Product Review: Kuhl Jetstream Jacket

Many hikers yearn for a jacket that hits that sweet spot: a lightweight, technical jacket that not only performs well in the mountains but is equally at home in the city.  The Kuhl Jetstream jacket certainly ticks the right boxes but does it live up to this promise?  I’ve been testing it to find out.

First impressions

At first glance the Jetstream hiking jacket seems to have all the right credentials.  It’s made with a highly waterproof and breathable 2.5 layer fabric (Airskape™) that comes with a 20K waterproof rating.   All seams are steam-sealed and water-resistant zips are used on the front, chest and hand pockets.  The jacket is made with woven ripstop nylon that gives stretch and strength, topped with a clear hydrophilic membrane that’s breathable but also disperses any moisture so the fabric dries faster.

 

 

So its high-performance credentials would appear to be up to a soggy day in the hills.  But is it suitable to be worn on your local commute as well as on a mountain summit?

In my experience it certainly is.  The Jetstream fabric is soft to the touch, lightweight (the medium-sized test jacket weighed in at 307g) and it packs up small.  There are five, fairly muted colour combinations (mine is pirate blue, similar to a dark denim shade) which won’t stand out like a sore thumb on the station platform.  The jacket is nicely shaped, with five-panel articulated sleeves that add to its comfort.  I found the cuffs to be a close rather than a tight fit, with some ‘stretch’ to the fabric.  So while there aren’t velcro or elasticated fastenings the cuffs certainly keep draughts and water out.  There’s a generous hood with a reinforced brim and an eye-lock adjuster at the rear, although no roll-away fastening.

 

 

The Kuhl company’s brand strapline is ‘born in the mountains’, having emerged in 1990 from Utah.  It makes a range of outdoor lifestyle clothing for men and women and according its website, Kuhl’s staff all have an outdoor passion, whether it be for skiing, moutaineering, backpacking, cycling or global travel.  I first noticed their products about three years ago and have since bought a pair of Rydr trousers and a pair of Renegade shorts, both stylish and hardwearing.  The Jetstream is clearly well-designed and fits well into this outdoor lifestyle brand image.

On test

I found the medium size a fairly generous fit without being overly roomy.  It’s comfortable to wear, the fabric being soft and flexible.  At a fraction over 300g I really like its low weight.  It’s the kind of jacket you would easily take in your rucsac in fine weather ‘just in case’ without weighing you down.  A neat feature is the way the right hand pocket becomes a stuff-sac complete with hanging loop.  The Jetstream then packs down to a respectable 20 x 15 x 10cm.

I’ve been testing it throughout the summer and early autumn.  On a wet day’s backpacking in the Cairngorms in September it proved a great rain jacket, keeping me warm and dry, with the rain beading off the outer membrane.  I did find the size of the hood a little too generous though.  Even with the drawcord adjusted at the rear it felt a little too big and I would have liked the peak to be much stiffer to keep the rain away from my face.  All in all, the hood felt a little too ‘flappy’ to use comfortably on windy summits.

 

 

Not only have I used the jacket when out walking and backpacking but I’ve been wearing it on a daily basis for work and commuting.  It certainly is multi-functional, being stylish and comfortable in the city while also being a practical, high-performance jacket in the mountains.

There are compromises to be made when designing a jacket like this of course.  Its lightweight materials, while great for the daily commute, are not up to all-season wear.  This isn’t therefore the jacket I’ll be reaching for when temperatures drop towards freezing and I’d recommend it only for 2-3 season use when outdoors in Scotland.

 

 

One fairly significant drawback is that the two chest pockets are too small for OS maps.  I like to have a map handy at all times and find it too unwieldy to have to store a map in my rucsac.  The pockets are certainly large enough for a wallet or a pair of gloves, but not for convenient map reading.

The other gripe I have – though less significant – is the front zip.  I’m presuming this is down to US convention but the zip pull is on the right hand rather than the left hand side which would be the norm for mens’ jackets in the UK.  It’s not a huge issue that the zip feels as though it’s on the ‘wrong’ side, and not enough to put me off wearing the jacket, but just mildly disconcerting.

 

Overview

The Jetstream is a very capable multi-functional jacket suitable for walking, backpacking and camping at the weekend, yet smart enough to wear around town on a daily basis.  It’s not without its drawbacks though, particularly the hood that’s a little too ‘flappy’ and small-sized chest pockets.  For the UK climate I’d be happy wearing this between March and October.

 

What I liked:

  • Lightweight (307g) and packing up into a small pocket/stuff sac
  • Highly waterproof, with water-resistant zips and steam seams
  • Comfortable fit
  • Muted colour combinations
  • Multi-functional – at home in the city and in the mountains

 

What I wasn’t so keen on:

  • Over-generous hood and lack of stiffness to the peak
  • Chest pockets too small for a map
  • Front zip on the ‘wrong’ side (for UK males)

 

The Kuhl outdoor clothing range is available in various outlets including Tiso, Blacks and Go Outdoors.

Note:  The Jetstream jacket was provided to me to review for free by Kuhl.  I have no connection with the company.  I have provided an honest and impartial review based on my personal experience in using it.

