Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Asia - First Entry
Well i've been here just over a week and in some ways it seems like ages as it's been jam packed and in some ways i don't feel nearly ready to lead my first tour in over a week.
I arrived in Bangkok last Tuesday, then on Wednesday afternoon flew out to Saigon. On Thursday my training tour began - Saigon to Bangkok via Cambodia and we've just arrived back in Bangkok. Tomorrow morning I'm leaving at 8 to fly to Hanoi in the north of Vietnam and I begin my week of full on self training (eg getting myself around the country and seeing the sights) and I lead my first tour next Thursday. It's the same one i trained on so it should be ok, and then I do it in reverse, from Bangkok to Saigon and then I'm doing my first Vietnam tour which is the one I'm really worried about as i won't know anything! However my trainer this week was great and we've been through the tour in detail so I should be ok. It's just not really knowing the place at all that worries me!
Cambodia was amazing, the suffering these people went through under Pol Pot was terrible, and I did cry when I visited one of the Torture Prisons - however they've bounced back amazingly well and they are so friendly with very little hassle - tourism hasn't taken off hugely yet so it's very refreshing after Egypt.
Bangkok is ok - i don't know it very well (given i've only spent 24 hours here!), but a bit touristy for me, I think I'll like Vietnam and Cambodia better.
Better go as I need to get some kip before my early start (the first of many). Don't think I'll get much time off out here, one of the other tour leader is on her first day off since the start of April! But busy is good...i'll try to upload some snaps soon x
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Signing off from the Middle East...
Well it's my last night in Cairo, although I'm in total denial about it and feel like I'm going on holiday! Just back from the UK which was great - if wet - and now I'm packing up to move on. I've managed to cull more of my possessions than I thought and I think I'll fit my life into a rucksack and very small suitcase which is great.
Feeling pretty nervous and unprepared but I guess it's all part of the experience! Just going to try and chill tonight and then meeting a few people for coffees tomorrow and then leaving for the airport around 7.30. AFter that who knows?
So I should have some new snaps and news for you over the next couple of weeks, think I'm going to be pretty busy for the first month or so but I'll be in touch whenever I can...
Signing off x
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Last entry - probably - from Egypt
Well am coming to end of sister's visit, been a great if hectic week. We're just vegging out in the flat for the afternoon and then a 1am airport run to drop Caroline off and collect my friend. Then a week here with Sharon before a short, and welcome, trip home. Absolutely shattered! Then back here for a few days before heading to my new adventures in Asia. Getting really excited now, got me Vietnamese visa and all ready to go. Oh yeah, except for the packing, i've blocked that out of my mind. However I'll have a whole 2 days to get that sorted...
Will upload some cool shots from this week, including our hot air balloon ride which was fab. Currently got a very sore back (again) after being out on snorkel boat yesterday - that sun gets me every time, you'd have thought I'd have learned by now huh?
hope you all well and come and visit me in Asia xx
Location: Aswan, Egypt
Last Tour in Egypt
well i'm coming to end of my last round of tours here - thank god. I'm absolutely shattered after nearly 4 weeks on the road and it's so hot now that I spend as much time indoors as possible!
currently in aswan on the whirlwind that is 'punishment' or Nubian Saitrek, to give it its official name. Cairo - Aswan - Luxor - Cairo in 4 days, crazy. The lastest we get up this week is 7am. This is following the ferry journey from hell coming across from Jordan when we didn't reach our final destination til 11.30 at night, instead of mid afternoon...
Still my sister comes out on Sunday followed by Sharon so that should put a spring in my step. This group is pretty hard work, however i suspect part of that is just my desire to finish up and have a holiday, it's been ages. Once again, a reminder that this is no holiday, a great job, but not a holiday!
Then I fly to bangkok on 2 July = just got my vietnam visa yesterday and have been reading up the old guide book so getting really excited now, should give me a bit of energy back i reckon.
Better go, off to meet group for dinner (yawn) and then up at 3.30 for abu simbel - oh no the last time I'll have to do that, what a shame. and just finished my last Mount Sinai, thank God! I was so over it...
Anyhoo duty calls - and please do leave some messages if you've been reading, it's great to hear from you all xx
Location: Aqaba, Jordan
Well just got word on my plans for Asia. I fly to Bangkok (where our manager is based) on 3 July and then fly out to Hanoi in Vietnam on 4 July! My first training tour starts on 6 July I think. It's Vietnam Highlights - check it out, looks pretty cruisy
No flipping Mt Sinai like I had to do this morning. What a day - got up at 1.30 for the walk then bus transfer to Nuweiba where we were getting the ferry to Jordan. Had to wait 4 hours before we could get on the ferry which was bad enough but the bus didn't have any air conditioning and I reckon it was in the high 30's. So we finally got on the ferry at 4pm then it didn't even leave until after 6. Got to hotel in Jordan around 8.30, had quick dinner, had to meet 2 new people in my group and then go out and change money as we can only take US into Jordan from Egypt, no local currency. Then a chat with our tour guide (we have quite different opinions on tour running but as I'm nearly at the end here I'm trying to stay chilled).
