up:

Click HERE for more Dashain photos

Having problems with tinternet today so will complete the update of the past week tomorrow!

“Toilets and release of karma” (Dunc)

October 3, 2006

My blog admin page tells me that someone reached my site yesterday by googling “Toilets and release of karma”. Very odd. Someone obviously hoping that it’s possible to remove bad karma on the shitter. I’m becoming a Hindu if this is true.

Big booze up at the weekend to comiserate the fact a number of volunteers (Monica, Andrea, Lia, Trevor, Lanie, Sue, amongst others) headed home. The party spilled back to our hotel room. Big mission to get ice cubes to chill the beer (the fridge doesn’t seem to have caught on here yet). Taylor fulfilled his Kathmandu dream and went dancing:

He really impressed the girls:

We were also celebrating the completion of a couple of Bistachaap “Brighter Futures” children’s home tasks. Like painting the gate:

Building the compost bin:

And creating a rock star:

The 15 day long Dashain festival is underway here in Nepal. It’s a bit like Christmas. Everyone gets new clothes. Different things happen on each day of the festival. For instance, on Sunday over 120 goats and 15 buffalo were sacrificed in the main Kathmandu Square. Blood was spread over the wheels of nearby vehicles to ensure safe journeys. All the planes in the Nepalese commercial air fleet had a goat sacrificed in their honour to promote safe flying. Great fun. Obviously not if you’re a goat lover, or a goat.

Exciting news. Well for me anyways. I’ve booked 24 days of activities starting on the 10th October. I’m going on a 12 day trek to Annapurna Base Camp in the Himalayas followed by 2 days sightseeing in Pokara, a 3 day rafting trip on the Kali river, a 4 day kayak clinic on the Seti river and a 3 day elephant safari in the Royal Chitwan National Park. Very excited about everything. Should be ace.

For more photos click HERE

Pugyol!! (Dunc)

September 29, 2006

At last I’ve managed to get a picture of my twice daily meal of Daal (Lentil) Bhat (Rice):

The tray it’s served on kinda reminds me of primary school meal trays. The little pot contains the daal broth which you pour over and mix into the bhat. Each additional segment is filled with a tasty side dish from curried vegetables (everyday), egg omelet, stewed pumpkin, chutney, spices, rice pudding, spinach, goat, chicken, spiced beans and pulses. You mix in and eat everything with your right hand. Under no circumstances must you use your left hand (for toilet duties). Here’s a picture of the dinning room/kitchen where I sit on the floor on a small wooden plank  to eat:

When I sit down to eat my aammaa or didi (big sister) initially serves a portion of everything on to my tray (just like in the photo) and sits down opposite me by her pots. The first serving amounts to a normal sized meal in the UK. In Nepal however this is only round one. People eat like horses. Whoever is serving watches like a hawk. When something is nearly eaten on the tray another spoonful is dumped on. The more you eat the more it compliments the cook.

At first the most I could eat was one extra round of top ups but now, if I’m hungry, I can get 2 down me. It’s harder  going at morning daal bhat (9:30am). I’m sure my aamaa and didi have competitons about who can feed me the most. They both told me I’m to thin and they want to fatten me up for when I go back to my family. They also try to trick me into saying the food isn’t very nice. Typical meal time conversation:

<After 2 portions of everything> 
Didi:Bhat chahinchha? (More rice?)
Me:Pugyol (I’m full)
Didi: Daal chahinchha? (More lentil?)
Me: Pugyol
Didi: Sag chahinchha? (More spinnich?)
Me: Pugyol, pugyol!
Didi:  Tacari chahinchha? (More vegtables?)
Me:Pugyol, pugyol, pugyol!!!!
Didi: (Wth sad look on her face) Daal bhat mitho chaainna? (Daal Bhat not delicious?)
Me: No, no daal bhat mitho chaa didi!! (Daal bhat is delicious)
Didi:(Happy look on her face) Bhat chahinchha?
Me:Holy God!!!!! Pugyol!!
Didi:Daal chah…………..???

It reminds me a lot of going around to my granny’s house. She won’t let me out the door unless I take10 packets of crisps, 5 bags of sweets, 2 litres of coke and 10 pairs of new socks. Meal times would be a lot tougher if the food was bad but it’s genuinely nothing short of delicious. All homegrown, organic produce. Having said that I’m glad to head into Kathmandu at the weekend and eat something without rice. And to drink sweet, sweet beer of course.

Another update later in the weekend!

Rangi Changi (Dunc)

September 24, 2006

The beer monkey has had a busy week. I’ve learned a great new Nepalese phrase – “Rangi Changi”. It directly translates as “Muilti Coloured” but can also used to describe the state of being shit faced drunk. I like it a lot. I’ve been Rangi Changied a lot.

It all kicked off on Thursday with Monica’s birthday party in Bistachhap village. The Bistachhap volunteers and I were invited around to her host familiy’s house for a wonderful meal washed down with Nepali homemade wine. The meal consisted of coconut laced rice pudding, curried chips, fried boiled eggs (very tasty!) roti bread, chutney and big fried prawn cracker things. The Nepali wine consisted mostly of meths. 

Things started to get a bit messy when a box of red wine was opened (mainly down the wall – any ideas Jessica?)  and the Nepali peace pipe was  passed around. I got so wasted  I saw fit to divulge a few of my famous Christmas conundrums. Stopped short at getting my arse out. A great night. Pictures to follow soon….

Woke up on Friday morning with surprisingly only a light beating from the beer monkey. After working hard building the compost bin all morning we headed in to Kathmandu for Man City fan Rob’s 23rd birthday.  The party started at New Orleans restaurant. I had a tasty chicken sizzler meal and three 660ml beers for 700 local dib-dobs (Around 5 quid!). One bottle of beer here costs as much as most main courses. It’s a bloody travesty I tell you. Here’s a snap of Rob about to devour his birthday cake at the end of the meal:

At this point things begin to get a bit hazy. My Rangi Changi decline is perhaps best documented if I go through the photos on ,y camera in sequence. It all started when Haley “Celine Lavigne” (A Canadian)  took it upon herself to slyly rub birthday cake into my face after I accidentally ate her cake:

This angered me and I went looking for a fight, preferably with a mountie:

Luckily for any Nepalese mounties in Kathmandu I managed to vent most of my anger on the dance floor at “Tom and Jerry’s” club. Sweet moves:

My ability to do simple tasks such as point and click a camera evaporated I suppose just about when the photo above was taken. I’ve got around 15 photos like this in a series:

I know some of the guys made it to 007 Dance Club and were most perturbed by the fully clothed dance girls (The lack of entrance fee should have given them a clue). I headed back to the hotel for a quiet game of chess. The next decent photo was clearly taken by someone else the following morning:

A lovely snap of me and my room mate Matt (from Illinois) spending some quality time together watching HBO on TV.  I appear to be doing some sort of  Jesus crucifixtion impression (If you’re reading Mel I available for the sequel).

I felt pretty tired on Saturday due to lack of any kip the night before. Went for a tasty breakfast at Helena’s roof top restaurant (Highest in Kathmandu), ate more food at OR2K’s veggie cafe at dinnertime and then watched Sin City at Cheers bar in the eary evening. It was then back to the hotel room with Rob, Matt and Bart (From South Carolina) to watch football on ESPN and drink vodka and orange. I was also pleased to see Europe are kicking ass in the Ryder Cup. Awesome!!

For more photos please click HERE

Aammaa Sorting Rice (Dunc)

September 17, 2006

I don’t have any pretences about being a competent photographer but I think this series of photos of my Aamaa (mother) separating chaff from rice early one morning are pretty good:

Mad Goats and Botanical Gardens (Dunc)

September 16, 2006

I’m back in Kathmandu for a night to do some laundry, update my blog and most importantly drink some sweet, sweet, beer. Mmmm……

Few, well what a week in Bistachhap! Things literally started off with a bang on Monday night when I experienced possibly the loudest thunderstorm in the history of the world. The explosive activity (what a link!) continued the following night when a deranged goat wandered into our garden and caused nothing short of chaos. It was pure evil. It tried to eat my sandals (while I was still wearing them), successfully snaffled some rice and sag (spinach) and nearly trampled on my bhanni (little sister). It was a pretty surreal twilight experience. My Nepalese family took it all in their stride though. We had mutton for Daal Bhat the following day (Stitch that goat). Here’s a picture of my Baa (father), bhahinis (little sisters) and Bai (little brother):

Work at the orphanage hit a few early teething problems. We couldnt build the compost bin due to lack of wood, mesh, nails, screws and wood preserver. We couldnt buy the materials because Kathmandu had ground to a halt for the day due to Maosist “terrrrrrrrorist” demonstarations. As far as I can gather they were protesting over the fact they had hijacked 40 Nepali army trucks full of guns and ammunition on route to Kathmandu from India . Talk about having your cake and eating it.

With no hope of getting materials we (Monica, Matt, Jessica and Taylor) decided to plough on with other righteous tasks to help spread liberty and freedom to the people of Nepal. Things such as painting the entrance gate:

Clearing dirt on the orphanage access road:

And jamming with the orphans:

“Jamming with the Orphans”. Good name for a band or perhaps a sensational tabloid headline involving Matthew Kelly (“Tonight Matthew I’m going to be Badly Torn Boy” – Boom boom).

On to Thursday. Feeling adventurous we decided to go on a hike to the other side of Bistachhap valley braving leech and spider infested paddy fields, massive butterflies and VC. It was good fun Nam flashbacks aside. Much to our surprise we found a friggin massive Botanical Garden complex:

 

It contained, amongst other things, a bee keeping training facility, a psycic (?) garden and a V.I.P. plantation area. It was built in the 1950s but by whom and for what reason I couldn’t fathom. In truth, the more pressing question niggling at my mind was why was it built in he middle of nowhere with no apparent access road? It’s not mentioned in any guidebook either. Conspiracy theories welcome.

Friday was pretty quiet. We continued work at the orphanage. The highlight of my day was Kajha (snack) made for me at lunchtime by my Didi (Big Sister) washed down with a cup of Chiyaa (Tea). It consisted of toasted oats in warm milk with honey and coconut, a small dish of spiced pulses and a handful of freshly roasted peanut type things:

Very tasty.

For more photos please click HERE