Jellybean Travel Blog
No one had really mentioned how loco Europe aka "Territorial-Aussie-bloke-with-cheque-shirt-who-loves-beer-pong-Land" actually was going to be. I expected leaning towers, windmills and an abundance of Syrian refugees. However the real pest was white male backpackers, sex-starved lunatics from down under, dim-witted north Americans, cock-sure English men, vagabonds from all over the globe and not one Scot, but it's safe to say that I had an incredible time with them all.
I met an Aussie bloke and we ended up going on an adventure through Eastern Europe with our first big stop being Krakow. We hadn't slept from the night before and as we checked out of our hostel in Vilnius at 6 in the morning we were made to down a shot of tequila. For any parents allowing their children to travel Europe, please understand that they'll come back a fully fledged alcoholic and I have now renamed Europe “For-all-the-profit-I-didn't-make-at-the-Edinburgh-festival-in-August-I'm-now-even-more-broke-than-ever-Land”. Krakow is pretty famous for one major attraction and the old city certainly surprised me despite the consistent barrage of flyers for strip clubs proving that you CAN capitalise on misery through the wonders of boobies. The old tittie-bar almost became my final destination that night due to myself losing the pub crawl after the second bar because I was urinating in a park. Fortunately due to my Scottish ways which means being quite the penny-pincher, but also wanting the free shot that they promised at the last bar, I ran back to my hostel to find where they would be. Seems no one was there by the time I arrived and going to a club by yourself is never particularly fun nor is ordering a shot for one nor is doing the robot alone on the dance floor to early 2000s hip hop. Matthew accepted defeat and returned home.
Poland's main theme park 'Auschwitz' isn't quite like our super safe ones back home, such as Alton Towers and that morning snow had fallen across the land adding even more eeriness to something that I was quite nervous about going to. I was still trying to accept the absolute ludicrous nature of privileged white folks complaining that they had to get a 7.30am bus to a concentration camp along with how “bloody cold” it was. Not only that but the absolute fucktards who had selfie sticks for that “GROUP SHOT#fakejew” outside Birkenau or the unbelievably disrespectful fucktards who were taking pictures inside the gas chambers, cos everyone back home wants to see that hilarious snap. I personally feel that it should be compulsory for every human being to experience this harrowing place in which the most inhumane things happened to innocent people and teach us about our past and how we could maybe try to be slightly better to one another. We have and always will unfortunately live in a world of hate and fear but in a generation in which we are far more connected with the rest of the world then hopefully we could unite and come together. That's the inner tree-hugger in me speaking, in reality though, we're all doomed.
I always believe watching horror movies may have warped my mind as a teenager and that was certainly the case once we reached Bratislava. The city was infamously used as the destination in the atrocious horror-porn movie “Hostel” and we were there for a trance rave in the middle of nowhere. I still sleep with the light on if I watch a film about freaky little white girls with long hair who have the creepiest dolls who possess demonic traits, so you can imagine how I felt in the Slovakian capital. Turns out that that movie was a load of shite, which the locals hated and all they wanted to do was dance, rave it up and share their party goodies if you know what I mean (my writing has become too sophisticated these days to include a winky-face emoji).
