Weblog Main

December 16, 2000

Just arrived back in Denmark,

Just arrived back in Denmark, and after being up for 34 hours, I should probably go to bed soon.

January 16, 2001

Tomorrow morning Nina & I

Tomorrow morning Nina & I are leaving Bristol to catch a flight to Johannesburg via Vienna. We just booked the flights yesterday, so it's very unplanned and neither of us have been there before. Unfortunately we're off down the pub now instead of packing.

January 17, 2001

Just a quick note from

Just a quick note from heathrow airport... we're waiting for the flight after spending a sunny but cold day in London.

January 28, 2001

Today, Nina and I are

Today, Nina and I are catching the coach back up to Pretoria at 1700. Although there are train services in South Africa, everyone travels by coach, and they are very pleasant, with videos, and refreshments on board to help alleviate the 20 hour trip across the country. We've been down in Cape Town for a week now, and it's been a great place to use as a base for travelling around the area. It's the middle of summer down here, and it's been fantastic weather.

January 30, 2001

Pretoria

I'm writing this from North South Backpackers in Pretoria after arriving here yesterday from Cape Town. As usual these weblogs are fairly rushed as I'm paying for the internet connection, and it's one thing that isn't cheaper down here! Youth hostels in South Africa aren't quite the same as in Europe though, and this has to be one of the nicest that we've stayed in so far. We had a lovely double room, and right now Nina is sitting relaxing by the pool.

We leave for the airport in half an hour, and then fly back to Heathrow via Vienna. We should arrive around 0800 tomorrow morning.

February 1, 2001

Hi, I'm writing this from

Hi, I'm writing this from Chris's flat in Bristol. We got back into the UK yesterday, and after a rushed morning in wet, foggy London, Nina flew out to Copenhagen and I came up to Bristol where I'd left my laptop and some luggage. I've just spent this morning uploading some of the photographs from South Africa we took with the digital camera.

I've promised to take Chris's bike into the shop for a service today, though, so I'd better go and do that now. The only problem is that I can't lower his seat due to the suspension getting in the way, and as he keeps reminding me, he is somewhat taller than I am! I've had a practice riding it around in the flat right now though, and I can just reach the pedals, so as long as I don't have to stop, I should be fine! I'll get back to updating this later...

February 4, 2001

Well I did manage to

Well I did manage to survive the bike ride the other day. Its quite pleasant to be back in Britain right now too, especially as the weathers mild, and reflect on the time in South Africa.

Although the only thing that ever gets into the news about South Africa is the violence and problems in the country, we were amazed by how beautiful the countryside was. There was such a vast array of different scenery; mountains, desert, beautiful beaches, and landscapes, that it was hard to compare it to anywhere else Id ever been. Then of course there was the incredible wildlife, much of which we didnt even have time to see. On another trip I really hope to make it up to Kruger National Park where you can find could have gone everywhere that we wanted to go in two weeks.

The people were amazingly friendly too; at least the people who didnt want to mug you, that is. The service in shops and restaurants was terrific, and as well as being very cheap compared to European prices, the food was very good too, even if many South Africans do seem to have a deep love of fried food. Food and drink, as well as many other products lions, zebra, elephants, rhinos, and a whole other world, but there was just no way that we are about one half or one third of their equivalent price in other developed countries, but without a car, we often found that we spent that money on taxis, as quite often it isnt very safe to walk somewhere.

I think that if you look like youre a tourist in South Africa and youre not careful, then you can expect to have problems, although the stories we heard seemed to imply that if you were unlucky and were held up, you would probably be fine if you simply handed over your cash. I suppose its like many places in the world, and in time you learn where you can go and where you cant. It sounds as though being mugged in South Africa would be preferable to being mugged in Scotland, as you would be less likely to be beaten up for the sake of it.

The biggest problem is of course that the extreme poverty that most people live in drives the crime. Car jacking is a problem in Johannesburg and we spoke to one taxi driver whose wife had been car jacked at gunpoint. She was ordered out of her BMW at traffic lights. The assailant could expect to make about 20 from this, and the car would be sold for parts. Lives are cheap in Africa.

If you can be on your guard, then South Africa represents terrific value for money, and a wonderful European environment on the African continent. There is simply so much to see, the climate is fantastic, and the country is so big, that the cost of flying down and the 13-hour flight from Europe is more than compensated for. Its definitely a country that Im looking forward to going back to.

February 5, 2001

Chris has been down in

Chris has been down in Cornwall for most of the weekend, and Ive been spending it here in Bristol catching up on whats been happening in the world in the last few weeks. Denmark seems to be putting out a lot of bad publicity about itself in its own characteristic, honest way. It seems that Channel 4 here in the UK are making a documentary about Danish attitudes towards smoking in To Die for Cigarettes. It explores public opinions in a country where, apparently, life expectancy is amongst the lowest in Europe, partly due to high tobacco consumption. If youve ever looked for the non-smoking section in a Danish caf then youre bound to understand, however, as someone who used to sell huge amounts of the stuff, I cant really comment! (full story)

Another report which Im sure will shock many of my Danish friends is that the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week placed Denmark tenth in the international environmental index, just beating the dreaded United States! Neighbours Finland and Norway leapt to the top, but this could be due to the fact that their population density is really, very low. Even still, many Danes seem to feel that their country has leading environmental practices, and they are bound to be saddened by this. (full story)

Apart from returning from Cornwall stressed out from spending the weekend with his family, Chris is in a fairly good mood as hes just bought himself a new laptop. Hes spent much of the day enjoying Windows new operating system, Me the main difference between it and previous versions being that it seems to crash more! Is technology really going to save us more time in the future as Bill Gates promises, or are we just going to be unable to do anything else as we wait for our computers to restart after crashing? Stanley Kubrick got it all wrong in 2001.

February 6, 2001

Bristol, UK Today I was

Bristol, UK
Today I was stopped by eight homeless people in town and asked for some spare change for a cup of coffee. Bristol does seem to have quite a large homeless problem, but it does have very good coffee too. I, myself, spent much of the afternoon in Starbucks with the homeless people drinking coffee and reading the news. Afterwards I walked into scaffolding in the street while sending a text message on my phone. The Sunday Times had an interesting story about many people relying on their computers and PDAs so much that they are suffering from memory loss themselves. I can really relate to this. (full story)

February 7, 2001

Chris and I ended up

Chris and I ended up drinking a bit too much in a bar last night. When we finally left we were forced to stop off for the obligatory kebab, which of course didnt taste of anything, but you never remember this when youre drunk. At least it wasnt as bad as the microwave kebabs that Andrew and I were forced to buy one night in Glasgow when all the kebab places were shut, but nothing ever will be. Naturally we were both hungover this morning, but Chris went off to work (how does he do it?), and Im beginning to recover now.

Anyway, what I wanted to do last night, prior to the drinking session, was mention that in the last weeks there have been more security breaches in the internet than ever before. The furthest reaching one concerns the discovery that embedding a simple Java script into an email lets the sender see exactly what the recipient said when that e-mail is forwarded and who it is forwarded to. For instance, if one of your friends adds your name to a chain letter that contains this script, the original sender would then have your e-mail address to do whatever he or she would like with. It could certainly be used by spamming and e-mail marketing companies. Fortunately, turning off JavaScript in your e-mail program, will prevent any e-mails that you forward from being interrogated in this way. Instructions on how to do this and the full story are here.

The Digital Signature Algorithm (DSA) which was developed to protect the transfer of information on the internet has also been compromised lately. This affects mainly transactions and banking over the internet, and although there are not expected to be many cracks using this, people are recommended, as always, to keep an eye on bank and credit card balances. Other recommendations for computers connected to the internet include;
Treat e-mail and instant messaging as being as private as a postcard
Do not transmit private information wirelessly
Never keep credit card or confidential information anywhere on that computer
Sacrifice a virgin goat every full moon
(full story)

February 12, 2001

Ive spent most of the

Ive spent most of the afternoon packing so far as tomorrow is my last day in Bristol. When we flew out from Copenhagen, we didnt know where we were going to, so we took clothes to cover just about any climate. Now, unfortunately, Ive got to somehow fit them into my bag to take back, as well as a Palm for Ninas dad and a film scanner for me. Im hoping to scan in some of the pictures we took in the Bahamas when I get back, and get them up on the website.

