Why Campsites are Strange and Wrong

So, a few weeks ago we had our great annual school camp trip. It was a pretty nice experience, though we were only actually camping for two nights, but one thing struck me: why do we have campsites?

I mean, I get that camping helps us grow closer to nature (including such lovely natural phenomena as enormous cobras, but whatever) but surely if that’s what you want, where is the sense in camping in the middle of an artificial clearing with modern amenities?

And yeah, I get that modern technology is great. You can’t get internet from birds and we didn’t get to the moon by climbing up a tree. But if you really can’t do without technology, why isolate yourself from it? Why not just stay in a hotel?

Because honestly, when you’re at a campsite with electric lighting, bathrooms and so on… you’re basically in a hotel by the forest. Only it’s one where all the rooms have been strewn about the garden. And also the bedrooms are mostly just some fabric and sticks.

Oh – and I understand regular camping might not be such a great idea for a school trip. But that’s the thing. If you want the wilderness experience of camping, but you don’t want the wilderness, and you’re setting up the tent in a predefined location anyway…

Why bother sleeping under a sheet with sticks?! Why not a regular room?! Seriously!

SEAMC 2015 – The Horror, The Horror

So, back in the far-off time of February 2015, I went off to SEAMC. SEAMC is Southeast Asia’s premier biggest nerd competition mathematics championship. As you can probably guess, our little Balinese school didn’t do very well.

No disrespect to SEAMC, of course. I don’t resent it. The SEAMC people tried very hard to make us socialise and it kind of worked – we met some kids from Sha Tin College, who later went on to dominate the competition, so all was good. That wasn’t a problem.

But, of course, we had to do maths. And lots of it. It was pretty difficult. By which I mean it was so terrifyingly difficult that I was completely dumbfounded for most of it. Still, thanks to the incredible power of guesswork, I managed to do okay. Well… I placed maybe 200th out of 240 people.

So yeah. Day 1 was fairly traumatic. There was an early wakeup, fear in the air and so on. And so, we took a leap of faith. Unfortunately, the long jump pit was filled with bricks and we ended up limping through the 100m sprint and collapsing on the hurdles.

However, we went back to bed and emerged, fresh-faced, the very next day. And this time we were… well, if not prepared then more aware of our impending doom. So this time, we were ever so slightly less stomach-crampingly terrified!

We still got fucked up though. Apparently we placed last. Oh well – it’s the participation that counts, right?

Happy New Year

Some of you may have noticed that the date thingummyjig on your computer screen says 2015. That computer is the work of the devil. Purge it. With fire.

Also, it’s a new year! Happy New Year 2015! Why is this late? Because I’m a normal human being who has a life and did stuff over the new year. Sorry for betraying you, but it was pretty rewarding! …Anyway, how’s your new year been? Just kidding, I don’t care Mine’s been great!

So, basically, for New Year I went diving. With my friends. Two of them. Yeah, that’s about it. Also, my grandparents (mum’s side) came over. And my cousin. With them, they brought Christmas presents. Rare and coveted Christmas presents. Truly astounding gifts that twist the very souls of mortals.

Yeah, they brought Salt and Vinegar flavoured crisps and Marmite. We got two jars of Marmite and two shipments of crisps. Mum ate four packets of crisps from the first shipment. Then I hid them. After a lot of hoarding, I still have seven packets. I will die for them.

Anyway, present-talk over. As you may have deduced, they spent time here. Besides giving me presents, we went on actual trips with them. Like, to Lombok. And to the mountains. It was nice and we had a nice time. And for most of the time, we weren’t even sick!


Things happened and I am happy.


©because of misanthropy


no but seriously I hate you all




that was a joke, please don’t leave

5 Ways to Beat Jet Lag

Many people grapple with jet lag, especially when crossing continents, as circadian rhythms take time to adjust. And for some people – often parents who put their children to bed at a set time every night – jet lag can be a major fear and trauma.

Here’s a few ways you can help beat jet lag.

1: Buy the right flights. For LONG multiple timezone flights, the best flights are usually those that get you to your destination in the morning. Your aim is to sleep in the night that will be night-time where you’re going, and wake up in the morning. Stopovers can really help break the monotony of flights.

