A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: budjude

Homeward Bound

cheerio one and all

sunny

thought i would finish up my blog/journal before i head back tomorrow. after today it will just be alot of waiting around at various points ( bangkok, bahrain, london) which wont be fun to do or read about at a later date, so i am not going to bother.

i am now back in bangkok, again, and each time i return it feels more relaxed and comfortable. i will admit now, as i dont think i did it when i first got here, that when i first arrived it scared the crap outta me, but now - me being the experianced traveller i am i kinda like it.

pattaya i didnt like so much, i think i am about 40 years to young to fully appreciate it for what it is. although plenty of westerners, of a certain age, seemed to enjoy it. so i only stayed a couple of nights and got back here on saturday. did some crazy shopping and bought enough clothes to ensure that i had to buy a cheapo bag to transport them back home.

i got introduced to the craziest street in bangkok - soi cowboy - by the ex-number 1 in germany at table tennis and have spent a couple of nights really 'living it up' before i go back. also found a nice little indian restaurant which is showing the cricket and so have been camped there the last 2 days, praying for the good old english weather to help us out. touch wood it looks like it might just do it for us.

so its my last night in bangkok and to be honest i am planning to go out on a high - my plane leaves tomorrow night at 6 so i figure i have all day to sleep off whatever i do tonight and it would be a good way to finish the trip off.

so as this journey draws to a close i thought i might do a list of my high and low lights. so;

Thailand

highs - Ko Phi Phi, tiger temple at khanchanaburi, jungle treking, oh and the thai lasses

lows - stupidly long bus journeys

Laos

highs - tubing in vang vieng, fast boat to luang prabang

lows - being sick out of a bus window

Vietnam

highs - doing my padi course, nha trang, shooting a double barrel shot gun and an ak47

lows - halong bay, 3rd degree burns on my chest

Cambodia

highs - killing fields

lows - bed bugs and everything else really

Malaysia

highs - teman negra, shopping in KL

lows - perthian islands

i have really enjoyed my time here and hopefully i will never forget it - although my memory is friggin useless. anyway it might give me an excuse to come back.

to all those i have met, i thank you - for without you it wouldnt have been the same. dont get me wrong - i didnt like all of you, and you do meet alot of idiots over here (mainly english it has to be said) - but i wouldnt have changed it.

maybe see you next time - looking at going to the following places, hopefully sooner rather than later - central america, south africa, europe, canada, south america, india..............................

Posted by budjude 21:20 Archived in Thailand Tagged packing Comments (0)

All Creatures Great And Small

sunny

well i am now in seedy pattaya, 2 hours east of bangkok and its pretty much what i expected it to be. i decided to head for here after spending a few days in khanchanaburi. arrived last night after a 4 hour bus journey, via bangkok.

when i got to khanchanburi i managed to find a cheapo room, near the river kwai. first thing that struck me was the size of place in general - they advertise it as a little town when in reality its a decent size. the main draw for me of going at all was the tiger temple run by monks, where you get to sit and stroke etc wild tigers. i have met so many people who have done it and said that its an awesome thing to do. so when i got there i looked into it striaght away and was told that now no one is going there because of a dispute with the tour companies. nightmare and i was gutted. a couple of days later i made enquires and found that if you get a taxi they might take you.

in the end it took me standing on the street for a couple of hours flagging down random folks to get one booked. the only other problem was a lack of people to go with me - in order to share the cost of it. went back to the guesthouse and basically acted as a tour guide for the temple and managed to get 5 other people to come along with me. result.

the day was really good and the tigers were great. got a few pictures of me stroking them and cuddling them - wild, non chained tigers. hopefully the disposable camera did its job and they will come out ok. afetr we return 'my' group went out for a few drinks and a meal and i felt like a tour operator - although no one gave me a tip! that night two of them, an aussie couple, stayed up with me to watch the england game and spent a small fortune drinking sangsom. all three ofus felt shocking yesterday on the trip back to bangkok, before we split and i went to pattaya.

i did a tour of hell fire pass the historical site, erawan waterfalls and then a 2 hour train ride back along the railway and over the bridge. it was pretty good and very cheap - last minute and cancellation of another trip meant they gave it me for half what it should have been.

the waterfalls were probably the highlight, as it is a 7 stepped jobby. the walk upto the 7th step was long and steep but worth it for the swimming. no one tells you about the fish, i mean you can see them, some pretty big but no one tells you what they do. the little buggers bite you, well clean you as you sat there, which was strange/painful/strangely nice.

my cheapo room turned out to be a bit of a nightmare really - i got bitten badly everynight by ants on my feet - again. so they are back to being a real mess. thats one thing i will def not miss about asia.

so i think i will stay here tonight and then maybe head back on saturday or sunday to bangkok before i fly out on tuesday.

everynight untill i leave will be taken up by watching the 5th and final ashes test, in which i have no doubt england will stuff it up.

Posted by budjude 21:08 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Back To The City Of Sin

sunny

i am now back in bangkok having left Ko Phi Phi yesterday on the last of my long trips, apart from the flight back. complete jounrey yesterday took roughly 23 hours from start to finish and when it did i couldnt have been more happy about it. why do people snore when they sit next to me on long overnight bus journeys?

anyway on Phi Phi i found i nice guesthouse to stay for the 10 nights i planned to stay and it turned out that i was the first person to stay there since the reopening after the tsunami. maybe thats why he gave me such a reasonable (well for phi phi) price. it turned out the guys working/owning the place was mental and inisted that every night we had a little party to celebrate the fact that he had a customer(s) in. this turned out to be an event which took place everynight whilst i was there and often ended in a near by bar.

whilst i was there i decided get off my arse and do some volunteering work with a charity on the island. as a result i did various 'exciting' tasks such as gardening (strimming) the memorial garden, picking up litter from the beach and moving collected rubbish into a pile so it could be burned at night. it was good to feel like i was doing something useful and giving something back, especially as it was my second time there.

