“Why would you leave the summer and go to the winter”?

I got asked this a lot and the answer is for love. Makes you do some crazy things. Bec had been offered a marketing internship in Essen just outside of Dusseldorf, I had the flexibility to pick up and go over so I did. You have to remember that for me, seeing snow and experiencing the cold was something new. Growing up mostly in Queensland or 90% of places in Australia for that matter, you can’t have those experiences. Was it too cold? Fucking oath it was, but still, I have fond memories of the experience already.

It was a 12 week trip in all, so I’ll be mindful to keep it short and punchy as possible.

I connected with Bec in Paris as her two week break commenced, shortly before Christmas. Paris was ok, I’m not sure but I think it’s around 20 countries I’ve visited now and Paris was the first time I had felt unsafe. I wasn’t sure why, but it just didn’t feel right and I told Bec to hold her handbag tight. That instinctive feeling was right when 15 minutes later we watched a lady have her phone stolen from her. It was literally taken from her hand, the thief casually walked away. He picked the wrong bitch to mess with though. This woman was 5 foot high, seemingly from a rough part of the US and she staunched the cunt. The thief returned her phone just to shut her up and stop the slapping to the head.

Paris had all the sights and things you expected but nothing really wowed me. When I went to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, I had expectations, but it wowed me. The Eiffel Tower and it’s friends didn’t. The people for the most part were a bunch of snotty nosed tools, with a few helpful, locals mixed in. Also if I’m honest, wine, cheese and bread aren’t three of my favourite things so I couldn’t really get into the cuisine either. One of the funnier times was on the walk to the Eiffel Tower, where a shady looking ‘shell game’ was being run. There were quite a few people playing though, lots of noise and being a confirmed “sicko on the punt”, it peaked my interest. The turnover of Euros and cheering from the people playing seemed fishy. Why would these people keep playing a game where they are likely to lose and on top of that be betting 50 or 100 Euros at a time (then again Pokies players do this in their droves)? 5 or 10 Euros, ok, I understand, but there was big cash being turned over here. Something wasn’t right. What really gave it away was Bec and I could see which cup the ball was under, yet these people at 50 Euros a hit would pick the wrong cup repeatedly. Bec and I have good eyes but how can we both be seeing it and the people paying and playing can’t? I decided to walk away from the game and watch from 25 meters away, almost instantly they stopped playing, until another tourist came along and BOOM, the game would take off again. It was clear that they were all in on it at this point. I later found out that many people have been stung playing this in Paris and other areas of Europe (I thought I was sick, read some of the stories in the comments).

I must give an honourable mention to Palace of Versailles though. Thanks to @armodan for putting us on to it. It was a bit of a shame not to see the gardens in full flight of summer, but still this was certainly worth the 45 minute train ride each way, very cool. Paris overall is one of those places that I can say; “been there, done that”, highly unlikely to visit again though.

 

White Christmas in Vienna. No, not the “Devil’s Dandruff”, actual snow was forecast which for a couple of Aussie’s was exciting to think about. We stayed in an AirBnB smack bang in the middle of the action. The pebble stoned roads and Renaissance style buildings were quite attractive on the eye. Our options for food were thin night 1 as it was the night before Christmas Eve. In Austria they have their Christmas celebrations on Christmas Eve, weirdos. Additionally we had a Vegetarian out with us this night which made restaurant selection more difficult. We ate at Morris Restaurant & Bar, what a fucking shit hole. There is nothing good you could say about it (see some of the scathing reviews here), not even the drinks were good, well, they just didn’t come at all so it was hard to tell. To the waiter’s credit he came to the table and said “I made a mistake, I’ll kill myself later”, sadly, I saw him the next day serving tables and he wasn’t dead. Other than that culinary experience, Vienna was beautiful. I really loved it and would like to see more of Austria one day.

