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Monday, January 30, 2012

Tuol Sleng & The Killing Fields

We only stayed in Phnom Penh for 2 nights. It was busy and filthy dirty with rubbish scattered everywhere. We had one full day where we paid for a tuck tuck and driver for the day with Harry and Laura.

First we went to the Tuol Sleng museum, which is an old school that was used by the Khmer Rouge to hold and torture the innocent people thought to be conspiring against the ideas of Pol Pott. For those unaware Cambodia had a civil war that didn’t end until 1999. Basically Pol Pott, wanted to create a society where all the people of the country were equal. He didn’t believe in education, the need for doctors, towns and business people. He wanted everyone to work on the farms, growing rice. Although interesting to know he was very well educated as his other top followers were, he had a degree and had studied in France. However he didn’t want this for the people of Cambodia. He is responsible for killing 1 out of every 4 people living n Cambodia at that time including children. He believed that you needed to kill entire families to extinguish what he believed to be the problem (intelligent people). Many of the Cambodian people fighting for him were young adolescents who had joined the Khmer Rouge initially believing they were going to get a better life but then were trapped from leaving once they realised the truth as they would have been killed also. This led to many people having to kill their own families or witness them being killed.

Tuol Sleng was used to keep men, women and children where they were tortured until admitting crimes of conspiracy that they hadn’t committed. When it was discovered after the Vietnamese chased Pol Pott and his leaders into the jungle there were 14 bodies including one woman left there. These 14 are buried in the school. The Cambodians have left the school as close as possible to how they found it so people can see what happened there. When the people were taken there the Khmer Rouge took photos of each person including mothers with babies in their arms so as to keep a record. These photos are displayed in the museum as a remembrance to the 20,000 people who passed through Tuol Sleng, only 7 people left Tuol Sleng alive.

We then went to the “killing field of Choeung Ek” on the outside of the city. Here the prisoners from Tuol Sleng were taken and murdered at night time. This happened 2 or 3 times a month, where trucks full of men, women and children made their last journey. They were kept in a small shed like building and one by one taken to kneel next to mass graves. Since bullets were expensive and in short supply they were killed by beating with farm tools and babies were thrown against a tree, while the Khmer Rouge pumped music loudly into the night sky to disguise the sound of the people’s screams. It’s horrifying to see and very hard to believe. This isn’t just the one field there is hundreds around Cambodia, some still undiscovered as they are too surrounded by landmines. There are still bones and clothes visible on the paths as you walk around the field. The Skulls and major bones of the people murdered here were collected and used for forensics to discover the true horrors that occurred here. Then the skulls, bones and clothes have been placed in a tall, glass tower at the entrance to the killing fields as a memorial to the people murdered.

Like I said it’s hard to believe this actually happened and also how it happened not that long ago. The Cambodian people keep the Tuol Sleng museum and killing fields for public view so people can see the truth but also to try and prevent things like this from occurring else where.

After here Harry wanted to go and shoot a gun so we went with him to the military base, however me being the chicken I am had to hide in the toilets while he was doing it!!!

The next day we came to Sihanoukville on the coast of Cambodia by the hottest bus ever as the air-con was broken!!! We’ve been here for 3 nights now. The first day we all met up with the 2 Sam’s and spent it on the beach where a group of Cambodian children joined us in the sea and got the boys to throw them in the air and they would do summersaults back into the water, there was a big crowd of them around us we looked like we were on a day trip with the local orphanage!! That night we had another “messy” night out, they have bucket drinks here like in Thailand but instead of them being in an actual bucket they are served in the bottom half of a 2 litre water bottle!!! However the next morning I woke up not feeling too well and not just from the hangover. We think I have food poisoning so spent all day yesterday and what looks like all day today in the room. It’s bad but I’ve got 3 different tablets from the pharmacy so hopefully they will kick in soon!!!!


Friday, January 27, 2012

Angkor wat

 written 26/1/12

   The day after the war museum we spent looking around the area, stumbling across a local indoor market that seemed like you could get lost in! It was split into sections-one minute we were walking around stalls selling silk, purses and scarves the next there were little hairdresser stalls each with one chair all clustered together (don’t know if I’d trust to have my hair cut on a market stall though), then came the food section where the smell was horrible!! There were piles of fruit and veg then next to it baskets of fish and crabs, then meat being cut up- one stall had a pig’s head on the front and we had to step in blood on the floor as we were walking through!

