Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Koh Tao


Had an amazing time in Koh Tao as we decided to take a Scuba diving course which was just quality. While for me this was possibly the most enjoyable and rewarding things I have done while I am traveling it also absolutely rattled my budget. Scuba diving was not something that was originally on my list of things to do while traveling but after the fun I had in Phi Phi snorkeling I was now well up for trying some. It cost just shy of 200 pounds so bit a big chunk out of the budget but at this point I decided I would rather live fast and fun and the trip die out sooner than spend my whole time watching the pennies doing NOTHING just so that I can prolong the trip for as long as possible. But anyway... here is a bit about my time in the island that is Ko Tao.

Firstly I think I need to mention a small amount about the actual journey to Ko Tao as it was pretty mental in parts. One quick side note before I go on is that I am starting to realize that most of the strange and mental stuff that happens to me keeps happening while I am going places. The moment I get somewhere into the safety of a hostel things end up very standard again. So a bit of advice if you ever want to have a mental experience while traveling is probably never actually stay anywhere and just keep going as on the road is where stuff goes wrong!! Anyway...

Part one of the journey was a small mini bus taking us from Patong on the south west coast of Thailand up to a small port a bit further up on the east coast. I did write the name down in my iPhone so I could put it in my blog but that has since gone missing :( so I don't know where it was. This bus journey started off very normal as the young Thai driver sped around the small Thai streets very quickly as he went around picking up the various other people who had booked onto the bus from their hotels and hostels. Then the heavens opened and Tommy and I, as well as 2 other English chaps we met on the bus have never felt so close to death in our lives. Visibility must have been no more than 10 or so meters out of the front windscreen and the driver continued to speed along the roads at some serious speed. I just kept telling myself that he must have done this route 1000's of times and knows it like the back of his hand so everything we be okay. Every time we hit a puddle us English kept letting out a little whimper as we thought each puddle may have brought the end of out travels/life. This seriously amused the Thai people on the bus who kept turning round and pointing at us in haha stupid English kind of way. The troublesome weather hit its peak when we hit a massive puddle which shot over the minibus completely covering the windscreen. It actually looked like we had landed into lake. Luckily not long after this the torrential downpour stopped. One of the many great things about Thai rain is that it absolutely pisses it down for only around 15 minutes at a time. While in retrospect it may not sound that scary, I can assure you it was.

Part 2 of this troublesome journey was slightly worse due to the involvement of police and firearms. We some how made it to the bus depot in one piece where we had to wait 2 hours for the next bus to take us to the port. As we had a lot of time to kill we decided to go along and grab some food. So Tommy and I along with the 2 other English guys (I never found out their names) left our bags in the depot and headed off for some food. We went to the Thai version of Pizza Hut. It was OK.

An hour later we get back to the depot as the other English pair had to get their bus to Bangkok. Teary eyed we waved our new friends off and decided we would just wait for our bus in the depot. No sooner had the English guys turned the corner did a rather flustered looking Norwegian guy come round the corner being escorted by several tourist police. Something is kicking off here I thought to myself. I asked the Norwegian what was going on and as it turned out he had left his stuff at the depot like we had only to return to find his passport had been swiped and it had turned out to be an inside job from by the workers at the depot. Fearing the worse I went to the luggage storage and checked my bag. Luckily everything was still there! It was at this point we realized that none of the employs who were there previously were there now and there was now no one working at the depot. The police and the Norwegian walked off for a bit leaving Tommy and I alone in the depot. I went back to my bag to check a few more things when I start to hear a scratching inside the wall. Expecting either a gecko or a rat to appear as that normally is the case, all of a sudden a man, yes a man, bursts through the wall and runs a full pace past me and out of the bus depot off into the streets. Then back come the tourist police who with guns drawn storm the depot looking behind walls and kicking open doors looking for the other employees. Something made me wonder why they hadn't already done this but I guess that is just how the Thai Police do things. The police and the Norwegian disappear once again leaving us all alone. Our bus was supposed to pick us up at 8pm to take us to the dock. At this point it was now 7.55pm and there was no sign of any workers or a bus. Time ticked on for another hour and a half with still no one about to tell us what to do. I was starting to stress out a bit now as I really didn't want to miss the boat to Ko Tao. Finally after nearly 90 minutes of waiting a fat women, its always a bloody fat person when I'm annoyed, turns up and decided it was about time to sort our bus to the port. She makes a few calls, disappears again, then comes back with a tuk tuk. Finally we jump in the tuk tuk (slightly apprehensively) and it takes us to the port. The port turns out only to be a 10 minute tuk tuk ride away so after 3 and a half hours of faffing around it turns out we could have just walked there in a fraction of the time and with a lot less stress! Anyway we finally made it to the port with even some time to spare to grab some food before our boat set off.


