Monday, 10 March 2008

Sydney Update

The reason there has been no bloggage for a while is because every day has been the same.

To keep you up to date with what our lives are like at the moment, simply apply this to every weekday:

7am - Wake Up (8.15 for Matt).
7.20am - Leave the flat (9am for Matt).
7.57am - Go past incredibly fit girl waiting at same bus stop every day (never for Matt... Ha ha!)
8.10am - Walk from bus stop to work (10.00am for Matt).
8.30am - Start work (10.15 for Matt).
11.15am - Have a break (ain't got a clue for Matt, don't care either).
12.30pm - Lunch (usually packed lunch, but Subway if it's payday).
3.15pm - Break.
5.30pm - Finish work, attempt to go to bus stop, but usually go via pub.
6.15pm - Matt finishes work and comes to pub, often in time to buy a round. Perfect.
7.30pm - Start watching TV. Programmes vary* (see below).
8.30pm - Make food** (see below).
9.30pm - Iron shirt for tomorrow / cut hair (as required).
9.45pm - Make sandwiches (unless payday - see above).
11.15pm - Watch David Letterman's late show. Hate it and slag it off.
11.30pm - Dave goes to bed.
Later - Matt goes to bed. Dave asleep so unaware of what time this occurs.

* Programmes vary but include the following:

A Year With The Queen (she's famous over here too)
Bondi Rescue (idiot tourists, often English, almost drowning)
Dirty Sexy Money (involves scandal and fit girls in underwear)
Boston Legal (life after Star Trek for William Shatner)
CSI: Miami (main character is ginger - legend)
The Biggest Loser (Australian fatties trying to lose weight)

** Meals vary but include the following:

Pasta, baked beans, tuna & salad cream.
Beef and cheese pies, chips and gravy.
Beef and cheese pies, chips and beans.
Chicken and vegetable pies, chips and gravy.
Chicken and vegetable pies, chips and beans.
Sausage, chips and beans.
Noodles (various flavours).
Noodle sandwiches (white bread, noodles may vary).

As for the weekends, they go something like this:

Friday evening - Go to pub for 'a' drink. End up drinking more than one.
Saturday morning - Go to Coogee / Bondi beach.
Saturday evening - Go for 'a couple' of drinks. End up drinking 'a few' rather than 'a couple'.
Sunday morning - Regret Saturday evening's 'couple' of drinks.
Sunday afternoon - Go to K-Mart and look at mountain bikes / frisbees / dogs.
Sunday evening - Plan the week's TV viewing schedule / make sandwiches / iron.

So there you have it!!

Life in the bus lane.

Matt's off to the Grand Prix next weekend, and we're going to the Blue Mountains for Easter weekend, so more blog action on the way......

Bye bye Miss American Pie x

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Happy New Year!!

We really need to start blogging more often.....

Saturday 15th December

Bizarrely, there is nothing in the diary at all for this day, so I assume it never happened.

Sunday 16th December

It's Elton John time...!!!

We got up at 5am to get the bus to the airport. It never turned up, so we got a taxi instead. We flew to Melbourne Avalon airport (it's a bit like calling Stansted, 'Edinburgh Stansted' - it's nowhere near Melbourne!).

By pure luck it was the correct side of Melbourne for us to get a short bus ride in to Werribee, where the Elton John concert was.

We walked round the town centre to try and find somewhere to stay the night, and ended up at the 'Comfort Inn'. The manager kindly gave us some phone numbers to find somewhere cheaper, and we finally ended up in the 'Monte Villa' bungalows.

It was a lovely place to stay, en-suite, air-con etc, and a pool we couldn't get in to.

We went for a couple of beers in the local sports bar, then had a bit of a kip before getting the shuttle bus from the hotel to the concert. When we got there, we realised we didn't have the camera, so we got a taxi back to the bungalow, and back to the concert again. Lovely stuff.

After two bottles of wine and a brilliant set from sausage fingers Elton, we decided it was time to try and blag our way backstage.

We failed.

It was an absolutely brilliant night though.

Shuttle bus back, beer, bed.

Monday 17th December

We checked out of our bungalow at midday, and tried to work out what to do for nine hours until our flight back to Sydney.

So, we went to McDonalds, then went to Werribee Plaza (a shopping centre), got a hair cut, and went to see 'Beowulf' in the cinema. Don't bother going to see it. It's rubbish.

We got to the airport about 6pm, to be told that our flight was cancelled. So we were given three choices......

1. Get a free bus to the other Melbourne airport and fly from there, thus arriving at the same time as planned.

2. Stay in a hotel nearby and fly at 6am the next day.

3. Can't remember the third option, but there was one. Oh well.

The chance to get an extra night away from Cell Block H proved too tempting, so we checked in to a 5 star hotel, courtesy of Jetstar!! Had to be up at 4.30am though to fly back.....

Tuesday 18th December

We got picked up from the hotel (did I mention it's a 5 star??!!) at 4.30, and got the 6am flight back to Sydney, then got a train back to Central Station, and arrived back at the hostel.

Dave went to the gym to enquire about joining, and was offered a day's free trial, much to Matt's delight.

