Oh man, how on earth does this thing work?

Hey hey ladys and lads visiting my page! I don't mean to alarm you but I am a bit of a technical meatsack, hence my ugly colour choice and most likely confusing layout. I apologise but have no real intention of improving. Sorry.

If you were still under the impression that this page was an insight into the life and times of my travels in Chile, that I have to sadly dash your dreams of a hilarious tale of my incompetence- I'm back in NZ baby! However, seeing as I've had such a great response to my blog and since my theripist thinks it's a good way for me to share my thoughts (joke), I am going to continue this blog, most likely in a random fashion, with tales of day to day hilarious misunderstandings, annoyances, and general thoughts from out of the blue.

Enjoy, or don't, its your call.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The lost Cambodia Chronicles: Siem Reap

27th of December 2012

It's 9.48pm and we're on a sleeper bus on our way to siem reap. When I say "on our way " I can actually stand to be corrected to "motionlessly sitting on the side of a pitch black highway in the middle of no where." this is the 3rd stop in the last hour, making our grand total of actual driving time all of a raging 25 minutes, of a supposedly 12 hour bus ride. Something tells me she's going to take a bit longer. Good thing I stocked up on diet coke before getting on board. 

To take my mind off extreme boredom, and impending insanity,  I will give you a couple tidbits about out Christmas eve/Christmas/boxing day island extravaganza.

After a horrendous ferry ride, the only fun part of which was watching people stand up to go to the loo and then fall into other peoples laps and hastily jump up and then bum shuffle off down the boat red faced, we arrived on koh rong island. 

I have to admit my first impressions were not great. True, my mental health was in bits after a harrowing journey into unairconditioned territory the night before, plus a long and distressing bus ride, in which we were in trapped in our seats and forced to listen to wailing Cambodian women having a shriek cos someone took their baby, on what I can only describe as an ad lib live soap opera playing on the tv at the front of the bus. The driver must have liked me because I got to have the speakers right next to my seat, a special treat which had me making a noose from my bikini strings by the end of the trip. But I digress. 

Our Christmas accomodation was to be found at the end of a rickety, incrediblydangerousespeciallyfordrunkpeople whalf, sitting atop the stormy sea.

Upon making our presence known, the woman behind the bar cheerily informed us that the power and internet were down, they had run out of food because of the storm cutting off supplier, and there was an extreme water shortage. I really needed a shower. Lovely. 

Not to be deterred, liz and I soldiered on and forced our smelly, mentally frazzled selves to make friends with some other smelly, mentally frazzled travellers. As luck would have it, a friendly Canadian boy and chatty Irish man were at large, and we pounced with the opening line "how about that wharf, eh?" (hilarious side note, my computer just autocorrected wharf to to shaft, imagine if I'd opened with that!)

Fast friends were made, drinks were handed around, and soon more friends came. We were introduced to more of the gang- Lulu, a slightly disconcerting German girl with black hair, heavy make up, many tattoos, and a stern look on her face. Turns out she nurses and teaches disabled children and is about the nicest girl I ever met! "the Midnight Tiger" also joined the pack, a man, I was informed, who spoke less than 2 words in the daytime, but at night, with a whiskey in his hand, he was footloose and fancy free. 

I was introduced then to my new best friend- captain Morgan's and  coke. We spent a lot of time together that night. 

The next day was Christmas, and I woke up to a furiously beautiful day- a calm crystal sea, blazing sun and blue, blue sky. While waiting for brekky, a friend from Mui Ne turned up, and we had a catch up, while promising to meet up later. Liz and I then felt inspired to walk around to he other side of the island, as we had heard it was beautiful. 

On our way to the track, we bumped into the Tiger, looking worse for wear (last id seen he was dancing on a table.) "takes about an hour" he tells us, and I look at liz, panic stricken- "an hour liz, and I'm hung over!" 

With the grim determination of a woman who wants to tan, she forced me on, and after a fair bit of rock climbing and death moans from me, we arrived in what can only be described as paradise. I've never seen a beach so peaceful and beautiful in my life.

Now I realise this post is getting long, and you probs dont really want to hear about how many four dollar buckets we drank, or how sunburnt I got lying on another deserted beach, or how we are both now suffering from frequent bum explosions of the diorrehea variety due to too many mangos and seafood. All I can say is it's been the highlight of the trip so far, and it's a depressed two of us who leave today. 

I'll wrap up now with the fact that we have been moving at a steady neck breaking speed for the last 45 minutes. Promising. We are on our way to have a gander at the world heritage site of Angkor Wat, and see what all the fuss is about. 

Have a wonderful new year and keep safe my friends. 

Xxx ains 

The lost Vietnam Chronicles: Transportsion in vietnam.

 Transportsion in vietnam.

So it's been a while since my last blog update. Ps, as predicted, the bus did break down, coming to a flamboyant halt 1 hour frm out destination.

W spent 2 hours fixing (see: smashing at the engine with a wrench) it, until the bus driver and his 14 year old assistant admitted defeat and called us a new bus. Well played Gold VIP buslines. 

I write a special post today on transportation in South east Asia. 

Being in the middle of Asia, you would expect everything to be very Asian, which, in a sense, it is. It is also, however, being aimed more and more at its Western  visitors, with all the home comforts. 

I love using interesting and different methods of transport in Asia. This is more often than not because I am slack at organising it ahead of time and the get booked out, therefore I are forced to use various means of  vehicles to reach my destination. However I also love it as I find that if nothing else, you are likely to get a natural cultural experience and insight into Asian Lifestyle, which can be rare unless you go a looking.

