Scum Bag Traveller

Travel advice for the deviantly minded

Hunting fried chicken in London

I’ve eaten a lot of fried chicken in my life, more than is healthy for a human being. If people ask me my favorite type of fast food I would always go for Fried Chicken over burgers or pizza. When I moved to London I was amazed at the amount of chicken joints around, I estimate in the 7 flats I have lived in over the yrs I have never been more than 500m from a fried chicken shop. They say you are never more than a metre from a rat in London, well how about 500m from a FC shop. I think that should be the new measurement system. They are literally on every high st and normally in groups of two or 3. Lately we have seen a resurgence of gourmet, good quality fried chicken as part of the whole street food revolution so I basically spend my free time sampling different types of fried sundries. I have also recently discovered that one man is mostly responsible for all the fried chicken shop signs in London which you can read about here.

http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2009/march/meet-mr-chicken

First on the list was Wishbone down in Brixton Village. I had heard good things about this place and wanted to get some of their greasy goodness inside of me.I was immediately impressed as I was wearing a t-shirt of a well known BBQ joint in Texas and the waiter recognized it and questioned me about it so I knew he was serious about his food. We decided we wanted a Selection of stuff so went for the standard fried chicken, some Korean wings, deep fried Mac n cheese ,mash and gravy and slaw all washed down with some delicious cocktails.The chicken itself was really good, juicy and tasty and definitely of a higher standard than your average fried chicken, the wings were delicious and covered in an awesome spicy sauce. I would say the highlight for me though was the deep fried Mac n cheese, which was basically balls of Mac n cheese covered in breadcrumbs and deep fried, they were unbelievably good and I would travel to south London again for them.

 

Next on my hit list was the elusive Mother Clucker, I had been trying to sample these guys poultry delights for while now but had failed many times, once at street feast I lined up for 30 mins to be told they had sold out, and once at the Shacklewell Arms when I visited with the specific plan of getting chicken I managed to get drunk and forget to order. I was concerned I would never get to try it but finally one day I was strolling through brick lane and came across their van. I was very hung-over and very hungry so I jumped in line and ordered the sandwich meal deal, I had to wait while they freshly cooked a new batch of chicken but oh my fuck, it was out of this world. Mounds of freshly cooked buttermilk chicken breast on a delicious brioche bun with a drink and fries, I was in heaven. Easily some of the best fried chicken I have sampled in my travels and well worth the wait. So juicy, massive and delicious. if you ever want to impressive a FC fan take them here, order the sandwich and watch the juices start to flow.

 

Next: Orange Buffalo

Viva La Chicken.

New Zealand - musings of an absent kiwi/pom

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New Zealand – my home, well kinda, I was born in the UK but raised in New Zealand and consider myself a kiwi at heart - with a the genetics of an English man (bad teeth, prown to baldness, fat, pasty). Although I haven’t been involved in any Black Ops missions in NZ I have had many adventures and feel well equipped to give some reasonably well informed travel advice for the land of the long white cloud.  Most of the info I will give you will revolve around the north island as I haven’t even visited the south island ( yes I know this is terrible, but most English people I meet in London haven’t been to Wales or Scotland so fuck off with your comments about that).

So these are my musing on my adopted homeland: First things first, NZ is a beautiful place. When you live there you kind of forget, but after living in grey, dirty London for the last 7 yrs every time I go home I’m amazed at the landscape and countryside, its rugged, isolated and seriously stunning.

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The local people are generally really friendly and be advised, when in a supermarket or any other place of custom, you will most probably be expected to have a conversation with the person serving you. The food is similar to what any English person would be used to except the quality and freshness of the ingredients is unbelievable, which really does make a difference. For foodies NZ is definitely a place to enjoy great quality eating and drinking. The seafood is unbelievably good and the pies are amazing; to this day I have not found a country that does meat pies like you can get in NZ. Steak and Cheese is my pick of the bunch but there are hundreds of different flavours to choose from. The NZ pie is something kiwis hold dear to their hearts and once you have tasted one you will never want a watery steak and ale pie from Tesco again.

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Café and coffee culture is huge in NZ and for the first few years of living in London I severely missed good coffee, luckily London has finally caught the coffee bug.Once in NZ you will realize how seriously people take coffee and will be spoilt for choice when it comes to good cafes. Arts wise we have a fantastic film industry, great music scene, plenty of galleries and museums but most people come to NZ for the outdoors and this is where my homeland shines. You can hike, snowboard, raft, surf, skydive and basically do any adventure type sport within a few hour’s drive of each other.

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During my time living there I went snowboarding every season on Mt Ruapheu which has to be a highlight. It has the largest ski area in the north island and although it can get icy, the boarding can be excellent. In Summer it’s worth taking the chairlift up to the top just for the views and a walk around. For LOTR fans you will be in heaven as loads of the film was shot around here. Another awesome thing you can do right next to Ruapehu is hike the Tongariro Crossing which has been voted one of the worlds best walks, it takes a whole day and the scenery you walk through is spectacular. I would recommend not doing it in converse and cut off jeans in the middle of a storm. 

