A Travellerspoint blog

This is the End?

sunny 3 °C
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'Twas the night before our return to Ireland, and all that stirred were the loud drunken Brits three stories underneath my bloody window. Welcome to Amsterdam!

This little sojourn in Amsterdam has, I think, been a bit unfair to the city. We arrived to dangerously low temperatures and ridiculously high prices and promptly suffered a wee bit of culture shock. We have made a terrible mistake we thought, we should have gone straight back to Dublin, we should have stayed in Thailand, quick get on the next plane back to Bangkok!

After adding a couple of extra layers to our clothing, we ventured out. It was my first time in Amsterdam and it is a beautiful city, for the most part. I have to admit my opinion of the city has been completely tainted by the context of the last six months in Asia. For some odd and unfortunate reason, despite booking four months in advance, there was a lack of cheap (but not cheap by Asia standards!) and available accommodation in the quieter, and in my opinion more pleasant, part of the city. We were situated on the outskirts of the Red Light District, which didn't bother me (after experiencing the joys of Patpong in Bangkok, we've seen it all), but it rather feels quite like what I imagine staying in the centre of Temple Bar to be.

And so I'm dragged right back into the horrors of inner city Dublin, dodging drunks and piles of vomit and realising how much I spent on that coffee I just drank.

Shit.

Is that it then? Back to "reality"? Will the last six months just fade into a distant memory so that it feels like it never even happened? That, I have decided, is entirely up to me. This trip has had many highs and some lows. The lows I can learn from but the high points are what I have to remember (read: desperately cling on to) and take home with me - I wish I could pack a Thai smile - and I don't necessarily mean specific moments or memories. What I mean is quite hard to articulate but what I can only describe as the feeling of freedom and the attitude that very little is ever really worth getting that stressed out over.

I acknowledge the attitude is a by-product of the freedom, it's relatively easy to dismiss a cancelled flight or a change in weather when you have no plans to disrupt and the ability to stay a few days extra here and cut short a stay there. If you are unable to attain that attitude - and it is difficult to get used to - then I would think you wouldn't last long on an extended trip through Asia where a lot of things go wrong a lot of the time. Your train is very likely to be late, there will always be someone waiting to scam you at a bus station and 90% of people will not speak English well enough to understand the question 'where is our remote control for the air conditioner'.

The feeling of freedom will undoubtedly take a hammering when I get a job and the requirement to answer to someone else (boo), but the attitude I hope to keep, alongside a sense of extreme luck. We have been so very lucky to be able to take so much time out and travel and to return - shock, horror - debt free! We'll be poor for sure, but debt free is quite an achievement I think.

I am quite looking forward to getting home and seeing much missed friends and family and discovering what's next. I don't think I'll be choosing to get on another plane any time soon, my travel bug (the existence of which I have doubted several times during this trip) is well and truly satisfied...for now....

I did promise you a philosophical entry and I'm sure it hasn't made much in the way of any sense so go read this short post, it's much nicer: http://hiandthankyou.com/2010/knowing-the-place-for-the-first-time

That's all folks....thank you very much for taking the time to read this blog, the fact that even one person (who isn't my mammy) would read it means a lot. What would also mean a lot is if you buy us a drink next time you see us...we're pretty broke.

Suze & Will (I am giving him credit, despite the fact that he's snoring beside me, because that's the kind of awesome person I am)

:)

Posted by suzebert 07.03.2011 10:41 Archived in Netherlands Tagged home amsterdam random netherlands Comments (3)

Random Musings

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As we wind down toward heading home I began to think of the number of weeks we will have travelled for and the number of UNESCO sites we've visited and so on as well as the things we'll miss and the ones we won't, so I thought I'd blog about it, interesting huh?

Things we will miss when we're back home:
The heat (but maybe not the immense sweats)
The lack of work and the resulting ability for plenty of naps :)
Cheap living: beer that costs €1.50 and a massage for €4
Doing/experiencing something new everyday
The food!
The smiles
The colours - everything is brighter in the sunshine
Random Asian craziness (e.g. a donut selling scooter below)

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Things we won't miss:
Airports/bus & train stations
The inability to flush your toilet paper
Using bottled water to brush our teeth
The constant sell
Living out of a bag
Mosquitos and the DEET and the poxy Doxy that goes with them

The Numbers

Weeks travelled: 27 weeks and 6 days (doesn't sound like a lot does it?)
Countries visited: 6
Passport stamps: 24
UNESCO Heritage sites: 9 (Sukothai, Luang Prabang, Georgetown, Anuradhapura, Sigirya, Kandy, Galle, Mulu National Park, Melaka)
Flights: 25 (quite a large carbon footprint I must admit)
Items lost (so far): 1 camera and 1 ATM card (we still have a week to go I hope I don't jinx it)
Average weight of packs: Will 14kg Suze 18kg (chivalry's dead or I just carry too much crap)
Tubs of tiger balm: 3
Bottles of DEET: 8
Books read: 20

Too many to count - the number of times we've been offered a tuk-tuk and a suit; mosquito bites

And the big one...

