A Travellerspoint blog

On holiday at last!

semi-overcast 26 °C

The jolt of the plane impacting with the runway roused me from my sleep deprived dose and announced our arrival in the jungle shrouded region, now referred to by all the world as Cambodia.

The relaxed nature of the people was immediately suggested. We clambered down the rigged stairs-on-wheels that were propped against our A320 and walked across the bare patch of concrete that was the 'Siam Reap International Airport' runway, following a relaxed and smiling security guard towards a distant cluster of square buildings. As I glanced around I was filled with the suspicion that we could avoid the whole 'customs' hassle by just simply picking a different direction at random and wandering off.

Since arriving in this beautiful and tragic country I have become completely befuddled with emotion. I have been charmed, harassed, horrified, touched and filled absolutely, with admiration for these amazing people. Somehow, this place, with it's similar technology, street layout and sense of fashion, is somehow different.

An scene replays in my mind. Kat and I have disembarked our very own tuk-tuk following a day of temple gazing and are headed towards a 7-11. I need sweat rash cream and Kat needs, well, everything else. A small and dirty child wearing a ragged smock and no shoes, leading an even smaller, dirtier child with even fewer clothes approaches us. She weakly tugs Kat's dress and mutely performs the internationally accepted sign language of 'I'm so hungry that I might actually die'. Big, soulful, emotional eyes gaze upwards at us as she one hand points to her empty mouth.

I almost broke down and cried on the spot.

Let's rewind.

We were in Phuket (Thailand) on the 12th of May. We overnighted in a pleasant but forgettable bungalow in that forgettable city (think Asian Goldcost, without the redeeming beaches, theme-parks or beer) before rising early on the 13th to head to the worlds least charming airport (this is not true I imagine but not impressive all the same). As a reward for prompt arrival at the airport we were treated to an inexplicably long time to check our bags. There were 3 people in front of us, 4 desks open and it literally took 45 mins to check our bags. After a 40 minute internal debate (which I lost) about whether or not we could afford to purchase a bottle of Aldberg for met to share with my god father, Peter, we were on to Singapore. For those philistines of amongst you who are wondering 'what's Aldberg?', it is a pure malt, Isle of Islay scotch that I have been waiting to try for about 2 years. Next time, again.

Singapore. We were treated to 3 fantastic and relaxing days here. Arriving early on the 13th and leaving ungodly early on the 16th. On a related note. Yes. 30 minutes of sleep are more than enough for anyone. We were in 'Singa's' (as we are old hands by now) so that I could see my other family. My Godfather Peter, his beautiful wife Margie and their 3 amazing kids all live in Singapore now (traitors!). They visit Oz at least once a year but this is never enough. So now it is time to turn the tables.
'I was in the area so I thought I'd drop by, hope it's no trouble'
'Not at all, please come in'
'Oh, you are too kind. Now how about a cup of tea'
I drank three hundred and seventeen cups of tea in two days. Every one tasted delicious.

Pete and Co. are housed in what is referred to as 'a landed community' just outside the international college that seemed to form the epicenter of pre-university education in Singapore. The kids have all attended this extremely frustrating school and I an surprised that none of them have had the decency to decency to sabotage school property, possibly because their mum Margie works there and she would be on to them in a flash. Allow me to explain.

The school literally backs on to their NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOURS PROPERTY. They live, what I estimate to be, at best, 25 meters from the school grounds. However it seems that Greta, Tom and Pia are not allowed to pass through the 4 meters of their neighbors property to attend school/ The result of this is a walk that involves a four hour hike up one side and down the other, of a mountain. Whilst lugging a 15 kilo haversack and dodging ingeniously unpredictable instruments of death, designed to catch out the unwary. Bear in mind that this all needs to be done in an environment in which you break into a sweat just standing still, under an air-conditioner. Our lawyers have asked me to mention that the walk is actually about 15 minutes in length. Up a small incline. Carrying their school books. Oh, and the death machines are cars. But still!

Wow! I really need to cut down on the length of me entries. Stupid lack of blogging skills.

Singapore was terrific. On Friday Kat and I caught the bus into and out of the city. Without incident. This is proof that we are intelligent, seasoned travelers. Yes. Because we caught a bust. Yes, in a city where they speak English. Look, just shut up will you.