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The volcano you walk past features as Mt Doom in Lord of the rings (basically everything in existence in New Zealand has appeared in LOTR or The Hobbit).image

If you like walking or snowboarding/skiing check out The National Park, it has everything and is only around 4 hours south of Auckland or 4 hours north of Wellington.

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We basically have two major cities in the North Island - Auckland which is massive and is made up of loads of different areas which each have their own vibe surrounded by awesome beaches & Wellington which on the other hand is small, windy and a very different beast to Auckland. There is an endless debate about which is better, I personally prefer Wellington, it’s prettier, easy to get around, has awesome bars, cafes, cinemas and a more chilled out vibe. Auckland is bigger, nosier, loads more beaches, and although it has better weather I just don’t know it as well. In between the two cities are basically loads of towns, some larger than others, these towns mostly consist of a pie shop, a tinnie house (where people buy cannabis) a BP, and a gift shop.

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Some are nicer than others, if you see loads of massive dudes in leather jackets with patches on their back with emblems such as Mongrol Mob or Black power, I would just drive to the next town for your steak and cheese pie.

The Beaches are awesome, if you are from Europe or a populated country you will be shocked when you head to a beach and have it to yourself, this obviously doesn’t happen in the big cities but if you go out a bit you can find beautiful sandy beaches stretching for miles on end without another person in sight. You won’t find any deck chairs or people offering you massages or sunglasses for sale here. Some of the best beaches to check out would be (starting in Auckland); Piha -  big surf and and pretty rough but good fun, try not to drown or get caught in a rip.  Any beaches in the Coromandal are going to be stunning but cathedral-cove is one of the favorites. Across to the west coast you have the volcanic black sand beaches such as raglan for great surfing, before heading down to Wellington and the numerous beaches surrounding the city. Basically you will be spoilt for choice in NZ for beach time.

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 Wellington – the capital city has a load of hidden gems when it comes to things to do and some of the best coffee and food in New Zealand. It has a pretty decent city beach and a small but great nightlife.If you are visiting for a few days there are a few key things you should do. One is drive around the bays starting in oriental bay (city beach) and just follow the road around until you get to scorching bay and check out the beach and café there. A real pretty little spot for a swim and some food; sip on a flatwhite while eating some calamari. You can also check out Peter Jacksons film studios on this drive and head to the Weta Cave which is a free museum/shop from Weta workshop where you can check out some props from all the films Weta have worked on. The Food scene in Wellington rocks and some classics are Fidels on Cuba st which does delicious food and fantastic coffee so it’s well worth a visit plus you can check out the iconic Cuba st of wellington. Another big thing in Wellington is Malaysian food, best I’ve had anywhere except Malaysia and dirt cheap too. Head to Satay Kingdom for some Roti Chani and a ginger beer. Finally head up to Mt Victoria Lookout for an epic view of Wellington and the Harbour for sunset. Head back down to the city for numerous craftbeer bars, typical pubs or cocktail bars. There are loads of good drinking spots and they have probably all changed but basically Courtney place is full of cheesy, meat market type bars, where as Cuba st is better for live music and hipster esque bars. If you like film you are going to be in heaven in Wellington, the cinemas range from the small independent ones, to the Multiplex, to the very grand and ornate Embassy Theatre. Peter Jackson even owns his own Art Decco cinema in Miramar not too far from his studios, if I was in Wellington and wanted to see a film I would go check out the Embassy theatre, have a drink in the very trendy bar underneath and then pop in to watch a film. After this I would pop across the road to Sweet Mothers Kitchen for some Southern American style food and a delicious beer or cocktail.

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There are a few spots out of Wellington worth checking out as well Makara is a sparsely populated area not too far from wellington with an awesome rugged coastline looking out over the Tasman sea, it is well worth a day trip for a walk along the cliff tops a picnic followed by a drink of two. There are loads more place I could write about but I think this will do for now.

In summary NZ is a great place to visit, its not cheap, but you will be eating yourself to shit everyday, seeing amazing sights, talking to mostly happy people and having an awesome time.

Make sure you get involved with the pies, the coffee, the local beers and make friends with some locals as they know all the hidden spots to take you too.

 Valubale intel

Everyone smokes weed in NZ, if you want any it shouldn’t be hard to find, ask someone with dreads where you can get some.

You can’t buy spirits in supermarkets only beer and wine

You need a car to get around without one you will be travelling on shit buses which are full of the dregs of society and expensive and slow.

Green Lipped Mussels are amazing, eat as many of these as you can. Try a Paua Fritter as well.

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Chip and Pin is called Eftpos in NZ and everyone pays with card for everything even gum.

KFC serves potato and gravy in a tub. Eat it.

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Get a ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island for the day, drink wine, hang out on the beaches.

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Best Bakery in NZ for Pies is easily Bucharts in Wangnaui

people like to drink in garages.

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Nepal - Yeti, weed & massive knives

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Due to the classified nature of my work, I have been involved in many strange and unique situations but the one that rates as the strangest definitely took place in Nepal a few years ago. The report has now been de-classified so I can release it in its entirety without fear of repercussions. What Follows is the report I filed.

