Thursday, April 07, 2005

I would ask myself what o’clock it could be; I could hear the whistling of trains, which, now nearer and now farther off, punctuating the distance like the note of a bird in a forest, shewed me in perspective the deserted countryside through which a traveller would be hurrying towards the nearest station: the path that he followed being fixed for ever in his memory by the general excitement due to being in a strange place, to doing unusual things, to the last words of conversation, to farewells exchanged beneath an unfamiliar lamp which echoed still in his ears amid the silence of the night; and to the delightful prospect of being once again at home... Marcel Proust, Swann's Way.

That's right, I'm back... Three hundred and fifty five days after leaving London on a jet plane, I walked into my parents' offices unannounced to be met with blank, then confused, then tearful regards as their brains registered the thin, tanned curly head in front of them. SURPRISESES!!! They make coming home even more exhilarating than Proust's description.

It's been an amazing year that I would highly recommend to anybody with an ounce of curiosity and even a smidgin of adventure to their name. Everybody asks which country was best, and I'd have to say that the way I saw New Zealand made it stand out from the rest. However, I will never forget the energy of the Thais, the serenity of the Lao, the character of the Vietnamese, the mental strength of the Cambodians, the smiles of the Malaysians and Indonesians, the diversity of the people of Singapore, the lunacy of the Australians, candidness of the Kiwis, and the hospitality of the people of India.

Get out there, have a look... Mark

PS: My new email address is mvmysurnameNOSPAM@gmail.com (remove NOSPAM and follow the other instructions)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

More Photigrafs...

Kanpur & Varanasi
Cows & Light

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Only a few of the Taj Mahal, but more to follow...

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Somebody's Driving...

After twelve hours crammed into a train, we ran to catch another to
Agra to see the Taj Mahal. It took two hours sitting on the floor between the carriages with ten others before we realised the train was going in the opposite direction... hmmmm. Luckily five of those ten were the most welcoming students I've come across.

They invited us to alight at the only stop on this express-train-to-where-we-didn't-want-to-go, Kanpur. Never heard of it. The guide books call it The most polluted city on earth and they're not far wrong. But we were taken on a motorbike tour of the surrounding villages, temples and their families' homes. So our accidental diversion turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I'm not driving this trip anymore, somebody else is...

Friday, February 25, 2005

Cured in Rishikesh

Giardia Lambia, E.Coli, Amoeba Histolytica... names of my newly acquired travelling companions. Apparently they've been living inside me for the past 3 weeks, and there was I thinking I just had never-ending delhi belly. All that remains of whatever there was before the viral visits, is a boney shadow. Parasite & Co. are being un-mercifully wiped out by a crowded combination of modern and ancient medical agents.

My local doctor also has the confidence to have invited us for dinner tomorrow to test my recently functioning constitution, so the future looks solid, pardon the pun. South to warmer climes once I pass the spice test...

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Proud Pakistanis & Timid Tibetans

Arriving at the Pakistani border was like walking into a football stadium packed with crazed devotees in their respective grandstands. Amritsar, in north-western India plays host to a daily spectacle of Monthy Python-esque proportions. "Goose Stepping" border guards parade around either side of the border gates before the flags are lowered. The Indian's and Pakistanis shout at each other as the ceremony proceeds, and then run to the barrier at the end for photos and a quick wave to the opposition... Hilarious silly carry-on alltogether...

The Tibetans on the other hand, were hiding indoors celebrating their New Year in seclusion. The guidebooks say its a 'Great' time to be in Macleod Ganj - 2,500m up the himalayas in the Dalai Lama and Tibetan government's current base. I guess they meant for Tibetans, as they close everything to celebrate alone. Even the monks wandering around in their robes and new fashionable runners, and the young Tibetans on their motorbikes with "Free Tibet" down the side in go-fast blue looked like there was something going on somewhere that we didn't know about. Not to worry though, the (very) fresh mountain air was a welcome respite from the smog of the lowlands.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Celebrations in the Desert...

