A Travellerspoint blog

perfecting the aim

Beijing- Xi'an

After nearly four months we are on the home straight of our tour. We spent a few days in Beijing on our own, settling into the city before we hit our tour. We're off to see the Terracotta Warriors in about 30 mins so this is just going to be a quick update of what we've seen so far and I'll fill in the details when we hit our next point.

. Temple of Heaven
.Confuscius Temple
. Lama Temple
.Tennanimin Square
. Flag Ceremony (flag gets lowered every morning/ evening at sunrise/ sunset
. Walked up the Great Wall of China
. Kung Fu performance by Shaolin Monks
. Peking Duck
.12 hour train journey to Xi'an
.10 mile bike ride along city wall
.Chinese Opera

There are some other things we've done like going to markets and lunch with a local family and will update at our next point.

lots of love

x x x

Posted by debski 18:48 Comments (0)

The Peak and light show

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is an incredible city and is running at a very close second to Sydney. There are so many areas to this city and we had such a short amount of time (4 days) that we figured the best way to get the most out of our time here would be to use the Big Bus Company and hop on/off at different points. We weren't disappointed by anything that we saw in this city and found it to feel a lot safer than New York despite any apprehensions we had to arriving.

We stayed on Hong Kong Island in the centre of the fashion walk and it definitely has a very New York-esque feel to it. Ladies, if you're looking for somewhere to shop- Hong Kong should be in your top 5. The subway is very easy to manouver and all of the major landmarks are given at each subway exit. Hong Kong Island has a lot to offer; Victoria Park, the Tin Hau Temple, The Peak and my favourite building that we have seen other than the Opera House- The Bank of China building. The views from the 44th floor are better than those from some of the other sights I've seen during the last few months and I could have spent all day here. I don't know what it is exactly that has drawn me to it but its slanted roof and twinkly lights (at evening) appealed to my eye and I have so many pictures of it that I'm going to have to delete some of them.

On our first day we stopped at the convention centre, visited the Sogo area, Wan Chai (red light district), Hong Kong Park and the Peak. We made sure that we were at the Peak during dusk and evening so that we could get photographs of all of the lights. The whole city looks as though it sits at a 45 degree angle, its amazing to see. I would fully recommend Hong Kong to everybody as I don't feel as though we had enough time to do everything. It's a really difficult city to describe as its a fusion of so many cultures. The people are really helpful and the city itself isn't as difficult to get around as I had imagined it to.

We have visited mainland Hong Kong and paid a visit to the hostel that nearly was- Chungking Mansions. It was every bit as dirty as had been described and I think we both breathed a huge sigh of relief that we weren't staying there. Neither Heather or I were surprised that Sally and Matt hated Hong Kong- if this had been where we were staying I think we would have been on the next plane out of there! It was definitely an experience to see and it's somewhere you need to see, even if you don't stay there.

We did even more shopping (no surprises there eh) and we have pretty much bought all of our present (huge sigh of relief haha) We went for a few drinks around Hong Kong, mainly in the Wan Chai area and we figured that it's pretty similar to Thailand except it seems slightly more upmarket (well...kind of). We watched the Everton match and were amazed to see that they had won. I guess thats what happens when you disrespect the underdog- hopefully Fergie has learned his lesson after that.

I spent our last morning visiting the IFC 2 Building- for those of you not in the know this is the building where the money is made. It also has lots of info on the banking history, fiscal policy and info about there currency. I was really excited to be out and about on my own and managed to make it there and back in one piece on my own. I was also easing myself back slowly into the thoughts of work again- only 2 weeks folks and then I'll be back.

So we have made it to Beijing in one piece, after the joys of a 24 hour train ride. We had the pleasure of spending time with some very helpful VIP's without whom we would have never made it to Beijing in one piece. We would like to take this opportunity to thank them for all of their help and for the entertainment over the last day. Heather set herself a mission of finding our hostel address translated into Chinese within 26 hours and did it in a record of 2. We booked a deluxe suite which got us a set of slippers and a pull down blind...haha, as well as our very own Western toilet (theyre quite difficult to come by dont you know haha). On first observations, Beijing seems like a very nice city. We have relaxed so far and have watched 'In Bruges' which is still one of the funniest films I've seen in a long time. This evenings plans are to shower and then hopefully find a bar showing the Liverpool vs Arsenal match.

Heather has just informed me that the communal toilets here are Turkish- not pleasant at all as I've not perfected my aim like Heather has. She has also taken to stealing toilet paper wherever we go- keeping the Scouse name alive eh haha.

