Dan, Ben and Steves tour of South East Asia 2002

Hong Kong Travel Blog

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Steve, Me, and Ben Hong Kong, Kowloon side, notice the short hair and lack of beard at this point!

Wednesday 3rd April 2002

After 10 uncomfortable hours on lufthansa’s finest 747 we landed at Hong Kong’s Chek lap kok airport at about 7am, unfortunately we’d had seats in the middle row so didn’t see anything as we came into land. The airport was massive and it took us age’s to finally get out to the busses to take us into Kowloon, the airport had been air conditioned and we could feel the humidity as soon as we stepped out to the bus stop. We got on the bus which thankfully had air con too, and showed the driver the name of the hotel we had booked, he told us he would tell us where to get off the bus. We arrived at our stop and got off into a very busy and very hot Kowloon street, we found the YMCA and our room, this was all pre-booked but would be the only pre booked accommodation on the tour, from now on it was down to us. We dumped our bags and headed out to have a look around Kowloon, our first stop was a fast food restaurant where we all got some beef and rice from the picture menu, and tried using chopsticks.

On the train from Hong Kong to Shanghai with 'Crazy George' our cabin mate
After a walk around the local area which was very hot, very humid and also very smelly we headed back to the YMCA where we had some sleep.

We got up about 7pm and headed down to the underground where we caught a very clean but very busy train down to the Star ferry terminal

  Hong Kong Island looked amazing from Kowloon and we took some photos of it as we crossed on the Star ferry. We wandered around Hong Kong waterfront not really sure where we were going, but eventually we found the Wan Chai area and had a few beers, unfortunately we lost track of the time and missed the last ferry back to Kowloon but fortunately the underground system runs till late and we managed to get back to our room where we sleep in air conditioned comfort.


Thursday 4th April 2002

We got up later than planned, 11am, and headed out into Kowloon to get some food then on to Mong Kok to see ‘Flower Market Street’ and the bird market.

One of the crazy motorcyclists at the Lyceum theatre circus in Shanghai
The bird market was interesting lots of exotic birds in very small cages and a very funny old Chinese man with only one tooth who said ‘wowcome wowcome’ (welcome) a lot and was glad to hear we were British and not American. From the bird market we walked through a street market and onto the MTR underground down to the waterfront again, it all looked very different by day! On the Star ferry again over to HK Island where we made our way over to the city library to E-mail home. Up to Victoria peak then, by the ‘peak tram’ all very Blackpool, even had a ‘Ripley’s believe it or not’ museum at the top, but spectacular views across the whole of Hong Kong the harbour and the Kowloon side,

 After a quick Big Mac (yes Macdonalds!) we headed back down and on to the Botanical and zoological gardens where we saw a crazy orang-utan and his wheelie bin, it was getting late though so we headed for one of the many shopping arcades where there was also air con.

Steve onone of the bikes we hired in Xian, China
A little later we went for a drink, it was happy hour so Steve and I both get the rounds in quickly, unfortunately Ben lost track of time and paid nearly 3 times as much for the same round, he wasn’t best pleased, we finished off the night in the chop chop bar and headed back to the YMCA (we booked another night, its expensive at £18 a night but we’re not going to be here that long) Once back in the room Ben has 3 turds in ten minutes, he hopes its not a sign of things to come.  


Friday 5th April 2002

We got up quite late again, packed up our stuff, checked out and went to get some food. I got noodles and veg Ben got some prawn wantons and Steve went for the ‘beef balls’, they looked like boiled bollocks, he didn’t eat them. From there we went down to Hung Hom rail station to enquire about the train to Shanghai, bought some tickets for the train leaving on Monday $508 about £50.

Inside the Forbidden City, Beijing, China
We headed over to the China ferry terminal to catch the ferry to Macau the return ticket costs $134. The ferry was a catamaran and it was a bumpy hour long journey, someone a few rows back from us was violently sick for quite a lot of the way which we found hilarious. Arrived in Macau at about 1630, hotel touts were everywhere outside the ferry terminal but we decided to get a bus into the town centre and look for the hostels we’d picked out in the guide book. First one we went in was dodgy and we couldn’t find any staff so we moved on to the next one passing some local professional ladies on the way. Got a triple room in a cheap back street hostel for $198 a night, rooms are ok but the staff don’t speak English so the trusty international sign language was used. We went back out in the evening for some food, beef fried rice and lots of it. We walked around the local area and managed to get a bit lost on the way back, more professional ladies, Steve bought some road kill for $47 it was a greasy red meat, but we don’t know what animal it was from!


Saturday 6th April 2002

An early rise at 0730, as we needed to get down to the China Travel Service office to apply for our Chinese Visa.

On the Great Wall (wild wall) at Huan Gua north of Beijing
A painless affair with the visa costing $180 and available at 1630 the same day. We left the CTS office at 0910 and got some noodles and shrimp balls for breakfast, very good balls. Then off into Macau, we walked around the reservoir and then up to a part of the grand prix circuit, a bit like Monaco but without the money. Kuan Lam temple next, lots of incense burning but not much else to see. We then walked up loads of steps to the Mong Ha hilltop fortress, which was closed, good views of Macau though. We had a look around for the Talka pub when we eventually found it, that was shut too. Back to the CTS for the visas before going for some more shrimp balls, with dumplings this time. We headed back to the hostel where I have an accident after a violent fart goes wrong. We had a sleep before going out to the Lisboa casino, it was very busy and we didn’t really understand any of the games so we left without gambling and went to a bar for a drink. We left at 1am and came back to the hostel, saw the professional ladies again they are a very friendly bunch who always say hello when we pass.
The 'Wild Wall' north of Beijing, China
I bought the driest pastry snack in the world. We’ve decided to sleep till late tomorrow!


Sunday 7th April 2002

Slept in a bit later than planned got up and out for about 1530, we got some food and then went down to the crazy paved road where there was an anti dengue fever rally. A girl band called ‘Sindee’ were performing ‘live’, we laugh when their vocals start before they were ready and the mics are switched off when they try and speak. We then bought sun glasses, ‘Ray Bans’ all round, got mine for $650 haggled him down from $780 though. With our new sunnies on we then headed up to the Monte fort and the ruins of St Pauls. Some good views over to mainland China.

Steep section of 'sawtooth ridge' on the Great wall north of Beijing, China
Back to the hostel to dump the bags then headed out for a night at the dog track. Me and Ben both win on each way bets, overall I lose $10 was a good night though. Out into Macau for some food, very nice steak. On the way back to the hostel I bought some biscuits off a street vendor, very very dry, in fact I struggled to eat them. Train to Shanghai tomorrow.


Monday 8th April 2002

Up, packed and out of the hostel for about 10am.

The hell that was our cabin on the 4 day river cruise on the Yangtze River
Got the bus down to the Macau-Kowloon ferry terminal and we were on the ferry by 1130, nobody was sick on this crossing. Got back to Kowloon for 1300. Walked down to the Star Ferry terminal and got a bus to the Hung Hom rail station for the 1500 to Shanghai. Boarded the train and got onto our bunks, 3 high on either side of the cabin, me and Steve both got top bunks Ben a middle. The other 3 bunks were taken up by 3 older Chinese men who are both amused and bemused by our presence “why you not take the prane?” one asked when Ben informed him we can’t afford it he laughed. We bought some pot noodle style meals at the station, as boiling water is available on board, they’re not bad. The cabin is air conditioned and comfortable but the toilet is of the squat and aim variety, quite tricky on a moving train and it appears some people have missed. We have a lazy night as there is not much to do on board. Sleeping is the best option, we get into Shanghai tomorrow at 1515


Tuesday 9th April 2002

Lights came on in the train about 6am but we managed to sleep through till 12 when we got up and had some more pot noodles.

Me and Uncle Ho, the Vietnam national museum, Hanoi city, Vietnam
We asked the 3 Chinese guys who we were sharing the cabin with for a photograph with them, which made the one we named ‘crazy George’ very happy and he jumped up to sit in on the photo. We got into Shanghai station on time and made our way out onto the street, it was very busy and we seemed to attract quite a few staring eyes, we also noticed everyone seemed to ride a bike here and they didn’t stop for red lights! We found a ‘Bank of China’ and withdraw some money before getting onto the underground metro, which was a challenge in itself, nobody waits for people to get off its just a mad rush to get either on or off at the same time, we used our size and big heavy rucksacks to our advantage and made it on. We made our way along the ‘Bund’ and found a hotel with dorm beds for ¥55 a night, we booked 3 nights. Rooms are ok, 6 beds we are sharing with a Chinese and a Malaysian guy. We headed out into Shanghai at night for some food and a walk along the riverfront known as the ‘Bund’. Some very impressive views of the Pudong side of the river, similar to Hong Kong island viewed from Kowloon.
On route to the Perfume Pagoda, Vietnam
We headed back to the hotel bar had a few beers then used the internet before heading up to the room. We met a couple of German lads, Felix and Folke and a Canadian girl, Diana outside the room in the corridor where we stayed up quite late chatting. Agreed to all meet up again in the bar tomorrow night at 8


Wednesday 10th April 2002

Got up late again! This has got to stop. Had a quick look out of the window and it looked cold, and worse than that it was raining and I don’t have a coat. We headed out to the Bund and on route we were mobbed by umbrella sales people, Ben and Steve have coats but I bought one for a bargain ¥7, about 70 pence, my best buy of the trip so far! We went over to the Pudong district of Shanghai using the ‘tourist tunnel’ an underground train through a tunnel of flashing lights, very disappointing and sadly we had return tickets! The ‘Pearl tower’ was a bit expensive to go up so we opted for a coffee at the Grand Hyatt hotel on the 54th floor, it was a good view but we paid for it at 45 Yuan a drink (£4.

Ben prangs his moped (you can see the front wheel is no longer round)
50), and we felt very out of place it was full of suits and well off tourists so we left after one. It was still raining. Back over to the Bund side were we watched the boats on the river, some of them were so full of what looked like sand they were on the verge of sinking! Later on we headed back to the hotel bar where we get drinks and play cards. We were joined by our new friends Felix, Folke and Diana and spent another evening drinking chatting and playing cards, whilst we were in the bar a film was being shot in the hotel restaurant, when I take a photo there is uproar among the crew as my flash ruins a take! We stayed up late into the night laughing and joking in the corridor outside the rooms. I’m not sure what time we got to bed…


Thursday 11th April 2002

Up late AGAIN, although the drink may be a factor this time! We headed out to Shanghai train station to buy tickets for the train to Xian.

Ben and I in the Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam.
We laughed as a fight nearly broke out at the front of our queue, well if it could be called a queue! Buying the tickets was much easier than we expected and we had a very helpful girl at the ticket booth. Headed down to the Yu gardens but they were shut so we went round the market and a few shops. Early in the evening we started to try and find the Lyceum theatre for the acrobat show. We  nearly get very lost wandering through a very run down area, a maze of narrow streets, we eventually found our way out but still couldn’t find the theatre so opted for a taxi instead, the driver got us straight there. It was an excellent performance (bar the magician who was rubbish) for ¥60 the highlight of the evening was watching 5 crazy men on motorbikes inside a giant spherical cage! After the show we headed back to the main shopping area for a photo, but by then most of the lights were off. We got back to the hotel where we had ONE drink with Felix and Folke before heading off to bed, train to Xian tomorrow.


Friday 12th April 2002

We were up and checked out by 12 and headed down to Peoples Square and bought some supplies for the train journey.

Me firing an M-16 at the rifle range, Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam.
We boarded the train which was not as good as the one we had taken from HK to Shanghai as the beds are smaller and the company in the cabin is not as good, we are sharing with a grumpy man we have named ‘sourface’ and his family. At one point me and Steve had an audience of about 6 people just staring at us and talking about us. We are getting hardly any sleep as some people in the carriage have got up during the night and are talking very loudly, we should get into Xian about 8 tomorrow morning.


Saturday 13th April 2002

We were woken at 6am by the crappy music that played all day yesterday. Got into Xian station at 8am and we were surrounded by touts offering accommodation and tours of the city.

Ben Steve and Myself next to the secure gun cabinet at the Cu Chi Tunnels,Vietnam.
We agreed to let one bloke show us his hotel as it was nearby and in the lonely planet, it looked ok so we booked a triple room for 2 nights at ¥30 a night. Our room is in the basement and it has no windows it’s a bit like a nuclear bunker, but its nice and cool and it has a TV. Its hot here but not humid. Out into Xian for some food we had fried bread from a street vendor, very nice, and then back to the bunker for a rest before we went back over to the station to buy our tickets for the train to Beijing, hard seat tickets this time not sleepers, a choice we may regret. In the afternoon we hire some bicycles and head out for a ride around the city. Some very interesting experiences on the roads, its not as busy here as in Shanghai but every junction is still a challenge, after a few we just go with the crowd and hope for the best. We rode through central Xian then out to the ‘Big Goose pagoda’ and surrounding Buddhist temples, it was quite a ride, about a 10 mile round trip, and in the heat a very sweaty one. We got back to the bunker about 5:30pm and then went straight out for some food which was better than the stuff we tried to eat at lunchtime, I can’t say what it was, I don’t know, the menu was in Chinese.
Me in the doorway of a temple at Angkor, Siem Reap, Vietnam.
Back for a shower before trying to get on the internet and failing. We’ve had a quiet night in the bunker we need to be up early tomorrow for the terracotta army.


Sunday 14th April 2002

Got up later than planned but not too late, got some street food before heading down to catch the number 306 bus to the terracotta army, it was ¥65 to get in but worth it, very impressive museum, there were loads of street vendors trying to sell us postcards and other terracotta nic nacs, Ben was very rude to them, but as they didn’t speak English they didn’t seem to mind, all very funny. Back to Xian on the bus, it was hot today but there is a dusty kind of smog all over the city so no direct sunlight. We got back had some food and then lay around in the bunker till about 9 when we went out and found a bar, it was called ‘Music Bar’ and the bar staff and locals were very pleased to see us, talked football for a bit was pleased to hear most of the locals are Liverpool fans.

Me on the roots of a tree growing in a temple at Angkor, Siem Reap,Vietnam.
After a few beers we took the locals on at a game of table football, we held our own but they got the better of us in the end, we then did a bit of hand slap wrestling, a new game for us but one the locals were very good at, and some arm wrestling, I lost both my bouts but Ben won 2 against the bar owner before losing admirably to the local strongman. A great night, really friendly place. We left and after walking for a while I persuade Ben ad Steve we should get a taxi, and for ¥6 we get a ride back to the hotel in possibly the smallest taxi in the world. When we got back to the hotel we found out that check out time is 10am, our train is not until 930pm so we all agreed to pay for another night so we can leave our bags here during the day tomorrow.


Monday 15th April 2002

Slept in till 12 as we are all knackered, it was raining heavily and cold so we went out to get some food but came back in to the bunker for some more rest and a few games of cards, we also watched a very funny show on a Korean TV channel, it seemed to be some sort of music show with loads of kids dancing but every so often the music would change and some mad musical conductor would come out and run around, very strange, but it kept us amused for an hour.

Local kids killing snake at a temple at Angkor, Siem Reap, Vietnam
We packed up ready for the train and headed to the restaurant next door for some food later we got on the train to Beijing another overnight journey but this time we had hard seats and not beds, this was ok for the first few hours but I got no sleep all night and it was very very warm, we will avoid the hard seat option in future if possible!


Tuesday 16th April 2002

Arrived in Beijing at 1130am got off the train and into a taxi, using the map in the lonely planet the driver set off to try and find the youth hostel, he kept making funny noises a sort of groan followed by a snorting sound and we realise this is because he hasn’t got a clue where it is. He stopped 3 times and asked local people if they knew where it was and after about 20 minutes of groaning and snorting he found it, more by luck than judgment I think, to be fair though it wasn’t were it said it was on the map! The taxi ride still only cost 30 Yuan though.

