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Showing posts from February, 2010

Japin' round the world: Phuket! Let's go to the beach.

So for the final leg of my tour of South East Asia, I found myself in sunny Phuket (the sunny weather is scarcely a defining feature, as most places I've been here have been sunny too). It's a good tonic for the hectic pace of life you get in Bangkok, and also is near the beach so it's a good place to relax before I get started on my Australian adventure.

As a result I didn't do a lot of sightseeing here at first, and instead just flopped down for the most of the day, either at the beach, or watching the hostels extensive film collection. Thanks to the latter I've had a good chance to catch up with some films I'd been meaning to watch.

Just before heading here I have also had the chance to observe a strange local custom I had otherwise missed before. It happened first at the bus station, where I was waiting for my Bus to Phuket. Suddenly a whistle sounded, everyone stood, and some music began. I looked at my watch and realized it was 6pm precisely, and gathe…

Japin' round the world: Looks like a lady, when actually it's a chap!

Right so having had enough of Cambodia, I made my way to Bangkok. This was not the easiest of journey's as crossing the Cambodia/Thailand border is quite a protracted affair. You have to queue up for ages just for them to stamp and check your passport. Thankfully - and contrary to rumors I've heard - this didn't require me to part with any cash, although I think if I'd been coming from Thailand it would have been a different story altogether. After the long wait at the Thai border, I then was faced with a long bus ride to Bangkok, and then another fairly drawn out journey to find the hostel (which isn't very near the center of town). All of this in 35 degree heat did try my patience a little, but thankfully the hostel wasn't terrible so I took some comfort from that.

So what to say about Bangkok itself? Firstly it's very different to what I was expecting. It's quite a modern city and unlike any other cities I've been to in South East Asia, the local…

Japin' round the world: Angkor...what?

Now based in Siem Reap, I have been able to enjoy Cambodian life outside of the city. Being here has also given me some time to see the Temples of Angkor, which are the reason for Siam Reap's significance on the Cambodian map.

I only ended up spending a day seeing the temples, and in retrospect I think this was enough, as there is the option of getting a one, three or seven day pass to the temples. This was enough time as firstly, it was very hot and it caused me to sweat like Richard Nixon, and secondly it involves more physical activity than you would first imagine; some of the temple stairs are like climbing up a vertical rock face, and I was unwisely wearing flip flops which made the task quite interesting. Another issue is there is only so much time you can really look at temple for. There are so many dotted around the place that once you've seen a few you feel like you've seen them all. Sure if you know a lot about the temples and are really interested in ancient his…

Japin' round the world: Genocidal Japes

So now I'm in Cambodia. You'd think all South East Asia was near enough the same, but rest assured it is not. Compared to Vietnam, Cambodia is noticibly poorer. There are many more beggars here, the countryside is stunning if a bit littered with rubbish, and also the cities aren't quite so densly populated. Of course the latter point is a definate step in the right direction after the insanity that was Ho Chi Minh City. The only downside here is pretty much the same one I faced in Vietnam and even a bit in Hong Kong. That is, that to the local populace I appear to made of solid gold and everyone wants a piece of the action. The biggest offenders here are the tuk tuk drivers (tuk tuks are those little motorbike-car hybrid vehicles). Some of them will actually follow you for a couple of minutes, as you repeatedly tell them to leave you alone. Once again, I wish I had some kind of blunt instrument to make my lack of interest in a tuk tuk ride known to all.

Well anyway, despit…

Japin' round the world: One fatality en-route to Saigon? Does that constitute a good journey in Vietnam?

So I finally made it down to the Southern edge of Vietnam, to the surprisingly westernized Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City officially, although the locals don't seem to call it that). The journey to Saigon, from Hoi An, was a little marred by the fact that the bus driver managed to run someone over an hour into the journey. This was pretty unpleasant, the bus was traveling some speed when it hit the guy and, judging by the fact the bus rocked a bit after hitting him, I think he might have gone under the wheels also. I had a pretty good view of the aftermath from my window and it didn't look good. The worst thing was the way that the locals dealt with the victim, as instead of waiting for an ambulance, they picked him up themselves - without a stretcher or anything - and placed him in the back seat of a car. This was quite frustrating to see, having learned before that that the one thing you don't do to a person injured in a car accident is to move them.

After this and about 24…