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September 2, 2001

We boarded the ferry for

We boarded the ferry for Ko Samui & descended into the crowds of tourists again for the first time since Bangkok. It was a short crossing and the sea was flat. I began to wish that I was sailing again - but not in Asia, where there are more pirate attacks than in the rest of the world put together.

The ferry docked and disgorged a stream of backpackers - blonde girls whose arms were black with tattoos, following rasta boyfriends with bongos. We carried our bags under the hot sun and started our search to find somewhere to stay. Most of the accomodation on the island consisted of A-frame huts, but in comparison to the rest of Thailand they were quite overpriced. We looked at one place with a fantastic beach but the owner was an old, rude German who was too busy smoking and watching his Thai maids to really be bothered letting us see the rooms. After about 5 hours of looking around we settled on a hut just off the main street in town, dropped our bags off in the room, and sat by the beachside restaurant eating ice-cream.

Later we returned from Starbucks and were about to go to bed, tired from our day of room hunting, when we noticed the first cockroaches in the room. If there's one thing that I don't like then it's the thought of wakening up in the middle of the night with huge cockroaches crawling over me. If there's anything around, they'll eat it - right down to the dead skin off your feet, and when they run out of food, they'll eat each other. No, I don't like cockroaches.

We tried to ignore them and get some sleep, but soon I could hear them rustling through our plastic bags and crawling around the room. They were so big I could lie and listen to their feet tapping on the wood as they ran across the walls. Thankfully, there was a mosquito net over the bed, and we tucked it in and hoped that they wouldn't find the holes and come in to feast on our feet. At this point the nightclub, which sounded as if it was directly behind our hut, started up. The room shook with the bass and cockroaches fell from the ceiling. It was quite a night and needless to say I didn't sleep too much, but Nina snored obliviously through much of it. In the morning, when the music had stopped and the cockroaches slept, she woke me, excited about going snorkelling on the beach. A large gecko started screaming inside the hut, so I gave up any ideas of trying to sleep, took a shower and pulled my snorkelling gear out of my bag. Inside my fins I found three large cockroaches.

We marched into reception and complained about our cockroach infested hut, but they just looked at us as if to say, "So?" Eventually, they offered us another room, and we spent the morning emptying our backpacks of the remaining cockroaches. Then we cable-tied a mosquito net around our bags to stop them getting back in.

Later, we walked the 100m or so to the beach and did some snorkelling. The Lonely Planet guide to Thailand describes the beach as having 'crystal clear blue water with an interesting coral reef'. This proves that their writers use too many hallucinogenic substances. During our extensive exploration of the area we found the beach to consist of an entirely sand bottom with chicken soup coloured water. Although we didn't see any fish, we did manage to discover some tiny jellyfish, and finally we retreated to the shore to recover from their stings.

The beach itself was beautiful, and was fairly peaceful during the day as most of the backpackers slept off their hangovers. Many of the locals, however, were quite rude and unfriendly, but with an island invaded by tourists I don't suppose it's easy for them. That weekend, a couple of kilometres from the beach we were staying on, two British girls were raped and sexually assaulted by two Thai men and ended their holiday in hospital.

On Tuesday we caught the overnight train back to Bangkok. Glad to be away from the cockroaches, I slept soundly until 0615 when a mentally deranged steward began marching up and down the carriage screaming, "Wake up! Wake up!" I turned over and put my earplugs in, but nothing could block his rasping voice out. Suddenly, his head came through the curtain into my bed and he screamed, "Get up! We in Bangkok!" I looked out of my window as the sun rose over paddie fields - Bangkok had certainly changed! We weren't due to arrive for another two hours and it was unusual for Thai trains to arrive early. I told him I would get up when we were closer to Bangkok, but again he screamed, "Get up now!!" in true Gestapo fashion and threatened to return with the train's armed police. I dragged myself up, not wishing to spend time in a Bangkok prison under charges of refusing to get out of bed. I looked across the carriage at Nina who seemed equally confused by our apparent enrolement in the Thai army. She told him that she was closing her curtains so that she could change, but he yelled, "No, you get up now!!" as his face reddened even more. Two and a half hours later the train lazily rolled into Bangkok station and everyone staggered out suffering from sleep deprivation.

come to Asia
get a bag full of cockroaches
get ordered out of bed by armed police

September 6, 2001

Today we collected our tickets

Today we collected our tickets for Sri Lanka Airways flights to Hong Kong. It's a three hour flight from Bangkok so either it's further than we thought, or Sri Lanka Airways has very old planes. The tickets were cheap but hopefully we won't be sitting on the floor surrounded by chickens.