Had a couple of beers at Scruffy Murphy's (it was still early days... we had to check if it really is as rubbish as we thought), then went to sleep.

Wednesday 19th December

We took advantage of our free trial at Livingwell Gym at the Sydney Hilton, and spent a couple of hours swimming, sauna-ing, and jacuzzi-ing.

Then we got on the monorail and did the whole circuit. It only really covers the city centre and Darling Harbour, so it takes about 15 mins to go all the way round. You are charged per trip too, so it is no more expensive to stay on for the whole circuit.

We eventually got off at Darling Harbour and went to the Maritime Museum. (Free entry!)

We then walked back across the bridge from Darling Harbour, and went to check the prices of the Sydney Tower.

Had a look round Woolworths, then both fell asleep at about 8pm.

Thursday 20th December

Went to the Sydney Tower and had a beer at the top. It had been a while since our last 'altitude beer' so it was good to get back in the habit.

The views are awesome from up there. You can see for miles in every direction. The best bit about it was the double-decker lift to go up! There's a little monitor in each lift so you can see what's going on in the other half of your lift!!

After the tower, we walked back to Darling Harbour to go on the battleship and submarine which are parked up. We didn't do this yesterday because we didn't have the camera with us.

We then walked MILES to King's Cross to try and find Jonny and Murphy who had arrived that day, but we coudn't find them, so we got the train back to Central Station, and slept.

Friday 21st December

We had breakfast on George Street, and then went to the Post Office to buy some boxes to use as a makeshift wardrobe. We did some washing, then went to meet Corrie at Darling Harbour (we might as well move there).

After a couple of drinks we all got the boat across to Manly, and Dave got turned away from a bar for wearing shorts and 'thongs'. Don't worry, it's the Aussie name for flip-flops.

So we went to a different door of the same bar and got in fine. It's my party and I'll wear thongs if I want to.

After a few too many drinks, we got the last ferry back from Manly and stumbled home to bed.

Saturday 22nd December

We went to meet Marie and Michelle in 'Side Bar', which is in their hostel. Yes, their place has it's own bar.

And nightclub.

And restaurant.

We got turned away from there because we look so damn youthful. While we were in the process of being turned away, we watched the doormen scare some English people away, cos they were being very silly and misbehaving.

We went to a very quiet Irish bar before giving in and going to fetch our I.D's and went back to Side Bar.

There was a bloke in there who looked like Boris Becker. And one that looked like Robbie Williams.

Sunday 23rd December

Went to Scruffy Murphy's to meet Bryan (who we'd initially met in KL), and the girls. All us blokes went to a pub called 'Pub', then the girls came to meet us later. Then Jonny and Murphy arrived too. A right little reunion!

We drank, drank and were merry.

Monday 24th December

Today was affectionately known as 'Christmas Eve' in Australia.

We went on a mission to prepare for Christmas Day by finding a barbecue to use on Bondi Beach. After hours of searching we came up with a foil tray, some charcoal, and a flat sieve-meshy-thing to use as the grill.


We went to Darling Harbour (surprise), and did a countdown to Christmas Day! After that excitement we got a taxi to 'The Gaff', which is a bar / club full of travellers. Most of which were the lovely people from our hostel. We can't get away from them!!

We got rained on heavily outside, and got a taxi back.

We had a sausage roll each too, seeing as it was now Christmas Day.

Tuesday 25th December - Christmas Day!!

We got the bus from Hyde Park to Bondi Beach around midday, put our makeshift BBQ together (it worked rather well!), and after a Christmas dinner of Hash Browns, sausages and burgers, we played frisbee for a while.

We'd bought tickets to go to an event called 'Sunburnt Christmas', which, it turned out, was just a building that had been turned in to a club for the day. Frankie Knuckles was DJ'ing, and it was the only place you could buy alcohol on Bondi Beach.

After some of the people we were with went in and decided it was rubbish, we got the bus to Coogee beach instead.

When we got there we were pleased to see lots of people with lots of alcohol. Trouble was, we didn't have any! We searched for a bottle shop with no success, and none of the restaurants open that day would let us buy any wine or beer to take out. This situation was not good.

We got chatting to a girl outside a shop who knew of someone who might have a box of wine to sell..... Things were looking up! After a very short conversation with some very intoxicated Scottish blokes, we were given a box of white wine FOR FREE!! This was now the best Christmas ever.

We met a legendary bloke on the beach too. His name is Sarge and he was visiting family for Christmas. He lives in a bush normally. We agreed to go and visit him in his bush in the new year, and he's letting us stay in his nephew's house.

It is not clear at this stage whether his nephew will be there too.

We finished off the wine, rang lots of people (Dave Kilner was the first person we rang, naturally), and got a bus back to the city centre. It was a very noisy bus, mainly due to us drunken lot singing at the tops of our voices.

Wednesday 26th December

We decided that the best cure for a hangover is to get on a 1000hp speedboat. Se we did.

There are two main companies in Circular Quay running speedboat trips around the harbour, both boasting that theirs is the best, fastest and scariest. We decided to go for the one that claims to be the fastest speedboat in Australia. It was 1000hp compared to the other company's measly 700hp.

