A Travellerspoint blog

Funky Gibbon

is it Laos or Lao PDR and how do you pronounce it?

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View Laos & Cambodia on suggs69's travel map.

Recap
So where I last left it, I had just left Chiang Rai with Jean and Dee and after meeting Ben, who was travelling around Asia on a motorbike.. I was looking for the TV cameras and Ewen or Charlie somewhere but he assured me he's travelling alone, at least till his mate gets here.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos of Chiang Rai: here

Houay Xai
Jean and Dee left to head off there separate methods to Luang Prabang by a 14 hour bus and a 2 day slow boat respectively. We were warned against getting a speed boat - 3 times in the lonely planet.

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From the Laos border town of Houay Xai

Gibbons

After watching a humorous safety video, I got a ute with 7 others to the Bokeo jungle reserve for the Gibbon Experience. The journey involved crossing rivers (both with ute and on foot) and then checking your ankles for leeches.

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The Gibbon 8: me, Chris & Angela, Kylie, Max & Antonia and Ian & Alex
--see bigger, better, brighter photos of Gibbons: here

The Gibbon Experience has been set up to help protect the gibbons and other wildlife and logging in the wild here and with an arrangement of zip wires crossing the jungle canopy and valleys, you can get around quite quickly. They say that overuse of the zip wires is not necessary and not to use these as a reason for your visit as it'll prevent you from seeing wild animals but you can't help but use them when they're there.

They are so much fun too, especially the 400m ones. You even use them to get into the tree house where you stay the night, overlooking an awesome valley.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos of Gibbons: here

We trekked for a good few hours and then stopped by a waterfall for a swim and then retired for food up the tree. Nothing but 2 horses seen. The tree house had two floors and downstairs was the bathroom with had no walls. There was a railing to protect you, but nothing for your modesty.. but then again, from whom? It's a little unnerving taking a pee 40m up with a bit of wood stopping you from falling. I've not checked Google maps yet but Ian had a GPS on him and our first night's location was: N 20d 27' 55.5" / E 100d 46' 53.6"

Videos
Watch me taking off here
Watch me doing the full zip wire with surrounding views here
Watch me landing here
Watch Antonia arriving at the tree house here

The next day wasn't any better from an animal sighting perspective. During our trek to swap treehouses we crossed paths with our "swappers" and they told us that the other treehouse had rats. Super. When we were discussing it further at lunch someone mentioned we were soon to set off to the Rat House. Thinking back to my school days I asked Max and Antonia if this, oder Radhaus, was German for Town Hall. Almost it is, Sprechen sie Deutsch? A little. They were then suitably impressed that after never ever going to Germany I could not only ask where the post office is, but what was the best way to get there. And to ask Uli what time it is. Strange what you remember from school after not using it for over 20 years isn't it?

Again the zip wires were awesome. I felt that the guides, as good cooks as they were, should have told us more about the flora and fauna and perhaps in the tree houses there could have been some written info about the surrounding country. And they were good cooks but if you didn't like sticky rice then you were knackered.
Breakfast: sticky rice and omelette
Lunch: sticky rice and veg
Dinner: sticky rice and meat and veg and perhaps omelette

But the best bit was the next day. We got up at 3.30 to see if we could sight gibbons. Zip wiring at night is even better, if not a little scary due to having to stop before you hit a tree. We trekked through the ants, leeches and mosquitoes and came to rest at treehouse 1 (there are 6 so far) for an hour. Gibbons are hard to sight at the best of times and with any wild animal experience you can't have any guarantee, but they move around and holler in the morning, which is why we were up to hear where they were. A rustle up in the tree and there it was...
..a squirrel! 2 horses and a bloody squirrel. I saw one of those in my mam's back garden in england before I came out. A squirrel that is.

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That said, bare with me (said the actress to the..) as I retrace what we did see, as we had seen many varieties of insects. Of course there were the leeches, which one of us got bit by. And then there were the myriad of flying pests at night which swarmed round the candles heading for instant immolation. And then there was the huge spider in the tree house which we saw moments before retiring to bed (clench your fist.. that's the body, add eight black pipe cleaners.. they're the long spindly legs). When we tried to knock it off the beam it fell a few feet then hung in mid hair by a thin thread (think Mr Cruise in Mission Impossible). "arrrrgh! quick get to your beds and make sure the mossie net is sealed". We didn't see rats but saw the effect after someones bag had been nibbled to get to the crackers. Which were in a bag. In a box. And in a sealed cellophane wrapper. Clever bastards.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos of Gibbons: here