Budapest is the reason I don’t want to have children, especially a daughter. As we checked into our party hostel we were greeted by young woman who were out of it, wandering around in their bras slugging cheap wine chanting “fresh meat”, making me reminisce to my much more cultured part of the trip in Mongolia when I was reading such classics as “Lord of the Flies”. Now to those who know me as a semi-professional pervert might think that I would enjoy this, but for once in my life I actually felt old and thought, 'that's someone's little girl' and have now booked in for a castration a week after I return. So instead I aged my body by about 2 – 5 years from all the alcohol I consumed whether it was at the Spa Party in which I sat in a large outdoor spa in chlamydia-ridden aqua watching on as 18 year old Americans got finger-bashed (my writing isn't actually that sophisticated) till three in the morning or the beer bike, in which myself and twelve other Aussies drunkenly operated a bike through the centre looking like obnoxious bell ends as we chugged beer bongs through one of Europe's most beautiful cities. As I was spewing onto my converses in a bush outside their central square I reminisced on Mongolia, again thinking about all the classics I should have read. But I soon shrugged that off as the bike Captain allowed me to take up the role of DJ, feeling like my old 21 year old self when DJ Ellis D got to work the Wheels of Steel* at the student union banging out 80s classics such as 'Maneater', 'Ghostbusters theme' and 'Girls just wanna have fun' as locals looked on in disgust. *ipod shuffle
Prague was my final destination and by far the most hedonistic place on my trip. The gothic capital added to how crazy it actually was, from wandering the street at night with my new American friend, who insisted on speaking only in Spanish, our minds frazzled looking for another party only to stumble onto what I thought was a gay sex dungeon that they wouldn't let me out of and was truly the only time I have been terrified on this trip. Turns out it was just a normal bar.
The trip is finally over and I return dishevelled, blood in my stool, an ache in my kidneys and I think a family of small house martins live in my beard now. But I had an absolutely wonderful time, and even in just seven weeks a very life changing trip which I'm hugely grateful for. As I walked round the Red Square I realised that for anyone suffering from depression or a sense of nothingness then pack a bag and fuck off somewhere for a bit as I truly believe it makes you a happier person. Yes you may have to return to your problems at a certain point, but whilst you're away it gives you enough time to figure stuff out, put things into perspective or how to change your life up and make you feel better about yourself. That or you could just get smashed on local spirits and do some free walking tours for a few weeks.
I now return to Edinburgh even though I have to leave my flat that I've lived in for four years. What I'll miss most is the second most inspirational man in my life besides my father of course and that's my flatmate/friend/brother/teacher Greggy Kool. Because of his generosity it's enabled me on the meagre wage as a comedian to do travelling on the side but it's what he has taught me over the last four years and how I've grown up as an adult and for once feel pretty happy with who I am as a person. He is my Mr Miyagi to my Jelly-San and what's perfect is one of my duties as the flat caretaker when he's away in Glasgow is to water his Bonsai tree. In the words of the master “Man who catch fly with chopstick, accomplish anything”, rather sums everything up that I have learnt living with him, feeling ready as I move onto another chapter in my life.
Blog on, Blog off.
Jellybean Travel Blog
My previous status as C-list celebrity from my extensive train journey soon moved up a notch. As I cycled round the idyllic town of Suzdal I had the sudden urge to climb an old oak tree. As I reached the top I sunk my teeth into a bright green Granny Smith, feeling like Tom Sawyer waiting for Huckleberry Finn to arrive on a raft before they painted fences whilst all along, plotting to steal a hot blueberry pie from a large woman's windowsill (my quality of writing has matured drastically). It was at this point a large group of Chinese people turned up treating me like a superstar taking 100s of photos (which is nothing in Asian terms), even throwing out a cheeky "Nee-how", causing them to lose their shit an applaud me.
I decided to move on from 2 weeks in rural Russia and venture to the capital. Fearing that I may end up like Michael Jackson as a 'Stranger in Moscow' I decided to give the old mobile phone dating app a go seeing as it was so successful in Mongolia (need italics for the last part). Now for any men out there who may lack confidence or low self esteem then I have two words for you, Moscow Tinder. Im so accustomed to seeing UK girls with the 'sedated Thai tiger/cute African baby/Ibiza 15' snaps that to match with supermodel esque woman who have pictures of themselves performing open-heart surgery can do wonders for a man who self doubts himself.
However, tinder is merely an adult game of duck, duck goose and I had sights to see and locals to meet. As I marvelled at the Red Square, Lenin's waxwork-like corpse and St Basil's cathedral it was later that night that Matthew was shot by Cupid's arrow. There she was, the most beautiful girl in the club, Daria who came over and spoke to me and I was instantly hooked. The next few days she showed me all the secret parts of Moscow whilst all along getting to learn about new cultures and the way of the Russians. What I respect about Russians is their complete honesty and they'll say whatever's on their minds unlike us weird Brits who avoid all forms of confrontation unless we're intoxicated. She would tell me if my jokes weren't funny and "you tell many penis jokes, please stop this" always brought me down to earth, realising she would probably hate the 'Bum-Bum dance'.