2: Last out the day. Unless you’re the type of high-powered meeting bunny that can step off a red-eye and be instantly authoritarian, the first day after a long flight – or multiple flights – is going to be pretty darn rubbish. The key is not to nap: stay awake all day and go to bed at a reasonable time of night given the amount of sleep you’ve missed (or gained).

3: If you haven’t got the right flight, try melatonin: this is a hormone formed by your body at night or in the darkness, while you sleep. Studies have shown that melatonin, taken at the target bed time, helps reduce the effects of jet lag by readjusting the pineal gland – and helping you sleep when you need to sleep.

4: Stay hydrated. Air travel can be really drying – and, particularly with regulations about water on flights, it’s easy not to drink enough. Dehydration makes the grungy feel of jetlag much, much, much worse.

5: Relax bedtimes when travelling with kids. If you put your children to bed at the same time each night, start stretching it later (or earlier) depending on which direction you’re flying: if you fly rarely, or are nervous, spend a fortnight or so extending bedtimes.

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Little Bits of Britain Abroad

Vending machine with Walkers crisps and Hula Hoops.Using a US Dollar cash card to purchase a bottle of HP brown sauce may seem like a bizarre scenario, but such is Britain’s continuous cultural influence around the world it’s the kind of thing that happens every day.

The idea of British culture being represented abroad is one that can generate mixed feelings among both Brits and overseas hosts. It can, perhaps unfairly, conjure up images of football fans causing a palaver in continental cities or of Spanish streets lined with signs promoting full English breakfasts and EastEnders on TV.

But that’s just a small part of it. Little bits of Britain can be found in a diverse range of locations across the globe and guess what – the locals love them. Some of these outposts are more subtle than others, some are there as home comforts for the expats and some go some way to satisfying the needs of overseas Anglophiles who just can’t get enough of “Cool Britannia”.

Take Ye Olde King’s Head British Pub, Restaurant & Gift Shoppe (yes, that is the full name) in the upmarket Santa Monica district of Los Angeles for example. The restaurant’s menu includes bangers & mash, shepherds pie and liver & onions.

Los Angeles is of course a magnet for many Brits, with a number of top actors and other film types from these shores settling down there. Do these Hollywood A-listers pop into Ye Olde King’s Head to sit down for Welsh Rarebit? Who knows… but if they’ve had a rough day and want some home comforts they will almost certainly head to the “shoppe” for a selection that includes PG Tips, Walkers crisps and tins of Quality Street.

In another glittering metropolis – the booming city of Dubai – you will find that another British institution is delighting both native residents and newly arrived expats in the Emirate.

Marks & Spencer is a big name there and this is not simply a small concession store giving people a flavour of the trusted store brand. A wide range of fashion, lingerie, beauty, food and homeware products – basically all the things M&S is well known for – can be found. What’s more, this selection can be found at an impressive six stores throughout Dubai and its huge shopping malls.

Next time you are overseas look out for a slice of Britain abroad – it’s not always going to be signalled by flags and bunting, and may well be full of locals enjoying the culture. Just remember you are making international payments though – not all of these places will accept pounds and pence!

Image: Mmm… Forbidden crisps by Dan Taylor on Flickr’s Creative Commons.

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Still not Dead Yet

Hi! I’m not dead! The blog is, though And just to prove it, here is a new post!

So it’s been a while since I last did one of these. You may have noticed that I have abandoned the Why My Summer Holidays Were Better Than Yours series or whatever it was called. Why? Because I forgot why my summer holidays were better than yours. *cough*

So, it’s probably wise to recap what’s been going on. Backwards. In increasing haziness. Starting yesterday. Yesterday was Monday. It was unremarkable. Then Sunday – actually, all I really did this weekend was sleep over. Anyway, the week before this it was PBL (Project Based Learning) week at my school, so we were free to learn or something.


Time warp! I… forgot. Anyway, I also found out that I was born on International Toilet Day. I kind of wish I’d been born slightly earlier. Or later. Also, my shit is together. Not literally – it’s just that I’m doing some after-school stuff, for which I am prepared, and some other stuff which requires me to have a suit (no, not a funeral), for which I am unprepared because I am required to have a suit. By Thursday.

And I have to get a suit.

In Bali.

Well, that’s pretty much all I remember. Also, the other things I did during the summer holidays.