            That afternoon as we were eating lunch we had a guy trying to sell us a book. This happens a lot in Siem Reap- there’s the people selling books, postcards and bracelets, the older beggars who have been injured on the land mines, the orphan children and mother’s with baby’s asking you to buy them milk. The 3 later are obviously stuck n poverty and we gave a little bit too but the ones selling things though (like the book guy) are all dressed well and are clean but really don’t leave you alone. When they asked us why we wouldn’t buy from them they wouldn’t accept the answer “we don’t want what your selling” and as they target you whilst your sat in a restaurant/ street stall eating it’s hard to get them to leave you alone. This particular one came up from behind my shoulder, wearing a pollution mask, aged late teens/early 20’s. At first we were all quite polite, he was selling the book for a large amount so we said we didn’t want it, he then became very insistent and we ended up saying we’d give him 2 dollars for it so he would go away and we’d seen it in a book shop for 3. He wouldn’t accept our 2 dollars so we said “it was ok we didn’t really want the book anyway.” With that he started getting angry at us and began asking us to give him money to go away because if we didn’t want the book why were we saying we’d pay 2 dollars for it?? We stayed calm and told him we wished him well, we didn’t want to buy his book and please could he let us have our lunch alone. He got angrier and angrier eventually storming off and told mister Alex “he’d be waiting for him to give him a souvenir when we left the restaurant” he then stood staring at us across the street the whole time we were there. I know it doesn’t sound very much but it’s the first time since we’ve been away I’ve felt threatened, mister Al said he was just trying to intimidate us and to ignore him but he did intimidate me. I made us go out the back exit when we had finished because I was scared in case he was a bit of a nutter.

That evening we met up with Harry and Laura for what we had planned as a “quiet night” however we didn’t end up leaving the bar until 4:30 where I decided to lie in the grubby, dusty track of a road and look at the stars!!! Few too many cocktails for me I think!!!

            So obviously I woke the next day feeling very delicate and sorry for myself!! We’d arranged with Harry and Laura to see Angkor Wat with them the night before but as the night had progressed the meeting time had got later and later!!! We finally met them at 12 for something to eat then headed to see the temple. Last time I came to Cambodia I went in the evening and just saw the outside (because that was free!!) but this time we paid the 20 dollars to see what it was all about.
I’ve got to admit it was very impressive, it’s the largest religious structure in the world, and it’s not just the one temple there are loads of different ones all around the parameter that we could see with our 20 dollars. There’s actually so many that the recommended tour for real temple lovers is 3 full days. We were very satisfied with our 4 hours though!!! Walking through Angkor Wat mister Alex saw a monk leaning on the side of the temple on his mobile phone (not the correct behaviour for monks I’m sure!!)

After walking round Angkor Wat in the immense heat (over 30 degrees), fighting the Chinese to get a photo without one of them jumping in, being followed by a family with a little boy constantly blowing in some stupid, annoying trumpet toy and nursing our hangovers we asked our tuck tuck driver to do us a little drive-by tour of the other temples!!! We did get out and walk through a temple called Ta Prohm, which has been taken over by massive trees, their roots twining into the stones- we didn’t realise until afterwards when we asked our tuck tuck driver to take us to the temple the Lara Croft film was made that that was the one we’d just been in!

We saw some young boys when walking through Ta Prohm busking wearing hats they’d made. We watched them for a while, gave them a small note (they don’t have coins here!) and then all of a sudden they all scarpered, quick as a flash. Just as they fled a policeman arrived on his bike, the sad thing was they’d left the little basket with their money in. I wanted to pick it up for them but the policeman was watching and mister Alex said I shouldn’t. I don’t know how I feel about that, further round the temple I saw a school- the boys should have been there not busking and perhaps that’s why the policeman didn’t want them busking. All the same I hope the policeman left the basket of money for them.

This morning we went for a run, it’s a bit too dusty and dirty here really and even at 9:30 it was already too hot. But it was quite cool to see some of the streets we wouldn’t have seen otherwise even if the locals did give us a few weird looks and the children were waving!!

 I’m writing this on the bus to Phnom Penh, it takes about 6 hours and it’s quite cramped plus you’ve got to kind of crawl into the toilet so were on a restricted fluid intake for the journey!

