Day 14 – Bangkok

Day 14 – Bangkok

Greetings my little sun seekers

Another morning – up with the larks!
Who are the larks? Does anyone ever say ‘Good morning Lark’? Has anyone met a Lark? Thought not – what a stupid saying!! Stop Larking around…..!

Today was our penultimate day and one which was designated to doing nothing but sitting by the pool. The temperature here is well over 100 degrees and at night drops down to a cool 90 – 94. Not sure what’s going on with my body but it’s over heating!! I have become one big bubble……it all goes down at night or when I’m in an air conditioned room but as soon as I am outside, I am a bubble. Made worse now by the fact I am peeling. A peeling bubble (not to be confused with an appealing bubble!) – not my most attractive look!! People are beginning to look at me as though I have leprosy. It hasn’t affected my legs, face or hands – strange!!!

Having surveyed the pool area I selected our chairs…they would be good for all day sun complete with two umbrellas. Next it was off to breakfast….a hearty feast which the Mandarin do extremely well. Then off to the pool.

By the time we got there we had neighbours (only on one side…..they too must have done an early morning rekkie. I felt like the meat in the sandwich. The Laughing Buddha on one side and Orca the killer whale on the other. He could have emptied the water from the pool with one dive bomb! Honestly, he made Indy look anorexic by comparison and me….almost invisible. Slim, as we now refer to him, had spread out using both the side tables either side of him. Whilst he had swimming parachutes on – he had the most enormous shorts sitting on the table at the side of me. It was like having a table cloth next to me!! Very smart!! The size of his t shirt could have doubled up as a sleeping bag!! Fancy sleeping next to that….which brings me to his very unattractive wife….who resembled an eagle!! But I am sure they are very nice!!!!!

Before you say, he cant help it……he can!! We happened to see what he ate for breakfast…. he was throwing into the river the crusts, which were the remnants of his bread basket……it must have been a loaf plus croissants!! I wasn’t even aware they had bread baskets!! That’s not to mention what else he ate, but in fairness, at least he didn’t eat the crusts!!

During the course of the day, the pool boys/men come round with a variety of goodies which consisted of cucumber and yogurt soup, mango smoothies, coconut and tapioca pearls soup and something with fruit in it. (all in large shot glasses) In addition there is a big fruit basket consisting of bananas, apples and passion fruit and to drink lemon water and iced water….all complimentary. (needless to say, Slim passed on the fruit!)

Cant say much else about the day…..just sat people watching and reading until the sun was going down and then went up to our room to drink our complimentary bottle of Champagne, being returning guests of the hotel!! A very nice touch I thought.

Tonight we went to a French Restaurant called D’Sens. It was featured in today’s edition of the Bangkok Post so we decided to give it a go. ….The chef was a french chap who had worked in various restaurants, one being a 3* Michelin restaurant called Le Crocodile!! Coincidence…..I think not. All roads lead to crocodiles!

The food was excellent but the service….you could have lost the will to live……or at least live long enough to get your meal! We got there at 8.00pm and by 10.20pm we still hadn’t had our main course. Fortunately there were two smallish aperitif bits that arrived at our table…compliments of the very slow chef. Lucky we had those otherwise I could have been gnawing away at my own arm! He should have wasted less time making these beautiful tit bits and concentrated on cooking our dinner!!

When dinner finally arrived, it was excellent but by that time, I was really past caring. I took away one of his imaginary Michelin stars…that will teach him! The Maitre d who by this time was a little up his own arse sent over two glasses of red wine. Very presumptuous……I don’t drink red wine!! Where was that going to help me, other than they were about £15 a glass….whoopy doo!! Indy drank both.

We left there not soon after we had put our knife and fork down – we’d had enough by then.

Nob, our faithful taxi driver was waiting for us to take us to a Pat Pong road show. Pat Pong is the seedy street. By day, it’s just a normal street with not much going on. By night it’s a street market and all the bars open up – every second doorway is an entrance to various sex show clubs. Touts stand outside with a menu of what you can see…. However on Friday and Saturday, there is a ‘special’ show in an area about a mile away from Pat Pong in an industrial site. Its meant to be all very top secret but every one knows about it. Kind of a tourist attraction!

Nob dropped us off and was going to wait for us (his name becoming more appropriate by the minute) Inside this seedy venue, you paid your entrance, which by the way included a free drink and were led to your seat. In a dimly lit room, up on a small stage with four poles in each corner the girls got up one by one to show off their various talents.

Contestant number one enjoys ribbon twirling…….she managed to hide away almost 6 metres of fluorescent orange ribbon up her nunny and gave some ‘lucky’ audience member the opportunity of pulling it out of her whilst she stood about three feet away from him gyrating her hips. Did he know where that ribbon had been???? For goodness sake, he got so caught up in the moment I don’t think he really cared, but his mates did!!!!

Contestant number two did something quite similar but she had silk flowers attached to her ribbon…..I suppose you would call her sport ‘Flower arranging’!!

Contestant number three had a bit more skill……she was a dart thrower!! Her assistant, lets call her Debbie (as in Mcgee) held up two inflated balloons and the dart thrower placed her blower, complete with dart, strategically up her vagina and using muscles I was unaware we had, fired the darts and what do you know……..they hit the balloon!!!! A bit sick but quite talented!!