The weekend was fairly rough, and involved lots of heavy drinking in pubs and clubs in Bristol. On Friday night I cut my hand after climbing up a signpost (obviously Ive been away from Guernsey Mountaineering Club too long!), and on Saturday night Chris lost his phone. I really didnt plan to go out on Saturday. Chris was organizing a pub crawl with some people in Airbus where he works, and I planned to skip it, but after he bought me large amounts of caffeine in Starbucks, I couldnt remember why I wanted to go home. It all went fairly well until Chris took everyone to The Elephant Bar, which we soon realized, was, yes you guessed it again, gay. After this happening in South Africa as well, I was the first one to notice the subtle clues that gave it away; only men in the bar, and lots of them snogging each other. So we avoided using the toilets, and made a sharp exit. Am I the only person that this ever happens to?

I did find an interesting website at the weekend. Hottelephone.com lets you make a free call from your pc to any landline phone in 15 countries. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesnt, but it is free.

February 14, 2001

Well I was wrong to

Well I was wrong to think that Tuesday was my last day in Bristol. I dont fly out until Thursday morning. Luckily, Nina insisted on me telling her which flight I was on, and so when I checked on my Palm, it told me that I had another day here. What would I do without it? Nina doesnt seem too happy though as she thought I was flying back on Valentines Day. Woops! I was stopped in the street by someone from the Children's Society today and they asked me for money. I had to honestly tell them that I just don't like children.

As you can tell from the time that Im posting this, Im getting back into my nocturnal frame of mind. Those periods of time, where I sleep during the day, and my mind wakens up at night and forces me to do lots of things. Having a free-form life at the moment I dont really mind it, but it wont be very easy to leave Bristol at 0700 if Im up all of tomorrow night. Anyway, I refuse to conform and live my life in GMT.

Sleep is a poor substitute for caffeine

February 15, 2001

Ok, so I just got

Ok, so I just got back from the pub, and now I have to finish packing. Apparently I have to get up in about 6 hours from now to head into London so I'm not looking forward to that at all! Why did I go to the pub tonight??

I'm writing this from London,

I'm writing this from London, where I'm just waiting for the shuttle out to Stansted. Got up at 0645 this morning and Chris took me to the coach station in Bristol, and I've spent the last few hours here. Went for lunch in Piggy's, my favourite sandwich place in Piccadilly and had a walk in the park.

My flight leaves at1830 and I fly into Sweden then head to Denmark.

February 16, 2001

Copenhagen, Denmark Well, my plane

Copenhagen, Denmark
Well, my plane touched down on Swedish soil around 2120 last night. I grabbed my bags and took the coach into central Malmo, which takes about 40 minutes. From there I caught the train across to Copenhagen and Nina met me at Kastrup. Well, when I say met me, she turned up after about 15 minutes.

It's noticeably colder here in Denmark, but there's no snow at the moment. I always seem to miss the snow. I'm writing this from the new library in the centre of Copenhagen and I think we're planning to go to Nina's summerhouse for the weekend... so that means limited data communication as I have to dial up through my cellphone.

February 18, 2001

We got back to Copenhagen

We got back to Copenhagen this evening after spending the weekend in Nina's summerhouse about 80km from here. Her parents are off to Turkey this week, so we have their car to use. It was so pleasant to get out of the city and see some of the Danish countryside again, and it's really made me decide that I need to travel more in Scandinavia while I'm here. When we arrived at the summerhouse, we turned on the water to find it spraying out from under the sink. One of the pipes had burst, and the bathroom was now getting flooded. Nina ran back outside and shut the water off, and I went off to look for some tools. After a while I managed to sort it, and it seems fine now. Yesterday we took a walk along the beach then watched some ponies attacking each other in a field video. In the evening we had a lovely meal and a nice bottle of South African wine that we brought back with us.

February 21, 2001

Sometimes I think that I'm

Sometimes I think that I'm missing things that are happening. Take today for example; after dropping Nina off for her meeting which appeared to be in a strip club, I walked into town. As I wandered along, a blonde girl with a big fur hat on, who looked like she was straight from the Kremlin, jumped out and stopped me. It's not that I'm a conspiracy theorist or anything, and she spoke perfect English, but once she realised that I wasn't Danish she wouldn't tell me what she wanted, and disappeared off into the crowds. Things like this seems to be happening more and more to me.

February 26, 2001

Copenhagen, Denmark Suddenly it's got

Copenhagen, Denmark
Suddenly it's got colder here in the last few days and we had some snow yesterday, but nothing that lasted. Meanwhile the boat is basking in about 24c over in Florida where the sun's shining. Still it is nice to have a break from sailing this year, catch up on what's happening in the real world, and think about some new projects.

I was hoping to get over to Sweden in the last week to do some skiing, but then I found out that the bridge toll each way was about 20 pounds, so I reconsidered and spent a bit more time sitting in cafes reading. At the moment I'm reading 'A Boat in our Baggage', which is about travelling around the world with a collapsible kayak. When I can't face the sight of dead trees anymore, I swap over to my Palm where I'm reading my first e-book, Underground. One of my favourite shows recently has been Trigger Happy TV, and tonight I checked out their website, the best of which is their stressbuster - Online meditation if life is getting to you!

February 27, 2001

It seems that I've got

It seems that I've got back into that nocturnal thing again. Maybe it's the amount of coffee I'm drinking or the moon, but whatever it is it doesn't really bother me. Since I stopped working, I've got used to living in the strange times my mind decides to be awake in. Once when I was living in Guernsey, my neighbour on the boat next door asked if I'd been hammering at five o'clock in the morning. I had. It's not any form of insomnia, it's just that I often tend to sleep at different times from the rest of the continent.

So instead of sleeping, I've been wandering on the net tonight. Finding other weblogs that make me feel like I should really do something better with mine, like the breast chronicles. I also checked to see if the search engines were listing me, but instead I found sites on Saint Bron, Bron's bedroom, a Chinese film called Bron to be King, and a website claiming that I am in fact 10" tall and made in Hong Kong. Maybe it's time to go to bed.

March 1, 2001

After briefly trying to scan

After briefly trying to scan in some new pics for the site today, windows insisted on showing me the blue screen of death and crashing repeatedly, so I was forced to abandon technology and go for a walk. Where we are in Copenhagen is surprisingly close to the countryside (or 'the nature' as Danes and Germans like to call it), and in less than an hour I found myself on top of a hill looking down at the city.

It got me thinking, and so I gave Andrew in Glasgow a call, and after chatting, arranged to go and visit him in a couple of weeks. Andrew mentioned that Colin is talking about having a party for his dreaded three-zero sometime around then and maybe I'll time it well. So expect to see / hear of me in the UK in a couple of weeks, and I do plan to get down to Guernsey this time as well to catch up on the drinking culture there!

March 2, 2001

Nina woke me up this

Nina woke me up this morning to tell me everything was white outside. Finally some snow! Its five years since I last spent the winter somewhere cold, so I enjoyed sliding around and kicking it at people today. Copenhagen looks so much nicer covered in snow too. I was expecting the sea to be frozen and people to be going around in dog sleighs before I spent the winter here, but its not like that at all. Well, not yet

March 5, 2001

Sitting in the library in

Sitting in the library in the centre of Copenhagen down by the canals right now. Think that I have to go and find some caffeine soon, and leave this place. Yesterday I watched Nina's team play basketball; they have to be the shortest basketball team in the world, but they seem to make up for it in anger.

