Saturday, May 02, 2009


Best Imitation of Myself - Ben Folds

Was listening to this on youtube today - just by chance - and the lyric "I juggle one-handed, do some magic tricks, and the best imitation of myself" was for once very clear to me (I'm generally incapable of hearing lyrics to the point of comprehension). I guess i noticed it though because, as it happened i'd just been juggling one-handed (well, and 4 balls in two separate hands). Now on reflection, perhaps what it meant by juggling one-handed was that he couldn't really juggle - i'm not too sure now. However, I have been reigniting my fire for learning slightly ridiculous stuff like juggling and magic recently, and i definitely do the best imitation of myself... ::) *so much more to say about that, but alas, revision calls, perhaps i'll think about it more later. Anwyaz, here, for prosperity's sake, i quote the lyrics to the whole song - meditate upon them :)

I feel like a quote out of context
Withholding the rest
So I can be free what you want to see
I got the gesture and sound
Got the timing down
It's uncanny, yeah, you think it was me
Do you think I should take a class
To lose my southern accent
Did I make me up, or make the face till it stuck
I do the best imitation of myself
The problem with you speech
You gave me was fine
I liked the theories about my little stage
And I swore I was listening
But I started drifting
Around the part about me acting my age
Now if it's all the same
I've people to entertain
I juggle one handed
Do some magic tricks and
The best imitation of myself
Maybe I'm thinking myself in a hole
Wondering, who I am when I ought to know
Straighten up now time to go
Fool somebody else, fool somebody else
Last night I was east with them
And west within
Trying to be for you what you wanna see
But I can't help it with you
The good and bad comes through
Don't want you hanging out with
No one but me
Now if it's all the same
It comes from the same place
And if my mind's somewhere else
You won't be able to tell
I do the best imitation of myself
Yes it's uncanny to see
You'd really think it was me
The best imitation of myself
The best imitation of myself

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


(Stolen for littleradge, who doesn't know i exist, but he has a cool vlog...)

Using only song titles from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Try not to repeat a song title. It's harder than you think.

Pick Your Artist: Divine Comedy

Are you male or female:
Everybody knows (except you)
Describe yourself:
Happy Goth
How do you feel about yourself?:
a woman of the world
Describe where you currently live:
If you could go anywhere, where would you go?:
In and out in paris and london
Your favourite form of transportation:
national express
Your best friend is:
eric the gardener/neptune's daughter/the frog princess
Your favorite colour is:
What's the weather like?:
here comes the flood
Favorite time of day:
through a long and sleepless night
If your life was a TV show, what would it be called?:
Life on earth
What is life to you?:
The certainty of chance
What is the best advice you have to give?:
love what you do
If you could change your name, what would it be?:
Your favorite food is:
gin soaked boy
Thought for the Day:
dumb it down
How would you like to die?:
Your soul's present condition:
The faults you can bear:
too young to die
Your motto:
in pursuit of happiness

Monday, November 27, 2006

millipede-y goodness and other critters

Leeches!!! Wooo!!

Smaller, but nastier centipede

Millepede on Machete

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Last of the great travelly epics...