January 26th is Australia Day and also the Indian Day of Independence. Probably fitting then that on this festive evening I was dancing to local folk music in the Rajasthani desert with a bunch of australians. Despite the fireworks, full moon and talented, if well lubricated musicians, the camels just sat in the wings watching with an air of boredom.

I'm now in Delhi about to head north for the mountains. No more camels for a while, I need to rest those sitting muscles, I never knew they existed...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

INDIA... god help my arse

So I've finally come to the last leg. Four months in India. All the travelling up to now has merely been a rehersal for what lies ahead. I fly this morning to Delhi and out of Bombay in four months... watch this space...

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Australia Part II

Wow, it's been a while, I must be enjoying myself. I've spent the last month getting from Brisbane to Sydney via a number of french-owned vehicles, and an unwanted bus ticket.

Here in Sydney I've been taking it easy for The Christmas in a friend's very generously donated apartment. Due to the silly season that's in it, I managed to pick up my second only illness in eight months. All my own doing and probably a good reminder that I'm not bullet-proof after all, before I embark on the final leg of my global galavanting.

So my next trip was to be to Sri Lanka, but I've decided my surfing abilities aren't up to tsunamis just yet, so instead of a month I'll be spending forty five minutes in Colombo en route to Delhi. I have every confidence in the subcontinent to provide me with adequate distractions for that extra month, might try one of those mute retreats for a while. Is it possible to stay silent for a full week!? Who knows, I'm not shaving my hair though...

Those of you that had a White Christmas at home may find it somewhat interesting to know that Christmas Day in Sydney looked something like this...

Monday, November 29, 2004

49 days in a van...
With an extra 10,000km under her belt, Pukie has been sold to a group of german girls to do it all again. With a few days to kill before I head to Brisbane I am enjoying the luxuries of daily showers, varied meals, and the company of others in the hostel.

Yet another country has rendered me dumbstruck on this trip. I was bamboozled by the spectacle put on by nature in what could be referred to as one of her global showrooms. There is so much crammed into two relatively small islands, that literally around every corner a new wonder lies. On top of this I was able to surf at a new beach every day en route to the next destination.

Swimming in the morning on driftwood-strewn beaches stretching to the horizon, and walking on a twenty three kilometre-long glacier an hour later, seemed almost unremarkable until you stopped to think about it. The South Island had me wide-eyed and exclaiming aloud from inside the van. It's a wonder there aren't more accidents with the number of people suddenly pulling up to stare in disbelief at snow-capped peaks looming behind blue and green lakes and peeping out from the narrow passageways of high mountain passes. The changeability of the scenery is breathtaking; within one hour of rain, the solid rock walls around the fjord in Milford Sound were transformed into thousands of waterfalls tumbling into the snow-filled gorges below.

The pictures, as always, do my experiences more justice. This set include my travelling mascot ED, an Ecstatic Buddha (EB just isn't a name) who sat on Pukie's dashboard for the whole trip, and was suitably impressed by what he saw...

PS: My trip would have been merely mundane, had I not met those fantastic hogans Ronan and Katie, seen here trying to find a cheaper way home.

Monday, November 01, 2004


Those of you sitting at work may want to look awaaaaay... Now - Surfing in azure waters with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, waking up by running into wild waves of the south pacific every morning, standing in awe of glacial lakes beneath Mount Cook, dodging giant fur seals among giant sand dunes watching giant Antartic swells beat against giant cliffs... and I haven't hit the west coast yet!!

I - am - having - fun...

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Pukie the Van, in Middle Earth...

New Zealand: Wow, like...

The van has been bought, and named Pukie, after the impressive honk from her interior. That issue resolved, I've been hopping from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean and back again, on a surfing safari that produced no surf.

Shunned by the northern coasts, I am now heading south, via a brief sojourn in Wellington with an old friend from Cavan. The country so far has been impressive, although I'm told the best is yet to come...

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Distracted by Adelaide...