By the time we arrive back in Dublin we will have travelled: 42,427km/26,364m

Posted by suzebert 01.03.2011 16:27 Archived in Thailand Tagged random Comments (1)

The Family that Travels Together...

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I'm glad we are able to spend a considerable amount of time in Thailand before we head home. We came back again to a warm Bangkok welcome and reacquainted ourselves with great Thai food. The weather is perfect (finally!) and after a few days in the city we headed south to Hua Hin, a small fishing village and the traditional home of the royal family, with the sole purpose of sunning ourselves and reading our books. It seems these days that it is also home to an enormous amount of elderly Europeans, they were everywhere and had a delightful habit of wearing next to nothing (bloody Germans) and letting their old leathery flabby bits hang out while wandering the streets of the town.

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It wasn't long after returning to Bangkok after our few days in Hua Hin when we were joined by Will's mother and uncle. With Red Shirt rallies on the horizon for the weekend we decided to make the visit to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho the day after their arrival. It was extremely hot and the Grand Palace is the busiest tourist attraction I have ever been to. It's quite stunning to walk around but with the crowds and the heat, not massively enjoyable (this isn't helped by the fact that you have to wear long trousers).

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We arrived in Chiang Mai today. It's been six months since we were here last and it is probably our favourite place of the trip. It's especially strange being back here and thinking of all the travel that has been done in the meantime, I'm getting nostalgic and I haven't even returned home yet. Dad arrives tomorrow, I foresee lots of Thai massages in our future...

Posted by suzebert 21.02.2011 19:30 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand bangkok hua_hin Comments (1)

It's the Final Countdown

Farewell Malaysia

sunny 32 °C
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Since returning from Borneo, we have spent our time mostly in Kuala Lumpur with a few days spent in Melaka. Nothing hugely exciting to report but it marks the beginning of the end for our trip (in just over four weeks we will back home) and our final days in Malaysia before flying back to where it all began in Bangkok on Monday.

When we weren't eating donuts and drinking coffee in KL (we're all about the culture), we took a trip out to the Lake Gardens one particularly sunny day which made for a pleasant walk. Close to the gardens is the national monument, built by the same guy who did the Iwo Jima memorial in the States and it is massive and very impressive. It commemorates those who died in Malaysia's struggle for freedom, principally against the Japanese occupation during World War II.

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We spent four days in Melaka, a small town two hours south of KL, and another UNESCO heritage site. It was Chinese New Year so the town was decked out in millions of red Chinese lanterns. The town is lovely but small and there isn't much to do after you've had a wander round and soaked up the atmosphere. We realised pretty quickly that perhaps the receptionist of our first hotel in KL was right in telling us that a day trip was all that was needed to see what Melaka had to offer.

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We are back in KL now and have finally planned the remainder of our trip. We fly back to Bangkok next week for a few days before taking a bus south to Hua Hin, a small seaside town where I will have probably a final chance to get a tan to show for my six months away. After that we are back to Bangkok where we meet Will's mum and uncle before flying to back to Chiang Mai (yay!) where we meet Dad. Before we know it we'll be freezing our butts off in Amsterdam at the beginning of March and then finally landing back in Dublin...where did the time go? I am sure I'll be writing more philosophical posts on the end of our trip but for now I think I'll have a nap...enjoy getting this blog post title in your head :)

Posted by suzebert 04.02.2011 17:31 Archived in Malaysia Tagged kuala_lumpur malaysia unesco melaka Comments (0)

Kota Kinabalu

No we didn't climb it

sunny 33 °C
View South East Asia on suzebert's travel map.

So we were a bit tired after traipsing around Mulu and it's caves (to be honest I'm a bit tired in general what with the constant moving and travelling for five months) and so we didn't do an awful lot in KK. The city itself is nice enough, not too big and not too small with a pleasant waterfront and lots of open air Chinese and Indian restaurants alongside more modern restaurants and bars. The weather has finally turned and we're getting to see sunshine these days, it's a miracle.

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The only tour we did in KK was a cruise along the River Klias, two hours south of the city, to spot Proboscis Monkeys and (after a rather lacklustre dinner) fireflies. I wasn't sure we'd see anything but there were loads of monkeys sitting in the trees munching on leaves and berries by the river. An amazing sight at first (these particular monkeys look seriously weird with freakishly huge noses) but after 30 minutes you kind of felt like you were looking at some guy in his underpants on the sofa scratching his arse while stuffing his face with junk food in front of the TV. Maybe we reached monkey fatigue, it's hard to beat the cute cheeky ones of Sri Lanka and of course the orangutans in Semenggoh.

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After dinner and sundown, we got back in the boat to go searching for fireflies. I had never seen them before and I was expecting them to be bigger, it looked exactly like tiny little fairy lights in the trees, very pretty. Despite the awesomeness of my new camera I couldn't quite figure out how to take a picture of them.

And that was it for us in KK really. We saw the mountain from the airport when we were catching our flight back to KL early in the morning, it looked big and pointy and scary.....maybe we'll return some day when I can climb stairs without getting out of breath.

Posted by suzebert 26.01.2011 20:24 Archived in Malaysia Tagged animals malaysia borneo Comments (0)

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