Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bangkok - Koh Tao - Koh Phagnan - Chiang Mai.... Sorry!

Firstly - i am so sorry for the ridiculously late post, things have been moving pretty fast and lots has happened that hasnt allowed me to get on a computer for a long period of time to update everything, i will try and make up for it on this blog.

Ok firstly Koh Tao... the most beautiful place in the world. This island is what i imagine Jamaica was 100 years ago - no big hotels, one main strip with a few wooden bungalows on the beach and in the mountains and a few rasta shacks for bars which are on stilts in the water. All the restaurants and furnished completly in unmatching wooden crafts and you sit on the floor on cushions for your meals. Emily and i were staying in a small wooden bungalow (thats being nice, it really was just a shack...) off from the beach in the opening of the rain forest, with one bed that took up the whole of the room - a fan that made the walls shake, a loo with no flush (yes it took us about 2 days to get the courage to ask how we flushed it .... the things a shower and bucket can do....) and a shower that also doubled as the sink. Although this was great, beautiful and very back to basics - i had been ill (Bangkok belly) for the last few days and privacy was not something that i was going to get - anywhere.

On our first day as we were walking down the street and beach to get our bearings (after a 18 hour bus and ferry ride) I suddenly heard Emily screaming, only to turn around and see 3 of our friends from school walking along the road! ... It turned out that there was about 15 of them in 3 bungalows just down the road from us... somehow think that our quiet beach days were over!

On the first night there, there was a massive storm and power cut... i am used to these due to Kew Park and Jamaica but i have never felt heat like this or heard rain and thunder like this... Like little girls Emily and i were cuddled up all night scared stiff from th epitch black and the fact that our shack was definately not going to with stand then night - it couldnt. However it did and in the morning we felt a bit feeble for having felt so scared in such a quiet and tranquil place.... needles to say for the next three nights of thunder storms we were still on edge and jumpy... our life line was the AMAZING torch given to me by the langfords which became our night light!!!

For the next few days we chilled on the beach with everyone and had the laziest amazing days on the beach, followed by great nights out - with truth or dare which ended up making me (the only person to take a dare, i will have you know) pretend to be a back up dancer for the live entertainment in one of the pubs... unluckily pictures were taken and i will probably never live it down...

After a few days of doing nothing my friend Lydia and i decided to go snorkelling as Koh Tao is renound to be the best island for snorkelling and scuba diving in the world, the others werent realy up for it so we left them and went for a days adventure. The boat took us to 5 different areas around the island which had the most amazing sea lif ei have ever seen - including sharks which we were thankfully told were vegetarian human loving sharks... Lydia and i stayed in the water here at Shark Point for 10 -15 minutes and then decided that we would get back on the boat, just in case one of them decided some meat may be just what they wanted for lunch. Apparently (from the guide who was taking us, who had lived there for 30 years ... come out on a gap year and never left - mid life crisis? but who can blame him!?) the marine life has completely declined since he first came and when he started diving there - you couldnt get away from the amount of sharks and turtles there were but now you were lucky if you saw one, it was sad to hear, but so inevitable in an area that is so touristy.

We then headed to Koh Phangan... the full moon party island!!! ... Having arrived 2 days before the full moon we had to splash out and stay in a really nice resort, as everywhere along the beach was full. Our room was equipped with the squekiest double bed in the history of the world, a private bathroom (with a loo that flushed - YES!!!) and a balcony over looking the sea... oh and a pool! The days before the full moon were spent with me by the pool, turning like a pig on a pig roast every 30 minutes and only breaking for the rain and food... oh and when feeling a little burnt to put on the factor 4 sun cream (oil) i had bought!

It was here that Emily and i heard very bad news. A girl, in the year below us that we had lived with at school for 5 years had died in a car accident and a boy that we were very close to in our year was seriously injured with a broken neck and spine and in a coma at hospital, the girl driving has been arrested for DUI, GBH and manslaughter, she also went to our school. This was a huge blow to both Emily and i and calmed our pre Full moon party buzz straight away, especially as the boy was meant to be at the party but had gone home early. It was such a shock to us and horrible that we couldnt do anything - leaving us wanting to go home but knowing it would do no help as there were so many people who cared for them back home that we really would be insignificant. It is also horrible to think that there was a girl who died in my brothers year at xmas time from drink driving - how many people does it take in a small circle to die from drink driving before people learn??

