Boracay & Manila

I spent 5 or 6 days in Boracay over the Festivus period… the weather wasn’t the greatest while I was there and that marred the experience somewhat. It rained quite a bit. Apparently 3 or 4 typhoons had rolled by near there prior to my arrival too… which is apparently fairly normal.

I stayed at 3 different hotels because it was tough to get a room anywhere for more than a day or two as everything is booked solid that time of year. One, called One Crescent Place, is new and very modern and nice but is in a strange location… it is a few blocks from the beach in a very poor area… right beside the hotel are a bunch of people sleeping in huts with roosters and other farm animals. They are VERY friendly though… I’d get a lot of cheers and hoots and hollers, mostly from the girls and a few apparent ladyboys every time I came and went, which made for an interesting experience!

I then stayed for one night at the Tides… which I’d have to say is the nicest hotel I have stayed at in Boracay… it is perfectly located right in the center of the D-mall walking shopping area which is great for convenience, yet only a 45 second walk to the beach. It is fairly expensive though, but if you have the cash, it’s worth it. It is definitely the W Hotel of Boracay from what I have seen – although they did say they had wifi in the rooms, but my room had no signal, so be cautious of that… but if you buy a cheap SIM card ($5 for a SIM, less than $10 for lots of credit) you can use it for internet access on a fairly fast GPRS signal for about $0.20 for every half hour, which is what I used when I stayed at the Tides.

Finally I stayed at a place called La Plage, which was pretty La Crappy… but it did have free wireless internet, so as you know with me, I was happy enough. It was cheap and a few blocks from the beach also…

I have figured out Boracay’s scene around Xmas now that I have been there 3 years in a row at Xmas. Up to and just after Xmas it is still fairly quiet with a lot of families and romantic couples… and beginning around Dec 28 and leading up to New Years it gets progressively more party-like.

Interestingly, a lot of the party scene is also dependent on the tides as much of Station 1, where all the big clubs are, is mostly underwater at high tide. It was high tide every evening I was there, meaning you couldn’t walk down the beach to Station 1 (I did on the last night, with my pants rolled up past my knees, which was kinda neat and beautiful but it probably warded off more unadventurous types). Most of the bars at station 1 are even half-flooded at high tide… which I also think is neat, and uniquely Boracay, but it lowers the capacity of many places by sometimes more than 75%.

I’d have to say, in general though, that my last 2 trips to Boracay haven’t lived up to the AMAZING time I had on my first trip. You know how it is though, it only takes 1 or 2 beautiful girls, or 1 or 2 really beautiful moments, to make you adore a place… and that first time through Boracay was amazing… I went with a really nice, fun girl from Manila… and met 2 girls who blew me away with their beauty and style during the trip… and the weather and everything was perfect.

The last two times haven’t lived up to that experience, so they have been somewhat of a downer, IN COMPARISON…. But all in all, you still can’t go too wrong spending your Xmas and New Years on the beach in Boracay! I still can’t think of any place much better, anywhere in the world, during that period.

I had a nice time in Boracay but, you know, I was really missing poker! I am so into my new found occupation I was dying to get back to Manila where I was destroying the card room…

I continued to play at the Hyatt casino in Malate… I stayed at the Hyatt too… it is a very, very nice hotel, I highly recommend it.

I should start by noting that I should rescind some of my previous comments about Filipino poker players… about half, and possibly more, of the players at the Hyatt casino were mainly Koreans and some Japanese. All of them were just as bad really.

For those of you who know poker, imagine this idyllic setting: No one EVER raises, EVER pre-flop… yet almost everyone will call up to 10-15 times the big blind pre-flop (note: forget about normal tactics such as raising to get people out of the pot, no one EVER folds here… all you do here is raise lots when you think you have the best hand to get lots of money in the pot). Post flop, if they hit a huge hand they WILL NOT bet big… they will always slow-play everything, right to the river. If they had AA preflop, they won’t raise… then if the flop comes K-K-10 all suited, they will still be convinced that they have the best hand, bar none.. they will not raise. When the turn comes Q, all of the same suit, they still will have NO idea that it is possible someone has a flush or straight already and will call ANY bet.

