AT THE END
Sorry that I havent had a chance to give an update for a while...been having too much fun through laos & cambodia. Tubing was everything that i expected and more...no words can discribe the partying which go on in vang vieng...closest i think i could get would be saying that it is a huge house party on steriods. To get there went threw some absolutely magnificant mountain ranges although being on the bus at the time did have a few freaky moments....not the worst being all the girls singing in the back of the bus the whole way down.
Split from the first group as they heading onto vietnam & i went south to don det in the 4000 islands, right on the cambodian border. With a short stop in vientiane along the way, a very unusual capital, very quiet everywhere had a 1130 curfew, but suppose that suits the rest of the laoian style. Down in the 4000 islands was able to catch some fresh water dolphins on the mekong...with one side of the river bing laos & and the other cambodia before riding the bikes we had hired to the waterfall (more of a series of large rapids) but very cool none the less.
Suffered my last bad border crossing coming into cambodia, 2hrs & had to bride 3 officials for separate stamps (added an extra $4 ontop of the visa). And combined with this went through a 18hr bus as we headed onto siem reap & some more culture. Got into town at 1am and crashed very very hard. More partying to celebrate was to be had during our time here. Second evening went out to a temple to see sunset....not the greatest as there was fog everywhere.
After a slow start the following morning headed on to ankor wat, quite impressive, mostly because of the size but the mural around the outside telling the story of humans & demons fighting was definately the highlight there. The second temple featured 39 towers with budda's head pointing in all four directions on every one. By fair the most impressive for me though was the jungle temple...has been left in as if it has just been found...with trees growing out of the actual buildings.
Headed from here to the killing fields & S-21, man what an emotional day that became cant believe something as evil as this happened only a couple of years before i was born. Had planned on spending time down on the beaches until i flew out but upon getting there could have been in phunket & goa...not really what i wanted when about to head back home to beaches. So went back to phnom pen to spend some time round the museums & palace (plus relax a bit before i head for home)
anyways about to jump on the plane home (seems to gone so so fast) which means the next update will be form home....will hopefully get a chance to put up some pixs as well
caio for now!!!
SLOWING IT INTO LAOS
Coming to the end of the trip it seems, headed into the hills around Chang Mai, with a quick stop in the elephants along the way...very short ride but was a much better experience than the one that izzie & me took while we were in india (what seems a life time ago) got to feed these elephants bananas, although wasnt able to play in the water with them which was disappointing. Did get to stand up on the rear tailgate for the pickup for the short ride down to to lunch before a short hike up the hill to get onto a waterfall so good to walk underneath. Stayed in a small village the first night looking out over the forest, with guitars and beers. The floor was very very hard shoulders were both goin to sleep the whole night.
Carried on deeper into the wilderness and stayed what seemed to be the middle of no where on the second night, along side another waterfall - this water was very very cold though. Finally came out into civilisation once again & for some bamboo rafting.....and a ride on the roof of the car to get there (have been able to tick that one off the list) The rafting was very relaxing.....the guys how push you along must have great paddling upper bodies.
Getting back to chang mai headed for the markets for my crazy pants for this part of the tour & turned for my last northern journey of the trip up to chang khong & the slow boat into Laos. Along the way stopped in the white temple - a crazy mix of modern iconology...had star wars, matrix & superheros painted along the walls & a weird temple of doom looking enterance. Have just gotten off the two day slow boat down the mekong, which envoled loads of sitting around (mostly around the engine). Head souith again tomorrow for some fun in a tube at vang vieng.....oooh cant wait
THE LONG WAY HOME
I cant believe that the one month mark has already come & gone, seems only yesterday that i was boarding the plane in UK for this grand tour home. Anyways have left the craziness of egypt behind me for the more familiar surroundings of SE asia, and as soon as i got off the plane remembered why there is a big part of my heart which loves this part of the world, from the crazy driving, tasty street food & the friendly people isnt hard to see why i feel that way.
