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July 4, 2001

We're still here in Bangkok

We're still here in Bangkok - the reason I haven't written much lately is that (1) I've been lazy and (2) I bought myself a new Palm replacement the other day a 505, and have been very busy re-installing software and documents onto it. Finally I can think again.

We've been having a lovely time here. The weather has been great, things are very cheap; our room costs about five pounds, a meal for two costs around one pound fifty. So gradually we've just been settling into Asia, getting used to the climate, food, and crazy taxi drivers. We're thinking about heading south next to spend some time on the beaches, but we still have some things to see and do here in Bangkok first.

July 8, 2001

It's Sunday evening and there's

It's Sunday evening and there's a tropical rainstorm going on outside. On Wednesday we had our digital camera stolen. We don't know how because, as usual, we've been very careful, but somehow it was taken. Needless to say, we're not very happy about it, and I'm seriously missing it. We spent the next day looking around some of the street markets in Chinatown here, hoping to come across it, but there was little chance of seeing it again. Theft happens at a whole new level here; old shoes are stolen from outside temples as you have to remove your shoes before you go in! We may return from this trip with considerably less luggage than we took with us! To make matters worse, my cellphone has decided to stop working in the last couple of days, which means that I've had a 100% failure rate amongst the electronics that I brought with me on the trip... in the first 2 weeks!

Well, I guess these things happen when you're travelling, and we're still enjoying our time here, although we are looking at things through slightly different eyes.

July 9, 2001

As I said yesterday, my

As I said yesterday, my phone is currently not working, so the only way to communicate with me is by email. I'll post details here if that situation does change.

Today, Nina and I went shopping for snorkelling gear. Our plan is to head south to some beaches and look at the fish later this week.

July 11, 2001

Tomorrow, Nina and I are

Tomorrow, Nina and I are leaving Bangkok and getting the train to a town called Chumphan, about 500km south of here. The trip takes almost 9 hours, so we'll probably just check into a nearby hotel when we get there and figure out what to do the next day. I'm getting my last hit of this internet connection tonight, especially as I've loaded up my Palm software onto this pc and can download webpages and stuff to it.

July 14, 2001

The train journey down here

The train journey down here seemed a bit rough; it was a bit like the trains you see in Indian films, with open windows, lots of noise, and clouds of dust blowing in every so often. When we arrived at night, we were glad to be approached by someone from an agency who could give us a lift to a beach out of town. We checked into a bungalow there, and the next morning woke up to a view of a white, sandy beach. So we took a swim, then went off hunting for somewhere that we could get breakfast. It was good to get away from the throngs of backpackers who had been around everywhere, and we seemed to have the beach to ourselves. The only problem was that because we were away from the tourist areas, we had a bit of a job finding somewhere to eat.

In the afternoon we caught a songthaew (a pick-up converted to carry people) into town and sorted out our onward rail tickets. Then we climbed into the back of another songthaew to go home and waited for it to leave. More people climbed in, and we all waited. Finally the driver appeared after 90mins and we drove off. By this time it was dark, and I thought that we were almost back at the bungalow, so we got out to walk the last few hundred metres. But... Yes, I'd made a mistake and we were still 3km from it! After being chased by lots of dogs, we followed the road through the jungle, and finally made it back. Occasionally we did stop to look at fireflies and the stars, but generally it was a night that deserved to be Friday the 13th.

Right now we're sitting at an internet place / restaurant and I've just enjoyed the delights of their horrific toilet. Many of the toilets here in Thailand are 'squat toilets' that you have to pour a bucket of water down to flush. This one adds to the interest by having a live turtle in the water tank, as well as the other wildlife you generally find around Thai toilets. I half expected Greenpeace to burst in and stop me from using it.

Thailand seems to take pride in scheduling their trains at times that no-one could possibly wish to travel. Tonight we're booked onto a train down to Trang in the south of the country and it leaves at 0236. That gives us another seven hours to kill in a town where everyone goes to bed at nine o'clock. At least the good news is that I finally had a reply to the email I sent to Orange a week ago about my phone not working. It seems that they've realised that all of their customers who are currently in Thailand are having the same problem. Very observant. They say that now they just have to figure out why it's not working.

July 27, 2001

Well, after spending the last

Well, after spending the last month in the developing world, we crossed over the border into Singapore and I now find myself sitting in a lovely cafe with free internet access over a 3.5mbps connection. It feels good to be back in civilisation even though a coffee here costs more than a good meal did in Thailand. We haven't really had a chance to get online in the last couple of weeks so I'll fill you in on what we've been up to since I left off...