March 9, 2001

I've spent a lot of

I've spent a lot of time lately trying to scan in pictures for bronek.org before I leave next week. After working on the Italian section most of yesterday, our service provider here decided to down their servers and cause me major crashes and stress at 0400 in the morning while I was trying to upload it. As I was half asleep and very low on caffeine I failed to realise this for an hour while I tried to fix my pc! Why does downtime always have to be in the middle of the night?

Yesterday, Clarins were doing a demonstration in a shop window in town. A girl, clad in only a towel, was getting a massage, and most of the drunks in Copenhagen had gathered around the window to watch and shout encouragement. She didn't look like she appreciated the attention though. As I continued through town, I was stopped by two hippie bible-bashers who tried to enlist me into their Danish cult. I lied and told them I went to a Catholic church. Must be time for another haircut.

This is a photo of a group of underwater statues in the canal in Copenhagen. People keep running into them in boats, hence the bouy.
underwater statue

March 10, 2001

I've just come back from

I've just come back from the supermarket, and because it's Saturday, the Danes are primarily buying beer. As you walk down the street you pass couples carrying crates of beer between them, and because cans are banned here for environmental reasons, you have to buy bottles. Hence the average beer drinker in Denmark gets his exercise on Saturday when he lugs two dozen bottles home. Some have turned to innovation though, and modified their bikes (cars carry 200% tax so many people cycle) into dedicated beer carriers that will take anything from one to six crates. Carlsberg tend to have a monopoly on this market and they advertise that it's "Probably the best beer in town." Indeed, Danes are never happier, and often only happy, when they have a beer.

March 13, 2001

Just finishing the last of

Just finishing the last of my packing right now. I have to get up at 0600 to get the train over to Sweden, then the coach to the airport, flight to London, flight to Glasgow, train... After about 12 hours, believe it or not, I get to where I'm going in Scotland! Better get some sleep now...

March 15, 2001

Glasgow, Scotland Yesterday's trip went

Glasgow, Scotland
Yesterday's trip went quite smoothly. It took a while to get through the security check when I left Sweden as the woman in front of me decided it was a good idea to stash a bunch of knives in her carry-on bag. The security people didn't really agree with her and took her off for interrogation. In Stansted I sat down to watch a dvd on the pc, and shocked everyone in the cafe when a big sex scene started on screen. I'd seen the film before on tv and there hadn't been anything dodgy in it, but I guess that's what they mean when they say it includes extra scenes! After making a hasty getaway from the angry mob, it was time to board the flight up to Scotland. The plane had been specially modified for this route, and had Chinese seating configuration (i.e. less legroom) as Scottish people are naturally so short. Upon landing we were guided through disinfectant baths in case our shoes were suffering from the current outbreak of foot and mouth disease, and everyone proceeded to slip around on the wet, tiled floor.

I stayed with Colin last night. In fact we were quite lucky to make it to his flat, as we stopped off in a pub directly across from the station after he met me. Sense prevailed, however, and we took my luggage back to his place before continuing our pub crawl, eating incredibly greasy fish and chips, and finishing the night off in the Bierhalle, my new favourite pub in Glasgow.

March 17, 2001

Thursday night was spent in

Thursday night was spent in the west end pubs of Glasgow with Colin and Andrew. So once again, I woke up feeling very hungover yesterday morning. I had to get the train through to Perth for a dentist appointment, but at 0920 I realised that I'd been told the wrong train time and had only 20 minutes to make it to the station. Off I sprinted in my fragile state, only to sit in the station for 15 minutes as the train was late. Finally, it turned up, but only got as far as Stirling before it broke down and we were sent to another train at the other end of the station. Still, I made it to my appointment, which lasted exactly 3 minutes before he told me to come back again on Tuesday! It was strange to walk around Perth, where I hadn't been since the day I left Dundee, so I sat and had a coffee there before getting bored, realising how bad it all is, and jumping on the next train back to Glasgow. Now for some unexplained reason, I attract screaming children. It doesn't matter where I sit on a plane or train, but screaming kids will gravitate towards me. So, on the train, a woman with a screaming child moves, yes moves over to the seat in front of me, where not content to aggrivate my hangover, she proceeds to change the child's nappy!

I'm staying with Andrew right now, and last night we took it easy. I'm hoping to have a nice peaceful time tonight, but Ged is trying to persuade me to come through to Edinburgh for some mammoth drinking session.

My hosts, Andrew & Cathy,

My hosts, Andrew & Cathy, have obviously been doing some work on their internal doors. Not realising this, I managed to lock myself into their lounge earlier this evening before discovering that the internal door handle had been removed. And so I found myself trapped in the room watching a television programme called 'I Love 88', which basically was about 1988. It's was very interesting, but also sad in a way, I realised that when we talk of our formative years, we will only be able to recall classical artists such as Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, and Bill and Ted (who apparently were discovered in McDonalds).

Well, things change all the time... Colin has just called and I'm about to head into town to meet him and go off clubbing, so I have to leave you now...

March 19, 2001

Just got off the last

Just got off the last train back to Glasgow after spending the evening with Ged through in Edinburgh, and I'm writing this from an internet cafe. Now I just have to manage to walk back to Andrew and Cathy's flat without getting mugged...

March 21, 2001

Yesterday, I took the train

Yesterday, I took the train through to Perth again to revisit my dentist, then enjoyed walking around town randomly drooling due to half of my face being anaestitised. In the evening, Andrew, Cathy and I went down to their local, the Ubiquitous Chip, where we met up with Colin and Kevin for some drinks and after that, went off to buy rubber microwave kebabs, so we were obviously not sober people.

March 22, 2001

So far I've spent much

So far I've spent much of last night and most of today trying to install Linux onto my pc in the hope of making it more stable, but have had little success. So I am by now desperate for some caffeine, and am off to Starbucks to be revived. I've also booked a flight down to England for next week to visit Chris before he moves to France for three months to practice his French accent. Whenever he's drinking in foreign bars, he automatically shifts into the local accent. Often though, the natives are not impressed and I have to drag him out before they start beating him up.

March 23, 2001

I've just arrived in Edinburgh

I've just arrived in Edinburgh to meet up with Ged, and it's a horrible, cold, grey day outside. I'm writing this from a huge Easyeverything internet cafe that has 500 online pc's. Last night started off respectably enough, but went downhill fast. I went over to see Colin with some wine, then we went out for 'one' beer. Several bars later we found ourselves in an underground club where ironically the dj insisted on playing Tiffany. Finally I got back to the flat at 0300.

March 26, 2001

Friday night of course turned

Friday night of course turned into a mammoth drinking session with Ged, who then persuaded me to eat my own body weight in McDonalds. I stayed at his house, but woke up after about 2 hours half expecting some form of chicken nugget creature to burst out of my stomach. In the morning I nursed my hangover in an Edinburgh cafe before catching the train back to Glasgow. Scotland were playing Belgium there and so the train was packed with singing, drunken football supporters. Just what you need with a hangover.

On my previous trip through, the ticket inspector had refused to sell me a day return ticket; the same ticket that I'd bought twice that week already on the train. After a long argument, however, he'd relented, but this time I went to the ticket office to buy it. Upon enquiring about this strange event, I was told 'in confidence' that the inspectors are now on commission, and hence, don't want to sell you the cheap tickets when they can sell you an expensive one! Just what we need, mafiosi ticket inspectors.

I met up with Colin on arrival back in Glasgow, and once more he dragged me off to the pub. Feeling a bit fragile from the previous night, I managed to resist his suggestions of going on to a club, and I had a reasonably early night.

Chris and I are hoping to get over to Guernsey this coming weekend after I get down to Bristol where he lives. It would be good to see everyone over there again as I haven't been there for over two years.