At this point, I needed the toilet to which Indy said “you’ve got to be joking…..here??” but when nature calls, sometimes it shouts! Desperate to pee, I was pointed in the direction of the ‘ladies’. He was right…….you’ve got to be joking! I entered the toilet, looked around….where was it????? I walked out again into what I could only described as a make shift kitchen (all very hygienic!!) – no toilet there so I went back into what was the toilet. There it was….how could I have missed it!! It was one of those floor level holes …..standing room only!!! You’ve got to be joking I thought! However, I recalled the moment I needed the toilet whilst we were on safari (except there was no hole) and drew on the experience!! Fortunately, having learnt from earlier on – I had my own supply of toilet paper and anti bacterial wipes so all was not lost. Next to the toilet there was a large bucket of water and a ladle…..Noooooooooo!!!! I drew the line there. There wasn’t a chance in hell that stage two was going to be completed. I thanked my lucky stars that Chris, my trainer, whilst putting me though my paces is a ‘squats’ man so fortunately for me I could hold the pose without any effort!!!! My business concluded, I left and returned back to the show, which had now moved on to Contestant number five!!!

The remainder of the show included a lesbian act, a heterosexual act and a biblical act….she managed to turn water into Coke (didn’t Jesus turn water into wine?) Time to go!!!

Nob, the ever faithful, was waiting for us to take us back to Pat Pong road – the market awaited us.

The market was full of bad designer copies….you name it, they have it. You want a Hermes bag….choose your colour. You want football shirts – choose your team. You name it, they sell it. Stall after stall after stall of absolute rubbish but definitely a sight to see. The sellers don’t really care if you buy something or not – everyone is too busy on their mobile phones to notice. I bought a watch for the little girl I mentor…..it’s an ‘Ice ‘watch…every heard of it??? Apparently all the kids want them! I have never even heard of it but for £4 I was willing to make an investment – lets just hope its still working by the time I get home!!!! That concluded my shopping and then it was time to leave the market….we had had enough.

We took a Thai Tuk Tuk back to the hotel….they differ from the Cambodian ones as these are all in one!! Onesies !!

Safely back in our hotel it is now time for bed.

Got to be up early!!!!!

Manjana my little banana (s)

Love

Moi et Lui
xxxx

Day 13 – Bangkok

Day Thirteen – Bangkok

Greetings my little shoppers

Welcome to Bangkok…….

Up at 5.45am….the saying ‘All dressed up with nowhere to go’ springs to mind!!

Today should have been a lie in day – no tours, no sightseeing – what the itinerary would have read “day at leisure” however we were wide awake and ready to go….nowhere!!!

We had decided that it would be a designated ‘shopping’ morning and in the afternoon we would sit by the pool……however by the time we had actually motivated ourselves, we didn’t get down to breakfast until after 10.00!

BY 10.45 we were ready. We had a plan……our first stop was a shop within walking distance of the hotel. It’s the kind of shop you go into, look around, say oooohhhhh, ahhhhhhhhhh – then say ‘I’ll think about it’ – and by the time you have thought, it’s either closed, or you are on a plane home!!! We’ve been in this shop twice before!! We’ve had enough time to think!!

Once again, we ooood and arrrrrd – and even got involved in negotiations…we were close in price, but not close enough when the little shrewd lady who owns the place said “whuuuuuu u no go waaay n fink abow eet” She was going to let us walk out without buying it!!! Clearly negotiations had either reached her lowest price or she was ‘vellllllly clever’
We bought it!!! Arranged for her to box it up and we would collect it.

Next it was back to the hotel as there was a toilet moment (certainly don’t want to use the public conveniences – and besides which, I had forgotten the toilet paper!)

We needed a taxi for our next adventure. Last year we did a deal with one of the taxi folk who is approved by the hotel but is a public taxi. We were convinced his name was Joe (everyone’s name here is Joe!! – bit like Dong!) We found Joe, but it wasn’t the right Joe (even though we had used this Joe before) He remembered us from last year…….yeah yeah yeah I hear you say – but he did!! “You laaadeeeeee who beeet by tiger”! Yes, he did indeed remember us!! However, that would be a completely whole new story of last year in Bangkok when we went to the Siberian Tiger Sanctuary and one of the juvenile tigers took a chunk out of my leg!!! Big news in Bangkok!! Hospitals, Doctors, Rabies shots etc.

Then it came to me – NOB! Last years Taxi man was called ‘Nob’ – how could we have forgotten that!!!???? (It was on the tip of my tongue!) Anyway, Joe in his excitement, insisted on phoning Nob so we could speak to him!!!! In case I forget to mention it, when we eventually got back to the hotel at 4.30 – Nob was waiting for us to say hello!!! Both of them inquired as to how Jessie was and Nob wanted to know if she ‘waaaaaaaaar loya yet’. How nice is that.

Lost my track of thought………………….

Oh yes, shopping!! Joe took us to various shops, where we shopped and he waited. Some things are fixed prices and some are negotiable. No one thinks that if you go into a proper shop they are going to rip you off – but they don’t care. What are the chances that they will see you again. Slim at best!

Indy and I work as a team……I do the selection process and he does the paying. Having been in one particular shop for about an hour, it was now time to pay. The negotiations were in progress!! The woman started off with some ridiculous price and Indy managed to get it down to about half that, but it was still too much. Next (some thirty minutes later) came the ‘piece de resistance’……..Indy takes out the money that he feels is a fair price and lays in on the table…. he says to the woman you either take the money and I leave here with the stuff or I take the money and leave here with nothing – you can choose but either way, I’m going!! Good move I thought, but at the same time, a little upset that I may be leaving the shop empty handed. At this point, the whole family are now involved in the negotiations……Money speaks volumes, especially when they can see it. The deal was done…..not before every $ was held up to the light, inspected and turned over, She also asked us to exchange 2 notes as she didn’t like the look of them!!! We of course obliged. Joe was waiting outside for us and our shopping!