At the end of our little road trip we freewheeled down through the Adelaide hills for 5km; cheap van - broken petrol guage. Having availed of the Noone family's very generous hospitality for a week, I was ready to head for New Zealand. However, I under-estimated the persuasive power of Brigid Noone's intoxicated friends, and after a few drinks was being marched to the phone to postpone my flight.

While the next five days seem to blend together, I do know that they were possibly the funniest of my trip yet, as I was taken on a whirlwind tour of the long weekend by a crazy bunch of incredibly likeable people. The pictures tell a far better story than I'm going to be able to convey in a few lines, so have a look and let your imagination run.

As a result of that little snap decision, I've decided that spontaneity while inebriated is to be my new hobby, and that Adelaide rocks...

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Living from a van...

Five days on the great ocean road provided some great photo opportunities, and as I've received criticism for my lack of pictures from australia, and a particular request from parents wishing to see what I look like these days, I've put this page together. Follow the link for a pictorial perusal of the southern coast of Oz, featuring cameo appearances by; parts of me.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Australia Part I - The pictures lied!!

The catchphrase on the Australian Tourist Board site says "Australia, A Different Light" - and I agree, the light is different. So is the temperature, rainfall and windchill. Somebody needs to have a word with that tourist board. It's brass monkey's down here. 9c is an average day, with as much rainfall as the grey spring gloom of a Cork skyline. Moan moan moan, but in fairness, this is a blatant case of false advertising.

Anyhoo, rising each morning to brave the "different" environment, I have spent the last 10 days packing boxes and designing webpages in a North Melbourne industrial park. This Saturday I set off in a van with a fellow Celt, of the Cornish variety, for Adelaide. We will be taking the Great Ocean Road, which will be nice. I hear there's a few places to stand on a cliff and have the wind cut through the one jumper you brought to the land of "Red Earth under a white-hot sun scorching ... warm evening air breezing, steak on a barbeque sizzling...". Cynical? Bitter? Noooooooo, not I. Well, maybe bitterly cold...

Melbourne does have the "largest market in the southern hemisphere" though, and the people are all certifiable, so it's been fun. I will continue with my quest for a 'barbie' on which to throw some shrimp...

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Bali - Sunsets with Dubs.

I'll keep this short, I doubt many people want to hear about 30 days of beach and surf. Having met Maeve and Brid in a smog-choked Jakarta, we took a thirty hour bus to Bali. What can I say, it's a lovely little island, and although we only left Kuta twice, we still got a good feel for the culture.

The majority of our time was spent wrestling with eight foot fibreglass boards in large, punishing surf. Although we don't have any
photographic evidence, we did pick up enough injuries to bear witness to our experiences.

Bali is a thriving little tourist centre with a remarkably laid back population. They work at their own pace, and are as happy to sit down and chat about your hometown as they are to sell you anything in their possesion. Despite being continually hounded to buy buy buy, we spent an incredibly relaxing four weeks on the island. One whole month in Indonesia and all I saw was Bali: I'd say I've been disowned by the authentic backpacker's association, but judging by Maeve's response to my travelling stories, that's probably a good thing.

So ends the South East Asian leg of my journey, and with lighter pockets and a heavier heart, I leave for the Antipodes: countries where you shout 'Taxi!' at cars, and where you have to wait until you're within ten metres of a shop before you know how much their goods cost...

It was nice, but I'm ready for a little western culture again.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Singapore to Jakarta - By boat across the Equator.

One week waiting around spotless Singapore for an Indonesian visa proved to be less stressful than expected. Take London, scrub for 24 hours with bleach and a wire brush, give everyone jobs, deny them spitting privileges, any smoking, jay-walking, littering, eating or drinking on trains, manicure all grass with a scissors, and polish the roads, and you're there! (Pictures to prove it.) It's nice to have left and be back in a country with a tad more character.

The trip to Indonesia entailed a thirty hour boat journey aboard the K.M.Kelud. Myself and 3,000 Indonesians crossed the equator sometime in the first six hours (I couldn't tell when as the boat was rocking too much to gauge which way the water flowed down the sink). The next day or so was spent listening to countless renditions of old eighties love songs from any one of four Karaoke lounges, or my guitar. (I bought a $10 guitar in Vietnam.)

