A final load of inferior B-sides and outtakes that weren't good enough to include in proper posts but that I'm now insulting you by publishing anyway, like an '80s Pink Floyd album. This covers my third year of travelling after Vietnam - the above photo is one of several I took from my flight over Australia before the spoilsport stewardess told me to close the window. She was right - what's the point of enjoying stuff?
I've visited Vietnam twice in the past year, which will be twice in my lifetime if I have anything to say about it. My Vietnam blogs were admirably concise, featuring only the images and experiences I felt were needed to illustrate my points. I'll now proceed to destroy that brevity by presenting a load of extraneous photos that didn't make the cut first time around in another celebration of mediocrity.
I spent ages in South Korea. It's the country where I've felt the most comfortable in Asia, striking the best balance between value, comfort and intriguing weirdness, and there's always more to see - though considering the immigration hurdles we keep tripping over to get my girlfriend a 30-day tourist visa, it probably won't be for a while yet.
I took a lot of photos and wrote a lot of blogs in Korea, but when looking through my folders for unused odds and sods I was surprised at how many there were. Join me on a trip down memory lane as I revisit Korea in my mind, forget immigration hassle and try to ignore how depressing that sounds. Remember when I could just show up at airports and they'd let me in?
I'd always planned to continue this spiteful blog series, as it was oddly fun - in an obsessive, vengeful way - the first time I wasted an entire weekend chronicling every unlicensed theft from my first two years' worth of travel photos, supplemented by the occasional futile email or Facebook comment when it was companies rather than individuals doing it. But the idea of putting myself through all that again was just depressing.
So I was delighted to have the work done for me today as I whiled away the afternoon catching up on comedy shows from the past year and saw my pervy anatomical photo of a baboon's puffed-up arse from Singapore Zoo being used as a non sequitur punchline in the middle of the second episode of Kevin Eldon's madcap sketch show It's Kevin.
I don't bother celebrating my birthday. So you didn't die again and have survived to the impressive age of twenty-eight, well done! But there are two reasons today is a shade more significant than the average pointless birthday:
Because I'm now qualified to use the classic '28 years old, I was' pull-back-and-reveal gag after describing an act of childish or delinquent behaviour, and more importantly
Because I'm now older than my father was, to the tune of one day (we're equal on leap years), when the first fruit of his loins [some verb pertaining to fruit]ed into the world.
Not to overlook my mother's contribution to the incident, which was arguably greater, but that landmark passed a few years ago and I've had my crisis about that already. Now I'm older than both my parents were at the time I was born, have I got as much to show for my life without having produced a clone of myself polluted by someone else's rubbish genes?
Those pompous eighties idiots thought they'd accomplished something by bringing life into the world, but had they travelled to 25 countries? NO! That's one reliable achievement I've got in the bank.
Had they... let's think about this now... there must be... yes! - had they completed all 96 routes on Super Mario World, including that second Super Star Road stage that's dead hard? HAD THEY BALLS! Admittedly the Super Nintendo hadn't been invented yet. But I've still made something of my life.
If I'd been born a day later, I'd share the same birthday as my dad. He allegedly asked if my mum could just hang on a bit, but for some reason she preferred not to extend the searing agony of labour by another 16 hours for the sake of a fun family factoid. Some people are just selfish.
After completing the southern island circuit of Thailand, tourists have two major options: buying a motorbike and speeding through the risky roads of the adventurous Laos-Vietnam-Cambodia loop or taking the bus south to more orderly Malaysia and sterile Singapore. Can you guess which option I took?
I did get round to those other countries eventually, but one at a time on separate trips. I'm not 25 any more.
I found Malaysia to be an underrated travel destination, though I understand why the party people tend to overlook it. That's part of the reason I like it. Falling into a bit of a lull after seven months of tireless travelling, and with a 90-day visa not motivating me to leave any time soon, I saw a lot more of the Malaysian peninsula than was really necessary, later polishing it off with a quick trip around the more exciting Borneo bits. And Singapore has a nice library.
I resisted Thailand's obvious lure when starting my East Asia travels in more conventionally unconventional Taiwan, the sort of place people normally go last when they've exhausted all the interesting countries in the region and can't be bothered to arrange the visa for real China.
As soon as I arrived in Thailand though, I realised why it's so big with the tourists. Actually, it took about a week until I'd sufficiently adapted to the heat and stopped trying to go so stubbornly against the crowd. The tourist trail in Thailand is rightly criticised for being unadventurous, full of scammers and destructive to native habitats, but it's a lot of fun too, and this is the only country I've returned to every year for more. Unless you count all those Malaysia passport stamps I got from transferring at Kuala Lumpur LCC terminal every two months, which you really shouldn't. Malaysia's up next.
It won't have escaped your attention that I'm not a professional photographer. Professionals don't stubbornly and stingily persevere with the same cheap camera long after its LCD display has broken, meaning they're unable to play around with the settings or even see the poorly framed pictures they've taken until they get back to their hotels. I don't owe you fancy pictures.
But sometimes I'm pleased with photos I've taken, as are thieving bastards apparently. Whether it's down to the serendipity of animals striking austere poses, the sunset picking out details in satisfying ways or me managing to pull a face that doesn't look smug, I'll try to find ways to include as many photos as I can that fit whatever agenda I'm going for in the relevant blog post, giving the nicest ones top billing.
For every photo transferred from my camera to my hard drive there are 10 deleted, and not all of these survivors make it to the internet, especially in the early days. When I've dragged old folders down from the proverbial loft to dredge out any unused pictures of Dave in a cave or Dave from a slightly different angle, I kept coming across photos that I forgot I had, which I never shared with the world because I was worried about storage space or irrelevant pictures distracting from the narrative arc of the post. I can take this much too seriously sometimes.
So here's a selection of previously unseen photos, videos and writings from my first year of travelling, after those first few countries I rebelliously tackled without a camera and excluding Thailand and Malaysia too, which were too big and get their own summer specials. It's guaranteed to be entirely free from coherent plotting beyond 'Dave saw some things and aimed his camera at them.' This post could just as well be titled 'Misc 1.'