So after nearlly a monthon the road I am sat at KL airport about to get on the plane back to London. Not even any dramas on the way to the airport and as I’ve not used and escalators or travelators theres been no dramas at the airport.
Presents for Alison bought and don’t worry Hannah I have got you something for your desk although I don’t think you deserve it after killing my computer.
Getting into Stansted early tomorrow morning so going to have to
camp out for a few hours so another 24 hours of travelling ahead. Joy.
Or so I thought re flight is supposed to have taken off but it’s taken over twenty minutes to get 10 people through the boarding gate as some British officials are checking everyonea passports with minute detail and uv lights. Fun fun.
See you all back in England.
After a suprisingly easy and stress free time and Phnom Penh airport I managed to book a ticket and get back to Kuala Lumpur, result.
So using the power of modern day technology and a smoke screen again lets go back to last week.
I was glad to arrive at the hostel in Siem Reap after over a day travelling and it was really nice, an old hotel and it had a swimming pool!!! I got there early evening and as soon as arrived they were like “we’re going on a pub crawl tonight you coming?” Which of course I couldn’t say no to, so a couple of hours later I was downing pints and playing drinking games, it gets slightly fuzzy after this. Although I do remember it involving a bucket of vodka red bull or two. An ice fight with a girl from Australia which I still have the bruises from and tuk tuk ride home at 4am. Really good night. I had arranged to go to Ankor Wat with a guy from Australia so after entirely not enough sleep I was back up and on my way to Ankor Wat at 8am.
Ankor Wat is a thousand year old temple complex just outside of Seam Reap and is like the national emblem for Cambodia + it is absolutely amazing. Spent most of the day going between the different temples, one of which was used in the filimg of the Tomb Raider Movie.
Right going to leave it there, too tired to think at the moment,
Hello from Phnom Penh, Cambodia. From what may be the worlds slowest internet cafe ever, sure they may have the latest Dell Pentium II’s and some HD 13” LCDs but they must be sharing a dial up connection between 10 people, its soo slow.
I realised I haven’t posted an update in quite a while so by the wonders of modern day computer wizardry with some flickering lights and a puff of smoke for good measure lets cast back to Bangkok.
Now I just about managed to catch my bus up to Chaing Mai, I had leaft myself nearlly 2 hours to get to the bus station for a journey that should have taken half an hour ish. I got to the nearest monorail station and quickly found a cab for the short ride to the bus station. For some reason none of the junctions let you turn across traffic so you have to go in totally the wrong direction until you find a place to do a u-turn. Which would be fine if all the roads were not totally gridlocked,we sat and weaved and sat and sat. My 10 minute taxi ride was quickly turning into half an hour then 40 minutes and we had travelled a mile. Some what stressed I pointed out to the taxi driver how soon my bus was and he just started to drive across traffic, not that there was a gap for him to go into, mopeds were swerving out of the way trying to save themselves, and then the horns started and did not stop. We managed to get inside the bus station compound and he told me to “run, run quick” Not that I knew where the hell I was going darting between buses in my now regular flip flop fling. Finally getting to the bus just as they were about to leave. Result.
I got into Chaing Mai at about 5:30 the next morning after not alot of sleep on my “VIP” bus but had booked into what turned out to be a fantastic hostel just out of the city in a house that used to be the American Ambassadors. As soon as I got there the owner said he had organised a trip to the elephant sanctuary leaving in an hour if I wanted to go. The place was really cool and we went on an elephant ride through the jungle and saw a really cute baby elephant. There was a hotel close by which had a pool where I managed to nicely burn my chest, I burn really nicely to the point where once a lady at Birmingham airport thought it was histerically funny to compare my face to a lobster, haha. But I digress.
Despite having been up for nearlly 36 hours when someone suggested we go out for a few drinks I of course said yes, we found this nice little bar where they had a Thai band doing, well sort of doing English songs. The next day I just dossed around town with a lady from Switzerland and had what may have been the best meal of my trip, a vegetarian coconut curry which was super spicy. At home I would normally order the least spicy thing on the menu, Korma all the way, but am now completely addicted to anything spicy and even have to add chilli powder to things.