The boat we decided to get was a night boat (once again I did have photos on my iPhone which obviously are no more) that would leave at 11pm from the where ever we were and arrive early morning in Koh Tao. So far this was my favorite mode of transport anywhere so far maybe even beating the Bullet train in terms of its novelty factor. But the boat was simply one big village hall with mattress numbers 1-45 on which you seemed to be able to pick and choose which one you wanted. Having a completely flat lie down bed meant I had a great nights sleep and arrived in Koh Tao feeling very refreshed. Lovely.

We pulled into Ko Tao around 6.30am and not sure exactly what we were going to do once we arrived set about reading our guide books to find a place to stay. We were sitting on the floor working out what to do when some tout come up to us and tried to sell us a driving school course. He was from Crystal diving school, one I had heard of prior to getting there and with a quick search on the iPhone decided this was a good bet and took him up on his offer. He took us to the dive school and got us signed up. It was a good deal 9000 baht for a 4 day diving course as well as 4 nights accommodation included. They wasted no time getting us set up and by the 1.30pm we were in the class room doing our first day of diving theory.

The course was broken up over 4 days. The first day was an afternoons theory followed by sleep as after only 10 months without learning anything I found it very very tiring. The second day was broken up into another half day theory followed by an afternoon in the practice pool putting all our newly learnt theory into practice as well as developing various emergency techniques for if anything bad was to happen in the sea. I found this boring as bobbing up and down in a swimming pool for 4 hours was not really my idea of fun but I suppose it had to be done to be able to go out into the open water. The third day started with our "final exam" which consisted of 50 questions all related to what we had learnt over the past few couple of days. Obviously I passed with flying colours with a stonking 97% aren't I great. (hmmm)

The rest of day 3 and 4 were spent out in the ocean. It was worth every budget breaking penny. We swam over corals and under schools of 1000's of fish saw all sorts of marine life and just generally conquered the seas. One fish that sticks in my memory is the "Trigger fish" that's only because it is a very aggressive fish and if it thinks you are after its babies it will go for you. We saw several trigger fish on our dives and every time we did I was very very scared as I think fish are weird anyway but when one if after you I just wouldn't know what to do. I just kept hiding behind the instructor whenever one did turn up.

It really is another world down there and something I am seriously looking forward to doing again when I go to the Australian barrier reef. We had a camera man follow us around and make a DVD of our underwater adventure which was later played at the bar for everyone to watch. It was great and I was even conned into buying it at great expense but it was such a great few days it was great to have some of the memories captured on to video. Its an expensive hobby though so I doubt I will do it much again once I stop traveling but I never know. I may try to my advanced course when I go to OZ which means I can do a few more things like dive at night and diving deeper down to 30 meters as at the mo I can only hit 18. I guess it just depends on the cash flow by then.

In terms of the island itself I was far to busy with the scuba course to really explore it properly. The place was pretty expensive compared to the other places we have been as there wasn't the sort of budget food places you can find on the main land. There was a good selection of bars and restaurants though and just a great vibe about the place and pretty much everyone was there to dive. One our last day however we did manage to go bowling at the only bowling alley on the island. It was proper old school it was brilliant. Nothing was done by a computer or machine and the pins were stacked at the end by a small Thai man who had to hide out of the way of the ball every time someone bowled and then roll the ball back down to you. Defiantly not my usual bowling experience.

Despite spending far more time talking about the bus journey than the actual diving it was a quality experience and the fact I didn't get the bends while doing it which made me very happy. Due to my very unlucky streak in Thailand I thought a trip to a decompression chamber was almost guaranteed. Anyway I am now going back to Bangkok to sort out my visa for my next stop in Vietnam. I cannot believe my adventures in Thailand are now coming to an end : (

Friday, 20 March 2009

Phi Phi Island


Phi Phi island was bloody lovely! This was the first place I actually felt like I was in the Thailand you see in the magazines and on TV, it was beautiful. I had 4 great days there even though I was still recovering from my little illness it was great to finally kick back on a proper chilled out island.

