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Thailand and Malaysia

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Off to Langkawi

Ban Ao Nang, Thailand

I had a great day on the kayaking and elephant adventure. I thought I would celebrate by having a few ales on my "last" night in Thailand. I found a bar that was pretty much populated by foreigners, but decided more fun was to be had at the Reggae bar with my friends from last time. I was handed a flyer by one of the workers, which advertised "buckets" of alcohol for around six dollars each. Seeing that this is a bit of a tradition in Thailand, I thought I would indulge. Wow. Needless to say I thought is was a great idea to go with some of the girls to another bar down the road. Three of us on a scooter, and the driver had been drinking... I somehow got dragged by some random to another bar, where I met up with some of the boys that work at the Reggae Bar. I ended up spilling the bucket belonging to what I remember as being the Thai version of Mr T. I bought him another and one for myself as well. That's about the last thing that I remember.

I woke to an incessant banging on my door at about 10.30 the next day. I packed up my stuff and headed down to the travel agency. Turns out they had tried to rouse me at the prescribed time of 0630. I never heard a thing. No refunds available, I booked myself a new bus ticket for the next day, went back to the hotel, and slept and slept. I was so surprised to wake up with my wallet and camera on my person. I have a habit of putting my wallet down the front of my pants if I'm in a dodgy area. Must have worked. Although, for the second time, I souvenired a stubbie cooler, only to have it souvenired off me in return! It was a good night (from what I recall), but I didn't eat all the next day, and am still at a loss as to how I got home safe and sound. Lucky...

I'm in Langkowie, and am enjoying a quiet night in. I'll have to start looking around here tomorrow...

permalink written by  10bastards on October 23, 2009 from Ban Ao Nang, Thailand
from the travel blog: Thailand and Malaysia
tagged Buckets

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Tonsai, Thailand

So I was well and truly over Phuket, didn't even have a big night. I had a hunger for some lapping, gentle waves, so I booked myself a minibus back to Ao Nang and a longtail boat to Railay. The change was automatic. Not quite as hustle-y, but that is probably because everything is a lot more expensive. I was disappointed with the beaches. Railay East is a mangrove swamp, and Railay West is a bay, with mud instead of sand. The second day I was there I decided to hike to Tonsai. Best idea ever! Okay, so the hike was through the jungle and I've never lost so much fluid through sweat, but the beach was awesome, the people friendly (without trying to sell anything) and the scene just so relaxing. I would stay in Tonsai the next time around, as it seems so much nicer. Railay is good, but just that little bit pricey.

I decided when I had got home (narrowly avoiding heat stroke) that I would go to Ao Phra Nang the next day and decide between the two where to stay. It was raining the next day though, so I just maxed by the pool in the afternoon and set myself for a big night out. Unfortunately it turned out to be a big, big night, which ruled me out for Ao Phra Nang (ruled me out of doing anything really). The fact that I had entered into a limbo competition and twisted my knee didn't help either. I decided with a little over a week left of my holiday to return to Ao Nang, do a tour and then set off to Langkawi. I really quite like Ao Nang. Prices are good (my room is priced for two people and is $8 Australian a night, with a bottle of water a day plus free Wifi - heaven!) and there is access to pretty much anything you could want to do. Rock climbing, kayaking, Island tours, elephant safaris, snorkelling etc, etc.

I'm booked for a kayaking tour and elephant safari tomorrow. I'm pretty excited, I figure it will be a good way to say goodbye to Thailand. The next day will see me off bright and early (0630-yuck!) on my way to Langkawi!

permalink written by  10bastards on October 20, 2009 from Tonsai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Thailand and Malaysia
tagged Railay, Tonsai and AoNang

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Ao Nang continued

Ban Ao Nang, Thailand

I decided to organise a speed boat trip to Phi Phi and other areas. This cost me $28 for the whole day, so I couldn't go wrong really. Our first stop was to snorkel at a reef. Then we went to Maya Bay, famous through the movie "The Beach". Apparently other people had heard of it as well, because there was a couple of hundred people there, and the beach itself was covered with boats. We then tripped over to Phi Phi, which I was glad we did, because it was not as amazing as I had thought it would be. We were given a nice lunch, which surprised me, as I had thought there was no way that could be included in the price. Our next stop was another coral reef. It was amazing, the fish and coral seemed to radiate a fluorescent glow. Pineapple chunks were thrown into the water, bringing fish out of nowhere. I found myself surrounded by beautiful fish attacking the pineapple (and me). It was awesome. Our last stop of the day was Bamboo Island. What a place! The water was amazingly clear and warm. I sat in the twenty-something degree water at neck height. Great stuff.

