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The Smug Adventures of Murph, Tay, Colly & Erin

a travel blog by Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin

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Daylight Robbery, a Familiar Face and the Heart of Darkness

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

On arriving in Phnom Penh a fifth member was added to our crew when we rendezvoused with Ryan James Russell. We don't know what Ryan was expecting but it was probably in the form of some romantic alone time with his girlfriend Laura Kay Collman. However, the poor bugger got a nasty surprise when upon arrival he now discovered he had 4 full-time girlfriends. Things got off to a sketchy start when we were robbed within one hour of our first day in the city. Collman's bag was snatched by 2 youths on a moped as they sped past our overloaded tuk tuk- there was nothing we could do.

Another day, another country, another foreign police station. We now consider ourselves experts in the art of statement giving. A few hours, a few white lies and a few fake witnesses later and $30 was handed over to the corrupt policemen and we left with another police report to add to our ever increasing collection.

That evening we decided to have a wake for Collman's lost bag and found ourselves in Phnom Penh's answer to Jaxx- "The Heart of Darkness" where we let out our pent up dance fever and Tay reacquainted herself with the beloved podium- having to relinquish only part of the stage to a couple of Cambodian ladyboys. Now that we had a smelly boy in our midst we tore oursleves away from the Heart of Darkness to watch the Champion's League final. Upon bursting into the bar shrill and drunk we were confronted by a silent room of 30 sets of angry boy eyes. The television volume was swiftly increased as we clambered over them to simply shout "whisky, we want whisky" in the bartender's bemused face. Drinks in hand, we watched with baited breath after having made a group pact with Ryan to all get naked if Arsenal won (readers from Hartley Wintney willl already be aware of Mr Russell's love for public nudity, please note "Mr April" in the village calendar). Us girls and probably the rest of the bar were all too relieved when they lost- thank God.

In keeping with our European tradition (Auschwitsch) we can apparently only visit sites of mass genocide when hungover. Rather upsettingly the main feature of the Killing Fields was a tower displaying thousands of the victim's skulls. In line with the usually inaccurate English translations in Asia, this exhibition did not fail to disappoint. "They were trying hard to get rid of Khmer character and transform the soil and waters of Kampuchea into a sea of blood and tears which was deprive of cultural infrastructure, civilisation and national character became a desert of great destruction that overturned the Kampuchea society and drove it back on the stone age." Upon wandering around the site, you could see remnants of the victims clothes still peeping out from the soil. On a lighter note it was inappropriate comments all round when upon sighting a display of victim's teeth Collman announced, "those teeth are whiter than mine! I'm definitely getting mine bleached!" S21 the High School turned prison of torture, displayed many horrific images of victims and sick instruments used to inflict pain. Seeing photos and quotes from members of the Khmer Rouge who are still alive today living free in a society alongside their victim's relatives was a chilling reminder of just how recent these atrocities were. It is hard to believe that a quarter of the population were exterminated just outside of our own lifetimes.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on May 28, 2006 from Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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Schnooky Schnooky Schnookyville

Bangkok, Thailand

Whilst in Phnom Penh we decided to treat ourselves to a couple of days at a Paradise beach resort that someone had described to us as, "party, party, party." Known as Sihanoukville to everyone else, due to our obsession with funny sounding words this quickly became 'Schnooky, Schnooky Schnookyville.' Our excitement was soon dampened by a black sky and a relentless rainstorm. We decided to cure our disappointment with a night out on the town and headed to Utopia, a notorious backpacker club. However we pulled up, complete with party outfits in the form of multi-coloured ponchos and found the entire strip shut down and deserted due to the storm. Unable to face defeat we instructed our motorcycle drivers to take us to "a bar, any bar." However, not even we could look on the brightside when upon entering 'Freedom' we were confronted by a mass of sex tourists and prostitutes. Somewhat despondent a bottle of whisky was quickly purchased and magically transformed the potential failed night into an unexpected success. Accompanied by two new friends we had previously dismissed as sex tourists (much to their offence) we found ourselves upstairs taking over the prostitutes' lair and spent the rest of the night perfecting the age-old art of pole dancing.

The rain continued to pour and thus we gave up on the sun and headed back to Phnom Penh with new friends a plenty.
Our rave reviews of 'The Heart of Darkness' quickly enticed the rest of the crew to sample the delights for themselves and much fun was had by all.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on May 30, 2006 from Bangkok, Thailand
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Angkor What?