Getting to Phi Phi was fairly funny and defiantly worth a mention. Feeling still not 100% I struggled on board all alone and just sat in the main seating area where I was going to stay for the duration of the boat journey. Surround by mainly Thais, as most of the other back packers were on the sun deck enjoying the sun, I spent the nearly all the journey watching various episodes of Mr.Bean on the boats many TV's. Something I didn't realize at the time was that Mr. Bean seems to be a BIG deal out here. They laughed their heads off to the whole way to the island as Mr.Bean went about his slapstick antics. It was well funny to see them get so much pleasure from early 90's British television and really made me feel a lot better. Bless 'em

Towards the end of the journey the boat takes a small detour round part of Phi Phi as a chance to take a few photos of the awesome scenery that covers Phi Phi. So I headed up to the deck as I thought I better grab me a few snaps as so far had taken very few. I was just sitting on the deck minding my own business when a Thai couple sit right next to me. The man produces a camera and goes to take a picture of his wife/girlfriend whoever she was. So not to ruin their photo I shuffle out of the way. However it turns out that I seem to be the photo opportunity and to my surprise she shuffles right up next to me puts her arm round me and the man snaps away. Quite taken back I sit there and sort of smile trying to work out what was going on. Then she gets up and ANOTHER Thai sits next to me and gets her photo with me as well. I couldn't help but laugh and wonder why out all the things they could have taken a photo of they chose me? The thing is the same thing happened on the way back and the Thai women I had some polite conversation with on the way back got her friend to snap me and her together as we were leaving the boat!

After the boat journey I some how ended up in Phi Phi hotel for a buffet lunch (not that I was staying their or anything). Upon booking the boat over I was never told about this but was pretty hungry at this point so got involved. I phoned Tommy who came to meet me at the hotel and couldn't really understand how I ended up in the buffet as he had done the same journey the day before and there was not even the slightest mention of a buffet lunch. Interesting.

Accommodation on Phi Phi is quite hard to find due to its popularity and just generally not being very big. Thankfully though as they did in multiple occasions through out our stay on the island the 2 Swedish guys Jesper and Robin come up trumps and managed to get us in an all Swedish hostel. This did mean that myself and Tommy were the only English people there but it meant we had a good, cheap and clean hostel to stay in. The only draw back was that Ms.Lee the small Thai owner didn't actually like the English (Apparently we are loud and always break things?!?) so the service and general attitude towards us was poor. Our only ticket in there really was the fact we were with Jesper and Robin. So spent our time there getting introduced to the many Swedes there by Jesper and Robin.

The majority of our time in Phi Phi was spent on the beach. It one we stayed on the most was the main little stretch on the island so was quite busy but no where near as busy as Patong. The sea there was so warm, it was actually like taking a bath. I don't normally go in the sea as I seriously hate getting sand stuck on me but I just got over it on Phi Phi as the sea was so warm and clear that I really didn't care how much sand got stuck to me it was just so nice.

Those of you who know me well will be aware of how I am slightly less evolved than most of mankind and have been cursed with a surprising amount of body hair, or fur, which ever you think suits it best. Therefore I finally did something I have talked about for many years and went to get a wax, mainly due to it being so cheap. This was seriously one the most painful things I have voluntarily subjected myself to and burnt so much is was unbelievable. I only got my back and shoulders done by the way as thats the only bit I don't like. It was a strange experience but was real pleased with the results dispite having to sit under the air-con for about half hour afterward to stop the burning. I will probably get it done again during my travels as I did like the finished article and so far the growing back has not been that bad at all.

Despite being on Antibiotics I decided to get involved in one of the many beach parties that go on in Thailand. I didn't drink obviously as my main aim was still to get better but I still had a awesome time. The general plan is normally the bars and clubs till about midnight then everyone heads to the beach to one of the handful of clubs that open up on the beach when darkness falls. It was one of the coolest things I had done while I have been traveling and despite not having a drop of alcohol I really enjoyed it. I could just tell it was one of those things I was going to remember for a long time. The only problem was, when you haven't been drinking at all you really notice other people who have. This meant I did feel quite out of it as literally everyone was off their heads. This did add a small damper to the night and I am not really needs to be drunk to enjoy myself but in this particular occation a bucket or 2 would have been nice.

