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Steve's Travel Page

Welcome to Steve's Travel Page. Here is where I will be keeping a record of my travels for all of you to read. Please feel free to leave a comment for me. If I have time in between discovering new places and meeting new people I will reply to them!

Diary Entries

Monday, 24 December 2007

Location: Thailand., Thailand

Thailand.

After leaving Pakse, Laos on the 21/11/07, Sharon, my Israeli friend and I took another 12 hour bus journey to Bangkok, arriving on Khao San Road at 5am. We were amazed to still see people drinking in the bars!
We spent a couple of days exploring the Khao San Road area which is renowned for its bars, party atmosphere and markets stalls lining the streets.
My friend Henna arrived in Bangkok a few days later and we went to the usual tourists haunts in Bangkok, including the MBK market, which is a massive indoor market selling replica T-shirts, jeans, watches…everything!! We also spent some time visiting the Night Bazzare, which is another outdoor market and the Grand Palace where the King of Thailand lives. This was an impressive array of building sculptured to a high degree and very impressive to see.
The nights were mainly spent on Khao San road, taking in the atmosphere, drinking 3 litre towers in the bars and cheap whiskey buckets on the streets.

On Monday 3rd December. Henna and I left Bangkok for a seaside town called Hua Hin which happened to be very popular with Scandinavian tourists. We spent a few days here, just relaxing and chilling one the beach. We also rented a scooter to explor a little further to the Khao Takiab Mountain which was inhabited with loads of wild monkeys.

On Friday 7th December we took yet another long bus ride, followed by a very choppy boat trip to the Island of Ko Pha-Ngan which is known for being a party island where the famous Full Moon beach parties are held. We spent only a couple of days here, again relaxing on the beach and swimming in the ocean during the day followed by partying on the beach on the evening. It was a lot of fun!

On Sunday the 9th December we had a mammoth journey to get to Krabi. This involved taking a taxi, then a boat, followed by a bus and then a tuk tuk. This was then followed by a scooter ride across town in the rain to get on yet another bus that would eventually take us to Krabi.
Krabi town didn’t have to much to offer, so on Monday 10th December we took a boat to Ao Ton Sai, an alcove around the corner form Krabi. This was an idyllic setting where we had our own bungalow, just a short walk from the beach. The eveing was spent walking around the corner to check out the more expensive Rai leh beach before relaxing in deck chairs under the stars, with a couple of drinks in our hands..Paradise!!

On Tuesday 11th December we took a boat across to the island of Ko Phi Phi. Whilst here we walked the hundreds of steps to the viewpoint to see both beaches. We also spent a lot of time on the golden beaches and swimming in the clear blue ocean.
On Wednesday we took a boat trip around Ko Phi Phi islands. Firstly we visited/sailed past the Viking Cave on our way to Maya Bay, where we swam through a small cave before arriving at ‘The Beach’ where the film ‘The Beach’ was filmed. This was a beautiful beach with golden white sands…the only thing that spoiled it was the sheer amount of tourist and pleasure boats! We had some time to chill out here, taking in the scenery and swim in the ocean. Once we got back to the boat we took the opportunity to snorkel around Maya Bay.
The next stop was the beautiful uninhabited Bamboo Island. This had the most spectacular beach I have ever seen and warm clear waters. Here we snorkelled again for a while and relaxed on the beach.
Following this, our boat took us to Monkey beach, which apparently has wild monkeys living there, but we only got to see one!?! Whilst here we did some more snorkelling and explored using a kayak, which was a lot of fun. We arrived back on Ko Phi Phi island, a little sunburnt and very exhausted. It was a fantastic day though!

On Friday 14th December we took a boat to the Island of Phuket where we met Henna’s parents. We spent the first couple of days chilling out on the beach for most of the day before having dinner with Henna’s parents on the evening.

On Sunday 16th December, after again spending all day on the beach we went to watch a lady boy show. It was such a laugh but really quite strange how convincing these boys passed themselves off to be girls! The show was quite good to watch also!
The next day we decided to head into Phuket town, which was abit disappointing, we instead we headed to Central Festival Shopping Centre so that Henna could do some shopping.

On Tuesday 18th December we went elephant trekking up in the hills and down by the beach which was really good fun but quite bumpy. You don’t realise how big these elephants are until you actually sit on top of one!! Later in the evening we went to a few bars and had a couple of drinks.