  • Excessive loafing
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Wow, more loafing
  • Jesus man, you need to do some exercise
  • This simply cannot be healthy
  • Scuba diving
  • Ever so slightly more loafing
  • Complete bone degradation and atrophy from not doing enough physical stuff
  • School!




Thanks for reading!


©please explain copyright to me

no but don’t actually explain copyright

maybe in a few years

seriously, I don’t even know if I can copyright this shit

probably though

5 Top Things to Do in California

Few places occupy a more important place in pop culture than the vast state of California on America’s west coast. Forever associated with sun, surf, and Hollywood, this is the place where America dreams. Home to Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and the second largest city in America, California has tons to offer.

Here, we will take a look at some of the best things to do in California:

1. Go Camping in Yosemite National Park

America is the land of national parks and bio reserves, and Yosemite in central California, is one of the most beautiful among them. Spanning an area of 3,100 square kilometers, this gorgeous park is one of the best places to explore America’s natural beauty. Rent a car, get some camping gear, and spend a magical week in Yosemite’s beautiful wilderness. Just make sure to get car excess insurance direct to save yourself some cash in an emergency!

2. Visit Venice Beach in Los Angeles

It’s clichéd, expensive, and probably not even worth the hype, but the truth is, no visitor to California should ever leave the state without strolling down Venice Beach in Los Angeles. This storied beach has been the location for countless movies and television shows. This is where Los Angeles’ dreamers and artists and would-be celebrities come out to see and be seen. Visit it for its pop-culture appeal alone.

Golden Gate Bridge, California.

3. Visit the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

The vast orange steel stretch of the Golden Gate bridge rising through the fog over San Francisco Bay is one of the most iconic sights in the world. The view from Fort Point on the south side of the bridge is absolutely breathtaking. Pack a picnic basket and have a long, lazy lunch in the Golden Gate Park overlooking the bridge (entry is free). The city that houses the bridge – San Francisco – itself is home to alternative culture in the US and one of the best places you’ll ever travel to.

4. Go Wine Tasting in Napa Valley

Napa Valley is one of the biggest wine-producing regions in the world. It is also breathtakingly beautiful, with vast vineyards stretching across hills and mountainous valleys. A weekend sampling the many wines of the region, including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, in a cozy villa nestled amid rolling hills is one of the finest holiday experiences you can have in California.

5. Tour Universal Studios Hollywood, Los Angeles

If there is one theme park in California you must visit, it is Universal Studios Hollywood. Once one of the most important studios in Hollywood, it has now been converted into one of America’s finest theme parks with tons of movie based rides. Here, you can hop aboard the Simpsons Ride, catch Shrek in 4D, head into the popular Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride, or take a tour of the iconic Jurassic Park: The Ride. In fact, the theme park is so popular that it ranks no. 17 in the world in terms of overall audience attendance!

This is just a very small sample of the many, many things to do in California. Besides the studio tours and theme parks in Los Angeles, you should also take a road trip along the Big Sur coastline, tour the huge San Diego Zoo, visit the Hearst Castle, and visit America’s lowest point in Badwater, Death Valley.

Words: Catherine de Beauvoir
Image: Golden Gate Bridge by Kevin Cole.

The Summer Holidays Memorial Part 1: Paragliding

Hello everyone! This week is my first week back at school. As well as that, it’s my first week in Year 9 but that’s not important. This post is dedicated to the summer holidays (may they rest in peace) and my experiences during them. So, to begin with, I did nothing. By which I mean nothing. I didn’t even breathe. That’s how lazy I was*.

Anyway, after a trip to the emergency room and a lot of oxygen**, dad came over. Although we didn’t do much (even with our spectacular budget of about five million rupiah***), we had fun. I’m glossing over that because besides breathing a little more, we still didn’t really do anything of note.

So by now we’re quite late into the school holidays and (while, to be perfectly honest, I could easily just have lounged around for the remainder and then regretted it for the rest of the semester until I forgot any lessons learnt in time for the Christmas holidays) we decided that as such, we should do things.

What things, might you ask? First, we went paragliding. You may know that mum has acrophobia (not vertigo, as I often remind her), so this was a really fun and fulfilling and not at all terrifying experience for her. Meanwhile, I absolutely did not silently contemplate what my final thoughts would be if the straps gave out.