Possibly the most musical and spiritual ferry I've ever been on, I was invited to a Christian service at 7pm in room 212, sung parts of the Quran to every four hours over the tannoy, taught songs, invited to homes in Sumatra and Java, and practically adopted by the friendliest people I've met yet. Then again, the only six-foot white person on board for 26 hours was bound to gain celebrity status!

I am now in Bali being beaten up by the surf...

Friday, July 30, 2004

Malaysia - Buffet of Bornean Wildlife
I still find it hard to put into words what it was like to see such an array of rare wildlife in such a short space of time. From the Flying Squirrels 3,000 m up Mt.Kinabalu to the Garden of Eels 20 m beneath Sipadan island, the whole experience was breathtaking.

2 weeks in Malaysian Borneo began with our assault on Mt.Kinabalu, SE Asia's highest peak (4,000m+). Jack, Mountain Man, took the lead to make sure the steps weren't too slippy for the rest of us amateurs. (It's practically steps all the way up, apart from the final ascent.) But they're really hard steps, right! The altitude re-introduced me to those pink spots I saw climbing Fansipan, and finding myself with a new numb sensation in my feet and hands, and the lungs of a 70-yr old with emphysema, Jack and I went up the hill, at 3am. My camera ran out of batteries so the photos aren't great, but you get the idea.

We got to a camp in the jungle the day after, having stopped off first to see the Orang Utan sanctuary in Sepilok. They were cool, but finding a huge female in the wild with a 2 week-old baby hanging from her was much more of a buzz. With no zoom, my camera just picked out a red blob, but you all know what they look like, so just use your imagination. We were told to look out for Proboscis monkeys too by an English guy researching them (who ironically looked incredibly like a Proboscis monkey.) The locals call them 'Dutch Monkeys' due to their resemblance to the drunken Dutch when they first arrived here (beer bellies and big red noses).

Finally Sipadan. I can't put into words what it was like to swim, weightless with White Tip Sharks, Turtles, massive schools of exotic fishes and an assortment of other creatures, 30m beneath a coral island. For those of you that dive, there's a link at the bottom explaining the uniqueness of Sipadan. For those that don't, I can only tell you that if not for the breathing aparatus stuffed in my mouth, my jaw would have been on the floor for the whole 3 days.

More information, and far better pictures than I could take:
Mt. Kinabalu
Sepilok Orang Utans
Proboscis Monkeys

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Cambodia - Greener than Ireland, with roads to match.

A brief trip through Cambodia revealed a country stripped bare by the various nations that have used and abused it in the past century. Ancient statues stolen by the French from Angkor, resources and politics abused by the Chinese and Americans during the cold war, its own people robbed of their dignity and lives by the Khmer Rouge, and the myriad amputees robbed of their limbs by landmines... Lots to take in over 10 days.

The pictures show a slightly more upbeat account of our time at Angkor, where with the aid of local monks and a guide who told us more than just the history of the area, we spent 3 days perusing the grounds of this massive temple city.

In Bangkok now waiting to catch our flights to Malaysia Borneo to dive with sharks, meet with orangutans and climb a very big mountain... next country please...

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Nha Trang Tummy, Mui Ne Recovery, Saigon Testing...

So after 2 months of relative health I was struck down by a dodgy shrimp served on a boat trip in Nha Trang. Forty Eight hours later following three films, two novels and one breadroll, I tentatively boarded a bus for Mui Ne, a sleepy beach resort 200km south. There I spent a couple of days recovering among calm beaches and secluded bungalows. In fact, we didn't leave the bungalow resort at all for two whole days. At this point I'd like to introduce Ross, my unofficial "doctor" from Hawaii who kept an eye on my alcohol intake during my recovery period...