After Action Report: Nepal – Operation Harry.

Mission Objective: To investigate & locate the creature Codenamed Harry – the Yeti. If possible capture alive and return with precious cargo, If not able to capture alive, use of deadly force is approved. Bring back DNA evidence.

I have always dreamed of the day the Yeti will be discovered and the world will finally know he exists. I think my fascination started with the film Harry and the Henderson’s - the story of a loveable bigfoot that gets run over by a family and taken in and cared for. Ever since I saw this as a child I have harbored fantasies of discovering his existence myself, that is why I volunteered for this mission. Sadly I must report I didn’t find him, but I did discover evidence of his existence and an amazing country. Nepal has the friendliest people, stunning scenery, fields of wild marijuana and cheap knives that you can buy off peddler’s on the street. Pretty much everything you want in a holiday.

We flew into Kathmandu from Varanasi and had to queue up to get a visa on arrival then immediately got a taxi to the backpacker part of town - Thamel. We had been briefed that Kathmandu was the perfect place to begin the operation and pick up equipment and locate our contact. We noticed the poverty when driving through the city and considering we had just come from India this says something but as soon as we got to Thamel we realized just how popular Kathmandu is. It was full of bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, travel agents and backpackers cruising the streets. Once we had arranged accommodation in a local, discreet hotel we ventured out to explore and get our bearings. I was accosted pretty much straight away by a man selling khukuri knives (Gurkha knives). He explained he had come down from the mountain to sell knives his father had created. I didn’t believe him for a minute but I still bought one of the largest off him for a few quid.

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I knew I would need extra weapons as our latest intel was reporting the Yeti had been attacking more climbers recently so I thought extra protection might come in handy. (Side Note – this knife saved me from possible Kidnap at a later date in Mumbai) After purchasing my deadly weapon we ventured out for food and to explore the area, we used our usual cover as backpackers to check out some of the temples and local food on offer. I wasn’t very impressed with the food but did manage to bump into a couple of agents I knew from London who were on mission so managed to get some valuable intel from them in regards to different areas the yeti has been spotted. We proceeded to plan our mission over beers and curry.

That evening we located our local asset, Kimble. He was working as a trekking guide in the Himalayas and from the intel we had already gathered we decided to do the Annapurna Circuit as this seemed to be where most of Harry’s activity had been reported.  It is 14 day trek if you do the whole circuit but we decided we would do the 9 day version by starting in Pokhara and making our way up to the Pass then flying back down from Jomson hopefully with our precious cargo.

The next day we took a local bus to Pokhara to start the trek. The roads were shit, and I saw many truck and car wrecks in the bottom of the ravines we were driving through. I reminded myself we had to travel like locals, or tourists.  Once we had arrived some locals tried to sell me Marijuana but I declined as I knew it was a rouse to muddle my senses and I would need all of them to locate Harry. Some intel had reported the locals knew of Harry’s existence and would actively try to conceal evidence of him. (high level intel I managed to source links Harry with Joseph Stalin and to this day some people believe he may be a biological weapon created by the soviets http://jonesy0311.hubpages.com/hub/Stalins-Monkey-Army-and-Dyatlov-Pass).

We started the Trek at dawn the next day. The scenery was spectacular and our local asset was quite knowledgeable in the local flora and fauna.

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The scenery would change each day, going from lush forest to barren rocks, dry river beds, natural hot pools, to snowcapped mountains and ancient monasteries. While walking we came across fields of marijuana which I harvested a small amount from. I thought we may be able to create some form of tranquilizer out of it, so I sampled it to ensure it was a viable option and decided it was quite potent.

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During the Trek we got to sample local apple brandy in Marpha, which is an awesome small town made out of white washed stone. There are little shops and a really old monastery.

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We also got to eat Yak curry, watch the sunrise over the Himalayas,and constantly keep an eye out for Harry.

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There had been heavy rain recently and the track had been washed out at one point causing us to lose a day or trekking. We had to take a local bus along one stretch of road. It was full of Buddhist Monks and us, and at one point I actually thought we might die as the bus struggled up the side of the mountain with sheer drops on one side. The Monks started praying and I steeled myself for what was to come next but we managed to survive the most brutal road I have ever been on. At one point the driver decided to drive off the road, cut through a dry river bed and then get back on the road on the over side. I don’t think it was the official route but it saved us a lot of time and I was impressed with the drivers ability at keeping us alive.

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During the trek, we heard numerous reports of Harry’s activities in the area, and we constantly tried to locate him but to no avail, every time we had a lead he would just disappear into thin air. My initial thoughts were we were just unlucky, but over the coming weeks I decided Harry was a skilled adversary and knew we were tracking him, so by using his field craft learned from the soviets he was actively and aggressively hindering our progress. The Landslide causing us to lose a day, then having to take the precarious road journey, I feel was Harry’s doing. He wanted us out of action or dead. I believe he is an intelligent and active agent at our enemy’s disposal. I highly advise another mission be pre-approved which I volunteer to lead.