We got completely drenched, but it was absolutely brilliant. The driver basically waited for boats to go past, then head straight in to the wake of the boat, jumping off the waves. The boat does 360 degree turns and 'power stops', whereby it somehow jumps off a wave then comes to an almost instant stop. Awesome.

We had a couple of beers to fully cure the hangover with a girl who looks like Carly from Eastenders. Well I thought so anyway. No-one else did.

We then made our way back to the hostel, made some pasta and went to bed.

Thursday 27th December

We had a pretty easy day, and got on the train to suss out some areas of Sydney that we'd be happy to live in. We just picked random stops and got off and had a look round. We came across a suburb called Summer Hill which was lovely, and popped in to an estate agent to pick up a list of rental properties.

On the list was a place in Dulwich Hill (the next mini-town to Summer Hill), so we made an appointment to view it on Saturday.

That's all that's in the diary for the 27th, so let's assume we had a few beers and made some pasta.

Friday 28th December

We got a train to Dulwich Hill to see what the area's like, and to find the property we would be viewing the next day. As we were walking (bloody miles) to find it, we walked past an apartment block called 'The Denison' apartments, Constitution Road, Dulwich Hill. Little did we know how lucky this discovery would turn out.....

We went to Darling Harbour for drinks with Jonny and the girls, and went back to the hostel to sleep.

Saturday 29th December

We had two viewings in Dulwich Hill. Firstly was the Denison, then the other place we'd seen advertised in Summer Hill. The Denison was AMAZING!! They had the show apartment to rent out, fully furnished to a very high standard. With a pool too. Trouble was, it was way over our budget.

So we headed off to the other property which was rubbish in comparison. Unfurnished, shabby and dirty. But it was in our price range!

We went for a coke and a chocolate bar to have a think, and went back to the Denison. We were on a mission! We spoke to the landlordy type bloke and told him how much we liked it, but that it was too expensive. He then dropped the price, as long as we paid cash..... The plot thickens.....

Then we had the issue of only being here for 4 months. We'd told him originally that we'd be here for a year, otherwise he wouldn't have even shown us round.

With our new price to think about, we went back to the city.

After a chat and some sums, we decided to go for it, so we rang matey and told him that we'd like to take the apartment, but that we'd spoken to some friends who were coming over in 4 months time, and they wanted to share a place so we would have to move out.

He was fine with that, so we breathed a very happy sigh of relief. We had our new place sorted!

Dave's friend Kags arrived in Sydney today, so he went to meet her and her friends she was staying with. They went up the Sydney Tower (again!) while Matt fell asleep in the hostel (!).

A few drinks in Darling Harbour rounded off a very good day.

Sunday 30th December

We went to Circular Quay to work out the best place to see the fireworks on NYE. We got a water-taxi to McMahon's point to see what the view is like from the far side of the Harbour Bridge, but after our research we still weren't sure what to do for the best.

Everyone we spoke to said we need to pick our spot and get there early. When they say early, they mean before midday!! The very best spots are gone by 9am - 15 hours before midnight!!

In the evening we went to meet Matt's friends James and Sarah who had arrived that day on their honeymoon. We had a really nice evening, met Kags and co. for a bit too, then came back via 'C' Bar - our new local!!

Monday 31st December - New Year's Eve 2007!!

The plan was as follows...

Meet James and Sarah about midday, pick our viewing point, have a picnic and sit there for 12 hours until firework time.

Matt rang James and by this point James and Sarah had booked tickets to 'Bubble Bar' for the evening of NYE. The deal was free drinks all night, and free canapes all night.

All for the tidy sum of $275. (About 120 quid)

So we thought that rather than sit in the sun all day, we could buy tickets and just turn up about 7pm, have a relaxed evening in a very nice bar, and pop outside at midnight to see the fireworks.

So we did!

The ambulance service had over 1000 calls to the Harbour Bridge area on NYE, probably mainly due to sun-related problems.

We arrived at Bubble Bar about 6.30pm, and had a really good night. The fireworks were amazing, and we walked home getting photos with lots of random people.

Tuesday 1st January 2008

It's time to get back in the real world, which means.... work!

We both spent a while online perfecting our CV's (I never knew Matt was once a Telesales Executive....), then went to the pub called 'Pub' to watch Chelsea play Fulham.

Fulham were 1-0 up for most of the game, but Chelsea eventually won 2-1. Or something like that.

Wednesday 2nd January

We sorted out all the documents we need for our new apartment, then headed for 'Kelly Services' (nowhere near as fun as it sounds... it's a job agency!).

They had vacancies in a call centre and the assessment was tomorrow! 11am sharp....

We had a couple of beers in a rooftop bar (only 5th Floor, not to our usual 'high' standards...), then we went back to the hostel to make some food.

After a power-nap we went out to Darling Harbour to meet James and Sarah as they were leaving the next day.

Mr Owen Ryan turned up too (he used to be Deputy PD at Hallam just in case!!) and he made us drink lots of beer. It was all his fault.

And he has an i-Phone.

It's brilliant.

Thursday 3rd January

After last night's perfect preparation, we arrived at Kelly Services at 10.55am for our call centre assessment. We had to make a series of calls to 'customers' (the office staff upstairs!) and try to sell them a new credit card.