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NEW RAMEN RESTAURANT IN HAMBURG: THE LESSER PANDA POP-UP

The Lesser Panda Ramen is back! Make sure to visit their Pop UP restaurant in Hamburg and get a taste of the best Ramen the city has to offer right now
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I Hitchhiked Around Albania

I sit in the back seat of an old Mercedes-Benz that smells like cheap tobacco and think about what I should say to the mystery man behind the wheel. Squished next to me and buried under our backpacks are Noam and Ziv, two Israeli girls I met in a hostel in Sarandë. Our driver and his friend, club promoters in their early 20s, pump up the music. It’s mumble rap. I want to turn off the radio so bad but then I remember we’re getting this ride for free, plus they just offered us free weed (which I lamentably declined after reading Noam’s concerned and scrutinising stare).

 What we were doing had become a lifestyle for the past week, but each time I couldn’t help but laugh madly at the situation I had just put myself in and wonder in a mix of astonishment, bewilderment and utter fear, What the fuck am I doing?

Before I embarked on my big solo Eurotrip, my mother blessed me with the sign of the cross (Ah, Latinos) at the airport and said to me what she had repeatedly emphasised for the past five months since I had bought the plane ticket.

“Don’t trust strangers you just met on the street.”

Well, I was putting a lot of trust on strangers I had just met on the street. In fact, a lot of these people I would only look at for less than 30 seconds before finding myself packed like a little Tetris block in the back seat of their car (and hopefully not in the trunk).

I was hitchhiking my way through Albania.

I would stand by the curb of a main busy road, my arm extended and my thumb enthusiastically directed to the sky, with an animated smile that beamed, “I’m a nice girl with a heavy backpack – please pick me up!”

Eventually, a car would pull up, wind down the window and ask me where I was heading. If they were going in the same direction, I would kindly accept the lift, and without really assessing the situation, let alone scanning their face properly, I would drop off my luggage in the boot of the car and away we would go.

I got into the idea of hitchhiking while I was in Istanbul. I was staying in a very low budget hostel where, for whatever strange reason, so many solo hitchhikers were staying on their way to Iran.  I never really viewed hitchhiking before as a means of travelling. I had only hitched once when I was 15, and that was because I was two hours away from home, had missed the last train and was really scared of breaking my curfew.

After hearing the crazy adventures and ridiculously funny experiences that these hitchhikers had, I ended up leaving most of my sensible wits behind in that hostel dorm in seek of a real adventure. I was sold and I was desperately craving something raw, an experience unique to only me and the people I shared it with. So when I made it to Albania in a whim, I decided to let go of the safety net of buses and trains and tried to solely rely on what my mumma gave me… my thumb.

It was intimidating at first. I felt so vulnerable sitting in the backseat of a stranger’s car, but by the fifth time, every time I saw a taxi or walked passed a bus station I would smirk to myself and smugly think, Who needs a bus when you’ve gotta thumb?  I got so confident with my hitchhiking that once when I was swimming around the islands of Ksmail with another pal, a hydro cycle rode past and I put my thumb out and we hitched a ride back to the main island.

I quickly learned that hitchhiking is the best way to get to know a place. You zoom into a culture while effortlessly absorbing the language, music and history. You listen to what the average 20-year-old boy listens to on his commute to work… mumble rap. Hitchhiking, to me at least, is tourism behind the scenes.

When Noam, Ziv and I were on our way to the old city of Berat, central Albania, we were blessed with the most scenic and historical private tour of the Vlorë country. Our driver made detours, delaying his trip back home to Tirana to proudly show us panoramic views of the lush green Albanian mountains surrounding an open silky sea. I had never felt so present in a foreign country before. There is no better way to learn what life was like in Albania under a communist dictatorship than listening to a local who lived through it all, while gazing out of the window and spotting abandoned bunkers – traces of the country’s communist past (there was one bunker for every four Albanian citizens; they were never used and eventually led the country to bankruptcy).

The rides I hitched were priceless. When a service is given with nothing in exchange, it becomes inherently more valuable. That sweet sensation you get when someone is doing you a favour with nothing expected from you in return is a delightful and contagious feeling. The feeling of humans looking out for each other.

I learned more about human psychology than I did three years into my psych undergrad.  The amount of life stories I heard on some of those long trips – regrets, dreams, hopes – could have served as a counselling internship.

When you take a taxi or a bus, you can just unplug from your surroundings into your music or aimlessly tap onto your smart phone to escape from any awkward interaction. You can’t do that when you hitchhike. You got to at least try to get to know who the person behind the steering wheel is.  It’s more effort, and sometimes really awkward, but you don’t miss out on the little quirks that make life more human. Hitchhiking – and couch surfing too – rebel against the alienating capitalist barrier that sees the person as a service rather than an actual human being.

It seems to me now that perhaps consumer culture benefits from society’s fear of strangers.  It becomes symbolically safer to pay for a service rather than accept the kindness of someone you don’t really know. When we’re near a busy road and wanting to get somewhere, there are probably tons of cars with spare seats going that same direction that will probably pass our desired destination or even go! Yet, we mostly opt to drive ourselves or take public transport. Many people are even scared to use paid rideshare services like BlaBla car because they’re uncomfortable with the idea of being with a stranger.