I had been to Prague once before with four mates. Once I saw the itinerary was missing the “four floors of whores club”, I knew it would be a different trip from the last. News to me that Prague has a castle, was that there when I was here 7 years ago? The castle was a good site to see actually, I get into that sort of shit and we had a great view of the city at the end of our walk through. Pro tip; get the bus up to the top and walk down the hill through the castle, particularly good if you’re lazy like me. News.com.au listed the Astronomical Clock as the worst tourist attraction in Europe and our free walking tour guide said people are often let down by the hourly show. But the most let down are the people who show up at 11pm daily to watch. The clock only does an hourly show from 9am-10pm. Having a sadistic streak, I made sure I was there at 11pm one night to watch the disappointment on the tourists faces, pleasing stuff. Legend has it that Master Hanuš; creator of the clock had his eyes pulled out by the King so he couldn’t make another clock like it. So to fuck them up, he threw himself into the cogs of the clock, broke the clock and committed suicide at the same time. Being the only one that knew how to make/ fix it, the clock remained unused for 100 years I think it was. What a savage cunt. Ate great food in Prague, our favourite was Lokal, place was fucking amazing. We got told “if you eat somewhere where it feels like the waitress is about to punch you in the face and beer is less than 50 korunas then you’re in the right place”. Lokal definitely ticked all those boxes.

Berlin, against seemingly all other points of view, I didn’t rate. One of my best mates lives there so thats a credit to it, but other than that, pretty ordinary joint. I mean the war stuff was quite interesting, in a horrifyingly confronting way. After a while though, it’s like “ok Hitler was a cunt, I get it”. Did spend New Years there which turned out to be a flop because Bec got lost from the group we were with and I spent 45 mins including while the countdown was on looking for her. Fearing the worst, I was running around like Liam fucking Neeson in ‘Taken’, having visions of her being drugged, rapped and organs sold on the freezing streets of Berlin somewhere. Needless to say when she was found, she had all her organs.

Home was in Essen, just outside Dusseldorf. Pretty sure I was the first tourist to come to Essen because the number one thing to do on TripAdvisor was to go to the shopping centre. Fuck me, this place was about as shit as it comes for things to do. There were some good places around to visit, apparently. I didn’t go, I just couldn’t deal with the weather all in all, just wore me down. The whole thing of putting on 50 items of clothing to go get a Döner was doing my fucking nut in. Living in the cold sucks, good to visit, but living there was mostly shit, we have it so good in Australia, made me realise that. Bec and I shared her University accommodation for 10 weeks, I think a good real estate agent would have described the space as “cosy”. It was mostly self contained though, with a shared kitchen. Was good for me as I got to stay rent free as the cost was already covered in Bec’s internship costing. The best thing about Essen was the trips on the Autobahn when we went too and from Berlin each time. Got something with a little more power for the 2nd trip and had it sailing along at 240 k’s which was fun.

Got over to the land of Fosters beer and terrible teeth. Was good fun actually, caught up with a few boys from Twitter. It’s a strange feeling actually, meeting someone you’ve chatted to a lot online, feels like you’ve known them a long time despite never having met. I started out in London where the great man @EWThief145 took me into his home. While there caught up with a few other boys from Twitter including; @ravi_layer@SimUKCricket@Ben_E89 & The Universe Mong @WoakesBravo4lyf . NFL playoffs were happening while I was there, so one night we all got together at ‘The Hippodrome’ in London. They have a filth setup there where you can watch the game on a big screen in a theatre type setup. The view from the top was exceptional, the beers and wings weren’t bad either. After the game, @WoakesBravo4lyf and I hit the Blackjack tables, not sure how he went but I was launching in like any “BIG STRONG AUSSIE” would and did my fucking conkers. HOUSE ALWAYS WINS!

After a few more nights on the town, pissing up around London, I caught the coach up to ‘the Toon’ to see @JM5portsAnalyst. I scored a good deal on a room through @JM5portsAnalyst, a typical truck stop type motel setup, basic but got what you need, bed, bathroom and TV. As we walked off with the key the lady behind the counter said “have fun youse two”, fuck sake, she thinks we’re about to plot each other. @JM5portsAnalyst would be so lucky, believe you me. Ducked up the road later for a few bevies, the drunker this cunt got, the harder it was to understand him. It was like he was speaking another language, later I found out he was, kept talking about “the Ben”, “the Ben” this, “the Ben” that. Not to be rude I’m thinking “Ben” must be his brother in law or a mate he was talking about earlier. I didn’t say anything until I was so lost and asked “who is Ben”? “The Bairn, my daughter, thats what we call a kid up here”. Mental patients these Northerner’s how the fuck do you get “bairn” from “baby”.