But that morning we could hear gibbons. The guide told us they were about 6km away and that is not good for sighting them. But then they got louder and with that he ran off and asked us to follow. We nipped up and down and darted left and right, stopped for breathes and hearing more, then dashed off the track into the thick bush and kept going. Finally stopping we all looked around and saw them, swinging from branch to branch almost at the top of the trees, and too far to take a photo, but what a rush. I felt like an explorer. We saw one directly overheard too. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have seen them, and we are. Also those zip wires are excellent. That afternoon we had a bit of spare time to play around on them going backwards and forwards, criss crossing each other before heading back to base and rewarding ourselves with a beer before I met up with some of the others for dinner. For a change, we opted aganst sticky rice.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos of Gibbons: here

The next day I was leaving for Luang Prabang but I was undecided which methid.. the slow bus, the slow boat or the speed boat. I had been warned many times against getting the speed boat, not only by the Lonely Planet, but now by fellow travellers...

Posted by suggs69 21:07 Archived in Laos Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Me Long for Mekong

The Moustache is Tiny Squid Roasts

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Manchester to Chiang Rai

An arduous fight.. I left our house at 4pm Saturday. I never prebooked the internal flight from Bangkok up to CR (Chiang Rai) in case the Dubai to Bangkok section of my journey was late. As it happens it did set off late but arrived 20 minutes early after flying faster (so what's to stop them flying faster all the time? - speed cameras in the clouds?). The domestic CR flight was delayed too so it meant I could easily get it.. but at double the price as it was on internet the other day.
oh well, I was still in UK Pounds shilling and pence mode.
And hazy.
And lazy.

Now came the tricky bit.. I arrived in CR at 11pm, Sunday.. the taxi never set off till 11.30 and everywhere looked shut. Of course, without pre-booking a flight, I also never pre-booked accomodation. We circled CR for ages until he finally found the Akha river guest house I requested and fortunately the owner was outside having a beer. He also had a room free. 100 Baht for bedroom isn't too bad. And bedroom is what it literally is. It does what it says on the can. It only has a bed and nothing else. Shower outside is bit naff. Still, whaddya expect for 100B (check it on www.xe.com). The insects outide play a very harmonious tune in the evenings.

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View from Akha River guest house

It's quiet here and you wont get Wat'd or Buddha'd out. Maybe cause it's early in the season. Maybe it's because it's mainly a town for trekking into the hillsides. I'm sure it says something about the town when the bus stops have the best architecture.. very intricate for such a functional and insignificant structure. That said, I quite like this town. I came here for a few days to acclimatise to the heat, see a little and relax and that's exactly what I'm doing. I saw Hill Tribes museum and after something to eat I saw a mass aerobic outdoor class. Fancied joining them but as I'd just eaten...

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The night market here just shouted at me to buy everything but on the first few days of a trip, is that right? Especially when I tried to limit how much is in my pack. The pavements are engineered so thin so that you walk on the road I'm sure. There are trees in the way, bikes (just like Viet Nam) and the now famous, in this blog at least, bus stops. They also have a funny disregard for science. Electricity for instance can't be that dangerous schurely? Why else would they have wires head height or lamps that have no cover on them. Water and electricity dangerous?? Pffft!

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Apropos of nothing, my shin is still a funny shape from walking into that trolley (back in Spain) and my toes that got broke/bruised still feel funny. On the "apropos of nothing" theme, I saw a gang of geckos bunch up and start pecking at a butterfly fluttering around the shower last night. When I got in after the night out, the butterfly was dead in the sink... the antenna and legs (which I presume to be the tasty bits) were gone. That's nature for you.

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I've met up with Jean and Dee yesterday and Ross today.. YAY!!!

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We celebrated by going out, having a beer and eating some deep fried crickets. Surprisingly, they were tasty but I avoided buying a big bag of them.

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I've just got to Laos after catching a tuk-tuk, bus, tuk-tuk and finally a boat acorss the river. Tomorrow I am going to live up a tree for a few days to see gibbons and whatnot. Hopefully will catch up with them soon.

Until I get to a point where the web is alive in Laos, no more postcard-bloggy-thingumajigs. Talking of which. The weather is hot. Food is great. No beach.

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How can you not like the Wats when they have performing turtles there?

