Diary of The Travelling Seanchai :- 

Paradise at the end of the road

2007-01-15 to 2007-01-21

So I last left you in Phnom Penh. Well the Heart of Darkness did get my money for a third night and the cheer I got from the staff when I walked through the door was a little disconcerting! Next morning I was up and ready to go at 7:30am to take a cab to the border. You have to show liberal amounts of patience when you travel anywhere but it was 9am before they took me to this part of the city where I was assured my `cab` was going at 9:30am.


My cab turned out to be a Ute which had 6 people in the cabin and 16 hanging on to boxes in the back!! We didn`t leave till 11am because they wanted to get one more person crammed in! I got some dry looks because I was taking the entire front passenger seat to myself but I didn`t care, from what I saw they were handing over, I`d paid as much as all the Beverley Hillbillies hanging on for dear life on the back!


It was an amazing drive though, through quarries where they were still bombing to make roads in this part of the world and four ferry crossings (that has gone on the list of all of the various modes of transport I have taken so far on this trip. Submarine, balloon and camel to go and I get a set of steak knives!!). But my heart sank when I asked when we were getting to our destination. 5pm was the earnest response but I know now that that usually means 6:30pm. We arrived in at 6:28pm!


I got to the border with the help of a motorbike taxi that I am convinced had a death wish. I took my cap off as we sped down the road (I didn`t want to lose it) but it caught in the wind and nearly dragged me off!). I walked across the border and found myself stuck on the other side with no hope of getting to Bangkok so I had to stay in a local village. Slim Dusty once sang about “A pub with no beer” but at least he could have some shots or a nice wine,  well I`ve just stayed in “The town with no pub”!


An enforced night off the partying wasn`t a bad thing before Bangkok though. You know about the craziness of Bangkok so I won`t go into it again but suffice to say there were some large nights with Thai Tom Jones and Thai Elvis! I met up with Andy, a mate I`d last seen in Hanoi and we flew to Phuket.


We arrived into Patong Beach at 7:15pm in the rain and it wasn`t looking good for accommodation as the place was packed with tourists. But ever the optimists we persevered and got a place for the night and went out.


Patong is where Neon goes to die and on this one crazy street there was about 300 prostitute/lady boys vying for the all too available business. It was a terrible place but we found Scruffy Murphy`s bar and never one to pass an Irish bar while in foreign lands, we went in. We`d met up with Kasey from Sydney and Ryan and Brian from the States.They had this great band playing covers, so never one to shirk my responsibilities I got up and had a song! On my way home I chanced upon a guy playing guitar so I sat with him and sang a few songs but he kept breaking his strings but insisted on playing on!


I got out of Patong next day and went to Kata Beach where my pursuit of a colour other than white began in earnest. But after all my trekking and travels, the long bus journeys, the sickness and the tiredness I have reached Paradise. We got to Ko Phi Phi island yesterday and I love it here! It was literally wiped out in the Tsunami but they have rebuilt but it still has a little village feel about it because it has taken them so long to re-establish themselves. So you get this great feeling that you have found this hideaway.


The island is packed here aswell of some seriously tanned people. I know I am jealous but seriously some of these people are truly tandoori in colour and several of them would make excellent wallets or bags! I was introduced to the term “Poshpacker” by Kasey when we saw a girl wearing the finest of clothes, coming out of a lavish hotel with full make up on at midday but with a backpack! She won`t last long methinks.


Its funny the `luxuries` that you take for granted at home. We were checking into a guest house the other day and he told us that the toilet in our room flushes and we both let out a cheer! Usually you have to get a bucket of water to flush it! And another thing I have noticed in SE Asia is their insistance to get some little spelling wrong in every one of their signs! So you are often reading your `manu` and getting `french fried` with your meals assuming that its during their `openning` hours! I`m sure that they can spell perfectly but they know that us tourists like to point out the cute spelling mistakes!


So in just a few days I have gone a nice salmony colour and I stand beside people who are whiter than me to make myself feel better! But this place is amazing, the people are so kind and full of laughter which is amazing when you think of how devastated they must have been only 2 years ago. Resilient is not the word for it.


So many people have tattoos that to not have one makes me quite unique! Some of the designs are seriously elaborate and must have taken days to do. They are big into their fire shows around here and we had a great night last night, drinking buckets on the beach!


Swimming in the ridiculously clear waters around here with scores of fish around you is about as far detached from the cubicle where you are probably reading this from as I can imagine! So many times I say to myself “That I should have done this years ago” but I am so glad that I am doing it now. If any of ye are thinking about dropping everything and going travelling I can tell you seriously you won`t regret it!


Special mention for how big a night I had after the Liverpool win over Chelsea. A friend of mine mailed me to say that since I have left Australia, Liverpool have been on fire. Well I would gladly play my part and stay over here until the end of the season if they need me to! Stand by for some more photos that I will upload in the next few days. If any of ye have questioned my sexuality you will have proof complete when you see one of the pics I have!


I hope you are well and thanks again to those that have kept mailing me or posting on my message board, I really love to get them!


The Perplexing Questions of Paradise!


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