Got out to a Toon, FA Cup replay, fuck the city was rocking that night. I quite liked Newcastle actually, was something charming about the place, sort of small town vibe, but clearly very established. The locals turned out in their droves for the match, incredible scenes. We went to a few bars before hand for an authentic night out, cheap piss, no fucking around, genuine experience. Chinese dinner before the game too, but no discount for the work @JM5portsAnalyst  had done at the shop 6 months back had him absolutely seething. No piss allowed at the football, fucking what? Never heard of such a thing, how come all these fights and things happening but everyone is sober? Sniffed some out at half time though down under the stands. Few songs were sung by ‘the Toon’ supporters about Dwight Yorke and his retarded kid and most importantly the home side got the win!

There was one more trip back to Berlin, mainly went back because of my mate who lives there. He wasn’t there last time we visited. There’s not much to say I didn’t already say, shit hole to me, but some would love it.

Aix-en-Provence was an absolute highlight of the holiday. This place was incredible. I absolutely loved it! I’m told the whole southern part of France is amazing, sadly didn’t have much time to explore it this time but I will be back. The way the trip to “Aix” came about was a one in a million really. Hobart, Australia v South Africa, 3rd test, I was there for the cricket and stayed in an AirBnB with 5 other guests. Truth is, the place wasn’t really fit for 7 of us (5 guests and 2 hosts), but there was no room in Hobart. With the test on (and something else I can’t remember), everything was booked. Making the most of it, I suggested that we all go out for dinner together. We all got on great and when Dom and Mon found out I was coming to Europe they said I really should come and see Aix-en-Provence. Fast forward 4 months and we had arrived in “Aix”.

I’m so glad we made it over there on a weekend trip. The whole experience was made particularly special by the fact that Dom and Mon lived in an 18th century mansion. This place was huge and still very much in its original form inside and out. The kitchen had been re-done, but other than that, you didn’t have to imagine how this would have looked when it was built. The garden grounds were beautifully manicured and considering the vacinity to the city centre, quite large. We stayed in our own wing with a bathroom, bedroom and sitting area. It was magnificent. The city itself was beautiful, quite quaint, yet it still had a modern edge. The shopping there was extremely high end, all the big brands there in original architecture. Food incredible and the weather is great 99% of the year I’m told, mind you we did hit one day of rain whilst there. We will definitely be back to explore the coastline in the near future.

Brugge was the last stop before beginning the trek home. It was like a cleaner version of Amsterdam to me. I liked it without being in love with it. I think by this stage I’d seen a lot of similar type cities already. Got to see the first stock exchange ever created, think to this day it still runs out of the same building. Did share an experience with Bec one night where we split a “dip, sip, trip” chocolate drink. Fucking near killed me, the head movies I was having were not healthy. Will never forget it mind you, was quite the “trip”.

It was cheaper to stop in Japan on the way home, having heard nothing but great things, we decided to stay for a few weeks. It was really cool to be able to connect with Bec’s two sisters and their partners on this leg of the trip. Most of them hadn’t left Australia before so it was always going to be great to share that moment with them. We started out in Tokyo and as typically happens when on tour somewhere, everyone got a bit excited early and really gave the piss and karaoke a good nudge in Golden Gai. We got to the fish market and auction which wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, but the exclusivity of the auction gave it some importance I guess. Would have been cool if there was a way to know how much the Tuna was being sold for.

