Monday, January 30, 2006

Not Much To Tell, But I'll Waffle Anyway

We have not done much for the last couple of days. I'm still recovering from my near-death knee injury! We went for another bike ride yesterday, along Rapid Creek, and then jumped in the pool again when we got back. This no smoking and regular exercise thing is killing me. Cycling and swimming everyday, what's going on?!

We got a response from One Mile Dam, not much going on there at the moment. It is rainy season afterall, the whole place seems to do nothing. We are heading into town this afternoon, to go to a volunteer office. See what is on offer there, you never know.

Got to go... Sam just called me for lunch! Bye...!

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Not done much today, been really windy outside and still recovering from the earthquake last night. No really it's true, we had an earthquake here last night. It was about 10 to 3 in the morning, that we felt the effects of the Indonesian quake.

Sam blamed me for shaking the bed. I turned round to say I wasn't even moving when we noticed that the mirror on the wall was jogging around. The sliding doors of the wardrobes were flexing and bending slightly. If you put your foot on the floor you could feel the vibrations. It was so cool! Experiencing your first earthquake!!

It only lasted a matter of 5 to 10 minutes. I got up soon after that as my knee was killing me, after coming off my bike earlier in the day. Sam was somewhat miffed that I'd kept her awake, so I went downstairs and watched an episode of the Garfield cartoon I found on late night TV. At around 5.30am I felt knackered enough to get my head down, so went back up to bed.

We got up around 11.30am, I showered and went downstairs, leaving Sam to get up in her own time. Like I say we didn't do much today, apart from spend the afternoon splashing around in the pool. Another lazy day. Oh we did email One Mile Dam about volunteer work again, and we got the address of a place in the town centre that we can visit on Monday.

I do want to be more productive however. We need to get the project proposal together for Laos. We need to get some postcards sent to family and friends. I need to get on with writing, as it is something I promised myself I would do while here. Then again we've only been here just over a week, so if we kick ourselves in the arse and get motivated next week, then no harm done. What's wrong with spending a week or so doing nothing whatsoever? We need the time to get used to the humidity, being back in the western world (which is harder than I thought. Give me South East Asia any day!), and just simply back to living a semi-normal life again.

Anyway, Mother's just brought me a beer. Daziel and Pascoe is on the TV, so I'm off to find my spot on the sofa.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Ouch That Hurts!

Yesterday it was Australia Day. Nothing to report there. We went out with Mum and Dad to the big shopping mall to buy a bicycle for Sam. There is one already in the shed, so they wanted to get another one so that we could get around (not driving and all that).

Anyway, we got a bike, got back put it together, had a test ride. The front wheel was buckled, so Mum and Dad took it back, had the guys fix it and brought it back. This time all was okay, especially when the guys at the shop noted that Dad and I had put the original front wheel on back to front. Sam is quite happy with her new red and silver shiny new bike, with little hologram bits on it.

Today Sam and I went on a bike ride to Holmes Jungle National Park, not too far from here. Luckily the rain stayed away, and we had a good afternoon bombing around the rainforest. That was until we decided to dismount and head into the deeper darker jungle. Only a few feet in and we decided to turn back, realising that shorts and flip-flops are not the best dress for such an adventure. The leaches stuck to our legs were only small, but warning enough that we will try again in long trousers and walking boots.

The adventuring over we headed back to the house. Now what exactly happened I'm not sure, but at one point the bike went from under me and I went skidding across the the gravel by the side of the bike track. Bruised and only slightly battered, what I was most gutted about was putting a hole in the knee of my red calf length shorts. I'd had them all the way through South East Asia, and went and holed them on their first outing in Oz. Arse! Oh well, such is life...

When we got back we hit the pool. Sam mentioned afterwards at how healthy we had become. No longer smoking, and then actually spending the day doing exercise!!! What had happened to us?!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Small Northern Backwater

Well here we are in Darwin, with not much to do. It's been raining on and off since we got here, so we are pretty much stuck in the house. We did wander down to the shopping mall yesterday, which is just like any shopping mall anywhere in the world. Except that you can tell it's Oz by the fat Aussies and indigies wandering around. We ended up buying a pump action rocket from a shop that sells gadgets and stuff. A random impulsive purchase, but fun all the same. Sam and I ended up firing it off every few steps on the way home through the park, getting our technique just right.

