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January 03 2007
Oliver. Youâre late! Carl barked at me. We had scheduled a meeting to run through the current situation on the recruitment sales pipeline. I checked my watch, sure enough twelve and a half seconds late to be precise. God this guy is Anal. Should I say my bus was late? Do I actually care?
â Erm Iâm not lateâ I protested but the boss had already started off in the direction of the meeting room. Great, I thought, another pointless meeting. I could predict the out come before it even began. I would sit down, be bombard with random questions, mainly irrelevant ones, that did not logically follow on from one and another and would usually be more like poorly disguised statements of made up fact. For example: âdo you not think thatâ¦â and â shouldnât you do it like thisâ¦â
As for my answers well they needed to considered: donât want to get my self in the shit by saying something stupid, but in reality would in fact be pointless as my boss was not listening to me anyway, he would be to busy trying to think of a way to get on my case and make up stuff that supposedly I had not done.
Why does everything in the corporate world have to be decided by meetings? I think it is something to do with going back to the prime evil man monkey days, the need to show dominance over a group. A contest of power and status if you will: basically a it is a just one big dick swinging contest not that Iâm excluding women from this corporate ritual, successful business women tend to have bigger balls than most men. I know Iâve seen them.
As I follow Carl into the boxy interview suite, I can feel my hang over biting. Why does he always have to pick on me at my most vulnerable: i.e. (eight fifteen and twelve and a half seconds on a Monday morning. Shit most reasonable people would at least let me get a coffee first, he must be loving this.
I sit down, open my diary deliberately slowly so I can delay the inevitable as much as possible. I wish I had not drunk last night. And that Spiff has gone straight to my head, annihilating several million brain cells. You utter wanker I despise you I say to him (in my head anyway) as I stare at him waiting to begin.
Carl is loving it. Probably because destroying his office colleaguesâ moral and esteem is what he lives for. The next 20 minutes was a blur of over used nonsensical office jargon and clichÃ©s and it was about the point he uttered âthere is no I in teamâ at that I had an epiphany.
What the bloody hell am I doing with my life? If ever there was a time for action it was now. And so for the first time in my career in recruitment I did something worth a damn. I quit.
The Following few weeks were a blur of boozy nights in aid of saying farewell to my mates ( I think I said farewell to Gaz on 7 different occasions ï¿½ï¿½" although this was more of an excuse me thinks), and a cocktail of sheer panic and moments of smugness in the run up to the trip.
The Tickets were booked on somewhat of a sporadic spur of the moment vibe. But the route was roughly mapped out in my head, the rest was just detail. âThe devil is in the detailâ my old boss used to say. âBollocks to itâ I say. Just do it and deal with the consequences later.
I was to head initially to South Africa ï¿½ï¿½" not for any real interest in the place but more because I had promised my friend Henrietta that I would visit her at her hotel sometime, now seemed like as good a time as any ï¿½ï¿½" the extra mileage would put about Â£400 on the cost of my flight but I figured it would be worth it
Round The World Tour Diary
1st ï¿½ï¿½" 2nd February 2007
So the Inevitable last minute rush / debacle that was me leaving Victoria terrace came and went and before I knew it I was sat in the front of one of Manchesterâs finest Taxis heading for the airport discussing the housing situation in Pakistan and making a new life long friend ï¿½ï¿½" as you do.
This journey was to mark the start of a 24 hour trip to reach my destination ï¿½ï¿½"
The trip included a flight to Heathrow ï¿½ï¿½" where I sat next to an elderly couple (luckily not one of the smelly kind), secondly a flight from Heathrow to
On the plane I sat next to a blonde Attractive Thirty something South African Woman calledâ¦.Rose flower or Honey drop or some shit. Canât remember (but then, I was never very good a remembering names of women Iâm desperately trying to chat up.) She lived in
On Arrival in South Africa I was Immediately set upon by some Scammer called Peter, basically wanted cash for showing me where the domestic terminal was (like I canât read a massive sign pointing you to the terminal 2 minutes walk away (where conveniently you can also check in your Firearm ï¿½ï¿½" Sadly I had forgotten mine)
Checked in to my connecting flight having been travelling for about 20 hours at this point. On my way to the gate I decided to get my Caterpillar boots cleaned (read RUINED) by an African kid for Â£2. The I got on the words smallest twin prop plane to NelSpruit where Hen arrived to collect me.
After a quick beer in the Airport bar ï¿½ï¿½" a pretty nice place with the look of a cheap hotel resort but kind of nice anyway
A 3 hour drive ensued across some of the most stunning scenery I have seen.
On Arriving at the Hippo Pools, I greeted Ryan ï¿½ï¿½" Hens Husband and chatted and had a beer.
This Place is amazing, centred around a huge pool it has various bungalows and houses nestled by a river infested with Hippos and Crocodiles! No shit this place is pretty dangerous! I must have counted about 8 Hippos no more than 10 meters away from me in the water, on the way back to the lodge where I am staying ï¿½ï¿½" this awesome big place, with a huge veranda mezzanine and thatched roof ï¿½ï¿½" I bumped into a Baboon and Several Vervet Monkeys with Bright blue balls. I have met these fellas before!
Chilled out for a bit and had a snooze as I had not slept properly in 2 days then had a BBQ for dinner on the porch accompanies by the Semi Distant Growl off hippos and a quick visit form a buck (Small dear type creature) of some kind.
Tomorrow Iâm off Quad biking to spot more animals. Iâm gonna fucking love this trip!
Saturday 3rd February
Quad biking for big Game.
Today Started early ï¿½ï¿½" 7 am or 4am
As I was bombing down this yellow dust track in Johans Wake with a deep blue African Sky above me and Lush green bush around me it hit me that I was truly in Africa. Wow, What a feeling of release and excitement.
After the tour I met a 3 month old orphaned Wildebeast called Wilhem.
In the evening I offered to take Hen and Ryan out for dinner so we went to this Bush bar literally in the middle of nowhere. It was a great place a far cry from
Positioned in a raised plateau over looking the jungle this was an outside bar ï¿½ï¿½" monkeys and other wild animals surrounded the place. The bar had an international feel with Americans, South Africans, English and Irish people there. Hen Got wasted as she was not used to drinking, whilst I had a low key night perfectly content to soak up the atmosphere.
Sunday 4th February
In the Jungle the Peaceful Jungleâ¦
Today we all left to go on safari to the Kruger. All being a bit hung over we set off late. The day was ridiculously hot ï¿½ï¿½" even with the air-conditioning on In Hens battered VW which I was driving. A weird Hybrid between a MK2 front and MK1 rear. We got to Kruger and paid the entrance fee ï¿½ï¿½" 130 Rand (about Â£8) and we were off. The fist thing that hits you is the massive expanse of land in front of you. If you became stranded I have no doubt that you could be lost for monthsâ¦ If the Lions didnât get you first. The park is the size of
We stopped off in a hide and saw more elephants, vultures. And more Buck.
Then we set off once more stopping off at a waterhole. We were confronted with a magnificent sight ï¿½ï¿½" 20 or so elephants bathing and playing in the water, we got so close that one of the mothers with a baby started getting jittery. At this point Hen could not get the car into gear as this Elephant was gearing up to charge. A hairy moment. But she managed in the nick of time and we managed to speed away.
The day progressed as we headed towards and encampment on the bank of the
On our way back out we saw more Elephant and Giraffe and impala.
Monday 5th February
Decided against doing much today, so I offered to help out Hen and Ryan by cleaning the pool. Scrubbing green Algae off the bottom ï¿½ï¿½" hmm, Nice! Gave up after 2 hours it was a big pool. Today a German couple also flew into Hippo pools ï¿½ï¿½" literally ï¿½ï¿½" in a Cessna fucking cool. It has inspired me to learn to Fly ï¿½ï¿½" something that is fairly cheap to do out here.
Tuesday 6th February
More Big game hunting and walking with a Lion.
I set of in Henâs car early ï¿½ï¿½" about 6am. I headed about 20 miles away to a game lodge with 60000 hectares of land. I was about to do a group walk with a Lion Cub and also a big five game drive. Both very cool things to do. We set off at about 7 with a little lion cub in tow, being kept mostly busy with Prince a golden retriever who was playing with it, The cub a female at 9 months was so sweet, Give it a year tough and itâll eat me and the dog for breakfast. The African Guide ï¿½ï¿½" Dan was full of useful and useless facts about animals and trees as we strolled along.
After the walk we all had breakfast and I chatted to English women one who owned a lodge the other who was visiting her friend from
After I going a massive
After we saw my favourite animal ï¿½ï¿½" a leopard. A very handsome specimen ( said in David Attenborough accent). The guide was enticing it up a tree with a stick on a rope, the Leopard was loving the entertainment, and so was I.
Afterwards we saw more game and then a few more Lions and 2 White Rhino. These we drove up to and they did not seem bothered. All 2 tonnes of them. We finished about 12 and I said my goodbyes before heading off in Hens car, only to get very lost along the way. I had visions of getting very stuck and getting mauled but eventually managed to find my way to the gate and freedom.
Micro lighting above the hippo pools and deciding to become a pilot and human sausages
I woke early as I had a plane to catch, I say plane but more of a kite with an engine. I was to go up and fly in a micro light. So I took off with Dionne the instructor and he immediately gave me the controls. The Fool.
Actually I was pretty confident. The View was undeniably impressive, Green lush bush for as far as the eye could see, brown and yellow tracks cutting through the jungle and the meandering
After the lesion Ryan gave another flight school a ring, I am seriously considering flying lessons ï¿½ï¿½" 24000 rand ï¿½ï¿½" or Â£1783 for 40 hours of flight and instruction. In the
On the way back we stopped in a road side town, a backwater of a place, a few menacing looking Afrikaans staring at the new arrivals and a few local convenience stores. We were after some food to cook that evening ï¿½ï¿½" I had promises hen that I would pick her something up. We went into the âsupermarketâ they had nothing. As luck would have it I saw a sign up the street ï¿½ï¿½" âslag huisâ under that it said âButcheryâ. Slaghuis ï¿½ï¿½" interesting, I thought ï¿½ï¿½" this has to be worth investigation, so we entered. Sure enough it was a butcher, and we bought some steaks. The woman behind the counter was special. She looked, well, Dutch, crazy eyes like she had personally strangled her entire stock with her own bear hands. She was probably sizing me up as I paid for the Steaks. It was at this point that her husband ï¿½ï¿½" I guy in a kaki and bush hat stood up and started feeding Biltong into a circular saw. My Vision blurred into slow motion as I saw her son ï¿½ï¿½" probabably no more than about 5 years old reached up and try and copy his Dad by an pointed his fingers into the circular saw. At the last second his dad pulled his arm away from certain digit amputation. But that is how it is out here, I get the feeling if the
Poiky, batshit cleaning and Getting Wasted on Kane.
Today was devoted to drinking, Serious Drinking. The Fire water of choice was supplied by a mate of Ryans ï¿½ï¿½" James who was a bit of a nutter, typical lunatic bush man, ex military with a thick Afrikaans accent. This guy wouldnât call a spade a spade. He would call it a bloody Kaffar then let out a laugh. A genuinely decent bloke, with a hot headed temper from years in the military seeing some pretty nasty sights I would imagine: fighting in
He and his wife ï¿½ï¿½" Ingrid, turned up at hippo pools at about 11 and produced a cool box full of kane which I kindly helped to demolish with them whilst Ryan and Hen pottered around running the resort.
I was still a little hung over from the night before ï¿½ï¿½" we had been to a deep sea fishing club run by Erich and Mags , an Afrikaans couple (Mags bore a striking resemblance to Hen, much to Hens annoyance!). Now my geography has never been the best, but I was pretty sure we were about 1000 miles from the sea, but then again distance does not seem to be much of an issue out here. Hoegspruit the nearest town is 50kms away.
The Afternoon was to be devoted to the great south African tradition of a Poiky. This basically a Stew cooked over an open fire for hours ï¿½ï¿½" literally Hours. Days even. It seemed to me that the Poinky is not an exact science ï¿½ï¿½" with absolutely anything going into it (Hen told me that some Africans have been known to put car batteries into the pot, this may be going a bit far I feel). Ours consisted of only slightly more rational ingredients, meat (beef I think) herbs spices ï¿½ï¿½"
Moholoholo wild life sanctuary and one Double hard mammal.
Fucking A. This was one hot mother of a day. Must have been pushing mid 40c. Hen, Ryan, I, James and Ingrid went to a animal sanctuary run by the is old conservationist. This was not a patch on Tskudu a few days ago but worth it to see the Honey badgers.
I feel I need to take few moments to explain quite how double hard the honey badger is. I was already aware of these little bastards before I left the
So when I came upon 2 honey badgers in a concrete enclosure I was secretly pleased to be able to see one up close. Now this badger had its own story to tell. Originally it was located in a grass enclosure with a standard game fence right next to the lions enclosure. The badger was bored one day so it decided to dig its way into the lions enclosure to go beat up on its neighbour. After 30 minutes of chasing this lion round its cage the lion, a bit taken aback decided to go for the badger. 30 minutes of the lion chasing the badger round resulted in the badger getting bitten by the lion. This would normally be game over for most, but not for the badger. He turned round in the lions mouth and bit him on the nose. The lion drops the badger and then gets chased for 30 minutes round his cage again until the rangers can get in there and separate the two.
After this episode the badger was moved into his own enclosure made of concrete, this did not stop him working out that he could roll a ball of mud around its cage to get to a certain size to use as a step to break out. Clever vicious bastard. Now that is an animal I respect.
Also in the sanctuary were depressed looking Lion, cheater and Leopard and a baby Rhino, oh also vultures and other birds of prey.
We ended the evening off in Erichâs deep sea fishing bar where once again I got too wasted for my own good, it was here I was invited to join James, Ingrid, Mags and Erich on safari in the Kruger ï¿½ï¿½" Erich used to be a game ranger so this seemed like a great opportunity. I accepted and before I knew it I had agreed to be with them at 4am the next day.
Sunday February 11th
Over night Safari in the Kruger national Park
I managed to wake up in time ï¿½ï¿½" 3.30am ï¿½ï¿½" or 12pm in the
I set off in darkness and arrived at Erichâs having been stopped by the police fro running a stop sign (which I did not see as I was speeding! Ha ha!) He let me off.
We set off at about 4.45 and drove to the Kruger Gate, I Dosed on the way and woke up to get out and sort out payment at the gate. I was greeted by 2 nervous looking Warthog. Funny little piggy with big teeth and by some accounts very defensive.