Loooooong time no write. Thought i couldn't go home without finishing the adventure though.
I believe i left you all in Vietnam - 5 days to go, Ha Long Bay pending. Ha Long bay was absolutely wicked! It's just a whole load (2000 or something) of little 'islets' made out of lime stone, stuck up in the water - legend has it that they're the spikes on a dragon's back! ooo.... So, um... did a tour around there for 3 days on a boat and in caves and a killer 2 hour trek - sooooo hot. The caves were like natural cathedrals - and i think if you'll find fairies anywhere it would be there. Anywayz, when we got back from Ha Long we just had a couple of days left, where basically we didn't do alot except souvenier shop and get taken out 3 nights in a row by the 3 irish guys we met on the tour in Ha Long (btw, Anna, do you know if he ever found his camera? - i lost my diary in NZ and lost all my email addies with it...) - Baileys all round! (or cheap vietnamese beer... either way...). And thus endeth our asian adventure. We had a really expensive meal on our last night in a ridiculously posh restaurant (i think it probably came to 5 or 6 pounds altogether... :D sooooo expensive!?!) and then Anna and i bade farewell at hanoi airport.
Next came NZ, but i was extremely lucky to have to transit for a day in Bangkok and the resultant email ensued:
"But also, i sooooo couldn't have picked any better time to arrive here - Anna, it's like songkran all over again, but with yellow instead of water. This week the Thais celebrate 60 years of the corination (sp?...) of the King and apparently he really likes yellow! Coming in from the airport the really huge road (that goes just to the right of Khao San) is completely filled with yellow sparkly fairy lights, all the flowers are yellow, the tops of the bushes are sprayed yellow and at least 90% of the population of BKK is wearing a yellow t-shirt - it really is quite a sight!! I was also treated to a huge brass band, while we were stuck in traffic getting in to the city, and one of the prettiest fireworks displays i've ever seen while munching on a 20p corn on the cob- all for free and in about 3 hours of getting here - can't be bad!"
^that was a good day!
NZ is a very cool country, but my week long experience of it was something of a wash out. I arrived with a really horrible cold, straight into a 3 day storm, and a whole day where the power was cut over most of Auckland... hmm... so then i only had a few days left. But i saw all the main sites in Auckland (including Cheltenham Beach!), and i got to do some riding aswell (yay!) cantering (or occasionally racing witht he bolting horse infront if i hadn't been paying attention... ::) ) over NZ ridges in country that loooks very much like hobbitan, is a lot of fun :D
NZ was complete quasi-reverse culture shock though - it's sooo green and clean, and sooo like home, but completely different. As far as i can see it's got all the good points of britain, and then some more of its own - definitely be using my working visa after uni.
Next, after a ridiculously long flight over the huuuuugest expanse of ocean ever - i just cannnot express how massive the pacific is - i arrived in LA, which was terribly exciting. LA is every bit as crazy as it looks on tv. And now another email quote (cause i just cant be bother to write it again...):
"I made it to Los Angeles!!!! yay! It's such a strange place with such a bizarre mix of people... (esp people on the Metro buses - some very weird types to be found there...)

I'm sooooo confused - flying backwards across the international dateline has got to be the most comprehansive way of confuzzling ones senses ever - i had the whole of the 16th in NZ and then i had the whole day (16th) again in LA; and in the mean time, i arrived in the USA before i left NZ Shocked ; and am now, basically, up all of, what my head has presumed for the last 6 months, is night.... Huh Grin Huh

Anywayz - out exploring Hollywood today - done the whole sign and walk of fame thing... woohoo, i guess... Went up to the Getty Centre on the hill for sunset and had a really great view (of a humongous white cloud... Roll Eyes hohum...) but the centre's pretty cool - like tate modern, but much smaller and with only one exhibition that was actually to my taste... i obviously don't appreciate C18th classical sculpture enough... i'll live...

Tomorrow - the beaches! wooo!!!

Isn't LA soooooo flat and so bare aswell - there's no green?!

And on my entire objective for coming here - to answer the question, is the USA really like it is in the movies? - i'd say that was a resounding 'yes, pretty much...' "
So, yup, did the beaches as well - venice beach is utterly insane, and has a completely new bizarre breed of weird people. Met up with a german girl and we cycled down together and looked at all the pretty canals as well.
After a couple of days in LA it was very apparent that i would have to WWOOF(willing workers on organic farms), or i would run out of money very quickly, and so it is that i just spent the last 10 days in a place called Watsonville - about 30 minutes from santa cruz - living in a tipi! :D Had a really nice time, and met some great people - definitely something i would do again. Also visited Santa Cruz and Monterey - v nice. Santa Cruz is v cool and full of hippies.
Now i've just arrived San francisco - which is sooo very opposite to LA and thoughroughly makes up for LAs lack of hills. Today I wandered around and di all the stuff i could see on foot - aswell as going on the 'cable cars' or what i would call a tram... up the stupidly steep hills. And tomorrow i';ll see the GOlden Gate Bridge and PArk and get to see the giant Redwood trees! yay for trees!
Then al that remains is a long bus journey back to LA and a long flight back home., and hopefully i will then see you all very soon!!!!
peace and funnel cake (don't ask, i dont know either)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Could not have picked a better day to be in Bangkok!!!

