Oh, “lifers”, I’m so sorry for the radio silence! I’ve been in Scandinavia (we need to talk about that soon) after which I had 24 hours at home to unpack and repack, then flew out to Hamburg for a road trip to Junktown in the Czech Republic! I then flew home and spent another 24 hours suitcase-bothering before leaving for a four-day London/Kent gelato Harley Davidson forest adventure. Welcome to my world… ;P
All photos are by me unless they are by Caddu, and in that case, I have said underneath. 😀
If you’re following me for my urbex adventures and don’t know much about Mad Max type stuff, here’s a quick rundown of what Junktown is:
A festival in the middle of nowhere where people eat food, hear bands, form tribes, watch shows and pretend it’s the end of the world. 😉
Photo by Caddu. *hums Jurassic Park theme*
So my tribe of armour making, cage fighting, stage dancing international badasses “The Wasteland Warriors” had been invited to Junktown to meet people, show a range of our skills at workshops and in my case, give two talks. (One about urban exploration and one about Wasteland Weekend.) And of course, “party like tomorrow is the end of the world”.
I arrived at Hamburg airport where fellow warrior Kaija met me, grabbed a load of international snacks to try and zoomed off into the sun yowling along to our favourite bands. After a long sweaty drive, we had our final shower and good nights sleep in Leipzig with more of the tribe and moved on with the wonderful war machine on the left behind us. A mini-convoy!
The thing about a lot of these events is that due to the inevitable engine noise and partying, we need to be out of the way and so while the locations are incredible once you get there, getting there is often harder than it looks. They aren’t on the map. After a beautiful drive through the forest-filled, red roofed, deer populated Czech Republic, we got spectacularly lost but were found despairing at the side of the road by a staff member who just happened to be on his way there too and so we reached our ‘base camp’ aka a bunker under a hill before the sun set. The mighty Wasteland Weekend is miles out into the Mojave Desert. Junktown is hidden in an abandoned military base deep in a forest. I’m pale and hate the heat so I know which location I prefer…
Bunker, sweet bunker. <3
Shade, birdsong and the sound of revving engines…
This is Junktown’s permanent base so there are sturdy shelters and bunkers everywhere and people come throughout the year to work on them, which I found fascinating… show of hands please if you’d like me to go back in off-season and have a chat with some of them! 😉 We set up our stall and spent a leisurely day getting painted-up, going exploring and getting to know people.
Photo by Caddu. IG = @8bitmusic
We take ourselves very seriously. Photo by Caddu
As with all these kinds of events, there’s just SO much to see and do that you will inevitably miss something- especially if you don’t speak Czech! As Junktown is an increasingly international and very friendly event, one of the established tribes has a solution to this; enter The Lightbringers, who give guided tours around the area, act as ambassadors to the many tribes and explain some of the legends, backstory and folklore that has sprung up around certain sites. I would have missed SO much if it had not been for the tour I went on. Let me introduce you…
The Scavengers- an awesome tribe who preserve water and offer visitors a taste of different samples taken from sites throughout the country! The blue represents the sky and water in hope that it may return to the wasteland- and look at the tomato plants behind them! I would have loved to stay longer and hear some more of their stories.
This tribe is called “Free Wifi” and I fell in love with them for the name alone. They’re the quirkiest, friendliest group of people with a shelter in the depths of the forest and one night when I was lost, I sat for a bitesize philosophical discussion with some of the members- who are very good at art!
This is a member demonstrating a postapocalyptic musical instrument- I would have got footage of the whole band performing but I was laughing too hard! 😀
Can you imagine this being your home if the world really did end?? Paradise!
Photo by Caddu
The Zone Rats. My phone malfunctioned and I didn’t get the photos I had planned but these guys had a multi-storey shelter with a car as part of the TOP floor! I’ll be back with a working phone, I promise.
“The Coffee Guys”. Many of us (including me) seem powered by coffee and incapable of coherent thought before a cup of coffee has been carefully placed in front of us and everyone has backed away. So we spent much of our time in here. And look! Mad Max cookies! Furiosa is still on my desk as I just couldn’t face eating her.
We were shown a beautiful clearing away from the noise and right by the concrete perimeter- almost overnight, strange pink plants and seed pods had appeared. Hanging down from the trees like tails, spirals on the wall, glitter on the ground… Nobody knows what they are, where they came from, if they are benign or if they will spread. I wish I could have done the area justice with my camera but unfortunately you will just have to imagine! I did a teeny self-photoshoot in the long grass nearby though!
Found a Triffid.
There were rumours of a gate made of bones and a mysterious site people don’t like to visit at night. I’ll come back to that later……. 😉
Go wandering at night and who knows what you may find in the forest?
Though there were always people minding our stall, many of us went our separate ways then returned to share interesting things before running off to watch the next spectacle! I loved the way that different kinds of apocalypse had met and run together to create a very strange and cheerful new world. Nuclear explosions, war, the loss of water, mutants… you name it. There was a huge ‘Fallout’ (the computer game) following so its 50s style music formed a huge part of the soundtrack to the event, blasted over “Junktown Radio”, while the bands ranged from country to metal.
I didn’t expect this openmindedness in terms of theme but I loved it! There was a talk about and exhibition of photography from Chernobyl, my talk about urban exploration, a food stall serving insects (no thankyou!), talks from apocalypse-savvy people including a plague doctor, a butchery demonstration (I support hunting for food over factory farming but was maybe not quite ready to see a freshly killed bunny about to be made food-ready, haha!) and plenty of different films being shown in the cinema.