Reassured that everything was functioning again it was time to move on to Saigon, or more politically correct: Ho Chi Minh City. If Hanoi is the starting line, Saigon is the finishing line, where pretty much everybody you meet along the way turns up in time. So as you can imagine, there are a few stories to be heard and people with whom to be re-united. This work is still in progress, and will culminate tonight with a meeting to help the Canadians celebrate "Canada Day", (although nobody can tell me why there is a Canada Day, but as Auntie would say, that's only a detail).

And so, in as turbulent a fashion as I entered one month ago, I bid farewell to Vietnam. A country whose citizens will sell there own grandmother for a dollar, and then charge you two and give you their aunt when you're not looking. It's been a love-hate relationship, but I must say the love side is more heavily weighted. A roller-coaster tour of dirty scams punctuated by knockout scenery and serendipitous encounters with locals, which remind you of the compassionate heart that resides deep in the poorer recesses of this recovering country.

Cambodia beckons tomorrow, who knows what lies in store...

Monday, June 21, 2004

Birthday biking adventures.

So I set off for my second outing on a scooter into the steamy countryside around Hue, central Vietnam, the morning of my birthday. Finally admitting we were lost after an hour we stopped for lunch at a roadside cafe. After a few lessons from the locals on how to eat our food we were on the road again getting picked up by a local farmer's wife.

We of course accepted the offer of tea in her house and when we got there (after a pot of tea) her 18yr old daughter Vi, took us on a guided tour of the local Emperor's tomb. Back then to their house for fruit and a bowl of noodle soup (followed by a pot of tea), inspiring generosity from such a poor family, which we repayed with a donation to their last term at school. (Felt I owed them something too, having crashed myself and Vi into a tree on the way back trying not to kill a local dog - ironic that they steal them from each other's gardens for food, but I digress.)

The next day with our heightened scooter-confidence, our biking gang of 3 set off up the coast from sleepy Hoi An. After a brief visit to China Beach, we decided the best way to avoid the "hawkers of useless items" was to complete the 20km's back ON the beach. (The pictures will be up as soon as I find a 20th century computer. Here they are) Best fun on bikes yet, especially the last 5km's of pushing Renee's bike which had cut out after going through a foot of sea water (the otherwise indestructable Honda 50's achilles heel).

All in all highly successful birthday to-doings...

Monday, June 14, 2004

Halong Bay & Sapa - Islands and Mountains...

Been in the country over a week now and it's growing on me. bit of a love and hate relationship you could say. The scenery's amazing, as the photos show, but to find the people who see you as something other than a dollar sign you have to dig deep. That said, it's worth it when you do.

Halong bay, with its karst topography (new word for this week) which apparently means limestone formations including caves and pyramid peaks eroded easily by water (so there!), was amazing. Unfortunately the people there were so interested in my wallet it was difficult to appreciate the scenery, but sure I gave it a go all the same.

Sapa, home to Vietnam's highest peak; Fansipan, was far better. The local hilltribes dominate the town, which looks like it was plucked from the Alps and plonked amongst the jungles of northern Vietnam. We rented bikes, and took a couple of local souvenir-hawking girls back to see their village. Learnt how to replace the accelarator cable on my scooter along the way - while my 9yr old guide, Zu played my tinwhistle - and how to get away very fast from a local conman acting as a mechanic.

Climbed Fansipan the next day with 2 brothers from Adelaide, and I'm still feeling the pain. 3,143 metres of wet jungle, waterfalls, abseiling and hand over foot climbing, to find a completely whited out summit. The view was amazing from it, the day after I'm sure, but I just saw white clouds and pink spots. The latter probably having more to do with the altitude than the local environment.

All in all, northern Vietnam rocks. Now to head south for some beaches and war memorials... watch this space...

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Vietnam - Land of a thousand Hello's
Everybody's your best friend it seems... hmmm, call me a skeptic, but I don't trust 'em just yet. Just arrived in Hanoi following 3 bus journeys totalling over 30 hours from Laos. The last 12 hour journey was the hardest, with a crazy bus driver and a bird-in-a-bag that sang us a song, for 5 hours. The Laos bus journey presented a slightly different animal scenario. I was woken during my bus-nap by a group of kids that had stopped and boarded us to sell their 'food'. The delicacy thrust into my face as I awoke was rat-on-a-stick, followed by 7 cockroaches impaled on a chopstick. Now I know I've eaten a tarantula's left hind leg recently, but I draw the line at violated cockroaches. No sale kids...