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Once we had made it the pass, we knew we would not be able to locate Harry any more as our time was running out. We double timed it back to Jomsom and took the first civilian plan back to Pokhara. The plane had cello-tape holding together cracks in the window, but the scenery through the broken glass was worth the risk, it was spectacular. It somewhat lessened the disappoint of never discovering Harry.

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Although we didn’t discover Harry It was one of my more enjoyable missions. There we no casualties and we gathered valuable intel.

Mission Complete. 

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bemyotherhalf asked: I read your trip to Burma/Myanmar and I loved it! I also traveled there last summer and it was probably the best summer trip I've ever been on. Even though I was born there, I was raised in the US so it was very different to see the country again. But, honestly, I'm in love with the country and hopefully I'll go back soon. Until then, I'll just read stories about it. Thank you for sharing it! :D

Hey ya, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I had a great time and will go back for sure. I have a good friend who lives though so I it’s quite handy. I liked the pictures you had up on your blog as well! Burma rocks.

Burma/Myanmar - Rambo country

After action report: Burma

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Mission Objective: Rescue a group of missionaries that have been captured by rebels in the far north. (Rambo 4 was based on this mission)

Operatives: Major Dutch and Captain Chunk

Casualties: 2

Humidity: 85%

We flew into Yangon on a civilian craft, using the cover as backpackers to infiltrate the country and gather any Intel that was available on the missing missionaries. Upon arriving we passed through immigration and made contact with our local asset, Chef hangi pants. The local asset was someone I had worked with numerous times over the years and trusted completely. He informed us he had sourced us local transport and guided us out of the airport and to a parked taxi. Immediately he presented us with cold beers and told us the best way to blend in was buy drinking heavily and playing up the drunken, British tourist route. After drinking the beers we proceeded to drive across town to our base of operations (BOP), a high rise in central Yangon.

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We decided it would be best to use his apartment as a base for Intel gathering and movements around Yangon. He had a wife called Z who was also working deep cover and worked as our translator and guide. Upon arriving she called their black market money man so we could exchange currency. Note – guidebooks will tell you, you need to take in Pristine USD to exchange with the local currency and that international Credit cards will not work in ATM’s. This is incorrect. There are international ATM’s installed in the country now and you can get a good rate if you change money at a bank as well. We can sourced some local ‘classified’ as it would add to our cover of backpackers, so we started acclimatizing to the local ‘classified’ and proceeded to discuss our plan of attack.

After hashing out a rough plan we headed out to a local hot pot restaurant and sampled the local cuisine

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before heading to a Beer Station – local bars that have popped up where you can get cheap beer, food and listen to Asian pop music on the side of the ride. We discovered the local ale Myanmar beer was delicious so imbibed some while monitoring the locals.

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The next day we decided to do a recce of the city and popped into the Hotel where Chef hangi pants was posing as the Head Chef for some food and to plan our day. We were seated and asked for some local food and were sent numerous dishes to sample. Sometimes this job has perks and we were fed like kings with local and western food.

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After rehydrating and gorging ourselves we headed to the local market to source some supplies and see whether it was worth trying to source local weapons and equipment.

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Captain Chunk got it into her head that buying a puppet would be a great idea to blend in as a tourist buying useless souvenirs, so we spent ages hunting for the perfect puppet. 

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She couldn’t make up her mind so we left and had a delicious lunch of biryani. Surprisingly Indian food is very popular in Burma due to the large Indian community living there. We then explored the city a little bit.

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After this we proceeded back to our BOP to rest. After resting we headed to shwedagon pagoda – one of the largest and most spectacular religious sites in south east Asia. It was very impressive and very secure.

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We decided if we came under attack this would be our fall back point. After blending in and making a few offerings to Buddha we ventured out to popular bar called 50th st with the expat community. We sampled the food which was delicious and also gained some Intel on places to visit and travelling around Burma.

The next day we decided we would try and venture to one of the beaches but upon finding out the bus only runs on a Friday and we would need to hire a driver or fuck about catching loads of buses we decided to get a night bus to Bagan as we had heard rumors or rebel activity in the area. We got a taxi to the bus station across town which took over an hour. Upon seeing our bus we were not impressed so went to a local beer station and sampled more local beer and waited for our bus to depart.

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Upon boarding, we realized the seats are not really the correct size for large westerners, and they, like the rest of south east asia like to play Asian pop and karaoke dvds at full volume for most of the ride which means you don’t get much sleep on an overnight trip. The tickets are very cheap though and the transport surprisingly fast. We were supposed to arrive at 5am but arrived around 3am. Upon leaving the bus we were asked if we wanted a taxi and negotiated a price, we walked to the taxi and then realized it was a horse and cart. I asked the man how long and he said depends on donkey. It was a 45 minute ride through pitch black countryside with only a torch taped to the side of the cart for illumination.

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Once we arrived at the hotel we were told we wouldn’t be able to check in until 9 am so decided to head out for some local breakfast and sightseeing.