Only down side is the humidity which comes with the place, was dripping in sweat on getting to the hotel in Kuala Lumpur, although this may have not been help by the fack that i got lost a couple of times on the way. Only had a quick stopover in KL before heading north to Penang....one of the oldest british island settlements around the malay peninsula.......the street food here was awesome & so so cheap, loved having a little bit of spice back in my diet. The ferry across the bay, whilst nothing compared to a HK ferry did remind me of the green boats which are constantly chugging across the harbour. Only disappointing point in my time here was the penang hill railway being closed & not been able to find the right bus to get down to the botanical gardens which had another way up....enjoyed the long chats in the coffee house thou, first time i have ever been kicked out of a cafe (although saying that it was past midnight)
Had another brutal train from here up to Bangkok, 23hrs, almost reminded me of some of the ones i took in india on the charge back up to delhi. Bangkok is a strange place, whilst the palace was beautiful the other 1/2 of the city is a modern mass of concrete & glass, didnt really enjoy my first experience of a Thai massage, almost felt like i paid to be beaten up by a tini thai girl for an hour.
Head northward from here into the heartland of temples...have just complete a three day tour of temples on my way up here to Chang Mai....wont bore u with all the details, the sunset in Attuyaha was awesome though, turned a bright crimson red for a couple of minutes before everywhere went pitch black & the midges came out in force for the evening...the other interesting one was Saluthai where the bus took 40 mins on the way back to town where it had been 15mins out soo soo annoying esp seeing i had another bus to catch at the end of it all. Was also mobbed by school kids while i was in the old city, loads of pictures taken with them all did a school assignment i recon so ended up answering the same questions it seemed a humdred times
As to now up in Chang Mai for the next couple of days, although heading off on a 3 day trek tomorrow morning, hope the body can stand up to it.....until next time ciao
Location: Cairo, Egypt
FROM COLD RUINS TO HOT ONES
Has been a while since i had a chance to get everyone an update of the travels these past couple of weeks, finished off cappadoccia with the hot air ballooning over the area, unfortunately the weather set in slightly the day which i was able to get up but was still a magical experience, very different seeing these sights from the air. Also was able to have tea & a turkish massage from a tour guide at some random church (el nazar church - thought it sounded like it should be in mexico or something).
Then boarded an epic bus back to the coast & into gallipoli for a could of days, the area is very amazing over there are over 26000 graves in the anzac area with under 1/2 of these being identified, this fact hit home most at the kiwi memorial where there was only 7 headstones but over 500 men buried there. Troy was a slight disappointment especially after the amazing ruins in fethiye & pamukkale, not to mension the greek ones.
Istanbul presented yet another awe inspiring experience, between the grand bazaar to the blue mosque it is hard to break this city town...loved getting lost in all the side streets which make up old town, and with little luxuries like heading tot he fish market for dinner made for a good place to recharge the batteries before i ventured on into egypt.
And Istanbul brought (at least this tour) the end of my european tour, on the warmer climates i went and the fringes of the middle east in Egypt.
Cairo is a spralling city of over 30 million people. With everyone it seems just trying to get as much money out of the tourists as possible, first day sightseeing began with camelling through the great pyramids. Amazing what a small bribe can do was able to climb the first couple of steps on one of the pyramids before climbing into another, sure glad i didnt have to carry anything down the small shafts.
Following this raced down to aswan about the train...not the most comfortable things but did the job, quickly seeing the high dam (which is made using russian technology as we were repeatably told - i just recon it was an arms deal sweetener as the british one looks ways cooler) before an early morning 'convoy' out to abu simple, the convoy basically it seem involved crowding up all the buses in town at 330 in the morning, holding them there and then releasing everyone at once so they could race to the temple. The actual temple was awe inspiring....four huge statues of Ramses II staring out over nasser lake...really was something to behold.
Had a very short afternoon aboard a faluca on the nile, was good to get out sailing again. Before busing through a couple of temples on my Luxor & the valley of the kings & queens. Some of the tombs were absolutely huge...i cant write anything which would give them justice....although did feel like i have fallen completely into the tourist role here...had to take a 200m mini train to reach the tombs...not my idea of eco tourism really. The karnak temple on the eastern bank was a sight to be hold would have loved to seen the place complete just seemed to go on & on....each pharoah had added a little extra to the place.
Came back up to cairo last night & ventured into the museum today...basically had no order at all it seemed to be a random assortment of egyptain pieces of history. Awaiting the plane onto malaysia no and wont lie looking forward to leaving the touts here behind...they have shown a new level of aggressiveness for getting people into there shops, some even blocking ur way - the side step has come in handy here.....
