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Tahiti

I assume Tahiti has at some point in its life been known as the following – Samoa, Tonga Fiji, Noumea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu. It’s the only explanation for how those behemoths of scum and decay have ever had any good press, when rightfully, any truthful review of them can be found in the bowl of a public toilet. People in the past went to Tahiti, thought they were in Fiji, and when they went home, raved about this heaven on Earth, then when others went to the real Fiji and caught dysentery they were rightly annoyed.   

 

Tahiti is the class president, captain of the sports team, dating the most popular girl at school and the first to get a bit of side boob. It is everything the other Pacific islands want to be but just aren’t. The only detrimental thing one can say about it is that it was once French, which while a heinous and ultimately unforgivable sin, it does do its best to make up for this.

 

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I’m sorry I just have nothing bad to say about Tahiti…

 

As I have said many times before, a country needs to offer more than one thing, beaches or forests or history isn’t enough. Tahiti delivers A grade results on almost every category, and unlike most islands, doesn’t charge you the soul of your first born just to eat a rat burger.

 

Tahiti and New Zealand share one property that makes them both amazing when it comes to the nature they offer. The sheer diversity on offer is the best this side of a LSD fuelled trip through Las Vegas.

 

 

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Nope still nothing bad to say…

 

With several main islands varying between the almost alienly beautiful Moorea, a sharp dagger of rock covered in rich deep rain forests and perpetual mists, looking up at the island from the shallow bay where stingrays will swim right up to you to eat out your hand and cop a feel, you feel like you’re looking at a real life Jurassic Park.

 

Then not a thirty minute boat ride away is Bora Bora, probably the most famous of the islands. I was there on a cruise ship with near 2000 people on it. We dropped anchor in about 30 meters of water that was so unbelievably clear you could make out starfish on the sea floor below us. Bora Bora is a cross between a volcanic peak and a wide atoll, with a moderate sized mountain surrounded by gentle slopes dotted with small holiday villas. The beaches are the star of this island though, for the most part, I think a beach is a beach, most of the times I would rather sunbath in the backyard and not get sand everywhere, but Bora Boras sea shelf extends almost a mile out to sea, you can walk from the beach to the horizon almost a whole mile, and still not be any deeper than your knees.

 

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…Nope still nothing.

 

The main city of Papeete is the only slight let down of the islands. Although compared to Suva and the other cities dotted around the islands it is Las Vegas wrapped in Disneyland. A relatively clean albeit slightly run down city, it does however offer possibly the best food in the entire history of the world, past present and future in this and any other alternative realities. The food I brought off a street side vendor while walking around was better than the gourmet food served on the luxury ships I was on, the food served in the restaurants was so indecently  good I am now nursing a semi just thinking about it. I am sure that if you scrapped the scum off the roads there, it would in fact be the nicest spice the world has ever known. And all this for maybe $3.50.

 

Tahiti knows it is special, it’s one of the few island chains that fall on the wrong side of the International Date Line, which may in fact explain why it is still paradise, where the other islands have sunk into a pit of decay and apathy so thick it chokes you. It takes longer to get there; you have to convert your money to French franks which I find offensive on principal alone, and it doesn’t have dancing penguins. 

 

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Not a single thing bad to say… 

 

Worst of all though, no matter where you come from in the world, no matter how beautiful and peaceful your home is, no matter how perfect your life was before you got there. Tahiti will leave you bitter and resentful that you weren’t born there.

South Pacific Scum

Most people know the saying, “don’t shit where you eat”. The south pacific never got that memo, or the other memos such as “Don’t shit where you eat/sleep/work/play/swim/drive”

 

The South Pacific is one of those places that everyone around the world has some idealised picture of, most likely stemming from countless movies and books depicting ship wreaks on tropical paradise. Leading to wacky adventures and tree houses staffed with monkey butlers.

 

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Pictured: Reality

 

However the reality tends to be less Swiss Family Robinson and more Lord of the Flies.

 

You have two options when it comes to the type of island, either a volcanic peak thrusting up from the ocean covered by forests and insects designed to give you typhoid.

 

The other is the coral atolls which are the ones most likely going to be washed away by global warming, Forever depriving us of… sand.