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Once back in our room we had a quick equipment check and decided to hire bicycles and explore the local area. Chef hangi pants had provided us with some local Classified so we partook and proceeded to explore pagodas and temples and bike around old and new Bagan. We didn’t see any rebel activity but took many photos which we sent back to HQ for analysis. image

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The next day we did similar activities of posing as tourists cycling around but spoke to many locals and got valuable feedback on the current political situation. That evening we decided we would take a sunset boat cruise to see if the river was a valid insertion point for a small military force. We sourced a local boat man to take us for a sunset cruise for $5 or so.image

Posing as a young couple in love we sat on the roof of the boat and drank beers and canoodled while really taking photos and marking points on the map of interest.

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That evening survived cycling around the dusty, dirt roads to a small town where we dined at a local, well known Indian restaurant Aroma 2 which was delicious and drank more of the local beer before heading home to our little bungalow.

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The next day we had to travel back to Yangon by bus and opted for a day bus rather than another night bus due to the bullshit karaoke and shitty seats. The bus was full of locals again and half way through the journey there was a loud explosion and the bus swerved. I thought we had been discovered and the Junta were trying to take us out. The bus managed to pull over and we piled off. Upon discovering we had a flat tire, I examined it and it had been sabotaged.image

They were onto US!. We knew we had limited time before they would find out the accident hadn’t been fatal so as soon as we got back to Yangon we found an unmarked taxi and headed back to the BOP.  Once there we decided we would need to re-evaluate our activities and stay incognito for the rest of the trip.

One evening Chef hangi pants mentioned he was doing a valentine’s day 11 course meal at the hotel which would be a great opportunity for us to observe some of Yangon’s political and military elite. We dressed as smart as possibly could and proceeded to listen in and observe the proceedings over dinner.

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We didn’t manage to get much Intel due to their also being a 6 course wine tasting menu which captain chunk and myself got intoxicated on but we deemed the night a success regardless.

The next day we sourced a local guide and decided to head out of the city to check out the floating pagoda as we had heard they had installed high tech security systems which were obviously being used to monitor tourist activities. We had hoped to sabotage the system, but enroute captain chunk was coming down with a vicious case of so called food poisoning so decided it wasn’t wise to engage the enemy. At the temple you are able to feed giant catfish with balls of popcorn, which we did.

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Upon leaving the temple we told our local guide we wanted to try Bat meat. He took us to local joint where we sampled Dirty Juice – local champagne in his words. It is a fermented local spirit. It smells disgusting but actually tastes pretty good. We also sampled some local deer, which is illegal due to it being a protected species, but alas there was no bat available. They had mouse on the menu but due to the captains state and my fear of a possible poisoning we decided against sampling the mouse. It looked pretty fucking disgusting.

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Once we had finished the dirty juice we headed into the city and got dropped off at a luxury hotel to continue our façade as tourists and spent the afternoon by the pool, sipping cocktails and sunbathing.

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That evening we went out for some street food where I sampled the delicious Shan Noodles – a spicy noodle type soup for around $1.

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After eating we headed to a local bar where a fashion show was going on, young pretty girls get dressed up and parade on stage. If you like the girl you place a necklace of flowers around their necks and they come and join you at your table afterwards. It was quite a strange sight. We were unsure if this lead to more adult activities or it was just innocent talking. More research is needed, I will ask Chef hangi pants to investigate.

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The next day we decided to cross the river and head into the Delta. To do this you are supposed to obtain permission from a government ministry but due to them already trying to take us out we flagged this and just jumped on a local ferry across the river to stay under the radar. Once we had docked on the other side we hooked up with another local asset posing as a trishaw driver and proceeded to pretend we were visiting the local market but actually were just debriefing him.

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He informed us the situation was pretty stable but we had to be careful when discussing politics still. I had also heard rumours of underground fighting similar to Muay Thai held in villages. He informed me he had participated and showed me his scars. We had enough Intel so decided to head back to Yangon.

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Once there we headed back to the Market to pick up some more souvenirs. I managed to source an opium pipe while captain chunk got her puppet. After this we had an hour and half long massage

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then headed back to the BOP to regroup with Chef hangi pants and his wife Z. We went out to a famous restaurant – Feel Myanmar and asked Z to order for us.

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We ate ourselves to shit then headed to a local late night club to try and make contact with some other local assets. Upon arriving at the club we immediately noticed the sex tourists and made a note of them to report back to HQ. I went to the bathroom to urinate and while pissing a man started massaging my shoulders, I tried to move away but he kept saying “its ok, its ok” and it felt ok so I let him continue while I finished up. Once I had finished I tried to tip him but he wouldn’t take it and when I returned to the group and informed them about my impromptu toilet massage they said it was completely normal.  The evening ended with me in my pants and chef hangi pants asking me to transport a valuable egg back to London.

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We didn’t manage to rescue the missionaries but we got a good feel for the country and decided we would be back sometime soon to try again.

 Mission Complete.

