The Bish Krew on Tour

Welcome to the antics of the BishKrew on tour round the world. Bish Crew members: Tommy O'Gallagher, Kieran Rafter, James Askew, Tom Fleming, Laurie Howell and Teo Lopéz-Bernal.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Fantastic Views

To the end of the Earth

Its the 18th of April and we have just been left behind in the town of coyhaique, the previous day we had been told we were taking a road trip 400km south to a glacier called the exploradores to do some glacier walking by a mildly insane chilean man. Louis had clearly become a fan of us gringos and decided to show us the delights of the region in his own way. After picking up enough food to sink the titanic and enough pisco to float it we drove down the Carreta Austral towards the Northern Icecap. He had hired a pick up the day before and was now trying to convince us that it was a four by four by taking the scenic route on to pure mud tracks, after 2 hours of muddy madness we returned back to the road via a bridge for cows only, louis had now convinced us that this may be a one way trip.

Our two fellow explorers Danny and Ed of umpalumpa proportions were running around in the back of the truck whilst me and teo were experiencing chilean driving at its best with knees touching ears. After 7 hours of driving we eventually came to the final valley, with hanging glaciers above the ´road´ and frozen water falls around us we arrived at the our destination, after some smooth talking by our chilean guide we managed to blag the floor of a refuge in the woods, and spent that night drinking pisco sour and eating some massive pinenuts by a wood burning range. The next day we woke early and climbed for two hours to the end of the moraine field to the start of the open ice, after attaching crampons and roping together we strolled further into the glacier. Teo decided that it was too easy to walk on a glacier and decided to pick up the pace, two seconds later, he was face down 6 foot from a crevass with a bloody arm.. a warning not to mess!!! 3 hours was spent on the ice in the shadows of Mnt St. Valentine, and we returned 2 hours later to the truck battered but satisfied. 5 hours back to coyhaique, and more pisco sour and the night was partied away in the local gringo trap. Having planned on staying only 3 days , we stayed 5 on Louis´s floor with his mum baking us some Sopapia´s and just generally recovering after 3 months of tent action.

Last saturday,we flew south to Punta Arenas and then to Puerta Natales by bus, after waiting for Danny to recover from some particularly nasty tenacious D, we got the bus to Torres del Paine national park, for another 4 days in the wilderness. The two of us went for a small stroll the first evening to check out the view of the Paines , which turned into a random assualt of the summit, worth everyminute we returned from the top in the dark by torch light. After meeting a 30yr old vegetarian who abused us for rations and insisted on pointing out she got her meat in other ways...we trekked as fast as we could for 27km to get to the next camp. After K.O´ ing, we woke up the next day to find we had been raided by mice, and there were holes in everything. Another few days and a total of 50 km and with the weather closing in we called it a day on the wilderness, and left for Ushuaia the southern most city in the world. After listening a to a remarkably irritating canadian for 12 hours, we arrived at our hostel only to find him already there and pointing out to the kind receptionist that he was not to be anywhere near us. After an all you can eat buffet last night,we are going even further south in a boat today to check out some sealife, and hopefully see some whales.


Final planning!!

Saturday evening at the Rafters back in England -preparations for the grey gap year reach an advanced stage...

I know what you're thinking ..... and yes she did try to run off with the camera.

Getting down to the serious business of eating and drinking......

.....when celebrations are interrupted by an unexpected phone call from Rio, although no one could figure why an England centre back would want to speak to Susana.

Time to get out those baby photo albums.......

Friday, April 28, 2006

Rio de Janeiro 28th April

Hello families,

Having been told that this blog will be the topic of discussion at tomorrow evening´s meal, we feel under immense pressure to make it interesting. If in a few cases, that simply means outright shocking, then sue us.

On our final night in Christchurch, we were shocked to find the streets swamped with grungy looking youths, fighting one another, vandalising public property and complaining about their parents´ oppressive chore regimes. Apparently they had just watched an interesting act called "Disturbed" at the town hall. Anyway, the following day we gave Mel and Gerrard a lovely present for their hospitality and boarded our flight to Auckland. Imagine our excitement when we spotted that Disturbed themselves were sitting amongst us in the economy section of the plane!! They provided immense entertainment for us during the flight; striking air hostesses, taking full advantage of the free alcohol and one of them even broke into the cockpit to throw up on the pilot. The part about them being on the plane was true by the way, but all looked over the age of 50 and seemed to be the most polite passengers on the flight. Apparently when you destroy the self esteme of thousands of kids, you don´t need to destroy much else.