I caught an over night train to Bangkok, which as with all overnight trains was great. There is something about being able to lie down on a nice comfy bed watching the world go by as you gently travel across a country, perfect. I arrived at about 8:00 and had a quick dash across Bangkok and got on a bus to the Thai/ Cambodia border. They must try and make this border difficult, first of all the bus drops you off near the border but not quite so you have to catch a tuk tuk whose driver tells you every excuse under the sun as to how you are not going to be able to get a visa at the border, but no worries as his brothers cousins mother can do you one in no time and it will only cost you $40. I lied to them and told them I had got an e-visa and if he wouldn’t mind just tooteling on to the border, thank you very much. Sworms of people surround you at the border again telling you how you won’t be able to get a visa/ a cab/ a bus or a hostel. Dodging them as I walked I got into the Thai building and left Thailand without much fuss. Yet more people on the outside telling me how there here to help, some with fake official passes. I got to the Cambodian visa office which has a big sign above it saying Visa $20. Three really helpfull police officers come up and start grabbing my documents and photograph and wern’t overly happy when I took them back. After seeing the sign I was a little suprised to hear that the visa was going to cost me $20 + 500 Baht, to which I pointed to the sign and he said ok $20 +200 Baht. Bear in mind this is a police officer sat in his booth. Which I again told him no I would be paying $20, so he says $20 + 100 Baht. Thinking back to the big book on how to deal with corrupt police officers I asked him for a receipt, they have no receipts. A little bit more trying later I was getting no were and as 100 Baht is less than 2 quid I paid it and had my visa in under a minute. Another 3 hours of travelling later and I was in Siem Reap.
And thats were we will leave our story for today boys and girls. I have to head to the airport and try and get a flight down to Malaysia or atleast somewhere close. I have not been able to book a ticket because of the stupid airlines booking systems not likeing it unless you booking 4 deacads in advance. So I will either speak again from where I want to be or back exactly where I am, fingers crossed.
Bye Bye Bye Bye,
Afternoon all from a very very wet Cambodia,
I have finally arrived after 25 hours travelling, which is not too shabby in the scheme of things.
I didn’t want to spell out last night quite how bad the border crossing is from Thialand to Cambodia, for fear of worrying my Mother, but it is supposed to be really bad, like proper bad. Everyone I had met said its terrible with everyone trying to scam you in some way and its supposed to take hours, maybe even days and at the end of it your wallet will be empty. All the advice was to fly instead as that was simple, but simple is borning and expensive so I thought whats the worst that could happen!
But as I am now typing this from Siem Reap, Cambodia I survived! and it wasn’t all that bad, not a walk in the park but ok.
There is a massive storm going on at the moment, which soaked me. The lightening must be really close as I can’t even count one elephant between the lightening and the thunder. There is a pub crawl leaving in a few minutes, which of course I am going on so a full update will have to wait i’m afraid.
Had a really hectic but also relaxing few days up in the north of Thailand. The weather has been amazing and have found a swimming pool!
Off to the train station in a few minutes to get an overnight train to Bangkok then I am going to head over to Siem Reap in Cambodia. The border crossing is supposed to be a real pain in the arse and its going to take me over a day to get there, good times.
I have left China, and have managed to get things back on track after the whole Tibet ordeal. I flew out of Chengdu early yesterday morning to Bangkok via Hong Kong and flew with proper full service airlines so milked the free food and drink as much as I could.
I don’t know whether it has become part of their job description but I had another argument with a check in lady, this time in Hong Kong. Who told me I wouldn’t be able to get into Thailand as I didn’t have a flight out of there booked and they would force me to buy a ticket at their and then. I told her to jog on and could I have an emergency exit row seat, pretty please.
Now I hadn’t looked at the visa situation at all, I could kind of think back to when I was here a couple of years ago and didn’t remember having to get a visa. In the typical well plannedness of my trips. As it happened I got waved through immigration and issued with a visa in less than a minute and I didn’t have to book an onward ticket, in your face Cathay Pacific check in lady. For some reason me walking round airports just doesn’t seem to go together, Bangkok has a brand new airport with these weird moving travelators that go down hill. I was on one of these with an old man with a trolley in front of me. As he stepped off his trolley got stuck and completely blocked the exit. I couldn’t step off so had to break into a backwards jog to avoid falling over him as a group of Japanese tourists behind quickly gained on me. A group of Thai ladies fell on the floor laughing as I had visions of a massive international pile up until one of the Thai ladies managed to free the stricken trolley. Disaster averted.
Having been to Bangkok before I don’t particually like it, its very very hot, humid and polluted and almost impossible to walk around. However there is a hostel slightly out of the city but still on the skytrain which is fantastic, I walked in and the guy remembered me straight away from two years ago which was really nice. The hostel as the best roof terrace which looks over the whole of the city, where you can lay on one of the beds sipping a beer watching the sun go down, its heaven.
I decided I should give Bangkok another chance so today I went down to the river and caught a boat towards the old town. One of the crew could see me leaning out of a small window to get a photo so allowed me up to the crew only area for the rest of the trip which was really good. I then to the Royal Palace and a big temple with a massive lying Buddha and then took a walk down to the old town. Which was all really good and Bangkok has now redeemed itself in my books, although I look like a sweaty mess because of it.
