Bali, Bali, Bali – what a delight it was. This birthday is the so called big one, before the actual big one –  30. The ageing paranoia has never got to me, I am more pleasing to look at, but more importantly better to be around, than when I was 20. I am not sure it is possible to grow into your looks, but veering away from my fresh (Chubby) faced, naive, socially inept just off the back of the teenage years treadmill self, is always welcome, every year!

Bail has the reputation of being the Australian Magaluf. But it means partying is in abundance which is perfect for a birthday. Cliche n all, but aren’t all birthdays in some way or another.

It was me, my Indian sidekick Dhruve, caveman buddy and future housemate Ronnie, Allie my Canadian friend and also future housemate.

Allie was supposed to meet us in Bali a few days after we arrived, turned out Ronnie was in secret cahoots with her as he escaped from surf camp. My other good friend Leon had departed and  headed over to the Gily Islands for some romantic isolation with his girlfriend ? I forget her name, to be fair she did tell me once, possibly the only words I heard her speak. If she had a personality, she hid it well – using Leon as her proxy to convey communication. Pun intended, we don’t talk about that, but typing is fine, a technicality sure, but rules are rules.

So with our current batch of merry men (pre alcohol), we set out on an operation to find fancy dress for the evening wear. My birthday is All saints day, so I often combine my celebrations with some halloween party, the first one being when I was 11 in Junior school.

We decided on being soldiers. The night out was great fun, we went to a big halloween fancy dress event, had our photos taken, met heaps of people, had a bunch of drinks and the usual fanfare.

photo of solider fancy dress on halloween

Our official Halloween competition photo.

At some point I lost the guys, and woke up in my bathtub in my room, with no recollection of the last few hours of my 28th year, a gay nightclub stamp on my hand and a random boys’s number in my phone.

photo of a bar in bali

The gay bar where I ended up.

It could have been worse, as  Dhruve would attest, his ended with him asking permission to feel a girls body parts to check she was a man, after she walked him home. Priceless…! for everything else there’s Mastercard.

My actual birthday night, compared to the night before was chill, just a couple of beers in a pool bar with Dhruve, where he kindly paid the tab. I rewarded him for this by soundly beating him 9-1.  

Although the day could not pass without some kind of Drama,  A pedicure, it only cost about  50p but the emotional cost was extortionate, no Mastercard to the rescue here.  But I guess like with the big fuck off foot grater they used, you gotta learn to take the rough with the smooth.

man having pedicure in bali

ummmmm, why have you got a chainsaw!

 I can now Sit back and relax 364 days until the BIG ONE!

30th  – The BIG ONE

It came, it went, I didn’t feel any different. Well my fb messages were more off track, with the OLD  word used a lot more than usual –  the typical big 30 messages and so forth.

welcome to hawai sign

name drop followed by picture drop

calendar of bretts arrival

Kat’s Calendar

I had just arrived In Vancouver, Canada a few days before my birthday. after being in Hawaii for a couple of weeks (Location name check right there). All went swimmingly until I got into Canadian customs, whereupon the immigrations guy was relentless in his questions, even alluding, no forget that – he flat out asked me why I was traveling and not getting a Career. I think the only thing I was willing to declare was “should I give it up for a low life job like this”, however common sense prevailed and I decided this a battle that I would not win. He had already overturned my board bag and inspected everything including my toothbrush with his very own fine toothcomb.

So I opened my mouth to say the disastrous words, then closed it again. Resembling a goldfish stuck in the realms of the short term memory cycle.

My birthday, was (surprise surprise) on a Halloween party night where we went to a bar in downtown to celebrate all things scary. I was Wolverine this time.

wolverine not picking own nose

nonchalant wolverine, too precious to pick my own nose

A regular birthday night, if ever it was a template this would be it. Drinks, music, chatting & friends. Didn’t and wouldn’t ask for more, going low key on my 30th worked out perfect for me. We had the obligatory drama, where Matt the Australian guy, got into an altercation amongst a flash mob expanding melee.

My actual birthday, Kat & Allie took me out for Hockey game night – which is kind of  a big deal in Canada. Needed a calculator to work out the amount of wings we had, accompanied with  jugs of beer, ice hockey and I was also given my now treasured – dirty thirty t-shirt.

man in wife beater shirt with th enumber 30 on

flirty thirties await…

A pool marathon to end the night off, (birthday deja vu here). As per usual, in my celebratory state, I took no prisoners and proceeded to win all if not most of my games.

Big 30, no big deal. Bring on 31.


picture of nz large rugby ball

an amazing month!

I was In New Zealand for this one as I went to watch the Rugby World Cup. It had just finished, and as one worldwide event finished, another begun (my birthday you idiot). I had spent 6K in around 4 weeks, but I did have some remnants of cash for one last splurge on my birthday before I went on the job hunt to save myself ending up on the streets.

wales man holding a sign

Before wales v France, a message to my fellow welshies

It was me, Sami and Danny in a bar and we bumped into Ben from the snow season. Nothing too crazy, until we saw our evil boss Kev/Matt whatever in base hostel bar. He was happy, chatty, fun – most weird of all – normal.. His( gf, chick, affair) was cool and she run the hostel travel agency so we got free drinks and shots all night – nice!

picture of 2 men in a bar

the evil but normal for one night boss from the snow

The next day, i had an appointment for a spa type place, Charlie – the girl i had been seeing from the snow season had organised a surprise for me from way back in England. I only had the most covert directions to this place in Auckland, and with instructions to just turn up and give my name. Little did I know that it would be quite the surprise of all
Surprises! I turned up at said address to discover it was a spa place. Oh yeah boy a bit of pampering, a full on massage is just what i needed. So I bound into the place to tell reception my name, even before they asked (I’m a good boy).