The highlight of the entire trip to Phi Phi island though for me had to be the snorkeling day trip we decided to take. It was the absolute bomb. It cost only about $9 (These keyboards don't have the pound sign) and for that we got a lot. We got a whole day on the motorized longboat which holds about 9 people and it took us to 2 snorkeling reefs, 1 swimming spot, Monkey beach, Maya bay - the beach where the film "The Beach" was filmed and some island called viking cove or something like that some rock with crazy stalagmites or something like that. It was all brilliant, monkey bay was great, as like the deers in Nara, the monkys came right up to you and you got to see them seriously close up. Maya bay was just beautiful, in the middle of no where very few people on it and was just so chilled was amazing. I had never snorkeled in the sea before but just loved it and could not believe how much was concealed by the surface of the sea and how much you could see once you stuck your head in just a few inches below the surface. Was a great day and worth everyone of the very few pennies it cost.

That was about it for Phi Phi really, just had 4 really chilled out days with the Swedes. We were going to head to Ko Tao after Phi Phi another island the other side of Thailand. For this unfortunately meant we needed another night Patong so we could catch the boat there the next day. But just one night in Patong was bearable after the awesome time I had had in Phi Phi.

Here are a few photos of Phi Phi for you to cast your eyes over:















20/03/09

Monday, 16 March 2009

Phuket/Patong


After 5 days in Bangkok we finally managed to book a bus out of there to Phuket. One of the most visited (and accessible) islands at the very south of Thailand. We booked a V.I.P bus from Bangkok station all the way down to Phuket Town which all in all took about 18 hours. I have done a lot of massive bus journeys in my time what with all the ski trips I used to do normally over 24 hours but this bus journey was terrible. The air con was on full blast the whole journey so I was so cold and to make matters worse the "in bus" entertainment was rubbish with "The Chronicles of Riddick" and Jim Carrey's "Yes Man" on the bill which were back to back two of the worst films I have ever seen. I would have preferred no films at all instead of them and when the TV is smack bang in front of your face there is no escape from Vin Diesel's stupid peanut face. Bad memories. I didn't sleep much on the V.I.P bus stretch due to the cold and uncomfortable seats. However when I got on the cramped little minibus for the 4 hour stretch to Phuket town, I slept like a dream for some reason, which was nice.

Upon arrival in Phuket Town I was starting to feel we had made a bad decision. The hostel was lovely which is always a bonus, although the Air Con was restricted to the evening which meant during the day all I did was melt. It was lovely and clean though so I let that one slip in my letter to the Thailand tourist authority. Phuket town was a dive, something I would have found out long before had I actually done some research into where we were going. We went there mainly for Patong beach, however this was a good 45 minute bus ride away. Mission. In the end we decided to see out the two nights we had booked there as a chance just to recharge our batteries after Japan and Bangkok. One things that stuck in my mind about the place was this shriveled old Australian women we bumped into on the street who started telling us about all the drive-by shootings that had happened there in the last week due to drugs deal going wrong. Oh lovely I thought we are staying in a ghetto. But she assured us we wouldn't be affected as they keep the violence to themselves. I wasn't convinced and promptly armed myself with a 12 gauge and a couple of magnums just to be safe. Saying that though I never saw even the slightest bit of violence/aggression/drugs or anything bad at all while I was there so she may have just been mental.

Despite going to Patong beach while we were staying in Phuket town for some reason, I don't know why, we decided to book another 2 night down in Patong. The accommodation was dirt cheap only 4 pounds a night but Patong was rubbish as well. So I don't know why we decided to stay there another 2 days (3 days in my case but I will explain that shortly). Its one of the only regrets I have had so far on this trip as I hate wasting time when there is so much to see in these countries. It was just like a terrible Spanish island resort with rubbish bars and restaurants and loads of FAT English families all in vests walking around the place. The beach itself was really nice and the view over the bay was lovely but it had just been killed by tourism and was not the Thailand I had come here to visit.