Moving on.

Whilst in the city Kat and I wandered around china town, visited the oldest Hindu temple and visited the Asian Civilisation’s Museum. The museum was absolutely amazing. The best I’ve ever been too. They had a display entitled ‘Treasury of the World’. This involved a staggering number of jewels from India, along with a significant display of ancient and ‘magical’ weapons. How happy were we? Photo’s will follow when I upload them.

For the rest of our stay at my new favorite haven, I just laid around the house. Hogging the computer and soaking up tea and hospitality with equal capacity. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. On the last night our hosts took Kat and I out to dinner. First buying me a pint of Kilkenny at an english pub on the river, then feeding us some excellent indian down the ‘strip a bit. I don’t care what any of them are running for. They have my vote.

Oh and for the record, Kat and I won the Wii Celebrity Trivial Pursuit contest. Hands down (quiet Tom, don’t ruing my story).

Ok. So once again I have waffled on a bit. Huge surprise.

Basically the title of this article/blog/whatever indicates that I am now completely at home with doing nothing (which exactly what I want to do a large amount of the time).

Till next time.

Matt

Posted by sarchasm1 00:39 Archived in Singapore Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Photo Snafoo

semi-overcast 22 °C

Hello people of the world.

I have just discovered that all the photo's I have spent ages trying to upload haven't become visible on the blog. Having stared at all the settings and trying to manage it to the end of the earth I have come up with an inconvenient truth. There appears to be no way for photos uploaded under my name (sarchasm1 - matt) to automatically display in the blog. Only photos uploaded under Kat's account will appear automatically. Grrr.

If you would like to see the missing photos you will need to select 'sarchasm1' under the authors sub-heading, down the right hand side. After you have selected sarchasm1 and then clicked on 'more photos' you should be able to see a few more that have been uploaded. If anyone has any problems with this, please let me know.

Additionally, if anyone (I'm looking at you Michael) has any brilliant ideas on how to link my photo's automatically to the blog, I'm all ears.

Cheers guys and I hope that you are all well and happy. We are.

MattKat

Posted by sarchasm1 23:15 Archived in Singapore Tagged blogsherpa Comments (3)

The do's and don'ts of enjoying paradise

29 °C

Do: What ever you like
Don't: Feel obliged to be 'living it up'
Do: What ever you feel like
Don't: Feel like you should be enjoying it in a certain way
Do: Be comfortable with who you are (i.e. old) and what you want to do
Don't: Think you should be 19, even more stupid than you are and a party animal
Do: WHATEVER YOU FEEL LIKE!

You can probably read between the lines. I didn't get it right at the beginning.

Still, we were on Phi Phi. The place was beautiful. Kat was beautiful. Our resort was beautiful. The beaches and the water were beautiful. The seafood was beau... ok.

As apparently I am the most wordy man alive (note: most wordy 'man', I'm no competition for arrghh...) I will attempt to reduce the opportunities to bore you by presenting our stay in Phi Phi in point form (well, summation form or whatever. Silence!).

Friday: We arrive. We walk to resort. We walk around island. We are impressed with paradise. We sweat. Feel like we should do something amazing. Go to resort restaurant. Enjoy greatest salad bar ever. Eat the world. Feel fat. Go to room and watch TV. Feel guilty for not doing amazing things.

Saturday: Enjoy the worlds greatest smorgasbord breakfast. Feel fat. Wander around island introducing Kat to paradise and in no way overusing the phrase 'when Tucky and I were here..'. intend to walk to lookout, decide it is too hard as we sweat just watching people walk from their restaurant table to the bar. We walk from restaurant to the bar. Feel guilt about not walking to lookout. Go to bed and watch TV.