Anyway it got us out of the house for the afternoon. When we got back we hit the pool. Having access to a pool in the backyard is fun, but the novelty will soon wear off I'm sure.

Today we are waiting for the rain to let up so that we can go into town. Just to have a wander around and get a feel for the place. Sam has just come off the net, she's emailed One Mile Dam about volunteering, so we'll see what response we get there. There is also a place in the town that we can go to regarding volunteer work, so we might go there if we ever get into town.

Besides that, there's not much doing. Darwin is spread out so far that you can't get anywhere without a car. It's too humid to walk anywhere, even if things were within walking distance. We may sort out some cycles, which would be good. We've looked at the public transport issue, which doesn't seem too bad. Like I say, once the rain breaks then we'll head into town, and we'll see how good the public transport system is here.

Finally, it's DAY 10, of Sam and me stopping smoking. We've done REALLY well considering that we stopped at the same time. Hardly a bad word or a snapped off head between us. Sam thinks that this is because we have always been around other people, so never had to spend too much time winding each other up. I think that is not giving us full credit for how well we have handled it. Most people who go 'cold turkey' like we have loose the plot. We've stayed pretty calm, and have not really had too many cravings. Apart from eating more than usual to compensate. So BIG PAT ON THE BACK for us.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Picture of a spirit ritual, sending us on our way with good luck and fortune. Posted by Picasa

Picture of everyone at our leaving party (Laos). Posted by Picasa

Picture of monk and young boy, strolling on the beach at sunset in Cambodia. Posted by Picasa

Picture of the very dodgy and unroad worthy minivan we spent 16 hours travelling through northern Cambodia in. Posted by Picasa

Picture of us hanging out on the beach at Christmas, in Sihanoukville - Cambodia. Posted by Picasa

Picture of trekking up to Bokor Hill near to Kampot, Cambodia. Posted by Picasa

Picture of Sam and Huw hanging out on the Lakeside in Phnom Penh. Posted by Picasa

Picture of Sam hiding in one of the many cloisters of Angkor. Posted by Picasa

Picture of the Bayon (Angkor Thom) as the sun begins to set. Posted by Picasa

Picture of one of the many faces at the Bayon at Angkor Thom. Posted by Picasa

Picture of the jungle eating the temples of Angkor. Posted by Picasa

Picture of Lara and Indy, adventuring through the jungle in Angkor. Posted by Picasa

Picture of me on the beach in Koh Tao. Posted by Picasa

Picture of Sam on Koh Pangan, all sunny and tanned. Posted by Picasa

Picture of all of us with Singapore Slings in the Long Bar of the Raffles. Posted by Picasa

Picture of me at the Writers Bar in the Raffles. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Singapore to Darwin

Made it! We've been in Darwin 3 days now. Landed early hours of the 18th, it's took us a while to get used to it all. Our sleep pattern has been thrown out, especially staying up late talking to Mum. We've not been getting up until midday.

We did the Raffles thing while in Singapore. It was good fun. Huw and Brendon were not let into the main hotel, so we all went round to the Long Bar that everyone goes to for their Singapore Sling. It's okay, but the place everyone goes like I say. You do the tourist thing, order a bright pink cocktail while eating nuts and throwing the shells on the floor. After that Sam and I went to the Writers Bar in the hotel lobby. The rain was coming down hard by this time, so the setting was perfect. Another cocktail sat where all the great writers have knocked back a drink or two, and we went back to meet the guys. They were waiting in the courtyard bar. This time we partook of the equally famous Millon Dollar cocktail.

By now with 3 cocktails in 3 bars of the Raffles, having traveled through 3 countries in 3 weeks, we were feeling quite knackered. We made our way back to collect our bags from the hostel. It was soon 8.30pm and the taxi had arrived to take us to the airport. We said our goodbyes to Berndon and Huw, climbed in the taxi and started on the next leg of our journey. For me the journey home!

So here I am, back in the the bossom of my family after all these years. Only difference is it's 13+ years on and we are not in Hull anymore. Not seen much of Darwin so far. We headed into town today and Dad took us on a whirlwind tour around the port area. It's humid here, really humid. Without the air-con you can feel the air is permanently damp. It's rained on and off since we got here, so not really been the weather for exploring. Hey, we have 3 months here so no rush anyway. It's nice just to chill-out and not do anything after the past 5 months of madness. Taste a bit of my old family life, something I've not had for the past 13 years.