Portion of an email i sent, just after leaving Vietnam, when transiting through Thailand - it really was incredible/once in a life time! :

"i sooooo couldn't have picked any better time to arrive here - Anna, it's like songkran all over again, but with yellow instead of water. This week the Thais celebrate 60 years of the corination (sp?...) of the King and apparently he really likes yellow! Coming in from the airport the really huge road (that goes just to the right of Khao San) is completely filled with yellow sparkly fairy lights, all the flowers are yellow, the tops of the bushes are sprayed yellow and at least 90% of the population of BKK is wearing a yellow t-shirt - it really is quite a sight!! I was also treated to a huge brass band, while we were stuck in traffic getting in to the city, and one of the prettiest fireworks displays i've ever seen while munching on a 20p corn on the cob- all for free and in about 3 hours of getting here - can't be bad!
Anywayz, safe home, Anna, and see you soon Mum and Dad
peace y'all

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Last of the great Asian epics!

Having gone all the way from Saigon (whewre i wa sin the last email) to the other end of the country in Hanoi, i felt it was time for another update, oterwise i'll just never get round to it!

So.... left Saigon after visiting tunnels - and very nice tunnrels they were too... and headed for Mui Ne - a beach side resort twn thingy where we actually only stayed an afternoon but cvisited a fishing village, dunes, went sand sliding, watched a film, paddled in the sea and went or a wander along the beach - busy afternoon! It was really nice but v quiet and spread out so we decided to move stright on to Dalat in the central highlands.

This was a really nice place for chilling out - although im not quite how you were to tell that you were in Vietnam and not france, i'm not sure...
The climate there was wicked. It's hot in the day but with a nice cool breeze and then i the evening it's cool-->cold . It's just soo nice and my hair has regained some degree of normality to - it's almost stranight and not frizzy! hehehe... simple things... :D :D
Spent four days there chilling out in the tourist kitsch (v lovely kitsch) wanderingg the lake and went to a 'crazy house' (has a crazy gourd room?!?!?! amoungst others - very curvy - quite cool, but at 30$ a night a little on the pricey side...), 'mad monk' (selling thousands of abstact paintings and is generally pretty cool) and 'amazing table' (moves to the left or right under brain power alone - even if you let go!!! I examined it thoroughly and am utterly befuzzled!).
After doing not a lot for a couple of days we decided we ought to...
*parents stop reading here....*

In Vietnam there are a lot of so-called Easy Riders, who are guides who will give you a motorbike tour, or get you from A to B using much quieter roads and generally seeing the site away from the main tourist trail. So having been recommended a couple by our hotel and checked out their little books with stuff people write we headed out in tot he central highlands for 2 days to get to Nha Trang.
This was undoubtedly one of the best couple of days of our trip. Aside from the coffee and soilk worms arnf stuff like that being pointed out to us, it was worth it for the scenary alone and easily beat getting the bus! It looks a little like scotland actually, with the windy roads and mountains, albeit a little hotter... sooo much fun

*safe for parents once more... (i won't do it again i promise! ;o) )*

Didn't stay in Nha Trang because we were running out of time and it looked like a bit of a dump (although, i;m assured it's quite nice) but got the night bus to Hoi An :D

LOVE Hoi An!!!!! IT's soooo nice. An old town, completely presereved, with art galleries and cafes aplenty, a really nice beach 4 kms away and loads anloads of shops where you can get hand tailored clothes really cheap :D So having got a nice chunk of money back from the tax mand,m and fuelled by the knowledge that i really dont have any clothes at home went slightly mad and got 3 pairs of trousers (lovely cords), a shirt, some trainers, shoes with geckos on ( :D !!!) and a beautiful cord/silk lined duffle coat :D All made to measure and about a quater of the price in the uk. (hopefully wont make ithis up in excess baggage! I guess i'll just wear all of it if necesary!)