My last day, Wednesday 19th December was spent mainly relaxing on the beach..again..before going for a Thai massage on the evening, which im told is a must if your ever in Thailand.

I’ve had a truly amazing year and three weeks…I’ve enjoyed every moment of it and wish it didn’t have to end..Happy Days!!!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Location: Pakse., Laos

Laos.. (28/10/07 – 21/11/07)

After the 24 hour bus ride from Hanoi I eventually arrived in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. Although it was the Capital city, there really wasn’t too much to do here…so I only spent two days here looking around the city as the only Wat/Temple that I wanted to visit happened to be closed on the days that I was there.
Therefore, along with a few people I had met on the bus, I headed North to Vang Vieng - The most popular spot for travelers in Laos. Whilst in Vang Vieng I went tubing down the Nam Song River. This basically involved sitting in a giant rubber ring and letting the current take you 10km down stream. As we neared the end there were many bars at the side of the river, with rope swings and Zip wires that you could go on and drop into the river. After drinking a few beer Laos and Whiskey buckets at the bars that we stopped at on the way downstream, we finished our trip in the pitch black. It was so much fun. Then after returning our tubes it was off to a few more bars for the evening.
Also whilst in Vang Vieng on the days that it was raining, we joined every other traveler and found a spot in a random bar to watch the many re-runs of Friends or Family Guy. On the only other sunny day we decided to visit Poukham Cave, the entrance to which was high up the side of a mountain, with a blue Lagoon swimming area at the bottom with bright turquoise water. After climbing the steep climb, equipped with a small head-torch connected to a huge heavy battery that gave a disappointingly dim light we entered the cave and followed someone else’s guide. The cave itself stretched inwards for over 500m, so I’m glad that we managed to find someone to follow. I think we may still have been there if not.
After leaving Vang Vieng, I arrived in Luang Prabang on the 3rd Nov. I spent around six days here after meeting up with an Israeli guy, Sharon, who I had previously met in Vietnam. Whilst here we looked around the city, that was full of French charm with plenty of character and visited the night markets. We also took two trips out to Kuang Si waterfall which was pretty spectacular. Also at the base of the waterfall there was a rope swing overhanging a plungepool with turquoise water…just a shame the water was so cold. At the entrance to the park there was also a section dedicated to the protection of endangered animals. Here there was a Tiger and several Bears that had all been saved from poachers. On our last night in Luang Prabang we climbed That Phu Si, looked around the Wat at the top and watched the sunset over the Mekong river.
After leaving Luang Prabang on the 9th Nov, Sharon and I took another 24 hour bus ride south to Pakse. From here (11th Nov), we went to the very tip of the south of Laos to a place known as Don Det which is part of the 4000 Islands. Once here, we basically just chilled out for 6 days, relaxing in hammocks or cycling to a waterfall and the beaches on the neighbouring island of Done Khone. The islands had such a relaxing atmosphere and the best part of it was that it was so cheap….a good way to save a few dollars before going to Thailand. The only disadvantage was the cold showers, a lack of electricity..the generators were only turned on between 6pm – 9pm.
After leaving the Islands we returned to Pakse on the 16th Nov, with the intention of hiring a couple of motorbikes for two days to tour the Bolevan Plateau. However, after hiring the bikes for just half a day it started to rain…lots! So after visiting only one waterfall, Tad Yueang waterfall, we decided to head back to Pakse. We have just been chilling out here with the the Guesthouse owners before we head to Bangkok, Thailand on the 21st Nov…

Monday, 29 October 2007

Location: Vietnam., Vietnam

Here's an update from Vietnam..(16/10/2007 - 28/10/2007)