Then the Safari began in earnest. A low speed cruise around the park looking at all the animals. Mainly we saw Waterbuck, Impala, Kudu ï¿½ï¿½" Millions of birds including Brown Parrots, Hornbills, Marabou storks, Normal Storks, elephants, Buffalo and Giraffe.
The Safari was punctuated by several stops to get cold beers out of the cool box and for James to delve in to the biggest bag of weed the world has ever produced to skin up African bush weed joints. For Â£3 he had bought a plastic carrier bag full. No shit.
We stopped at mid day for lunch as Satara Camp, also to put up tents ï¿½ï¿½" something I attempted much to the locals amusement (this was to be tested later as a storm came in and blew away the tent just after Dark. Good Work Bray.)
The afternoon was more of the same but the highlight had to be at the very end of the day. We decided to go check out a damn at about 6pm ï¿½ï¿½" 30 minutes before the camp gate closed. The day had been so hot that we had not seen much, in the way of exciting stuff. As we drove on to the dam there were a few hippos in the water but not much else, James though it might be an idea to drive up a path to a view point which we did but this was quiet to so, we set off back to the camp.
As we turned back onto the tar road we saw about 15 buffalo in a pack charging towards us. This was very cool and pretty ball trembling as the rumble of hooves got louder and louder. At one point I thought 1000 tones of
That evening we got back to the camp. Just as it turned dark as if out f nowhere there was a huge gust of wind, I had just enough time to jump up and stop my tent flying into the campfire but I was pretty useless at trying to tie the thing back down. James and Erich came to my rescue when they were done laughing. The wind did not let up all night and even succeeded in breaking the tent pole. As I had not brought a ground mat I decided the best thing to do was to sleep on a park bench in side the tent. It was a little weird being in a tent after the last time I was in one I got shot, but I figured if Iâm going to go it might as well be sleeping on a park bench in a collapsed tent in the middle of the African bush.
Mica Mines and Frogs in Shoes.
Today I went to see a working mine and processing facility located near the resort in Mica. As the name suggests âmicaâ was originally discovered at this mine. It is a natural
This place had been running for almost 60 years, and has been actively mined since the 60âs. The methods had not changed either. Imagine about 30 disinterested Africans sat on rocks chipping away with pick axes and crow bars. Like a load of convicts in a chain gang. Occasionally they would stop to have a cigarette by bundles of Dynamite. You could not make it up. The mine manager ï¿½ï¿½" Roy was as Old school as you can get. Worked in a mine for his entire life ï¿½ï¿½" this one for 13 years. He must have been born with a pick axe in his hand.
We (Ryan was there too) clambered into the back of a pick up truck and drove into this deep mine shaft into darkness with a glow coming from the back of the tunnel. When we emerged in the light we saw a massive cavity and tunnel network, the result of 60 years of digging and blasting away into the ground. A Fine powdery dust hung in the air making me wonder about health and safety (or lack of it) but then again remembering the kid in the âslaghuisâ this was never really much of a consideration out here.
After the mine a tour of the processing facility was completed. There seemed to be several teams working with 1960 equipment and a definite hierarchy in jobs. My favourite (and probably the lowest) was the beater. This was a guy who was paid to bang the shit out of a brown paper bag as it filled up with the very fine powdered Mica. This mica was a 10th of a Micron and had to be bashed to let the air get out of the powder. The stick man was the solution.
Next up the chain you had shovel man. Shovel man would gleefully shovel a mixture of Mica and dust in a sludgy soup into the massive 8 foot industrial grinders in order to crush up the mica into powder form. Not to bad considering this is hard labour, but then add the 40c African sun into the equation and it starts to get pretty nasty. Then further up the chain you have the miners. At least the donât have to work in the sun, they just have the prospect of dust fucked lungs, roof collapse or if the are lucky blowing themselves to small parts with dynamite.
It was pretty interesting seeing the crystals in the Rock and seeing how they are processed to finished product. This mine produced 3% of the world Mica between not many guys is very old fashioned conditions. I found this fascinating. More so that some large corporation probably spends Â£200000 on investing in an automated brown paper bag beater which no doubt breaks down, when they could just get an African guy to do it for Â£100 a month. And more over if they have someone particularly career orientated, he has the prospect of sludge humping and blowing himself up to look forward to if he beats enough bags with enough enthusiasm.
That evening I was relaxing by the pool at the resort surrounded by frogs. One of them ï¿½ï¿½" a particularly large and warty looking fella decided that my left shoe was to be his new home. Good job I checked them before I put them on. A vigorous shaking resulted in a fat slapping sound and a very disgruntled frog being evicted.
A Gay Date in the worst Irish Pub in
Today Hen went back to
In the evening I went out for dinner with Ryan, I forgot it was valentines day as we entered âO Hagansâ. This place was a semi Irish/semi African watering hole. Imagine a few Irish signs pointing the way to
As we sat down at the bar the bar man gave us a funny look, slowly lent over the bar top and said:
âYou guys fancy eating? Tonight we are doing a special valentines day dinnerâ Ryan and I glanced at each other in then stated in unison. âWe are NOT gay.â Not sure he believed us, as we did look pretty gay turning up for dinner on Valentines day. Anyway we decided to eat and had a lovely romantic valentines day dinner, however I declined on the candles and roses.
It was while we were in the pub that Ryan told me a funny story. Apparently he was having a few problems with his staff a few months ago, things were going missing from the rooms, one day he found the culprit, one of the girls had stuffed a curtain in her bag. This revelation was met with a bemused look on my faced followed by âWhat the fuck! Who steals a curtain.â.
âShe was going to give it to her mother to make a dress.â
Another bemused look. âEh? Who the fuck makes a dress out of a curtain?â
It was then that it hit me, there were some overly flowery numbers and pastle dresses on some of the women in the bar. It was at this point I resolved to keep a very close eye on my mosquito net, or before long some dude would be walking down the road in a mosquito net shirt at my expense.( probably
15th February to 21st February
Flying, Danish Girls and One Nasty International Incident Brewing In My Underpants.
Diary entries are a bit thin on the ground for the last week, this is mainly dude to the lack of things happening of note. Mainly I have been commuting to Tzaneen ( the self styled tropical paradise ï¿½ï¿½" quite why I have no Idea) every day in order to Fly. I am learning on a light Italian Plane called a Tecnam. It is a single Prop 100 HP Light Aircraft. My First lesson involved running through the principles of Flight and Lift and the second and from then on I was up in the air on the controls. Iâm being taught by an instructor called Grant he is probably about my age and a fairly decent bloke. He pretty much leaves me to fly the thing and just gives me direction. Flying seems easy enough, although there is a shit load to think about all at once, which makes it more challenging. During the 3rd lesson after we had been flying for over an hour he suggested we just fly straight and level to check out the View ï¿½ï¿½" pretty impressive as the ground is pretty lush and green at the moment, with the mountains surrounding the airfield and the skies generally very hot and clear. âOkâ I said âbut can we do it upside down?!â
âHe Grinned and grabbed the controls sending the nose vertically downwards. We were plummeting towards the ground then he pulled back on the stick and my world flipped upside down, my stomach went through my ears and my grin stretched from Ear to ear as I became weightless!
After we levelled out of the loop he sped down towards a river which had a dam about a mile upstream, flying at about 10ft off the ground we traced the path of the river at about 100 miles per hour. Some unlucky fishermen were not too pleased with us as we buzzed passed them rocking there boat and scaring there fish, as we approached the dam he pulled back and we shot up 100ft clearing it and then skimmed over the tree line.
âOk my turn!â I suggested, âwell maybe Iâll practice a bit first.â. Grant chuckled and agreed, Probably best not to kill myself just yet, Iâll have plenty of opportunity to do that later in the trip.
The Private Pilot Licence will require me to do 40 hours of flying that will probably mean about 30 lessons at 2 hours each as not all the lesson is spent in the air, so at this rate it should take me about 5 weeks to complete.
Other than the flying I have been helping Ryan out when I can at Hippo pools, however not a huge amount goes on out here as we are essentially in the middle of the bush. You get a better idea of just quite how vast this country is from the air, there is literally thousands of miles in each direction of national parks and private 1000 hectare ranches filled with Animals, trees dirt tracks and not much else. When you consider the the South African population is pretty similar to that of the UK (Around 68 Million) there does not seem to be the same scope out here for meeting people. Having said that, when you do meet people they are incredibly friendly and will have no qualms in striking up a conversation with you.
Then there is the heat to consider, it is usually around 38C, although Iâm told we are in for a heat wave a brain melting 50c. Now my brain struggles to function at the best of times, but in this heat it turns to Jelly, motivation and energy also suffers. I fucking love it.
The heat is not all I love about this place:
This place is cheap too, in 3 weeks I have spent Â£300 including flying in a micro-light, Going on Safari 3 times and Quad biking. Iâm seriously thinking I was born in the wrong country as I have a maid to do my washing and call me Bwana. The only thing that is lacking is the women as literally there is nothing here for miles and miles other than Bush (not the female kind). However my Host Ryan is not slacking in his duties. The other day I left to go flying, instructing him to order me a coach load of Scandinavians ï¿½ï¿½" as you do. On My return I was pleased to see 2 Danish girls sat in the garden having a drink. One of them was incredibly beautiful, and she seemed keen on me too as she has obviously been starved on any decent male company for 3 weeks. . (of course I say that but I have been starved of any female company for a similar amount of time so I was probably just sat there drooling and she was staring at me with her gorgeous blue eyes in disgust.) That and I had just been to the Gym so I was covered in sweat and attracting the flies too.- Trust me I looked good)
Now get this for a stroke of genius. One of Ryanâs Friends (a guy about our age) runs a field laboratory out here, it basically tests water and animals blood in the bush. This guy offers a gap year programme to Scandinavian women who pay him Â£1000 for a months stay in the bush where he teaches them about his work out here. Every month he has 10 new women flown out to camp with him to keep him company. He only accepts women on his course and makes Â£10K a month doing so. That my friend is not work, that is genius. So this Friday Iâm going out to his camp to try and fuck as many Scandinavian chicks as I possibly can in one after noon. I have also suggested to Ryan that we bring them back to hippopools (where Iâm staying) for a Scandinavian topless pool party ï¿½ï¿½" A move that obviously has to be executed before hen comes back and interrupts my plans.
Later in the same day 3 girls and a guy from
â Oliber Ebay Bushman Mouse Killer.â
Hello. My name is Oliber Ebay ï¿½ï¿½" according to the African guy who wrote down my name as I was telling him how to spell it. Please update your records.
Ryan and I had been invited to go camp in the bush overnight with Cornell (the Scandinavian Student Pimp) and his happy campers. So as the sun was starting to descend over the bush scrubland backdrop we set off from hippo pools to go up the road to the entrance to the Farm. At the gate we checked in with the ranger who informed us that the gate would close at 9 and open at 6. We trundled on the worst dirt roads that my ass has seen in a long time, either side was bush with about 10 ft visibility before the trees and shrubs swallowed up the view. Tell tale signs of Elephant activity were common place - Big piles of dung in the road and torn down trees either side of the road. Elephants tend to rip up trees where they can either out of boredom, natural instinct (to create grassland ï¿½ï¿½" their natural living habitat - or simply to scratch there big fat elephant asses.
It took about 45 minutes to find the camp as I downed an ice cold beer which I managed to swipe out of the cool box in the back while the sun set behind us.
When we arrived at the camp it was deserted ï¿½ï¿½" 6 pitched tents had been left deserted to we decided to (well I decided) to get a fire going and wait for the Cornell and his harem of Danish birds to return.
My bush skills left somewhat to be desired as I was trying to get the kindling to light with the help of dried grass and a car cigarette lighter. This Failed miserably although the author would like to note that help was not forthcoming so he did his best). As I considered rubbing some sticks together we heard the rumble of a car engine coming up the track.
The Evening unfolded around the campfire which was skilfully lit with the use of fire lighters and a big box of matches situated no less than 2 foot way from where I had been sat on my previous dismal attempts and making fire.
We all sat around and chatted. Cornell produced the worlds biggest steak from the back of his pick up truck ï¿½ï¿½" probably a 3 kg steak.
So then the conversation turned to the camp. This is when the reality of the situation slowly dawned on me. We were in an unfenced camp in the great Kruger park in an area renowned for its Elephant and Lion activity.
âSo what is to stop a lion entering the campâ I asked ï¿½ï¿½" secretly hoping the answer would result in Cornell producing an Elephant Gun or an answer to the effect of that would never happen.
âwell nothingâ Cornell Responded. âBut if it is any consolation the Hyenas or Elephants are more likely to get you firstâ I scanned my immediate vicinity for a weapon of some kind that I could use in the likely event of a Lion wanting to eat me. The best I could come up with was a cork screw. It would have to do it was that or colourful language. .
Eva on of the Danish girls then gleefully told me about how a âHorny Elephantâ had come into the camp a few nights ago resulting on all the Danish girls being held in the concrete show blocks. God Damn. A Horny Elephant ï¿½ï¿½" I know how he must have felt.
After this story I heard a squeal from one of the girls in the Kitchen, apparently a mouse had got in to the kitchen tent (a very common occurrence to be fair). Now this was the sort of animal I could handle so I got up to rescue the damsel in distress, my hand hovered over the corkscrew but then I thought that would be a little over the top and barbaric. The next five minutes was filled with the clatter of frying pans falling and me frantically chasing this mouse around the kitchen with a broom. Then totally by accident I stepped on it. Squashed stone dead. Iâm not sure if it was because I was wearing my CAT boots (get it?!) but Iâm a natural at this. If being a pilot does not work out, Iâll become a rat catcher.
Slightly harsh I though to myself, upon inspecting the mouse and itâs now protruding guts, but that is African Nature for you, every thing wants to eat you or maim you in some horrendous way Mice included. Well every thing apart from the Guniea Fowl, they are not dangerous, just dangerously stupid. A relation to pheasant they tend to hang around in groups and delight in getting run over or eaten ï¿½ï¿½" sometimes both.
Rarely has a species been so low down the food chain. On our way to the camp there was a bunch of these things running from our car but just running down the road in front of us as if to say â Hey! run me over Iâm fucking stupid! In fact Iâll make it easy for youâ. Idiots.
