Friday, 28 September 2012

New Blog Address

Hey everyone, come follow us around India, Sri-Lanka and Nepal.

http://wherearetheboyds.blogspot.com

Monday, 7 May 2012

Back to the UK.....


Well here we are back in the UK.
Stu was kind enough to pick us up from Heathrow Airport at 8pm.  He then took us home to Alderminster in Warwickshire and put us up for the night.  The next morning Stu & Holly took us for a wee countryside walk.  Very nice indeed, and on our return Amanda repaired a bad hair cut for Holly, then cut Stu's hair with a running commentary that provided Holly with the necessary instructions on how to cut his hair in the future.  Stu was clearly elated!  Ha ha! 

Saturday evening we arrived at Kesh & Steve's and were submerged into a huge gathering of almost 20 friends.  It felt rather daunting having spent the last 4 months in fairly quiet surroundings.  We were much quieter than we would normally have been, which was no doubt caused by the fact we were both carrying a little tiredness from the previous days 24 hours awake travelling stint.  We hit the hay at 10.30pm as the party carried continued until the early hours.  Our travelling ear plugs drowned out the fun and frolics below, and we were both asleep in minutes.
Yesterday (Sunday) was a much tamer affair.  Amanda cut and coloured one of our friends hair, and we performed Thai massage one at a time on Kesh, Becki and Marc throughout the day.  Great practise!

Thanks so much to Stu, Holly, Kesh & Steve for their ever present generosity in homing the travelling gypsies.  Your kindness is greatly appreciated.  Much love to you all.

We have our rucksacks, the big massage mat and a couple of smaller bags to get back to my Mum & Dad's on the Isle of Man.  We also want to bring our bicycles with us, as we intend to be there for a few months before heading off for another adventure mid September.  I will be the main pack horse.  loaded up with the heavy rucksack, the massage mat, various other bags and food no doubt.  Amanda will have her rucksack.  We will cycle the 2 miles to the train station from Steve & Kesha's home, then take the railway to Birmingham New Street Station, where we will need to change..... Inconvenient with all our luggage and bicycles, but we'll manage.  We then head to Liverpool on the connecting train, where we will cycle from Liverpool Lime Street Station to Albert Docks to get on the 7pm ferry to the Isle of Man.  It will be a tougher journey than the one from Bangkok to London Heathrow, where I just sat and watched 6 movies one after another.  No lugging of bags, or balancing on a bike, all fairly straight forward really.  Nothing like a challenge to finish a travelling adventure.
 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Fishing... Thai Tailoring and Coming Home....


I decided to explore another couple of fishing destinations over our final days in Thailand, though this time I decided to stay a little nearer to Chiang Mai. Dream Fishing was one venue. A small densely stocked water 8 km's outside Chiang Mai. It contains huge examples of various species of fish, many of which are native to the Mekong River and many which come from South America. Paradise Lake is small water less than 7 acres too, and it's not the sort of lake I would ever fish back home. I've never liked fishing side by side on a stocked fish pond stocked full to the brim especially for the anglers to catch.
Having left Amanda to her own devices at 11.30am, I expected to be at the lake by 12pm at the latest. An hour shooting up and down highway 11 with not even a hint of a sign for Dream Fishing's Paradise Lake I happily gave up, and headed toward an all together wilder venue. Another huge reservoir 21 miles North East of Chiang Mai.
I pulled back the throttle and headed up Highway 118. After 30 minutes I thought it strange

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Yin Yoga & Mae Ngat Dam


The week just passed was spent partaking in Yin Yoga sessions with a couple of days spent on a huge reservoir called Mae Ngat Dam, 40 miles North of Chiang Mai.

Having completed the Thai Massage course, we decided to read the theory of 'Acupressure Points'. We did find that the 'Improving Technique', week three afternoons were very good, although the morning theory sessions could easily have been taught in about 30 minutes as opposed to almost two and half hours each day. This and other factors cemented our decision to learn the 'Acupressure Point' section through the reading literature. Much of week three was spent going over weeks one and two, with a handful of new positions thrown in, so it didn't really feel worth it's money. Having looked at the syllabus we decided that week four could easily be learnt over a couple of days, through the use of a good 'Acupressure' book. Now we both