Valuable Intel for civilians or military personal travelling to Burma

Take Pristine USD as currency but also credit cards as they will work

Use local taxis and barter for a good price, they are cheap and we travelled everywhere in them. Around $2 to $3 per journey around town.

Local street food is generally ok to eat. Just make sure you go to busy places and see what the locals are eating.

Overnight/Long distance buses are pretty good although not that comfortable for sleeping. Not on par with Thailand or Vietnam. Similar to Cambodia.

Organizing travel takes time, buses don’t run everyday, hotels get booked up very quickly, highly recommend to plan trip in advance and book accommodation. Turning up to a destination without accommodation is niggly.

Travel across country takes a long time so take that into account if you don’t have very long.

The locals are extremely friendly. we didn’t get ripped off once and they all just want to talk to you and practice their English  Easily the friendliest country I have visited.

Tourism is growing fast so the time to go is now!

Central hotel in Yangon is a great place for cheap, good massages. although the staff seem fixated on my crotch. The spent an inordinate amount down there and Captain Chunk was getting concerned. for an hour and half massage it costs around $6.

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Tall Ships - The curse is lifted

Tall Ships – XOYO 22/10/2012

Before we begin I’d Like to mention Tall ships has been a cursed band for my GF and I, the first time we went to see them together she nearly passed out and had to sit on the floor and we had to leave, then this time I had been suffering from a vicious tooth ache all weekend and had a root canal 3 hours before the gig, so I was resigned to the fact they were a bad luck charm for us. Well I was totally wrong. Tall Ships rocked and we finally lifted the evil curse of Tall Ships.

Any band that comes out to operatic, booming music is generally a loser in my eyes, but when the first strings of Jurassic Park’s theme tune started booming out of the speakers Captain Chunk turned to me and said “I fucking love Jurassic Park” I knew we were in for a good show. I was dosed up on pain killers, had a numb mouth and couldn’t drink any booze due to the meds I was on which meant I was slightly more cynical then usual and noted the amount of stupid patterned woolly jumpers being worn although it was 40 degrees downstairs, as soon as the band appeared I didn’t care. They opened with T=0 and started out strong, Tall Ships have a great sound for a 3 piece, They can sound super heavy at times yet the sound was crisp and clear, and T=0 got the crowd going and was a great opener.

You could tell there were a bunch of fans in the crowd as each song they played got a bigger cheer then the next one and many of their songs have a sing-along vibe and it wasn’t long before most of the crowd were singing along with the band.

The band themselves were one of the happiest bands I have seen in awhile; they had big grins on their faces the whole time they were playing and looking around the crowd I haven’t seen so many hipsters smiling and jumping around since skinny jeans were on offer at Topman.

Some of the highlights of the gig were Vessels, Gallop, T=0

The Great thing about Tall Ships is they know not to ruin a song by singing, although the singer is very strong vocally, they can build up a really epic sounding song and sometimes they add a few lines of vocals and others none at all, and I think this is great thing about the band as they let the music speak for itself sometimes. They are also an amazing live band as well; the new album is great to listen to but live they really have an epic quality that no record could capture. If last night’s show was anything to go by I imagine we are going to be hearing a lot more about Tall Ships. I know I will be seeing them again now that the curse has been broken.

5 out 5.

Full set list available here

http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/tall-ships/2012/xoyo-london-england-33dd6ce5.html

Band website here

http://wearetallships.co.uk/

Operation Kebab – Turkey uncovered

Purpose of mission: gather Intel on drug smuggling routes into the UK

Soldiers: Major Dutch, Captain Chunk

Fatalities: 0

Mission Status: Complete

Mission Briefing: Pose as a young couple on holiday in Turkey, there have been numerous reports of high quality heroin reaching London via Turkey. Intel suggests the refugees coming in from Syria are being used as drug mules. Establish solid Intel, make key contacts, find out shipping routes, local players, and if possible take out any high value targets.

The following is taken from a declassified report submitted by Major Dutch on completion of the mission codenamed Operation kebab.

Captain Chunk and I arrived in Istanbul at 1300 hours. We immediately located a shop and purchased alcoholic beverages and boarded a bus heading to the old quarter. We would need to blend in like typical British tourists and decided in advance drinking while in public or on any form of public transport would help our cover and enforce our britishness to the locals. Once we arrived in the old town we headed directly to our accommodation, Due to a clerical error we ended up having to share a dorm room in a shabby hostel, but it was in a great location right next to the blue Mosque; we had Intel suggesting it was a store house for illicit substances. We decided we would do a recce and see what we could find. We headed directly to the Galata Bridge and immediately saw many men and women fishing off the bridge. 

We had heard Drugs were smuggled in by submarine and then the fishermen would ‘catch’ the packages and haul up the drugs to then be shipped on down the line.  We scoped the area out, pretending to have a Turkish tea on the sea side,and then monitoring the sea from a bar underneath the bridge. We took many Surveillance photos as well but upon reviewing these we saw no evidence of drug smuggling. (Possible incorrect or old Intel, never rely on MOSSAD for anything)

The next day we decided to explore the old city in more detail, and headed directly to the Blue Mosque.

it was a very impressive building, and using high tech imaging equipment we scanned the structure for hidden passages or rooms. Our search turned up nothing so we heading to the Topkapi (Grand Palace)for a further search, again we found nothing but were yet again impressed with the buildings and a special mention goes to the weapons collection (Possible armoury for use in case of attack).