Some of them were very rude.

Anyway, we both passed the test with flying colours and were offered jobs in the new 'American Express' campaign which starts on Monday! Apparently you have to be very good to get on that one, cos it's the most desired campaign. (Due to it being the only one that's 9-5).

So basically, we're brilliant and you're rubbish.

Apparently the place we're working has plasma screens, free internet, a pool table etc. and is full of backpackers. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing yet....

Dave starts work on Monday, and Matt starts in February.

In the evening we went to 'Side Bar' as it was most of the girls' last night in Sydney. We had a very good night and danced a lot. We were, once again, brilliant.

Anyway, my fingers hurt so I'm going to rest them and have a coke.

Love you! xxx

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Time's flying!

Blimey, what a lot of blogging we have to do!

Monday 3rd December

What a weird start to the day! Dave went to get his hair cut. Simple process you might think, just a shave all over. Not the case.

After what seemed like the end of the haircut, the barber gave Dave a full back massage. And then proceeded to baby-wipe his whole torso. Not sure why, but that's what happened.

After the camera problems we'd booked on another half-day trip to Maya Bay and then to watch the sunset from the boat. We went snorkelling and kayaking and got the pictures we were after. We watched the sunset from the boat after a hearty meal of rice and vegetables.

When we got back on dry land we decided to splash out and book tickets to see a legend play in Australia. Not Dave Kilner, but someone almost as famous...... Elton John!

It was something we'd both wanted to do and so we booked flights from Sydney to Melbourne, and tickets for the concert. The date was set... 16th December, in Werribee (near Melbourne).

We had pizza for tea (a Thai speciality), then packed our bags (again!), then went to bed as we had to catch the 2pm boat across to Krabi on the Thai mainland.

Tuesday 4th December

Got up and checked out of our home, and jumped on a taxi boat round the bay to catch the 2pm ferry. We got the 2pm crossing as planned, and arrived in Krabi around 3.30pm. We got a taxi to 'A Mansion' (that was the name of the hotel!) as recommended by the LP (that's Lonely Planet to those in the know).

It was a lovely hotel, much to our delight. We went for a walk round Krabi, which is a really relaxed place and a lot less intense than the previous few weeks of chaos. We bought watches off a bloke who claimed they are genuine...

We went out for some food and got chatting to an incredible Swiss bloke. He'd had an accident years before and was brain damaged from it. His English was better than ours! He was away travelling for a few weeks to give his wife a break from looking after him. Absolutely incredible guy.

We ended up in an Italian restaurant to have a drink, and as is always the case, the unplanned nights are always the best. We sat there listening to a brilliant duo playing electric guitars, playing everything from Guns N Roses to Dire Straits. They were supposed to finsh at 1am but after several cries of 'One More' from us, they finally stopped banging out the hits around 1.45am.

We got back to the hotel and watched Charlton vs Preston. What a rubbish match.

Wednesday 5th December

We got a taxi to Krabi airport (which had to turn round and go back to the hotel cos we'd left the CD of our photos there!), and strolled in.

Security is not an issue in Krabi, it would appear. We got lost and after breaching about 5 security barriers / doors / lifts we found our way to international departures.

We flew to Kuala Lumpur (KL from now on...) and got a bus to the city centre and found our new, amazing home. The Haven Guesthouse. When we arrived, Murphy and Jonny (two blokes we'd met in Ko Samui) were there! Out of all the hostels in KL, we'd all chosen that one.

It's by far the best place we've stayed so far. Clean, fun, cheap, and full of brilliant people.

We had some food, bought a bottle of vodka and played some pool. Then bed.

Thursday 6th December

With the vodka still present in our systems, we had a steady day, looking around Times Square shopping centre. A lot of KL has a New York look and feel to it.

We then realised that none of our bank cards worked in KL, which meant we had no money!! Dave's Dad to the rescue, transferring money Western Union styleeee.

We then went to a bar we'd heard about, called the Sky Bar. It's on the 33rd floor of the Traders' Hotel, and has no roof. And a swimming pool in the middle of it!

Very expensive but lots of fun looking out over the Petronas Towers and the KL Tower.

Friday 7th December

Went back to Times Square to go to their indoor theme park. It's on the 5th floor, naturally. We went on a few rides there, including a brilliant rollercoaster!

Then we headed across town to the KL Tower. It a huge tower with 4 floors at the top of it. The lowest one is the observation deck (about 950 feet up!). Above that is a restaurant (by reservation only, 3 days in advance!), a function room for weddings etc, and the top floor is a broadcasting centre.

The view is incredible from there, and you're almost level with the top of the Petronas Towers.

When we returned to earth, we spotted a zip-slide. Dave got stuck in and got all harnessed up, and proceeded to fly along above the road, hanging from a piece of wire rope wearing a silly helmet.

That evening we went to another bar-on-a-roof, this time called the Luna Bar. Our taxi driver believed we are Aussies and proceeded to slag John Howard off all the way there.

The Luna Bar is even more swanky (and expensive!) than the Sky Bar. It was the 3rd birthday of the bar, so there was a big party going on with a DJ on a stage on legs in the swimming pool.