Spent the last week or so in Southern Laos at Four Thousand Islands, where the Mekong splits into many islands (4,000 even) and bamboo bungalows cost $1 a night. As you can imagine I had to get away from there fast. :o) Pics to follow...

Hanoi is a different story. Takes a lot out of you on arrival. Think I'll take a few days to get those bus journeys out of my hair. Will probably head North-West to Sapa in the mountains in a few days. I've heard you can climb Fansipan, Vietnam's highest peak. Sure why not.

Oh, and Happy Birthday Dad...

Monday, May 24, 2004

Laos - Lovely and laid back...
So laid back I haven't posted anything in a while. It all began with a hair-raising trip down the Mekong in what Abbey-the-yank described as a wooden canoe with a 16-valve Toyota engine strapped to the back. There is no exaggeration in that either. We got helmets and lifejackets, and a free pint of adrenaline as soon as the engine started.

6 hours later, 3 of which were spent hiding under our arms from the machinegun-like torrential rain, we emerged in Luang Prabang, but it could've been the south of France if you discount the buddhist temples everywhere (and the more obvious appearance of the locals). Possibly the nicest place I've been yet, its inhabitants have all the career motivation of an inanimate rod, and their attitude to life is not unlike mine in my college years. I like Laos. Waterfalls, caves and an amazing journey south through the mountains completed my time in the north.

Vang Vieng was the next stop. Well warned by Dr. Bridget Freyne (those doctors are everywhere) of its similarities to a black-hole, I still managed to spend 2 days there before realising I'd done nothing. In a town where the locals let you sleep on the couch seats in their bar cos they can't be bothered kicking you out, and the only 5-year plan seems to be the leave schedule for the local communist guards, it was inevitable. The local sport seemed to be floating down the river in tractor tyres catching beers and supplies thrown by locals and being pulled in by bamboo sticks to try "Beer Lao Jumping" (have a guess what that one entailed). So of course we gave that a try, not wanting to upset the locals. T'would've been rude not to really.

Our bike excursion the next day was interrupted by the ever punctual rain, so we took shelter in a paddy-field shack with Nam-Yang the farmer, and talked in broken sign language about his cocunut & rice crop. (He's got 4 fields of rice, my sign language ain't the best.) Played tin whistle at a little rest stop on the way back for the entire 3 generations of family that manned it, and showed a little boy and his monkey their digital picture, which made his day I reckon.

So there you go. A longer one, but there's pictures to accompany it. Click the Laos link under photos to the right to see them. I'm in Vientaine now waiting for a visa to Vietnam, and then I'll be heading to southern Laos to brush up on my laidbackness...

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Chiang Mai - Trekking with Tarantulas
Set off into the hills of Northern Thailand 4 days ago with 4 doctors and a lawyer, covered for all eventualities. The sister and her friends were welcome company for the week and made it all the more fun, particularly as the guide insisted on addressing only me when issuing orders. I'd like to think his actions were due to my authoritative demeanor, but unfortunately I think I just have an easy name to remember.

Hiked up and down on our way to the hilltribes where we got scammed by the local children for photos and "entertainment", which proved to be a tad conceited as they couldn't take their eyes off the money we had collected for them for the entire performance. Our rendition of Molly Malone didn't impress either, need to work on my tin whistle skills. Dr. Fiona McGee befriended a tarantula, and then while it was lulled into a false sense of security had it grilled and eaten. (Tastes nothing like chicken.)

A bit of swimming in waterfalls, white water rafting in 1ft-deep water (discovered the depth the hard way attempting a scuba dive entrance from the boat. Ouch.), and some elephant trekking later and we were back in a hostel nursing our aching limbs. Not too happy about the elephants in captivity like that, but I had to see for myself.

