Temple Hopping

This is my second attempt at this so not so poetic as the first. It will have to do.

So, after a lazy day around Siem Reap recovering from the scam bus we finally orgainsed a tuk-tuk to take us to the temples. Our driver was lovely and has been ferrying us around for 3 days. We went to buy a ticket for the next day in the afternoon and if you buy it before 5pm they throw in sunset for that afternoon for free. Our driver took us to the foot of the hill of the temple we were visiting and we set off up the hill through the trees. Time was ticking on so we had to rush up the hill overtaking all the slow-mos! When we reached the top we could see the temple peeking through the trees glowing orange in the sunset.

After a moment to catch our breath we started the climb up the temple. The steps are ridiculous! They are about 10-15cm deep and over a foot high. The people of Angkor must have had tiny feet and long legs! With each step I had to pull myself up with my arms like climbing a ladder, and I daren’t look down! When we reached the top it dawned on me that the way up was also the way down. I thought I would have to travel the 50 metres down on my bum! The sunset was lovely setting over the masses of water and jungle canopy that surrounds the area. We also bumped into 4 of the people we travelled with on the scam bus from Thailand. It turns out they were taken to the wrong hostel and scammed also, so at least we weren’t the only ones!

The next morning we woke up at 4.15am to get to Angkor Wat for sunrise. It was surprisingly cold on a tuk-tuk at that time in the morning and I had dressed for a hot day of climbing up and down temples. On our walk to find a good spot to sit and watch sunrise we came across a little crab side-stepping along on the path. The Cambodian behind us explained that there are lots of them around that come up out of the water and people like to catch them and eat them. That explains why we only saw the one! The sunrise was beautiful as it comes up directly behind the large temple. (Photos to follow) There were of course hoards of people once more! After sunrise we wondered around the back of the temple to look at the water and the south gate of the monument. As we were about to leave to get back to our driver a congress of Macaques rushed out of the trees. There were big ones and lots and lots of babies!! We took plenty of photos and videos. There was a woman who was setting up a little stall on her bicycle to sell bananas to tourists for the monkeys but as she turned her back a huge bunch of about 12 bananas was taken by one of the monkeys and he ran up one of the trees to chow down! Clever thing.

We then went on to visit several other temples, each with more ridiculous steps than the last. The final temple we visited was the famous one you will all know from Tomb Raider, guidebooks and TV. It is well known for the huge trees and roots growing all over the walls and steps of the monument, as the temple was engulfed in the jungle for over 500 years. I can definitely see why it is the most popular! After a good 6 hours of temple hopping we returned to the hostel as we were hot, tired and I was starting to burn.

I have to say, I think this is the best hostel we will ever stay in. The room is fantastic with A/C, a fan, a huge bed (Pez and I could sleep about 6 feet away from each other!! But apparently I only leave him a few inches to sleep in!), a great bathroom and a TV with 80 channels! The best thing about this hostel though is the staff. It is one big family, but not all related. Some of the younger people work here for free, so eat and sleep here so that they can go to school. The owner has almost adopted them to allow them to get an education. We have had many long talks with each of the staff and it is lovely to hear them talk so enthusiastically about school. There is a donation box in the corner that goes to the local school which we will definitely be leaving some money in before we go tomorrow.

Call that a knife!?

Busy few days! We met up with old Muso Gez, Noony didn’t want to be involved with the rhyming names so she kept her’s the same. We left Noony out of the conversation for about 20 minutes whilst we caught up about old friends and fierce enemies. The pizza kept us relatively entertained, Noony had to be different again and had a burger. Having not seen him for a few years, the dark Cambodian backdrop did nothing to dampen our spirits and conversation. The beggers asking for money to help fund schoolbooks and shoes for the local school or something was a downer. I mean I’m just trying to enjoy my Italian pizza. After the crying turned to a distant echo we made our excuses and left.

Noony walked behind Gez and me as we walked through town stopping only to look at the stuffed crocodiles. They were in a human fighting pose and they looked ace. I thought to myself, “Where do they find these crocodiles that already know how to fight?”

The next day I found the answer.

A girl staying at the hostel, (which is a brilliant hostel; free coffee, water and breakfast. Noony will give a better review I’m sure) said to the staff they could see crocodiles from their window and, being a lousy eavesdropper, noisily twisted my wooden chair round, crossed my legs and stared intently. They asked if they could go see them. The young daughter of the owner said yes, but the mum said to just take up to the top of the building and look down. We were a bit disappointed, even more so when our camera died after just one photo. When the mother left the daughter said to come with her, so we put on our shoes left at the foot (boom boom!) of the hostel and squeezed through a gap between the metal fence and wall and meandered into the crocodile farm owner’s garden.