Lots of love to everyone at home xxxxx

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

War Museum Siem Reap

Made another little observation today that it seems all the Cambodian men wear shirts and jeans, Its really hard in vest and shorts. It is stifling, probably hotter than all of Thailand. One thing I’m not missing from Thailand is the Suit shops, they seem to have been replaced with gobby little kids who answer back with attitude and start to eff and jeff at you, when you don’t buy their books from them. Not the best sales pitch and wouldn’t last long on The Apprentice!! These kids are not the homeless kids that eat scraps off plates, these are well dressed kids who need a slap, and to know when the answer is no and not wait at your side whilst you eat.
We decided to go to the “War Museum” in Siem Reap on the advidce of the 2 Sams. So we jumped in a tuc tuc and as soon as we arrived at the entrance a Cambodian man introduced himself (name forgotten) so I shook his hand and the small chit chat started. He asked me if I lived near the big clock, even though Big Ben is the bell and not the clock I didn’t correct him, as sometimes its just easier to let things be. This is another lesson you learn after having so many blank looks on foreign faces when you talk. I couldn’t resist telling him that the biggest clock face in Britain is in actual fact ………………. Liverpool on the liver building. This was met with one of those blank looks I was just mentioning. I felt like I was waving a Dime Bar in front of his face, just like in the old TV adverts. Then just as the small talk was getting friendly BANG!! “Do you want a tour guide to take you round the museum?” Just as I was thinking how to say no, he hit me again BANG!! “I only have one legged the other is wooden” KNOCK KNOCK as he tapped the wooden leg, “I only have one eye as well, these injuries all from the war” as much as I wanted to say no I couldn’t. I bottled it and agreed, “How much?” I asked, $10 he said. Once again we got stung.
So off we set and I have to admit I don’t know what I was expecting but the “War Museum” looked like Scrap Heap Challenge. Blown up tank after blown up tank, Land to Air guns after machine gun, Even a human bone on the side of a tank. It only took a couple more minutes and the tour guide told us his wife died 3 weeks ago. Now this is terrible but I started to wonder if he was just trying to lay it on thick in the hope of more money from us. South East Asia especially Cambodia has this effect, you don’t trust anybody in what they say. As we walked past each tank the tour guide was telling us how his friend died in this tank, that tank, the gun turret. Then he showed us the grenades. Miss Alex ran when he picked one up and acted as though he was gonna through it in our direction. In all honesty, I did squint my face. The tour guide didn’t talk much and miss Alex was still non the wiser on who was fighting who, who was backing who and why there was a civil war in Cambodia. This tour guide was rubbish. We managed to workout from the bits (very small) of information there had been a civil war that finished in 1999.  7 million mines are still undetected in Cambodia and it was the Vienamese who Chased Pol Pot (barn pot more like) into hiding in the mountainous regions.
We must have been 15 minutes into our tour when the guide said that due to his legs being tired this was the end of the tour and we were free to go around the Scrap yard ………. Sorry “War Museum” and take pictures. Not a chance the Japanese tourists were all over the tanks like ants. 10 mintutes after we started walking around, our tour guide was taking another tour around, so much for his tired legs.

Speak soon xxx

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Welcome to Cambodia!

Woke up yesterday morning to the sound of church bells, this is the sound of the alarm on my phone and today at 6;30 am I felt like throwing my phone out of the window and pretending the alarm hadn’t gone off yet. The reason for this being that id only had 4 hours sleep. Once again I set the alarm for the middle of the night to watch the Liverpool fc match, only for them to be gubbed by a relegation fodder team. After a 12 hour coach ride from Phuket the previous day its fair to say my body was battered, as well as my football pride.
We left Bangkok at 7;30 and headed for Poipet on the border of Thailand and Cambodia. As we waited in a line and filled out some forms a truck pulled up alongside us, it was ram packed with big fat pigs. Personally I couldn’t stop thinking about bacon butties with a blob of bobby brown, but miss Alex was cooing. Eventually she comforted herself with the thought that they wouldn’t have even existed if they weren’t one day, going to end up on a dish.
One thing that really annoys me is a queue jumper and generally they seem to be German. Today we had a fat German jump the queue who had a Thai “escort” with him. Two young lads who looked German and a Canadian, his friend tried too push through but by this point I’d had enough and stepped in his path to stop him. Why cant people just wait their turn like I do!!
Once all the papers had been signed and I’d stood my turn in the queue our party of about 30 people made our way through the border and jumped on a bus that was to take us to the taxi point. The trip cost us 750 baht (£15 ish) this included a minibus from Bangkok to the border, Then a taxi from the border to Siam Reap in Cambodia then one nights stay at a guest house. Or for a bus over the border and a bus to Siam Reap with no guest house it would have cost us 350 baht (£7) Obviously we took the 750 baht deal because it sounded too good to be true, plus the taxi was meant to be quicker than the bus by an hour. So at this point in the story miss Alex and me are just through the border and waiting for our “taxi” to Siam Reap. The tour guide pulls me and miss Alex aside and tells us to follow him to the taxi, on the way to the taxi the tour guide asks two old blokes to follow him  as well. Just before we get in the taxi the tour guide is summoned by his mate. Next thing we know were told to follow him back to the main party of 30 or so people.  Our taxi had been cancelled. The tour guide then gathered the whole party around him and says the doomed words “I have some bad news” He then told us that because its Chinese new year today there was no Taxis around to take us all to Siam Reap. Its fair to say I went mad at the bloke, I instantly told him I wanted a refund, miss Alex also chipping in and giving the tour guide a good tongue lashing, before we knew it was chaos. There was a German saying “zis ist not gut enough” then the typically passionate Italian bloke gesturing with his finger and thumb near his mouth saying “eh mama mia” Looking back as I write this it was a comical scene. The tour guide promising every one a refund, no where near what we should have got back, plus we didn’t actually get a refund in the end, think every one was just happy to arrive here tonight. Our mode of transport was a bus, and this bus was packed to the rafters. It really was choka!!
I feel obliged to tell the whole world now not to bother getting the “too good to be true taxi” because it is actually too good to be true. Also at this point we started to doubt whether there would actually be a guest house at the other end waiting for us. But we just wanted to get to Siam Reap by this point.
Also in the bus during the 3 hour drive to Siam Reap I noticed that the bus was a right hand drive, and the Cambodians drive on the right hand side. Maybe this was the future!! Cambodia was setting a new trend against the world.  Also during the ride I was thinking about all these valuable lessons that we’d learnt through our travels like, never booking a “too good to be true taxi” just by the cheaper bus ride, never book a weeks boxing before we’d checked out were the gym was and what state it was in, never play a scratchcard and believe we’d won a big prize. All these lessons were learnt too late. Although one thing I’m not learning is setting my alarm clock through the night to watch Liverpool play a match.
A car passed us on the way to Siam Reap and I promise it had about 20 Cambodians in it. It was impressive to see how they’d done it. Eventually we arrived in Siam Reap and also at the guest house, we did have a room reserved for us and it was at no extra cost. As we hadn’t eaten in 12 hours we made our way to “pub street” (very Cambodian name) and had an amazing BBQ. Miss Alex mentioned it in her last blog. We noticed as we sat eating, Cambodian kids walking through the street eateries. They were picking the scraps of food from   empty tables. This broke our hearts. We then talked about maybe doing a couple of days volunteering work. A group arrange to go and give food to homeless children on the “dumps” (rubbish tips) Its only when you see the kids like we did last night that it really hits home how lucky we are.
I would also like to mention in the blog, On a packed Patong Beach in Phuket, I decided to chase after miss Alex into the sea. So I got up from my towel and sprinted down to the waters edge, took a couple of gallops through the first few waves then dived head first into the water. This would have looked cool if my back had actually gone underneath the water. It was shallow water and my prize was a cut on my forehead. I felt so daft, I didn’t even turn around to face the beach until the bleeding had stopped. I picked myself up and just carried on walking out to deeper water, where miss Alex caught up with me in fits of laughter.