I had walked around Ao Nang, been to a bar before, but this particular night I decided to really have a go at it. There is a soi (street) that is full of bars, so I decided to go down to the one at the end - the Reggae Bar. It was like walking the gauntlet getting there. There would have been at least 40 "women" grabbing (literally) at me to go to their particular bars. Bloody hell. I parked myself at the bar and it turned out that the owner was an American. It wasn't too bad, was left to myself and chatted to the owner. It was quite interesting. He said the "girls" (again, inverted commas!) weren't paid to be there, they were given free drinks. I then played "pick the ladyboy", the owner confirming my suspicions. There were at least two in the bar, doing the rounds, playing Connect Four and Jenga with the patrons - believe it or not!

This guy, John, absolutely loves his job. He said he could run the place by himself, but had four people working for him - employed at $165 Aussie per month! I had been playing Connect Four with one of the "girls" when I spotted a group of English girls that had been on the boat trip earlier in the day. I ended up drinking and playing Jenga with them until they decided to head out with one of the lady boys to another bar. I can't imagine my favourite hang outs in Australia being frequented by transvestites. It amazes me how open they are. All you have to do is ask if they're a woman and they will confirm! I had a good night with the English ladies, and finished up getting to bed at 3.30. This did not bode well for my bus at eight, but I made it - just.

permalink written by  10bastards on October 14, 2009 from Ban Ao Nang, Thailand
from the travel blog: Thailand and Malaysia
tagged AoNang and LadyBoy

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Karon - the beach you can't swim at.

Phuket, Thailand

The "bus" I took from Ao Nang stopped at Krabi, where we had to wait for the "bus" going to Phuket. We ended up leaving at about twelve thirty, going back to Ao Nang to pick up some more people. The minibus was cramped, and I was jammed against the luggage but for $11.50 for a four hour trip - you can't complain! Or so I thought... There was a couple of French ladies who didn't stop complaining about the wait and the conditions. My late night the night before ensured I got to sleep through most of their tirade. We reached Phuket and were taken into a travel agency to confirm what hotels we were staying at. One of the staff came out to open the door of the mini-bus, a very tall, broad-shouldered woman with a definite five-o'clock shadow. Hrmm. I thought she was going to punch one of the French ladies in the head, but unfortunately that didn't happen.

My hotel was the last stop, so the driver got me to sit in the front with him. He asked if I was alone, and then started telling me about the affordability of Thai prostitutes. I assured him that was not why I was in Thailand, but he didn't believe me of course. As soon as I got to my hotel (a fash one, 20 bucks a night and warmish water!) I went to sleep. I only woke up for a little bit and then slept all night. Needless to say, I didn't see any of Karon beach on my first night...

Today I went to the beach, which pretty much sealed the deal for me going back Ao Nang way (probably to Tonsai or Railay). The waves were of a decent size, but I didn't see any surfers (???). I also saw a massive Jelly fish float by me. I got out of the water before I found a shark (I just KNOW there was one there somewhere). The beach has deck chairs and umbrellas which cost about three bucks to rent. I treated myself, but quickly lost interest, as there was a never ending stream of people selling the usual stuff like watches, umbrellas and random musical instruments. Again, a beer would have better for me, but anyway. I spent the rest of the afternoon in the pool at the resort. It was only later on I saw the sign at the beach that said "no swimming"... I thought there were some serious rips present and it turns out there was!

