31st January – Day Five

Song of the day – My Girls by Animal Collective

Ayup.
The early bird does not catch the worm. The early bird catches the overcrowded 8am public bus from Kanchanaburi. Then, face pressed against the glass, the early bird watches as all of the ultra-modern, air-conditoned tourbuses race past you on the motorway as your bus trundles along at 30km on the hard shoulder. Question: “How many people can you get on a rickety old Thai bus?” Answer: “I don’t know, I couldn’t count because I had somebody’s arse in my face.”


No matter – It cost us the eqivalent of a quid each, instead of twenty odd quid each for an unnecesary tour. We arrived at Erawan National Park at about half nine and after unfolding ourselves from the contorted positions we had occupied on the journey, we set off into the woods. The park is a huge expanse of forested slopes – I’m not sure if it technically counts as jungle but the flora and fauna that occupy it suggest that it is. Those amazing creepers we noticed yeterday are here in force, dangling over the path whilst thickets of bamboo line either side of it.  Tree branches seem to grow in consciously weird shapes, as if they’re all competing to be the most photogenic plant lining the route. After a steady climb we came to the first of the seven waterfalls that make up the Erawan Falls. They’re not particularly large or powerful, rather it’s the natural beauty of the place that pulls in the tourists. We were pleasantly surprised at how thinly-spread the crowds were, probably because we arrived relatively early in spite of the slow journey.

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Not wanting to stand on ceremony, we chucked ouselves into the first pool that we found. It was stunning – a crisp, cool pool in this shangri-la of a setting. There were thousands of friendly fish who began to nibble, and then chomp on our toes. It’s supposed to be good for getting rid of dead skin and you can pay through the nose to have this done in most upmarket shopping centres around the world – or you can have it done for free at Erawan. It’s a peculiar, tickly sensation, especially because you can’t see what creatures are nibbling at your feet and you have to take it on good faith that it’s fish that are nipping at your toes and not some giant mutant crab from the deep. The Buddhist in me was frightened to tread on any of the fish feasting on the soles of my feet as I waded out to deeper waters.

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Fish food

 

We swam around for about an hour, enjoying the novelty of being able to swim under and behind the waterfall.  We sat and watched from behind it’s cascades as little Thai kids enjoyed the game of floating under it in their rubber rings and capsizing under the force of the water.  We then walked a couple of miles up the hill to see some of the other waterfalls. I was dissapointed not to spot any of the monkeys that had been promised by numerous signs instructing us not to feed them – but I’m sure by the end of this trip we’ll have seen our fair share of these mischievous ne’er do wells.

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Shangri-la

We returned nice and early to get the bus on the way back and were rewarded with a seat by the window. How the bloke managed to get the bus up some of the steep hills out of the park with fifty-odd people on board I will never know. I was listening to him grind through the gears as we attacked the hill and when he got down to first I started wondering where he was going to go from there – we could easily have got out and walked at some points.
Upon returning to Kanchanaburi we got a “songthaew” (basically a pick-up truck with a cage on the back that toursits sit in) to the bridge on the river Kwai. I’ll tell you something funny about the bridge – well, two things actually. The first is that you should never ever pronounce it “Kwy” in front of a Thai. That pronunciation of the word means “buffalo” and is an extremely offensive word in the Thai language, so you’re likely to get a slap for your troubles.  The word is pronounced “Kware” as in square, if you want to avoid upsetting people. The second fact is that the “Kwai” river has only been named the Kwai since after the film came out. Apparently Pierre Boule – the bloke that wrote the book – had never been to the area where he based his book, looked at a map, and assumed that the legendary bridge was on the river Kwai. Little did he know that the bridge actually ran over a completely different river.  In the sixties the ever-accomodating Thais decided to rename the whole river the Kwai, because they got fed up of explaining to millions of tourists that the place they were asking to go to wasn’t actually called what they thought it was.
It’s a very strange thing when something so beautiful has been wrought from such pain and suffering. The Bridge over the Kwai is part of a long stretch of railroad called the Siam-Burma railway, that was built by POWS and slave labourers on the orders of the Japanese army in World War Two. It was built to bring Japanese troops and ammunition to the front line where they were fighting the allies in Burma. Over 100,000 people died during it’s construction. This statistic in itself is shocking enough, but you only need to stand in the scorching heat for five minutes, staring at the huge concrete and steel construction which spans a considerable length of water, to appreciate how horrendous it must have been.  Malnutrition, heat exhaustion and terrible cruelty were responsible for this human tragedy, and vast graveyards scattered around the town are filled with the souls who perished here.  Like I said, people of many nations died here, but it hit me hard to think of the lads from British towns and cities. Conscripted into the army, expected to fight an invisible foe in the jungle, and just when they thought the war was over for them they were provided with a fate far worse than fighting – far worse even than death. Perhaps it’s because Hollie and me have made the journey here for such contrasting reasons, but I can’t help thinking that for these men and boys it must have felt like such a long, long way from home.