I had to leave for St Petersburg, my final Russian city on the trip amassing over 140 hours on a train in total. I fell in love with Russia, whether it was the land or the people, it was a truly incredible place. Here is how I would describe Russia if he was a human being. He was the kind of guy who was a dick at high school that you were afraid of and didn't mess with. He hung around with other tear-aways like China and Korea, bullying the smaller kids like Estonia and Latvia out of their milk money, all the while having turf wars with America about who had the most amount of water balloons. You see he comes from a very controlling, vindictive, military father whom we shall call Joseph as we all know that any father from history named Joseph is an evil man - Stalin, Fritzl and Joseph Christ (due to the fact he filled his son's head with lies about being the son of God and not giving Mary a 1 BC backhand for sleeping around whilst he was working at the Bethlehem IKEA). He even organised to take Germany to the senior prom but she changed her mind at the last minute, angering him so much that he wouldn't quit at becoming Prom King, even at the expense of multiple casualties. But by the time he gets to college he begins to mellow out and realises there's a whole other world out there. He even shares a dorm with one of those "coloured" folks, trying ethnic food and realising that the guy is pretty cool. Even his best friend, someone whom he's shared a locker room experience with comes out as gay by second year and soon realises that the "queer" guy ain't that bad either. But I fully believe by the time that he has settled down, met a nice lady and had a few Russian dolls and goes to his high school reunion, people will compliment how much of a nice guy he's become. It's a big fiery, passionate, patriotic country much like the country I hail from. It brought me back to my childhood passion of writing poetry about our small nation, as a way to find refuge from the bullies but really this just encouraged it more so. That and the fact that I wore a tartan "see you jimmy" hat to school along with two stripe trousers, having fantasies to tip ex a third one on so that the older kids would leave me alone.
I was meant to head to Helsinki but I was so smitten by MY Russian doll Daria that I decided to return to the capital and spend more time with her and be criticised about my calibre of humour. To my friends, they know me as a man with a black heart but I still have a penchant for romance, preferring to make my lovers handicraft gifts than splashing out on luxurious items. We even spoke of names for babies, with my suggestion of Ernest Ellis being mocked. We walked and talked for hours and I truly hope we meet again as when Matthew falls, he not only grazes his knee, but he develops hideous gangrene with the possibility of an amputation. We stood at the train station as my visa was running out, holding each other, the train conductor summoned me to my compartment. As the train took off she ran after it, as if I was a WW II soldier going into battle, however my only battles were avoiding drunk Russians, snoring wilderbeasts and an attendant catching me smoking between carriages. Matthew fell for a girl. Dam it.
From Russia with love, I have now entered Eastern Europe, which I have renamed "Territorial-Aussie-bloke-with-cheque-shirt-who-loves-beer-pong-Land". My iPod wiped itself of music leaving me with nothing but that free U2 album that no one wanted, limiting myself to the melancholy tunes that I yearn for to mend one's broken heart. However Sam Smith's 'In the lonely hour' is still intact, and after listening to it 6 times I've realised he's pretty needy! Seems we have one thing in common. Five weeks unshaven, I have taken on the image of a lighthouse keeper and due to funds being spent on beer and trains back for girls, I'm now using toilet spray as deodorant, but ladies love a man who smells like an autumn lavender mist.
For the lovers who live by their partners, I envy you, but in the mean time there is a globe to be explored and land to be wandered. Wunderlove...
Jellybean travel blog
Many days ago, sleep deprived, I started my first leg of the Trans Siberian Express from Irkutsk to Yeketarinburg. Stocked up on noodles, foot cheese and what I think to be dog biscuits, trying my hardest to avoid the high inflation of transportation food, I deciphered the train board Cyrillic to venture for 50 hours across Russia.