Anyway the next day was the full moon - which was the most amazing party in the world! ... 25000 people along one beach with each guesthouse/bar/shack playing a different genre of music! Emily and i had the most amazing glow paint - we were definately the best painted there! By 6 am and we were walking back... people were passed out on the beach and in flower beds and pots on the side of the road - while we watched and laughed at peoples own fault and we went home to our beach front villa with ac.

The next day we were off to chiang mai in northern thialand to stay with my family friends for the Songkran (The Thai new years at the beginning of the rainy season) which is the biggest water fight in the world, the moat (which the whole city is surrounded by) is blocked off for cars and everyone has a huge water fight - people walking with super soakers, people from shops with buckets on the road and people in pick ups with massive tanks of ice cold water that they throw at people who are just walking by.

We flew into chiang mai, and were picked up by my dads best friend who we were staying at and taken back to their amazing house just out of the main city with a full fridge a clean bathroom and amazing people! We spent the next 3 days in a constant water fight, where we just couldnt stay dry for more than 30 seconds and super soakers were filled at least 20 times a day - and emily and i targeted small kids about 3 or 4 years old (the only people we could win against!) until their parents and uncles and aunts came out and completly soaked us with ice water - making us run away!

Whilst we were doing this there were some issues in Bangkok with riots etc. We were completely safe although the situation was getting worse and worse... it smoothed over in a couple of days and now we have just been told to watch our selves while we are in Bangkok.

On the last day of the Songkran festival my dad came to visit!! ... He has always been planning to come over for the water festival and stay with his friend Rick, and seeing as i was here this year he just came over for a week! It was great to see him having not really seen him since before xmas - just after i got back from Australia, and we had a great week together.

We went up to a town called Pai which is North West of Chiang Mai and is a small town/village in the hills. The ride up there was a bit of a joke and we shared a bus with 30 other Thai's and sat in seats that were made for Thai sized people, and we were pulled over by the thai national army to check ID cards... they werent too worried about ours for some reason.

We stayed in an amazing resort called Pai hot springs resort which was about 8 km away from the main area, so we had to rent motor bikes to get our way around. Me and emily (after our experience in Vietnam... we were slightly hesitant - all i can say is i got my own bike this time...) got the smallest - automatic mopeds - named "the pussy bikes" and Dad got a Harley Davidson wannabe - the Honda phantom! ... Our resort was surounded by lush thai vegetation and amazing natural hotsprings. We were the only people in the resort so we were thoroughly spoiled! ... Thai massages and oil massages by the completly empty pool and hot springs followed by lunch (courtesy of daddy dearest!!)... pretty average 3 days to be honest! On the last day Dad and i left Emily (who wanted to stay at home and read) went on a elephant trek. It was incredible - but seriously not the most comfortable way to take transportation... not really sure how people went to war on them for months at a time... both dad and i ended up having severely bruised bums at the end of it ... no hard surfaces to sit on for a while is all i can say!

In the last few days we have met up with a friend from school, Scams and her friend she is traveling with, we have been up to the amazing national park - about 30minutes on the bikes from where we live and had a very romantic picnic. Today Emily and i then went to the zoo and were complete tourists and children and walked the whole way around the zoo/safari - instead of taking the bus or train that were both offered!! ... our legs are very sore this evening!!!

We leave to go to Bangkok tomorrow with Scams for my bday and the girls are plannign a big day and night so i am sure i will have more news soon!! ... this is either my last or penultimate post as we leave in 4 days...i am sorry this post hasnt been particularly upbeat, but thought this is better than nothing and as i said before lots has been going on!!


Monday, March 30, 2009

Siem Reap - Bangkok

Well we have come from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, which although isnt very far away (relatively) is a completly different world! The city is based around one main square and one street - Pub Street, and so it is really easy to make our way around as it all really just happens in one area.