Eventually after several hours of chatting, scanning the bushes in my heightened state of paranoia and checking out the stars ï¿½ï¿½" Of which there are fucking millions - I turned in and slowly drifted of to sleep dreaming of the beasties that were lurking outside 2 cm of canvass. Most likely licking their chops. Perhaps they would eat the Danish girls instead.
Somebody call the Sheriff there is a Gunman in town!
So here is something you donât see every day: an African dude in a bank paying in lots of money. Well actually that is only the half of it, what made this guy special is that he casually strolls into a bank (I follow him into change a travellers Cheque), he walks up to the cashier leans over and his revolver pops out of his trousers. No kidding, Iâm standing 3 foot away from a guy with a gun ï¿½ï¿½" in a bank. Now call me old fashioned but Iâm still of the opinion that banks tend to frown upon customers with Guns ï¿½ï¿½" but not it would seem in this country. I took a moment to consider bolting for the door, just in case something bad was about to go down, but then I thought Iâd wait as this could be quite interesting if it did and besides how many bank robbers actually go to the trouble of paying in money before they rob the place.
Then I had a thought ï¿½ï¿½" may be this country has got it right. How much better service would you get in Barclays, or McDonalds or anywhere for that matter if you had a hand cannon stuffed in your belt. I may try it sometime.
As you have probably guessed the guy did not shoot any one or rob the place ï¿½ï¿½" besides if he had how many of the other customers were packing? Probably not a good move ï¿½ï¿½" instead he left the bank, saddled up and rode off on his horse into the sunset.
Afterwards I decided to drive to Tzaneen for some shopping ï¿½ï¿½" this involved going to a shopping mall with some of the BEST SHOPS IN THE WORLD! For example: The Excitement shop ï¿½ï¿½" (selling quite possibly the most unexciting Tupperware, glassware and crap) in the world. Mr Price ï¿½ï¿½" some kind of clothes shop selling some of the cheapest shit in Africa ï¿½ï¿½" trust me that an achievement (I enquired if Mr Price was in but the African Shop assistant just looked at me a tad strangely). A SPAR Shop (they get bloody everywhere it would seem) where you can buy such delights as âCheese Cracksâ, âChocolate Logsâ and Ladies Favourite âTossâ washing powder. Sadly my shopping trip left me unfulfilled, but it was a hell of an experience, perhaps I would have seen more exciting stuff if I had delved longer, but I desperately needed a shit, so I left.
In the evening Ryan and I had a Brai (BBQ) on the deck, we had noisy hippos keeping us company and various other African bush animals, Zebra, Giraffe and Jackals.
I had a few too many gin an tonics and attempted to mount a buck, sadly it got wise to my moves and ran off into the bush.
I think it was Ernest Hemmingway who said âThere is not a day that went by when I woke up in
Freddie the Guard Frog.
I have a new friend ï¿½ï¿½" Freddie. Freddie is a frog that has taken up residence on top of the bathroom mirror at the cottage. He has been sat there for days, just waiting for god knows what, but he seems happy enough. I like to think that he is keeping my toothbrush free from bugs and a fine job he is doing too. Freddie is not the type of frog to be bothered by intrigued Englishmen poking at him with sticks shampoo bottles and toothbrush handles in fact my admiration for him has grown somewhat considering the hours he is putting in. I will keep the diary updated accordingly if he ever leaves his post.
1st of March
Shaved Blue Balls and Willies Biltong.
So there I was in Hoedspruit, all alone with a simple but significant dilemma. Do I go into Wimpy Burger out of sheer retro curiosity, or should I go for the local South African delicacy curtsey of Willies Biltong hut! Willies it was. And so I turn to the subject of Biltong. Now imagine a big fat white South African dude ï¿½ï¿½" undoubtedly dressed in Khaki Shorts and shirt with a wide brimmed beige suede hat squatting behind a tree in the bush. No he is not taking a shit; his goal is to blow seven shades of shit out of a small defenceless buck that is grazing just several feet away. Once this has been accomplished the buck is hung to dry in his outside toilet for 17 years, rubbed in Elephant dung and then packaged for sale. It has the texture of an old boot, only it looks less appetizing, yet is tastes awesome. Trust me if you have the shits there is not more effective anal blocker than a bag of Biltong.
After i had the Willies, I went to the Spar. On the way I overheard on the radio that
âCertainly notâ I muttered defiantly to myself. âBut Iâll Shave my Ballsâ This made me laugh... But then I thought perhaps I should spray paint them instead like the blue balled monkeys. I canât wait to present them to the unfortunate volunteer with the clippers and spray paint in hand next Sunday.
On a more poignant note, as I was in the Spar cueing to buy something there was a young African woman in front of me with her very cute little baby. The Kid was strapped to her back in a towel. My eyes wandered to her shopping as it was being scanned through the check out, I noticed she had bought two jumbo sized boxes of âCoffee Creamerâ. Thatâs weird I thought, She must love coffee! Or perhaps she works for a Lodge and has been asked to get some? At that moment I saw on the packaging ânot suitable for baby feedingâ then I looked at the Toddler sat in the towel on her back. Then penny dropped. My Heart was immediately filled with sadness, as here right in front of me was an example of a person who is fucked from the start wrapped up in a towel, undernourished on Coffee Creamer. Then again may be she just loves Coffee. Maybe?
Circuits and Landings and a flight instructor with Brown Trousers.
Slight hairy moment today during my flying lesson: I narrowly missed hitting a tree (by about 5 foot) on landing. My Instructor almost shat himself but I was secretly smug knowing that I would have missed it ï¿½ï¿½" but only just! The flying is going well, I will be flying Solo on Monday having completed 15 hours of flight time, I seem to be really good at landings and takeoffs (well apart from today!) but keeping the plane in the air and flying straight and level is holding me back a bit. Still practice is improving my pilot skills daily.
Saturday 3rd March
Ryans uncomfortable admission and one fucked up country.
Today was spent by the pool lapping up the ridiculous heat. A couple of regular guests (Tony and Tania Stokes) were visiting hippo pools with their daughter who was off from school. They had visited once before and I had had dinner with them. Tony is a Zimbabwean citizen originally, you can tell that he is none to pleased with the way his country has gone. He told me a story: Educated in the in the
He also told me about how White farmers, falling foul of land claims, would be forced off their property and businesses by angry mobs that would take over and strip the places and effectively destroy them. No wonder the only country in the Africa this year to post a negative GDP is
Anyway I digress, I was chatting to Tony by the pool, the conversation moved to talk about doctors and operations when Ryan decided to tell us a story of a nasty hospital in
âI went to this hospital once with a tape stuck in my ass whenâ¦â
âPardon?â. Ryanâsâ face went bright red and he started to look sheepish.
The rest of his story I canât remember as by this point I was face down in the pool gulping huge amounts of water whilst uncontrollably laughing. Eventually I figured out that he had been in a car accident and the force of the collision had thrown his ass into a tape which unfortunately got wedged somewhere very uncomfortable. Obviously I could not wait to put this on the internet.
Toothless Pool Sharks and a night out in the smallest inbred town in the world.
That Evening in Hens absence I agreed to accompany Ryan to her graduation ceremony, Mags and Erich were going there as well, I figured it might be a fun piss up, besides I felt a bit of cabin fever creeping in.
Weird would be an understatement. I was at a graduation ceremony held entirely in a language I canât understand for someone who was not there. At least there was free sherry, but oh how a longed for a cold beer.
After the ceremony, we headed into Phalaborawa for a drink and dinner. The Buffalo Grill beckoned. As we entered a waitress greeted us and asked if we would be eating.
âI want to grill a buffaloâ I responded with a grinâ¦. A blank confused and slightly horrified face stared back at me.
At least I got a cold beer. Then anotherâ¦ then several more. Iâm not sure exactly at what point I became totally shit faced, but boy did it happen. Probably about the time I ordered my food. A âcaveman steakâ ï¿½ï¿½" a 600 gram cow hide.
âHow would you like it sir?â Asked the waiter
âAh just pull of its Horns and wipe itsâ ass!â I shouted with somewhat of a slur (I was on form tonight!).
As the beer was downed I made several trips to the toilet to be somewhat alarmed to see 27 large urinal cakes in the pisser (yes I counted). Who needs 27 urinal cakes? Surely that is a bit excessive. Just how stinky is South African Piss? Magsâ was not as impressed with my discovery it seems: she threw all her water over me (3 times) after I told her that I had counted 27 urinal cakes in the toilet for the 5th time.
From the restaurant we ended up in Arrows sports bar where I was challenged to game of pool by a toothless hustler. He was overly friendly towards me as he had ânever met anybody from abroad beforeâ. What the fuck is wrong with these people! His friend a fat bird took a shine to me and pinched my ass. I told her in somewhat cutting terms to forget it. Mags was once again displeased as she thought I was being really mean, but she soon perked up a bit, well until I informed her that this place had 71 urinal cakes in the toilet and yes I did count them ï¿½ï¿½" I had a very long piss.
The toothless wonder then only just beat me at pool. A hell of an achievement considering I could not see the cue ball as I was blind drunk and using a pool cue for a 7 year old. Trust me we were both shit.
After that I laid down some moves and some serious air guitar, clearly these small town farmers were not expecting this as I draw quite an appreciative crowd. (In reality I was line dancing and probably an utter wanker).
When we eventually got home at 3.30 I had a swim and then drove into a hippo that happened to be grazing at the front door of Hippo cottage. I decided it would be great fun to go up to it and slap it on the arse, but it ran off. Good job too as they are extremely dangerous!
Car Trouble Part One.
Today I had my Medical for my flying licence. This involved going to a doctors in Tzaneen where I would be poked, prodded, electronically probed and pricked. I was fine and passed but I did have to run all over Tzaneen to about 3 different medical clinics as not one person seemed to be able to do it all. On my way to the private hospital, ?Hens car started struggling ï¿½ï¿½" no power to the engine. It then gave a final splutter and died, I managed to pull into a petrol station and with the last bar of battery on my phone (which also had 6p credit) managed to call Ryan. I was about 100 miles from âhomeâ with no idea what to do. So I bought a beer. With in 5 minutes a pick up truck turned up and towed me to a VW garage in the town. They managed to fix it with in an hour as it was a mounting for the carbareta and relatively simple, while they did this I went to the mall to get my eyes testedâ¦..
âSee this? Thisâ¦ is my BOOMSTICK! S-marts top of the line. Youâll find it in the sporting goods departmentâ.
Out side Tzaneen mall I accidentally bumped into a guy carrying an Uzi. This is starting to become a habit. I apologised as you do then I noticed in his other hand he had a shopping basket full off Uzis. Real ones with loaded Magazines in. He had an accomplice with him who also had a shopping basket full of guns. I tentatively followed them into the mall as I had to go get my eyes checked out in there anyway and I figured that this was too surreal to be an issue. No one else seemed to be bothered either, I guess it is quite normal to carry in excess of 20 submachine guns with you when shopping. Fuck the nectar card give me an AK47.
Car Trouble Part 2.
Do you ever get the inclination to just keep going when the car petrol gauge hits the reserve? I do. Especially when I do not own the car so I genuinely have no idea how much longer it can last. Adds a bit of excitement to long journeys I find. The constant suspense of will I be left stranded with no Phone along a 100 KM stretch of highway in the midday African Sun?! Well today my curiosity bit me in the ass. I ran out of petrol 2kms from town on my way to Hoedspruit. I was doing about 100Km/h and then the car just died. âOh no! No No No!â I said out loud. The Car slowly but consistently started do decelerate. I knew I was 2 kms from a petrol station so I had a chance. Luck was smiling on me today though. The road had a very fine gradual down gradient. The Car slowed to a slow 20kmh pace but kept on rolling. âCome on you bastard! Come on!â
I rolled through a Stop Street(a junction where you are supposed to stop) Come on! Eventually stopped dead at the turning into the petrol station! I got out and pushed it the remaining 30
âOliver leave the marlin Aloneâ
Today was Henâs Birthday so I gave her what every woman wants for their birthday. A cooking book. Specifically a South African cooking book telling her need to know facts about how to roast wildebeest, how many chickens feet is appropriate and a wedding buffet and just how and where to stuff an impala.
In the evening to celebrate we went to Magâs and Erichâs Pub âthe deep-sea angling and fishing clubâ. It was here that Erich gave me a shot of the local firewater. Stroh Rum. I knocked back a shot and waited for the burn of the 80% Volume rum to kick in. With in 3 minutes I went from sober to a bit stupid and spent the rest of the evening attempting to mount a replica of the worlds largest marlin hanging on the wall.
âOh Shit there is a huge snake here!â yelled Hen as I was relaxing in the pool. This I had to see to I got out and ran over. Hen was stood staring at this very long thin Green Snake that had coiled itself up next to the entrance to reception. Probably about a metre long. The markings on it identified it as a male Boomslang (Africaanâs for Tree Snake).
Great, these fellas are one of the most venomous little bastards found in the region. Their Toxin is a heamotoxin, which means that after you are bitten, you will essentially bleed to death from the inside, from out of your ears and from the cracks of your skin. Possibly the hardest type of bite to treat as well as it doesnât focus on just one area, it fucks your entire body.
Obviously I could not allow it to just stay there and for it to wander off on its own accord. Oh no, it had to be abused. I decided to invent a game ï¿½ï¿½" Snake bowls, using Amarulas (a hard small fruit about the size of a conker). The next five minutes was spent hurling Amarulas at the thing to really piss it off ï¿½ï¿½" so hopefully it would bugger off. But it didnât, it just sat there staring at us, looking pissed off, probably working out which one of us he would bite first. I would see it in his eyes, he was looking a me. Working out where he would strike first. Ryan then went off to find a stick and came back with the worlds longest plank of wood (about 15ft) and proceed to shunt at the snake to get him to move. By this point we had attracted a crowd of guests who to my alarm all reacted with a worrying mixture or fear and respect for the snake when they heard it was a Boomslang.
The prodding had the desired effect of moving the snake, and move he did. This snake was quick. Imagine 10 people skulking up following this snake from pure curiosity then collectively shrieking as the thing swung round and started chasing them. This went of for a few minutes until the snake darted under Henriettaâs car (conveniently and identical colour to the thing) and disappeared into the engine. Oh shit, what now? I would be driving this car in the dark with in the hour and knowing my luck the thing would probably pop out of the cigarette lighter and bite me in the nads. It could not stay there. It took about 15 minutes to figure out where it had gone, it had coiled itself around the suspension spring on the front left strut. Unfortunately this was quite high up in the wheel arch; we were going to need a new stick. Several minutes of poking and hooking at this snake to uncoil it really pissed it off. It let out a couple of strikes and the guy trying to uncoil it (there was no way I was going to attempt that one!). At least half his body length shot out of the wheel arch at lightning speed but missed him.
