Showing posts with label Juice Nothing Article. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Juice Nothing Article. Show all posts

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

David Icke and Me: An Expanded Review of The Biggest Secret

PLEASE NOTE: The following text is an expanded book review boasting bonus paragraphs about my recent journey through this conspiracy world along with my views on these general theories from a broader scope. It's a more complete work and justifies its length, but it is still rather long. If you do not feel you have the stomach, feel free to take a load off and read the abridged version on Goodreads instead. It's missing the juicy bits but gets the job done all the same.

The chewy centre of this story breaks through like every classic apocalyptic tale: in New York City. It was March 2020, and despite a month of encouraging words from the QAnon messiah Donald Trump, the COVID virus went ahead and snapped a sharp and aggressive bite out of the Big Apple. The streets were wiped clean of their usual human bustle as the lifeblood of the city retreated into hiding. And there was little me, Jared Woods, kicked to the streets from a hostel that shut down and just managing to find an apartment in the Bronx, isolating and alone on the other side of the world from home. I'll admit, I was terrified, but I held a brave face on social media. I told my mom I was okay. And I focused on the one light of optimism I had: a Chicago flight to London, leaving in a month. Surely this silly outbreak would blow away by then? It was airborne after all.

During this bout of secretive writhing, I received a voice message from an equally tortured close friend. The world was unsettled, but this guy (as an incurable conspiracy theorist) seemed to be performing mental backflips more frantic than most (as terminal conspiracy theorists tend to do). Aware of my education on religion, his fearful questions babbled about the biblical "mark of the beast", stressing that this "outbreak" was a ploy to plant microchips into us via vaccines. This rant was the first time I'd considered such a possibility, but I offered him the same advice then that I would now. There are no vaccines yet, and there are no mandatory vaccine laws in the UK. You're living in terror of a future that doesn't necessarily exist. Once they find the vaccine and force it upon us, then we can chat about implants. My words seemed to calm his buzzing teeth, but based on his recent Facebook posts, nothing I said made any long term difference.

The cancellation of my flight from Chicago shortly followed this exchange, and I felt like I'd swallowed a brick. I panic purchased another flight which accidentally turned out to be many weeks in advance, oops. I bit my lip and bought another one, losing a lot of money as I rushed onto a plane from New York to London within days.

Have you ever taken a packed flight during peak-pandemic from the capital of the outbreak? It's an intense experience. I sat stiffly in my seat for seven hours, and I was too scared to breathe. Everyone was a suspect, and I sank away from the aisle whenever a crew member passed. It's easy to become self-centred when a disease smothers a planet—everyone has their corona nightmare stories. But even considering the greater scheme of people's issues, my POV was challenging. I was so nervous I wanted to cry.

We landed in London. I scanned my passport. I walked through the security and customs without exchanging glances with another human being. No one took my temperature; no one asked me how I was feeling; nobody cared that a fully-booked plane from the most plagued city on the Earth had just skipped through their borders. Such negligence shook my solar plexus, and when I finally reached a safe place to commence my UK isolation, I was exhausted and traumatised. Looking for comfort, I texted another very close but different friend, detailing my ordeal, and his response was arguably the most infuriating message I've received in my entire life.

"You'd understand why this happened if you knew the teachings of David Icke".

I can't recall if there was winky emoji in there but every word stank of it. The arrogance oozed down from a podium of "higher knowledge"; a position where Icke and his followers comprehended everything that was happening as they scoffed down at the sheep snagged in a system of lizard design. Admittedly, the anxiety of my trip had beaten the patience out of my nerves, and I lost it. I was well-versed in the crux of Icke's theories, and I considered them to be the pinnacle of absurdity. I was happy to humour the notion at the worst of times, but not here, not now. My turmoil was not Icke's narrative, and to shove some unprovable waffle down my throat after what I had just endured felt like an absolute betrayal of compassion. I took it personally.

The proceeding argument was extensive, and I went to bed in pain that night. When I woke, there was one persistent thought that this person had spat into my face. How did I know Icke was full of shit? I could only recite the headlines and Wikipedia summaries. Is that enough to turn my back on the author? The undeniable truth is that Icke has managed to convince millions of oft-intelligent minds to digest his theory. There must be something to it! Perhaps my previous reactions had been harsh and unfair. I decided to give my two friends the benefit of the doubt and explore this world for myself. That same day, I ordered David Icke's most famous book The Biggest Secret, which arrived surprisingly quickly, and I eventually read it despite the 500+ pages of attention it demanded. And here we are.

For those of you who don't know what Icke's theory is, I'll summarise it for you. For thousands of years, a reptilian alien race has been meddling with our society. They've developed a Satanic Brotherhood organisation where they love nothing more than to rape and eat our children. If that isn't terrifying enough, these aliens dwell inside of the Earth (which is hollow) and operate from a 5th dimension, navigating the minds of literally everyone of any importance. These aliens often live among us through certain bloodlines (which are always caucasian and often Jewish; hence the frequent founded accusations of Icke's racism) such as the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, and the royals. They're all lizards!

From this position of power, our alien overlords have manipulated every corner of the world throughout history. You name it; it was them. Their command rules almost all world leaders, the media, the banks, the stock market, the scientific community, every religion, every war, every major event, and, of course, COVID-19. Everyone with power is some way involved (some more surprising than others, including exciting names such as Nelson Mandela, Madonna, Leonardo da Vinci, Adolf Hitler, and Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein). What's more, any newsworthy incident you've ever read about was related to their mission to control the masses (including every high profile assassination—and every death is assassination, don't know?). This command is achieved by creating problems then offering solutions which cost civilians a slice of their freedom. Thankfully for us, the reptilians have never got it right, and despite what Icke will tell you, this is a story of failed global domination which we can follow by using the ample symbolic clues they've left for us along the way. David knows how to get there, let's go!

It's fair to mention that David's theories have developed further since the 1999 publication of this book. Highlights include when he had an epiphany that the moon is an artificial creation which emits frequencies to trap our five senses deeper within this dimension of fear. He has also become a leading voice in the 5G and COVID conspiracies which I believe most people are aware of at this point.

If you think this sounds like the far-fetched ramblings of a mad man, you wouldn't be alone. However, you may be surprised that the majority of these beliefs are not the author's original work. Icke is a professional cherrypicker. He has harvested assorted bits from a vast array of rich counter-theories that were developed by other minds for decades, now rewritten through his voice (whilst regularly citing the sources, which is respectable). The only unique perspective of Icke's teachings is the connection between these ideas, selling them as one giant narrative; a conglomerate of well-known conspiracy theories ground together to create one epic singular timeline.

What's more, he hasn't done the best job of it. I'm no scholar, but I could quickly pinpoint where the already-established research met his views as he stretched the materials like a thin gum to combine whatever serves his story. But Icke knew that the soft putty between didn't have to make much sense. The more substantial wads had decades of previously written books to support them, holding convincing backstories which helped his research to appear foolproof because so many overlook how flimsy the overall picture holds up as a unit.

Now, I pride myself in my refusal to swallow or reject anything, and I don't necessarily write-off Icke's theory. But if someone is going to state claims of this magnitude, they better have some substantial evidence to back it up. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Icke does not. I was disappointed as I was hoping to at least come away with some extraordinarily eerie questions, but this did not happen. Instead, a nervewracking concern grew within me for those friends who have accepted these fragile messages. Make no mistake, Icke's statements are tremendously epic; they simultaneously blew my mind and made me sick to my stomach. But within 10 minutes of independent research, they effortlessly disintegrated into a dust of debunked funk. I am not exaggerating when I say 90% of this book leads to empty space. The lizard fundamentals, in particular, were so rickety that they broke my heart. C'mon, I was anticipating something meaty there! That's his claim to fame! But I can explain all of it (bar one Mesopotamian figurine carving, granted).

Furthermore, his information on religion was incorrect at every turn. I carry a keen interest in this topic which makes me Icke's greatest enemy because he has no shame in presenting information that lacks backing from any acceptable study. Such disregard to decades of research prompts me to believe that, say, an economist or a historian would have issues with their relevant sections too. Needless to say, my eroded trust quickly unravelled David Icke's wicked methods of persuasion after very few pages.

Thus my compulsion to write this piece. Icke is a liar, and I have all the evidence in writing. He's a conman who is intentionally manipulating the masses and, over the next series of paragraphs, I shall expose how he's managed to do so. Because if I can help one person to get out of the web that Icke has spun around them, then the half-year it took to read and write this will be warranted.

Icke is a heavy enthusiast of the Gish gallop technique. He blasts such an overwhelming amount of statements per page that the quantity of information becomes dizzying, and this type of onslaught is crucial to his strategy. It means that any given line will require lengthy research to question and is then quickly followed by another one, and another one, preventing the reader from fact-checking everything the man claims. I gave it my best shot. I got up to page 228 of debunking until I realised mere slivers of it had any reputable basis. After that, I resigned to sit back and go with the ride, which David always knew I would.

I did manage to put together a rough but in-depth analysis of the first 92 pages which you can read here. If at any point you require examples of what this review accuses, you will find them there. It's an enjoyable skim regardless, especially as you watch my patience progressively disintegrate into surrender.

An awareness of this bombardment of unchallenged information immediately uncovers the risks of reading this book. Icke freely rambles about how everything that has ever happened is part of this reptilian story, and he does so with confidence because he knows nobody will have the hours or energy to pick everything apart. I consider this to be a form of brainwashing, a technique Icke has studied and utilised for his gain, which I shall detail shortly.

For now, imagine a softer mind racing with Icke's hyperspeed blabberings. A 500-page journey void of researchable facts, but with an abundant supply of sensationalist endorphins. The impressionable mouths are hooked! They open eagerly at his fingertips where he can feed them any varying degrees of mistruths. And he does so with an impressive variety.

One subtle move Icke executes is a type of inside-knowledge effect. He will claim the alien theory is responsible for a specific historical event (the stones of Baalbek or Rh blood types are the first to come to mind), but the powers above have buried the information away from the textbooks. Scandal! However, within minutes I could find numerous sources offering an alien theory in their reports. The only difference is that dedicated authorities also provide the alternative views available, of which there were always plenty. It's frustrating because you know Icke is familiar with these other hypotheses but has intentionally omitted them to ensure his case is airtight. If he'd included other explanations, he would have built trust. Instead, the man commits exclusively to the reptilians and is immoveable on that stance. It's selective research, separating the bits that suit his campaign then stretching everything else whichever way he desires. In this regard, The Biggest Secret is the most biased text I've ever read, which is a trivial complaint in comparison to what is coming.