Local kid proudly shows off the snake him and his mates just killed at a temple at Angkor, Siem Reap, Vietnam.
We checked in for 3 nights at 35 Yuan a night, it’s a very nice place and the staff are very helpful. Headed out into Beijing, it was sunny but not too warm and the air was full of fine sand that blocked out most of the sun. We stopped at a small restaurant for some food, the menu was all in Chinese so it was lucky dip again, worked out pretty well this time though we had chosen spicy mushrooms, spicy lamb and sweet and sour pork! After that we headed down to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The Square was massive and lots of Chinese soldiers standing around or marching up and down. The Mau mausoleum was open but we were turned away when the soldiers on duty at the gate spotted our cameras. The Forbidden City had closed for the day we’ll come back tomorrow.
Temple at Angkor, Siem Reap, Vietnam - Scenes from the film Tomb Raider were filmed here.
Walked back to the hostel where we had some food in the hostel restaurant, actually quite posh and even though knives and forks are provided we insist on using chop sticks to the amusement of the waitress. When we got back to our room Ben informs us he thinks he may be coming down with his old nemesis, the liquid turd….


Wednesday 17th April 2002

We were up and out before 10am today, sorted our train tickets to Wuchang on Friday at the hostel, hard seats again but it’s only a 12 hour journey so hopefully it won’t be too bad. We got some food and then jumped a taxi down to the Forbidden City.

Buying our Cambodian Police ID badges from a Cambodian Policeman! The Temples at Angkor, Siem Reap.
We appeared to be the only people not in a tour group wearing ridiculous caps! Was a very grand place we spent a couple of hours just wandering around, only a limited amount is open to the public but even that was a massive area. We headed out the other side and up a hill to a pagoda to view the Forbidden City and surrounding area, a good view for ¥5.  We walked back round to Tiananmen Square hoping to visit Mau but it was closed so we walked half way back to the hostel and got a taxi the rest of the way. We had food in the hostel restaurant again because it’s so good and then collected our train tickets and laundry from the hostel reception before heading off to bed, up early tomorrow to walk the Great wall!


Thursday 18th April 2002

Got up early and out by 10am went down to the Bank of China for some cash before getting a taxi over to the long distance bus station for the first of 2 busses to the Great wall at Huanghua.

Elephant ride in northern Thailand, nr Chang Mai
We arrived in Huarrou and caught the second bus to Huanghua where we got some food before the walk of a lifetime. My lack of fitness showed immediately and halfway up the first climb I thought I was going to pass out, I removed 2 of the 3 layers I was wearing (I was expecting snow!) and continued, still breathing very hard to the next watch tower. The section of the wall we walked was tourist free and is described as ‘wild’ in the lonely planet, many parts had no walls either side of the walkway and some very big drops either side. The views were amazing and I used up nearly an entire roll of film. After a rest at the highest point of our walk I had recovered enough to tackle the final stretch, a walk (climb!) down a very steep section called the Sawtooth Ridge. At one point I nearly killed Steve as a rock I dislodged just missed him before tumbling down the hillside! We left the wall as it became too ‘wild’ and the route suggested we follow a path through a farm back to the main road. We caught the bus back to Beijing and all agreed it’s probably the best day we’ve had since Hong Kong. Ate at the hostel again and went on the internet before going to bed very tired, going to try and get in to see Mau tomorrow and the summer palace then it’s onto Wuhan for the Yangtze ferry!


Friday 19th April 2002

Got up quite early today and packed up, checked out and left our bags with reception.

The Trekkers, near Chang Mai northern Thailand - Not long after smoking 'coconut heads' evil weed haha!
Got a taxi down to Tiananmen Square where we checked in our daysacks with security and joined the queue to see chairman Mau in his Mausoleum. It wasn’t as good as we had hoped we were herded past him behind a glass wall rather quickly and straight out the back door. He looked like a dodgy waxwork figure. We picked up our daysacks and went to MacDonalds before getting the underground to north Beijing where we got a taxi over to the summer palace. Was 30 Yuan to get in, the palace itself was on a hillside and there were various other buildings dotted around, most of the park was taken up by the lake though. We hired a small electric powered boat and cruised around the lake for an hour taking turns at being captain, unusually there were no major incidents! Spent a few hours walking around then got a taxi to the train station stopping at the hostel to collect the bags on the way. Another hard seat journey not as long this time and seems a little more comfortable at least the air-con seems to work. It’s now 9pm I am sat on the train and the 5 Chinese people sat around me are all watching me write this, it’s going to be a long night.
Working Elephant Sanctuay Chang Mai, Thailand


Saturday 20th April 2002

No sleep on the train again, we got into Wuhan at midday and got some food then a taxi to a very deserted looking ferry terminal. Steve went into the ticket office with our very dodgy looking taxi driver and returned having bought us tickets for the ferry tonight at 1130pm, turns out the ferry is going to be a 5 day voyage and not the 3 days we were expecting.

Me and a python, SnakeFarm, Chang Mai, Thailand.
We had 10 hours to kill so we went 10 pin bowling downstairs at the ferry terminal. Our feet have developed a rather nasty odour and this makes getting the bowling shoes a bit embarrassing. 2 games later we play some pool and leave, still had 8 hours to kill. We went for a walk and after some guidance find an internet café and do some emailing. We then decided we needed some supplies for the voyage up the Yangtze and found a shop where we bought some food and toilet rolls, we then decided to find a bar. Ben and Steve stayed with our bags and I went off to find us a bar, I found one called the York Tea room, the owner of which was very keen to tell me all about his business, I told him I would bring my friends along in a minute and went back to get them. Quite a find the York Tea room, had a great night with mr. Sugar Tang, a tea merchant who likes Yorkshire, smokes continuously, has a pet dog called Osama and teaches us some foul language in Chinese. He also served us $100 green tea and barsnacks completely free and then gave us a lift back to the ferry terminal- very good bloke we promised to get him some business over in England. The waiting area for the ferry was filthy and very uncomfortable and the ferry was over 2 hours late. We got on and went straight to bed, our cabin has 3 bunk beds, only us in here so far, the TV has 3 Chinese channels, and the communal toilets are from the dark ages.
Scuba diving off Koh Tao, Thailand


Sunday 21st April to Wednesday 24th April 2002

We spent 4 days on the ferry, it did make numerous stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers but we didn’t get off at any point, in fact every time we stopped at a port day or night we made sure we were in our cabin as whenever the local people got on they seemed to take one look at us and decide on a different room. Not that we didn’t want to share but it was a pretty small room and the smell was bad enough with just us three! The one time we did end up sharing was with 2 older Chinese gentlemen who got on quite late at night and didn’t sleep much but preferred to smoke very smelly tobacco in a pipe and spit on the floor, luckily they got of the next morning.

Me in the bat cave, National Park Malaysia

Food on board was not the best, I cant say what it tasted like I didn’t try any, it looked bad enough and we don’t think hygiene was too high on the agenda judging by the state of the rest  of the ferry! We survived on our favourite train snacks, the pot noodles, which were available from the on board shop. I also bought what I thought were sardines in a tin, they turned out to be some sort of dried fish which tasted and smelt rancid, I threw these into the Yangtze river. Steve bought what he thought was ‘greasy meat’ like the stuff we got in Macau, it wasn’t, we still don’t know what it was, this also became fish food. We tried to avoid eating too much anyway because the ordeal that was going to the toilet on board was just too much. The toilet was in an 8ft square room on the upper deck, no windows and only one door, inside on 3 sides of the room there was a trough on the floor which emptied through a pipe at one end directly into the river, there were stalls of sorts but only knee high as we had to squat over the trough while holding onto them, often looking straight across the room at somebody else doing the same thing.

Our last night of the trip, me enjoying a Singapore Sling in the bar at Raffles Hotel.
We took it in turns to keep watch at the door to avoid this embarrassing situation as much as possible.

On our second night aboard the ferry we discovered the ‘recreation room’ and we were invited in by the staff and the resident policeman, there were about 10 other passengers too (we were the only non Chinese on board). We then drank tea and listened to the karaoke. The policeman who wrestled the mic of the bar staff gave a very loud rendition of a Chinese classic, what the lyrics meant we didn’t know and we left before our laughter offended anyone.

The Three Gorges, the only reason for taking this ferry, were probably spectacular, however we will never know ‘cos we went through them overnight and we were asleep!! But the ferry was worth it we did see plenty of interesting stuff along the river. We went through a couple of massive locks and saw part of the impressive dam being built. It is going to flood the three gorges but provide hydro-electric power.


We arrived in Chonquing at 11pm on the 24th April we got off the ferry and found a hotel, got a very nice triple room and headed out to a restaurant/bar to have some beers, met a very drunk local man and his friends, he kept pointing at one of the ladies at the table with them, smiling and shouting ‘China Chonquing beautiful!’ we smiled back, the poor girl looked embarrassed, we don’t know if it was his wife or not.

Outside Ho Chi Minhs mausoleum, Hanoi,Vietnam


Thursday 25th April 2002

Got up early and jumped a taxi down to the train station where we queued up for tickets. We finally fought our way to the front only to be told there were no seats or beds left on any trains leaving today and we should come back early tomorrow to try again. We then headed straight out to the bus station only to get the same answer, nothing leaving today. Got a taxi back to the hotel where we booked another night, this time in a cheaper room. Spent the rest of the day looking around Chonquing. It’s a very dirty city and not much of real interest to look at so we just looked around the shops. In the evening we headed out to eat, lucky dip on the Chinese menu again, we got 3 dishes one of which was a big bowl of soup with ‘meat’ floating in it. As we stirred the soup the origin of the meat became clear as a whole ducks head broke the surface, we left the soup alone, it tasted quite bad anyway.

Great Wall, China
Outside the restaurant we saw a child doing a crap in the street, helped by his mother, earlier in the day we saw another child pissing in an electrical goods shopping centre, but we don’t blame them as we’ve seen the state most of the toilets are in! We left and bought some beer before retuning to the hotel room. Earlier in the afternoon we had spent about 40 minutes harassing the girl at the train station for tickets on a train to the border and after some pleading we managed to get 3 beds on the 0010 leaving tomorrow night. We go to bed knowing we’ve got another day in the lovely Chonquing!


Friday 26th April 2002

Went to bed late last night and got up late today. We’ve had to book another night even though we are leaving at 2300 tonight as we don’t want to carry our bags around with us all day.

The infamous night in Nha trang, Vietnam
Headed out for lunch at safety of the golden arches (Mcdonalds) and make use of the toilet there (probably the cleanest in the city!) we then walked round some shops, bought some books and stuff for the train tonight. Wandered around till the evening when we had some dumplings before packing up and getting a taxi to the train station. This train is older than others we have taken and the smell from the toilets is all over the carriage, the fact the air-con is not working doesn’t help. We are sharing with an old Chinese man with massive side burns who smells worse than the toilets, we have named him the ‘Gunt’ and he is a very loud snorer, it’s going to be a long night….


Saturday 27th April 2002

The Gunt kept me awake for most of the night. At one point at about 3 in the morning Steve had had enough and whacked an empty tin 3 or 4 times very loudly to wake him (the Gunt) up, he stopped snoring for a few seconds and then he was off again, he came very close to a beating.

Sunset over the lake at the Number 10 guesthouse, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
We got up as late as possible today but when we did there were some good views from the train. I read some of the ‘20,000 leagues under the sea’ book I had bought in Chonquing. We chanced some of the hot food on offer from the food trolley passing through the train, for once it looked quite good, and it actually turned out to be better than our usual noodle snacks. The Gunt however got smellier by the hour and the train is not due to get into Nanning until about 5am, we feared another long sleepless night.


Sunday 28th April 2002

We managed to get a little sleep and the train rolled into Nanning at 5:20am.

2 men, 2 tyres, 1 moped. Phnom Penh Cambodia
We sat in the square outside the station, it was very busy already with hawkers selling maps and tours of the city out in force. We waited until the sun came up and headed back into the station to the ticket office at 0630. We found out there are no direct trains to Hanoi until Tuesday so we bought tickets to the border town of Piang Xian. The train wasn’t due to leave till 8am so we got some very nice dumplings for breakfast over the road. Got onto the train for our final rail journey in China, some very nice countryside, paddy fields and Karst hills, it was hot and humid outside but the train had air con which was good.

      4 hours later we arrived in the border town of Piang Xian.

Swinging on a vine, Jungle surrounding the temple at Ankor, Siem Reap, Cambodia
As we stepped off the train we were instantly spotted by a local ‘taxi’ driver who offered to take us to the border crossing for   ¥10 each, we agreed to go with him before seeing the ‘taxi’. We got into the back of his 3 wheeled motorbike/rickshaw and headed off on the 18km journey. The engine struggled up hills, not surprising with us 3 and our bags in the back! The driver thought it was very funny though and just laughed as he franticly tried to find a lower gear. The fastest part of the ride turned out to be a long downhill section where the driver turned the engine off! We stopped on the way and our crazy driver offered to change our Yuan into Vietnamese Dong at a rate of 1300 Dong to 1 Yuan, we change a few notes as its always handy to have a bit of local currency (later we found out that the current exchange rate is 2000 dong to 1 Yuan!) We arrived at the border crossing and get through the Chinese side no problems it was then a short walk into Vietnam.

   As we approach the Vietnamese border control we are mobbed by taxi drivers with offers of $30 rides to Hanoi.

Rayleigh beach, Krabi, Thailand
We went into the border control building and filled out the necessary forms and handed over our passports, for some reason Ben had his bag searched, well half searched, as when the border guards reached his dirty clothes half way down they gave up! We got our passports back and headed back outside where we were mobbed again, we agreed to go with one driver who said he would take us to Lan Son where we could get a minibus to Hanoi. We got into the taxi and headed for the final checkpoint only to be told our passports had not been stamped! After some messing about back at border control, and while we kept one eye on the taxi outside which contained all our bags, we got our stamps and were on our way.

       Driving in Vietnam can only be described as a dangerous sport, there seem to be no rules. Our driver used his horn every few seconds, even on completely empty sections of road, his favourite manoeuvre was the overtake on blind bends and hills.

The Petronas Towers, KL, Malaysia
Despite our taxi drivers best efforts we arrived in Lan Son in one piece and were shown the ‘mini’ bus that was going to take us to Hanoi. It was a Bedford Rascal with windows and seats, it had less legroom than the 747 we arrived in Hong Kong on and that is not easy. We drove around Lan Son for about 90 minutes picking up passengers and parcels, we also spotted our first ladyboy, a man/woman of about 60. When we were finally ‘full’ which was 16 people numerous boxes and a live chicken we set off for Hanoi.

    Our driver was insane, he liked overtaking even more than the last bloke, in fact at one point we overtook someone who was already overtaking someone else. Scenery was very green, lots of paddy fields, but the pain in my back and legs was of more concern. We arrived in Hanoi 2 hours later, the roads in the city are the busiest we’ve seen so far literally thousands of mopeds all going in different directions, this didn’t bother our driver though as he cut across traffic at every junction.

Me and Ron, Sinapore city, Singapore
We levered ourselves out of the bus and walked to the A-Z Queen café where we have got a triple room for 3 nights for $30. We dumped the bags and headed out to a restaurant called little Hanoi, food was very nice and we all used the toilet as it’s the best we’ve seen since Hong Kong! Back to the room for a shower before we headed out for a drink at the R&R bar. For some reason the bar was very quiet and we ended up talking to Douglas a 50 year old American, I’d describe him as a sex tourist, he told us he lives in Hanoi with his Vietnamese ‘wife’ and that he teaches English, but only to girls, we left while he was in the toilet. We walked back to the room for some quality sleep, laying in tomorrow.


Monday 29th April 2002

We got up late as we had planned and headed out to ‘little Hanoi’ for a club sandwich before we wandered around the old quarter.

Dancing in the rain, Rayleigh beach, Krabi, Thailand
Took a walk over the bridge on the lake to the ‘jade mountain table’ and saw the big stuffed turtle caught many years ago, looked like it’s made out of wood to me. We visited the ‘memorial house’ a house in the old quarter that has been fully restored and decorated in the old quarter style before stopping off at St Josephs cathedral, which was just like any other church back in the UK and also very quiet. After stopping by back at the room we went for food, I ordered beef dumplings and got 5 tiny meatballs wrapped in pastry, had to order some extra fries to go with them, not the best meal we’ve had.

