A Travellerspoint blog

Kampot and Singapore

sunny 34 °C
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Having changed guesthouses, Jamie managed to barter down a delightful room with a television for $6 a room including our own verada. We explored the town and had high hopes of doing a few chores such as getting our laundry done, sending postcards and getting a massage as Jamie had not had none yet. However we made the most of the cheap beer and all day happy hours and realised we had wasted the day. We missed the market by an hour but managed to entertain the locals by parading Donna and her porcelain white skin down the street encouraging them to stare and wave hello. Laura made an attempt to find a manicure, pointing at her nails to describe what she wanted, pointing at her nails saying 'manicure?' to describe what she wanted. As the woman approached her, she realised she she had wandered into a 'seeing hands' parlour. Only blind and deaf people work here. We had joked earlier about a blind manicure, Donna never realised Laura would actually ask for one, when she realised we moved swiftly on.

We got up early for the main tour from Kampot, a trek to Bankor, the nearest national park to Kampot. Given our last 'trek' had been a gentle stroll through the forest in Chiang Mai, we were unprepared for the horror that awaited us. We can only describe the trek as the most painful thing we've ever had to endure, Laura confessing she would rather die than do it again, it was two and a half hours of almost vertical rock climbing to the top of the mountain and Laura was less than thrilled when her burn scab was punctured. Luckily doctor Jamie was there with iodine and a bandage at hand as Donna had already pissed of up the mountain along with the rest of the group. The tour group who had stayed with them yelled monkey but Laura couldn't give much of a shit at this point and persevered on. Donna was presented with a rather large dead spider by some crazy dutch guys who debated whether or not it would be a good meal.

Unbelievably everyone reached the top alive and we actually decided it was well worth it especially since we discovered that there was a construction project in progress which in our opinion would ruin everything we'd come to see. At the top of the trek was the hill station built by the French in the 1920s to escape the heat further down, but abandoned soon after. It was so eerie with thick fog and empty dilapidated buildings, it felt like something from a horror film. We approached an old hotel with a rusty sign declaring 'Danger, No entry' but our cheery tour guide waved it aside telling us to go and explore. Luckily we're still alive and Jamie managed to steal a couple of floor tiles which he then left in the guesthouse...good effort. Due to Laura's injury we decided she couldn't trek back down fearing death and her much loved scab being ripped off. Donna and Jamie courageously powered on through despite the descending fog and ridiculous steepness of the downward path. Words cannot describe the relief we felt to finally see the end in sight and retain, fully intact, our limbs.

To complete our day we went on a boat tour supposedly to view the sunset which had passed before the boat even appeared. Donna and Laura refused to lose the money we'd paid for it and so we went on a twilight tour down the river. Dinner and cocktail followed at a place Jamie insisted was the stuff of folklore but Donna and Laura were pretty sure was a lie. We shall see.

We went to our favourite cocktail bar and the waiter came and sat with us which was lovely until he suddenly told his life story to Jamie asking for his name number and address so that he could come to London to work. Jamie offered him a job at the Walpole.

We left early the next day to return to Phnom Penh, it was pretty exciting as we had two tyre blow-outs...allowing Donna to finish her next book and Laura to not even reach the halfway point of her 3rd this holiday. Donna also got touched by an old woman who seemed thrilled once again by her freckles. Bring on Singapore.

Having arrived back in Phnom Penh we decided Jamie should get a Thai massage. We had decided that we were too injured given Laura's burn and Donna's trekking shoe injury so would go for a head, neck and shoulder massage. We could not stop giggling in the run up given Jamie and Donna's aching muscles from the trek...we assumed Jamie would be in a world of pain. We laughed and wished him luck. The joke was on us. Firstly we were required to remove our clothes...Jamie removed only his shirt. Donna was just in knickers given her poor decision to wear a dress and Laura in tiny shorts. Laura was happy about the nakedness...Donna was very uncomfortable. Jamie fell asleep during the head massage indicating to Donna and Laura that his Thai massage was not thorough. Laura and Donna endured a lot of inappropriate pain given the massages they had chosen. Laura got the bonus of a boob massage as she has only midget legs which are easily lost to the naked eye, as Donna got a full leg massage we can only assume she didn't realise Laura had any legs at all. She does.