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The Bridge on the River Kwai

We crossed the bridge on foot, walking along the tracks with the crowds. A little Thai girl was playing a badly tuned guitar and singing sweetly in front of a cardboard box with “For education” on it.  I was really tempted to take her picture and give her a few baht but we’ve read about how often a parent or even “exploiter” will get kids to go and look cute for some money, then take it all off them for motives that don’t relate at all to the child’s wellbeing. Across the far side of the river there was a huge Chinese temple occupying a large section of the bank. The bright colours and intricacy of the various statues outside drew us in, and we spent a good half hour walking around the grounds in amazement.

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The birds in the trees, trickling from various water features and general vibe of the place was incredibly harmonious. It was clearly Chinese-influenced in design and much of the wall hangings were written in Chinese rather than Thai. Inside the temple itself a huge statue of a laughing Buddha shed golden tears of joy in front of three scrawnier, more pensive buddhas, who clearly hadn’t achieved enlightenment yet. It was curious to note how fresh and new everything looked, and the sound of builders at work and sight of scaffolding confirmed that this temple was still a work in progress. It puzzled me that such massive investment had gone into a temple – I certainly couldn’t imagine a new church being built in Britain to the same grandiose specifications – it must have cost a bomb.

Then as we walked round a corner we saw a large marble wall with the portraits of various smartly-dressed Chinese men and women mounted on it.  Alongside this was a list of names, each with a different numerical value next to them.  At first we assumed it was some kind of memorial to the dead, but on closer inspection the photographs were very modern-looking and the numbers next to the names were not dates. The values next to each name got higher from right to left, and then it struck me what this must be – an honours board for people who had donated money to this recently-built temple. The biggest donor had invested something like 14 million, and there must have been a few hundred names on the wall, with the last few each having “10,000” next to their name. Now, I don’t mean to be cynical – I’m fascinated by Buddhism and feel that it’s an incredibly wholesome religion – but surely the whole basis of Buddhist teaching is to do with letting go of attachments to the material world! If I’m correct and that’s what this whole thing was about, it seems a pity – especially having spent so much time, energy and money on having built something for the good of your fellow man.
Tonight we ate in the same Thai restaurant as last night. It turns out that the restaurant is called “Rung Rueng” and what we had last night was the special of the same name. Hollie loved it so much that she had the same thing but I opted for a traditional Thai green curry, which didn’t dissapoint. Everything I bit into tasted like it had just been picked from the allotment. Washed down with the obligatory Chang, we toasted the best day on the trip so far and the fact that we’re beginning to get into the travelling zone. Tomorrow we will leave Kanchanaburi with a heavy heart but safe in the knowledge that Ayyuthaya is going to be just as incredible.