Oh yeah then it was chaos collecting the bags at Jordan, they had all been put on a trolley together and some random person had feta cheese or something in their bag which leaked all over mine so now I have a cheesy bag that frankly I don't have the energy to clean. It's now 11.30 so I've nearly been up for 24 hours. Up at 7.30 to take my group snorkelling (believe me I'd rather have a sleep in) and then off to the desert and Petra the next day.
However my room has wireless so I'm kind of happy although it means I won't sleep for ages!
Anyhoo rant over (don't get me started about when I lost the plot on Mt Sinai with the Americans on camels)...am going to try and relax for a few days as the tour guide wants to take over and who am I to stop him, anything for an easy life...
hope you're all well - leave me some messages, haven't seen any for a while.
Getting really excited about Caroline and Sharon's impending visits, but not my visit to the Vietnamese Embassy in Cairo - but I can do it, just need to brace myself for the apparently inept staff.
Better go - to clean the cheese tonight or not to clean the cheese, that is the question...the joys of tour leading..
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Well I'm coming to the end of what might be my last week off in Egypt - as most of you know I'm moving on soon to south east asia, sometime in July I think. We're still waiting to hear on the final dates. I've got the 4 week Jordan loop coming up then my sister is coming to visit (yay) and then my friend is coming to visit (yay) and after that who knows?
Alternating between feeling really really excited and also absolutely terrified - pretty much like I felt a year ago! I was looking through my old Egypt snaps earlier and was feeling pretty sad but I know it's time to move on, you know me, never stay in a job I'm not satisfied with!
I hear Asia is very cool and I think I'll be able to wear normal clothes most of the time, bring on the vest tops! It's been a real eye opener living here and I have to say it's made me very appreciative of all we have back home in our western countries, and particularly how much more respect women get at home. Seriously girls, you think you have it bad, it's nothing compared to here - at least at home you can look at a man without him thinking it's an invitation for sex! Anyway, I digress..bad points aside, it's a brilliant country with so much history and culture, those of you that haven't visited yet must do so (although come and see me in Asia first).
I'll keep you all updated on my movements and I'm looking forward to having some new experiences and photos to put up on the site!
Location: Salma Hotel, Cairo, Egypt
Hi all - latest update from Cairo
I've just finished my Jewels of Egypt tour. Group were great except for one very old bird who was a bit of a pain in the bum, still they say it's character building don't they? Just vegging in hotel room after last night dinner - meeting a few of them tomorrow morning and then off to the infamous Mugamma building to renew my visa. Totally crazy place with about 10 staff to every customer, although most of them are ladies who sit filing their nails and gossiping while choosing to ignore the pleading looks we give them when going to retrieve our passports. Then off to get my Jordan visa, which thankfully is a much more straightforward process. I'm off to Jordan on my next tour so need to get all the paperwork in order.
Week off then 4 week Jordan loop and then my sister and friend are visiting, in quick succession, so I'll have 6 weeks on the go, I'll be knackered by the end!
This group were fantastic - got pretty much my best reviews and tips ever so it's all good.
Better get some sleep, up early tomorrow. Hope the weather wherever you are is good - we had 45 degrees last week, hooray summer is here!
Location: Cairo, Egypt
The Pharaonic Village
Well since I first came to Cairo I've wanted to visit the Pharaonic
Village. I'd heard it was a really cheesy theme park type place where people dress up in costume and show you life in ancient times. However it's really expensive - about £15 UK which is a lot pay at home and a small fortune over here! However since I decided not to go to Israel (too shattered after 4 weeks' work to endure another set of long bus journeys) a few of us decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it.
Well, it was fantastic! There were certainly some cheesy parts to it but it was also really informative - some fantastic small museums telling you about Islam and Presidents Nasser and Sadat, along with stuff about mummies, pyramids, Alexander the Great and lots more stuff (including bizarrely an exhibition about chocolate). We saw some mini Egyptian temples and statues of the gods. We spent about 6 hours there and even did the naff dress up in Egyptian costume and get photo taken thing.
Anyway I've uploaded some snaps of our fun day - if you ever visit Cairo I would highly recommend a visit!