The days are ticking by quickly and in a couple of weeks we'll be back with you all.

lots of love

x x x

Posted by debski 06:53 Comments (0)

Heathers Version.....

Thailand

So I thought I should have at least one little bit on input on this world blog so here it goes.....

Thailand: full of dirt, smelliness, rats cockroaches and also Full Moon Party. The ferry adventure and swimming in the sea for my bag.

Getting to Thailand: I was smacked in the face with the smell of dirt and stickinessbut after a night here, I started to like it here. We met up with Matt, Mark and Duncan and it wasn't the same again haha. Deb has put her version of Thailand in but here are the bits she missed because we were split up for a short time.....

The ferry on the way to the islands was an experience in itself however I found myself and Debby a small space on the dirty ferry floor and we spooned each other and fell asleep. People told me I looked beautiful when I was asleep- mouth open haha. Mark and Duncan got to know me very well in a short space of time and some of my friends who have known me for years have not seen me in that position before (refer to mouth open). After 4 hours on the ferry, I felt a bit peckish and parched so I decided to venture upstairs by myself to get a drink and some Pringles. The sea was very rough at this moment, so the ferry was moving quite a bit however I managed to move quite successfully to get the Coke and Pringles. My journey back was not so successful, in one hand a coke, purse and Pringles and the other trying to grab anything for safety. I got myself down the stairs and just as I was about to open the door, the boat went one way and I went the other. I literally came off the ground and was flying for at least 2 seconds across the boat and landed in a pile of backpacks- like a starfish. People started to laugh but also come and help but I was too shocked so I sat there still with Pringles, purse and Coke in hand amongst the backpacks to compose myself for aminute. I had to ask a nice lady to help me up again, got back to the rest of the gang and they were still in the land of nod- it was like it never happened but it did and I still laugh to myself when I think about it because I wish somebody had seen it. I did try to do an impression to them but they didnt seem interested haha.

Full Moon Party: After walking in the rain for an hour (people know how much I love that haha) we all danced like crazy people together for 2 hours- we got separated from Mark and Debby...so there we are Me Matt and Duncan- the fun is about to begin. After looking for Debby and Mark for a while we decided to keep on dancing and drinking- some more than others haha MATT! lol. The whole night consisted of me and Duncan looking after Matt haha and me waiting on the beach while they peed in the sea and also nearly drowning me by throwing me under the water and both of them sitting on me. I could have died you know but for only a man with a whistle who came over and got them off me I am here alive in Hong Kong to tell the story. I also lost my bag at this point and had to swim through the waves to retrieve it- fully clothed (I was so happy to do this haha) After holding myself all night for the toilet, near the end I managed to get to a toilet ie a hole in the floor and also some peace and quiet from Matt ( only joking, love you Matt) all I could hear was a voice shouting for me to hurry up as I was sorting myself out as you do after the toilet haha. When opening the door there in front of me-stood Matt....drunk and disorderly so I proceeded to tell him to shut up (everyone was looking).

The journey home: We got to the speedboat and I had to climb into a speedboat that was twice my height and found there were no seats so had to sit on the floor, when getting off- nearly falling into the sea again off the boat. The taxi journey home to the hotel was good, with me and Duncan getting to know random people and Matt dead to the world. When we got to the hotel, Matt wouldn't move so I got Duncan to drag him out and then we went to our lovely hotel room and fell fast asleep.

Hope you have all enjoyed my input of Thailand- my one and only entry on the blog ie Madelaine.

see you all soon in lovely Liverpool

Posted by debski 06:17 Comments (0)

Nice hotels, too many clothes and another injury

Bangkok II and Hong Kong so far

This is the third time that I have tried to update this entry as it doesn't appear to want to save. The rest of Thailand was filled with partying and watergun fighting- pretty much all that we were allowed to do with the city being declared a state of emergency. Simon- it was a pleasure to see you again, keep a drink cold for me in NZ because I'll be over to see you soon. Johanna, it was lovely to meet you- hope you got home safely and you should definitely get yourself over to the UK at some point soon! To the 3 boys from Fife- hope you don't cause too much trouble around the rest of the world but I kind of get the feeling that you will haha.

Our last evening in Bangkok was spent with Kong, a lovely guy who used to work with Heather and I when he was based in England. He took us on an evening tour of the city and we finally managed to get some pictures that didn't include images of the water festival- even though the festival was incredible! It was quite fitting that we were at a shrine at the same time as the 2 minute silence in remembrance of Hillsborough, so I lit some incence and said a prayer of my own- Justice for the 96!! YNWA!