“Ah yes she says, right on time for your pedicure Mr Downes”

WTF – a pedicure, its my birthday. So i sat through the worst hour of my year, since last year. Cheers Life, Cheers Charlie!!! –  I love you really….

Her saviing grace was that she did arrange other treats for me though through my friend Danny. Custard, one of the things I love was organised, but he ended up giving me some sort of baby food custard – the berk! I basically spent the whole day gorging myself full of food, partially to console myself over my foot nightmare and  because its my birthday and I hadn’t eaten much food since snowy.  I had been hitting the gym and eating well to lose the “bistro belly” that Snowy Valley kindly donates to me every year.

I added up the calories eaten that day to around 7000, best 2lbs i’ve ever put on! Got almost a year to work it off!

wales flag 2015 win

next time boys!


By far the craziest out of my last few birthdays, helpfully it coincided with  the legendary full moon party in Koh Phangan, Thailand –  with thousands of other revellers whom I pretended were out for my birthday too. All my snow season crew were there and my mate Lee from the filth.

photo of people pre full moon party

pre full moon party gang

Buckets aplenty, a night to remember, well about half of it! But when a party goes on for 12 hours plus, remembering 6 hours is a sterling effort. My night ended with waking up face down in the sand on Haad Rin beach at 10am the next morning.

I rose and then aimlessly wandered around, half convincing my body to  carry on the party with some fellow zombie revellers, with the rest of it pleading for me to get myself home. Maybe I would have if I had more than a little bit of money on my person.

That cash whittled down when I went for a massage, announcing loudly to myself that it has the bonus of being on a bed, where I could rest my weary head and possibly put the dampeners on the raging internal sound system in my cranium.

The massage raised my spirits, but not my coordination. I spurged what remained of my Thai baht on the infamous 7/11 cheese toasties or 3.

Now I was in a tight spot. The whole width of the island stood between where I was and where I needed to be. Negotiating with a taxi in a hungover, fast, indecipherable welsh accent was working or so I thought; until he shut the door – with me outside. Upon a few rejections (not unlike the previous night) I decided a new strategy was in order. I managed to convince a shuttle service that I was staying at their hotel and hitched a free ride. With the real arrivals looking at me if I had the plague. To be fair I probably did, but a slight head raise and simultaneous   grunt about full moon party received nods of acknowledgement with more than a healthy dose of sympathy.

I managed to get myself back at 6pm. Exhausted but proud. Of all 10 of us who went out that night, everyone returned separately with their own tale to tell.

The next morning I was presented with a skittle based cake and some
little goodies and before we knew it, it was time to leave. The group was disengaging from each other that day. Due to my bank card not working and no money for Lee & Andy we had to head to Koh Samui instead of Koh Lipe as an emergency rendezvous point.

cup cake with skittles

my skittle based birthday cake

Lee spent the next few hours organising emergency funds, while Andy & I laid on our unpaid for beds crossing everything bar our testicles for more money while unsuccessfully ignoring our rumbling tummies.

Hallelujah! funds eventually came through and the Indian restaurant we scarpered to tasted like it had won 10 michelin stars. The beer was liquid ecstasy. The best birthday meal and probably best meal I have ever had. That is the definition of context for you right there.

My outfits

pic of man in singlet

my pre full moon attire make up – part 1

man and women drinking buckets

2nd full moon attire

oic of man at full moon party with face paints

last full moon attire

Next birthday 364 days away, little did I know at this point I would end up at another 2 full moon parties and a New Years Eve one in the following 2 months.



So as my birthday approached I wondered what am i going to do. I was in New York, so options were aplenty. I spent the night in a cool bar in Brooklyn with my new grey anatomy friends/torturers, Casey & Lizzie, watching the world series final in baseball. Their team won – hey whos birthday is it – stealing my attention!

The next day I flew to Antigua, and met up with my long term trusty delivery friend danielle at Las Vibras bar , again on halloween, and for once i wasn’t dressed up. The bar was full, a little bit crazy and took a bit of getting used to, but a regular kind of night to lead into my birthday.

All good things come in threes, and this year I had a three pronged birthday approach. I had a big beer for Breakfast while waiting for Danielle to come pick me up for our trip to Lake Atitlan. We stayed at Chameleon hostel which didn’t have Wifi (yes these hostels  do exist),  to spend a nice weekend in relative peace on a beautiful little resort.

Met a few cool people in the night, along with some new friends that came with Danielle. A nice relaxing evening which pleasantly didn’t end with my head in the sand in the morning. Leaving the next day all tranquil and refreshed I bumped into my new canadian friend Chloe who I had met at the airport. I had my ass handed to me in some stupid card game Betsy made up and then I was off back to Antigua to embark on my Central American adventure,  which lasted 6 months and 2 weeks longer than I had anticipated.

Today is my 34th Birthday and the only thing I am upset about is the fact I lose my palindrome number status.


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