First things first our bus from Phnom Penh... probably the biggest experience as of yet! Our bus firstly was anhour late and we were left waiting in the boiling heat baking for an hour, and as our bus that we were meant to go on had broken down we were on the smallest minibus - cramped in with the same amount of people that were meant to fit into the huge VIP bus, so Emily and i were squashed at the back with our bags in the gangway infront of us, with 20 locals, to start with - thats always fun... not. So apparantly it was bring your child to Siem Reap day and so everyone seemed to have at least one screaming child on their laps, bar me and Emily of course (we didnt want to adopt a child just yet as it may take up room....), so infront of Emily was this girl who had TB or something and was throwing up flem and blood and seemed to have a serious cheast infection - we felt so sorry fo her , she was SERIOSULY ill. Anyway apparantly as this was a local bus there are no rules etc so she ws just throwing up on the floor infront of her - right infront of us so on our 8 hour bus after an hour in we were not thoroughly impressed. So about 3/4 of the way into the trip she threw up (after us giving her a strepsil - our good deed for the day) into a towel her mum had, her mum subsequently decided to shake it out of the window and get rid of the sick. Stupid woman - becasuse of course the sick came flyng back through the window and flew right onto Emilys face and into her hair.... not impressive in 34 degree heat and 100% humsity, but all you can do is laugh (becuase it didnt happen to me....)
It didnt help that everyone was looking at us on the bus becasue we had decided to make the best out of a bad situation and sing disney songs at the top of our voices to drown out the terrible Cambodian pop idol wannabes. So anyway as these people got out of the bus they pulled a bag out from the bottom of their feet which had 3 chickens in it.... i cantimagine they were happy to be on the bus let alone have some girls sick all over them.

After that eventful journey we woke up the next day to go to the temples of Angkor for sunrise. Who knew that the sun rises at 5 am and that warrants us being up at 4...We had organized a tour guide- Dara and a girl we met in Phnom Penh Laura came with us to share the cost. So our first stop was sunrise at Angkor Wat - the main temple - which was just incredible - something i cant describe in words but just amazingly breath taking as we satby the lake and saw the reflection of the main 5 temples.

NExt we headed for angkor Thomw which is the bridge leading to the South gate of the main temple of angkor thom, which has 2 incredile ballstrades of gian serpents and an incredible first impression was made even more overwehlming by the elephant taxis going to and from each temple

our next stop was the Bayan which was the Kings state temple. Smiling in every direction are the 4 faces of Avolokitshura who has a great likeness to the King Jarayvamen 7 (J7). there are 54 towers in total with 216 faces.

We then went to the terrace of elephants which is eastof the royal Palace where Royal war elephants march along the 350m length topped with hunters and warriors. At the north point is the royal horse shaded by Umbrellas. Also the terrace of the Lepper king was here, named after the statue which sits 6m high where some believe it represents King Yasovarman 1 who apparantly died from leperacy.

The last stop for the day me made was the Temple Ta Phrom. This is where Lara Croft - tomb raider was filmed and in true fashion we went around re-enacting the movie (minus the spandex)... we all looked really attractive as it was 38 degrees and our grey t shirts had turned black from the sweat ... really attractive... it was the most incredible day though, these temples are truly the most beautiful and astounding things i have ever seen.

The next day we did more temples, but as we had done the main ones the day before we went to the ones that were not as touristy and further afield. The first temple we did was the citadel of women dedicated to shiva - it ius the most delicate and most intricate of all the temples and although it is relatively tiny in size compared to angkor Wat its intricate carvings is believed to be the instigator of the Khmer art movement. The detail is astounding and each doorway and each wall is a masterpiece.

We then went to the land mine museum which is run by a man who was pu t into the Khmer Rouge at the age of 10 and planted land mines for the next 5 years of his life. He then realised that what he was doing was wrong and went and fought for the Vietnameese army as a land mine specialist. He now goes around Cambodia dismantelling landmines, which there are siad to still be over 6 million on the Thai/Cambodian border. He now dismantles around 30 a day. This was absolutly heart breaking as there are still people who are affected by this who live in rural areas and as they are walking to get fire wood or hunt they step on trip wires that are still live and loose limbs or die and cant work.

In the evening Laura took us out for a "foot massage" this consisted of tiny fish (about 100 of them) nibbling at your feet and eating all the bacteria and dead skin - very wierd but great fun!