I don’t know how many times I got a straight or flush by the river and put them all-in with a pair of QQ’s and they were shocked when I showed a straight or flush. They’d look at the board like they didn’t even know it was a possibility! It is seriously, ludicrous! There was one Korean there with thick glasses who had a seat right in front of the flop… he’d sit over the cards like a cat perched over a fish bowl, but he’d look at it like it was a very technical, almost incomprehensible book… he also seemed to think the longer he looked at it, the better it would get for him… I played with him for about 5 hours, and took all his money, and still am not sure he even really knew how to play poker (I mean, I’m not even sure he knows a flush beats a straight, etc!)… He was one of those Korean men, that is fairly typical, who is very proud and likes to act like they know everything… so he’d call me with nothing and when I showed the best cards and won, he’d look at the board like, “how did he do that? He must be vellly, velllllly lucky man. Yes vellllly lucky.â€?. I tell ya, it was interesting times at that casino with all the characters.

Forget about bluffing here… if anyone even has a pair of 22’s on a board of A-K-J-10-9 they will call almost any bet. Yes, I am serious. And when you show an A, to win, they will look shocked! It’s really absurd.

Every single night ended for me when I took the last persons chips. Everyone kept calling me ‘that super lucky’ guy, but all I was doing was betting tons when I had the best hand and when they hit their flushes and straights and started betting a lot, I’d just fold (they rarely, rarely, RARELY ever bluffed… so you knew if they are betting, they had the best hand). It is really the easiest room I’ve ever seen, even including the Dominicans. But the people in Manila seem to have a lot more money than the Dominicans so you can make a lot more in Manila.

I was starting to run out of places to stuff money as the largest bill in the Philippines is worth about $25… my suitcase was full of money… my pockets were full. It was ridiculous.

Besides the regular players who were just atrocious, there’d always be 1 or 2 guys every night who’d come in and have NO clue how to play… and when I say no clue, I mean no clue… I questioned if they had possibly sat at the wrong table or something… some guy thought 9 high was the best hand you could get… and he was betting hundreds of dollars!?!?

But, on Dec 30 my crazy thai gf was crying a lot again… she thinks new years is such an important thing and the thought of ‘being alone’ on new years was too hard for her to bear… and I am such a softy… I can’t handle hearing her cry too much… and I haven’t been in Thailand in nearly a month and a half, and miss my Xbox… plus all the other great things in Bangkok, so I decided to leave Manila and head to Bangkok for a bit. I am writing from the plane over Vietnam at the moment…

While Manila appears to be a complete, perfect place for poker (please don’t tell anyone! I want to keep this secret to myself!) where a person like me could likely, easily make hundreds of thousands per year just playing poker, the competition is just too easy. It’s really just like taking candy from a baby.

And while it’s fun, and has the added bonus that, being in the Philippines, there are countless beauties around all winking at me and trying to pick me up, I am not in this game solely for the money. If I was, I’d probably just buy a suite at the Hyatt and live there year-round.

But I am in this game, at the moment, out of a feeling that I have the possibility of being one of the best in the game. And staying in Manila will not improve my skills, at all… if anything, it may hurt me if I start to presume that other players in big tournaments play ANYTHING like these guys. I think in my week or so of playing there, I only had 3 big decisions to make… twice I folded, and while they never showed, I am 98% sure I made the correct fold and one time I called a very tough call when a guy put more than half his chip stack in against me (which was a large amount which was more than half my chip stack)… I took 2 minutes to consider and finally I made a motion like I was going to call… he quickly acted as though he was going to push his chips right in after me… I INSTANTLY said, “I’m all in� (again, subconscious call, it wasn’t conscious)… he wouldn’t have tried to show that he was willing to push his chips in if he had the best hand. He ended up calling me with a sad look on his face… he had 2nd best pair, I had top pair… I won a huge pot.

So, anyway, between Sydney, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sydney again, and Manila, I had not had one losing session… not even close. So I think I’ll stay in Thailand for a few weeks and relax with my crazy thai gf before venturing off again. I need to get to the Dominican at some point in January… plus there are some big poker tourneys in mid-late January in Australia (ugh) and the US (ugh), so I may attend one of those en route to the Caribbean.