Upon leaving we headed directly into the Grand Bazaar as we had a contact to meet within who was going to resupply us with essential papers. We located our contact and pretended to purchase a fashionable Leather backpack (sewn into the inside were counterfeit documents & money). We also sampled Turkish coffee and liquors before heading to the Spice Market.

Upon entering we realised this could be the perfect place to hide the drugs but due to the crowds and workers decided it was too risky to attempt any form of search. We exited and heading few clicks back towards the blue Mosque.

En-route we stumbled across a Haman; the oldest in Istanbul. We thought it would be a good idea to get cleaned up and also a good way to relax before the next leg of our journey. We were both lead into the main steam room where we relaxed together before a Turkish woman took away the captain and left me with a large Turkish man who proceeded to slap, bend and crack me. The stresses of my previous operations melted away and I felt ready to face the next section.

We procured passage in a small aircraft to Cappadocia; it sits roughly in the middle of Turkey, and we had some patchy intelligence that the cave complexes and underground cities were being used as storage for the dope and also as possible weapons caches. Once we arrived we headed to our cave hotel in Goreme and then proceeded to investigate our surroundings.

One of our contacts had informed us the best way to see the area was via hot air balloon. Due to Turkeys generally good relationship with the UK we were not allowed to use drones so could get no aerial intelligence. The hot air balloon would provide us with the perfect cover to gather valuable Intel. We were picked up at 0500 and driven out into the desert to the hot air balloon, we were airborne within minutes and both of use started surveying the area. The scenery was spectacular and due to the zero cloud cover and rising sun we could see for miles. Many aerial surveillance photographs were taken please see below.

Once airborne I noticed some suspicious activity in a valley and asked the pilot if we could descend for a closer look, but the rebels must have caught wind and bugged out. After an hour or so of reconnaissance we landed and were offered champagne and flight certificates. Captain Chunk seemed quite pleased and I had to remind her we were on active duty. (Note to superior officers - watch the captain, she is prone to fits of excitement). We sent the photos back to HQ and we advised to procure some ATVs and head out into the desert to search some nearby ruins and valleys for weapons and drug caches, our search was futile but it was good to practice some extreme evasive manoeuvres on the quad bikes as they could come in handy in the future.

We also had orders to search the underground cities so rode the local bus to one of the towns before picking up another form of transport, while waiting for the bus the locals started to gather and notice the captains appearance( note – on active duty remind the captain to dress in appropriate gear). Once in the underground city we descended into the cool depths of the ancient caverns and explored every possible hiding place but came up empty, we were beginning to suspect we had been fed unreliable Intel again.

We decided to head to a small town and walk back to our base through pigeon valley, we had heard drugs were transported by donkey through the valleys.

We managed to find a French tour group and tagged on to them so as not to arouse suspicion, once we had gotten away from any other civilians we double timed it and left the French to their croissants and headed into the desert.

We saw much evidence of smuggling but again no recent activity. We decided we would head south to the coast – Olympus as we knew the area was a haven for smugglers. We decided the best way to travel would be via overnight bus and headed off on an 8 hour journey.

Once we arrived in Olympus we headed to our accommodation at Saban Treehouses. We figured the best place to stay would be in a tree house near the beach.

Once there we could immediately see the tell tale signs of drug takers. Hippies and backpackers were very prevalent, and the glazed look in their eyes told us we had hit the jackpot. We immediately procured snorkels and headed to the beach. To access the beach you have to walk through ancient ruins, which we decided would be the perfect place to retreat to if we felt any kind of hostile threat was imminent, they were fortified and on raised ground. 

We accessed the beach and processed to monitor the area. I noticed a few boats acting suspiciously so swam over and inspected them and the surrounding water. I found many underwater mussel traps (Definitely drug caches, all empty). We monitored the area for 4 days and in this time gathered much photographic evidence of the beach and surrounding ruins for future operations. We also went on a one day boat trip to see the sunken city. This involved much swimming and snorkelling and we thought we would be able to use it as a chance to check out some hidden coves.  Again the scenery was very spectacular and I had to remind the captain we were on a mission.


After 5 days in Olympus with plenty of solid Intel and evidence of prolific smuggling activities we decided to head back to HQ with our evidence and await further instructions.

The mission was deemed a success by our superior officers, thanks to our efforts we have now established the main areas of drug smuggling and storage and are awaiting further orders.

Mission Complete.

Brazil: Land of Asses and Acai

Before you arrive in Brazil your consciousness is already full of images of amazing babes in tiny bikinis, gun-toting gangsters living in favela’s, beautiful beaches and large statues of hey zeus (Jesus) on top of hills.