         Back at the hotel we had some beers in the bar and got talking to ‘Cun’ the barman, he studies English at Hanoi uni and is a good laugh, he supports Liverpool too. After a few beers I needed to point percy. As I made my way through the restaurant section which was in total darkness I missed a step and slipped landing on my tail bone, very painful, but nobody had seen me fall so it wasn’t too embarrassing. Anyway as I got to the urinal I began to feel very light headed and thought I was about to faint, I managed to stay on my feet though leaning against the wall with one arm. I pulled percy out and did the business , unfortunately as I began to come round I realised that I hadn’t actually taken percy out of my trousers and I now had a wet leg and right foot! I checked and it wasn’t too obvious what had happened and I returned to the table, being careful not to let the 2 Danish girls sat at the bar see my wet leg. After another beer we left the bar to go up to the room, on the way up I tell Ben and Steve of my little accident, they both nearly pissed themselves laughing.

       Later after showering with my trousers on we heard a cat fight right outside our door, I jumped up still in my sleeping bag liner and tried to step off the end of the bed falling flat on my face as a result, Ben and Steve were now convinced I was bladdered. It was a great night, apart from pissing my pants.



Tuesday 30th April 2002

Got up and out for lunch then we walked down to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, which was closed. We got whistled at by the guards for walking on the pavement just outside, AK47’s all round. We headed around the corner to the presidential palace, had a walk round the gardens and saw uncle Ho’s stilt house before moving on to the one pillar pagoda, which was in a very small pond. Ho Chi’s museum next, a museum dedicated to the life of the great man, some very strange exhibits on the top floor, Vietnams culture through modern art. On our way back to the hotel we saw a very strange tramp he was wearing a green jacket and nothing else, knob out for all to see, smiling at everyone going past him as he stood in the middle of a very busy crossroads. In the evening we went out to the Apocalypse Now bar, on the way the roads were packed with people as its Saigon Independence day and there are celebrations all over the city. The ANow bar was however very quiet and very tacky, U.S. helicopters painted on the ceilings with fans as their rotor blades. There was also quite a few older western gentlemen attracting lots of attention from the numerous local ‘ladies’ who were sat around the pool tables, we didn’t stay for long. We got back to the hotel and I did the biggest turd ever, followed 20 minutes later by the loudest. Up early tomorrow for the perfume pagoda trip.


Wednesday 1st May 2002 

We were woken at 7am by our crazy tour guide who we later found out was called Van and is a bit of a dragon. Spent 2 hours on a bus to a small river where we transferred into a small boat, there was us 3 an Aussie called Andy and a local guide plus the little old lady who was going to row us 1 hour up the river! Once we were all in the boat it was about an inch from sinking and we all had to keep very still. 15 minutes into the voyage the sky turned a dark grey and the wind picked up, our guide informed us we were going to get very wet, all I had was the umbrella I bought in Shanghai, Ben and Steve had their coats. Then from nowhere a boat full of locals pulls up offering to sell us rain ‘coats’ for 2000 Dong , our guide bought one so we me and Andy followed. I paid with a 10,000 Dong note and as the heavens opened the boat pulls away and I didn’t see my change, still 50p for a coat wasn’t bad at all. The coat itself was a plastic bag with a hood and arms, it kept me dry, sort of. It rained the whole way which was very funny and at one point we had to pull into the bank where the old lady bailed out the water threatening to sink us with her flip flops.

    We arrived at the start of the steep walk up to the pagoda and an hour later, and nearly dead we arrived at the large cave inside which was the pagoda. The actual pagoda itself was not that impressive, but the trip was worth it just for the rain storm. After walking back down for some lunch we tasted some local snake wine, which was wine with a pickled snake in it, it tasted like sherry. On the bus back an American bloke (who looked like Jesus from the film the Big Lebowski) talked absolute shit for 2 hours so loud the whole bus could probably hear him. He knew someone in every country in the world, or so it seemed. In the evening we went down to the Funky Monkey bar for a few drinks with Andy, top bloke, he told us how he’d been robbed in Nha Trang though which didn’t sound too good. We returned to the hotel early as we’re up at 7am again for the Ha Long Bay trip.


Thursday 2nd May 2002


Got up at 7am, we checked out due to us staying on Cat Ba Island tonight. We put our bags in the ‘left luggage room’ which is actually a mezzanine floor with a metal ladder leading up to it at a 45° angle. Ben climbed up with his bag and as he neared the top the metal hooks holding the ladder on bent off and sent him crashing down on top of me and probably woke the entire hostel. We eventually lock our bags away and got onto the bus for the 4 hour ride to Ha Long Bay. On the way our driver (so we were told by an older guy sat in front of us) kept falling asleep, he seemed to be swerving all over the road and braking suddenly for phantom mopeds and donkeys. The older guy goes to the front and has a word with him, that seemed to wake him up a bit and we made it to the bay in one piece! We got some lunch and boarded the boat for a 4 hour cruise through Ha
Long bay to the
island of Cat Ba. Scenery is amazing, over 1900 little islands, some of which featured in the James Bond film ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’. Near to Cat Ba Island we stopped to swim off the boat, water was clean enough but not crystal clear so Bens mask and snorkel weren’t much use. We also visited Sung Sot Grotto, basically a big cave, some very loud kids arrived not long after us and they came close to getting a beating. We got talking to a guy called Warren a lawyer from Canada and after we had arrived on the island and checked in we went out for a few beers on the sea front with Warren and a couple of girls from Texas. They were very amused by our tales of the toilets in China and the infamous Yangtze River trip. Many beers later we headed back to the hotel, up at 7am AGAIN tomorrow!


Friday 3rd May 2002


Got up at around 7. Feeling rough. Onto the boat for the return voyage to Ha Long city. We went swimming again which helped with the hangover a bit. We laughed as 2 gay French blokes appeared wearing matching Speedo’s. On the bus back to Hanoi we had a very near miss with a donkey, our driver found it hilarious though! An old French couple took offence at anyone who dared to talk on the bus as they were trying to sleep. We had a drink with Warren before heading back to the A-Z Queen café. Going to bed early as we are all knackered after 3 days of 7am starts.


Saturday 4th May 2002


Got up and were checked out by 12 but locked our bags up again, taking care on the ladder. Wandered around Hanoi, mostly around the central lake area and played some pool, also sampled a crepe at ‘Fanny café’, I had the crepe Fanny, very nice. We boarded the bus for Hué at 7pm and it all seemed fine at first, good legroom and air-con. After a while we realised that we were sat over the engine and the hot air blowing up through the floor was far more powerful than the trickle of cold air from above, a very hot night ahead, more stunt driving too.


Sunday 5th May 2002


Arrived in Hué at 0930 after a very hot night, it was hot outside even that early, but not as humid as Hanoi. Totally by chance we have arrived on the second day of the Hué festival and the town is buzzing, we managed to find a hostel though and we had a shower before heading out to get some food and have a look around. Called in at the ‘Stop and Go’ café for some chicken and noodles,  the café owner Mr. Do is the self proclaimed ‘Hulk Hogan of the east’ and also runs motorcycle tours of the city, a very entertaining character. Walked over the Perfume River ��" very clean compared to the Yangtze/Red River, and went to the military museum. Lots of relics and photos from the ‘American war’ as the Vietnamese call it. Very interesting to see their side of the story. Headed back out to see some of the festival events the highlight being ‘blindfold pot smashing’ Ben and Steve gave it a go and Ben to his amazement and the crowds amusement smashes one, Steve sadly missed. We stopped at a small market and I bought a ‘Rolex’ for $13, looks and feels just like the real thing, not that I’d Know!  Back over the river where we played some pool at the DMZ bar before returning to the hostel. Went out again for food at a café where the waitress seemed to be a bit mental, she took a shine to Ben, maybe it was the fresh cuts on his face from shaving. Sorted out another hostel and headed over to the festival for the evening. Paid 5000 Dong to get in only to find it’s a big tat market, we left sharpish and headed back to bed. Steve shaved most of his beard off tonight, only left sideburns and 2 patches on his chin; I think the rest will follow. Laying in tomorrow.


Monday 6th May 2002


Got up late today, and as expected Steve shaves off the rest of his beard, a sad day, I am now the only one with dodgy facial hair. We walked down to the citadel area and took some pictures of the tanks on display. We could see kites flying over in the festival area and headed over for a look. One very impressive kite had over 14 ‘bird’ tiers and went high into the sky. We stayed watching the kites so long the citadel had closed for today so we missed out looking around inside, probably nothing compared with the Forbidden City though. Walked back to the DMZ bar for a lemon juice and some pool.  Back to the hostel which is in darkness due to a power cut, no lights, no air-con, no fan, very hot. We got changed in the dark and went out for food. Decided to get food at a ‘cheap’ looking place, turns out to be very expensive (well 64000 Dong) and then over to the ‘Stop and Go’ to book a motorcycle tour with Mr.Do and his boys. Back to the hostel and bed as up early for the moto tour of the city.


Tuesday 7th May 2002


Up and out to the ‘Stop and Go’ then onto our mopeds for the city tour. I had Yum as a driver and guide. Visited various sites around the city, Japanese bridge, royal tombs and a hill overlooking the river, I’m glad to say very ‘safe’ driving by Vietnamese standards. Some members of the tour got lost and met up with us later back at the Stop and Go where we had lunch. Back on the road for more sites, the military museum, Mr. Do’s brothers' garden and the towns market before we stopped at another one of Mr. Do’s other café’s for some drinks and food, some very good quails' eggs. Back at the Stop and Go my camera was playing up and didn’t rewind the film when it had finished, back at the hotel in a dark bathroom I reeled it back in by hand, and then discovered the camera is knackered. I stayed in while Ben and Steve headed out for some food. We are leaving Hué for Hoi An tomorrow.


Wednesday 8th May 2002


Got up pretty late and checked out, left our bags in the hostel though. Over to the Stop and Go for some breakfast and to book a bus to Hoi An, bus doesn’t leave until 2pm so we wandered around Hué for an hour and I buy a disposable camera as mine is broken. On the bus by 2pm, it goes along a mountain pass on the way to Hoi An and on the way we see the aftermath of a crash between a lorry and what looked like a petrol tanker, there were lots of locals standing around looking at it, many of them smoking! We arrived in Hoi An around 1800 and checked into a hotel before heading out to look around some of the famous local tailors, after some food we chose the best looking place and ordered some tailor made shirts in the most garish materials they had, we pick them up tomorrow. The girls in the shop thought it was very funny and were amused by Steves uneven chest. Went to Treats café for drinks and some pool and headed back to the hotel late, sleeping in again tomorrow, picking the nasty shirts up at 1pm


Thursday 9th May 2002


Got up and went to collect our shirts, very nice…. Good fit too so I decided to order 2 more a plain blue one and another nasty one in green with gold dragons, collecting them at 7pm today! Back to the hotel to try the shirts on again and Ben and Steve decide they want to hire some mopeds and go to the beach, I tell them its not a good idea as something bad is bound to happen, I also said I had images of Ben losing control and smashing his bike up…. We hire some anyway for $3 and with no helmets we head off for the beach 4km away. The roads were pretty quiet and there are no major incidents on the way. We arrive at the beach and are flagged down and told we need to park our mopeds in a covered bike park, Ben then proceeded to lose control of his machine and clatter into a concrete post holding the roof up, the throttle jammed open and his engine was screaming as he scrambled from under the bike and got back up. Me and Steve had now parked up and were pissing ourselves laughing. Ben was OK bar a few grazes but the moped did not get off as lightly, the front wheel was bent beyond repair the fairing was cracked and one of the foot pegs was bent. After a lot of messing about we decide to go to the beach for a bit anyway. Ben was very worried about what it was going to cost him seeing as the local boys are charging him $4 just to get the bike back to where we hired it. We had a swim and then head back. Bens moped is loaded onto a bicycle powered trailer and I have to carry him on the back of mine. We arrived back at the hire place and the guys look very surprised/shocked to see only 2 mopeds, we point down the road where the broken one is being brought back on the trailer. After a bit of poking around they agree on a price….. $100, which is much less than we had thought, but Ben has the cheek to barter them down to $90! The most expensive trip to the beach ever. We all have a laugh about it at the hotel and then get changed to go and pick up our new shirts. They weren’t quite ready so we went back to the hotel and used the internet to tell everyone about Bens moped stunt. Me and Ben went back to collect the shirts, I keep the nasty green one on to walk back to the hotel, got some laughs from the bars and restaurants on the way. We have booked a day tour of the local area tomorrow, it leaves at 0630 so it early to bed tonight.


Friday 10th May 2002


Up at 6am! Onto a crappy little mini bus, no air-con so windows open. Drove for an hour to a local temple, looked like an old brick works, it was crap. Back on the bus to a lake, which turned out to be a man made reservoir, we got onto a small boat for a trip round the ‘lake’.  Stopped at a hotel on the side of the lake for 15 minutes for no reason then back onto the boat round a small island and then on to a ‘hot spring’. Sounded quite good. Turned out to be a hose pipe connected to a buoy with hot eggy smelling water coming out of it, brilliant. Back onto the bus for a 2 hour ride to a beach, this turns out to be the best part of the day, some good food and a swim in the sea. Ben and Steve got sunburnt but I was ok. Onto the funbus again to the village of Son Mai, the site of a massacre during the war, a museum at the site was very depressing some horrific pictures and stories of what went on. Back on the bus for the final, very long, journey back to the hotel, the roads were terrible and the driver liked to push his luck with the overtakes. We booked some bus tickets to Nha Trang before having some food and heading to bed.


Saturday 11th May 2002


Got up at 1130 packed our bags and then got some lunch and played pool at Treats bar for a few hours. Ben posted some postcards and we collected our bags from the hotel before catching the bus to Nha Trang at 7pm. The bus had air-con but no reclining seats. Very bad roads, we don’t get much sleep.


Sunday 12th May 2002


Got into Nha Trang at 7am and book a triple room, I get the single bed and Ben and Steve are sharing the double. We got some sleep until about 2pm and then headed down to the beach for some food, while we were down there we had a swim but it was getting late so we had a coke at a bar and went back to the hotel to put our nasty shirts on for a night at the Nha Trang sailing club bar. We arrived at the club and find its 2 for 1 on san Miguel, we have a few beers but then Ben and Steve decided to take full advantage of the 2 for 1 offer and get mental drunk, Ben is sick all over the floor outside we then hit the dance floor, or tried to! We left about 1am and flagged down some cyclo’s (like rickshaws) back to the hotel. We couldn’t find the hotel in our drunken state and after being driven round for what seemed like hours we gave up and got stung for the ride ��" I managed to get away with $3 but Ben and Steve paid more. After wandering the streets for a bit we find (I find) the hotel and the shutters are down, we knock on the door and the night security lets us in, I felt sick and puked in the toilet before falling into bed.




Monday 13th May 2002


Up late feeling terrible, Steve informs us that he has shit the bed during the night and has washed his sheets in the toilet; literally, he had put them down the toilet and flushed it a few times! Ben gets very annoyed when he realises that there is also some of Steves accident on his sleeping bag liner. We asked Steve where the sheets are and he tells us he put them over the balcony to dry. We have a look and they were not there, they had fallen off. One was on the balcony below and the other was on next doors roof 3 floors down, I nearly pissed myself laughing. After some explaining to the hotel manager he manages to get the stained sheets back and we headed down to the beach for a swim and some lunch. When we returned to the hotel we found some nice clean sheets on the bed! We went out in the evening to the Rainbow bar to book some scuba diving tomorrow, had a pizza and decided to lay off the beer as we are up at 7am tomorrow, an early night.


Tuesday 14th May 2002


We were up at 7am and got picked up in the Rainbow bus by a crazy Frenchman, who we later find out is called Jean-Philippe. Steve and myself did a ‘try a dive’ which meant we did some snorkelling off the boat while Ben (who got his scuba licence in Cuba) did his first dive of the day. I wore a wetsuit to avoid sunburn whilst snorkelling, the water was crystal clear and there was a lot to see, plenty of fish and coral. When the qualified group returned to the boat form their dive Steve and I kitted up for ours. We had one instructor each for the 40 minute dive, I’d say we went down to about 10m saw loads of fish, a couple that stick out are a lion fish and a puffer fish, very enjoyable though and we will be doing more. We had lunch on the boat and then did some more snorkelling while Ben had his second dive. On the way back to the shore I took my wetsuit off to reveal the hilarious tan lines, or sunburn lines on my hands wrists ankles and feet, and the best was the burn around were my mask had been I look like I’ve been skiing! It was a bit choppy on the way back and a Danish lad on board is very sea sick. Had some food at Rainbow then back to the hotel to change. We went out to book the bus to Saigon and had some food then headed to the beach for a few drinks, we bumped into a few people from the infamous nasty shirt evening, they don’t seem to remember the state some of us were in. Back to the hotel, bus to Saigon tomorrow.