We returned later for manicures and Laura was enchanted by the smallest dog in the world. Once again she felt the need to hold the animal in order for it to be real. We're pretty sure it didn't have rabies G. Our nails are now beautiful.

The next day we were heading to Singapore. An uneventful flight was marred by daylight robbery as we were informed that departure tax was $25 per person. Robbing bastards. Upon entry to Singapore Donna was once again subjected to the ginger doubt as the immigration staff had to double check that her passport indeed belonged to her asking the question 'Is this you?' and pointing to the photo. She of course answered no and proceeded through.

On arrival in Singapore we disgusted to realise how expensive everything is. We had to take shelter in a cafe in Little India but had awesome Naan bread and 'gravy'...amazing curry sauce whilst waiting for the torrential rain to cease. Finally went with the cheapest hostel we could find but still massively expensive at $15 per bed. Hugely over Babez on Tour budget. However massively colourful, we consoled ourselves with strong Indian lager and a Asian musician Laura is in love with and she has just embarrassed herself by walking in on an Indian man in an internet cubicle declaring 'A MAN'. We need to be up early tomorrow and it's ten to three.

Posted by noodz4loz 10:54 Archived in Singapore Tagged seniors Comments (0)

Kuala Lumpur and Cambodia

sunny 41 °C
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Given that our taxi to begin our 26 hour journey to Kuala Lumpur was at 6am...we decided that the best idea would be to go out, get on the buckets and play drinking games the night before. This resulted in some rather painful packing and an equally painful journey on the ferry off the island. Donna threw up in a bin and Laura slept on the floor of the boat. Luckily we thought the rest of the journey would be a straight forward two coaches all the way. We've clearly learnt nothing from our time travelling through Asia. We got on the first bus to find out that there were no seats for us and so instead of the driver telling us what to do, he just walked straight past us and started driving. Once again we slept on the floor. We were slightly concerned that we arrived in Surat Thani half an hour after our bus from there was supposed to leave. When we were dropped off we were thrown into a taxi with other people going to completely different places and taken to a sandwich shop in the middle of nowhere. After another half an hour, another tuk tuk turned up, to take us to another shop in the middle of nowhere. However, the woman in this shop was angry that we were late and told us that we would need at leasat 300 Malaysian Ringots each to be able to cross the border. Of course we weren't happy with this but were left with no choice as she was in charge of the transport. We were frogmarched to an ATM to withdraw the money to return and be told that we were supposed to have taken out that much each. We told her where to go and managed to lose the minumum amount we could due to her appauling exchange rate. When we eventually did reach the border our belief that everything she had told us was a lie was confirmed as noone asked to see any money. We were then put in a minibus full of Asian people and of course the obligatory loud Thai music stopping us listening to our ipods to be driven to another minibus which took us across the border. We were delighted to be in Malaysia but still 450km from Kuala Lumpur.

The minibus took us to another bus station for the night coach supoosedly the last leg of the journey. We had time to kill before this left so induldged in noodles from Noodle Station. Donna was thrilled. We were really impressed by the new coach which could not have been more comfortable so were shocked to be thrown off it at half 4am instead of 8am like we had been told. We looked around for the next bus but couldn't see anything and having asked a number of people how to get to Kuala Lumpur discovered that we were actually already in Kuala Lumpur four hours early. An Asian miracle had occured. We then got a taxi to China town to be marched by a drunk man to a guesthouse. A hideous guesthouse. We weren't pleased to learn that the door did not lock from the inside and made plans to find another guesthouse the following day.

After our 4 hour power nap, we head out to find breakfast and found a place that served massive plates of noodle soup for around a dollar. Both of us were defeated, much to Laura's disgust. We then went to the Lake Gardens where Laura was delighted to stumble across a massive playgournd. Chucking the bag and camera at Donna she ran off to play on the slides glaring at any children in her path. Merely for research purposes due to her future as a teacher, of course. We also were forced into half an hour of fun on the pedalos. Unfortunately neither of us fell in. In the lake gardens there were supposedly a bird park, butterfly park, deer park and orchid park. The only one we managed to find was the deer park. Just as Donna declared that she could have been in England given the deer and the squirrels, we turned around to see a crocodile sized lizard climbing the tree. The day wasn't wasted.

We also discovered that Malaysia tells you when you've done enough sight-seeing for the day and that it's beer o clock by raining at approximately 5pm every day.