Spent 4 days there - on the last night had the best meal i think int he whole of vietnam - go to Cafe des Amis if you're ever inth e area!!) and decided we had to move on.

Although we weren't actually that gone on the town Hue (UNESCO world hertitage site though it may be...) we had a really wcked 1.5 days there. Saw the citadel - Royal palacey thing... which was alright but suddenly took on a life of its own when it was accompanied by the sound of about 20 drums and then a full orchestra backing... v cool. Discovered that across the road they were rehersing for a festival that started the day after we left of tradition music and dance etc - weren't that bopthered until we saw the huuuuge stage set up and discovered that the ethereal music was live along with singers and full (vietnamese) orchestra!!!! soooooooooooooo cool. We asked if we could watch and got a full 3 hours entertainment for free only lacking in costumes :D I got sooo excited - i miss theatre and this was just wicked! We even saw a medley from Miss Saigon performed in and by Vietnamese in Vietnam - how cool!
Follow this by a wicked deaf/dum cafe with writing literally all iver the walls from people every where - and got a free bottle opener made out of wood and a nut and bolt - how cool?!
(nb me: saw a 1 week old 5* hotel and it was only 40 squid a night!!! (sharing) got soooooo excited - it had such a huuuuge ceiling :D )
After touring pagodas the next day we got on the night bus again (last time!!! yoippee!!!) up to Hanoi, arriving yesturday. Hanoi's pretty cool as cities go... dad, you'll be pleased to know that we spent the whole day oin a Cyclo touring around today - although, it is alas maybe not as good an idea as it might seem, given the amount we had to wedge in, the speed at which we didn't go, and real tangible danger of being squished by, well... everything else on the street...! Good fun though!

only got 5 or so days left here now... :o( Tomorrow we're heading of to Ha Long Bay, which looks pretty wicked (google it - lots of funny limestine islet things...) then two days to shop in Hanoi and generally live it up! and then we're off - Anna back home, and me to NZ for a week! It's sooo little time till i come home again now... i'm sure it'll whizz by!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It's COLD!!! :D

I just cannot qwell my excitement, so i had to mail and tell you that it's cold outside!!!! This is sooooo exciting, i haven't felt general coldness for 4 months - it must be, like 13*c or something. v v v cool. Today, well, this evening (it was a very pleasent -english summer -tmperature today) i've had hot chocolate, soup (really really strange soup - tomato, but clear and it looked like someone had badly failed to poach an egg in it - not good...) and i'm wearing my fleece! Oh, the excitement :D

I must explain i guess that we've relocated from Saigon, had one day on a rather nice 21km beach and went sliding on the dunes, and now we're in DaLat which is in the southern central hghlands (the mountains...) and so the climate it wicked. It's hot in the day but with a nice cool breeze and then i the evening it's cool-->cold . It's just soo nice and my hair has regained some degree of normality to - it's almost stranight and not frizzy! hehehe... simple things... :D :D

anywayz, i shall stop wasting precious minutes of your life telling you how wonderfully cold it is! (I've never been so pleased with cold in all my entire life :D )