Until next time, have a happy new year!

Good times in Manila

The story is always the same… go to Canada/US/Australia/W Europe and have a terrible time. Go to Asia or Latin America and have a great time.

I’ve been having a lot of fun on my own here in Manila. The people are great… everyone, everywhere already seems to know me too and I’ve only been here 3 or 4 days… I got in the taxi today, “To the casino sir?�… I didn’t even recognize him but apparently he recognized me… I go to one of the bars, “Vodka Redbull, right?�… they remembered me from 2 nights ago.

Manila nightlife isn’t the greatest, especially in comparison to Thailand, but in comparison to a place like Australia, it is utopia.

There are lots of semi-girlie bars here, which is such a contrast to Australia. I went to 2 strip clubs in Australia with Jane and they are, by far, the worst places I have ever been. The girls were unbelievably fat, ugly and mean. Meanwhile, here, it seems like thousands of quite beautiful girls, all just waiting for you to even just talk to them… I get literally tackled in some places… dozens of girls all trying to touch me and talk to me… the contrast is just so stark. If Australia would open its borders (as all countries should) then you could possibly get a taxi in that country, or have a chance of seeing a decent looking girl and having a chance to talk to her! Ah well, enough Australia bashing… I have happily escaped.

On a different topic: poker… I continue to just annihilate the competition, every single night now! I have been going nightly in Brisbane, Sydney and Manila for the last week or so and have yet to have anything even close to a losing night… in fact, many evenings end when I take the money from the last remaining people and they go home! My pockets are overflowing with money now… it’s just ridiculous.

But for me it is really neat because I’ve spent the last few years playing poker as a hobby, both live and on the internet… in the beginning, especially on the internet (I am not a very good internet player… all my best plays are live from reading people) I lost quite a bit of money. I’ve noticed that almost every time for the last year if I went to a live casino, I would almost always win money… yet, I still didn’t give it too much though… just lucky I thought.

But now, after kinda committing myself to it for the last few weeks, I have realized that something has happened over the last few years: I have learned a lot and am becoming REALLY good. It’s neat to just stumble onto something that you turn out to be really good at… Interestingly, all my life, whenever people would ask me what skills I have, I would usually reply that I really have no special skills other than being adequately intelligent… I’d then state that the only skill I actually consider myself having is the ability to read people (not like in poker, but just in general). I’ve always had that knack… from within 10 seconds of meeting someone, I knew almost exactly what they were all about.. I don’t know if I have ever, ever been wrong. Even when I have ended up having some dealings with a few idiots, I always knew they were idiots but thought I’d give it a go anyway, and see what happens.

I have countless (as in thousands) of anecdotes about how I instantly figured out someone was crazy or actually criminally psycho while my other friends would say things like, “No… you must be wrong… that persons not crazy/evil�… a few days/months later and they’d always be in jail for something or in the newspaper for some crime they committed.

Anyway… it’s kinda funny that I’ve always known my only real skill was my ability to read people, but I never thought about it in the context of poker until I began to play poker live in casinos. My calls are eerily exact. And many times they are almost subconscious… that is part of why it is neat… for example… I was playing in Sydney and I had K 10 or something and was playing against a guy who I know had a bit of a propensity to bluff from time to time… He kept betting and I kept calling him, even thought I had absolutely nothing (only King high)… finally it came to the river and a card came up that could have easily made someone’s straight or flush and he bet fairly big. I still didn’t have anything at all, the only thing I could beat was a complete bluff. I sat there and looked at the board and tried to analyze what it is he might have… I was in the process of doing that when he began to say something to me… I don’t know what he even said, as he only got three words out (something like, “You got a fl—“) when without even consciously thinking, my hands grabbed my chips and threw them in and I said, “I callâ€?… he looked stunned. He turned over absolutely nothing. When I turned over nothing as well (but a better hand than his with a King high) the table was stunned… no one could believe I called all the way through and even called on the river with nothing. Even I was sorta surprised… but I knew in my head (in my subconscious really) that if he started talking, it was to try to talk me into folding… I didn’t even fully realize that until after when I realized that many of my calls aren’t even on a conscious level.