But if you have something you can share – a seat, a bed, a meal – why not share it with someone else?

Maybe I’m still naive and seeing the world behind these delusional rose-tinted sunglasses, but I believe the world is full of more good people than bad. I hopped out of most of those cars with a spring in my step and presently I’m trying to recycle and spread that good karma around.

I emphasise the word most though: the odds of experiencing sexual assault and harassment are much higher for women compared to men, and moreso if you’re hitchhiking (on the flip side, you will be picked up a lot quicker…yay?).  Whenever I hitched and was accompanied by a male, the differences in the way I was spoken to and the level of respect I received were often painfully obvious. You don’t get comments about your appearance, smile, or requests to marry you.

I never hitchhiked alone: most of time I was with Ziv and Noam, but even so, we did find ourselves in a few not-so-comfortable situations where we felt vulnerable. I would still rate my overall hitchhiking experience as very positive and perhaps a case of beginner’s luck. Hitchhiking will always remain a luxury for those who can accept the risk, but like most things in the world, that risk is unfortunately always enhanced if you’re female.

So would I recommend hitchhiking to others? Fuck no! Are you crazy?

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

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Confessions of a Sex Tourist in Pattaya

This story was received via anonymous submission and it details a lifestyle and form of tourism we at Global Hobo do not endorse. In the author’s own words, “I understand how misogynistic and depraved the concept of sex tourism is, but do my best to express the truth, the moral dilemmas and the culture clash that I face.” In the interest of gaining an insight into a world that is seldom talked about and routinely scorned, we decided to run it.

*

“I think you’re ready now,” my cousin said auspiciously.

“…Ready for what exactly?”

“The Six.”

The serious look on his face showed me he wasn’t taking this lightly. Whatever we were about to do was something intense, demanding and requiring a lot of focus.

So what in the hell was The Six? We left the hotel and jumped on the back of a couple of motorcycle taxis. As we breezed in and out of traffic along Second Road, the tourist bars and stores began fading and were replaced by large chain hotels. The pedestrians changed from drunken single men clutching the hands of petite Thai women to Caucasian parents holding the hands of their oblivious children.

We passed through a larger intersection then pulled off the road and disembarked the bikes. Handing over 50 baht each, I followed my cousin towards the entrance of a Soi cornered by two bars and caught a glimpse of the numbered street we were about to enter.

Soi 6.

Turning into the road and coming face to face with what lurked ahead, I made it undeniably clear to everyone that this was my first time here.

“HOLY FUCK.”

There is no place in the world like Soi 6. If you put every red light district on Earth within one solid complex, it couldn’t match the absolute deviance of this small stretch of road in Pattaya. If I had, at any moment prior, questioned how people could view Pattaya as a mecca for sex tourism, then Soi 6 silenced me eternally.

The very instant you enter, you accept that anything goes here. Yelling, whistling, caressing, groping, accosting, leering, chasing, tackling, hugging, grabbing, holding. You are not a human being anymore. You are a piece of meat… with money.

Tiny bars fill every nook and cranny of the street, and outside each one, Thai girls position themselves for the attack. Some holler. Some reach out and grab your arm as you pass by. Others decide you’re not getting past them and block your path entirely. The madness of it all is exasperating. If I felt like a celebrity at the first bar in Bangkok, then on Soi 6 I was a Beatle walking through 1960s Liverpool. And it seemed that every man that entered this street got the same treatment.

men in soi 6

Following numerous instances of removing clutching hands and advising exuberant path blockers I wasn’t interested, we made it to the bar my cousin had his sights on. Lisa Bar is one of the more popular haunts contained within the Soi and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why. Each day, Lisa’s girls dress up in different outfits that have been styled to appeal to the classic male fantasy: school girl uniforms, traditional Chinese dresses, Geisha mock-ups and so many more. If an outfit had a reputation as sexy, they wore it. Apparently, Lisa also has a rule that her girls will be fined 100 Baht if they’re caught playing with their phones during working hours. This might seem a bit excessive to those of us who enjoy giving Facebook a sneaky peek at any moment of the day, but it is a genius move from a customer’s perspective that leads to an atmosphere of constant inclusion and engagement.

As I took a seat and prepared to enjoy my cold beer in the early afternoon sun, I began to properly enjoy my environment. It was far easier to now that I wasn’t getting yelled at from every possible angle. From my position, I had a clear view of five other bars, but the venue directly beside Lisa’s was attracting the majority of attention. It also confirmed that the street didn’t require any speculation about the proclivities on offer here. One girl stood out the front holding a sign with black texta announcing “Fuck Me Today. Pay Tomorrow”. Another one held a large piece of cardboard declaring “FUCK ME IN MY ASS”.