Wednesday 15th May 2002


Boarded the bus to Saigon at 0830, it had good air-con and the roads are much improved. We stopped for lunch and picked up some more people, I had a seat to myself up until that point. A German couple got on with 2 kids, it looked like they had adopted a Vietnamese baby. The woman and the baby sat next to me, the baby enjoyed pulling on my shirt and trying to knock my headphones out of my ear. Arrived in Saigon at 8pm, it’s much bigger than Hanoi, more like you’d expect a capital city. We found a hotel for $10 with air-con and go out for some food then a drink at the Guns n’ roses bar. After a drink the local barman offers to sell us some marijuana, we decline but its clear that some other customers haven’t .The bloke next to us at the bar was so stoned he couldn’t open his eyes or speak properly, he looked like the blonde one off dumb n’ dumber and had the most ridiculously tight trousers ever. We struggled not to laugh as he continues to smoke a joint passed to him by a local. Back to the hotel and bed.


Thursday 16th May  2002


Up at 1120 just in time to catch the last of the free breakfast and then out to find the ANZ bank, we got a bit lost and ended up walking through a park full of smackheads shooting up ��" we left very quickly. Found the bank and get some dollars, I then blow it all on a new camera. Back at TM Brothers III café we sort our visa for Cambodia and book some tours.  We found a CD shop and Ben goes CD mad, I also bought some very dodgy looking copies for 10000 Dong each, all work fine though. Got some food and used the internet before heading back for a shower. Out this evening to drink at lost in Saigon then onto the Gn’R bar again. We have a few beers then ‘floyd*’ makes an appearance and after a while I leave but Ben and Steve stayed for a bit longer, they eventually returned to the hostel after ‘floyd’ began to scare them. (*in the original diary I used the term 'floyd' in place of the words ‘the weed’ or ‘the pot’ as we were quite paranoid in case the authorities caught us and read the diaries!)


Friday 17th May 2002


Out early for TM Brothers half day tour of the Cu Chi tunnels, used by the VC during the war. Our guide for the day is excellent and seems to enjoy his job. We were shown around the sites, the tunnel entrances, the tunnels themselves- both original and the American friendly ones built for fat American tourists! Some hand made mines and other weapons and some man-traps which at one point the guide nearly fell into. The tunnels were hard work at times and a bit of a tight squeeze, they are built on 3 levels and in the section we crawled through we got to see all 3. Part of the site had a rifle range and we took the chance to fire an AK47 and an M16, 5 rounds on each @ $1 a bullet. I hit the bullseye first shot with the M16 but missed with all the other 9 shots. Not much in the way of ear protection and our ears were ringing for a bit. After the tour we headed back to Saigon and the ‘War relics museum’ which was very interesting. No punches pulled with the photographs and exhibits, deformed foetus’ in jars (the results of agent orange contamination) and various American war crimes or torture scenes. There were also some planes and a ‘Huey’ helicopter.  We left and collected our passports complete with Cambodian visa stamps. Me and Steve bought some quality counterfeit goods, Steve gets a ‘Zippo’ lighter with a tarnished appearance apparently as it is a G.I’s from the war, it has ‘water- never touch the stuff, fish fuck in it you know’ engraved on one side. I bought a ‘Sony’ CD walkman for $40 to listen to the CD’s I have bought for 50p each. It works fine, but for how long? I noticed my throat felt dry and rough today and when I check it out there are white spots all over the back of my throat, no pain though so I gargle TCP and hope for the best.








Saturday 18th May 2002


Up early again, these tours are a pain it the arse, Mekong delta 2 day tour this time. Onto the Mercedes mini bus again, the Danish lad Peter who was sick on the diving trip is there with his girlfriend. First stop was a boat trip around 4 islands on the Mekong river, we all had some fresh fruit and listened to some traditional music before seeing rice paper being made and the beehives the honey for our honey tea came from. We also took a boat trip down a small waterway which was very narrow and only just wide enough for other small boats to pass. Back onto the bus and on to a market where all manner of livestock and vegetables were on sale. Very smelly, the animals for sale included snakes, lizards, birds of all varieties, and fish all in very small cages or bowls and still alive, just. We got to handle a live water snake and were told they are not dangerous, everyone is a bit pissed off as we had left our cameras on the bus. We check into our hotel for the night, no air-con very hot and sweaty, it did have mosi nets built in though. Ben is sharing with a guy we had called ‘bon jovi’ he has a mullet hair cut, his real name is Ian and he’s actually an alright bloke. We go out to eat with our guide and the Danish couple, had some very nice snake curry , also the guide, seeing us enjoy the snake wine shots we got free, brings us out a glass full of the stuff with a whole snake in it, head peeping out the top. Back too bed for a very sweaty nights sleep.


Sunday 19th May 2002


7am again, slept ok just very hot. First stop today was the floating market on the Mekong river ��" loads of boats selling fruit and veg, after this we turned off the main river onto a smaller one through the ‘jungle’. Saw some big spiders, about the size of your hand, and some mud skipper fish on the banks. We stopped at a local bridge called  ‘monkey bridge’ and all had pictures taken crossing it. It was much worse than it looked, very unstable in the middle. We had lunch then sat by the river for an hour before getting back on the Merc to head to Saigon. On the way we stopped at an incense factory (shed) that was closed (maybe due to it being polling day- strange there is only one party to vote for though!) and a bonsai garden, although where the bonsai were I don’t know, we did feed some monkeys though. Driving the drive back to Saigon we saw 2 moped crashes, the first was not too bad both passengers got back up, the second was a bit more severe the woman who came off bounced about 30 yards down the road and didn’t get up, we didn’t stop though. As well as election day today is also Ho Chi  Minhs birthday, although our guide told us nobody really cares! Back in Saigon I bought some more CD’s and a CD case with the Vietnamese flag on it. Bus to Cambodia tomorrow.


Monday 20th May 2002


Got up and checked out, after our free breakfast, then round to TM Bros III for the bus to Phnom Penh. Onto the bus to the border where we have to change buses,  we had some food and Steve gets ripped off on some money changing getting 3600 Reil for 50000 Dong when the current exchange rate is 3800R or 1$ to 15000 VND. We get through the border with no problems and onto our bus for the journey to

Phnom Penh.  A dust storm had hit as we were waiting to get on the bus and the dust continues all the way to the city on some very poor roads, dirt tracks in parts.  The bus has no air-con so we have to have the window open and when we finally get off we’re covered in red dust, I look like a WWI pilot with the marks left after I remove my sun glasses. We get dropped off at a hotel in the south central part of the city and have to get moto drivers to take us and our bags to the lakeside area to the north. We arrive and book in at the ‘Number 10’ guest house, the moto ride cost a $1 each.  We dumped the bags and went out for food, ended up in a place nearby called ‘red corner’, the waitress plays connect four with Steve and loses many times, she then tries her luck against me and fails, she finds it funny though. We then went back to the bar at number 10, it looks out over the lake, we relax watching Blade II on pirate DVD, it finishes about 2am and we went to bed. Nothing planned tomorrow.


Tuesday 21st May 2002


Very hot night with no air-con so got very sweaty, the local mosque also has a loud speaker system that blasted the service out for the whole city to hear from early in the morning, Got up very late at 1pm I stupidly took my doxy before eating which made me feel ill and I left most of the beef in plum sauce I ordered for lunch. After a rest I felt much better and we walked down to the central market , looks massive from the outside but it was quite small inside, We wandered down to the riverfront where we found the ‘Happy Herbs’ pizza place and ordered our pizza’s ‘happy’. A crowd of moto drivers gathered at the door and as we paid and went to leave they block the doorway and offer us lifts back to number 10, after some bartering we all get one for 2000R. On the way back to #10 the ‘herbs’ from the pizza begin to take effect. We are all stoned and just sit in the bar by the TV all night watching films, the killing fields, panic room and some of chill factor, but we go to bed not long after it starts. We are glad that we didn’t order our pizza ‘very happy’


Wednesday 22nd May 2002


We all got up late, feeling a bit lazy and still a bit ‘happy’. Didn’t do much today just the internet, a bit of laundry and wrote up yesterdays events in the diary. We went out to eat and I wait 30 minutes for what looked like super noodles and chicken. Back at #10 we drink banana shakes, play pool and lay in the hammocks before going to bed. Killing fields tomorrow.


Thursday 23rd May 2002


Got up at 10 to go to the killing fields and the S21 museum. The bus we thought we’d be on turns out to be a car with just us 3 and our driver. It has air-con but it’s still very hot. Worryingly there was an empty bullet case on the floor by my feet in the front. Both places were quite shocking, many many bones and skulls on display and pictures of all the ‘prisoners’ who went through and most probably died at the S21 prison. We got dropped off by the silver pagoda and royal palaces, but they were closed so we walked back to #10 via a CD/DVD shop where I bought Spiderman and Star Wars episode II. We got back to #10 and watched both, SWepII was ok but Spiderman was quality.


Friday 24th May 2002


We got up very late and do nothing for ages then decide to go down to the bank as we are running low on the dollars. We got there so late it was shut but called into a hotel on the way back to #10 and they tell us about one that’s open were we go and get some cash. Went out this evening by moto to the ‘Heart of Darkness’ bar where we get plenty of drinks in, there is a very funny obnoxious Aussie banker, Ben can’t stand him though. Some very friendly local girls, we were unsure as to their professions, they seemed happy enough to sit with us though, one girl called Li asked me if Ben had drunk too much. We were all pretty bevvied and danced to rage against the machines classic hit ‘fuck you I won’t do what you tell me’ A local lad says Ben is ‘Michael Jackson number 2!’ Very funny night. We left in the early hours and got moto’s back to #10 our drivers race all the way. I am sick.


Saturday 25th May 2002


 Got up quite late again and walked down to the Khmer boxing the hotel guy had told us about. 3500R to get in with free cigarettes and chewing gum ��" bargain! The local street kids were being chased around by the security guards, some got caught and are given a swift boot up the arse or a stick across the legs, they didn’t seem to mind though it was more of a game to them. There were 6 fights, 5 of the were Khmer, all good, some near knock outs and a very dodgy disqualification. One seemed to be a gay fight with both fighters smiling throughout and giving each other water at the end before a draw was announced as the result. Winners got a deep fat fryer and 6 bottles of Evian. Back to number 10 in the evening then out to red corner for some tacos, internet then watched ‘Orange County’ before bed.


Sunday 26th May 2002


Up before 12 and checked out of Number 10, we thought we would never leave! Caught the bus to Sihanoukville on the coast, very good bus. Arrived and it was pissing down, we got a moto up to the Victory beach end of town and check in at the Mealy Chanda hotel. Went up to the restaurant were we bumped into Nic the girl we met on the infamous night in Nha Trang, she was also at number 10. There are also 2 other English girls staying here , no one seems to be happy though as the weather is crap and they are going back to Phnom Penh tomorrow even though they only arrived today! The hotel bar shut disappointingly early and we head to bed.







Monday 27th May 2002


Up late, no change there, still raining but we took a walk down to Victory beach, its pretty dirty being next to the port. On the way back me and Steve get a hair cut at a roadside barbers, mine is not too bad but Steve is not happy with his and when we get back to the hotel he tries to finish off the cut himself giving himself bald patches in the process. We put our Hoi An shirts on (me green, Ben black and Steve only has the one) and headed up for a night at the Peak Casino, Me and Steve also put on the ‘Rolex’ watches we bought in Hué. Very scary walk up to the Casino past some dogs whose bark was probably far worse than their bite. Into the Casino and we were the only people there apart from the 15 members of staff who watch me and Ben lose $30 each on the roulette wheel, Steve on the other hand looked like a pro (he has been to Vegas though) and he wins $81 ($61 from $20 chips bought) We cash up and leave for the dark walk home. When we pass the dogs from earlier they run towards us barking I stood my ground and they just ran past me and chased Ben and Steve who had run off down the road arses twitching like rabbits noses. We stopped for food on the way back to the hotel, the table cloth matched my shirt. Back at the hotel we got some ABC extra stout and at 8% two cans was enough for me.  The hotel has a resident gecko that is huge, it lives behind one of the speakers in the restaurant. We watched an excellent Chinese film about kung fu footballers with super powers, very funny.


Tuesday 28th May 2002


Woke up and we were surprised to see the sun is out so we hired (the worst) bikes (in the world) and pedal (very quickly as they were stuck in very low gears) past all the beaches in the town, we finally arrived at Ocheuteal beach and got some deckchairs under cover. Went straight in for a swim as I was sweating more than I had ever sweated before, ever. The water was warm but not too clear, nice enough beach though. When me and Steve leave the water we find Ben has some new friends, the local kids selling fruit. They all speak very good English and are quite amusing, they tell Steve his hair looks very nice, very ‘up to date’. One of the girls asks if I can write a letter for her to the person sponsoring her for English lessons. She tells me what to write, it turns out that her sponsor may be stopping her money as her English teacher is away in Phnom Penh for a while getting a degree at the University, the letter is to show her sponsor that her English has improved and to ask if she can continue to get sponsorship for night school. I hope it works. My bike was noticeably worse than the other two and I found the hills a nightmare, I swapped with Ben for the last part of the ride and he agreed that I’d had a rough deal. We got back and have some food in the hotel restaurant, the waitress saw us looking at the giant gecko and tells us we can feed it anything ��" it’s no wonder it’s so massive. Went out in the evening for a few beers, bumped into Kevin a welsh lad we’d met earlier in the day and he joined us for a drink. A few beers Turned into a drinking session that went on till 3am, we were joined by some working girls at about 2am but they didn’t speak any English so not much banter, we got back to the hotel after leaving Kevin in the bar with the girls, the gate was locked. We squeezed through some how and were let in by the night watchman, very drunk although the beer didn’t seem that strong…


Wednesday 29th May 2002


Up late not feeling too bad, until Ben tells us he has done his speciality, pissing the bed. My bag has a wet strap as his piss was so big it went through the mattress and across the floor. The maid came in to change the sheets as usual, very funny for me and Steve but Ben is slightly embarrassed and has to leave the room,  we’re almost sure she noticed. We finally get out and have some food than head down to Victory beach for the last of the days sun (it was 4pm!) after some rockclimbing we get onto the slightly cleaner of the two beaches and have a swim before going back to the room. Out this evening to ‘the melting pot’ for some very good taco’s then we had a lazy night in the room. Heading back to Phnom Penh tomorrow.


Thursday 30th May 2002


Got up at 11 and checked out.  Took our bags and went for some food, the moto drivers who hang around outside the hotel followed us to the café and watched us eat, there were 4 of them and 3 of us, someone wasn’t getting paid. We finished our food and are surrounded, 3 of them grab our bags and put them onto their mopeds, Ben had got to know one of the drivers but it turned out he was the one who had missed out on the job, he wasn’t very happy. Down to the bus and back to Phnom Penh, another moto ride back to Number 10 where we get a room all 3 of us for $4 a night. We head back to ‘happy herbs’ pizza by moto, I get my pizza ‘happy’ but Ben and Steve ask for ‘very happy’ we eat them and get moto’s back to #10 before the effects kick in. We lay in the hammocks on the jetty over the lake for about 2 hours, Ben eats chips, a banana pancake, another pancake with lemon and sugar and he would have eaten more but they stopped serving food! We watched some of orange county again and then went to bed in the room that was more like a sauna, extremely warm and only one fan that was over Steves bed.