Less subtle yet more sneaky is his swift manner of twisting hypotheticals into "factual" cornerstone. He will casually introduce speculation from another source, fully citing the original author (sometimes as simple as "somebody told me") then referring to it as just that: a theory. That's a practice I can support and appreciate. However, several pages later, he would suddenly refer to this previous theory as fact and use it to build onto his next point, the entire timeline now dependent on an unfounded hypothesis made only moments ago. It's unforgivably misleading because most people won't pick up on it.

And then there are those times he straight-up lies. He yanks data from thin air, and if you can catch it, you will uncover a profound danger in his work. Icke boasts such a dedicated following that his mistruths often harden into self-fulfilling resources. Your research may find articles reporting similar data until you note these same articles are citing Icke himself! The best example of this is when Icke uses a Hindu god named Virishna to discredit Jesus by connecting identical details between their stories. The internet holds many texts supporting the comparison, but they vanish before the publication date of this book. Why? Because Icke made him up! There is no Hindu god named Virishna! Icke invented a deity just to fool his readers! Everything that follows a betrayal like this is weighed heavy by dishonesty. And, what's worse, he knows what he's doing. For all his faults, David Icke is an impressive researcher. No one can deny that. But this does mean his misleading techniques are entirely intentional because he can lie to us but not himself... right?

"[I had] the overwhelming feeling out of 'nowhere' that the moon was not 'real'. By 'real' I mean not a 'heavenly body', but an artificial construct (or hollowed-out planetoid) that has been put there to control life on Earth — which it does. I have pondered this possibility a few times over the years, but this time I just 'knew'. It was like an enormous penny had suddenly dropped." - David Icke; Human Race Get Off Your Knees (2010)

Or maybe not.

Regardless, are you ready for his more advanced tricks?

One of Icke's fanciest manoeuvres is to claim ownership of every side of an idea even if they directly contradict one another. It's nervewracking that he gets away with it, but he does. I initially noted this during his infamous COVID-19 interview with London Real where David simultaneously used China's early lockdown release and UK's extended lockdown as evidence of societal control. I clicked that no matter what a government did, release or lockdown, he could apply it to his "insight". It's genius, really. And this publication is rife with so many of these multiple bookings examples that I was in hysterics.

Allow me to illustrate. The following paragraph is a list of items that Icke slowly drips through as indications of the Brotherhood. Please note how he manages to include just about everything. Anywhere in history where you see these symbols or words, know that the lizards were there:

Those that come from above; the sky in general; those that come from below; the Earth in general; those that come from water; water in general; those that come from light/energy/another dimension; any demon/deity who loves us; any demon/deity who hates us; the Devil; gods who walked among us; the Sun; the moon; space; stars; Mars; Jupiter; any planet really; the penis and all male energy; the vagina and all female energy; snakes; dinosaurs; dragons; serpents; any reptile really; birds; any creature with wings really; any creature with feathers really; fish; any creature with scales really; lions; lambs; trees; mountains; roses; lilies; goats; pyramids; blood; vampires; gargoyles; giants; placing a hand over your heart; the devil-horns gesture; eyes; skulls; bones; chess boards; squares in general; circles; hexagrams; pentagrams; swastikas; crosses; the colour blue; the colour red; the colour green; the colour white; and the colour black.

Each of the above examples are explicitly stated in the book, and yet this listing is by no means complete. I just stopped taking notes at a point for my sanity.

If you're grasping the bigger picture, you can see where David Icke has excelled, and that is in building an impenetrable fantasy protected from every side. In this vein, another extraordinary trick is how he's managed to convince his readers to discredit all research-based studies and media reports. The Brotherhood controls this information, remember? You must not believe anything you read except what David Icke writes even if he has no resources to support his hypothesis. And tah-dah, he is now invincible; impervious to attacks of facts or logic. You could dedicate your whole life to studying a topic, David Icke could say it was work of the Brotherhood, and his followers would immediately reject you. It's an unimaginable feat that worked for reasons that are beyond my comprehension.

Because the strangest ingredient to this story is that David was a football player. He was not a physicist, nor a historian, nor a holy leader. And yet so-called "intelligent" and "spiritual" people trust him above every scientist and doctrine on the planet, independent or otherwise. A large portion of his teachings dismisses religion as fabricated material to control us. Yet David has proclaimed himself to be the "Son of the Godhead", claiming that some higher knowledge has blessed his mind. Do not let anyone fool you; this movement has all the components of a cult. People follow Icke like a prophet and feverously defend him based on faith, trusting his texts more than any other medium of information. They laugh at the unrealistic story of Jesus, oblivious to the irony that they've just accepted a story about lizard aliens directing the world. How his readers can be so blind to this is what I struggle with the most.

David ends his sermon with the audacity of some faux hope by regurgitating a confused pseudo-spiritual variation of a Pantheistic Law of Attraction notion. He states that we must not live in fear because what we think about will manifest in our reality, ignoring that he just spent hundreds upon hundreds of pages flooding fear into the Universe about shapeshifting lizards who rape preteen children. What a severe lack of understanding this man has. How could one possibly encourage awareness of such an absurd unprovable concept while also acknowledging that this will invite further pain into your experience? I'm not sure about you, but every Icke-follower I've met are not vibrating on any positive level of harmony. They are anxious, angry, patronising, defensive, and distrustful. David then claims that the end-all solution is love, which is rich coming from a man who openly insults everyone who doesn't believe the Queen is a reptile to have "half a brain cell". If you gaze towards David Icke as some beacon of spiritual success, then we have contradictory opinions on what it means to be in sync with the Universe. That man harbours so much resistance in his chi that it's visible.

The final (and most important) trick I will be cracking open is David's moving of goalposts. None of Icke's predictions has ever come true. On the contrary, many of his statements have unequivocally not come true. My favourite example is the New World Order which is gradually taking place through unions between countries led by the Brotherhood. According to Icke, their headquarters are based in London. Then what's up with Brexit? That's the opposite of what he prophesied. So how does he get away with these perpetual inaccuracies? Easy. He swings the outcome into his narrative. Whatever takes place will never be what he's foretold, but he will have an explanation for it, followed by further predictions which will not come true. Please understand this more than anything I say: no matter what the event, Icke will spin it into his story despite the complete lack of forecasts to back it up. Such deceit has occurred for decades after this book. It will happen again with corona, and it will happen for everything for as long as he lives.

The difficulty lies in his followers. Nobody is holding Icke to any accountability. There are no definitive lines on what it would take for him to be decidedly wrong. Every incident, his groupies turn to him, awaiting his guidance, and he fires it to them, a new answer each time as if he knew the current events were inevitable even though he never said so. As long as there are problems in the world, Icke can use it to claim the Brotherhood are gaining control. In Icke's boogie man story, every incident has an ulterior motive. He will exploit any adverse event that takes place with the question "Who benefits from this problem?", and this will muster fearful unrest in his audience, generating cash flow into his pocket. He's covered all bases, and his people eat it up like chicken feed unaware that they are locked in the coop.

Perhaps I'm too optimistic, but I assume that even the strongest soldiers of the Ickian church can smell the glaring holes they choose to ignore. For starters, if this thousands-of-years-old Brotherhood exists, they suck at their job. Our freedom of travel and communication has improved immeasurably per generation, just look at me! I write cartoons online for a living while I skip from country to country. I’m freer than anyone could have possibly been mere decades ago. I’d struggle to be more free, to be honest. Furthermore, this so-called "secret organisation" is so terrible at staying "secret" that a footballer exposed them, but I guess it's their fault for leaving so many clues for us, right? Silly Brotherhood! And so here we have him, the glorious David Icke, writing about the most powerful Satanic paedophiles in the world. He openly details their crimes in books and all over the internet, never shut down beyond a few platforms that have had enough, yet all the information is still widely available whenever you want it. And herein lies the most complicated puzzle. If anything Icke said were remotely true, why is he not dead? If you want to know what happens to people with real knowledge, look at Snowden, look at Assange, look at Epstein.

I'll give you a clue on how this works: Icke's theory is ludicrous to the point of applesauce. I know from my knowledge on religion that almost everything consequential he wrote on that topic was utter nonsense. I destroyed his statements using the references her provided so often that it was laughable. That's why nobody of any qualified authority even bothers to discuss Icke. Because when you lift the veil, there's nothing there. I repeat: if David were even remotely correct, he'd be gone. But (until recently) he wasn't on anyone's radar because his information was so wholly fabricated and it wasn't worth anyone's time.

Now, it would be unfair for me to shred this book to ribbons and leave it like that. Because, as is everything, it wasn't all bad, and does deserve some respect. One undeniable strength of Icke's is his immense research abilities. The amount of effort that has gone into this book is daunting, and when coupled with the man's imagination, it's a thorough piece of work (even if he built it upon matchsticks). His pedantically detailed timeline of events led me down some fascinating rabbit holes, and I came away with newfound and appreciated education on specific topics (such as migration and ancient cultures). Those who accept Icke's messy inaccuracies are easily manipulated individuals, sure, but I understand the appeal, owed in part to Icke's delivery. He has taken in-depth and far-out ideas, then presented them in a simplistic easy-to-understand format without losing a certain sense of humour. If you face this book as the fantastical theory that it is, then it's an exhilarating read as well as potentially the most hilarious joke you've ever heard.

But, once again, we must be open enough to query whether maybe, just maybe, the story might be true. In this case, then Icke is not the one to tell it. His contribution is detrimental as he leaps to conclusions and pushes too far with base-less ideas, wrecking his credibility as the expert on subjects that have zero foundations. Theories are acceptable when recognised as just that: theories. But this was presented as a one-sided fact without merit, and that is its ultimate downfall.

That said, when you make a million statements, some are going to land, and certain speculations that predate his work are worth the contemplation time. Was there alien interference with our DNA? The proposal is not too far-fetched (the Rh incompatibility blood types are a decent indicator of this). Are the people in power hiding secret agendas, perhaps to reach a New World Order? Plausible. Does paedophilia run rife throughout the elite of our society? Paedophilia exists in all classes, and many high profile figures have been caught over the years, so these accusations are nothing new. But where Icke falls short is his obsession with linking everything together, fluffing far-removed concepts towards one another until his conclusions are so wild and groundless that it does not work on any rational plane. I don't doubt there's some crazy stuff going on, and whether you think there's not, or whether you think you know what's going on, or whether you think David Icke knows what's going on, then you are very closed off either which way.

But if we ever do somehow prove Icke was telling the truth, then fuck me. That's terrifying.