Across the road was a joint named Spider Girl Bar. The girls there had funky costumes on, though not as grandiose as Lisa’s, and looked to be partying up a storm. It didn’t take long before I spotted a girl in all white wearing knee-high stockings, a mini skirt and school shirt that stood out as the most gorgeous thing I’d witnessed on The Six so far. She would have been about 20, had long dark hair with curls bursting at the ends and wore an incessant smile that shaded a pair of glistening eyes and a cute button nose. The young woman was doing everything in her power to try and keep the attention of a young shirtless drunk who seemed far more interested in partying with a friend than the glamour beside him.

As he danced in the bar like a maniac and sculled the countless beers handed to him, I laughed, as the girl who, in any other setting would have had men queuing up to speak with her, chased the loutish drunk around the bar. My cousin decided to pop on over to my table and guessed what I was looking at.

“He should put on a shirt.”

“Ahhh, he’s only having a bit of fun though, Cuz.”

“Answer this then. Have you seen a Thai walking ’round without a shirt on since arriving here?”

“Is that a trick question?”

“I mean a bloke, smart ass!”

I did a quick memory check of any moment I had witnessed a topless Thai man. Nope. Nothing.

“That’s because Thais don’t go shirtless here. It’s considered rude.”

He took another glance and now noticed the beautiful lady trying to garner the lad’s attention.

“Yeah… Too bad mate. She’s spoken for.” As my cousin turned back to continue talking with Lisa, he threw away another comment.

“If you’re that hung up on her, you could wait till he’s done.”

My cousin’s eye for circumstances made me realise something that as of yet hadn’t even crossed my mind. My natural instinct when seeing a girl I liked give affection to another man had always been taken or in a relationship. But here, one of these “relationships” could last as little as 20 minutes.

girl

*

When you look up Soi 6, you’ll discover where most of the money is made here. Each bar has roughly three to five rooms on the upper levels, specifically provided for the short-time pleasuring of as many customers the girls can garner each day. While on the ground level, there is a flood of alcohol being served, only four metres above, all sorts of sexual acts are unfolding.

Apparently, the popular girls go through 10 to 15 customers a day. Others may fight for one or two a week. Due to the choice, pricing and minimal time spent with a customer, there’s plenty of opportunity to see multiple customers. So if a girl you like is currently occupied, it’s simply a matter of biding your time.

My cousin didn’t seem to mind. To me, it was a fantasy killer.

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The Hobo Guide to Not Looking Like a Tourist in Spain

Did you know that Spaniards have their own term of disendearment for us? Well they do, it’s guiri (pronounced giddy), and it basically means sunburnt foreigner who puts chorizo in all their dishes, but is also levelled at us whenever we commit a faux pas while travelling in the kingdom.

Your Spanish friends/girlfriend/in-laws will place hand on heart and swear that you’re not a guiri – that term is reserved for the boozed-up sun-chasing northern-European hordes that descend on the Spanish coastline every summer – but will level a ¡Que guiri eres! at you for doing something as inconceivable as putting some manchego cheese on your jamon iberico sandwich.

Or perhaps a bit of mayonnaise.

Or a slice of tomato.

On a ham sandwich.

¡Que guiri eres!

Did you see the outrage that the Spaniards affected when Jamie Oliver dared put chorizo into his paella? Someone said that they were going to shit on his ancestors. Shit on them. His ancestors. For chorizo. In a rice dish.

The Spaniards have a tricky relationship with their guiris. On one hand, they view them with comprehensible disdain: the public follating (follate is Spanish for fucking), stumbling sacks of bloated full-English. The clog-wearing clogged arteries of the lowlands. Germans. All sunburnt and getting sunburnter, parading their vile offspring in the city centre, packaging pink marshmallow pig flesh in tiny polka dot bikinis and stopping to pull wedgies out in front of churches where nine generations of a family were baptised, confirmed, wed and confirmed dead.

Those are the guiris, they insist, and we are different, until we dare to drink a beer in a glass that holds more than 150 millilitres. Then we’re guiris. ¡Que guiris somos!

The guiris have propped up the country’s economy as it struggled to emerge from the khaki blanket of a 40-year military dictatorship. Unfettered development now sprouts from Spain’s Mediterranean shore, highrises rising from where the desert meets the sun-soaked sea. Without the towers, these dry coastlines would trade mostly in siestas and dirt, entire provinces whose fortunes could be measured by ear of donkey per square pueblo. But now they have acres and acres of sunburnt fat tourists shitting and complaining stacked 50 high. Follating each other in the bars and on the beaches, complaining that the paella down here doesn’t have as much chorizo in it as they’d expected. Having their ancestors shat on by the same people who are cashing in the money they’re stacking along the coastline with their desperate hunt for sunshine.

Last year, roving bands of Catalan youths set to harassing the elderly and families whose big faux pas was participating in group travel. They would don the outfit of the antifa (anti-fascists) and surround buses and tell the tourists to go home. They complain that tourism has pushed up the cost of living in the city, while it’s the Catalan landlords who own entire buildings and city blocks and multiple apartments across the city who are adjusting their business models to profiteer of the pink, undulating gelatinous masses visiting the city.

Guiris go home!