Glasgow, Scotland I'm in town

Glasgow, Scotland
I'm in town right now, and just about to meet Andrew and Colin in the Bierhalle. Tomorrow I'm planning to go off skiing in either Glencoe or Glenshee as there's perfect skiing conditions there right now and Cathy is letting me borrow her car for the day. Then on Wednesday, I'm catching the morning flight down to London where I have to take care of a couple of things before heading up to Bristol to see Chris and probably get dragged out partying for the rest of the week. He already seems to be getting quite a reputation at work; as one of his colleagues shared with me the last time I was there, "It's not that Chris is an alcoholic. He just REALLY likes a drink!" Anyway, I better go to the pub now...

March 28, 2001

I've just got back to

I've just got back to Glasgow after spending the day skiing with Colin in Glenshee. The snow was fantastic, but we did have snowstorms almost all day long. It was a few years since we'd both been skiing, but after two runs on the nursery slopes, we decided to head up to the top of one of the highest runs at 1000m. As we got to the summit a blizzard hit and took visibility down to almost nothing, blowing ice into our faces. It was probably one of the coldest times I can remember, and we had difficulty seeing the run, but we made it down and went to the cafe to recover. There we discovered that the run had been closed just after we had got up.

Later in the day I did a spectacular fall on a very steep, icy patch on a red run. I somersaulted down the slope with skis and poles flying everywhere, and landed on my head. I lay there for a second checking if I was dead / paralysed / injured, but soon came to the conclusion that I was reasonably well, and gave Colin, who was looking concerned from further down the slope, the thumbs up. Things carried on like this for much of the day, and I even managed to get a (very) little bit of snowboarding done before they kicked us off the slopes and told us to go home.

Later, we paid a visit to my cottage in Balmerino, which Colin has kindly offered to provide professional services for, and then went onto Dundee. It's always fun to visit Dundee. Usually because it reminds me of how much better everywhere else in the world is, but today was especially good as Colin's sister made us dinner and saved us from ending up in McDonalds. Unfortunately for Colin it was chilli as he had to endure the full wrath of my digestive system in the car back to Glasgow.

I've just packed, and tomorrow morning I have to drag my aching body to catch a flight down to London, then onto Bristol to stay with Chris.

Just arrived in London and

Just arrived in London and I'm writing this from one of the new touchscreen payphones in Victoria Station. Heading into central London for some lunch now and I've just heard there's a tube strike starting in a few hours!

March 31, 2001

Bristol, England After spending the

Bristol, England
After spending the last couple of days here in Bristol, Chris and I are off to Guernsey tomorrow. Which means that I have to get up at 04:30 - is it worth going to bed? According to Mark, who I spoke to today, everyone on the island has been warned about my impending arrival and been advised to make other plans. Quite looking forward to getting over there again, apart from the imminent lack of sleep for tonight.

Apart from that I'm starting to feel not quite so permanently injured from my skiing fall this week; most of the internal bruising seems to be disappearing, and I can walk without being in pain again. I've just got an email from one of the companies that were working on the boat in Florida, saying that they've got some parts in for me and can I come over in the next couple of weeks. Right now it's the last place I want to go though...

April 1, 2001

St Peter Port, Guernsey Just

St Peter Port, Guernsey
Just been out on the cliffs all day climbing with the lads, and managed to get sunburnt! I'm staying on Paul's boat in the QE2 marina in the centre of town.

April 4, 2001

Haven't been updating this much

Haven't been updating this much as I've not been online often in the last few days. I'm writing this from Mark's pc, and enjoying the satisfaction of his adsl connection. It's been fairly good weather since I got here and some people are even going around in shorts. I've been staying between Paul's boat in the marina and Vicky and Dan's flat and much drinking and revelry has been involved. It looks like I'm getting the slow ferry back to the UK tomorrow evening, and this is nothing to look forward to as it takes about 16 hours to do the trip that the normal ferry does in 2-3, as it rolls it's way across to England.

It's been really good to get back to Guernsey, it's just a shame that I have to leave already. It's one place that I really feel happy to get back to, and as you wander around, people seem happy to be living here too. Everyone has been laughing at me for locking the car door after me; it's normal just to leave the keys in the ignition when you park as there is so little crime here. Yesterday a policeman smiled at me - this has never happened before, and customs let me onto the island without the usual strip-search! I really do have to get back here more often.

April 5, 2001

Oh, dear. Had far too

Oh, dear. Had far too many vegetarian drinks with Mark last night and got quite drunk. In fact I am still quite drunk so I am going back to bed. Stayed here, which was probably a good idea as I would have fallen into the marina had I gone back to the boat!

April 8, 2001

Bristol, England Arrived here at

Bristol, England
Arrived here at Chris's flat yesterday after getting the overnight ferry from Guernsey. The forecast was for 45knot winds, but the most we saw was 25knots before it dropped off and turned into a very pleasant Channel crossing. Being far too happy to be back at sea, I didn't go to sleep until about 0300, and we docked at 0630, so I was fairly exhausted by the time I made it up to Bristol, but still we had to go out to the pub!

April 10, 2001

Chris's parents were here over

Chris's parents were here over the weekend and so Chris and I shared the living room sofas while they took his bed. This meant that we ended up talking and laughing until 0400 about 'times we almost died' and other noteworthy events during our travels together. One day I'll get around to putting them up onto the website, but until I do you'll just have to make do with this...

I think Chris woke me up at 0630 this morning to say goodbye, but I'm not sure. He left for Toulouse on his company's executive jet, where he's going to be working for the next 3 months. Later he sent me a text message to say he'd arrived, and so I thought it was about time I got up.

Today I sat down on a park bench to eat my sandwich. It was a club sandwich from Pret a Manger so I was particularly looking forward to it. However, just as I was about to take my first bite a voice next to me said, "Do you know Jesus?". Now, as I've probably said before, freaks and screaming children gravitate towards me, so I shouldn't have been surprised to look over and see a crazed hippie sitting on the bench next to me. He stared at me, at my club sandwich, and he repeated the question. I asked if the person he was looking for lived in Bristol (remembering seeing some strange Portugese guy at the pub at the weekend). At this, he decided to withdraw his offer of salvation to me, and scrawled indecipherably into his notepad. I wanted to ask him if he knew what a bath was, but obviously he didn't so I ate my sandwich and left.

Tomorrow is my last day here in Bristol as I fly back to Denmark on Wednesday from Heathrow. While I've been here in Britain, a couple of friends have mentioned that I seem to be leading a much more 'normal' kind of life compared to the days when I was sailing. I guess they're right, for although I've taken about 24 flights in the last 9 months, I have been travelling in a more orthodox manner and staying in hotels, hostels and houses. So I'm going to make a determined effort to change this now, ok?

April 13, 2001

Copenhagen, Denmark Since writing last,

Copenhagen, Denmark
Since writing last, I've made the decision to do some extended cycle touring in Europe as soon as possible. It feels good to be planning a whole new type of adventure as I've never done anything like this before. So, on Wednesday, after hiking into Bristol centre with my 21kg pack and catching the coach, I spent 4 hours rushing around all the cycle shops I could find in London to get the parts I need for my bike. Then it was off to Heathrow on the tube to catch a flight to Brussels and my connection to Copenhagen. Nina picked me up at the airport there, and it was great to see her again after being away for a month. After dropping my bags off at the flat we collected my bike from her parents garage so that I could sort it up.

Yesterday, however, when I started to clean it up, I discovered that my rear derailleur hanger was bent and the derailleur had somehow got broken. I was not very happy, especially as everything in Denmark is closed for about 5 days over Easter! Apparently shops are going to be open tomorrow for about 3 hours, so I'm going to try to find a cycle shop that can straighten it out, but nothing really happens fast here, so I don't expect it to be easy.

April 15, 2001

Well amazingly enough after getting

Well amazingly enough after getting up early to go off hunting for a cycle shop, I found one that thinks they can fix my bike for Wednesday. Hopefully they will, but I do see a big bill coming my way from them. Then we drove into town for a coffee and I had an argument with a waitress who tried to take my coffee away before I'd finished it and then insisted to me that it was cold. It was a nice welcome back to service in Danish cafs, so if you enjoy rude staff you must go to Cafe Ketchup. Unfortunately, it's still really cold here in Denmark, with frost tonight and the temperature barely climbing to about 5c during the day.