Bangkok, Thailand

Next day headed to Siem Reap, however half the group were left behind leaving Tay and Murph to sweet talk a bus driver due to Erin leaving town with their pre-purchased tickets (the journey was hindered by the fact that they now only had one flip flop each). Siem Reap's cosmopolitan feeling and ample supply of up-market restaurants and bars left us impressed. We dined in the very same restaurant frequented by Angelina Jolie whilst filming Tomb Raider in the area. Angkor Wat, the world's largest religious site and reminiscent of the set of United States Jones and the Temple of Doom, provided a fun day out for all. We found the Bayern Site an ideal setting for hide and seek whilst the main temple was the perfect backdrop for a game of frisbee. Inspired by our Vietnamese tour guide, two Cambodian recorders were purchased from village children and we held our own impromptu concert in the temple grounds. However, our repertoire left a lot to be desired as '3 blind mice' was the only recognisable tune. That evening a night out to celebrate Aussie Millsy's birthday was planned but unfortunately for the birthday boy, he came down with a bout of food poisoning leaving us to celebrate in his honour. Aussie Patrick decided to drink for two and after a few too many G&Ts he managed to be sick over the balcony and with shocking precision vomited directly onto the head of the hostel owner's wife. This was our cue to exit and after 11 of us mounted a single tuk tuk we arrived at Zone One. Apparently we had stepped into a year 9 disco as the club was filled by slow-dancing Cambodian couples. We knew it was time to leave when once again Patrick gave us reason to make a quick exit, as he mounted a table full of drinks which abruptly collapsed causing much mayhem and yet more death stares. Next we headed to the ingeniously named 'Angkor What?' bar where we settled right in and comedy dancing commenced.
Following a hangover day we headed to Bangkok on what can only be described as the world's poorest excuse for a road. Seven horrifically bumpy hours later we arrived at the border where for once a smooth transition ocurred. We then boarded the world's most beautiful bus with air conditioning and empty seats aplenty where we passed our time in a Tony Hart fashion sketching one another.
In Bangkok we felt the need to revamp our wardrobes that did not go entirely according to plan. After a ten minute panic buying spree, we returned home laden with day-glo cotton items-half of which were made for children. After spending a small fortune we departed for the island of Koh Tao.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on May 31, 2006 from Bangkok, Thailand
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The Start of the Islands and a Deep Sea Adventure

Bangkok, Thailand

We were pretty pleased with what we saw when we arrived in Koh Tao, a Paradise island complete with beautiful sunsets and beach side bungalows. After inital problems involving giant lizards inhabiting bathrooms, holes in thatched roofs and no power between 6am and 6pm which means waking up in a fanless sweatbox, we settled in nicely. A few days and evenings were spent aquainting ourselves with our fresh surroundings, when we were once again rejoined by old friends Matt and Robbi complete with new recruit Samuel Micheal Manners. We eventually got round to signing up for our open water diving course and persuaded Sam to join us diving for some "getting to know you" bonding sessions. At the point of enrolling we were unaware that this involved 9am starts at school, homework, tests and some hardcore sea action. Things got off to a shaky start when in our first session Collman revealed that she was both afraid of fish and an unconfident swimmer to boot. The instructors were further concerned when at every opportunity we digressed from learning the A, B Cs of diving to discussing overuse of cotton buds in the ear canal and a famous garlic restaurant in San Fransisco- expect to hear more on this in future!

The first real trauma was squeezing ourselves into damp wetsuits and the dawning realisation that scuba diving is literally the most unattractive sport that we could ever partake in. If the fins, goggle masks, mouthpiece (regulators) and cylinder on back weren't bad enough our instructor kindly informed us that in a few hours not only would we all be wearing these outfits but we would also be almost entirely covered in snot- yes please! Dive one involved us descending to the great depths of one and a half metres, not exactly the deep sea adventure we were expecting, instead we spent the next few hours practising such skills as removing our masks underwater, sharing breathing appartus with a buddy and learning how to relieve cramp. Once we had these manoueveres nailed we were ready for our first ocean floor experience and itching to do something more adventurous. After a couple of days diving to 12 metres we felt comfortable in the water and smug that so far we were A* students. The bombshell came however when it was revealed to us that on the final dive to 18 metres we would be accompanied by not one but two cameramen there to capture every inelegant leg flail and every stray bogey. An underwater dance off occurred with Murph rocking the knee to elbow, Collman doing the hop and skip and Sam whipping out a montage containing every dance move under the sun- the "bongos" being a particular favourite. This was only beaten by Tay pulling out the old school Macarena after panicking that an underwater "bend and snap" simply wouldn't work.

