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Flag of Australia  ,
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"Also I note the next blog will be the 100th entry. Will us loyal readers get some sort of special edition?"

Extract from an e-mail from my brother Dave

"Entry number 63 - China, A Retrospective Part 2... I demand a public apology you FOOL!"

E-mail from Bruce Cambell

"I have so many names"

The Devil's Advocate

"I know someday you'll have a beautiful life,
I know you'll be a star,
In somebody else's sky,
But why, why, why cant' it be,
Can't it be mine?"

Pearl Jam, Black

Well, we got there. It's been up, it's been down (maybe - nothing springs to mind), and it's been very amusing.

Allow me to step up to the ribbon, produce a metaphorical oversized pair of scissors, and with the greatest pleasure, declare this 100th Travelpod entry... Open.

It has been remarked upon countless times (twice) that this entry coincides with my birthday, and the question has been asked time and time again (twice) if this was some pre-planned publicity stunt to ensure I had something to write about for the big 100.

The short answer is 'no'. The longer answer is 'no, of course not - that would be stupid. What the hell kind of way to run a Travelpod site does that sound like to you?'

Just another happy coincidence.

But indeed, this anniversary edition isn't going to write itself, so I'd better get on to it.

I celebrated my 27th birthday on Monday. It was a spectacular day when all my dreams came true. It started, just liked I hoped, with me and Adam the American spending the day unloading a shipping container over at our semi-permanent part-time job east of the city.

As the stuff we were unloading from the container was floor matting, it wasn't that heavy and it was kind of soft, so we were able to entertain ourselves stage diving into the massive piles we would make. Then we would take it in turns to throw heavy things at each other, me constantly saying "It's my birthday so don't go for my balls or my face", Adam agreeing, and then going for both.

Somewhere along the way we must have done some work, and then it was back to the hostel to prepare for the night's entertainment.

I was rather touched to find that when I returned to the hostel and dropped into a chair, my favourite song was put on, a jug of beer with a bow on it was put in my hand and presents were heaped upon me. I was also having dinner cooked for me, which was even better.

So quick shower and drinking began. Despite Vinny and Tom's absence, I was extremely fortunate to have a lot of actual friends around me, rather than the random selection of backpackers that tend to populate a night out. No offence to backpackers of course, but celebrating one's birthday with friends makes it feel more like home. In attendance on the fateful evening were myself, Adam the American, Bruce Cambell, Eddie Baby (those first three names read like a Legends of Travelpod Rollcall), Rich, Cai, Casper, Kirsty,
Ashley, Isaac (K Dot, A Dot and I Dot respectively), Karen, Zoe, Jenny, Steve and Tom. One or two other well wishers appeared throughout the evening, but that was the core group.

The evening began with the formalities of my public apology to Bruce Cambell (see photos). I made the rather rubbish error of claiming I hadn't used that Shaun of the Dead quote as an opening for one of my entries, and he went on to prove me wrong for the second time. So once more, I'm sorry Bruce Cambell. I checked every single entry apart from the ones Vinny did and the ones where I was SURE I hadn't used a quote, such as China a Retrospective part 2, where, of course, the quote in question was sitting, looking at me like some kind of forgotten lovechild.

Anyway, after a few pre-pre-drinks we moved to the pub for some pre-drinks drinks, which swiftly became pre-drinks, drinks, and then more drinks. At some point we may have caught up on ourselves and started consuming post-drinks, but I can't be certain. What I do know is that we found our merry way to Crown Casino in the city.

But not before Cai and Karen produced, for the first time in a long time, a birthday cake, complete with candles, sparklers, singing, blowing out, wish making, speech avoiding and me being rather happy with myself for having these people in my life.

Here's a point I want to make for anyone who is considering travelling alone. I've been on the go for ten months. My travelling partner is currently in another state, in another adventure. I found myself spending my birthday with people who, with the exception of Eddie and Rich, I had known for less than seven months. Adam the American, I met in China. Bruce Cambell, I met in Russia, then followed to China and tracked down in Melbourne. Steve and Tom I met in Freo a few months ago but haven't seen until the other day. Everyone else, I've met since arriving in Melbourne. And the point is this - these people are my friends, as they proved above and beyond the call of duty on Monday night.