We climbed onto the four foot high scaffolding to look at these marvelous seven feet crocodiles and their strong twitchy back legs. We only later found out that feeding time was about half an hour after we left and considering these creatures only get fed once in a while I knew tucking my toes in behind the wooden slates was not a paranoid delusion.

Today we went to Artisan Craft Centre which was set up to teach 18-25 year olds the art of stone and wood carving, metalwork, silk painting and, to a lesser extent, nude drawing; they asked me to put my clothes back on. To learn that it was free (for both us and young Cambodian apprentices) was inspiring and goodies made were sold in the shop. We bought a little metal elephant that you can open up to find empty space. This let me know that it was hollow.

Our tuk-tuk driver that we had kept for the past three days not only spoke good English, but drove slowly and well! This meant we could lean back and enjoy the view. Of desolate housing, working toddlers and polluted river fishing. It certainly does open up your eyes, or it would have if dust hadn’t kept flowing behind my new Ray-Ban sunnies.

Upon writing this Noony’s hour long masterpiece about Angkor Wat was deleted by the blog. She is furious and is currently writing a letter to the head of wordpress. No wait, it’s the blog again.

To finish I’ll tell you that my favourite quote this week came from the street children at Angkor Wat trying to sell cold drinks, scarfs and paintings. They were incredibly insistent and followed you even after saying, “No, thank-you” about 30 times. We decided to be much firmer with our responses so when asked if we wanted a cold drink I replied, “No, thank-you. I DON’T. WANT. ONE.”

“Oh, you want two?”

Angkor What?

This stupid thing deleted my blog about the temples. I am too annoyed to write it again now so it will have to be at a later date. Grr!

Bangkok – Siem Reap: What a nightmare!

We are absolutely fine and dandy but we had an exhausting day yesterday. We are now in Cambodia in Siem Reap but the struggle to get here was much harder than expected! We got up early to catch the bus which was fine which took us to the border at Poipet between Thailand and Cambodia, but the tour company were cheeky and took us to their travel agents a mile from the official border and were charging about $45 for a visa, when at the border it costs $25 at most. Pez and I had paid for an E-visa when we were online in Thailand which was $25 each so we didnt have to worry but they were scamming the extra money out of the other tourists. They were all asking advice from me and Pez and we were the only ones who had bothered to read up anything about the border (idiots!). I told them they could quite easily get the visa cheaper but if they did that the tour company would not take them any further, but that at the other side of the border they can get a taxi the rest of the way for about $12. They all wanted to do that but couldnt be bothered with the effort so paid the extra money.

Pez and I paid them so that we could get a taxi organised by them all the way to Siem Reap and straight to our hostel, which was fine as they saw us through the border and put us in a taxi as promised. Half way to Siem Reap the taxi stopped at a rest stop with a toilet (basically a girl selling drinks and food out of her house). Pez and I got 2 cans of 7-UP and the girl tried to charge us 50,000 Cambodian Riels which is about $11!!! Everyone there was shouting about the prices she was charging but I didnt want any hassle so I gave her 10,000 Riels and told her she can have that or nothing (politely of course!). She of course accepted as even that was over paying.

When we got to Siem Reap the taxi stopped at the edge of town and put us on a Tuk-Tuk (a little motorcycle with a covered seat pulled along behind) which insisted they were taking us to our hostel called Bun Kao Guesthouse. They took us to a hostel, but not the hostel we asked for! There was no sign to say where we were but we knew we had been taken somewhere else so they could get commission for us to stay there instead.

Pez and I were so tired and fed up at this point that we paid to stay there. But after discovering the air-con didnt work and that there was no fan AND the bathroom was flooded and filthy with a centipede running around the sink, we completely lost our temper and wanted to leave. It was just after 7 in the evening after getting up at 5 am for the bus and we had had enough of being ripped off for one day. So, we picked up our bags and told the man at reception we knew we were not where we had asked and said we wanted him to write down the address of where we were and we asked for our money back. We had paid $25 and at first he said he would give me money back for 1 night only as we had been in the room, I told him I wanted all the money, but finally caved in and said if you give me $20 I will leave now and that will be the end of it. He complained but gave me $20 from his wallet.