The pictures are up, comments are welcome. More to follow. Heading to the Laos border today. Lets see if the kids there are as business savvy as the Thais...

Monday, May 10, 2004

Krabi - Budhha, bands and beaches
With a few days to kill before heading to Bangkok to meet the sister I headed for Krabi, gateway to Koh Phi Phi and home of rock climbing. After an introductory walk around the town following a late night arrival I stumbled upon a group of locals out for the night. A local girl from Derry and another from Bolton acted as my translators on a little tour involving a Thai Reggae band's version of "Zombie" by the cranberries, and a late night snack of boiled chicken feet (mmmmm, feeetie).

In an effort to work off the previous night's excesses, (or create custom for the local cardiac unit) I joined a bald kerryman and his lovely lady in climbing 1275 steps to see why Buddha was sitting on top of a mountain. Conducted in the midday sun, chased up by monkeys intent on showing us their arses, and laughed at by the locals on their way down, there were many references to Buddha and his reasons for sitting that far up in the first place. The view was worth it though, peering out onto the awesome limestone outcrops erupting from the sea around Koh Phi Phi and the surrounding rubber plantations.

However, the expletives used during the ascent proved to work against me at the summit as Buddha directed me straight into a low-lying ceiling. The bump on my head is lasting evidence of instant karma in action... be nice to buddha.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Koh Phangan, lunar laughs...

Well, now that was a laugh. The night started tamely enough with a bit of the locally brewed rum and a light mixer. :o) Bumped into pretty much everyone I've met over the last 2 weeks on the islands during the night, including members of UCC swimming club, another UCC acquaintance, and her sister who rode horses with my brother. Small world my arse, 'tis like a village.

In-keeping with Full Moon traditions, 3 hours into the night I had been relieved of my wallet and lost all friends. The next couple of hours were spent roaming the beach looking for a friendly farang to help quench my thirst, clutching what was left of my bucket of beverage. It wasn't until the sun was coming up that I found said corkonians and ozzies and danced our way into the thunder storm that had just graced the beach until 9am. Green waters, torrential rain, and a very sober view of the morning madness brought my full moon experience to a soggy end... sure 'twas great craic boy.

Off to Krabi now to look at the monkeys...

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Koh Tao, balmy beaches...

Still baking hot down here, but at least there's an old breeze on the beaches. Just spent 4 days throwing myself out of boats with more equipment strapped to me than I brought with me travelling... scuba diving, tis a strange world down there, like a cross between Finding Nemo and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

If the thai's down here were any more relaxed they'd fall over, but never too laid back to miss a chance to get money out of you. Crafty little people they are. The food is still blowing me away, its amazing what spices and fruit can do for a rice dish. Although this place is quieter than the other islands, it hasn't escaped western influence. The Greasy Spoon Cafe, El Farango Pizzeria and 7-Eleven across the street are testament to that! Still, it's got its own character, and the local expats are all mad scuba-diving instructors with an impressive tolerance for diving, drink and intense heat!

Still working on the pictures, should be up soon. Next stop Koh Phangan for the notorious full moon party. Might come back here then to learn to dive even deeper and look for sharks... sure why not. (They only eat the fish I'm told. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Bangkok, Noisy & hot...

Well I got here in one piece, although I wasn't sure for a while. Strangely confused and dazed having passed through I don't know how many time zones on 2 separate flights via dubai. Been staying with a friend here for the past few days and have experienced the madness of bangkok farang (white-man) style. Gotta go start behaving like a backpacker for real today and book into a hostel.... Heading for the islands tomorrow to find some countryside, bangkok has a funny way of getting rid of you after a day or two! Next stop, Koh Tao.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Ireland - Day 1.

Watch this space, I'll be updating it as I join dirty backpackers around South East Asia, try to blend in with beach-crazed Antipodeans, and brave the dusty and stomach-churning madness of India...

First stop: Thailand. I leave London April 17th for Bangkok. More when I get there.

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