So we are now in Bangkok and having got here yesterday evening we are just waiting for our bus that will take us down to the South islands where we are starting our "get brown" campaign. Emily has decided she has had enough of local people coming up to her and commenting on her "beautiful white opalescent skin"... haha well at least shes getting complimented for it! Our first stop is Ko Tao, which is pretty remote and i cant imagine there will be much to do but is one of the most desireable diving islands in the world, so we may do a course and go diving (whcih neither ofus have ever done) or jsut laze on the beach and do absolutly nothing for once! We have spent the last 2 days just wandering around the Bamlaphu area in Bangkok where we are staying and it is amazing but so overwhelming as this is by far the biggest area we have been. However nice to get our bearings a bit before we spend 4 or 5 days here at the end of our trip.

So not a particularly long post this time but i have about 5 minutes left of credit on the internet and i thought i would jsut touch base and make you giggle about our epic adventures (hopefully!) hence also the reason for the spelling mistakes and grammer mistakes but i just dont have time to change it! Hope you are all well... more hopefully from the islands! .... if there is internet there... hmmmm....

lots of love xxxx

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saigon - Phnom penh Cambodia

Well not as up to date post as hoped, but unlike everywhere else nowhere in Cambodia seems to have internet in the hotels so we are having to pay for it!... I thought i had done a blog in Saigon but apparantly not.

Well firstly the night bus was again a joke - the seats were hardly big enough for a vietnamese - let alone me and Emily, and we were assured they were long enough - for Vietnamese people So as you can imagine our knees were by our chins and all in all it was a pretty long night! when we arrived in Saigon Emily realised that her bag was open and that she had been mugge s- however all they managed to take was one flip flop.... good effort for the a team!
Anyway it was seriosuly hot in Saigon and as we arrived we checked into probably the most expensive hotel we have stayed in and probably the worst!. Our room had two stick beds in it and air conditioning that didnt work - a fan that didnt work and also a shower that doubled as a sink... try showering in the sink and then needing to use the bathroom 5 minutes later... not fun!
Anyway we didnt want 3to stay in our room all day so we decided to have a chilled day (seeing as we hadnt slept in 24 hours) and go to the Ben Thanh market. This market was seriously just a metropolois of food and clothe stalls which consisted of us rummaging through and finding fake (and some real) clothing and jewellery!
On first look Saigon i thought was really rather beautiful - a major city - more so than the capital Hanoi but a real metropolis. Emiwly however didnt enjoy it as much, she was blistered to a pulp and tired and really didnt like, sowe decided that we would only stay here until the next day in the afternoon before we headed out to Cambodia.
The next day we decided to do the sights and go around the city for our last day, before we caught our bus to phnom Penh at 2.
We went to the War remnants museum - which all i can say was breathless. Both Emily and i felt very ignorant and didnt really know much about the war or genecide - however the artefacts, pictures and stories didnt really need much explaining, it was horrible either way. For example in the museum were tiger cages that prisoners were held in and they were literally the size of one small vietnamese size single bed and this held 15 prisoners - vietnamese or not, its a pretty tight squueze. The worst thing was the photos of the victims that had been abnormally defected due to the gases that the Americans had used during the war. All in all the museum was incredible but seriosuly heart wrenching - both emily and i nealry came out of there in tears - we definately were speachless (well for about 10 minutes) - a first for both of us.
At the Cambodian border Emily (never one to dissapoint...) lost her immigration card which you have to get in Vietnam and so we then held up the bus for about an hour while we sweet takled the border security to let her in (i wasnt trying that hard to be honest!!)
Almost straight away we noticed a change in the heat and in the culture. It seems to be far more Indian influenced here with a much flatter terain and far more poverty - a child is begging next to you where ever you are - its horrible and sad but unfortunately you soon learn you cant help everyone and as soon as we saw the child pimps we stopped sharing our chocolate and sweets.

Our first real day in Cambodia and it was pretty action packed. The night we got here we met 3 boys who had just arrived and had a pretty similar itinery for the next day as us so we thought we would all go together and split the price. We first went to the Killing fields of S-21. The killing fields of coeung Ek is where most of the 17000 detainees held at the S-21 prisons were executed. Although the grounds are now peaceful and slightly idilic situauted next to the river and with the shady trees and endless amounts of butterlies it makes it ahrd to realise the severity of what happened here - however the huge stupa of skulls and the pieces of clothing and bone that are still buried on the ground and the blood stains on the trees from where babies and children where battered to death send that peaceful picture right out of your mind. The genocide here was larger than the Hitler Nazi genocide and neither Emily or I had ever heard of it - even though it is far more recent as it happened from 1975-1979, and trials are still going on.