despite this i wanted to do something more tangible and actually see the benefits from what i was doing. so i offered my services to Ahn and Dunm the guesthouse owners. they couldnt believe that a paying guest, wanted to work for free. but 'shockingly' they let me work for nothing for 5 days. i painted the outside of the building, helped to dig the foundations of the next project (toilet block of a camp site) was let loose with an nail gun and even put up curtains in the rooms. on my last day of 'working' i went to the pier with them to drum up business and get some guests for the finish rooms.

between the 3 of us we managed to fill the guesthouse and had a 'little' party in that honour. this ended up in a bar called hippies and it was the half moon party night. it was pretty good from what i remember of it untill i had an arguement with a bartender about the lack of change he had given me, and he decided it would be good to smash a bottle over the back of my neck and get me thrown out. the cuts and bump my neck has more or less healed now and the 3 day headache i had has gone. i still dont know what i said to him but as he didnt speak much if any english i guess i will never know.

anyway for all my efforts with the guesthouse they got me totally drunk everynight - an exercise which became even more enjoyable when we got a group of swiss lasses to stay. and strangely i must have done something right as they offerred me a job working within the empire. they are planning to build a 2nd guesthouse, a campsite and a bar in the next 6 months. i saw the plans for it all and it looks pretty good and he said i could work in any of them and have free accomodation and a small salary. its a nice thought but i took it with a pinch of salt, despite that fact he has got my email address and my mobile phone number so you never know.

i had a day off from working and getting beat up and went snorkelling with black tip sharks. i wanted to go diving but no one was doing the wreck dive so the sharks got my attention. it was brillant and as you didnt have a tank on your back you didnt scare them away straight away and got to swim around a group of them before they realised what was going on and buggered off.

so i am now back in bangkok, at the same guesthouse as before doing the same stuff as before i guess - like nothing has changed in the time since i first arrived. i am staying here for 2 nights i think and then i am off to either pattaya or khanchanaburi, probably the later first as i think i am more likely to wanna stay there for an extended period, what with the tigers etc.

only ten days left!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by budjude 21:37 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Everywhere you go always take the weather with you

just make sure its some good weather

rain

hollywood didnt exactly come calling for me after the 3 days of filming for Blackbeard.

caught the ferry back across to ko samui and then from there a taxi and another ferry back to the main land, where chaos engulfed us. due to the demand for extras shed loads of people had turned up for it so there werent enough buses etc to take us all and everyone got split up from friends etc. managed to get on an early bus and got a pretty nice bungalow right on the beach with air con, fridge and a tv. the best room we had had for ages. i had to go straight away for a fitting for my costume - a red coat no less, army dude type chap. got back at midnight and got up the following day at 4.30 for the pick up.

we were all driven about an hour into the middle of the countryside. had food and then everyone got changed and was ordered down to the set to start being extras. sounds like fun but straight away it was clear it wasnt going to be much fun at all. the first 2 days were the hottest that they had whilst filming and people were struggling with the heat. the main problem being that everyone had to stay in costume all day - for me that meant a shirt, a waistcoat a thick knee length jacket, knee length socks, long trousers, black shoes and chaps - plus a sword and a pistol oh and a hat. the sweat pured off me for the entire two days and at times i thought i was going to pass out from it.

other people were worse - one blokes shoes start to melt into the floor and one got water blisters up his back and arms from wearing the coats. anyway i only lasted two days of this (14 hour days dont agree with me) and contented with my acting and number of potential on scene moments i decided to stay in bed on the third day and sleep - which i achieved pretty well, managing 15 hours. after which i chilled out on an empty beach for the rest of the day - all for free.

that night there was a shin dig at one of the hotels and we hitched a ride to it and had a good night chatting to the crew and other random people from the set.

yesterday they drove us to the main city and then i had to decide where i wanted to go - two choices being back to either ko samui or ko phi phi. i missed the bus to ko samui so i caught the one to ko phi phi, which is where i am, after a night in krabi. the boat across was shockingly rough (again) and the weather is throwing it down still now a couple of hours later - the island is starting to flood due to it.

i am staying here for at least 10 days and got a cheap room on that fact, i plan to do some helping out with http://http://www.hiphiphi.com/and also maybe some diving if my cold clears up and if the weather improves maybe some sunbathing - who knows !?!?!

Posted by budjude 23:42 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Hollywood beckons

sunny 34 °C

i am now in Koh Phangan, just north of Koh Samui after a couple of days more on Samui. did the whole renting a bike thing for a couple of days and went exploring around the island. the first day it prompty rained from just after i collected the bike till the early evening, but we braved it and went to meet some friends from my travels who were close by. the second day we and the landlord of the hostel went to play crazy golf in the north of the island. it was boiling and it took us ages to finish, but we got starting talking to the owner and he told us about a movie which is being made on the main land called 'Blackbeard' and for which they require extras. all three of us put are names down and i leave tomorrow to go back to the mainland to 'star' in the movie. it sounds like a laugh and you are supposed to get free transport, accomodation, food etc and also about 1200 baht (70 baht to a pound) a day - and its 3 days so we thought why not.

in the evening i went out to watch the footie and to have a few cheeky drinks, which turned into a all nighter and as a result i didint get to bed till stupid oclock in the morning. next day caught the ferry to Koh Phangan with lucy and also the guest house owner from Luis guesthouse in Lamai. i would reccomend anybody to stay there as its small, cheap but with a massive tv/stereo system and free pool table and a small bar. added to this Lui is icelandic and completly nuts and his mrs is a thai lady who is crazy - it made for a really good week - by far the best guesthouse i have stayed in so far on my travels. we all really got on so we invited him to come wityh us to the next island up for a few days untill the movie work starts.

first night on the island was the half moon party and as it looks likely that i will miss the full moon party i proceeded to enjoy the moment/evening. it was ok but nothing really special - the main problem is that everybody comes here especially for the parties so they are maybe on 2 week holidays and so they are clean, unsmelly, smartly dressed folks whilst i am none of the above for more than about 30 minutes a week (at a push). these people have been nicknamed - "makeup backpackers" and they are everywhere here. its not even an especially nice island - its ok but not as nice as Ko Samui in my view.

despite that we decided to rent bikes and see a bit of the island for a day, we were warned that the roads werent great and that tourists are always crashing into things. 5 minutes out of the main town area where we are staying we found the first crash site where a bloke had hit a car. managed to avoid anything of this sort for the rest of day and caught the sun nicely, as it was boiling all day.

today i have been diving - in 'one of the best dive sites in thailand' but dont believe the hype on that one. we dived sail rock, which is 40 minutes out to sea and it was ok, but not as good as other ones i have done. the best part was a vertical swim through called the chimney where you are enclosed all the way around apart from going up -it was pretty cool but the water quality was poor and there wasnt anything really big to see.

anyway hollywood beckons so i better go..........