We do have to get on with applying for funding to get back to Laos. There is a job with Worldwide Concern that has come up that we will apply for. We are going to ask them to support us anyway. So tomorrow we will finally sit down and start sorting these things out. This is our opportunity of a life-time, and we cannot let it go by. Such an opportunity will never come up again.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

See Ya Later South East Asia

Well here we are in Singapore, and less than 24 hours from being in Oz. Koh Pangan was fun, we are still in recovery from the Full Moon Party. We met good people, hung-out, sang Thai karaoke later into the night, and watched Muay Thai at the local stadium. All good fun!

The Thai karaoke was a bit of a high light. Huw lost his karaoke viginity. The only thing is that we all had to sing in Thai, reading the phonetics, so we didn't have a clue what we were singing. We are sure that what sounded like Wai-Na-Roo-Nee-Caw-Pai, actually came out as Wayne Rooney Cow Pie. We probably sang all the wrong words and made some major mistakes, but it was great fun, and the Thai's seemed to get a laugh from it.

The Full Moon Party was raging! Thousands of people dancing on the beach until the sun came up. We lost the next day, as we slept through most of it. It was worth it though to say we have been there and done that. Also the Full Moon Party is significant, as we have all (those that smoked) given up smoking.

Anyway, we flew from Koh Samui yesterday and landed in Singapore. We headed down to Little India were we found a hostel to stay overnight. Now we get to spend today hanging out in Singapore. So the Raffles is definately on the agenda, for the famous Singapore Sling. Where else we go I don't know, we have to see what everyone wants to do. Tonight we fly into Darwin, getting there in the early hours. Goodbye South East Asia it's been fun.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Comment From Sam

Just a quick one. Sam was reading the Koh Tao entry and menioned that I'd missed a vital piece of the story.

She really likes the idea of a wet room, particularly when you are ill. She found having a wet room very handy when she didn't know whether to sit on or stck her head down the toilet. I a wet room, that is not a problem!

I won't go into further details on this. I'll just leave it to your imagination.

Koh Pangan

Left Koh Tao yesterday and now in Koh Pangan. Koh Tao wasn't ideal, not the paradise it would have been a few years ago. We stuck with it though, and spent a day on one of the other beaches that was much better than the one we were staying on. Brendon ferried us all one at a time on the back of a motorbike that he had hired.

We decided that we would head to Koh Pangan. One reason is that it is cheaper, which with our fast diminishing funds, it makes a lot of sense. Also seeing how we are in this area of teh world, I wanted to experience the world famous Full Moon Party on the beach here. The full moon is on the 14th, so we have a few more days chilling on the beach and topping up the tan.

We plan to fly out of Koh Samui on the evening of the 16th, to Singapore. That gives us a night and a day in Singapore to do the whole Raffles and Singapore Sling thing. This is something we have talked about since before we set out on this trip. It just has to be done!

Then it will be Oz by early hours of the 18th. Strange to think that we are now only a week away from hitting Mum and Dad's house. The next leg of this crazy journey we have been on. It's been one hell of a trip so far. Thinking back to what we have done and where we have been, England seems so long ago ad so far away. We traveled through Thailand and Laos, ended up staying in Laos and working there. Then leaving Laos for Cambodia and meeting Huw and Brendon. Doing the Christmas on the Beach and New Year at Angkor with teh guys was a special part of the trip. It's been wierd traveling as a foursome, but it just adds to the whole experience. Like I say next comes a totally different part of the journey, and we are still only just half way through the whole thing!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Koh Tao

We made it yesterday to Koh Tao. We'd got the train the night before from Bangkok down to Champhon. The next moring Sam and I got the early catamaran to Koh Tao, the guys followed us later in the day.

My first impressions of the island were, what a shit-hole. Over development means that many of the resorts have encrotched right up to the edge of the sea. It's quite messy, and disrespectful to what could be such a beautiful island paradise.