Sunday: Enjoy the worlds greatest smorgasbord breakfast. Feel fat. Day cruise. Swim Loh Samah Bay. Get washed up on rocks. Climb precarious stairs with rope. Trek through jungle. Feel like Indianna Jones. Swim in Maya Bay. Take millions of pictures. Feel awesome. Trek through jungle. Climb rope stairs. Dive off wave battered rocks and swim to boat. Feel like Indianna Jones. Snorkel with huge amounts of tropical fish. Kayak around a deserted island with Kat. Get sunburnt. Have tsunami scare. Watch all passengers panic. Feel smug about not panicking. Panic a little in private. Cruise out to ocean and watch sunset. Take a million pictures. Have memory card fail. Loose pretty much all pictures of holiday to date. Get back to resort, exhausted. Rest for 20 seconds. Feel obliged to go out. Go out and drink a 'bucket' of grog. Deleted scene.

Monday: Wake up with hangover and the feeling that small dwarves have amused themselves all night by beating my brain with a sack full of door knobs. Enjoy the worlds greatest smorgasbord breakfast. Feel fat. Buy a book that consists of Jeremy Clarkson ranting at the universe. Read it. Intend sunset cruise, decide it is too hard and bum around in a restaurant. Feel guilt for not walking to lookout. Watch fire twirling show. Drink a 'bucket'. Deleted scene.

Tuesday: Wake to Kat looking accusative and resentful. Have hangover. Pieces fall into place. Enjoy the worlds greatest smorgasbord breakfast. Feel fat. Trade book in for a Ben Elton novel that explains in detail how stupid I've been not to think about the structure of 'reality' TV. Intend to walk to lookout, decide it is too hard and bum around in the resort pool. Notice large black man who is extremely fit and has aged much better than me has the same camera. Feel bad in comparison. Go to a restaurant. Notice I have used up most of my guilt and feel really good about relaxing. Go back to room and watch TV. Feel guilty.

Wednesday: Rise early and swim in ocean as the sun rises. Feel awesome. Enjoy the worlds greatest smorgasbord breakfast. Feel fat We wander around island and find secluded bay. Read Ben Elton Book. We leave for Phuket. Enjoy fantastic boat ride as I sit on the top floor and watch Phi Phi recede into a sun drenched horizon. Read Ben Elton book. Feel guilt for not having done more amazing things on Phi Phi. Vow to come back. Arrive in Phuket.

Some pictures will follow.

Matt

Posted by sarchasm1 19:20 Archived in Thailand Tagged luxury_travel Comments (2)

Ko Phi Phi Don and Paradise Gained

sunny 29 °C

Well we are HERE! Actually we are not here, we are in Singapore having overnighted in Phuket in between however thanks to the magic of the blog - We are here! Phi Phi. The most beautiful place I've ever seen and so therefore, the world.

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It is beautiful in a showy-offy way. The travel guide describes it as -EST. The bEST views, the tallEST cliffs, the azurEST bays etc. Sounds a bit far fetched but I find it hard to fault as a description of this place.

But first, arrival. We caught one of the regions island hopping ferries from Ko Lanta to Phi Phi and cruised in style and comfort for about an hour. During this time we were kept busy with various tasks that we were required to perform.

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I spent a good 15 minutes appearing very interesting and faintly mysterious whilst having my hair ruffled by the ocean breeze.
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Well, what's left of it anyway.

Meanwhile Kat was exhausting herself trying to break her face apart smiling and overloading on endorphins.
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We would then move on to other chores. Me having to play with the camera and catch the sun playing of the sparkling waters 'just so'
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and Kat, having to drape her legs over the side of the boat whilst leaning back and reading her travelling guide with the Andaman sea and its isles as a backdrop to the exciting places we were to visit, dancing as visions around her head.

Then the gradual approach to Phi Phi and its harbour. Our excitement mounting and pointing to where we suppose we might be staying. 'It must be that place on the hill, it's got four pools, eleven bars and a dedicated world of warcraft arena team!' And so on.

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We arrive at the pier, are given our bags (which are a little heavy, truth be told) and have to climb through another charming vessel as a bridge to disembarkation.

Then the walk began.

Sweaty, hot and thirsty we seemed to trudge mile after mile, torment unending. With great effort and impressive fortitude we achieve the end of the pier. There was a woman. With a desk. And a banner. It even looked a bit official, around the edges. She appeared to want to greet us and make us welcome. How nice.