Off to the next shop….we needed to buy a new case/holdall as we couldn’t fit everything in our suitcases!!

Whilst we were in the shopping village, waiting for them to find the right size holdall, we went for a wander. One minute Indy was at the side of me – the next he had vanished. I back tracked and found him in a Kashmirian Emporium looking at some Kashmirian treasures….. Not wishing to bore you with the details, we now own 2 of them!!! These are too big and too heavy to pack so are being shipped. Ahhhh the wonders of the orient!! In case you want to know – they are Ducks!!

En route back to the car we went past a very nice handbag shop and I am now the proud owner of a very nice Crocodile handbag!! (which incidentally I have shoes in the same colour to match!!)
Indy say “how many handbags to you need”?? What a silly question!

Completely shopped out it was now time to go back to the hotel for a spot of afternoon tea and a cocktail. It was a perfect Mango moment sitting by the waters edge watching the passing boat traffic.

This evening I dressed up in my finery. I had brought with a couple of very nice dresses and grown up shoes that had yet to make it out of the case and I had decided that I was going to wear something nice. No where is smart here – even the 5* hotels…..no one dresses. Jeans and trainers are fine wherever you are and whilst that may be all very convenient, I do sometimes like to look nice – even if it is completely out of place – I don’t care. I own it, I’ve packed it and I’m going to wear it – so I did!

We went to a restaurant called Breeze which is located on the 56 floor of the World Trade Centre. What a fabulous place. It’s set outside on two floors but the main outside bit has been built as a kind of a branch – sticking out from the main tower, held up by not much. The whole area is surrounded by a clear glass wall, about a meter high so that you can lean over but not fall off – Its all reasonably safe, unless you either want to commit suicide or are pushed. Neither of which applied to us.

The food is a clever combination of Asian mixed with a bit of European. The service is good and the tables have nice touches of originality like 6 shot glasses in an acrylic base with all different colour and flavoured tasting sauces. If I didn’t think they would have missed it – I would have ‘borrowed’ it!! However, it wasn’t cheap….infact I would go as far as saying it was extremely expensive – worth it??? – if only for the setting, ambiance and the food was good. Fortunately, it’s a one off.
That was an AA GIll moment!! (Judith has gone home)

Back at the hotel – it’s now bedtime so until tomorrow,

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Lots of love,

A & I
xxxx

Day 12 – Cambodia/Bangkok

Day Twelve – Cambodia/Bankok

Greetings my little boat folk,

This morning we were up well before the sun and I was in the bath when the early morning wake up call occurred……one way of ensuring Indy gets up as there was no one else to get the phone and sadly for him, it doesn’t go onto answerphone!!!!

Had breakfast….really not worth mentioning,…warm(ish juice – my three minute boiled eggs were just one short of clucking and Captain Birds Eye’s omlette looking a tad under done – however we ate enough and no one was going to starve.

Som was waiting for us at 8.00 – and off we headed for our river boat cruise!! My Nana would have said “Occhhhh mere unnn cruise”!!! – meaning – call that a cruise?!!

En route we learnt that anyone who has a house on the river bank has to demolish it as during the rainy season, the river swells to such an extent that everything floods – This river, could be called the Tonie Sap is the largest river in South East Asia.

I digress…..The Government is giving the river bank families land further inland so that they can build new safer houses, however the locals don’t want to go as they like being in the centre and on the river. However at the end of the day, they don’t get a choice and off they will go.

Funnily enough, on the way to the mooring, we passed Lotus Fields!!! What do you know!!!!! The Lotus plant has absolutely no wastage. The seeds (fresh) are used to make sweet desserts, the roots are used to make stir fry’s and the flowers are used in vases.

Finally we arrived at the dock…..a very modern looking set of buildings, still under construction, surrounded by complete poverty, with cables, live wires, cement, uneven pavements and sand all over the place. There doesn’t appear to be any rules on Health and Safety so its just kind of every day life here to walk over everything.

Our boat was a private charter and I thought I would use the toilet on board….hahahahaha….
The boat was constructed of wood, which used to be blue and white…now it’s more like flakey paint held together with bits of wire and blue tack and about 20 ft long. All the seats are individual bamboo chairs, just placed on the floor (not locked down) and as we were lucky enough to have the whole boat, we could utilise the only four cushions there were. Made it much more comfortable! The driver, (I suppose you could call him a captain), was very smartly attired in his Emporio Armani T Shirt and holey shorts – he didn’t appear to own a pair of shoes – but honestly, would he have a use for them??

The navigation equipment consisted of a hole where normally a glass window may be, and two foot pedals attached to a chain which ran all the way along the inside of the boat floor, which presumably worked the rudder at the back. As you may know, boats don’t have brakes, they go forward and they go backwards and to make then stop, you have to put it in reverse and this slows the boat down (remember that piece of information!!)

Som came with us and we were giving some other chap a lift!!

Our destination was a floating village further up the river.

The river was filthy – a mixture of mud from the river banks and poo. Quite a few children were playing in it whilst others were looking for anything that they found that could be recycled.