If I had the time, I'd write a conspiracy book of my own. Icke has shown me that you can build a mass following using assumptions alone, and I feel confident I could do so using more substantial evidence than he ever did. For starters, Icke discusses how he studied the manipulation tricks of the government and religion and media, and I believe he has exploited this knowledge for his gain. Don't believe anyone but me! Be very selective with your research! And why? Because Icke is a puppet of the New World Order himself. I'm not the first to make this connection. How do you distract the masses from looking into a plot of global control? Send in a lunatic, blabbering about lizard baby-eaters from the 5th dimension! It will repel the rational and consume the paranoid. Look at those social media platforms deleting Icke's profiles. Did that censor Icke? Or did it light a fire under his name, skyrocketing him into a much larger stratosphere of conversation? Did the banning of that London Reel video encourage more or fewer people to watch it? Do you think Facebook and YouTube with all their unlimited data on how users operate did not know this would happen? Think about it.

Furthermore, Icke's barrage of mind-warping information is a conditioning technique which has worked on many. His target is those who were already vulnerable, susceptible to irrationality due to obsessive personalities as well as (let's be honest) some history with marijuana usage. The plan is to appeal to shaken brains who seek meaning, yearning to feel special like they're part of a counter-movement of intellectual whispers. Icke talks about conditioning techniques extensively while using them himself, and it's very smart. He's telling you he's doing it to you while he does so, hidden in plain sight. I could go on for a long time about this, but I'd recommend you look up Ivan Fraser (who helped edit this book and was one of the eight names mentioned on the "dedicated to" page) and his dodgy experience with David Icke, as well as how Arizona Wilder (one of his key-witnesses to the lizards) was groomed to repeat his words. It's a sickening account indicating a willingness to manipulate others for his financial gain, which I believe Icke is doing to his readers too.

Let's take a more in-depth look at the common denominators between his followers that may indicate some form of manipulation has taken place. Readers of Icke claim that mainstream media have brainwashed the average person, yet they exclusively consume conspiracy theory material all day (mostly written by other conspiracy theorists without any professional basis to back their statements up). These people also claim we must question everything, but when you question their stance, they label us sheeple. These people also believe anything a book like Icke's will tell them, rejecting the scientific publications, because that same book told them to do so, the most blatant cycle of misdirection I've ever witnessed. It's a wall of irrationality and, in my experience, locked securely; utterly inscrutable. No fact is acceptable except for the ones presented by sources that agree with their narrative. Proof is a minor criterion.

For a group of people who pride themselves on open-mindedness, general conspiracy theorists are suspiciously close-minded. I find it funny, because I when I initially picked holes this book, I was told that my mind wasn't open enough. It's a false sense of tolerance which flairs into arrogance or defensiveness at the first whiff of opposition. If you believe the media, they scoff down at you with smugness. If you've researched their theories and can challenge them on their level, they turn rigid. They've adapted a victimised mentality, any criticism you offer is taken as a personal attack and promptly disregarded because you are too blind to see what they see. The resistant reactions I've experienced were borderline delusional. I've had one specific individual fighting my research by screaming at my face in public, his only words of evidence that "It's it obvious! Can't you see?! It's obvious!". This behaviour is more worrying than any religious nutter I have ever had to deal with in my life.

I am reminded of a quote by Tim Kreider, which goes:

"Outrage is like a lot of other things that feel good but, over time, devour us from the inside out. Except it's even more insidious than most vices because we don't even consciously acknowledge that it's a pleasure."

This stance rings accurate for conspiracy theorists too. They don't recognise that they are addicted to this way of thinking. It's granting them that elusive spirituality we all seek. It becomes a drug that serves the ego; a position of superiority where they believe they've found truth above general society just like all religions. In that motion, they post about their obsessions non-stop whilst swiftly rejecting any contradictory information under the guise that they do not swallow what they are told. They don't realise that they are swallowing what they are told. They fail to recognise it simply because it's not from a mainstream source. It's from books which make money off of their target market exactly. It's from articles that you can back-research to complete fabrication fueled by the mistrust of any standard data. It is incomprehensible, but here it is.

COVID-19 is an archetype of this formula. Despite scientists predicting an outbreak for decades, this is an unlikely scenario for Icke's children. Instead, the reptilian overlords are using a pandemic to control us. That makes more sense to them somehow.

Deep breath and realigning to my personal timeline, I was elated when I cracked all the clues throughout the conspiracy universe and resolved this madness. I could help people see the light! Let me share the good news! My friends, you do not have to be afraid! I did more research than anyone, I did more research than you, and I can get you out of this neurotic swamp! I started by writing two unrelated-to-Icke conspiracy articles named Is 5G an Evil Weapon Against Our Health? and Does Bill Gates Have Evil Vaccination Intentions?. I utilised a non-bias, resource-only based approach, and I was proud of them. I had a third one in the works too, but I ultimately shelved it after it came to my attention that these friends were not interested in citable investigations because their "open minds" were shut cases. I was dismissed by those who called me dismissive. I was labelled condescending by people who spend all day telling their Facebook friends how stupid they are. I recall politely listening to one lady explain why corona was a hoax for half an hour, but when I expressed my disagreement, my Messanger was annihilated by rows of laughing emojis. My weeks of research lost the battle; my hundreds of sources were no match for preconvictions. I was drowned out by a newsfeed of anti-vaxxer speeches, pizza-paedophile accusations, and Bill Gates YouTube videos, even if I could debunk all of them within 10 minutes using the same sources they provided. It took far too long to realise that facts meant nothing in this battle. So I surrendered. I stopped correcting these posts. I stopped posting about COVID completely. Because my happiness was being affected.

The depressing reality is that no matter which side you vocalise support for, you create a circle jerk of exclusion. Posting conspiracy theories or anti-conspiracy theories only reaffirm the bonds with those who agree with you at the same time as driving a stronger wedge between those who don't. I wanted to assist the people I cared for, but there came the point when I had to turn the spotlight on myself. My exploration into these concepts hit brick walls with such consistency that I grew exhausted by a repetition which held me back for so long. I could have done something meaningful with my time! I could have pursued my spirituality, and I could have helped people in more reliable ways. Instead, I tortured my wellbeing with nonsensical garbage that has zero foundations in reality, and the frustration was sickening. There is unshakable darkness within this type of study—I experienced it firsthand. Texts like Icke's and the likes train your brain to think in suspicious ways, every report suddenly stinks of ulterior motives that vomited from my delusions, and it’s going to take a while for me to unpick this crap from my immediate psyche. I regret everything but I'm happy that my recovery has begun. Meanwhile, those who are dedicated to these theories will gradually spiral into unrest until their presence conjures nothing but social gloom. Many will die harnessing that energy, and perhaps in those final moments, they will realise how they traded the miracle of their life for a suffering they could never justify with any rational proof. We can only hope they reach this conclusion at all.

Speaking of conclusion, here is mine: this book is a significant waste of time. It is a contender for the worst book I have ever read. I confess that I skimmed the final hundred pages or so because I could no longer stomach the poison. This does not mean to say that Icke and his followers are wrong, but it does mean to say that the theories stated in this book have no basis in researchable information and were entirely made up by Icke as he went along.

I know it may not seem like it, but I wholeheartedly support conspiracy theorists. I believe that society benefits from their sharp, sceptical eyes that fixate on those in power; they will be the first to notice when certain figures overstep the boundaries. However, I do have an issue when people forget the definition of the word "theories", and if Icke's farts are your predominate perception of the wider picture, then that a disturbing place to be.

The world has changed immeasurably in recent months. Stories of factless paranoia used to be cute and harmless, but right now, these attitudes have real-world repercussions. People are refusing vaccinations and masks based on sources which are paper-thin. I take these agitations personally because our strange current environment is ripe for spiritual growth yet we are being robbed by those arrogant contrarians who swear they've cracked the code. The globe is working in a unity like never before. We are making communal progress that could benefit us for the rest of human existence. But these views from negative spaces of fairy tales are hijacking the efforts. To label the majority of the population as sleepy because we don't see through the lizard king's eyes is disrespectful. And I believe this stance to be the single biggest threat to a global spiritual revolution right now.

Books like The Biggest Secret sell themselves as "eye-openers" and, yes, it did open my eyes. I see now how easy it is to manipulate the masses. People are too lazy to research what you're saying and instead are so desperate for meaning that they'll latch onto anything that heightens their emotions. Can anyone do what Icke has done? I'm starting to comprehend how this is possible.

In the end, some unfortunate cards fell upon my table. Very close friends to me who I respected the opinions of were members of this movement, and it polluted my radar. Most people I've met rightfully laugh off this nonsense and go on with their lives, whereas I took it on board. With a heavy heart, I wonder how much permanent damage has been inflicted on these once-close relationships because they are bad right now. If you've managed to experience these strange times without such an additional burden of filth, I am envious of you because I lost a lot of reflective time and invited a ton of resistance into my days. Hopefully, with this catharsis piece out of the way, I can finally accept the error of focus and move forward, ceasing my contribution to this neurosis pool forever. But let this be a lesson to anyone so inclined: never push your shit into my face. Because, if you get my attention, I will research it and I will write about it. And you probably won't like what I have to say.

Anyway, don't read this book, it's fucking garbage.

Friday, 12 June 2020

Worst to Best: Jarexit II

Worst to Best: Jarexit II (July 2019 - December 2019)

On the 9th of June 2019, my celestial contract with Brakishu had come full circle and our deal was terminated on amicable grounds. For six months, a path had been guided by his/her warm embrace and (ignoring a handful of minor mishaps) my mission was an undeniable success! I stole inspiration apples from 10 different countries then returned to the safety of my London nest, unharmed. Thanks, Brakishu! I owe you, bro! It’s right there in the fine print!

Back then, the adventure was dubbed "Jarexit", no sequential numbering required for it was the only thing, so says ye oh Lord Kanye, amen. I hold no reservations of how thrilled I was to be back in the Queen’s England. I practised my intricate tales of risky excursions, stories ready to be passed down to future generations, neatly ordered, a beginning, middle, and end, ample character development, moral lessons learned, twists and turns and crash landings directly into the eager ears of my friends. Imagine my horror, then, as no one wanted to hear about my trip whatsoever.

I have since learned that travelling is much like a dream. For, no matter how gloriously surreal these events may seem in the brain, nobody else cares. Instead, their lives had continued with or without me. London chugged onward and my return signalled nothing profound to anyone but myself. I was merely re-slotted into the machine with polite handshakes and one-worded formalities, an acknowledgement as humbling as it was infinitely frustrating. I had just witnessed lands that no man before me had ever witnessed*! And yet here I was, in my home, without a dime of attention spent on my story?? Unacceptable! Understandable, sure. But unacceptable all the same. In a fluster, I questioned the fabric of existence as well as the termination of my previous deal. Was the plug pulled prematurely? I was having the best time of my entire life back there. Why did I stop? Why didn’t I just... carry on?