 

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After this island, and the next island, there’s only 40,000 islands left!

 

While Fiji will always hold a special place in my heart as the home of scum and false advertising in the Pacific, the rest of the islands are not much better. Tonga and Samoa get hit by hurricanes and tropical storms so often they have just given up cleaning up after them. When I was there I saw a rusted bike lodged on cliff face facing the ocean and asked the tour guide if it had been washed up in the last storm, he said it has been there for over a year but there was no point moving it because something else would just wash up sooner or later. An argument I used when I was 5 for not having a bath, ironically many of the locals seemed to have had a similar thought.

 

While the islands themselves do have some lovely scenery it is by no means special, forests and beaches can be found all over the world and with less flotsam and jetsam strewn across them.

 

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That’ll be $7000 thanks

 

Most of the islands seem to work under the understanding that once there, you’re stuck on the island, so they need make no extra effort to help you enjoy your stay, the concept of repeat business is apparently lost on them. They are content to suck you dry and con you out of whatever money and personal items you have during your brief visit to hell.

 

I have always been of the opinion that there is no point going on a holiday anywhere for one reason, scenery alone is not enough, nor is history, or culture, places don’t need to win on all points, very few places in the world do, but they should at the very least, not offend you with apathy and core-deep rot.

 

New Caledonia does offer at least a semblance of modern living along with the usual beaches and rain forests, and you can be safe walking around during the day time without an armed escort, more than can be said for some places. In Noumea the art of the snatch and grab is taken to almost Olympic levels, where a local will walk past you on the beach, grab your bag and sprint off, as you chase the first a second will come by and grab anything you left behind.

 

Much like the cesspit of Fiji the only holiday worth having in most of these tropical paradises is in the carefully maintained holiday resorts. But as I have said before, if that’s your idea of a holiday you can shop local and save a few thousand and most likely have a better time, unless that is, you enjoy lording it over others that you holiday in Fiji, in which case, enjoy you Hep C.

 

By in large most of the islands are for the most part identical, only really separated by their size and thus the size of filth they pass off as a town/city. If you must go, your safer heading to the smaller islands as there is less chance of being caught in the yearly coups and uprisings or police marches/beat downs.

 

After years of traveling to see some of the most impressive nature and history on offer, I realised that after everything is seen and done it’s the people that make the country. And unfortunately the people of the south pacific are by in large made up of equal parts apathy, desperation and resignation. Tonga, Samoa, Noumia and New Calidonia are united as the only countries in the world (apart from the lovely exception of Brazil) where every single time I visited them people went out of their way to screw you over. From the Taxi drivers who will happily tell you it’s only $20 to take you to the beach, when it would have been a little politer or more gracious to point out that the beach is only a 5 minute walk away, or at least just run the meter. Or the locals who welcome you onto the beach, only to tell you when you leave that it’s a private beach and you have to pay. And if you dare question their less than honest business practices, you can discuss it with one or their four thousand cousins…

 

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“There a problem here?” 

 

There are a few bastions of light in the sea of scum and villainy. Rarotonga is surprisingly lovely, a medium sized island with a small local population who work mostly on plantation and don’t rely on conning tourists for a living. Some of the nicest beaches and forest walks to be had, all within walking distance of the hotels and villages. It is also one of the cheapest holidays you can do from New Zealand or Australia, and aside from package deals to hell/Fiji, you can often do a 7-10 day holiday for around 700-1000 dollars.

 

There is however one shinning bastion of light in the quagmire of vileness that is the South Pacific, a shining jewel in a pan of night soil, a polio vaccine in the 1920’s. Tahiti has somehow withstood the atrophy and decay that has grasped the rest of the South Pacific. A mocking example of what could have been if people just gave a shit. Coming next time on Just Stay at Home, Tahiti, it’s not all bad.

Greece

People often ask others to sum something up in one word. Themselves, another, experiences, it’s all the same. Most people will waffle and claim one can’t describe the depth and breadth of someone or something in one word, a life that’s spanned decades or a place that has stood for centuries or millennium, a picture can’t do it justice so how can a single word when a thousand apparently just won’t do.