Friday, May 19, 2006

Cambodia to Vietnam

The lure of Laos having proved to much for us (we never meant to go there originally... oops), we didn't have vast amounts of time to spend in Cambodia, so it was something of a whistle-stop tour for us (even more so than the rest of our trip...).
Having endured the second worst bus journey of our trip on a road closely resembling the surface of the moon and resulting in an experience they could probably have charged a lot of money for if they had called it an indepth vibro-massage, we finally arrived at Siem Reap - home of not a lot except the whole of Angkor Wat.
Despite the fact cambodia is supposed to be a relatively cheap country, we spent an absolute fortune here in just two days. Got a 3 day pass for all of the temples - $40!!! ouch! (which are spread out over a really huge area. The temples of angkor made a really refreshing change from thailand, cos they're mostly ruined and have none of the glitz and glam. They're also cool because they have insides and you can go exploring and the cambodians have never ever heard of health and safety - woohoo!! :D Just think about all the castles at home that are ruined and then take away all of the no entry signs - lots of big holes, rubble everywhere, andmassive arches that are falling down and have helpfully been propped up by one or two thin branches - quite scary, but very fun... there's also a couple of really cool temples that have been taken over by the trees and the roots have become part of the structure and vice versa. see v v cool.

Having got priced out of seeing anymore at siem reap we moved onto Phnom Penh. Saw the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda - wasn't that impressed.

The next day we had a somewhat more sobering experience visiting S21 and the Killing Fields as a poignant reminder of the Khmer Rouge and what they did to cmbodia. S21 is a school which was taken over and used as a prison and interrogation/torture unit. They've left it pretty much as it was found and there are some intruging exhibitions with stories of the people killed there, surprisingly on both sides (Khmer rouge and resistance seemed to be killed in equal number in the end... :o( ). They had truely horrific methods of torture there and i think pactially everyone went through it too. I just don't understand how anyone can even contemplate doing that to sooo many people. They estimate that roughly 20,000 people that went through there and know of only 7 that left alive. hmm...
Next we went to the Killing fields whih is just werid. It's one of hundreds of sites across cambodia where people were taken and beaten to death and dumped in mass graves or simply buried alive and lft to suffocate. Nice... In the centre they've built a huge temple to remember them and the centre is filled with thousands of skulls that have been exhumed from the graves. You can wander around and there's signs saying what what was in each ("846 women and children, mostly found naked." springs to mind) there's bits of rags/cloths still half buried inthe ground, along with a few pieces of bone that weren't taken up. It's absolutely incredibly, in the worst way. I'd say may it never happen again, it's just a shame to think that there are parts of the world where things like this are still going on, and i really wish there was something we could do to stop them.

Having got thouroughly depressed, and since we were already eating into our visa for vietnamwe decided it was time to moved on.

...and so on to Vietnam....

We like vietnam. Its much more 'real' than Thailand. Having spent a mere 5 days in Cambodia we moved onto vietnam va boat - good choice given the 2 hour bus journey to the boat which was a little like being on a big dipper - i just don't understand how a road can look soooo smooth and be soooo bumpy!

Spent the last 3 days on an organized tour of the Mekong Delta doing alsorts of things that involved a lot of boats, a home stay, traditional food, tours, coconut sweets and banana wine... The places we were staying have no signs in english or french and no one speaks any english - so we have to try alot harder - esp. to get vegetarian food. think we might get a little stuck here - they don't do any vegetarian food - it all has crabs or snakes or weird stuff in it... hehe... i guess we'll live!

We just arrived in Ho Chi Minh/Saigon yesturday and are exploring today and doing general admin-y stuff... It seems like a really nice city and has a nice selection of shops and galleries (with copies of just about every famous painting ever) and cafes - we like. It's gonna be expensive for us though, if we not careful, because all the street sellers totally have us down to a tee. I explain; in every other country we've been to there are quantities of street sellers that wander around the cafes and bars and try to ell you random stuff while you eat, which is fine cos they're mildly entertaining in their persistance and are selling things like wooden frogs, hats with bells on, bracelets that are too small, bamboo flutes or jaw harps, or comical giant working lighters - now you can understand how we could resist purchasing suh items with little difficulty (except perhaps the giant lighter, which appeals rather a lot (you can just imagine it - "you got a light?" "well, yes, actually *reveal giant scary lighter*)) It would be quite cool, but given that it wouldn't fit in my bag, i'd never have the nerve to actually offer it to anyone, and given that the airlines don't like normal lights, they might object to one that's at least a foot high... However, every street seller here, goes around the cafes in the evening, when you winding down with the most ginormous pile of really decent books at really cheap prices - last night we bought four when we'd not meant to buy any!! We're totally doomed! (but it is rather cool :D )