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Thai Massage Week 3


Another hard week of Thai Massage passed by without event.
Theory, anatomy and constant practise were the orders of each day.
Friday, the assessment day came quickly. Each one of us received a half hour massage from the teachers. The areas they worked on were as follows, legs & hips, lower back, upper back and arms & head. This would also include elements of hand and foot massage.
We all drew pieces of paper which would inform us of which massage we'd be receiving. Amanda ended up with legs & hips and asked to swap with me (anyone that knows Amanda will know this swapping also happens at restaurants), I'd picked out lower back.
I swapped, then as she approached the whiteboard to write her name in the table, to record what massage she was receiving, she convinced Teemu to swap his Arms & Head with her..... She then decided that some sort of Karma might come into play, and that she should stop being so fussy (she has very tight hips, and was concerned about having them worked to hard), and take what she was given. I was happy with my Legs & Hips being worked, they are loose and flexible. Amanda told me she wanted to swap back, laughing as she playfully snatched Legs & Hips back, leaving me with Teemu's Arms & Head. Hmmmmmmm.

Certified!
I'm not that into having my face touched a lot, so was now holding my least favourite option. Teemu offered to swap back. I wanted to bite his hand off, but I felt I should be more democratic, and offered 'Choose a Hand'. Teemu didn't mind the Arms & Head, so all worked out well!
The massage was an absolute treat, these guys are so good. The pressure of pneumatic press where required, and the touch of an overweight butterfly in more sensitive areas.



We lay, learned and enjoyed.

When the afternoon came around and the assessment was about to begin, Amanda decided, 'You're too heavy and your hips are too floppy'. It was was the first time

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Thai Massage Week II & The Thai New Year in Pai......

We worked through the week, without a break for the weekend, 12 hours a day, learning manoeuvres and techniques hour upon hour, practising until 10.30pm at night.

Assessment Day
We were paired up with new partners for the end of week two assessment. Amanda was with a tiny Japanese girl called Mari, whilst I was with Francesca, an Italian lady.
The assessment day fell on my birthday, which I'd forgotten about, until Amanda came to meet me at 7.15am for a massage practise and yoga session before breakfast. As she strolled into the 'Quiet Room' a little bag of gifts swung gently by her side. They contained my 'weaknesses'. A box of white chocolate and cranberry cookies, a bottle of Leffe (Belgium Beer) and a new bar of lovely soap. She'd also managed to find me a card, and then too the time to turn it into a birthday card, with a beautiful message. Thank you Amanda for such a lovely start to the assessment day.
Amanda Receives Certificate & Wrist Band
After performing my one and a half hour set, Francesca pointed out that I'd managed to omit a couple of little positions from my massage. The invigilator was also quick to highlight my misdemeanour's. Her sitting position was directly in front of me, no more than 2 metres away..... Bugger! I deftly demonstrated my prowess in both positions as she reassessed me. She complimented me on move '25' stating, “You do very good!”, and asked me to demonstrate this to a student that was struggling with this move. Nice to hear a positive I thought to myself.
Amanda, as I'd expected flew through the assessment as she had done in the previous assessment.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Thai Massage & Border Run.....

For the end of week one examination I was partnered up with a South Africa/Australian guy called Pan (who told me he was hoping he'd get me, which was great, because without sounding gay, I was hoping to get him too, easy going good hearted guy, both matching body sizes too. A Thai Massage partnership made in heaven! Ha ha!), he massaged me to bits, he was superb, didn't look at

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Thai Massage Course

With day two of the Thai Massage Course (TMC) completed, we have realised what a daunting task we've taken on, in trying to learn the art of TM. There are so many positions, it's like the Kama Sutra of 'Stretching' 'Body Manipulation' and 'Healing', whichever of the for mentioned that takes your fancy.
Pad Thai (yes that is the name the instructor goes under) is a funny, chirpy local Thai Massage Master from Chiang Mai. He seems to enjoy teaching as much as we enjoy learning from him. Though at times he forgets we are students, and tends to instruct a little faster than our immature Massage Minds can take in. Throw in verbal Thai English instruction and things can take a little longer than normal to understand. One thing is for sure, he exudes pure enthusiasm.

Today he had me up drawing a map of Britain on the white board to show him, and the other 16 folks on the course where the Isle of Man, or the 'Iron of Man', is located in relation to the lesser important countries in Great Britain. You know who you are!

By the end of this course we will have the fingers and thumbs of a Bangkok Street 'Masseuse'!!!

