butlins beachcomber bar

Ten years on and still no foreign muck.

It was ten years ago today that me and me dad were at Butlins Holiday Camp in Minehead, England. We went there as part of the trip for my book I’m not eating any of that foreign muck because we went to the same holiday camp as a family back in the late sixties (In those days more than a million Britons had a holiday at Butlins every year). For those that have read my book may recall that my day Harry was 72 back then. Well, he is just about to turn 82 and is still going strong. When we were in the UK ten years ago he kept telling all his relatives that this was going to be his last trip back to England because he was too old. Since then he has been back three times. He has also been on a cruise to the South Pacific, one to Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand and another to New Zealand. On all those trips, however, he still refused to eat any of that foreign muck. Read more

bondi beach sydney

Travel highlights of 2013.

There wasn’t a lot of travel for me in 2013 (there was a good excuse, though – see below), but I still managed a couple of overseas trips and a few jaunts in and around Australia. So, without further ado here are my Top Ten Travel Highlights of 2013:

Luca, Melbourne, Australia
On February 18th 2013 I began a great adventure. My wife gave me a little boy. Yes, I know it’s not really a travel highlight, but it is one the of the most exciting journeys you can possibly take. And he is a little traveller already. Luca is not even one yet and he has been on 12 planes – and I’m very happy to say that he is not one of those screamers! Read more

luca

My 10-week old and his moral turpitude.

 Our little Luca got his passport this week. He now has this passport until he is five – when he won’t look anything at all like his five-week old self. It’s not easy getting a photo of a five-week old. The strict guidelines for a passport photo stipulates that the person must look directly at the camera, have their mouth closed and not smiling and to be able to sit up even if you have absolutely no control of your neck muscles or limbs. Okay, I made that last one up, but babies that young can’t hold their own head up and my wife spent almost two hours at the chemist trying to get a photo. In the end I took it with my wife holding his head up with a white sheet behind him – and I Photoshopped out the sheet.

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Jewish new year

May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

Happy New Year everyone… or as the Jewish folk say: ‘May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year’. Except they had their New Year in October. In fact, if you’re into the whole New Year’s Eve thing, you could—if you had the inclination and the liver for it—legitimately celebrate it all year. You’d have just enough time to get over your hangover from one New Year’s celebration before you moved on to the next one (and if you broke your New Year’s resolution you’d only have to wait a few weeks before you got a chance to make a new one!). Before people had a calendar they depended on all sorts of ways to mark the ‘New Year’, from the changing of the seasons to even the flight of wild geese. Ancient Egyptians celebrated the New Year at the time of the overflowing Nile. Tet in Vietnam is determined by the first new moon of the year. China also celebrates New Year with the new moon. And it’s there you could head after Tet to continue partying, because their New Year festivities last 15 days.  You’d need a rest after all that, which is lucky, because there’s not much partying going on in the first days of March during the Balinese Saka New Year. The island is used to drunken revelry day and night, but during this ‘celebration’ the Balinese follow four Nyepi traditions: no light (or fire for cooking); no physical work; no entertainment (including music); and no leaving the home. Woo hoo, get out those party hats. Read more

china couch surfing

Sleeping around in China.

There are certainly enough Chinese people to sleep around with, so I’m very excited that my book Sleeping Around – A couch surfing tour of the globe is currently being translated into Chinese and should be out later this year. Add that to my German and Slovenian editions and I’m slowly taking over the world. Well, China does make up almost a fifth of the world’s population. China might have 1.3 billion, but they only come in tenth for couch surfing members (88,987 members) on the couch surfing website. Even little ol’ Australia (which comes in at No.9) has more members with 102,760. Topping the list with the most members is the U.S. of A. with a staggering 818,753 members! Why I’m so staggered is by the amazing and continuing growth of couch surfing. When I set out to write my couch surfing book there were 150,000 members from 20,000 cities with around 1000 new members joining a week. As of today there are 3,925,150 members from 86,000 cities with, and this is staggering, over 25,000 people joining every week. Just under three years ago I wrote a blog about how incredible it was that there were 700,000 members. There’s more than that just in the States alone. Read more

Brian Thacker in jail

I’m going to prison.

Well, that’s what it looks like from my new passport photo (although the tribal tattoo on my forehead came out nicely). What am I talking about – it’s looks as if I’m getting a police mug shot for every passport that I’ve ever had. And it’s the same for most people (although my girlfriend Beth manages to look cute and not on her way to prison in her passport photo). I just got a new passport because I ran out of space in my old one even though I had another six years left on it (which I really can’t complain about because it just means I’ve done quite a bit of travel – and to countries that love huge stamps that take up an entire page). Here are my other passport photos over the years and a few other ones that make me look like David Beckham… Read more

Tell them to get lost launch

Book launch and Key Party.

Okay, I may have looked a little like a pimp, but that’s how the cool dudes dressed in 1974. And that’s how I dressed for the  book launch of Tell Them to Get Lost on Thursday night. I did get a few stares walking to Readings Bookshop in St Kilda, because St Kilda is also hooker central and I looked like a pimp (or a cliched 1970s pimp at least). The launch was fab and a good crowd of cool dudes and groovy chicks turned up to watch my very 1970s slide show followed by a key party. The only things missing were devilled sausages, Harvey Wallbangers and a few tabs of LSD. Here’s some photos from the night (I left out a few because I didn’t think think the orgy photos were appropriate for my younger audience)… Read more

1970s food

Party food for the book launch.

It’s the book launch of Tell Them to Get Lost tomorrow night, so I thought I’d give you a taste of the food we might eat if we were in 1974. Although you probably wouldn’t want to eat it, because those hip cats in 1974 ate some weird shit. I found some recipe cards from 1974 and looking at the things on offer was enough to turn me off my dinner. Even some of the names would make you reach for a bucket. I mean who would eat something called ‘Fluffy Mackerel Pudding’ or ‘Chilled Celery Log’. Here are some of my favourite recipe cards…

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Sapa, Vietnam

Vietnam: The romance of parrots.

I just got back from a wonderful trip to northeast Vietnam where I was doing some volunteer work for an NGO. I didn’t help build a school (and if I did it would fall over in a week), but I was helping bring more tourists into the relatively untouched Northern Highlands. The NOGO is SNV, which is a non-profit organisation that was established in the Netherlands in 1965. They have been on the ground in developing countries for over 40 years, and now operate in 35 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Balkans. SNV has 900 advisors in the field who come from a variety of cultural and technical backgrounds. So what do they do? I’ll let them explain:

Our aim is to alleviate poverty by enabling those on the lowest incomes to be part of social and economic networks and so increase their income and employment opportunities. More than half of our work focuses on economic and private sector development. Alongside this, we contribute to improving people’s access to basic services like water and sanitation, energy and education. We achieve both by strengthening local organisations. Read more

Where's wallis book trailer

What is a book trailer?

Book trailers (which can be pretty simple or almost as elaborate as a film trailer) are used by publishers and sales reps for PR purposes and to help sell the book into bookshops. I’ve actually only ever had one produced for one of my books – and that was probably because I put it together myself.  For my book Where’s Wallis? I got a friend to film it (with his shaky video camera) then I sliced and diced and edited it all together on iMovies. Anyway, I thought you might like a look. The sound is a bit dodgy at the end of the video (the sound was fixed up for the final edit) but at least it’s not as bad as my dodgy accent or my dodgy choice of fashion! Read more