Location: Dahab, Egypt
Wow this tour is totally crazy. For starters I have 18 people so things are always going to be really busy and so many things have gone wrong! Like a girl leaving her passport and credit cards in a hotel - not usually a problem, but we were in a convoy so couldn't go back for it. And it was 3am. However a few phone calls later and all was sorted. Lots of other things have happened too so I'm just wondering if it will all go wrong on Mt Sinai!
However the group is really nice, which makes all the difference and I managed to survive the 3 days on the feluccas (never my favourite was to spend time).
So fingers crossed i have a week off next week - a couple of the girls are thinking about going to Israel for a few days so I might take them up on that. Can't really afford it but I guess I'll never have the chance again to just pop over to Israel!
Just back from very windy snorkelling and then out for dinner in a few hours - the group is up for a big night tonight so god knows what I'll be like in the morning, I had the shakes today and I only had a couple of drinks, although I was super tired as I had only had a few hours' sleep in 2 days...the joys of tour leading.
Hope you all had great Easters and I'll try and get back to visit some time soon, could do with a wee break, it's actually a pretty tiring job, what with having to be nice to people all the time! Had a couple of freaks outs the last few days and don't want that to become par for the course so I think chilling out somewhere would do me the world of good.
Location: Luxor, Egypt
Greetings from Luxor
Am just over half way through my current tour, Nile Valley Red Sea and to be honest I'm finding it a bit of a struggle! I've only got 5 people and some of them are pretty hard work so the two weeks so far have really dragged...however they are being slightly better than they were are the start so maybe things are on the up. They say that everyone has a bad tour at some point and I've been lucky to date so I guess it's just my time. I think because in my head I've moved to asia already it's not really helping things, I need to get more focussed!
We just arrived in Luxor and we've got donkey day tomorrow (although only 2 of my 5 are doing the donkeys) and then a full day sightseeing on Wed before heading off to Hurghada on Thursday for some snorkelling and then back to Cairo. I've got 4 days off before I start my next tour and I'm going to speak to my boss and see if anything is coming up in Asia.
I was going to write a long message but there's a super creepy guy sitting next to me in the internet cafe, speaking to himself in english about all the sexy ladies he's got up on screen (english so I can understand him and be impressed no doubt) so I"m doing a runner.
Sorry for the moan and I'm sure I'll be on better form next time!
Mum & Grandpa's Visit
Well I'm feeling a bit low today because mum and grandpa just left last night (well the early hours of this morning). We had an absolutely fantastic week though and I think I've given mum the travel bug!
We saw the pyramids then headed up to Alex and down to Luxor. Mum loved the donkey ride to the Valley of the Kings - we went a different way to usual, through some local backstreets which was great. Gave them an idea of real Egypt, although grandpa had a bit of a frisky donkey so he had to swap half way!
We went to a local house for lunch which they loved and had a wee felucca tour as well so they got a flavour of life on the Nile. I did give them a bit of time off though, although not too much as we had lots to see. Think they were pretty tired when they left!
So it was great, but really sad to say goodbye. You don't realise of course how much you miss your family until you see them. But I'm so happy they came out and now at least they have some idea of what I do out here.
So I have another week off now, boo, and then on to Nile Valley Red Sea which is on our slowest tours so I'll be chilling out on the boat for a week before going to Hurghada and some snorkelling. No Mt Sinai - hooray!
Great news from home, my friend Jo had a wee boy Robert last week and seems to be taking to motherhood like a duck to water. Can't wait to get back and visit them all.
Location: My Bed - Cairo, Egypt
Well I'm eagerly anticipating mum and grandpa's visit. They arrive tomorrow (well the early hours of Sunday to be exact). On Sunday we visit the Pyramids (where I haven't been since training so very excited about that), then up to Alexandria to see the National Museum, some catacombs and a Roman Theatre. Then we drive back to Cairo, hotfoot it to the station and take the train to Luxor. Then we visit Karnak Temple and donkey it to the Valley of the Kings. We have quite a lot of free time in Luxor so I'm reviewing various options. Then back on the train to Cairo and a visit to the Egyptian Museum and the citadel.
I'm so nervous about it though - this will be my most important tour to date so I'd better get it right!
I've had a pretty quiet week this week, just chilling out in the flat and trying to save a bit of cash. I've only had 2 takeaways this week which is a bit of record for the flat - the kitchen isn't great! Watched a lot of dvds and been online sooooooooo much - wireless internet is great!
Been trying to think about the future, scary! I've put in for a transfer to South East Asia but who knows if / when something will come up. My plan B is to perhaps teach conversational English in Asia. I think the pay is meant to be pretty good and it would be a good way to see the continent. I've got a wee bit of time before I need to start making decisions but it goes so fast here - once mum's gone I have one tour and then we're into April. If anyone can recommend any sites for working abroad it would be appreciated.
Well I'll update you post-family...