My new compartment companions in the small second class cabin were still fast asleep. I made my bed and decided to catch up on some much missed sleep from previous black out nights due to cheap vodka and litre cans of Tuborg. Finding peace on board transportation is very hard on this trip whether it's the appalling 90s esque polka-pop-pish or the high resonances of South Korean soap operas, I found myself creating a new fantasy world to drown out these horrid sounds just to find a way to sleep. I found the crazier the fantasy in Matthew's weird head was, the easier it was to sleep. That morning I was working as a gigolo in the city of Venice entertaining the princess of Monaco (if there is such a person) in a fancy 5 star hotel. I was rudely awoken from my mild slumber by the manly tones of the cabin's dominant male, beating on his chest in true caveman fashion "EDIK", assuming it was his name. Pronounced A-Deek, which I certainly thought he was as I was just in the middle of opening a 1865 Chateau Lafite as the vinyl of Al Green crackled by the warm fireplace.
I felt it customary to jump down and meet my new roomies, that and to find out where they were going so I didn't have to worry about leaving my bag. 'Maf-chew' was my name for the next 2 days and I was introduced to his "life-woman", Olga and her friend Marina aka the wilderbeast due to her horrible night murmurs. Questions proceeded, do I have children? No. Life-woman? No. LIFE-MAN??!!! Causing me to blush slightly due to the unforeseen nature of the question, I paused to see the worry burning in his eyes before I replied with no. This then causing him to do the old spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch as a blessing to God that he wasn't sharing a room with one of this terrible evil gay people who'll cause the apocalypse of the new world!!
Always one for appreciating people for who they truly are, early memories of watching Martin Luther King fight for gay rights with his "I have a dream" speech, always puts passion in my heart, but being an advocate for gay rights was not the place aboard this train. Edik already possessed a hunting knife to cut his food and made me sit down and join them for breakfast to eat the rather ironically named 'Dickie', which was Russian for the deer meat that he had killed with his bare hands.
I was faced with three dilemmas in the beginning. Firstly, I had just came from Lake Baikal, a magical place where I had been swimming in its freezing cold waters to add 10 years to my damaged body and long hikes around the island causing my lips to chap. Back at home I wouldn't think twice about whipping out a handbag sized tub of Vaseline to cure my metrosexual first world problems but I thought that this petroleum jelly may look like homosexual paraphernalia to my new breakfast host and instead would let them dry and crack. Dilemma two, trying to explain my RUN DMC t shirt to them. Instead of telling them about the famous New York trio due to Russia's 'lack of black' I told them it was a Scottish sports brand, DMC standing for Danger Man Can (this more to amuse myself). Finally Dilemma number three. On a locomotive, the bumpy journey can send vibrations to a young man's burning loins causing sensations in his Baltic regions. Any previous (and unfortunate) lover of mine will know how easily turned on 'Mr Winky' can become, even the slight change in wind directions can create an arousing impact. Fifty hours on a train would have been nice to relax in tracksuit bottoms or pyjamas but the fear of Edik spotting my erection (as a hunter he's used to spotting small things in the distance) and him either thinking it's for him or even his "life-woman", instead I settled for my army shorts or as I preferred to call them 'boner-camouflage'.
I was somewhat of a C-list celebrity on board the TSE, think Chesney Hawkes or Shola Ama, creating somewhat of a slight buzz but never gracing the front of a big tabloid. I was invited to cabins to drink cheap lager with my new comrade Vitalie. I found telling them that I had a 'life-woman' easier, she was a Dundee cobbler called Winnie. The lie was kept up by showing them pictures I had of an ex on my phone. After this I was made to compliment Viktoria's large breasts whilst Svetlana showed me rather promiscuous pictures of her young 18 year old daughter before receiving a knife as a gift from a man who told me he had killed 100 men. He continued speaking to me in Russian thinking that by the 25th hour my autistic Rainman skills would all of a sudden understand the language, that and win big at Russian roulette.