The next couple of days were taken up by visiting the Petronas towers, lots of shopping, going up KL tower and exploring the rainforest around it. The ticket to go up KL tower included a pony ride. Laura was the only one delighted by this...until she was passed a cowboy hat and waited on the pony for the ride to get underway. She was soon informed that she could only have a picture on the pony and could not ride it as she was too heavy. Donna and Jamie (Laura's boyfriend) are still on the floor from laughing and needless to say didn't want a picture as well. Shopping was a lot of fun as we have mastered the art of bartering and are often told we are 'hard ladies'. The high point was Laura being chased down the road with the Chanel bag she wanted for 12 pounds, having been refused moments before.

When we hit the rainforest, our monkey fears were finally realised. Jamie ran over to take pictures which we hung back refusing to risk rabies just two weeks before we are due to leave Asia. Obviously this rule didn't apply to the baby monkey as far as Laura was concerned. She ran towards it with Donna screaming 'They'll be more protective of the babies!'.
She still managed to avoid being bitten G, don't worry.

The next day we were due to fly to Siem Reap disgustingly early in the morning. We managed to make it to the airport, although not all of us were fully awake yet, a point Laura illustrated by thrusting her hand into glass trying to reach the tuna sandwich resting behind it. She was confused, but only for a few moments when embarassment took over. The morning continued badly for her as when she went to dispose of her coffee cup in the bin accidentally spilling a tiny bit on the edge of the bin. Out of nowhere a cleaning man appeared, standing right in front of Laura, glaring at her in disgust for her accidental spillage. Donna helpfully moved away whilst Laura stared back at him in confusion as she had only dropped a teardrop of coffee.

We had hoped to be able to relax during the flight but were sat next to an oddly chatty Scouser who refused to answer any questions himself but bombarded Laura with questions about our trip. Once again, Donna helpfully fell asleep. We had to hand over our passports for Cambodian visas, a job which apparently requires 12 people. They pass your passports down the line, just staring at it and then the person at the end calls your name and hands it back to you. Laura and Donna were delighted when they looked at Jamie's passport photo, looked at him, and just pointed at his now bald head exclaiming 'No hair now!'.

Having found a nice guesthouse we went exploring the town, and since we'd been up since half 4, decided 10am was perfectly acceptable for beer. We were right, although it was apparently still too early for dumplings. Once again we went for a foot massage as we thought Jamie should experience the wonderful feeling. Donna's legs were pointed at by the masseuse as she declared 'White skin! Cambodians love white skin.' She has since understood what this means more fully as Jamie and Laura revealed that everywhere we have been she has been stared at and pointed at.

The next day was another early start as we wanted to see Angkor Wat at sunrise. It was a really good decision as it was beautiful and the other temples of Angkor are also amazing. Whilst in a tuk tuk going to another temple someone shouted Donna from an overtaking tuk tuk. It was someone she knew from Uni, and we luckily saw her again at the top of a death-defyingly tall and steep temple making plans to meet her later on Pub Street. We went out for cocktails at a bar that constantly serves popcorn before moving on for Cambodian barbeque and beer. Deciding we wanted more food we went to a fantastic place on Pub Street where you barbeque your own food and make your own soup to go with it. Donna took charge of the soup whilst Laura took charge of the barbeque to prove to Jamie that we are as good as qualified chefs ater our Thai Cookery course. We barbequed beef, chicken, squid, snake and crocodile. Yum. Liisa, Donna's friend from the temple appeared and we forced her into drinking games and a jug of alcohol to herself. Laura had been thrilled when she saw buckets on the menu but disappointed when it turned up in a jug. She did declare there was no alcohol in it before looking around to see everyone else gasping from its strength. The evening went downhill from there and culminated in Laura getting a burn from a motorbike exhast whilst posing for a picture with the tuk tuk driver.

