Location: Dalat, Vietnam
Since the weather was rubbish I decided to head for the Central
Highlands and a place called Dalat. It is a really nice town, very
laid back and surrounds by some beautiful country side. It actually
reminded me of home. This girl Kate and I decided to hang out together
and we hired bike riders to take us around the town and out to a place
called the Chicken Village. The village is home to at least three
generations of familys who live together and basically farm the land.
Some people even live in mud huts! Photos will give you an idea of
what it was like but I niavely didn't think people lived like that
We then visted a waterfall which was lovely and then some more
temples. I have to admit the temples are getting boring now.
Unfortunately there isn't much more to do unless you fancy some
abseiling or rafting but the weather was too cold and wet so that
wasn't going to happen.
Location: Saigon, Vietnam
Today we decided to walk around Saigon and visit the various\ tourist
sites. i wanted to hire mopeds but it was raining and everyone else
thought it would be a bit risky
I visited the Independence Palace which was the former headquarters of
the government in southern Vietnam. It is trapped somewhere in the
1960's with all of the decor remaining unchanged since the south was
Then it was off to the war museum, which along with the downed US
planes and abandoned tanks also had an amazing gallery of pictures.
Some of them were a bit gruesome but then again it was a very gruesome
war. It also had some unexploded bombs of various designs, with the
largest being about the size of an elephant and with the ability to
destroy everything within a 100 metre radius. Looking at these bombs
and planes it was hard to understand how the Americans with their
giant bombs and planes lost to a peasant army
Location: Phnom Phen, Cambodia
Phnom Phen to Saigon.
The bus ride was easy and I met these really nice guys on the bus so
we all had a laugh. Crossing the border was dead easy although or bus
decided to stop for lunch so we just grabbed our bags and walked
across the border. We looked like a bunch of hippies as they guys I
met had guitars with them and we were all dusty looking!
Vietnam is strikingly different to Cambodia. There are thousands of
moped drivers who seem intent on running me over and they are both
extremely hot and sweaty but ultimately they are very different
countries. Vietnam seems a bit more developed with better roads and
infrastructure and the standard of living seems a lot better than in
Cambodia. Also the locals seem more used to the tourists and there
seems to be less people with their hands out.
I met an Aussie on the bus so we decided to share a double room which
was in quite a nice hotel and I had my first hot shower in about 4
Location: Phnom Phen, Cambodia
Today was a more enjoyable day, manly because half of it was spent at
a water park! Myself and the Aussie girl I met on the bus hired 2 bike
riders for the day and decided to visit the water park, cos it was too
hot and then the other sites in Phnom Phen.
The guys took us to the Grand Palace (no photos as it was too much
like Bangkok) and the Silver Pagoda contained inside. The Pagoda was
disappointing as the name comes from the fact that the floor is
covered with 5000 silver tiles each weighing 1 kilo but unfortunately
they are covered buy rugs so it's not so impressive. It is also known
for its 90kg solid gold Buddha created in 1907 and an Emerald Buddha
made of baccarat crystal. Of course you were not allowed to take
photos in there so I couldn't
After the Palace our drivers suggested that we go for some cheap food
and beer which we of course agreed to. However, after about 20 mins of
driving north out of the city we started to panic! Thankfully, they
took us to a fantastic local restaurant which was set on stills on the
Sap river. The food was great and the beer cheap althoug, never play
drinking games with Cambodians! We were asked to and said yes, and
then a chickens head was placed in a box, the box shaken and if the
beak pointed at you then you had to drink. Personally, I drank because
I was freaked out but you probably won't believe that!
For my last ngiht in Cambodia it was ace
Location: Phnom Phen, Cambodia
The visit to the Genocide museum and the Killings Fields is a sombre
but necessary experience. The photos tell a better story than I could
but to be honest I think that visiting these places is the only way to
try to understand what went on. The Cambodia people are so friendly
and colourful that you almost wouldn't know that the genocide had
occurred only 30 odd years before.
Admittedly the Killing Fields are a bit surreal as the grass has now
grown over the mass graves and if it wasn't for the signs to tell you
what was excavated then it might look like any other field. Of course,
the scattering of human bones in places is a horrble reminder.
Cambodia is a place I will definitely revisit but I think only one
visit to these sites is required.
Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Today myself and the dutch girls hired bikes and decided to cycle to the Temples of Angkor which are phenomenal.
There is not a lot of traffic in Cambodia so cycling is really easy. Loads of children shout hello as you cycle by and some even try to run along side.
We spent all day cycling around; about 23km in total, and climbing stairs and walls. My photos look really cool!
The only downside is that every time you stop at a temple there are loads of people trying to sell you things. Even children that look as young as 4 are asking you to buy postcards or something. At first I felt really bad but after a while the heat and exhaustion kick in and you get really annoyed by then.