Upon arrival in Auckland, it became clear fairly soon that, despite being a large, busy city, there wasn´t a hell of alot to do. So in all our heroism we scouted out the cheapest bottle stores and assured one another that we would have fun nonetheless. On the first night, spotted a bloke and two girls from Cardiff drinking on the roof of our hostel. Having noticed that their drinking games were strikingly similar to ours we decided to join them and share in their merriment. However, subtle differences in our rules soon led to bitter conflict and eventually (don´t ask me why) a psychology debate. At one point, Hannah (a psychology student) attempted to explain the nature of the human psyche, by using a snorkelling trip as an analogy. It was at this point that Tommy saw his cue to inform her that he hadn´t just been snorkelling, but DIVING no less, thus making her argument completely invalid. QED. Fast forward a matter of minutes and the three of us have made it to our beds and are lying in an alcohol induced slumber. Happy days.

Night 2. Slightly more tame than the previous night yet somehow still involving the same amount of alcohol. By this point we had made friends with a few of our roomies and decided to go out for a civilised drink. At some point the illusion of civility was shattered when James´s head thudded against the centre table and it became clear that he was, in fact, fast asleep. Fast forward a matter of minutes and the three of us have made it to our beds and are lying in an alcohol induced slumber. Happy days.

Night 3. This was our one recooperation evening in Auckland and, unwisely, we decided to spend it forking out 15 dollars for the incredibl(y awful) Scary Movie 4. Luckily we watched it with Josh, our recently aquired group gimp/legend. What with being a Londoner, Josh was sometimes hard to understand. For instance, when in a particularly boastful mood, he claimed to have "smashed some old bird" in a girls only dorm at the last hostel he had stayed in, and said that he had awoken by the manager "whapping [him] right across [his] cherry chase". Any idea what this means parents?

Night 4. This evening had a gentle start with a few beers with an Australian bloke called Timmy (from Wyong). In a matter of minutes it became obvious that this young gentleman had an uncanny ability to be extremely racist whilst being extremely endearing at the same time. In fairness, when discussing potential solutions to the Aberigini problem in Australia, he didn´t once mention the word "camp", so he was probably less racist than your average Australian. Timmy turned out to be quite a bizarre character and in hindsight, that first conversation was probably him at his most normal. He was the sort of person who would not talk for hours on end and then break his silence by shouting through a traffic cone... sober. This evening saw us elevated to a legendary status amongst the hostel guests, purely due to the fact that we were prime suspects for some damage to a wall in the bar and thrown out as a result. Hazy memories mean we honestly couldn´t tell you whether it was us or not, but we´ve photographed it and are willing to take credit for it. Fast forward a matter of minutes and the three of us have made it to our beds and are lying in an alcohol induced slumber. Happy days.

Night 5. Having earnt a few followers for our stunt, the three of us along with Josh, Timmy and a few loaded, rah girls (with whom Josh was obsessed) hit a bar called -5degrees. It was all made of ice making it extremely easy to smash up. After this, we let the rah girls go and spend their parents money in the bar whilst the five of us began a steady session in the room. A night out in the local clubs followed and we managed to return to the room at a reasonable hour. By "reasonable" we mean late, unlike our previous evenings´early crashes. Whilst the rah girls were okay company before, we preferred them once they´d been taken down a peg or two from Timmy showing them his penis (for a prolonged period) and threatening to photograph himself doing unspeakable things to them in the night. We´ve since convinced ourselves that their tears were of laughter. As with Josh, Timmy´s foreign dialect sometimes made him difficlut to understand. For instance, he told us one story in which him and his roomate were *EDIT: communally decided to be to obsene* and were "high-fiving over the top". Any ideas guys? Anyway, here it comes: fast forward a matter of minutes and the three of us have made it to our beds and are lying in an alcohol induced slumber. Happy days.

If you were wondering, during the days in Auckland we visited the skytower once and embarked apon numerous trips to "Foodtown" the local super market.

There was a fiasco with some tickets in the airport on the 26th which is currently being sorted and Rio has been great so far.