April 17, 2001

Just about everything was closed

Just about everything was closed today as it was Easter Monday. I spent the afternoon servicing Nina's bike then went for a ride out to the forest. I'm trying to go cycling every day to get myself back into shape after my long winter of drinking and doing little exercise. This evening I finally completed the Bahamian webpages on the site with our photos from last year's sailing there and uploaded them. I'm quickly running out of available space on the site I'm using though I've got lots of pictures from my recent trip to Guernsey & the UK that I want to put up.

I did, however, get an email from Mark to say that there's a picture of me on the Guernsey Mountaineering Club website under "Drinking Beer". It was taken on my last night on the island after a heavy drinking session in Mark's house. If you're sure you want to see it click here.

April 19, 2001

After a long walk in

After a long walk in the rain yesterday, I collected my bike from the cycle shop and rode it home, arriving with a big skunk line down my back from the spray. I spent most of last night fitting the panniers and things that I'd bought in Britain last week and transforming it into something huge that I'm not sure I can ride up a hill fully loaded. We shall see.

I'm hoping to leave here shortly after my birthday and cycle south into Germany and towards Belgium and France. I haven't worked out the details yet, and I'm not sure how far I can comfortably cover in a day, but I've found a cycling organisation here that has a lot of information on routes and stocks foreign cycle maps, which should be a big help.

April 20, 2001

Due to the poor geography

Due to the poor geography of many of my chums who check this webpage out, I've decided to implement a new feature called, "Where is Bron?" As I travel I'll update the map on the left with my current position and for more information you can click on it to zoom in or out.

April 21, 2001

Just about to leave here

Just about to leave here to cycle up to Nina's summerhouse assuming that the ferries across there are running. If they aren't I've got a tent with me. It's about 50 miles up there, so I'll come back tomorrow or Monday.

April 22, 2001

Just got back to Nina's

Just got back to Nina's flat a couple of hours ago after spending a lovely weekend cycling to her summerhouse and back. The weather was lovely and I did about 108 miles of cycling over the two days. Last night I did my best to make up for all the exercise by getting pissed to celebrate the distance I'd covered. I woke up to regret it this morning, however, especially with the prospect of the return trip, but after a couple of hours I felt much better.

April 25, 2001

So today is the last

So today is the last day that I'll be twenty-something. Tomorrow is my 30th birthday (gasp) and it's also the day that I'm leaving on my European cycle ride. I plan to cycle south from here to Germany, then head over towards France and see how far I can go without taking any other form of overland transport. I hope to keep this page updated as I travel and publish the pictures on the site when I return.

As has become customary on the eve of a big trip, I spent today running around trying to find the last elusive items and bike parts that I needed. I got back to the flat all ready to start working on my bike and packing, when Nina insisted on taking me to a surprise birthday dinner with her sisters. It was a lovely meal, although all the candles on the cake nearly set off the smoke alarms when I blew them out! So now, I'm stuffed full of food and it's time to start getting the bike ready, so I better go...

April 26, 2001

Well, after packing all morning

Well, after packing all morning Im finally just about ready to leave. Ive cut down the luggage as much as I can, but it still looks like a huge amount piled up on the bike!

April 29, 2001

Dist so far: 117km (73miles)

Dist so far: 117km (73miles)
On day1 we cycled to Kge, and spent the night at the campsite there after having a lovely meal in a 15th Century inn. The following day started after a late breakfast and Nina and I cycled 74km to our second stop here in Vordingborg. We had a day of rest yesterday, and today Nina is returning to Copenhagen while I hope to continue down to my last stop before Germany in Maribo.

May 1, 2001

Dist so far: 319km (199miles)

Dist so far: 319km (199miles)
Lbeck, Germany
After saying goodbye to Nina at Vordingborg station on Sunday, I decided to push on to Germany instead of spending another night in Denmark. It was a lovely day, the land was flat, and I was happy to arrive in Germany just after 8pm. I carried on into Burg, and spent the night in the youth hostel there. Yesterday I covered 98km before finishing up in a town called Travemunde, close to where the old border with East Germany was. It was an old trading port, and I took my last look at the Baltic Sea before I cycled onto Lbeck today. It would normally have been quite exciting to arrive in a big city such as this after cycling through the countryside for days, but as today is May Day, everything is closed here.

May 7, 2001

Wow. Well, this is the

Wow. Well, this is the first time I've got near to an internet connection since I was in Lubeck. I've just arrived in Arnhem in Holland, and I haven't worked it out today, but I guess I've done more than 900km (600miles) so far. I managed to get across Germany, and I crossed into Holland last night. Now, they're about to kick me out of the library, so that's all I've got time for right now!

May 8, 2001

Dist. cycled 940km (587miles) I'm

Dist. cycled 940km (587miles)
I'm writing this from an internet cafe in Amsterdam after deciding to take a break from cycling and have a day trip up here by train. I'm just about to head back to Arnhem where the bike is, and I'm staying again. I was hoping to find some cycling maps today to cover my trip from Holland southwards, but didn't have much luck. After spending over 2 hours searching for the map shop, the staff were unable to help me due to them being stoned!

May 26, 2001

Summer seems to have arrived

Summer seems to have arrived in Copenhagen while I was away. When I left it was grey and cold, but now everyone is wearing shorts and sitting around in the sun drinking Carlsberg. Nina is away for a few days working on her degree project, but I meanwhile have guests. Two guys who I met in the youth hostel in Paris, one of whom lives in Hong Kong, the other in Canada are staying in the apartment over the weekend. The other news this week is that Andrew and Cathy in Glasgow have just had a baby girl, so best wishes to them (photo 1,2).

May 30, 2001

I'm sitting in a cafe

I'm sitting in a cafe in Copenhagen writing this on my Palm as I seem to have worked out how to upload it via my mobile phone. Hopefully this should make it easier to keep things up to date when I'm travelling as I had major problems finding internet access last time. I've been working on the website quite a lot lately. I've uploaded the photos I took in Guernsey but most of the pictures from Scotland were taken on my previous digital camera (an Intel) which gradually lost quality after six months or so (or maybe it's full of beer?) and weren't good enough. I've also migrated the site over to another server so if anyone experiences any problems then email me. There's a brand new video page and due to requests I've started to add links on the left of this page to pics and info on people who may get mentioned. If I haven't got around to adding you yet or you've got a better picture or any other suggestions then email them to me.

June 5, 2001

Why is it that June

Why is it that June always arrives so suddenly? After winter dragging on for so long, June just appears and it's summer. Nina finishes university in a couple of weeks and she's taking a break until February so we're thinking about going off to Asia. June, of course, also means the start of hurricane season in the Carribean so it's not a good idea to go off sailing on the boat, hence, the thoughts of Asia. I've discovered that Aeroflot flights out there are really cheap, but Nina doesn't want to take one as supposedly their planes aren't in such a good state! I think it could be an exciting flight.

I just had a text message from Chris; apparently he's in Hamburg later this week and he's talking about coming up to Copenhagen for the weekend, so we may have guests again.

June 14, 2001

Well, I haven't been updating

Well, I haven't been updating this much over the last week as nothing very exciting has been happening, so there was no point in boring you. The weekend was pretty good as Chris took the train up from Hamburg and I gave him a tour of Copenhagen. No, that's not true, we just went out drinking but he did get to see the famous statue of the mermaid.

It's amazing to think that I've been back in Copenhagen for three weeks, but already I feel the lust of new places pulling me away again. I've spent much of the last week looking into flights and reading travel books as Nina and I plan how to spend her time away from university. We haven't made any concrete decisions yet, but when we do you'll be the first to know.

When we were in South Africa in January we passed a serious looking motorboat on the quay in Cape Town. It had www.ms-starship.com on the superstructure so I wrote it down with the intention of finding out just what it was up to. Tonight I finally got around to their website, and it is very impressive with daily updates of their position and photographs from the day online. One day I want a satellite uplink for Zamindar! Check it out.