We stepped outside and met a really lovely Tuk Tuk driver who took us to the real Bun Kao Guesthouse. He explained that the hostel doesnt have a real name so they can take people there and get commission, but he said he does not associate himself with that Guesthouse. He charged us $3 to take us around town to the right place, but we paid him $5 and he was very shocked and happy. After a long day it was nice to finally meet someone kind and honest!

So now we are at the right place and stayed here last night. Our room is really lovely and the family that run it are very sweet. I am so glad we made the decision to leave the other hostel as Pez and I were convinced our things were not safe there. But all is well now! We went to bed early and only woke up at 10am this morning. We have wondered around the Old Market centre of Siem Reap today and I bought a lovely pair of silver earings and a silver and turquoise pendant – very cheap!

Tomorrow, we are planning on getting up at 4 am to get to Angkor Wat for the sunrise, but we will see how that goes. We are here until Monday so plenty of time to go there for sunrise and sunset.

This is Britain, and everything’s all right. Everything’s all right. It’s okay. It’s fine.

We are in Cambodia, but no wireless for iPad so on a Microsoft windows XP com-puter?

So yes, we’re fine, but we are never using a tour operator to get us across the border… ever… again.

Scams galore, which Noony will explain later once we can get back on this computer.

Our shortest post so far…? Not for long.


Koh San Road by candlelight

The Grand Palace…

I finally managed to rescue the iPad from Pez’s clasp!!

Yesterday (Saturday 22nd) we had made plans to get up super early and do the tourist thing. We had been advised to do our sight seeing early before the heat and the hoards of people arrived. However, after a terrible nights sleep we woke up at 11 am and so had missed our free breakfast and well and truly missed our early start.

So, like the fools we are we set off in the heat of noon. After all the saying goes “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”. Our first mission was to hail a taxi from the main road. The taxi drivers are cunning and switch off their meter for white folk so they can charge astronomical prices. We were quoted 150 Baht (£3 approx.) which may sound reasonable but for the 4 minute journey we would pay no more than 30 Baht on the meter. We moved on and haggled a more acceptable 50 Baht and the driver dropped us right at the front gate of The Grand Palace. Pez nearly took the taxi drivers door off by trying to get out onto the main road rather than the pavement, but survived the ordeal.

The Grand Palace is a walled off area (218,000 square metres) in the centre of the old city where the Chakri dynasty used to reside. Now it is a tourist’s haven and a “hotel” for dignitaries visiting Thailand. The buildings, the palace and temples are breathtaking. Every inch is covered with gold and mosaic tiles of every colour. It is extremely well preserved and looked after. The entire interior of the wall surrounding the grounds is covered with an intricate mural, again in gold and fabulous colours. The main highlights were the Grand Palace itself, the Emerald Buddha and the coronation thrones, one made of gold, the other mother of pearl. The Emerald Buddha is housed in an ornate temple, sat high up on a shrine made of gold. Although the Buddha is relatively small it is astonishing that it is so old (discovered nearly 600 years ago) and made of solid jade. In the temple you were welcome, once your shoes were removed, to kneel and bow to the Buddha. Many were doing so, including a special area sectioned off for the Buddhist monks.

After walking the entire grounds and being bombarded with the locals on the tourist stands outside we walked around the walled palace to Wat Pho, which is the temple of the reclining Buddha. Again housed in a stunning gold temple (which seems too small to house it), this is the largest gold object I have ever seen. It is 46 metres long and 15 metres high, covered in gold leaf and mother of pearl at the head and feet and symbolises the passing of the Buddha into Nirvana.

We then returned to our hostel on Koh San Road as 3 or 4 hours in the heat was more than we could stand – air conditioning is the best invention ever!

We don’t know whether it was because we are hardened to the hassling by the locals or whether it was the Chang beer but we were more relaxed to wander up and down the Koh San Road and haggle for unwanted knock offs of which in the end we bought none. I desperately wanted a sun shade made of wood and paper like Geishas carry but Pez sensibly advised that they will be cheaper elsewhere. Besides he insisted that if I was allowed a Geisha’s brolly he was allowed a Geisha himself.


Today we managed to wake up in time for our free breakfast. Hooray! Many had complained but we were pleasantly surprised by the real yummy coffee and 2 pieces of toast, as that’s about all you can eat in this heat.

We have taken up some excellent advice from Chris Whyld about staying at the Atlanta Hotel on Sukhumvit Road. It was an hour of sitting in hot, sticky, smog-filled traffic, but he was quite right, this place is an Oasis in Bangkok.