All I yearned for was to sit in the Celtic-themed 1950s restaurant cart and read Orwell's 1984 whilst looking at the ever changing landscape. If anyone wants to know what it's like well it's no different than the Edinburgh-Glasgow route (25 times return) with farmland, forests and areas that should have been bulldozed during the Cold War!
I thought more about Edik's backwards concerns on homophobia. Nowadays many of us jump on Facebook bandwagons, Kony and Syrian-child-on-beach spring to mind when we know very little on the matter. Not that I condone the way it is in Russia (as I've been studying it in my free time today) but I try to see where the problem lies. Edik was brought up in a generation of being told what to do, how to think, who to be. Unlike our sexual revolution of the 60s and sassiness of the 70s, all along whilst we had Lennon they had Lenin, we had the Villlage People, they had peasants working through famines and instead of Travolta's iconic Saturday Night finger pose they were ruled by the Iron Fist of the Freddy Mercury moustached looking Stalin.
I assume as new generations come through, then hopefully this will be a thing of the past, fingers crossed. Unfortunately extremist preachers of religion manage to fill silly heads full of ridiculous thoughts and a orthodox Christian President who has links with a gay-bashing motor cycle gang will only add more gasoline to the fire. Edik did remind of Putin slightly. One day-dream led me to picture him topless on a horse just like their iconic leader but I would never mutter this fantasy to him. He serenaded all the ladies on board and tried his best to charm the boy from the west with generous acts of food and attempts of conversation. However, whenever I offered him a will of good gesture he always refused, probably letting his PRIDE get in the way (play on words).
I arrived in Yeketarinburg today, the last place of Russia's aristocracy. To celebrate the fall of imperialism I treated myself to not one, but two Burger Kings today. The hostel is empty and I haven't had a conversation in days. I sing aloud in the streets through the day and write essays on Russian homophobia. I don't know if I've cracked or become radicalised. But either way so far the Russians seem cool, inquisitive, passionate, fiery and pretty fucking mental but maybe that's what communism may to do a man!
Jellybean Travel Blog
Eight days ago I began a trip around Central Mongolia, smelling fresh and the desire to leave one of the worst cities I had ever set eyes upon. I got in the old soviet van to meet my 4 new travel companions, a quiet bunch with 12 languages spoken amongst us, me speaking one of them, the Queen's language.
Throughout the trip we didn't ask many questions about each other, not even our professions which was rather refreshing. There wasn't the usual questions of "Oh, you do comedy? You must be so brave?! Tell us a joke!! And how did you get into that?"...no. NO! Bullied at primary school.
The older French gentleman on our excursion, Frederick was by far my favourite person. He spoke very little English but what he could say had a very resounding effect on me. On the topic of drugs he said "ze drugs are no good in the long, as you are alone in ze world", which made me question my addiction to poppers and M-Kat. Our camel trek through a small portion of the desert was silent for the entire trip until he whispered the word 'magnefique', now I'm no linguistics expert but I'm sure what he was trying to say was, "weird Scottish boy, we are merely grains of sand blowing in the wind on our journey through life." French is really deep.
The food consisted of mutton, mutton and mutton. By day 2, little Matty's IBS began, I believe stemming from the one raw tomato I ate, giving the expression '1 of your 5 a day' a new meaning as that's how many times I was visiting the toilet. Nothing quite like watching the sun rise from a sand dune as you're in the squat position leaking half your body weight in brown liquids whilst the local family dog is watching you. My memoirs of toilet problems 'The Diarrhoea Diaries' will be out for Xmas 2016 with a middle section of glossy photographs of my top ten turds.