Posted by budjude 02:50 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Back to the land of dreams

thought i would take a moment out of my busy day, of sitting in the sun on a gorgeous beach to fill you all in on the latest adventures.

since i last wrote i spent a day in KL, doing some tourist stuff - the petronas towers etc and a bit more shopping. left the following day to go back north and to teman negra, which is pretty much in the centre of the country. turned out to be a bit of a mission as it required a 4 hour bus trip and then a 3 hour boat trip up the river to the jungle, with various waiting around thrown into the mix. arrived quiet late at night and found the cheapest, dirtiest hostel around and duely took out a dorm room. there isnt much to do at night there, and there is no alcohol anywhere, at all, none. there is a few cafes etc on the river front, which float and a few hostels on the land but apart from that nothing.

the following day we went to the main attraction of the area - the longest canopy walk in the world. had to cross the river to get into the national park and straight away were confronted by a large, very poisonous (so we were told) green snake. its about an hours walk to the start of the canopy walk and there werent many people around so it felt pretty good walking through the jungle on little dirt tracks. the canopy walk itself is good but if you dont like heights dont do it - think basically ladders laided down and held together by ropes of various sizes, about 50-60 metres up from the ground, between the trees. there wasnt too much to see in terms of animals but we did see rabbits (!?!) a few birds and a couple of monkeys. from the cnaopy walk you can go a variety of ways back and we decided to take the hilly and longest route back, as we thought it would be a laugh. it wasnt and it took friggin ages in the mid day sun, with no water on a path pretty much overgrown for most of the way. we encountered more monkeys and a little black and yellow snake which wasnt very happy to see us.

on the way back you walk along the river and you can swim etc, so we cooled down and then headed back to the hostel for a long cold (cant remember when i last had a hot shower on this trip) shower. when we got back there was no water in the hostel and it remained off untill after we left the next day. found a cafe which amazingly enough had a tv and a playstation 2 and more importantly Pro Evo (football game for those of you who dont know) and spent a couple of hours beating all the locals at it - maybe my uni days werent a complete waste!

left the next morning at stupid oclock to catch a 2 hour bus, followed by a 4 hour bus, followed by a 2 hour bus and then a 2 hour boat ride to the perthian islands. it was all going swimmingly untill we got on the boat and as normal the weather turned and a storm blew in and chased us across the sea to the islands. half way there the heavens opened and it rained for the remainder of the trip across. the boat cant actually land on the beach so you have to catch a little taxi boat to get ashore - these are not covered and as it was throwing it down still, everything i owned got soaked - it was like standing underneath a hose pipe on full blast.

we didnt have anywhere to stay on the island but we were told that it shouldnt be to hard to get. this was wrong and i would advise anybody going to book ahead. people had been sleeping on the beach and on shop floors the previous night as there wasnt a single room free on both of the islands - even the expensive ones were taken. we walked the full stretch of the beach front on both sides (long beach and coral bay)and found nothing - bugger all. apart from a.....tent! a small smelly two man tent - which was sized in asia so it was more like a 1 man tent. we took this as there was nothing else and didnt fancy sleeping in the rain. so soaked to the skin we stuffed all are stuff in and followed suit, it was shocking and the smell and heat inside it was worse than the lack of space. i ended up going outside and sitting on the empty beach at 4 in the morning to cool off - i got bitten for my efforts.

searched and searched the island again for somewhere to stay the next day, but again everywhere was full and everywhere had waiting lists for the next 3-4 days. some of the expensive ones - talking $20 a night each were free but its just too much. also everything on the island is a rip off, from rooms to food to beer and the beaches are ok but not a patch on Ko Phi Phi. for all the above reasons we left the next day and caught a fast boat back to the main land, in the search of a shower and a wash. so that was the perthian islands in 24 hours!

the 2 hour boat back was smooth (ish) and we caught a taxi to the border of thailand, as there are no buses that go. it took 2 hours followed by walking across the border. we were told it might be closed to westerners and that people had been attacked recently, but we found it a breeze and a lot easier to do than the cambodia to thailand border. we had to get a moto taxi with all are, still wet geat to the train station in order to head north. we caught a 3 local train (think chickens on board) upto to Hat Yin. by this point we were bored stiff so start raving to some tunes on the ipod - much to the locals amusement. Hat Yin is the place were the thails and malays have been fighting recently and 500 people have been killed since the start of the year. we didnt want to stay, as you can imagine so we raced around the train station and just caught a connecting train to Surrantti, which took a further 7 hours, arriving just before midnight and still without a wash.

got another horrible little hostel that was close to the train station and managed to have a shower after close on 60 hours without one. we got woken up at about 5.30 by an explosion from down the street and people shouting at each other. i was so knackered i just rolled over and went back to sleep - the next day it turned out to be a small bomb that blew up a car/truck. so we left there quick smart and headed to the pier on a couple of local buses, which took about 5 hours in total. the ferry across to Ko Samui was brillantly smooth and we found a hostel no problems on Lamai beach. all my clothes apart from what i was wearing was dispatched to the washing depart in an attempt to make them smell go (i can report this was quiet successful, but 2 t-shirts have bitten the dust) we went out to a foam party that night and had a few, to many well earned drinks.

the following day went and slept on the beach only to be woken up by a lady giving my 'baby elephant feet' as she described them a pedicure -lucy had set me up. in the evening we went out with the crazy owner of the hostel - an icelandic bloke and an english couple from the hostel for a few drinks. we went round all the seedy bars and clubs and got some wicked photos of us with various lady boys and semi attractive women.