We got him out eventually and he darted straight over towards me, probably sensing this was payback time. âYour Organs are mine now Brayâ his evil serpent eyes were saying. I knew his intentions. This was it. This to be the moment of confrontation, with the crowd cheering, time to be a manâ¦..I legged it kicking my feet in the air squealing like a girl.. I turned around to see him heading up a tree and with that he was gone from sight.
St Patrickâs Day African Style.
Ah St Patrickâs day: that one special day of there year, no matter where you are from, you turn Irish. Sales of Guinness rocket, singing along to the Pogues becomes acceptable and the world turns green. The thing that always amazes me about
The plan was simple, get to an Irish bar, drink Guinness until blindness set in then challenge a Hippo to a fight.
On arrival I was disappointed to see 2 car loads of English girls just leaving the pub. They had obviously put in the effort to gain an assortment of crazy Guinness hats, badges and other marketing crap too numerous to mention. I got in to a conversation with one of them who was trying to negotiate starting her pick up truck by posting her car keys into her dashboard ï¿½ï¿½" If you ask me not a good state to be driving in but this is
âOâ Hagansâ did not disappoint. The owner greeted us as we entered, he was already plastered sporting the obligatory Guinness paraphernalia. His drunken appearance was not helped by his bong eye stubbornly fixated on his own nose.
âHow do we I win those hats?â the three of us said in unison.
âAh you must drink 5 pints of Guinnessâ replied the owner.
â5 pints of Guinness please.â
The drinking started in earnest. My memory is a little hazy from there on in, but Iâm pleased to report a good 6 hours of drinking in which time we drank the bar dry of Guinness (quite an achievement in an Irish bar on St Patrickâs day I feel) and were reward with several hats and a suitable rewarding collection of crap. Later in the evening the entertainment arrived in the form of 2 South African DJâs. they both had very impressive tashes and to my horror they proceeded to play shite Afrikaans music. I stumbled over to demand they play some Irish music.
âGreat tashes you gentlemen. Do you have an Irish Music?â
âWhat is Irish Music? Came the response.
âerm how about U2?â
Nothing but blank moustachioed faces stared back at me.
âSo just to clarify. You two get a job DJing in the Only Irish bar for 400 miles, on St Patrickâs day and you have no Irish Music. Hmm. That just about says it all. But Great Moustaches though.â
Today during my flying lesson I have been learning about forced landings. In the unlikely event of engine failure (or statistically a lot more probable event in
What a remarkable shit achievement (excuse the pun). You get to the top of the Genus by becoming the largest and strongest of your kind. But why what is your purpose? Well allow me to divulgeâ¦ To lug mounds of shit that weigh more than you do home. And if that sounds bad (which, quite frankly is) when you get that shit home that is your dinner. Yes poor dung beetle, you have my sympathies.
Today I got up close and personal with one of these fellas, I went to Johanâs place where Cornell and the Danish harem were as well. We all had a Braii (BBQ) together and had a few drinks, at some point n the evening a dung beetle happened to fall into my plate of food (now there is a shit food review if ever I saw one!). Cornell took it upon himself to show me how strong these beetles are. I took the thing in my hand and closed my palms around him. In his attempt to get out he pushed against my hands and I struggled to contain the thing. Very impressive I thought. Okay, not like THE most impressive achievement I have ever seen, but pretty cool none the less.
Other achievements for the day were as follows. I had a shave for the first time in 3 weeks, in the process I sculpted an outrageous PORNSTAR BIKER TASH. A handle-barred monstrosity: belonging in the domain of the internet chat room groomer. This beauty was so impressive that I decided to wear it all evening. God it amazing what you think you can get away with when abroad.
Also I managed to very nearly wipe out in a plane crash (donât worry Ma, Iâm still in one piece!). I caught a massive thermal when I was landing the Technam. This resulted in me being flung 50 foot into the air just as I rounded out on my landing. This basically meant that just as I was approaching my stalling speed the part of the landing when the plane touches ground, I suddenly shot up in to the air and the started nose diving onto the tarmac at almost 90 degrees to the ground. I managed to recover however.
Road Trip along the panoramic route, Peeing out of Godsâ Window and a Saturday night spent in a one horse town.
My flight instructor is off for a few days, so I have an opportunity to travel around a bit. So I decided to take Hens car and head out on the open road for a few days. I had heard that there is some really good sights to see in a place called Graskop ï¿½ï¿½" A town on then escarpment sat above the Lowveld. From Hippo pools you can see the cliffs rise dramatically up by over 1000 Metres I wanted to get up there and check out the view. So off I trundled at about 12, I could have set of earlier but my head was pounding having drunk half a bottle of Tanqueray the night before. I woke up in the morning with a small explosive device lodged in my skull detonating every 30 seconds and a ridiculous porn star tash on my face. I needed to give it a rest.
I filled up the car and headed south on the highway, meandering thought plantations and skirting around the base of the mountains. The cliffs were a sheer vertical wall of different coloured rocks, reds, oranges with dark layers mostly. As I drove along, well under the speed limit as I was in no real hurry I sipped on a cold can of castle. Ha! This was the life: Sucking on a beer behind the wheel of my own portable Cinema screen playing National Geographicâs greatest ever views. My NEW Ipod providing the soundtrack (unfortunately I dropped my old one onto a concrete floor picked it up and immediately dropped it again ï¿½ï¿½" completely finishing it off. As you can imagine I was even more pleased when I dropped the new one before I had even turned it on.)
I was pleased to have the company of various animals kept along the way ï¿½ï¿½" (herds of cows and goats tend to own the roads here). After I had driven for about 120Km I pulled over into a panorama view point. It did not disappoint.
After the obligatory photos I headed further along the canyon road stopping some 50kms up the road at where a sign directed me into âBourkeâs Luck Potholesâ.
âIs this the place where I can find the potholesâ I enquired at the gate.
The African Guard Beamed at me and responded âThe one and only place in
âHardly my man!â I grinned back, âI have just driven over several hundred back there!â He failed to laugh instead he just looked at me confused. So I paid him 22 rand and entered possibly one of the most anticlimacticalTM (I think I may have invented a new word there!) attractions in
When I got back to the car I downed another litre of water and another beer for good measure (purely for hydrating purposes) and set off in the direction of Graskop and âGods Windowâ.
I arrived there after another 40 minutes, needing the toilet. I had not been all day and I had been drinking lots of fluids, unfortunately there were no toilets there so I figured I grin and bear it until I found a hotel somewhere. I trundled up these steps in the direction of the look out and came up to this incredible view. A steep valley descending over a kilometre below. You could see for miles in fact you could see the curvature of the earth it was go high up. This was truly impressive and well worth the trip. As no one was there next to me as well I took the liberty of relieving myself out of the âwindowâ while I was there. This made me chuckle. The look out point had several paths so I took one that headed upwards. The air was noticeably cooler here and thinner than it is in Hoedspruit. The Vegetation is more tropical too. The path opened out on the most spectacular view yet, in fact possibly one of the most incredible views I have ever seen, this even gave the salt lakes in
That Evening I decided to hit the night life in Graskop. Earlier in the evening I had been set upon by a shop assistant in this clothes shop, I had enquired about where the best places to go out were, she was about 24 and looked like she might know. She just looked at me in shock. â Erm nowhereâ was the response.
Great I thought. Saturday night was looming and I was experience an extreme case of cabin fever having been cooped up in the resort for weeks. I felt like a horny sailor being given one night of shore leave in a town full of strippers the night before a suicide mission.
I chose the venue of the evenings adventures through a simple process of Elimination. The Sign on the street stated boldly
âThe Locomotive Pub and Grill ï¿½ï¿½" The Only Place to Go!â. Oh the bitter Irony. They were not wrong.
As I entered the pub it was like a scene for an old western. About 6 people sat alone or in slowly looked up from their drinks with just enough enthusiasm to look at me with some distain before getting back to well not a lot it would seem. I lasted approximately 4 minutes before I left having downed the shittest tasting beer in the world. I headed back to the hotel, and got an early night deciding to get up early to go see the view.
Waterfalls, scenery, THE BIG SWING and a new pair of shorts.
5 Am the alarm went off. Normally this is a nasty occurrence, but today this was really bad. For some reason my mobile decided to play a song with birds tweeting and annoying bells ringing. My short term solution of lobbing the thing across the room failed to silence it, in fact it just made it more resilient and started to play even louder. So I got up. It was still dark and I was on a mission to get the worlds greatest photo of the sun coming up over the African plains.
Enthused by the fact that I had got up in time and that I had sacrificed a perfectly good night out fighting with the locals I got in Henâs car and drove the 20 minutes up to the entrance to the look out spot. A further 20 minute trek up 568 steps through a rain forest by torch light ensued. I was the only person for miles around, this was going to be good. My own African sunrise with no one (most likely fat and American) to ruin it.
As I reached the summit my heart sank. The fog was so thick I could not see further than 10 metres. This was complete waste of time, so I decided to waste some more by just sitting there taking pictures of clouds until it dawned on me that this was ridiculous and left.
I Drove back to the hotel and checked out before heading to a pancake house for breakfast. Not a bad consultation prize. As I sat reading a particularly unhelpful and disinteresting tourist book ï¿½ï¿½" ever wanted to see a working silk farm before? Nope me either. Then something jumped out at me. âThe Big Swing is OPEN! Adventure-seeking tourists can test their bravery against the world's biggest swing. This monster will see you swing clear across the Graskop Gorge, more than 65m above the ground.â Now we were talking.
I rocked up to the place feeling all cock and confident. This was going to be awesome. This was misguided to be fair as my latest encounter with throwing my self off something high up had not gone well. It was in
As I approached the cliff edge I could hear the occasional scream as someone plummeted free falling for 2.5 seconds reaching 160 km/h then swinging at incredible speed across the gorge. The setting was undeniably beautiful, the gorge perhaps not more than 100 metres across meandered down onto the plains 2 kms below. But this was only a brief welcome distraction from my impending doom. I thought Iâd ease myself into it gently with a zip line slide out across the Canyon. This was no problem one ball crushing double harness later I was zooming 80metres up above trees, I was a bit to enthusiastic on the launch in fact that I made it all the was to the terrace of a bar on the other side where I almost got close enough to swipe this guys beer much to the amusement of the crowd, but unfortunately I was yanked back before I could complete my dare devil heist.
Back on the cliff it was time for business.
âAny last requestsâ one of the staff asked?
âYeah, a beerâ¦and a clean pair of shortsâ I replied before gulping my nerves down. I could joke all I liked, but there was no getting away from the fact that II was absolutely shitting myself. I really fucking hate heights. As I approached the launch point this little voice in my head was just saying ânow why do you want to go throw yourself of this perfectly good solid platform eh?â
âSo forwards or backwards?â a guy in a harness asked.
âOh forwards please!â But I soon changed my mind as soon as I looked over the cliff. No way. Backwards it was.
âOk Just put your feet there on the markersâ My feet shuffled backwards by about a centimetre well short of the foot I needed to get into position. It wasnât that I didnât want them to go there, they just had their own ideas. As if to say âfuck off. Throw yourself off brain, we are staying here.â
It was about the point when 2 small Spanish girls turned up and started singing Matcho Man that I just leant back and fell off.
FUCKKKKKK! It was the strangest sensation! I remember initially thinking âshit Iâm about to dieâ As the adrenaline shot in to my blood stream. My arms just flapped and my stomach went through my ears. Then as the ledge got smaller I noticed the cliff sailing passed. âWow, what a pretty water fall!â I thought just as there was a boiing! And the rope caught the slack sending me hurtling across the gorge with shit loads of G force and an almighty Woo Hoo! Yes! YES! Iâm ALIIIIIIVVVVE! Then I just dangled there.
After my close scrape with castration by harness I decided it was time for a beer so I went to the bar with my new found friends (other jumpers consisting of 2 South African Couples who I met at the bottom, they were all to happy to get into a conversation as I think they were just glad to be alive after that experience. I also met an Africcans policeman who was there with his wife (who strangely had the highest pitched voice in the world). He had spent 20 years in the police force in
After spending a few hours enjoying the view punctuated by the occasional scream I decided it was time to move on and check out some of the other sights in the Area. Several waterfalls and look out points did not disappoint. This whole area was dramatic and stunning, driving along these ridiculously long open roads with no traffic in sight. I was sip on the occasional cold beer and check to my left the sheer cliff drop into the Lowveld below. This was living.
Late in the afternoon after I had exhausted the local attractions I decided to head back to Hippopools ï¿½ï¿½" I had a
I headed back to Hoedspruit arriving about Seven. Deciding to get a bite to eat in town before heading back to the resort. As I pulled into sleepers restaurant and approached the entrance and asked a lady who was man handling a child by the front door if the place was open.
âNo, but the bar is. We are having a private gathering but you are more than welcome to join us?â. Somewhat taken aback by this overly hospitable offer, I figured why not. My Arse had seen 400 Kms of Car seat in 2 day, I was ready for a beer (well another ï¿½ï¿½" purely for medicinal purposed). âOh my the way there are a little bit far goneâ the lady whose name was Tania, added. As we walked through she announced to about 15 drunkards the âHello every one this is Oliver from
âNow this is my kinda crowdâ I announced and nailed the Jagermiester to another raucous applause.
âHmm I like his shouldersâ commented this bird by the bar who had obviously had had a few. âThanks! I like your Tits!â I responded with a grin to yet another Roar.
My one beer turned into far too many, during which time I got involved in a local brawl, talked to a 75 year old man called Jonny who I repeatedly called âDirty Old Bastardâ (But I would like to state for the record that Jonny was a dirty old bastard) and arranged to get up at 8 in the morning to go on a walking safari. I stumbled back to the resort at about 12 packed and passed out.
Walking Safari in the Greater Kruger
Erm, yeah went on a 3 day walking safari. Saw animals. Walked up to a lion and Giraffes still look gay.
Train wreck removal co.