As I've already mentioned, Amanda and I are once again sleeping in separate quarters.... A mere 15 metres or so separates us on this occassion, and there are no problems with talking etc (the etc bit is still quite restricted though, no hanky panky, or even a build up to hanky panky, which I believe is known as foreplay! Ha ha!) and mingling. In fact Amanda and I have been partners during the course for the past two days, though I'm sure they'll mix it up as we go on. There is a Thai 'lady' on the course, we are not 100% sure as to her original sex, and that fact that she can't take her eyes off the men doesn't really clarify the situation..... She's a lot taller than most of the Thai women we have met on our travels, but most of the obvious old give aways, such as the Adam's Apple or the bollocks, have cleverly been shaved away by some rich cosmetic surgeon. I'm pretty sure if I have to partner with her/him I can work the groin area a little closer than need be.... Just to satisfy our curiosity.

Even the assistant (she-ish) looks like a forward for the New Zealand All Blacks.... But she does have nicely painted nails, and some glitter on her hands..... She's lovely too, very helpful and very considerate..... That's another reason why I'm convinced she must also have been a man at some point! Ha ha!

Amanda and I have just performed a full speed run through of all 'the moves' we've been taught the last couple of days. It's now 10pm We started at 7.30pm..... I was happy with the moves, but got frustrated due to my lack of memory.
Sounds like my younger days really - great moves, but very little recollection about how I managed to perform them, and what order they should be in.
Amanda was awesome, she almost remembered everything in the correct order..... She put me to shame. As she so often does.

I'll get there in the end.... and when I do it will be an awesome experience for anyone who has the pleasure of my palms, fingers, thumbs, soles, heels, forearms or elbows working their muscles..... Sounds painful I know, but it will be a beautiful pain I can assure you!

Bye for now!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Koh Phangan to Chiang Mai.....

The Songthaew arrived exactly on time, 7.45am. Maybe it was because the only lady Songthaew driver on all of Koh Phangnan, in fact the only one we've spotted on our entire travels was doing the run. She hurtled from See Tanu to Thong Sala Pier, arriving within 10 minutes, which let me tell you, is bloody quick. She then suggested Amanda and I have a coffee, or purchase something to eat ahead of the 3.5 hour ferry trip to Chumpong. Great idea we thought. Although we had risen at 5.30am to shower and prepare a massive fruit salad, yoghurt and muesli breakfast and weren't

Friday, 30 March 2012

Koh Phangan Post Silence..... Blah, Blah,Blahhhhhh - Pictures to Come

The group hung together for a few more days, Maxime (Quebec) & Kirse (Kier-say from Finland) being the last ones to move on.  Great company for the entire Post Silence Koh Phangan Movement.  Big Marten (6ft 7) from the Netherlands also joined us for another evening meal, which was great, as he is a very interesting man.

We didn't expect to enjoy Koh Phangan quite as much as we did, we imagined it to be a party island, but that turned out to simply not be the case.  The island is peaceful and beautiful with a heavy swaying toward Alternative Therapies and Healing along with lots of places to practise various forms of Yoga.
Amanda has never been an 'Early Bird' but since The Retreat, the alarm has been going off at 5.30am each morning for a dawn meditation session.
Sea Slug Silently Stalks Meditator.....

Unbelievable! This alarm admittedly has on some occasions been reset to 6am, then again to 6.30am but the intention was there, and she was usually up on the first calling.  I usually rose at 7am and performed a 30 minute meditation, arse placed into a nice mound of sand on the beach, legs crossed in front, hands resting loosely on the knees.  The gentle lapping of the waves on the beach were very relaxing indeed, aiding mental clarity and peacefulness.  This could not be said about the socially challenged group of dogs which gathered each morning, fighting, frolicking and humping one another, amidst prolonged bouts of intense growling.  On occasion if Amanda or I were very lucky indeed, the bout of growling and snarling would happen within a metre or so of our faces.  Slightly unnerving whilst you are trying to concentrate, be at ease, clear the mind.  The growls were always aimed at the other dogs, and the majority of the time this led to nothing.  Definitely a case of 'the bark is worse than the bite.'