Bored now,

lots of love,


PS: Have a lovely meal and do try to keep the discussion high brow.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sydney Pics

The aid work we did really took its toll!

Surfings pretty easy.

The Smiths were lovely

One of wyongs finest beaches.

Diving Pics

Coral and fish.

Mr Sicky

We grabbed anything too slow/stupid to escape!

Not a camera trick, these fish were huge.

Scuba Tom

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

19th March, Queenstown

After reading about Laurie and Teo we felt we should probably write an update of our own adventures.
We left Cairns on a ridiculously early flight to Sydney following a pretty big last night at Gilligan's. Once landed we had to navigate through several train and taxi journeys to reach our eventual destination in Wyong, two hours outside Sydney. We were all looking forward to chilling out, maxing, relaxing, or cooling, or shooting some B-Ball by the Smith's pool. But when we saw the lake and the selection of neglected pedalos we were all thoroughly over-stimulated.
Our first adventure saw us taking the local nightclub by storm with Laura, Hannah and their friends. We felt we had to live up to a binge drinking reputation, but sliding down banisters into tiny (angry) Australian girls probably wasn't the best idea.
While in Wyong we spent a lot of time building up our fat reserves or adding to them as the case may be. The Smith's wonderful hospitality was much appreciated.
Our first day in central Sydney was spent at the Easter Show, a load of farmers competing against one another in various agricultural disciplines with free food samples and chocolate thrown in for good measure - ace!
The second day was a little more relaxed as we spent all of our time on Bondi Beach, soaking up the atmosphere and getting some well-deserved chillout time.
The third day was probably the most exciting as KJT ascended the spectacular Sydney harbour bridge on a wallet ravaging and vaguely exciting tour. Following this we headed off to starbucks for a quick nap before comencing the nights activites at the notorious King's Cross. What happens in King's Cross, stays in King's Cross - absolutely nothing. Fun times though.
The rest of our days were spent eating barbecues, sipping beers, swimming in lakes and watching netball tournaments. We enjoyed Sydney very much and left for Christchurch feeling well-fed and relaxed.
We arrived in Christchurch where James was promptly set upon by Customs who dragged him off for an hour because he had "been to high risk drug countries and fits the demographic [they were] looking for". More panic occured when we discovered Gerrard and Mel weren't home, but a quick cup of tea with the neighbours settled us down a treat.
During our few days in Christchurch we watched Sticky the Stunt Clown aka Rent Boy (his words not ours) in Cathedral Square and attended a Canterbury Crusaders Match. Match report: Dan Carter - Professional Legend.
Somehow we managed to blag the hire of a 3.6L Nissan saloon for the long drive down to Queenstown and by 3.6 we mean 1.5. The drive consisted of Kieran and Tommy opening the engine up in front of some of the most stunning views we'd seen, whilst DJ Jamie Q was banging the tunes out in the back. After an hour or two he stopped beat-boxing and Kieran turned the Ipods on. 8 hours, 5 speeding tickets, 3 devasted trees and some surprisingly mild damage to the bodywork we collapsed at our hostel. Unfortunately we were woken up at 4am by our drunk Welsh roommates who talked us into spraying the car pink to cover the dents. Then we killed a prostitute and wrapped her in a carpet. Decide for yourself when you think we started lying.
We leave Queenstown tommorow and our time has been spent wisely with 3 bungy jumps and a river boarding trip under our belts. Although we were all slightly nervous about jumping to say the least, one particular member of the group would come dangerously close to throwing up over himself prior to each jump. All over his grey hoody. With "JA" written in the label. His name was James Askew. All three jumps were crazy for different reasons. A running jump, a dunk in a river and some old school height.
Speak soon, LOL KJT

Monday, April 17, 2006

´Patagonian Swede´

Teo´s Guiness Advert

1800m Andeists

castle mountain

The photos to match!!!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Three months in patagonia!!!

On the 7th of Febuary two gringos, one huge, one not to huge at all rocked up in the dusty patagonian town of Coyhaique, immediately rushed off from the airport like mafiosi dons, they were smuggled into Raleigh International Fieldbase Chile. Raleigh is now only a memory.
Enough of that...
Me and teo were not together for any of Raleigh apart from each phase changeover which lasts four days, this means our thoughts and feeling on our adventures cannot be summed up by just me but i will try...