Disregarding that the modern city’s fortunes and sights that tourists are supposedly taking over were built on the back of tourism (1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition, 1929 Barcelona International Exposition, 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games)… Spaniards, Catalans included, have a funny relationship with tourists.

We, of course, aren’t like the other tourists. Not until we wear thongs more than one street from the beach, or shorts from October-May even if the temperature tops 20 degrees. But as non-tourists, as travellers, explorers, we like to separate ourselves from the flabby, sun-scorched masses. We go to lengths to stay far away from tourist-tourists, unless we want to participate in some sociological appraisal of the worst of travel in the guiris’ cider-saturated natural environments. Maybe we just want cheap Jager shots. Maybe we want to follate and be follated in public, under the approving glare of Franco-era skyrises.

We, the non-guiri adventurers can easily find ourselves far from the inevitable consequences of mass tourism unfettered. We go one street that way, two beaches over. We take the national road to the west instead of the highway to the east. We find ourselves back in the vast and sparse Spain where wealth is measured by the size of catfish in your river.

But to get there we piggyback off the worst of tourism. We take advantage of the infrastructure required to shuttle 80 million annual visitors from colder, cloudier climes to this sun-soaked, catfish filled, donkey thick wonderland. We, like the Spaniards, require the tourists that we so disdain and distance ourselves from. Eighty million annually need cheap flights, and we will just quietly hop on the back of that as the 80 million and 1st low-cost carried. We will happily converse in Spanish when the dusky eyed object of our affections speaks a little English, because they’ve been forced into the coalface of dart-throwing, pre-diabetic skin cancer prospects demanding pints and bangers and mash.

I would like to say that we the traveller have a symbiotic relationship with the real guiris, just like the Spaniards do. That this is a mutually beneficial relationship. But the reality is that whether we’re travellers, adventurers, explorers, or backpackers, in Spain, we’re parasites on the back of mass tourism. We use and then we leave, we discard, we dismiss and we mock. We benefit from them being in Spain, but they’re indifferent to us. We don’t even exist to them, not even while we’re sat in the corner of their favourite full-English spot, furiously scribbling field notes, while they go about their follating and complaining and we take advantage of the big beers and ham sandwiches with sauce and tomato and cheese on them.

We take and we don’t give back, not to the guiris at least. And really, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Product review: Olight M1T Raider torch

The Olight M1T Raider is a rugged, waterproof and multi-purpose torch that’s likely to withstand a lifetime of use.

First impressions

Olight specialise in LED lighting and sell a range of torches and headtorches suitable for walking, camping, hunting and general outdoor use.  I’ve previously reviewed the H1 Nova headtorch and highly recommend it as a lightweight and powerful torch for walking and camping.  The M1T Raider is from their range of torches (“flashlights”) and comes with a wrist lanyard rather than a headband.

At first glance it’s seems quite compact (measuring 91mm by 21mm) and weighing just 69g for the torch and lanyard.  It easily fits in a pocket or can be clipped to a shirt or jacket.  I found it convenient to use: easy enough to hold while walking around before slipping it into a pocket.

 

The M1T is very well made.  The aluminium case is rugged and likely to withstand normal bumps and scrapes.  Olight claim that it will survive the impact of being dropped from 1.5 metres.  The torch also has a waterproof rating of IPX8 which means that it’s capable of operating after having been immersed in up to 3 metres of water.  This should give enough comfort that it will survive outside in the rain for prolonged periods.

For such a small and lightweight torch it packs a powerful punch.  At full power it generates 500 lumens; according to the manufacturer, enough for a beam to extend 97 metres.  I haven’t measured this precisely but can confirm that it provides a bright light that’s more than adequate for general use around a campsite or when walking.  (If you’re looking for something more powerful still, the M2T is a slightly larger handheld torch with up to 1200 lumens brightness).

The single, chunky button on the base cycles between two modes.  After 5 minutes on full power the torch automatically steps the light down from 500 to 300 lumens, giving an additional 120 minutes of power on a full battery.  The second mode gives a much softer 5 lumens of light, with a full battery lasting up to 100 hours’ use.  I found this bright beam for outdoor use and low-level light for close-up tasks a good combination.

 

 

 

What’s it like to use?

The M1T was convenient to use when I took it out on a 3-day walking and camping expedition with my Duke of Edinburgh Silver group.  Around the campsite it gave a really bright beam and I’m pleased to say won the competition to see who had the brightest torch or headtorch!  In the tent the 5 lumen mode was just about right for finding gear at night.

I would still prefer to take a headtorch when out walking or camping though.  Being able to still use both hands is a big benefit and so I’d say the M1T is best suited to general outdoor use when hands-free operation isn’t desirable or essential.  With a battery life of up to 100 hours on low power mode it will be very useful to keep in the car or at the back door of your house, safe in the knowledge that the battery won’t need to be changed very often at all.

Olight produce a range of rechargeable as well as battery powered torches.  Whichever you choose is I think down to personal choice.  I tend to prefer battery-powered torches (such as the M1T) for their simplicity.  CR123A lithium batteries are compact and widely available these days; a little more expensive than AA batteries but perhaps lasting for longer.