In the next few days we're going to visit the famous tunnels the Vietnamese used in the war (specially enlarged, now, for fat westerners!) then head up the coast until we get to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay where w plan on ending our tip together! Then off on my own to 'merica and NZ!!! It seems soooo close to coming home now but i still have just oover 6 weeks.... hmmm... weird.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Life's a beach!

After a couple more days of exploring Chiang Mai - which is a lovely chilled out (and quite refreshing to be abvle to walk around it without having a bucket of water chucked down your back (ala songkran))- we had decided on a whim to visit Laos aswell... just cos everyone everywhere said we should - damned peer pressure.... !? hehehe... so of we wander to get a traditional slow boat down the mekong to the middle of Laos (Luang Prabang). This is reportedly one of the most uncomfortable horrible things you can choose to do since it's two days of 7 hours sat on wooden benches with no leg room, but it was actaully a really nice couple of days - read books, sat doing nohthing and then read some more - fun :D

Laos is, like everyone says, a wicked country - we original;ly missed it out or plans because it didn't l;ook like thetre's much to do there - and there isn't really, but it''s an awesome place just to be - some how we spent over a week there without even meaning to - i've no idea wheer the time went! Um... we saw some more temples, watched the sunset over the mekong, went kayaking ont he mekong with two girls that we 'knew' (sat together on a bus for 10 mintues) from chiangmai and had run into again... then visisted a cave and thw Whisky village where they make Laolao -lao rice wine - and very nice it is too! The only problem with laos is that just about all the locals are in bed by 10pm... soooo early and there's a lack of anything much to do in the evening - except Hive - so i guess that just makes it easier to meet other foreigners... weird place though - because you all get the slow boat in together, you cant wander around town with out there being someone you know or some one to say hi to - v nice atmosphere.
After Luang Prabang we spent a couple of days in Vientiane - Laos' capital. Which is much like luang prabang, but bigger and with less of the charm... didn't stay there too long, then headed back to thailand to get to the beaches... :D

So, after another 16 hour bus/boat journey (last night on train back we worked outthat we've spent upwards of 90 hours on long distance buses etc so far!) we arrived on Ko Phangan and first sepnt 2 days up the north of the island reading and relaxing in hammocks. Theer after we headed down to the 'party beach' of haad rin. After being initially a little disapointed (alright beach,. but ive seen better, and not much to do in town) we soon got into the swing of things. Get up at 11am/12pm and laze around on the beach until around 6pm when you get dinner and maybe watch sdsome of the 24 hours friends or simpsons episiodes that some cafes play - then maybe move on to another cafe/bar anmd watch one of the nightly free films on offer. Head down to the beach around 10.30pm where there are plenty of bars and you can sit on the sand and watch the fire shows (with fire poi/puy and fire staffs and some of the most beautiful talented guys you're ever liekly to see on a beach). After that, me and nna being little obsessed with puy, we went and asked the guys if we could use their paraffin and then spent the rest of the night playing with the fire puy - sooooo much fun, although we did end up going back every morning completely covered in soot and stinking of paraffin... hohum... great fun though. On our last night there we went to one of the islands half moon parties (since we don't have time to stay til full moon - alas) which is actually not on the beach but in a cool forest setting with lots of glowy uv things - wicked place for a party.

After that, despite our initial questions as to whether to go to the beaches at all, we really didn't want to leave - sooo much fun - but cambodia and vietnam beckon and thus we found ourselves on a lovely over night train back to bangkok last night. Now i'm really really tired.