                              

I call bullshit.

 

We all sum up everything, everyone, every day in a single word. It’s proven that we make decisions about others based on split seconds of information, we base people on symmetry, we base places on smells and cleanliness. When we shop, we don’t look at every item and judge it on its strengths and weaknesses, weigh its pros and cons. We grab the shiniest apple and the biggest slab of meat, shiny and big, that’s all that counts.

 

Again, people claim you can’t judge a place in a single word when there are so many factors, so many facets to consider. Again, bullshit. It’s both easy and satisfying to judge a place in a single word. Egypt – Scum, Britain – Decay, America –Excess, Brazil –Corrupt, Tahiti –Paradise, New Zealand – Nature (much to my disgust, at least the other countries earned their summation, we rely on geography)

 

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Hey now, we worked hard for that… geography…

 

For all the thousands of years Greece has stood in one form or another, from the millions who have lived and died and the billions of Euros that have been lost, the one word to describe Greece is Apathy.

 

Living in Germany at the moment is interesting, because if the world was fair, the Germans would own Greece right now, they have certainly paid for it.  When I was there last year with my German partner I felt we should have gotten taken around for free, like the owner of a restaurant that can come in and sit down for free whenever they like. Zeus should have been there to show us the new bathroom they’ve installed with the billions they’ve been given.

 

Greece has a really strange solution to their lack of money, consumer spending is in the tank, both domestic and international, and to combat this, they just raise the price of absolutely everything. Greece has always been expensive, from when I first went there three years ago to when I visited during the worst of their rioting. One time I was in Rhodes needing to buy a pair of black trousers for work, something that in Turkey not 50 miles across the Aegean sea I can pick up for 10 euro, in NZ for maybe 30 and America for 20. Now the Greeks, being the brilliant economists, they are decided to charge 110 Euro, for a pair of plain black, non-brand name trouser, in every damn store the price was the same or worse.

 

It’s as if the country is run by 5 year olds who were told they needed more money so just quadrupled the price of everything.

 

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Brilliant! Crisis solved!

There is also the slight problem that although statistically the Greeks do work more than the Germans and almost every other country in Europe, they just have a slightly different definition of “work”. Greece still stands as the only country in the world I have been to, where shop owners get angry and yell at you for waking them up from their well-earned mid-afternoon naps to buy something. This wasn’t a one time thing either, there are nursery school teachers who have woken less people up than me when I was in Greece.

 

Now you can’t talk about Greece without talking about its history and its famous ruins.

 

While walking around modern Greece just fills you with a sense of supreme apathy, walking around ancient Greece is just sad. While in Israel the weight of human history and achievement is almost a physical force, the history and tragedy of the region oozing out of every stone.

 

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Pictured: History 

 

The acropolis has been stripped of any sense of dignity and pride, it’s been turned into another way to make money with very little effort, and unlike Turkey, who whore out their history for a quick dollar as well, they at least earn it by preserving, presenting and displaying it for you. Greece just takes your money, cops a feel and slams the door shut before you can ask for a refund.

 

You could almost be tempted to describe Greece as sad, that is until you trip over one of the locals having a nap.

 

When humans grow up, they are faced with two directions in life:

Work hard, study and reap the rewards of such a life with all the benefits it entails.

 

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Benefits 

 

The other path is to coast through life with as little effort as possible, relax, take it easy, but just scrape by week to week.

 

Greece is the spoilt child of Europe who chooses both. It wants to coast through life, not working and not giving a damn about anything, but it also wants the fast cars and nice cloths of its harder working siblings.

 

Greece has many beautiful places, some lovely holiday islands; Mykonos is particularly lovely if you want a quiet get away, and academically it has a fascinating history. Unfortunately it is let down by its people, as many countries are. It is inescapable and unavoidable; Greece would be a lot nicer without the Greeks.

 

The simple solution is to either let the Germans buy it out right or give it to the Turks, they always wanted to be part of the EU and they actually know how to work.

Narcissistic New Zealand

I’m back with full internet and to celebrate I’m taking a shot at my homeland… you know, to prove I haven’t gone soft, and it only seems fair after raging on the rest of the world.