Anyway… it’s been fun for me to realize all this over the last few months and now have something new I can try to continue to improve and who knows, maybe I can reach world class levels. If the last few weeks are any indication, at the local card room level, I am unbelievably dominant.

The last few days at the casino at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Manila have been great… Most of the players here are SO bad… it is actually too easy for me… I began giving people some of their chips back I felt so bad for them today. But they have NO clue how to play. NO ONE raises before the flop, ever… even with AA, KK, QQ etc… so I get to see EVERY flop, with any 2 cards, and can usually outplay people after that, even if I didn’t get anything… but when I have a big hand, I always raise TEN times the big blind and EVERYONE who was gonna call, calls anyway… which means, when they have a big hand and I don’t, it doesn’t cost me anything to see if I got a lucky flop… and if I did, they would call whatever bets I made! Whereas, when I have a big hand and they don’t, I get 10:1 money over what they get with the opposite situation! It is literally ludicrous. I don’t know which players are worse, the Filipinos or Dominicans… both are just as bad really.

I spent some time talking to some of the players here and was SHOCKED at their thought process!! One guy told me that he bets based on the dealer… he says some of them are really lucky for him and some are really bad… he even showed me once that he had QQ and the board came Q-8-2 rainbow and I only bet a small amount and HE FOLDED!!! He said it was because that particular dealer is very unlucky for him… he even says he’ll fold AA pre-flop if someone raises him and the dealer is a bad luck dealer!!

Many players were like him, but with all their various superstitions! Filipinos seem very naïve and superstitious in general… it even shows with their religion… I mean, how naïve do you have to be to fall for another race’s religion… everyone here is Catholic… and they believe their lord and savior is a white man?!???? I mean, c’mon. If Jesus was black or asian, do you think there would be one redneck in Tennessee who had a cheap plastic figurine glued onto the dashboard of his pickup truck! Hahaha, never in a trillion years.

Don’t get me too wrong, what I just stated was obviously a vast generalization but it certainly isn’t a racist comment… nor is it derogatory or meant to be demeaning. In fact, I like Filipinos a lot… what many of them seem to be missing in logical, rational thought processes, they more than far make up for in their approach to life and being in touch with their environment… they can dance.. they can sing… many of them have absolutely perfect bodies… they are so friendly and many of them seem genuinely happy… in fact, I’m jealous of them!

I leave for Boracay tomorrow… I could probably use a bit of a break from poker for a bit anyway (it can almost become boring winning all the time, oddly enough) and could use some sun and fun… I’ll probably be there for a few days and then I don’t know where…

Until then!

Escape from Australia

I flew down from Brisbane to Sydney earlier this week as the Brisbane casino was closed for renovations and the next decent flight I could get out of Australia was from Sydney to Manila. (note: going to Australia or the southern parts of South America are always a pain… it is near impossible to get a decent flight under 9 hours to ANYWHERE and even if you do the cost is usually really expensive).

I spent a few days just playing at the casino in Sydney (and cleaned up yet again). I have decided that I am now turning pro or semi-pro as a poker player. I don’t know what that means exactly… but what it means to me is that a fair amount of my travel schedule will revolve around major tournaments around the world. I used to think of poker as a fun pastime which was a great way to enter into a new city as a poker table can be quite a social event… I’d normally go to a city, head to the casino, play some poker and have a few drinks before heading out to pester the local women. But now I am thinking of making the poker part of my travels a main reason for the traveling itself. I also aim to find more places where I can surf also… if I find places where the poker action is good and has good surfing, I may stay there for a long time.

Anyway, that’s my new plan for this week.

In the meantime, I HAD to get out of Australia. Australia, and Surfer’s Paradise in particular, actually meets my criteria of having decent poker action and surfing. But the casinos in Australia are painfully frustrating. They are so over regulated by the government that it is painful. I guarantee you from the time you enter into an Australian casino until the end of your evening, you will be told not to do something at least 5-10 times. No cell phones sir… No headphones… no eating here sir… sir, no talking during the hand… etc…etc….etc!!!

This, combined with the horrendous nightlife had me pining to get out. I made it to the airport 2 hours early, planning to have a relaxing lunch before my 8 hour flight to Manila. But Australia had one last jab at me on my way out.