Anyone thinking about travelling alone but worrying about being lonely or bored or anything else take heed. I wouldn't have swapped this group for any other in the world.

Crown Casino is, depending on who you listen to, either the biggest casino in the Southern Hemisphere, the third biggest casino in the world, both, or neither. I'm not sure myself, but it is pretty goddam big. Floors and floor of flashing lights and spinning wheels, of doubling down and splitting eights, of horrible valet service and seedy poker rooms... my kind of place.

Although we'd tried to book a mini bus to transport everyone to the casino it never showed up so we ended up cramming into three taxis, and then taking about an hour to find each other again. It then took more time to find the man I had paid to get me a drink and still more time to get him to give me a drink, but soon myself, Eddie, Adam the American and Karen were sharing a blackjack table and jovially quoting Swingers back and forth... well, me and Eddie were.

And I think we all lasted about ten minutes, as our fortunes were robbed blind from the dealer pulling about ten 21s in a row..... such is life.

No dramas though, as my Australian colleagues might have said. There was still lots of drinking to be done, so we set to that instead.

And then the greatest thing of all happened.......... I got asked for ID.

The thing about the casino is, it's so big you keep leaving it and coming into a different bit, and so you keep passing doorstaff, and one of them stopped us to ID our more youthful friends.

And then he asked me for ID, and I, and the rest of us, laughed. Someone told him it was my birthday, he asked me how old I was, I told him, and he said "That's OK, I don't need to see your ID".

And I said, "No mate, you're IDing me, that's fair enough, let me get it for

And he said, "Seriously sir there's no need".

And I said "No, fair's fair, you want ID, you're getting ID. I insist. Check

And he did. And all was right with the world again.

The rest of the evening passed without incident, and we retired for brandy and cigars... maybe.

Now onto the party. I am very lucky to have a guest presenter for this bit of the entry, as my fingers hurt with all the typing. I wasn't sure who to ask - I mean, it's not every day you want someone to host a party for a travelblog website that only really the creator and one or two well-wishers has any interest in. Then inspiration struck.

So let me hand over to a man who needs no introduction apart from this one. Director on the board of Apple Inc, unofficial advisor to Google's senior management, self-proclaimed inventor of the Internet and former vice-president of the United States... Ladies and, in a broarder sense, gentlemen, I give you......Al Gore.

Hi, I'm Al Gore. I invented the Internet and have never seen it put to better use than right here in Mike and Vinny's travel blog web site. Seriously, I thought it was just porn, but then I came across this little gem. That's why I thought I'd stop everything to do a once in a lifetime interview with these two travellers who have become synonomous (a word I invented) with backpacking.

Using the power of the Internet, which I invented, I have been able to get together with these two great guys, even though they're in different states and I'm in a different country working on new inventions. I'm now switching over to my live, three way feed, using the Internet, which I invented.

Al Gore: Hi guys, it's Al Gore, thanks for joining me tonight.
Mike: My pleasure Al Gore.
Vinny: Likewise

A: Great stuff. Now, everyone knows me for my great work for America and the world, but today I want to talk about you guys. We've been having a great time following your adventures around the world, but we need more. Whose idea was it to travel around the world without flying?
M: Mine
V: Mine

A: You guys are great! And now you've covered almost half the distance and have been gone for nearly a year, how do you feel about achieving your goal?
V: It's a certainty.
M: Yeah. I mean, we don't actually have anything else to do, do we?
V: My diary's clean.

A: And what would you say is best? The journey or the destination?
M: The journey.
V: Agreed.
M: Mind you, when the final destination's the same place you started from, you'd better get more out of the journey or it's a big fat waste of time.
V: Yeah, when you're moving in a circle you'd better enjoy it while it lasts.
M: That's better than mine, use that one, delete the top one.
A: This is live.
M: Cock it.

A: What would you say is the most enjoyable experience so far?
V: Printable?
M: Remember our mothers.
V: It's a tough call, Al Gore.
M: I liked it when we nearly fell off that mountain in China.
V: Yeah, that was cool. Not at the time though.
M: No, at the time I was shitting myself.
V: Was that what that was?
M: Yeah, I just made it up about the guy in front.
V: It was scary though. But it's always the worst things that make the best stories and the best memories. That's what makes travelling such a great thing to do - you almost hope things go wrong so you can laugh about them at a later date. The memories stay with you -
M: Haunt you, if you will
V: - until the end of your days.