 

Let me preface this by saying, that objectively, the New Zealand Tourism board are full of the biggest bunch of idiots and self-gratifying douchebags. Fact.

 

Every time I see a add for New Zealand, I get the strongest mental image of a bunch of potbellied, balding, middle aged men rubbing themselves as they throw out words like “Organic, Green, Fresh” and reaching for the tissues and Vaseline when someone moans out the word “Natural”. I was briefly tempted to send them a thesaurus for Christmas but I feared the magnitude of the resulting orgasm when they found synonyms would cause another city destroying earthquake.

 

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Better than Porn

 

In fact, this is a job I desperately want. I’ve seen many piss easy jobs in my travels, from the pilot on the Amazon river, which amounts to being paid 20k a day to tell the captain of the ship to stay in the middle of the river, to the guy in Alaska who sat on a bench outside a national park and told tourists to beware of bears, leading one to believe they either haven’t invented either signs or literacy in Alaska.

 

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The final English exam in Alaskan Schools

 

I am the unfortunate age of 26, which means I am on the downward spiral to 30 and thus being a burden on society (more so than I already am), that also means I was also born around the same time anyone at the NZ tourism department did any damn work.

 

I remember the launch of the “100% pure NZ” campaign years ago before I left NZ, which was a massive change from the “Clean Green NZ” campaign and the “Naturally NZ” and the… excuse me while I throw up, my delicate constitution can only handle so much crap.

 

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What about 50% Pure?

Nah…

75% Pure?

Hmm… better

100% Pure

Great can we caplock it?

100% PURE! 

BRILLIANT!

 

I stumbled upon an online debate this week about people discussing when they first realized they were going to die and how to cope with the unavoidable conclusion that they would one day die, how can one sleep at night knowing, for a fact, that one day they will not wake up. Personally what keeps me up at night is not my own mortality (I have always had a suspicion I am in fact part God and thus immortal) but the fact that we all must work for a living, in jobs that in some small way contribute to society, while these unimaginative, pretentious, greasy (I assume), virgin (probably), web toed (why not?) dumbarses at New Zealand tourism pull in pay check after pay check for an idea someone farted out three decades ago!

 

I will try to make this as easy to understand as possible for them, I’m not sure on their ability to comprehend full sentences. There are two types of people in the world, either people have no idea what and where New Zealand is, these are people who most likely don’t even own a passport and don’t travel more than twenty miles to go on vacation, and if they do it to somewhere with satellite TV. The other type of people are those who have heard of New Zealand, either through the stale thirty year old advertising campaign we have driven into the apparently rather dry ground, or through the Lord of the Rings. It is more than a little sad that one of our great claims to fame is a movie franchise, it’s like America being known for obesity and guns… wait, never mind.

 

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America 

 

Everyone who knows about New Zealand knows we have hills and trees and all that crap, we don’t need to keep forcing it down their throats, if anything at this point it is doing more harm than good. The majority of people I meet and ask me about New Zealand are amazed that I come from a city of over a quarter of a million people and don’t own a sheep. These are not the ignorant foreigners that can’t find their own country on a map; I worked on luxury cruise ships populated for the most part by well educated, successful people.

 

It’s our own fault that the world honestly thinks there are 43 people living in New Zealand. We go out of our way to show them nothing but mountains and trees and hobbits, we apparently have nothing else to offer. And here’s where I think a lot of New Zealand’s go wrong, we don’t have the best nature in the world, Alaska have better Glacier, India and Europe have better mountains, Australia has better beaches, America has better forests. What we have is everything, in a very small place, but most of all we have the people. If you ask a tourist what they liked best about New Zealand the week after they left they will say Fiordland, or Able Tasman Park, or whatever the hell is in the North Island. Ask them ten years later; like I was forced to do for three years, they say “The people”,

 

I’ve been to almost fifty countries, and believe me when I say I can’t keep them separate in my head, I look at photos and I know I recognize the place, but I can’t even remember what continent its own let alone the name of the town. But even years later I still vividly remember “Chicken girl” who earned money by balancing a chicken on her head for hours, and Ahmid, who helped me sneak out of an Egyptian industrial port. People tell stories how a local offered them a change of clothes when they were caught out in the rain, or the teenage thug who helped them carry their bags without being asked, or the family who took them in for Christmas lunch.