The next day we went to see a floating village which was breathtaking especially when the sun set. We were slightly concerned when the boat appeared to be being driven by two children. Our fears were not abated when our boat broke down and they had to get out and push us back off the rocks. Thank goodness we're not fat Americans. We went to a really nice street restaurant for dinner after which was ruined by one of the child sellers claiming that Jamie had promised to come back to buy his postcards the day before. When Jamie explained that that was not what he had said and that he wouldn't be buying nay postcards, the boy burst into tears and spent the next 20 minutes throwing insults as Jamie going from bad to worse including Ýou're an ugly guy' (which is hilarious considering his surname is Guy), that he was a liar, not helped when Laura chimed in with 'Ýeah he does lie about a lot of things' and to 'Fuck off and get out of his country'. A thouroughly enjoyable evening, luckily the food was amazing and he finally got the hint when we started eating. His friend then came and did an impression of him to Laura before breaking into a wide grin and pretending to shake our hands.

The following day we moved onto Phnom Penh where we saw more monkeys and an elephant at the main Temple and managed to catch up with Liisa again, who coincidentally wasn't even staying in the same guesthouse as us in a very large city, but was only two doors down from Laura and Jamie in a very large guesthouse.

The next day we went to the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum, which although really interseting made for a fairly depressing day. It was really strange to us that we didn't know anything at all about it and were shocked to see the extent of what had happened so very recently. In the evening we went to a place called 'Beef Good Soup' where you make your own soup. As the only Westerners in the place we had at least two waitresses to ourselves who cooked our soup for us, letting the Asians cook for themselves. It was a lot of fun though and our waitress seemed to find us hilarious. Again, she was fascinated by Donna's freckles poking her arm and smiling. Laura was annoyed since she is now thrilled to have freckles on her nose and no one seems to be noticing them, even though there were at least three.

Our final morning dawned and we went for a truely hysterical breakfast. Laura had declared she was starving after not having much soup the night before but was slightly confused when the waitress took only Donna and Jamie's orders before looking at Laura and walking off. We caught the attention of another waiter who was shooed aside by our original waitress who burst out laughing and took Laura's order. As if this wasn't enough, Donna and Laura had both ordered exactly the same thing, a chicken sandwich. Laura's came first and she was not impressed by either the size or the filling, it was truely the most anorexic sandwich any of us had ever seen. Just as she joked that I would probably get a much bigger one, the waitress appeared with Donna's plate which was literally a double portion of two sandwiches. Laura was not impressed. Donna and Jamie were thrilled.

Once again, our experience of Asian travel has been shown not to have reached our brains, we embarked upon our 4 hour journey to Kampot. Having left at 1pm, we finally arrived at half 6. Having been sold a guesthouse with free taxi to it we got in the car with the guesthouse owner only to hear one of his friends shouting 'Ýou're going to die'. Luckily we didn't, although the Riverside guesthouse wasn't really how he sold it to us in the pictures. Nevertheless it wasn't too bad so we head out for dinner and drinks, bearing in mind that we needed to return before midnight. At about half ten we started our journey back and were slightly concerned to see the gates locked over an hour early after making our way down the completely unlit street to the guesthouse. Jamie pushed on the gates and found that they were open, but also discovered the guesthouse had three very angry dogs that began barking furiously. We retreated until we saw one of the guesthouse owners appear on the balcony attempting to calm the dogs. This was the extent of her effort and did very little as we were left to sidestep around the dogs to our rooms. We changed guesthouses this morning.

Posted by noodz4loz 03:23 Archived in Cambodia Tagged seniors Comments (0)

Koh Phangan and Koh Tao

sunny 30 °C
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When we first got to Koh Phangan, we had to find accomodation for a night, and found a delightful beach bungalow resort but were disappointed when the lady on reception informed us a double room would be 900 baht. As we turned to leave, she knocked it down to 800, and when we told her we'd found somewhere for 400 she miraculously came up with a room for 300 kindly letting us know that it was shit. We told her that was exactly what we were after and proceeded to our new accomoation very happy with ourselves and pleased to find that the toilet had a manual flush which didn't work. We went out to investigate food and drinks to see in Laura's birthday and were thrilled to discover Haad Rin beach was basically Queen of Hearts on a beach. Definitely our new spiritual home as they played Flo Rida at least three times every hour. Because we had to check out at 11am the nest day to move to our new hotel and grace the Half Moon party with our presence the next night, we decided to keep our evening low key. But then we discovered Sangsom buckets...our new favourite drinks and next thing we know it's 4.30 am and we can't find our way home. Needless to say, we made it eventually promptly passing out as soon as we laid down our heads.