Parts of the road were not even concrete but a red dust and full of pot holes and tire grooves. It is really quite an adventure. Most of the other tourist were being driven around in tuk tuks but for me the best way is to make it by yourself.
Of course by the time we came back we were sweaty and dirty and all had sore arses but it was worth it. Once the dirt came off I actually had something of a tan underneath.!
I am planning to head for Phnom Phen tomorrow by bus again but
thankfully the road has actually been laid and the bus has air con.
Cambodia is really easy to get around and almost everyone speaks
english. The only annoying thing is that everything is in dollars so
they try to rip you off when you use reil.
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Having finally decided to leave Bangkok, I had what was probably the most interesting journey at 7.30 in the morning. I had booked myself onto a bus for Cambodia but instead this guy turned up with a moped and preceded to put my rucksack on the front of the bike and me on the back with my baby rucksack, camera bag and bag of food! This may not sound like a great feat but when my bag weighs about 21kgs and I weigh just slightly more I'm surprised that we went anywhere. !
Anyway, 5 hours on an air con bus later and I arrived at the border with Cambodia. Crossing is actually very easy although you have to walk for about 10 mins across a no mans land of casinos(!) to the Cambodian side.
Once through we were all taken by tuk tuk to a bus station where the biggest pile of crap you have every seen was waiting to take us on the 5 hour journey to Siem Reap. It had no air con (it's soooo hot here), no toilet and it was filthy. They even had to store our luggage on the seats and on the floor as therewas no luggage space. Still I went to exchange some money and came out a quarter of a millionaire!
But that was just the beginning, the road from Poipet to Siem Reap is nothing more than a dirt track and there are no street lights! When we set off it was quite cool as I could hang out of window and take photos or just watch the world go by. But as it got darker the only thing you were watching for was the lights of the oncoming cars in the middle of the road!
I don't think we every got above 30 miles an hour, although in hind
sight I was glad. I met 2 dutch girls on the bus which was good as it gave me someone to talk to. We eventually ended up at a restaurant at about 20.30pm which it became obvious was planned all along as as soon as we let the lights were out. The rest of the journey was ok but it took about 5.5 hours in total so when we arrived were were all pretty tired. The bus actually stopped at a guest house on the edge of the city and they proceeded to take all of our bags inside. Myself andIlse and Miga decided we had had enough of being taken to places which we didn't expect and were to expensive so we grabbed our things and headed for a place in the book called Naga guesthouse. We flagged a tuk tuk and once those two were in with their bags the driver put my
bag in and the whole thing started to fall over!!! The guesthouse is OK and only costs $2 a night.
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Well, I have been a bit lazy lately due to the extreme heat and cheap beer but I did eventually manage to get out and about and do some tourist things. If anyone is ever in Bangkok do as the guide book says and visit Kao San Road, it is full of pubs and clubs and local woman throwing themselves foreign men! It is also a great place to buy cheap T-shirts with slogans in Thai. One thing to avoid is the Tuk Tuk drivers offering a trip around the city for 20 baht. They are just rip off merchants.
The city is really easy and cheap to get around and some times it's just fun to walk around amongst the locals.
One of the biggest sites is the Grand Palace which is the Kings residence and is a huge collection of building all of which are covered in gold and sparkly bits. Personally I think he should just have bought a sports car (if you know what I mean)
Yesterday I went to Ayutthaya which is an island and also the former capital of Thailand. The Burmese sacked the city when they invaded so mostly it is all ruins of temples. There are some amazing temple ruins on the island although they can get a bit monotonous after a while. Photos are included.
Today was a leisurely ride down the river Mae Nam Chao Phraya to Central Pier and then I just walked around the small streets buying noodles and other snacks!
Location: End of the Boat trip, China
Arrived in Wuhan but didn't know where!. Thankfully a group of Spanish people on the bus suggested finding a big hotel to get directions. It didn't take too long to get a taxi to the travel agency and pick up my ticket before heading to the train station.
The train was possible the worst I have been on. There were no rooms like the T train just a corridor and lots of bunks with very thin dividing walls. Anyway, after 19 hours and my first poo on a moving train over a squat toilet I arrived in Xiamen! At first the taxi
drivers would not take me to my hotel but after three attempts I
finally got someone. However, he did take me to the wrong hotel first!
So now I am in sunny thailand where everything is soooo cheap.
Location: Three Gorges and the Damn, China
Another 6am start.
We were on deck in the cold and dark to watch the sun rise over the first of the three gorges. They are incredible. I have lots of photos so won't bore you but we took a tour boat through the Lesser three gorges and then a bamboo boat through the lesser lesser three gorges!!
We sailed the second and third of the big gorges whilst back on the big boat.
Went for a bit of a kip as we were visiting the Damn at 6pm.
