Khaosan Road, Bangkok

So I am feeling exactly what Richard felt in the end scene/page, sitting in that internet cafe on Khaosan Road thinking back to the best six weeks of my life, (or in his case however long they were all on ‘The Beach.’) It’s kind of fitting then that like him, Khaosan Rd is exactly where I am writing this at 6am, my last post. Sob. Multiple sad faces.

Some one wise, or was it drunk, said to me you should try to bottle how you feel when you travel (euphoric, zen, alive –  all of the above) and store it in the happiness bank for when you need it in ‘real life.’

So this is kind of what this last post is, the inner ramblings of my hand written journal. Most of which won’t mean much to anyone that isn’t me, or to those it does, you know who you are.

Lets start with the FAQs:

Favorite place: (Coz someone always asks) Honestly, every single place that I went, although if I had to pick, very good times were had in Bali/Gilli T,  Railay, Koh Phi Phi, Laos too. I am a beach bum at heart.

Fave food/drink: I want to say something authentically Asian, in that case: Masaman Curry. Mmm. However I’m not going to lie, probably Brushette in the Kangaroo cafe, Hanoi. Or Nori Seaweed crisps. Or Manao juice. Or Lipton tea no milk – that’s how I roll now.

Desert Island items: A pen/paper, and MP3 player.

Soundtrack: The whole of Asia has the same compilation CD it would seem, ft Shakira’s Waka Waka, Blackeyed Peas, Lady Gaga. On a loop.

Best Massage: Bali, it pretty much saved me that day.  Although best masseur was the lovely Fi in on Loh Dalum Beach was one of the nicest people I have ever met, and a kindred butterfly.

Best scenery: Everywhere. Although the night bus from Luang Prabang  to Vang Vieng was pretty stunning by stars and moonlight.

Best activity: Horse riding the thunderstorm was pretty cool, as was climbing The Rock. But lets me fair neither of those had free buckets of whisky – its gotta be tubing.

Best Sunset: Tough competition. It’s an Ankgor Wat/Ha Long Bay tie.

Best Sunrise: The Kedins-Poppies thunderstorm/sea/pool show was a pretty sweet couple of hours. Oui?

Best night out: Tough call. Sky Garden Kuta, avec le French. Don’t care what anyone says, shades in nightclub = cool.

Best night in: Quiet night at Gilli T’s cinema, and the Never Ending story of our Red Lantern Boat, wink.

Best game: I see the moon this spoon. Not just a drinking game, a lesson in life. In fact no, dominoes. Did you know you there is actually a whole scoring system and strategy – Friz we gotta get on this. I always thought you just matched up the pretty dots. Duh.

Favorite word: Sa-bai-Dee (Hello in Laos) but in a lilting sing-song voice of course.

Craziest story: I did something wild, like totally mad and out of character. Get ready…. I was the LAST one on a plane. On purpose. Anyone that knows what punctuality nazi I am will appreciate this. I think some of that Laos laidbackness has rubbed off on me.

Where are you from?…..Ok, so the day when someone guesses Mauritius/British is still waiting to happen. I did get numerous: Indian, Brazilian, Spanish, Fijian, Italian, Iranian, half -half (you gotta laugh), and my person fave: Ethiopian (WTF?)

Best quotes – there are a few: (Said to me, not by me)

‘Guesthouse: hot shower, aircon, free internet, balcony……free banana.’ Sold

‘Do you want to come to a bar to look at some puppies.’ Don’t worry Ben it wasn’t as sinister as it sounds in writing. And I went.

‘How many sides does a banana have?’ (5 if you are interested, go check)

German guy – what do you call the little guys who carry their stuff round? Me: Snails? Him: Yeah that’s it, and the naked ones? Me: A slug?! Laughing out loud.

Ok It’s gonna get deep now.

Did you ‘find yourself?’….. Absolutely, definitely, yes.

Didn’t you get lonely?…. No! I have been trying to work out the longest I actually spent on my own, and would say certainly no more than 12 hours. I must have met probably well over 100 new people, some for minutes, some hours, some days, some lifetimes (or so it seemed.) I could count on one hand the number of meals I have had alone. I know I talk a lot, but I now see it as a bit of a failure if when in a restaurant/boat/flight you don’t have the names, life history, and plans for that evening with everyone around you. I am aware that i’m gonna need to reign this in in the UK case people think I am a total weirdo.

But wasn’t it dangerous?…. No. Obviously I have been lucky, but I can honestly can say that I have never felt safer people/places wise. The exception being that coconut that nearly wiped me out.

Life skills acquired:…. Crossing the road (yes to learn this at age 5, but not Vietnam style). Hustling boys at pool/cards, always a life skill. Being able to think in pounds, pay in dollars, get the change in Kip/Dong and simultaneously haggle in 3 currencies. Oh and of course my education of ‘The Game’ – thanks D and J.

Regrets:…. Probably not checking my bank balance for a month and half.  If I know you, don’t get your hopes up for xmas pressies in a few months time.

Skills I wish I had:…. Being able to take a good photo, some people just have an eye, I am jealous. Being able to speak a language. Being able to spot a thunderstorm a coming.