Most mornings we attended an outdoor Yoga session, which started at 9am.  It over looked a small tidal bay with a rocky outcrop on either side.  The small shelter consisting of a red painted concrete floor, sheltered by a

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Big Buddha House - Silent Retreat...... Shhhhhhhhh

We've missed you all, sorry for being away for so long!
As you've no doubt gathered from the 'blog silence', we made the retreat.... By 15 minutes!
We left Phnom Penh at 5.30pm and arrived the next day at the Wat Kow Tahm Monastery at 1.45pm for the 2pm deadline. Talk about cutting it fine.
The silence would not be starting until the next day, so we got to chatting with a few of the retreat volunteers and other retreatants.
The many rules and stipulations were pinned across 3 large notice boards on laminated white sheets of A4 paper. We were informed to read each one carefully, ensuring
we understood them. Satisfying in our own minds that we would be able and satisfied to adhere and respect the rules whilst participating in the retreat, before each of us paid parted with our £100 travelling spends, to cover the food and accommodation costs. The teachings were given freely.
After spending 20 minutes studying the stringent regulations I was caught in two minds, such a strict daily regime would be very difficult for someone who does not

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Silent Meditation Retreat.....


This morning was crazy, an emotional rollercoaster.  Tears, raised voices, confusion, the whole works.  Amanda had her heart set on the Silent Meditation Retreat, but we'd heard nothing.  We were currently in the sweat pit of Phnom Penh..... and I desperately wanted out.   We came here to sort a 60 day visa for Thailand, but at 11.45am we began rethinking our plans, just for a change, and heading to

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Siem Reap & Angkor Wat - 3rd to 10th March.

Our first day in Siem Reap was spent wandering aimlessly, enjoying the city.
SR is full of decent eateries and prices vary vastly depending on whether you eat at the posher restaurants set up for the tourists, or the normal Khmer eateries. We normally settled for something in between.

The second day we moved Guest Houses (GH) from Phrom Roth GH to Mother Home GH. What a great move. We ended up spending 6 nights in total, a refreshing break from constantly being on the move. Amanda quickly unpacked to prove

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Ban Lung, Kratie and Broken Buses.....

Here we are in Ban Lung, our first real experience of Cambodia.
On arrival we sorted our room, driving a hard bargain, but the guy wouldn't budge. Five pounds provided us with a very comfortable double room with fan and ensuite bathroom. Cable TV included.
Witches BBQ

Darkness had just swallowed the bustling little North East Cambodian
town.
As we wandered through the various streets side eateries, I tasted more bugs, but was less than tempted with the large bbq'd toads. I was tempted by the snakes on sticks which I was intending to try later, but never got round too.
We dined in a

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Don Det to Ban Lung - What a palava! 28th February

Don Det to Ban Lung:
We stuffed our breakfast down in a mad rush, not wanting to miss the boat to Nakasang, where our bus was set to depart from. Today we will also be crossing into Cambodia. For some reason border crossings are always fun, and add a little tension to the day.
After a lot of faffing around from the local boat drivers and ticket collectors

Vientiane & Don Det (4000 Islands) - 24th to 28th

Vientiane, the capital of Laos, what can I say?
We arrived around 11am, it was bloody roasting.... By 2pm it had hit 39 degrees celcius.... Too much for our frail bodies.... Rather than exploring the city, checking out the temples along with the two museums which provide a plethora of information on the country's US tortured past, we stagger limply into cafes, slurping cold juices, inhaling litres of water, anything to replace the perspiration that continuously streamed from our skin. With no breeze to shift it, sweating became a pointless exercise for our bodies.
Add caption
The relentless heat (39 to 40 degrees) forced us in doors for a very long lunch. We planned our exit of Vientiane as we searched for our lunch time eatery, deciding that neither of us wanted to be in a city in this meltingly hot climate. We already longed for more tranquil destinations. As we walked, we discussed heading straight across Laos, and out into Vietnam, almost directly East. 24 hours on a VIP (the term VIP used loosely, as the people seated in front of me on the 'VIP' bus (a mini-bus) currently have my knees wedged firmly into their backs. Our seats being the only ones with no leg room whatsoever... The air conditioning has just kicked in though! Bonus!!) bus. If we chose this option, our pre purchased Vietnamese Visas would not have been a waste of £130. We whiled away an hour in a beautiful little cafe called 'Fruit Heaven', which served fresh veg juices and delicious fresh food. Little veg juice places are hard to come by any where in South East Asia. Lots of restaurants and cafes offer fruit shakes, which are a combination of fruit, sugar, milk and ice all blitzed up. Not as healthy as it initially sounds eh? We scanned Vietnam forums,