Once that thought seed had been planted there was no ceasing the flourishment of insanity. I didn’t even pack my bags for I had never unpacked them in the first place. Instead, I waved goodbye to faces that were bored of my goodbyes and, on the 27th of July 2019, Jarexit became Jarexit I and Jarexit II became the now back then. No protection spells. No rules. No time limit. No set amount of countries. No calorie counting. Total freedom with only one overall goal: I wanna go to Tokyo for my birthday! Did I make it? You know the answer. Read on anyway.

But before that, here’s my offering to you: the list below can serve your wicked ways as much as mine. Use it to test the waters before you explore the oceans. Inspect these regions through my eyes as all of the photos are my own. Read my recommendations of landmarks, heed my advice on the hostels I rested my head, and join a pub crawl or two if you feel like getting fucked up. And, hey, if you and I exchanged communication over my trails of travel then don’t be surprised if you find your name written within these holy texts, exposed for all the world to see. I didn't even ask for permission, lol, soz.

Ultimately, Jarexit II did come to an end and I slid directly into Jarexit III without a break but that’s a story for a later moment. Don’t get greedy, take what you’re given. This is what you’re given. Remember me for the good times only, enjoy.

Worst to Best: Jarexit II: 10. Bangkok, Thailand

10. Bangkok, Thailand

Dates: 2 Nov 19 - 9 Nov 19
Accommodation: Hits Hostel [7/10]

The joke here is that Bangkok effortlessly topped my Jarexit I list, yet plummeted down into the deepest pits of the second round, the worst possible slot on my presentation, how embarrassing. How could this happen? How could the former king of the ladder slip and crash through every rung, ending up as nothing but a crusty stain upon my otherwise immaculate rug? I gave it roughly two seconds of thought and can relay the answer via one word: hype.

My initial visit to the Thailand capital five months previous was an empty vase of obliviousness found balancing on that line between nervousness and excitement, ready to catch the traditions of the land with nothing but respect. And what shone down with the bright Sun was a wonderfully dangerous juxtaposition of calming Buddhism spirituality and the seediest of all adult locations that I have ever exposed my eyeballs to. I last left Bangkok equating it with the exact meeting point between God and the Devil, which is the only flavour I hope for in life. All of the flavours! Let's represent every vibration equally. Let's give the dark and the light the same fighting chance.

This contradictory environment was a blessing once upon a time but in the sequel, it had swiftly mutated into a curse and, what's more, it was my fault entirely. I waltzed into this city a second time as if I owned it. I tossed my luggage into my hostel without caring that it wasn't the greatest accommodation. Because it was the greatest location! Footsteps away from the infamous Khao San Road aka "the centre of the backpacking universe" according to The Beach. And within minutes I was already hitting those streets like the cocky Western tourist I had accidentally become. And the streets hit back.

What played out can only be recalled as a montage of brief snippets. My full intention was to recreate the magic but my strategy wasn't exactly the most refined that I've come up with. I basically just drank and drank and drank for two days until I had leaned too far the devil way. One of the more troubling of my memories flashes by with lightening. I was on the back of a taxi-scooter beneath a full-blown torrential thunderstorm, trying to save my phone but also acutely aware that this could be the end of me. The roads were flooded, my driver looked terrified and each time our tyres slid out of line I heard the voice of death spitting my name. I may have been out of it but this was not fun. It was very bad.

Not that it stopped me. At some point, I found myself at one of those world-renowned Bangkok red-light districts playing pool with ladyboys because that's what I did the last time and so we needed to do that again. Maybe there's something sick inside of me but I adore the attention as these lovely ladies attempt to coerce me into bed with their broken Englishmy predefined sexuality goes haywire! Of course, it was futile on their part, I was long past the drunk where my dick would work but I bought them a million drinks so everybody won in the end. Well, except me. I had some pretty in-depth conversations with the ATMs over this period. I am 99% sure I was robbed at one point. I have this final hazy memory of vomiting into a plastic bag in the back of a taxi this time, nearly filling it to the brim, of which you will find photo evidence among the Instagram Snaps below.

And on the third day, my phone broke. It suddenly decided it didn't like the internet and refused to connect to any wifi no matter where I was. My laptop google told me to put my phone in the freezer which did work for five minutes at a time. Unsustainable. Eventually, I had to get professional help and took my soaking hangover to a massive electronics market where they fixed my baby for £50. That's cheaper than most places, for sure, but still a kick to the bank account following a series of kicks, really damaging a dude who was already lying down in fetal position. If I'm honest, I was riding in debt from my previous two months anyway, which we'll get to in good time.

For now, we can cut a long story/week short and focus on how I shattered to pieces. No surprises that the Depression Monster kicked down the door because I had invited him over. He did this thing like he always does, punching me in my tear ducts then chaining me to the bed, a position I hardly left for around three days. I worked my job from under the covers. I watched cartoons for the rest of the time. It was a low, man. Real rough. But I'm a veteran now, so what do we do? We wait. We ride it out. And that's why my Bangkok photos are all shit.

There were some good fortunes, we must always count those. For example, I found out that the artwork for The Clash's album Combat Rock was shot around these parts and I scouted that out for a while. I also had a private room and the hostel gave us free eggs in the morning so that blessed me with the space to worry about other things. Then again, there was no hot water so my cries in the shower had to be well-planned and efficient. It's funny now, but back then it was bleak to the power of bleakness squared.

The days ticked on by and the serotonin returned just in time for Friday where I met up with two Bangkok legends named Angela and Henry. They did what they're good at and cheered me up over the pass mark again, washing the sour tastes away with yummy vegan food and an acceptable amount of beer. Thank you!

After that, I could step away and examine the experience from an objective distance. I concluded that I had probably frazzled my brain a little too hard. As we'll get in a moment, my previous two months had not been easy. I ran from Dubai to New Delhi to KL to Tokyo and then Bangkok. That's a fucking overload by anyone standards and I was overdue a breakdown if we're being honest with ourselves. Regardless, there was no justification for how smashed up I was. I left the city very aware that this country tickles out a strange version of myself and I must never ever go back.

I’m less convinced now. It’s still one of the coolest places in the world so why cut that off? My third visit will surely be better. I have been put in my place. I have learned my lesson. This would never happen again. Right?

Top Five Recommended Sights
The Grand Palace, Nana Plaza, Top of the King Power MahaNakhon, The Ratchada Night Market, Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan.
(The above was lifted directly from Jarexit I, it's for the best.

Instagram Snaps
Set 1 | Summary Shot

Monstrocity Drawing (from Jarexit I)

Worst to Best: Jarexit II: 9. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

9. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Dates: 5 Oct 2019 - 13 Oct 2019
Accommodation: SS Suites @ Swiss Garden Residences [8.8/10]

Moving on and exposing a suspicious pattern: KL was also a firm contender on my Jarext I list and yet it tumbled from grace upon my second visit. Is it possible that a place will never be as rad as it was the first time? Do repeated visits wear the magic down? Is the surprise factor lost in the sea of familiarity? There's some truth in that. But, as always, it's not that simple.

The problem with this story is that I've told it so many times and it's a sobby job and I'm tired of it. What's more, every time I run over the details online, I get in trouble for it. However, for the completists, here we go again, once more with feeling: I visited KL for the second time within five months because of a girl. Naturally, she is a very very pretty girl with a certain aura so special that I'd never swiped right on anything quite like her before. And during our absence, my brain had convinced me that she might be the one. "Spend all your money on her!" was the instruction. Copy that! And so I set about doing the very best I could do.

If you chart my movements to Tokyo, KL was a weird sidestep, not exactly on the way. The price of this detour flight was not a consideration, my eagerness had taken the wheel. Next up, I paid for some accommodation which was the true budget buster but, damn, you get what you pay for! And this was a full-on apartment, inarguably the lushest place I've stayed in over my entire Jarexit II adventure, quirky decor, central location, gym, swimming pool... perfect to play marriage in! Yesss! I would convince this girl to run away with me in no time! I excitedly broke the news to her and that's when she informed me that she had very recently found another lover sweeter than me, more precious than me.

In my memory, we had a plan, one which we'd conversed about before, I have the documentation. But in her memory, this was not the case. Regardless, what was done was done and I arrived back in Kuala Lumpur with a miniature dose of heartbreak. Melodrama snipped my flowering feelings at the stem and I spent my days staring out of the window from my extra-comfortable accommodation, mourning the fantasies of affection I never had, mourning the money I would never get back. At least it was the rainy season which provided some solidarity as the gods and I cried together. Just kidding, I obviously didn't cry.

This girl and I still hung out (we watched Joker together which was my film of the year!) and that works as further evidence as to how great she is. But I was running on the fumes of insanity and I ruined everything in that special way only the Jared Brand can manage. Hindsight has been torturous and I can see how inappropriately I behaved⁠—not in any physical manner, but emotionally and mentally. I couldn't shake this dark energy of self-importance that I'd been dealt an unfair hand and, boy, did I let her know. Even after I left, I couldn't let her go, sending her loving messages and even a gift from Japan. At the time I thought I was being sweet and romantic but now I see what she saw: I was being manipulative. My full intention was to convince her that I was better than her boy, that I was the solution to her everything. It's taken me a long time to understand that I was in the wrong.

A few months later and she rightfully told me to fuck off. She has even unfollowed me on Instagram since, which is when you know it's serious.

Another conflict of character is that she's a very private person whereas I like to tell everyone everything. I respect her wishes, on the one hand. I've never told anyone her name nor has anyone seen what she looks like (which is a goddamn crime, I assure you). On the other hand, I still betray some of her privacy with articles like this one. I tell myself it's ok because there is literally no social connection between us. No public photos exist where we are seen together. No mutual friends are asked to pick sides.

Regardless, she has expressed immense loathing when I write about her and so I know that if she's reading this, she's probably all kinds of mad with me, the negative perception reinforced even deeper. And that is fair enough. But if these are your eyes, KL female girl, I want you to know that I am deeply regretful for my behaviour. I have an embarrassing history of malfunctioning when people I was once vibing with reject me and that is something I am aware of and working on. Unfortunately, this does you and me no good. The damage is done. I take the blame. I was hurt and I acted from that place of hurt and I was a dick for doing so. That said, I will continue on this mind timeline with the hope that one day we can patch things up and be good friends again because I am a huge fan of yours. We got along really well. I think we can get there.

Now that this section has reached the end of its emo trail, it's obvious why KL didn't return the most impressive scorecard. However, it's just as obvious that this had nothing to do with KL whatsoever. Because Kuala Lumpur still stands strong as one of the (or perhaps the?) most underrated city I’ve ever been to. The fact that people don't talk about it all the time is criminal and I am now doing my part to encourage tourism to that piece of the world because it's got a flow that brings me great peace. If there ever was a capital city to be miserable in, this could be the winner. I guess it's what that ancient prophet said once upon a time. You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well, you just might find you get what you need. Oh, Mickey, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey!