......watch this space will update even more at a later point!

Posted by debski 05:21 Comments (0)

Geography lessons, buckets and mopeds

Thailand

We arrived at Bangkok fresh from a 9 hour flight and raring to go, well not quite. Heather and I had decided that once we checked into our hostel room, we would have a shower and go to bed as it was quite late in the evening. Something I have realised while we have been travelling is that things never go according to plan and I should have known that as soon as we saw Matt (from Fiji) playing pool, that our plans were out of the window. We put our luggage in our room and didn't take too much time to look around just in case we didn't like what we saw. We hit the street with Matt,two of Sally's friends (more about them later) and James who said he would take us to where the ping pong shows were. The heat was unbelievable and it was late in the evening, we weren't prepared for the smell either- it is awful. We arrived at Pat Pong in style (a tuk tuk) and we were practically jumped on by everybody in arms reach, trying to get us to go into their ping pong shows. After careful consideration we decided on one and went in. In the space of 10 mins we had a banana fired at us (you all know my opinions on bananas, I was not impressed) It's unbelievable how many women are prepared to sell themselves in Thailand, every couple of minutes there were women coming up to Matt and co, selling their business. Heather and I felt so much better that we had a few guys with us on the first night in Bangkok because I don't think either of us would have felt particularly safe without them there. The first night was the start of a very entertaining few days with Matt, Mark and Duncan as we all travelled down to the islands together to hit the Full Moon Party.

The morning after the night before, we went for a visit to the Khaosan Road to see the temple and to get some noodles. (the important things in life haha). We got a taxi (5 of us in 1) and with 3 tall guys, it wasn't the most comfortable taxi ride I've ever experienced. We bartered for a good price though so I suppose we couldn't really complain. As soon as we set foot on the Khaosan road, it began to rain. As Mark and Duncan had only been out of England for a few days at this point, we figured the lovely British Weather had decided to follow them. Our plan for the day was to sort out travel to the islands to get to the Full Moon Party and with the help of a travel agent, we booked ourselves onto a VIP bus/ ferry which would only take about 15 hours.

Satisfied with a job well done, we bartered with a tuk tuk driver to take 5 of us back to our hoste. I don't know how many of you have been in a tuk tuk but I promise you, it is no easy task. There is about half the space in a tuk tuk that there is in a taxi so comfort levels were out of the window. I couldn't get comfortable at all as I was sitting on a spike and so ended up sharing the drivers seat with him. The great thing about Thailand is that there is absolutely no sense of safety whatsoever and people are out to make as much money as they can. We were getting looks of disgust and confusion from taxi drivers, pedestrians and other tuk tuk drivers but we got back in one piece and hit the supermarket for rations for the long journey ahead.

After doing our shopping and eating our shop bougt noodles in the hostel restaurant, we decided to make our sandwiches for the journey. Mark suggested nutella and Heather suggested jam- (all the staples for a nutritiously balanced meal) The only sensible one in the group was Duncan, who stuck to ham sandwiches. As far as the sandwiches were concerned, I'm not sure which we enjoyed more- whether it was making them or eating them. Mark and I watched in amazement as Heather became a one woman production line producing some well cut jam and chocolate sandwiches. We had 3 types; jam, chocolate and jam and chocolate together. Heather cut the chocolate ones into rectangles, the mixed ones into triangles and the plain jam were left square. She then layered them up in the bag so that we were never more than 2 sandwiches away from the one that we really wanted. We also left some plain so that we could have crisp sandwiches too. Through the sandwich making, I have come to realise that I have some strange eating habits and can't believe that they haven't been pointed out before. I have been brought up to eat savoury things before sweet things ie meals before dessert and it is amusing to some that I carry this over into sandwiches as well- I don't understand why you would eat a jam sandwich before a crisp one but each to their own I suppose haha.

We boarded the party bus and although we were concerned at first, we were quite pleased with the facilities that we had on board- nice big seats and we were at the front of the bus so lots of extra leg room. We were doing a good job of keeping ourselves to ourselves until the drunken crowd from the back of the bus decided that they needed to get to know us better. A couple of Canadian girls and a couple of English guys who had been on the bus for a couple of hours. The Canadian girls were so drunk it was unbelievable and the guys thought they they could do a really good impression of a Scouse accent- how wrong they were haha. Any hopes of getting some sleep on the overnight bus went completely out of the window after the bus broke down. A truck driver going past decided to stop to give our driver a hand but what he had forgotten to do was to put his handbrake on. What happened next was a moment of comedy gold as we all watched the truck roll into the ditch and the driver run back to it with both hands on his head.