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Nan Ngum Lake 22nd to 24th

Sunrise at Ang Ngam
When we finally arrived at Ang Nam or Ban Na Kuen, whatever the hell it was called, one thing was for certain, we'd happened upon a vast beautiful sheet of water, peppered with little islands. Our Tuk Tuk stalled on the final ascent and the driver was struggling to get it moving forward. I got out and pushed. He dropped us off near a little harbour area, where as it happened, there were no Guesthouses whatsoever, we got back in the Tuk, and the driver 'tuk' us back up the hill to a rather posh looking resort. Further around there was a slightly more upmarket establishment, so our choices of accommodation for the next couple of nights were limited to say the least.  We agreed a price of 150,000 Kip per night for little cabin style rooms, fronted with a little wooden decking areas out front. Breakfast was also included so not all bad. The first evening the regular food debacle took place, the waitress speaking no english whatsoever, with no one being certain of what their actual order was intended to look like when it finally arrived. This usually finished up with one of our dishes being eaten by our new travel companions. The resort's food was edible, lets leave it at that. The breakfast was also edible if you like stale bread with double cold fried eggs.

The next morning Amanda was still feeling a little sinusy from the truck ride to the lake, she just wanted to chill for the day. I grabbed my fishing gear, a big kayak and hit the lake.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Vang Vienne - Feb 17th to 21st - New Pictures added 27th Feb

We departed Luang Prabang via a private minibus. The ride time in total was approximately 7 hours. A very cramped drawn out affair, but we got there in the end.
We arrived in Vang Vienne, then began the usual hunt for a bed.
After deliberating over a bridge toll of 4,000 Kip (33p) per person to a quieter section of town, we eventually bit the bullet and paid the 'Troll on the Toll'. As miserable a woman as you will ever see. Funnily enough the locals don't have to pay to cross these bridges, just the 'Farangs' (local name for Tourists/Foreigners). These bridge tolls would become a future form of angst and entertainment. It didn't matter how many times you crossed a little bamboo bridge, you would only receive a return pass.
Accommodatin wise, we struck lucky. A family were renting out a beautiful looking wooden cabin. It had three double bedrooms on the first floor, and Sam managed to convince John & Cathy to cough up for a separate teenagers bungalow at the bottom of the garden. A perfect pad.
So, what's in Vang Vienne? It has become notorious for 'Tubing'. What's Tubing I hear you ask? Well Tubing is when a load of 18 to 25 year olds hire large inner tubes and float down stream between various alcohol selling establishments along the river bank, getting smashed out of their skulls as they travel downstream...... We weren't here for Tubing, we were here for Vang Vienne's beautiful surroundings.



Caves, Rivers and Mountains surround the town, giving visitors great opportunity for exploring via kayak, mountain bikes or if you fancy braving the rocky outcrops, ropes!
Next day we grabbed kayaks for the afternoon, our guides no doubt assumed we'd be stopping at the bars on the way through, but this wasn't what we had in mind. We paddled gently downstream with the current assisting us on our 8 km journey. The surroundings were stunning. After an hour or so of the sounds of nature, our peace and quiet was pushed aside as we took on a little riffle of water that carried us around a sweeping corner on to a stretch of river that I could only class as 'Booming & Boozy'. We pulled our kayaks onto a shingle bank

Monday, 20 February 2012

Slow Boat, Luang Prabang and Steamy Massage 12th to 16th February

When we finally arrived in Huay Xie after the Gibbon Experience, we were planning on grabbing our backpacks from the hotel and boarding the 5pm bus to Luang Prabang (The Jewell of Laos), but due to Amanda being so ill that idea had flown straight out the window.  We rebooked into the hotel, and she snuggled up in bed, still nursing a high fever.  Noortje (Nora) was equally as ill.
John, Cathy & Sam were heading off on the 2 day slow boat journey the next morning at 10am.  We'd deliberated the slow boat, but decided against it in the end.  None of us wanted to stay in the border town of Huay Xie and longer than we wanted, but with the ladies so ill, it looked like we may have to stay the next day too.