Normally in my travels preconceived ideas of a country have been completely destroyed once I have visited the place but in Brazil the opposite happened; it was exactly as I imagined and even more so. There were Amazingly hot woman all over the place, they were wearing tiny bikinis, The beaches were fucking stunning and there were definitely a bunch of gangsters living in favelas. There was also a whole lot more about the place and I can easily say that Brazil is definitely one of scumbag travellers favorite places.

 My faithful companion Lieutenant scheps and I got air dropped into Sau Paulo around midnight. We managed to find the central bus station to try to source transport down to florinopolis (floripa). We were meeting an old contact of mine, Rob who had been promising us some relaxing R&R In his so called lakeside paraside. We located a bus that would take us and popped some valium for the 12 hour journey.

Upon arriving in Floripa the man himself was waiting to greet us. Before I had arrived he had been promising me a lovely lakeside apartment with great views and all the mod cons but explained he had fallen on hard times and had to move out so our accommodation wasn’t going to be quite as nice as we had expected. Typical Rob.

He took us to a dead end road right on the edge of the Lake, it seemed like an OK area, it had a jetty for the ferry and a nice neighborhood bar with a bar dog.

We started walking up a road, which seemed to go on forever until we reached a string of houses, they all seemed great. Until we got to the last one; it was a wooden shack, didn’t look too sturdy. But anyways it was his house and we had free accommodation so we cleaned out the cockroaches and settled in.

 View from our shack.

Floripa takes the title for the Hottest woman in the world. They are everywhere. I think I saw like one fat chick and a couple of 5’s or 6’s and a few trannies  but mostly we are talking 8’s and above.  It is also Famous for its beaches and for surfing. It has a bunch of different beaches and some awesome restaurants as well. Rob had some scheme where he had created an online nightlife/restaurant guide and was advertising bars for credit so we spent a bunch of our time drinking and eating out for free. I would highly recommend Floripa’s nightlife. Loved it.

 

We also spent most of our days lounging at one of the beaches, or heading out to the islands. The beaches are amazing, Great surf, clean water and beautiful sand plus hot lifeguards. One time I fell asleep on the beach and awoke half an hour later to be surronded by large vultures. I think if I had been asleep for much longer they would of pounced. It was a close call and one I care not to chance again.

 

The rest of our time in Floripa was spent eating out, drinking and hanging out with rob and his friends. He had joined some kind of online dating thing so was meeting girls, juggling teaching English, collecting money from local  eatieries, looking after his retarded cat and having to entertain us. We had a few funny nights buying illicit substances off homeless people and checking out the locals bars.

We also became quite adept at making Caipirinha’s .This is the kind of place I could easily spend a few months but we had tickets out of Rio so had to move on.

We took an overnight bus to Rio and arrived expecting to be mugged or car jacked as soon as we left the station but we jumped in a cab with no incidents and headed to Botafogo to find out Hostel. Botafogo was a great place to stay, our hostel was amazing and the staff super friendly.

It was next to copacabana  but to get to the beach you had to head through one of the massive tunnels going through the hills. The hostel receptionist had given us a map of the area and said don’t ever walk through the tunnels or you will get mugged, so we got used to using the local buses and metro system to head to the beach.  Copacabana and ipanema are as cool as they look in the pictures. Rio is a stunning city and so full of character + beautiful babes in thongs. Like Floripa we spent a lot of our time hanging at the beach and eating out. Due to unforeseen circumstances we were delayed in Rio by an extra 3 ½ weeks and since it was also the last stop on our RTW trip we were low in funds. Every day we would get up and eat the free breakfast the hostel put on and then head to the beach to spend the day swimming and reading.

 

We also did a favela tour while there. It was super cool walking through the favelas, it is just like you see in the movies with the gangters hanging out. The Locals just build shacks and houses on top of each other spreading up the side of the hills. They have everything, power, running water and amazing views. I can totally see why they do it. But the price is they live in a favela controlled by gangs and corruption and life isn’t the greatest. It’s a really strange contrast between the rich and glamour of copacabna or ipanema and then just up the hill behind it you have favelas and drugs and guns and everything else.

 

Sugarloaf mountain is also worth a look, the views of Rio are unbelieveable. I think it must be one of the coolest looking cities in the world. Especially from that height so this is another thing I would defineatly recommend.

 Christ the redeemer was totally washed out and impossible to get up to so we had to give that one a miss. I was kinda hoping to go up and pray and repent all of the prior sins I had racked up while travelling before starting fresh in the UK but sadly I had to pray to a plastic Jesus stature in a cab to the airport instead.

 So to conclude Brazil is a massive country and we didn’t really have the cash to explore it properly. Its not as cheap as some of the other Latin American countries so take that into account when planning your trip. I feel like I have a few more black ops out there to complete before I stand down. 

Viva La Duke.

The shard. #London #skyscrapers #buildings  (Taken with Instagram)

The shard. #London #skyscrapers #buildings (Taken with Instagram)

New tattoo! #thefamilybusiness #tattoo  #film (Taken with Instagram)

New tattoo! #thefamilybusiness #tattoo #film (Taken with Instagram)