basically as the islands are so close to bangkok they get alot of 2 week holiday'ers coming here so its very seedy in parts. but good for the male ego to walk down a street and have wonmen chase you and hold onto you etc, strange but true. also in the bars they give you free shots of rum etc and then you sit and play connect four with a semi naked, semi attractive thai lass - its weird, very very weird. needless to say if you want anything you can get it very quickly and i assume very cheaply.

i am planning to explore the island on a rented bike in the next few days and more importantly they have a mini golf course which will be getting my attention for an afternoon

most of my travelling is now behind me in terms of distances and i think i will stay here till the weekend - they have the ashes live and all the football a boy could want, planning to watch liverpool tonight, it starts at 1.45 in the morning. before going to the full moon party and then west i think. as i have come back into thailand quickly i am going to have to go to probably burma to do a visa run - which should be fun !

Posted by budjude 22:52 Comments (0)

Malaysian Madness

Ko Phi Phi - Phuket - Kuala Lumpur

overcast

i have safely arrived in malaysia after a few bad journeys the flight was nicely smooth and comfortable and with only a short delay. since i last wrote i spent a week on Ko Phi Phi relaxing and starting to really chill out on a couple of beaches. after the tsunami warning on my first night the rest of the stay went smoothly enough. had a couple of days on various beaches, the best one is def called long beach and as its a bit of a mission to get there - think rock climbing and a walk through the jungle - is hardly anyone on it. is also the best swimming from the main land part of the island. the beach and colour of the sea really were picture postcard stuff.

also i had a day diving, with a dive team from the island, my 5th and 6th dives on the trip. it was similar to the dives in vietnam but with a little more wildlife and a numerous leopard sharks, which were quality to swim with and around.

another highlight was the trip i did around the islands to the surrounding bays and coves. this included a trip to Maya Bay (the bay from the beach movie), monkey cove and various reefs in which to snorkel. i would reckon doing it in a longtail boat, instead of a massive motor boat with 50-60 people on it - as it was there was only 2 of us. the fish in the coves were actually better than what i saw on the dives and the volume was huge. they werent shy in coming close and i got a nip off one of them.

also on the island i saw a couple of thai boxing fight nights, which is something i wanted to see. it makes boxing look like childs play and is alot more physical. everytime the boxers came out to fight the guy in the bar put on 'eye of the tiger' i couldnt help but smile.

the boat across to Phuket was rough and i duely return my breakfast to the world, twice. stayed in a hostel suggested in the LP, god knows why though it was a dump. jumped on a local bus down to Patong beach to see what it was like - stayed for about 2 hours before i had to leave. think costa del sol, with a rubbish beach. not my sought of thing. the other reason for going was to have a look at the hostel where a british guy murdered 2 tourists 10 years ago. acually made it inside by staying i wanted a room and asked for the floor were he killed them. so i had a one in three chance of being in the room were he killed and then cut up there bodies. nice.

so caguht the plane yesterday and got down here, checked into a suitably shocking hostel and went and had a shopping spree. well just one stall but it took me ages. i have acquired 35 of the latest movies on dvd - everything is a lot cheaper here than in bangkok, apart from beer and a room, so i am going to do my shopping here and travel with it back up north.

worked out that i have now done over 7500 km since i first arrived in bangkok and think that is quite enough travelling, so this is as far south as i go. i think i will return to the uk in september, i dont really want to see anything else in Asia so there is no real point staying.

Posted by budjude 18:42 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The island needs you....where are you all?

Ko Phi Phi

sunny

wasnt going to update this but just thought i would let you know that i am now down on Ko Phi Phi and its wierd. added to the fact that the first night here we had a tsunami warning (the 2nd since the original) and were moved to higher ground, due to the earthquake, and a complete lack of sleep from the bus from bangkok to krabi, the wait in krabi and than the boat across to the island all in all it took ages.

got off the boat to be met with destruction everywhere and a very tangable mood of sadness. despite that people are so very very pleased to see you and more importantly your wallet. but here it is different as they need it to live and more importantly get there lives back in order.

the beaches are still awesome and the diving etc (booked 2 for tomorrow) still are running so there is no excuse for not coming there are a few bars and the main tourist street is pretty much back to normal now, its just a lack of hotel rooms as they are still being pulled down and rebuilt. there is plenty of aid work that still needs to be done and i plan to do some before i fly down to malaysia on the 1st, if not i will stop on my way back up and help then. my intend trip to indonesia has been cancelled due to the earthquake and the fact that 2 western aid workers have been kidnapped and killed within the last month, exactly were i was planning to go.

if you are worried about the threat of a tunasmi hitting before you come here dont worry. we were woken up by banging and screaming from the hotel staff, when they had first heard about the threat. the whole island is aware of it straight away and you are taken up to the highest ground and told to stay there. they dont just go and leave you - infact they were offering tourists drinks and food etc despite the fact that it was 1 in the morning.

so dont worry and just come along and give something back to paradise!

Posted by budjude 05:51 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Bangkok or Bust

Well i am here now and still have cash in my po cket

overcast

well after a couple of manic days i am now in Siem Reap, well at least till tomorrow morning when i leave to go back to bangkok, again, to complete the circle.

spent a day doing very little in Phnom Penh but did manage to sell half the library i have been carrying around and bought a book more relevant to my travels - the girl in the photograph, its good, have finished it already. had a few drinks and a meal with lucy as it was are last night together before we went are differing ways.
next morning i caught a 6.45 bus to sihanoukville, which is down on the coast. cambodia seems to be like vietnam in the fact that you have to be ready early and then wait for the mode of transport to arrive sometime later. it rained from about an hour south of Phnom Penh till i passed almost the exact same spot a day later. thats because there is (was) a monsoon in attendance. so i arrived got soaked finding a hostel, went to see what the beach was like got soaked, went for a wander to see if the diving was still on - it wasnt and i again got soaked. the icing on the cake being that all power went off for most of the night. i promptly booked a ticket, via the use of candle light, back to phnom penh for the next day. in total i spent close on 10 hours for a few beers in the dark and the rain! one thing the bus journeys have done is allowed me to focus on planning -this was done in an attempt to divert the attention away from a rather smelly local lady. my plan is (subject to numerous changes) to go through southern thailand into malaysia and down, maybe hitting indonesia dependent on time.

