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.

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!

.