I rarely ever show up early for flights. In fact, whenever I show up 1.5-2 hours early for a flight all I ever find are really long line-ups as that is when all the sheeple show up as they are told. But, I had nothing to do and I dreaded the thought of missing my flight so I went nice and early.

I walked up to the Qantas aisle to more than 300 people all standing in one of the longest airline line-ups I’ve ever seen. There appeared to be 3 Qantas staff working to check in these 300 people! I just shrugged and thought… well, I’ll be out of here soon… no more Australian rules, regulations, police, bad attitudes and bad service.

I waited in line for an hour and a half… by then they started to call into the line, “Anyone for Manila please exit the queue and go to Aisle 24�. I went there and it was the business class check in, which also had a line-up and had only 3 people working (note: I think I’ve realized part of the reason why service in Asia is so good… most places have 3 times more staff than needed just because staff are so cheap… it is quite the opposite in unionized Soviet Canuckistan and Aushwiztralia).

I waited another 10 minutes in that line and now my flight was leaving in less than 15 minutes. I began to panic… another day in Australia?? I was so close to being back in idyllic Asia!!! Then one of the old, haggy attendants closed her little station… I looked around… there were lots of people waiting in the business class line-up. I shouted out to her, “hello?�… she heard me but tried to ignore me. I did it again… and again. Finally she looked up angrily and snapped, “I’m closing!�. Great business class service, eh! I replied, “Oh ok, no problem. Don’t worry about these people who’ve been waiting hours. Enjoy your union mandated coffee break.�

After another five minutes I got helped… “Where are you going today sir?�. I replied, “Manila.�. We don’t fly to Manila you must be mistaken. Err, what’s the emoticon for being perplexed? Well… anyway, I just stood there dumbfounded. “Well, I have a ticket on your airline to Manila, so someone here is incorrect.� She then asked, “What country?�.. again, perplexed… “Manila….. Philippines!�.

“No, sorry… are you sure you are looking for Qantas?�… this went on for a bit as she walked around asking random people. Finally she came back and she said, “Oh, flight 157, why didn’t you say so�… I just stood there dumbfounded.

Then she said, “Ok, you are on standby�.

Ok, now I am just getting angry… it is hard enough for me to put up with Camerican style service to begin with but this was getting ridiculous.

I informed her I had a ticket and was not on standby. She told me that I was late and they gave away my seat. I informed her that I had been standing in the cattle train behind me for an hour and a half.

I went off on her… she then said, “You are from Canada, surely you must be used to the practice of overselling flights.�… I told her that yes, unfortunately, I was from Canada but I never got used to the communism, no matter whether it was in Canada or Australia.

It took another 5 minutes and a lot of walkie talkie’ing (is this the best technology they have in this backward country?)… finally they got me a seat.

Then she asked me if I had an onward ticket. I never have an onward ticket because I never even know where I am going next, but it has become standard in post-9/11 (read: post fascist global police state controls) to always have an onward ticket if isn’t your country of residence… sometimes I know it will be an issue and I print up a fake ticket, but I didn’t see my visiting the Philippines as being a potential problem… after all, what were they worried about, that I was leaving the comforts of the welfare-state of Canada to live off the system in the Philippines? Highly unlikely.

But this old hag demanded I have an onward ticket. I told her it was an e-ticket. She said she needed to see it printed on a piece of paper. I told her to give me a printer and I’ll print one out… she told me she couldn’t let me on the flight without an onward ticket and began reading all the exact rules. She basically told me I was out of luck! I asked for her supervisor. She told me I couldn’t talk to her.

I then said, “Listen, look at my passport… I travel EVERYWHERE, on a weekly basis… if the reason for this rule is to make sure people don’t get stuck in a country without the means to get home and end up being a drain on the state, I hardly think this is an issue here…� I then pulled out $5,000 in cash I had in my pocket (poker winnings from the last few days) and said, “That will last me 5 years in the Philippines!�

She still denied me and now was treating me really badly. She told me she was going to take me off the flight if I kept acting like this. I now was yelling at all the staff, demanding the supervisor. Her supervisor finally came over and actually had a brain and within 10 seconds I was on my way. The old lady seemed visibly angry that I had gotten on the flight!!! Unbelievable.