On her birthday morning, Laura woke up in exactly the same position without a pillow as she had concluded it was far too hard for use the night before and tried to turn over but soon realised she was incapable of doing so - it appeared she had broken her neck during the night. Just before she was about to wake Donna, she realised she was able to move and that it was just the result of an uncomfortable bed...phew. Once awake we were pleased to be moving to Sarikatang, our gorgeous hotel booked for Laura's entire birthday ten days. It was absolutely gorgeous, our bags were carried to our rooms, we were given free drinks, we had air conditioning, television, a beach bag and towels provided and a safe! Also the restaurant was situated on our very own private beach where we spent a lot of the next ten days.

To be honest, the rest was a bit of a blur so we will do our best to construct a list of highlights and hope to cover as much as we can remember.

1. Deciding that fire skipping rope was a bad plan...Laura declaring that her hair was too big and would catch fire. Fire limbo was ok.
2. Meeting a guy at Half Moon and being introduced to his new favourite game: throwing ice over the balcony at the dance floor below. He was thrilled that we joined in with such gusto.
3. Discovering moped taxis when we, typically, had to make a quick trip back to Sarikatang following our failure to bring enough money for the entrance to Half Moon. On the way we saw a lot of fireworks which Laura was convinced were being released in her honour.
4. The obese dog at Sarikatang 'Hello, please do not feed me, I am on a special diet from the vet and am trying to get my weight down from 35kg'.
5. Donna's failure to make Full Moon, after consuming too much Sangsom, even though she dropped a lot of it. In the hour she was there, however she did make gallant attempts to lose her flipflops. Bed by half 1. Laura found ice guy and made it to half 4 (but still not sunrise).
6. Our new friend Ose. Laura introduced Donna to Ose, and then made him down his drink. To encourage him Donna sang a song for Oscar. Laura then informed Donna that this was not his name.
7. Koh Phangan indulges in 'hangover days' following each moon phase party. This consists of bars showing films and having cut price hang over food. We recommend Bongo where we wasted half our week. We can recommend seeing Shutter Island.
8. Massages. Thank you G for creating our addiction. We indulged oursleves to 2 Thai massages and 4 Aromatherapy massages and 2 manicure and pedicures. Now we are smelly and ugly we realise how much we loved them!
9. Donna being unable to learn the geography of potentially the smallest town in the world and always failing to know the way home.

We were very sad to leave but headed off to Koh Tao rather stupidly two days after Full Moon and joined the hoards of people doing the same thing. We started off trying to find a guesthouse in the blistering afternoon sun and successfully found a complete shithole. We found it hard to leave Koh Phangan so we both moped around on the first day not feeling particularly good. We went home fairly early to discover the power in our guesthouse was off. This was a massive problem since in was pitch black inside and the reception downstairs had been closed all day. Having already had a completely sleepless night due to the heat and noise from keeping the door open for a breeze we did not relish the thought of doing it again but without a fan. We went next door to ask if they knew where the woman from our guesthouse was and we were told she was on holiday. Fantastic. We explained the problem and they phoned her telling us she'd be there in ten minutes. Two girls appeared, neither of which we'd seen before and began poking around in the dark before passing Donna a phone with the guesthouse woman on the other end informing us that we would have to leave. Laura meanwhile had discovered a cheaper room down the road so we declined her offer of somewhere else to stay. We asked for a torch so that we could pack our things and were given a keyring, possibly the smallest torch in the world which we amazingly managed to pack with.

On arrival at our new guesthouse, pleased and eager to wash after a hot and sweaty day our new lady tried to sell us a 'nicer room'. Laura was keen not to take that room after seeing a huge cockroach running around on the bed. Laughing to ourselves, we went for the cheaper room, paying less and with the absence of a cockroach. Donna went to take a shower, but soon came hurtling out of the bathroom. Apparently we weren't cockroach free at all and one had been lurking behind the shower tap. We debated what to do about it before deciding that, given we'd booked a Discover Scuba Diving course for the next day, we didn't need to wash, and did our best to use the toilet in the restaurant owned by our guesthouse. The rest of our trip was spent in Crystal Diving Resort to satisfy our new addiction. They gave us a really good offer in their accomodation, presumably as we were already spending so much on the diving! We got a beach side bungalow, definitely the best accomodation that we'd had on the island and half the price. Also we could wash...bonus.