First Phase:
I was deployed in a town called chile chico on the shores of the lake grand general carrera, here a group us, staying in the back yard of the church, were asked to build a playground and five-a-side footy pitch for the locals. After three weeks of hard graft we repaired and made the climbing frames etc and did the ground work for the area (playground etc later completed by phase three group). we taught the local youth club some english, and played much football against the firemen in the town, we have since then been the only Raleigh team to beat them.21-20. It was an odd town, windswept and full of stray dogs, crazy old men with dummys and numerous offensive nippers shouting ´gringos,´this was until our victory against the town heroes the bomberos.
We returned over the lake and back to fieldbase awaiting, our new instructions, community phase done!

Teo meanwhile was dressing up as a girl in the tiny village of el blanco, he was working on a communnity hall they have been building for 2 years...and is currently at the opening ceremony with the ambassador of chile as i write this!He will no doubt add more...

Second Phase:

I was trekking. Our mountain guide was shared by both me and teo on our adventure phases, he was ray mears´ apprentice at one stage and has taught me and teo how to survive in patagonia, hardcore stylie. my trek took me 130km from lake to source of the rio avellano. After walking 40 km to the valley itself we climbed up to 1700m through a pass and down under the shadows of the castle mountain ´cerro castillo´and the shores of the high lake ´lago alto´. With 15-17kg on our backs and only two re supplies we trekked through dense forest,made 17 river crossings and battled through snow and white out conditions. Sleeping under bashers and in a bivi bag, and using only our new found fire starting techniques we survived on beanfeast, oats, chocolate and manjar ( chilean condensed milk). Having finished ahead of schedule we climbed up to the New Zealand base camp 1833m on the castle mountain, walking from 8am to 8pm, with no track and pitch black for the final hour..

An awesome phase, moment:swapping a chicken for three potatoes and 5 carrots, from resupply, and killing ,gutting and roasting it...we were very hungry, it was no english chicken i tell the!

p.s we had to sh*t in holes dug with sticks for three weeks...its called scratching the cat...its wrong but u get to love the poo with a view..
Another three weeks gone, adventure phase done..

Teo meanwhile, was playing cricket with folk, in the remote valley of chacabuco, removing alien species from a ranch, to connect to huge national parks sure he will add to this..

Phase three:

I was sent to Parque Reserve de Simpson. We were asked by the chilean tree commission CODEF to help them reforest the park with Lenga trees, this meant three weeks of moving trees around the place, sounds sh*t is, it was worthwhile and we did feel like we were being hippy environment people.! We had and awesome time all the same, banter was quality, and we bided our spare time in the autumn sun playing cricket in the shit pit arena...a rickety old horse paddock...eating more dodgy rations we made friends with local farmers, and i was given a hunting hat by don juan, a top bloke, with 3 teeth..kieran its the same one as in deerhunter, exact same one...oh yes it is!you can touch it when i get back..with raleigh coming to an end we had a double asado, with the farmers and chileans at the asado is a dead sheep ,cohones and all strung up over a fire, and then slammed onto a table, and everyone attacks it with there knifes..mental..
Another three weeks over, Environmental phase done..Raleigh International done..

Teo meanwhile was strolling through the very remote Neff valley on his adventure phase, sounded quality and just as hardcore as my own...he is very thin now, were feasting tommorow night...and sleeping on a bed for the first time in 10 weeks.. he will no doubt want to add even more..

PLANS: on tuesday we head to the san rafael glacier, with two others, to do some ice work on the glacier, terrified, as our guide is a raleigh guy who is 25 and doesnt seem to know that many knots, but he assures us its his job...hmmmm.we then travel up along the carreter austral and then onto the island of Chiloe, for some horsey stuff on beaches and some fishing. On arrival at the fishing port of Puerto Montt we then fly south to the land of fire ´tierra del fuego´. we have been told not to do this as it is now nearly winter, and it can be impossible to then get out of the south if winter comes behind you, but we are cos we are now hard....´er. we plan to do a four day trek round the famed torres del paine and then onto ushuaia and the beagle channel for some whale spotting in sub antarctica...

YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST: sounds like its all awesome for the bishkrew ,cant wait to see you in santiago, should be quality, let us know any more plans that you have, and when you are in buenos aires, cos we might collide as we will be there in about 25 days.