Bicycle on the roof of the Slow Boat

I still held out hope, knowing how quickly the virus had welcomed itself into my system, then departed within 24 hours without as much as a simply thank you for allowing me to use my body as a vessel to pass it one to the majority of others in the tree house.
Whatever way we decided to travel, it would either be an 11 hour 5pm overnight bus, or a long boat down the Mekong, a six hour trip the first day with a stop at a little village almost half way, then 7 hours the next day.  The river cuts it's way through some beautiful landscape, so I assumed the scenery would be pretty impressive.
We woke early the next morning.  Amanda was feeling alot better, still tender, but well enough to travel.  I almost whooped with joy.  I walked 10 minutes to the

Monday, 13 February 2012

Gibbons, Zipping & Projectile Vomitting - 09/02/2011 to 12/02/2012

The local, young entrepreneurial couple handed us our pre-ordered sandwiches and drinks, all ready for the journey to the Gibbon.  As we paid for our salad baguettes a jolly, smiling (coffee induced) American lady named Cathy was doing the same thing.

Tommy, Sam, Paul, Bas, Amanda, Cathy, Noortje and John John
Big John towering at the back
Across the road The Gibbon Exp office was getting ready to show the comedic zip lining safety film.  The large group were then split across 3 vehicles and shipped out to the Bokeo National Reserve Rainforest.  The adventure begins.
During the night ahead of the Gibbon I was feeling a tad rough.  A slightly dodgy stomach but nothing serious, so nothing to worry about.
The ride in the open fronted Toyota truck was blustery, and I began to feel increasingly cold.  Young Aussie Paul  was playing human windbreak on the opposite side of the truck, he too was suffering a slight wind chill from the 50mph vehicular generated wind tunnel.  The six in the back all wished we'd opted for the cabin seats!
I mumbled to Amanda that I was feeling a little achey around the back and ribs, a little worse for wear, but nothing that wouldn't pass.  I continued having fun with our new compadres in the back fo the Toyota, exchanging travelling stories.  An hour passed

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Thailand to Laos: Luang Namtha - New Images Added 14th February

We boarded the bus from Chiang Rai headed for Chiang Khong, on the Thailand/Laos border, separated by the mighty Mekong river.
We dined on Pad Thai street food style, which Amanda grabbed before getting on board.  It was absolutely superb.  As we travelled through the North Eastern countryside, the last of the paddy fields glistened in the late afternoon sun, whilst the workers with their 'China Man' style hat's laboriously harvested the crops of rice.
We arrived in Chiang Khong at 3pm, booked into a guesthouse on the Mekong then headed back up into the town to check the market.
With such a vast waterway on our doorstep, I thought it would be rude not to throw a line into the Mekong's strong flow.  At the market I bartered hard with the vendors for a chunk of liver and a couple of chunks of catfish, finally settling for their original asking price......
I walked down through the Mekong vegetable allotments, a stunning selection of fresh veg, fed and fertilised by the water of the upper Mekong.  By 5pm I was casting out into a large area of slack water just off the main flow.  A long tail boat zipped up the river.  I held onto the rod, just waiting for something to happen, a bang, then a pull, then who knows.  As the sun settled down behind the trees and buildings opposite, my hopes of catching a fish from the Mekong gradually faded with the light.  I tried

Friday, 3 February 2012

Chiang Rai & Atta Hill

We headed to the bus station in Chiang Mai after the crazy night!
The terminal was incredibly busy, and the next available bus to Chiang Rai was at 5.30pm..... almost 4 hours away.....
As I paid for two of the last six seats left, Amanda snuck into the queue and told me a 'local entrepreneur' was trying to get ten passengers for his minibus.
He would be charging 300 baht per person, the bus was 260 baht..... He had told Amanda that he only needed 2 more passengers after us.
I asked for a refund as the transaction had just completed, we were charged 60 baht for the trouble.
Our local Thai Del Boy, had also bent the truth ever so slightly, as we were his first passengers.  The next 45 minutes was spent approaching all westerners to see if they were heading to Chiang Rai.  Del Boy managed to another 8 passengers together, but seemed happy that I was willing to help out.
Nutritious & Crispy
We arrived in Chiang Rai, then spent 45 minutes wandering around looking for Ben Guesthouse (which we'd booked), which was tucked away amongst a set of little streets.  It was on the outskirts of the city, but the arsehole of nowhere simultaneously.  Amazing!
We wandered the street market that night searching for some half healthy food.... I became distracted with the deep fried crickets, which one of the stall owners let me try.  To Amanda's disgust and surprise, I promptly purchased a bag of the tasty little hoppers.  Better than crisps let me tell you.  I also tried a crispy, soft centred maggot type critter.  That tasted like a nutty potato, but I didn't enjoy the soft centre.
The next morning we checked out, not really wanting to remain on the outskirts or indeed 'inskirts' of another city, so we called a couple of little mountain resorts.
We settled for Akka Hill Resort, it sounded

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Weirdest Night Ever....