Plan
The rough plan is to spend a month in Laos, travelling southwards along the Mekong (with a few diversions) and then following the river again up to a month in Cambodia. After that, depending what date it is, I may go over to Viet Nam or Thailand. Who knows? I surely don't.

love n hugs,
Gypsie Suggs
xxxx

Posted by suggs69 18:19 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Demontage Work in Spain

Grande Hermano

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Day 1 (Thu) in the Demontage Household

Hola!

I started a four to five week contract with Eurocamp as Demontage Assistant: helping clear the sites (of tents/static caravans/furniture) at the end of the holiday season.
Rather than an expected tent, I got to share an eight berth fancy static caravan with Charlie (~53 Liverpool). All nine of the team had one each between two. There were two scousers in the team (Ian ~35), a Scot (Dan ~20), a welshman (Lewis 19) and smatterings of English (Danny 19, Dick ~55, Rob ~24) and a safa for a gaffer (Ryan ~24 South Africa).. and his boss Sarah from Birmingham. A lot of hard graft today - just what I wanted - to remove the furniture from the tents on the first site of many. We are starting in North East Spain on the Costa Brava at a place called Las Dunas near a town called Escala and will work our way down over 4 weeks towards Valencia. I never realised how much firniture you get in these tents. It's a 4* camp site. Nice and hot too. This is what I came for:

    • Sun (as I seem to have misplaced the english summer, somewhere between June and September)
    • Spain
    • Some physical work (after a period of doing not much after the back operation)
    • Learn some spanish

In the morning though the boss set out some pretty strict ground rules, some of which were commonsense and behaved like a teacher. ie. treated us like schoolchildren. Not a great start.

That evening the sun went in and some rather unexpected weather came. First the calm. Then the wind built up. We were back in the caravan and heard a thud. I thought someone had thrown something at it. Then another thud. And another. Then lots. It was like one of the first scenes from The Day After Tomorrow. I couldn't believe my eyes when I looked out of the window. Hail the size of golf balls were shooting down. It was like parking up at the wrong end of a busy driving range. I have never ever been in hail like this.
I was just about to walk out to the cook tent before this started. Fortunately I didn't otherwise I reckon serious injuries to the head. After the weather dropped down a notch to just driving rain, we had to wade through temporary rivers to get to our now cold dinner.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

Day 3 (Sat) in the Demontage Household
We had a day in Playa D'Aro yesterday - pretty much chambermaid stuff.. cleaning static homes. Not what I came out to do though, although it was a fantastic site with an awesome view as the homes were on a hill up from the beach. These camp sites are custom made, not like any I've seen in the UK or NZ (and expensive too I reckon).

Back here in Las Dunas today to take down the tents and clean them before packing them. More hard work but a day off tomorrow so we'll have a few bevvies tonight I reckon. Got my first injury. Walked right into a trolley - well it stopped and went into me - and got a right bruise on my knee and crack on my shin. It's a pain if a mossie lands on my shin.. I cant just slap it.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

Day 5 (Mon) in the Demontage Household

Yesterday was a day off and I thought I'd do something relaxing. A lie around the pool and a dip perhaps. It was effing freezing! Still, it woke me up. Later in the arvo I walked along the coast to Escala, past Empurie (founded in 600BC by the Greeks as a trading post). It was a hard slog and about 7km on sand but good to get out and see stuff.
Today we finished off the tents on this site. Thought Ian may have been evicted out of the household by the boss after his pissed up shenenigans (we're not allowed to drink spirits onsite). Lewis was close too after becoming the whipping boy from the bitchy boss.
Half of the team went south close to Roda De Bara and we'll meet up with them tomorrow. I joined forces with Rob on the van, loading and taking equipment to the store which made the days easier.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

Day 8 (Thu) in the Demontage Household

We joined the team on Tuesday at Arc De Bara (20km north of Tarragona) and also had Jasper (~22 Holland), Binny (Macclesfield) and Roisin (~20 Thetford) and Jonathan (~40 Wigan) join us. The weather was far better and we set about dismantling. This was harder work as the ground is set hard like cement and pulling the pegs out in the roaring sun is achey business. So I have a few aches and pains. A few cuts. And many bites as this site is full of mozzies. We also got the full run down of all the rules of the campsite which, again, are pretty strict (basically, we cant use anything and we have to clean ourselves up before wandering out of our sector - sounds like a prison camp). At least we get to use the site showers which are hot and nice and powerful as they want us to keep the statics we're living in clean and free from use.
On Wednesday we got notified by the site manager that we were barred from using the campsite showers. There's now a feeling around that we're living in Stalag as we seem to have so many rules imposed upon us and the boss is asking too many things and still treating us like children or inmates instead of letting us get on with it. It's peanuts you get paid so they should expect monkeys. It seems like the reward for working hard and fast is more work and not the promised early finish. Even the gaffer is getting overruled and overran by the boss. Apathy is setting in. Who will be voted out? Who will walk out? Shame as we're a good team and get on well and have a laugh.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