 

They are also, rightfully, scared of the 16-24 hour flight. This more than any other reason is why people told me they didn’t come to New Zealand despite it being on their list for twenty years and despite having traveled to most of the rest of the world. And who the hell can blame them, I wouldn’t fly 16 hour to California to just see the redwood forests despite it being on my list of things to see in the world. I would go there to see the Redwood trees, and Hollywood, and San Francisco, and Disneyland.

 

I personally think the current New Zealand tourism board should be put to death and all their pay and benefits be immediately directed to me. Because in all honesty, by shocking these people with the knowledge that their is at least twice as many as the 43 people they think live there, that we do have cities, and culture (and fuck you to any Europeans who snobbily say New Zealand doesn’t have culture, I’ve seen the “Culture” you offer, and your English isn’t as good as you think it is, as you obviously are mistaking pretentiousness for culture) and that you don’t have to fly 16 hours to get there. Take a cruise to Hawaii or Tahiti for $600 dollars in the off season then fly the rest of 8 hours there after a week sunning on a beach. Spend a long weekend in Hong Kong first before continuing onto New Zealand. The travel could be half the fun, but apparently the wankers at Tourism NZ didn’t get the “Plays well with others” tick on their report cards.

 

Considering that I have personally encouraged more rich old people to visit New Zealand than those idiots at the Tourism board have I feel I am justified suggesting some new advertising campaigns.

 

How about:

 

“New Zealand, we’re not dicks”

 

Or “New Zealand, more than fucking trees”

 

Or “New Zealand, better than Fiji”

 

And that’s just off the top of my head, imagine what I could do given thirty years and an actual pay check, at the very least I couldn’t do worse than these wankers: http://www.newzealand.com/ Front page, 100% New Zealand and Hobbits… 

 

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Hey that isn’t half bad

Yeah its all bad!!!

 

Alaskan Apathy

When I started writing I had in mind 3-4 really, really shitty places that had pretty much inspired me to write. Places so god awful, coma inducing, kidney melting, skin crawlingly vile that I just had to warn people.

 

But I couldn’t unload it all at once; I had to at least let you believe there was a flicker of hope out there for intrepid travellers. That the world is not one never ending disappointment and let down.

 

From day one I wanted to scream at you how bad Alaska was, I wanted to grab your shoulders and shake you until your brain started making pinball noises inside you skull and your eyes rolled around like slot machines.

 

Let me make this clear, there are places more dirty than Alaska, there are places with less culture and civilisation, and there are even places more inbreed. But there is not a single place on earth that is as universally and ultimately boring.

 

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Egg Shell White: The personification of Alaska 

 

They say that to live you must die, that you can be alive but not truly living, that pain is better than nothing, because to feel pain, you know you are alive. Alaska strips you of everything it means to be human. There is no joy is Alaska, there is no sadness. Alaska should be the place they send manic depressants and deeply depressed people, because to be depressed requires emotion, and Alaska allows no emotion. It strips you of your soul, there is no joy, there is no sadness, and if it were not for the rising of the sun a few times a decade, one could easily imagine one was in purgatory.

 

I remember a Religious Education class when I first got to high school, the teacher said that the Vatican had once hosted a conference with the leaders of the church and the top theologists in the world to decide what happened to babies that died before they could be baptised. Or those who lead good lives but never heard of God to worship him. They decided that in these cases, they would not go to hell, but to purgatory. Neither good, nor bad, just existing. If a single one of these theologists had ever been to Alaska, this ruling would have never occurred.

 

For Alaska is purgatory, it is the lack of anything good or bad. It merely is. It’s like nitrogen in the air we breathe, it is there, it exists, but for us humans it serves no purpose.

 

Alaska sells itself as the last great frontier, the last unexplored wildness on earth… anyone think there may be a reason for that? You ever go to a supermarket to go shopping and see the last can on a shelf? Its label has been ripped, it’s dented, it has something brown dripping down the side that may or may not have oozed out of the can. It is the last for a reason.