Today I paid a visit

Today I paid a visit to the doctor to get one of my jabs for going to Asia and so my ass now hurts. The doctor wasn't too happy to touch my mould covered vaccination book when I handed it over. I blamed it on the Amazon but I think she blamed it on a personal hygiene problem.

The best thing about Scandinavia is that they glue the pages of the newspapers so they don't fall out when you're reading them. Why did no-one else in the world think of that? Danish people do seem to be significantly happier now that it's summer. The streets are full of people drinking beer in the morning sun, and the parks are strewn with semi-naked girls sunbathing. In fact Danes like the sun so much that nearly every flight to Asia is fully booked for the next month, even Aeroflot!

June 19, 2001

Nina finished her university course

Nina finished her university course today and is now officially a bachelor. We now have seven months free before she plans to start her next two year long course. After she finished her exam today we headed to the travel agents to try to finally sort up some tickets. After throwing what must have been about twenty different possible flight routes at them, we seem to have finally decided on flying out to Bangkok. The flight, with Finnair, leaves on Saturday and we plan to return around January from Hong Kong after hopefully travelling overland between them. I spent the weekend trolling through websites for information on possible overland routes, visas, innoculations and so on, and today I bought the Lonely Planet guide to SE Asia to take with us.

This evening we dropped by Nina's parents and told them that we were leaving in a few days. We felt quite guilty doing this, and I feel bad for taking Nina away again for so long, but she has been in Denmark for 10 months now and she needs a break. Tomorrow we hope to get the tickets finalised as well as getting more jabs from the doctor.

June 22, 2001

Yesterday we confirmed the flights

Yesterday we confirmed the flights to Bangkok and bought the tickets. This in itself was not too easy. The travel agents, like most shops in Denmark, don't take Visa, and the ATMs don't allow me to take out enough money to cover the tickets, so I went off to a bank to make a Visa withdrawal. Usually the banks simply make out a Visa slip, call for authorization, and give you the cash. This has worked for me in banks all over the world, including third world countries, but did it work in Denmark? No. I was sent from bank to bank across Copenhagen as they each refused to do it until finally, three hours later, I managed to withdraw the money from a branch in the airport.

Suddenly now, I've lots of things to do and no time to do them in. Today I got hold of the Lonely Planet guide to China and did some other shopping in town, and tomorrow we have to get more immunisations, pack, find a dozen things that don't exist in Denmark, then go to Nina's parents for dinner. Now back to that list...

June 23, 2001

This morning we paid another

This morning we paid another visit to the doctor for yet more immunisations. After Hep A, Hep B and Japanese Encephalitis, I was feeling suitably punctured. It should be interesting going through Thai customs covered in needle marks! We also picked up malaria tablets which cost a whopping sixty-five pounds each (for three weeks cover!).

This evening we had a lovely meal with Nina's family (lots of meat and wine!), then we came back here and did most of our packing (hence the time). I'm taking very little with me, especially considering that it's for such a long time, as I want to be able to travel light, so we shall see how it works out. We still have a few last things to sort out, but we don't have to be at the airport until the afternoon so it shouldn't be too rushed. It feels very strange to be going off for so long with so little, and it's hard to believe that it's suddenly time to go but I guess I'd better get some sleep now...

We're just taking care of

We're just taking care of a few last things before we go to the airport in a couple of hours. I've been trying to call and email people before leaving, but if I haven't managed to get in touch with you, then you will of course still be able to contact me by email or (hopefully) sms while I'm away. If you can avoid sending any pictures or large files to my email address while I'm travelling it would be appreciated as bandwidth could be very limited in many places, but please do keep in touch and I shall reply when I can get a connection. Due to the fact that we're not taking pc's with us, we do not expect to be able to upload pictures while we're away - they'll have to wait until our return to civilisaton! I will be updating this page, of course, to keep everyone in touch with where we are and what we're doing. Now where's my passport...?

June 25, 2001

We arrived in Bangkok yesterday

We arrived in Bangkok yesterday and the trip went smoothly. We had to catch a connecting flight in Helsinki, and so with a few hours to spare, we took the bus into town to try out the local McDonalds (and to see some of the city). We had a quick walk around the centre and as it was midsummer's day it was daylight until vey late. Then we grabbed the bus back to the airport and caught the nine and a half hour flight over to Bangkok.

On arrival, it was about 32c outside, and we headed into town on the airport shuttle and booked into the first hotel we stepped into. It was so nice to put our bags down and have a shower. Then I found a problem. I tried to switch my Palm on and it refused to work. It had been trying to die for the last few months, probably due to the fact that it gets carried everywhere and thrown around a lot. It had basically everything I needed in it - telephone numbers, addresses, notes; none of which I wanted to lose. Finally I managed to reboot it, but lost all of the data! It is of course backed up on my pcs in Denmark, but I won't be able to get to them for a long time. To put it into context, today I feel a bit like I've lost half the information in my brain.

After recovering from this shock, we took a tuk-tuk into the centre of Bangkok. These are like motorbikes converted to carry passengers in the back, and the drivers tear around the roads between all the traffic. We walked into a huge shopping centre that seemed bigger and more advanced than anything we'd been to in the Western hemisphere. It had 8 or 9 levels with a huge central atrium criss-crossed by escalators and walls with video screens. We were starving, so we headed to the restaurant section, which was filled with lots of Asian delicacies we'd never seen before. We were just deciding what to eat when we looked closer and saw cockroaches crawling over the food. We didn't feel quite so hungry after that.

The streets are filled with endless things to look at. We're surprised that much of the city is so advanced. Many of the walkways are built in the air, suspended above the streets and traffic, and above that is the skytrain, a (mono?) rail system that crosses the central area. There are shops everywhere, and it seems that you can find just about anything here.

June 27, 2001

Just a quick note as

Just a quick note as the internet place is about to close. We've just been spending the last few days wandering around Bangkok, looking at a combination of temples and shopping malls and enjoying it all.

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 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!).

August 3, 2001

Singapore has been a big

Singapore has been a big change in our travels. We feel thousands of miles away from the dirty streets and chaos we'd become used to in the rest of SE Asia, and instead we've been soaking in the contemptible luxury of spending time in one of the world's richest countries. The other day we played with an Aibo, Sony's robot dog in one of the shopping malls, and Nina has been enjoying the novelty of having sushi for supper every evening and coming to bed with fish breath.

Singapore is about half the size of Greater London, and has a population of 4 million. It's one of the most efficient and advanced places I've ever been and possesses an unbelievable number of shopping malls, one of which stretches underground across the centre of the city. It tends to grab headlines for its strict laws and high fines for things like littering. Chewing gum is illegal, drug dealers are executed, and Penthouse and Playboy are banned. All of which sounds crazy to anyone from Western society, and I fully expected to be shocked by the level of governmental control when we arrived here, but the surprising thing is that the longer we spend in the city, the more relaxed it feels. When you think about how many people live on this tiny island, you realise that things really do work, crime is very low, and maybe some of the laws are actually doing some good. Thankfully I gave up my gum habit years ago, and I'll just have to wait until we get to another country for my fix of Penthouse.