We had fire shows, hook suspension, bands, Jugger matches (the Wastelander national sport) and our very own virgin sacrifice! Like I said it’s impossible to see everything- it’s best to leave some room for adventures, which is how I found myself in the shisha tent at 1am in a discussion that swung from existential to complete nonsense and back again. 😀
Zone Rats fire show. Photo by Caddu
These ladies did bellydancing and looked so striking always walking around together. <3
Our Warlord Joe giving a talk about the Wasteland Warriors. (This is also where I did my talks).
The casino had the best guard dog in the world! Photo by Caddu
If I could explain. I would. But I can’t, so I won’t.
At Wasteland Weekend, there’s an ongoing battle about the practicality of denim, the use of the colour blue and whether or not Fallout has a place there. The dress code is stricter- which is not necessarily a bad thing, just different. It was interesting to see the different interpretations and characters here.
While I fit the dresscode in just about all of these places, costumes are always a work in progress! I also need to make myself a better drinking container like Mordax’s one below.
Photo by Caddu
The rules are, shall we say, a little more lenient about weapons than I’m used to! If I didn’t have to fly home, I could buy a kickass knife and one of our warriors managed to barter a spectacular axe. We could also go shooting on a range with proper guns- sadly this was one of the things I missed this time, but there’s always next year. I used to be a very good shot but that was over a decade ago! 😉 I’m more into keeping my body as a weapon anyway and really really REALLY need to start doing a martial arts or boxing class again. As you can imagine, I haven’t been able to hit the gym and I miss it.
Health-wise, I was really excited to see a vegan food stall. I’m not vegan but as was vegetarian for many years, I always feel happy when I see that there are veggie options available, and the smoked tofu was gorgeous though as the “soylent green” burger booth was three booths down from us, that’s what I lived on. Soylent Green. (And ravioli- note the spectacular eating utensils. We are sophisticated and highbrow here.)
While I don’t like to dwell on things that have been well and truly taken care of, I couldn’t write this blog without mentioning something; the incredible sense of support and community I have with my fellow Wastelanders. I’m sure at some point I’ll tell you about my formative years (there’s a great story involving a moose, a tattoo and some shooting stars) but for now, lets just say I’m not used to people having my back.
To cut a medium-sized story short, a special kind of douchebag left with a lifetime ban, several Faith-inflicted injuries and hopefully will think twice before putting parts of his anatomy on other peoples faces in future. Convinced I’d be thrown out for my actions, I waited to be found and shown the door. Nope. Hugs, marshmallows and an assurance that if I got thrown out, we’d all leave. There are things (like instant support from your people) that many take for granted. Not here. Not ever. <3
Toasted marshmallows are one of my favourite things! Photo by Caddu
Cheshire, Kaija and me
Though we were all missing showers and not waking up feeling sticky, I think most of us wished the festival lasted for a few more days so we could see everything we wanted to! On the last day, we took our group photos, bought our last souvenirs, sold our last clothing (which you can get here), went looking for our new friends to farewell, drank our last coffee and… established The Church of the Rubber Chicken.
Gecko and Cheshire
I went looking for the “Gate of Bones” that I had heard about and found it by accident as I was heading back to check on the booth! This is the legend:
Children of the Wasteland have to undergo a rite of passage in order to come of age. They must pass the bone curtain, leave their childhood toy or doll in the tree beyond and then stand vigil by the tree for the night, Sometimes, the children are still there in the morning and sometimes… well, who knows what happened? They say their spirits haunt this part of the forest.
As we had won first AND second prize in the post-apocalyptic vehicle competition (below) as well as first prize in the costume competition (winner worshipping on the left above), I hadn’t fainted or wet myself during my talks and even had some compliments, we left on rather a high note! 😀
Photo by Caddu
The better the experience, the harder the post-festival blues hit when they eventually come, and I’m already missing the music, camping, impromptu conversations with strangers, meeting people and the roar of engines. Luckily, the Wasteland Warriors have been confirmed for Wacken this year and so in just under a month, I’ll be back in Germany and preparing to do my first ever CAGE FIGHT! Wish me luck and come and see us in Wackinger village.
So here are a few more ‘off-duty’ photos- if you haven’t yet had enough! 😛
Kaija and Mordax- it must have been hilarious!
Kaija’s new toy
Wheeeeeee it’s mine!!!
Joe, who insists he looks nothing like Opie from Sons Of Anarchy. If you say so… 🙂 Photo by Caddu
Joe and Caddu
Group shot! <3
Until next year, Junktown…
p.s. The Last Word (all the mushy thankyou stuff).
Martin, thankyou for the invite- you rock the hardest. Radio presenter Olaf, thankyou for helping me with translations and computer works while I burbled on.
The Zone Rats and Free Wifi, for making me feel so welcome and being fascinating people. See you again. <3
The Lightbringers for being amazing tour guides and kickass Juggers.
Striga, I wish we had had more time to get to know each other. Keep in touch, beautiful lady.
Rionka, it was so lovely meeting you at last and so much fun riding with you!
The people who let me hitch rides- again please!?? 😀
Coffee dudes, you rocked and thankyou also for the spoons, nails, souvenirs, cookies and all the other random crap we borrowed from you.
The Wasteland Warriors. Need I say more? (But especially my tent mate and Reeses queen Kaija, new friend Cheshire and congratulations new member Corvus).
Security. You know what you did. <3
And everyone else I know I have forgotten.