Have a good day, whatever you’re up to, and thanks for reading!

x

 

30th January – Day 4

Song of the Day – 12:51 by The Strokes
Why? Whenever I look at a clock and the time says 12:51 it reminds me of this song

Ayup.
Last night ended at around twenty to twelve when I went to sleep, and today began at about half three in the morning when I woke up. I have no idea what I’ve done to my body clock but I need to sort it out quickly before I become a creature of the night. Hollie was woken up by my tossing and turning and so we decided to put the telly on for half an hour. I happened to know that the Rams were playing United in the cup, and that the game started at around three in the morning Thai time, but in my wildest dreams I couldn’t have expected to stick the telly on and find the match! We were drawing 1-1 at the time, and I managed to catch the whole of the second half, which we lost 3-1. Don’t blame me – I’m 5000 miles away, and I don’t believe in all that superstitious nonsense. Despite the result it was a cracking start to the day for me, not so much for Hollie. The trouble was I couldn’t sleep at all after that – for seven hours. It must have been the football hooligan within me that kept me up. I just sat there admiring Hollie’s ability to sleep through pretty much anything as she slept until 10am, at which time I could finally start making noise again without feeling guilty.
The one objective we had for the day was to get the hell out of Bangkok. You’re probably reading this and thinking “lightweights”, but trust me, anyone that can hack more than 48 hours in this bastion of lunacy has my respect. There were plenty of amazing sights that we have missed and might not be able to pull in to our itinerary now, but at this stage I don’t care, because we’re away from the madness. We took a taxi from Sukhumvit district where we’d stayed the night, taking about an hour to reach the south bus terminal. Not that I’m qualified to make such sweeping generalisations, but I’d say that the best way to see Bangkok is in the back of a taxi. If you can ignore the constant near-collisions and your driver’s disregard for the law, it’s possible to witness the buzzing everyday lives of the people who live there without having to fight off tuk-tuk drivers and other scam merchants. Our journey took us over fly-overs from which you could see large chunks of the city – skyscrapers camouflaged by smog, crumbling tenaments backing onto filthy canals where people eek out an existence in any way they can, and streets full of people of every creed and colour commuting to impossibly remote corners of the city. It would be impossible to hate somewhere so full of life, and I do feel a bit “lightweight” for not enjoying our first port of call enough.  I don’t know if we can blame the jetlag, but right now I feel that Bangkok has taken more out of us than we have taken out of it.
The bus from Bangkok to Kanchananburi was hot. I let Hollie have the window seat because I always get the window seat when we fly (this way I can look out and check that the aircraft is not about to crash, which I find reassuring). This small luxury was immediately taken away from her when the conductress came onboard and shut all the curtains in the bus to try and keep the heat out. Our bus driver clearly had a cold, and for much of the journey it seemed that he had no hanky because he kept snorting and wiping his nose with the back of his hand, so much so that I feared that he may lose grip on the steering wheel for all the snot in his hand. Then, as we arrived near our destination he pulled a hanky out and and started wiping his face furiously with it whilst doing 80kmh on the motorway. I gripped my arm rest a little harder.
We decided to walk from the bus terminal to the hostel in spite of the scorching heat. We made our way along dusty, wonky, pavements, weaving in and out of the various stalls that occupy them during daylight hours. Whilst still bustling and vibrant, there is already a more laid-back atmosphere here in comparison to the capital city 50km away. We walked past beautiful temple complexes, glistening in their gold and red liveries with various scupltures of dragons and Buddhas eyeing you up as you make your way past. Unidentifiable species of stray dog limp around the streets here, scavenging food from where they can and scratching at fleas as you pass them at a wide berth. We walked past a proper Asian market – not one set up for the benefit of tourists – where every vegetable imaginable and many that you can’t were being sold for a song. Finally as we approached the street that our hostel was on we came upon a huge cemetery, one of many around the town containing the remains of the POWs and Thai slave labourers who perished whilst constructing the Death Railway – a sombre reminder of the cruel past that is associated with this area.
The Thai Backpacker hostel is a paradise. Set back from the main streets, it seems to be a family-run enterprise with the son of the family handling the business side of things, whilst his Mother looks on and smiles warmly at us each time we pass her on the veranda. We have a balcony out front and back and the sacred combo of air-conditioning and wi-fi that are a prerequisite for any guesthouse aiming for the custom of westerners. From both balconies you can see the arid mountains that surround the far side of the town, and all kinds of flora and fauna are rustling and scraping and squawking in the gardens around the house. We saw nine lizards on the wall of the hostel and heard the chirping of a chicada in the bushes. Creepers like the ones in Vietnam war movies hang from the trees and remind you of the fact that this whole town was probably once part of the jungle, like everywhere else round here.
In the evening we ate the best meal we’ve had in Thailand so far. I think it was called “Rung Reung”. It was like a really mild curry of chicken, coriander and shallots in a honey, ginger and lime mixture. The freshness of the ingredients is striking and it makes you realise that the things we have flown in for the supermarkets in Britain are so bland in comparison to freshly-picked ingredients.