August 13, 2001

Bintan

Last week Nina & I set off for some Indonesian islands that are quite close to Singapore. We bought our tickets in the ferry terminal then grabbed a couple of lattes in Starbucks before we boarded the boat and stood on deck watching Singapore slip away. We knew that Indonesia would be a big change, but we couldn't really guess what we were about to arrive into. Recently there had been a lot of political tension and violence throughout the country, but with the appointment of a new prime minister the previous week, things now looked as if they were more stable. We were the only foreigners on the ferry, everyone else was either Indonesian or men from Singapore over to drink in the cheap bars. I spoke to some Singaporeans as we approached the island of Batam and they advised me only to get a taxi inside the ferry terminal. Some of the taxi drivers outside had been known to drive people out to the jungle, rob them and leave them there. We made our way through immigration and found a taxi office, however, they wanted 6 times what we'd been told was the normal fare. I tried to haggle with them, but instead they looked at us with derision and ordered us to, "Get out!" We stepped outside into the heat, and although there were only 20 or 30 passengers on the ferry, there was a crowd of about a hundred taxi drivers outside. They pushed and shouted, but when we tried to negotiate a price with them they just laughed between themselves and screamed at us in Indonesian. One of the port officers told us we may have better luck out on the main road, and so we pushed through the crowd with our rucsacks and made our way out of the port. Several of the taxi drivers pursued us, determined not to lose the opportunity of making a week's wages, and more approached us at the main road. The island had no bus services, the port was in the middle of nowhere, and we had to cross the island to get another ferry to Bintan. As we stood by the road, we realised that we were just attracting more attention, and so we agreed to pay only four times the going rate and got into one of the ancient, wrecked taxis. The car was really falling apart & we had to put our bags on the seat as he couldn't manage to get the boot open. As we drove down the road we passed a shanty town of wooden houses, but it just seemed to stretch on and on. Soon we realised that it was normal for people here to live in houses built from garbage as we made our way across the island.. I felt a knot in my stomach as I realised the poverty that people were living in - now I realised why it was the cheapest place in the world to buy a McDonalds! Nina & I looked at each other in shock - even though we'd been travelling around Asia, this was by far the poorest and dirtiest place we'd ever been. The Starbucks we'd been sitting in an hour ago in Singapore now seemed like another planet.

We reached the ferry terminal, bought tickets, and boarded the boat, continuing to be the centre of attention. It was an old, small, high-speed ferry, and we were forced to watch Indonesian karaoke music videos at full volume until the player broke down because of the buffeting of the waves. I dozed off and awoke as we were berthing in Bintan.

As soon as we stepped out onto the jetty, a hotel tout locked onto us and refused to go. Then he waved over two of his friends and they all proceeded to follow us, trying to harrass us into agreeing to go to the hotel they were working for. Once again we were the only non-Asians to get off the ferry and now we began to see why. The town consisted of mainly ramshackle wooden huts with some concrete buildings in the centre of town. Rubbish was piled up in the streets and rats ran across the pavement in front of us. Our self-appointed guides refused to leave us and continued to hassle and follow us all the way through town. Finally, with no other choice, I took one of them aside, told him to read my lips, and instructed him to leave in no uncertain terms. They weren't quite sure how to deal with this, but after shouting at us aggresively, they finally left. We started to check out some of the hotels, but they were either full, or horrifically disgusting. As we walked around the streets everyone stared and shouted at us, and none of it seemed to be friendly. Then another 'guide' found us and decided that we would have a much richer experience if he followed us around and checked the rooms out with us. After being in and out of every hotel in town, we settled for an overpriced, run-down establishment with rubbish piled beneath its stilt supports. But at least it had a bar downstairs.Our 'guide', who had followed us up to the room when we were being shown it, now sat down, and blurted out, "Now I like tip, please." I handed him 1000 rupiah (about an hour's wages for the average Indonesian), and manuevered him out of the door. As I was doing this he began to get aggressive, and act insulted, but there was little he could do by now as he was on the other side of the door, so he angrily stuffed the note into my shirt pocket and stormed off. We closed the door, glad to be inside, and turned the old air-con unit on. Nothing happened. There had been no power in the town all day. Maybe it would work tonight we were told.

In the evening we walked down to the bar. They only had warm beer, but they did give us some ice to put into it. We looked around the bar, and most of the other customers were skinny Indonesian hookers. We drank quite a lot that night, we needed to after the day we'd had, and the alcohol helped me sleep oblivious to the horrors of the room. Nina wasn't too well that night, however, probably due to the ice from the beer, and shared the bathroom with the cockroaches while I was unconscious in bed.

Needless to say, we woke up feeling a bit rough in the morning but dragged ourselves down to the 'breakfast buffet'. It was, unsurprisingly, very disappointing, and consisted of two pieces of toast with a thick yellow oil coating and an egg which I presumed to be boiled but discovered to be raw upon breaking it open. We asked for some more toast and were told, "You give me money, I give you toast." We left breakfast, and saw a large, fat rat run across the floor. Obviously it was getting better fed than us.

Nina suggested we travel around the island in case it improved, but I suggested we travel over to the ferry terminal, get the ferry back to Singapore, and escape from this place as it was the epitome of hell. She agreed, we packed our bags, and left.

August 14, 2001

We've just uploaded some of

We've just uploaded some of our recent photos to here.

August 17, 2001

Tonight we catch the 2010

Tonight we catch the 2010 train out of Singapore and through Malaysia on the 'jungle track'. We arrive in Wakah Bahru at 0915 tomorrow morning and although we were planning to go to the Perhentian Islands in Northern Malaysia, we've since discovered that it's the middle of high season there and accomodation is very scarce, so we'll probably continue onto Thailand instead.

Last night we saw 'Rush Hour 2' at the cinema, and really enjoyed it, but we have recently been watching a lot of Jackie Chan films on tv as part of our 'Asian cultural research', so maybe that had something to do with it. Later we sat by the river under the skyscrapers at Boat Quay, drinking Singapore Slings and enjoying what will probably be our last evening in civilisation for a while.

From this evening our mobile number will revert from the Singaporean number we've been using back to our usual number. Hopefully our roaming service will be working again in Thailand.

August 24, 2001

Perhentian Islands

When we arrived in Malaysia, we met some people who'd just left the Perhentian Islands and they told us that some places did have rooms available there, so we jumped on a boat and were dropped off on a tropical beach where one of the 'resorts' were. It looked terrific from a distance but when we looked around the chalets we saw that most of them were built from sticks and had big holes in the walls and floors. One of them was full of bats hanging from the roof and the kitchen was 'open plan' with squirells and other animals raiding the food! There was no shower, just a well with a bucket. We walked through the forest to look at some of the other places but they were all full, so we carried on until we finally found one with some available rooms. The rooms weren't great, but they were an improvement. Just before we went to bed we found a huge insect that looked just like a leaf, and a scorpion just above the bed and we were woken several times during the night by bats screeching and trying to get in through gaps in the roof. The next day they offered us a better room and we happily took it. It had several large lizards (maybe 30cm long) that lived on the walls but at least they ate most of the insects. The worst thing was that the food they served in the restaurant was very dull and so we walked over to a neighbouring restaurant and had dinner there the next day. When we were returning through the forest it was dark, but thankfully we'd taken torches with us. Suddenly we stopped as we heard a loud rustling noise and we looked at the ground to see what it was. Then we felt it biting. Millions and millions of huge ants were covering the forest floor and attacking us, biting our feet and legs! We tried to run away from them, but just ran into another load, and then another. Finally by the time we got back to our chalet, we'd ran half-way through the forest and were sweating, nervous wrecks.

One of the things that surprised us about the places we stayed in Malaysia was the lack of cleanliness with so many things. Whenever we ordered a drink it would always come with a dirty glass as if people just didn't know how to clean dishes. Needless to say, this hardly gave us confidence when it came to eating the food. On Wednesday, we took the ferry back to the mainland and caught a train at the Thai border. We sat in the buffet carriage and enjoyed some spicy Thai food and marvelled at the clean glasses they gave us.

We've been in a town called Hat Yai for the last couple of days, and we're about to catch a train in an hour to Surat Thani with the intention of getting a ferry from there to an Island called Ko Samui. It's supposed to be very beautiful, but also one of the really big tourist attractions in the country, so we fully expect it to be packed with hippy backpackers. On the other hand, I've been told there's a Starbucks there...

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.

October 1, 2001

We're just about to leave

We're just about to leave to catch our 28 hour long train to Beijing. I don't know how available internet access will be in China but I'll try to update this when I can.