At this point, even more of our dignity was lost as we decided that we needed to use the bathroom. Although I was quite happy to go in front of people at Fraser Island, I wanted to use a proper toilet. It was possibly the worst toilet I have ever seen and I'm still not at grips with the Turkish toilets. Mark got more than he bargained for with Heather and found Heather using the facilities...by a tree (I think haha)

After waiting an hour for a bus, we all piled onto a single decker which was practically falling to pieces. One of the windows were cracked and pretty much all of the seats were torn. The driver wasn't even going to put all of the bags on the bus and so Duncan, Mark and a few others obliged. The next few hours were spent in fear as we watched the driver go for gold along the highways without any sense of concern for us at all. Heather was very vocal throughout the journey as she was at the front of the bus but all we could do was sit back and pray that we made it in one piece. We all managed to a get a little bit of sleep at least before we hit the second leg of our journey- the ferry. We were promised a 3 hour ferry ride but in Thai time that really means 5 hours so by the time we hit Koh Samui, we were all travelled out. We were impressed by our accommodation- there isn't anywhere in England that would offer this standard for such an affordable price. Please ask if you would like the name of the hostel where we stayed. Heather and I decided to be upmarket and get a poolside appartment. On the second evening the guys moved in next door and we had our own party block. The first thing we did after putting our bags in, was to hire mopeds for our stint on the island. We went out and about in Lamai in the evening and we were shocked again by what we saw. There were so many Western men and Thai women but hardly any Western women at all. There were pole dancers a plenty and lots of women selling themselves. The guys decided that they didn't want to be outdone by the Thai women and so got up on the poles themselves and I think they were better than the women- at least the guys could flip themselves upside down haha. I am going to skim lightly over the subject of the football match because I think it is a disgrace. The guy who owned the bar we watched it in is a Utd supporter, so he was quite pleased with the result as you can imagine. I still can't believe the score and don't think I'll get to see the second leg but hopefully we'll still be in it.

We spent lots of time in the pool and the first day was spent with Heather getting thrown around by Mark and Matt whilst I attempted to do some sun worshipping, which didn't last very long. Seeing her getting thrown around was one of the funniest things I've seen and I only wish that I had had my camera to do some filming.Heather had decided she had learned her lesson on the first day so didn't come into the pool on the second.I incurred yet another injury in the pool- I jumped in and cut my foot on the step of the pool. It is ok now but it was touch and go for a while haha. Mark and I spent the day diving for pennies and throwing shapes under the water whilst Heather, Duncan and Matt slept/ watched dvds. We were all doing some serious preparation for the Full Moon Party haha.

The party itself is amazing- lots of dj's set up along Haad Rin beach. There are podiums everywhere and the drink of choice is the bucket. Buckets are filled up with 1/4 litre of spirit, a mixer and some ice all you need to do then is worry about how not to get it all over yourself. The rain was unbelievable and I don't think there was any point in having a shower/ brushing my hair because it looked like we had all just stepped out of the shower fully dressed. The amusing thing about the rain here is that there hasn't been rain like it in 18 years and I have this on good authority from a man who has been visiting for this long. Any how the party was still incredible and we all busted some pretty funky moves. We got split up though and the 5 of us had completely different experiences of the full moon. H,Duncan and Matt were lucky not to get arrested by all accounts we've heard whilst Mark and I found the drum n bass and pretty much stayed there. Don't really remember much from the night and there aren't any pictures to help us piece the night together so we are relying on drunken flashbacks haha.

The highlights of Thailand so far have been the mopeds, the full moon party and the biggest water fight I've ever seen. To celebrate New Year, there is a huge water gun fight in the street and lots of talcum powder is thrown. Its like being back in Fiji haha.

I have learned a valuable lesson while we've been here and I'd like to thank Duncan for bringing it to our attention- the schooling system in the South is in need of some serious modernising, particularly where Geography classes are concerned (wink wink haha)

Duncan/ Mark- had a wicked few days with you.good luck with the rest of your trip and enjoy the next full moon

well folks we're gonna love you and leave you as we are heading for a few drinks with Mr Fiji Gold aka Simon.

see you all in 3 weeks and remember- the North/ South divide is only an imaginary one. You don't need a passport to enter ;o)

x x x

Posted by debski 01:43 Comments (0)

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