Upon meeting our instructors in a bar expecting a private viewing of the video, to our horror we discovered it was to be shown on three large screens for all to see and mock. Between us we purchased zero copies of this video- enough said.

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed diving, not only is Colly no longer afraid of fish but her cold heart was melted at the sight of Mummy Nemo caring for her 2 babies. Tay still swears to this day that she saw a single tear through Collman's steamy mask. Our appetite well and truly wetted we are planning more dives later in the trip.

After a night out to celebrate our new status as qualified divers we left Koh Toa in a hazy blur. Unfortunately all too vivid in this scene was the now engrained image of Ryan James Russell, ever the exhibitionist, arriving in Koh Phangan wearing nothing but a flimsy skirt.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on June 7, 2006 from Bangkok, Thailand
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Puppies, Jumping Through Fire and Full Moon on Koh Phangan

Ko Phangan, Thailand

Koh Phangan is known for the infamous full moon party, however after spending a week there it turns out that every night is celebrated like it is full moon. We'll spare you the finer details but here is a montage of our favourite parts:

  • Upon our arrival we immediately discovered that we were living next to a 24 hour bakery which quickly became our Mecca. The staff there were in awe at our tremendous and ceaseless ability to consume mountains of baked goods at any time of the day or night.

  • Much excitement was caused on our first night out when we discovered a litter of new born puppies residing in one of the beach-side bars. Tay and Murph took it upon themselves to relentlessly harass the puppies and show them off like proud mothers to everyone else in the bar. Many new friends were made.

  • A major source of entertainment on Koh Phangan is playing with fire. Images of singed eyebrows and burnt hair deterred us however as usual Ryan James Russell felt the need to get involved. Superman eat your heart out.

  • A usual day on Koh Phangan involved arising at 2pm, heading straight for the bakery, and then spending the entire afternoon bobbing in the sea. However on one particular occasion Murph, Erin, Matt and Sam, for reasons unbeknown to anyone decided it would be a good idea to swim to a 'nearby' beach. After a fairly pleasant but unexpectedly long swim there, the adventurers discovered that the only way to reach the beach was to clamber across razor sharp rocks cutting their feet left right and centre. Upon finally reaching sand they discovered that it was gritty, uncomfortable and impossible to lay down upon. Sam decided to investigate the beach only to be immediately chased back to the rocks by a pack of wild dogs. A quick exit was made and they now found themselves swimming against the tide amidst giant jellyfish. Eventually after a fearsom afternoon, 4 very red sunburnt faces returned home tails between legs.

  • The arrival of the World Cup played a major part in the Koh Phangan experience. We are fully aware of how controversial this is, but on viewing the first match with our legendary German friend Erik, we went to the dark-side and could be heard from a considerable distance shouting 'Deutschland, Deutschland, Deutschland!'. Things didn't look good for the first England game when a massive storm hit the island half an hour before kickoff and a powercut ensued. Hundreds of frantic English people spent the first half of the match sprinting around Koh Phangan looking for a bar with a generator that was showing the football and not the Thai King's anniversary celebrations. Luckily by the second half the power had returned and we were back on our usual spot on the beach watching the big screen.

  • Being partial to taking a theme and running away with it, we discovered UV paint early on during our stay. The majority of our nights out were spent doused in the stuff which we have now discovered has ruined many of our already day-glo items. Our favourites included the UV moustache, the Power Rangers sign and our initials brandished across our bodies. We knew we'd gone overboard when on our final departure Murph and Matt boarded the ferry for Krabi still caked in UV paint from the night before.

  • The full moon party turned out to be exactly the same as every other night on Koh Phangan, just with more people. Everyone retired during the early hours however Murph and Erin, the hardcore ravers stayed out well beyond Sunrise to well and truly see in the new day. Tay rose from bed at 7.30am with a second wind and a fresh bucket in hand to join in the daytime beach rave. The girls only admitted defeat when the music finally stopped.