The Floating VIillage is made up of extremely poor people who live hand to mouth – 60 % of are from Vietnam and the rest of the population is made up of Indians, Muslims and Laos people. It seems that the Laos people move to Vietnam, the Vietnam people move to Cambodia and the Cambodians move to Thailand.!

In the centre of the floating village is the floating market – it’s made up of three of four boats tied together and sells the usual tourist stuff. They also have a crocodile area where they capture the crocodiles, (from the wild) and hold on to them until they are big enough to sell for bags, shoes belts. Also as a means to make money they have their babies sat on the edge of a boat or on the pontoony bit with a snake wrapped round them -Wu Dollaaaaa will get you included in a picture opportunity with them!! The babies are so small and one of them was teething, so he kept putting the snake in his mouth! Another kid was floating around in a tub!! The children only know how to repeat…over and over and over again “Wu Dollaaaaaaaa”!!

The journey back to dry land was very pleasant and I commented on an on coming boat where everyone had life jackets on. I asked Som why they had life jackets and none of the other boats did…he said that once the life jackets get old and holey they have to be thrown out and there is no need to replace them and they are too expensive…..Tell that to the passengers of the Concordia!!

WIth land ahead and many other boats waiting to dock it was time to think about slowing up. ( FYI our boat was mid size…there are loads of other boats…bigger and smaller but all about the same caliber of luxury!!) . El Capitan found a space that he wanted to park up at and put the boat into reverse to slow it down to a stop. It would appear that reverse was broken and we just casually cruised into the pontoon….What he should have been saying was “Brace Brace” like they do on an airplane however clearly this is a daily occurrence as no one seemed the remotest bit bothered that we had just smashed into the wall!!! We just looked at each other bemused and disembarked from our bateau.

On dry land it was now time to use the toilet facilities of this new building. There is a lady outside with toilet paper (pink) and for Wu Dollllaaaaaa you can purchase TWO sheets of toilet paper. Fooled her – I had my own….never travel without it now! The water in the toilet was the same brownie colour as the river….(everything is recycled here) so when I flushed the toilet it was dirtier than when I started!! Stupidly I washed my hands afterwards (same brownie water….not concentrating!!) but the good news is I have a bag full of wet wipes and sanitizers!!!

Cambodia (siem reap) has been fun but unless you are a culture vulture there really is no need to stay any longer than one night…..everything can be seen and done in a day. The weather is wonderful though so you can take advantage of free time and sit by the pool.
I just had a Judith Chalmers moment!!!!

This afternoon we went into town for a spot of lunch and some last minute souvenir negotiations! We had lunch at a place called The Red Piano…..(a Jessie recommendation) which had been put on the map by the husband stealer, who came here whilst she was filming the Lara Croft film. They have even names a cocktail after her…… Lots of other names spring to mind which I would have called it but they stuck to the Angelina Jolie! – how original!!

Finally it was off to the ice cream shop for our last scoop and then back to the hotel. We have been into town three times and there must be at least 2000 tuk tuks – what are the chances that we would have the same driver three times!!!!! Coincidence……
I think not!

Well – that’s it for Cambodia, Siem Reap at least. The highlights for me would definitely have to be the Jungle Temple……..

Packed and ready to go, Som came to collect us promptly at 4.30 to take us to the airport – goodbye Cambodia…..hello Thailand

We arrived in Thailand where we were eventually greeted by a very strange little man – apparently he was our guide and the first thing he wanted to know was if we wanted to visit any Buddha’s??!! Was he having a ‘giraffe’? He assisted with the luggage, by watched Indy pushing the trolley (we now have three cases) as we made our way down to the car park. He was quite helpful when we were on the escalator…(in parts they are on quite a sharp incline) he placed a hand on the trolley whilst Indy struggled to stop it rolling away. Down on the next floor he removed his hand and off he walked…us trailing behind with the luggage!!
We were then met by the ‘get away’ driver who made it into Bangkok in record time…..and arrived at the hotel.

We are staying at the Mandarin Oriental which I love. Our room is in the old wing….The Authors Wing, where a string of famous writers have stayed…..and me!! We overlook the river which during the day is all hustle and bustle with boats and tugs going up and down. Its the quickest way to travel here and certainly the quickest way to move large cargo, building materials and a host of other stuff which gets pulled up and down the river. There are also boat/barge stops where you can get on and off to suit wherever you need to be.

As it was quite late by the time we arrived, we quickly unpacked and went down to have supper. Indy claims that they do the best Mango with Sticky RIce here…..in the world….high praise indeed for the modest Mango – so he was beyond happy when it came to dessert.

Now its bed time…..it has been a long day.

Until tomorrow – I bid you adieu

Love

Me and the Mango Eating Expert
xxxxxxxx

Day 11- Cambodia

Day Eleven – Cambodia

Greetings my little Buddha’s

Today is ‘Temple Tuesday’!!

By force of habit we are now awake around 5.45 waiting for our wake up call at 6.00am!

After breakfast we were collected by Som at 8.00 ish…he was a few minutes late as he clearly had ‘Som’ – thing else to do first!!

First stop Angkor Wat – built in the 12th Century. it is a very large Hindu temple (most of the others are Buddhist temples) but anyone who is Buddhists can now go and make offerings to the various G-ds. Head honcho of Angkor Wat was a G-d called Vishnu – he had ten hands (many hands make light work – and always good to take on a shopping trip!)