 

The Spanish had to conquer one of the worlds great civilisations to take over South America; the first Americans fought a running battle with the Native Americans over a century to claim their land, and that’s after they wiped out most of them with disease. The British had to fight their way across the world throwing down warrior tribes across the Pacific and Africa to claim their empire. Yet Alaska, with a minimal local population and no warrior class… nah thanks, you guys keep it.

 

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Better not guys, she looks hardcore 

 

Hell, Russia sold Alaska, the largest state in the US, to them for $7.2 million and the Russian still came out on top. Even factoring in exchange rates, that’s like buying Iceland for a quarter of a million…

 

Alaska has mountains, so does every other continent on earth. It has forests, I can see one from my window right now in a city of a quarter of a million. It has wildlife, so does my local supermarket. And considering the Exon Valdez disaster, the fish at my local supermarket are probably covered in fewer chemicals.

 

Alaska sells itself on nature, but that is all there is. And this isn’t my usual exaggeration and hyperbole. There. Is. Nothing. There.

 

Its capital Juno can be walked across in less than 15 minutes, first time I got off the ship I turned the wrong way and ended up in a forest I assumed was a park, no, I had managed in three minutes to walk into the wildness from the centre of the city. A local in Hoonah asked me if I had seen their street light… I almost felt sorry for him, but I was no longer capable of feeling emotions. In Wrangell the local garnet mine is run by the boy scouts, officially because it was donated to them as a form of sustainable fund raising, the truth is because in the 80s they got hit by a blizzard that killed 5 local men dropping the population of the town by 20% and closing the mine due to labour shortages.

 

Now gather around children for a real life tale from my adventures in Alaska…. So there I was in Sitka, Alaska, my eyes dead, my soul having withered and died over the two months I had spent trudging around the best Alaska had to offer, when me and one of the English guys from ship decided to go to one of the local bars. As a side note, if you do ever find yourself in Alaska, try to hang around with the English, their expectations of life are already so low that they sometimes find joy in that soulless land.

 

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Pictured; Actual arcade game in Alaskan bar… the future is now…

 

So there we were, two lads partaking in Alaskan ale (maybe the only good part of Alaska is their beer), when lacking any sort of self-preservation he dared me to provoke one of the locals… because that’s what you do when drunk and in Alaska. 

 

Long story short, I subtly implied one of the locals was into pedobeastiality, luckily for me he was too drunk or stupid too understand, unluckily for me I was with an Englishmen, which is a synonym for a dick. So when the local slurred “Whaddidyooousay?” my mate yelled down the bar “He called you a c**t” with all the subtlety God bestowed upon his generation of Poms.

 

Luckily after generation of chronic inbreeding it seemed as if everyone there had two webbed left feet, and we managed to escape at a brisk walk.

 

That is what Alaska drives you to, being so bored, so lacking in natural preservation, so apathetic to the world around you. If Darwin had ever seen Alaska we wouldn’t have “The Origins of Man”, we’d have the world’s first case study in consensual cannibalism for entertainment.

 

When a loved one dies, many people say they feel a hole inside them, I think they are mistaken, it is pain, it is loss, and it’s still being alive while someone you cared about is gone.

 

Alaska creates a hole inside you. No pain, no joy, no anger or love. Nothing. It’s hard to describe Alaska to people, it’s like being told to dig up a hole in your backyard, you can try, but once you do, the emptiness has just grown some more…

Brazilian Nightmare

I was never more let down by a county than I was by Brazil.

 

Of my travel adventures Brazil was actually one of the last I visited, so I had been well and truly jaded by the time I got there and had no naive preconceptions about travel and dream holidays. If anything I assumed, every new country I visited just increased my chances of catching some horrible disease, or ending up as an involuntary organ donor in some black market.

 

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Parts of me have been in over 100 countries

 

Yet, for some reason I still brought into the hype about Brazil, the beautiful people, the lush nature, the laid back life style. It’s where drug barons go to retire after making their first billion, it had to be good.

 

They say bad things come in threes. I now know this is true because I have been to Brazil three times, each one worse than the time before.