A bullet train (which was an absolute experience) up to Iiyama Station was the next leg of the Japan adventure. From there a bus up the range to our accommodation at Nozawaonsen. Just like everything else in Japan, the snow had been talked up massively to me. Like everything else in Japan, it lived up to the hype. Wow. What a great little city with amazing snow falls. We only had 4 nights and 5 days there but in that time, managed to get an overnight fall of FOUR METERS OF SNOW! Expecting a big fall the night before I remember looking at a 7 meter tree outside our room window with about 1 meter of the stump covered. In the morning I could see around 1 meter of the top of the tree only. The fields were excellent, well maintained and our accommodation had a private Onsen. After a big day on the slopes, come home, put your stuff in the dry room downstairs and then jump straight into your private Onsen, incredible. Nozawaonsen is home to some snow monkeys too which I had to see. Seen tonnes of monkeys in my travels over the years, but never ones that chill in Onsens in the snow.

Honourable mention to Kyoto. Definitely enjoyed it, quite original and authentic in its ways. Got to the Golden Temple (Kinkaku-ji) which was a highlight. Seen so many temples they’re coming out of my “boonty”. But special ones like that are a must see.

 

Cheers Mac

 

National Lampoon: New Zealand South Island

National Lampoon: New Zealand South Island

Errrrmm I thought you weren’t writing anymore? I said I wouldn’t be writing about “I won or lost x amount”. I had a great time road tripping around the South Island of New Zealand and decided to put electronic pen to paper. Half for me to remember but also to encourage people to get over to New Zealand. As I have said, the blog will continue, just a different format. I’m trying to think of something cool to do, but as I’m mostly a lazy cunt, I’ll probably just review NRL games.

Twitbuddy of mine coined the phrase “the rorts continue” and don’t they just. Doesn’t matter where you go theres rort after rort going on. We got in a cab out front of Airport at 1.30am, hungry, the only place open was McDonald’s about 500m up the road. After sitting in the drive through for 20 minutes I asked if the cabbie would mind pausing the now $45 meter. He refused and my blood started to boil. After eating half of my ridiculously cold cheeseburger and chips, going another 1.5km up the road to our motel, I forked out $80 for shit food and 2km of travel in a cab, fuck I was seething and THE RORTS CONTINUED.

We got the RV early in the morning and got moving. Stocked up with food and booze and started the 3 hour drive to Lake Tekapo. We had an all kiwi playlist to accompany us around the South Island. No surprises, it mostly consisted of anything involving the ‘Finn Brothers’, but notable mentions also go to Broods, Dave Dobbyn, Evermore and Flight of the Conchords. It’s hard to pinpoint what was more enjoyable, driving to these places or the places themselves. New Zealand is seriously scenic. Had tons of kiwi mates tell me that it’s “God’s country” over there. I mostly thought they were taking the piss as Aussies do with Kiwis and vise versa, but they weren’t.

I was hanging out to hit a hot spring, unfortunately the pools at Lake Tekapo were all man made, chlorinated, hot pools. We went anyway and decided to get a massage and facial at the spa. I can count the amount of massages I’ve had on one hand (excluding the ones in Thailand), facial count is a zero. I had a sore back before we left though and wanted to see if a massage would help it. Fuck it was good, so good in fact that when I was getting the facial, unbeknown to me I was snoring. Bec and the two masseuses were laughing, I don’t remember any of it at all. Ducked back into the hot pool after the massage and while chatting to Bec, we both happened to look down to see mini Mac floating in the hot water through an unknown tear in the front of my board shorts. The whole time, I’d been getting around this complex with no undies on and presumably my todger hanging out at various times. People get put in jail for less, horrific. I got out without cuffs on and our day at Tekapo was finished with wine, cheese and smoked salmon. Eaten overlooking the lake, quality day.

As much as I enjoyed Tekapo, Lake Pukaki was more impressive again. This thing was huge and the water was so still. The reflections from the mountains and clouds in the background were so perfectly symmetrical, if it wasn’t upside down, you would never have known it was a reflection. After camping the night there we packed up the RV and headed up to Glentanner and Mount Cook. Hooker Valley Rd was a 1.5 hour track walk up the valley. 3 suspension bridges and 3 lakes with the 3rd an absolute crown in the jewel. It was incredible,  so quiet and something I’d never seen before. A huge fuck off piece of ice from the glacier sitting in the middle of the lake. Bec and sat, took time to look and listen from the top of the valley we had just scaled. At the water level of the lake the scale of the ice block became much more apparent. I think it was just the fact you don’t see that shit back home, very cool. Out for dinner that night in Twizel to a restaurant called “Poppies”. It must have been the local hang as we met the retiring Mayor of the the local area Claire Barlow. She was out with her council members at her retirement function, full of piss and bad manners (she was actually really lovely, but definitely had a few wines). The meals were fine, nothing to rave or complain about, but the extensive list of NZ craft beers certainly peaked my interest. That night I came to realise that I like dark beers.