Right now I am effectively giving a young Vietnamese man the death stare as he snoozes nonchalantly. 

I am in the 4th coach of a train bound for Da Nang, 12 hours from our last stop in Nha Trang. I am staring at the man because as well as snoozing, he's got a fag resting on his knee. 

Before you rush to correct me "homosexual, ainsley. Geez, you can be so CRUDE!), hold on to your panties and simmer down. I was merely trying to be fancy and use a synonym for "cigarette". 

I'm fairly sure he's not allowed to have his cancer candy on the train, as a guard walked by earlier and made a show of flapping his hands and wrinkling his nose in disgust as he told the kid off. The dudes response was to  just laugh in the guards face, so there you go, can't argue with that, can you?

The only reason the kid is getting away with it at all is because we are in the "hard seat" compartment. The train is divided into four districts (a la 'the hunger games') district one; SUPERIOR 4 berth cabins. District two; 6th berth cabins. District three; soft seats. Distinct four; hard seats. I am in district four.

Just think of me as katniss everdeen down here. If you have the fleeting thought "I'm sure it's not that bad", think again. It IS that bad, I literally am sitting on a wooden park bench that has been bolted into a shipping freight with wheels.

At my feet there is an exhausted mother with her gorgeous 1 year old boy. They are lying on what looks like a brown sheet, after scrubbing at the floor with some old newspaper, and dutifully throwing it out of the window (horrifying school teachers and environmentalists all over nz alike!)

Adjacent to me lies her mother, who is keeping her feet to herself for the moment, but times have seen her nestling them right over the gap and up to my bum for some toasty feet warming. 

Parallel to my park bench is an identical situation- minus the blogging blonde. All around me, wriggling bodies try to contort themselves into the most comfortable positions. 

I say this like I hate it, which, to an extent, I do. It's hot, I needa pee but I've already visited the squat toilet that runs straight onto the track, and I'm not in eager anticipation of my next visit.

I also love it. Earlier in the evening,  I was delighted by the intelligence and energy of the baby boy, of whom I am currently trying not to squash with my mammoth white woman feet, as he lays sleeping. He was equally delighted by me, and although neither of the women spoke a word of English, we all played and chatted in the odd way you do with someone foreign; a mixture of spastic mime, nervous laughter, and enthusiastic head nodding. I complimented her baby, she complimented  my fluffy head pillow.

I'm a hit with the train cars resident granny. Every time she goes past- trailing a large hand rolled cigarette that smells suspiciously like a joint, she grabs my hand and pats it, before smiling in toothless mirth and shuffles on her way. Shes tried to invite me to her bench a couple times, however at the risk of getting glue ear, or some other second hand smoke disease, I've politely refused. 

This is but one of the intriguing travelling experiences I have had in Asia. I'm not sure if I hope for another ride just like this anything soon- I'm not sure if my butt will survive this journey without falling off, but I'm certainly glad for it. 


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tunnels, Mui Ne

I cant think of a witty statement for the start of this blog....oh dear. It's too hot, but also I really need to fart, andim tossing up whether I can get away with doing it while like 3 other people in the hostel room...

So on Tuesday liz and I headed out to the cu chi tunnels- if you haven't bothered to research these like I told you to in he last blog, shame on you! More unnecessary typing for my poor fingers. 

The cu chi tunnels were built by the viet cong during the "American war". Using nothing but a brush and shovel (apparently) they whipped up some nifty tunnels- say abut 80cm wide and 1.2m high. These tunnels snaked for kms all over they place- they even had underground toilets, meeting rooms and dorms. It's basically district 13 from the hunger games. 

When they weren't crouching in tunnels, waiting to shoot Americans in the knee through a hollowed out tree trunk (true story), they were making even more unpleasant traps to capture the americanos. My fav was a ginormous revolving lid that was sneakily covered in grass and leaves. Stand on it (or rather, poke it with a stick like our guide did "thes' time la'ies firs'. Hahahaha" ) and it would swing around, leaving u to be walloped on he head and pushed forcefully down into a pit of artfully sharpened bamboo spikes.

We finished up the tour by walking through a tunnel for 40m. It probably would have been a spacious hallway for the everyday viet cong guerilla, but I felt like Alice when she eats too much magic mushroom and gets much too large for the house in wonderland. I had a mild freak out at one stage "omg liz, there's noone behind us, were lost, it's just like in the movie!!! It's so hot, ahhhhhhh I can't breathe!!" about 10 seconds of loud, panicked breathing ensued, until a bewildered looking French man turned the corner and looked at my sweaty mug in concern. Luckily, I was metres away from an exit and apparently has gotten everyone unnecessarily panicked. My defence was that we are all responsible for our own actions, it's nt like I actively invited them to get panicked with me "hi, I'm feeling incredibly  claustrophobic and am having a sensation of impending doom, fancy flapping your hands and and breathing heavily in distress for a few seconds?" luckily for me it was the end of the tour. 

That night we met up with some kiwi boys we had met day before and went out on the town- with a sufficient level of drink and food in me, 7 hours after we had started, I don't think I'd spent more than $30 nz dollars. Brill night, but did not make for a fun bus ride the next morning. 

After a death defying bus ride to Mui Ne, liz and I settled into our backpackers, and have taken to lounging on deck chairs and doing copious amounts of reading. They sell what I can only describe as "pirated" books here, so naturally I'm in heaven. 

Anyway, I'm sweating like a pig at Christmas (not sure if that's a genuine saying, but I'm gunna claim it). Might go for a swim! 

Miss everyone at home, hoping everyone is enjoying the time up to christmas. 

Off to Cambodia tomorrow. 

Xx ains and liz.