Speak soon xxx  

We got to Cambodia today, I'll let Mister Alex tell you about the journey. I just wanted to write a short bit on something we saw this evening that upset me so much to see. We were sat in a street restaurant and young children came in- grubby wearing ripped clothes and some were bare footed with bin bags. At first I noticed them collecting all the recyclables from the tables once people had left and guessed they must take them to the recycling centre and in return get a little bit of money. This alone made me sad but then we saw one young girl take the bone of a chicken leg that had been eaten and left by whoever was last at the table and ate the remaining chicken on it. I told al to cover his bones because I couldn't bear the thought of someone eating our left overs and bought some chicken wings to give to 2 of the children. I'm not stupid I know that theres millions of homeless children in the world but I suppose until I actually saw it I didn't really realise it.


Rachel's visit

 written 21/01/2012

We met Rachel in Phuket and as Mister Alex said in his last blog we spent a night there (the lady boy spanking incident) then went back to Phi Phi where some of the Samui gang were. The weather was a bit on and off and I felt bad Rach had come all this way and it wasn’t glorious sunshine for her. But we had a good time, defiantly some messy nights with a few too many buckets, watched more westerners fight in the boxing ring (one being a guy from Scarborough travelling at the moment!!), and the hung-over day renting kayaks was a lot of fun. One day we got a taxi boat to a quieter beach on the island that was lush, so much cleaner and the sea was deep at the shore so fab for swimming in. Rach also wanted a massage so we couldn’t let her have one by herself so we treated ourselves to one on the beach with her!! I think we spent 4 nights there and then moved back to Kohphangan as it was a half moon party the next day.
Just remembered the first night in Phi Phi we hadn’t booked anywhere to stay and when we got there everywhere had signs saying full, we all started to panic and in the end had to spend the night in a little, very overpriced shack that we were told was a room for 3 people but only had 2 single beds!! Squash.com!! The night we spent there happened to be a very messy night and stupidly none of set an alarm for the morning thinking we’d be awake for check out at 11am, we weren’t I woke at 11:20 and don’t think any of us have got out of bed and ready so fast with such pounding heads. Mister Al’s answer to the people running the guesthouse saying we were checking out late was to quickly say, “no check outs at 11:30 so were on time!!” before we all scurried out!
Once we got to Kohphangan we were scouted by a very nice guesthouse called power beach. It had lovely little bungalows with en-suite outside each one with hot water showers!!!! We had a night there chilling and having a few drinks before we sported our day-glow outfits once again and went to the half moon party. A half moon party is like a full moon but with less people and instead of being on a beach is set in the forest. Driving in the taxi to get there along the forest roads there were occasional bottles with flames coming out lighting the way. Once there we had to walk up a little forest path until we came to a clearing where the party was held. There were luminous props hanging from the tress, fire dancers and the whole atmosphere was a bit eerie and spooky, mister Alex described it as being enchanted. Obviously we had the usual bucket drinks and were soon very merry, again another late one, think we got back to the guesthouse at 05:30 and walking past the night security men we couldn’t help but pose for a picture as they were both fast asleep!!!

The sun was out for Rachel’s last few days so Rach got a nice bit of colour and we’ve got even browner!!! During our time back on Kohphangan we accidently stumbled across a food market close to where we stayed for New Year  (angry we didn’t find it then) but spent a lot of our meal times there this time. It’s made up of a bunch of stalls selling bbq chicken, meat, big fish, corn on the cob, the best fruit shakes ever, pancakes, allsorts and it is sooooo cheap it’s unreal!! We don’t think we’ve eaten that cheap since Bangkok! Plus the food was gorgeous and going from stall to stall picking up bits you want was so much fun.