Friday 31st May 2002


Woke up and it felt like the room was on fire, it has a metal roof and it was a very sunny outside. We had some food and went out in the afternoon to get some passport photos for Ben and I wanted to get a roll of film developed, I had no idea which pictures it would be. Got Bens photos sorted and put my film in on a hour processing for $4 so we found some quality shops as they usually have air conditioning. Stopped at an electrical goods store for a cool down and I bought some headphones to go with my CD player as the ones I got with it were knackered. Spent the rest of the hour wait in an internet café, it started to rain really heavily though so we stayed there till it died off a bit before collecting the photos which turned out to be a mixture of Shanghai, Xian and Beijing, some really good shots of the acrobats, forbidden city and the terracotta army. Back at #10 we watched Senegal beat France 1-0 in the world cup before going to red corner for taco’s. The room has kept the heat again and it’s going to be an uncomfortable night, up at 6 anyway for the boat to Siem Reap.



Saturday 1st June 2002


Got up at 0615 and checked out before getting a minibus to the ‘express’ boat to Siem Reap. We got onto the boat which looks nothing like the one in the advert at the hostel, it looks a bit slower, and sure enough it was the 5 hour trip took 7 and a half hours. Was a nice change to the bus rides we’d become sick of.  We travelled down the river for a bit and then it opened out into a massive lake. We were dropped off on a floating jetty near the edge of the lake and I spot my name on a card held up by one of the guesthouses, the guys at #10 told us this would happen and that we could get a ‘free’ lift to their sister guesthouse in Siem Reap. All hell broke loose as we got onto the jetty, the locals swarm around everyone getting of the boat trying to get everyone to their hotel, we grabbed our bags and followed our man onto a very small boat that seemed rather unstable. One lad getting on was not happy with all the pushing and shoving and went totally mental at the locals turning the air blue, he finally got his bag off and waited for another boat. We motored on leaving a trail of dense black smoke behind us from the motor which sounds like its dying. Onto dry land and a moto, my driver is called Sandy and he handled his back pretty well considering he had my bag between his legs and the road wasn’t a road for the first 7km! The ride to Siem Reap was about 17km and took about 45 minutes, very hot I put sunscreen on while we were moving and came very close to falling off the back. Ended up at the Victory guest house , very similar to #10 but no lake. Ate some food and went for a walk around the town. Very nice place not very much to see though it’s pretty quiet.  We headed back to Victory, we’re off to the temples of Angkor tomorrow at 8am, we’ve hired a car and a driver/guide for $20 dollars a day, need to sort out our 3 day temple passes too for $40.


Sunday 2nd June 2002


Up at 8 and got some food then into the car for the first day of temple touring. It’s an old Honda Accord but it has air-con. Stopped at the ticket office and picked up our 3 day passes, they’re laminated plastic with our passport size photos in, look very official. We drove past Angkor Wat to the first stop of the day the ‘Bayon’. It’s a large square plan structure with 3 levels, each getting smaller towards the top where there are many pillars with large faces carved into the sandstone. Four faces on each pillar facing north, south, east and west. Quite impressive. Also a lot of detailed artwork carved into the lower levels. There were a lot of elderly ladies with shaven heads offering us incense to pray, I guess they were Buddhists. We had a walk around the surrounding area and see the terrace of elephants and the leper king, there is quite a lot of restoration work going on at the moment so some areas are closed or covered by scaffolding. Back into the car and on to a smaller temple that was slightly less impressive we had a quick look around and moved on. Next was Ta Prohm, a temple that is totally un-restored and has been taken over by the jungle.  Massive roots climb the walls some even growing through them, we are told that scenes from the film Tomb Raider were filmed here. This was the best site of the day I thought. Parts of the temple looked pretty dangerous and were falling down other parts were closed off but still got some very good photos. Next was Banteay Kdei, as we walked through the temple I spotted some local kids chasing a snake, as we get closer the snake is hiding in a crack in the stonework. After a bit of poking around with a sharpened stick (the kids did this we watched from a safe distance!) the snake came out fighting and was coshed over the head by one of the kids with a stick till it was dead, but still moving, one lad holds it up like a trophy for a photo. We left and walked over to a lake nearby where I realise I have dropped my sunglasses, probably back where we saw the snake. I ran back only to find that they are smashed on the ground (probably stood on by me!) and that the frame has been nabbed by the kids (an old guy told me this). It was raining by then and I was very wet and very pissed off, but shit happens so we move on to the next site, after a quick look around our driver takes us to a local crocodile farm where we get to hit crocodiles on the head with a bamboo stick until they try and bite it, very scary. Back at the Victory guesthouse we watched England draw 1-1 with Sweden, poor. Out to eat and use the internet then back to Victory early start again tomorrow.


Monday 3rd June 2002


Up and out for 9 for another day of temples, did the ‘grand tour’ today. Mostly similar to yesterday although not quite as big. In one we spent about 20 minutes trying to get a snake skin down from a wall with big sticks, also saw some impressive giant centipedes and spiders. The policemen around the temples run a sideline in police ID holders we had offers from them from $10 down to $3 but we decided against buying one for fear of being arrested for impersonating a police officer! Stopped for lunch at a restaurant near Angkor Wat and watched some videos on the temples, they were narrated in a hilarious ‘Hollywood’ style. After lunch we covered ourselves in sunscreen and as usual it started raining. Angkor Wat, the largest of the Angkor temples, was in fact not as big as we’d expected or as it looked from outside, but amazing non the less. We waited just inside the entrance for the thunder storm to pass and made our way in via a much needed toilet. We made our way through the corridors towards the central section, lots of very intricate carvings on the walls, in the centre we climbed the very steep steps to the highest part of temple and have a look over the rest of the temple. Made our way back down, this time holding the hand rail, still not the safest though. Walked around the temple grounds and another thunder storm passes over before we went back to the car and on to a landmine museum run by a local man who fought against the Khmer Rouge and whose own parents had been killed by them. Some nasty looking mines on display and thousands piled up in the museum (actually a tin shed) all 100% safe apparently and cleared from the surrounding area by the man himself. We left a donation to help him in his work as he is not funded by the Cambodian government. As the evening approached we went up a hill to view the sunset, an elephant ride to the top was $15 so we decided to walk, we did try running but didn’t get very far. Super stressed mental man from the boat is there and we all pretend to get very annoyed with each other to see what he does, no reaction. The sunset was good but it was slightly cloudy. We had some food and on the way back to the Victory we stopped at a 24 hour garage where I got some jelly sweets that make me a bit ill after I ate the whole bag, they were nice though. Last day of temples tomorrow.







Tuesday 4th June 2002


Up at 9 and sort out tickets to Bangkok then into the car for the last day of the temples. Our first stop was about 30km away, it is the site of some ancient riverbed carvings that supposedly ‘blessed’ the water that ran over them and into some of the temples. When we got there we got a ‘guide’ to show us up to the stream, the walk was never ending and very hot.  The carvings were impressive but we may have only got to see a small section, we would have asked the guide if there were any more but he was only really any use for showing us the way, his explanations were very quiet and mumbled, in fact we’re pretty sure he was speaking Cambodian.  We then headed down to a small waterfall, it was a welcome relief from the heat. There were loads of butterflies around and when we sat still they landed on us. It wasn’t long before I decided to stand under the waterfall, we didn’t bring trunks so I went in my pants, Ben and Steve weren’t far behind. I slipped on the rocks by the falls and slid down into a pool, this started a rock sliding craze. We got dry and walked back down to the car where we paid the guide a $1, more than he deserved really. Lady temple was next, a deep red sandstone temple covered in very detailed carvings. We ate in the temple grounds then got back in the car to drive to more temples, on the way our driver tells us to get out while we go over a bridge as it might not take the weight! It did look very unsafe. We also ran over a chicken, very flat. The Roulos group of temples were pretty disappointing compared with the previous 2 days so we returned to Ta Prohm from the first day. Had a good look around and took some more photos of the jungle taking over the temple. On the way in a policeman had offered to sell us the police ID holders, he had started at $10 each but in the end we got all 3 for $11, we also got him to pose for a photo with us. He also offered to sell us various items of his uniform! Back to Victory then out for food and internet before bed, bus to Bangkok tomorrow.


Wednesday 5th June 2002


Had to get up far too early for my liking and got onto a crap bus that is too small and rattles all over the road. No air-con and with the windows open and the dust getting in we looked like Arabs. At one point there was a very loud bang from underneath mine and Bens seat. We stopped and found the suspension was knackered, but the driver fixes it….using a block of wood. We drove on at a snails pace to a garage where a more suitable piece of wood is wedged into the broken suspension. A crawl to the border town of Poipet, it’s a bit like Widnes and it stinks, we walked to the border and got through no problems with our passports stamped. Onto the back of a pick up truck which took us to a restaurant just up the road where we got onto another bus. The new bus is a double decked has air-con and TV showing USA vs. Portugal in the world cup, Thai’s drive on the left and the roads are excellent, a welcome relief. Finally we arrived in Bangkok and made our way to the Kho San road, the street is extremely busy, full of people and small market stalls, lots of weirdos to one guy is only wearing trousers and has big clumps of hair missing he seemed to be trying to stop any cars from getting past, we stayed well away from him. Finally found a room in the New Joe guest house and went out for a drink at Gullivers Travellers bar. The Irish were in on mass celebrating their 1-1 draw with Germany. There were some ladyboys in the bar too, quite easy too spot some of them, there is also a VW camper van converted into an open top bar on the road that is staffed by ladyboys. There are a large number of local ladies looking for the dollars we play along and some of them sat with us and tried getting us up to dance, they also posed for pictures with us, Ben danced one legged as he had told the girls his other leg was broken. The bar shut at 2am and we left for bed.


Thursday 6th June 2002


Got up late today and went down to the Siam shopping centre, on the way in the taxi Ben tells us he needs the toilet in a hurry and as soon as the taxi stopped he was out and running for the nearest bog. When we found him again he told us he was in such a rush he ended up sitting on the squatter, not pleasant I’m sure. I bought some replacement Ray-Bans from a rather obvious ladyboy and Ben bought some shorts. We got a tuc-tuc back to Kho San, it was very noisy but not very fast. We went to Gullivers again this evening for a few beers.


Friday 7th June 2002


Got up late again and went out to visit the national museum. On our way there various local people tell us that everything is closed and then one particular guy stops us to tell us the same,  he seemed very friendly spoke very good English and had lots of information and even gave us some alternative sites to visit and marked them on the map in Steves lonely planet. He then offered to flag us a tuc-tuc down and said he could talk Thai to the driver and tell them where we wanted to go.  We decided we want to have a walk around for a bit so politely decline his offer, this seemed to upset the ‘friendly’  local’ somewhat and he calls us stupid before walking off. We then realised he was one of the local con men we had been warned about in the lonely planet, he was probably going to flag a tuc-tuc down and tell the driver to take us to one of his ‘bargain’ gem stores. We found the museum, it was open, and we had a look around. It was a bit boring really but only as we’d seen quite a lot of that sort of thing in Cambodia. Back at the New Joe England vs Argentina is on I make myself comfortable in front of the big screen on a comfy chair but Ben and Steve go to Gullivers to watch it. After the first half, and Owens dive, I joined them in Gullivers. We stood with the Argentina fans who are enjoying the game, there were a few England ‘fans’ who were getting a bit overexcited and singing songs about the Falklands and the IRA, a few bottles got smashed and as England win 1-0 the Argentines were escorted from the bar by the police, they had done nothing wrong though it was the dickheads in the England shirts causing all the trouble, we’re glad we didn’t buy the cheap Argentina shirts at the shopping centre yesterday. We left the bar and got some food, on the way back to Gullivers a girl sat on the steps outside shouts to us, it turns out to be Becky (an ex girlfriend of a lad from Uni). She joined us and we all got drunk in Gullivers, most of the dickheads from earlier had moved on. Gullivers closed and we found another bar playing R&B that shut not long after we got there so we head back to New Joe.



Saturday 8th June 2002


Went to see the royal palaces today, very shiny and grand but I think we’ve had enough temples to last us a lifetime now. We were going to go for a trip on the river but when we got to the ferry port it was chaos and a bit of a free for all so we didn’t bother with it. Back out this evening to the Lumpini stadium for some Thai boxing action, it was 600 baht to get in. The arena was disappointingly empty except one particular section where all the locals were stood waving their hands frantically at the ‘bookies’ (gambling is illegal In Thailand apparently!). There were 7 fights, all pretty good but not quite as hardcore as we’d expected, in fact I’d say the Khmer boxing we saw in Phnom Penh was better. After the boxing we wandered through Pat pong the sort of Soho area of Bangkok. We were offered ‘ping pong’ shows, full body massage and other services. It all seemed pretty dodgy and we didn’t go in any of the bars, mainly because we couldn’t see through the window.  At one point we found ourselves in a street full of ‘boy boy boy’ bars and didn’t stop to look! The whole area was pretty small, lots of ‘girls’ sat behind glass doors, they didn’t look too happy though, not as much fun as Amsterdam. We got a taxi back to the New Joe.


Sunday 9th June 2002


Up at 9am and down to a café to get some breakfast and watch the Tyson v Lewis fight, Lewis does better than I was expecting and it was worth getting up for, Tyson is not the force he once was though. Not a lot going on today so we got our train tickets to Chang Mai in the north and then had a walk around China town. Back into Gullivers and have a few beers, they seem to have more of an effect on me than Ben and Steve.  The professional ladies are in again. As we left we took the piss out of the local Tuc-tuc drivers who wait outside all day and night trying to get you to go with them to Pat pong for some ‘ping pong’.


Monday 10th June 2002


Went to Siam square again today to buy some clothes as mine are all dirty.  I got 2 t-shirts and some shorts for 400 baht. Got on the train this evening,  it looked like we’d be sitting all night but then we found the fold down beds. It’s a different layout to the trains in China and there is a bit more room.  The bunk has a curtain but the lights don’t go out.


Tuesday 11th June 2002


We arrived in Chang Mai at 0930 and were mobbed outside the station with offers from guesthouses, we chose the Libra representative and got a very pleasant free ride to the guesthouse in a 4wd. It’s a very nice place. We got a room and book one of the 3 day jungle treks through the guesthouse before going for a walk around the town. It’s very quiet compared with Bangkok, a pleasant change even though there is not much to do in the evening. We had a few beers and went to bed. The Libra has 2 guard dogs, both with muzzles on, we are warned not to go near them, although they don’t seem to move off the two chairs in the reception area.


Wednesday 12th June 2002


We got up and went out to an internet café for an hour before heading back to Libra to watch England ��" Nigeria, it was a very boring draw but we are through along with Sweden. Bit of a lazy day today didn’t do a lot apart from eat and read the papers. At 6pm we had a meeting about the trek where we pick up our back packs and meet the other people going with us, there are 12 of us in total, 6 Canadians (5 girls) 2 Scottish girls and an American girl (Sandra, Kelly, Vanessa, Lucy, Emily, Liz, Debbie, another girl and Cameron the Canadian lad). My back pack was a bit tatty so I swapped it for a better one that didn’t have quite as many holes. After the meeting we went down to the night market to have a look for some torches and then back to Libra and bed.


Thursday 13th June


Up at 0830 to pack our trek bags. We stored our own bags and money belts away and jumped onto the back of a pick up for a 3 hour ride to the start of the trek, it was very cosy with all 12 of us in the back and ‘coconut head’ our guide and the driver in the front. We stopped half way there for a break and I bought a torch. When we arrived at the start point for the first days walking we were introduced to our second local guide, Dr.O or the ‘Doctor’ (Dr.Opium to give him his full title). We had some lunch and began the trek to the first hill tribe village where we are staying tonight. Both Coconut head and the Doctor are completely crazy and like to shout a lot. On the way they taught us ‘hello’ for the tribe we’re staying with, ‘Obuya (pronounced Obujah) and the pair of them shout it all the way there. Dr.O who was leading and just in front of us sang to himself about opium and told us it is good and would help us to ‘sleep good’. The conflict with Burma is only 20km away on the border and every so often we heard the rumble of cannon fire. The walk was not too bad and after 2 hours we arrived at the river just outside the village, after wading across it was a short climb to the Lahu village. We dumped our bags in our hut and went for a swim in the river.  The water was red/brown but coconut head tells us its safe and it’s just the mud. The villagers cooked us a very spicy curry tonight and sold us some ‘traditional’ hats. After a very long game of cards everyone went to bed, even though it was still pretty early. Dr.O made a brief appearance earlier in the evening and offered us some of his opium in his hut but we politely declined his offer.