anyway i got the bus back to the capital and then just managed to catch a connecting bus to Siem Reap, in order to avoid wasting an afternoon. so i arrived here yesterday after roughly 12 hours on a bus to the most hassle i have encountered so far. people were pulling you off the bus in all directions in an attempt to get you to use there services - i was told that, that is what india is like,if its true then i am not going. it was messy and people were being pushed to the floor in the chaos, one guy picked up my backpack and put it on his bike so i had no choice but to use him, as it turns out he was pretty good and best of all free - well the lift to the guesthouse was.

i went for the usual wander around the new place and found, well, bugger all pretty much - it is alot alot smaller than i thought it was going to be and very smelly. i organised my moto for this morning and basically went to bed early. the guy, called ron, picked me up this morning at 6.45 (thats am,and my 3rd sub 7.00 start in a row) and drove me around the sites of the temples and wats. to be honest i was only really impressed with the Bayon (all the faces carved into the rock) and Ta prohan (which is where they filmed Tomb raider) Angkor wat itself is only impressive due to its size, but as it is being rebuilt and maintained its just to clean for its own good. Ta Prohan is mush nicer as the jungle has been allowed to grow through it and is slowly destroying it, but it looks more real and feels like it should - despite the tourists it was easy to find a quiet spot to sit and ponder.

i only brought the 1 day ticket and am glad i didnt opt for the 3 day ticket which was my original plan. i am not one for buildings etc really and after my, what turned out to be, 6 hours doing the rounds i was well and truly templed out.

so tomorrow i leave for bangkok and you guessed it its another stupidly early started of a 6.30 pickup. not sure what i feel about going back there as i didnt really enjoy it the first time, but then i will be glad to get out of cambodia. i havent warmed to the country at all and to be honest if i was travelling again i would just miss it out altogether, or do it in 4 days quickly.
bring on the islands!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

well due to computer problems i was unable to post the above when i was till in cambodia so i am now back in bangkok.

got in last night on a journey that is supposed to take 10 hours but ended up taking closer to 16 hours. the road from SR to the border was shocking and so bumpy that you couldnt eat, sleep, drink or read it was mental. met up with lucy again last night and swopped stories from are time apart. going south tonight to Krabi on yet another 16 hour bus journey, this time with the added bonus of it being overnight, so no sleep again.

getting back to bangkok was strange and it felt alot nicer than the first time and like i was a veteran in the travelling world compared to a newie - this time around i wasnt stood looking at maps and saw people doing that made me smile.

have been trying to upload all my photos but it aint happening in this place so i might go and try it elsewhere, as my camera memeory is full again from the temples.

i really, really hate buses - i dread to think how many more hours i have to spend on them before i finish my trip.

Posted by budjude 20:14 Archived in Cambodia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Im in Cambodia Baby!

sunny

well i am now safe and sound in cambodia, after a eventful trip across.....

the bus we booked onto basically ripped us off by promising a large air con bus, however we got a small non air con bus packed to the rafters with people sitting on the floor for good measure. the bus took us from saigon to the border crossing. we were first off the bus and grabbed all bags etc and headed off for the visa / passport checks, in an attempt to be first in the line. this plan worked very well and we were through the vietnam side of proceedings quickly enough (10 mins per person) so we set off on the 300 metre walk across no mans land - we werent in vietnam but werent in cambodia so i have no idea where we were. the check point / entry is being built so there is rubbish everywhere and the heat had started to take effect so we were sweating by the time we reached, what can only be described as a 'hut' which was the crossing. after another 10 mins signing various bits and pieces we were in and headed down the dirt track to where we were told the bus would be waiting.

when we got there there was no one insight apart from a friendly taxi driver. the tour guide eventually turned up, minus a bus, and said that we wasnt sure if it was a big or small, with or without air con bus. we had already waited for 45 minutes and still no one had turned up so i asked the taxi driver how much to take us to phnom penh, as a laugh to pass the time. to are complete surprise he said you can rent the car for $10. so we jumped straight in and enjoyed a 2 hour taxi ride straight to the guest house we had been told to go to, all the way in air con comfort and listening to bob marley. last night we saw two people from the original bus to the border and they said that the bus was worse on the cambodian side and that it took almost 5 hours to get here - what a result!

the backpacker area is strange as it is situated around a lake, so when you sit out on the decked area you can forget that you are in a big city as the noise etc doesnt effect you. also the streets are small and close together with a surface made up of rubbish and grit, its a bit like a getto. the first night in cambodia was spent with dans (drunken dan the RAF man) mum who now lives over here. so she showed us round and introduced a few people she had helped and one brillant thing about last night was that the hostel is right on a lake, the west side of which the sunsets over - the colours were amazing and i took about 10 pictures. we stayed in the hostel despite the fact that the first room we rented had a rat in it, so we moved rooms and last night discovered a family of frogs in the bathroom - who strangely enough go mental when you spray them with water.

yesterday has been spent at the killing fields, which was got to on the back of a bike on the worst road i have ever been down, where due to pol pot about 2 million people were killed by cutting there throats. they had skulls piled as far as you eyes can see and it freaked me out abit. all these countries (laos, vietnam and cambodia) have had such terrible war crimes committed against them (all of which involved the good old USA in some capacity) and yet they are all so generally nice people. here they dont even try and rip you off, which is strange and a first on this trip. also it seems that it is more expensive here, you have to pay in dollars so i think its the fact that you hand over 1 instead of say 15,000 so it makes it more real.

i have booked my ticket to go south to Sihanoukville, saving myself a buck by leaving at 6.30 (it all helps) in the morning, so after tonight i will be back to travelling by myself. i am unsue of how long i plan to spend down there but it looks like i can go from there to battambang, thenn to siem reap instead of having to come back to phnom penh and then heading northwest. anyways i will keep you informed.

off to watch the movie - ''the killing fields'' about the war

Posted by budjude 21:15 Archived in Cambodia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

I'll Be Back / You Feeling Lucky Punk ?