We spent Rachel’s last 2 nights in Phuket again. We will defiantly not be in a rush to return, it’s very busy, dirty with a massive sex and prostitute industry, extremely commercialised and overpriced! On the way back to Phuket from Kohphangan we were scammed into the transport -When we booked the tickets from Kohphangan the very nice man told us there was 2 times we could leave 7am or 12:30 in the afternoon however if we got the 7am one we would get to Phuket for 15:00 so we went for this option as we thought we could spend the afternoon in the sun. Only we were dropped in the middle of nowhere and were told to wait for 3 hours!! When I inquired into this saying we had been told we would get to Phuket for 15:00 the man replied “if you want to get there for 3 then put your back pack on and start walking straight!!! If you want to get the bus sit and wait and you will get there for 6 or 7 tonight!!” I love Thailand and most of the Thai people but it’s when we get spoken to like this it really gets on my nerves, it’s not like he isn’t making a lot of money in his job!!

Anyway we got to Phuket around 19:00 and found a little guesthouse near where we stayed on Rachel’s first night. We spent Rachel’s last 2 nights having drinks (we found an amazing man who made the best cocktails on the street to walk around with on a night), and we spent yesterday on the beach. Thank you very much to Rach for coming and seeing us, hope you had a good time, was lovely to see you, have a safe journey home xxxxxx

Today Mister Al and I had to be up at 05:30 to get our taxi at 06:00 to get us to the bus station for 7 where we got the bus to Bangkok where we are staying tonight (after a 12 hour bus journey). We had been dreading this journey but the bus today was the best ever -we had the best seats right at the front on the top floor with loads of leg room, they came round and gave us each a bottle of water and a little cake as the bus left Phuket. It made such a change to the ones we usually get but this one is more for Thai people not a specific tourist bus and the difference was huge!!! Tomorrow we have another 12-hour bus journey ahead of us to Cambodia as our Thai visa has run out.  Can’t believe we’ve been in Thailand for 2 months now, its crazy. Loved everything we’ve seen and done and I’m very excited to be going to Cambodia (I’ve been there before but only for a few days and there’s loads of other things I want to do that I didn’t have chance to do last time). Plus we are having a big reunion with the 2 Sam’s and Harry and Laura as we are all there at the same time! Got a feeling there’s lots of fun times ahead!!!

Lots of love xxxxxxx

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Scratch cards, Lies & Marooned Kayaks!!

Whilst waiting for Rachel to arrive from the airport in Phuket, miss Alex and I decided we’d go for some breakfast. As we took our chance crossing the road (that’s a whole blog in itself) a bike pulled up with 2 men on. The driver was a South African and the second man was a Thai. The South African introduced himself as Sean and reached into his satchel. He pulled out a piece of card. Me and Miss Alex looked at each other not knowing what was happening. I thought he might ask us for directions. He quickly said that he was working for a promotion company in Phuket and due to tourism “being at an all time low in Thailand” the company were handing out scratch cards with prizes. Most prizes were T Shirts and Baseball caps. As miss Alex scratched her card she had won a T shirt with the name of a Hotel emblazoned on the front (Great!!) I scratched to reveal 3 stars. Sean the South African looked at the card an shouted “oh f@*k, this is amazing.” He then turned the scratch card over and there where 6 star prizes. A Dream Holiday, an iphone 4, an Ipad2, plasma TV, that would be hilarious strapping that to my back pack and taking through customs. 20,000 baht (£400 ish) and something else which we cant remember so it couldn’t have been that good. Straight away we wanted the money, no questions asked that’s what we wanted. All we had to do to was go and collect the prize from the hotel that day. As we were waiting for Rachael we asked Sean if we could go later when she arrived. He said she could come as well as long as she was family. So at that point Rachel and miss Alex were sisters. Sean then told us to collect the prize we would need to sit through a 90 minute presentation and answer a few questions. I was now 30 years old and not 29, and me and miss Alex had lived together for 3 years plus we were on a 3 week holiday in Thailand and not travellers. To get to the hotel the all we had to do was show the card to a tuc tuc driver and he would take us for free of charge, we would also get a free tuc tuc back to where we came from this all seemed too good to be true and too easy but we were really excited and I’d never ever won anything in my life so I was sold.
So the 3 of us arrived at the Patong Beach Resort Hotel and went to the receptionist who told us to take a seat. An English bloke came over and introduced himself as Keith and he sat down and started asking us questions. Bearing in mind before we got there miss Alex and me had run through the story of us “living together for 3 years”, I even told miss Alex to play along with us being engaged just incase we won the dream holiday, my thinking was that we’d be upgraded to a better suite. Rachel was also clued up on the story, I thought it was water tight. Keith asked us straight away how long where we in Thailand? At the same time I said 3 weeks and miss Alex said 2, mistake number 1!! He then asked when did we get here? Miss Alex saying 2 weeks to the previous question  completely threw me with the dates in my head, and I  said just after new year, then I noticed as I said this I still had my new years wrist band on from the full moon party in day glow green. At this point we knew Keith was quizzing us for any excuse not to give us a prize, we still didn’t know what the prize was yet. There was another scratch box on the scratch card that had a letter corresponding to the prizes on the back. Rachel and I tried to make conversation with Keith, thinking we were getting his attention away from the lies we had told him. Small talk like “how long have you lived in Thailand?” Miss Alex had the look of guilt on her face, it was written all over her. She made an excuse and went to the toilet. Keith then left us to attend to a guest. We were rumbled when he returned he gave a really weak apology and said that he was really busy and had no time in the day to give us the 90 minute presentation that was required before I could claim my prize. I wasn’t happy with this and said to Keith that we had won fairly and it wasn’t our fault they were so busy. I wasn’t giving up on my prize too easy, miss Alex was shushing me and getting embarrassed with my arguing with Keith. Rachael was nodding agreeing with every word I said. I was not leaving without a fight. Keith looked really annoyed at this point and said he’d see what he could do for us and walked away. I was convinced he’d come back with 3 baseball caps, if he did I would have used them like the character Odd Job did in the James Bond film and taken his head off with them. Miss Alex spotted Keith in the distance and he didn’t look too happy shaking his head, he just wanted us out and away from the hotel. This was the last we’d see of him but the hotel receptionist came and sat with us after a couple of minutes and asked me to scratch the card to reveal my winning prize. I’m such a mug because I still actually thought, even at this point that I may have a shout for the 20,000 baht!! It revealed the dream holiday. That is what this was all about, it was the hotel wanting to sell time shares, nothing to do with poor tourism in Thailand. The 90 minutes was an advertisement. The receptionist then opened up a brochure of different locations we could use our free week in the sun. Bali being one of them, who in there right mind would go to Bali for 7 days? Apparently miss Alex and me have 1 year to claim the prize, but I reckon our details will be “lost” if we did claim it. Even had to ask for our taxi back to our guesthouse, and got told to wait “10 minutes” at the front of the hotel. We made our own way back and walked. Miss Alex felt ashamed and felt we’d committed the deadliest of sins that afternoon. I however know that if I ever raided a bank, miss Alex will not be my partner in crime.