Day 11 (Sun) in the Demontage Household

Yesterday funnily, the boss was offsite so Ryan said we only need to take about eight tents down and that's it for the day. Two hours it was completed in. That's goals for you. Due to the aforementioned apathy, on request and by offer I checked the price of flights back for a few of us but they seemed too pricey.
Heard that two others will be let out of the household on Monday. Me and Charlie went to Tarragona for the day. I wanted to see an old roman aquaduct which was a few km out of town so arranged to meet Charlie later at a bar and ran for the bus. It was quite late in the day so I was in a rush to see it before it got dark and I was running round like a sweaty madman for this bus. Took me ages to find it, but I did and ten minutes later the bus stoppd at a proper stop on the side of a motorway where the car park for the heritge site was. I wandered through and saw it in the valley beyond. Amazing construction - bloody clever those romans all those years ago.

The return was a bit more of an issue - the bus stop on the otherside of the motorway didn't exist and the one I alighted at went away from the city. I asked the few people who had parked at the aquaduct car park if they were going to Tarragona but they weren't. It was mad and dangerous but couldn't see any other option. so I run about 2km up along the motorway hard shoulder and across sliproads trying to remember where the bus came from and eventually made it back to the bar.

Tarragona was a cool city. There was a festival on - and the spanish like their festivals - masses of people and fireworks at street level, dancers, stilted giants and big paper-machiered headed dwarfs. I was talking to one of the staff and they were also having a free concert starting at 10pm going on till 6.30am. Shame we had to get a bus back. Met up with the guys back at the camp site and had some drinks down at the Beach Bar that night before being challenged to a game of barefoot 5-a-side on the beach at 2am.

I am not good at football. I often mis-time and injure myself. This was no exception.

Today I have the best bruised black and purple toes. One on right foot and one on left. Could be broken. Finding it hard to walk. Oblivious to this, I caught a train to Barcelona today with Rob and got the Metro all over. I struggled walking but it was ok walking up and down the Metro stairs - hobbled the rest of the time.

Up for nomination to leave this week are Dan and Lewis.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

Day 14 (Wed) in the Demontage Household

Evictions: Lewis left on Monday to go back home and Dan has left to meet up with mates here in Spain.

Monday it lashed down so the final tents couldn't be taken down wet. so we had an afternoon off reading, crosswords, sleeping or resting poorly toes. The onsite docs gave me some pills and cream and drew a lovely diagram of a broken toe.

Yesterday most of us moved on south to Tropicana campsite, which is where Johnny had rep'd all season. Very old fashioned and gaudy. With faux statues everywhere it looked like a garden centre. And it was in the middle of nowhere. Charlie however has joined another team and went back up north to another site, where we are due to go in a week's time.

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Tacky Tropicana

This time we're staying in tents.. not sure why as we have to take them down at some point. It would make more sense to me to put us in chalet and we can do all 15 tents in one go. We got a good crack on and managed to get them all minus the ones we're staying in. Saw, caught and released a gecko which almost ran up my trouser leg.

Today, it rained again so they gave us our half day - nice. Fortunately, after me and Rob had walked off the campsite, the rain stopped and the sun came out (with his hat on - hooray) and it was too late to bring us back once we'd sipped our first San Miguel. Ian joined us later for a few. Rob's alright. He quit his unsatisfying job to do this and regrets it a little due to the way they talk down to you here, but he'll stick it out.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

Day 16 (Fri) in the Demontage Household

We are now back up north in Cambrils. A 5* campsite by my reckoning. Very posh.. great facilities too including heaps of sport courts and a minigolf. On the way up we stopped again at Arc de Bara to finish off the tents which were now dry. And I found mini-gecko. And caught it and released it out of harms way.
I've heard my request for early parole has been granted and I'll be leaving on 1 October. Word on the street is that we're also getting another half day tomorrow. When I asked if this was true they confirmed as long as we get an alloted amount of work completed. "Then tell everyone that, they'll work a lot harder with a goal", I said. He did, and they did.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

Day 19 (Mon) in the Demontage Household

Cambils is near Salou which is still busy this time of year so most people were going to go there on Saturday. Ian was eager to catch the liverpool derby match and I wanted to watch that and then the United match afterwards. Quite a few of us went to Pure Genius (a guinness theme pub) to watch the matches and then went out afterwards. unfortunately Ian was ratted and we had to carry him back. This didn't bode well after his last warning. After a great night out we got back and on sunday heard that the campsite had complained again. Now it was ominous. Ian was nominated by the supervisor for eviction. Shame as ian is such a laugh when we're working and for a scouser (certainly from a manc stereotype point of view), he works very hard.

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Johnny and Ryan

Was going to go to Port Aventura on the Sunday but coudn't get a free ticket so sat round drinking with Johnny and Dick. Good guys. Dick's retired and been doing this for years as a van driver so seen lot of europe. Johnny's a pisshead who'll do anything but not get into trouble.
Ended up back at the bar and met up with the others, Binny and Roisin who are a lovely young couple, Jasper who's a mad dutchman and Dan who's a mad scotsman.

Eviction: Come Monday breakfast, as Ian had already knew his fate, six bottles of San Miguel had already been supped and he was on his bottle of red wine ("it's vimto honest") when the boss drive him off to the bus station. I hope he found his way to the airport ok.
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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

Day 21 (Wed) in the Demontage Household

Yesterday was a breeze. Me, Dan and Rob got a shit job to do and felt like we were doing community service but at least we were unsupervised which vastly improved the situation as we had a tea break, a long lunch break and kicked around. The afternoon was a doddle too as we just had to wait for the van to get emptied which pretty much took all day.
That night I had my final drinks at Pure Genius watching United beat Aalborg.

Today saw me leave and get back to Manchester. I did fancy a quick gander at the Gaudi Experience in Reus but stupid Ryan Air left it till last minute and two super huge queues before opening the single check-in desk.

I was asked many times would I do it again? Well it was a good laugh. The work was hard and shitty sometimes and you dont get paid much but that wasn't why I went. In the end I broke even, whereas I would probably have been down if I stayed in the UK. I got exactly what I wanted out of it and more (although maybe less Spanish than I'd hoped). I probably would do it, as long as there was a different boss. A few who had done it before had said that it usually is better with a different boss.

Posted by suggs69 12:27 Archived in Spain Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

La Tomatina in Spain / 24 - 29 Aug 2008

Tomato Sauce

sunny

..and now I'm off to Spain to Madrid, Valencia, and Bunol for La Tomatina, the annual tomato throwing festival.

I wanted to go to a Spanish festival: running of the bulls or the tomato throwing festival. Not only did La Tomatina sound safer, but it also sounded more fun.

Madrid

Me, George and Leanne got a cheap flight to Madrid and hired a car for the week. It's bloody tricky driving on the right hand side straight from the airport onto busy spaghetti junction type motorways with narrow lanes. Even more so trying to get on the motorways from a short filter lane with heavy trucks whizzing past your tiny rent-a-noddy. It took a while in the narrow streets of the city too, and a few laps, trying to find the hostel and then a place to park.

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Where's this? I saw it on the way to Spain

What a beautiful city Madrid is. We were only there two days. Took in a free walking tour (www.neweuropetours.eu) which is fully informative and recommended and you only give what you think it's worth at the the end in tips. Took in some tasty tapas too and relaxed in the gardens and the lake there. Tried some Salsa dancing and ended up with a messy pub tour.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here and here

We briefly stopped by Toledo on the way to Valencia. This is/was the church captial of Spain. Spain has quite a lot more history than I was aware of. The Greeks, Romans, germanics all came to Spain, it was a muslim country for 300 years before the Christians and Catholics came back, and for a short period this beckoned the Spanish Inquisition.

I drove all the way to Valencia (ahem, someone misplaced their driving license and someone didn't like driving on the right) and found Coll Vert campsite not far to the south of the city.