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Delicious. And just over 100 baht each

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The culinary adventuring continues – I reckon this flavour could catch on!

What a difference a day makes – I can already feel the stress of Bangkok melting away and we’re looking forward to visiting the Erawan falls and the Bridge on the River Kwai tomorrow.

Have a happy Saturday.

Tommy and Hollie x

 

29th January – Day 3

29th January – Day 3

Song of the Day – I’m So Tired by The Beatles
“I’m So Tired, I haven’t slept a wink/ I’m So Tired, my mind is on the blink!”

What city is it that’s called “The City That Never Sleeps”? If it isn’t Bangkok then it should certainly be in the running to pinch that title. We finally went to bed at about 2am. I set my alarm for 11am assuming that in the jet-lagged state we were in we’d sleep right through. Bangkok had other ideas. The revelry of Khao San road continued until around 3am, with various Thai ska bands competing with karaoke singers and beatboxers to decide who can make the most musically incompetent racket. Then someone outside started clanking metal around – we assume that he was taking down the scaffolding poles that hold up the covered street stalls that line every pavement. After this cacophany had stopped I finally managed to get some shut-eye, until around half six when I awoke to the same metallic din as earlier – somebody putting out the market stalls again. I was tempted to go down there and say “Just leave them up mate!” I mean, take them down for three hours – what’s the point!? They’re there all day every day anyway! As soon as the clanking had stopped the rush hour traffic began and it was clear that we were going to have to wait to catch up on sleep. A complimentary breakfast of toast and coffee with condensed milk in it went down very nicely, but it wasn’t enough for my ridiculous appetite. Hollie sat and watched me wolf down a bowl of granola with fresh mango and banana on top before we went upstairs to pack and check out.

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I would eat almost anything. But an unrefridgerated seafood stick sandwich? No way.

It was about eleven when we left the hostel, leaving our bags in the front room for the owner to keep his eye on until we were ready to come back and get a taxi to tonight’s hostel. As soon as we started walking towards the Grand Palace it became apparent that someone had turned the thermostat up on yesterday. The heat was intense and the clouds of the previous day had lifted to expose us to the direct sunlight. I’m no weatherman but if it was below 30 degrees I’d be surprised. We soldiered on along a long green strip of park before reaching the Grand Palace. The huge complex belonging to the royal family of Thailand is a sight to behold even from a distance – which was lucky, because that was the best view we got of it. After fighting our way past the usual tuk-tuk conmen we joined a pulsating group of tourists who were filtering in through a gate in the main wall.

It was like being a penguin waddling along with the rest of the flock, squashed in against each other, only in sweltering heat. The inevitable German with a lack of personal space awareness was out in force, helping the queue along by shoving everyone in the back. We queued for about half an hour, finally entering a building in which we thought we were going to pay to get in the Palace itself. It turned out that the function of the place was to provide clothes to tourists who are to scantily clad to be allowed into the Royal Palace. Hollie, the wild one that she is, was exposing her bare shoulders to the world so she was given a very fetching shirt to wear to cover up her flesh.