As Miss Alex’s previous blog said we drowned our sorrows that night and got pretty drunk. We didn’t realise how big the prostitute and lady boy scene was in Phuket. One lady boy decided it would be hilarious to spank me several times.

We’ve come back to Phi Phi now with Rachel. The 2 Sams and Catriona are also here. After a big night out, (wouldn’t expect anything less from our gang) we battled the hangovers and went kayaking yesterday. To start with our kayak kept veering off to the right, We looked like a one legged duck doing circles. Once we sorted out the steering we headed to Monkey bay and a tiny beach across the bay. On the way back miss Alex was sat at the front, so I assume this puts her in charge of the directions. She failed to notice a single rock in the middle of the huge bay sticking out from the water. Next thing we were marooned on the rock. The Kayak was stuck. I really thought about getting out and pushing it off but then I had to swim miles back to shore. Luckily after a few minutes we managed to shimmy the kayak off the rock. So not only I miss Alex not my partner in crime, she will not be the get away driver either!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sunday, January 8, 2012

"No fuel, no problem"

To me being told on a boat in the middle of the ocean full of people and bags that there’s “no fuel but no problem” there really is a problem- someone didn’t put enough fuel on the boat and now they’re stuck with a boat full of angry tourists. The cute little boy on the boat also seemed to think there was a problem as in the middle of the hustle of people trying to find out what was going on he was sick all down his dad’s leg!!! Poor dad!

Anyway as Mister Al said we’ve made it to Phuket a day earlier than we’ve told my friend Rachel to surprise her!! Even if we did get her an hour and a half later than they told us we would due to the shortage of fuel situation!

As Mister Al said the Christmas money from our parents was used for a few nights of luxury. The two nights in Klongnin  resort had the best shower since we’ve been away, not only was the water hot it was also clean!! I felt so sparkly!! Thank you mum and dad and Sandra and Mike!

The past few days have been really nice just chilling out after Christmas and new year. We’ve done some running again on the beach and we’re back to budgeting our money after letting our hair down a bit over Christmas.  I’ve started getting a bit scared of the sea after Mister Al saw a little blue jellyfish, sure they’re the harmful kind but everyone else was happily swimming in the water so I did but just on constant jellyfish watch!!

I’m really looking forward to the next bit of our travels, firstly the 2 weeks with Rach (got a feeling we will be back on the buckets) and after going to Cambodia and Vietnam, which we’re planning on doing with the 2 Sams.

I feel like Rachel coming is marking the end of a chapter. We’ve known shes been coming since before we left and I remember thinking I wonder how we’re going to be doing when she gets here. It’s made me look back over the past 6 weeks since leaving home and everything we’ve seen and done- there’s so much variety, good times, stressful and sometimes down times and loads of stories that make us laugh looking back. When we talk about it all it only excites us, what else will we see and do in the next 6 weeks????