It is incredible how is was built and how it has sustained time. Everything had to be done by hand as there was no machinery around in those days and they had to use Elephants to move the huge slabs of sand stone. On the sides of the stone, hand carvings appear and most of the stories are depicted by G-ds and Devils. The stories have been written in ancient Cambodian – the only problem is no one can read them!!

As we were leaving Angkor Wat we were accosted by a bunch of Monkeys, a tribe of Monkeys, a herd of Monkeys????? What is the name for a whole load of Monkeys????
Anyway there they were – hundreds of them. Som, the tour man made a point of telling us that the company were not insured for any contact with animals – so we shouldn’t make nice!!! What did he mean??!!!!! Surely word hadn’t travelled to Cambodia?!!
There was one Monkey who was a Mummy Monkey with her baby hanging on to her tummy When it looked like she was in danger of other Monkeys, she attacked them. Meanwhile, the other Monkeys were working together…one distracts the public and the others take it upon themselves to steal from the ordinary folk watching them. One Monkey stole a womans lunch and brazenly just sat there munching away….. What a cheeky Monkey!!

Our next stop was a temple in Angkor Thom, (Ta Prohm) otherwise known as the Jungle Temple. This was my favourite temple and featured in the Indiana Jones – Temple of Doom film and also the Lara Croft film with the husband stealing Angelina Jolie (I’m a Jennifer Aniston fan!!) This temple is the one in all the guide books with the tree roots intertwined with the Temple walls…..incredible. Based on this one alone, you can see why it is one of the 7 wonders of the world.

Next it was off to Angkor something or other – a much smaller Temple known for its carvings and writings in the stone and the Buddha’s were protected by stone monkeys. However during the earlier VIetnamese wars, the Vietnamese baddies came and chopped off the monkey heads and sold them on the black market, so there are quite a lot of headless Monkeys.

Finally (thank goodness) was the last Temple – The Temple of Indy!! The smiling Buddha – otherwise known as The Bayon Buddha. Built in the 10th Century.

What makes all these Temples unbelievable is how long ago they were built, how intricate the details is on the stones bearing in mind everything was done by hand and how well they have been preserved, naturally.

We have Stone Henge – a few stones plonked together in a circle and we are so proud of them!!!! Makes you wonder!!

After the temples it was off to the Land mine Museum….not so much a museum but a school/home and centre for land mine victims and/or their families who had been blown up in landmine accidents or just missing a foot or two. This was opened and funded to a large extent by a chap called Aki Ra who as a young solider dedicated himself to finding and destroying land mines which were unexploded. Cambodia still have several thousand unexploded landmines (nearer 100,000) and the governments (especially Canada) are dedicated to finding and destroying them safely. I think America sends money, not man power, as it’s probably a little embarrassing for them as they dropped the bombs in the first place!!

After this it was off to the crocodile farm….. They have crocodiles ranging from about 1 year to 8 years old. Did you know crocodiles don’t have tongues???? We named them ‘Dundee’ One – Four!
Once they start getting too big, they are shipped onto somewhere else in Cambodia where they just wait to get old and then they are killed, skinned and made into belts, shoes and bags. Most of them get shipped out to Singapore where there is a big crocodile accessory industry……

The song “Never smile at a Crocodile” sprang to mind, so I did feel the need to sing it to them!! That’ll teach them!

Now we are Templed out!!

Our guide and drive brought us back to the hotel and arranged to collect us tomorrow – again at 8.00am – he has clear instructions – No Temples or Buddha’s!!

Left to our own devises we decided to walk into town to have lunch and a wander around the shops and day market.

I think I was unfair to Blackpool yesterday……I thought it looked bad at night….you want to see it during the daytime!! It’s a shit hole.

Whilst everything is probably cheaper here than in Vietnam, it’s almost like an imposition when you walk into a shop. You are a complete inconvenience. No one wants to serve you or for that matter is the remotest bit interested that you are there!! They should only know the rubbish I am capable of buying!!! The market traders are a little better as they appear to be working for themselves.

Next it was lunch…..we had narrowed it down to two restaurants (both Jessie recommendations) which had to be better than last night. We settled on 8th Street Cafe which had a bit of a Cafe Rouge feel to it (I use that in loose terms!) I was going to try Mong Bean salad but it sounded a bit too ‘special needs’ so I decided on the chicken. You can’t really go too wrong there!!

I also had a cocktail called Kryptonite!! Bit green! It had Vodka, Gin, Rum, Triple Sec (not sure what that is) Tequila, Blue Curacao and topped up with Red Bull. It will either give me super powers or wings!! It tasted a bit like Jelly……and so far I’m not exhibiting symptoms of either.

Whilst having lunch I was watching them change the fish in the fish eating skin tank that Indy went to last night. I thought I was going to throw up – especially when they were being fed what looked like ‘dead skin’ food. It would appear that the fish have a certain longevity….there are two tanks – the front one and the back one. The fish are removed from the back tank and added to the front tank and then what appear to be new fish are put in the back tank. I am hopeful that completes the cycle – only what happens to them after that is a bit of a mystery!! And…….how often does it all happen? Daily, weekly, monthly?? A ponderable!!

Next stop the foot massage shop…..I had a 30 minute foot massage and a manicure including nail varnish for $7….I think I overpaid but I was having a generous moment!! Indy had a manicure, pedicure and foot massage. A first for him on two out of three!!

The local Barbers don’t seem to need any qualifications either (or a shop)…they have a chair set up on the pavement and a mirror tacked up on fence.

Its all very sophisticated here!!