Top Five Recommended Sights
The Petronas Towers from KLCC Park, KL Forest Eco Park, Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park, Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Museum Of Illusions.
(The above was lifted directly from Jarexit I, it's for the best)

Instagram Snaps
Set 1 | Summary Shot

Monstrocity Drawing (from Jarexit I)

Worst to Best: Jarexit II: 8. New Delhi, India

8. New Delhi, India

Dates: 21 Sep 2019 - 5 Oct 2019
Accommodation: PODSTOP (21 Sep - 29 Sep 2019) [7.9/10]
Bunk Hostel Delhi (29 Sep - 5 Oct 2019) [3/10]

Having spent some time missioning around India with a bunch of mates in 2015, I figured I had a pretty decent grasp on the nation’s capital and I strolled in with confidence. No doubt about it, the next two weeks were going to be as smooth as floating upon a cloud. I pictured myself as some yogi guru who would make a pact with all of the gods, reaching a peak of spiritual calm that only the chosen Hindu people could achieve. I would balance a thousand plates upon my head! Brahman would accept me as its own! I would transcend my physical form! None of this happened.

It went more like this: Every morning I'd greet the day in excitement mode, rushing out the hostel doors to explore this world of potent smells, vibrant visuals and relentless buzzing noises. But the instant I stepped outside, a sledgehammer would pummel my face, my skull cracking down the middle, letting all sorts of stresses inside.

The utter chaos of this city remains unchallenged in my experience as a madness beyond realms of mortals, truly unlike anywhere else in the world. The car horns are like a thousand dicks deep throating your eardrums. The air pollution is so thick that you burn your eyes when you try to see through it. And the street plastic has conglomerated with the human faeces to create trash mountains that the cows love to eat right up, yum yum. It's a lot to take in. The poverty runs so deep that I was never sure if I stepped over a dead person or not. This would normally puncture my heart but you learn to build a shell of protection quick. You especially need to do this as a white person because the harassment is an evergrowing stack of bricks strapped to your back. Everyone wants to chat to you, they want to practice their English with you, they want you to buy their stuff, they want you to get into their taxi, they want to take a selfie with you whether you permit it or not. The people are friendly but are they? You’re never in danger but aren't you? The amount of times you say "no" in one day only ends once you stop saying it. I was shouting it.

And when you finally get back to your hostel, you crash facefirst into your pillow and your brain is upside down, filled with bees, and you swear you can’t survive another day in this sensory overload type of world.

It doesn't matter where I’ve been in my life. You name it, none of it is a speck of dirt in comparison to how gruelling this city is. It's like your spirit is being smothered by an energy turned up to 11 and I cursed myself for forgetting how much I had struggled with all of this last time, angry that I had come back to fight it again. But, as it turns out, I forgot something else too...

There's a curious charm that thrives in the noisy thick of New Delhi and it fuses itself to you. When you leave the kaleidoscopic rollercoaster that is India's capital, everything that comes next falls short. If it's not India, then it's too quiet, it's too easy, it's too boring. The unbearable intensity dries and crumbles out of your mind and you crave the dirt again. In its absence, bright vibrancy shines through the cracks and you recall how much fun you actually had. By Shiva, that was a powerful trip, man! The traffic alone is enough to make you a religious person because you pray for your life! Tinder works so well you become spoilt! And the affordability is absurd. Ubers cost a quid a pop. I had a 90p haircut at one point. I felt guilty about being British the whole time. In fact, I had one girl nearly walk out on a date because of my UK passport. Fair enough, historically speaking. Thankfully, I am a born South African otherwise she may not have fucked me that night.

Another strong flavour left on my tongue was the people I met during this stop. Partying at The Key was genuinely one of the best nightclub experiences of my life. Hey Sheen, wish we got to hang. Sup Jenny, you were a highlight. The Podstop hostel turned out to be a social goldmine and the crew from there still stand out as legends of the highest calibre; humans I'd gladly go out of my way to hang out with again. Shout-out to Eva, to Aneta, to Aakash, to Monty, to PJ and everyone else from that period, you peoples are inside of my mind permanently. Even more so, I extend a separate batch of love to Giacomo and Felix. You two dudes were the soundest of the sound and I properly enjoyed every single moment chilling with you brothers. I wish nothing but the best for both of your paths for the rest of all time.

I made a minor misjudgement when I moved to Bunk Hostel Delhi for my second week. I wanted a private room for some space to myself and it was fucked. An impenetrable language barrier, the noisiest street in India, my private toilet leaked liquid all over the floor. I tore them a new hole on, a review so vicious that they somehow managed to get it deleted from the website, a feat I did not even know was possible. Respect.

Speaking of impossibles, did you know that I am the only tourist from the whole Western world to spend two weeks in his city and not get Delhi Belly? It's true, look it up. Anyway, I wanna go back, I'm serious, let's go back.

Top Five Recommended Sights
The Lotus Temple, Agrasen ki Baoli, Raj Ghat Memorial, Jantar Mantar, The Siddh Hanuman Mandir

Instagram Snaps
Set 1 | Set 2 | Set 3 | Summary Shot

Monstrocity Drawing

Worst to Best: Jarexit II: 7. Glasgow, Scotland, UK

7. Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Dates: 27 July 2019 - 4 August 2019
Accommodation: Giulia's Home [N/A]

When the Jarexit II door was first opened, I didn't explode into the stratosphere like some may have done and, instead, I took the most cautious step out of London I could. This was to be an easy transition, one where I remained in the same country (the UK, even though it was England to Scotland), where everyone spoke the same language (English, even though the thick local accent meant most spoken words were indecipherable), and where the same legal tender was accepted (the Queen’s pound, even though the notes look completely different).

Hold up and let's rewind a decade or so before. This story starts with an online Italian friend of mine. We will call her Giulia because that is her name. We connected over a mutual adoration for Lily Allen and gradually interacted with one another across all social media platforms until we became real friends. This binary code manifested into reality around 2018, when we finally met in person at All Points East festival in London. We reached a mutual agreement that we were both probably ok and she said I could come and visit her in Glasgow one day. Big mistake, Giulia! As I went there and I killed her and then I stole all of her coffee.

The coffee part is true! As are many other lovely factors which I could collect into a long-verse poem and call it Giulia. She let me into her home, gave me a place to sleep, gave me her wifi password, fed me Marmite peanut butter, and then took time out of her busy life to show me around her city. And her city was cool! I mean, very wet and rainy, sure, but that did not deter my mission in the slightest. I was dedicated to the cause! And I spent every lunchtime and whatever other available hours I had to explore these naturally beautiful planes, running around graveyards, hunting down Oor Wullie statues, photographing renowned murals, attending improv shows, admiring famous artwork, eating deep-fried Mars Bars, drinking probably a bit much, and doing all sorts of other stuff, you wouldn't believe it.

But nothing compares to the mini-Trainspotting solo tour I mapped out all by myself. At least two days worth of adventure time was focused on visiting various spots from that classic film, which meant a lot to me. That movie, man. It shifted a fundamental part of my psyche when I watched it, probably because I was faaaar under the recommended age restriction when I did. It was an honour to breathe oxygen in those areas while contemplating giving up everything for heroin. I felt like a teenager all over again!

Looking at this overall list, Glasgow may not have scored high but I think the reasons are fair. One week wasn’t enough. The weather and I had some beef. The UK is as the UK does. But I did get to hang out with my long-running friend Kate and my newer long-running friend Dan and my newest friend of them all, Emma, a baby human that these two legends created. Woohoo! That was very nice. And, of course, there was Giulia. Sweet Giulia. Love of my life, Giulia. Future wife whether she likes it or not, Giulia.

Top Five Recommended Sights
Duke of Wellington Statue, Glasgow Necropolis, The University of Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Ashton Lane

Instagram Snaps
Set 1 (Trainspotting Tour) | Set 2 | Summary Shot

Monstrocity Drawing

Worst to Best: Jarexit II: 6. Barcelona/Madrid, Spain

6. Barcelona/Madrid, Spain

Dates: 24 Nov 2019 - 25 Dec 2019
Accommodation: Primavera Hostel (Barcelona, 24 Nov 2019 - 8 Dec 2019) [8/10]
Sweet BCN Youth Hostel (Barcelona, 8 Dec 2019 – 14 Dec 2019) [7/10]
Hotel Delicias (Zaragoza, 14 Dec 2019 - 15 Dec 2019) [6/10]
I Love Madrid Hostel (Madrid, 15 Dec 2019 - Wed 25 Dec 2019) [7/10]

My month-long stretch in Spain is a difficult one to summarise, stuffed to the breaking point with shimmering highlights and strenuous pitfalls, tales of love and loss, of pains and lessons, of blahs and blahs. In a fairer Jarexit world, the Barcelona-meets-Madrid city clash should have been split out into two separate chapters because the glue that joins them is nothing but a common country. Too late now, here we are.

Rushing right in and observing Barcelona, allow me to loudly state my undying love for this city. I love you, Barcelona! I adore this city so much that I've regularly referred to it as my “second home” without any regard to what my first home might be. It doesn't matter! What matters is that this was my 4th visit to this happy place and, in many ways, my favourite yet.

This elevation was owed, in part, to #ME. Over the last year of Jarexits, I had become an expert explorer, up there with the best, hence why I zipped along this familiar environment as if it was my first time, utilising sharper eyes to uncover an incredible amount of stuff I'd never discovered before. And these joyous findings united with the regular beaches and the religious establishments and the street buzz and the skyline views and the sunshine and the people (sup Alex, sup Carlos, sup Kate) until my problems evaporated and my previous adorations were reaffirmed. Oh, and Antoni Gaudi? The greatest architect that ever lived, surely. A firm fixture of the gawks. The Basílica de la Sagrada Família, my stomach. Oh, and the Montjuïc Cemetery? I’ve scuttled around graveyards all over the world but this was inarguably the craziest one.

There were even higher highs than these above examples. Crying as I watched Kate Tempest live for the first time was certainly one. The On The Rocks Pub Crawl was a goodie. Shout-out to the 8th of December 2019 where I celebrated my one year running with this nomadic lifestyle. I also have a note praising the 5th of December when Primavera Hostel fed us a free vegan meal and I spent an hour chatting to a beautiful Russian girl. Following that, my job (Pencilmation) was announced as the 3rd biggest content creator in 2019 according to YouTube Rewind and then a dorm mate I had never spoken to before handed me a Russian coin out of nowhere and said, "For memories". I feel so warm!