Stepping through the traditional glass doors was like stepping back in time. The foyer is decadent, dark, and red, and has black and white tiled flooring with a sweeping spiral staircase leading up to the rooms. The room is basic but we have a balcony and air-con once more. The real hidden treasure of this historic hotel (the first ever built in Bangkok in 1952) is the outside space. There are coca nut trees galore in a small canopy of jungle-like gardens where they are keeping pet turtles, the largest and oldest of which is called Archibald! Then on the other side of the jungle is the first ever swimming pool in Bangkok, which although we haven’t ventured into yet looks very tempting to get out of the 34 degree heat (and that’s in the shade!).

We sat quite happily soaking up the atmosphere and imagining the British 1950s holiday makers wandering the foyer listening to the wireless… I imagine we will be staying here more than 1 night.

Location:Sukhumvit Road,Thailand

This is where the hungry come to feed.

So, we’ve left behind the bustling main highway of Hua Lamphong with its twelve lane intoxicating spread of fuming, pink taxis, tuk-tuks, and other transportation. We couldn’t say we’ve ‘done’ Bangkok unless we spent a night or two on the Koh San Road. After spending a (sleepless) night there I can honestly say, no word of a lie, literally, at the end of the day, when all’s said and done, (…do you know what I mean?) that it is quote/unquote “mental”.

We haven’t taken a photo of the road, but I don’t think i would want to for fear of pickpocket people splashing talcum powder in my face and running off with my stolen photographic memories.

“Hello sir and pretty lady, you luk lak business man, you want tailor?”

Our good friend, Will, who is meeting us next weekend for Cambodian treats, has suggested a firm “NO SIR” which, to our relief, has stopped them – for the most part – from following us. Most of them shake my hand and lead it to their stall of cigarette tins and knuckle dusters. I might buy a knockoff pair of aviators as I know for a fact that face-wear makes me look both super cool and unapproachably serious.

The stalls cover both pavements from tip to toe and, in the night time the roads fill with three types of vendor. The first being the mongolian looking frail, old ladies who wear tall, pointy, beaded mountain hats and try and sell you said hats even though the only other people wearing them are the other mountain ladies. The second are the pushy men who force objects into your hands and expect money in return for the service not asked from you. The most stubborn are the aforementioned tailors, (five times more expensive than vietnam where I WILL get a fancy suit fashioned to my size, naturally). The final kind are those who sit by their stall for 16 hours and don’t move from their seat, they just stare… into space…. waiting….. for someone to come and buy their channel perfume, deezal jeans and rae bann sunnies.

We were warned online that the Charondee hostel is a difficult one from all the noise. Another person wrote for all the players to man up and get some ear plugs. We liked the cut of that reviewer’s jib so decided to try it. We were greeted warmly by a lady and her obedient, blonde labrador and showed to our room. This room was air conditioned, that’s all you need to know. The bathroom has a toilet with a shower nozzle above it. I assume they’re thinking two birds, one stone? The water pipe to the toilet leaks and the mosquitos come at night. Well, only about three, but they were relentless and intimidating.

We have been early birds again and going to bed quite early, so at 11pm we set off to sleep thinking how much quieter it was than the reviews stated. We both woke at 2am to hideous thumping bass. It stopped at 5am. We missed our free breakfast because of this selfish act on the DJ’s part.

Noony is going to write about our day today later on about visiting the Grand Palace.

For now,
Tinkerty Tonk

p.s. The dog was lying on the marble floor belly down and legs akimbo. Noony says that labradors have notoriously bad hips and thats how they lie down sometimes. This reminded me of a dream Abbas told me he had about me. We were at Alex’s house and Abbas found me, completely naked face down on Alex’s kitchen floor. When asked why I was there I replied I liked the contrast between the underfloor heating and the cool breeze on my back.

I’m sure we can all interpret Abbas’ moral message and apply it to whatever life holds.

Location:Sunset St,Talat Yot,Thailand

So long and thanks for all the fish…

Noony bravely took a video of a sea monster.


Location:Ocean world, Bangkok

Day two: Feival’s revenge

Today was a very westernised day. After catching the sky train, through what i thought were clouds, we entered Central World, Bangkok’s biggest shopping centre. One man opened the main door for me, another checked my bag for empty calypso tubes, one more pointed at the escalators in front of the main door and all were getting paid a salary to stand and do pretty much nothing.