DInner tonight is in the hotel – whilst expensive at $30 per person!!!! (its all relative) it appears to be a fly free zone, clean, and attentive service………….

Cambodia – A bit more of day 11

How rude of me…….
I forgot to finish the email…….must have fallen asleep before I got to the end!!

Dinner was infact very nice and it was a relatively fly free zone as there are small pots of charcoal burning under every table….keeps the flies away but the midges do tend to come out at night….probably not helped much by the fact that we are on a river!! Don’t leave home without the mosquito repellant!! We unfortunately did.

Prior to dinner we were invited to a typically Khmar show…..the band sits on the floor with these kind of make shift instruments and the dancers in beautifully bright costumes do what appear to be very slow ‘pilates’ movements….could be a bit of yoga in there too. Oh….I forgot, they have a singer!!!! The singer goes from sounding like a cat to crescendoing to fox cries at night (( know this as we get foxes in the garden).

Fortunately for us, we were 15 minutes late and only had to endure the show and flies for 30 mins.

All in all – a fun filled tiring day and it all starts again tomorrow at 6.00am!!

On that note….

Manjana Banana

Love

A and Indy
xxxxxx

Day 10 – Vietnam/Cambodia

Day 10 – Vietnam/Cambodia

Greetings my little sunbeams…..

Not much to say today……

I hear you are experiencing a mini heat wave……make hay whilst the sun shines as tomorrow it may rain
Confucius may have said something similar!!

Today was our last day in Vietnam and as we had no touring, site seeing or shopping to do – we took advantage of the sunshine and sat by the pool and just relaxed.

Before you knew it, it was 2.00pm and time to go, have a shower and prepare to leave. The suitcases are now quite heavy – 26kgs and 27kgs – considering we haven’t bought anything of any significance so I don’t know how??

Hairy was in the lobby to meet us to take us to the airport and that was that……

G O O O O O O O D B Y E V I E T N A M

Hello Cambodia……………

We arrived in Cambodia to a beautiful looking airport – two buildings both with high wooden pitched roofs similar to a temple….upon arrival we needed to sort out VISA’s – what an unfriendly bunch!! I felt like a criminal and all I had done was buy Lotus seeds!! (no one was interested in my lotus seeds though.) We collected our luggage and were met on the outside by Som……Som call him Dong but we will stick to Som (where over the rainbow,,,,,,)

You are required to have a VIsa to get in an out, which is a $20 charge. 10 minutes later, if the immigration people have stopped talking to each other long enough – you are called to the counter to collect your passport.

On the way to the hotel Som gave us the brief run down on Cambodia……Cambodia’s population consists of about 14 millions people (give or take a few) out of which about a million live in Siem Reap. 75% of them are Buddhists and the remaining 25% are a bit of a melting pot.

The currency is 4000 bits to the £1.00.

In 1997 there were approximately 7 hotels here in Siem Reip as it was still a reasonably undeveloped town – since then, with the growth of tourism, an additional 120 hotels have been built (mainly from 2003 onwards) and another 20 are under construction. These are very big, nice looking resort hotels. There are also 200 guest houses/B & B’s and hostels which cater for the backpackers.. The original Cambodians are called Khmers and many of the restaurants boast Khmer cooking.- the other Cambodians are the mixed race ones……chinese, thai, vietnamese, who arent the proper ones at all!! (According to Som)

The main influx of tourists to come to Cambodia are the South Koreans followed by the Japanese, Vietnamese, French, UK and USA – then the rest of the world.

Our hotel is very pretty and by comparison to the ‘resort ‘ hotels is quite small. Where all the other hotels are quite ‘Las Vegasy’ ours is very woody……a bit like an old ship.

Once we had settled in it was off to the town. The main transport here for the tourists is a kind of trendy tut tut carriage….attached to a motor bike. No shortage of taxi’s!!!! However, we decided to walk – the exercise would do us good.

We had been told to head for ‘Pub Street’ which is the centre of town where all the restaurants are and the night market was just a bit further up the road. We walked along the river side which was all very pretty with fairy lights glistening in the trees and a scattering of restaurants on either side. Then we had to make a right and apparently we couldn’t miss it!

We had arrived in Blackpool!!!!!!

From nowhere neon lights, bars, pubs, road side vendors, and restaurants, appeared – fortunately I hadn’t changed for dinner as even in shoes, I would have been over dressed!!

We wandered down the streets constantly accosted by massage girls and boys, tut tut people, t shirt people, jewellery people – in fact anyone who had anything to sell…..a foot massage is $1 In fact, most things are $1 (pronounced wun dollaaaaaaar) – Cambodian is not dis-similar to Vietnamese and as you know I have a flair for languages!)

However, the good thing is that the vendors are not allowed in the middle of the street so they have to find ways of getting you onto their side of the pavement!! After a while we got wise to this which made walking down the road much easier!!

The big thing here on every corner is the fish tanks where you sit on the side of the tank, put your legs in and millions of dead skin eating fish attack. It’s like a scene from Piranha!!
Indy decided to give it a go!! At first he wasn’t happy….I can’t imagine the fish were too overjoyed either, but then after a few minutes he settled into the whole thing. 5 mins later he had had enough……however has anyone thought about who or what these fish ate before him??? Verukas? Bunions, Blisters, and that’s just the tip of the toeberg. It’s enough to make you wanna gag!! Obviously a picture opportunity!!