I’m missing everyone from home, weirdly I’ve been thinking a lot about work, well mainly just the babies- I’m a lucky person in a lot of ways to have what I have and to have done what I’ve done and that’s without all the travelling!!

Love everyone lots, hugs and cuddles xxxxxxxx

Chilling out back on Kho Lanta

Today we left Koh Lanta and headed for Phuket to meet miss Alex’s mate Rachel tomorrow. We spent 4 nights on Koh Lanta and used the money we received from our parents for Christmas, so we wanted a bit of a treat. Miss Alex’s minimum requirements for our room was a hot shower, big comfy bed and no spiders in the bathroom. It was hard finding our perfect room within our budget and we spent an afternoon with our backpacks on, looking up and down the busiest beach. We had found a smashing room at the Klongnin Resort funnily enough on Klongnin beach, the only snag was they didn’t have a room til the following night. We managed to sort a room out for that night through an agency, it was expensive for what we got and we’d already turned our noses up earlier in the day at the room but we were getting desperate. It was a little bit awkward checking in with our tail between our legs.
As we entered the room at Klongnin it was a massive room, it was all varnished wooden floors, the bed was big and comfy, the shower was hot and even though it was an outside bathroom (really good though) no spiders, so as far as miss Alex was concerned and me, it was perfect. Thank you to our Mums and Dads once again. We stayed here for 2 nights, mostly sun bathing on the beach. The weather had picked right up since new year. We even had a run along the beach  one evening, no stones on this beach so no break dancing and no fishermans lines to watch out for!!
The last night in Koh Lanta we moved to a guesthouse on the beach front, our room was on the beach. We paid for this on the first day of our stay at Klongnin. As good as the room was at Klongnin, it didn’t have this breath taking view. Although we didn’t get the room we wanted or paid for we still had an amazing view to wake up to. It turns out a German couple had taken our room the day before we checked in. I felt robbed, almost like on holiday when the deckchair wars break out. Ya know when the Germans leave their towels on the sun lounges over night. I’d love to through all the towels in the pool.  Anyway I for this I hated that German couple for robbing us of our room!!
That night we met up with the 2 Sams at our beach guesthouse and had a good chat about our plans for Cambodia and Vietnam. We think were gonna meet up and travel with them.
Today we travelled to Phuket to meet miss Alex’s mate Rachael, who is joining us for 2 weeks. As it Rachael’s holiday miss Alex and me are prepared to do anything that Rachael would like to do. We really look forward to spending some time with her and we’re expecting some quality nights out and some good laughs.

Speak soon xxx

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Rain rain go away and don't come back another day!!!

So it's been raining here for most of the day for the past 2 weeks, apart from maybe 2 days when we first got to Kho Phagnan and for the past 48 hours on Kho Phagnan it didn't stop at all!!! We checked into the nice guesthouse yesterday where Laura and Harry were staying and met up with them, we had previously thought we'd go spend the day at this lake we'd seen with a massive rope swing going into it but as the weather was so bad we resorted to doing what we have all Christmas and New Year and had some beers!!! We said goodbye to Harry and Laura today, we've had a fab time with them and was sad to be going our separate ways. 

So as I said yesterday we have come to the west side, spending a night on the mainland at a place called Krabi then getting a boat to Kho Lanta tomorrow.  All the way here on the boat it poured it down and then all the way over the land by bus it also poured it down!! Apparently the west side has been just as bad as the east! The bus here was smelly, dirty and was packed, by the time we got on there were no 2 seats together so we both had to sit next to strangers and both had the window seat. We soon discovered this was because the aircon on the bus had broken so all the vents above all the window seats kept dripping water on us, for the whole 5 hour journey!! It was even raining inside!!!  

It's stopped now so fingers crossed it'll clear up tomorrow and we can have a few days relaxing on the beach and staying somewhere nice with our Christmas money!

It's my Dad's birthday today, Happy Birthday Dad!!! Miss you very much, hope your having a lovely day, make the most of having a full bottle of wine and all that lindt chocolate without me there to halve it with!!!! Love you lots xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year countdown party on Kho Phagnan

New years eve day was spent mostly relaxing, apart from a mad dash into Haad Rin on the moped for 2 necessary items for the night ahead- an orange and pink flower for my hair and an orange sweatband for mister Al’s head, yeah we’re a cool couple!!!

New years eve was spent at the “new year full moon party” on Haad Rin beach on Kho Phagnan. For people that don’t know the full moon parties are known for being incredible, amazing, messy, raves that last well past sunrise. Music pumps out from massive speakers all across the beach, there’s stages and tables to dance on, a massive skipping rope at one end on fire that people jump over, it is just mental!