A: How profound. Er, so, favourite country so far?
M: Don't know. Eastern Europe, China, Asia, all good. Hot England's fun too. What about you?
V: The next one I go to.
M: Oh, you sly bastard. That was smooth. I'm going to try something like that next.

A: Do, your web site, 32,000 hits and counting. How does that make you feel?
V: Very privilidged.
M: Most of those hits are me showing people who have never met Bruce Cambell the Bruce Cambell tribute page.
V: That is a good page.
M: Still my favourite.
V: And has absoloutely nothing to do with travelling.
M: Only in a round about, six stages of Kevin Bacon kind of way. And I added a hundred hits the other day when I was trying to find that Shaun of the Dead quote.
V: And then Bruce Cambell added another hundred proving you wrong.

A: OK guys, we're kind of getting off topic here. What about your website rating? 4.9 seems quite high, and 140 votes... Come on, have you ever voted for yourselves?
M: No. We do always ask each other about it though.
V: No. Although my Mum said she was going to vote loads to up the rating when it dropped down to 4.8
M: Your mum's great.

A: What one piece of advice would you give anyone setting off on a similair adventure?
V: Don't go with Mike.
M: Don't go to Russia.
V: You can't say that.
M: You told me that Russia could kiss your ass.
V: But there's a difference between saying it and printing it.
M: One's slander and the other's libel?

A: HAHA Guys, you guys are the best. I remember when I was inventing the Internet once-
V: Give some proper travel advice.
M: You
V: I did.
M: What, don't go with me?
V: Yep.
M: Fair... It is pretty good advice. People worry to much about what to take with them. A passport and a bank card is all you need.
V: Oh, but also check visa situations before you go. Because some countries you can only apply for visas in your home country, then you have to use it within three months. So we had to plan a lot of our trip based around visa restrictions imposed by Russia and China.
M: And there was that whole thing about the Ukraine.
V: Yeah, it turned out we could have gone to the Ukraine, because the visa laws changed about a week before we got near there, but we didn't know until it was too late.
M: Going to the Ukraine would have been cool.
V: It would.

A: Any regrets?
M: I always said I wanted to regret the things I've done, not the things I haven't done.
V: How's that working out for you?
M: Still quite a few regrets, to be fair.
V: I regret nothing.
M: What about when we were in Eastern Europe and hurried to Russia because we tried to work out how many days we had left and we got it wrong by about ten days, so ended up getting to Russia a week early?
V: Yeah, that was pretty rubbish. I think the moral of the story is don't rely on decisions made after twenty hours on a train.
M: Or, never trust the first count.

A: What do you say to the claims that your travelpod sit is nothing but arrogant self-involvement?
V: Your witness.
M: Of course it is. Of course it's self-involved. It's the closest thing I've ever done to masturbating without getting sticky.
V: You sicken me.

A: And how are you guys finding Australia?
V: Great. Beautiful country, one of my favourites.
M: It is a beautiful country. If I was going to-
V: Don't.
M: Don't what?
V: Have a go.
M: What makes you think I was going to have a go at Australia?
V: Because it's you. At least wait until we've left.
M: It's a great place, don't get me wrong. It's just-

A: And what advice would you give someone coming to Australia?
V: If you're over 21, go to the West Coast. If you're not, don't.
M: Come across in a cargo ship. Seriously, best decision you'll ever make.
V: No, come across in a canoe.
M: An Indonesian built raft.
V: Safer than an Indonesian built ferry.
M: And don't, whatever you do, watch the movie Jaws, great though it is.
V: You're going to need a bigger boat.
M: And don't go in the water unless there's some tasty looking surfers out further than you are.
V: Look out for jellyfish.
M: Although in Jaws they say most shark attacks occur in three feet of water.
V: And spiders.
M: It's those bluebottle jellyfish I don't like.
V: You don't like anything.
M: Nothing that can bite, gouge, sting, poison or kill, no.
V: You've come to the wrong place.
M: Story of my life.

A: I'm afraid we've run out of time so we'll have to leave it there. Many thanks to my guests Mike and Vinny for their time, and many thanks to the Internet, which I invented, for allowing them to share their remarkable story with the world. I think we should just take a quick moment to think about some of my other projects and inventions-

Thank you Al Gore.