Further down the road there are the sales reps trying to drag you into their restaurants…..the average dish is about $2 and that includes rice!! Local beer here is 50 cents a pint, (see picture) so you could survive here quite happily for about $5 a day which is 3 good square meals.

After walking around the market which is huge (bought nothing….couldn’t give the money away) it was dinner time. We selected the restaurant we ate at based on a variety of criteria……
1. Cleanliness
2. Cleanliness and
3. Cleanliness

We were wondering why there were no flies in VIetnam…..simples…..they are all here! Mainly little midges which are everywhere and one tends to have the need to scratch a lot – especially your hair!! I can’t be sure how many were included in dinner but I think it’s safe to say they blend in quite well with the food!

DInner was ok although we won’t be going back to town again to eat!…..3 dishes to share, 2 bacardi and cokes (branded drinks are at least double the price of the local stuff) and a litre of bottled Tiger beer for Indy and the bill came to $17. The drinks bill was the same, if not higher than the food bill.

Pink robed monks sat in the middle of the street clanging away at their musical triangles begging for money for land mine victims……..Bars had booming music trying to attract you to come in and huge TV screens with football matches were abundant

Time to leave….but first an ice cream and select who was going to be the lucky Tut Tut driver to take us back to the hotel!! It was like a scene from Shrek with Donkey jumping up and down shouting ‘pick me….pick me’!! Selection made, it was time to retire…..

Back at the hotel, safely tucked up in my clean fly free room, complete with air conditioning – I bid you good night.

Until tomorrow…..toodle oooooo

A and Indy
xxx

Vietnam – Day 8/9

Day 8/9 – Vietnam

Hello my little Sparrows

Welcome to Saigon…..the hotel has a very ‘English’ feel to it and there could possibly be more staff than guests!! Its all quite colonial and the staff are super attentive.

Today has been a very cultural day – our hairy guide, Sari came to pick us up at 8.30am and off we set to the Cu Chi tunnels – there’s Ho Chi, Cu Chi and now there’s Chu-Chi!!

Bearing in mind it is a Sunday, one would have expected the traffic to be a little easier however in Saigon the traffic is never light and worse than Hanoi you are literally driving into on coming traffic, silently praying that you are going to over take the car in front (it’s not a Toyota) and make it back to your own side before the large truck who is on his own side of the road, hits you head on!

The Cu Chi tunnels are about an hour and a half outside Siagon and surrounded by woodland. New trees get planted every 8 years or so as once they are tall enough, they are chopped down and used for either their rubber or bamboo.

The tunnels are a network of tunnels ranging up to 250km – built by hand (no machinery) These are on three levels – first level being about 3 meters down (and very dark) and all have escape routes. Its a bit like rabbit warrens, which I am guessing what they based it on!!!! There are dining areas, conference areas, hospital areas, old lady and children areas, living quarters, kitchens etc. Even the kitchen were designed not to show the Americans (from helicopters above) that there was cooking going on…they had a sophisticated extractor systems which is all very clever.

However they were also an evil bunch – they devised these horrible booby traps all ending the same way….a series of spears going through various body parts. Worse if you were a man as some were especially designed to get you in the goolie area. The Americans weren’t so nice either and dropped a shed load of B52 bombs – there are still some unexploded land mines in the area but no one is too sure where they are so whilst nothing is cordoned off, you are advised to try and stick to the path!!

The tourist tunnels have been enlarged a little as no one would be able to get down them to have a look however there are loads of original entrances which if you are small enough, you can go down. Whilst your down there, it’s very hot, quite claustrophobic and you have this over riding desire to stand up, which obviously isn’t possible so you get in and out as soon as there is another entrance/exit. We were in one that was about 50 metres long (and dark) and were quite relieved to get out.

By now the temperature had risen to 38 degrees – which is about 106 in our language…..even a tad warm for me!!

After the tunnels we went off to China Town and the biggest Chinese market called Ben Than – it’s got some other name too but Ben Than will do. It’s kind of like the wholesale market for the retail market!!! Not us – the local market traders buy their stuff from them and sell it to the likes of us. Which brings me on to Lotus seeds……..

You may recall I bought two strands of Lotus seeds from Dong in Hoi An (the waiter at the hotel) – he charged me 150,000 bits each strand, which is about £5 a strand. And, last night they wanted $10. Today I bought 10 strands for 10,000 each – total 100,000 for 10!!!! – that £3.00 for all of them…..30 pence each!!!
Dong has probably swapped his moped in for a Harley Davidson today….he saw us coming a mile away – and now he can speed off even quicker!!

After the market Hairy took us to see some Chinese temple – the story goes that it is a lady Buddha who looked down from her cloud when the seas were stormy and if you gave her a big enough offering, she would save you when your boat capsized. Before you enter, there are people selling little sparrows (live ones) for you to make as an offering. You buy the sparrow, buy the incense sticks – set the sparrow free and then go and light your incense sticks and ask her for whatever it is you want……preferably success in business, a baby or marriage.

I thought it was very cruel that they had all these little sparrows all crammed into a cage so we bought two! Our own pet sparrows. The lady took then out one at a time and handed me the first one – scary shit….have you ever held a sparrow??? The saying a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush springs to mind – although what are the chances that you will be holding a Sparrow!!???

I named the first one Num Num (as in Birdie) and released her (it was a her) into the wild and then the lady gave me the second one – who was a bit quick off the mark – I named him Freedom and off he flew. Our good deed for the day.