Friday 14th June 2002


We got up at 0830 and had a boiled egg before getting packed up for todays walking, the village cockerel had woken most of us up at about 4am and I heard quite a few strange noises during the night. It was a very tough 3 hour walk to the bamboo rafting, reminiscent of the Great Wall, I made it though. We stopped for lunch, some super noodles, and the Doctor had his pipe out and was lying down smoking some of his famous opium. He spotted us watching him and offered us a go, after a while Steve had a go and me and Ben were not far behind, although the rest of the group didn’t try it. It tasted a bit like liquorice and it didn’t seem to have much effect on us, but we all agreed we did feel a bit ‘different’. After lunch and the opium we got onto the bamboo rafts and set off down the river.  There were 4 to a raft plus one local who took control of the front stick and did most of the steering, we also had sticks to help guide the rafts and keep them away from the river bank. Ben was the first to fall off, Steve also had a dip and Kelly one of the Canadian girls fell in just after we had passed a heard of buffalo who were shitting in the river! At the end of our river ride we went down a weir, Coconut head had described it as a waterfall on the way but it was more like a weir, it was still quite scary as we approached, it did sound like a waterfall. From the rafts we walked to the second village, hello for them was ‘Acoobamo’ which sounded like ‘ A couple more’ (to be honest we could have been saying anything!). We dumped our bags and had some food, and as the night before the villagers brought out the tat to sell, we bought some catapults this time and tried to knock mangos from the trees, a village kid was a much better shot than us. A bit later we all had some beers and played a game called I have, I haven’t, it got quite late and most people including myself went to bed. Ben, Steve and Kelly stayed up drinking and got quite rowdy this was keeping a few of us awake and pissing me right off, after about 2 hours they fell into bed, I didn’t get much sleep as Ben was thrashing about. Ben wet the bed but denies this the next morning.


Saturday 15th June 2002


Got up and onto the elephants that were waiting for us just outside the village. Ben and Steve were feeling rough which seemed only fair as I was knackered from lack of sleep.  The elephants were pretty smelly but it beat walking and it was a good ride through the countryside. At one point the elephant Ben and Steve were on stopped for the biggest piss and shit I have ever seen. I found sitting on the elephants neck was more comfortable than the seat on its back. We left the elephants for the pick up truck and drove up to a cave, on the way we got stuck in a hole in the ‘road’ on a very steep section, we thought we’d have to get out but the driver managed to get it out. It was a short walk up to the cave and then a long walk, and in some parts climb, through it. Lots of bats, and bat shit, it stank. We saw a large spider at one point, about the size of my hand. Once out of the cave we had some lunch. Coconut head was smoking some weed in his home made bong made from a water bottle and some bamboo, he offered us a go on it, it was some very strong weed and we were in a right mess for the group photo that followed. Got back onto the pickup and enjoyed a very stoned ride back to the Libra guesthouse. After a shower and a change of clothes we sorted our laundry and watched England beat Denmark 3-0. Over to the riverside bar in the evening for a drink with a few of the trekkers before going back to bed.


Sunday 16th June 2002


Got up late today we were all pretty knackered from the trek. We got some food and went into the town to get a Thai massage, Cam joined us too. It was 100 baht for an hour, some of the stretches and the use of elbows and knees was pretty painful but we all felt much better after it. After the massage we went to Pizza hut I ordered a medium but as usual I didn’t finish it, Ben and Steve managed to put away a large on each! Cam went large but that beat him too. Back at the Libra in the evening we watched some of the world cup and got an early night.


Monday 17th June 2002


Got up at 7am to go to the elephant sanctuary, we are told by the woman at reception that the working elephant camp is better so we went there instead. We got a ride there with Libras own Tuc-tuc driver, he is a bit of a simpleton but got us there safely, despite his mobile phone distracting him every 2 minutes. Cost 80 baht to get in, there were loads of elephants, adults and babies, we got to feed them bananas. Ben held his bunch out and a large adult took the lot, me and Steve fed them one at a time. Watched the keepers washing the elephants in the river and then we headed for the main show arena where the elephants played the harmonica, took penalty kicks and painted using their trunks, most entertaining. On the way back to Libra we stopped at a snake farm and watched a show with cobras, pythons and a jumping snake. The show compare was hilarious, he kept shouting ‘Hey! Come back to the show!’ whenever the snakes left the arena and towards us in the crowd! We all posed for a photo with a python draped round our neck. Once back at Libra we watched a bit of football and I got some photos of the trek/elephants and snakes developed. Had a lazy night tonight didn’t do much really except use the toilet quite a bit!


Tuesday 18th June 2002


Checked out of libra today. Ben and Steve were doing a Thai cookery day and were out for 9 but I stayed in bed until 1130 then got up and went for a walk into town. On my way to get some food I put another roll of film in to be developed and used the internet for an hour, my cash card finally worked in one of the ATM’s too. Collected my photos, they were from the Thai boxing, royal palace pat pong and some of the trek, some good photos. Back at the Libra I waited for the two Jamies to finish cooking and we hung around the Libra till it was time to catch the train back to Bangkok. The guesthouse gave us a lift to the station. We had a good sleep on the train.


Wednesday 19th June 2002


Arrived in BKK early and hung around in the station for a bit, found somewhere to store our bags and had a KFC.  There was a very strange moment when some music started playing and everyone in the busy station stopped and stood in silence, we later realised it must have been the Thai national anthem. We walked down to the Siam centre via an internet café and watched Scooby Doo in the cinema. Cinema was good and not too busy as it was an early showing, a picture of the Thai royal family appeared on the screen before the film and the music from earlier began to play, everyone stood up in the cinema! Film was ok, and it wasted a couple of hours. Had a very boring afternoon, got a taxi to pat pong and went round various shopping centres. Had a pizza hut before returning to the station to pick up our bags and get the train to Surat Thani. Same sort of train as before. Slept ok.


Thursday 20th June 2002


We got off the train just as the sun is coming up in Surat
Thani, got straight onto a bus which took us to the boat to the
island of Koh Samui. We arrived on the island and took a pickup ride to one of the beaches with a coral reef just off shore.  Booked in to our beach huts (they were right on the beach) and went snorkelling on the reef in the afternoon. Very good reef loads of fish. We saw a puffer fish and a small moray eel. Ben got the fear about sharks and we came back in early. Headed down to the beach front restaurants for some food in the evening then walked into the town. Plenty of bars and quite of few ladyboys, also some bars around a boxing ring. Many local ladies ‘working’ behind the bars. We had a drink and then started to walk back, it was early though so me and Steve went back to have a laugh with the girls at the pink lady bar,  one of the barmaids swears she is a post-op ladyboy, if she was we couldn’t tell! Played connect 4 and Jenga with the pink ladies and at one point I challenged one of them to a fight in the boxing ring, she agreed and after a few kicks between my legs I decide she won. We headed back to the beach huts and get offers of massage from a girls on the back of mopeds. Don’t think Ben would have been too pleased if we’d excepted…


Friday 21st June 2002


Got up and had a swim and a snorkel before watching the England Brazil game, we watched the first half in a restaurant then the second half in Mcdonalds as it had air con. England lost but we are not really bothered. In the evening we went over to Chewang beach to watch some Thai boxing, the posters in town said it was a big fight with ‘Alex from Denmark’ we bought tickets at the venue and are then told the big fight is off. The rest of the bill was ok though, most of the fighters were about 8 years old, billed as ‘superboy’ fights, they were hilarious at times. In one of the mens fights it got stopped after one fighter took about 8 kicks to the same knee while his opponent chased him around the ring. He could hardly walk at the end. After the boxing we went to the ‘reggae bar’ nearby and had a few more drinks, lots of working girls in there and loads of drunk people trying to dance on the stage, we left and on the way out we watched some drunk on a motorbike doing donuts in the carpark while the local police looked on, I doubt he made it home without crashing. Got a taxi back to the huts and bed.


Saturday 22nd June 2002


Got up late and did very little all day except swim and lay on the beach, also got some tickets for a the boat to Koh Pha Ngan in the morning.


Sunday 23rd June 2002


Got up early and a taxi down to the pier. Onto the boat to Koh Pha Ngan, it was extremely busy as it is the full moon party tomorrow night. Some people on the boat looked like they’d been travelling for too long, one looked like mr Cadburys parrot with coloured feathers weaved into his matted hair. Got to the island and got a pickup to the sun view bungalows on the north of the island (Had Rin beach site of the full moon party is on the south side). Booked into a bungalow and went snorkelling on the beach below. Another good reef with even more fish than Koh Samui, however it was more of a challenge getting to the water! Went down to the ‘Beach Bar’ in the evening, Charlie the barman sells more than just beer… The bar is only lit by UV lights and the walls and ceilings are covered in UV paintings. We played a card game called arsehole with a Swiss guy called Oliver, I was the arsehole for a few games but then had a run of ‘king’ games.


Monday 24th June 2002


Got up very late as we will be up most of the night for the full moon party. Bought some ‘magic mushroom’ omelettes off a guy who works at sun view, they had no effect. Got a very scary pick up ride to Had Rin beach, some VERY steep roads. Once we’d battled through the crowds we arrived on the beach for the party. It was not like I’d expected it to be, it was more like a busy resort beach with all the bars trying to play their music louder than the next. There were some speakers on the beach playing proper ‘full moon trance’ but they were not loud enough. We got some buckets of vodka, redbull and coke and sat on the beach drinking them. I spotted Paul Ino a lad I knew from home, introduced him to Ben and Steve and get some more drink. I somehow lost Ben and Steve after they said they were going to a drum and bass bar, I did look for them in there but there was no sign.  I joined up with Ino again and danced on a table (fell off) on the beach. I was feeling quite rough so I had a few more redbulls but these only made me worse. Ben and Steve finally re-appeared hours later with no t shirts on covered in fluorescent paint and wearing rubber masks of Osama bin laden and Saddam Hussein. They claim to have been in the  dab bar all night, which may well be true as I wouldn’t have seen them in the masks! I left on my own about 7am and got a taxi back to the bungalow I was pretty pissed off with the other two and feeling pretty tired.


Tuesday 25th June 2002


Got up as late as possible and just stayed around the sun view resort, used the internet and sorted a ticket out for the boat to Koh Tao tomorrow. Was supposed to go an meet up with Paul in the evening but I was too knackered so didn’t bother.


Wednesday 26th June 2002


Still felt tired today but we got up early for the boat. There were a few touts from various dive resorts on the boat over to Koh Tao, we chose ‘Buddha View’ and got a free lift  from the pier to the resort. Me and Steve signed up on the PADI open water course and Ben signed up for some fun dives tomorrow. Our PADI course started today with some video watching, quite funny really the video was really bad ‘Fact, scuba divers have more fun than regular people’. After the vids we headed down to the beach BBQ and plenty of real meat and fish for a change. Seems a very friendly place.


Thursday 27th June 2002


Me and Steve got up pretty early today as we had some ‘lectures’ in one of the air-conditioned classrooms, all very simple stuff. Ben stayed in bed as he was not diving till the afternoon. We had a bit of a quiz and then a break for lunch before our first dive…….. in the swimming pool.  Even though we had done the try a dive in Vietnam the pool was a good place to practice for emergencies. Our instructor is called Alex a very skinny German, and surprisingly quite funny, his assistant was called Sven, he looks like Curly Watts and seemed to be totally clueless, apparently he is training to be a dive instructor in Thailand because he broke his leg badly in his native Denmark and he suffers too much pain in the cold because of the pins in his leg. After our pool session we waited for Ben who was out diving and then had the BBQ on the beach again. We just relaxed and had an early night tonight as we’re up early again for more lectures.


Friday 28th June 2002


More learning and some tests in the morning and then lunch. In the afternoon we got a pick up ride down to the pier for our first dive in the sea. We sailed around the island to Mango bay. We got kitted up and into the water. Did a few exercises on the surface first (BCD on/off, weight belt on/of) then we dived to the bottom of the bay for some more exercises (mask filled/emptied, regulator out/in and some fin pivots) After the exercises we had a look around the coral and rocks in the bay. Some cleaner fish seemed to enjoy the taste of my scabs and it was very distracting and sometimes painful when they had a bite. After the dive we did some snorkelling around the bay. We didn’t go that deep today but it was still a good dive, our group all seem quite competent. Beach BBQ in the evening and an early night as diving first thing tomorrow.


Saturday 29th June 2002


Got up at 7am, checked our equipment and got in the pickup for the ride down to the pier. The first dive site of the day was in lighthouse bay, Alex told us our group was so good in Mango bay we would only have to do a couple of exercises and the rest of the dive would be a fun dive. Water was visibly deeper than yesterday and we descended on a rope to 12m. The visibility was good and there were plenty of fish to see. Steve had used all of his air in the pool but we were all ok with our air today. We were down for 46 minutes and then back onto the boat and over to the Japanese garden dive site. Down to 10m this time for 45 minutes, lots of coral and fish on this dive, we also did some navigation exercises on the bottom using compasses. Visibility was good again and we could see a number of other dive schools were using the site too. Back at B.V in the afternoon we did our final ‘exam’ and I passed with 49/50. We met up with Ben and went snorkelling in ‘shark bay’. We had some trouble getting out into the bay over the coral reef as it was pretty shallow but once out into the deeper water we saw our first black tipped reef sharks, they were pretty small though (3 feet). After a while though we spotted a huge one, it looked about 6 feet long and fat, it was swimming on the bottom about 6m below us. We swam after it but it disappeared back out into the darkness. On our way back in we swam with a hawksbill turtle that was hiding in the reef. A great afternoon. BBQ again tonight and a few white Russian cocktails on the beach. Early start again tomorrow.


Sunday 30th June 2002


Up at 7am again and down to the pier and onto the boat. We headed out to the open sea of the north west of Koh Tao to the Chumpon pinnacle dive site. We all got into the water using the ‘James Bond’ entry as our dives were filmed today by a girl called Ruth, we can buy copies if we want. All in safely we looked down and couldn’t see the bottom! It was 37m down, We could however see the pinnacle which is a massive underwater rock formation about 10m down. We did a free descent to 18m and spent 40 minutes swimming around the pinnacle. Saw loads of fish including a large school of small barracuda. Got back on the boat to the ‘Twins’ dive site another rock formation, only 12m this time. On the bottom we took our masks off and put sunglasses on for the camera, we also blew ‘smoke’ rings with air, mine were crap for the video but I managed a couple of good ones when she had stopped filming me! We saw a blue spotted ray on this dive and Alex also showed us some clown fish that he had ‘trained’ to take shells out of his hand. Another good dive (46 minutes) and our last one on the course, we were all presented with our certification as ‘open water divers’. In the evening we went out drinking with Steve (an Irish lad from our group) and his girlfriend, also Rob and Simon from our group ( their mate Tom who was also in our group had come down with Dengue fever on day 2 of the course!) they were all from Plymouth Uni. We had some drinks in the Sea Monkey and later on at the Whitening Bar. Late night.


Monday 1st July 2002


We got up late today and didn’t do any diving instead we sorted out our visa extensions with the stoned mr.J  at the local shop, we also changed some travellers cheques. Our passports are not back from the mainland until 4th July some and Steve signed up for the Advanced open water course, Ben booked some more fun dives as he had done the advanced course while we were doing the open water. Ben also did a shit in a Pringles tin today, no idea why but it was very funny.


Tuesday 2nd July 2002


Another early start today as it was the deep dive and the underwater navigation dive. First dive site of the day was Hin Wong, we did a test to see if we were affected by nitrogen narcosis on the deep dive by doing a timed calculation on the boat and one at 30m down. I had trouble with my sum on the boat and then we all got ready to descend to the bottom at 30m. There was a thermo cline at about 27m and it was very cold with poor (3 feet) visibility. We did the second sum and I thought I’d done better. Only had 10 mins on the bottom as air goes very quickly then up to 20m for 17 minutes having a look around, visibility was back up to ~20m there. We saw a mappa puffer fish a razor fish, fusiliers and some barracuda. After a safety stop we surfaced and got back on the boat. Our instructor Ricky (full name Ricky Martin) told us our sum results, I was incorrect on the surface in a long time but correct at 30m in a shorter time, think it’s safe to say I had no narcosis! Our second dive was at Mango Bay again, 10m for 37 minutes we did navigation using kick cycles and a compass. After doing reciprocal heading and a square we set off in our buddy teams (I was with Steve) on our own for a 26min dive. We basically swam in a big square around the coral in the bay. The cleaner fish were having a munch on my scabs again. A very enjoyable dive as we got to do our own thing. Rob and Simon had got lost and surfaced to find the boat but we found ourselves back at the anchor line with no problems. We went swimming in shark bay again and chased a 2m black tip around the reef, couldn’t get close enough for a decent photo though and I kept getting cramp in my legs. Had an early night as we’re up at 7am again tomorrow.