After hanging around bars for most of the night in Chumphon, we made our way to the railway station, which, though dead during the day, had burst into life now. Our train appeared at 0230, and we pushed our way through people asleep on the floor to find our beds. Sometimes my eyes are a bit too sharp - I wished I hadn't seen ants and fleas in the sheets I was about to sleep in, but I did. The train pulled out of the station and I fell fast asleep until Nina woke me up as we arrived in Trang and I began to count my bites. We spent a couple of days there, then took a minibus out to the island of Ko Lanta. We'd been told that it was low season and accomodation prices were cheap, and sure enough we soon found a nice hut on the beach for $US2 a night and we went for a swim. We did, however, spend much of the night awake watching a fist sized cockroach hanging happily from the ceiling above our bed.

The next day we rented a motorbike to see the island and took a trip to Kao Mai Cave. Unfortunately, the guide couldn't find any batteries for his torch and so we sat and waited for half an hour until he got his torch working. It was well worth the wait though as we would never have found the caves without him. We climbed a waterfall and descended through a small hole in the rock into a huge maze of caves beneath the hillside. It really felt like being Indiana Jones and we spent over an hour crawling through small passages and walking through enormous caverns, some of which were full of bats.

Our visas for Thailand were about to expire by now so we took a train south and crossed over the border into Malaysia. We arrived in Georgetown on the west coast, but unable to find a room that looked like it had been cleaned in the last five years we booked into one of the most expensive hotels in town and spent a couple of days relaxing by the pool. We then continued down to Kuala Lumpur, but really we weren't enjoying Malaysia to nearly the same extent as we had liked Thailand. The people didn't seem as friendly, many of the cheaper hotels were filthy and many things were on a par with European prices so we jumped onto another night train and ran for the border.

Singarpore has to be one of the most advanced places I've ever been. The GDP here is higher than in any European country and the city of 4 million people seems unbelievably efficient. It's a huge change from what we've been used to lately.

July 28, 2001

We were planning to try

We were planning to try to find a campsite to stay in today but right now Singapore is in the grip of a tropical downpour so we may just leave it. For anyone who has been trying to contact us by phone, we're unable to roam here for the moment so email is once again the only way to contact us. Yesterday I gave into temptation and replaced the digital camera I had stolen in Bangkok as it was frustrating me too much to be unable to take photographs. Electronics are pretty cheap here - it cost about 65% of what I'd paid originally in Britain.

July 29, 2001


Finally the rain cleared yesterday and we set off with great intentions of finding the aforementioned campsite. After several hours, many buses, and a great deal of walking, however, we instead found ourselves lost in Singapore's suburbia as darkness fell. Rested and refreshed we set off again this morning, and after riding to the centre of the island on the metro, we sweated and dragged ourselves through 34 degrees of heat for half an hour until we reached the beach. One of the great things about the country is that English is the primary language (before Malay, Mandarin and Tamil, or so I'm told), but unfortunately no-one outside the centre of the city seems to understand it. We asked for directions but only received confused looks until finally we resorted to making boy scout signs and playing out the erection of a tent in mime to confused locals in our attempts to be understood. In the end we found a place that rented out bikes and we decided that this may be our only chance of finding if the campsite really existed. On Nina's suggestion, I must point out, we rented a tandem and set off. Now, contrary to popular opinion I can now tell you that there is nothing romantic about sharing a tandem with anyone. It's a bit like two people trying to drive a car at the seem time. Once we'd managed to balance ourselves at the same time in order to set off, we proceeded to wobble and swerve our way down the cycle path narrowly avoiding small children and dogs while we each blamed the suicidal progress on the other. We'd been told that there were almost endless paths in Singapore on which to cycle, but, obviously used to being in bigger countries, we pedalled until we quickly found ourselves on a main road and soon after at the international airport. But still no campsite. We turned around and took the bike back to the guy we rented it from, who will have to get it surgically removed should he wish to rent it out to anyone else, and vowed never to get on a tandem again.

Here's an interesting link for anyone with some spare time on their hands who fancies building a jet powered beer cooler in their shed.

July 30, 2001

We're still sitting in cafes

We're still sitting in cafes in Singapore drinking coffee. I just realised that it's 5 years ago this week that I stopped working. Time really does fly! If that isn't enough news for you then check out this website about L'Hydroptere, a 60ft hydrofoil equipped catamaran (time to upgrade Zamindar I think!).