Our diving experience was truly amazing, we got on so well with our teacher and group and spent several evenings eating and drinking with them. We ended up signing up to do Open Water after our Discover course, and following that, Advanced Open Water, along with the rest of our original group. Three days in Koh Tao swiftly turned into nine. Following this, we decided travelling the entire width of Thailand to to Koh Phi Phi and seeing north Malaysia was a bit ambitious given our remaining time before our flight out of Kuala Lumpa. We narrowed down our options and the clear favourite was returning to Koh Phangan. This turned out to be a fantastic decision as two of our diving group, Kat and Martin, were also travelling, so we went with them. This also meant that we could complete the trio of parties and go to Black Moon as well as experiencing the Thai New Year, Songkran.

Black Moon was by far our favourite and we made it through to sunrise, successfully covering complete strangers in neon grafitti. We are confident many people woke up wondering who the hell Donna and Laura are as Donna's favourite trick was to scrawl 'Property of Donna and Laura' across everyone's chest. Songkran, the Thai New Year was absolutely mental and so much fun. We spent the day with the hotel staff soaking passers by, ambushing the open air taxis and mopeds and each other for hours. It was particularly exciting when an ice delivery appeared making it much more pleasurable...until we started on each other. We then moved on to Thong Sala where apparently the rest of the island were and was basically one big party and water fight. What an amazing day.

Gutted to leave the islands, but have made plans to return to Koh Tao to do our Dive Master...shouldn't be too long!

Posted by noodz4loz 05:44 Archived in Thailand Tagged luxury_travel Comments (1)

Lucy and Phoebe love Vietnam

sunny 36 °C
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Donna was forced to eat her words after laughing at Laura for comparing Lao Airlines to BA...the flight was delightful and Laura was thrilled when they brought us our free meals. Donna not so much when she discovered the pastry was filled with tuna mayonnaise. Once we'd landed, we headed straight to tourist information to book our places on the overnight train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. We were pleased to get a space on the train, as first class was already sold out. However, when Laura was left on her own when Donna went to get money, the tourist information man did a very good job of scaring Laura about the train, warning her that they were both top bunks and were cheaper than any other bunk because of the horrible conditions - his broken English led us to believe that there would be no mattress, no space and no air conditioning. Since this would be for 29 hours, we were concerned, and decided alcohol would be the key. He then told us we had to go to a hotel to collect the tickets. Obviously Laura was convinced we were about to be sold to a hotel. Once at the hotel, they did their best to try and persuade us to stay, but we grabbed our train tickets and ran.

Once at our guesthouse (not hotel), Laura found a restaurant recommended by our guide book. Following the map to where we thought it was we found a dark alleyway which eventually led us to a lovely little restaurant full of Vietnamese people and no Westerners...much to their amusement. We both ordered steak and chips for approximately 1 pound each before realising the idea was to order more than one dish each so we went all out and ordered roast pigeon to share. A whole bird appeared, head included. Laura loved it, whilst Donna wasn't so keen, so Laura seized the opportunity after 'accidentally' flicking pigeon into Donna's eye, to steal the rest of hers. Not content with this she also attempted the head, finally realising it to be full of bone and so admitted defeat. Pig.

As we were only in Hanoi for one day, we decided to just have one drink and then have an early night. This was thwarted by a happy hour deal, and having becoming addicted to beer, we decided to be adventurous and order cocktails. Clearly these went down well and six very strong cocktails later we befriended two elderly gentlemen from Denmark introducing ourselves as Phoebe and Lucy. These fake names appear to have stuck. Laura seized the opportunity whilst Donna was in the toilet to let them know that 'Lucy' had a real thing for Michael Douglas especially since he met Catherine. We then went to the bar to pay as Donna kept reminding Laura that the hostel shut at midnight and as it was quarter to, we should go. During this time, Laura had befriended the barman and demanded two free drinks because it was almost her birthday. The barman was only too happy to oblige. We then got chatting to an American, teaching in Vietnam with his mute Vietnamese girlfriend, who was apparently the pool champion of Hanoi. Of course, Laura proceeded to enter us into a pool competition with them. Somehow, Donna managed to tear Laura away, and after a hilarious journey home, we had to wake up the guesthouse owners, who were sleeping in front of the shuttered door, to let us in. Nevertheless, the next day was still very productive.