FROM THE COAST TO THE MAGICAL LAND OF BEAUTIFUL HORSES
Leaving Fethiye along the coast proved to be a very very long day, starting with the bus breaking down along the way.....seems that the previous coulpe of days have had loads of deja vu moments....the bus was just the final one. Although where we broke down couldnt of been in a much less beautiful spot, bright blue seas with mountains rising up in the background. Suprised at just how rugged the coastline along this region is very suprising, as i said the mountains just seem to rise out of the sea.
The act of actually getting into Olympos was also a bit difficult, was dropped off about 10km away from the actual village and had to get a taxi from here down. Olympos is very similar to Goa, would have been packed full of (i found out later) Kiwis & Australians, but when i got there seemed like i was the only foreigner within the village, it is very cut off from the rest of the world down there.....with overgrown ruins on the way down to the beach, nice to see more natural ruins which havent been really modified to improve there touristic values.
The other interesting sight was the chimera, an area of natural eternal flames, in olden days sailors used these for navigation. were fairly cool to see popping up out of the group everywhere. did play with the camera for a while whilst being up there.
From there headed on antalya my final stop on the mediterrian coastline before going inland. Spent new years in the ancient port...still sports the old city walls around the main harbour....also is very amazing that most of the religous site throughout this part of the world have been built upon older religions. The museum here was interesting because of the section which was dedicated to the greek gods & the myths behind each one....some of the tombs displayed were also very amazing....some of which were pieces of art in there own right.
Coming into goreme provided another magical world completely different to the coastal places in which i have spent my last week, because of volcanic activity & erosion amazing spires have been formed throughout the region, with a number of chapels, churches & monastaries have been dug into the rock face. Esp loved climbing through some random gorge where the sides rouse vertically only a metre or two apart. Today visited an underground city, 55m below the ground at its deepest point felt almost like we were weaving through a beehive with all the tunnels connecting these little caves.
Looking forward to a dawn balloon trip in the morning, although the actual leaving time is pretty bad...have to leave the hostel at 615am aah dont think i have seen that sort of time (except for early arrivals) since leaving UK
ADIOS EUROPE, HELLO ASIA MINOR
Well have left europe for what is the forseeable future, really fells quiet weird really...would love to have some more time in certain places, esp poland & bosnia. Was quite lucky with the two ferries that got me from Crete up into Turkey. Although the 3am arrival into chios and the 5hr wait for the following ferry into Turkey wasnt the most exciting wait that i have ever had....but at least there was a cafe which opened 24hrs so was able to wait in there.
As to turkey am very very suprised at just how friendly the turkish are, starting with the border guards and continueing with the people on the buses, on 2/3 buses i caught today got talking to the person sitting next to me. Arrived in Pamukkale after 2 ferries & 3 buses, totalling over 22hrs since i had left Athens the previous evening...was quite tired after it all. Pamukkale, a tip from a fellow traveller is quite amazing glad though i am seeing it in the low season....would expect it to be very busy for high season & fairly warm. The white slopes which are formed through the calcium naturally found in the thermal waters and have over time coated the slope with a brillant white (almost looks snow like) covering. Getting to the top you are greeted with ruins from the ancient city, people thought that the waters could cure disease & and as such a massive pilgrimage city was created here....also the necropolis (the city of the dead) here was absolutely huge (alot of really sick people came here it seems. The highlight thou was the theatre complex which has been largely spared from damage....
From there it was back to the coast once again and into Selcuk, where i was to have xmas dinner of turkey in turkey, bad joke but just had to get it in there. Suprised to find the basilica jean here (or in english the burial site of john the baptist). If still all intact it would of been the 7th largest cathedral in the world. Also along side of this was the ancient city of ephrsus, with another mostly intact theatre, only able to see the bottom 1/2 of this one though...was treated to a guy doing football tricks on stage though. Was able to also see the terrace houses (which are in the process of being restored atm)
Finally we come on to where am currently staying Fethiye, named after the first Turkish airman to die in an air crash....first day was spent hunting through the mountain pass the ghost town which is a modern version of ruins created during the population exchanges between greece & turkey in the mid 20s...very very odd to see these fairly modern buildings in ruin. Today was spent as a quite relaxing one.....local markets in the morning.....buying fresh fruit (just thought id put that one in to get in the good books :P)
and this afternoon went up to the rock tombs above the city...although they really didnt compare to the rock caves me & brad saw in india last year, finally headed into the fish market for some fresh fish & salad for dinner....very relaxing day really
heading further down the coast tomorrow to olympus & onto the ethernal flame which is burning there