Dave did a bit of DJing (not quite sure how that happened...), and then went home. Via the Sky Bar. We don't do ground-level drinking any more.

Saturday 8th December

Did nothing all day apart from eat 6 slices of free toast with Marmite.

Sunday 9th December

After staying up all night, we went to the Petronas Towers at 7am. It's free to go up, but you have to queue early to get your tickets as only a limited number can go up each day.

We got the 9.15am slot, and after watching a 3D presentation about how wonderful Petronas PLC are, we headed up to the 41st floor.

When the doors open, you walk round a corner and there it is. The Skywalk.

It's a glass bridge joining the two towers together, and it feels a bit strange being suspended that high up! The views are amazing though, and it's something not to be missed.

That evening we went to see 'One In A Million' being filmed. It's the Malaysian equivalent of 'X-Factor'. It's filmed 'as-live' but was due to be screened a week later.

We cheered, whistled and screamed for a bloke called 'Iz' (who we'd never met, but was a friend of the person who got us the tickets!). He won out of his pair, which means he's through to the last 12! The winner gets 1 million ringgit (about 115,000 quid.... still can't find the pound sign)

We came back via our new local, the Luna Bar, and finally got to bed about 6am.

Monday 10th December

Got up at 2pm and went to the KL Aquarium. Saw lots of fish (and cats and monkeys for some reason), and got a taxi back.

You ain't seen rush hour til you've seen KL rush hour. Our 5 minute taxi ride (it was raining!) took an hour, and by that point we were cutting it fine to make our 7.30pm bus to Singapore.

We made it about 7.15pm, and our bus turned up. At 8.45pm.

2 hours in to our journey (on a luxury bus by the way), the bus stopped for no apparent reason. We both went to investigate (due to our extensive mechanical training) and it turned out the bus had a puncture. More delays.

We finally got moving again, and reached the Malaysian border. Se we got off the bus and got stamped out of the country.

50 yards down the road we stopped again, got off again, and officially entered Singapore. God knows what that bit in between is called. Malapore or Singyia I assume.

We arrived in Singa'pore at 4.15am (should have been 1am), and found our new home, the 'Fragrance Hostel'. It was more like a 5 star hotel!! The showers were super-powerful, and we had a 6 bed dorm to ourselves for 3 nights!

Tuesday 11th December

Got up at 12pm, and walked to the MRT station (their tube) and headed for the Harbourfront. From here we got the (very high) cable car to the island of Sentosa. It was bit scary but we made it!!

Sentosa is Singapore's own 'Island Resort' (their words), and it had some good beaches and is, like the rest of Singapore, immaculately kept. You can't imagine how clean Singapore is!

There's a big 'Merlion' standing tall on the island. It's Singapore's national symbol - half Lion, half Mermaid. We climbed up inside it, and you can look out from its mouth or stand on top of its head, so we did both!!

Dave then went on a ski-lift thingy up a big hill, while Matt stayed safely on the ground, and came back down a the hill on a racetrack riding a luge. It's like a skateboard that you sit on, with handlebars (nothing like a skateboard then really).

We got the monorail back across to Singapore and looked round two, very clean, shopping centres. One called the Harbourfont (no idea why) and the other called Vivocity. Most prices are similar to English ones. Probably to pay all those cleaners.

We strolled back to the hostel around 7.30pm, through the Little India area of Singapore.

Wednesday 12th December

We went on a boat trip along the river today, and got a good view of the city skyline from the water.

Matt's camerawork was once again tested as Dave decided to go on a very big swing thing.

You're hoisted up backwards while sitting / hanging in a metal cage. When you reach the top, it's the rider's responsibility to pull a cord to release the ride, sending it swinging high over the river.

The best feeling EVER!!

We headed back to the hostel and went for food a couple of doors down in the Countryside Cafe, and then headed out to the Raffles Hotel, to have a Singapore Sling (we're very posh 'n that) in the 'Long Bar'.

Across the road from Raffles was another bar. A VERY high bar....

71 storeys above 'The Stamford' hotel, is the New Asia bar. You can tell you're in a stylish bar, mixing with the rich and famous, when you walk in to the sound of Bon Jovi blaring out!!

So we lived on a prayer for a bit, and then called it a night. Off to Sydney tomorrow....

Thursday 13th December

Got up at 5.45am, and got a taxi to Singapore airport. Tried some local cuisine in the form of a McDonalds breakfast, and got our flight. (It was on a Boeing 747, claimed Matt - Dave just knew it was far too big and heavy to be able to fly.)

After a fairly bumpy flight and some lovely in-flight food, we arrived at Sydney.

We met a really cool bloke in Sydney Airport before we went through immigration. He had a hat and everything:

You're not going to believe this bit......

The very first words that anyone said to us in Australia were... HOW ARE WE?

The immigration guy really did say it!! What a welcome to the country!!

Then we got a train to Central Station, which is on the same road as our hostel. When I say on the same road, it's a bit like saying that London is on the same road as Leeds, which it kind of is....

Pitt Street is a very long road. After a bit of a walk we saw our hostel, beaming out dirty orange light, like a can of tango in a puddle. (What the hell am I talking about?!)