After this particularly heart wrenching site we took a tuk tuk (with our friend Tin Tin the Tuk Tuk driver) to an orphange just outside of the city. On the way we stopped and bought a 50 kilo bag of rice ($50) which will serve as 1 days food for 70 children. Once we were there we played with themm and watched in on thier classes and then snuck out to buy another $80 worth of toys and mosquito nets and soap. This was an incredible experience and although we spent our whole budget on one excurison it was definately worth it - these kids have nothing and no government funding and if that didnt rub it in their face enough there is a private school wehre rich kids are playing with footballs and basketballs in clean white uniforms right next door to the orphange, which has nothing.

Our last stop was the Tuol Slong museum. This area was taken over during the Pol Pot regime and was transformed from a high school to a prison and a zone of imaginable torment. This was then renamed S-21 and the classrooms were turned into the torture chambers and equipped with various instruments to inflict pain suffering and death. The instruments are still there along with graphic photos of the victims as they lay dying. This was the largest incineration centre in the country and and the height of it s activity a schocking 100 peopl ewere killed a day. Again a horrible experience but well worth it.

The next day we decided to do something a little more light hearted. We strated off by going to the Russian market and getting our haggling hats on. HAving been pretty terrible hagglers in Saigon we turned out to be rather talented with the quote of the day being when i was trying to buy a bracelet which was quoted at $60 - "real silver..." and me being like no its not for the girl to then be liek ... "well a little bit...!!!!" i ended up getting it for 5!

We then got a tuk tuk to the river for what we wanted to be a relaxing lunch (when has anything ever been relaxing with me...?) and an Australian guy (quite old) came up to me and said he had lost his wallet and phone and needed some money to make a phone call so his family could send him some money to the western union. as a traveller i am well up for help travellers alike - and although i was skeptical he was Australian and so i gave him $10. ALthough this is a days worth of food in the grand scheme of things its not that much and i would really hope that someone would do it for me if i was in trouble. anyway he ws obviously a scam artist, but karmas a bitch and next time we go on a tuk tuk we may run over him and i will get out and demand my $10 back with interest!... horrible to think travellers take advantage of one another like that but at the end of the day - i would hope soqmeone would do the same for me and also it teaches you that everyone is out for themselves and to not be as trust worthy as you would be at home.

Anyway thats all from me from here - next one should be in Siem Reap!!

Lots of love xxxxx

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hoi An - Nha Trang

Well it turned out that the bus from hoi an to Saigon was 24 hours and in Emily's condition (which did turn out to be food poisioning but was pretty bad ... she has only just started eating again!) we decided to stop on the way at a city called Nha Trang, which meant we were only on the bus for 12 hours.

From my last post we had one more day in Hoi An. I got my clothes back from being made and after a few alterations they turned out to be amazing, really good finds! Our Aussie friends (who we have ended up travelling through vietnam with) had a little trouble though, their clothes werent made the way that they wanted and there was quite alot wrong with theirs - so they were refusing to pay the amount that they had been originally quoted. They had paid for one batch and so one of the girls walked out of the shop with them (we all had to catch a bus in 10 minutes... and at this time i was on the computer in the hotel) anyway as she was walking down the road a man with a large metal batton started running after her in the street closely followed by the girl that works in the shop. So ofcourse she saw the baton and started to run down the roadto the hotel - which luckily wasnt far. So i was on the computer and i heard someone run in and go "stop... help help - call the australian embassy!!!" i looked over to the counter and it was Mandii being held back by 2 vietnamese guys who were saying that she hadnt paid for the clothes and they were calling the police! So i went over and told them that we had never met them before and we werent travelling with them but we saw them pay!! ... help travellers alike hey! ... anyway while this was all happening the bus had pulled up and the other 2 girls had been locked in the shop with 20 men until they paid the full amount! ... So Emily and i were trying to stall the bus and eventually they escaped paying 50% of their bill. So bit of a palava but all very funny an hour later when it had calmed down.