These African dudes do not give a shit about anything including their own safety. Today I witnessed the most utterly surreal and dangerously stupid act yet. Hippo river cottage (where I had been staying for the first month or so) was let out today on a long term rental. So at about 10 in the morning the removal van carrying all the familiesâ possessions turned up. Unable to cross under the railway bridge (there is a railway line that passes the resort very close by and you have to cross under it to enter) they decided to improvise. They attempted to drive over the tracks with a 3.5 tonne lorry and subsequently got stuck across the tracks. There they stayed just spraying mud and railway gravel into the tree line wedged. Fifteen minutes later Ryan turned up with a tractor to pull them out. Now several trains come through here a day, usually at very high speed. If one hit this lorry it would have not only wiped out the train and the truck but also Ryansâ house, the main resort building and probably everyone in them. Now what astounds me the most is the BlasÃ© attitude of everyone about an occurrence like this. âThis is
Buying Donkeys, 100 cows and clear the skies I have gone SOLO.
Buy a donkey. Seriously. If you are in
For the last few days I have been staying in an airplane hanger. I have decided to camp out at the airfield in order to finish up my hours, I figure if I am here enough then there may be a bit more urgency with the instructors. So yesterday I turned up. I am not alone at the airfield, there is a 17 year guy called Rolf getting his ppl as well. I have taken it upon myself to get him into as much trouble as possible.
Yesterday I suggested we go out for a beer in the evening, I had been to lunch at âTzaneen country lodgeâ the day before and remembered it had a bar and wasnât too far from the airfield. Well that is what I thought but at the time I was driving. Having dropped Hensâ car at the garage to be serviced I was Carless. But I figured we could walk. This turned into a mission as we decided to cut across the airfield by jumping over a barbed wire fence in the dark. Rolf sprang over it in no time being the sprightly 17 year old of the group. I took it upon myself to wedge my gonads onto the barbed wire and just dangle there with this mixture of pain and disbelief at my unfortunate predicament. Once the testicles were freed (with much laughing from my companion) we proceeded to walk the 2 miles to the lodge. By the time we got there I didnât just need a beer I needed a stretcher. I did not find a stretcher but I did find a barman called (as his name badge proudly displayed) âSackâ, a drunk learly old bastard called Moses (who was concerned that I had not taken a wife at the old age of 28 and consequently attempted to marry me off to every female in the bar) and 2 Afrikaans girls who educated me ( with encouragement from moses of course) into the marriage procedure in South Africa: Apparently you need provide the father of your conquest with a suitable âbullaâ ï¿½ï¿½" this is a kind of dowry except it involves supplying the father with 100 cows. Now I may be slightly naive in these matters but what if your fiancÃ©âs father lives in a 2 bedroom high rise flat in
My hanging around seems to be paying off as I also flew my first solo flip today. I would like to say this went smoothly but I would be lying. I was slightly nervous at the prospect of killing myself with no instructor to jump in and save me (not that he has had to yet but you never know). My nerves got the better of me during my Preflight checks, I missed out a sequence ï¿½ï¿½" not a major one I forgot to set the trimmer to neutral (which would make pulling backl on the stick trickier on take off.) but annoying none the less. Things got really tricky when I had lined up on the runway for take off. So there I was alone in the cockpit, I finished my checks and let out a gulp as I hit the throttle to take off. Now I blame my instructor (naturally) for not warning me that with out the extra weight of him in the plane the handling characteristics would be completely different. Where as the plane would normally steadily roll up to about 50 Knots and then you would pull back on the stick (or rotation as it technically known) to climb, the missing weight turned the throttle into a rocket booster. Before I knew it I had hit 65knots and the plane was bouncing half lifting off the tarmac on its own. Slightly alarmed that I had over shot the rotation point I pulled back on the stick and the plane launched in to the air like a shot. I had climbed to 2000ft in record time which also caught me off guard messing up my entire set up in the circuit. The speed was a lot faster than usual too, but that was just fun. It was at 2000ft that it suddenly dawned on me that I was up there all alone and responsible for my own safety. I let out a big grin and then I managed to pull it back until the landing. As the plane was lighter it did not descend as quick as Iâm used too, it also made my inputs on the controls a lot more pronounced. As I neared the runway threshold I was still very high so I switched to full flaps and swooped in at a ridiculous angle of decent. This would make chuck Yeager proud. (He is a famous American stunt pilot Maâ¦). As I pulled in to the apron Grant and Dicky the flight school owner were there to greet me. I had this huge grin on my face that just beamed Iâm happy to be alive and I was happy ï¿½ï¿½" 2 months of learning to get to this milestone.
Flip in a Micro light and Poacher buzzin.
One of the guys who works at the flight school ï¿½ï¿½" Harmann a real Afrikaans local guy, took me up in a Microlight Trike for a fly around the airfield. Now this was fun! I have to get rated on one of these things, imagine a hanglider strapped to a garden chair powered by a huge prop at the back and you have a pretty good idea about one of these things. I guess it is like a motor bike of the skies, as you sit in this seat and your legs just dangle. This makes the views from the air amazing, we went up for 15 minutes and did a few circuits around the airfield. Great fun.
Earlier in the day during my lesson I was flying low over a disussed airstrip next to this orchard. Grant notices a couple of black guys running for cover as we passed over ï¿½ï¿½" Poachers nicking fruit out of the trees, this pissed Grant off and he grabbed the controls and nosed dived at the poachers buzzing passed them. Then we circled at about 30ft above the ground directly above them banking almost vertically. This eventually scared them off and made me think about revisiting my lunch as the constant G force made me a bit dizzy, but I like to think that was my good deed for the day.
The African Wedding
Call it boredom call it what you will, but I had this over powering urge to pull over at the side of the road on Saturday night on the way back from dinner to investigate this party going on in this disused stadium outside Tzaneen.
As I pulled up to the gate there were about 10 cars stopped randomly with African dudes there hanging around interrogating the drivers to allow entry to this place that looked like a sure fire way of getting relived of all your worldly possessions.. The whole scene looked dodgy. If we go in here we will get killed said my Afrikaans companion.
Now there is something I should explain about my Psyche here. I have never been one to pass up an opportunity to be truly offensive to unsuspecting deviants: I Seem to thrive on getting away with saying the wrong thing to the wrongest of people, but somehow getting away with it.
As I pulled in I wound down my window and this African woman approached.
âIâm looking to but a six pack of beer and to get shot.â I announced with a smile. Knowing full well you can pretty much say anything with a smile and get away with it. It really is all in the delivery hereâ¦
âYes. Ok you can enter but you must buy 6 drinks eachâ came the reply.
Suspicion kicked in, How much are they? Expecting some take the piss amount to be quoted putting the Ritz to shame. 5 Rand each came the response. (6 drinks at 35p each was not going to be a problem).
So I drove through trying to negotiate being able to park before this African bird would fetch the drinks. There was this admirable mutual air of distrust ï¿½ï¿½" me expecting her to take my beer money and run and her expecting me to drive off and not actually order beer (The Lunatic). This took a while to negotiate even more so as she kept saying âyesâ to every question I asked here ï¿½ï¿½" even though they were contradictory:
âSo should I park first of stop here and get the beer?â
âWell which is it Park or Stop?â
âWell Iâll just park first then.â
We got out and bought the beer from a mobile trailer bar ï¿½ï¿½" the kind you find on racecourses where this very confused African guy looked at us as if to say what the fuck are you guys doing here?
Once these were purchased me and Rolf ï¿½ï¿½" my companion the 17 year old fellow student at the flight school. Got out of the car ( not before stowing our wallets and other valuables as I was a bit nervous at the prospect of being hideously beaten, robbed and buried here.)
Around us were about 40 cars parked all over this football pitch, doors and boots open blaring music. We took some beers and strolled out into the 200 crowed. With in 6 seconds. I heard a menacingly accusing voice:
I looked around. Well there certainly werenât any other white people here ï¿½ï¿½" just a sea of black people mostly looking at me and Rolf like we had stepped into the wrong part of town with a âI hate Niggers placard strapped to our backs dressed like the KKK.â
Fuck it. Do or Die Bray. I thought. I strolled right up to my accuser and stared him in the face.
âI let out a grin and approached him, he was surrounded by about 10 figity looking black guys staring at me with suspicious eyes. To be fair what the hell was I doing here anyway.
âHey whatâs up Black man Who is getting married then?!â lf expecting a sea of 9mm hand cannons being cocked in my face I was pretty relived to see him and his companions laugh and we started chatting.
Anyway this guy called âPitballâ (I shit you not) introduced me to this African Girl called Lorell. Lorell was a 24 year old, who was instantly amiable if a little directâ¦
â You should got to
âReallyâ I enquired, â Why is that thenâ
âIt is the only place you get mugged and they will give a blow jobâ
âPardon? What a the same time?â I replied somewhat taken a back. Then musing on it for a minuteâ¦.âWhy I donât know I would be pissed off or grateful.â
âYes and they would ask you how much you need to get home as well and give you the money too.â
Now let me think about his one for a minute. According to this girl some crazy African bird comes up to you in Soweto, pulls out a gun, takes your money, then just to make you feel totally violated, sucks you off and then gives you your bus fare (out of your own money) to get home. (God forbid you got robbed and sucked off again on the way home.) But then again, I had seen a newspaper headline in âThe Sowetanâ just five days ago saying âCRAZED SEX MAD WOMEN ON RAPE SPREE ï¿½ï¿½" man Treated for bruised penisâ Any thing is possible hereâ¦.
Wow. And that is the heart of
What not to do when flying a plane.
My flying was getting reasonably good, and I was feeling pretty cocky until today. I had a serious brown trouser moment nearly wiping out the plane and killing myself in the process. I was flying on my own for the second time and still pretty nervous, as I a came in to do a âtouch and goâ which is where you land and take off again with out stopping I had a bit of an incident. I landed fine, but through lack of concentration I had not lined up the plane correctly in the runway, so when I hit the throttle the plane veered violently to the left and left the runway. I was travelling at 45 Knots ( to put that in perspective you get airborne at 50knots) and I was heading straight for a fence and solid tree line about 30 metres ahead. Fuck! Iâm going to crash fuck! Sounds like a clichÃ© but my world actually slowed down as I battled with the controls. I did not have enough speed to take off ( which in hind sight was a good thing as I would have flown straight in to a tree and probably killed myself.) The Trees were getting closer and closer and the rudders were not responding positively enough to turn the plane round away from impending disaster. Shit! I canât believe it. I thought. How the fuck did I get myself into this! But then something clicked with in me. Fucking do something. Fast. I pulled back on the throttle and the nose dropped sending the front wheel down onto the grass with a thump. I hit the left rudder and slammed the throttle in violently sending the plane jerking to the right, the tip of the left wing swinging round and missing the fence by 2 feet. The right wing almost grazing the grass but springing back up just in time to save me from rolling the plane. I pulled on the runway and stopped and let out a huge breath.
âOliver are you Ok?â It was Grant calling me on the radio from a plane above the airstrip.
âYeah. Iâm ok, just a bit shaken up. Iâm gonna head back the hanger.â
I needed a new pair of shorts and a lie down.
I felt I should add a few words about one of the guys staying at the airfield with me. Corbez. He drove up from
THE PPL Test.
I felt I should mention that I took my pilots test today, after all the last 2 months had been building up to it. I was cacking myself before hand feeling that I wasnât quite ready, my first Solo Navigation exercise had been a disaster (I got a wee bit lostâ¦) and the second one even worse. 9 I miss read the protractor whilest working out my bearing sending myself in completely the wrong direction, so I wasnât feeling too confident. Also the
plane that I had done all of my flying in was out of action so I had to do my test in a completely new plane, a low wing Technam Sierra P2002. A cool looking machine but it possessed completely different flying characteristics.
My Apprehension was not well founded. My flying was superb, ( not saying that my self, my marks were very good.) Everything seemed to just fall into place it was sweet.
So with one day to go I passed my PPL with No major mishaps during the 4 hour test ( well ok may one ï¿½ï¿½" Planed the plane on all three wheels with a hard thud on landing after a ridiculously low approach where I almost took out the landing approach lights with my under carriageâ¦ But apart from that my navigation, upper air airwork (including stalls and spins) were excellent. So Well done me. I am now officially a pilot. J
Today after two and a half months I trundled out of hippos pools for the final time. I say trundled but the picture was more like me flooring Ryans Bucky with Hen desperately trying to appear calm during my 110 mph burst to the air port. When I got in the car I had one hour until take off and the airport was 40 minutes away.
I was there in 25. Surprisingly they let me on the plane so I had a final drink with hen and said goodbye, wondering how long it will be till I see Ryan and Hen again, and how our lives may have changed. I waved good bye and then boarded my South Africans Airways Airlink flight ï¿½ï¿½" a rickety plane if ever I saw one, it probably seated about 20 people.
As we took of I grinned as I had personally landed on this very runway only 2 days ago on my own.
So next stop Joberg, I had arranged for Tanya Stokes to meet me at the airport, she had very kindly offered to put me up for the night and take me to the CAA to collect my licence, she and
But now I had a guide/ host for my night stay. Joberg was well pretty nondescript, looked dodgy every where, security guards with Shot guns and machine guns lurking around. My kinda town.
We got to the CAA and with in an hour I was the proud owner of my pilots licence. Bring it on!
That evening I took Tanya out for dinner (
After dinner, Tanya had to meet one of her drivers to give him some trip funds (her and
After we watched the driver pull away blasting his fog horn (mounting several curbs in the process) we went back to Tanyaâs where her dog attempted to hump my leg (again).
I went to bed satisfied that I had not been shot stabbed or mugged and sucked off at the same time (Or should that be disappointed?).
24 - 25th April
âArty Types, Seeing the sights and Yummy mummysâ
As the plane arrived into
When I got to Sarahâs office I looked ( and probably smelled ï¿½ï¿½" not that my personal hygiene was in question, it was just I was wearing a Tshirt that was a bit damp and starting to stink). I said hello and trundled through the office to wait for her to finish.
That evening we were going to go to a friend of hers boyfriends exhibition. An artist with an exhibition called â
The place was full of Arty types talking bollocks about art. Literally everything thing coming out of their mouths was bullshit. I had to bite my tongue to not actually say what I was thinking (ie they were talking rubbish).
Afterwards Sarah and I went to dinner with the artists ( Where the levels of Alcohol claimed jurisdiction over my sense of saying the right thing and I told the Artist that he and his art was bollocks. He took it surprisingly well. Thatâs the problem with these âarty typesâ no fucking backbone.
On the way home, Sarah drove me passed the football stadium that they are rebuilding for the world cup.
âYou can see it from our balconyâ she said.
âOh really?â I replied feigning interest
âYeah, Iâm going to take a picture of it every day until it is built so you can see how it progresses.â
I thought about this for a minute.