We thought it would be good to go out for a night in Patong so headed off out to this club called "Club Lime" which was putting on some sort of drinks deal along with a buffet. Not expecting much food wise we stocked up before we went and were not surprised to see a pathetic amount of shriveled chips and some sort of mystery meat. I was very pleased we ate before hand. The night was fairly standard and involved the usual amount of abuse from the locals selling goods and other things. However the reason I mention this rather pointless night out is the fact we met two Swedish travelers in the club. We got talking to them as you do with fellow travelers and they liked the sound of what we were up to so decided to join us for the next few days. So the next day they booked into our hostel for the night before we set of for Ko Phi Phi the following day. An interesting and very useful multinational partnership began.

I'm sorry to say but the highlight for me here was going to see "Watchmen" at the cinema. Stuff like this annoys me as I didn't need to fly thousands of miles to do this. I had been looking forward to it for a good year when my mate Jonathan told me about it on the way to see 300 so I really was looking forward to seeing it. I enjoyed it so much that I went to see it again. It was such a visual film (like 300) I felt it had to be seen at the cinema. One other reason I really liked going to the cinema was I felt like me again. When traveling there is so much going on you never really get settled and obviously are constantly making scarifies and just generally have to have a different attitude and mentality towards what you do. But it was so nice here to whack on some jeans and trainers buy some popcorn and head into the cinema to watch a film. I really enjoyed it and felt like me again, even if it was just for 2 hours.

Unfortunately for me that night things took a turn for the worse and I developed some sort of stomach bug and felt very ill. When I arrived in the hostel a few days before 2 other guys were in bed with what I assume to be the same thing and I guess I picked it up off them. It was terrible and I felt rubbish as I just couldn't do anything. The next day we were supposed to be getting a boat to Ko Phi Phi which I was really looking forward to but by around 3am I realized I wasn't going to make this as a 2 hours boat journey would have been a nightmare. So in the morn explained my situation to Tommy and Swedish guys and told them to head off to Phi Phi and I would meet them the next day. I picked up some antibiotics to hopefully knock it on the head a.s.a.p and went back to bed alone in Patong feeling very low. All I did that day was watch Al Jazeera News and fell sorry for myself, twaz the worst of times.

I eventually managed however to book my boat to Patong and was going to be picked up at 7am so long as everything was back to normal. However at 7.15 I was woken up to a hard prodding from the Thai lady owner shouting "Mr.Rob Mr.Rob your bus is here wake up" Oooopss. so without a moments thought to whether or not I felt better I grabbed my stuff ran down stairs and got into the bus to several huffs and tuts from the other passengers for making them wait. I felt still pretty dodgy but thought I would be able to manage the journey so man'd up and finally made my way to the beautiful Ko Phi Phi.

*I have decided to use related images due to not having taken many pictures again and feeling I need to make my blog more aesthetically appealing.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Bangkok Pt.1

Right well before I go on I did not take a single picture in Bangkok. This is for 2 reasons;

1. I'm too hot and sweating to much to be arsed to carry the bastard around.
2. On the first day there I thought everyone was out to mug me.


So far my post about Bangkok has been the hardest one to write out of all the ones I've done so far and this is my fourth attempt. Now that I have left (I am now in Phuket) I have finally made my mind up about that place.

Bangkok is a hot, sweaty, dirty mess and when I first got there I really didn't like it. However at night it was amazing. I had some of the best nights I have ever had there and some very memorable stories which will last me a very long time. Some I will mention on this blog others I will tell you about when I get back haha. Anyway here is a little bit about my first stay in Bangkok.

Well first thing that caught my eye whilst looking out the window on the way to the hostel from the airport was someone taking their elephant for a walk. I had only been in Bangkok about 20 minutes when I saw this and really didn't know what to think it blew my mind. However it turned out to be a very common occurrence and I even ended up feeding one after leaving a bar on the first night.

Went for a little walk the afternoon we got there just to see what was around and get a better sense of the place and my first impression was that Bangkok was a smelly mess. We got hassled by literally everyone. Did we want a suit Mr? Helllloooo Hansom, Tuk Tuk and Ping Pong show were some of the many calls we got in our short 30 minute walk. It was pretty crazy coming from Tokyo one of the cleanest and most organized cities in the world to Bangkok which was an absolute mess. So a little bit concerned as to what I had got myself into I got back to the hostel thinking I was going to find life in Thailand very difficult over the coming month.