Next stop, Queenstown, slightly different experience this time. I’d been here before about 5 years ago snowboarding with some mates, this time around I was with the girl and there wasn’t any snow. The town had such a different vibe without snow, it wasn’t buzzing nearly as much. The iconic “World Bar” wasn’t in it’s prime location on the main road, that place was thriving last time I was here, the town seemed in mourning over it if you ask me. We didn’t waste anytime getting into the fun stuff anyway with Bec booking the Nevis Bungee jump the afternoon we arrived (watch video). She’d been full of bravado for days about it “I’m not scared, I’m going to run and jump off” blah, blah, fucking blah. I did it when I was here last time and although I was a lot more frightened than most (watch video), it still rocks even the most daring of devils. To be fair to her, she was fine the whole way up until she was strapped up and he called her name, at that point she lost all control, her legs started shaking uncontrollably and the tears were flowing. At the crunch time, she jumped with her arms out which is a lot more than you can say for me, I looked like I was shot by a sniper sitting somewhere in the range. The rest of Queenstown was made up of the usual, drinking, Fergburger (you must eat one if you go, is sensational), Queenstown Hill and Gibbston Valley Cheesery/ Winery. Oh, there was one little hidden gem we got put on to by a local. Was about 15 mins outside of town in a place called Arrowtown. The Chop Shop was the name of the place, owned by ‘Chris’ who is the head chef there. Let me tell you, the food was amazing and the service was better than that. We ate the breakfast menu but I reckon they would all be delicious.

Milford Sound was supposed to be the crème de la crème. Everywhere we went, everyone we met “have you been to Milford Sound”, “are you going to Milford Sound”, “Milford sound is amazing”. With all the buzz, expectations were high. Probably the most glowing reference we got was from some scouser at Fergburger. He was by himself and weaselled his way into our convo, God knows how. As he started down the path of being the umpteenth person to tell me about Milford Sound, I expected the standard comment about it’s ‘beauty’. But this football hooligan, beer swilling type character had a different perspective on it. “You get on the boat and and theres a big buffet on board. Now you can load up, I did, I had two full plates and I mean plates”, he said as he finished chewing the last of his Big Al from Fergburger, gesturing with his hands in a dome type shape to show how much food he mounded on his plate. He then proceeded to give me the inside word on the buffet; “I made a big mistake, I paid for it, if I was to go on again, I wouldn’t pay for the buffet, after everyone has eaten, I’d get up and grab some food, save you ten quid it would. That’s what you and the missus should do when you go”. I’m not sure if I looked hard up for cash, but rorting the buffet opportunity wasn’t high on my radar. The next day at Milford Sound, it turned out that we should have listened to the scouser and got on the buffet boat, at least it would have give us something to do. Instead, we sat on our cruise for nearly 2 hours, struggling to see 5 meters in front of ourselves as the rain poured and poured and poured. Who would have known that our friend from Liverpool had the best advice. Moral of the story, is not that you should rort the buffet, just DON’T go to Milford Sound if its pissing rain.

Southern Scenic Route of the South Island. It took us down through Invercargill where we tried to get our hands on some big ‘Bluff Oysters’ but sadly the season was finished. We checked out the ‘Catlins National Park’ and ‘Cathedral Caves’ which were great. The scenery was so alluring that you could have stopped every couple of mins for a photo. We moved up through Dunedin (didn’t stop here sadly, was running out of time) and back up the east coast to our final destination of Christchurch. There was one notable town we stopped in on the last night before coming up to Christchurch, Moeraki. It’s a sleepy, coastal town with a great caravan park on the water (excellent facilities). Fluer’s Place a well renowned dining spot among south island residents and out of ‘towners’ judging by the writing on the walls was suggested to us. Being closed Monday and Tuesday we couldn’t eat the dinner menu as we arrived on a Tuesday for a one night stop over. Instead, we ducked in for breakky. The fit out, cutlery, glassware, writing on the walls from guests and location of this place were very trendy. The food was outstanding which made the experience enjoyable and well worth a look for anyone else travelling through.

There was one non Kiwi song that got a good run. Most wouldn’t know Lindsay Buckingham, but everyone knows The National Lampoons Holiday song. Not a road trip without something fucking up with the vehicle right? Theres never a good time to get a flat tyre, but it could have been worse if we had to fly out later that night. 2 hours after calling road side assistance we were on our way again. We were still 4 hours from where the RV needed to be dropped off which had me a little worried about how I was going to get back in time. In the end, someone stayed back and waited for me to get to Christchurch.

Our final night was spent in Christchurch. We ended up staying in a weird Air BnB type setup owned by this little old Asian lady who looked like she owned a rub and tug. I was pretty tired after driving 1800kms on the trip and when she was telling me the prices of transfers to and from the airport with the line of “I’ll have to suck you dry while you’re here” I couldn’t help but take that the complete wrong way. I knew she didn’t mean it like that, but my brain was so fried I just couldn’t process it any other way. I had picked up a cough on the trip and she was also telling me how to rid myself of it. While explaining her remedy she said “damn I haven’t got anything for you to suck on”, at this point I really didn’t know what was happening so I laughed awkwardly. She acknowledged the interesting choice of words by saying “I shouldn’t talk like that it gets us into trouble”, weird. We went into town for dinner later that night with a friend of mine who now lives in Christchurch. Haven’t seen him for a few years, was good to share some stories, eat and drink. He did put Bec and I onto Hendricks Gin with cucumber, fuck, what a game changer.

Cheers Mac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hello, Vietnam, one more”

“Hello, Vietnam, one more”

 

I’m back and I’m hungrier than ever. That trip has had just the affect that I had hoped and that Bec promised it would. I’m feeling relaxed, my mind has been away (not totally I must admit) from trading and sports for nearly three weeks. Stepping back gave me not only time to think but clear my mind, make some plans and get ready to rip into a big portion of 2016. I have some goals, I read some books on the trip and I’m feeling more equipped than ever to move forward with my trading. I feel a big mental shift in the way that I’m going to be approaching things, it excites me.

 

How to tell your driver you need to pee when he doesn't speak English

From the holiday, I’ve decided to list some stories and the rest for those that are interested will be in captions in the photos. There is too much to cover really and I like to keep the posts as short as possible. So let’s get right into the first little story. This adventure kicked off in the south and after landing in Ho Chi Minh we took a car 4 hours to Cần Thơ. The driver barely spoke a bar of English, so when Bec needed to stop for the bathroom, it was time for a game of charades. The driver wasn’t picking up what we were putting down, I told Bec; “you’re in trouble, you might have to hold it”, with two hours left, that wasn’t reasonable. The driver had a pen and paper so I did my best, “perfectly scaled” drawing of what needed to happen.

 

Snake rice wine in Can Tho, Vietnam

We stayed in a home stay and it was perfection. I will give them a little plug (Green Village Home Stay) as this place was seriously brilliant. One of the staff there had taught herself  five words; “hello”, “Vietnam”, “one more”and “no”. Although it doesn’t sound like much you always knew what she was trying to get across. One night she ripped out this “snake rice wine“, I put my hand up to try it, after 10 seconds of not foaming at the mouth 6 of the other 8 guests at dinner had a crack at. It tasted pretty “snakey”, one of those things where you can say you tried it. Unless of course you were the 65+ y.o David Attenborough type who was adamant that it was delicious and with our friend yelling “hello, Vietnam, one more”, holding another shot of it up he swooped in, dropped to one knee and chopped the fuck out of that shot glass, what a man (he didn’t actually drop to one knee but he did have another shot).