The Maze Backpackers. Our new home for the next 28 nights. What a dump.

To put it politely, it's like being in prison. A dirty one. With a load of people who just arrived back from Ibiza. There isn't even a power socket in our cell. But there is a filthy chair so that's ok. And we do have a fan, which is covered in crap and is too high to reach to clean it.

Apart from that, it's perfect!! Complaint on the way to STA Travel......

We headed out for a short walk, got some food and went to sleep.

Friday 14th December

At 4.30am, it turned out we were both awake, so we got up and made some pasta!! By this point we'd had a grand total of 6 hours sleep in two nights.

Dave did some washing, and we killed some time reading books (us... and books!!) til 9am came.

We were both very tired but couldn't wait to see the sights, so we got a bus (eventually) to the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Words can't describe how amazing it was to see them. After years of seeing pictures and seeing them on TV, it was incredible to actually be there.

To get a better view of the opera house, we caught a boat to Manly. We'd beeen told it's a lovely place, and it is. The boat takes you past the Opera House and then a half-hour journey gets you to Manly Wharf.

We saw REAL surfers there and everything!! Very clean and laid back, somewhere we're thinking of moving to after we complete our jail term here.

When we got back to Sydney Harbour we opened a bank account each, which means we have to get jobs now to put money in them. Rubbish news.

Because of our messy sleeping patterns, we both crashed out about 7pm and woke up at about 11.30pm. The only way to get back to sleep.... go for a beer!!

In Sydney (and possibly all of Australia) you can only buy beer in a liquor store or in a bar. Not in shops like 7-Eleven or any convenience stores.

Bizarrely you can buy beers in a bar to take out, which was our plan. Anyway, that didn't happen, and we ended up in Scruffy Murphy's bar, just around the corner from Cell Block H.

It was interesting to say the least. We think we might be in a rubbish bit of town.

We got to bed about 4am, and now it's Saturday. Elton John tomorrow night!!

Speak soon, Dave and Matt xxx

Sunday, 2 December 2007

We're still alive!!


Sorry it's been so long since we blogged, but you know what it's like, beaches to sit on, beers to drink....

So, first things first. Dave's toe. Definitely broken, but getting better every day. It's ok to walk with shoes on now, but still need to be a bit careful when barefoot.

Anyway, enough about all that. Something else is broken...... THE CAMERA!!

The 'waterproof' camera, it would appear, is not 'sea-proof'. We'll get to that bit later, but for now there's no pics. There will be in the next couple of days though.

Wednesday 21st November

This was the night after the toe incident, and we had to do a runner from the hotel. Ideal timing. Long story short.... all the shenanigans in the sea the night before led to the unfortunate loss of our hotel room key. When we got back that night, we had no choice but to go to reception and claim that we'd handed our key in, and therefore they must have lost it.

Eventually they agreed to let us in the hotel room with the spare key, but wouldn't leave it with us. No key = no electricity. So we slept with no air con and no lights and only 19 fully working tootsies between us.

The following morning we decided it wasn't a good idea to go past reception and get told off, so we headed along the beach and checked in to the 'P & P Resort'.

We went to the beach for a while, and in the evening returned to the beach party and set off firey lantern things. They're kind of mini hot air balloons, and you set fire to the bottom bit, and it floats off in to the sky. For MILES!!

Then we went to the Mango Tree club for a drink or three, and by 3am we were ready to watch England lose to Croatia. So we did. In an English pub called Black Jack.

It was full of England fans, and three Croatia fans too!! After a quiet word from one of the rather large England fans, they left. Anyway, we lost and McLaren walked away with 2.5 million.

Thursday 22nd November

Really lazy day, played frisbee on the beach (Matt had to go and fetch it if it landed too far away!!)

Also, we met an Irish lad in Speedos who had just recovered from Dysentry.

Had an early night after a couple of drinks in 'Solo' bar. Very refined.

Friday 23rd November

Another lazy day, then in the evening we went out and played Jenga and Connect 4 with some locals. We lost.

We made the fatal mistake of dancing again, in a club full of locals, and looked very silly, but we're used to that now.

We ended up back in the Jenga / Connect 4 bar which was simply called 'Snatch'. Best bar name ever!!

Saturday 24th November

Tonight is full moon night!

Unsurprisingly we had a lazy day, and were due to be picked up between 10.00 and 10.30pm to get a boat across to Ko Phang An (everywhere you look it's spelt differently!). Our taxi finally turned up about 11.30pm and the rudest man in the world drove like a nutcase for half an hour to other hotels, wondering why people weren't still waiting to be picked up!

We eventually got to the seaside and had to wait for ages for a boat to turn up, so we had a beer on the beach.

Finally our speedboat turned up, and after a very exciting (and bumpy) ride over, we arrived on Ko Phang An about 1.30am.

We got stuck in to the buckets of vodka (you buy a bucket, a small bottle of vodka and a can of coke, then chuck it all in with loads of ice, and hey presto!)......

.......and then we discovered an official 'sleeping area' on the beach!!!
So Matt went and got about 20 winks, while Dave laid by the sea pondering life's big decisions... Shall we get another bucket now or later....?!