I left Cambodia with the intention of staying in Vietnam for around three and a half weeks, but between the tour office and me getting a visa something got confused and i ended up with only a two week visa for Vietnam..think it was a case if lost in translation.
Therefore with very little time and a huge distance to cover i made my way north through Vietnam, starting off in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). I spent a couple of days here exploring the city..the traffic here is even worse than in Cambodia with scooters coming at you from all directions. Its a case of walk into the road and just keep on walking as the scooters dodge around you...crazy!! Anyways, after seeing the city i decided to take a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels. These tunnels were built by the Viet Cong so that they could move supplies around the country going undetected by the American troups. It was quite an experience as these tunnels were so small and narrow you had to crawl on your hands and knees to get through them. who knows how the Vietnamese used to live in such confined conditions. The tour also explained the tactics used by the viet cong and had various traps on display! After a tour of the tunnels i took the option of firing an M16 Rifle, using live ammunition which was pretty cool, but ever so noisy.
My next stop, after a 12 hour overnight bus ride was Nha Trang...i literally only stayed here for twelve hours as i was catching yet another night bus to Hoi An on the evening. Nha Trang was quite a small town reknowned for its nightlife and beach. I had a walk to the beach but didnt have time to see if the nightlife lived up to its expectations.
I arrived in Hoi An which has a excellent reputation for its tailor made suits and hand made shoes. I spent a couple of days here chilling on the beach and looking around teh tailor shops. However, i did manage to resist the tempataion to buy any tailor made clothes, although they were very good. In Hoi An i also browsed around the markets and strolled through the old quarter before i had to leave to make my way up to Hue.
Again due to a serious lack of time i only had one day in Hue. I therefore spent the day doing a motorcycle tour of the city, visiting Ho Chi Minh's house and gardens along with the Thien Mu Pagoda. I also stopped off to see the old Tiger and Elephant Arena, used by the King for shows and functions. Also on the tour i saw yet another pagoda that i forget the name of, along with an American bunker used in the Vietnam war and the Notre Dame Cathedral.
I then had to take another 15 hour overnight bus ride to Hanoi. I spent a day looking around the city before heading off on a three day, two night tour of Halong Bay. Whilst on the tour we visted a couple of caves with some amazing stalegmites. one of the cabes had only been discovered in 1993! The first night was then spent in a hotel on Cat Ba island. The next day we had to wake early for a three hour hike of Cat Ba National Park with stunning scenery and views over Halong Bay. It was just a shame it was so misty.
That afternoon we rejoined the ship for a cruise around Halong Bay before spending the night on the ship. The next day was spent Kayaking around Halong Bay, looking at some of the 3000 islands before heading back to Hanoi.

From Hanoi i then took a 24 hour, bone rattling bus journey to Vientiane in Laos which is where i am at the moment. Im hoping as ive got more time in Laos it should be far less stressful than Vietnam and so far it looks promising with much less traffic and friendlier people.
Im Heading to Vang Vieng tomorrow for some tubing down the river, Kayaking and whatever else is on offer....

Friday, 19 October 2007

Location: Cambodia., Cambodia

Hey guys, thought it was time for another update....

Cambodia (05/10/07 - 16/10/07)