Wednesday 3rd July 2002


Up early and down to the pier onto the boat to Southwest pinnacle, good visibility again. We did our multi level and peak performance buoyancy dives today. First one was the multi level dive 24m for 10mins 16m for 15mins and 12m for 10 mins, no exercises just a cruise around the pinnacle. Alex was our instructor again today so we had a laugh on the boat. Saw a Trigger fish (Alex doesn’t like them after one attacked him so we stayed well back) also a massive brown marbled grouper. Second dive of the day was the PPB at Aow  Leuk Bay. We did some fin pivots and hovering then while the other groups stayed around the bay Alex took us out to some rocks where a few days earlier he had seen a rare Stonefish. We all had a good look around but couldn’t see one, it was a good dive though, one of the best so far. We saw a file fish, a small blue spotted ray and some very brave clown fish. 12m for 40 mins. Went back to BV and had a rest and some food before our night dive. We headed down to the pier half an hour before sunset and sailed to the red rock dive site. Our instructor for the dive was Frank. Just as the sun was setting we got in the water with our torches and descended, it was not totally dark yet but we still needed the torches. We swam around the rock and saw some rays and puffer fish then as it got darker we swam off into the surrounding rocks and coral. Frank took us through an underwater cave that was quite a tight squeeze for about 30m (Frank told us later on the boat back that he knew we would be going through the cave but didn’t want to tell us in case we didn’t like the idea!) Saw some shrimps and crabs in the cave, also with the torches off we could see the phosphorescence when we disturbed the water. We also found a baby scorpion fish  and a cuttle fish. This was probably the best of the advanced course dives. Back on the boat we had some beers we had brought along on the way back to the pier. Went out this evening to a ‘house party’ in a very expensive bungalow rented out by the big blue dive school, took us ages to find it and we saw a snake on the path on the way down there. Had a funny night drinking with the Buddha view and Big Blue guys and girls. The walk home was even funnier, we got lost in the pitch black several times and then Damien one of the Plymouth uni lads appeared from the beach where he had been sick all night. We got back at 3am.



Thursday 4th July 2002


Got up late today and collected our passports (with visa extensions) from mr.J and bought some tickets for the ‘night boat’ to Surrat Thani tonight. We cleaned up the 9 days of rubbish that had collected under our beds, it filled a bin bag and more. We got a taxi down to the pier and the night boat. Made our way up to the very crampt sleeping deck, only about 4 foot high. Tried to sleep on a stinking mattress and was woken at one point by a cockroach crawling over my back, a very unpleasant night, we got into Surrat Thani at 5am.


Friday 5th July 2002


Off the boat feeling very dirty and tired, got a tuc tuc to the bus station and waited there for the bus to Krabbi at 7am. The bus had very efficient AC and we were all freezing cold by the time we arrived at Krabbi bus station. We eventually decided to make our way to Railay and got a taxi (via various other places) to the long tail boat ferry. Eventually got into a long tail boat and it started to rain really heavily, we all got soaked. Had to wade in the last 20 metres on the beach at east Railay, got a room at the ‘Diamond Cave’ resort. Had fun trying to put the mosquito nets up, Steve used my umbrella to prop one end of his net up, then steels a broom to use instead. After some food we went out to look around and find the south beach. We got some directions from one of the other resorts toy town security guards and found it, looked good. On the way back it was getting dark and we heard some very strange noises coming from the trees above us on the cliff path, we found out later it was monkeys. A hot night under the nets.


Saturday 6th July 2002


We got up pretty late and went out to find the West beach. Arrived there just as a storm was hitting, it was raining pretty hard and the wind was strong too so we sat in one of the posh hotels on that side of Railay until it died down a bit. Took a walk down the path we walked last night and saw loads of monkeys (noises last night) in the trees above. The sea was very rough and it was still windy so we headed back to our room before it started raining again. Walking past the restaurant we spotted the Plymouth Uni lads (Rob Si Tom Ed and Damien) from B.V. We met up with them in the evening for a drink at the Gecko bar, a few Changs later (Carlsberg for me!) most of the lads left but Simon stayed with us and we had a few more before heading back to the resort. A good night.


Sunday 7th July 2002


Woke up late and I felt OK but Ben and Steve both said they have the worst hangover ever and feel terrible, we had some breakfast then they both went back to bed, I just chilled out and in the afternoon I went down to the beach for a swim, Steve came too but he still felt bad, Ben stayed in bed. Some big waves (not that big really) and I had a swim for a bit before we walked back to find Ben still in bed, still feeling rough. In the evening we had some food and then Ben and Steve went to bed pretty early. I went down to use the internet for a while and listened to some CD’s. They both now think it is more than just the dirty Changs



Monday 8th July 2002


Up quite late today and they are feeling quite ill now and stayed in the room most of day. In the afternoon I went down to the beach and bumped into the lads. Did some bodysurfing and then went back to get changed to climb up to the lagoon with the Plymouth lads. A sign at the foot of the climb warned us that only experienced climbers with proper equipment should attempt the high viewpoint climb, so lucky we were doing the ‘easier’ route. It was VERY steep and VERY muddy, we eventually got to see the lagoon but only from quite a distance as the last 2 descents looked very difficult and a bit dangerous without ropes, plus we didn’t want to end up having to climb back out in the dark on our return leg. On the way down Rob had to stop for a crap, I also managed to rewind the film in Simons camera by pressing the wrong button. When I got back to the room Ben and Steve are still not very well but we go down to the restaurant anyway have some food and then watch lord of the rings (I slept through most of it!) before heading back up to bed.


Tuesday 9th July 2002


Got up about 11 and they both still felt ill, Ben said he had a very bad toothache too so got his emergency dental kit out. He soaked a swab in clove oil and bit down hard on it, this nearly makes him spew as it tastes disgusting. He still had the toothache. Steve was also feeling rough but we went down to the beach leaving Ben in the room. Met up with the lads and just lay about on the beach and had a swim. We returned to the room where Ben was still having tooth problems. In the evening we all went down to eat there was also a fire show on in the restaurant, 2 lads and 2 girls twirling burning sticks and balls on chains, pretty good really. After the show we went back up and to bed.


Wednesday 10th July 2002


Up late Ben was feeling a little better but still had a toothache, he did his clove oil trick again. We all went down to the beach, the Plymouth lads are there again. After a couple of hours the tide went out and revealed a natural causeway to an island just off shore. Me Steve Rob and Ed made our way over to it and did some climbing, there was another bloke doing some proper climbing a lot higher than us though! Rob and Ed stayed to watch the loony climber while me and Steve headed back to the beach. On the way Steve mooned a Japanese guy filming 2 of his mates just in front of us, he seemed to find it funny though. In the evening we went out to next doors restaurant and watched ‘Bad company’ before saying goodbye to the Plymouth uni lads who are leaving early tomorrow.



Thursday 11th July 2002



We got up and packed our bags before checking out at 12. Down onto the beach and wade out to the long tail boat back to Krabbi town. We arrived to find the hostel we wanted to stay in was full but they gave us a free lift down to their other ‘hostel’, it looked more like a safe house, luckily we’re only here 1 night. We found a local post office and posted off our PADI certification to Australia. We went out to a restaurant for some food and were served by a very stroppy ladyboy. Got an early night as we’re up at 0630 for the bus to Malaysia.


Friday 12th July 2002


Up at 0630 and down to the shop where we got onto a very small bus to the Malaysian border, we had to change buses at one point but we eventually made the border crossing and after a quick check of our bags for any ‘contraband’  we made our to customs and got through with no hassle. Once we were out on the Malaysian side we tried to find a bus to Kota Bharu, the local taxi drivers told us we just needed to wait for the bus at the side of the road. 2 very full buses went past about 20 minutes later and didn’t even stop so we jumped a taxi instead for 20RM. Loads of old Toyota and Datsun cars on the roads, all with big exhausts and chrome alloy wheels, plenty of Protons about too. Arrived in KB and made our way towards the guesthouses on the map in the LP guide, en route we were stopped by a tout from the KB backpackers lodge, he seemed like good bloke so we followed him to the hostel just around the corner bang in the centre of the town and got a triple room. The tout turns out to be an absolute nut case but really funny, he keeps quoting Ali G and scenes from Lock Stock, he also sings a lot. He had some good advice for us about taking some booze to the Perenthian islands as apparently the drinks are very expensive once there, he offered us his bottle of Watson’s extra dry gin but we decided to try and find our own. He also asked us if we had ‘secrets’ which threw us a bit, until we realised he was actually saying cigarettes!  We headed out in the evening to a fast food place called A&W they sold good root beer, also had a look around the night market. No sign of any alcohol anywhere and all the locals appear to be Muslim. We had a look around ‘the Store’ a massive air conditioned department store that sold everything under the sun, except booze. We retired to bed after watching a very bad film.


Saturday 13th July 2002


Up around 12 and we had a walk around the town, this is probably the smelliest place we have been so far (except Chonquing of course, that would take some beating). Not really any tourist attractions, Ben has also developed a rash but we didn’t have any luck finding a doctors, we did find a dentists but his toothache has now gone! This evening we went out to the central market and had a look around, Ben and Steve had some food there, I didn’t like the look of it so went for a mozza burger at A&W instead. Not long after his ‘curry pancake’ Ben had to run back to the room and use the toilet. We left it a bit late to go out to find some booze to take with us to the islands, and it was also pissing down very hard, the drains which are pretty big were all full to overflowing and the local kids were playing in them ,can’t be healthy! We walked around for ages looking for a shop that sold alcohol but couldn’t find one, and all the Chinese owned shops that did were shut. We went to bed after sorting out a wake up call for 0830.



Sunday 14th July 2002


Got woken up at 0830 and checked out before getting a taxi to the boat to the Perenthian Islands. On the boat over we saw loads of flying fish and also noticed how clear the water looks. We had not planned where we were going to stay and after staying on the boat for the Coral Bay and D’lagoon stops we finally got off at Long beach. We had to get a small speed boat in to the shore where we had some lunch before looking for a room. We found everywhere is full except a very bad chalet for 60RM a night, we had to take it or it would have been a night sleeping on the beach. There is no electricity until 6pm and more mosquitoes here than we have seen the entire trip so far. We dumped our bags in the chalet and went for a snorkel just off the beach. This is the clearest water we have seen yet and there is a coral reef just off the shore at our end of the beach. We saw a few Trigger fish some puffers and a massive grouper. After a couple of hours we headed back in. I bought some crisps and biscuits and then went back to the chalet. In the evening we walked the full length of the beach after eating some very good fish at the BBQ put on by our ‘resort’. Had a look in some of the bars and also the prices for scuba dives. On the way back to the chalet we had a very expensive small can of Tiger beer, we agree getting drunk is not going to be an option! We arrived back at the rooms and walked in, turned the lights on and as I walked into mine and Steves room I found a rat, I shouted RAT! Ben and Steve assumed I was joking but it then ran past me over Steves foot around Ben and under a door out onto the balcony. It had eaten through my crisps which I then threw out but it hadn’t touched the biscuits. We netted up and felt the awesome power from the ceiling fan as it turned at the rate of about 3 revolutions per minute. Very very hot night.


Monday 15th July 2002


I got up and went snorkelling again, this time I took my underwater camera, Steve joined me after a while and we swam a bit further around the bay. We saw a couple of blue spotted rays this time and loads of parrot fish. After about an hour we came back in. In the afternoon we got a speedboat around to D’lagoon as we had heard it was the best site for snorkelling on the island (we are staying on Perenthian Kecil one of the 2 perenthian islands) when we got in the water is was not as clear as when we sailed past the first day but still worth it. We saw a big bumphead parrot fish amongst other things. We got the speedboat back to Long Beach and had the BBQ again this evening, sword fish this time. Had a walk along the beach again and Ben used the very expensive internet, we also watched the film ‘Changing Lanes’. We headed up to ‘Spice Divers’ and signed up for 2 fun dives tomorrow, one of which is a wreck dive! We then returned to the chalet to inspect for rats, I find they have been back at some point and finished off the biscuits, unfortunately the biscuits had been inside my bag and the little fuckers had eaten their way in through the bag! No rats about so we went to bed for another very hot night under the nets.


Tuesday 16th July 2002


Up early and down to the Spice Divers for our first dive of the day which was the wreck dive. We checked our equipment and had a briefing from our divemaster ‘superlicious Cindy’ a young Canadian girl who seemed a bit dizzy but was very nice. We got into the speed boat, (very different from the big dive boats on Koh Tao) and headed out back towards the mainland. We reached the wreck which was marked with a danger buoy. We rolled off into the water and found there was a very strong surface current so we had to hold on to the boat and descend via the buoy line. Looking down into the deep the wreck looked massive (it was actually 60 metres long) it is a cargo ship that sunk in Jan of 2001. Visibility was about 10 metres. The ship was lying on its side and we did about 5 lengths of the deck at different depths. Saw lots of baby fish, some bamboo sharks and a scorpion fish, at either end and at the top of the wreck the current was very strong but sheltered behind it as we were it was ok. We also saw a cuttle fish and some squid. We surfaced using the buoy line again and climbed back into the speed boat back to LB, the kid who was with the other dive master ‘musky’ was sea sick on the way back, it was pretty rough with some very bumpy waves. We got back and cleaned our equipment before having some lunch, we also got our dive logs signed off and stamped with the ‘superlicious Cindy stamp. The next dive was at the dive site called ‘the Temple of the Sea’ and we were told it was one of the best dive sites off Kecil. It was a pinnacle down to about 24m that rose out of the water. It was wider at the bottom than at the top with very good visibility on the side that was protected from the current. Loads of fish there, Triggers a Bat fish, two massive stone fish and a few Bamboo sharks, a scorpion fish, puffers, a massive grouper and some rays, an excellent dive. Our dive master Frieda found my hand signal for the grouper very amusing.. Back at LB we got our dive logs signed off and paid for the day before returning to our resort for the BBQ again. Went out tonight and saw that MIB 2 was on so we got some mars and snickers milkshakes and watched it, was about as good a MIB. Back to our chalet for our last sweaty night, leaving tomorrow.


Wednesday 17th July 2002


We checked out at 12 and sat in the restaurant watching the sea for our return boat ( we had a return ticket but didn’t know which boat was ours!)  Some lads were waiting for a room and were offered ours, I warned them about the rats/mosquitoes/heat but they like us 2 days before had no choice and took it. We spotted a boat coming into the bay and quickly got a speed boat out to it. Amazingly it was our boat. Back on the mainland we got a taxi back to Kota Bharu and into the same room at the KB backpackers. We enquired about the jungle train and we found out we need to be up at 0430 to catch it! We went out and got some money and had some food before returning to the hostel to watch Rush Hour and Training Day, then back out for more food before going to bed early as we would be getting a wake up call at 0430.


Thursday 18th July 2002


Woken at 0430 and out to a taxi to the train station to catch the ‘jungle train’ to Meila where we got off and onto a minibus which took us to a jetty on a river where we got onto a very long and narrow boat for a very enjoyable 3 hour river cruise to the village where we got a triple room at the River View ‘Resort’. We went out for food  and then had a look around the minimart before going to bed, no beer here either by the look of things!