So, I cleared the 1st hurdle, but not in the clear yet!

First came customs. I am not exaggerating here… 100 people in line, ONE customs official checking you out of the country! I went to the front of the line and explained my flight was leaving in 5 minutes and some nice people let me in.

I then got through that and it was on to security. The line-up wasn’t too bad as the bottleneck was at the Customs section. I had to take all the liquids and aerosols out of my bag… my laptop… then they ran that through.

But apparently they missed my toothpaste container on the first run through… they ran my bag through 2 more times… the total time it took to get me through security, and throw away my toothpaste, was about 10 minutes.

I then grabbed all my stuff and ran for the gate, convinced I had missed the flight. I get there and they hadn’t even begun to board yet (something that would have been nice of the check-in person to tell me so I didn’t run the whole way). Of course, I should have expected this as most flights in socialist states are constantly delayed or cancelled completely.

So, after one hour of waiting, I FINALLY escaped!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am on the plane to Manila right now and besides exhaustion, my only other emotion is relief… It’s like escaping from jail getting out of Aus!

I’ll spend 2 days in Manila and then it’s on to Boracay… after that, no idea. For now I’ll just enjoy my new found freedom!

–Note: I am in Manila now and within my first 5 hours have already had a better time than I had my entire two weeks in Australia!!! Ahh, it’s good to be back into a land of freedom!

Agh I am still here!

No one can ever accuse me of being boring. I went to the airport in Brisbane on Thursday morning and got in a big fight with my crazy Thai gf and ended up leaving her, yet again, at the airport.

I hopped in a taxi as she made her way back to Bangkok… much to my chagrin as I would have been much happier if it was the other way around, with me going to Bangkok.

I thought I’d try to make the best of Brisbane. I started my night at the casino at the Conrad Treasury where I quickly got a snapshot of what Brisbane life was like. An incredibly inebriated cougar (aging woman) was engaging in lude conduct… spouting out obscenities and doing things such as using a tampon as her card holder… she was eventually thrown out… after which, many of the people at my poker table told of all the times they had been thrown out for being drunk. Note to you: Aussies may be the most drunken people on the planet… only the Scots, and possibly the Irish come close… and I don’t blame them, as they all are fishing in the same gene pool of overall unattractive and unappealing women. But that’s beside the point.

So, after winning four figures in a few hours of poker, and playing fan-frickin-tastic I might add, I decided to venture out onto the streets of Brisbane.

The first thing I saw was a young male being wrestled to the ground by 3 or 4 police… he was shouting, “I didn’t do anything!”… and as I was laughing at this police state, I literally got ran over by 4 other police people running over to give this guy a good beating. Two of his friends were beside me as I picked myself up off the pavement and they told me that their friend did nothing wrong. I told them that I believe it… and pondered how it is worse here than Nazi Germany in 1943… before the Nazis really went off the deep end and just started killing people they didn’t like.

Then I tried to enter a club. I walked up, the bouncer got right in my face and said, “Where have you been tonight?!”…. I gave him a stunned blank stare… still recovering from my hit and run with the local “authorities” and then gave him an honest response, “Why?”… “THAT’S IT!” he responded, and then grabbed me by the shirt and ran me out onto the street.

I couldn’t believe what was going on… but then I went to another bar… I went to walk in and yet again I was confronted. “What have you been drinking tonight?” asked one bouncer. I paused. And again, my sensibilities asked the same question, “Why?”

“THAT’S IT!” was the response and he closed the rope and told me to move on!

Finally, on my third attempt, I was given entry into some club in a place called Fortitude Valley.. aptly named, in my opinion, as you need great intestinal strength to even venture out in this godforsaken hell hole of a country.

I went in, had a drink… I saw a girl who looked cute and kept looking at me so I approached her. She seemed a bit shy. Then one of her 140lb, gay looking boyfriends came up to me and told me, without really even looking me in the eye, that I better leave immediately or I will be dead.

I, yet again, gave a look of confusion and asked him upon what transgression I was to be put to death for… before quickly denoting that it would take at least 5 of his brethren to come close to giving me a decent run for my money.