  • All in all a good week but definately ready to leave so we headed to chilled-out Krabi for some R&R.

    permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on June 17, 2006 from Ko Phangan, Thailand
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    Goodbye Thailand

    Krabi, Thailand

    A long and arduous journey to Krabi involved a wide array of different modes of transport and an unwelcome rainstorm. This caused us to arrive, along with everything we owned, soaked to the bone. After a night in the main town we headed to the backpacker's haven of Railay Beach. The journey was initially delayed as we were stranded in our hotel reception watching the relentless downpour. Once we finally braved the weather our departure was further hindered by a stand-off with the longboat drivers and their blatant attempts to rip us off. After surrendering we endured an Ellen McArthur-style Atlantic crossing which left our faces stung by the spray and nausea all round. We disembarked to a beautiful lagoon enshrouded by stunning cliffs. The still visible effects of the tsunami were a constant reminder of how different this Paradise place can be. The hunt for accommodation came up trumps when we found a pretty much deserted resort of chalets amidst lush greenery with spectacular views. The only drawback were the 65,000 near-vertical steps that had to be clambered up, rucksacks and all.

    A smug day was spent lounging by the beautiful pool followed by an equally enjoyable day cruising round nearby islands- the highlight was the island that resembled a giant chicken, for obvious reasons.

    Snorkelling was enjoyed and luckily the large number of jellyfish were avoided. One of our favourite aspects of Krabi and in fact all of the islands, has been the seafood. Krabi particularly impressed us with it's evening barbeques where sumptuous shark and barracuda steaks were thoroughly enjoyed.

    We left Railay Beach for Phi Phi which involved a slippery stomp through the shallows, with rucksacks on to board our boat. This was worth it when we were rewarded with free tea and biscuits once aboard. Murph and Robbi decided to become advanced divers on Phi Phi and so embarked on a course with crazy German instructor Hollie. Things got off to a hairy start when within the first five minutes, Robbi plummeted to the depths of 20m, disappearing within seconds into the darkness causing Hollie to go and fetch him and leaving Murph bobbing alone in the middle of the sea. Necessary elements of the course included a dive to 30m and navigating under water. The pair elected to do a wreck dive, peak performance buoyancy and underwater photography. All proved interesting due to high winds and rough seas, making clambering round the boat in scuba gear somewhat perilous. However, the wreck dive caused the most drama when the disappearance of a marker buoy, caused an entire passenger ferry to go missing under the sea. Luckily a fancy boat with a radar turned up to save the day and Murph proved she had learnt little in the navigation course when she managed to crash into the wreck twice.

    While the divers were getting their early nights, Matt, Tay, Colly and Erin were getting acquainted with the local nightspot- Apaches. Dotted around the club were numerous speakers which we found unable to avoid hogging all night.

    We knew we'd made a show of ourselves when accosted during the day by apparent strangers with heckles of, "Oi speaker girl! We saw you dancing last night!"

    We were soon joined by others from the Koh Phangan crew- James, Erik and Ffion, accompanied by the 'Death Bucket'.

    After spending the last 3 months continuously talking about getting a Thai massage, we finally indulged. After being oiled up, clambered over by small Thai women and having every bone in our bodies cracked, we felt suitably relaxed. As well as leaving Thailand, we also said goodbye to our bum-chums Matt and Robbi.

    Boys, we'll miss you!

    See you in 9 months for an authentic Italian Rausa buffet courtesy of Vito.

    permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on June 27, 2006 from Krabi, Thailand
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    A Change of Scenery

    Tanah Rata, Malaysia

    A new day, a new country, a new Paradise island and we arrived at the Perhentians on the north-east coast of Malaysia. However, Paradise was somewhat tainted for Tay and Murph who both endured a 24 hour bout of Malaria (in hindsight perhaps just a stomach bug) which involved Exorcist-style projectile vomiting en masse- delightful! We were back to the wild when Tay and Colly were awoken in their beach shack during the dead of the night to hear the disconcerting sounds of brawling monitor lizards. Once the sun had risen they finally braved the outside. Tay was unsure if she was feverishly hallucinating or if there was in fact, a 6-foot monitor lizard/ dragon/ Godzilla residing outside their front door. Colly's high-pitched stream of profanities confirmed the sighting. While this drama was taking place, Murph and Erin went in search of the great outdoors on a snorkelling expedition, close encounters with black-tip sharks and giant turtles left them speechless with delight and in awe at the wonder of nature, or more precisely the massive size of the turtle's head- beasts of the sea. If you're sensing a pattern, the theme of the island was oversized animals.

