Around the world in 8 months- well, thats the plan!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Back on the Road!

Well, after 2 weeks of (for the most part) boredom in Bolton, i loaded up the rucksack and headed to Manchester airport for 3 weeks in Eastern Europe. 3 hours of delays later i arrive in Budapest.

The city is pretty nice so far, with a thriving cafe culture, so not taking things to hard at the moment. Beeen up to the Castle already and tomorrow plan to visit the main square before heading Austria way in the next few days. Not moving around as much this time so more time to enjoy the Beers of the region!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

China (the return)

After Tokyo headed back to the largest building site in the world and jumped straight on to the Maglev to whisk me back to Pudong. Slightly dissappointed as it only went up to 300kms/hour rather than the advertised 450 (made worse by the fact that Charlie's went that speed) but still a very impressive ride.

Few days in Shanghai were spent not doing much but i did manage to fit in a trip to the circus. Was pretty impressive (especially when compared to the Chinese State Circus of York last year) and even featured a guy doing football tricks with a huge ceramic bowl (probably a be there thing). Wasn't particularly active in Beijing either (my Bro has a DVD player, so that kind of got in the way of visiting the city), but after 7 1/2 months on the road, i reckon i can be forgiven!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Nearly done in Japan

Now in Tokyo after having completed my worldwind tour if the land of the rising sun. I visited one of the 3 best gardens in Japan, saw numerous temples in Kyoto, visited the museum of Hiroshima and tried (unsuccessfully due to the weather) to get a close up look at Mount Fuji. All i have left know to see is Tokyo and then its back to China and then in 13 days i will be back in the Boltown.

Last night i attempted a japanese style night out. One of the girls suggested we go and see Paul van Dyke at a club (i was quite excited when i though it was the guy out Diagnosis Murder), so off we went (via 20 minute bus journey) to a Tokyo super club. Unfortunately, the rest of Tokyo had also decided to come along, and the queue was absolutely huge, and the entrance fee not much smaller. 3 of us decided not to bother, and headed back to Shibuya. Only problem was that the last metro left about two hours before, so there was only one option open to us - KARAOKE. My particular favourites were the Kaiser Chiefs, Lily Allen and The View, but rest assured i'm leaving my new hobby over hear in Japan. 5 am the trains started to roll again, so it was back to the hostel for a few hours R&R before some more site seeing.

Think the most remarkable thing about Japan has been the friendliness of the people. One of them took time off work to take me out to see a Ninja house (which was as ace as it sounds) and during my visit to the eye doctor they translated everything for me and ended up only charging me 4 quid for a check up and some eye drops. Origato Ozimas!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

BIG in Japan

Shanghai is a distant memory now, as i sit in my Japanese temple lodgings in Japan. Have had a couple of nights in Toyko (including a visit to the 'Lost in Translation' Starbucks) and visited the temples slightly north of the city. Am now in Takayama which is a really old, pretty town in the hills.

Last night was an experience - the Japanese Capsule Hotel. Given they're designed primarily for businessmen who are stuck in the town for the night, i expected shoddy surroundings and grumpy staff- not so. The reception resembled a 5 star hotel, the staff polite (not in English unfortunately), it contained a Jacuzzi and Sauna, provided free disposable razors, hair gel, skin milk, hairdryers. More so, a communal area with TVs and lounging chairs, a library and a restaurant. My first stop was the communal bathing area - its quite an experience being surrounded by ten naked middle aged Japanese men, but hey, when in Japan! My capsule was even fitted with a TV, so i found myself and English film, purchased a couple of Asahi's and had an early night to savour my surroundings!

The Joys of China

Safely arrived in Xiamen after the journey from Bangkok. Air Asia were pretty good, but was quickly reminded of how things work (or don`t work) in China.

