Wednesday, 22 April 2009

coming home

so this is probably the last post I'll make on this blog, unless anything particularly exciting happens on the fllight home. I'm stood in Bangkok aiirport as I write this to you, waiting for my flight home.

this trip has been fantastic, from start to finish. I'm finding it hard to pick out any particular highpoints, as pretty much the whole thing has been unbelieveable. America was great, new zeland is an extraordinry place, even rushing throughh as quickly as I was and australia as absolutely fantastic. The culture shock of the last 2 weeks has been quite strong, and I dont think I've fully appreciatedhow great some of the places I've seen were. Having said that Ccambodia was pretty much all amazing,and it was only the sheer oppressive number and force of personality of the people that made the chaotic vietnam seem like a less enjoyable place than the others I've seen. Having said all that the undoubted high point has to be doing the Bungy Jump in New Zealand. I'm still totally amazed i managed to do it. I've also loved the photography, looking for the best photo opportunities wherever I was. It's something I've never really done before - and its just a shame I wasn't a bit better at it - but its certainly something I want to keep up

Low Points - Its easy to say it but there really hasn't been any. twisting my ankle was just a stupid annoyance that got in the way of other things. the nearest I came to a downpoint was breaking my camera and losing my credit card in the same day, but that was more the accumilation of two more stupid annoyances than anything else. I didn't like Las vegas at all, and there were a few towns where the Kiwi bus and Oz buses stopped that were fairly pointless, but apart from thhat I've enjoyed some aspect of everywhere I've been.

I would certainly recommed what I've done to anyone who was thinking about doing it, although I'm not sure if i would recommend anyone to travel round Asia alone, i think thats something best done in groups, or at least a pair. It is so easy to meet people in a similar position to yourself, particularly in NZ and OZ, and you can pretty much spend as much or as little time with other people as you like.

am I going to do it again? I hope so is all I can say. I dont know where or how or what I'm going to do but the thought of never having an experience like this again is not a pleasant one.

Ii hope, for any of you that have been following it all the way through, that this blog hasn't been too boring. see you all very soon

Love Paul


on Friday we took a speedboat trip from Phnom Penn, across the Cambodian/Vietnamese border and eventually to the town of Chao Doc. even the boat was quite cramped and a total sweatbox, it would have been quite pleasant if the boat didn't brake down so many times that what should have been a four hour journey took more than six. CHao DOc was a fairly dirty and obviusly quite poor town, and we went out in the evening and had what was without doubt the worst meal I've had on this trip. possibly the worst of my life.

Saturday was mostly spent driving from Chao Doc to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). went out in the evening as a last night with the tour group. went to a rooftop revolving bar and then to a mexican resteraunt, which was much nicer than the previous evenings fare.

On Sunday i went shopping, a bad experience anyway even if it wasn't for the pestering of the locals trying to get you into there shop or stall, which was constant. they dont give you any personal space and touch you, which I now I shouldn't get angry about but after a while it really got to me. I had to push one guy away when he wouldn't let go of my arm when I asked him too. This is even more sad because the people are for the most part so polite and friendly. I'm blaming the group ffrom the tour partially for this because they kept coming out with so many scare stories about pickpockets in Saigon that when I was on my own i was instantly suspicious of even the most polite people who came up and taked to me. It was also painfully hot on sunday so i had to go back to the hotel for a few hours to watch the Grand Prix. went out again in the evening and wandered around the much more pleasantly cool streets

On Monday I tried to make the most of my last real tourist day. I went around the Reunification Palace and the Notre Damn Cathedral (there's lots of Cathlics in Vietnam apparantly), and tried to see as many other of the sites of the city as possible.

One thing i forgot to mention is that the roads in Ho CHi Minh is mental. there are scootewrs anywhere and seemingly no rules whatsoever, just who has the loudest horn has the right of way. if they dont want to wait at traffic lights then they just drive on the pavement, it is unbelievable. and crossing the road is a nightmare too. nobody stops ever, and if there does happen to be a crossing, it just means that you might not get run over if you cross when the green light is showing, rather than the absolute certainty of getting run over if you cross when the red light is showing.