The hostel we were in was real nice and there seemed to be a good crowd there. Prior to getting there I had heard a lot about the rather crazy owner "Soi Dave" an American who had lived in Oz most his life but now owned a hostel in Bangkok. He was one of the most useful people we met in Bangkok and knew basically everything about the place. On our first night there Dave decided to take a group of us from the hostel out around Bangkok to show us the sights and give us a sense of the place from a locals perspective. So myself and 8 others headed out for a night on the town. At this point I didn't really think I would have been able to make much of a night of it has we were fresh off the plane from Tokyo after getting up at 4AM but I thought as I'm traveling I should really seize life so headed out rather curious as to what the night would hold.

The night that followed was just mental. Dave took us to a wide range of Bangkok's clubs and experienced a lot of what the place had to offer. He seemed to do this sort of thing several times a week so knew exactly where to take us and the merits of each club. Now I am not going to lie but when I say club I do mean a Strip club/GO Go bar. My young innocent mind was warped HAHA. But all in all it was cool to witness as obviously its something Bangkok is well known for.

After leaving the "clubs" we went to a proper club and had a right gooood time. The music was good and for some reason was something I wasn't really expecting Bangkok to have. However we were all enjoying ourselves and taking advantage of what the club had to offer when young Mr. Hampson (My traveling companion for those of you who don't know) thought it would be a good idea to collapse. I was dancing away quite merrily when out of the corner of my eye I see this figure drop to the floor like an absolute sack of shit. I looked up to see Tommy KO'd on the floor with a collection of very worried looking Thai's around. I was not impressed and had to drop what I was going and head over to him to give him a few slaps to face to see what the hell was wrong with him. At one point I did actually think he was dead and checking his breathing several times. Luckily he wasn't and soon come back round. He stood up looked around for about 30 seconds and then bang, straight back down again. I now realized there really was something wrong with him. A bouncer appeared picked, picked him up and carried him off to the exit. We laid him down on a sofa while this Thai girl tried to give him this menthol sniff stick to try bring him back round. We must have pored a good few liters of water over him as well as into him to try bring him back round but it just wasn't working. By now I was really getting quite concerned and thought it best that rather sooner than expected I make the trip to a hospital to try sort him out as nearly an hour later there hadn't been much of a development in terms of consciousness.

Now hospitals aren't free here which is a shame. So rather than pay for an Ambulance to the hospital in an inspired budget considering move I thought I would jump into a taxi and let him hoss us there. So myself and 2 other guys from the hostel helped me pop Tommy into the Taxi while a Thai girl gave the taxi driver the necessary instructions. The taxi driver seemed to think that so long as he had his hazard warning lights on he didn't need to consider stopping at any red lights. So Tommy blissfully unaware passed out in the back had know idea the level of danger we were being subjected to while trying not to let him die. Somehow we eventually made it to this hospital without even a hint of a automobile accident and got Tommy stretchered off to bring him back to life. The doctor was fairly unconcerned about the state of him but said we made the right decision bringing him here which made us very pleased as we had done the right thing. They put him on a drip and then just left him while the alcohol wore off. Meaning while I was still running around trying to work out Tommy's details so we could get his medical record and make sure he wasn't allergic to anything. Unfortunately all his stuff was in a locker back at the hostel so I had to peg it back there, luckily it was only just round the corner so that was the easy bit out of the way. The problem was only Tommy new his locker combination and as he was dead to the world I wasn't getting the combination out of him. So to the concern of the Thai receptionist I had to smash into his locker which a number of very forceful kicks then run off with its contents. The receptionist face was a picture.

When I got back we had pretty much got everything sorted with Tommy apart from the bill. The nurse dropped the bomb that I was going to have to pay a $800 deposit but I would get anything back Tommy didn't spend. She then gave me the price plan and it looked like it was going to be fairly cheap, around $80, so I signed Tommy up to everything, breakfast, showers and all the little things the hospital had to offer. This turned out to be an amusing mistake and one which let me get my own back on Tommy for the stress the bastard had just put me through. So at 6am after my first night in Bangkok after many clubs, drinks, elephants and a hospital visit later I finally made my way to bed to look forward to picking a very hungover Tommy up in the morning. I went back the next day at 10ish to see how he was doing. When I got there while I was pleased he was now up and awake, as he had been on a intravenous drip all night he felt as fresh as a daisy and no sign of a hangover whatsoever while myself who had had little sleep and no chance to sleep off any sort of morning after feeling felt awful. Was not happy. However the balance was finally restored when Tommy and I went to collect the bill. 370 pounds! While I obviously did feel bad for him I did feel a small victory on my part as he had put me through a lot the night before and hopefully it would be a lesson to us both not to get that smashed again at any point over our travels. So exhausted and Tommy's wallet a lot lighter we headed back to the hostel to finally get some proper sleep.