Saigon and surrounding areas

sunny 31 °C

i wasnt going to bother doing this today but i have had such an amazing day that i couldnt resist.

i went to the cu chi tunnels just outside saigon on a tour, the tunnels are the actual ones the viet cong used in the war and they are just as they were then. so there was alot of history and stuff to look at about the war, then you get to crawl through 90 metres of the tunnels if you want, with tourist exits every 30 metres. out of 30 tourists only 3 made it through all of it and i can proudly say that i was one of them. your only down there for about 15 minutes but by the time you get out at the other end the sweat is just pouring off you in a stream and the dirt is welded to your legs and arms.

but wait it gets better, they have got a firing range there where you can buy bullets to fire through a variety of weapons. so i turned into Arnie for half an hour and bought 20 bullets for an ak47 and 20 shot gun cartridges. so i fired an ak47 and a double barrel shot gun. it was bloody ace! the pump action on the shot gun was brillant and i felt like i was some sort of war hero mowing down badies. also the noise they made was probably the loudest i have ever heard, especially as it was just by your ear. i have 3 brillant photos with me in full swing firing the guns. one of my highlights of vietnam. its funny that when you dont expect something to happen it makes it all the more enjoyable.

saigon is alot nicer than hanoi for a variety of reasons, the main one being that it isnt as big and is alot less hectic. i think the fact that it isnt as hot down here also helps.

this afternoon i went o see the war remnants museum, which is shocking. tanks and planes are around the outside of the main building and graphic pictures inside. included in which are still born babies which have two heads or three legs and no arms due to the chemicals that the yanks dropped on the country and some of these babies were 'born' as early as 1990. its crazy the level of suffering the country still has due to the actions of 30 years ago. it made me wonder if iraq will become a tourist trap in 20/30 years for the gulf vets? as the wars are similar, only time will tell i suppose.

anyway you might have noticed that i am back to 100% now after 2 days of feeling terrible, (did i tell you all that ?!?) not sure what it was but it seems to have passed through the system.

i am off into wonderful, slighty dodgy (so i am told) cambodia tomorrow morning on another 8-9 hour little bus trip. still travelling with lucy as she couldnt be arsed to go today so it will turn out that we will have done the whole of laos and the whole of vietnam together, although in cambodia she is going west and i am going south.

Posted by budjude 01:51 Archived in Vietnam Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Hoi An - Nha Trang - Mui Ne - Saigon

Friend, brother, lover, mother (ok the last one isnt true)

sunny

hold tight, due to the fact that i havent done this for awhile this is going to be a long one!

when i last wrote i was in hoi an and badly sunburnt(it turns out that i gave myself 3rd degree burns), since then alot has happened. firstly the bus down from hoi an was as usual eventful to say the least.

we were last to be picked up so had the choice of the last 2 seats, me being the gentleman that i am i let lucy pick first and as a result i ended up sitting next to a smelly old man, bad enough you think but....it turns out that the bloke had been travelling down the country and hadnt stopped in hoi an (in a sense just going straight through to nha trang) the person who sat next to him for the previous part of the journey had gotten off in hoi an, however it turns out he was missing certain items of his belongings - namely his wallet and money belt and passport, which after much searching were all found in the old guys bag! a petty thief! the bus driver refused to throw him off the bus so i was left sitting next to him for the next 14 hours, as you can imagine i didnt get much sleep.

got into nha trang at about 8 in the morning and set about doing the usual thing of finding somewhere to crash out for awhile. again found the cheapest twin room at $5 in a small hotel. lucy wanted to go and book her diving for the next day so i went along to see how much a course would be. i always thought thailand would be the cheapest place to learn but i managed to get it for $150 for a four day course. so the next day i sat in a classroom watching videos and answering questions relating to scuba diving.

the fun didnt really start till lunchtime the following day when we got to go into the water for the first time. the pool we used to complete the tasks was disgusting and had far to many bits and pieces in it to make it an enjoyable 4 hours. so i was disappointed to say the least, however the next day when we got out onto the open water and did some proper diving it was everything i had imagined it would be - the colours and shapes of the coral and the numerous fish made it hard to take it all in. so i had 2 dives that day going down to 12 metres and the following day 2 more dives going down to 18 metres all of which i really enjoyed and loved every second of them. each dive lasts about an hour but the time just disappears when you are chasing fish around or swimming through caves in crystal clear, warm waters. i could go on and wax lyrical about the diving for ages but i will stop myself there and move on.

the hotel we were staying in, turned out appeared to be somewhat of a safehouse. an aussie guy was living there under the protection of the family as he owed money for drugs and various things. it explained there strange attitudes and the bizzare questions they constantly asked.

the next day we intended to catch the bus down to Mui Ne, however we managed to miss the bus first time around. after a few frantic phone calls a bike came and picked us up and took us to where the bus was waiting. fair enough you think but my driver didnt have a hand on his left side, just a stump and his right hand had fingers which looked alot like toes (i assumed it was a birth defect as a result of the war) i has amazed that he could ride a bike let alone with me and all my gear on the back.

so we made the bus, getting the last 2 seats again and had another 5 hours on the bus. its funny how when your travelling a 5 hour trip almost becomes easy and routine, whereas back home if someone said a trip involved a 5 hour bus journey i would laugh at them and not do it.

arrived in Mui Ne and found a bungalow right on the sea front with a nice little beach. on the hole there wasnt alot to do there apart from the sandboarding which we planned to do the next day so we set about having a few drinks and relaxing in the hammocks overlooking the water.

the next morning we caught a motorcycle taxi to the sand dunes and i proceeded to throw myself down large dunes on a plastic board. really good fun and brought out the kid in me thats for sure. its like sledging but without the cold, although i prefer snow to sand. that night we went to the 'hot rock cafe' for a few drinks and some food but it wasnt that good and we ended up back at the hotel pretty early. so i decided to go and sit on the beach and look up at the stars and think about nothing, just letting my mind wander to random things. when i went back to the room i was greeted by a cockroach, two moths, 3 geckos and numerous ants and flys - after abit of a killing spree i fell alseep straight away.