The party was amazing, thousands of people in various states dancing on the beach and in all the bars. I think we've lost the pictures though on the damaged memory card. Gutted.

(NEWSFLASH...... We've got the pictures back!!)

We waded (fully clothed) out to our return speedboat about 6.30am, and finally got to bed about 7.30am. Brilliant night.

Sunday 25th November

Got up about 1pm, feeling a little bit tender, and booked our bus/boat to Ko Phi Phi. Had some food, packed our bags and got to bed about 1.30am.

Monday 26th November

Got up at 5.40am (!) and got picked up by minibus to go to the pier. Got the 8am ferry across to the mainland.....

......and got a bus from there across to Krabi on the West side of the mainland. It took about three hours so we both got some sleep.

When we got to Krabi we had to wait about 90 minutes for the boat, so we munched on some lunch.

Got the 3pm boat across to Ko Phi Phi Don, which is the inhabited of the two islands.

When we arrived we walked around in sweltering heat with big rucksacks until we found the Andaman resort. About 20 quid per night for air con, private bathroom (with flushing toilet!) and our own pool!!

Life's tough out here.

Went for some food (everything's a lot more expensive here than on the mainland and Cambodia etc), and then went to an Irish bar for a drink, then Apache bar, then Hippies. Hippies is amazing... More on that later!

Tuesday 27th November

Got up late (can you believe it?), went for some food. We watched 'The Beach' in a bar, and then went to the Reggae Bar. This bar is crazy. There's two full size boxing rings in the bar, and every half hour or so, there's a proper thai boxing match. In between these fights, tourists are encouraged to get in the ring and beat each other up for a bucket of booze!!

So we watched some scores get settled, including some girl fights. The place is awesome!!

We ended up in 'Hippies' again for the end of the night. It's a brilliant place, and only really gets going about 2am. It's right on the beach, and there's fire shows to watch, and you can paddle / dance around in the sea while you drink. It's such a nice bar, so relaxed and a really good atmosphere.

Wednesday 28th November

Dave woke up and had a sandwich full of ants.

We both got a sandwich the night before, but Dave left a little bit on the bedside table. When he woke up he started munching on the remains, and when he looked down at where he'd left it, there were loads of ants running around. Tasted ok though.

Today was world record attempt day... Matt claimed he could hold his breath underwater for 1 minute and 35 seconds. Dave's first attempt was a whopping 1 min 45... thus battle commenced!

After lots of deep breaths and near-death experiences, Matt's lungs proved superior to Dave's, with a cracking time of 2 mins 15 secs!! Dave only managed 2.05. Livid.

Had some BBQ chicken and sweetcorn, and went to Reggae bar to watch more people fighting each other. Played pool with some Aussies (we won!).

When we got back to the bungalow there was an Aussie asleep on our front porch. Don't think it was pool-related though.

Security man got rid of him though, and we slept, safe in our beds.

Thursday 29th November

We got a boat at 9am to go and visit 'The Beach' from the film. We went kayaking and snorkelling, and saw some amazing fish swimming right next to us. We had to clamber through a cave to get there, but it was amazing.

Far too many tourists and speedboats but still pretty special.

Then we were served lunch on the boat (rice and chicken, yum yum!), and moved on to 'Monkey Beach'. Here, there was a beach, and a monkey. See what they did there with the name?

After a bit more snorkelling and kayaking we got back on the boat and moved on to another beach. Simply paradise. Totally clear water and soft white sand.

We met Mr Universe (well, he thought he was), and headed back to Phi Phi Don.

Had a nap, some food, then an early night.

Friday 30th November

Really lazy day, played some frisbee in the pool, went to a bar called Carlito's for food, and ended up in Hippies bar chatting to a bloke called Andy. He's from Westminster and he's a Charlton fan.

Saturday 1st December

We've been away a whole month!!

More pool / frisbee action, and went to the BQ chicken place again. You get half a chicken, salad and chips (they're on the menu as 'Friend Fried', and that's not a typing error!).

Not sure how much it would cost to get Matt fried, but we're looking in to it.

Went back to Reggae Bar again, and saw a Swedish girl get beaten up, and then a drunk English bloke get beaten up. They wear head protection so it looks worse than it is!

You'll never guess where we ended up... Hippies! More beers and paddling, then bed.

Sunday 2nd December

We went for a walk to the viewpoint today. It's 1000 feet above sea level, and you have to start the walk at sea level. Matt decided the steps and height might not be such a good idea, so Dave ventured on alone.

After going up about 100 of the steepest steps in the world, and then a long walk on a steep winding path for what seems like an eternity, you reach the top.

The view is incredible over the islands, and hopefully the pictures from our new disposable camera will come out ok.

We've booked another boat trip tomorrow, so hopefully we can get some photos of the amazing places we saw a few days ago.

And now it's now, and we're going to get some food.

Speak soon!!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Broken toe in Ko Samui....

Dave's broken his toe.

Well, we're pretty sure he has. Here's a photo.

(It's the second one from the left by the way. The other toes have always been a bit weird.)
Right then, it was temples last time, and we've been all over the place since then!!

Wednesday 14th November

Got up at 5.30, and got picked up. Literally.