I guess we'll probably go to cambodia either tomorrow or day after, and spend as little time as possible doing angkor wat and pnom penh and around so that we can use all our visa for Vietnam for the remainder of our time...

I can't believ how quickly time's going - me and anna have been travelling for a month already, which is prastcvailly half our time to gether and then i've only a couple of weeks and i'm home again!!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

i present "The exciting adventures of Rachael"

Seems like long time, no write, when it was, infact, on two weeks ago, but such a lot has happened in between. [and having just finished writing the email i must humbly apologise for how long it's got and how badly written it is, but i'm not gonna do it again, so feel free to get bored half way through....]

Now, correct me if i'm wrong, but i believe i left you all in KK (Malaysia) having planned to climb up a stupidly high mountain in a day...

Well, i did indeed climb stupidly high mountain (all 4100m of it!!!) We started at around 10am the first day and ascended over 2000 (vertical) to the base camp at laben rata, where there was all of about 3m visibility (great when the whole idea is to summit at sunrise...) and the power had been cut off, so it was perhaps about 10*C (which feels soooooo much wcolder when you're used to 30-35*C every day! There we had tea and played the coldest game of Grabble (a genius version of scrabble that you're all going to have to learn when i get back, so as to quelll my addiction) i have ever played and then headed to bed at 8pm for an early (2am) rise to ascend the last 1000 meters to the summit before sunrise... which i did... just, having got altitude sickness about 500m (vertically) from the top. And i'm not sure i've felt quite so bad, ever! Climbing a mountain was certainly not top on my list of priorities, particularly at 3am, in the dark - but i was damned if i was going to go up 2500m in less than 24 hours and not get tot he top!!!! I'm just to stubborn for that. So i struggled on at something less than snails pace and got to the top, only just in time for sunrise, but it was good enough! :D (and the cloud had cleared by then, so we could see it too - what a bonus!) Then we spent the rest of the day descending the whole lot and wondering how we ever got up in the first place... The day after was simply spent moving as little as is humanly possible... it was somewhat painful.... but definitely worth it!

There after i left the rest of the remaining jungle group and headed of for 1 night in Brunei (a whole country all on my own - eek!) - sooooooo rich they don't know what to do with themsleves (and it shows), It's great though - the whole town is lit up like a christmas tree, with pretty coloured lights, for no particular reason. Most exciting happening in Brunei was having a meal that wasn't jungle food, or rice, or pasta!!! Indian has never tasted sooooo good :D Although, it is a slightly peculiar place - doesn't feel like asia at all - much more like america or dubai i guess... strange.

Next day, i got up and wondered around - looking at the mosque with a dome made entirely of gold... v opulent... then headed for some more joyous hours at Brunei airport (which is, btw, one of the most boring places on the entire planet...)
Reached Thailand and headed through scary immigration - but clealry they think i'm an alright kinda gal and stamped my passport, so all is good. There after i met up with Anna - which, i think, made us both very happy - just knowing that we had both turned up and really did plan to travel around thailand - it's all good :D (and we get on really well and like to do the same kinds of things as well, which is just excellent) .

Bangkok is a huuuuuuuge city! I wasn't so keen on it to start with, but i think perhaps it's just one of those places that you need time to get to know. Anywayz, we've done loads of stuff since then including, but not limited to, The Grand Palace and Wat Pho (like magpie heaven - sooo very vrey shiny and pretty, with some big scary monsters hanging around and guarding stuff (statues, i might add...)) which between them house the Emerald Buddha (actually made of jade) and the Reclining buddha (which is absolutely huuuumongous). These are like the Posh and Becks of Buddha statues - speaking of which, we've seen lots and lots of buddhas and wats (temples) - so that took up a fair amoutn of time. Prepare to get very bored looking at my piccies when i get back - atm i think they're basically wat wat wat buddha wat anna wat elephant buddha buddha.... ad infinitum. Also had massages for, like, 2 quid - v v nice - and visited the Khao San Road, Chatuchak weekend market (over 8000 stalls - sells everything!!!) and the floarting market at Damuan Saduak - so have had lots and lots of chance to shop!!!