Fresh out of hospital we decided to explore a bit of the city so Tommy and I as well as another guy Jas headed off to Khoasan road a road which can be described as backpackers mecca and I believe shot to fame after that film "the Beach". We decided to take the river taxi/boat there as thought it would be a bit different. This turned out to be nearly another hospitalization story as before Tommy could actually get both feet on the boat it set of leaving him hanging on for his life. Obviously I can laugh about it now but at the time I thought we were going o have to head back to Bangkok hospital again to get the aids pumped from Tommy's stomach. Khoasan road road was cool, a lot going on there but did feel a little like the main street in Kavos or any other European clubbing resort.

For some reason Tommy, Jas and myself decided to visit Bangkok zoo. I am not sure why we decided to go as the walk there took bloody hours but still we went. It was pretty cool, saw a few animals I didn't actually know existed as well as some massive crocodiles. Things really got interesting however when while walking past the elephant enclosure we hear a massive shriek and and elephant just escape. Naturally we were all well scared but felt it necessary to run after it to see what the hell was going on. It's Thai minders ran off a head and before we knew it one of the guys was on top of the elephant sticking something sharp in its head and had somehow tamed the beast. Was mad. We felt it best we should leave at that point before any of us got eaten by anything.

The rest of our time in Bangkok seemed to be spent on nights out really. We were there 5 days and did very little apart from go for a few Thai massages and avoiding the heat. One of the best things about 2 of the nights out we had was that they were almost completely financed by some Thai women Tommy jokingly tried to steal a drink from but was just like "gooo ahead". From then on for some reason she paid for all our drinks which was a few bottles of Jack and then taxis and entry to clubs. It made know sense at all but I was more than willing to roll with it do it its budget soothing qualities.

I have never loved and hated somewhere in such equal amounts. It was frustrating but I miss it now and I can't wait to get back there in a few weeks to sort out our Vietnam visas.

The end.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Thailand


I am now in Thailand. It is very hot. I actually saw a man melt to death today.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Tokyo Pt.2


Back in Tokyo again. Was quite sad on the bullet as coming back to Tokyo meant my Japanese adventure was coming to an end. However at the same time I was pretty excited at the prospect of another 4 days in the amazing city that is Tokyo.

After the night in the capsule hotel and Yokohamma it was nice to get back on the backpacker circuit and stay in a proper hostel again.

Our first full day back in Tokyo was on the Sunday and I'd read that Sunday was a day you should head to Harajuku. Harajuku is basically the center of youth culture in Tokyo and I bloody loved it. In parts of harijuku you get a sence of what the world would be like if it as run by teenage girls. There where whole streets of hello kitty and J-pop music and crazy clothes and jewelry and sweetS. I'm not saying that those things are the defining characteristics of girls but it was definitely teeny bopper central. It also had everything from extremely high class label flagship stores, low end Market stalls selling all sorts of alternative gubbins as well as loads of urban street wear shops which were quality.

The main reason to go on a Sunday though is to catch the Harajuku girl and guys. They turn up in big manga costumes, cartoon characters, goths, their favourite movie or rock stars and in fancy dress costumes like nurses and maids. It is supposed to be a right spectacle. Unfortunate unlucky as we always seem to be due to poor weather there just weren't really many around. We saw a few but no where near as many as the guide book made out.

Another place we went to for the first time was Ueno, a neighbourhood consisting mainly of a huge park with museums, galleries and a zoo in it. However due to not having any concept of what day of the week it was, we didn't realise it was Monday when most things seem to closed for the day. So just had a walk round the park. Unfortunately it wasn't the most attractive park in the world so headed off else where.

We went back to the crossing at Shibuya and saw it at night. It has five (maybe more?) roads all coming together and literally hundreds of people crossing at once it was a right sight. We sat in the Starbucks right on re crossing and must of watched thousands of people cross over half hour or so. Was such a famous Tokyo sights was great to see it for real.