Getting ready, me in my bright pink skirt, day-glow yellow top and mister Alex in his bright orange shorts, yellow vest and orange sweat bands I did worry slightly that everyone else would be dressed a bit more normal! As we handed our key in at reception on the way out to meet Harry, Laura and Catriona no one else where we were staying was dressed like us but when we met the guys we fitted in perfect!!! We had a quick bite to eat before heading into Haad Rin by the truck style taxis here (well me and mister Al did have to do a quick detour back to our guesthouse first as I thought I’d left my hair strengtheners on, I hadn’t but I’d also forgotten my antibiotic before we had left too). The taxi drivers were mental, they wanted to get people into Haad Rin as quickly as possible so they can get back into the neighbouring area again to pick more people up, our taxi even set off before I’d put my first foot on the step to get in! The roads here are very steep and curved so we were jostled all around!

We got into Haad Rin at about 20:30 so were a bit early to go straight to the beach so we went to a guesthouse a 15 minute walk away. Harry had heard they had a happy hour on at 9 but it actually finished at 7! Oh well. Here the majority of the time was spent covering each other in body paint, some nice designs and pictures but mainly I ended up with blobs and dots all over me! I asked mister Alex to do some go-faster stripes on my face thinking he’d do nice skinny ones when I looked in the mirror they were big and fat and running into each other!

Walking into Haad Rin we passed 3 people stood on a corner 2 guys and 1 girl and I was so busy listening to their conversation which was one of the guys saying “your mum came on to me” I nearly walked into a moving car! Obviously I’m too nosey for my own good!

As we walked to the entrance for the beach mister Al and me bought some massive sunglasses that we wore most of the night, one of my lenses fell out part way through but I still kept them on! These also made for really good photos by taking the picture behind the lens! As we walked onto the beach there was already someone asleep on the stairs! Looking out at the beach was amazing, it was packed! We had arranged to meet the rest of the people we met on Kho Samui at a certain bar, we went and looked but there was no way we were finding anyone, it was that busy and people pushing and shoving it got a bit scary so we got out of there and went to find a space on the beach for new year.

Midnight was marked by the most amazing, breathtaking, firework show I ever have and ever will see. My mind was completely blown. They were set off on a hill to one side of the beach but when they exploded covered the entire sky! Thousands of colours rained from the sky and they just kept coming, when we thought one couldn’t be topped the next one would come and just sweep us away. It was like thousands of stars exploding above us, double and triple explosions in one, I found myself shouting “whooo” so impressed with the firework that had just gone off only to be repeating myself but at a higher pitch as the next one released thousands of colours raining from the sky. The blackness above us was full of sparkling glitter shimmering down on us. After at least half an hour of amazement the show ended with thousands of magical shooting stars that took over the sky above us. As it ended I looked at the hill were the fireworks had been set off and it was alight, I couldn’t help think the reason I’d never seen fireworks like that before was that they are probably not allowed back home!!!

Amazingly me and the other girls bumped into Sarah and girl Sam from Kho Samui in a random bars toilets so we were all together again for a little while, dancing and partying on the beach!

The group separated after a while, we went with Harry and Laura to like a club set in the hill but the strong buckets had taken their toll on me, I was a little worse for wear. Also it was around this time when I was paddling in the sea that my flip flops were swept away so I ended up wearing 2 unmatching large men’s for the rest of the night!  So we headed to a restaurant for some pizza and chips that sorted me right out, there were people just sat asleep at the tables in the restaurant, crazy!!! After that I was up for partying again so we had a dance, watched some drunk people attempt to skip using a massive rope on fire, Mister Al went down a slide onto the beach which was wet so he spent the rest of the night with a wet bum! 

As it started getting lighter we headed to some rocks on the right hand side and watched the sun rise. It was crazy watching the beach still full of people partying in the morning light! It was really surreal as we walked along the beach absolutely covered in rubbish, people swimming in the sea, people dancing on tables covered in bright body paint and also loads of people asleep and passed out on the beach. We actually found the sleeping people hilarious and ended up taking pictures of us next to them with our thumbs up! One guy did worry us a bit as he was very pale and we couldn’t see him breathing so I had to give him a poke in the ribs!!! He fluttered his eyes at us so he was ok.

We didn’t get back to our guesthouse until about 9am, I was so tired I was falling asleep in the truck on the way back but Mister Al kept poking me and waking me up!!

We slept all day yesterday trying to recover from the most amazing new years eve ever and one neither of us will ever forget. It was an incredible experience with 300 photos on the camera by morning to remember the night by!!

Last night we were woken by the loudest thunder ever!!! It seemed to shake the hut we were staying in, the rain was slamming against the side of our hut and at one point I woke in the night scared some wood or random object would come flying through the window! The forecast is pretty miserable here for the next few days so even though we’ve had somewhere booked and paid for, for the next week since we were at home we’ve decided to cancel it. We’re spending tonight still on Kho Phagnan but somewhere with a bit of luxury the place Laura and Harry are staying so we’re spending a last night with them. We have a hot shower!!!!! Then tomorrow we’re having a travel day to Krabi on the West Coast for one night and then going back to Kho Lanta where we plan to use our Christmas money from our parents and have 3 nights somewhere nice (thank you mums and dads!!) Hopefully the sun will be back out and we can chill and recover from Christmas and New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!!!! Lots of love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx