Bri & Jo's excellent adventure
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Firstly thank you for all your emails, texts, calls to check we're ok. Here's what we've been up to since India in mid November:
Sri Lanka - We were chauffeur driven around Sri Lanka for 10 days - a tough life! We covered so much ground and saw a large proportion of the island and its ancient ruined cities. They're amazing because they cover such vast areas and haven't been touched for 1000 years. Some of the thinking and engineering skills are right up there with the best the rest of the world has to offer. Naturally, we drank plenty of Ceylon tea, particularly up in the mountains where we stayed in an old colonial residence. An elephant safari and visiting the elephant orphanage, where we saw over 60 bathing in the river, were other highlights. Jo got very excited by the gems and gem mining areas too!! We met some bonkers Aussies in one hotel and will hopefully meet up with them in Sydney for a locals perspective. Sagara, our chauffeur took us to his family home on the final day. We ate his father's super home cooking and received very friendly and generous hospitality. We found the Sri Lankans to be like this throughout. A packed schedule, always on the move, but great fun.
Hong Kong - Amazingly our first stay in a Youth Hostel. Being Hong Kong it had remote control air-con as standard!! Technology is everywhere - everyone seems to have a mobile or MP3 player or both. A trip round HK Island by tram to get our bearings and up the Peak Tram to look out over the neon glow in the evening. We broke up the high rise city life with a walk across the picturesque Lamma Island. It's a shame they've built a massive power station on one side which dominates the landscape and is a rather strange sight from the beach! Our final day was in Kowloon checking out the markets - jade, flowers, fish, birds, electronics, clothes, power tools, everything is there! With a tight budget, we weren't able to make the most of the Soho restaurants and bars but really enjoyed this cosmopolitan city.
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Thailand so far, Bangkok - Pretty lazy really!! We hung out around the backpackers' Mecca of Khao San Road for nearly a week eating great street food. Despite saying we'd buy things on our way through in a couple of months, we soon found our backpacks full. Dirt cheap designer clothes, DVDs, CDs, fake ID, driving licences, degrees, you can get it all here! We took a boat trip around the canals and once again found ourselves feeling like we were in a James Bond film!! - Or perhaps that was just me! By chance our visit coincided with the King's birthday celebrations - concert in the park, Thai boxing, free food, fireworks. We had the life frightened out of us in the morning when we walked past the park just as they were starting the 21 gun salute - we thought a bomb had gone off!!!
Kanchanaburi - The River Kwai bridge is here. A lot of sobering sights including several museums, cemetries, the railway and Hellfire Pass. We learned a lot about WW2 in this part of the world. We also visited the most amazing 7 tier waterfalls at Erawan and swam in the clear blue waters while small fish nibbled our ankles. We also swam in the River Kwai and hope we don't now have worms! Jo gave me my first DIY haircut with a pair of nailscissors whilst bobbing up and down on our rafthouse! - No cuts and quite presentable, another career perhaps!
Ranong - We came here purely to renew our visas with a visit to Myanmar. The most farcicle arrangement. Having left Thai customs, we chartered a small boat across the river. We didn't even need to set foot in Myanmar but did so for a photo while our man took our passports, paid the $10 and got us stamped in and out of Myanmar inside 5 minutes! Job done.
Koh Samui (Ko Samui) - A couple of days in the north on a quieter beach. We were picked up whilst walking away from the ferry with nowhere to stay. We recognised two Dutch guys in the back of the Pick Up and jumped in. The muddy, rutted track to the beach huts had us worried for a while but once there we enjoyed some great food before heading out.
Ko Pha Ngan (Koh Phangan)- Our Christmas break. A real house with fridge and CD player! It's great to be able to keep food without the ants getting to it and play our own music (bought in Bangkok). Our first three days were spent gaining our PADI Open Water Diving certificates. We then celebrated watching the sunset and drinking G&T on the balcony. We'd saved the gin for two weeks from duty free. In the day we sunbathe between the pool at the expensive resort and the sea which has an amazing variety of fish. We eat fantastic Thai food at the family run restaurant only 50 yards away in the evening. We're on the move to Cambodia on 2 January.
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Bri and Jo