 

Two out of the three times I went sailing up the Amazon, and to be fair that is very impressive in sheer size and scale. But on the same note I also lived in New York for three months and saw some arses that were impressive in terms of both size and scale, that, however, is not a reason to give someone to go there.

 

I think most of us have heard that the Amazon is the biggest river in the world since we were twelve and saw our first national geographic documentary. Not that we watched it for nature, we watched it due to NatGeo being the only source of readily available boobies available to twelve year olds before the internet was available, thus anyone born before 1988 has a deep, broad knowledge of nature and biodiversity that the current generation will never have, a sad loss. But it seems far and distant, it’s like the word Titanic, in your mind it means large but you don’t really have anything to compare it to, no true sense of scale. As a side note: only “small” cruise ships can sail up the Amazon due to depth restrictions in parts of the river, the Titanic classes as a “small” ship by the standards of todays cruise ships.

 

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Much like most Americans are only fat compared to Meatloafs obeseness 

 

As we approached the Amazon, the sea turned a lovely shade of baby poo brown about four hours out, in hindsight this should have been a clue that the Amazon by and large is just one massive colon flushing out the filth of South America. Then the captain announces we have entered the Amazon, and almost a thousand guests and crew rush to the deck to see anacondas eating sloths.

 

Now by the time I had gotten to the Amazon, I had cruised on the Nile, crossed the Rhine and the Danube and sailed through both of the Suez and Panama Canals. All famous rivers and canals that in the minds of people that haven’t seen them are somehow comparable in history and size. But to compare the Amazon to any of the other famous rivers of the world is to compare Soccer to Rugby, technically both are real sports, one however is played by men who beat the crap out each other and sometimes pick up a ball, the other is a 90 minute contest to see who can keep their nails the cleanest.

 

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And Italy wins with a lovely triple layered natural lacquer

 

The Nile, as it passes through Cairo, is wide enough that most people could hit a tennis ball across it with a cricket bat, and one could easily punt a rugby ball across the Rhine and Danube. The Amazon… when the captain said we had entered the river, the river was wider than the horizon, out both sides of the ship. From top deck you could only see a never ending expanse of mucky brown water, it wasn’t until the evening of the second day cruising that you could actually clearly see the banks of the river.

 

I have never been the most organised person in the world (girlfriend’s EDIT:- understatement of the year!), the amount of times I woke up not knowing what country I was in either points to a sever lack of organisation or a heavy drinking problem.

 

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Or both

 

So when I was told we are sailing up the Amazon I assumed we would go up a few miles turn around and come out, after all we were on a 54,000 ton cruise ship. However, we sailed up the river for five days and in our final port they had a map of South America with the customary arrow pointing to where you are, and even though I have done it three times now, I still find it hard to believe a ship of comparable size to the Titanic cruised into the centre of a continent. That’s like ordering a Happy Meal from McDonalds and getting a Happy Ending instead for the toy.

 

Unfortunately that’s where Brazil stops delivering on the dream holiday and starts in on the mental scaring and physiological trauma.

 

Brazil is just nasty in almost every way possible. A lot of the places I review have some good and some bad. Brazil is almost entirely bad. The humidity is murder, and it may sound petty to judge a country on something like that, but when it is as all in compassing and debilitating as it is there to the point where you have to take a shower to get dry, it becomes something of a deal breaker.

 

Add to that the wild life, and by wildlife I mean the millions and millions of insects out of your worst nightmare. I’ve said before how most other places in the world have a wide array of interesting animals, Brazil, however, decided it didn’t want to go for the whole diversity and mammalian wild life the rest of the world seemed to be into, it wanted to be an individual. Thus we get a collection of the most terrifying bugs known to mankind.

 

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Why everyone should drive a SUV

 

Not to worry though, because if the nature gets too much for you, you can always escape to one of the lovely cities, a splash of European class an style mixed with native culture and creativity… wait, no. What you get are some of the most rotted, decaying, and filth encrusted shitholes this side of Egypt. Brazil at one time was one of richest countries in the world; it was the middle east of the 19th century, which may show us what we can expect Dubai to look like in fifty years when its oil money runs out. What grand and elegant buildings it once had have rotted away and are being swallowed by the unstoppable tide of vileness that seems to flow up from the very ground they’re built on.