 

Never one to shirk the chance to step outside the comfort zone with the food; rat, frog and snake was some distance outside the zone. Bec is petrified and I mean petrified of rats, so it was an absolute credit to her for trying it. Truth was though, it was delicious, texture and presentation reminded me of a small bird like a quail and the flavour was similar. Frog was by far and away the best of the three, it was seriously like my three favourite meats rolled into one. Taste like chicken, flesh texture like fish and skin texture and taste like pork crackling. It was so good I ordered a plate for myself after the first lot was done. Snake was shit, the inside was scooped out, mixed with spices, rerolled in the skin, then fried. The outside skin was crunchy but the taste and texture on the inside was pretty rank. It was served with raw fermented fish sauce, which smelt and tasted like the name suggests, feral.

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While out with Becs cousin Chris who lives in Hanoi we tried “Funky Balloon”. In fact the whole bar was doing it and I really had no idea what was about to happen. I was told to take the balloon, inhale it, exhale it back into the balloon and repeat. I got to about the 4th time of doing it and stood up thinking “this isn’t doing anything”, then boom it hit me. The music echoed through my head and time stood still, something wasn’t right and then I blacked out. When I came to everyone was pissing themselves laughing and my hand was wet. I asked “what the fuck was that and what just happened?”. “You drooled on yourself” said Bec, my jumper had a massive drool patch on the front of it and my hand was fairly covered too. Seems the “funky balloon” which is loaded with “happy gas” made me a vegetable for a little bit, got to be good for the brain, right?

 

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The H’Mong people (local minority) work hard for a dollar, they follow you in the most awful hiking gear for kilometres at a time just to try and sell you something. Everything started with; “hello, what your name”? “Where you from”? Minh explained that they didn’t understand my responses, they just ask it over and over. I tested out his theory after being asked for the 10th time; “where you from” to which I replied;  “my mum’s vagina”, Bec laughed, then I laughed, then the lady laughed.

Gambling for each others marbles in Vietnam

Kids punting for marbles in the village. Most of Asia has some sort of ban on gambling. There is exceptions to that rule, but mostly the gambling is done ‘underground’. We managed to see a variation of ‘heads or tails’ being played by some of the boys in Ta Van. They had three little squares of plastic on a plate, the solid bowl goes over the top, shake, shake, shake, put down your cash and take turns in calling “white” or “blue” (majority wins). The boys were all under 10 so they were playing each other for their marble collection instead of money. I did slip the boys a cheeky 10,000 VND each so they could get themselves a treat. All three slammed it in the pocket just in time before their mum came outside. Sugar Cane all round at the local corner store for those boys.

 

Outside Bruce and Cowboys in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Outside Bruce and Cowboys. No one believed me that I had the “Golden Arches” on my ass.

Last stop; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This is always a fun way to start or end any trip. My friend from Australia has been teaching English there for the last 8 years and lives there with his wife. Things always get pretty loose and this time around was no exception. We started at a non gay bar (despite the name) called “Bruce & Cowboys. The name is an affectionate one created by the locals as the owners are two Indians; one named Bruce and the other who wears a cowboy hat. There is one barrel out the front, no chairs and we basically bought this cheap Korean beer called “Hite” (very tasty drop mind you) for $1 AUD a beer and got plastered.

The crew of 4 decided that a new watering hole would be shrewd. The pool table at the new bar was a nice touch, however when I thought we had been beaten by 7 balls, I did “the right thing” and went pants down around the table. Muslims don’t really like that and Pip was quick to call for “the cheque please”. The rest of the night was filled with drinking, randoms, food and drunk chat.

The next day one of the lads from the night before, went back to Bruce and Cowboys and Bruce had this to say about me:

“I respect your people, but Bret’s friend, last night, he’s not very well in the head”.

It’s like Brucey has known me for a whole lifetime.

On the trading front, I did do a very small bit here and there on the cricket. I’ll update everything in the way of money won and lost etc in a separate post soon. As always, thanks for reading and if you enjoy this blog please share it with anyone that you think might enjoy it too.

Cheers Luke