Bangkok

Before jetting back off to Sydney i did a quick day trip of the great ocean road – it’s very pretty! and some of the smaller towns on there are nice too. However, you see similar scenery when driving along the coast of New Zealand, so as nice as it was, i wasn’t dazzled by it. The 12 apostles, or the 9 that are left, are, well, rocks sticking out, but it’s still pretty impressive to see nature working away.

I arrived after another long bus journey back to sydney to meet up with some more familiar faces – Marek, cas’ friend, and his mom was there too! It is nice seeing people i have longer ties with than a few hours, plus it is different seeing what Australia is like if you lived there. I do really like it, despite some previous complaints, and as beautiful as new zealand is, it’s much more isolated than Australia, strangely enough, as geography doesn’t entirely back that claim up.

New Years is WAY better warm, so if you could only get a snowy christmas and a hot new years that would be ideal. who knows… climate change may get very extreme?
It was odd being at the beach the same day as celebrating New Years. But nice as we didn’t do the extremely crowded Coogee or Bondi beach, but slightly furhter south at Maroubra beach. After having some thai food and then rocking up at marek’s friend’s friend’s house party (as you do!) we went into the center with Marek’s friend and 2 other people (1 german and 1 chinese) we met at the party. In Sydney it was obviously pretty busy and alcohol restrictions on what you could take in so we spent the 40mins before new years drinking what we’d brought.
I didn’t see the main fireworks though, we were at darling harbour which was considerably less crowded! And still pretty impressive fireworks. Was crazy that you saw that ther were fireworks at 3 differnt places at the same time around the harbour! Eventually we returned to the house party.

The next day was a relatively hangover-free one! And pretty lazy. On the 2nd i ventured back into Sydney center and went to get my Vietnam visa (ther’s an option to egt it in 30 minutes!), went to widlife photographer of the year exhibition (always a good one!!) and to the sydney aquarium (dugongs and crazy shark and crazy fish yay!).
The following day i eventually headed over to the blue mountains – where on my way i met this german girl who i ended up doing 2 hikes with that day and the next.
We did a short walk to the three sisters (some more rocks) – but the view is pretty stunning! And it’s all so big!! The hostel i stayed at (flyingfox) was really cool, i’d recommend it to anyone going there!
The next day we did a long and tiring walk (4.5 hours) to wentworth falls and into the rainforest… it was pretty beautiful and however painful it was sometimes (so many stairs!) it felt good, as if i was letting out energy that had been locked up for a long time! A Very enjoyable and rewarding last full day in Australia! Will put photos up tomorrow, to continue to make you very jealous (sorry!).

Before going off to Bangkok i met up with Jamie, the canadian girl i’d met in Cairns , went diving, and travelled down to Airlie beach with. The journey back to the northern hemisphere was relatively pain-free apart from that my tv screen wasn’t working, the plane was full, and there were lots of good movies on!!! Was very annoyed, but luckily i a lot of reading material and i took some slight advantage of the free alcohol!
Midnight in bangkok i’m glad i got the hotel i’d wanted, it’s close to khao san road without being on it, has clean rooms for 6 euros a night and a rooftop swimming pool! I was pretty scared to venture out the next day (surprising!) as i didn’t want to be hassled etc. but i was expecting something close to what i’d experienced in e.g. malawi from what people’d told me! And it really wasn’t so bad! the nicest thing is that you get really nice cheap stuff and you can look around the stalls without being hassled! The time differnce is also better – 6 hours with belgium instead of 10.

I got a very badly needed massage for 5 euros and did the obvious shopping. A trip by boat to the temple of the emerald buddha (the most-visited buddha statue!) got me into an asian cutlural mood and finihsed the day off with some 50 eurocent phat thai dinner! It’s such a crazy culture here, last night i was out on the street of my hotel (rambuttri) having a shisha pipe with trance-like music booming in the background… it’s hard to describe, but i like that it’s so vibrant at night. I guess i like cities.
Today was spent getting my Myanmar visa (and on the way i was stupid enough to walk into a moped, i’m fine though, jsut a scratch), and visited Siam square, a horrible hub of shopping malls and western food chains, i really hated it and was desperate to get out! Not what i came to asia for.

So once i get my visa for myanmar (2 days) i’ll be off on a bus to cambodia and will probably be staying in the north, going to Siem Reap, Battambang and east to Preah Vinhear. A really good book i finihsed today on the cambodian attack by the Khmer Rouges is called ‘first they killed my father’ by Loung Ung.

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