yesterday we caught a bus down to saigon (or hcmc, if you prefer). for some reason i felt really bad and managed to sleep for pretty much all of the trip. when we got here, i just couldnt stand up and felt exhusted so lucy found us a hotel and i promptly fell alseep from 6.30 last night till 9.30 this morning. i feel better now but still not 100%.

the general plan is to visit 2 or 3 war sites of interest tomorrow and then i think i will leave the next day for cambodia. i dont like planning but i think i will stay there for about 2 weeks as there isnt masses to do and the time could be spent better elsewhere. i think lucy is leaving tomorrow for cambodia which is a shame really as we both said that it would have been nice to leave vietnam as we entered, together.

other stuff;

have met alot of people who have done or are doing some sort of teaching aboard, in order to travel and earn some money at the same time. it looks fairly easy to got into and might take as little as a month to convert my degree. its not something i have considered doing before but the possibilities appear endless - china, japan, thailand, jakarta, central and south america etc.

lucy and i have made up numerous stories along vietnam tos top us getting hassled, especially lucy. turned into a game of sorts which includes changing are names, nationality, time away and are relationship - so far i ahve been friend, boyfriend, brother and husband. the game stopped recently when lucy took it one step to far by saying that we both supported arsenal and hated liverpool with a passion. theres a line and she crossed it

Posted by budjude 21:11 Archived in Vietnam Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Hoi An

hair today, gone in about 3 crazy minutes

sunny 36 °C

i am in hoi an, well at least for another few hours, about half way down the coast of vietnam. have got a boring day, attempting to stay out of the sun and waiting for another 12-13 hour overnight bus journey, which will take me to nha trang.

hoi an is a little town, built apon the fact that every second shop is a tailors who will tailor make clothes for you at a very reasonable price very quickly. people i have met have spent over $2000 here - myself i have just spent about $20 - on two pairs of shorts.

the other main attraction is that there is a lovely - brillant beach which was what just what the doctor ordered. spent yesterday there and promptly got burnt again - i dont know why i keep getting burnt but i do. so this morning i am a little bit sore in the stomach region - something i hope will ease before tonights little trip. the beach is the a typical gorgeous beach which you expect to find in asia - something which has been sadly lacking so far. the water is warm and clear and the sand golden - it really was picture postcard stuff. it was good to swim again i went out to have a closer look at the fishing boats moored off the beach.

the bus ride down from hue wasnt to bad as we managed to get some seats away from the sun and a few locals got off on route and we acquired those seats as well - shame it was just 5 hours and not a 12 hour jobby.

when we got in we found the cheapest hotel we could and set about exploring. bumped into the irish lads from laos, who were just leaving to go south and they told us what to do and what isnt as good around town.

the following day was spent in between tailors and internet cafes. my memory on my camera was full and i attempted to upload the pictures to a website to free the space. this is still a work in progress but i have most of them now - apart from hue and hoi an.

yesterday i did something pretty stupid really, i think it might be down to sun stroke from the beach but i went for a hair cut. now you would think that this would be some big chain of barbers around vietnam. nope. think little half naked guy in a small shop with 1 mirror, who interestingly enough didnt speak any english - at all. my motorcycle driver who picked me up from the beach ensured me that he was good and he spoke ok english and translated what i wanted. it would appear that his english isnt very good either. so i now have pretty much no hair at all. add this to a brown / red ish face and i looked pretty strange last night when i went for a few beers.

thats about it really, as i said i am off to nha trang tonight which is supposed to be even better than hoi an, in terms of beaches. there is a good backpacker vibe with some all night parties going on, plenty of watersports to undertake and plenty of interesting islands to explore.

i will use the time wisely and set about researching the jet ski business idea which i have had for a while now. i think i may have got an accountant/manager already on board but there are plenty of opportunities for others to get involved. please send cv's to my email address

Posted by budjude 21:04 Archived in Vietnam Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

HUE, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble 'n' Grub.

couldnt resist and it took me ages to remember, where it was from - trumpton

sunny

from that i hope you all realise that i am in Hue, sort of central vietnam ish.

after i last wrote in hanoi, i didnt manage to buy the posters i wanted because someone stole in there before i went back and bought the two i wanted, so i had to settle for 2 copied rare oasis cds from down the road. i have alot to thank these boys for, as they recently stopped me going insane.

the bus down from hanoi was packed to the rafters, although with alot of locals and not many backpackers. it was pretty uncomfortable but i have had worse trips, the main problem was the weather. we drove through a thunder storm for the first 3 hours, the display of forks across the sky was impressive but the rain made the crazy driver even crazier and he appeared to speed up rather than slow down. this led to a couple of near misses with the on coming traffic and one of these left me with a sizeable lump on my head as i smacked into the window. after that any small chance i had of sleeping was removed and i preceeded to listen to every single oasis track, in release date order no less, for the majority of the trip.

this gave me alot of time sitting in the dark thinking. i have come to the conclusion that you should never miss an opportunity to take a leak, stretch your legs or get wet when travelling. i also came up with some business ideas - ymca dolls which dance and move, patent pending, and a service which scans in and copies your family photo albums to disk, so that they can be stored in alot of places, in case the house burns down. the last one got me quite excited at 3 in the morning and i think that is how i willmake my first million.

when i got into hue, after the 14 hour trip the usual carnage greeted me. as you attempt to get off the bus people grab you and your bags and try and take you to there guesthouses. dont what you need after 30 hours without sleep. did manage to find a decent cheap one and me and lucy have both got a double bed and air-con, plus fan at a good price and the first air-con i have had for a week or two. both are bags had somehow managed to get wet in storage and smelt lovely, another batch of washing was dispatched.