I think the highlight of the second visit for me had to be Roppongi hills. It's basically a city within a city. This mini area that has all been redone in the last few years and to me just felt like the perfect city. All brand new buildings awesome architecture and an awesome view of the city. Was mega. It was blatantly one of the most expensive areas of Tokyo and I loved it.


I will really miss Japan. I have had a brilliant experience travelling from one side of this island to the other and will defiantly be coming back one day to see what I've missed out as well as defiantly coming back to hit the north where the ski resorts are. Although next time I am not going to do it on such a tight budget. I really did love this place was such an adventure which I will not forget in a hurry.

Anyway onwards to Bangkok...

Monday, 2 March 2009

The Capsule Hotel



Not that I have researched this at all but Tokyo must be one of the only places with Capsule Hotels, right? Well even if it isn't it was top of my list of things to do during my time in Japan.While an experience that is predominately based around sleeping shouldn't really be anything to get excited about I'm pleased I did as it was one of the most bizarre experiences I have ever had. Not to mention one of the strangest ends to a night out as well!

At this point my knowledge of Capsule hotels was that firstly they were hotels filled with hundreds of tiny capsules to sleep in. Secondly they were single sex and Finally they were normally used by drunk businessmen who had missed their last train or out far to late for their wives to want them back home that night.

So I booked my capsule the night before we got to Tokyo in the ridiculously neon district of Tokyo called Shinjuku. If you try to picture Tokyo in your head you will more than likely be thinking of Shinjuku. The area is seriously built up and very busy and for that reason when we got there we could not find the hotel anywhere. It took over and hour and a lot of people asking later we finally found it. But only after being taken their by a man dressed as a frog.

The Capsule hotel turned out to be located in the red light district of Shinjuku which meant there were a lot of rather odd characters around as well as a lot of strip and hostess bars.

When I got into the hotel the reception was located on the 3rd floor of this huge office block. I stepped out of the lift and instantly had to take off my shoes. I then had to put them into a locker, take the key to reception who checked me in and then exchanged that key for another locker key where I could put my stuff and get changed into my robes, yes robes!. I had no idea that was part of the deal. I couldn't be asrsed to change into them then so popped briefly up to my capsule, number 6022, just to check it out and was impressed. I Had my own little TV, radio, mirror and alarm clock all in my own 6ft by 3ft capsule. Once we'd had a ganders at the capsules Tommy and I headed out into Shinjuku to see the city at night and have a few drinks. We watched some Japanese Baseball had a few beers and whiskys and caught a bit of the Chelsea Wigan game in a random bar. At around 2am we finally decided to head back to experience our first night in our capsules.

When we got back we were greeted by several drunk Japaneses men some in suits, some in robes, just generally staggering and swaying about the place. We got changed into our robes and decided to head towards the public bath and sauna which were still open. I took my towel from my locker and head on over. As I turned the corner to my surprise I was confronted by 20 or so naked Japanese men in the baths, having a shave, washing their hair and just generally going about their bathroom duties. So a little bit drunk I stripped off and headed in. It was at this point the ridiculousness of the situation hit me. It was 2am I had just been on a night out in Tokyo and now I was in an extremely hot Japanese public bath surrounded by naked Japs. My hairy western torso was quite the head tuner haha!

I could only last about 5 minutes in the bath before the heat made me dizzy. So got out and sat at one of the many little stools in front of mirrors doted round the room. Had a cheeky shave, washed my hair, then headed into the sauna. Once I was all done and dried I got into my robes and dried my hair with the hair dryer and headed up to my capsule. I had never felt so clean. I felt about seven again in my pyjamas on my way to bed after bath night before school on Monday. I got into my capsule closed my blind and had an absolutely terrible night sleep surround by noisy Japanese men on a very hard bed. But it was still awesome, was such an experience and so pleased I did it.
02/03/09

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Yokohama


Seriously quick visit to Yokohama as in just one night. Decided I wanted to come here last minute really just because I could using my JR rail pass. It's the 2ND biggest city in japan but haven't really seen any of it. Got here late and by the time we got food didn't were not going to be able to make it back if we went to the main district.

The room we stayed in was far too small. Me and Tommy could hardly fit in it. It rained a lot and was cold.

Went on a massive Ferris wheel in Minato Mirai the city's center which was cool but the views weren't great.

All in all Yokohama was a waste of time. Onwards to Tokyo.