    After a few days recovery time on the Perhentians we craved a change of scenery from beautiful beaches. However, in order to satisfy our need we had to give up something very dear to our hearts- the Bavarian Love Machine, our beloved German friend. Erik: German dancing changed our lives.

    Next up was the jungle, Taman Negara National Park. We reacquainted ourselves with the sexy trek shoes and headed off to explore. We braved the elements not feeling the need for a guide or even a map. This cocky attitude almost got us into strife when after ascending to the highest peak to see the beautiful view, our descent caused alarm when we found ourselves on barely-there trails with little sign of recent human activity. Panic started to spread throughout our pack when we became concerned that we had ventured onto a 4-day guide-only trek path without a map...a torch....food.....or any idea where we were. Eventually after much inelegant scrambling and abseiling with tree roots we found a small inconspicuous tattered rope which lead the way to safety. The jungle boasted the longest and highest canopy walkway of its kind in the world. Expecting a sturdy bridge we were surprised to find a string of our Dad's garden ladders secured with boy-scout knots, suspended 50m above the jungle floor. We loved every second.

    From the jungle we headed into the cloudy hills of the Cameron Highlands. Staying in an aluminium bunker things were a little chilly and it was back to snuggling under blankets. This time round we ventured into the forest and sensibly elected for the safety of a guide. After learning the medicinal qualities of every plant in the Mossy Forest, we headed to the 'BOH' tea Plantation and factory to learn the process of making tea.

    They realised they were true English girls at heart when by the end of the tour, Tay and Murph had each enjoyed a cup of tea, a scone and a punnet of strawberries. You can take the girl out of England.......The day was topped off with a game of Scrabble.

    permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on July 1, 2006 from Tanah Rata, Malaysia
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    Kuah, Malaysia

    From the Highlands, we headed to Penang on the west coast. There was such an overwhelming abundance of things to do in Penang that in the three days we spent there we went to the cinema three times. Uninspired by our surroundings we decided that despite a month on the Thai islands, we had not quite had our fill of beaches so headed north to the island of Langkawi. We wiled away the first few days with inordinant amounts of eating, sleeping and reading. We developed an unhealthy obsession with the phenomenon that was to become known as "mini-treats". At regular intervals throughout the day, we would bee-line to our favourite mini-mart armed with small change and spend an obscene amount of time grappling at the large plastic jars to select a harmonious blend of bite-sized treats.

    After being kids in a candy store for several days, we decided to become grown-ups and explore the island with a hire car.

    For the grand total of six British pounds, we had the pleasure of cruising Langkawi in a Proton Saga whilst grooving to the smooth tunes of 'Red FM's' 90's classics - Ace of Base being the unanimous favourite. The car oozed chav and was appropriately christened 'Trevor'. We headed to the cable cars to get a bird's eye view of the island. Murph, Tay and Erin were understandably distracted on their way in by the duty free supermaket on this tax-free haven. By perfectly combining both frugality and incredible greed, they could not resist an amazing offer on quite an unnecessarily large amount of Dairy Milk chocolate. A glutinous feast was had. In fact, so insatiable was the girls' appetite for said chocolate, that even once it had been melted into an unrecognisable pulp within Trevor's fiery interior, they still continued to devour it with feverish delight. Next up Trevor took us to a waterfall but en route we could no longer ignore the excessive leakage from underneath the dashboard and Erin's entirely uneducated cry of, "it has to be the radiator". We swiftly pulled into a petrol station, popped the hood, and the four of us proceeded to stare at the interior for a duration of five minutes, in complete silence. Even Erin Charlotte Gillham,'the mechanic', couldn't determine where or what the radiator actually was. In no time two heroes came to our rescue and quickly determined that the route of the problem was the air cooling system and nothing to worry about. Reassured we headed back out onto the open road. We enjoyed a paddle in the waterfall, oohing and aahing over a monkey visible in the far distance when suddenly, in the blink of an eye, we were surrounded by an entire pack of them moving towards us at an alarming rate. Luckily for us they turned out to be quite tame and our cries of, "why the hell didn't we get rabies jabs?" soon descended into embarassing baby voices, "wook at the widdle baby waby monkey wunkeys". The day came to a beautiful end with a romantic moment for our farewell with Trevor as we all watched the sun set over Coco Beach.

    permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on July 12, 2006 from Kuah, Malaysia
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    KL, Balloons and Towering Heights

    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Sorry there has been such a delay in our blog of late, but we have been somewhat distracted by events in Singapore. Needless to say details will follow in due course.