âSo let me get this straight you are going to embark on a 2 year project so that you can put together a 5 second flicker book in order to bore the shit about of people in 2 years. Because lets face it after you have been working on it for 2 years, you are going to want to show somebody. And then they are going to have to pretend to be interested as well.â
âVery good, just donât show me!â
We got to Sarah and Skips place, very nice apartment in Moiulle point over looking the Sea. Very Swanky after 2 months in the bush.
The next day was devoted to exploring
So table mountain, as big rocks go, it is a good one. From every where in the city it pretty much dominates, unless you are looking out to sea, so I figured the views would be fairly impressive from the top. Hoped in a cab and got dropped off at the cable car station, where I paid an exorbitant amount to go up. As I was waiting this old English couple got talking to me, it was one of those bullshit small talk conversations that I was in no mood to have, but out of politeness I smiled and nodded as they began to bore me with the life story. This irritated me somewhat as I was enjoying a slight beer buzz and having my thoughts to myself, not having to bother with anyone else. Finally they ran out of stuff to gibber on to me about and carried on talking to each other about the weather in
âWhere are you guys from?â I didnât answer as I had not noticed she was talking to me. âHey Where you from?â this Toothy grin beamed at me. Her accent was this harsh Aussie butch
âOh Sorry, are you talking to me?â
âWhere you fromâ
âShe attempted to talk to me about the cricket (not the best conversation starter for an ugly bird to have with me) so I was relieved when the old couple got bored of talking to each other and cut in.
Thank fuck for that I though and subtlety shimmed up the queue out of reach. Got I hope that is not a taste of Oz otherwise there will be serious trouble, that direct overly familiar approach really gets my goat. When I was finally safe from irritation, I grinned at how much of a grumpy bastard I can be.
So up I went in this revolving cable car, got to the top, froze, took a few photos and then when to see someone about how to walk back down, after all the weather was closing in at it was getting late ( thinking it would take 15 minutes). It takes more like 3 hours. Shit. So I had to pay another exorbitant amount to get back down, by which time I had very little money left on me, certainly not enough for a taxi even half way back. But being a resourceful chap I came up with a plan. Bribery.
I had a quiet word to a hop on hop off sight seeing bus driver ï¿½ï¿½" slipped him a couple of quid and he dropped me right outside Sarahâs apartment.
That evening I went out for dinner with Sarah and then she dropped me on Long St, she had to be at work early the next day but there was no way I was having an early night, I had 2 months of Spunk backed up in the bush.
The place was packed with fit birds, I went up to this late thirties something blonde woman and probably tried out some horrendous line (âHey! Nice legs what time do they open?â) ï¿½ï¿½" memory if very sketchy at this point. She turned out to be not only very attractive, (kind of blonde Ex-model yummy mummy) but also incredibly dumb. Perfect. She slipped me her card, turns out she was the manager of the club, but on her night off. So we had several drinks together and getting friendly until 4 am. At which point the club was closing and she had to be on a flight to Joberg in 3 hours. I got back in a taxi and dragged myself back to Sarahâs where I had to wake her up because they had left the keys in the door. As you can imagine then next day was a write off.
Ceasing to exist, Crazy signs, and endless travelling oh and finally reaching
Fuck knows where I am now, I do know that it has taken me 30 hours 4 plane trips and a night lost to jet lag. Iâm sitting writing this on a bus travelling extremely slowly thorough the Thai jungle en route to Ko Phanang where tonight there will be one mother bitch of a party. The 1st May full moon party. Now this is supposed to be one of the 50 things you do before you die, and if the rumours are to be believed the whiskey out here may just help with that.
But first how did I get from the relative sanity of
The journey was a pain in the ass, I left Sarahâs at 6am South African time, and arrived in Singapore at 2am South African time, although by then I was no longer in South Africa, in Singapore it was 5am and time to wake up. Some how I had ceased to exist for a few hours. Although I have to admit the vew from the 747 window was incredible as we passed along Africa and then flew over
I had to wait for my connection in Joberg and then also in
Taking off from
âHey! You! Way a Wanna Go!â I wasnât sure so I decided that I would head to Krabbi for the night before heading to Ko Pang Na for the full moon party. As I sat waiting in the 38 degrees heat, humid sticky heat not like in the bush, I looked around and saw a woman pealing mangos next to me, crazy decorated lorry going passes ( on hand mud flaps with Jesusâ portrait painted on!), I smiled, and thought to my self Iâm going to love this place.
My 30 minute bus journey turned out to be a little bit more than I bargained for, I go on the completely full coach to be greeted by 40 or so Thai faces starting at this crazy English man. What the hell was he doing on one of these things? Sleeping thatâs what ï¿½ï¿½" I was exhausted so I passed out at the back, next to a sink and someoneâs underpants. No joke I think the driver must live on the bus as he had washed and hung up to dry 3 pairs of y-Fronts. Lovely. I would wake up periodically to ask the Thai man next to me if we had reached Krabbi yet. No about 2 hours moreâ¦ The journey took 4 hours! Fuck! 4 hours! It isnât even that far, but that is how things are here. SLOW. During the journey I was somewhat taken aback to see a 50 ft sign of Keith Floyd (quick Slurp?) advertising his new restaurant. What was even more surreal was that my Mate Barry had emailed me last week to say that he bumped into Keith Floyd in a restaurant in
When I arrived at the bus station I jumped in a cab and asked to be taken to the beach,. I ended up in AO Pha Nang, a stunning resort town. I checked into a hotel marvelling at the signs posted around the place âRoom FORRENT!â and âcheck out 11 noon.â (Pardon?) or âDrive safety!â (for car insurance). I know I was onto a winner as the register showed to Swedish girls staying there. Why ! I had a dog and I named himâ¦. BINGO!
Then I took a trip down to the beach and did some shopping and had some dinner. I went in to a restaurant and asked them if the could cook me a thai red curry, it wasnât on the menu but I really felt like having one. It was the best I have ever tasted, fresh lemon grass and coconut milk with red chillis in just the perfect quantity. I actually got up and went into the kitchen to thank the chef personally it was that good. After dinner (to be fair it was early) I went for a swim and sat down to watch the sun setting over the horizon. As I sat on a bench I got chatting to this Malaysian girl, Karen from Singapore, she was also 28, and here on holiday on her own, we talked for a bit and then headed back to our hotels, she suggested we meet up that evening for a drink so I gave her the name of a bar and arranged to meet at 8. I went back showered and put on my new T-shirt ( great quality as the dye on the Tshirt had started to run in the rain!).
Now I donât know if I got the wrong time, wrong bar or wrong girl but she never turned up, so I got chatting to 2 very attractive Dutch girls: Martine and Elina, then rest of the evening was a blur of super tiredness, cocktails, and me forcing the girls to say things like âSNNNORKLEâ with their crazy accents. I âm also rather proud that I managed to get my only piece of Dutch into a conversation âNurken en de Kurkenâ ï¿½ï¿½" Fucking in the kitchen) thanks to Mr Ogden for that one. We ended up in a bar where the gayest barman took a shine to me.
By the time I went to bed I was exhausted, I had to be up to get on a bus which was coming to get me at 10.30. Naturally I over slept.
I woke to the sound of the receptionist banging on the door, the Taxi was waiting to take me to Ko Pangnag and had been waiting for sometime. I had one of those moments you get when you are suddenly woken from a deep, deep sleep: your surroundings are unfamiliar and you are not really sure what was going on. I sat bolt up right and shouted OK! Before I was even awake. My eyes were not working properly as I clambered around the room randomly stuffing my clothes and possessions into just about anything I could. It took me 10 minutes by which point the taxi driver was well with in his rights to drive off. This was my first encounter with the laid back attitude of the
I apologised to the other people in the taxi ï¿½ï¿½" an Australian couple and also and a French couple. There was a steady stream of rain pouring down as there had been pretty much all the time since arriving in
The day was devoted to travelling to the island, climbing into several different buses that all travel at a ridiculously slow speed.
The destinations was Surat Thani a commercial port town which served as the embarkation point for Ko Samui and my destination Ko Pangnan. I met more people on the Ferry, a 19 year old girl from the
Also on the boat I met a Thai girl who was touting for business on behalf of a hotel ï¿½ï¿½" sun view. So I agreed to stay there (10,000) tourists turning up in one town tends to make finding accommodation difficult, so I was not taking any chances.
The hotel Sunview was on the west side of the
Full moon Party
I went up to the hotel bar at about 10.30, there was a free taxi coming and I figured Iâd meet some of the other guests. As I had dinner got chatting to this Australian couple. Now how about this for a coincidence the guy (called Porky) lives in
Also in the bar were 3 blonde Swedish girls (bingo), 2 Canadians âdudesâ and some Americans. The rain was solidly tumbling onto the roof as our taxiâs turned up. 2 pick up trucks, we were going to get very very wet.
Wet we did, but who gave a shit, I had just had some Amphetamine laced Thai whiskey from a bucket. This was going to be a quality night.
We headed into Hat Rin and the place was swarming. The town is perched on a headland sandwiched between 2 beaches. Mostly tourists turn up to get wasted and dance the night away ( literally until 11am). As we followed the crowd down to the beach the crowed got thicker until we emerged half way up sunset beach. It was an incredible sight, 1000âs of people on the most beautiful beach getting hammered. And I mean hammered. All along the beach were locals selling childrens sand buckets with a bottle of vodka can of coke and a red bull. Hmm. I was no exception. The recollection of the night is somewhat hazy passed 3am. I remember talking to loads of people, one bird came up to me and said I looked like Mathew Mchonohey
I secretly wanted to marry her for that).
Unfortunately I saw several fights unfortunately I saved someoneâs life. This young guy of about 25 had the shit kicked out of him by this guy, I saw him stamping on him and the victim was knocked out motionless face down in the Sea. I ran over and jumped on the guy on the floor and told the aggressor that the police were coming and to leave, he legged it. I grabbed the guy and dragged him out of the water, and put him in the recovery position. He wasnât breathing and I could not feel a pulse. Someone called the paramedics I shouted, and there was already a crowd gathering. Fuck well if it has to be me I had better do something: I had to give him mouth to mouth resuscitation. In about a minute the paramedics arrived and took over, he made it and spluttered back to life. I never thought Iâd ever have to do that, but Iâm very pleased now that I had been on a first Aid course.
The rest of the evening was soured when I hid my boots and got them stolen. This made the following day a nightmare as in my drunk state I agreed to accompany these two birds back to their hotel, unfortunately there hotel was 1 mile up a rocky gravel path and I had to negotiate it with alots of ouch ohh ah! As I gingerly wrecked the soles of my feet.
As I began to sober up I decided that seeing how I had no clue where I was or where I was staying the only sensible thing to do was keep drinking and see where I ended up. As we neared the girls hotel I heard the rumble of a car coming up the road, fuck this I thought, Iâm going to hitch the rest of the way as my feet were now cut to shit. I was pretty surprised to see it was an English landrover!
Thursday 3rd May
Thai boxing matches with Swedish birds
There is something really not quite right about watching 2 five year olds kick and punch the crap out of each other. But that is exactly what I did this evening. One even got knocked out. Now that was the point that I though Ok this is definitely not quite right. I had seen a flyer for a Thai boxing contest earlier in the day ï¿½ï¿½" 7 matches culminating in a championship bout between the local champion and the Bangkok Champion. The matches were ordered in weight and consequently age. To be fair the kids were loving it . I went there with 3 Swedish girls and 2 Canadian guys from the hostel. The âstadiumâ if it can be called that was raw as it gets, big metal bench seats surrounded a blood spattered ring. The stench wasnât pretty either, mixture between sweat, deep heat and Urine from the long drop toilets. The fighters would emerge from behind the stands pray to each corner and then proceed to do a special dance that effectively stretched all of their limbs. The fighters themselves didnât look too tough, being English Iâm sure I could take one on. Well thatâs what I thought until I saw these guys in action, I have no doubt that some of these guys could kick the head of a man clean off. If I was going to get in the ring, (which you could actually do) I would have taken on one of the 5 year olds. Depressingly I probably still would have lost. The evening was spent betting beer with the Swedish girls and watching Thais batter each other. I remember there was a particularly monotone commentator droning into a microphone constantly I have no idea what he was saying as it was in Thai, I like to think it was along the lines of âHello everybody. Iâm a little girl. I donât know what Iâm doing here, I think I have left the gas on, somebody please take this thing of me? No very well I shall continueâ¦.â He constant gibbering was accompanies by this horrendous noise, I shall not refer to it as music, kind of a cross between bag pipes and a cow being slaughtered; or possibly Christina Aguilera.
After the boxing was over, 2 of the guys staying in the hostel decided to get in the ring. A huge fat Scottish dude and a smaller fat Canadian. It was not really a contest, more of a serious beating, but they seemed to enjoy it. Afterwards I went to a beach bar near the hostel.
Friday 4th May
Exploring Ko Phanang on moped and the Thai massage and hooker alley
(written whilst sitting in a hammock on a white sandy beach with the worlds largest Singha Beer in hand ï¿½ï¿½" yes life is tough).
Having had 4 hours sleep I decided that I had to get up and have some breakfast ï¿½ï¿½" then hire a bike and see the
Ridiculously potholed steep gradients where the bike almost went backwards, and then down with the breaks of full yet still speeding up at an alarming rate, all the while crazy Thai bus drivers and taxi drivers were zipping, skidding and crashing around you. Take the life threaten part out of the situation and it was somewhat stunning. Unfortunately Hat Rin wasnât very tacky but it did have an undeniably beautiful beach, the same place I had partied my ass off the other night. The weather was still a bit dodgy so I did some shopping and then went to the jungle gym to do some exercise.
I went fucking mental: lifted too many weights to many times and felt a little saw after. Then I had a stroke of genius: a Thai massage was the answer. I selected the venue and went in. The place was full of fit Thai birds, my mind was filled with images out of a 60 james bond movie, this was going to be cool. So I was somewhat alarmed when this thai boy came out and started to wash my feet. This wasnât going according to plan, but to give him his credit the experience (after I got over this is a little bit homoerotic kinda thing) was incredible. It lasted an hour and involved stretching punching slapping and generally poking every muscle in my body (well not one muscle I will make that perfectly clear.) At one point I was lying face down and the masseur climbs on top of my back,, stands on my spine ant pulls my arms back. Click! I let out this weird âUghhâ noise completely involuntarily as my spine was returned to it rightful position for the first time in years. I have to admit I am converted to this whole massage thing. Iâd do it again, but next time, I want it James bond Style.