After taking a flight from Singapore, i arrived in Phnom Penh - the Capital city, late on the Friday evening. After taking a taxi to 'the lakeside,' I was dropped off at the end of this dark alley lined with locals and guesthouses. After a quick search i found a cheap and comfortable guesthouse whose rear overlooked a huge lake - which i later found out flooded into the guesthouse at least once a day when the rain came!!
After dumping my bags i went out into the street looking for something to eat and immediately bumped into three English people on their way to a pool party, so without hesitating i jumped into the back of a Tuk Tuk - motorcyed taxi and joined them which transpired into a very good night - all for the sum of 12 US dollars - around 6 pounds.
The next day (Saturday) i firstly went to visit the Tuol Sleng Museum - S21 Prison...This was an old school that had been turned into a prison by the Khmer Rouge during their rule in the mid to late 1970's. This place was pretty grim and the museum explained in quite graphic detail the attrocities that occured during their rule. i think nearly 2 million people were either killed or tortured to death during this period.
After the museum we were taken to the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek. This is the place where the victims of the reigeme were taken to be killed and dumped in mass graves. There were 129 mass graves in total. Whilst walking around the graves/killing field i was able to see bones, teeth and bits of clothing sticking out of the ground..pretty gruesome. The centrepiece of the museum was a tall glass housing containing the skulls of over 8000 victims. It was an informative day but i dont think i'l be going back anytime soon.
After the killing fields we were offered the chance to fire Ak-47's, throw grenades into lakes or for $150 you could fire a rocket launcher at a cow if you wanted to!! Seriously! But after such a day i thought it a little inappropriate to be firing guns. Instead i headed to the Russian Market for a little look around. Things are so cheap here.
On the Sunday i headed to Sisowath Quay, the first stop being at the National Museum, filled with Khmer artwork and artefacts from the Angkor temples. In the afternoon i headed to the King's Palace, which was abit of a rip off to be honest. After paying a King's randsome to get in $6 - which is 2nights accomodation in Cambodia, I went to look around the buildings. However, as the King was in Residence you were limited to which building you go go in - not many and taking photos was limited. So that was abit of a disappointment. After getting caught out in torrential rainfall i eventually got back to the guesthouse, soaked through.
On Monday 8th Oct, i took a 6 hour bus ride to Siem Reep to go and visit the Angkor Wat Temples. After meeting two Danish girls, Sophi and Ceceilea we decided to share the cost of a Tuk Tuk and visit the temples together. So on the evening we went to watch the sunset over the temple of Angkor Wat which was pretty cool.
The next day we awoke at 5am to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat temple which was probably more spectacular and certianly less crowded. The next stop was Angkor Thom with its five monuemental gates.
After breakfast we visited the temple of Bayon with its magnificent architecture and 216 carved faces watching down over the temple. The next stop was at the Terrace of Elephants - used back in the day as the King's viewing platform over events.
The next temple that we went to see and my favourite temple was that of Ta Prohm, where Tomb Raider was filmed. This temple has been left pretty much untouched since it was discovered and has thus become overgrown with huge trees so it looks really cool.
The last point of call on our temple trail was the spectacular temple of Angkor Wat - The largest of all of the temples, with a huge moat surrounding it. The walls are carved in great detail and it is the largest religious building in the world.
It was a great day visiting the temples and admiring the work that went into building them 1000's of years ago.
After heading back to Phnom Penh on the wednesday my plan was to get my visa for vietnam and then head there, but things didnt go to plan as it was a religious holiday. Therefore the embassey was closed and i would have to wait around until the next tuesday before i could finally get one. Therefore i decided to take a bus to Sihanoukville and head to the beach. After arriving on the thursday (11th Oct) i met up with two Americans but found that due to the holiday it was near impossible to get a room in a guesthouse..after searching for ages we found one about 2miles from the beach. That evening we went for soemthing to eat on the beach front but was disappointed by the beach as the locals didnt look after it, hence it was dirty and smelt bad.
Friday was spent having a brief look around, but by this point the two Americans had decided to book their bus back to Thailand so i followed suit and booked my bus back to Phnom Penh.
After arrving back in Phnom Penh on the Saturday i spent the next few days waiting around for my visa before i could head to Vietnam.

I am currently spending two weeks traveling north up though vietnam....


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Recent Messages

From Brett
Hi Stephen,
I hope you are well, you are looking fit,especially with your surfing friends. I have realy enjoyed the photo's and your commentary of the places . it brings Australia a little closer to all of us .
Continue to have agreat time ,all the best of luck for the remainder of your fantastic journey and experiences.
Brett (uncle)
Response: Cheers Unvle Brett, I'm having a fantastic time here in Oz..seen some great places, participated in many awesome activites and met fantasric people. I've got to get a job soon though so that i can keep on ejoying myself and make my trip last that little bit longer. Im pleased you are all enjoying the travel page.
From Amy
All that stuff in there about Melbourne and not once was my name there..... hello steve whats this all about??
Response: lol! sorry about that, will be sure to mention you shortly. hehe.
From Clare
Glad to see the tan's slowly developing... Enjoy Sydney!!