This chest thumping went back and forth for a while, until the girl I had originally talked to took me aside and informed me that, “everyone here knows each other… and maybe it was best if I leave”.

I did leave… but not before giving that pathetic loser one last “cmon”. But it was all for naught. This place I am in is even a few levels below Camerica in terms of style, class, vibe, beauty and integrity.

I know when not to fight a losing battle so I moved on.

I then proceeded to bribe my way into a 50+ long taxi queue (I am not kidding, it is ridiculous) and began to head home back to my hotel.

Upon walking back to my hotel, I saw numerous locals being chased by the local stormtroopers… for all sorts of inane reasons.

I looked skyward. The only thing that made my experiences seem even more bizarre was the odd curiousity that people in Australia dress up for Christmas! Yes… not halloween… Christmas! So many of the people who would be confronting me and aggressing against me would be dressed up as Fred Flintstone. Or a snail. Or something.

I finally made it back to my hotel and immediately looked for the next flight out. Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Chile, Argentina… I DON’T CARE. I will be in one of those spots, and not Australia… in fact, NEVER again in Australia, within 3 days.

Only the casino and taking money from Aussies has made the last week or so seem anywhere near livable… if Thailand or Mexico get casinos and poker any time soon, you will never, ever, EVER find me in horrendous places such as Canada, USA, Australia or Europe EVER again.

Australia Sucks

I flew from Bali to Sydney to play in some Asia Pacific Poker Tour tourneys. I remember Australia as being expensive but it seems even more expensive this time around… especially Sydney. The AUS government is expanding the money supply at banana-republic levels for the last few years (around 25% currently), so price increases are starting to get ridiculous (and will get out of control – hyperinflation – in the next few years, along with most other countries as the coordinated currency collapses, and conversion to new currencies such as the Amero in North America are instituted by the banking elite who control most of the world – much like they did in 1929 in order to create the Great Depression in order to gain more control over money).

I went to a 7-11 three times in my first 2 days in Sydney… just to buy some snacks, drinks and general items for the hotel room. EACH trip cost me $50 AUD ($45 USD)!!! The exact same basket of goods in Thailand would have cost $3-7 per trip!!

The casinos here are run by the government (anything run by the government is, in reality, communist) and therefore are horribly run. Most wait lists to get on a table were 3-5 hours… and they had a million stupid rules. No hats… no ipods… etc etc etc.

In fact, Australia seems to have more rules than any other country on the planet I have visited. There are signs outlining rules everywhere. I was even on a street that had a street-sign denoting that particular street as being an alcohol-free street. No alcohol is allowed to be consumed or even carried on that street?? I presume that even includes inside the houses on that street by the way it was written!!!!!!!

Everywhere I go, people are yelling at each other… usually because they didn’t follow some of the rules enough…

I rented a car and drove up from Sydney to the Gold Coast after I couldn’t handle Sydney anymore (I left before any of the tournaments even started as I was going insane there)… every single car was doing EXACTLY the speed limit, or less… and even if you would go from a 90 zone to an 80 km/h zone, as soon as you hit the 80 zone, everyone would slam on their brakes to immediately go 80. There were signs every mile stating that you are being watched by cameras. There were thousands of expensive billboards, all paid for by the government, telling you how speed kills… how they will take away your license if you speed, and even telling you basic driving tips. Thanks Australian government for educating me!! And, of course, because of all these rules trying to make people do things that aren’t natural, I saw numerous accidents… something I’ve never seen in Thailand or China, or anywhere without these bizarre rule systems.

The one fun part about being here has been being with Jane though. It’s so fun to get her take on things. For example, she rarely has driven in a car on trips… something most of us have done countless times, so to her everything is kinda new. For example, from time to time there will be a sign saying ‘Watch for Kangaroos, or Koala Bears, for the next 5 km’. Jane would be watching like it was a complete guarantee. At the end of the 5 kilometres, she would be so depressed and angry we didn’t see any. She’d shout out, “Bullshit Australia government!� and she was genuinely angry at them for lying to her… after we had gone through numerous ‘watch for animal’ zones and seen nothing, Jane became jaded and everytime we saw a sign from them on she would shout out, “bulllllllshit!� and cross her arms in disgust. Lol.