But as appreciated as these Mario Mushrooms were, the complete Barcelona game did not always go according to plan. In fact, when I make a list of the worst things that have happened to me during all of my Jarexit travels, the following story ranks in the top three.

To summarise for time-reasons: after a particularly inspiring day of blissful tourism, I happened upon a magical vegan grocery store at the end of the rainbow. I shredded wads of cash there then skipped home with a bag of goodies. I opted to cook happy burgers right away and separated the patties with a big sharp kitchen knife, promptly sliding the blade so deep into my left palm that is almost poked out the other side. My ring finger lost its entire sense of feeling immediately, I had obviously severed a nerve. The tiny wound flapped open like a vagina and, naturally, it began to bleed. I slapped the burgers onto the frying pan as I sucked on the hole and was then sickened to discover how much of my internal hand-meat had prolapsed out from the cut. My head spun and I knew I was about to faint so I rushed to my room and collapsed into my bed with one thought swirling around my befuddlement: those burgers are still cooking, brother. There's a fire hazard waiting to happen.

Thankfully, that didn't happen. Instead, I spent several hours wobbling around this Spanish terrain, visiting hospitals, conversing about their impossible waiting times and extortionate prices. My frugality and boredom ultimately conquered and I decided to risk it, doing nothing. For a week, the wound remained open and I couldn’t shake the trauma. My head played the VHS over and over. The city’s once flowery aura had turned dark and spoiled. One day in particular I couldn't get out bed I was so down. Thankfully, the injury did eventually heal up and, even though I am still lacking most of that finger’s sensation to this very day, I reflect upon this outcome with gratitude. Thank you, outcome. The number of ways this could have been worse is infinite.

Besides that gigantic hiccup and the fact that the Tories annihilated the 2019 United Kingdom general election (blah!), I think I was just mostly exhausted. Three Barcelona weeks came and went where I had slept in six-to-eight people rooms and I’d heard too many octaves of snores to be comfortable anymore. Don’t get me wrong, the two hostels I stayed at were each excellent in their own rights and I am still the undefeated adventure master. But travel fatigue is a real phenomenon and it was setting in fast. This wasn’t good because my Spain journey was only halfway done...

The next major stop was aimed towards the Spanish capital of Madrid but I decided to embark on a sneaky side manoeuver, tiptoeing through Borja and Zaragoza for one day and one sleeps. There was a singular reason for this and a singular reason only: I wanted to look at the Ecce Homo painting (i.e: Ecce Mono; Potato Jesus). This was the botched Christ art piece which had since become an internet sensation. The mere awareness of its existence had brought so much joy to my life already. I needed to scan its contents in HD!

Getting to this little fella was a different story (5 am Barcelona start, two-hour train to Zaragoza, 1-hour bus to Borja, 6km walk up a steep hill to the Sanctuary of Mercy church) but the smiling sun made for a pleasant trip and the cherry was oh-so-worth-it. The painting is just too funny. I was in hysterics for the rest of the day, I truly love myself for doing this for myself, it was a moment of immense pride. Perhaps even more amusing than the painting is how much tourism money this fuck-up is pumping into Borja’s economy, it's like nothing they've ever seen, truly a miracle from Jesus. Meanwhile, Borja itself was interesting enough in that derelict type of way. Although, with only a 5,000 population, it was eerily quiet and I felt like everyone knew I was there. Let's get out of here! I popped down to Zaragoza to crash out in a private room (finally!), spending only a few hours exploring this (much bigger) city. It was whirring with social activity and I was legit heartbroken to leave so soon. I half-swore I'd cover this place properly at a later date, so let me know if you're keen for that.

Such an exhilaratingly swift adventure done and Madrid finally landed my way. First time ever! And I hit it hard! Multiple spots every day, soaking my eyeballs in some truly magnificent landmarks and works of art. I had spent a fair share of my travel life in Spain but I realised I had been missing a trick. This fresh piece of the puzzle was exploding my skull out! These streets wanna party. I have it in writing that, at the time, I claimed that Madrid was better than Barcelona. Blasphemy! And not a fair statement at all! But the sentiment was made and it means more than I could express here. The cut in my hand healed up. I had a few drinks with my a-grade London pal Javier. My mana bubbled to the rim, fully replenished. I remembered who I was. I was the king.

This ego trip didn’t last. The time came to snip the fun and games to an early demise and hunch over my laptop to honour my self-imposed deadlines. You see, the end of December is always a challenging time of year for me because I have annual projects which require wrapping up. This means days upon days upon days of sitting in my cramped hostel, smashing my fists into my keyboard while everyone around me has the holiday of their life. But did they knock out an entire book titled The Top 250 Albums of the Decade? Or did they write an article which intricately picked apart every detail of the year named Dear 2019? No, they didn’t. Travelling is cool and all but work is my first love, so I look back on it without regrets. We do what we do. I clicked to publish the juices of my labour and then, on the loneliest Christmas day in history, I packed my bags and said goodbye to Spain, with my itinerary list only half satisfied. Something to do next time, I guess.

Jarexit II ended here as I flew to the Americas where the overall game levelled up big time. But that’s a different blog post...

Top Five Recommended Barcelona Sights
Basílica de la Sagrada Família, Montjuïc Cemetery, Park Güell, Cathedral of Barcelona, Bunkers of Carmel

Instagram Barcelona Snaps
Set 1 | Set 2 (Montjuïc Cemetery) | Set 3 | Set 4 | Stabbing (Warning: Random Political Content) | Kate Tempest Review | One Year Jarexit Anniversary | Summary Shot

Monstrocity Drawing (Barcelona)

Instagram Borja/Zaragoza Snaps
Ecce Homo Announcement | Set 1

Top Five Recommended Madrid Sights
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, The Iglesia de San Antonio de los Alemanes, Plaza de Salvador Dalí, Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez (Retiro Park), Madrid Walk of Fame

Instagram Madrid Snaps
Set 1 | Set 2 | Summary Shot

Monstrocity Drawing (Madrid)

Worst to Best: Jarexit II: 5. Gold Coast, Australia

5. Gold Coast, Australia

Dates: 10 Nov 2019 - 23 Nov 2019
Accommodation: Ash's House [N/A]

After feeling like a pinball ricocheting around the craziest locations on the planet (Dubai to New Delhi to KL to Tokyo to Bangkok = deadly!), I had no choice but to desperately dive towards normality, a last-minute save that happened far too late if anything.

Gold Coast has never been claimed as the most action-orientated city in the great country of Australia and you might think this would work in its detriment. The fact that I had been here several months previous normally wouldn't work in its favour either. But this relaxing familiar vibe was everything I needed at that low point, offering various little prizes that most people tend to take for granted. Like friends. And not a hostel. And drinkable tap water. And English.

Wait! Our story truly starts during Jarext I where I ended that entire 6-month tour right here, the Gold Coast never considered a full-fledged chapter but rather a bonus stage after Melbourne. The purpose then was to spend a week with my long lost pal (and fellow Funpowder Plotter) Ash in his natural habitat. What I hadn't accounted for, was that I'd fall in love with the Gold Coast. Because I did. Because the Gold Coast is a fucking paradise set on chill mode. Because no other modes are available. I left with a frowny heart but, as I did so, Ash requested my return for his 40th birthday a few months later. And I said, don’t you worry, my friend. I will be there for that.

We are nothing if not the promises we keep and I fulfilled my brotherly duties right here, on the Jarexit II tour, landing during a substantially warmer season then promptly collapsing with a sickness worse than any I'd tasted during 2019. It makes sense too. No doubt my immune system had taken a beating due to the stress-induced panic that is known generally as Asia. So when my body recognised a safe place, it finally let go, surrendering to the filth and the foreign bacteria I’d exposed myself to over the last months. Not ideal but, also, ideal. If this had to happen, then so be it, this was the perfect place for it to happen in. The feeling of death watering your lungs is never going to be great but when you're on a beach, it's bearable. Glued to the couch from sweat is a pathetic feeling but when Ash hands me some homemade veggie food and a beer, I could hardly justify any self-pity, right? And, gradually, I became human again.

One of the most appreciated of feeding tubes was the one where I ate my friends. A delicious array of old school London peeps made an appearance, most notably Alan, Jock, and the legend Little Ash himself (no relation to larger Ash). Then there was this glorious line-up of newer Australian faces to the likes of Kez, Emily, Beks, Ken, and tons of others, everyone coming together for one reason only... to celebrate the big guy’s birthday. This was done properly, a Mad Max themed party which got reasonably out of control, without a doubt the hardest I've partied over this Jarexit (the competition wasn't high but whatevs). Sadly, the toxins in my system flared my diseases back to the forefront and I fell down sick again with a screaming headache but zero regrets. These are some amazing people, I felt honoured.

The rest of the trip was what truly made it. You'll probably remember the country was on fire around this time and the topic of unrest hung in the air just like the smoke in question. But it's difficult to stress when you're feeding a kangaroo, you know? There was loads of beer, loads of cake, and so much chilling on some of the most beautiful natural terrains I’d seen this year. We all need exercise and I run a lot no matter where I am. But the Palm Beach through Burleigh Head National Park to Burleigh Head Beach? That's my favourite trail in the world thus far. It heals me.

One particular moment I’ll never forget was sitting next to the Palm Beach lagoon beneath the scorching sun, craft tinnie in my hand, marvelling over the fundamentals of existence. I looked over to Little Ash and he looked back at me and we both shook our heads in disbelief. It was that inconceivably nice. Then Luci and I went and jumped off the bridge together into the water. Luci later deleted me off Facebook, which sucks, but what can you do? Anyways, Gold Coast! It melted away the mental gunk that relentless travelling seems to inevitably accumulate over time. I left rejuvenated with my batteries charged to the max, ready to move forward at an alarming speed which is not something I can say about anywhere else on this list, really.

This newfound stamina was more imperative than you'd think. I got on a plane and took a 28h50 flight to Spain which was made easier with a new idea I had just birthed. It went like this: when I'm old and I'm ready to die, the Gold Coast is where I'll live out my last days. It is that serene. It is the full-stop.

We did drink a fuckload though. I must make that abundantly clear.

Top Five Recommended Sights
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Palm Beach, Burleigh Head National Park, Burleigh Head Beach, Springbrook National Park (Jarexit I)

Instagram Snaps
Set 1 | Summary Shot

Monstrocity Drawing (Jarexit I)

Worst to Best: Jarexit II: 4. Bucharest, Romania

4. Bucharest, Romania

Dates: 25 Aug 2019 - 7 Sep 2019
Accommodation: Motor House Unirii [7.5/10]

My decision to slide into Romania's DMs was born from strange and very sudden declarations of love from some of my most respectable travelling pals. Out of nowhere, this country was lauded as the place-to-be, do not miss it, and before I knew what I was doing, I'd purchased my flights to and accommodation inside of the nation's capital. My excitable announcement was met with a baseball bat of resistance. “No, don’t go to Bucharest! That’s not where the cool kids are! Never go to the capital city of anywhere!” Woah, what do you mean? I only go to capital cities! It’s where the best wifi is! And, anyway, it was too late, I'd already paid for everything. I made peace with my choice and pretended I was fine.