A pick-up truck turned up to take us to get the ferry to Phnom Penh, with 6 people (plus luggage) sat on the back already. There was definitely no room for us, so we got on. With our rather large rucksacks.

6 people later, and enough was enough. 12 people crammed on to a pick-up truck. 4 in the cab with the driver, and a total of 10 people (plus luggage!) on the back.

We got the speedboat for 6 hours down the river Mekong to Phnom Penh, making sure we got completely sunburnt on the way.

Arrived in Phnom Penh to be greeted by scores of tuk-tuk drivers (all called Mr Tuk-Tuk we believe), all offering to take us to their choice of hotel. We bartered (and won!) and got a lift to the Spring Guesthouse.

We went for some food at Mama's Restaurant and met an American war veteran. He actually said the famous line... ''When I was in 'Nam''. Best christmas ever.

We saw a bloke that looked like Gordon Ramsay that night. And a massive insect thing jumped on Dave's face.

Thursday 15th November

We went to the Genocide museum via Del Gusto restaurant.

The lady who showed us round had lost her whole family to the Poi Pot regime. Her husband, parents and children were all killed at the S-21 concentration camp. (Which is now the museum)

We looked round the cells that prisoners were kept in, and there were hundreds of skulls there of victims. You can even see where the bullet entered and left the victim's head.

On a happier note, we went for a free swim at the Royal Palace hotel. Not up to our usual free swim standards, but it was better than having a shower.

We went to the riverside area (where most of the bars and travellers were) on the back of a 'moto' (motorbike taxi), had a cheeseburger, then slept.

Friday 16th November

After yesterday's cheer, we topped it today by going to the killing fields, where 8,000 bodies have so far been exhumed. It was here that many executions took place, and the bodies buried.

People were executed in various ways, and some graves were full of headless bodies.

There is a display of all the skulls that have been found here too. Scary to think it all happened less than 30 years ago.

Saturday 17th November

Got a tuk-tuk to Phnom Penh airport, had fish and chips (it's a local dish, you wouldn't have heard of it). Flew from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, and on to Hanoi. We had to pay $25 each to LEAVE Cambodia!! Ridiculous.

Got the airport bus in to Hanoi, and headed for the famous 'Old Quarter', where all the action is. We checked in to the Carmellia Hotel, and had some food and drinks.

Sunday 18th November

Walked to the lake in the centre of Hanoi, and visited a small temple on an island.

There is a beer brewed in Vietnam call 'Bia Hoi'. It's sold on virtually every street corner, and it costs 2ooo dong per glass. That's about 7p.

So, a few Bia Hoi's later, and wallet still very much intact, we were loving every second.

We ended up in a strange club called 'Funky Monkey', but left after one drink. (It cost nearly a pound. Far too expensive.)

EVERYTHING closes at midnight in Hanoi. Bars, shops and restaurants all close down and the police come round to check. We managed to bribe the Bia Hoi lady for one last drink about 12.10. We're so naughty.

Monday 19th November

We'd booked a trip to Halong Bay for today, so we got up at 7.45 to be picked up at 8.

It's a 3-4 hour bus ride, and there was a bloke on the bus who managed to talk for the whole journey. Non-stop. Without a break. He just talked, and talked, and talked. The guy was amazing.

Unfortunately, when we got there, it turned out he was going on a different trip, so we parted company there. I bet he's still talking though.

Got on our boat, and headed out to sea. We visited a fishing village on the way (a floating village, naturally), and then had lunch served on the boat. Squid and chips. Lovely stuff.

Then we got on a smaller boat and sailed under a cave to some hidden lagoons. Absolutely stunning. One of the most memorable things we've done so far.

Then we landed, and walked up a steep hill to another, massive cave. It's all illuminated now, and looks incredible.

Got back to Hanoi (still no sign of talking boy), and had some more Bia Hoi's. Then bed.

Tuesday 20th November

Up at 6.30 to get a taxi to Hanoi airport. Our driver was having a row on the phone, in Vietnamese, all the way.

Got the 9.20 flight to Bangkok, where there was something being filmed in the airport. Dave will definitely be on telly somewhere in the world fairly soon. (Accidentally walked in front of the camera!!)

Finally got our flight on to Surat Thani, where we got a bus to the pier. It's about an hour and a half journey, so we both slept.

We caught the 7pm ferry to Ko Samui which took about 2 hours, and shared a taxi with some people we'd met to the Chaweng Bay on the other side of the island. This is where it's all at. There's Starbucks, McDonalds, Burger King etc. It is the most commercialised place you'll ever see! It's like Blackpool with good weather. But cheaper.

While we were in Black Jack English Pub (!!!), a bloke came along with an Iguana and let us take photos with it....

Then another guy turned up with a monkey....

Then we went and danced the night away (we're rubbish), and ended up at a beach party at the hotel next door. The sea is warm even at 4am!! Brilliant night.

As we were walking through the hotel grounds, Dave walked in to a piece of concrete sticking up from the ground, and we're fairly sure he's broken his toe. But a kind local man poured some red stuff on it, so it'll be fine.

3 days to get it fixed before the full moon party. It ain't gonna happen. Gutted.

Not a bad beach though is it?

Speak to you soon!! xxx