I was told by the 2nd night that I spoke in my sleep, and not just weird random mumbles but topics ranging from sex to death (separate topics I was told) which earned me the title of 'serial killer' amongst my roommates, one night I even just shouted out the word 'DEAD'. This is something I was never aware I did and now I panic that for my passive aggressive nature, from now my sub conscious will let people know exactly how I feel about them. This was perfectly mirrored as I was reading the classic 'Lord of the Flies', a situation in which strangers come together in an unknown environment and at first work together but halfway through disaster strikes and they turn against each other. I liked to think of myself as the protagonist Ralph but after an early morning argument over unwashed cups, Matthew left the ger and plotted schemes against his band of piggies just like Jack Merridew.
By day 7 I had to leave my group and join another one as my trip was slightly shorter. I had to endure a 9 hour car journey with new strangers who were beginning to really annoy me, especially the stereotypical Dutch guy who had to put a tag line on everything, "I'm Dutch and I'm cookie!" We finally arrived at our last ger and the minute I got there I headed straight for the hills to be alone. As I hiked my second hill to catch the sun set I realised I was quite a bit from the ger and would need to turn back before it got dark. In doing so I heard the howl of a lone wolf which sent shivers down my spine, 1) because it's my favourite animal and 2) because it was exceptionally close and the walk up that hill was scattered with animal bones, I should have known better. I decided a slow sprint down the hill was a good idea.
Forty minutes later I returned to the ger, essentially it's just like staying with gypsies but I don't think I could pitch that idea back home, "come stay in an old 70s caravan that smells of sour milk at the luxurious Clinterty caravan site in Aberdeenshire". At first I found the nomadic families to be very cold but that opinion soon changed after my last and favourite night. We were treated to a feast, large slabs of mutton which was fit for Chinngis Khan himself, then after dinner we drank shots of vodka with the host. However by round 2 we had to sing before our shot, so my first song was a tribute to my home town and they got to hear the "Northern Lights". It seems they liked my smooth, silky baritone voice and I was made to sing longer songs. They got the classic "Oh what a beautiful morning" from Oklahoma and I serenaded them with Spandau Ballet's classic "Gold" which went down a treat with my home stay family. Then the party got even more cray, the kids who had already enjoyed my earlier mime routine insisted we dance. So our old soviet van transformed into a disco bus that could rival Ibiza Rocks blasting out Mongolian love songs and throat singing mixed in with early 2000s trance beats. An impromptu game(s) of musical chairs were played including disco granny who was 78 and she even won, beating me at the final hurdle (I had to let her win, which killed me inside). Nine shots later and a few shots of beer, under the brightest star-filled night we called it a night which was good as the drunk host wanted to wrestle me and these guys live for that shit, I'm just a singing mime artist at the end of the day.
I now return back to the big city that I loathe, back to social media and western toilet seats. Mongolia is big, beautiful, rugged, empty and untouched and I wish I had more time to stay as getting to hike everyday into the mountains alone has been truly 'magnefique'. Make sure you put Mongolia on your travel list before it's spoilt and everyone moves to the city, and a true gem from the past is lost forever. I now head for Russia on board the Trans-Mongolian express for 30 hours with my black, Ukranian boyfriend. Tak Toy
Jellybean travel log:
Arrived in Ulaanbator at 6am with no sleep from the two previous days and I think this picture sums up today's venture around the city. Yes I'm comparing myself to Paul who's feet hurt and feels distant from people of the capital. This is probably the most I've ever disliked a city from hostility to noise to the fact that I just got sold 'lady-in-her-70s' thin cigarettes and that's a whole pound down the drain. So instead of staying for the extra day intended I'm gonna do a Beatlesesque Maharishi trip to the desert for 8 days and go back to nomadic culture and see if this country was as fab back in the day as it was with these 4??!! And like the Beatle's early career in Hamburg I'm only surrounded by German tourists and because of jet lag I refuse to pull out the only line I learnt after 4 years of standard grade which I got a 4 for, "Ich habe drei kartoflen". In true fashion of most ignorant Brits I'll expect them to speak MY language...the Queen's language!! In the words of the famous Beatle's song "I'm so tired", I'm so fucking tired, gonna finish this disgusting meal I ordered by pointing at, have 3 old lady cigarettes taped together and wake up tomorrow for a journey back into time....muchos besitos