There’s no case for the torch, nor is there a locking mode to prevent it being accidentally switched on.  Neither of these are big drawbacks but just something to be aware of if you plan on stuffing it into a rucsac.

 

Overview

All in all, there’s little not to like about the M1T.  It’s powerful, lightweight, robust and highly waterproof – in fact, everything you would want in a small, handheld torch.  Its simplicity means that it’s ideal to keep in the house or car ‘just in case’, and its good battery life means that it’s very practical too.

But given the choice between a handheld torch and a headtorch I would personally choose the latter for the kinds of activities I tend to do.  Given that Olight make also headtorches that can also be removed from the headband and used as a handheld torch (such as the H1R Nova), this would be my preferred choice.

What I liked:

  • Small and lightweight (69g including the lanyard)
  • Powerful torch (max. 500 lumens) with 2 different brightness modes
  • Well made and robust
  • Highly waterproof
  • Easy to operate, even with gloves on

 

What I wasn’t so keen on:

  • CR123A batteries are slightly more expensive than AA batteries
  • I personally prefer a headtorch for hands-free operation when camping or walking.

 

The M1T Raider currently sells for £39.99 on the Olight UK online store.

Note:  The M1T torch was provided to me to review for free by Olight.  I have no connection with the company.  I have provided an honest and impartial review based on my personal experience in using it.

 

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Bierpinsel (beer brush)

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The Bierpinsel is a modernist style tower standing in the district of Steglitz, right on the Schloßstrasse (over the Schloßstrasse U-Bahn station).

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It is a representative of a 1970’s futuristic “Poparchitektur” style, so in this stracture you can see how people of that time imageined what the future will be like.

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It was built opened in 1976. Sine the beginning the building was used for entartainment purposes – it housed night clubs, restaurants and bars and as such was one of night life centers in Western Berlin.

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It remained a staple for Berlin’s bohemians throughout the Cold War era. After the German Reunification however the building fell in importance and its allure began to wane.

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Stoned and Paranoid in Vancouver: A Lesson From the Streets

I arrived in Canada to begin what was to become my fourth snow season, but my first long-term solo overseas trip. I had no job and vague intentions of making my way to Banff, but figured a few days in Vancouver would be a good time to start.

As a veteran of three seasons in Australia, I thought this big adventure would be a cake walk. But after immediately getting lost and having to trek across the whole city with a snowboard bag and a 70-litre backpack to find to my hostel, it was obvious that there was some knowledge I was yet to acquire. Turns out I was to learn more in the next 24 hours than I had in the last three years.

Too many beers at the hostel bar, a sleepless night and a bunkmate who insisted on having the loudest sex imaginable left me feeling like a shell of the human I normally am. As a result, I dedicated the following day to getting as stoned as possible on some of BC’s finest. I found the dispensary and nervously fumbled my way through buying some legal weed for the first time, then headed downtown to the New Amsterdam Café and Smoking Lounge to burn one down.

I’m not normally prone to panic attacks or being a paranoid stoner, but god-fuckingdamn. The combination of jetlag, sleep deprivation, a hangover and the reality that this particular strain of weed was the strongest shit I’d smoked in my life all resulted in a crippling wave of anxiety that hit me like a bus. I had no idea how long I’d spent in the smoking lounge. Everything was beginning to close in on me, so I packed my shit and got out of there. Once outside, I felt much worse; at this point, the buildings were too big and I, too small.

I wandered the streets looking for my hostel. I froze when I felt my passport in my pocket. My mind flooded with stories of people being pickpocketed. Walking like a madman, I buried my hands deep in my pockets to try and fight the fact that I was experiencing a pretty gnarly panic attack. People tried to talk to me to see if I was okay; it was obvious that I wasn’t. For all I knew, they just wanted to lure me into a false sense of security and steal my passport.

Lost and confused, I pulled out my phone to maps my way back to the hostel. It was dead. At this point, I was practically immobile – this episode had rendered me completely useless.

Accepting my fate, I found a quiet spot in an alleyway and tried to calm myself. That was until a voice from the dark asked, “What are you doin’ in this alley? You’re not from around here, eh bud?”

A homeless man approached me.

“Just trying to sort some things out,” I replied, doing my best to keep what little composure I had left.
“Me too bud.”
“What’s your issue?”
“Dinner,” he said through an embarrassed chuckle.

Thinking it over for what was either 10 seconds or 10 minutes, I told him to wait there and went to the poutine shop next to the alley. I bought a large pile of chips, cheese curd and gravy and returned with two forks.

I explained to the man how my evening had gone, and he reassured me I was fine and told me to double check the effects and strength of the weed before I bought it next time. In hindsight, that was an impressive misstep by me. He explained how he’d travelled almost all of Canada before suffering a mental break down and losing his job. Now he was just bumming it for a while; he seemed so content and positive that things would eventually turn around.

We finished dinner and he gave me directions to my hostel, which was only about a block away from where we were. I’d been walking in circles for the last two hours just metres from my accommodation. After coming to this epiphany, we both laughed hysterically for what seemed like forever. We hugged and I walked home relaxed, confident, laughing and still stoned to the eyeballs, yet extremely excited for the winter adventures to come.