Response: Its a slow process..but im getting there. Thanks, heading to Sydney on Wednesday hopefully!
From Craig
mate so so jealous of you, sounds like a right laugh... loving the going to hospital in bin bags, that is just classic!! Heres a random comment but dya remember the film 'Ginger snaps' we watched late 1 nite, the film with the lengendary line about 'the black sludge stage...', well bought it otherday, just thought id rekindle your memory of it!! anyho keep havin a good un bud, and we'll hav to catch up when you return to rainy england... laters bud, much love, Craig.
Response: Hey, how could i forget that film!! Not sure why you'd wanna watch it again tho. lol. Yeah, def have to meet up in the UK, kinda liking the weather here more atm.
From lynda and Brett
Just checked out your web site to catch up with your news. Hope foot is now OK and that you will have some luck finding work. Keep well and most of all, enjoy ! Love from all in wet, cold Midlands.
Response: Thanks. I've actually managed to find myself a bar job in St. KIlda. The restaurant is right on the beach front with excellent views of the ocean..just wish it paid more!! :-)
From Phil
sound steve cant believe all the stuff ur doin mate, leavin us boys stuck in birmingham!!
carry on havin a great time mate spk 2 u soon
phil
From janette
Well Steve,you have beeen busy!!!!! I am so jealous,wiith all your stories and beautiful picsi was talking to steve from safeway to,he has also been reading your emails but for some reason could not email you,so he says hi. I watched a prog on tv about fiji and the MUDDY WATER drink,the bloke said best but strange feeling ever,but i really hope you never tryed the suckling pig which they eat alot,i saw alittle piggy killed shame!!!! anyhow take care,hope ur ankles bette,hows ur dog????? luv janette xxxxx
Response: Hey, yeah Kava is a very strange feeling! No i didnt try the suckling pig - never had the opportunity. Max is ok as far as i know, still hobbles around. Say Hi to Steve from me. Take care. xx
From Hazel
Hi Steve. All I can say is damn you!! You're so bloody lucky. Be sure that when you go to the neighbours drinking set, you say hi to Stingray for me...we met last week in a bar in Sheffield.. lol.PS are you ever coming back to the UK or is that it now? Are you staying there forever??!!x
Response: Hey Hazel, its good to hear from you! Yeah gues yu could say i'm pretty lucky - having an awesome time too! (but don't mean to brag ;-p) I'l deff say Hi to Stingray for you if i meet him. Think i saw Karl the other day, but i'm not sure. Didn't like to go up and ask! Yeah i'l come back to the UK eventually - As soon as my money runs out! lol! xx
From Sara
Hey Steve..
surprised to hear from me?? hope all is well and just wondering when you will be commin back to Toronto we're all gettin ready for a crazie ski/snowboarding weekend.. but i guess that doesnt even come close to the fun you're having down under!! hope to hear from you soon
~Sara
Response: Hey Sara, hows things? I'm sure i'l find my way back to Toronto one day! Hope you have fun snowbaording. Thats something i've always wanted to try! Take care xx
From kevin
Hi Steve
When do I get to hear the bits that you can't write in your updates? Where are the bits that the boys want to hear. Send me the unwritten goss. Cheers Kevin
Response: Lol, its on its way mate!
From Charlotte
Hey honey!
Glad to hear you're having an awesome time! Hope the ankle is better now!! Stressing atm tryin 2 find a house in Bham! :-S What a nightmare!

Neways!... Keep me posted & take care!
Lv Charl
XxX
From lynda and Brett
Hi Stephen,
It's great to read your web site and hear of all your adventures. Hope the ankle is less troublesome now and that you are enjoying life to the full again. Take care. Love from all the Rileys
Hey, its great to hear from you. My ankle is ok, getting by as best i can, although the cast can get rather warm in the Figian sun. Im going Island hopping tomorrow...time to spend a couple of weeks chilling on the beach i think.
Take care.
From cheryl
hi steve glad to see you are enjoying your trip (LUCKY YOU) happy new year to you takecare keep sending pics
From Anthony
Happy New Year! I can see you're having fun there. Sky diving is one of the things I must do before I am 30s, you are so lucky!!! I envy you lol You make me want to go to the States and Australia now :( my exams are coming soon! wish me luck. Have a good time in whereever u r and have a fantastic 2007 . Ant
Response: Happy New Year to you too mate! Hope 2007 is an awesome year for you! You should try skydiving, its fantastic, although a little exspensive. Good Luck with your exams! Take care.
From Mark
G'day Ste'

You've certainly done some mileage since I last heard you left.

Having been to Death Valley and L.A. before (did you see any stretch-stretch-stretch humvee's?) I can only begin to imagine the other wonders you've seen.

Hope Santa managed to keep up with you, have a nice New Years (where ever you are,)

Regards

Mark
Hey mate, yeah ive certanly travelled a fair few miles...and having a wikid time along the way. Saw plenty of super stretch humvee's, especialli in Las Vegas! Heading to Wellington tomo, should be fun! Hope all is well!? Have a Happy New Year!
From Kim
Hello, your trip sounds amazing! its so good to hear how your getting on and to know where abouts you are in the world. I hope you had a memorable christmas day. Happy New Year for next week. Love Kim x
From Steve
Steve,

Good to hear from you mate- wish I was with you guys though after reading your journal!!! Ive never been so jealous!! If only I hadn't taken a year out! Saw Jeanette today from Safeway and she is green with envy too!!! lol! Well keep enjoying your trip and i'll carry on with my dissertation (how sad)! Keep the photo's coming.

See you soon mate,
Steve
From janette!!!
Thanks for email,really jealous of ur adventures,keep intouch. luv janette xxx