Friday 19th July 2002


Got up at about 11 and had breakfast, Ben kept a lookout for his brother Nick and his mates who should be arriving some time today. I used the internet and by the time I returned Ben said his brother had arrived. Nick and his mates Oli, Dan and Rob joined us at our resorts restaurant after checking in at the one next door. After eating we decided to go for a walk into the jungle to the ‘bat’ caves, we tried to get our park permits and camera permits but the office was shut so we went off into the jungle illegally! After a long walk with some more ‘great wall’ moments we reached the caves. Looking in we couldn’t see much there but after we crawled and climbed through the first section of very low caves we reached the bats, thousands of them, all hanging from the roof of the cave, very smelly. Our noise and torches caused many of them to take flight, one flew into Nicks face at one point. Some very steep and slippery climbs followed using ropes covered in bat poo, we eventually reached the end of the line and made our way out into the light. We had seen nobody else inside the caves but there was a Japanese tour group arriving as we left, some of them dressed in all white (we got absolutely filthy!) and others a bit on the heavy side, we were pretty sure they wouldn’t all manage to get through the opening section. Oli, Rob and Dan set off back to the resorts at a fast pace and us 3 and Nick took it easy but managed to get lost and end up on the river at a jetty where a boat had just pulled up. We managed to get a bargain 20RM ride up the river back to the village where we waited for the other 3 to arrive, looking a bit confused. Later in the afternoon we all went ‘rapids shooting’ in rubber inner tubes, they weren’t the most rapid of rapids but it was a good laugh,  Ben and Nick made a slow start and Nick also got hit by a passing boat but about 2 hours later we jumped a boat back upstream to the village. We all went out on a mission to find beer this evening , the best deal we could find was 8RM a can so we had 5 each delivered by a man on a moped. We sat outside drinking till late before going to bed.


Saturday 20th July 2002


We got up pretty early and went down to the jungle canopy walkway, it was about a half hour walk through the jungle and when we arrived there were already about 200 people waiting to go up. The book to sign up for it was 3 pages long before us, we waited around for our turn but Oli, Dan and Rob had to leave on the 2pm boat so they left before we went up, nick went with them but he managed to get back before our group had been called! We finally got the call and made our way up. It was very high and seemed to move about quite a bit, we had to stay 5 metres apart on the walkways, 10 metres on some longer sections, can’t imagine they let many fatties on it! We made our way down at the end and headed back to our room, Nick moved his stuff in too and we all went out to find a waterfall. We paid a boat to take us up the river to the next village/resort and paid for the way there, the guy said he didn’t want paying for the return yet as he may ‘forget’ to come back, we told him to pick us up at 7pm anyway. We made our way into the jungle following signs for the waterfall. Some of the signs however where lying on the floor having fallen from the trees or posts! We eventually came across a very small waterfall and pool, we got into the water and swam over to the fall. Only one other lad was there and he climbed up onto a tree that had fallen across the pool and jumped in. We asked if he touched the bottom and he said he hadn’t so we all gave it a go. We swam about for half an hour then just before we left Nick attempted a somersault off the log but didn’t quite pull it off, I gave it a go and did it but slapped my back on the water as I landed, then Ben gave it a go but ends up just jumping in and hitting his foot on the bottom. We walked back to the jetty and waited for the boat which never showed, but we’d sort of guessed that anyway. The problem was though it was now dark and there were no other boats on the river. We told the staff at the resort by the jetty who agreed it was indeed a problem, we asked if we could borrow some of the rubber tubes we had done the rapids shooting in to float back to our resort on but they just laughed, we however were well up for it! Instead we negotiated through a middle man for a lift back in a four wheel drive through the jungle. Eventually we agree on 60RM (£10) as it is the only option really. 60RM well spent though we got a very enjoyable ride through the jungle in the dark, the driver even offered to take us to a shop that sold some beer, but sadly we had no money left as we’d spent it all paying for the lift back! We got back and went out for some food then played some cards before going to bed, Nick slept on his, Bens and Steves sleeping bags on the floor.


Sunday 21st July 2002


Up and checked out early but left our bags with reception so we could go for a short walk in the jungle. On the walk Nick told us how he is glad we have seen no snakes as he has a phobia about them. We eventually reached a clear section of the normally muddy brown river and Nick waded in to clean his shorts, about 15 metres downstream we see a green tree snake swimming across the river, Nick didn’t seem that bothered by it though. We headed back to the resort picked up our bags and got the boat back down the river to the bus to Jerantut where we stayed in a hostel Nick stayed in before he met up with us. A very camp member of staff was very happy to see Nick again as Oli, Rob and Dan had left there that morning for Thailand. We went out and ate at KFC and then bought some gin and tonic (LA gin and juice for me). Back at the hostel we asked the woman who runs the internet if we could watch the F1 grand prix to which she replied  NNNNnnnnooooooOOO!! The hostel does not allow alcohol to be consumed on the premises so we transferred our gin and tonic into empty evian bottles and drank it whilst watching True Lies, then we managed to get the F1 on anyway. We finished our drinks downstairs and watched Schumacher win his 5th championship, then went out to get some food. We got a taxi down to the Chinese restaurants and ordered, I didn’t eat but ordered some Special Brew (Carlsberg), before the food arrives though Ben slumped down with his head on the table and proceeded to cover the floor and his shoes with gin and tonic vomit. We left without eating and went to the restaurant over the road were we ordered again, having to keep our drinks under the table as it was a Muslim establishment. Ben felt much better at this point and had some food, we then walked back to the hostel said goodbye to Nick, who was leaving for Thailand on the 3am train (trying to make the full moon party on the 24th). Off to bed all very drunk.


Monday 22nd July 2002


Got up a bit late but I didn’t feel too bad, checked out and went down to get the bus to Kuala Lumpur. We arrived late afternoon and got a room at the Backpackers lodge in Chinatown. We went out to eat and then had a look around for a cinema after wandering around for a couple of hours we found one but it was showing MIB 2 which we’ve seen. Bumped into a homeless guy who speaks excellent English and tells us everything we should do in KL, he also sold us one of his maps which was just a free map you can pick up anywhere but with his extra information written on too. Later in the evening we had a look around the night market in Chinatown, loads of VCD’s, watches, CD’s and clothes. Beer is also available in bars and shops (bit expensive in bars though) I bought some CD’s and we headed back to the hostel.


Tuesday 23rd July 2002


We got woken up by about 11 by very noisy traffic outside our window. Went out for a look around this side of the city, our first stop was the tallest flagpole in the world by the cricket pitch and the national history museum then we had a walk over to the national mosque, then the police museum which had a large display of guns and rifles used by the Malaysian police. We then returned to Chinatown where I collected the photos I had developed from my disposable camera they were of Vietnam/Cambodia and some from Thailand- very funny pictures, the one of the shit in a Pringles tin is not there although the negative is, bit strange. This evening we went out to eat and then had an early night as we need to be up early tomorrow for the Petronas towers.


Wednesday 24th July 2002


Up early and onto the LRT down to KLCC for the sky bridge up the Petronas twin towers, the tallest building(s) in the world (for now!). We got there at 9am and got a ticket for 0945. The towers look very impressive from the outside and the shopping complex inside was very good too. We got some breakfast before getting the lift up to the sky bridge. Ben somehow misplaced his ticket for the bridge and went a bit mental, blaming me for some reason. He finds it where we had breakfast and we eventually get up top the bridge through the metal detector first though. The sky bridge is only about half way up the towers but the views over the city are amazing, we only had 7 minutes on the bridge  and then back down to the shopping centre where I bought a new cap (Ben took his back that I’ve been borrowing for the whole trip when he spat his dummy out over his lost bridge ticket earlier) and I also got a ‘ Where’s Wally’ book for the plane home. We left the towers and had a walk around the Petronas park where there is a public swimming pool built by Petronas for the people of KL. After that we walked over to the communications tower where we pay to go up to the observation deck and have another look out over the city , a good view of the twin towers. We then went bowling and played some pool before walking back to Chinatown via an internet café. Had a drink in the Jamaica bar in the evening and played some more pool. Watched Austin powers 3 in the hostel before going to bed.


Thursday 25th July 2002


We got up around lunchtime and headed down to KL zoo on the bus. We got our tickets and free postcards on the way in. All the usual zoo animals, a few apes a good selection of monkeys, also some very active Tigers and a couple of mental bears. The highlight of the day though was seeing a snake eating another snake while it was still alive! Then after about 10 minutes and with half the snake swallowed we saw the eaten snake wriggle its was back out still alive and well! Got back to Chinatown and decided to go out for a drink in the Bangsar area as we had heard there were a few good bars. We got the LRT up to Bangsar station and then after some directions we walked up a dual carriageway to the bars and clubs. Plenty of nice cars around including a yellow Ferrari, the bars also had Ferrari prices though! We had a couple in one bar then moved on to an Irish themed pub (they get everywhere!) where we had a £4 beer each, me and Steve had one more then we got a taxi back to the hostel. Ben went up to read while me and Steve played some pool and had some more Tiger beer in the bar downstairs. A mental drunk joins us and we play the local lads at pool who beat us. Got kicked out the bar a 2am and the bar owner locks us out with our beers so we got to keep the Tiger beer glasses. Bed about 3.


Friday 26th July 2002


I woke up today feeling very rough, head was killing me. Ben and Steve went out to a butterfly and bird park but I stayed in bed and slept off the hangover eventually getting up about 5 to go to KFC. In the evening we all went down to the night market again, I bought some more CD’s and then we went back I watched the start of a film then went to bed to listen to the CD’s I’d bought.


Saturday 27th July 2002


We got up around 12 and asked at reception if there were any water parks nearby. Got the bus down to the Sun Bay lagoon shopping centre and water park but found out it was RM39 to get in and half the park was shut so we went into the mall instead and found an ice rink! I had to buy some socks because I had my sandals on, then while Steve went around the shops me and Ben hit the ice. I managed to stay on my feet the whole time but Ben fell twice, taking a small boy down with him on the first fall. We had a laugh following a guy around who kept falling over quite badly, he was soaking wet by the time we came off. Went to the cinema at the mall next and watched Minority Report. Got the bus back to KL. In the evening we tried to find a Chinese restaurant from the lonely planet guide but failed and settled on Macdonalds instead. Back to the hostel and bed after that.


Sunday 28th July 2002


We got  up planning to visit the F1 track at Sepang but the bloke on reception told us there was no point going there as they only let you in when there is an event on and there isn’t today. We had a very lazy day instead went out to a snooker hall where we saw an extremely drunk man watching the demo on the arcade racing games over and over again, we reckon he thought it was a film or something. Spent some time on the internet too, Pretty boring day really.


Monday 29th July 2002


Got up later than planned and headed out for the Batu caves, got a bus down to the site and had a look around the cave art gallery, some very tacky Hindu sculpture. On the way out we saw a pigeon that had strayed too close to the edge being attacked by some terrapins in a nearby pond. The main Batu cave was situated at the top of a hill, we climbed the many many steps past some hungry monkeys to a very smelly not very interesting cave, had a look around and then made our way back down and got the bus to the bank for some money. Called in at the internet café again and then returned to the hostel.


Tuesday 30th July 2002


Checked out for 12 and got on the bus for the Cameron Highlands, it was a 4 hour ride up into the hills. We got talking to a Scottish lad from Aberdeen on the bus called Steve and he joined us when we got off to look for a place to stay. We tried Daniels guesthouse, full, then the Twin Pines where we all got rooms. Went out to eat at a Chinese place, Steve came with us, we also had a few beers and got kicked out when they were closing. Back at Twin Pines we sat around the bonfire outside and had some more beers. There is an old bloke from New Zealand called Richard stating here, he sounds like he’s been here forever, he is so old he calls the commonwealth games the British Empire games and he doesn’t like it when we turn them off to put the Simpsons on. Stayed up pretty late.


Wednesday 31st July 2002


One week now until we fly home. Got up at lunch and saw it was pissing down outside so we watched the commonwealth games for a bit and used the internet. Later in the afternoon Ben and Steve took a long walk up to a local golf course only to find out it costs 95RM for a round! The rain was starting again too. I had stayed back in town and just had a look around, not much to do really but walks in the hills it seems, and as it was raining we didn’t do that today. Watched some films in the evening and some more of the games before trying to get some sleep. The cats that kept me awake on the first night are out on the roof again.




Thursday 1st August 2002


We got up and decided to try one of the Jungle walks but the rain started about 15 minutes after we started so we turned back. Spent some more time on the internet and bought a ticket for the bus back to KL tomorrow. Went out for a ‘steamboat’ at the local Chinese restaurant, it was a bit like a fondue but with soup. We had our own cooker on the table and various items to cook in the ‘soup’ but it was all pretty nasty, we had a good laugh with it though. Watched another film in the evening and then bed, no cats tonight but Staves snoring woke me up so I hit him with my money belt, this solved the problem.


Friday 2nd August 2002


Up and out for 9 onto the bus to KL, Steve was a bit confused about what happened during the night and got a little bit angry when I told him it was me waking him up. We arrived back in KL and bought tickets for the bus to Melaka. Had 4 hours to kill so we played snooker and had a session at our favourite internet café. Got onto the bus to Melaka at 1930. 2 hours later we arrived and got a taxi down to Sunny’s guesthouse, very good service but the room is a bit smelly. Went out for some food then had a beer in a bar which looked like it was a florist shop by day, very strange, also played some pool. Back in the hostel we went to bed and listened to the heavy rain hitting the window.


Saturday 3rd August 2002


Got up late as usual and went down to yet another shopping complex for some food then took a short walk to the Maritime and Naval museum. Had a mess about on a naval patrol boat then had a drink before heading to the museum of enduring beauty- a museum dedicated to those who have changed their bodies to look ‘better’ when we got there it had burnt down so we didn’t get to see them. We visited a ruin of a church and a fort on a hill, we realised that we’ve had enough of site seeing in the last 4 months and headed for the air conditioned shopping centre for some ten pin bowling instead, also played pool and some more internet before retiring to Sunny’s.


Sunday 4th August 2002


Went to get tickets from the bus station for our last overland journey to Singapore tomorrow then had a walk through the Chinatown area, not much happening so we went back to the bowling alley and after a bit of a wait and a few frames of pool we had a couple of games. A crowd gathered at one point to watch Ben who had an unfortunate run of zero scores, his power and spin technique seemed to have a flaw, a complete lack of direction. Went to the cinema in the complex and watched ‘the Touch’ which was truly awful, after the film we headed back to the hostel where we watched a very funny south African film called ‘Yankee Zulu’. Early to bed as we’re up at 0730 tomorrow for the bus to Singapore.


Monday 5th August to Wednesday 7th August 2002 ��" Singapore


It was at this point that I stopped writing the original diary, can’t remember why. Anyway we got a bus from Melaka to Singapore stopping on the way at the border control which was just before the bridge over from Malaysia to Singapore island, through with no problems. We arrived in Singapore city centre and found a hostel not far from the famous Raffles hotel, our room was far from raffles standards though! The city was very modern and the chewing gum ban we had heard about was in fact true and enforced with large fines for even carrying it! Very clean city too and a shopping paradise, we spent a large amount of the last two days of our trip wandering the vast shopping complexes, wishing we had more money to spend! We bought a few gifts for family and friends, including some green tea from an expensive tea emporium, we had drunk a lot of green tea on the trip so it seemed appropriate! We visited the Singapore national museum which had some interesting exhibits and interactive displays. We also visited Singapore zoo, twice, once in the day and then the ‘night safari’ after dark which was great. We had a night out in the bars along the river in the city centre, for once we didn’t really care about the bar prices as we were flying home the next night! On the last day we went to Samberwang on the train to try and find the Naval base my Dad had been based at during his stay in Singapore. We couldn’t even see the sea from the train due to the high rise flats all around its changed a bit over the years I suspect! I had a picture taken under the station sign and we returned to the city. On the last evening of our trip we went to the Raffles hotel and had a ‘Singapore sling’ cocktail in the bar, we were sad that the trip was coming to an end but also glad to be heading home. Not long after leaving Raffles we took a taxi to the airport and flew home to England. When we arrived at Heathrow we all collected our bags and had a drink in a bar in the airport, we all agreed that it had been an incredible 4 and a half months. Even though we had fallen out with other at various points on the trip we’d made it back, with our friendship still in tact, something which we laughed about before saying our goodbyes and making our separate ways home. I’d do it all again tomorrow, we all would.




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Steve, Me, and Ben Hong Kong, Kow…
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