So tonight I am getting an overnight bus to Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand which is supposed to be really scenic with trekking and elephants. Will probably spend a few days up there.
Auf Wiedersehen for now,
ps. Dad you are the most difficult person to contact, I think I would have more look getting a chat with the Queen. Although the chats with your secretary are lovely, hope the eye is ok and may acctualy speak to you soon.
So I finished off my few days in Hong Kong enjoying tfe good food, drink and sights. Including going to see the new Xmen film which was pretty good.
There is a train line that connects HK with China so I got up early and headed for the station and took the two hour train journey to Guangzhou which is what they now call Canton and is a mix of massive industrial city and local holiday camp. I left the train station at around lunch and did not see another Western person until the evening. Now I am used to getting attention when I am away, but this was something else. Everyone was looking at me, some were even taking pictures. Just odd an I got a bit pissed off with it in the end. Luckily I met an American and some other Westerners at the hostel and had a sit down and some 30p a pint beers. Had a pretty shit day aside from that and was feeling a little crap, quick phone call to England and was a ok. The hostel said that they could arrange me train tickets to Tibet but no permits which has worked for some people and not others, I decided not to risk it and flew up to Chengdu early the next morning. Had some really garlicy egg plant and some beef skewers off a steer vendor the night before and felt some what rough from the beer. Just about coped with the taxi rice to the airpor but got to the gate, sat down and straight away thought i’m going to be sick, not good. Went for a a quick kip and got back to the gate like twenty minutes before the flight, turns out thy had been waiting quite a while for me, oops.
Chengdu is lovely, really nice hostel. Now my plan was to book Tibet from here but it turns out that the already difficult entry conditions have been made even worse and you can now only go with an official government guide on a set itineary at vast expense which is not what I want at all. So sadly I have had to up on Tibet, Carryl said before I left that there would come a time when I couldn’t talk my way out of something and I think this is it. Real bummer but that’s the way these things go. It left me a bit at a loss what to do so I am going to fly down to Bangkok tomorow and do some more of south east Asia.
Had a fantastic day in Chengdu today, been to some monestrays, the old town and some markets. Also got told about the tiny secret mao museum which sounded so good I just had to track it down. Hidden away down a little ally it was a single room in some old mans house, filled with loads of mao stuff and loads of other crap. The old guy in full military uniform, looked like Baldrick from black adder, showed me round talking Chinese all the time and insisting I take a photo with him and evey object. Totally random.
Met some teachers from England tonight and we went to a Sichuan hot pot restaurant which is like a big bubbling fondue in the middle of the table which you cook things in filled with chillis and peppercorns. I had a bit of lotus flower and have never tasted anything so spicy, my mouth was on fire, I was sweating and tears
were streaming down my face. Liberal doses
Of vinegar and soy sauce and I could carry on still with tears in my eyes though.
So that’s that, I have to be up at 4 so had better grab a shower and go to bed.
So it’s 4 in the afternoon and I am sat in a beach front bar in Stanley, Hong Kong in 28oc heat sipping a cold pint and getting a nice tan. Whilst you are having to commute to work, sorry.
I flew in yesterday afternoon after spending a little too long in a Starbucks in the city and had something of a dash to catch my flight. More flip fop running but with a massive rucksack on my back. Slight altercation with the checkin man who didn’t think they could let me onto the flight as I didn’t have a flight out of HK booked, I put him straight.
Now I love Hong Kong, my favourite place on earth even the 5 hours pinned in a 30 inch pitch window seat couldn’t dampen my
spirits. I love it because its British, we owned it for 99 years, so it has British signs, British phrases, British customs, but good weather, everythings cheap busy and frantic. All with a far eastern mix which is unlike anything else in the world. I am staying in a hostel in Mong Kok, HK hostels are notriously shite, this one is alright but as is standard the room is tiny, and I mean really tiny. Less than the size of a double bed, it requires some acrobatics just to get in the door, think the size of the cleaners cupboard in Chartley. The shower room
Is the size of a toilet cubicle and requires Olympic standard flexibility to have a shower. But hay it’s HK.
I arrived late at night but the shops never shut so took a walk down the main shopping road, Nathan Road, where you get offered all kind of tat. Although one stood out a Chinese man who walked along side me saying “you wanna buy DVD, you wanna buy DVD, you wan sex you wan relationship, you wan sex or midget” double take on my part, midget WTF! I politely walked on.
Now my plan was to arrange a travel permit and train tickets for Tibet in HK but in typical well planned fashion of all my travels it turns out that this is not possible. So I am going to have to head up to China, possibly Chengdu to sort it all out. Shouldt be too much trouble, maybe, possibly.