PHOTOS: are on here tommorow.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Cairns/Sydney/Singapore Pictures

A good night, but we couldn't get served anywhere.

Outside the bridge climb centre.

A lovely american family took this photo for us. They asked us to return the favour but we really had to press on.

Oh that's right, we're artsy.

Bondi beach. Jealous?

God knows how long that poor woman's earring had been caught on tommy's bag.

Waiting for the bus to take us skydiving... We were asked to move along.

Our first daytrip out with dad.

The Olympic Torch [insert ring joke here]

A shot off the dive boat on the way out to the reef.

In hindsight, asking a dwarf to take the photo was a stroke of genius.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Cairns 06/04/06


Happy birthday Danny and happy belated birthday to Mike.

If we remember correctly, we were all too shattered to talk about Singapore in depth in our last blog, so we'll go ahead and tell you about it now.

Upon arrival, not knowing much about Singapore and its attractions, we decided to do the natural thing and looked into having ourselves strapped into a steel cage and launched into the air with the aid of bungee tension (the "G-max" DVD's are in the post). Having gotten this out of our systems, we spoke to our extremely knowledgeable hostel owner, Ken and found out what was available for us to do around the island. Whilst exciting times were had trying new food and site seeing, the day in Singapore that will stick in our memory the most will undoubtedly be the trip to the zoo, followed (unwisely) by a night safari. Not only did we realise just how superficial our interests in wildlife really were, but we also purchased a group mascot to accompany us on the remainder of our travels. He is a colourful bottomed toy baboon, and his name, we have decided, is Bosley. Whilst a cuddly toy may seem like a slightly camp item for three young men to be spending their money on, actually cuddling Bosley is banned and we were each careful to headbutt someone shortly after leaving the shop.

Next on the agenda was a few days in Darwin. Our hostel had a pool, plus on our departing flight we were able to use an extremely exciting inflight gaming system.

Onto Cairns. Having selected the somewhat cushy, Gilligans as our accommodation, we were looking forward to a week of comfort. Despite this however, our rugged backpacker spirits endured. We have been living on take away/microwave food despite access to a beautiful kitchen, and wear the same underwear for days on end despite an abundance of reasonably priced laundrettes. We will not be broken!

As I'm sure you've all heard by now, our roommate, Tom happened to be a post grad student who had recently completed his degree in Bristol (UWE) and even lived in Bishopston no less! He is undoubtedly an exciting character, but unfortunately he tends to be at his most exciting (orgies with Swedish girls, skirmishes with local authorities, acquiring the ability to fly etc) on the evenings we choose to stay in. "Dad" as he has become known (he has no idea) has organised numerous day activities for us including the incredible, extreme quadbiking and several trips to the local lagoon. Always one to lend a helping hand, we will never forget the intense lecture Tom gave us all on the correct way to throw a boomerang whilst, rather comically, a ranger was still retrieving his most recent effort from a nearby rooftop.

Cairns has been a lot of fun but also, rather alot of money. The fourteen thousand foot, four hundred dollar, one minute free fall from a small aircraft was probably the most efficient attack on our bank accounts so far. It was well worth the price and I'm sure the DVD's that we posted today will give you a good idea of why. We also have no financial regrets regarding our quadbiking trip through the Australian outback. When the speed and the danger wasn't enough to get our hearts racing, there was always a chuckle to be had at the sheer creativity of our leader when it came to splattering frogs. Throughout the afternoon he would occasionally bring his bike to an emergency stop and scramble into the bush, always emerging dangling doomed "little rotter" from between his fingers.

Diving the great barrier reef was also something not to be missed - sharks, manta rays, giant clams and fish that clearly weighed more than any of us. We took an underwater camera with us and hopefully the pictures will show what we're talking about.

Tomorrow its time for Sydney to take its punishment and we're all very excited.

Hope all's well in t'UK. Much love to all.


Saturday, April 01, 2006

Bangkok/Singapore Pics

Apparantly without a binge drinking culture, a society can actually have nice things (however pointless).

Central Bang-cock.


R2D2 always put his finger over the lens (we're sorry, that's awful).

Scholars maintain that there is a gold Buddha hidden somewhere within this temple.

A forced smile from all of us. A day trip to the zoo and an evening trip on a night safari should not be done in succession (Tommy: It's just a little f***ing furry thing).