October 12, 2001

Finally I've found internet access

Finally I've found internet access in China! The situation in China has been stable since the US attacks on neighbouring Afghanistan and there don't seem to have been any protests (even in Muslim areas). We're back in Beijing now after spending some days down in X'ian at the Terracotta Army and the nearby mountains, but I'll fill in the details when we get back to Hong Kong in a couple of days.

October 16, 2001

Got back to Hong Kong

Got back to Hong Kong yesterday, and it really feels good to be back in civilisation! We've confirmed our flights and we fly back to London tomorrow evening. As I didn't have a chance to update this while I was travelling in China, here's Part I of our China trip.


Part I

We caught the train from Kowloon Station and watched as Hong Kong's skyscrapers slipped past the windows until the Chinese border. There, things instantly changed. The station was no longer polished and shiny, but old and rusting, and we passed a building site with virtually no machinery, just manual workers. As the train continued into the Chinese countryside, we were shocked to see dozens of people working in each of the fields by hand raking the soil, or groups of men pulling a plough. There was very little machinery - only the luckiest communities seemed to own one old tractor. We went through villages where they were seperating the wheat from the chaff by hand at the side of the road as donkeys pulled carts past. Apart from the incredible poverty, the most striking thing was how many people were around - you rarely saw fields with no-one in them. Most of the rivers and streams that the train crossed looked horribly polluted, with foam and green algae covering the surface.

We arrived in Beijing the following evening and got off the train to find ourselves firmly in the mid-latitudes. It was definitely Autumn, and we'd long left the tropics behind somewhere along the 28 hour train trip. The train had deposited us in Beijing's West railway station, a huge Stallinesque building, full of enormous waiting rooms, long dark corridors, and, apparently 1.3 billion Chinese, most of whom were busy spitting on the floor. We set off to find an ATM, but of course most of the signs were only in Chinese, and no-one spoke any English. Finally, we found a closed bank and tried their ATM, but of course it only accepted Chinese cards. We had Hong Kong dollars, and so I stopped a girl who appeared to be of less Mongolian descent than the others, showed her the money, and tried to ask where I could get it changed. As you can imagine, she totally misunderstood, stared at the money, and looked at me wondering what I wanted her to do for it. In China it only takes one person looking at something to create a crowd, and soon lots of passers-by had gathered around to stare. I now realised that I was standing in the middle of a mass of Chinese as I held out a HK$500 note - an average week's wages, and several of them propositioned me in Mandarin. Obviously, they were not directing me to the bank, so I got out of there as fast as I could. After an hour or so of searching, it soon became apparent that there was nowhere to withdraw or change money in or around the station, so our next idea was to get a taxi to an ATM machine. We took our bags down to the taxi rank, and tried to find one that spoke English. We were lucky. Two large guys who appeared to belong to the Russian mafia had a suspiciously well dressed girl with them who spoke English. They ordered us to, "Get into the car. Let's go!" Nina and I looked at each other, decided that this was not your normal taxi company, and told them we'd leave their kind offer. We found our way to the bus station, figured out which bus went to the centre of town, and got on board. Luckily, two educated looking girls sat down in front of us, they spoke English, and one of them kindly exchanged one of my Hong Kong notes into Yuan. They also told us where to get off to find a bank, and basically, saved us. The bus stopped at Tiananmen Square, and we were awed by its size and the mass of people in it, even at this time. Then we looked into the bus on our other side to see a boy throwing up all over it. We knew then that China was going to be different. We got off at a Bank of China, withdrew some crisp, new currency, and feasted on Big Macs.

October 17, 2001

We're just about to leave

We're just about to leave here and head over to Hong Kong airport. Our flight (BA 28) leaves at 2345 local time and arrives at 0545 UK time, so that means it takes... way too long!

We're in the airport now

We're in the airport now (lots of fast, free internet access around Hong Kong) and I'm pissed off because McDonalds wouldn't take all the coupons I'd saved up here in Hong Kong. So I got revenge by hiding my empty cartons around the store.

October 18, 2001

Our flight arrived this morning,

Our flight arrived this morning, and I'm now staying with Chris in Bristol.

October 24, 2002

Copenhagen Metro

I tried out Copenhagen's new metro today, although one of the coolest things about it is its web address, simply www.m.dk. It actually opened on Saturday, and Nina and I bought tickets and went along, but it just turned out to be a farce. It was badly organised, too many tickets had been sold, and crowds of people were pushing to get in while event security managers (i.e. fat bouncers) held them back. In the end we left the crazed crowd and walked away, giving up on the promise of free coffee and croissants inside.

So today, I returned, determined to see a train. The new underground stations have been designed to be bright and open, and rather than entering from the usual rabbit style hole, the entrance is down escalators through a wide vertical shaft. The stations themselves are very small (60mx20m), with little space to walk around, and with escalators cluttering the platform it can get quite cramped with people waiting. As is often the case in Denmark, it looks good, and more thought seems to have gone into attractive design rather than efficiency. On the platform they had someone shouting at people and organising them into rows like schoolchildren so that passengers were able to get off the incoming trains, and a big bouncer was there to deal with you if you didn't listen. The trip through the clean, new concrete tunnels is terrific though, as the trains are driverless with large windows fore and aft, and it feels more like you're travelling through the Death Star than Copenhagen. It's a shame though, that the chance to put in a smooth, efficient system has been missed, especially compared to metro and monorail systems in Asia, where lines are painted on the floor where you have to queue, and to seperate people entering and exiting, and the stations are long open spaces without obstacles. Most people in Denmark don't understand the 'please stand on the right rule' on escalators, and there are no stairs to run up if you're really in a hurry to get out of the station, so the only way is to take the lift or stand behind people sleeping on slow escalators (1min 5sec to climb 18m). Unfortunately, as is so often the case with these things, no-one asked me for my opinion when they were designing it.

October 30, 2002

The Neon Fountain

Copenhagen has so much beautiful architecture, though personally I think it would be nice if more of it was floodlit at night. I was, however, a little surprised to see that someone aesthetically challenged has decided that it would be a good idea to cover one of the oldest fountains in town with neon lights. They've also added neon shapes to one of the buildings facing it to ensure that now, when it gets dark, H�jbro Plads looks like a strip club.

December 1, 2002

World AIDS Day

HIV total tops 40 million
Photojournalism piece on AIDS in Africa
Bush administration blocks sex education
AIDS figures - World at a glance

December 15, 2002

Art... Allegedly

Back in October I complained about the 'Neon Fountain' that had appeared in Copenhagen, and I seem to recall saying that it belonged in a strip club. Well, unknown to myself and I assume most of the population of Copenhagen, there's been a festival of illumination going on here for the last few months, which the neon fountain is part of. It's been created by a Belgian called Danny Matthys and apparently he's quite proud of it as he says, "the neon light is, therefore, both symbolically as well as materially expressing the transient and dynamic zone of the site." Eh, yeah.

September 22, 2003

Peter Crighton

Congratulations to Andrew and Catherine on their new addition to the family, Peter, who was born yesterday!

August 12, 2005

Airport Security

Here's a great short video from passport control (Windows media 1.2MB).
Thanks, Simon!
passportcontrol.jpg

November 16, 2005

Sony Bravia Advert

bravia_gallery_03.jpgHere's a site about the making of the Sony Bravia ad by Danish director Nicolai Fuglsi, in which 250,000 bouncy balls really were dropped down a San Francisco street. I heard about the making of the advert in the summer but it wasn't until I first saw it some weeks ago that I was so impressed. The natural flowing movement of the balls, their colours, and the chilled soundtrack, make the ad deeply hypnotic for me to watch.

December 4, 2005

Dog Oven

dog cookerWith worrying echoes of the woman who tried to dry her dog in the microwave, South Korean company Daun Eng have launched this infra-red pet drying oven. Notice how the dog appears to look a bit burned at the edges. Apparently, a smaller home version is also available - if you can manage to persuade your dog to get into it.