We managed to find Hoan Kiem lake and had breakfast, spending the rest of the day seeing the French Quarter, the Temple of Literature, the One Pillar Pagoda, Opera House, Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and the Presidential Palace. Highlights include:

1. An old Vietnamese lady approaching Laura in the Temple of Literature, shaking her finger and pointing in disgust at Laura's vest top and shorts. All Laura had to say was, 'What the hell is her problem, it's not like it's a God or anything, just some shitbag University'.
2. Our attempt to find the water puppet theatre. We were sure we had found it when we stumbled across coloured bunting, and several stages and rides. However, on close inspection, we discovered it was in fact a children's English School and we decided to give up looking for it. Laura remains adamant we were succesful claiming, that it was 'a puppet show of sorts, if you think that children *are* puppets'. Good luck to her in her PGCE.
3. Some Asian people saying 'picture' to us. We lent forward to take a picture of them to which they snatched the camera away pushing us into the group saying 'no, picture OF you'. We ran away.
4. Somehow always managing to become trapped by tourgroups of elderly Asians in matching brightly coloured macs.
5. Every single Asian child we came across in the Temple of Literature waving at us and saying 'hello'.

We then needed to catch our nightmare train to Ho Chi Minh City. Again, we arrived 72 hours early, which we considered a good thing as we were dreading the train journey so much, we needed to start on the beer. We had dinner at one of the road side cafe where all the Vietnamese people seemed to eat, seating ourselves on the primary school size chairs. We managed to order noodle soup, but Laura felt we were missing out as all the Vietnamese people seemed to have loads of bowls of other shit to share. Laura felt cheated by her Hanoi dining experience, so we went to find more beer and possibly some more food. A large cowboy bar looked promising, until we spoke to one of the 20 cowboys outside who seemed to find the fact that we wanted to go in hilarious. Laura demanded to know whether or no it was a strip bar, Donna advised us to move on. We found a restaurant for some delicious spring rolls and were greatly entertained by the Americans sat next to us as we hear one remark to his friend how his Vietnamese wife couldn't understand a word of English when he first met her and had to communicate through pictures and signs. Riveting stuff.

We nervously found our room on the night train and were thrilled to discover it was in fact luxurious compared to our accommodation for the last few nights. We did have mattresses, blankets, pillows, air con, space for our bags and could almost sit up (we had imagined an inch above our faces). The first night was disrupted by Laura waking up to discover the Asian man below Donna's bunk staring at her. They were soon replaced by a family and we were much happier. We thought we may be bored spending a whole day on the train, but soon realised how lazy we are by nature, decided at 5pm, that we should maybe turn our ipods off and wake up. We arrived at 5 in the morning imagining we would have to wait ages before finding an open guesthouse, but it seemed the whole of Ho Chi Minh City was awake by this point. We found an interesting room with a balcony view inside of the reception. Our bathroom came complete with a cockroach and many ants. Perfection.

Our first day consisted of exploring the city. We saw the Reunification Palace (paying 50p to go in, mostly for the shade and fabulous toilets), the War Remnants Museum and finally a Notre Dame style cathedral. Outside the cathedral, was a massive statue of Jesus, whilst Donna was taking a picture of Laura in front of it, Laura became convinced that it was singing to her. Donna admitted she too could hear it, but was not keen to agree that it was because Laura was the 'chosen one' and that it was probably something behind the statue. On closer inspection it was an ice cream van, and the music followed us for the rest of the day. We had time to kill before attending a hilarious water puppet show, so decided to find somewhere to eat. This was made more difficult by the fact that Donna's feet, which had been ruined by flipflops in Hanoi, were now being destroyed by her other shoes. We had beers in our new safe space in Vietnam, before going to bed as we had an early start the next day.

We had booked an excursion to the Chi Chi tunnels outside of Ho Chi Minh City which was really interesting. We were thrilled to shoot an M30 gun and get the chance to go down into the tunnels. We were particularly pleased as many people wussed out of the tunnels claiming them to be too narrow. Naturally we stopped off at a disabled person factory on the way home to be made to feel guilty for not buying anything, but were entertained by two thoroughly homosexual Americans who asked us what the specially designed mobility chairs were, 'how cute' they declared before taking pictures on it, while we sat embarrassed.