i didnt really want to waste the day so i went for my now traditional wander around a new town, without a map, in order to explore. ended up going to the citidel and the forbidden city which were nice but alot of it was destroyed in the war. for you war buffs out there - the movie 'full metal jacket' was filmed here. after that went and got some bait (blame the geordies in leeds (you know who you are) for that, after a while it rubs off on you) in an empty bar and got them to put the recently acquired cds on, while we played pool. we had a couple of drinks and chilled out, glad to be out of hanoi. got talking to the owners and there little 20 month old son showed up. now i am not a baby person, but this little guy was cute, no question and funny, so we stayed there pretty much all afternoon baby sitting.

on the way back to the hotel i spotted a tour operator and for some reason i booked myself on a 13 hour tour of the area for the next day leaving at 06.00 - whats the O stand for for? O my god its early. after which we spotted the bar which is suggested to go in the lonely planet (why is it called the lonely planet?) and headed inside. the DMZ bar is good and there was a healthy mix of locals and travellers. the walls are covered in the scribbles of travellers and the management encourage you to join in. i found a suitable spot and left my mark - nothing is more precious than independence and freedom, rob jude '05. we ended up staying in the bar playing pool and to be honest my memory is slighty faded, but i am assured that i did manage to win 7 games in a row - i was so good that people came in and watched me beat the locals and clapped my every shot. people who know me will know that, that doesnt happen very often, if at all.

i have no idea what time i went to bed but the alarm the next day at 5.50 didnt do me any favours. i went down and got the bus - which was late (shock). the trip was good, although it involved alot of sitting on a bus, depressingly going back north on the same road i had come down on the previous day. the tour took in all the major war sites of the area, apart from a cemmentary, which i really wanted to see but no one goes there.

after the halong bay tour and problems, it was apparent to me that the operators just put you all on the same tour, no matter how much you paid. so i booked the cheapest one possible at 7$, it turned out that other folks doing the sametour paid well over double that.

the first stop was at war site, where the americans had 6000 people based, before they were overun by the viet cong. there is still the airstrip behind the display hall - which was very graffic, people dead and dieing. a local man was walking around selling war junk - i couldnt help myself and purchased a original viet cong medal, which every solider got and an american dog tag, a R.E Powell of the USMC, who i assumed lost his life in the surrounding hills.

after this we went to see a bridge built with funding from cuba, the site of the trail, the dmz zone, the bridge which split north and south and then the vinh moc tunnels. as they were just used for hiding and not fighting they are quite big and i could just about walk through. 300 people lived down there during the war in an attempt to avoid the bombs, it must have been horrible and the 400 metre section which you allowed to view was enough for me.

got back at around 7 and met lucy who had done a different tour to me - of the perfume river - which she said wasnt very good. went for a drink and something to eat at the DMZ bar again and met a few interesting folks - an AC milan fan who i had a good laugh with about the football. i added another note to the wall in this honour -'JC IS MY HERO'. we stayed in there till closing and then wander back and i fell alseep fully clothed on the bed. today i am doing nothing much and i am glad ofthe fact. tomorrow i head south to hoi an, which is supposed to be really really nice so that should be good.

Posted by budjude 22:27 Archived in Vietnam Tagged transportation Comments (0)

Two In One Day

I See Dead People

sunny

have just done this once and lost it, so here goes nothing.

have been kicked out of the hostel and have a few hours to kill before the next leg of the journey down to Hue. in an attempt to not get sweaty before the bus i thought i would tell you all about my, very good, day in hanoi.

after i wrote the blog this morning i went to see Ho Chi Minh's body at his mausoleum complex. got on another manic motorbike and sped across town. then you file in through a large building in a never ending line, of which i was pretty much the only non-local. you wait around and then enter a small little dark room where there is a glass sarcophagus with his body in. he doesnt look to happy to be there and it was strange to see him, a little old man who i have read so much about, who committed countless war crimes, all of which went unpunished. the locals walked past and weeped etc, and he has been dead for 30 odd years!

after this i went for a massage. no dont get the wrong idea or anything. i went for a lonely planet one where i was assured that no extras would be offered. the lonely planet once again was wrong. i say no more. despite that i had a quality hour long, full body (well almost) massage and felt truly bloody brillant afterwards. so much so that i went and had some lunch and a beer or two.

i have been considering eating snake - there is a village around hanoi where you can eat it 10 different ways in a meal, but it was a bit of an effort to get there so i didnt bother. there is also a dog meat restaurant but i couldnt do it to dave and the clan so i had to settle for, wait for it...pigeon! really tasty but not much meat on it. i tell you i felt a million dong at that point (although thats about 30 quid). washed down with a couple of ales. now thats how travelling should be.

after this i wandered through the town until i came across the Ho Lo Prison Musuem. it was used by the french for killing the locals when they were in power and the locals to annoy the yanks during the war. all the stuff in there is pretty one sided - about how the americans had committed war crimes etc and how despite this they were treated with the upmost respect whilst they were pow's. then you walk through into the rooms the pow's were kept - rows of chains which bolted arms and legs in fixed positions for 20 hours a day. the floor wasnt level, so if they went to the toilet it would run back down into there faces.

also in the complex were shot down pilots suits and equipment and from the french era a guillotine.

after this i found a random little local bar and promptly got hussled out of a beer by a little vietnamise lady whilst playing pool.

it felt like i have achieved alot today but looking back i havent really - but i have really enjoyed myself today - hopefully the bus journey will not spoil it for me tonight

this it really but in other news -

god damn liverpool are playing t.n.s at wrexham and i am 10,000 miles away, this has not pleased me

my sleeping bag has bitten the dust - i have bought a silk liner instead for a couple of bucks. the bag was big and hot and i never really used it, so i thought i would trade it in for something alot smaller and lighter. it has done me proud but the oz bag is no more.

tempted to buy some original war posters, as i think they would look really good in my house which i will no doubt get at some point. they give you a tube which to store them so i think they might cope with the next 4 months but they are 10$ each and i have spent, more than usual today.

if i make it to hue on the overnight bus i will write again soon, but first i am having a day chilling out doing nothing before i hit the original tunnels used by the viet cong - this i am really looking forward to.

take it easy

Posted by budjude 03:12 Archived in Vietnam Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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