We were on a smaller sleeping bus which was a little more expensive, with nicer beds - however the front of the bus was a sitting bus, one of the aussie girls had decided not to pay for the sleeper and so was sittign at the front. After a while she got pretty uncomfortable and tired so decided to lie on the floor, sitting on one of the seats next toher was a drunk vietnamese guy, and lee kept waking up with this guy trying to stroke her bum with his foot - lets just say i was happy to be at the back sandwiched between Sarah and Emily!

I kept waking up on this bus and we would be going seriously fast and driving on the complete wrong side of the road, it was so scary- i actually thought i could feel the bus tipping as it went around the corners, these drivers are really something else!

Anyway 12 hours later we arrived in Nha Trang - this place is amazing it is just like an asian run Miami beach. Lots of huts on the beach with comfortable chairs and people selling fruit and drinks, while pure white people bronze on the beach. I had the really smart idea of washing my oil off in the sea, the waves were quite big but i didnt really think anything of it. Anyway as i got in i was completly tugged under by the waves and couldnt get out becasue of the drag back of the incoming waves. Anyway after one of the waves i stood up and realised that my top had come off! ... Emily thought it was very funny - luckily i had enough sand all over me that i ws slightly covered and not many poeple saw!! - i hope!!

Yesterday we took a boat tour around the islands which was incredible - we went snorkelling and i have to say i was very dissapointed bad vision and also not many fish! ... We definately saw fake coral that had fallen over on the bottom of the sea- very funny! So other than that it was great - a good floating bar a great host (funky monkey) and a resident boy band where the main singer was called lady boy! ... We all got up and did karaoke - i rocked eternal flames and think i have missed my calling in becoming a bangels tribute one woman band. On the way back we saw a boy on the side of the road - and when i say boy i mean lady boy - and as we walked past he shouted at us "5 dollar i make you holla" - i couldnt believe he had saidit and i literally nearly wet myself laughing on the side of the road!

Anyway we had a pretty big night last night and had to check out y 12 today so we are just lazing around the hotel lobby watching endless movies before our bus comes at 7.30 to take us to Saigon. The last bus the aussie girls were on someone bought a pig on and the driver put it down where all the luggage was - anyway when they got their bags out the pig had died from the heat - its so horrible and im really hoping that i will have no stories like that from tonights bus. It is like the first bus we took where there are 45 seats and 60 people on board.... not fun but only 12 hours!

hope all is well! xxxx

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hue - Hoi An and onwards...

Before i start i would like to just point out a typo on the last post, the sleeper bus was most definately not 1 hour but 10....

Anyway so having got onto the sleeping bus - which i must say is one of the most interesting experiences of my life, we tried to getcomfortable for the 10 hour journey that lay ahead - hopefully to more travellers and a more vibrant city. In reality the bus really wasnt that bad... we each had a "bed" (yes definately made for the locals as my feet, i mean legs were completly hanging off unless i curled into the tightest ball i could make) we also ha 1 blanket between 2. As we walke onto thebus both Emily and i could not stop laughing - there must have been 60 people jammed in with "plenty of space" the driver seemed to think. The beds were camp bed/buisness class airline seats (for midgets) and there was one bed ontop of another with 5 bes at the back. We luckily were on the top row and therefore didnt get as chlostrohobic as we could have done - but we couldnt help laughing hystrerically as we looked at the "5" seats underneath us which had at least 8 people squashed in, little did the 2 german tourists who were about to get on that would be where they were bunking too!! Anyway so the bes were... fine, and i was particularly comfortable with a free bed beside me until at the next stop a small old vietnamese man came and snuggled up inbetween me and another traveller 2 beds away. This was fine until he started sleep talking in Vietnamese and started slowly inching his way over in his sleep closer to my side of the "bed". In true Vietnamese style throughout the night ring tones with old chinese songs started playing horifically loudly, the bus driver was smoking like a chimney (and his window obviously wasnt working as he just opened the door when he lit up) and worst of all the disgusting sound of people spitting on the floor seemed to echo throughout the bus, making it surprisingly hard for either Emily or I to muster the strength to go to the bathroom especially as our shoes had been taken away earlier! .... So all in all a good trip!! ... no it really was fine but liek i said an experience!

