It has been suggested that we have been a bit lax in chronicling our progress of late. This is true to a small extent as a week on a virtually deserted beach does encourage a certain amount of relaxation. But to a greater degree this has been caused by poor internet connections. The Thai Islands were pretty poor and strangely Malaysia has been pretty bad and now power cuts and heavy rain seem to be downing the web. Additionally we had a small problem with the laptop when some (as in bloody hundreds of) ants nested inside. Amazingly after 3 hours work with bug spray and a nail file I evicted them and the laptop is now better than before!? Quite how long they were in there I’m unsure but I have a sneaky feeling they may have been nesting away since Hanoi…feasting on crumbs that lurk behind the space bar.
I always expected this travelling lark to be life changing to some degree and already the realisation as to just how easy it is to travel is changing my outlook. We are both agreed that we would have no desire to buy an “off the shelf” holiday in the future. It really does seem that you can just pitch up at an airport and wing it.
Prior to our departure I was completely daunted by the thought of arriving in Saigon and having to navigate our way through the process of getting to and checking in to our hotel. I had imagined that the language and cultural barriers would present many problems. But that just isn’t the case. I can only think of one incident where we have struggled to communicate our needs so far.
The primary reason for the ease of communication is the simple fact that everybody speaks some English. I knew that our language was widely spoken but I didn’t realise that it is the language of tourism. This makes everything so accessible to us.
Noticeably nearly all of the Europeans we have met speak very good English. To not do so must be such a huge hurdle to travellers. I must admit to being quite amused by the fact that in Vietnam, a French colony for a whole century, nobody seemed to speak French. The “French” (see Hue entry), who’s English was in fact quite minimal spent many minutes trying to order breakfast in their native tongue at our hotel much to my amusement. And on Ko Samui we found ourselves in a small settlement which had been completely colonized by Germans, yet they had to speak English to be understood. Almost as satisfying as the 5-1 thrashing !
I have also been completely taken by how nice other travellers are. It is almost like you have to be a decent friendly interesting person before you can get a passport. Without fail we are chatting endlessly with other travellers when we undertake bus journeys. Which is extremely helpful to us as the advice we receive (and now give) is far more reliable than the guide books. Recently we have been urged to revise our South American plans and in return we have recommended Ko Lanta and suggested that two sets of travellers contact our Tuk Tuk driver from Siem Reap.
Because accommodation was so cheap in Vietnam we have not stayed in many true backpacking hostels. But this situation is now starting to change as the nature of our destinations changes. In Singapore we will be staying in dorms for the first time. To try and keep to our budget we plan to use hostels and dorms a lot in New Zealand and we are also toying with the idea of buying a cheap tent too.
Over the past few weeks I have grabbed a few (possibly) funny photos. Now seems a good time to reveal them.
Here is a guesthouse in Krabi. Shortly after taking this shot I showed the photo to the Swede we were travelling with. I guess he didn’t see the funny side as he told me very seriously that he stayed here 3 years ago and it was cheap.
In Kuala Lumpur we went to the huge mall next to our guesthouse. It was big…somewhere between Lakeside and Bluewater. Anyway, we were looking for somewhere to grab a snack and we discovered the Ireland’s Potato shop. Our Irish friend Grainne will enjoy this in particular I suspect.
Below is a close up of their mantra. Clearly no Irish person had any involvement in the creation of this masterpiece.
The best bit at the bottom is a little hard to read so I have typed it below…
The meanings of Ireland Potato can be split into 3 parts :-
a) Ireland b) Crazy c) Potato.
a) Ireland – Ireland country tradition,serious in Potato just like they treat marriage
b) Crazy – Crazy in the sense of they are willing to migrate primarily to the United States just to escape starvation. To them potato is just like a main food for the living. They even leave their homeland in searching for potatoes.
c) This bit is boring.
And finally, here is the rather confused French Marmite Restaurant in Cambodia.
Claire is currently trying to wash the dye from her shoes off of her feet. And thus this post is currently unedited. So if you are lucky you may get to read it before she removes anything! Most likely the bit about the Germans will be culled I suspect.