As is the nature of Worst to Best lists, the later in the game they appear, the better the time was. Here we find ourselves in the greater half so you already knew that Bucharest rocked my world. The reasons why are tougher to articulate but, my gosh, I will do my best over the next several paragraphs.

One hefty pull was the general prices. I've always welcomed travel stops that don't break the piggy. Beer was half the cost of London and I could afford a private room in a guesthouse. Both of these components are important. The room granted me the mental space to get a fuckton of work done and the workaholic gods were appeased by the sacrificed time. Meanwhile, those cheap beers served me well especially during Bucharest2Night, my favourite pub crawl from this Jarexit II timeline. And with cheeks filled with drunk, I vibrated along these streets, consumed by the wild nightlife that this city offers, a raucous buzz of social activity featuring (no exaggeration) some of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, hand's down.

This little intoxicated excursion got me in a speck of bother too. That same night when I was stumbling home with Google Maps as my only ally, some wanker on bicycle attempted to snatch my phone away. He failed like a loser and then I called out to a pair locals passing by. They came to the rescue, instructing me to “run” as they restrained him, super legends. And run, I did! I was lost though so I was forced to continuously hide behind cars every time I heard his slow tires scraping down the street, dashing in the opposite direction once they'd panned away.

By some divine guidance (probably still Google Maps, I can't remember) I eventually found my hostel but I overshot it, my gate key somehow working in the neighbour's lock. When my housekey didn't fit the front door, I had just about bubbled into my limit and I was in a dramatic state. I tearfully phoned the landlord at 3 am but to no avail until I resigned to my fate and lay on the ground, hoping to get some sleep outside. At some point, I realised that I recognised nothing around me so I jumped the fence and fell, collapsing on the sidewalk, lying on the concrete for a few minutes, wallowing in this comedic moment of self-pity. I got up, dusted myself off, strolled two metres to the real gate, entered without a hitch and went to bed. I have never woken up so relieved that I somehow had all my stuff!

The rest of my sober days were spent exploring and, boy, does Bucharest have endless places to explore! I did something every lunchtime and often at the night too, yet I was unable to tick everything off of my list. I could ramble many highlights but one all-encompassing characteristic of Bucarest's appeal was the urban decay. It's unmatched as the best I have ever seen, my heart turned operatic. The sleek modern buildings standing so proud next to these smashed up dens that are crumbling before your eyes is a juxtaposition to the most glorious of orders. It's my favourite thing!

Another favourite thing was the Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum which is a massive village of houses that nobody lives in, like a ghost town you can walk around and peer in windows without getting arrested. When I was there not another human was in sight which coated the atmosphere with an eerie blanket of solitude until I bumped into some sheep and I screamed. Maybe it was just my experience but even while I was in those moments, I was acutely aware that this was one of the best travel sites I had ever visited. I still consider it a peak point within every Jarexit ever.

Did I mention the weather was always above 30? So. Good. I ran a lot as a result.

Side note: as time has gone on I have started to associate Bucharest as the place where Ina lives. She is the human representative of the city, she owns it as far as I'm concerned. She is a girl I met very briefly and we became social media friends right there. Since then, we have seriously bonded over many topics and she is super nice to me, far more than I deserve. So, anyway, hi, Ina! You’re so great I would go back to Bucharest just to hang out with her (even though I was planning to go back anyway).

Oh, also, hello Anuita! You are super cool too! :D

The overall summary is that Bucharest solidified into that sweet central spot where everything just seemed to go well. My health was sturdy, my creativity was gushing, my social sack was mended, and the city itself kept on giving me what I wanted, day after day after night after day. It was the third stop on Jarexit II and before this, I was feeling very unsure of myself. My travel life seemed upside down, unsustainable, stupid. Had I made the right decision to resume rolling down the nomadic hill like this? Wasn't I too old to have ripped up all of life's responsibilities? Shouldn't I be establishing some roots rather than disappearing into the ether of global nothingness? Then Bucharest came along and was like, bro, wtf, it’s all good, keep on keeping on, this shit is fucking golden.

I also particularly enjoyed telling everyone from the first paragraph how mistaken they were. Bucharest is underrated and anyone who disses it did it wrong. In fact, I even went to the much-praised Brasov for a day to see what all the fuss was about and I wasn’t mad for it. And you know why? Because capital cities, man. That's where the glory is at.

Top Five Recommended Sights
The Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum, Romanian Kitsch Museum, the Romanian Palace of Parliament, The Cișmigiu Garden, Palatul Adevărul

Instagram Snaps
Set 1 | Set 2 (incl Brasov) | Set 3 | Summary Shot

Monstrocity Drawing

Worst to Best: Jarexit II: 3. Florence/Pisa, Italy

3. Florence/Pisa, Italy

Dates: 4 Aug 2019 – 25 Aug 2019
Accommodation: Nirvana House Pisa (Pisa, 4 Aug – 17 Aug) [8.3/10]
My Friends (Florence, 17 Aug – 25 Aug) [7.1/10]

There is no way in any reasonable Universe that this Jarexit chapter should be placed this high up on my list. There were simply far too many glaring faults that nibbled at my legs during this leg and they all wore the same face. My face. It was me, I made mistakes.

The first and biggest mistake was Pisa itself. I prepared a sizeable list of things to do and then I happily skipped out into the wild, accidentally doing everything in a couple of hours. Oops! Nobody told me that Pisa was hardly a city! This was just a bunch of people gathered around a building! A building that is so shit it nearly fell over! Wtf! I seriously can't express this enough and anyone who has been here will tell you the same story: there is nothing to do in Pisa. And, what's more, I had already paid for two weeks of accommodation to do nothing in. D-to-the-fucking-'oh.

However, it must be said that this absence of activities almost maybe worked in the location’s favour. You see, I’m the type of guy who welcomes open hours to dedicate to his craft and, suddenly, I had ample of these hours do so with. I smashed my foot on the gas and made insane headway on my creative projects, zooming far ahead of schedule. Another helpful factor is that I had a super nice private room allowing me to lock the world away and keep my sneaky schemes to myself, hehehe.

Did I mention the Sun? Ah man, the Almighty Sun! Solid pal to me during this section of life, germinating energy within my cells and elbowing me to think outside of the box. Dig, motherfucker, dig! So I dug and unearthed some trippy areas to explore that most casual fans prancing through Pisa's streets may miss. I found a church which claimed ownership of a legit thorn from Jesus’ torture crown. I invented my own pub crawl which included a stop at a shot bar that boasts over 250 strange combinations. I braved the confusing transport to mission down to the charming city of Lucca for a day as well as Bagni Vittorio Emanuele beach another, drinking beers in a hammock watching the sunset. I also went on a walking tour which showed me everything I had already seen, except for one thing: a girl named Ella. She was a super cool person! She still is a super cool person, I imagine! After the tour, we went for vegan ice cream and chatted about how embarrassed we were about being Britsh, hahaha, omg, so embarrassed! The fact that she was 16 years my junior only made me feel a little bit old :(

In the end, total props to Pisa. The Leaning Tower is an undeniably exciting object to see with your own eyes (even if the daily flocking of tourism is insanely impenetrable!). The surrounding buildings may be overshadowed by their reject sibling but they're sick too, the inside of the Pisa Cathedral has its place inside of me. But once you've seen the tower almost every day for 14 days straight you do start to feel like you've been short-changed, you know? Hence why I completely skewed the wheel and decided not to jump the Italian ship just yet. I needed to get a better kick than this! And so, by following literally everyone’s advice, I jumped on a train and chugged my way to the nearby city of Florence.

Florence is the opposite bag with a seemingly infinite amount of historically important spots to check out. Except I had half the time to do it in. One week and one week only, baby! Not a second to waste! I quickly checked into a very cramped but otherwise lovely hostel and got to work immediately, my eyes on the mission, covering as much ground as humanely possible. And, as I do, I did well.

It would be impossible to name everything I achieved here but it'd be blasphemous if I didn't name-drop the Florence Cathedral Square as a location that sucked my breath away. The depth of detail in those architectural masterpieces stuck, carving their name into my heart. No matter where I was going that day, I always gravitated towards that special area first. My mind was also drowned by the bottomless amount of groundbreaking artworks I paid respects to (Michelangelo's David comes to mind, as does Botticelli's The Birth Of Venus) not to mention but to mention the gravesites that rested some of the greatest minds in history (Michelangelo and Galileo are all actually, but still).

On a personal note, my headspace wasn’t its usual cheery self here and I did struggle to connect with anyone on my level despite my best efforts (although, respect Leah, she was the friendliest face Florence had to offer!). Furthermore, I was gutted at how much everything cost! Quite a hefty sum of money for whatever you wanted to do and no two worthwhile things were in the same place. But! But the magic of Florence cuts through all of that and, on a city basis alone, it floored me with its culture and general superior vibrations. This place is truly in a league elsewhere. My artistic inspiration grew so large that it looped on itself and I suddenly knew I was a rubbish artist again. That's an impressive amount of emotion in one motion.

If you count the two weeks in Rome from Jarexit I, a total of five weeks was spent in Italy over 2019. These days were of such a strong quality that they conspired together until I found myself accidentally labelling this as my favourite country to visit in the world thus far. This is still the case. There is something here that whacks everything out of the picture but I’m unsure what it is? The greatest art/artists/architecture in the world? The strong history? The best cuisine the world has ever tasted? Yes yes yes. All of these factors make Jared a swell boy and that's why I'll forever have a plan to go back to this land “very soon”.

Top Five Recommended Pisa Sights
The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Cattedrale di Pisa, The Santa Chiara Church (feat. Jesus Thorn), Keith Haring Mural, Chupiteria Shot Bar

Instagram Pisa Snaps
Set 1 | Set 2 | Summary Shot

Top Five Recommended Florence Sights
Florence Cathedral Square, Uffizi Gallery, Michaelangelo's David, The Basilica di Santa Croce, Giardino delle rose

Instagram Madrid Snaps
Set 1 | Set 2 | Set 3 | Summary Shot

Monstrocity Drawing

Worst to Best: Jarexit II: 2. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

2. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dates: 7 Sep 2019 – 21 Sep 2019
Accommodation: Top Dubai Apartment (7 Sep – 18 Sep) [8.3/10]
Leva Hotel and Suites, Mazaya Centre (18 Sep – 21 Sep) [7.9/10]

The more you read my blogs, the deeper you’ll understand how much of a big fat fucking loser I am. Just kidding! I’m not fat :( Do me a favour and stop reading my blogs.