After that Hairy took us to the Presidential Palace, which no one lives in as the first President died before it was finished and the second President only got to stay there for 47 hours before the Viet Cong captured it. It’s a very nice looking building but if you ask me – its a bit of a waste of money. Doesn’t do anything.

Next it was off to see the Notre Dam Cathedral…..very nice…..swiftly onto the Post Office which was built by the same chap who built the EIffel Tower – very nice. Then Hairy wanted us to see the Opera House which was built by the French, who incidentally also built the Hotel D’Ville – its not a hotel but the town hall. As it happens the architecture was beautiful – so we stayed another 30 seconds to admire it. Very nice!!

Being completely site seeinged out – we told Hairy that we had had a lovely time and he could have the rest of the afternoon off……

Should you ever find yourselves on these shores, and as cultured as ourselves, we would definitely recommend the Tunnels and the Ben Than market – the rest are just photo opportunities.

Tonight we went to a restaurant called XU – pronounced Me!! (have you worked that one out??) – Excellent. Again, if in Saigon – go there.

Before dinner we went off to the local market and Indy became one of the sales people…..he sat there whilst I was negotiating for something asking people who walked by “Waaaa you wanna paaay”? “We got your sizes” “Where u flom…” – It was a location thing and clearly you had to be there but he was very funny. He is now the proud owner of a new pair of Adidas socks!!! It is cheaper to buy new them here than send them to the laundry!

It’s now bedtime for us – so on that sweet note – good night and see you tomorrow.

Lots of love,
Me and the salesman
xxxxx

Vietnam – Day 7

Day 7 Vietnam

Hello my little Lotus Seeds…….

Another early start except we had no where to go today – another designated beach day. Felt a bit guilty that we weren’t going to see a temple or Buddha but its amazing how quickly the guilt dissipates when the sun is shining!!

We sat outside our house this morning, watching the sea rolling in and out, basking like lemon sharks in the sun, until it was time for our clandestine meeting!!! Not that we had done anything wrong, we were just feeling like we had…..meeting a man in the car park under the street light at midnight!!! Something from an old black and white movie….anyway, fast forward to reality……

We had arranged to meet Dong, the Lotus seed courier, at the next hotel along the road, which from memory of passing by, didn’t seem that far away. Laurence and I had different views as to how long it would take to get there – he anticipated that it would be a good 30 minute ride there and 40 on the way back (we were going to be tired!!) I thought it would take 5 mins there and 4 back if we sped up a bit!! But first, we needed a bicycle!!

The choice was a tandem or a regular bike….we obviously decided on the tandem but thought we should practise first before setting off on our road trip…….fortunately we did as we were pathetic……only one person can steer but both are required to peddle. I started off steering and hoped Indy would provide the pedal power…the only problem with that is if you steer and pedal you have control of what speed you are doing and you are in control…..if you have pedal power at the back – it makes it difficult to steer as he doesn’t know you are turning – disaster!!! We decided it was far safer for us and other road users to have a bike each. Off we went, leaving 45 mins to get there……4 mins later we arrived!!! What do you know! Men and size/length just don’t go together!!

That left us a 40 minute wait! Whilst we were looking very conspicuous standing alone, along the road side waiting to do the ‘exchange’ – one of the hotel cars had driven past us, saw us and doubled back to see if we were ok!! Clearly we looked very guilty and can only assume this is what it would be like if we were drug smugglers!! Worse still, did he think we were drug couriers?? He stopped, wound down his window and asked us if everything was ok. Indy told him we were resting!!!! We had only cycled 4 minutes down the road!!

Satisfied that we were ok – we waived goodbye and off he went. Two minutes later Dong arrived on his moped with the ‘stuff’. It was like something out of CSI Vietnam. The exchange went down…..he gave us the bag and I gave him the money which was folded in my sock…..all very professional! I think we were perhaps ripped off royally – these are going to be the most expensive lotus seeds ever, in the history of lotus seeds…..bearing in mind the are used with regularity in vietnamese cooking – each seed is slightly bigger than a chic pea and there are 54 on a strand and I have two strands – we gave him half a million (in used bills!! – gangster chat) which is about £15.00 – hahahahahahaha!!!!!!

We then had to cycle back and try and look exhausted as we had been gone for over an hour – having cycled less than 10 mins in total!! The hotel staff were very impressed with our stamina!! Hadn’t even broken out in a mild sweat!!

This afternoon once the sun had gone down we went off for a synchronised massage. The Spa area is incredible and all the individual spa treatment rooms have additional rooms which lead off them and hang over a very large pond with lilies. Once they had scrubbed our feet and pumice stoned them, it was off for our massages. I thought my massage man was going to snap my back in two but now its all finished, I feel like I could probably tie my legs up behind my neck……very bendy.

Tonights supper was in a restaurant called ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ – yes you guess it – it was Italian!! Owned and run by an Italian chap who met his Vietnamese wife here 8 years ago, married her and has a child. Used to live in Venice and has a whackingly large picture of Venice behind the bar…..probably so he doesn’t forget!! Excellent food – carpaccio, spaghetti bolognaise (al dente) tiramamasu, lemoncello……the works. Very nice and would definitely go their again – but it’s not very local!

Well, this is our last night here. Hoi An is a nice town, every other shop is a tailor (dont do it!!) and in between there are lantern shops obviously all the rage… why????? (we have two!!)

On that note – our next email will be from Saigon.

It’s farewell from us and farewell from Hoi An.

Toodle Oooooo for now.

Lots of love,
A xx