At this point we both acknowledged that fainting was a real possibility because we were so tired and hot – this jetlag is going to take a few days to wear off and although it pains me to say it I think we need to get out of Bangkok and chill somewhere for a while before we can really get into our travelling swagger. Having queued for half an hour and having the prospect of having to do this again for at least the same amount of time, we decided to clear off and pick our bags up to move on to the next hostel. I took some photos of the palace from the best angle I could get then we collected our bags and took a taxi to the new digs. What had been noticable about the Royal Palace was the abundance of soldiers everywhere – a reminder that the country is currently under military rule. As we zoomed to the new hostel in the taxi we passed a huge statue known as the “Democracy Monument”.

The new hostel is very swanky for the price. For about 22 quid we’ve got air con, a private en suite and should we require it, a minibar. We got in and crashed out for about five hours before going for dinner. We were both feeling a bit dodgy so we opted not to have Thai. But being the culinary adventurers that we are we couldn’t just settle for a sarnie. Hollie’s impeccable research skills located us a tapas cafe across the road where we had a variety of dishes, wine and dessert for about twenty-five quid between us – comparatively expensive for round these parts but so worth it for the quality of the food, and besides we’d saved ourselves a tenner each by not going into the sweaty squeezebox that would have been the Grand Palace.

After eating we’ve come straight back to the hostel for more sleep. Tomorrow we head out for Kanchanaburi, a town west of Bangkok which is famed for it’s Death Railway and Bridge on the River Kwai, which was built in the second world war in dreadful conditions by prisoners of war and slave labourers for the Japanese army. We’re both looking forward to getting out of Bangkok. As exciting and different as it is, it’s also a frustrating place where getting from A to B is fraught with difficulty. I don’t yet feel like a “traveller” – more like one of many wide-eyed tourists who are fair game to the thousands of Bangkokians who make a living out of exploiting our lack of knowledge about the place. We’ve barely scratched the surface of the landmarks that Bangkok has to offer but currently getting some rest is the main priority, which is just not possible here. We will be returning here to fly to India in a few month’s time so hopefully we’ll be in better shape to do some sightseeing.

Right. Bedtime. Goodnight!

X

28th January – Day 2

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Flying in over the paddy fields that stretch for miles between Bangkok and the sea

Song of the day – Waterfall by the Stone Roses

Why? I stuck it on my ipod as we flew in over paddy fields as the sun was coming up, and it was one of those feel-good moments like something out of a movie

Ayup.
Greetings from Bangkok, or Sa-wa-dee-ka as we say round these parts. The last twenty-four hours are a bit of a blur to be honest – I’m sat back in our room with Hollie trying to remember everything that’s occurred. Because of the fact that we left the UK at nine in the morning and arrived here in Bangkok at six in the morning Thai time, the last thirty-six hours feel like one looong day punctuated only by the odd half hour catnap on the plane. We had a two-hour wait at Cologne-Bonn before we piled on to the Eurowings flight. I dropped 6mg of diazepam before we got onboard, more to try and help me to sleep on the flight – we both had a vague plan of getting a few hours kip so that we could hit the ground running in Thailand, but sleeping in an aeroplane seat for any length of time is easier said than done.
The flight to Bangkok, it has to be said, was amazing. Built into the back of each seat was a tablet which has games, movies and TV series to watch along with an interative map of the flight route, all of which kept us entertained more or less for the duration of the flight. We left at 14:10, chasing the sun eastwards until it finally set on us when we were flying over the Carpathians. As if it knew we were coming, it rose again to welcome us as we flew in over the Andaman Sea. As we began the final approach the view from the window was that of a patchwork of flooded paddy fields shimmering in the morning light. Before we hit the tarmac we spotted the odd stilted house hovering over the rice fields, and the glinting golden rooves of pagodas.
The skytrain that takes you from the airport to the city is clean and orderly, and lulls first-time visitors into a false sense of security that quickly evaporates as you disembark at Makkasan station and witness the absolute madness of Bangkok rush hour. Scooters and tuc-tucs weave in and out of taxi cars, lorries carrying unidentifiable vegetables and tatty buses that look like they’ve been fished out the bottom of a river and sent straight back into service. We stood there gawping as traffic cops frantically waved red flags at the oncoming traffic, which continued to plough on over a level crossing even as the approaching train was about to come thundering across.