Another time, we were hungry so I pulled into a McDonalds drive-thru. Jane was confused at first, “What’s this??�… I was like, “Uh, it’s McDonalds�… she remained confused… when I began to order she got all excited… “Oh, this is like in the movies!!!�… I was like, “What in the world are you talking about?�… she said, “This!!!� as she got out her camera… it took me a while to figure it out, but she had never gone through a drive-thru before… haha… to her it was really exciting!

Anyway, we stopped in a quaint little surf town called Byron Bay for the night on the way north. We went to its popular nightclub called the Cheeky Monkey. As per usual, in Australia, it was 85% guys and the 15% that were female were monstrous. All the guys drink themselves stupid just to try to have a good time…There were numerous fist fights while we were there as the pent-up sexual repression turns into aggression.

There, again, the rules were beyond ridiculous… you couldn’t order a double… you couldn’t buy the bartendress a drink… had to stand in certain denoted lines… there were certain areas only for dancing… etc etc etc.

Then we headed north to Surfer’s Paradise. Of all the places I have been in Australia, Surfer’s Paradise has the best vibe… the nightlife is decent (anywhere else it would be atrocious, but in Australia it is like an oasis in the desert). It is mainly because most of the revelers are foreigners.

The quality of everything is terrible in Australia. Every hotel… every restaurant… every club… every place, was low quality, run down and the service was beyond terrible… pretty much what you would expect in a communist country.

We went to a Sizzler restaurant here… mostly because the Sizzler in Bangkok is really, really good and Jane likes it a lot… we couldn’t believe the ‘quality’ of the food… I was actually surprised they had the gall to serve it. Jane’s calamari was grey and looked like it had been run over by a garbage truck… the french fries were cold… the bread was stale. Jane couldn’t understand how the quality in Australia could be so much worse… I explained to her that Australia is a communist police state and how Thailand is a land of freedom, and how that affects everything.

The funniest part about here is, Aussies are highly xenophobic. They look at immigrants with great disdain, as they want to keep their ugliness, poor quality and bad attitudes all to themselves. So, in a place like Sydney, you can sometimes wait hours in lines to get a taxi, because there aren’t enough people willing to drive taxis there… in fact, most places had huge line-ups as there just wasn’t enough service people anywhere to serve the customers. As always, the Aussies all lined-up in their queues as though it was just normal to wait hours for anything.

I really don’t know why I came here… it is like every time I go to Europe… as soon as I get there I begin thinking, “why the hell did I come here again?!?!”…

Today I booked a flight to, guess where! Bangkok… the greatest city in the world… and I realize it more and more every time I leave it. Now if they just had better surfing and casinos in Thailand, you would never see me anywhere else again.

Bali Nightlife Upgrade

My return trips to Jakarta and Bali have both been better than my initial experience. My trip to Jakarta was much nicer than last time and my second trip to Bali has been nicer as well.

After spending a week in Bali I am upgrading my rating of its nightlife from “atrocious” to “ok”.

It still doesn’t compare at all to Phuket or Koh Samui, imo, but it didn’t seem quite as bad this time around.

All the nightlife is all within a 200 meter radius of the Bounty Nightclub on Kuta Pelang. There are a few semi-cool lounge places near Bounty if you want to avoid the drunken Aussie mosh-pits… I forget the names of them, but there are two lounge spots, that are both 4 stories high… the first few floors may be completely empty but don’t let that stop you, the best spots are on the top floor, both open air venues. One plays pretty good house music, if you are into that, and has shisha.

There appeared to be a few more Indonesian girls around this week as compared to my last trip, which was good.

The food in Bali is quite good too… I forget the name, but there is a cafe on the main shopping street in Kuta Square that is great… you’ll see it, it is always full of people. Try the Ayam Goreng (Fried Chicken) and any of the pasta there… also the Macarroni Restaurant near Bounty nightclub has good food… as does Sails, the seafood restaurant near the Hard Rock.

And, again, I recommend the Hard Rock Hotel… the pool is fantastic…. the food is pretty good too.

That’s it… I leave for Sydney tonight.