I think I'll head out later on and see if there is anyone OTHER than prostitutes and transvestites out tonight. I'll head to Rawai tomorrow to see what the shopping is like, then book myself a trip back to the Krabi area. Everything is pretty much the same as here, but the accommodation is cheaper, the surf better and at least five less prostitutes.

permalink written by  10bastards on October 14, 2009 from Phuket, Thailand
from the travel blog: Thailand and Malaysia
tagged Karon

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Thailand - the first few days

Ban Ao Nang, Thailand

I made it through customs in Krabi with no fuss, no questions. I guess I just look like a trustworthy character. Jumped on the bus from the bus to the airport to Ao Nang. My beach side destination. I would compare it to a place like Maroochydore in Australia, not too busy, not too quiet. The place I'm staying at said it was directly across from the McDonalds, where the bus stopped, but it still took me an hour to find it. That was probably due to me having a different name for the place in my head. It's ten bucks a night, so no breaking the bank, it has a fan and a queen size bed. It must be hot all the time in this area, because there is no hot water in the place at all. It's been a while since I've had a cold shower. Both places I've stayed at whilst I've been away have had the shower in close proximity to the toilet. In this place, the shower actually points at the toilet - time saver!

The beach here is quite shelly in the afternoons, but has sand in the morning. Oh and the syringe I discovered yesterday morning... I have never owned a suit until earlier this year, but that would not have been the case if I had lived in Thailand. I am yet to see anyone wearing a suit here, but the dozen blokes on the way to the beach seem to think it is a necessary requirement to my survival. One suit shop is right at the front door of the place I'm staying at - so I got accosted as soon as I left the hotel for the first time. I tried explaining to the bloke I just wanted to go to the beach, but he wouldn't take no for an answer. This gives me the excuse I need to taunt him with the promise of buying a suit from him. It's the best fun I've had so far. My favourite was telling him I'd be back later, then returning with a tallie and saying "I never do business when I drink".

I didn't bring any board shorts over here, figured I'd buy a stack of clothes just before I leave. I bought a pair of Billabong shorts for 12 bucks. I probably overpaid, but I need something to swim in. My next purchases will be a straw hat and some Ray Bans. If I don't get searched on the way back into Australia I will be very disappointed. Especially considering the hair and beard I'm growing. I figure the scruffier and poorer I look, the less people are going to try to sell me shit.

I wouldn't mind if it was stuff I actually needed, like beer or food. Or a TOT card. The phones here are all TOT which would be great, but no-one sells them. I went into 4 different 7/11's to get one until I found a place that actually sold them. This is my first trip without my mobile on roaming, so not having the ability to make a call when I want to is kinda weird.

I plan to go over to Phi Phi island this morning, it was overcast but is clearing up nicely now. I'd like to get some sunscreen, but the stuff they have here is whitening cream... I don't think I need any of that. The boats going to Phi Phi are dodgy wooden jobs, so I'll see how it goes...

permalink written by  10bastards on October 10, 2009 from Ban Ao Nang, Thailand
from the travel blog: Thailand and Malaysia
tagged AoNang and Suits

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Had a brilliant idea to down a bottle of Queensland's finest with a friend. Great Idea, but not before an international flight... I groaned all the way to the airport, but my housemate was probably too tired to care (we left home at 4am). He must have felt a tad soft in the head to agree to that task. It was only when I got to Malaysia that I remembered my difficulty with directions... I managed to get to KL Sentral (the main train/bus station) easy enough, then wandered around trying to think why I didn't write directions to the hostel I had booked down.

I gave up, jumped into a legitimate-looking taxi and hit the road. Old mate the taxi driver took me to the street the place was on. Sweet! Or so I thought. The genius who owns the hostel decided to have two, in close proximity to each other, with the same name, albeit one has "2 after it and one has "1". I eventually gave up looking for hostel 2, which I had booked, and went to hostel 1. They called the other place up, to be informed that because I was late, my room had been sold. Oh well. Got a room at hostel 1, a two person room, so I had to pay double ($20) but it turned out to be great because I really needed the sleep.

I had a little walk after I had rested up and bought a burger from a street-side stall. It was cooked by a little kid who did a pretty good job. I loved how they streched the egg out at this place, wrapping it around the meat patties. The burger had a bucket load of sauce on it as well, which suits me just fine. It cost me a little about $1.50.