Not everyone is out to steal your passport or wallet just because you’re from a different country or place. I’d learned the difficult way that having a bit of trust in strangers doesn’t mean everything will go to shit – and it’s something I’m sure we can all be better at.

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Why Pauline Hanson is an Idiot and It’s Not Okay to Celebrate Being White

Like a redneck cockroach in a white hood, Pauline Hanson has well and truly crawled out of the woodwork, and continues to spout bile about how threatened she, as a white person, is by anyone who doesn’t share her lack of melanin. In case you missed it, yesterday, she moved a motion in Parliament claiming the Senate acknowledge “the deplorable rise of anti-white racism and attacks on Western civilisation” and that “it is okay to be white”.

The latter phrase is deeply rooted in neo-Nazi and other white supremacist organisations: in fact, Klan groups have used the hashtag #IOKTBW on Twitter since 2012. Numerous Liberal, National and One Nation Senators backed Pauline’s motion – in fact, it was only narrowly defeated by 31 votes to 28. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called it “regrettable” that his Senators showed their support for her, and the Coalition’s Finance Minister says the motion was backed by mistake. But we call bullshit.

Some people – like our racist grandmas, that dude who always yells on the bus and a scary amount of young people – are also inclined to agree with Pauline, and believe she’s only voicing thoughts everyone shares but is too scared to articulate. Channel 7 News is in the midst of conducting a poll – at the time of writing, nearly 65,000 people had voted, and 62 per cent of them had done so in favour of the One Nation Senator.

Whilst some voters may hold these views due to deep-seated notions of white supremacy and a sense of entitlement to what has been well-established to be stolen land (I’m actually from the First Fleet), we at Global Hobo like to believe that others are just plain ignorant. Accordingly, we reckon if everyone was just better informed, they too would be shaking their heads at Pauline and telling her to return to her fish and chip shop (provided a migrant hasn’t taken her job).

So here you have it – a quick and easy guide to what the hell is the go with reverse racism and white pride. Whip it out at bingo or around the dinner table when someone starts praising Pauline’s failed Senate motion, or have a quick read while you’re on the loo to brush up on your knowledge and send any ignorance you may have lingering flying.

What even is racism?

Racism isn’t the same as other types of prejudice – it’s actually defined as historical and systematic discrimination. This means it needs to be rooted in history and supported by a society’s institutional policies and practices, which in turn shape the beliefs and values held by that society. Basically, to be considered racism, racial prejudice needs to be backed by power.

So when white people are the victims of prejudice based on the colour of their skin – say if someone calls a white person a “white cunt” or assumes they have no rhythm – sure, it’s racial prejudice, but because it’s not happening on an equal playing field, and white people are afforded far more privilege and power than people of colour in our society, it’s not racism.

If you have trouble wrapping your head around how racism can be systematic, think about history and the systems we have in place and how they – directly or indirectly – have benefitted white people. We’ve got obvious ones like slavery and colonialism, but there are less obvious ones too, like being paid your welfare in food stamps instead of money because you’re Aboriginal, or not getting a bank loan even though your income is higher than that of a white person who was granted one at the same institution just because you’re black.

Why isn’t reverse racism real?

Basically, if you’re white and someone has been mean to you about your skin colour, that’s probably as far as it will ever go. The scale just isn’t even close; you can’t equate your experiences to the historically entrenched racism that people of colour experience, and because white people have all of the power (Tony Abbott is a special envoy for Indigenous Affairs, FFS), it’s not like a person of colour is going to suddenly be able to define the terms of your existence or limit any of your rights or opportunities.

As human rights lawyer Anthony Morgan said, reverse racism does not exist, and anyone who claims otherwise is “outing themselves as someone who has little-to-no experience or knowledge of what racism is”. But you are no longer that kind of someone, because now you know.

Is there a rise in violent crime against white people in Australia?

No, just as there isn’t a problem in Melbourne with African gangs.

What’s wrong with celebrating whiteness?

If you’re Italian, maybe you have a tattoo of your nonna on your chest and will proudly proclaim the difference between a good and a shit tomato when you’re at Coles. If you’re Chinese, perhaps you celebrate the Lantern Festival and are stoked at the fact your culture is the creator of so many ancient wonders. That’s fine – such pride is not negative, nor is it jingoistic or ethnocentric.

If you’re white, obviously there’s a lot to be ashamed of (namely colonising and fucking with most of the world), but more importantly, being white isn’t a culture. It’s a skin colour.

You want to celebrate your culture? Be my guest. Dress in a dirndl and go to Oktoberfest if you’ve got German heritage; wear green on St Patty’s Day if you’re Irish – whatever European culture your roots hark back to, you’ll be able to find an organisation and a day dedicated to celebrating it. And that’s fine. But if you want to celebrate your skin colour, knowing that it’s been used throughout history to exclude groups of people from the rights guaranteed to everyone else (White Australia Policy, anyone? Which by the way even tried to exclude those now considered white, like Austrians and Kiwis), then like Pauline, you’re a racist prick.