Classic story: my trip to Dubai was because of... a girl! She lives there told me I should come on over. I knew her from High School, 16 odd something years ago and back way when I was crushing on her something fierce! Our communication had been minimal since that point but then, suddenly, there she was, on my Whatsapp screen, saying cool stuff that was by no means explicit enough to guarantee a good time, but just the right amount of liquid to spring my male brain into action. Right! Let’s go to Dubai then!

Of course, the moment I landed, she ghosted me, and I haven’t heard from her since.

This was annoying to no end because I never had any interest in this city whatsoever. Stuff weirded me out about it. Certain laws were set in a past world. The type of people who came here were usually business-orientated, seeking sneaky tax breaks. It’s also worth noting that this one guy I know was very vocal about how immoral it is to visit Dubai after I had already visited. This is due to certain structures reportedly built with slave hands and that really messed with my moral mind too. But if you can take a deep breath and ignore these unpleasantries and ignore how intensely they searched me upon arrival and ignore how on edge I felt for the first several days... Dubai ultimately popped my brain, increasing my knowledge on just how uniquely trippy a city can be.

Even as a concept, Dubai is weird. It may look like a city with all the city parts but the weather won't let you forget that you are in a desert. Especially if you go during the months I went, or so I hear. The borderline 40-degree heat was the name of the game every single day which I loved because I am a creature of the Sun, gimme gimme. Still, this environment is unignorably inhabitable by human beings, hence why an ocean of money had to be pumped into the place just to get it functioning. And it shows. The level of artificialness is a loud factor that puts a lot of people off but, damn, when you look at that skyline at night? Every sci-fi film you’ve ever loved brightens up before your eyes, stretching all the way up to the heavens. Because those buildings are tall, buddy.

In fact, that’s the craziest characteristic of Dubai. The buildings have to be the tallest (and one of them is the tallest tallest). Everything you see forever appears to be suffixed with “in the world”. No matter what it is, it’s the biggest, longest, heaviest, fastest, loudest whatever the fuck in the world. Its entire purpose is to be this record-breaking monster which just screams excess excess excess, the stink of wealth gleaming from every one of its pores. It is so utterly insane that I spent most days in hysterics as I tried to work out what was going on. And best of all, the sheer extravagance of it all meant that I couldn’t afford to do anything. No drink, no cabs, no restaurants, nothing. And so, somehow, I saved a bunch of money just by being here. Go figure.

I also lucked out socially. Tinder girls loved me even though most of them turned out to be hookers. Saily was one of the non-hookers and we got along straight away, she's hilarious and we continue to Like each other's Instagram posts to this very day. I also stayed in a highly impressive hostel (Top Dubai Apartment), emphasis on highly as it's the fourth tallest residential structure in the world, blessing us with a dizzying view of Palm Jumeirah, the largest artificial island in the world. Here, a rotation of interesting cats kept shaking my mind with their lives and I was deep into it. A whole ton of love to SuPing from China, she's a genuine human that has made my life that much better, we've kept in touch. I also met this gorgeous American girl but we forgot to exchange details and that has haunted me ever since. There was a big lesson there. Finally, high-fives all around to Denise, to Ashu, and to Mahlet. Together, we were the crew who went 4X4 dune bashing over endless desert landscapes then rode impoverished camels before eating food in front of a belly dancer. That was a crazy night!

Here’s what it comes down to: when you travel a lot of Europe, the differences can be similar and sometimes it takes a moment for your memory to retrieve which file came from where. With Dubai, every moment was so unmistakably itself, an Arabian sci-fi hallucination, where there was never any question where I was. I was in the freaking future! And, as it stands, no city has managed to 180 my opinion as expertly as this one. I was wrong and I am sorry. Dubai is sick.

It’s a good thing too because at least I’m not mad at that girl who invited me to come over. How could I be? I am grateful! It’s as if her entire existence in my life was to lure me into this experience and, even if she wasn’t part of it, I thank her for the idea. Thank you for the idea!

Top Five Recommended Sights
Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah Beach, View of the Palm Jumeirah, the Dubai Mall, Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood.

Instagram Snaps
Set 1 | Set 2 | Set 3 | Summary Shot

Monstrocity Drawing

Worst to Best: Jarexit II: 1. Tokyo, Japan

1. Tokyo, Japan

Dates: 13 Oct - 2 Nov 2019
Accomodation: obi Hostel (13 Oct - 19 Oct 2019) [7/10]
Khaosan Tokyo Origami (19 Oct - 26 Oct 2019) [8.3/10]
HopStepInn (26 Oct - 2 Nov 2019) [6/10]

Plot reveal: the string that ran down the centre of Jarexit II was a guide rope of baby steps, each notch pulling me across the planet until I ultimately arrived at the key destination of Tokyo for my birthday. I made it! Now, I know what you’re wondering... why Tokyo?? Just kidding, no one was wondering that. It’s, like, everyone’s dream to go to Tokyo, as it was mine, hence the plan. I’m a city boi after all and as far as cities go, you’re not going to find a level like this anywhere else on this floating rock of ours. Hence why, when the plane touched down, the excitement made a whistling noise through my teeth and my pupils expanded in response.

What I didn’t tell anyone is that I absolutely hated it. As a self-centred privileged Westernised white prick, I expected some level of English to assist me through my touristic ways. But within minutes of attempting to navigate this land, it became swiftly obvious that I was not going to be cared for. I had become so used to harnessing this exotic flavour of mine in Asia that I was hurt that no one in Japan gave a shit about me. The citizens were polite, sure. Excessively so. But there was this thin aura of superiority where they looked down on me, the caucasian visitor, responsible for all that was wrong in the world. They wouldn't be wrong either.

It got worse. My wires completely crisscrossed because I thought I knew how big cities function. I’m trained in the arts! But this one was set up wrong. Every single minute detail was just slightly different to anywhere I'd ever seen before. It was the first world to the cutting edge but none of it worked in the same fashion that I was used to. Everything was too expensive. Vegetarianism wasn’t communicatable. Tinder was on the hardest setting. The streets were packed with people but they were deadly quiet. And slowly, my mind shrunk inwards and I felt isolated within my own skull. Omg, this was not how this was supposed to be! And I had three weeks left of this! Buddha, help me, please!

Annoying how Worst to Best lists work because, spoiler no spoiler, it got better. Like, immeasurably better. I started to grasp the system. I simply had to click myself a little to the left then let go, allowing the ride to begin. All those confusing quirks turned out to be advancements. Every toilet, every train, every wifi connection operated on a greater plane. I became a cartoon character in a cartoon world and it was hysterical, high def technicolour of robotic surrealism, the package I’d imagined except real without being too real, an illusion of hyper-cuteness. Maybe the locals didn't appear to like me too much, but I liked them. Their fashion sense was cavity-inducing. Their language was like a thousand tiny daggers slicing up my ears in fast forward. And the general standard of female appearance was a tumbling line of heartbreak, a domino of yearning pain per every step. That part never got easier.

My birthday came and went and even though I was all alone, this solo celebration was one for the books (side shout-out to the girls who sent me birthday photos, y'all lit my smile all the way up). I set out with a magnifying glass to explore every corner that this peculiar city had hidden away, injecting the folds of my brain with quick setting jello, causing permanent damage. Or maybe that was the alcohol during the impressive Tokyo Pub Crawl party? Or maybe that was the alcohol my colleague/friend Greg fed me? Or maybe that was the alcohol my former colleague/still friend Bertan fed me too? Whatever, thanks, dudes! My little sister also joined the madness during the last week and it was here that I learned a valuable lesson: the racing-paced travel program I have developed since Jarexit I is not suited for everyone. Our energies didn’t match on the same playing field and we were forced to salvage our separate holidays by following our own paths. It's a shame but one can't blame Tokyo for sibling oppositions. Because Tokyo was all that, each and every day rammed with a frantic rush to fill my backpack with unusual crumbs until I could piece together some sort of a distorted picture of what was actually going on here, so much so that it’s tricky to identify a single event that stands above another. Well, except for one one...

I must confess to you, my readers, that I have been a little less than honest in pretending I was touring Tokyo for my birthday. Yes, this was the dream location, and yes, I was stoked to turn 35 here. But this was just a happy organisational opportunity. What really set this trip in motion was a girl I met randomly at a party two years back and, believe it or not, this wasn't even a romantic story. Truthfully, I never got her name. I wouldn’t recognise her if I passed her on the street. But some people's roles in our lives revolve around different properties and this was one of those. During a conversation that my memory has since deleted, she looked me in the eyes and said, “You have to go to Tokyo for Halloween, it’s like nothing on Earth”. I decided right then that I had to do that. And so here I was. Doing it. And she wasn't wrong. I'm not even going to try to explain this to you. Google "Shibuya Station Halloween". It’s not a normal experience. It’s the craziest shit I’ve ever seen in my life.

One other quick trippy coincidence was that the 2019 Rugby World Cup took place in Tokyo while I was here. What's more, the finals were played between my birth home of South Africa and my home home of England. Cool! I couldn't lose! South Africa won and I was happy about that, for sure. 

Anyways, sadly, all good things must come to an end, and Tokyo came to an end. But I was a changed man, man! I was bowing at everyone, at dogs, at fridges. My mind was fueled to the max on rice and it repeated what I had to do, over and over again. I had to marry a Tokyo girl. That way I could stay here forever. I can’t emphasise this enough: the decision had been made. There was something in this city and whatever it was made a wordless pact with me. There was not an atom in my being which wanted to live anywhere else and I started to make plans. Plan one: learn Japanese! 

I’ve chilled a bit now but vibes that vibe that strong don’t simply fizzle out. Tokyo was a life highlight, the Jarexit II focal point, and, as we stand, still the ultimate goal. Mark my words, I will go back there again as soon as I can, except this time with a greater understanding, a more focused itinerary, and a much longer time period to allow myself to sink into the culture like warm noodle soup, melting away to become the very best Jared I can be. Tokyo Jared.

Top Five Recommended Sights
Akihabara, Takeshita Street in Harajuku, The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, TeamLab Borderless, Shibuya Station (during Halloween!)

Instagram Snaps
Set 1 | Set 2 | Set 3 | Set 4 | Set 5 | Set 6 (TeamLab Exclusive) | Set 7 (Halloween Exclusive) | Set 8 (Halloween Solo Shot) | Summary Shot

Monstrocity Drawing