I managed to get up in the morning to treat myself to enjoyable "getting lost" walk. I asked the lady at the hostel where KL Sentral was, to which she replied "Down the corner then turn right, then there's some stairs and heaps of people". Using stairs as a reference is a shit idea. I figured out which way KL Sentral was and followed the train tracks there. Made it to the airport without incident and with time to spare!

permalink written by  10bastards on October 9, 2009 from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
from the travel blog: Thailand and Malaysia
tagged KL, Malaysia and Burger

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Don't do your washing in Prague!

Prague, Czech Republic

So it's been almost two weeks since my last pithy comment, again delayed due to lack of internet and time. We made it to Prague via the train. It was a well decked out train, with power-points, so I was able to play Tetris all the way there! Woo hoo.

Prague was not really like I expected it to be. I was thinking of Blade, all dark and gothic. Wasn't quite like that. The beer and food was good quality and cheap which made us both very happy. Our second night there we ventured into the city to try and find some night-life. All we found was drinks three times as expensive as three train stops away. Perhaps the number of stops from the city is indicative of the price of beer! I was reminded of Kabukicho in Japan walking around Prague central. This was because of the large amount of black guys either offering REALLY dodgy money-changing services or a "good" deal on a show. I couldn't wait to get out of there!

We got our hostel to to a load of washing for us the next day while we went to our favourite restaurant around the corner. They treated us like family, it was great! We were about to leave, but the owner gave me a free glass of port. It was so good we bought two each. Then they brought out some snacks for us, and I had my way with their ipod. It was a great afternoon, until we returned to get our washing and found our hostel charged us about twenty times what it would have cost to do. That put me in a great mood for our overnight train to Krakow, that's for sure!

permalink written by  10bastards on December 27, 2008 from Prague, Czech Republic
from the travel blog: Eurotrip
tagged Vienna

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Vienna, Austria

So instead of Prague we ended up in Vienna! When we inquired about trains, the train went through Vienna, so we figured we would stop there for a night. We had a six seat cabin all to ourselves which was excellent because we could move the seats to make a bed each. I slept really well and woke up looking at the snowy peaks of Austria! Vienna is very nice. I'm not sure how to describe it. It has less antiquities than Rome, but there is kind of a Medieval feel to the place. I am still surprised by the graffiti present in Europe. I know Australia has it's fair share of Graffiti, but we don't have buildings with hundreds of years of history!

The difference from Vienna to Rome was apparent immediately. For a start, in Rome, you RUN across the road before you get taken out. Vienna is very Germanic and organised. Only tourists (especially Italian ones) cross before the little green man (and little green person on a bike!) appears. The street manners remind me a lot of Newcastle in the UK. People pick a line to walk and you daren't step in their way. I got the dirtiest look from a lady today for happening to walk a little too slowly in front of her and her pram. This was after we saw a guy run his shoulder into a young lady. Crazy stuff.

Vienna has the same beggars that Italy had, if a little less dramatic. The beggars here will sit in little alcoves with a cup for money, whereas the Roman beggars will directly confront you for money. I had a guy approach me outside the Vatican saying he was a refugee fro Macedonia and his family needed just 1 Euro cent from me to survive. You can't buy a brass razzoo or a plastic one for one Euro cent. Unbelievable. I'm always a sucker for a battler, but I managed to resist the calling of people apparently down on their luck. We saw a lady and two children (her grand-children I would say) begging on the train. No-one gave them anything. They stopped their crying and wailing and patiently waited for the train to stop at the next station so they could board the next carriage. That kind of put me on the back foot as to their situation. It just seems like a business to most of these people. I'd like to know what the situation with welfare is in these countries, as well as government housing, that sort of thing. Every time we went to an amazing piece of Roman architecture we would prepare ourselves for the assault of people offering us half-price umbrellas or special deals on tours.

I know I sound a little jaded, but I was struck by the immense size and scale of the Vatican, and being a religious place I thought it was horrendous that people would hawk their wares outside. Mind you, every step we took on the way to the Sistene Chapel wasn't too far from a Vatican endorsed gift shop. You can't look at the treasures in the Vatican and listen to a priest talk about empty bellies with a straight face. Unless you've seen the mass of gold, jewels and paintings of inestimable worth in the Vatican you probably wouldn't understand.