Our evening was spent at the airport before our flight to Phuket, we were sad to be leaving Vietnam, as we both thoroughly enjoyed it and are keen to return. That being said we've had an incredible few days in Koh Phangan, but feel like there won't be a lot to report other than food, buckets, many massages, and beach. Needless to say, this is our new spiritual home and we never want to leave.

Posted by noodz4loz 05:17 Archived in Vietnam Tagged disabilities Comments (0)

Vientiane: Never order anything 'with chilli'

sunny 30 °C
View Babez on Round the World Tour 2010 on noodz4loz's travel map.

After a typically two hour late arrival in Vientiane, we searched for approximately 47 hours for a guesthouse which apparently there is a distinct shortage of in this city, we finally stumbled across a small doorway next to a shop where we were offered an amazing price, our prayers had been answered. The woman laughed at us as we peeled off our backpacks to reveal a backpack shaped patch of sweat...before we agreed whole-heartedly to staying for the full 3 nights. Once the fatigue and relief had begun to wear off, we realised what we had signed up for. The most disgusting bathrooms we've ever seen, the locks didn't work and the once white tiles were ridden with ants. Still we are thrilled to have left with neither bedbugs, nor aids.

The next morning, we discovered our favourite Lao cafe, Joma, which we became addicted to in Louang Phabang. Laura cried with delight (almost as much as when she saw the Kitten on the Leaf) when she tried the Cinnamon Bun and we discovered a lovely drink that would not have pleased Wendy or G (Earl Gray tea with frothy milk and vanilla syrup)...YUM. We managed to cover all the main sights within 2 hours, Presidential Palace, another bloody temple and a museum (we didn't want to pay for both the temple and museum as we've become so tight and have decided we are not interested in the Arts and Crafts crap although it was worth it in Chiang Mai for the toilet facilities...here we opted for the temple). We then stumbled across the Lao version on the Champs Elysees complete with its own Arc de Triomphe. After severely prepping ourselves we managed to climb to the top for an interesting view of Vientianne. By this point we'd shed 5 stone in sweat and treated ourselves to a litre each (the waitress found this hilarious, once again) of Beer Lao.

Having built up our appetite, we decided we needed a good meal, however, Donna made the monumental error of ordering a dish with chilli, while Laura went for a more mild Pad Thai. We were very excited when the meals turned up as they looked delicious. Soon after, Donna began to sweat and lose sensation in her tongue. Not wanting to appear like a wuss in front of Laura, she got through half before admitting defeat. Laura finished hers and encouraged Donna that they could finish the meal in a 'team effort'. Laura was wrong, as she too felt the sweat beads running down her forehead. Instead it was decided as long as the beef was finished we could let the rest go. Needless to say, we've both learned from the experience and the cocktails went down well afterwards.

We started to relax as some live music started, but realised the Lao musician clearly hadn't learned any of the words to the Western songs, opting to mumble to his guitar instead. It was at this point Laura looked around and noticed that we were the only table not occupied by a fat white man and his young Thai bride. Instead of leaving, Laura pointed out that in their case, Donna was the Western man.

The next day did not begin well, but ended happily. Having seen all the sights in the centre the day before, we had a day to kill in the boiling capital. We also wanted to avoid taking out any more Kip, but eventually both begrudgingly decided we needed to do something and even staying put would require money. However, when we went to get cash out, no machines in the city centre were working for anyone. Our decision to go to the Buddha Park, for the obscene price of 8 pounds return for us both, was off the cards. As usual, we decided cheap internet was the way forward and as we were trying to download some pictures, Becky and Katie (who we went tubing with) appeared at the doorway. Having concluded that we would never see them again after they'd passed out for our dinner date, we were all very happy to be reunited. Needless to say the rest of our day was spent eating and drinking which cheered us all up. Neither Becky or Katie had been in high spirits beforehand as Becky had been bitten half to death at their guesthouse and Katie's card was not working.

We're currently wasting time at the airport as Donna insisted we arrive early. Our flight is in four hours. We've already had a bit of an embarrassing experience, as we realised that our 15,000 Kip (just over a pound) wouldn't get us very far for breakfast. An American man approached us telling us 'If you're STARVING, we can help you out!'. Exaggeration is not always the way forward. Instead we decided we'd have to get some money out to avoid feeling homeless. Breakfast was good.

Posted by noodz4loz 20:15 Archived in Laos Tagged gay_travel Comments (1)

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