So there’s that. Here, have a photo.

I am very disappointed in you.

Here, have it.  Are you happy now?

What? What do you mean “mediocre”?! You try taking a photo with a smartphone while hanging off a parachute by some string! Any takers? No? Then stop judging me.

*That was a joke. I did not suddenly stop breathing at any point in my holiday. Well, not for long.

**Again, a joke. I did not wind up in the ER during my holidays.

***That’s less than $450. He was staying weeks. For a more accurate measurement, check out this cool site.

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When a Child Is Tired of Italy….

It’s a truism of travelling Europe that – just as in Asia one becomes tired of temples, jungles and even pristine beaches – the allure of churches, castles, and seminal works of classical art can rapidly start to pale. In the Middle East, the issue tends to be ruins and desert – most notably, we found, the ruins.

Yet, as we pootled around Italy, much of it by train, last summer, I like to think I did a rather good job of keeping my spawn unbored. Here’s a few tips on how to prevent tedium on the road, which come to you courtesy of Rail Europe, the Europe train tickets people.

Food is a major part of why we travel, and the main reason why we visited Italy in the first place. Taking the time to eat properly, and eat lots, and do lots of foodie tourism worked perfectly for us. As did regular gelato breaks (see below).

I’m sure one day my son will thank me for seeing all the wonderful mosaics at Ravenna, though that time has yet to come. In the meantime, if it takes a gelato or granita as a bribe for every single church, that’s what it takes.

To guard against church fatigue, pick churches really carefully. Some, for example, you might wish to see only from the outside; others you might want to whizz round quickly; very, very few should be compulsorily lingered in.

There’s no way anyone can do the Uffizi, the Accademia or (heaven forfend) the Louvre in a single day, or even several, and there’s no reason to try – particularly not with a child in tow. Pick a few things you want to see, get them to pick a few things they want to see, and otherwise just amble round gawping at what looks interesting. I’m not a fan of group tours, and, unless they’re tailored for kids, they’re an absolute disaster area when it comes to family travel.

It’s important for anyone to have days off cultural self-improvement, in Italy or anywhere. And it’s particularly important for kids to have down time, where they’re just splashing in a pool or, for that matter, gaming on the dreaded devices.

My son didn’t want to climb the Duomo in Milan. He wanted to go to the science museum instead. And it was bleeding excellent. So, too, was our impromptu tour of modern art hangouts in Florence. And I’m very pleased we went to see the Crypt of the Capuchins in Rome.

Arriving in Venice by train is one of the ultimate travel wows, as you step out of a perfectly ordinary train station onto the Grand Canal. So, too, is one’s first encounter with the Sistine Chapel, and one’s first encounter with the Coliseum. Do the wow stuff – but do it quickly. Because, like you, your kids can always go back, and if you do it right, they will.

I’m Not Dead (Yet)

Hello everyone! It appears many of you did not realise that my “shutting down” post was in fact a devious April Fools’. But it was! Why was it three days before you updated to say it was a prank, you ask? Shut the fuck up, that’s why.
Also, we didn’t have WiFi.

Anyway, it was partially true in that school has eaten up a sizeable chunk of my time, although I still have plenty of time to spare – as demonstrated by the fact I’m writing this post on a weekday (yes, it’s amazing). Actually, it’s pretty amazing that I’ve even posted Although there has been less homework recently. It’s probably about the impending school trip, which I might as well tell you about.

Yes, next week we will go on a trip! To the faraway land of Java! For five days! At a cost of 200 pounds! No, I don’t think it costs that much either. Still, we get two weeks of school so why not. Anyway, it’s been fun at school so far; I have made some friends and even one enemy! (Nah, apparently he’s a dick to everyone – speaking of dicks, he seems rather insecure about something…)

Where was I? Oh yes, so this new school. I don’t regret anything; although the power went out today in the old campus, leaving the facilities without the aircon on which they appear to rely, I really like this place and likely will do for some time to come. Besides, it’s necessary for my education and my future.

So that’s about it really. Oh, and we went to Malapascua over the half-term, but that was replaced by the April Fools’ post. No, I will not write about it. Unless mum makes me. But until then, read hers. Seriously.


Over and out.