This is, of course, a change from our original plans to travel overland to Hong Kong, and it's because we now plan to fly back to Europe in late October and go over to the boat for two or three months. This still depends on us managing to change our return flights, but assuming that isn't a problem we'll probably spend a week in Britain and Denmark before heading off to the US.

I've just added some pics to the following folder, and plan to upload more over the next few days, so check it out.

pictures from singapore, malaysia & thailand

September 15, 2001

Over the last week or

Over the last week or so I've been trying to get rid of a rash on my leg so we haven't been travelling around much as walking is a bit uncomfortable. As we were going down the street yesterday, however, we did pass a food stall which stopped us in our tracks. To our shock they were selling an assortment of deep-fried insects including crickets, locusts, maggots, and cockroaches. Although we were on our way to lunch, we managed to resist the temptation of sampling them, but we did take some photographs as proof. We've also uploaded some photos we took this week at the Royal Palace, and around the streets of Bangkok. New pictures from Bangkok

September 16, 2001

Today is our last day

Today is our last day in Bangkok as we catch a flight to Hong Kong tomorrow where hopefully we'll meet up with my chum, Ocean, who I met when I was cycling in France. Although we're a bit sad to be leaving Thailand, we're very excited about going to Hong Kong as you can imagine.

September 18, 2001

We arrived in Hong Kong

We arrived in Hong Kong yesterday after a terrific flight on Sri Lanka Airways. It turned out to be a lovely Airbus A330 with airphones and video screens at every seat and forward and downward facing video cameras so you could watch the take-off and landing. Very cool. Ocean met us at Hong Kong's new airport (the world's biggest ever civil engineering project) and we've been staying with him.

September 20, 2001

Yesterday was Ocean's birthday and

Yesterday was Ocean's birthday and we went out for Dim Sum for breakfast which was the best I've ever eaten, although we weren't too keen when we got around to nibbling on chicken feet! The bones have lots of knuckles along them so it's a strange feeling as you try to bite off the skin. Later we went shopping; clothes are very cheap here and so I bought myself a new pair of trousers, but unfortunately the zip broke on them the first time I used it.

September 29, 2001

Hiking in Hong Kong

We spent last weekend on the neighbouring island of Macau, which was lovely apart from the fact that everyone there had at least six children. Up until a couple of years ago it was administered by Portugal and obviously their Catholic values were administered there as well. On Saturday evening we watched the International Fireworks Contest between the UK and Japan - Japan won by a long way! Macau was very different from Hong Kong - a bit like Lisbon compared to New York.

When we returned to Hong Kong, we applied for our Chinese visas, and a couple of days later, collected our passports complete with a page of glorious Chinese characters which I think say that we are allowed in. We are, however, restricted from taking part in any religious activities so I shall have to conduct my strict regime of prayer undercover! We were planning to book a train to Beijing for the following day, but we soon found out that there's a big holiday in China right now and the first train with space was five days later. This coupled with the fact that we had problems finding seats for our return flights to Europe in October means that we won't have as much time as we hoped for in mainland China.

So, on Monday we leave for Beijing, and our return flights to London are booked for the evening of the 17th October. Nina then flies back to Copenhagen on a connecting flight and I plan to stay with Chris in the UK for a week or so (is that ok, Chris?). After that, Nina and I hope to fly over to Florida to spend a few months on the boat and move her out of the US.

On Thursday we took the ferry over to another island called Lantau, which is about 30 mins from the centre of Hong Kong, but feels like a completely different world. We planned to spend a couple of days hiking around the island and make some use of the one-man tent we've carried around Asia for the last 4 months! It was a sunny day and the temperature was about 32c, so we were looking forward to reaching a youth hostel where we were going to camp for the night and have a shower. The path we were on ran along a cliff and we were glad to look down and see the hostel about 100m below us, however, as we continued it occurred to us that our path had no intention of joining up with the lower path which led into the village where the hostel was. By this time the sun had set and we continued walking nervously along for several kilometres into the impending darkness until finally we met up with a route going down. When we finally arrived, it was fairly dark, and we found the youth hostel deserted, surrounded by a high fence, and the gates locked. There were few other places to camp unless you were prepared to cut down some jungle with a machete so we were not too happy. We did manage to gain entry, however, and proceeded to pitch the tent whilst being eaten by mosquitos. We lay down and fell asleep at 20:30!

The following day we awoke early when the rising sun made staying inside the tent unbearable, packed up, and walked down to the beach for a swim in the South China Sea and a nutritious breakfast of McVities Ginger Nuts. Then we hiked over to the village of Pui O, passing a large snake and some water buffalo on the way. It was a lovely couple of days and we were amazed to find that Hong Kong still has so much wilderness.