All they really care about is diving. Everyone runs a diving school. Not something I'll be doing, I think. One it's too bloody expensive for our meager budget, and two I'm not a confident enough swimmer to try. My distinct lack of coordination is a major disability, so I think I'll stick to paddling around in the shallows.

We had an okay day yesterday and the night time sat on the beach was pretty cool. Lots of fire-sticks being thrown around, lots of candles and lanterns. Also it meant that you couldn't see all the ugly buildings.

I think Brendon is hiring a motorbike today and we are going to explore the rest of the island, to see if it's any better further afield. If so then we'll move accomodation for a couple of nights. Then we plan to head for Koh Pang Gan for the full-moon party of the 13th. The ultimate in beach parties, famous throughout the world. It's got to be done, especially when we are just across the water from the place.

After that I think we may nip to Koh Samui for a day or two. We can fly from there to Singapore to get the plane to Oz. It will probably work out as cheap to do that, and a lot less hassle than a mad overland run down through Malaysia. I've enjoyed all the over-land travel we have done, but the long stretches we have done recently really take it out of you. I'd much rather spend the time on a beach and pay that little bit extra to hop right into Singapore.

Anyway, off now. Sam is not feeling too good today. Think she ate soomething bad. No major problem, it's chucking it down outside. (Oh, it's just stopped!) As I was saying, not a major problem. She can lay around all day and watch HBO. Thank god we have a TV in our room!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Full Circle

Well here we are back in Koh San Road in Bangkok. A hardcore ride from Cambodia with a little confusion, but we made it.

This blog will be short as it is 5.20am and I've been up nearly 24 hours. Just to sat we have made it back to Thiland without mush hassle and it's great.

We are staying at the Green House just off Koh San Road, which is a place where a lot ofd people from Isreal are staying. Interestting to talk to them about stuff.

We did the typical Koh San Road thing tonight. Things closed down earlier than we thought, so we grabbed some beer from the 7/11. Sitting on the crub with the rest of lifes effluence, the police turned up and moved us on! Sp we made our way back to the guest house so we could partake of 'special tea'. (Beer in a teacup.)

I got talking to a guy from Isreal (bad spelling), and we stayed up way beyond what we expected. Typing is hard! A little worse for ware! Will write a better blog tomorrow when the keyboard is not such a problem ttto me!@

Monday, January 02, 2006

Dancing In The Streets (2006 Remix)

New Year went with a bang. We all agreed that it was the best any of us had ever had. Apart from Brendon that is, who went to bed early. Anyway, Sam, Huw and myself had a good time. We went to a bar called the Ivy and had a few drinks there, before heading around the corner to where the action was.

The street was packed with people. Travelers and street kids dancing in the streets of Siam Reap. It was an amazing sight. People had poured out of the bars, and were really going for it. Every so often you'd see a street kid get lifted into air on someone's shoulders. I myself spent sometime dancing with a lad on mine. Sam waltzed with one lad, everyone without fail had a great time.

It was good to see these kids enjoying themselves. Usually they are being ignored as the beg for money on the streets. Not that night. Everyone was enjoying the party too much. You could see the amazement in their faces, as they looked on at the crazy westerners having the New year of their lives. New Year on the streets of Cambodia, not a bad one that. Better than the toss of partying on the beach on some island, everyone does that. There were a few tears shed on New Year night. A truly wonderful night, and something none of us will ever forget.

New Years Day (when we finally crawled out of bed), and today, have been spent back at Angkor. There is so much to see, even with 3 days there you only see a fraction of it. We went to Angkor Thom again, as that is the image of Angkor. Angkor Wat maybe the symbol of Cambodia, but Angkor Thom the mind blowing scene that everyone remembers. It's the giant benevolent stone faces looking down on you that make the impact. Exploring the narrow corridors I think we all had an Indiana Jones moment.

Today we ventured further afield. Our tuk-tuk driver from the day before came and got us at 9.00am, and we made a full day of going to the sites a little further out from the main two. Here we got to see the ones that you dream about, the Jungle Book scene of tree roots growing over the temples. Magical is an understatement. Absolutely bloody amazing, just about covers it. I have over 100 photos to bore people stupid with, so they can get a rough idea of what I am talking about.

Time to go now, we need to hit the market before meeting Brendon and Huw for dinner. Thailand tomorrow, and only 2 weeks away from Oz. All go for us jet-set types!