All I wanted to see in the Vatican was the Sistene chapel. We went into Saint Peter's basilica first and I was blown away. I wasn't too happy at the amount of people taking pictures though. It was the same as the Pantheon for me. I think grandiose religious places, whether Christian, Jew or Muslim, should be seen as a place of worship not a place for people to gawk at the architectural wonderment and take pictures of the pretty statues. Places of worship are built for the glory of god after all.

Okay, that was probably enough about religion, just had to get that off my chest. We are planning to go to Prague tomorrow, so it's definitely maybe going to happen. We walked all afternoon around Vienna today but I know it wasn't really a good look at what makes Vienna tick. Unfortunately we've only got about a week more to tour around until we go somewhere special for Christmas and then back to the UK for new years.

permalink written by  10bastards on December 17, 2008 from Vienna, Austria
from the travel blog: Eurotrip
tagged Vienna

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Roma Tomatoes

Rome, Italy

My first impression of Rome was not great. I couldn't see past the ever-present graffiti on the walls, doors and trains. It's hard to imagine a place so steeped in history and culture as being a working, evolving city.

As soon as we got to the airport we easily found our way to the bus ticket office. Two tickets were bought into town and we were good to go. Until I lost one. It turned out alright though, 'cause Shelley got a replacement gratis. Our first night in the city left me feeling cold about Rome. I seemed to be constantly on the lookout for somebody wanting to mug us!

The next morning we headed to the central train station to see about getting around to see the sights. We decided to join a bus tour. Although we knew it to be expensive (considering a metro ticket to anywhere is two dollars) we only have a day and a half here and it was just easier. We reached our first stop, the Vatican and I duly got my camera out for some happy-snaps. I turned it on and... nothing! I checked inside and there was no bloody battery. We turned around, going back to the hostel to search for it. Couldn't find it anywhere. I checked my backpack again and found I had the battery the whole time! Idiot.

Shelley seemed to take this remarkably well. I think it was from the cold and flu meds she took earlier that morning. We decided to do the Vatican the next morning. We managed to see Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and the Colosseum. Not bad work for a day's work in the pissing-down rain. We spent about three hours looking for a conversion plug for Italy, but it was well worth it to have dry shoes again (courtesy of Shelley's hair dryer - an essential piece of kit).

We have to figure out our next port of call (most probably Prague) on the morrow. We really have to get a move on - only a couple of weeks to go!

permalink written by  10bastards on December 15, 2008 from Rome, Italy
from the travel blog: Eurotrip
tagged Rome

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Dublin, Ireland

We spent our first full day in Dublin having a stroll around and looking for a place to stay. Seems like you can't get a room in Dublin on a Saturday night (unless it's double the normal price). We were happy to have found a few good drinking pubs with beer at around six Aussie dollars a bottle which is probably less than Brisbane prices. After checking out the Guinness brewery, having three pints and contracting the hiccups, we decided to have dinner. We found a place offering meals for around fifteen dollars, ordered and sat down with a drink. After an hour we suspected that the staff had lost our order and forgotten about us. We were right. Shelley made an inquiry, only to be told it wasn't the fault of that particular staff member. I tend to get a bit shirty when confronted with shitty service, so we asked for our money back and left.

We wandered around, Shelley being hungry, me thirsty until we satiated our respective needs. On arrival at our hostel we were pleasantly surprised to be in a room with some awesome Aussies and a couple of Spanish girls that had a penchant for stripping. It was nice to speak to some Australians again (the Spanish girls seemed nice also). One of the Aussie girls had her Pj's on which gave me the window of opportunity to wear mine for the first time OS. I was starting to think I shouldn't have packed them... Off we go to Rome tomorrow. I know it will feel a lot different then both the UK and Ireland, so I'm cautiously nervous and optimistic at the same time.

permalink written by  10bastards on December 13, 2008 from Dublin, Ireland
from the travel blog: Eurotrip
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