Anyway when we got off in Hue (which is considerably more South, and considerably more humid and hotter) we strarted our trek to find a hotel - which we hadnt booked in advance. Anyway with my lonely planet by my side for reference when a rep came from one hotel that sounded cheap and happy came along we gave him our bags and followed him. Again down a backalley this hotels neon lights made us slightyl dubious but for $6 each a night and a backpackers bar/cafe across the road we thought that we could always leave on the 2nd night. The room was surprisingly fine, with a nice balcony with a view of soemone elses house and hot water that lasted more than 5minutes, it looked pretty good to us. As we got there at 6.30 in the morning and had had very little sleep from the night before we decided we best get some sleep and start of our day at lunch time. After Lunch we rented push bikes and took ourselves on a tour of the city. This we found was the best way to get aroun - the road rules dont seem as stupid when you are on the road and you actually understand the echoes of horns and people shouting, i will never understand whythough people will still offer you a taxi at a stop lighht when you quite obviously are riding a bike... intriguing. We cycled all down the river and on both sides of the city (which is split by the river) stopping at great photo oppurtunities and for the occasional drink. This was amazing - just to be out on our own with no map and just being completly emersed into the city life, this we found was the way to do it!

Having said that, the next day we decided to hire a motorbike tour (where we get driven around by two men on the back of motorbikes looking at all the sites etc.) This was the best experience of my time here so far. The guides took us down little country lanes and only went on the main road if we ha to, this was the perfect way to see locals doing everyday things without trying to sell the tourists anything. The guides also took us to sites that werent offered by normal guides, meaning we didnt have to pay and we didt have to battle through a gang of tourists just to take a photo of a temple with no one in it. Among one of my favourite sights was the bunkers that were used in the war, amazing to see and it also looked across the river where boats carrying logs and bamboo and animals were chugging along. On the country roads we saw poeple making incence and leaving them on the road to dry.... it literally looks like someone has just spray painted the road in yellow and bright pink an green!

So after our very enjoyable and eventful time in Hue the next day we got the bus 4 hours away to a place a little more south called Hoi An. This is the textile/fabric capital of the world, and in wantign to experience each place to the full i have had 4 things made from a local tailors for 40 US an i get them toay having ordered them yesterday. It is amazing you just look through all these catalogues they have (which come from places like ASOS and Next!!) and they (hopefully) duplicate the item for you in whatever colour and material you want! ... So we shall see if they turn out to be any good this evening, typicl student though i went to the most budget tailor in order to save money!! It is amazing here, the roads are quiter and easier to drive on an the people are so friendly its hard to imagine how anybackpackers get their stuff stolen. This is hard though because you never know if they are ripping you off or not (which undoubtably they are) - however as my mum said - "at least they are doing it nicely!"

Emily and i rented 1 motorbike for two days - this has been an experience. I Have driven motorbikes before however emily has never so as we came up to a junction instead of turnign (as the nikes are so heavy and fair enough are really hard to turn) she zoomed forwards and i nearly flew off the back! ... They are really hard to drive though especially with 2 people on them, but great fun never the less!

We went to a bar last night with some Aussie girls we had met, which was great fun -however Emily seems to have eaten something bad as she is feeling really rough and is really rather sick. So today i am just on my own going around the city centre while she catches up on some sleep. I hope she is better by tomorrow as we travel again on the sleeping bus ( this is a more expensive one with only 18 beds) to Ho Chi Minh/Saigon where we finish our travels through Vietnam and move onto Cambodia. But i cant imagine that the 12 hour bus ride will be particularly confortable if she is still feeling ill.

We are staying in Saigon for 3 days so will try and update from there! ... love the emails an bbms im getting - so keep 'em comin!!!!