As far as strange experiences go this has now took top place.... and I've had some strange experiences let me tell you.  This is unedited, as I'm shattered after not sleeping last night, so again please bear with me, use your imagination where words are missing, or the wrong round way!  ;-)

The day before yesterday (still in Chiang Mai), we were wandering the streets once again.  I'd had my flip flops mended for 20 baht (45p), the guy just drove a needle with heavy thread right through the sole to attach the bit that fits between the toes.  Over the past fortnight they'd turned into sandals, with the 'between the toe' bit having severed away from the sole.  I looked even poorer than I normally do!  We sat and waited

Friday, 27 January 2012

Chiang Mai 23rd to 27th January

What's the worst thing I could lose enroute to Chiang Mai?  Well in order of importance, these would be as follows:

1. Amanda
2. Camera Gear
3. Fishing Equipment
4. Laptop
5. Clothes

Straight in at number 3.... My fishing rod.... disappeared between Surat Thani to Bangkok &
and the Bangkok to Chiang Mai bus transfer..... I went to find the original bus at a Bangkok Bus Dept containing over 100 buses, about an hour after I realised it wasn't on the new bus, which wasn't leaving

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Krabi January 19th to 21st (more photo's to be added)

The ferry back to Donsak was a pleasant enough journey.  We were swiftly boarded onto our air conditioned 'coach' at the port. We made ourselves comfortable then slowly took in our surroundings.  Eight 1960's style lights adorned the ceiling, Concave circular discs, most of which were broken, the tatty yellow curtains did their job, protecting everyone sitting on the sunny side from slow cooking during the next 3 hours.  It was a hot day, the air conditioning could be felt if you reached up to your personalised little vent, laying the back of your hand against it and really concentrated, I'm sure there was a sensation of cool air, I could have been imagining it!  It was rubbish!
Longtail Boats at Low Tide
The landscapes were beautiful as we headed down toward Krabi, and although stiflingly hot, the scenery made up for the slight discomfort.
We arrived at a little bus stop off on the outskirts of town, and I put my new SIM card into action, we called the Pine Bungalow for our ride out to their little single huts.  They quoted us 300 baht (remember 50p per £1) or 500 for the posh ones, we agreed that we'd try the 300 baht, it had a fan and was all we needed.  After fifteen minutes of waiting our pick up truck style taxi arrived.  We hopped up into the back and made ourselves comfortable.  The next 20 minutes were spent breathing fragrant plumes of cannabis wafting from the drivers open window.... I think I was high by the time we reached the resort, the driver definitely was!  Surprisingly as ever the 300 baht rooms weren't on offer, not booked, just no 300 baht rooms.  Even though the day before they'd emailed me offering rooms of 300 or 500.  Well we were twenty minutes drive out of Krabi, it had just got dark and

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Leaving Koh Samui....15th to 18th January

yoga pose

Good Lord!


Local Dog Learning Sun Salutation
Castnet

The weather has been inclement, with extremely heavy rain, one day raining through until 2pm.
Mary Poppins on a moped?
One of these rainy days we decided to brave it, we weren't going to let a bit of precipitation ruin our trip!  We headed out on the moped, whilst it was dry, then without much warning the weather turned.  We dived into a little food establishment to take shelter, we dined on delicious prawns and vegetable curry for less then £2.00, whilst enjoying the company of a large, bearded Englishman who was partaking in a diving course. Lovely big fella.  Initially 40 minutes had passed before we had our food, at this point we decided it was time we reminded the owners of the said establishment that we'd ordered some of their local delights a little while ago, apologies and 10 minutes later, we were tucking in.  Whilst I sorted the bill Amanda shot into a little shop next door and came out holding two polythene ponchos, one in pink and one in baby blue, delightful!  The remainder of the afternoon was spent

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Koh Samui - First Few Days - 14th January

Koh Samui, what can I say?  It's a typical island paradise type place.  Busy tourist areas, which we are on the cusp of, about 10 minutes away from Chaweng which is a nice beach spoilt by holiday makers!  The South West of the Island is tranquil and beautiful.
The local market which is about 40 minutes walk from where we stay is awesome, amazing fresh foods, vegetables and fruit, along with a plethora of fish and meats.  There is also a selection