On my way back in the evening I managed to find (purely by accident) the red light district, As I drove through several Thai women (well at least I think they were women, I mean you canât really tell can you?!) kept shouting at me Hey Mr! I must be looking pretty good tonight I thought, then it occurred to me that they were all hookers. Well done me.
Just one other quick mention here: Mosquitoes. I have spent the last 3 months in a malarial zone. I have seen countless mosquitoes in
To the 15th may
âThe Munchiesâ Boat trip. Hardly subtle. In a country that has the death penalty for transporting or selling drugs ï¿½ï¿½" even cannabis - calling your round the island boat tour the munchies tour is a bold move. Especially when the boat is crewed by a Burmese illegal alien who liberally hands out joints to the punters. I found my self signing up for this trip after entering a travel agent and reading a flyer ï¿½ï¿½" looked like a good excuse to meet people and see the island. Now originally I had wanted to go on the âsnoop dogâ tour, just in case Snoop doggy dog had decided to give up rapping and start a cheap Thai boat business, but the lure of the munchies was too great. I turned up at 12 and was lead to the boat with a lot of water. I had been out the night before in Had Rin and had drunk a lot of cheap Rum. I was not just hung over, it was worse than that, almost on a come down from the secret ingredients added to this cheap shit rum. This is stuff that could be successfully used to remove lime scale, polish metal or poison whole ecosystems. The worst part is the effect it has on your commonsense. Flash backs reveal hazy recollections of deciding to go skinny dipping on Had rin beach at 3 am with an Australian bird and managing to completely loose my clothes, then walking up and down the beach scaring the punters in beach bars by giving them a full on view of my gonads. To be fair I did not care. I was on holiday.
So anyway I turned up at the pre arranged time to be taken to the boat. My heart sank as I reached the vessel. It was an orange long boat with bench seats: not a problem in itself, it is just it was loaded with about 25 Chinese people. Hardly the topless Swedish party boat I had in mind.
âWhat the fuck is this? I thought, am I about to get caught up in a boarder smuggling run, what is with all the boat people?
My fears were ill founded as for some reason they all got off after a few minutes, I think when they were told that the boat did not carry life vests and most of them could not swim.
My fellow passengers consisted of this ridiculously good looking Canadian couple, 2 Australian girls, a scouce girl of 18, an Israeli couple, a fat Japanese guy (who said nothing for the entire trip, not even to his tiny Japanese wife ( who also said nothing), also the boat crew, the captain, and a guide of sorts from Burma. He liberally handed out pre rolled joints, ( I had a few puffs on one and lost all power of speech reasoning). He has been in Thailand for 8 years but was more that happy to talk to me about his native country, where he had to run through the jungle fearing for his life escaping the atrocities still going on today.
I lead the way with the conversation getting most people talking to each other on the boat.. I had a very satisfying chat with the Israeli couple. I fouind the guy to be very enthusiastic about my plans and situation.
After we left bottle beach and continues around the north of the
I swam on and saw plenty of cool tropical fish, little anemone fish similar to ânemoâ, a trigger fish ï¿½ï¿½" so called as they have a trigger like dorsal fin sticking out of the top of them, these things a notoriously territorial and have a habit of going for divers, they are not small either. Blue angel fish and other parrot fish also swam around me. The experience was cool, these waters were amazing.
After I clambered back onto the boat we headed back for the port, just as a huge storm front started moving in. It hit as we docked, torrential rain, unlike rain I had ever seen battered down turning the street into a river. I had a 10 minute walk back to my hut ï¿½ï¿½" I was getting wet.
The next day I departed Ko Phangnag and headed for the diving Mecca Ko Tao. I had heard that the diving was excellent and that this was one of the best places to learn to dive in the whole of
I hopped into the back of my awaiting taxi ï¿½ï¿½" a pick up truck ï¿½ï¿½" soon I was in the back dodging low flying banana palms as the taxi driver attempted a new land speed record.
The resort was not far from the port, well technically nothing is far on this island it is only 21sq Km. the resort Asia divers is set up specifically for diving run by an extremely polite and accommodating Thai family, pretty quality standard, nice pool, and loads of travellers and divers hanging around the wooden outside bar. This was to be home for a while I suspected (correctly so).
That evening I headed down to the bar and met a few of the people hanging around ï¿½ï¿½" Richard a dive instructor from the
From there we went to dry bar and that was when the evening gets a little hazy. Definitely due to the several buckets that Will an I drank. We got so hammered that we decided to become life long wing men. To be fair we did well, he ended up with a thai bird called âDongâ (yes I did struggle to contain my self), I ended up throwing up in the sea whilst skinny dipping with a south African bird, More alarmingly I ended up back at her shed on the beach until 8am. My dive course started at 8.30. I rocked up to the resort pissed out of my face and had breakfast before jumping in the pool to sober up. It didnât work but it amused the instructors lesson taking place 3 feet under the water. My instructor came out a South African Lady called
On the second day, after some much needed sleep, I hit the water, the open water. The ocean was just stunning. Warm as a bath, clear aquamarine waters with the most amazing corals and aquatic life. I was instantly hooked.
After the diving I came back to the resort to find a note had been left by the South African girl I had met the night before, something about meeting up for a drink, later, I wasnât keen but she turned up at my hotel anyway, in an attempt to get rid of her I told her I was busy finishing off my diving instruction ï¿½ï¿½" actually this was true
âWhy donât I meet you for dinner later?â I said. As I said it my brain was saying what the fuck are you saying? I have no intention of meeting you! But for some reason it is always hard to be nasty. To cut a long story short, I did meet up with her but only to tell her that I did not want to sending the evening together as I wanted to go out with my new found diving friends. She did not take this well. She turned into a bunny boiler and kept turning up at my hotel when I wasnât there claiming to be a religious nut and leaving me notes.
Thai Dogs ï¿½ï¿½" specifically Ko Tao dogs are a breed apart. Well technically they are several breeds mixed up in a complete incestuous doggy sexual frenzy over many decades, but they are definitely different. The island is covered with dogs, mostly strays ï¿½ï¿½" although some are the proud owners of collars ( not that this means anything as the are effectively left to fend for themselves.) It is my belief that you are never more than 10 metres away from a dog here, you notice them, sat mostly panting, licking their balls, sniffing another dogs balls or generally looking ridiculously happy in the sun. I feel like a famous anthropologist classifying a new genus. Technically this may not be too far from the truth. I think I saw a dog that had mixes of bassett hound, Dalmatian,
To give them their credit, these dogs are extremely docile, not an ounce of aggression in them .(well except to other dogs but more of that later). Take the local doggy who hangs around the bar at
And then there are the mangy ugly beach dogs. A few days ago I was sat on the beach checking out the view with a group of people and along came this flea bag with dog aids. He stopped a few metres away and checked us out before thinking. Hmm youâll do as my new owners.
âOh god. Look at that disgusting dogâ one of the Australian girls saidâ as he contorted himself into this ridiculous position almost bending himself completely round to gnaw on his own back. We sat there transfixed at this dog whose sole purpose in life was to chew, gnaw and itch uncontrollably for 3 minutes for just 30 seconds of relief. When he would relax sat starring out to sea in his own doggy nirvana before being reminded that he had the worlds itchiest flea infestation and continue with his life long quest to chew himself. This went on for hours, every so often he would inch closer to us to a collective chorus of âeugh!â and âgo away! Fuck off!â.
This dog was so nasty that when another dog came along he declined normal doggy practice to run up to Itchyâs back end and take a good long sniff.
Eventually Itchy did fuck off, another tourist was jogging down the beach, the dog felt he would be better suited to someone healthier, so he ran after him, occasionally stopping to chew himself.
On the whole these dogs are very docile, and they all tend to have their own territory and hang around in groups, beach dogs love the beach and never move, inland dogs love the Go Go bars and never move, occasionally someone will lake their pet dog down to the beach and get about 10 doggies gnashing and barking at the unwelcome doggy trespasser, but that is the only time they are ever aggressive.
17th May Dangerous Day of Death.
When I got out of bed this morning I could smell danger in the air. For today I had several plans all involving certain death. Firstly I was to get out of bed early and get on a the back of a pick up truck driven bty a lunatic whose sole purpose was to transport me and several other divers as fast as he possibly could on 2 wheels down the narrowest roads to the port. Here I would leap across 2 large gaps to reach the dive boat. This would be followed by a deep dive to 32 meters where there would be sharks. If I survived the inevitable shark attack I was then planning to get on the back of a motor bike driven by âKate Iâll use my face as a break shepherdâ to a place called âShark bayâ. Here we would go snorkelling and risk getting subcutaneous emphysema or blacking out through shallow water black out due to the existing nitrogen in our systems from the deep dive.
Obviously nothing so exciting happened, although I did see a shark very briefly, it did not decide to eat me.
Magic Mushrooms in shark Bay
If you are to ever indulge in mind altering substances then I can not recommend doing ito on a white sandy beach with shark infested waters in
We negotiated a taxi to a bar where when had been reliably informed sold âspecial shakesâ. The bar despite being off the main strip was far from subtle. I could be wrong, but I believe if you are to sell mind altering substances and bags of marijuana it probably is not a completely wise move to have pictures of Marijuana leaves and portraits of Bob Marley everywhere. Let alone stoned travellers catatonic in hammocks rolling joints, and watching a TV channel apparently devoted to documenting the sex life of various insects. Bearing in mind the penalty for dealing in this country is death.
Between 5 of us we bought 3 shakes and downed them and decided to head to the beach before the effects were felt ï¿½ï¿½" and personally if I am high I donât want to see a spider having sex and then getting eaten by the femaleâ¦. Might send me under.
The beach was a spectacular setting, a long fin sand beach with palm trees and amazing colours everywhere. Of course there were the token beach dogs there too.
At first we all tried to go snorkelling before we went sideways, but this was ruined somewhat by the fact that the tide was out and there was only 2 foot of water for about 500 metres out, I did my level best to float in the water picking my way through the coral but it got far to close for comfort having my face 2 inches from sea urchins and crabs. Also I was slightly concerned that I would come up out to sea then have to navigate my way back in a state. My concerns were probably well founded as when I emerged from the water I noticed the colours around me had become heightened, and I had this un controllable le urge to laugh. I sat on the beach with the others telling stories, all of which we found very funny. Admittedly the one of me shitting myself in
The shakes kicked in and the experience was awesome, if a little mental. After the giggleing and finding everything very funny stage I started seeing visuals and hallucinating a bit. Will kept turning green and into the incredible hulk. â Donât make him angry I kept sayingâ but he still kept turning Green. The sky oscillated and changed colours like a colidarskope, the stars started to wobble and the while thing was fucking cool. At one point I did get paranoid that a sea of crabs and Fleas were out to get me but that soon passed. ( To be fair a large crab had crawled up my swim shorts 2 days ago so I was justifiably concerned), the fleas were from Itchy the mangy dog mentioned earlier. After the trippy stage the inevitable confusion kicked in, so what are we doing?, when are we doing it? Thatâs what we are doing? Oh really? Ok. Why are we doing it? I was changed for about 12 hours, eventually getting back to the resort and smoking a few joints before passing out in bed.
After careful consideration (mainly toward my suntan) I have decided to stay on Ko Tao for a while, probably about 2 months. So I have enrolled on a âdivemasterâ training programme giving me access to unlimited dives. I in tend to spend my days in the sun diving and generally chilling out. I figured that living on a tropical island paradise for a few months canât be a bad idea, especially as I will miss the winter in
Go Go Bars with one complete and utter moron and the ugly aftermath.
Allow me to introduce Brian. Brian is not only gibbering ï¿½ï¿½" Iâve done far too may drugs in my lifetime ï¿½ï¿½" shaking wreck, he is also South African/ Irish which makes him somewhat of an alcoholic and hard to understand even when he is sober (a rarity). About 38 years old going on 50, he is a washed out DJ who has played along with the likes of Paul Oakenfold and used to be a resident at Fabric in
So there we have my companion for one evening, this was going to be interesting. I had some dinner on the beach (possibly one of the greatest fish restaurants I have ever been to ï¿½ï¿½" Blue marlin cooked on a BBQ on the beach.) and then decided for a laugh to go to a Go Go bar. Now before I press on with this story, I would like to state for the record that my intentions were entirely honourable. Iâm not particularly interested in contracting HIV. However I had heard that Go Go dancers are the masters of connect 4, so much so that in certain bars if you beat them they half your bill (Not your bar bill: the bill for other services rendered.) Well that was enough for me. I wanted to test the connect 4 theory, also see Brain attempt to have a conversation with a Go Go girl. He was up for going into one (naturally) so we headed of to âno problem barâ.
We found a suitably nasty establishment just up the road from the main strip, and walked in to a chorus of cat calls and goading from the Go go girls. Before I had even got to the bar (and the bar was empty apart from about 7 clearly bored prostitutes me, Brian and a moustachioed pimp). We set apon by 2 girls: âAye and Dongâ. Iâm pleased to report, that despite being put off by Aye half attempting to sit on my lap, I destroyed her at connect 4. Brian, was not so impressive, with in about 30 minutes his whole âOh I would never pay for sex, I donât believe in itâ¦â stance had gone straight out of the window.
âIâm going to take her homeâ he chuckled with a semi pleased with himself grin on his face, âyou know just for a cuddleâ.
âSure Brian,â I replied. â If you want a hug that bad pay me 2000 baht and Iâll give you one. Vulcanise your stump you dirty old bastard. In fact if i were you I would double up.â
So Brian stumbles off down the street with a Thai prostitute in tow, leaving me on my own surrounded in hookers.
âRight Iâm off.â
âYou want I come with you.â Said Aye.
âWhats wrong? You not have the powerâ
âSomething like that Aye, but at least I can play connect 4.â With that I headed out of the bar, pleased with my performance, this was short lived as I was then chased off by a psychotic street dog.
I headed down to Lotus bar to keep drinking, i had the Dean Martin song stuck in my head: â Just keep drinking, thatâs what Iâm thinking, because its what I love to doâ¦.â
At lotus #i bumped into Lynn, Steve, Kate and Will.
âWhere have you been?â
âAt a Go Go barâ I announced proudly to a collection of bemused and slightly concerned and disgusted eyes. âWith Brian.â (this seemed to explain things a little bit.). The buckets flowed and I got even more shit faced with Will. As the bar closed we decided to head up to a shocker of a nightclub, usually packed with shitfaced backpacker tourists, ladyboys, divers and Go Go dancers.