We decided that window shopping, however awesome, was tiring. So we went to Sea World, or whatever it was called. We had the chance to see baby hammerhead sharks, but Noony said she couldn’t eat a whole one. We had shark fin soup for lunch. It was scrummy. The mink fur serviette was a bit overkill. We got in the glass bottomed boat. We saw sharks, lots of them. Too many to catch. Many couldn’t steer. Not sure why.

I had a massage after that. “but how?” I hear you cry. Don’t cry. My feet were kissed by a hundred fish. I have never been so delicately touched, (until Jean turns up, hopefully). Noony couldn’t bear it (she has a thing about me talking about Jean) so she left.

We decided that fish watching, however awesome, was tiring. So we went window shopping at the really posh second mall. In one shop window were two lamborghinis, the next, a gucci merkin, quite exquisite. We grew tired quickly of how things were in fact more expensive than in England. Boo shucks to the idea of cheap Apple paraphernalia.

The iPad isn’t liking photo uploads at the moment, and is liking even less that the comments about them are fictitious. Also, the follow map feature is pretty useless if it’s just going to keep a map of Chichester in the window.

Pezandnoony 2.0 will address these issues, but for now… Go away.

Location:ถนนพระราม 4,Rong Mueang,Thailand

Bangkok Bangschmok

Well, we made it. 24 hours later.

Our plane was amazing. Never seen anything like it. A screen. In front of your seat! This must be some new fancy technology. We had a nine hour flight to Mumbai which consisted of watching their inflight movies The Godfather and Shrek. They fed us three times and drinks were free. Their apple teenie was a little light on the teenie. Having only travelled by Easyjet, we never knew such luxury. The free pillow, I assume it was free, I took it, was the icing on an Indian cake.

Noony didn’t fair so well. The person behind used the touch screen on her seat as a punching bag, he also sang loudly over his iPod, pinched girls’ bums as they walked past and was walking about when the plane was landing. To stop our middle class anger spilling over into loud tutting, we had to assume he was a special, but he wasn’t. He was a plonker*.

Mumbai airport, however, was awful. Army villains everywhere. They made me wait for 20 minutes whilst my bag was being prepped for searching. Turns out I wasn’t allowed life saving water I bought at heathrow. The lighter and hunting knife were fine.

When we arrived at Bangkok there was a very patient taxi driver, (we were an hour late) who took us in his suped up pink toyota with a 200 litre nitrous tank in the boot. Vroom!

Bangkok is everything we thought it would be. Hectic, smelly, smog ridden but friendly. Going to sleep now but tomorrow we are going shopping in Siam Square, Noony doesn’t know it but I want a Thai bride. Just for cleaning and looking good on my other arm. I shall call her Hong Mei, which local people tell me roughly translates as Jean.

Too tired to ‘hilariously’ comment on events properly, but just can’t believe we are here for over five months. Probably won’t write this much for a post again, because to be honest if you’ve got this far, you are one of few. Silly pictures and overt lies are the way forward for now.


*think worse

Location:ถนนพระราม 4,Rong Mueang,Thailand

A record breaking day!

The graph says it all.

Packing day

What Noony is packing:

What I am packing:

Check us out checking in!

You can now follow our EXACT movements thanks to some fancy googlemap API and foursquare XML code. Lol.

Click on follow us at the top, we’ve planned our trip so that when zoomed out, all of the pins spell out “boob”, (“boobs” if we make it to the philippines).

Our movements on Monday

We leave on Monday

I am watching lazily as Noony packs the clothes we both need and, by process of elimination, don’t need into two separate suitcases. It will be comedy gold when I switch her suitcase for her to open it up in Thailand and find nothing but a fluorescent lifeguard jacket and driving goggles.

We are now nervous. Noony says she isn’t but I bet she is. Moths, bugs, mountain people and foreign food served by natives. I am worried that I am going to starve to death. Luckily I found that if I drink before eating I am less stressed. Shame that the drink that does this is Bovril.

On a more upbeat note, we have found that it’s only a couple of quid to Sri Lanka so I’ll go visit my old school’s partner school, which means I can justify to recruiting head teachers that my six month doss had a purely education slant.

Noony wants to sit on an elephant and I want to high five an orangutan. Hopefully both at the same time. These aren’t the only reasons we’re going, but it has made up a substantial part of it, y’know, redundancy and job loss aside.

Noony says I have to put the suitcase we don’t need into the attic now.

She’ll laugh about it one day….