Well, it's been a long ride, but it's almost over. Below are some quotes I pulled from random e-mails I've received over the last ten months. And then under that, quotes supplied by birthday well-wishers on Monday night so that everyone's name can be up in lights.

You see, we don't see this as our Travelpod.

No, not at all. We see this as your Travelpod, the people's Travelpod, and we are genuinely grateful for all the views, comments, compliments, insults, questions and opinions, and we hope we are able to keep your attention for the next 100 entries.

All our love,

Mike and Vinny


"Sorry for not replying earlier, but I didn't feel like talking to you, as you're a bastard."

Name and Address Supplied

"Well I have to admit that I'm impressed. You should take into consideration that this is coming from someone who has grown a whole new person and embraced the miracle of life. All you did was get on a fucking boat. Still, it's quite an achievement. But please stop using Pulp Fiction quotes, I really don't have the time to watch it!".

E-mail from Katie Goddard, 09/11/07

"Your latest adventures really are the stuff of legend - well done onmanaging to get on board a cargo ship! I have a great of vision of what it must have been like hanging out with a bunch of Abba-like Ukrainians for a few days."

E-mail from Ed Holbrook, 7/11/06

"It really is an impressive feat for someone so inherently lazy to have achieved such a monumental journey and as you say.. this is just the beginning".

E-mail from Olly Burton Smith, 7/11/06

"Still travelling, eh? Unbelievable, you have nothing to do but fucking around the
world!? - respect, envy... and congrats for your writing skills!"

E-mail from Max The German, 15/01/07

"Catch the cricket score yesterday... WANKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

E-mail from Bruce Cambell, 06/12/06

"Phnom Penh sucks cock and is great is equal measures. A bit like you really. We're pretending to be normal people and not backpackers; what it's costing us in money it's saving us in meeting pretentious wankers. We felt we couldn't go back to that after the watermark you and Vinny left."

E-mail from Sarah, 28/09/06

"Mate, was going to post this on site and thought better of it but your clothes need a damn good wash!!!"

E-mail from Olly Burton Smith, 23/10/06

"I have been an avid follower of your adventures for several months now and I've been so keen to tell people about my legendary cousin that I'm so proud of I've got to say its been getting me into a few conflict scenarios - I admit, using the line "come on, you know you want to... stop being so frigid" to a female colleague whilst trying to convince her to view the travelpod web site could have been an error of judgement on my part. If it goes as far as a disciplinary hearing I plan to perform a powerpoint presentation detailing all of your adventures... that should do it.."

E-mail from Pete Easterbrook, 13/10/06

That's my e-mail library well and truly raped. If you said something cool to me over the last ten months and I didn't mention it I apologise - consider I have a thousand e-mails in my inbox and could only justify spending an hour or so trawling through them... Here's some words from real-life people I socialise with on a day-to-day basis.

And now the birthday quotes...

"I've only known you a month and already you are the second worse influence in my life... Here's to you"

Johnny the Barman

"You are the worst influence on me in the entire world"

K Dot

"Mike has been my inspiration to dedicate my life to learning the ways of the force. Here's to your dream, and the inevitable temptation of the dark side"


"More than just good looks"

A Dot

"My first meeting with Vinny and Mike? Well, I still have the pictures"


"Maybe you'd be more comfortable at one of our lower stakes tables"

Eddie Baby (sly Swingers, terrible Blackjack performance gambit)

"There's not many people in this world more deserving of me than you guys. I hope you realize that. Happy birthday to my true friend Mikey"

Adam the American (although his first offer did include the words 'fucking', 'hate', 'die' and 'gonorrheae' )

"Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape! I thought I should have a movie quote in keeping with the theme of travel pod and it explains exactly how I feel about you. Isn't that sweet?"

Bruce Cambell (and of course you know he's quoting Army of Darkness... I love
that guy)

"Mike, you and Vinny are like fountains of knowledge.... During a water shortage. I see you once a week and consider it a terrible way to spend a seventh of my life"


*All E-Mail quotes reproduced without permission - an unfortunate side effect of me never deleting my e-mails. Spelling mistakes corrected as appropriate, and also attachments of photos of animals being forced into doing things removed. Verbal quotes used with permission, but not like it would stand up in court or anything.
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