As I enter I saw a familiar face ï¿½ï¿½" the Go Go dancer that Brian disappeared of with. She approached me a said Hello.
â Oh Hi Dong, erm, that was quick.â
â You Brianâs Friendâ
âWell more of an acquaintanceâ¦â
â He take my bag, you get it back.â
âSorry i donât follow you?â
â I go back to Brian, nothing happen, he started talking strange and then I left, but he has my bag.â
At this point Iâm struggling containing my laughter
âHe must be an incredible loverâ. Dong was not laughing, she was looking pretty upset.
At this point a fat Thai guy comes over, fumbles with a chain around his neck and pulls out a police badge and asks me to step outside.
â Oh great so, someone I hardly know fails to have sex with a prostitute and I get arrested. Awesome. What is next Iâm going to be fingered for the JFK assassination? .â
I step out side and the Thai police man informs me that if I did not return the bag by 10am I would be taken in âfor questioningâ. His threats were slightly dubious as he was telling me this whilst having a piss up against a tree. Besides it was 4am, I had no idea where Brian lived and besides I did not really give a shit about the bag. The policeman stumbled off and I went back inside, I think this is where I met Joanna, Dino and Neasha. I had decided it would be funny to be extremely rude to everyone I met. Joanna asked me if I smoked and I told her that people who smoke are sick and wrong and should die painfully in a ditch on fire covered in their own coughed up black mucus. Then Will chipped in âWhat the fuck are you wearingâ. It was true friendship from there on in. We all decided to go to some Rave party in the jungle, well someone decided I though I was going home but ended up in a pick up truck heading into the jungle at 5 am pissed out of my face with everyone wondering exactly how I had managed to get my self into this predicament. The rest is hazy, very hazy, I remember havng a balloon filled with laughing gas and somehow getting back to the beach to smoke ajoints and watch the sun come up. That felt particularly wrong as I was sat on more or less the same spot where I had watched it disappear, so I had been drinking for an entire day. People had got up, gone to work, had lunch come home watched east enders and gone to bed in the same time it took me to get utterly battered. Well done me.
Imagine a small private island resort, consisting of three very small islands interconnected by a fine white sandy spit, tropical warm waters lapping the beach on three sides. Amazing snorkling reveals sharks, tropical fish and all manner of corals with in a 2 minute swim from the beach. Because the
As we sat there it turns out that I went to School with Dino, we lived for 3 years with in 50 metres of each other, also Neasha went to school with some one I know. Small small world.
Time on my visa had gone so I needed to do a âvisa runâ essentially where you leave and re-enter a country to renew your visa. From ko Tao I had 2 choises, an overnight trip to
Now a word to the wise on
Bad places are just shit.
Firstly it stinks, not a good start. Secondly the food is awful, this is a fucking disgrace considering it has blends of Thai, Indian and Chinese in the culture. Yesterday I went in search of a good meal, (considering Iâm in one of the largest cities in south east Asia, I could not find one single restaurant) I ended up in a night market with dubious decision of eating a corn on the cob or a sun dried stinky fish.
Thirdly, Malaysia is not a poor country, it is developing so it has this weird mix of high rise developments (fucking huge buildings every where ï¿½ï¿½" in fact the largest building in the world ï¿½ï¿½" the Petronas towers is based in the capital Kuala Lumpur) and squalor right next door. This has the unfortunate effect of loosing the charm that
Ok so I may have been a little bit too quick to judge the hole country so soon, considering I have just spent an amazing 10 days in the pherentian Islands with an over night stop in the Cameron Highlands. The Latter, is in central
Whilst in the Cameron highlands we organised a tour which would involve going to the BOH tea plantation, and the onto a jungle trek with some indigenous Indian family. In the Mossy forrest.
At 8am an old landrover defender turned up and picked 8 of us up from the guest house. We drove for about 30 minutes and eventually arrived a a huge tea plantation owned by the same family for 150 years it was started by as Scottish man, who bought Thousdands of Aches of land off the Sultan relatively cheaply, mainly because it was a malaria zone and no one would work there. Then by hand they slashed and burned the forrest to plant Tea trees, as it was all done by hand the trees huge the rolling hills, making the view a very surreal experience- like a green tree carpet, stretching out for miles. The Trees are still harvested by hand by workers paid the equivalent of about 7p an hour. Imagine trudging up and down hills all day with heavy sacks of leaves for that wage. Still better than recruitment I suppose.
After the Tea plantation came the Tea factory, using machines put in in 1939, monstrous grinders and drying devises
After the tour came the walk in the mossy Forrest. Great, a rain Forrest with 100% humidity all year and my choice of footwear was face Crocs, disgusting looking plastic shoes with hole in. Perfect for sinking into the mud, which I did constantly, I could feel the squishing in between my toes... I learnt about the local Flora and which plants you could eat for various medicinal purposes. I learnt that bamboo can grow 10 metres a day,
The guide kept trying to tell me stuff in his language, much to my bemusement. I just kept nodding and going erm okâ¦ He could have being saying anything really.
He also taught me how to blow a blow pipe, I succeeded in shooting the dart over the target and into his neighbours hut, virtually shooting his neighbour in the ass.
Picture 2 small tropical Islands anout 30 miles off the mainland of
y enjoying the good life. So I did. The experience was incredible, staying on a beach front bungalow for Â£2 a night. The only down side was acholo was very expensive as most of it was black market. I had been warned to bring some to the island before I arrived as there were only a few bars which cost loads as they have to import all the alchol. So 15 minutes before getting on the speed boat to take me from the mainland to the island I was trekking up and down the harbour asking locals where I could by alcohol. I felt like a naughty boy asking clearly very Muslim women, in almost guilty tones âWhere can I buy some Alcohol?â. As it turned out there was only one place, and this was dodgy as fuck. âThe Chinese shopâ. Typically industrious Chinese proprietor had found a niche. Selling booze to desperate thirsty travllers heading to the
âerm, (looking left and right in a shifty manner) do you sellâ¦Alcohol?â
The old and wrinkly face of a Chinese lady grinned back at me. Suddenly she grabbed my hand and pulled me into the back off the shop through a curtain into a store room. A few minutes of her routing through boxes she produced a couple of bottles and proudly presented them to me. âCrocodile Whiskeyâ and âOrang-utanâ (To this day and several bottles later I still have no Idea what Orang-utan actually is). Sold. So I loaded up on Fire water and headed off to catch the boat.
Things of note in the week that went by were 2 dives ï¿½ï¿½" one on an 80 metre cargo ship that went down in 2000, very cool, sharks, rays, barracuda, and the largest puffer fish I have ever seen, having a 2 am conversation with the local bullfrogs that sit in the darkness letting out a very loud âArrrrrhhhnnâ sound. After a bottle of orang-utan I would periodically shout Arrrhnnn back at them from inside my wooden shack, before long I had half the resp rt doing the same at 3am.
I met a couple for Dutch people, enabling me to get the snorkel count up. A ridiculously tall Swedish guy measuring about 7.2 foot. And a mental Danish man called Kelt whose sole mission in life was to drink. A very enjoyable week came and went and eventually it was time to leave the Pherentian Islands ï¿½ï¿½" I was running out of cash (as I only took Â£100 on to the island with me) and I ws feeling like it was time to move on a bit too. My birthday was approaching and I wanted to spend that on the beach in
11th ï¿½ï¿½" 16th June Ko Phi Phi, Oli the Birthday boy and
Leaving at 7.30 I said good by to my wooden Â£2 a night bug ridden shack and Kyla and go on a fast boat to the mainland. I had a heavy day of travelling ahead. A 1 hour boat journey, then a 2 hour Taxi to the boarder ï¿½ï¿½" a boarder that has had several bombings in the last few weeks by extremist Muslim rebels. The official advice was to go another route but this would add on an extra day to my travels, so I decided to take my chances ï¿½ï¿½" followed by another 12 hours on a bus to Krabi in Thailand.
As long journeys go, it was not too bad. I had a comfortable bus journey and the boarder crossing was an interesting experience, crossing on the back of a tuk tuk bicycle. The driver, a guy in his 60âs looked like he was going to have a heart attack as he wheezed and puffed his was through the 2 km cycle. Bearing in mind I also had a full 120L ruck sack to contend with too, he was not happy.
When I got into Krabi I headed to Ao Nang, the beach resort, I checked into a cheap hotel and went and had some dinner and turned in reasonably early as I was knackered.
The next day was spent mostly chilling out, I felt I need a rest besides it was oneday until my birthday ï¿½ï¿½" this was to be a messy affair.
I went out to a bar, the choice was not great, a few Go Go bars and one bar which seemed to have a few travellers and holiday makers in there. With in 4 minutes of entering the place on my own I had the entire birthday sing me happy birthday and the bar staff pouring me free shots. I got battered! I wish I could remember who I met, but I canât. too much sambuca. At some point in the evening I crossed over the road to another quieter bar. It was pretty much empty apart from a few locals and two young stunning girls called Sophia and Caroline. The drinks continued, Jenga was played, Tequila was drunk and Sambucca was poured. By the time we left, I was very drunk and so were the girls. We decided it would be a great idea to get on the back of a very drunk Thai guys moped (4 of us) and drive a kilometre down the road to another bar. I knew the driver was drunk as I had watched him down several B-52âs. Not one of my brainiest ideas. I was on the back, on the back grab handle, Caroline front of me hugging Sophia who was clutched to the wasted Thai guy. We got there somehow, my feet dragging on the ground (in fake crocs (plastic shoes). Bad, Bad idea. When we got to the bar we found it was dead. Litterally. Not even the lights were on. The Thai guy beckoned us over to get on his bike again, but luckily Soph had a moment of clarity and refused. Fucking pleased she did as I would have. Thai guy was trying to reassure her that he was not drunk and it would be fine as he literally drove his bike into a wall. I pissed myself laughing and then we made a hasty get away on foot. I ended up back at the girls hotel, drinking Tequila from a wooden bowl before somehow getting back at 5am. I had to be up at 7.30 to catch a boat to Phi Phi.
I made it, god knows how, as I was still ridiculously drunk. The hangover started to kick in as I got off the boat, stepping foot on to Phi Phi was an assault on the senses. Hundreds of travellers getting off the ferry being pulled nudged and grabbed by hotel touts. As it was my birthday I decided to check into the most expensive hotel ï¿½ï¿½" Phi Phi hotel at 1700 baht an hight ï¿½ï¿½" about Â£25. It was fucking sweet! Aircon, big comfy bed and Mini bar. But no time for that, I had to get to Maya beach, This was my mission. I had been looking forward to this point before I had even got to
I tracked down a boatman a small guy with a moustache Injit, who agreed to take me there for 800 baht, as I was on my own it was fairly expensive but really worth it. I sat on the bow of the Long tail boat as it chugged out of Phi Phi Don (the large island) and headed to Phi Phi Ley (the uninhabited small
Injit, was happy to just wait around on the beach for a few hours, and so he should the lucky bastard. Getting paid to lie on The Beach. I decided to go for a snorkel, this proved to be difficult as the visibility was not much, coupled with the fact theat the tide was out making the the sea very shallow. This meant I had to pick my way through the razor sharp coral, some of which was fire coral, as the name suggesteds it fucking hurts if you scrape yourself on it. But I managed and swam about a Km to the other side of the bay where the visibility improved. The fish life was cool, and I was happy chasing around parrot fish and angel fish until I saw it out of the coner of my eye. A Shark. I froze. âFuck. A Fucking Shark!â Then I saw another, and another, there were three of them darting around me. I relaxed somewhat when I saw a distinguishing black tip on the dorsal fin. Black Tip reef sharks. Not dangerous. So I decided to chase them for a while, as they shot between the coral and swam majestically in search of lunch. Barracuda surrounded me, Cleaner wrass attempted to nibble me and this weird long fish stalked me, fuck knows what it was ï¿½ï¿½" like a barracuda but with out the teeth. Either way it freaked me out: it was fucking ugly for one, so I decided to swim back, this was a fucking nightmare as the sea level had dropped and I had to crawl, swim, hop and dodge coral to get back, taking me well over an hour.
When I got back I said good bye to the beach wondering if I would ever return, probably not, although I would like too.
The next few days are a blur of getting hammered in Phi Phi, unfortunately it pissed down every night as it is the rainy season on this side of the country. I also bumped into Sophia and Caroline and had a few good nights out with them.
Ko Samui and Chaweng.
15th to the 20th June
I headed over to Ko Samui
Allow me to introduce Chaweng, Ko Samuiâs seedy night life capital in the most flattering way possible. Disgusting. An ugly town rife with prostitution, sex tourism and Go Go Bars. Arriving on the boat from Surat Thani, I was eager to learn what samui had to offer: A heavy dose of Chlamydia and Aids. This place is magaluf on steroids,. At dinner I witnessed 2 guys having dinner with 3 hookers, one of the guys was wearing a wedding ringâ¦.says it all. Hookers in every bar and people pestering the fuck out of you on the beach trying to sell you drugsâ¦. Now Iâm all for female attention and drugs, but not like this. I like my women to have vaginas for a start. No shit I was propositioned by a ladyboy last nightâ¦.âI come with you for free babyââ¦. Eugh! Naturally I obliged and was rigorously bummed to with in an inch of my life.
The day time is not much better, I had checked my self into
Now I realise that Iâm being particularly negative about Chaweng, and Iâm really trying to be a bit positive, but the truth is there is nothing that I can think of that is actually good here, well may be the clothes shopping. I went in to a tailor and had 2 linen shirts custom built which at Â£25 each turned out to be extremely cool.
In Chaweng I have been hanging around with a guy called Hamish from Putney and a gay guy called Rod from
âYes I am he replied somewhat uncertain.â
âExcellent.â I have a new victim to rip for a few days I thought.
From that moment on I was constantly telling Rod to stop trying to Bum Hamish and take this piss pretty much as much as possible. For example:
âIâm confusedâ Rod said whilst looking at the menu in the restaurant.
âHa! You have been confused since the age of 13 Rod!â. His plight was not helped when I discovered that he was carrying a day pack that said âFairylandâ on it. Still as gays go he was a nice gay, not a highly predatory bum seeker. I also met acouple of Dutch girls and A German girl called Caroline with her French Canadian friend Joelle. We all hung out for a few days and they were a good laugh.