So that’s HK so far, I need to get another pint.
Two posts in one day, you lucky guys.
So it’s 1 in the morning and I am lying in a 12 bed dorm because I stupidly didn’t book enough nights in the really nice hostel I stayed at last night so have had to move to their parent hostel as they were full. And there is a middle aged Asian man snoring on the bunk below me!
Now dorms are always going to be a little difficult sleeping in a usually tiny room in bunk beds with people you have never met before. I must however be the worst person ever to share a dorm with. When I was in South Africa we discovered I have some really strange sleeping habits. numberswiki.com
Like sitting bolt upright whilst still asleep, eyes open gently rocking whilst tapping my fingers. But also the sleep talking, it turns out I can have great long conversations with myself about how the tents on fire or how the building has just collapsed, normally at high volume. Which led to a girl I shared a dorm with last night asking if I knew that I sleep talked because as soon as I had gone to bed last night I had begun to talk about how someone had just fallen out the window, about a chewowa dog that had died and something about Jesus.
I am sure these 11 people are going to love listening to my ramblings.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Are you sitting comfortably, then we shall begin.
Our story begins at Stansted airport, where I had managed to wangle a 99 quid flight with Richard Branson’ latest venture AirAsiaX. Having paid so little I was expecting not alot and was surprised how alright it was, just alright as it was literally just a seat like flying Ryanair only without the annoying music and yellow everywhere. I had got an extra leg room seat and a whole row to myself so stretched out and slept for about 12 hours, after a long bus journey and a trip on the monorail I got to within about 400 metres of my hostel then spent the next half hour walking up and down several streets in 30+ degree heat before falling through the hostel’s door in a sweaty mess.
Fantastic little hostel with a small number of English and Aussie people staying, travelled around with on on the Saturday around KL. Went to the Pretonas Towers which are stupidly huge, there the ones Catherine Zeta-Jones jumped off of in Entrapment. Couldn’t get up them though as I had slept for another 12+ hours and they had sold out. So went instead to the TV tower which is pretty damn tall too and has great views over KL, also the most random “Winter Land” with comic models of penguins and polar bears in 38 degree heat and the most grim zoo ever. Found a really good little street cafe after walking around, possibly for days, as the guy I was going round with was vegan! He settled for a bowl of rice in the end. For some reason though beer in KL is mega expensive, like 3 quid a pint nearly fell off my little plastic stool. Luckily I didn’t though as there were either two small birds or rats!
I was reading in the local paper about this bike gang who go round mugging people and generally harassing tourists and locals, I had been to the Chinese market which was just the same as every other Chinese market anywhere in Asia. Fake watches/ dvds etc, I got put off after buying some Billabong t-shirts in Beijing and didn’t realise until someone pointed out they had spelt it Billa Abong. Took a little meander away from the crowds and came across this old colonial square which I swear Michale Palin had been to, love going to places where hes been to then watching the TV when I get back and screaming BEEN THERE. Sad. It turns out though that this bike gang assembles at the end of this square as I just saunter on by with my shorts/ flip flops and camera, thinking to myself there sure are a lot of bikes round here, shat my pants when I put two and two together and made a bee line back to China town.
Flew early the morning the next morning with AirAsia, from KL to Singapore for only 12 quid. Brand new airplane AND they play 80’s music throughout the plane during the flight. They didn’t seem to appreciate my singing though, they should be thankful they didn’t play Queen! They are getting really worried out this Swine Flu over here and you now have to go through temperature screening when you fly into a country, I’ve picked up a bit of man flu so I had visions of them putting me into quarantine, luckily they didn’t although if you cough on the underground everyone looks at you suspiciously.
Singapore is hot humid and sticky, within minutes of walking out the door I look like a tramp, but I have perfected the art of nipping in the corner of a mall, stealing their air con then walking out the other corner. Today it has been pissing it down all day with massive lightening bolts hitting some of the skyscrapers, I managed to dip under some cover just as the heathens opened but got bored of waiting after 20 minutes just 200 metres short of a Starbucks. I mad a dash for it without a brolley but had to wait for some traffic where some nice old man but his brolley over my head as he got soaked. I decided that was a bit cruel so sprinted for Starbucks, within seconds my flip flops were drenched and my feet were slipping all over the place inside of them. My arms began to fling in the air as I did the splits, stumbling forwards towards the door before a van went through a puddle and soaked me even more. The locals were amused, I wasn’t.
So that’s about it so far, think I will go and watch a DVD now then got a flight tomorrow lunch up to Hong Kong, which it turns out is now where near here so got to spend another 6 hours on a plane.
Ciao for now,
Distance Travelled: About 7000 miles
Sights seen: Petronas Towers, Raffles, Orchard Road