Firstly, i turned up to the hostel who didn't have my reservation and then the helpful receptionist could tell me there was no travel agent nearby but couldn't tell me where there was one. Off i went in search of dinner, and found a very nice Chinese girl who looked up both train and 'plane timetables for me. She found me the cheapest company but, the site would not accept UK bank cards. This meant that she (very very kindly) had to get her credit card (she was successful using the 4th one she tried) and one hour later i had successfully booked a ticket. Only problem was that i had to pay her the money - a simple task involving trying about 8 different cash machines and a 2 hour walk. Ah, the joys of China, the Olympics should be good fun!

Friday, May 11, 2007

One more to go

Its my last day here on the Khao San Road, take my flight up to Xiamen in a couple of hours. Most of my time here has been spent in the Air Con malls of Siam (or the Chinese embassy), but i did also have a chance to meet up with Dave. We had an interesting (and very short) taxi journey, including a brothel brochure and a driver offering to take me there. Also spent a while in a Tesco branch of Bangkok so altogether not that different to being back home.

My plan is to get in and out of China as soon as possible and into Japan so that i avoid the rainy season. After that i plan to spend a few days in Shanghai and Beijing and then its back to sunny Bolton for a couple of weeks!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A little taste of China

Back in Bangkok for the 4th time in my life, staying at the good old New Siam Guesthouse. Having got that much to do here really, the main reason i'm here is to sort out the Chinese visa.

Bright and early this morning i set off to my epic journey to the Consulate. Located the address (which isn't on the website) and find the underground station on that street, Got the river taxi, then the Skytrain, followed my a little walk and then the underground. Accidently got off at the wrong station but found my way to the correct place eventually. For some reason, i didn't think there would be too many Thais wishing to visit China - boy was i wrong. The Visa section resembled a rugby scrumb and the first thing i had to do was get myself a ticket - not too easy with 100 others trying to do the same thing. Didd't help that the machine was working so you had to fan it down with a piece of paper before it would give you one!

Eventually i recieved ticket number 184, and i looked up to see the number 247 above the booths. No problem i thought, it will go to 200 and then back down to 0. Oh no, i had to wait until 500 before it went back to the start (took even longer as tour agencies process 100s of passports in one go). Eventually it got round to number 80, and the Swedish guys who got tickets after me were in a queue. I asked what they were doing and they said if if was only 1 passport you could use this queue (with no one in it and absoluetly no sign above it). 35 seconds late the application was in and i was on my way - if only i'd been told of the express queue 1.5hrs earlier, i would have been a happy man! The best thing about it - i get to go back again tomorrow to (hopefully) pick up my Passport compelete with Visa!

The Islands

The trip up from K.L was pretty painless - ended up staying in town centre of Phuket which is much cheaper and less touristy. Made it out to Patong beach, which does a nice little impression of Tenerife (altought i've never been, but you take my point) with the addition of numerous lady boys shouting 'Massage Massage'. Managed to find a quieter beach which was good for just sitting down and having a few beers on.

Also vistited Phi Phi island which is really nice, scenery a bit like Halong Bay up in 'Nam, and very, very touristy. Was going to take a boat trip around the islands but the agency said i was the only one who wanted to do it so they couldn't take me, so i sat on the beach instead. The sun was bloody hot - despite wearing sun factor 25 and sitting under a parasol, still managed to get burnt. Particularly effected were my shoulders, so it was fun carrying the rucksack on Monday!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The date is set....

Been in the Cameron Highlands for three days now and seen.....bugger all. Caught a cold in the rainforest and as a consequence haven't done much. It has given me time to plan the rest of my trip and sort out how i'm going to get places.

Turns out that the overland route to Thailand wasn't all that safe 'There are almost daily bombings and shooting attacks.... ' so decided to head back to K.L to get a flight up to Phuket. Got about a week there before head to Bangkok to sort of Chinese visas (might be a bit tricky, but once i tell them i'm friends with Mr Markillie of Tydd St Mary sure it won't be a problem). After that i fly to Xiamen and have to find someway to get to Shanghai, then its overland to Beijing before, hopefully, the land of the rising sun for a couple of weeks. Have now changed my return date to 11th June - although that can (and probably will) change - which should give me enough time to try and remember some law!