Friday, July 27, 2007

I'm not dead...

I'm just resting.

In Phnom Penh, Cambodia to be exact. Not exactly the most restful place on earth, but it has a certain invigorating energy to it.

Just spent 4 days or so lazing on a beach in Sihanoukville, taking brief breaks to go snorkeling or order various intoxicants from the bar. It was hard work but somehow I made it through.

Off to Siem Reap tomorrow, then I have a mere 3 days till I have to be in Bangkok, then back to Beijing, where I will have plenty of time to bore you all to death with photographs and tall tales.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Da Nang It!

Travels will be explained in further detail when time allows, but for now:

Well I made it out of craaaaaazy Hanoi, city of 3.5 million people, and 3 million motorcycles, but not before seeing various museums detailing how the Vietnamese have taken on the Koreans, Japanese, French, and of course Americans and kicked ass. Plane wreckage sculpture abounds and I saw John McCain's flight suit and tin of throat lozenges.

Then I stayed on a boat in Ha Long bay for three days, kayaking and swimming and climbing unreasonably large hills for no good reason. It was all pretty spectacular.

One pretty damn uncomfortable overnight train ride later (apparently in Vietnam, as opposed to China, when they say Hard Sleeper, they mean Hard Sleeper) I'm in Da Nang, home of China Beach (My Khe) upon which I hope to be relaxing in about an hours time.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


A brief update to confirm my aliveness.

I don't have time to get into the last few days in depth, but they included several trains, an unscheduled stopover in Guangzhou, some Canadians, a bunch of Guiness, a mad dash to a train that a taxi driver swore I wouldn't catch (you don't need to speak Cantonese to understand 'haha you're screwed buddy') and, after a very poor sleep in a crowded carriage, my arrival here in Nanning, where its just after 5am and already about 30 degrees.

In just over an hour, I catch yet another train to a place called Pingxiang, which is near, but not actually on, the Vietnamese border. THere's another bus or taxi involved there, then a 600m walk apparently.

It turns out that travelling alone, overland through southern China in July is kind of a hassle.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Hong Kong Phooey, Part Twooey

Well, day 3 in Hong Kong down, about 12 hours left to go, about which I am happy.

Things have not gotten any less crazy, humid or expensive here, I've been eating McDonald's as it seems to be the cheapest available meal option (the exact opposite of Liaoyang) so I'm energy-less and cranky.

Today I went out to Lantau island, which is supposed to be a lovely wilderness dotted with idyllic beaches. Unfortunately I got suckered into a bit of a tourist trap, catching a bus to see the World's largest bronze seated outdoor buddha. Quite the distinction. Nice to know those monks begging in the street are putting the money to good use.

I was originally planning to stay at a hostel on the island, but after realising that it was in the middle of nowhere (though with handy access to a certain buddhist folly), $60HK in busses and ferries from where I need to be tomorrow, and an overpriced mosquito haven to boot, I decided to get back to the mainland. Unfortunately, I'd already locked my pack in the hostel office, and the lady wasn't back until 4pm. That gave me three hours to sit and contemplate the world's largest bronze seated outdoor buddha.

Things in my pack that I was unable to access that I would have quite liked at this time:

A raincoat
Insect repellant

Anyway, I survived, with a mild case of sunburn. There were some pretty butterflies around though.

On that note, I finally found a 'supermarket' here in Kowloon. I'm pretty sure its as, if not more, expensive than shopping at 711, but at least all the overpriced crap is in the same place. I managed to buy some sunscreen that met all of my requirements of being A) not $90HK B) not containing 'whitening' agents and C) higher than SPF 10.

It's of Japanese origin, I don't remember the name, but I do recall that its SPF 50+, and has the words 'Sun Killer' emblazoned on the tube. My current theory is that it somehow accelerates the fusion of Hydrogen into Helium in the sun's core, thus ensuring that the sun will use up its available supply of raw materials that much faster. In the short term, this will infact enlarge the sun, causing significant discomfort to all life in the solar system (though possibly promoting sales of SPF 50+ sunscreen). Eventually however, the sun will 'die' shrinking to a relatively cold, dwarf state, thus sparing the purchasers of this product from its harmful effects.

The package also says 'kiss me' and we all know I can use any help I can get in that department.

Iminent solar death aside, tomorrow, all going to plan, I will pick up my visa for Vietnam, and board a train to Guangzhou in Guangdong province. Once back in the Mainland, with its reasonably priced beer and lack of Indian suit peddlers, I will board a train to Nanning overnight, and then the next day a series of trains, buses and taxis across the Vietnamese border to Dang Dong. From there its a short hop to Hanoi.

Or so I have been led to believe.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Hong Kong Phooey

Well I made it this far at least. And I got out of China without having to fine for my 12 hours overstay!

As expected, everything is horrendously expensive and its 30 odd degrees with about 300% humidity.

Every five metres a man of Pakistani origin tries to sell you a suit or 'copy rolex' and massages, of both the legitimate and 'massage' kind are available everywhere you look.

I'm sitting in the smallest internet cafe in the world, behind me some British girls are debating how to get to Vietnam. I'm keeping my ears out for pointers but they sound reasonably bewildered.

So I've got to cool my heels here for a few days, at the Cosmic Guesthouse, a cheap but reasonably clean little hostel in Kowloon, while I wait for first a Chinese Visa, and then a Vietnamese one.

Then things really get interesting.