Things I am thankful for:…. Being lucky enough to be born into a 1st world country, health care, employment law, human rights. (Sorry to go all Bono on your asses.) Also Hostel World for my free flights out here. Thanks then. Oh and not getting Malaria, sorry Mum I lied about taking the tablets.

Some stats for you:… 6 weeks, 10 massages (tame) 5 hair washes (gross) 222 hours spent on planes/trains/automobiles.

Things I missed (about home):… Friends/Family, Pret, Salts, finding out if Jon James and Josie made it as a real life couple, and the birth of Alex John Norton who I cannot wait to meet.

Things I missed (as in would like to have done:)…. HCMC, Phonm Pehn, The Philippines, Borneo, Japan, Australia, Cuba, Macco Picco, Nepal, Everest base camp….you get my drift.

Things I won’t miss:…. Rice for breakfast, Beer – I am so over beer, the smell of citronella, wearing a poncho and flip-flops as clubbing gear – sexy. Explaining to people what I do for a living, although Donkey Punch is certainly a conversation starter.

What I have loved about travelling:…. Absolutely everything. Time spent sad:…. Zilch, Zero, Nada.

Ultimate Highlight: Is a secret. But it was good.

Ultimate Lowlights: Coming home? I have serious wanderlust…..

Xo Xo

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

…Is like a circus, a beautiful but crazy circus. So far I have seen a bunny on a bicycle (In a basket, not peddling it obvs) and a cat asleep in a fridge (it seemed happy and no one was overly concerned.)

We headed to the beach bars last night in search of an acoustic guitar singer guy from the Last Bar Railay. We are his new groupies. They guy did amazing versions of pretty much everything on my MP3 player. The credible stuff, not Lady Ga Ga/Saturdays .I also witnessed possible the funniest near disaster that ever was, when some flame thrower performers accidentally hurtled huge burning torches headlong into the audience. More than once. I took a wide berth after that. I also joined in a UV light skipping contest. What a talent.

What else? Had a lovely sunset in an infinity pool looking out into the beach, and topped up my last days of tan. I may have huge bags under my eyes from too much fun, and grubby grubby grubby hair, but I do officially have the worlds best tan.

My last night was spent in true traveller spirit with a huge group of 8 randoms heading for dinner and drinks, picking up waifs and strays on the way, and learning the ways of ‘Yaniv’ – an Iranian card game. Thanks to the generous Jessie and Sara who kindly opened up their lovely pink room to me, the littlest hobo. I’m glad I picked you up in the Last Bar, or you me (as in, we met, we were not literally on the floor.) I wish my much sought after hat a happy life with you Jessy. Sorry Dane.

Ok, technically my last, last night was spent on a sleeper bus back to Bangkok. I finished possible the most poignant book I have ever read; Eat Pray Love, which I couldn’t have read in a better place or better time. “I was never not meant to be here. This was never not meant to happen.” I loved this.

Railay, Thailand

Spider Kim, Spider Kim…..Yes, check out the guns.

I came off a 14 hour sleeper bus from Bangkok to Krabi in the South of Thailand, got on a minibus to Ao Nam Mao port, got on a longtale fishing boat at 6.30am and arrived shipwreck style wading into Railay East Bay.  Then did a climbing course. I scaled and absailed off a massive rock. Like, totally massive rock. Think James Bond in The Man With the Golden Gun. Literally, those rocks that jut out of the sea. All before midday.

I kicked that rock’s ass. I was like Tom Cruise in the opening of MI2 (god I love that film.) I has special shoes and chalk dust and beat a couple of men to the top of a massive overhang and the 20 meter big boy climb.  I am available for action movies soon.

Dude, it was huge. Extream Kim, adrenalin Junky…… Pow Pow Pow.

Just a shame I can’t get the vid clip t0 upload, grrr.

Thai – Lao Friendship Bridge, NongKhai

I must have been a train robber in a past life, as my rail karma sucks.

Crossing back into Thailand from Vientiane I make 3 new border friends at Thanaleng station. We do the where you from/where you been/where you going – repeat to fade bit. They look like keepers, and we all get on well. We make it into NongKhai and I recount my ‘Sapa train ticket faux pax’ story. We all laugh. We check our tickets. Yes, that’s right I am on a different sodding train.  Again. This time I don’t try to switch, I have learnt my lesson. I have seen Final Destination. I wave them off like Celia Johnson from Brief Encounter, and wait an hour for the late train on my own. Nice sunset though. I would love to say it was fate, and someone amazing was on my train. No such luck. So much for the ‘Friendship Bridge!’

Vientiane, Laos

Such a pretty name…. for such an ugly town. Sorry Laos.

24 hours was just enough time to see Patouxay – the infamous homage to France’s Arc de Triumph. When handed a load of concrete by the USA Government in the 1960’s and told to build landing strips for the US airforce, the Laos powers that be decided to instead build a huge eye saw that is the Victory Monument. Good for them. They actually describe it on the plaque outside as a ‘Monster.’ I think it’s actually quite pretty? Just me then?

I also paid a visit to COPE Clinic – a National Rehabilitation Centre charity doing outreach and awareness rasing for UXO (unexploded ordnance.) They provide support, education, prosthetics and medical care 35 years on, as Laos remains the most heavily bombed country in the world. : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

Blasts From The Past…

October 2010

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