"That will be an extraordinary amount of your currency, sir"
'Pant, Pant! What?'
'Money sir. Lots of it. To arrive.'
'But I have arrived. I paid a dodgy looking man who took my money and ran off laughing evilly already.'
'Sorry sir but we as a people need yet more of your money.'
'In the name of god, why?'
'(patiently) To arrive, sir'
'But I'm already here. You can see me and everything'
Patient smile.
'Look, just to be nice I'll pay but this had better be the last time I get charged money inexplicably'
Pitying smile
'(defeated, soaked through with sweat and now pleading) 'How many more times is this likely to happen?'
'We'll let you know (a lie). Next'
'Grrfubbershpnick... come on Kat, I have successfully negotiated our way into paradise. You are allowed to present me with a beer to express gratitude'
'Get on to yourself!'
'Bugger'

The walk towards our hotel continued. For a bit. Kat complained. Again, for a bit. We strode on resolutely. Then we walked on determinedly, the trudged grudgingly, then limped rashily and finally arrived at the end of the beach and our resort. At the beginning of our journey we had been surrounded by street vendors, dive shops, bars, restaurants, luxury resorts and all manner of conveniently located excitement. As our walked continued these adventurous ventures had started to space out a bit, then thin, then disappear altogether. In fact Kat was shooting an accusative look at me that can only be described as 'hard'.

Arrival at hotel reception was accompanied by puddles of sweat spreading stealthily around our feet. We were shown to our room. It was at the top of a mountain. It was a little hard to get to but I was sure that the view from our private balcony would make up for everything. There was no view. Kat still, did not look happy. Hmmm. We unpacked our carefully packed bags and threw our stuff all over the room. We showered in a vain attempt to remove the sweat glands from our bodies and then I thought for a bit (glancing frequently at Kat's 'making the best of it' face).

We gathered our belongings from the four corners of the room and painstakingly repacked our bags. I then rappelled down to reception to explain that they had made a terrible mistake and that, despite all evidence to the contrary, we were very important people and were supposed to have been given an excellent room - you bastards.

Well, records were checked, points that I was the one in the wrong were made, apologies dribbled out, rooms were viewed, currency changed hands and we were assured that 'our' mistake would be fixed Kat almost forgave me.

It is to be said that our new room was breathtakingly beautiful and not because you needed a three man sherpa team and the tractability of a mountain goat to access it. We were in our own bungalow with sweeping views of the azure-watered bay filtered only by a few picturesquely located plants, swaying in the cool breeze.

Pictures will uploaded and details of our adventures on Phi Phi will be documented but this entry seems to have banged on long enough.

Verbosely yours,

Matt

Posted by sarchasm1 19:18 Archived in Thailand Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

Of the perils of biking and giving resorts your real details

sunny 32 °C

We got our bikes and set about riding around the island. There were a couple of small hurdles to be conquered first. We needed to learn to ride. To do that we needed to be able to start the bikes. To do that we needed to be able to turn the key...

These trifles behind us we soon were on the open road. And it was good. I am a new convert to biking. The sun on my face, the wind in my hair etc.

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The scenery was gorgeous.

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There is something about warm air flowing over you as you ride through a scrolling display of steamy jungle, open plains (complete with cows and goats), rubber plantations, roadside villages, limestone cliffs and unbelievable views of azure waters stretching to the horizon. I need a bike (even though we were only riding scooters, don't tell Tucky - he'll tease me).

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Kat's already covered this so I'll move on (I started writing this about a week ago and just haven't had access to internet since so I got a bit lost in the narrative). Let me just say that that the riding was absolutely amazing and I loved it. Also the Mae Kong Caves were awesome.

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I really am Indianna Jones (move over Harrison Ford).

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Oh - And if you plan on stacking and breaking a bike that you hired from an asian resort, you probably shouldn't give them your real details. They will try to convince you to buy them a new bike, at great expense, when there's is clapped out and extremely cheap to fix (ask me for details later).

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Kat and I are in Singapore spending some time with my Godfather and his beautiful family. I'm about a week behind so I'll try to write a quick piece on Phi Phi (which is awesome) and tomorrow, when we are in Cambodia we'll try to upload some photos.

Excuse the excuses, just nattering on.

Matt

Posted by sarchasm1 17:57 Archived in Thailand Tagged motorcycle Comments (0)

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