Lots of love and misses xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, March 9, 2009


Good Morning Vietnam,

... well i have finally started properly travelling and Emily (the lucky travel companion that i bribed so that she would come with me...) flew from London to Bangkok and then on to Hanoi in North Vietnam on the 5th of March. Having arrived in Hanoi late on the night of the 6th after a very easy but very long flight we checked into the hostel that we had booked in advance. As we drove up to the hotel in the taxi, he stopped at the entry of a back alley and pointed "down there...i no drive..." I subsequently shoved Emily out of the car to go check it out while i stayed in the safety of the taxi. It turned out to be our hotel and the right lane after i had been arguing with the taxi driver in my obviously fluent Vietnameese about taking us into downtown fish market. However once we got into the hotel, it turned out to be clean, with 2 beds, a relatively clean bathroom with hot water for about 5 minutes if you used the shower early. It was, we thought then, probably the best hotel we would be staying in while we were travelling, and for 7.50 US a night... pretty reasonable we thought. For the next 2 days we wandered around Hanoi old town visiting the temples and the lake in the centre. As our hotel was down a backalley off a back alley we walked to the centre and to the temples with the Lonely planet as our bible. It was, admittedly a little scary, not just because of the way we seemed to have been thrust into the middle of the local fish and snake market, but more because of the copious amounts of mopeds and taxis... We quickly noticed that there is LITERALLY no side of the road to stick to, if there is a space you go for it and the larger vehicles (whether it car or cow) has priority... as you can imagine extremly hard to cross a road with out being hit.
We then left Hanoi on a bus that was assured to us to be 3 hours and straight to NinhBin, however after getting on our guide Peter told us that we had got onto a day tour of the rice paddies in an agriculture area and 2 temples as it was prayer day, if we didnt want to do this then we could stay on the bus... So we decided to jump on the band wagon(so to speak) and went along.. this turned out to be a great success and the rice paddies in particular where amazing where we got a row boat down the river and through the paddies. Emily and i took a boat on our own having been told that we were English and not vietnameese and therefore wre heavier ( 4 vietnameese people are allowed on one and i refuse to believe that we are the same as 2 locals....)
Today we then went to the national park in Cuc phuong and visited the primate centre there which rescues monkeys from captors and helps them be able to go back into the wild - a great experience!

We are now waiting for our bus ( a night sleeper bus) to take us further South on a 1 hour ride to Hue where we will hopefully meet some more travellers (which have been surprisngly sparce and old..) and some more sun (you will not believe how cold it is in northern vietnam!!). So until then... please email and i will update as much as possible!!!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dear All,

Well this is my last posting while i am here in australia and for a change it is late...again!

Its been a pretty hectic week, with me desperately trying to sort everything out and then work as much as i can to get as much money possible... i seem to be speding quite alot at the moment so need to make up for it! On my day off last week, i decided that it was about time that my ridiculously matted and dead hair got a little bit of attention, so i went to a rather pricy salon and got it cut. However the hairdresser quite obviously did not undertand when i said..."i would like to keep as much of the length as possible" as the first chop was 8 inches, and after that well i had to keep on going! So having nearly died from heart failure i went and cheared my self up by buying some very expensive sunnies!!!

On tuesday my friend Tim and I went to Rottnest which is an island just of perth and the ferry leaves from where i work, so i thought it silly to not go! We rented bikes and had an amazing day, cycling 17km...my legs and bum were SOOOOO bruised!! It was reallly windy but lovely and sunny, but the flies were absolutly terrible, it seemed everyone except us had got the right idea and were wearing fly nets so we just had to keep moving in order for us not to be killed by them! It was a great day, seeing quokas which are indigineous, small rat like wallaby things... which scared the hell out of me as i had no idea about them and one just decided to jump up onto the table as we were having lunch, which left me screaming warning everyone about the huge overgrown rat on the table...very funny! I also ran over a snake, which i thought to be a twig making me scream even more as it jumped up at me and i just threw my legs in the air!

I finished my work at the burger bar last thursday, which has been great but i was very happy about stopping two jobs and now it really feels like its winding down until i come back. On Friday the boys and i met up with Chris collier and his parents and my great aunt Roolie who is visiting from Marlborough for a couple of months. It was great to see them all and like the good big cousin Chris is he twisted my arm (well not really needing much twisting) to come out with him, and by the time i left it was time for me to go to work... not a good idea!! Then last night Sam and i went out, it was an early night, but we knew the DJ so needless to say free drinks=very drunk people!! ... again good night though!!!

Anyway to all of you who are in the UK i will see you very soon, thanks for reading my blog, and i will be continuing it when i start my next adventure!!!

Lots of love xxx