Cambodia, Bangkok, Perth and Adelaide

Adelaide Travel Blog

 › entry 4 of 8 › view all entries
Well, we've managed to escape from weasel-based epicurean delights, and are now firmly ensconced "down under". Since I last wrote, we covered four countries in three days - Siem Reap in Cambodia to Bangkok to Singapore to Perth. Ah, the beauties of budget travel.

I vaguely recall raving about Siem Reap in my last missive. But that was all before seeing the sunrise at Angkor Wat, which was, frankly, breathtakingly beautiful. The temple was built in around 1200, and is enormous. There is a 200m-wide moat surrounding it, and the buildings have been well-preserved. We really enjoyed our time in Cambodia, probably due to the extreme contrast between it's glorious ancient past and sad recent history. It made the top of our S E Asia list.

If anyone has an "I love Bangkok" t-shirt, please don't ever wear it in my presence. We both thought that it was a horrible, seedy, crowded place. I would rather stick pins in my eyes than go there again. Fortunately, we were only there for 24 hours, but we managed to spend about 5 of those in taxis. Not only were there horrendous traffic jams everywhere, but the cab drivers all got lost, whether on their way to tourist sites, or to our hotel (we even had the hotel card with a map on the back, but still managed to spend 30 mins on two occasions driving around the vicinity with the driver saying "is that it?" when any hotel appeared). The Imperial Palace also pretty, what little of it you could see amongst the throng of tourists.The airport is nice. But apart from that, there was very little to commend the place. Bangkok was number 20 on our top 10 of S E Asia. There were no numbers 11 to 19 inclusive, but we thought we should put them there to represent our dislike of the place.

There are two types of Australians. When we arrived in Perth, we thought that we would cycle around the Swan River. All around the river were type 1 Aussies - running, cycling, using the free gym equipment that is positioned in parks by the water. The next day, we went to Kings Park, a large forested area on a hill overlooking the river and CBD. As we wheezed and panted up Jacob's ladder, a staircase of about 300 steps leading to the park, we were overtaken by a 70 year old man who was running up them. And then ran down them. And then ran up them again. We quickly realised that we were the only ones using the stairs to get somewhere - the rest were saving money on gym subscriptions. I can see now why the Aussies are all so good at sport - with the weather and vistas that they have, why wouldn't you go outside everyday?

We were decidedly glad to note that type 2 Aussies frequent restaurants and bars in the evening. They have a rounder figure, and consume large quantities of food and beer. We are trying to fit into the type 1 category (cycling and walking loads; Suze running), but I have a lurking suspicion that we are more comfortable as type 2s.

The fauna in Australia is certainly varied. Black Swans and "Barry White on helium birds" (my name for them, as that is what they sound like) took a little time to get used to. We have seen quokkas, kangaroos, emus and koalas (we got to hold the latter - very fluffy and surprisingly heavy). We fed kangaroos by hand, and ran away from emus, which are nasty looking things and can think again if they reckon that I am going to let them put their beak anywhere near my hand! But the most notable encounter thus far occurred on Rottnest Island off the coast near Perth. We decided to have a picnic on the beach. Suze was already frustrated by the seagulls which gathered beside our feet in the hope of having a nibble of our food. However, a blood-curdling scream and fast sprint later, it was clear to me that she had seen something altogether more scary. As I turned to look at what had scared her (usually a mosquito, but not on this occasion), I saw a two-foot long lizard that had stolen a bite out of the chicken that we had brought. I bravely fought the animal off (OK, I jumped too, and it ran away), and we hastily relocated.

At this juncture, let me say: (1) I don't own a cagool; and (2) I am not one of those people who gathers at the northbound platform at Crewe with videocamera and sweaty palms awaiting the arrival of the Intercity 125. Not that there is anything wrong with either of the above, but I just want to make it clear that they are not my thing. I say this because we decided to travel from Perth to Adelaide by train - a 40 hour journey. Fortunately, we had a sleeper carriage, which had arguably the best designed and smallest bathroom in the world. Some poor sods were travelling all the way to Sydney (3 days) on normal seats - makes the train to Lincoln seem like a doddle! We stopped off twice - once in Kalgoorlie-Boulder and once in Cook. K-B was originally two towns called Kalgoorlie and Boulder. When they merged, there was a nationwide competition to name the new amalgamated city. Brilliant imagination shown by the winner. We went on an hour long tour by coach, and saw the "superpit" - a big mine - and a string of brothels. Cook was a different place altogether, having a population of 4, and being in the middle of the Nullabor plain, which is exceptionally hot and arid. Suze and I retreated to the comfort of the train's air conditioning as soon as we could.

Adelaide is another brilliant "lifestyle" city. It doesn't have the same beautiful setting that Perth has, but it is surrounded by hills and parkland. The Barossa Valley lies an hour away. My fnigers are havign no truble on the keyboard at the moment - I am sure that the wine tastings are good for my typing. It also has a beach half an hour away, and we had some fish and chips as the sun set this evening.

Next stop Kangaroo Island, then Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road. We are both REALLY excited, as we've booked ourselves onto a "Neighbours" day tour and trivia evening. We get to meet TWO stars of the series, and might even get to hear Karl Kennedy's band. But the burning question is whether Ian Smith will be there...
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photo by: shirlan