(In saying that, yes, black is also a skin colour, but black people have a lot to be proud of – surviving, for one. On top of that, black people were enslaved and their cultures were robbed from them. For example, Americans with African heritage are descended from slaves. As someone more articulate than me said, “They can’t have Liberian pride or Congolese pride, or ‘insert African country’ pride because they have no f*cking idea where their ancestors came from other than the broad region of West Africa.”)

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We sincerely hope this has helped you wrap your head around racism and white supremacy, and pray that politics and Channel 7 can now return their attention to all the other things they consider more important than sick children in detention centres and women dying at the hands of their male partners, such as Barnaby Joyce’s baby, horse racing ads on the Opera House and the dangers of eating strawberries.

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What Happens Once You’ve “Found” Yourself?

We all go through a Mulan phase. Not so much the cross-dressing our way into the army, saving China and cosying up with mega dreamboat Captain Li Shang part. It’s more like looking in the mirror and offkey singing, “Who is that accumulation of cells and bad-choices I see / staring straight back at me?”

Jump cut to spontaneously booked flights sponsored by Papa Tax Return and waking up secretly impressed that you’re not dead (psst it’s called plot armour), and add a spicy twist of cash disappearing – potentially because you spent it – and you got yourself one in every five millennial’s response to that internal crisis: the quintessential “find yourself” backpacking trip. It’s the traveller’s version of a Bachelor Party, the final send-off before you decide to root your roots and do life.

Yes, that’s magical, and I could serve as your personal Mushu to guardian you through it all (okay, I’ll stop with the Mulan references). But what happens next? What happens when you’ve returned home from your grand adventure, slightly tanner and “found”, only to seamlessly slip back into your humdrum daily life? What happens once Mulan defeats the Huns (I lied) – after Happily Ever After?

Once Upon a Time (the start of this year), a Princess (that’s me) booked a solo trip to some castle (Japan) to find Prince Charming (herself). The main motivation was because I had the money and the time — or more accurately, had half the money, was two weeks late to start university and was very naive.

Over the course of five weeks, I learned how I am when I get homesick, guilty, sick, hurt from snowboarding, drunk, nervous, invincible, extroverted, hungover, poor and lost-in-translation. I felt like I was holding my hand out to myself, screaming “Hey, this is me!” like a sad solo version of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. A final stint cycling seaside in Naoshima inspired me to declare to my family that I was going offline (and my subsequent lack of communication was by no means an invitation to contact the Australian Embassy in a panic – I was just a girl having a 24-hour-and-16-minute moment, which is exactly how long I lasted). Even if my break from social media was fleeting, I felt certain this newfound “me” was permanent.

Seven months and a whole lotta mirror-staring sessions later, writing this, I feel so far removed from the Japan version of myself, as if she’s the Season 1 to my Season 8 – kinda like when you watch a video of yourself drunk the following morning with zero memory of it happening. The sad truth about travelling alone is that you don’t have someone you can share your memories with. Instead, you become that twat who, months later, is still clinging onto the same stories at parties that begin with, “This one time in Japan…”

The #LivingMyBestLife you blends into a caricature; stories get shaped into icebreakers ready to plop into any unsuspecting fizzy drink; memories are frozen in face-tuned throwback posts accompanied by the dreaded “Take me back!” caption you swore you’d never use. The mundanity of it all sets in – we feel different, but nothing else does, so we end up reliving that trip.

Why? Travelling is about breaking a routine, whereas most everyday lives are built on one. If the road to enlightenment was simply to catch the next plane, then maybe Buddha would have taught us how to navigate an airport than to sit still. I know I can’t speak for everyone, but at some stage, I became lazy. I became expectant. Cocky. Travel was the seed that I planted, and then I sat on my fat ass waiting for the harvest.

I don’t regret Japan. I regret my inaction afterwards. I’m not saying don’t tell stories of your wild adventures or post pictures of good times. That stuff is golden. I mean, did I ever tell you about this one time in Japan where during my first onsen experience? I didn’t bring a towel and a kind Japanese lady gave me her wet one to keep. Dammit there I go again.

What I’m trying to say is this: don’t leave it at that. Don’t leave it as small talk to whip out whenever you find a crack in the conversation you can conveniently slide into. The question shouldn’t be what happens next, it should be what do we do next?

The answer is easy. Even easier than surviving a journey fuelled on short-lived wealth that ends in instant ramen, or winning the war despite being an exiled female. Keep being a traveller.

I don’t mean continue to tout around three-week-old laundry ’cause you’re too broke to pay for a ¥100 machine wash. Hold onto that do-or-die mentality. Continue to explore; continue to break your routine; continue to put yourself out there. Home doesn’t have to be a trap or a coffin. It can be equally as great if you just put in the same amount of effort you did when it was costing you six months’ worth of savings.

A wise but fictional Emperor once said, “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of them all.” Travel will sure as hell do that to you. Without question my friends, you will bloom the second you step off that plane. Just don’t forget to water it when you come back home. Your best is yet to grow.

Cover by Micaela Parente; inset by the author

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