I've flown out of vietnam back to Bangkok today, ready for my flight home tomorrow night. Just wish it was all out of the way really and I was home as I'm not looking forward to hanging around till midnight tomorrow waiting to get on the plane. I will Probably try to do one final concluding post on here at some point tomorrow, although maybe I should leave the concluding till I get home.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Like i said before, on tuesday I got up very early to go and see the sunrise over Angkor Wat. there's no doubt it is a very incredible place, but after the previous days touring over quite similar looking ruins I was slightly bored by this point. the next temple we visited was a place called Taprom, which was much better because it was in the middle of a forest and still had trees growing in and around and even through the ruins. combined with the fact that it took a bit of a walk to get to the ruins, this meant the place seem much more exciting and adventerous to explore, whereas the others just felt quite sterile and touristy, like wandering around Hardwick Hall or somewhere like that.

In the evening we spent a few hours at a hammock bar, which was really just a wooden deck over a river on which there was some hammocks to lie on while they brought you beer. after this we went to a local family, who cooked us dinner, which was fantastic.

been to the genocide museum and killing fields today, which as you can imagine was rather harrowing. at the museum, a former school-turned-prison-turned-museum, the mugshot photos of victims, including children, and of khmer Rouge soilders who all looked about 12 were bad enough, but the final room of the tour, full of the skulls of those who didn't make it to the Killing Fields, was almost too much.
The Killing Fields was a small place, full of the shallow pits marking the sites of mass graves that had been excavated. there were rags of clothing at the side of the path, and even bones visibly sticking up out of the floor. there was even a memorial, literally full of the bones that had been dug up. I'm glad to have visited these places but I dont think I'd ever want to come back.

It's one of the groups birthday today so hopefully this evening might be a little more cheerful than the day.

Monday, 13 April 2009

hi guys

on my second day in Bagkok it rained so heavily in the morning that i wasn't able to go anywhere until the afternoon, and as i was meeting my group for the Cambodia trip in the evening, so I spent the afternoon wandering around the local area of the hotel, including the Indian market and some of the small local temples.

the next day was spent mostly driving to Siem Reap in Cambodia, with nothing very interesting to tell about the trip apart from a visit to a silk farm to see how they produce and weave the silk. Crossing the border was a bit of a nightmare. was stood waiting for ages in quite extreme heat, not pleasant

Been touring temples all day today. We went to Angkor Thom, Preah Khan and Banteay Srey. they were all very impressive but to be honest i was slightly templed-out by the end of the day. Slightly worrying because we've got another day of it tomorrow. Also went to a Landmine Museum to see about the decommissioning work being done in Cambodia.
got to get up at 4 in the morning to go and see the sunrise over Angkor Wat, which should be interesting.

Can you keep me informed about whats going on in Thailand, particularly if they start giving advice to tourists not to go there, or if any protests start going on around the airport, as I have to be back there in a week.

Friday, 10 April 2009


I know i only posted yesterday but I walked past an internet cafe so i thought i'd nip in to let you all know everything is fine. its also extraordinarily hot so its quite nice to get under some air conditioning for a while.

Theres was no problems on the plane from Sydney, and we landed in Bangkok at 11:30PM local time, which was pretty much exactly 24hours after i had got up the previous morning in Cairns. got through Immigration and baggage pick-up fairly quckly, and there was no customs check at all so it was all going rather smoothly. The Airport transfer i had booked with STA were even waiting for me with a sign with my name on it as soon as i walked out, so i should have known something was going to go wrong. the transfer had been booked to the wrong hotel, however through my tired and befuddled brain i managed to play ignorant enough until we got it sorted and i ended up at the right place eventually. I got into the hotel room at about 2:00, the room is very nice, and it was very strange sleeping in a room on my own for the first time since Los Angeles over 2 months ago.