    So Kuala Lumpur, or as we are now qualified to call it, "KL". Things got off to a flying start as we were reunited with our favourite Northern boy, James Watkin.

    As it was his birthday, James got free reign over the proceedings and we spent the day in Las Vegas- style theme park, complete with waterslides. The waterslides weren't quite extreme enough for our tastes, but this was compensated for by the 'dry rides' which had a consistent theme of upside-down action, leaving us all green. Good thing the birthday boy had selected McDonald's as his meal of choice and we sprinted there post-rollercoaster to combat the lingering queasiness. After a three-course McDonald's the drinking commenced and we headed to the busiest nightspot in Chinatown, the Reggae Bar, where we danced the night away. Much fun was had with balloons, which became a running theme of the night(please refer to photo).
    Some readers will be surprised to hear that on waking the following morning, we felt that we had behaved impeccably. However upon returning sober the following night to watch The World Cup final, it transpired that we were now on first name terms with half the staff and the DJ-none of whom we recognised. The World Cup brought to light a few surprising revelations, namely we harbour secret desires for the extremely suave Jurgen Klinsmann and whilst watching Italy win the final we all developed a lustful appreciation for Cannavaro. For all those who share our passion, go to this link and turn you speakers up for full enjoyment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHj1Q--MjVA&search=cannavaro

    In KL, we stayed in the bustling hub of Chinatown where we enjoyed some amazing food, most particularly a buffet involving a variety of components, the most noteworthy being the pumpkin, which we've been obsessed with for the whole trip but is rarely available. We spent a considerable amount of time meandering around the city streets and came away with a good impression of the place. We wandered around the lake gardens, went up the KL Tower by night and the Petronas Towers by day for spectacular city views. A lot of time was spent in KL's fast quantity of shiny shopping malls, complete with roller-coasters, ice rinks and amazing selections of food. All in all we liked KL.

    Moved on for a quick stop in Melacca, a historic colonial town with Dutch, Portugese and British influence. Not a vast array of things to do, but after visiting the fort, we passed an interesting hour at the Museum of Enduring Beauty. This was slightly random as it had nothing to do with Melacca or indeed Malaysia, but was interesting none-the-less as we all now have a detailed knowledge of obscure tribal customs, carried out in the name of 'beauty'.

    Looking forward to a rendezvous with Dad G in Singapore, we headed to our sixth country.

    permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on July 27, 2006 from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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    Farewell Asia!

    Singapore, Singapore

    We arrived to find that the chivalrous James Watkin, over excited about our arrival had paid upfront for our first 2 nights at the Prince of Wales hostel in Little India. Embracing the local ethnicity, we went for a curry at a local curry house where we ate with our fingers off over-sized banana leaves - when in Rome... Having failed to find an indie club to take
    James for his birthday in KL, he was eager to take us to an open-air indie festival along the water front which he had heard about on the grapevine. Upon exiting the MRT, we were wowed by the setting and general atmosphere of the city, we immediately knew we would love Singapore. Unfortunately the indie festival didn't turn up trumps although we got a surprise show in the subway because apparently the youth of Singapore congregate there for amateur break-dancing practice. We had all been nervous about arriving in Singapore because we tend to cross roads in a free-spirited, haphazard kind of way. Unfortunately in Singapore they fine you $500 for this. However, within 2 crossings we had tired of waiting for the little green man to start flashing and reverted back to our former style of making a run for it.

    The next day we preened ourselves in preparation for the arrival of Andrew Nigel Gillham, herein referred to as Dad G. Just after noon his first suggestion was to go for a beer and of course we didn't decline. At this point Dad G whipped out our matching T-shirts printed with the name of our infamous blog and the camcorder which was to document our activities over the next few days. After our Tiger beers were empty, our new tour guide escorted us to the Royce chocolate shop where we messily enjoyed squares of chocolate truffle heaven. We headed to Dad G's hotel where we picked up our long awaited care packages from home - thanks Mums, Dads, Tom and Rose. The overwhelming theme was a mountain of pastelle cotton granny panties. Pat Taylor you certainly outdid yourself, we counted 18 pairs in total, these will keep Tay going for at least the next 8 months. Dad G was relieved to have made it through customs without being searched as even with his diplomatic skills he would have struggled to explain a suitcase seething with female underwear en route to Singapore.