Unfortunately it was more like 8pm and it was dark and raining. The tour took us to the damn for about 15mins then a lot of useless tourist crap and we had to wait for an hour on our boat arriving as it had to make its way through 5 locks. Eventually we were on board at 1.30am!!!!
We were kicked off the boat at 5.30 that morning which meant no sleep. I then had to climb about fifty odd steps with my rucksack just to get to the bus! Have to admit the rucksack doesn't feel as heavy now as it did in the beginning but my calves are definitely bigger!
Location: Yangtze River, China
6am - wake up call!
When I got out of the bathroom at 6 am I was asked by one of the
chinese girls if she could take me picture! I agreed but only because I was too tired to say no.
Our first visit at 7am was to the Ghost City which is apparently where the Chinese from the local area would go and ask to be judged to find out if they were going to heaven or hell. It was a bit of a climb and was in the dark for the first half hour.
On the way back down there were all of these building which looked like flats being knocked down as they will be covered by the river when the damn is finally full. it was a weird site as they didn't have machinery but did everything by hand.
The only disappointment was that our guide was chinese and the tour was in Chinese so you just followed and looked. William translated some of it then gave up trying to understand the guys dialect. When we were back on the boat we stood on deck freezing to death to admire the view and have a beer!
At 1pm we were let off again to visit the Pear Pavilion Pagoda which is a really cool pagoda stuck on the side of a hill. There were these chinese men and woman who would carry you to the entrance for 10 kwai on a bamboo chair they carried between them. Wait till you see the photos.
That night we had dinner in the restaurant then played cards and drank beer until about 10.30pm then it was lights out.
Location: Chongqing, China
Left for Chongqing on a rather cramped bus but met a really nice dutch couple to chat to on the way. 5 hours later we arrived in the rain!
The booking office not only arranged my boat trip but a pick up bus from the port at Yichang to Wuhan and then a train to Fuzhou where I could get a bus to Xiamen.
I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around and bargained for a brolly, it was that wet! Unfortunately it took an hour to get a taxi in the rain so when I got back to the booking office.
To kill some more time I wandered down to the pier to see the boats and actually saw someone swimming in the Yangtze!
The booking office paid this old man to take our bags to the boat
which I felt bad about until he started asking for more money. Flo
(dutch woman) and I agreed on 10 kwai between both of us which he wasn't happy about but I was no longer caring.
On the way to the boat I saw a goat which had been alive earlier
hanging gutted upside down and was very happy to get going
On the boat I shared with 3 Chinese women which made for an
interesting time as they kept talking to me and I couldn't get them to understand that I couldn't understand.!
Also met another couple William (chinese) and Angela (Oz) who were in the same hostel as me in Chengdu!
Location: Chengdu, China
Arrived in Chengdu by plane from Xian. The flight was OK and getting
out of the airport was easy and only 10 Kwai (slang for the RMB) on
the shuttle bus. I walked in the centre until I was lost then took a
taxi for 8 kwai. The driver dropped me at the end of a derelict street
in the rain which had me thinking i was in for it but thankfully not!
They were digging up the road and in China it means walking in
the dirt not a nice diversion somewhere else.
The hostel was nice although initially I was put in a room with a baby
so I was happy to be moved about an hour later,
I spent most of the day trying to book travel from Wuhan to Xiamen but
later found out that they couldn't book any travel from outside
Chengdu. After a futile effort to find the train station I gave up and
went back for a beer.
I met some really nice people and we all sat about chatting until
there was a power cut and we decided to head into town for food, armed
with a Lonely Planet guide to Mandarin.
When I got back the lights were on but I decided to call it an early
night I as I was being picked up at 6.30 am
Location: Terracotta Warriors, China
Well what can I say. The tour guide was crap and kept taking us to the shop instead of the actual pits, but once we were there.......
See photos. They will tell you all you need to know!
Location: Xi'an, China
Arrived at about 9 am and met a really nice guy on the bus so we ended up hiring bikes and cycling around Xian! The traffic is crazy and they have no right of way so you just keep going and somehow they all miss you.
We then climbed up the Great Wall (of Xian) and rented a tandem bike then cycled around the city. 13.5km!!! Was a brilliant day. Ended up behind the Drum tower and had really good chinese food.
Early night though as we were off to the warriors next day.
Location: forbbiden city, China
today i went to the Fobbiden city and it is amazing. I spent most of the day just walking around taking poictures and thinking how incredible it was that at one point regular folks were not allowed in.
There is even a starbucks coffee house inside! Not only that they have a olympic games shop as well. It was interesting to move away from the main section of the city as they are lots or streets leading to smaller rooms and exhibitions.
Well worth the 40 yuan to get in although my feet were sore by the time i had finished.
There are sections of the city which are being restored which is quite odd as on the one hand there are building which are centuries onld and tyhen there were areas with scaffolding!