 

I’ll cover the coastal cities like Rio at another time because one review alone cannot contain the contempt I feel for the abhorrent, revolting cesspit of a city.

 

In summation, Brazil is best viewed on a TV in a Nation Geographic documentary with a box of tissues, a tub of Vaseline and fond memories of your youth.

Worst Christmas Ever

Christmas Island is proof that God has an unlimited imagination, a very short attention span, quite possibly a small drug problem and a sense of humour that would make Orson Wells jealous.

                                           

Looking at the Earth as a whole you can tell he started with Africa, a nice balance of birds, mammals, insects and monkeys that would eventually turn into man, so he could be born as something with opposable thumbs rather than something that throws its own shit as foreplay.

 

Moving on to Europe and Asia we have much the same, a nice balance of scenery and animal life.

 

Then, like any artist or writer who starts on a hugely ambitious project, he got bored half way through and just started copy and pasting shit together so he could move on to the next big project.

 

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Like making the set for Avatar

 

Thus we get Australia, the largest island in the world that is 90% desert, because ‘screw laying down rivers and mountains.’ Just to make sure we would never want to visit and see his lazy Thursday’s work he filled it with deadly snakes, spiders and drop bears.

 

South America is just one massive thriving pit of insects and vileness designed to kill humans in as nasty ways as possible. I love whenever Green Peace gets on about how we are cutting down rain forest at the rate of a football field every second and losing valuable bio-diversity…. It’s not bio-diversity, it’s one giant jungle filled with shit that’s going to bite/sting/poison/rape you. Just because one of them stings you before sucking your pancreas through you belly button and another skips the foreplay by swimming right up your urethra and going right to the source doesn’t mean its diverse, it means its evil.

 

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It starts with you pancreas before moving onto your soul

 

Then God realises the world is still 70% ocean so he craps out the pacific and Caribbean islands, vomits forth India after an all-night bender and finally in a hungover stupor creates Christmas Island, where nightmares come true.

 

Christmas island is home to 100 million (100,000,000, it looks more impressive this way) Giant Red Crabs, because apparently God had a bunch left over and they would just go to waste otherwise, so rather then spread them around he just created this living nightmare.

 

I’ve been in a few scary situations during my travels, between almost being arrested in Egyptian immigration to narrowly avoiding a bar fight in an Alaskan Lumberjack bar, none of them compare to the noise of a few thousand giant red crabs moving through the underbrush of a forest that is also home to a large population of bats and giant rats (If anyone out there is looking to write a bedtime story for kids, “Crabs, Bats and giant Rats” is a guaranteed best seller in the ‘uncles trying to scare their nephews’ category). It’s best described as a combination of fingers thumping on a desk and what I assume Stalin’s dying breath sounded like.

 

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I regret nothing…

 

Christmas Island does theoretically have some interesting scenery, in the same way that it would theoretically be interesting to see into your own chest cavity to see you heart beating, academically fascinating, but the circumstances that bring you to that point are probably so terrifying you can’t appreciate the moment. I worked with a large number of Serbians/Croatians who, by in large, are the most fearless, emotionally dead people in the world. Yet on the crew tour to the heart of the jungle to see the home of this living testament to a bad acid trip, the only two other people to join me were a small Japanese girl from the spa who, by the look on her face when we saw the first crab, was most likely under the assumption that the crabs we were going to see were the type that had been cooked and served on a bed of lemon grass with grated sea lion on the side, and a rather creepy South African guy who I’m sure thought that “Going to see crabs” meant a cut price whore house.

 

The one memory that I take away from there (discounting the ones I have undoubtedly supressed) is of the ship’s Doctor carrying his bike down the main corridor on ship. Wondering why he wasn’t just rolling it down like usual the answer was more obvious when he passed and I saw a 4 inch claw stuck in his back tire and a towel wrapped around his waist, undoubtedly to hide the fact that he had soiled himself after angering one of the gods of the island.

 

Christmas Island is the perfect holiday escape experience to give to your in-laws who you secretly hate but can’t show it.

 

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Enjoy!!!

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