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Bangkok to Koh Samui 10th January

We headed out loaded up with our Backpacks, took the Skytrain to as close to where the bus station was as we could get (apparently).  After an hour of walking in 30 degrees heat, and having asked directions on a number of occasions, trying to glean a what few comprehendable words we could each time, we reached the 'bus station'.  A few Thai bus drivers were sat around on old buckets and drums, chattering and laughing.  'Where you wanna go?' one asked.  'Koh Samui' we replied.  Having researched online

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Bangkok Day 2

We had booked to stay 2 nights in Bangkok before heading to Koh Samui where a very generous friend had offered us free accommodation for the duration of our stay, but on waking up on the second morning I felt truly terrible.  The fluy virus from the IOM had truly taken hold, I hadn't slept a wink again either.  My throat was rough, and I was aching from head to toe.  I felt rubbish.  Amanda decided

Bangkok.... Head & Shoulders....

We had awful difficulty finding our little guest house in Bangkok, having hopped off the superbly efficient Sky Train one stop too early.... or too late, not sure.  It was about 10.30pm as we wandered along with the 'roaches rats and ho's' as Amanda put it, arriving at 11pm.  Our room was pleasant enough for £20 a night, we didn't expect much, but it was pretty decent.  As much tea and coffee was also included from the downstairs 'kettle area'.  We dumped our gear, Amanda showered, then we headed down to the supermarket to grab some food.  Our heads hit the hay at about 11.45pm that night, exhausted and feeling rough.
We woke the next morning.... ahem afternoon at 12.30pm.... I was feeling pretty poor but we decided to head out and explore the place.  The Sky Train took us to

Leaving the UK....

A quick thanks to everyone for housing all our belongings again, and for those that helped, lended and accommodated us!  Much love to you all.
We spent a lovely Christmas/New Year period with our families and friends on the Isle of Man before we packed in work and headed off to Asia!

We were set to leave on January 5th, but with our new backpacks having been ordered online on 23rd December and still apparently in transit, set to arrive on the island the day before we left things were running a little tight.... as usual!  Of course I'd like to think of my planning as super efficient as ever, rather than last minute, although my wife tends to disagree on this one.  At the worst we'd go 'carrier bagging' around SE Asia, I told Amanda it's the new backpacking!  She wasn't amused.
The backpacks arrived with 24 hours in hand, loads of time!  A 40 litre (plus 8) for me and a 30 litre (plus 6) for Amanda, we intended to travel as light as possible.  After Amanda packing, repacking and removing, repacking and removing again, then one more time, we were ready.  I had photography equipment, fishing gear and a few items of clothing.... and I mean a few!  There wasn't much room with all the other gear.
The flight from the IOM to Liverpool was uneventful (for everyone else bar me, the landing was horrible as ever), ut everyone else seemed happy enough.
After grabbing a bus from the airport into Liverpool we trudged through rain sodden Liver Bird Land to our hotel, which had a little kitchenette, enroute we nipped into Tesco Express to grab some supplies.  As we checked into the hotel, the receptionist asked for a credit card.... No, not that pocket, or that one, or that one.... Christ, I've left all our cards and £50 in cash at Tesco Express, poor start.  I splashed my way down the road, finally reaching Tesco Express, where they'd safely stored my wallet, and as an extra bonus, had even decided to leave the cash, lovely honest scousers.  Thank you Liverpool!
A 5.5 hour journey setting off at 6.30am from Liverpool down to The Big Smoke was next, For £7 each it was a bargain and went perfectly.  With a few hours to spend in London I'd already decided to attend the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition, which was absolutely amazing, jam packed with stunning images of wildlife, from insects to polar bears.
Amanda sat, chilled and read in the Museum for the 45 minutes while I spent £9 of our budget on image ogling.
Our flight to Bangkok was long, it left Heathrow at 9.50pm..... and with a stop off in Oman took about 14 hours in total, during the flight I watched a few films and read, Amanda read and slept.  Our pre-ordered vegetarian Hindu curry was delicious, but Amanda's raw vegetarian meal was a tad disappointing, which amounted to little more than a stack of cucumber slices.  Still, it was a meal and eye treatment all in one, so who could complain!
The IOM was a distant memory of 45 hours before by the time finally landed in Bangkok, and I hadn't slept a wink on the Megabus or indeed the flights.... Fatigue was setting in, as was a very sore throat.