i got up this morning - it was still morning just - had a wander through Chinatown, where the hotel is, and then i have just been to the Grand Palace. i have seen some incredible natural things on this trip, Death Valley, Milford Sound, Kuanda and the rainforest, but in terms of manmade sights, this place was extraordinary. It makes British architecture look fairly ridiculous.
I'm now on the Khao San Road, trying to look for something thats recognisable enough to eat. I'm meeting up with the trip tomorrow but i think we stay in Bangkok that night so I'm not sure what I will do tomorrow. I'll try to update every timer i see an internet cafe as i'm guessing they might be fairly rare, particularly in Cambodia

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Leaving Oz

I've been in Cairns for the last few days but theres very little to tell about it really. not an unpleasant place, just a fairly boring one if you dont go on any of the expensive activities. I spent a day wandering round the shops and a day sat around the artificial lagoon (the city doesn't have a beach).
the only activity i did was a day trip to a place called Kuranda, a little village in the rainforest. took a scenic railway which was very beautiful, in fact i spent so long taking pictures of the hills and valleys i managed to completely miss the waterfall on the other side of the train, which is one of the main atractions of the journey. I spent a few hours wandering round the village, took a boat trip on the river, and then took a cable car journey up and over the rainforest to come back. again seeing some spectacular views along the way. no photos I'm afraid as I'm in Sydney Airport on a free internet terminal and there's no USB connection.
Yesterday was mostly spent organising myself and getting ready to leave Australia, doing laundry and sorting some things to leave behind, as my pack seemed to be getting rather bulky. by the way Katie I owe you a new sleeping bag. it was covered in rips so i decided to chuck it. i think it must have got Dingoed on Fraser Island, as i'm sure it couldn't be anything to do with my piss poor attempts to roll it up and pack it away.

I cant believe I've come to the end of the Australia leg already. It's been fantastic all the way up the coast, whether I was on my own or with other people, and not even my own stupidity with the goat could spoil it. It's been so fantastic being able to spend time in places, and if anything this fact has increased my disapointment with how rushed New Zealand was, as I think I would have loved it there just as much if I'd been able to relax and enjoy each place more. If I was to return again to anywhere I've been so far it would be Australia. What i've seen I've loved and there is so much more still to see.

so onto today, the day from hell, or at least thats what i thought it would be, but everythings been alright so far. I got up at 2:30AM to get my taxi to the airport, got on my 5:45AM flight to Sydney, got in here at about half past 8, and I'm now sat waiting for my 4:30PM flight to Bangkok. the only plus point is that I've not got to carry my full big pack all day, thats being sorted elsewhere, although I'm getting the occasional paranoid flash that i'm never going to see it again.
I'm desperately trying to split the day up, half an hour reading my book, half an hour online, half an hour filling out my diary, etc, etc, but I'm bored already and its not even 11 o clock yet. I might go and get drunk, at least then the time might go a bit quicker. I'm slightly worried as my ankle was bothering my on a three hour flight in an emergency exit seat with good leg room, god knows what i'm going to be like after a days sat around an airport doing nothing and another 9 hours on a plane.

So I will soon be in Asia. Everything has gone a bit too smoothly so far in the Western Countries, so lets see what the last two weeks throw up. I will try to avoid being mistaken for some kind of political dissident, although as long as i avoid wearing a red t-shirt i should be ok.

I dont know what to say about coming home really. I am looking forward to seeing everybody, and living out of a rucksack is becoming increasingly depressing - I'm hoping to buy some new clothes in Asia as I'm thoroughly sick of what i've got. However as soon as i get home I know I'll feel completely differently. Oh well if thats the case then it just means that I'll have to leave again and go somewhere else. If only selfish people didn't go around arranging weddings at the drop of a hat, getting in the way of my fun

I've no idea whether my mobile will work or how often I'll get to be online in SE Asia so I dont know when I'll be in touch again

Sunday, 5 April 2009


Fraser Island

Whitsunday Islands

Johnson River Crocodile Farm