After a couple of days we decided to head out of bangkok, in order to fill some time before te thai new year. We headed west out to kanchanaburi which is the place with The Bridge Over the River Kwai and some war museums, amounst other things. As we only really had a day and half there we booked on a tour and had an absolutely packed day including: a trip to a 7 tier waterfall where we walked to the top and went swimming - v v beautiful, elephant riding (v bumpy...), bamboo rafting( v sedate), visited the Death Railway (where there was at least one fatality for every one of the sleepers laid, over the time it took to build it), went on a train trip there, and then went to the bridge over the river kwai, itself. Really great day - the bridge isn't nearly as interestin or as impressive as it seems in the film, but then, it is only a bridge, after all. I do take exception to it being described as /the/ Bridge over /the/ river kwai though, because, as i discovered, it's actually one of two bridges (both of which were there originally) and on one of two river kwais... it, and the film, really ought to be called /a/ bridge over /a/ river kwai... hmph... day headed back to bangkok, as we had tickets for the over night bus to Chiang Mai, and managed to get our lunch bought for us by the Thai police. i guess not many people can say that... - hehe...

Anywayz, In Thailand they celebrate new year from 13-15 april and we had been told that Chiang MAi (in the north) is /the/ place to be for new year, so went up there on the VIP bus (nicest coach ever - and a 14 hour journy for a little over 10 squid... nice :D ) on the 12th.
For those of you tht don't know - which i guess is probably al of you... - the Thai new year is sort of a buddhist water festival (which basically means people go around 'sprinkling' water and talc/flour over everyone else as a sign of respect and a blessing), but as you can imagine, over the years, this has basically turned into an excuse for the the biggest, longest water fight (probably) in the world. It's absolutely crazy!!!

In Chiang Mai, Songkran (New year ) was already in full swing by the time we got here, and as such, it was absolutely impossible to go anywhere (even 10m out our guest house that isn't anywgere near the centre) without being soaked from head to toe... so we weernt and bought a water pistol!!! hehe... down by the moat the entire town was absolutely filled with people on foot and trucks and tuktuk just getting very very wet (and cold if you were got by an evil person who had ice in their water!!!) - great fun though - highly recommended.
Since it's a public holiday, alot of stuff has been shut for the past week, but we still managed a few very impressive 'wats' and lost very happily at a pub quiz in an irish bar - despite the fact both the guy collecting the answers and the quiz master were both cheating for us... ::) oops... hohum... :D We also spent an intriguing afternoon talking to a buddhist monk in the nicest wat, in the midle of a forest - you might say it was enlightening... :D

The last couple of days we've had th emost wicked time doing some hill tribe trekking (which also involved more waterfalls, more elephant riding (on a much less bouncy elephant though :o) ) and more bamboo rafting (but more rapids stylee, not serene at all...). Met some wesome people too - i don't think i've ever sat on abus with people of so many different nationallities before - and i think between us we were fluent in more than 10 languages! last night we got back and then went out with most of the group - really great night...

anywayz, that's about it for stuff we've done - nice quiet relaxing time we've had!? Um, next we've ctually changed our plans and decided to take a whistle stop tour of Laos - cos everyone you meet, without fail, tells you you have to go... so we are, for about a week as of tomorrow, then we're going to head south (in thailand again) to do the bits we missed out before and then sit on a beach for a while - i sooo feeel like i need a holiday already! ::) hehe... then we'll spend a week doing cambodia and the remaining time in Vietnam (yes, dad, we did manage to get our visas, despite the fact it's been a public holiday for like a week already...!)

Hohum... must go now - things to do, places to see...