Bec and Paul are trundling through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia until school is back in March 2009. They insist on keeping a blog despite the facebook thing being much more likely to attract any interest.

5.10.07

Hubnut

Wow, look up that the hubnut to the right.
It's just like TV!

I suggest clicking the fullscreen button and just sitting back and watching.

19.8.07

Jeremy Does Blogging

Jezaboo, who was with us in Vietnam, is now doing his gap-year escapades thing over in the big wide world. So, follow his adventures over here. You'll also notice a feed for his blog over on the right.

Pakow!

15.7.07

Nha Trang

Sooooo over it.

Everyone else seems to be having fun though. Saw the Buddha again, saw the Cham temples again. Saw the beach again, ate some food. Sweated a lot. Paid way too much for a meal at The Sailing Club, but it was nice surroundings and all.

We leave tonight for Saigon/Ho Chi Minh Land.

That chicken-slaughter video is way too large to upload until I return to Melbourne so you're all off the hook. The chicken, however, is still dead.

13.7.07

i'm a Portu-Gal





Well I am now in trusty old expensive London.
I wish i had more time in the amazing Portugal. Lisboa is a funky city, really in touch with today's trends in music and fashion, the countryside is beautiful, you have untouched forest and pristine beaches, tiny villages and friendly folk! It is interesting that the Portuguese don't dub their foreign TV shows they use subtitles allowing most of the population to learn English, this made it alot easier asking for the tinned corn at the supermarket!
While in Lisoa, we visited the western most point of Europe, it was like standing on the edge of the world!
We partied a few nights, one night we went to a private party for the band 'tv on the radio' another we spent in the old district drinkin beer with the locals on the street which is the most popular thing to do in Portugal.
The buildings in Portugal are famous for their hand painted tile exteriors, the whole facard of the building is covered top to bottom, very beautiful!
We had such good luck with our hosts here in portugal....and everywhere really....but the Portuguese are amazing people. We stayed with Pedro in Lisboa and Claudio nd Nuno in Porto. Pedro and Claudio are friends and are from the madiera, a Portuguese island in between Africa and Portugal. It was quite lucky that we got to stay with Claudio as our original host cancelled and we had nowhere to go, but Pedro called Claudio and he took us in...what a top guy, Claudio and Nuno even took us for guided walks around the whole city of Porto, so much history, so beautiful!
Portugal is amazing and you really have to see for yourself....there is so much to write that I won't bother...just go!

Claire

12.7.07

photos

monkish
A monk in training, and the awful haircut that is required.

fuzzy
Me looking all unfocused.

monks
Monks hard at work, somehow ignoring stupid tourists.

mark & son
Mark and Son somewhere at some point, doing something.

three legged dog
People eat dogs here, I guess sometimes not all at once.

beachyness
This is a beach. A beach is the meeting point between land and sea. Often people like to relax at locations such as this. Sucks to be you, not being here.

Beefalo
Beefalo. Like Buffalo, but tastier.

FINISH NOW!
FREE DRINKS!

steamed chicken
What became of our chicken. Instructional video coming soon.

Hoi An

No I haven't bought anything. I've barely spent any money the whole time we've been here.

The camera isn't being recognized by this computer, but worry not - I have a nice video of a chicken being slaughtered for our dinner, and it will be uploaded come rain or hail (or more likely no rain or hail). Here is your official warning that there will be blood. Not much of course, chickens don't really bleed a lot. And anyway, there was a nice little bowl to catch everything.

I might try to get a coat today, but probably not. I can't decide what kind, and I just really cannot be bothered. We're leaving tomorrow morning, so it's probably too late.

I've really just been coasting through this time, not really paying much attention to what is going on. Our tour guide, Son, has been good - taking us to some places we might not have found otherwise (the restaurant that kills the food freshly being one of them.) I told Son that last time I was here I spent less than a thousand dollars and he couldn't believe it. I described some of our more humble accomodation, and he began to understand. Perspective, I suppose.

Although you may have to wait until we reach Ho Chi Minh City for the violent bloodbath video, have no doubt that it will come. Those of you in the know may remember the internet black spot in Vietnam that reaches from Hue all the way down to Nha Trang, where the blog is pretty much unreachable. I am still able to read comments, but there seem to be scarcely one or two of them. As such I am deeply offended. Poot.

Bec, I see that you are online (probably working) but you do not answer my calls. I am assuming this is because of bad internet problems. Lucky for you. I plan to buy you things once we get to HCMC... please make a list of required trinkets and email to me.

PS. As I have been typing, the computer has finally recognized the camera being inserted, and so I shall endeavor to upload some junk now. OK.

9.7.07

Toarmina sicily, the unimaginable

On thursday I went to Taoramina, possibly the most beautiful beach i have ever seen. it is north of catania, prolly about 1 hours drive. Ric was in Rome for a meeting so his assistants husband( Marcello) took me- how random! The people in sicily are SOOOOO friendly. Marcello was a gentle sicilian man of 52, who instructed me to think of him as his father today. Indeed in my heart he will alwsy be my surragate Italian father. We drove the winding and scenic road to Taormina, parked and hit the beach. It was a pebbled beach, set between to hills, out of this world stunning! I swam in the clear waters, sat in the warm sun and wondered if this was heaven. you would have to see the photo to know how beautiful it was. Marcello is such a character and had numerous views to give me on Sicily and Italy as well as some advice on men. It was quite a site on the beach- this older Italian man, with this young blonde girl, and he later told Ric and us over dinner and he felt like a paedophile, and people must have thought he had a hell of a lot of money! This made us all laugh imensly, - sicilians have such good nature and humour. After the beach we went to the town, up the hill, and had Aranchino - traditional italian food which is rice ball fried with meat and cheese inside- DIVINE! this was followed by pistacio icecream, possibly the best i have ever tasted. ahhh Italian food is just indescribable. that evening we went back to catania, enjoyed meal with ricardo, his family, Marcello and his wife. It was an amazing day

the real italy- SICILY

After my initial shaky start in Sicily, I spent 3 great days there with Ricardo and his family. The first morning i awoke to be informed that I would be trying the traditional sicilian breakast - Briosh and Granita. So off I go on the motor bike with Ric, holding on for dear life, and hardly believing that i was in Italy! we reached the local cafe and enjoyed the best granita ever! Granita is hard to explain. its crushed ice, sugar and either almond, lemon , pistacio etc. It is really cold to so you have it with Briosh which is sweet bread. ahhhhh so divine! you only get it in sicily to, no where else in Italy. Following this delectable meal we scooted off to the 'black rocks' for some sunbathing and swimming. Catania is at the foot of the infamous Etna volcano, still active and puffing away to this day. We could see the volcano from Ric's house. Thats why the rocks are black- from the lava, hundreds of years ago. The swimming was fantastic, it was my first dip in the med, and did not disapoint. afterwards we lay in the sun with the locals. There was mno sand there and was not a tourist area at all, so i loved it even more. We dorve home thorugh the beautiful villas and vineyards, to hearty meal of pasta. There is something about sicily - italy completely overwhelming. - the transparant blue sky, set against trhe orange tilled roofsof the villas, the smell of little bakeries, the taste of Gelati, the sparkling mediteranean and the warmth of the people. Its an overload of the senses, a visionary dream, a cuisine haven.

8.7.07








here are some pics of the castle and one of the view in Lisbon.

bye

Claire, Portugal

...wow!

Hello from Lisboa!
this place is simply amazing.
I arrived here on Wednesday from London after visiting the fam, Our host Pedro and Jam picked me up fron the airport and fronm there we went straight to the beach. The beach is lovely...slightly windy and a little cold but the sand is silky and the sun is hot.
There are little chilled out bars along the beach playing reggae that remind me of Sihanoukville in Cambodia.
Pedro and his girlfriend are really lovely, As he lives with her most of the time, we basically have his house to ourselves with a massive balcony and as much internet as we can handle.
Yesterday was an amazing day, a German girl louisa was staying with Pedro's friend so the three of us went to a nearby town just out of lisboa called sintra. The train ride was about half an hour from the city. Sintra is an amazing town...it is very historic and about 10 degrees colder than lisboa.
When we got to the town we started walking towards the famous castle...we had no idea which way to go or how long it would take so we were delighted when the tourist police offered to drive us all the way to the top, it would have taken us over an hour to walk! we bought a ticket to what we though was the castle but as we went to enter the castle the security guards pointed out that the ticket we bought was for the gardens surrounding the castle only....we were really disappointed because we had spent 4 euro each on a ticket and being the tight asses that we are, couldn't afford to buy another one. As we were walking away the security guard must have seen how disappointed we were and called to us to come back and then let us in for free! we were so delighted as this castle is spectacular. when we got inside we had no idea how amazing this place was going to be, we were in awe, it is just like a castle from a children's fairytale, tiles cover the walls from top to bottom with clouds drifting quickly over the towers. The inside was fascinating with all the original furniture still inside. The castle itself is seated on the topo of a mountain where you can see all the way to the ocean. The mountain is covered in green forest similar to that of the dandenongs in Melbourne...beautiful!
On our way back we decided to hop on the bus instead of walking for an hour but were shocked when we found out the fare was 4 euro...there was no way we were going to pay that so we started to walk and hitchhiked instead with a lovely Italian couple all the way to the train station.
We were feeling extremely lucky by now we had probably saved over 15 euro and seen one of the most amazing things we had ever seen but our luck didn't end there, The lovely Nuno, A couch surfing member, had got in contact with jamima and asked to meet with us, he met us at the train station and offered to drive us all the way back to Losboa, he stopped on the way and bought us traditional Portuguese pastry treats and also gave us a bit of a guided tour of the coast! What a day!

ill try and find a nice pic to put up


hiccups on arriving in Sicily

After a long sleepless night at stansted airport, which i endured after practically being molested by the security guard aftr check in (body searched etc)- do i look like a terrorist?? - must be the blonde hair- very al qaedia. anyway i arrived in palermo at about 11 italian time. After getting off the plane I arrived at baggage collection, and then it dawned on me........ that here,.....in Italy....... they spoke Italian...... and I did not know a word. yes it was a very blonde moment, and i know i am leaving myself vulnerable to riducule revealing this!

anyway Palermo was stunning and the mountains were amazing, set against a sparkiling mediteranean ocean. I managed to get on the bus from the airport to the city, but with no italian even that was a struggle. I then experienced the roads of palermo, and am happy to say lived to tell the tale..... it is abosulte mayhem!!!! freaking riduclous driving, how anyone survives remains a mystery to me. anyhoo i then caught a bus to catania, and hence went through the interior of sicily. by this stage it was about 1:30 and the heat was 36C, which coming from london was hard to handle. The interior of sicily is beautiful, mountains and old vineyards, it defines the real italy so well. I arrived in Catania, exhausted and hot, and lugged my backpack to the nearest pay phone to call Ricardo, a Doctor friend of my father from our days of living in the UK when i was little tot. I attemped to buya phone card, but the language barrier proved an obstacle. A young italian boy saw me and offered his help, so i tried to call Ricardo, but instead i got an Italian man, who evidently knew no english. at this point i was a bit stuck for what to do. it was one of those travelling moments where you sigh and wonder why yyou are here. I made my way to the tourist information , who were highly unhelpful but instructed me to a hostel with an internet point where i could reach ricardo. i waited in the line for a bus ticket, but a italian boy, about my age asked me if i wanted lift to the hostel, and although i knew this could end in tears, and probably against my better judgement I said yes. so there i was driving along in a car through the rough streets of catania with Ferdinand, who later said now he could tell his friends he picked up a blonde australian girl today- lol. I arrived at the hostel and e-mailed ricardo. I sat outside the bar, sipping on iced tea, oblivious to the fact that i was in the dodgest, most dangerous part of catania. Catania is an old city, with little of or tourists, which is in the end why i liked it so much, its the true italy , where you can observe how the locals live. At the hostel i met an aussie called Ida from Coburg in melbourne, she could speak italian, and so it helped to sort things out. She said this was the area most likely toget attacked, needless to say it didn't help that i was blonde, in a sea of scary italian men. they are really something else, i mean they call out to you and yell at you, what I could say! eventually ricardo picked me up and i met his beautiful wife and cute kids. i have never been so relieved in my life!

that night i enjoyed a big italian party as it was ricardo's birthday and his wife ahad organised a suprise party. amazing pasta and food, and really kewl to see the italians such lively interactions. I went to bed at about 11, and slept like a baby.

7.7.07

Ha Long

The typhoon was well gone by the time we arrive in Halong Bay. We spent the night and it only started raining lightly in the early morning. It was all quite amazing really.

You'd think being on a boat would prevent people from coming up to you and offering to sell you things, right? You'd think it would be the one place where it wouldn't happen. But no, they just hop in their own boat and follow you. And of course this means that they are able to carry a lot more with them in the boat.

I'm going to lunch now, more later.

6.7.07

Typhoon Bay

There's been a typhoon over at Ha Long Bay, right smack bang where we were about to spend the night on a Boatel tomorrow. It was, however, in and out in a matter of hours and apparently did not cause much damage so, pending further information from the Ha Long official-types, our night might not be cancelled ... but it might. We'll just have to wait and see.

I never mentioned that we shared our plane with the Dubai soccer team on our way from Singapore. There's this little soccer contest happening now, and certain members of our party have certainly shown interest in attending a match while we are here. I think it would be cool to see Vietnam's team play, but I dunno if it's entirely realistic given our tight schedule.

Anyway, more soon.

5.7.07

Olá

So i have Landed in sunny Portugal!
I am so glad to leave London,it was a replica of Melbourne in the winter...cold rainy windy!
It was fantastic to see the fam though, i also wandered through the museums and had a look nice and free!
Today Jam and i are going to explore Lisbon, she has been here for a few days and loves it so i had better get off this computer and enjoy the sun

Claire

smokin crack

Mark's taken up the pipe while we've been over here.




pipe from Paul McClintock and Vimeo.

Elle's slideshow

Some of Elle's photos:

unki ho's pickled corpse revisited

We're halfway through the first day of the tour. We saw Ho Chi Minh, he was sleeping however so we all decided not to disturb him. Later will be the dreaded water puppet theatre. Bluh, i'll be taking my ipod to that one.

Still, no USB connection so no photos for you! BORK!

Don't forget to check the other bloggorgog.

4.7.07

more words

We're now in the Hotel that begins our Intrepid tour. It's much nicer than the last place, but I have no use for two whole beds in my room. I'm cooling off in the lobby after a terrible attempt at wandering that ended in a taxi ride back to the hotel. I blame the map entirely. There's a big HD TV on the wall in here
It's about 37 degrees at the moment. I'm not a giant fan of this area of Hanoi. I'd much prefer to go back to the old quarter.
I just met our tour guide, but I've forgotten his name. We're meeting on floor 9 at 6pm to start the tour officially.

Poot!

drinks at the Boddha

A guy called Thy (or any variation of spelling that results in the same sound) teaches Mark how to smoke a pipe. Thy is a motorbike valet at the Boddha cafe.

pipe

We ate here earlier in the evening and some of us came back for drinks. Video of Mark attempting the pipe will be coming soon.

3.7.07

Hanoi

We arrived in Hanoi. It's a mild 32 degrees and humid. Mum is freaking out about everything, but I see potential for her to calm down. It's about 6.30pm now, so we are about to work out where to dine for our first dinner here. I'll try to convince people to go to the Boddha cafe, which is a little over 2 blocks from our Hotel now. Tomorrow I shall write a proper entry, and possibly upload a photo or two.

London at glance

I stayed in London for 2 days and am flying off to Sicily early tomorrow. As I arrive back on the friday I was informed that glascow airport had a burning car driven into it, while 2 cars laden with deadly car bombs had been parked outside TIGER TIGER in haymarket in central london. the country is now on extreme terrorist activity alert- looks like I am leaving just at the right time to! never the less I took the underground to central london, and while the place was crawling with security had a fantastic day. I walked around covent gardens while waiting to meet my South African friend Sandra. covert gardens is kewl, lots of street buskers and boutiques etc. seein sandra again was great, I have only seen her once since we both left south africa 6 years ago- fortunaltly I got the hot country. We walked around for ages and ages trying to find somewhere to have a 'cream tea' - after the irish stew and breakfasst role, I did not want to miss out on any of the particular food of each place I visited (valencia paella to come!) anyway finally we found a place called 'Liberty's ' a large and expensive department store, similar to Harrods. We each had two warm scones, jam and cream, and in keeping with our roots- some Rooibos tea! yummy! and we felt very cultured with our china tea cups too! - this experience for 10 pounds each (eeeeeeek) was worth it, but definitly only for this once! We then wandered around near the bond station shops, etc. the TOPSHOP was HUGE, very pricy too. Sandra had to leave to get home at about 6 ish, but if i took an extensive walk in the famous Hyde Park, filled people enjoying the out doors, couples sprawled on lawns, and kids runnig around. was a cute place- much better in summer though! evntually I arrived back in Weybridge (40 minutes outside london in Surrey). Tonight I am spending the night at standsted airport- for a flight leaving at 6 in the morning- ahhh the joys of travelling! miss you all, xo

The breakfast role ..... and more

I spent two more day in Dublin, one visiting the wicklow mountains, and the other recovering from a big night out on the town with Jules and Hannah. Wicklow was truly spectular, but once again the weather did not follow suit. Then it was back for some serious grooming- by which i had never been subjected to, but were not surpised came from princess Hanah and Julie, who transformed me. after copius amounts of vodka, 7up (similar to lemonade) and cranberry juice, we headed out for a night of dancing and fun. AND dance we did, although it made me realise how lucky we are that we don't have to pay cover charges at clubs and pubs in OZ- 10 euro, and thats not even for a a posh place! I was getting very exitced about my 'breakfast role' showing by skipping around the streets of Dublin, singing 'breakfast role, breakfast role!' much to the embarassment of my irish counterparts. A breakfast role, as some may know, is a hangover cure, particular to ireland, so much so that there was a song written about it. anyhoo, like all good drinking food, it is a grease laden concoction of fried egg, sausage, black/white pudding, bacon all in a baguette. The initial plan was so avoid eating anything before we went home that night, so come morning we would be able to to justice to our breakfast roles, but that plan went out the window, when after being pushed out of the pub at 3am, we spotted the " GET IN HERE" fast food diner (what a name!!) anyway some nachos, a burger and some chilli fries later, we got a taxi home, and as i got into bed i noticed it was totally light outside again, and 5 am.

We rose at around 12, I packed and we gave the house a bit of spring clean, but we still managed to have our breakfast role, although it was more like an afternoon role, at 4:30 pm! Had to say good by by to my irish princesses, which was sad, but may still meet hanah in france again. I flew back to london for some Zzzzzzzzzzzzz, after being out 6 out of the 9 nights in Ireland, - there is a reason they have a reputation- craic all the way!

Paddy wagon tour

On monday I departed for my 'paddy wagon' tour. There were ab out 25 of us on it and we all were loaded onto this big green bus at Connely station in Dublin. Our tour guide was thoroughly Irish, complete with red hair and a sizeable gut, making him oh so endearing. We left Dublin, and our first stop was the Pheonix wild park, where the Pope said mass to 1 million people in 2001 (i think) . The weather unfortunaly was cold and grey, with rainy patches. next we visited 'a bog.' Specfically the bog of Allen. This black stuff has been used by the Irish in rural areas for centuries to provide fuel for heat etc. We then arrived at Clonmacnoise: Ireland’s Golden Age Celtic Crosses. This place was wierd, its an old monastic graveyard, dating back to decades ago. extremely beautiful but also a bit eery, we wandered around taking photo's and also had a slide show, which was more like a bed time story. So after a long day of driving we arrived in the west of Ireland in Galway- party city, and that is where the fun began. after a stroll around this student town, we hit the pub, for some hearty Irish stew- mmmmmmm its AWESOME! and some cider and black current. the cider in Ireland was fantastic, and aided with blackcurrent, it was just like a lollie drink- perfect for yours truly (but not the next morning!), who as any one who knows me can attest to despises beer. although I must say I did try guinness and blackcurrent, thanks to my canadian friend Tim, but was still not converted.....lucky cider rivals beer on the economic front. Galway is MAD city, filled with students, and with plpenty of pubs, night life and energy it well deserves its name in Ireland as the 'party city.' We then moved pubs to a seemingly small pub, which despite its diminuitive entrance had 3 floors- very cool! By this stage we were all quite relaxed, and getting to know each other more. The pub had a live band, which was really good, and gave the place a lot of ambience and atmosphere. So after a few more drinks, and some fine Irish melodies Tim and I stumbled back to our hostel. I d love to go back to Galway- if your in Ireland, its a must!

The next day we had an early start, being 9am. We headed south towards the the lunar landscape of the Burren, this old castle at the edge of the wild Irish see. The landscape on this day was amazing! The Cliffs of Moher were absoulty gorgeous. they are these massive cliffs, with almost vertiical drops. my pictures are great. We hopped over the 'restricted area' and lay flat on our bellies at the edge of the cliffs to get thing I saw in Ireland. We then headed off to Kilarny to our next hostel. since our hostel was full, we had to stay at the paddy wagono one about 40 minutes out of Kilarny, it meant that we spent the night at the on site pub, and heard some almost non- understandable Irish accents. once again the cider was my friend, and we played pool, chatted away, and by the end of the night were all dancing away at 'in house disco.' - Happy times:)


Wednesday we got up and headed to Kilarny, for a Horse led ride through the National Park on the world famous Jaunting Cars. It was pretty good, although the weather couldn't have been more shit- you call this summer????? We headed off to the Blarney stone, after I got possibly THE best hot chocolate ever- if your reading this em S, it def beat blue zone! I kissed the Blarney stone- it was hot..... dah no, but it does mean that for the next 7 years i will be able to tell as many 'believable' lies as i like -apparently it gives you the gift of the Gab. finally we arrived back in Dublin, - after an interesting 3 days I returned to Jules, for some well needed rest.

2.7.07

gone back

Leaving in an hour or so. I think I'm packed, but I'm sure I've forgotten something. I just added a feed from my brother's new travel blog, kind of like a sister site - but brother? Nevermind. Anyway, him and Roxi are doing their thing over there, but it's a very ugly blog, so prepare your eyes for BLACK! If you wanna just go there on your own link-clicking merit then make your mouse button useful.

I know it's going to be hot in Hanoi, but it's so cold here right now that I can't imagine not taking something with long sleeves. I'm going to strip off the instant we leave the airport. My afro is going to boing into existence after a whole year of having manageable hair. I was going to cut it, but forgot - at least I shaved. Even my sideburns are gone.

Bec, I want you to email me between 500 and 1000 words of prose every day. Any more and I won't have time to read it (hour blocks you know). Anyway, I'll update from Hanoi tomorrow.

1.7.07

London for the weekend

Hello All,

Well this weekend i am in the Charming yet wet and rainy England! It has been a bit of shock to the system leaving warm sevilla and landing in rainy london.
I didn't spend much time in London though, i went and visited Jess and Benny in the evening then headed to my aunts place in Sevenoaks, which is one hour out of London.
It had been great to see some of England outside of London, the towns are very cute and just like a beatrix potter book. You wouldn't even believe it is summer here, i feel like i am in Australian winter....but wetter!
Today, dad and i are going with my aunt and uncle to see Andy and his girlfriend for dinner. Yesterday we had dinner with my grandmother who i haven't seen in 18 years, it was nice to have the family together.

going to go visit Andy now

bye from Sevenoaks, England

Claire

Post card from Claire


We just received a postcard from Claire. She managed to get my address wrong, but it still arrived!

Post card from Claire (front)

In other news, Paul (who is actually the one typing this) is returning to Vietnam on Tuesday, arriving about 6am in Hanoi with the whole frikking family. Apparently the first night accommodation has been organised... bah. It would have been more fun to walk around with 9 people trying to get accommodation. I don't know where people's sense of adventure has gone. Poot!

28.6.07

more on valencia

well i thought i should write about the actual city of valencia,
So far we have had a different time in each of the cities; Barcelona is the tourist capital though we really felt like home there and got involved with the `locals´, Madrid was bigger and louder and capitalist, though more expressive, Valencia is much a smaller city with the most amazing street art and stunning beach....nothing like that fake beach in barcelona where the sand is bought in with trucks.
Valencia was very historic, more so that madrid or barcelona.
Now we are in Seville which is absolutely stunning, morish tiles are on every building the alleys are tiny with windows peering into elaborate courtyard gardens. The weather is amazing, not a cloud in the sky and 33 degrees everyday!
we are staying in our first hostel and it is such a different perspective on travel, we were a bit lost the first day. We have met a few tourists for the first time, the seemed a bit annoying because we were used to the spanish way of doing things but it is nice to meet new people. I can´t wait to get to our next couch though, but first I am going to london for a few days to see the fam then back to Lisboa, Portugal.

i have to free up the puter now so goodbye from sevilla

Claire

27.6.07

ooohhh sad!

Leaving the beautiful Valencia was very sad!
we had made such good friends with our hosts! the amazing Patrick who spoiled us rotten with a breakfast ready for us in the mornings; the fabulous mafioso fausto who cooked us the best italian pasta(...and valencian paella) you this side of the mediteranian; the cheeky and oh too cute Poncho, our mexican doll whos cheeks we couldn´t stop pinching; and augusine well we didn´t see much of him but he is great all the same!
When we arrived at this house Fausto had never cooked Paella for anyone but had promised it many times and in the time we were there they cooked it 3 times. Apparently we bought the house together with everyone cooking together in the evenings having a great time, i really felt happy there..good food good company it is what life is all about!
I was the resident hairdresser too i cut everyones hair and surprisingly well...i am quite proud!
We went to the san juan festval which was cool....the whole city on the beach bonfires everywhere amazing to see...though i fell asleep from the vodka

well i have to go and see the beautiful sevilla we arrived last night...saw some amazing flamenco...will write more soon

Claire

25.6.07

kilmainhm jail

Yesterday I spent the day in Monahen. Julie's home town in the north part of the south of Ireland. it was VERY green and we went for a walk in this huge forest where this old castle used to be, before rebels in the north burnt it down in the 70's. Later on we went for a late lunch in the castle where Paul Mc Cartney got married. it is said to be haunted and dates back to the 1700's. I then drove back to Dublin with Julie, and we started pre- drinking for a night out in the poshest club in Dublin- "krystle." Indeed it was very trendy and cost 10 euro to get in. apparently it is where all the celelbrities hang out. The closest thing I have seen to it in melbourne is probably EVE night club in south melbourne on laura's 21st. lucky I went with jules who could dress me up to look the part, who would have known that a poor and clueless student was behind all that mascara! It was a good night though, connor bought us heaps of drinks, and we had a dance- although the music was hard to get used to and is very different from melbourne.

Today I did some more sightseeing in Dublin. I caught the "dart" into town and then a bus to Kilmainham jail, and had a tour there. it was so interesting, but also scary! these tiny kids- one 8 years old were sent to this awful place for just stealing bread, because they were starving. the place is made of limestone, a porous solid which allows the rain water to seep through, making it terribly cold for prsioners. Cells were tiny and dingy, and made me feel clausterphobic just looking at them. The tour guide was very good and explained about the famous prisoners in the 1916 uprising. Earlier in its history though, one of the most haunting facts was that despite how bad this prison was, it was at its fullest capacity from 1845- 1850, because people were so hungry during the famine, that they commited petty crimes so that they would be fed for sure in prison- crazy shit! the Prison cottoned onto this and started rationing the food to 1 small piece of bread a day. I also saw the court jard where famous rebels were executed in 1916, the ones who fought for Irish freedom. So much of Ireland is steeped in history, and it is only afte learning about its battered past that you can truly understand why they love there country so much, how much they sacrificed to get where they are today. The flag interestingly represents this. The green is the 'catholic' component, the orange is the'protestant' component, and between these is "the most important part" - the white, which represents the hope of peace between these two one day.

so thats the history lesson for today!:) tomorrow I am off on my pady wagon tour around the south of Ireland, to limerick, galway, cork etc. Ireland continues to intrigue me.........

23.6.07

Duuuuuuuuublin

I spent a day exploring the intriguing city of Dublin. Julie and I took the "Dublin tour Bus". It went round to all the important sites - Trinity College, the Dublin parliament, and "spike" and the store house. The stoer house was by the far the most interesting thing. It is after all the home of the famous Guinness! It is a huge factory, and the tour explains to you exactly how the Guinness phenomenon came to be. It was really interesting to understand how it was made- mainly with barley, yeast and also some wierd plant called hops that you can only get in regions where the temperature gets to 35C, so it had to be imported. What a process of trial and error and LUCK, to produce the most popular alcholic beeverage in Ireland! Also included was a free Pint of Guinness at the top of the factory, with a view of all of dublin (circular) which was magnificent! Julie and me unfortunatly failed to finish our guinness! But was a fantastic experience! we then went for a stroll down grafton street, and then back to Jules house for some dinner and vodka. I was still feeling jet lagged so had a 45 minute power nap. We mixed my duty vodka with cranberry juice for a potent mix, and a great start to the night. Connor drove us into Dublin, where I met some of Julie's lovely friends, and enjoyed the Irish CRAIC!. the night ended with some dancing and a taxi home, in bed by about 4 am, just when the light was starting to come up again!

The next day was inevitably a slow start. We drove to Newgrange on the way to the the famous Monahen- home of Julie. Newgrange is this amazing "cave" which was built by the neolithic people in 3500 BC, this is about 500 years prior to the construction of the pyramids. Also older than stonehenge!! The angles and construction of it is absolutly fascinating considering that there were no protractors back then! At 9:00 on the winter salstas- Dec 21st, the sun shines directly in and illuminates the whole thing - how the heck did these people know how to build this for that to happen??????????? its one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Later we arrived in Monahen to Julie2s lovely family, who treated me like the QUEEN!!! Ireland is stunning. :)

party party like princesses

ok i must start with saying jam and i are having the time of our lives here in spain!

We did our first real partying in madrid, we went to a huge nightclub and danced the night away with Jose and his friend albaro (we call him the tree because it sounds likr tree in italiano) The clubs in spain are really cheesy, though fun none the less. They have the half naked buff dancers on podiums and bad euro pop music. everyone is so relaxed in spain, there aren´t those pretentious girls like you get in melbourne and sometimes when you go out you are even out numered by men which would never happen in melbs....the poor guys don´t get let in at home. Towards the end of teh night i had a spanish guy grab me and start dancing one of their dances with me, it was hilarious, he was so serious and did all the moves! fun!
I have probably mentioned this beforebut in spain you drink at a bar til 3 then make your way to a club and party until 8am. We have been doind alot of this recently (especially in valencia but i will get to that later), one day we stared at like 5, drinking at out friends (the argentinians) bar, getting drunk with them and dancing to the pulp fiction sountrack, they were supposed to be working but left the bar to have a boogy and we were all there just dancing like idiots during the day...hilarious! those argentinians are the coolest bunch of people.
We spent the rest of our Madrid experience hanging out about town and meeting jose´s friends, madris was amazing....and then we arrived in Valencia...

Valencia, Valencia, Valencia! we are living with 2 chefs who cook us gormet meals everyday, we go to the beach, fall asleep and tan ourselves in the afternoon, party at night! we are in heaven. In the mornings Patrick sets the table up with bread, nutella, yoghurt, muffins, chocolate, (naughty boy) tomorrow he is making real belgium crepes for us! we are totally spoiled like princesses! bow they are busy in the kitchen preparing seafood paella which they have been cooking for the last 2 hours....fresh bread every day....patrick also makes a different alcoholic beverage every night to have with the meal....we had fruity sagria then punch last night and an italian drink tonight...this is what life is about! well i will write more about what we are actually doing but the food smells so good and i am getting hungry...so hasta luego from heaven

Claire
Valencia

p.s. i shaved the side of my head

21.6.07

arrival in Dublin

I arrived in Dublin today, to a cold and angry grey sky- summer iin Ireland! The day started early with my jet lag still apparent waking up at 5:30am. I left for stansted airport via a bus transfer from Heathrow, and eventually got to Dublin at 12:30. Jules picked me up and was very emotional to see her again after so long. She was a faboulous host and I am staying the in the lap of luxury! We went to UCD uni and I bought a very cool hoodie from the uni shop, so ust in case people in Ireland couldn't pick up on my foriegn accent, they lle know Im a tourist! WE walked into Dublin City centre, into grafton street. its cute little cobbled street, very crowed and busy, but oh so Irish. Dublin is a funky city so far, so much old history and tradition which seeps from the old buildings. We also went into Trinity college, - absolutly amazing! the buildings are so old and beautiful and you imagine this being the 'oxford' of Ireland. We also went into the 'long room' inside the book of kells display. Its this ancient library, abosultly fascinating and amazing architecture. later jules and I had a coffee at Bewleys, a famous old coffee house built in the 18th century, we sat upstairs sipped our late's and watched the bustling irish go about there business on Grafton Street. ahh so much to take in and my trip is only starting!! thanks bec for the idea, its so good to get it down while its all fresh in your mind!

let the CRAIC begin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

20.6.07

the beginning

hello hello

not sure if this is actually going to save or not- bec? anyway will use and try and see!
the flight to london was long and tedious. I was, however, blessed with the mens national rowing team on my flight and seroiously considered joining the mile high club.......kidding! anyway after what seemed like days (about 30 hours from take off in melbourne) I arrived at heathrow airport. I was picked up by my lovely host Gill, for some down time in Weybridge, just outside London. I slept for about 3 hours, got up and was completly disorientated. spent the day attempting to stay awake, and feeling semi "hungover." It was all sunny and bright in london, and so wierd that it was still light at 9pm. at about 7pm i went to this country estate gym with Gill, was very swank, rolling hills and sauna's, spa's; pools etc. Was running on the treadmill listening to my powderfinger on my when I noticed that it was 4am in melbourne time on my ipod, lol - this would be the only time I would be doing something so strenous at this time of the morning, unless i was hitting the dancefloor. anyway went to bed that night thoroughly exhausted after about 5 hours sleep over the last 48 hours and slept right through till morning.

Today i organised all my stuff for malta after sicily and looked up transport for stansted. then i went to this regional park, its huge and absoultly beautiful. it was wierd because it all seemed so familiar, and i found myslf transported back to being 7 years old and living through those numerous english summers. London is so green and leafy compared to melbourne, it like something out of pride and prejudice. tomorow i leave for ireland ealry in the morning, can't wait! Today I think I woke up and realized that i am on the other side of the world and its not a dream any more - i am doing it baby!!!!!!

14.6.07

Barcelona...my second homea

Hola!
que pasa?
Come estas guapos?

well Jam and i spent a total of 13 days in the wonderful Barcelona. Our host was great and i felt really at home there. I cooked or us most nights, and saved alot of money, we had picnics and ate fresh fruit at the market when we felt packish.
Our host gave us our own set of keys so we came and went as we pleased. We had our own room and In the mornings we woke up and sun bathed on the balcony. We loved the closeness of living in barcelona, the balcony looked over people hosing down their patios, gardening smoking, eating.
When we decided to move we got ready and spent most of the days just wondering around the city wandering into shops and looking at the architecture. It is so easy to just wander in Barcelona, it is so pretty. We spent alot of time at the beach sun baking and meeting random people. We spent one evening with the wonderful Nacho from Argentina after meeting him on the beach and inviting him to play a makeshift game of aussie rules football with a volleyball, we wandered around and went dancing then we said goodbye to him, never to see him again, it's funny how you meet people when you are travelling and you will probably never see them again in your life.
Jamima and I have ben meeting alot of people around the plece...surprisingly most of them are either Argentinian or Brzillian. We made geat frinds with the skater crew in Barcelona, we hung out with the quite a bit at MACBA, a large paved area (perfect for skating) outside the modern and contemporary arts museum. The skaters would hang out in the evenings are dink beer that was sold to them individually by forigners for one euro a can. `ceravessa, beer?´
One night while we were walking through the city with out host he was shocked to see how many people we knew, saying hola every 10 meters. Great bunch of guys!
Overall Barcelona was a great place to relax and take it easy, the people there are easy going and pleasant, even though the catalunians have a reputation of being too proud and up tight i thought the vibe of the city was amazing!
at the end of the last week we met up with some of Jamimas friends from Melbourne Gez and Logan, we had a bit of fun with them hanging out and being obnoxious tourists. It was hard to say goodbye to that city and the home of Josep, i may just have to come back again!
now we are in Madrid! and it is totally different....
We are currently staying with our secomd host jose after spending the first 3 nights with the ever so cool Roy. Roy Lives a little out of the centre of the city but he is a really nice relaxing guy, taught us the art of jumping the barriers at the metro!
Well the first feeling i got from Madrid was that it lacked the personailty and relaxed vibe of barcelona. Where we were staying is in the business district so all the buildings are big new and ugly. We spent the first day wandering around the streets of madrid, not really knowing what to do with ourselves. Being the capital of spain everythig is bigger, there are more chain stores and it seems a little cold and kinda like london really. Jamima and I were feeling really exhausted after the first walk around and a bit lost because we had no idea what to do with ourseles, so we decided to take a nap on the grass. It was there where we met our 2 Argentinian friends Marto and Brume. The were eating chinese and Jamima approached them to ask what they were eating and where we could get it. We ended up hanging out with them for the whole night, they played us some music and showed us some short films they had made, they are really interesting guys. They alsolived in the more underground part of town so we got to see the the real madrid, alot more diverse than barcelona.

The next day Roy took us out on the town, we walked around the city and saw the sights, i must say my legs are getting super strong, after Barcelona and walking up 6 flights of stairs like 3 times a day it now takes me alot to get tired! We annoyed roy with out thriftyness, turning down every nice tapas place he took us too until we settled on the cheapest crappest place around, it wsa actually not that bad though it had nothing on barcelona tapas. Points to us for saving money though!
The price of things is pretty high here, you would pay the average of 6 euro for a plate which is around $10 aus, times that by 4 plates and you ar paying alot for a meal for 2, Jamima and i just buy rolls and tins of tuna and eat in the street like hobos, saves us money and tastes great.

well that is it for me for now, we have been partying here recently and i still have to write about those adventured but i will save it for next time, this is a little too long already

bye from madrid

Claire

7.6.07

I Likes the Mekong I does


I Likes the Mekong I does
Originally uploaded by Bickenchurger.
The Majestic Mekong in Luang Prabang, Lao

And swim we did


And swim we did
Originally uploaded by Bickenchurger.
The waterfall near Vang Vieng, this is such an amazing place, A huge waterfall cascading through 15 tiers of crystal clear pools.....so lovely!

5.6.07

rocket festival!


Claire 045
Originally uploaded by Bickenchurger.
Well to back track a little, here i was at the Rocket festival in Vang Vieng, Lao!
This happens every year where they shoot rockets into the sky to welcome the rainy season. It seemed to work as later that evening we had a mud fight and ate happy garlic bread....crazy!!

3.6.07

hola!

hello all!

well jam and i are having a great time here!
it isn´t all that warm but are enjoying spending time on the beach and wandering about town.
we have been making friends with random people (funnily none of them spanish) and getting up to all sorts of adventures.
We´ve been fairly thrifty here i have spend 100 euros in one week which is ok. We haven´t had to pay for accomodation (thanks to good old couch surfing and hospitality club) and walked most of the time instead of catching the metro. It is so easy to walk around this city as there are parks, fountains, monuments, and beautiful architecture around ever corner. The other day Jam and i got lost (not literally) in the gothic neighbourhood, one of the oldest in Barcelona. The streets are narrow and every group of aparments face a square in the middle where the people of the neighbourhood all meet, walk their dogs and the children play football.
Yesterday we went to the park Guell that Goudi built. We started in the wrong section and thought out dreams lucious green grass, butterflies and twinkling mosaiced fountains were shatered, we wandered what the hell all the hype was about, just a dust covered mountain with some shrubs and a view....the we walked a few meters and saw the amazing gardens and architecture with spectacular views over Barcelona fountains and all!! We went on a quest for grass though were lead back to the dust hill by a couple of Argentinian doctors. We drank Argentinean tea and listend to them play the guitar.

everything happens 3 hours later here, it took a few days getting used to, things open late in the morning and close for siesta then re open fom 5-8, we eat dinner around 10 and head to bed around 2. There is a healthy night life here in Barcelona. The clubs open at 12 midnight and people party most nights of the week. we went to a click click style club a few days ago which was good. Jamima and i haven´t really been partying here though, we spend all day walking and get tired in the evenings, and of course...party means we spend money!

hmm what else to write...we are going to go look in some secona hand shops today, i´ll try not to buy anything, then we are off to do some more sight seeing. 2 of Jamimas friends are coming from melbourne today so we have a new friend to play with. We should be staying here another 5 days or so then off to Madrid!

bye for now

Claire Barcelona

hola!

30.5.07

BARTTHHHHELONA!¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿

Hello All

Greetings from the beautiful spanish city of Barcelona!
After a quick 2 hr flight from london, Jam and i arrived last night. We´re couchsurfing with a lovely host called Josep who lives close to central barcelona.
Last night we went and had some traditional food and it was amazing! tiny fried fish, potatoes with spicy sauce, salty fried peppers and mini mushies! delicious!
The vibe of the city is really nice with all the arcitecture, warm weather, friendly people and delicious smells.

It is a relief being here afeter coming from london, it got so cold on the last day, i only left the house once to get some cake and chocolate...oh and icecream (inspired by the cold weather).

today Jam and i are going to make our way to the markets and see what we can find...and eat ourselves stupid no doubt!

bye for now

Claire Barelona

28.5.07

London

Sorry about the 'speechless' post the other day!
I was going to write something about my flight but i pressed enter by accident and couldn't be bothered fixing the mistake.
but anyhoo, I am here in the swanky suburb of chelsea,london. I have been most cordially welcomed into the hotel of deares jess who has given me a room for free, I have saved quite alot of money so thankyou Jess, you are the best!
The First day in london was ok, though i was fairly buggered, the next day it rained a little when we went exploring the city and the three days after that were lovely and warm, Jamima and I had a great time chatting to randoms and seeing the sights.
The last few days have been rainy though it kinda feels like the real british experience walking in the rain.
London is fairly expensive though you don't have to spend all that much (besides public transport...OUCH!) if you don't want to. Tonight we made a massive delicious and healthy meal for at least 6 people for £3.50 (not each....for the whole lot) not too bad!
There are heaps of things to do in London, lovely markets, charity shops, over-priced vintage shops actually shitloads of over-priced vintage shops...cool to look through, though i don't want to be spending the equivalent of $50 on a pair of second(sweatytineariddencornyfungus)hand shoes, though i will spend £3 on some awesome leather boots i got today!!
Barcelona on tuesday that means tomorrow will be jamima and my last full day in London, bank holiday...boo! everything is closed.

I miss asia!...cheap cheap

anyway, bye for now.

Claire London

8.5.07

Zi's niece


DSCN6272
Originally uploaded by Bickenchurger.
This shot is kinda trippy, it was taken at Zi's house

7.5.07

Theory

So Bec, I have been thinking...following various circumstances involving food poisoning i have come up with the following theory!
I have realised that the only times i (and many fellow travellers) have been sick has been when i have eaten at restaurants...we have the veggie spring roll ordeal in Sapa last year and Kaz and i had the killer seafood in Koh Chang, Thailand.
This trip i have been mainly eating at food stalls in markets and roadside and never been sick (not including the koh chang prawns of death).
my theory goes as follows: The restaurant is more likely to carry bacteria and have cross comination due to the fact that it isn't packed up, cleaned and moved everyday like food stalls. Also you can't see how they cook the food or how the food is stored! The food at stalls is fresh everyday because there aint no fridges!
So far my theory has proved me right, though i won't hold my breath! ;)

Sapa


DSCN6206
Originally uploaded by Bickenchurger.
Here i am in lovely SaPa with some hill tribe ladies

beautiful LAOS

Hey all!

Well we spent a few more days in Vang Vieng, we went cycling and swimming in the river one day and sat and watched sex and the city and friends (which you can't escape...they play it in all the restaurants, as well as the simpsons) the next because it rained ALL day. though it just so happened that it was the rocket festival! this is an important day in Laos where they all party hard and shoot rockets into the sky to welcome the rainy season...it seemed to work coz the rain didn't stop! And with rain we all know what happens...MUD!!! MUD MUD AND MORE MMUUDDD!!! There was a massive mud fight as part of the festival, i tried my hardest to stay clean but i got dragged in!
We partied at night and the rain stopped, we had a bonfire too which was lovely.
The next morning i had to get up to go to luang Prabang...that was hard!
there wasn\t enough room on the bus so i was up with the driver, the view was amazing though at one point i fell sasleep on the driver, he had to elbow me awake. It was then i decided to sleep in the isle.
Laos is so beautiful, the unfortunate thing is that it has been heavily logged so in some parts it looks like sapa without the amazing rice fields. much of it though is jungle. The mountains are huge and towns are few and far between (there is ofcourse many bamboo villages though)
Luang prabang is a lovely city, very clean, reminds me of hoi an but not as old. Today was an amazing day! the weather is perfect for the first time in weeks! We decided to go to the waterdfall which is the most amazing waterfall i have seen, i have photos, so i won't bother describing it, i won't do a good enough job!

oh and Kaz, guess who i ran into...? Felix from sihanoukville and the all you can eat curry in phnom penh!

Well Laos is so relaxed, so easy and friendly! No pressure and all smiles!

having blast!!

bye for now!!

Claire

3.5.07

Laos!

Hey all,
I arrived in laos yesterday and it is lovely!
After a 22 hour bus ride we arrived in Vienine. The Laos countryside is lovely, my first impression is that it is very similar to melbournes bushland near standrews, it felt a little like home.
The further we drove the more stunning the landscape became, it looks a little hike ha long bay on land with rocky cliffs and mountains.
We spent one night in the capital and had a great night, we ate dinner by the river (a little dried up but nice anyway) we had about 6 beer lao longnecks each and partied the night away. The next day we mucked around a little then caught the 6pm bus to veng vieng The tubing capital of the world.
We are staying in these cute little bungalows for $5 each ($2.50 each) similar to the ones in koh Chang but more clean and fancy. We have gathered quite a posse, there are 2 canadian girls with us a british girl, dutch guy and me.
Today we went tuing, the ain attraction of vang vieng. it was so much fun! floating down the river in a truck tyre with a beer (or in my case a gin and tonic) stopping of at bamboo bars alongside the river. The other guys had a swing into the water from giant swings but i was too chicken too and just floated around.
Tonight we ate indian, i am so full!
well tmorrow i might checkout the beautiful Loas scenery by bicycle

bye for now!

Claire Vang Vieng, laos

30.4.07

More things...

OK back!

so where was i up to?

Hoi An...well that town is just beautiful, so picturesque! We had spend so much time getting clothes made though, some were amazing some not so amazing but so damn cheap! we found the greatest pho street stall, so damn cheap and tasty!

we also visited an orphanage which was lovely.

There is something about the food in general in hoi an, it is just so tasty, i don't know what they put in it but the tomato, garlic peanuts combine to make a taste sensation!

the beach there is nice too, though much colder than cambo or thailand.

next stop was hanoi, my last days with my kazza, we had a bit of a freakout when we realised we had left out passports 19 hours away in hoi an but that was all resolved when they sent them up on a bus for us. They arrrived 2 hours before kaz was to leave for Bangkok..PHEW!

Kazzy Come back!

Well after Kaz left i went to Sapa that evening on the night train, i was lucky to spend the rest of the day with some lovely british girls we shared a balcony with at out guesthouse. I managed to get a hard sleeper on the train which is soooo much better than a bus seat, i don't mind sleaping on the hard wood, i think it is good for my back! i have troulble waking up everywhere i go though whether it is bus or train, this morning i got woken up by a hit to the head at 5:45 when the train had arrived in hanoi, i guess i am lucky i can sleep at all, though one day i am sure i will sleep through my stop and end up in china or something!

Well Sapa was just amazing! Bec and paul; the girls were asking all about you and wanting to know when you are coming back...send them an email, they miss you.

now i am really tired and i will write more about sapa soon, i have some great photos! I have to catch a bus at 6pm to laos the bus will take 24hrs or something...eeekkk though i found i nice lad to acompany me on the trip!

videos soon too

Claire

Finally an Update!

Hello!!

Well i am sorry to all who is on my back about being slack with my blog, my apologies!

Well where do i start?

Well Kaz and i had an amazing time together, we cycled the streets of nha trang where we tasted the most amazing coffee ( and kaz dearest the coffee in hanoi really isn't the same) we left there without going to the beach once which was strange but it didn't come close to the beach in sihanoukville.

our next stop was the lovely town of hoi an. Kaz and i really had a great time here besides the fact that is a womans paradise with all the shoe and clothing tailors, it is a really beautiful town. we hored bikes here every day, it was a little easier to ride here as the town is much quieter

just a sec...gotta change computers...

Nha Trang

Hello All!

Well Kaz and i are here is Nha Trang, Vietnam. we have been here 2 and a bit day so far and we're leaving to go to hoi an tonight on the night bus.

The city has changed a little since i was here last, there have been a few renovations and a few classy cafe's have appeared. Overall Kaz and i are loving Vietnam, it is very different from Cambodia as it is more developed, The people are amazing, We met a man on the bus from Phnom Penh to Saigon and he called up all these people to find out what bus we should catch to nha trang, he also recommended a restaurant in Nha Trang which is fantastic, Kaz and i have eaten there both nights we have been there.

The first day here we visited the seated buddah, that was about it

yeaterday we wend for a big bike ride though nha trang along the beach, we also rode through some of the back streets to look at the neighbourhood where all the people yelled out 'HELLO".

The only real problem kaz and i have is that Vietnam is alot more developed than Cambodia, we have a TV in our guesthouse and it tends to hypnotise us. Nha trang is rather touristy too, not the chilled backpacker type tourist we are used to either, we have been lazing about bu the beach for the past 2 weeks or so and now we have to think of activites. Lucky we have got some great ideas!

bye for now

Claire

17.4.07

tuktuk

Claire's finally uploaded a video, but neglected to add to the blog so...


Tuk Tuk on Vimeo

16.4.07

back in VN!

Well after like 13 hours catcing buses, we are in saigon, not for long though as we are about to catch another bus to nha trang! i must say it is great to be back in VN the people here are just so lovely, we even had a vietnamese guy buy us dinner before we were even in the country.
When i get to nha trang i'll take some time to update but for now the bus calls... :(

12.4.07

Home again!

well our cambodian home anyway!
sihanoukville for khmer new years, i have so much to write about, we had to leave siem reap, had too many bad experiences, it was really awful! we spent 11 hours on the bus yesterday just to get back here, and now we are all relaxed again!

ahhh!

well i am really tired now so i will probably elaborate tomorrow

bye for now

cLAIRE

10.4.07

Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor!

Well today was a lovely day indeed!
The Kaz and i went to angkor wat and the surrounding temples, we organised a tuk tuk driver to take us around for the day, it was absolutely breathtaking, i will post some pics when i can.
We met some monks and we took soome photos with them, and then one pulled out a mobile phone and took one with us!
the monks wear and amazing orange robe that looks striking against the colous of the temples, they are really friendly and are really interested in having a chat and practicing their english.

tomorrow we might go back to Sihanouklville...we'll see.

Claire Siem Reap

Kidnapped!

Well today we were kidnapped briefly in Siem Riep!
but no need to be alarmed mum and dad!
We were taken off the bus by a guy claiming to be from the bus company, he was even wearing a shirt from the bus company! He said that he would take us to our guesthouse free of charge and that the cost is inclusive of our bus ticket, so we obliged and then it clicked, he started asking us when we wanted to go on tours and where we wanted to go, we said that we didn't know and that we didn't want to make any plans. He then said that in return for the ride to the guest house we had to let him take us on a tour or we would have to pay for the ride. Kaz and i didn't have a bar of it and asked him to let us out of the tuk tuk, he wouldn't let us out and said he would take us into the jungle and leave as there to get robbed and mugged. After refuing to pay him a rediculous amount he started driving into the mddle of nowhere, still arguing he stopped the tuk tuk and tried one last time to make us give him money or use his services, but that time we never wanted to see him again ever. After a little while his friend realised that we weren't going to give him anything, told us he hated us and let us out of the tuk tuk, we had no idea where we were.
Wasn't very hard to flag down a car and get a cheap lift into town.
but that wasn't the end of it!
when we got into town, the guys car broke down, so i offered to push, so kaz and i were pushing this dusty car down the busy town centre, a couple of policemen came and helped too!
this was the craziest entry into any town i have ever had, but you live and learn.

Phnom Penh was alright, we were lakeside, it is quite a cozy part of town, we miss the beach and sihanoukville though, we might go back there for Khmer new years on the 14th and avoid the craziness of the city centre.

well that is it for me, i am sorry no videos yet, i have taken so many but the net is too slow to upload them

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

8.4.07

Oh...

Bec, i like what you've done to the place!

Lazy Days!

Well This is out first night in Phnom Penh. We were supposed to leave the frog shack like 2 nighs ago but Kaz got ill and wasn't able to leave, though that didn't stop us from nearly missing our bus out of the place. For me it was hard to say goodbye the kids are so much fun and it was just the laziest, most relaxed lifestyle. I made friends with a French guy who didn't speak much English and i know no French, but with a few lessons in french i now know how to recite the French instructions on the back on the uno packet with perfect pronounciation! in return i peeled the burned skin off his back...it was a bonding moment.
The last few days in Sihannoukville were pretty lazy, there were storms both nights, i stayed up to watch the sunrise and we had to swim into the sea to get a better view, the sunrise wasn't that spectacular and we got really cold but it as fun all the same.

It's funny being on holiday, i forget to eat and sleep and it doesn't really effect me like it does when i am working and worrying about the day. Today i had a bread roll (and i even gave half of that away to a poor kid) at like 11am then didn't eat until 8:00pm, didn't feel hungry.....but it wouldn't be me without making up for it with all you can eat Indian for $2 ...now i feel sick

oh and i had my first dummy spit a a moto driver who was supposed to take us to the bus station but instead took us to 3 ticket suppliers to try and sell tickets there to get a commission, i was so pissed off!

well that is me, i can't think of anything else to write but i'll arrange some photos soon

Claire Phnom Peh

4.4.07

Sihannoukville

Hi All!
tomorrow we are supposed to be leaving sihannoukville and it is really sad! The place we are staying t is really great! the people who own it are very lovely, letting us stay for free and we basically run the place, the bar, the music it is a blast! having partys evernight! It is right on the beach and when i say right on the beach i mean the legs of the banana lounges and chairs we lie in catch the white bubbles in the waves.
Today Kaz and i got our visas for VN SO EXCITED TO GO BACK!! bec ad paul yes we are are going to hoi an hanoi and of course Sapa! i will say hi to the girls for you!
We also went to the market (photos soon!!) then came back and went for a cycle to the nearby more quieter beaches. we rode through the loveliest little fishing village where there were making boats, it was set where a river meets the sea and you could see all the tropical fish in theh water as we rode over the beach.
Yesterday we ate a typical cambodian dinner at a street stall and tasted rice wine and. We went on a really nice tour to the islands off the coast and did some snorkelling eating and lazing on the beach, a really lovely day, the fish were amazing!
It will be hard to leave this place, we have really become part of it and having alot of fun with the kids, they are really sweet. Cambodian people are really lovely also, always saying hello and keen to help, always smiling!

well i am off for now, maybe i'll write next from Phnom Penh

Claire Shiannoukville

1.4.07

Now lets backtrack!

Hey!
Well Kaz and i thought Koh Chang island was the bomb!
After a lovely 4 hour air-conditioned coach ride we hopped on the ferry to take us to the island. Our first impressions weren't all that good but as we drove further passed the touristy resorts and 7-11's we found a lovely spot called lonely beach.
we arrived rather late into town so we found somewhere for the night at a place called the treehouse. It was a little hut not far from the beach on stilts made of palm leaves with just a bed and a mosquito net...very cute. Before we went to sleep we cracked open a few coconuts and had a mini feast. The next morning we woke to the sound of thuds of coconuts falling from the trees and decided to look for somewhere else, the fear of death by coconut got the better of us...just jokes, they charged too much for a room with nothing in it.
with not much effort at all, we found the bungalow of our dreams, halfway between the nicer beach and the treehouse restaurant where all the good parties are and a great place to relax. Our new hut had a shower a basin and a toilet as well as a fan and power sockets....what more does a person need??...besides a hammock?
basically the days to follow were spent playing uno, swimming, eating and relaxing. We tried to hire a scooter but we almost had an accident so we ditched that idea, we were going to go for a kayak but we wer kinda sick and went swimming instead.
we saw a snake! ooh!
i had the best sweet and sour prawns EVER!!...really!! like one of the best things i have ever eaten, shame it gave me food poisoning and Kaz got sick from the seafood pad thai!
met some cool people and some really odd ones, i bit off more than i could swallow when we ordered a bucket each to drink, kaz got sick left me with both buckets and i found myself singing kareoke to some powderfinger song and forgetting all the lyrics and sounding amazingly BAD...this was in a small town, the people made sure i didn't forget about it! oh and apparently i was dancing alot...can't remember that!...never again!
well we are off to a party at the place we are staying, free shots! i will not partake i any of these antics, maybe we'll play some uno and try and get some sleep.

bye from Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Claire

Cambodia!

Hey!
well this morning we arrived in Cambodia. We managed to find somewhere to stay for free which is good, you just have to eat there and you stay free!
i have missed a big chunk of koh chang island i know but we were having such a good time there, it was absolute paradise! eating swimming eating swimming playing uno then sleeping, really relaxing. i will fill you in with more later

we got a little sick at one stage, but all seems to be good now.

i must away for now

Claire cambodia

28.3.07

Ko Chang!

Well now i am at Ko Chag Island, just near the border of thailand and cambodia. I will start a few days back as i have neglected the blog somewhat.
Well i had to say goodbye to my Kiwi friend, she is sucha lovely girl, can't wait to catch her in the UK.
I met up with sam in the evening after Mandy left and it was really ood to see her. I used to work with her in the basement and get boozed up on a frida night together at the lounge. We met at MBK and he took me around, i was comletely lost, and so what sam and she has been there before this is how large that place is. I bought myself a few things like an extra bettery for my phone...just in case. i also got a bag which i really needed and an ipod charger. I am really regretting not getting some ipod speakers, they would be perfect here.
After MBK sam took me for a woner around some of the nearby shopping places, Siam square was great, i bought a funky necklace!
I had a bit of a run in with the toilet at the local starbucks, do i spray...or wipe? all signs pointed to spray (no toilet paper in sight) but i insisted on wipe and had to retrieve some starbucks napkins to wipe my chilly-battered bottom...ouch!
After the shopping trip sam invited me to have dinner with her and some of her friends from her school, we caught the skytrain down the road to meet them (missed our stop because we were chatting) then had a really lovely meal at a street-restaurant. We had noodle soup, dumplings and congee, was great! Sams friends are also studing thai and are japanese they didn't really speak english but i could understand what was going on.
That night i stayed at sams place and in the morning caught the train back to BBK then a taxi back to the Peachy guest house, the one i went to the first night. That morning i changed to a double room for kaz then had a snooze.
After my snooze i planned our trip to ko chang and did a whole lot of nothing, oh i bought a dress, i know i shouldn't have but benny said that if you see something you like get it because you won't see it again, and i haven't yet!
The trip to the airport was nice, i met a guy from London (Leroy) who was lovely, even offered me a couch to stay on when i get to london!
after we checked in Leroys flight we had a beer and met up with Kaz, said goobye to Leroy and caught the bus to Bangkok!
we wandered around a little but pretty much ent straight to sleep to be up early for our bus to Koh Chang.

wel i have so miuch to write about this place but i might do it tomorrow as i am running out of time...

stay tuned for: claire nearly killing herself and Kaz on a scooter, The most amazing bungalo in the world and salad by the sea!

Cheers

Claire Koh Chang island, Thailand

25.3.07

It's me again!

So Something really amazing happened to me!
Just as i was thinking i would have no friends here until kaz arrived, someone just happened to be looking at the same shoes as me,...Mandy!
not dissimilar to our faithful pal Kaz she is of New Zealand origin and is a barrel of fun! We had both arrived at Bangkok on the same day (both solo travellers) and checking out the neighbourhood when we met!
I then took her to see my 120 ($5 AUD) room complete with fleas and seamen stains on the mattress when she offered me to stay in her luxury room for free! she had already paid for a twin room!!
So we have had heaps of fun today at the massive market and when i say massive i mean like so big that you can walk in and never find your way out again!
this evening we went to china town and the people there are so lovely, we sampled heaps of cured meat and eel and fruits! a total sensory explosion

i am off for now, paying by the minute!!

Claire Bangkok

23.3.07

Woah Bangkok!

So he i am! After a 9ish hour flight I have arrived safely and have made my way to the most dingiest fleapit of a guesthouse. I am a little lost as to what to do with myself. I have so much to do yet i don't know where to start.
There are a few things that stand out for me, the first is the traffic. It is much more sedate than Saigon, people drive on the left side of the road AND some motorcyclists actually wear helmets!!! wow
Well i think i might go for a walk around for a bit and write a little more later on. gotta get me a simcard!

catch

Claire Bangkok

21.3.07

Leaving the Nest

Ah, shit. Claire is at it again. No time to even post an 'I'm off' blog. Packing an entire house of hoarding into a few flimsy boxes, I (bec) ask her how she plans to disappear it all before her flight in 24 hours. 'aw . . . my parents will do that'. Ah Claire. Stick around sai-gone and wait for some words of wisdom from Bangkok, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Bangkok, London and Manchester, as our little girl grows up in football kicking, warm-beer drinking, bed-linen manufactring capital of the world.
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