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We were looking for Bus number 556 to take us to Khao san road, but having wandered around the block looking for signs of a bus stop, we were so sleep-deprived and disorientated that we chose to flag down a taxi. As advised by countless travellers we made the bloke put the meter on before we got in, and after satisfying ourselves he wasn’t in any way dodgy we stuffed ourselves into the back seats, rucksacks and all, and became part of the 2 million or so vehicles that pollute Bangkok every morning.
Getting from A to B here is always eventful. You can be stood in a traffic jam for ten minutes and then suddenly be charging along, weaving in and out of lanes and taking shortcuts down backstreets that don’t look like they’d accomodate a motorbike, let alone a car. The journey to Khao San took about half an hour but the amount of wierd sights we saw made it feel like we’d been on a daytrip to the zoo. Mopeds were constantly squeezing themselves between our taxi and the vehicle next to us whilst travelling at 80kmh. Women with armfuls of carrier bags containing freshly cooked noodles try to thrust their produce in through the open window at you, and every street corner has some kind of stove set up where tiny little Thai women cook a variety of treats. This absolute adventure of a journey cost us 120 baht – about two quid. I reckon the same journey in London would have set us back at least thirty.
We arrived on the Khao San road around 09:30. We went to the hostel and chucked our bags in but we weren’t allowed to check in until 14:00. Instead we took a tuc tuc to a few temples. We paid the driver – a bloke called Ling with a warm smile which quickly faded when it came to discussing the fare. We paid him 100 baht to take us on a whistlestop tour of some random temples. Unfortunately the tour was so whistlestop that we had no idea what anything was. He just kept screeching up at the kerb, uhering us out and saying “I wait here, you back in fifteen minute!” We visited two temples – both of which were beautiful and unlike anything I’d ever seen before. The smell of incense was everywhere and to see the devotion of some people to their religion was pretty remarkable – people flattening themselves in front of golden effigies of the Buddha and reciting prayers whilst carrying joss sticks around. At each temple there was about ten minutes of serenity before we piled back into the tuc tuc and got motored off somewhere else. Apart from the smell of cheap gasoline, riding a tuc tuc is pretty exhilerating. The breeze is quite refreshing and there is a cool kind of novelty to being driven around in such crazy circumstances, but I wouldn’t drive here for all the Chang in Thailand.
Speaking of Chang – that’s what we did next. Sat in a bar just off the Khao San road I had a couple of chang lagers and some pad thai, both of which were stunning – I think we will like it here. When 2pm rolled round we were thankful to get a few hours kip at the hostel, before returning to the Khao San Road.
Khao San means “Uncooked rice” in Thai, and for decades it’s been a haven for farang (Thai for foriegners) who are either starting out or finishing up their backpacking journeys round South-East Asia. In his book The Beach Alexander Garland describes the Khao San road as “A decompression chamber for those about to leave or enter Thailand, a halfway house between East and West.” I think that’s a pretty good summary. It’s like a slightly more exotic and seedy Benidorm. I can imagine if I was local thinking the place was a complete hole, but having never experienced anything like it before we found it to be an amazing place. You walk down the street and somebody will thrust a trayful of fried scorpions in your face. You’ll swerve out their way and nearly trip over a double-amputee beggar with an empty Mcdonalds cup held aloft at you. There are blokes selling glowsticks and wallets and t-shirts and little images of the Buddha (which is apparently illegal). Tourists lounge lazily in deckchairs as Thai women massage their shoulders and feet, and above all of this cacophany of noise and chaos the constant question of “You want tuc tuc my fren?” drills itself into your brain until you end up letting go of your natural English politeness and elbowing past people who clearly see you as a walking Baht sign. We sat in at a cafe and had pad thai and deep-fried crabcakes washed down with fresh coconut water – a coconut with the top knocked off and a straw stuck in it. It was another amazing meal and I managed to shove the majority of it in my gob using chopsticks before I had to scoop up the last bits with a fork whilst no-one was looking.
After wandering the streets a bit more and tiring of stepping out the way of mopeds and pissed-up Brits abroad we went back to the hostel, where we are now about to take a hard-earned rest. So that’s it for now – sorry if there’s any spelling mistakes or whatever, but I’m so confused that I really don’t even know what day it is anymore!
Tommy and Hollie x