    Next a real treat was had as Dad G took us up the Swissotel tower where cosmopolitan bar Equinox occupies the top floor. We felt a little out of place sipping our first champagne and cocktails in 4 months whilst sporting our scruffy knapsacks and day-glo market clothes. The bubbly gave us quite an appetite and we couldn't turn down the offer of dinner. Dad G had a hankering for meat so we all swaggered to Bobby Ramones in the Chymes complex where the ribs, burgers and chicken went down a storm. We rushed back to our hostel for our last night with James :( and reverted back to being 14 as we were forced to sip vodka sitting on the curb outside 7-Eleven. In honour of Erik we indulged in a few rounds of his favourite drinking game 'fick dein bus'. Then it was on to the ingeniously named 'Baa Bar Black Chic' a funky little club in Little India, where we found the lasers, smoke-machines and electro surprisingly pleasing. Our hangovers lead to a particularly emotional farewell to our last friend from Asia, James 'I'll give you that one for free' Watkin. We miss you loads, its all about Stuttgart '07!

    That evening we were cordially invited to the home of Chris White where we also rendezvoused with Lindsey Neary, the ginger bombshell- Tay's friends from uni. Chris' Dad David cooked up a sumptuous barbecue with strawberries and Scottish fudge for dessert. After we had had our fill of dinner, Chris took us for a couple of drinks at Clarke Quay, a swanky row of bars along the waterfront, where we were introduced to a few of his friends from Singapore. The following day we had a lunch date with Chris and Lindsey at the Tanglin Country Club at which David is a member. The lunch was delicious- thanks again David!

    Having visited every Chinatown in every city along the way, we felt it only fair to see what Singapore's had to offer us. We enjoyed a cup of chinese tea and a stroll around the market.
    One tourist attraction that we knew we would enjoy was the night safari. This involved a tram ride through the wilds of Africa and Asia and their nocturnal creatures. We saw a host of animals, some of which we'd never even heard of- who knew bearcats and hogbadgers existed? Particularly exciting was the bat enclosure in which we had close encounters with giant fruitbats which left Colly and Chris cowering in the corner (complete with girly squeals from Chris). After the tram tour we attended the 'Creatures of the Night' show where we came up close and personal with a whole array of animals. A keen love for otters was formed after watching Pedro, a very well-trained specimen, demonstrate how to pick up and recycle rubbish.

    Next day brought the move we'd all been waiting for, our parents had booked us a couple of rooms at the hotel Dad G was staying in. It was finally time to swap dorms and communal showers for double beds and en-suites, and we revelled in it. Surrounded by clean towels and hot showers, it proved the perfect environment in which to groom and prepare ourselves for the glamorous evening ahead. First stop the infamous Raffles Hotel for Singapore Slings, which went down so favourably we consumed two rounds. We entered into the tradition of Raffles by discarding our peanut shells on the floor of the bar. Ironic how the one place you are allowed to litter in the city is its most renowned hotel. After having been introduced to some of Dad G's colleagues, we selected a Chinese seafood restaurant for dinner. The menu was vast and largely alien to us, so we left ordering in Sharon's capable hands. This proved to be a wise decision when plate upon plate of delicious food continued to arrive from the kitchen- a unanimous favourite dish was crayfish. Proving you needed to be an expert to make such successful decisions, Dad G floundered in the wine selecting with a schoolboy error of ordering Chinese wine which turned out to be sherry. A lovely evening was perfectly rounded off by a cocktail amidst the grandeur of the Fullerton hotel.

    Our last night in Asia was definitely one to remember. After drinks at Chris' we went to The Ministry of Sound. Chris' Dad David rose to legendary status as he decided to join us, and showed us up on the dancefloor. Complete with fountains, escalators and flashing dance floors it was certainly a lot trendier than the places we have been frequenting during the trip. A 4am McDonalds feast brought the night to a close and sealed the deal on a fantastic last night in Asia.

    Sharon, thank you for your insider's knowledge of Singapore and for the lovely gifts.

    Chris and David, thanks so much for the hospitality and the amazing night in the Ministry of Sound!

    Many thanks to Dad G for making our stay in Singapore so memorable and thanks also to the other Mums and Dads, sorry you couldn't be there to share it with us!

    permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on July 29, 2006 from Singapore, Singapore
    from the travel blog: The Smug Adventures of Murph, Tay, Colly & Erin
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