 

27th January -Liftoff

Song of the day: Sunchyme by Dario G Why? Cos it’s a belter man! It reminds me of being in Mallorca with Hollie and raving in our apartment.

Just sat on the free wifi in Cologne-Bonn airport.  That has to have been the worst take-off I’ve ever experienced – it felt like we were going into space in the boot of my 1997 Vauxhall Corsa.

After we levelled out it was all good, and the pilot must have caned it because we were up and down in just over an hour.  Just a couple of hours to go until the big one now, and I feel a bit better knowing I’ve already got one under the belt today.  Hollie is an amazing support as ever and has kept me entertained with sweets and Alan Partridge impressions.

Last night was a laugh.  We’d settled in for the night when the fire alarm went off in our Travelodge.  I popped my head out the door and down the corridor a foriegn chap was looking at me and repeatedly saying: “We leave? We leave?” “Errr yes mate”.  We were stood outside a good hour while the fire brigade came and checked it out and finally told us it was safe to go back in.

I’m going to sign off now as there’s a girl going to Bangkok who is wearing almost exactly the same outfit as Hollie and I want us to try and sit next to her and see if she notices and gets freaked out by her doppelganger.  Next time I write we’ll be in Bangkok.

Peace and love x

Jan 26th – The Night Before

 

Song of the day – Down in the Tube Station at Midnight by The Jam

Ayup.

Hollie’s sat watching You’ve Been Framed whilst I sit here quietly panicking at the prospect of an eleven hour flight tomorrow.  I suppose I’ve come a long way considering that three years ago the best holiday I could expect was a wet weekend in Skeg, but I don’t think I’ll ever 100% crack this flying malarkey.  I’m actually much better once I’m on the plane than I am in the days and hours before the flight – this is called anticipatory anxiety, and it’s horrible.  It’s times like this when I wish we had one of those Star Trek transporter things that could just beam us over to Bangkok, or that Hollie could smack me over the head with a massive hammer and I can wake up 24 hour later with a headache in my desired destination – it’d be a fair price to pay.

Having said all this above, we’ve just watched a clip on You’ve Been Framed of a labrador riding a skateboard and it’s cheered me up.  This is what it’s like – I get waves of dread about flying that can all of a sudden lift, at which point I feel really hyper and excitable until another wave of dread hits me.  The labrador effect will hopefully last all night and see me through to the morning when a new wave of panic can begin.

Today has been manic.  I quite like London when we go down to see a mate and get drunk, or go sightseeing, but when you’re trying to get from A to B in the minimum time possible it’s an absolute nightmare.  We nipped to Camden post office in a torrential downpour to obtain an international driving permit each, before fighting our way over to Hounslow West on the tube.  It was a mile walk from the tube to the Travelodge through driving rain and wind whilst jumbo jets thundered overhead.  I’m not expecting your sympathy – after all we are going on holiday for four months – but by the time we got to the hotel room our backs were knackered (we’ve definitely overpacked) and we’d not eaten all day.  On top of this my shoes have holes in them which had allowed the rain in.  My shoes are basically sandals but I can’t bring myself to call them that because I associate sandals with old blokes who spend their summers flip-flopping around from one National Trust property to the next in them with their poorly-cut fungal toenails sticking out the end.  I think I’ll chuck out my shandals when we get to the hostel – they’re not even that comfy.

That’s enough for now.  I’m off to psych myself up for flying by shouting at myself in the mirror and throwing water in my face like Rocky, whilst listening to Eye of the Tiger.