La Tomatina

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here and here

Mayhem even from the word go. Its about 40km away in a small industrial town which doesn't have anything else attracting you there apart from this one day. Coaches picked us up - and all mostly aussie, kiwi and european backpackers - from the campsite, many already on the sauce. Bottles of sangria and beer in hand we set off. Of course some of the guys couldn't hold on and had to use their bottles for another use.
On arrival, after 15 comedy minutes of the double-coach driver trying to reverse and park in the tiny streets, we made our way to the square.. or one of them. Water is being thrown everywhere. The tomatoes dont get thrown until around 12 and 1. Before that it's anything. Mostly water but tshirts, hats and anything else loose will also do. I clung onto my camera. The locals have tarpaulin over the bottom of their houses and they all gather on the rooves to throw buckets of water down and hosepipe everyone. All good clean fun in both senses.
We squeezed and dodged our way through the squirming throngs of people, not really knowing if we wre in the middle or moving away from the middle. I wasn't allowed to pass a certain section unless everyone had a go at ripping off my tshirt - when they failed I had to remove it myself and toss it into the crowd. All the narrow alleys were hammered with soaking wet bodies.

and then the truck came full of tomatoes....

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I found it hard to believe how a truck could fit through a street chock full of people, but it did. Stewards in front got people to squeeze to the sides and there weren't many millimetres between toes and the rather large wheels. Then it tipped backwards to release a portion of tomatoes for our section and if I thought it was mayhem before, it was chaos now.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here and here

Tomatoes whizzing back and forth. Heads pounded, eyes watered. I thought those with scuba goggles on looked a bit silly but then realised the reasoning behind them. Within minutes the floor was thick with tomato puree but still they came, being thrown and carried along from the other drop sites. Another truck came and deposited more love apples and again and again. We managed to get some photos of the event although it was through a freezer bag so as not to damage the camera. It was so funny seeing everyone in a massive one-item-only food fight. Hit or be hit. I got several good targets but was also on the receving end of some too.

There's only one rule for this festival - squash the tomato in your hand before throwing (well two actually: stop when the cannon sounds at 1pm), but you got the odd nob who didn't. Those stung a bit - and that's where the goggles can come in useful. All tshirts were off now, including the girls - athough it didn't matter too much anyway because they would have to be thrown away at the end of the day due to the incredible smell of tomatoes in them. Perhaps Persil should shoot an ad here?

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Then the cannon fires and everyone (bar a few idiots) stop. The floor is about 8 inches thick with tomoto juice. Everyone shuffles off one way or another trying to find water to clean themselves. Locals get their hosepipes back out and everyone clamours to be in front. We finally find a string of showers, no doubt set up for this very occasion and get in line to clean ourseves before going back to the coach, wondering if we'd be alowed on.

But before the coach there's a party in the sunshine in a square. More booze and laughing remembering who hit who and still trying to get the tomotoes out of our eyes because everything is blurred.

Back at the campsite it's a dip in the sea and then another party and twister time on the dance floor. I don't recall too much but I did get a beer scar on my knee.

Valencia

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The day after we went to Valenica's arts and science park, a new complex built with stunning architecture so that even the theatre rivals the Sydney Opera House in my eyes. It's quite amazing here and we popped into the science museum and the oceanagraphic centre to see a multitude of fish, sharks, whales and a dolphin show. Gotta love those dolphins.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here and here

Being our last night we ventured into the centre of Valencia for some proper spanish paella. Valencia, after all, is where is it from. We found a small street witha few restuarants (ooh, bit pricey) and chose one. Only noticed at the end that it is called Bellota, which is also the name of the restaurant we opened at Sky City. Inside the ceiling is full of dried hams hanging down. We ate outside.

On the way back, we briefly stopped at Requesta which has a lovely old city part and then stopped by Cuenca which has houses built onto and overhanging the cliffs over the river valley. We only had 20 mins there though due to our flight so couldn't explore any more but if you're passing one day, stop by..

..maybe next year when you go to La Tomatina? It's near to the last Wednesday of August.

Posted by suggs69 12:25 Archived in Spain Tagged events Comments (0)

All Over the UK / June - August 2008

Elvis Bit Me

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View Spain holiday on suggs69's travel map.

All the Fun of the Fair

It's been amazing since I got back. Mostly to catch up with family and friends (and their pets) but it's also good to see bits of the UK I've not seen before and get a bit of history and old architecture, which is what NZ lacks.

But first things first. I went to the Foo Fighters again, this time in Manchester with George, Di and Sam (and met Mike). That was a fantastic night, on a par with the Auckland one but different because it was in a stadium and theynever had the middle part. Thank you to Susan for getting us the tickets.

George took me to Alton Towers midweek and it's been ages since I went on any decent rides. It was so much fun. There wasn't that many people there and we got to go on all the best rides at least twice and every one at least on the front too. Nemesis is still the favourite but RITA (great name - the next may be called Norris) was also cool although it did make me aware of my recent back injury when it turned the corner at high speed.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here and here

Mavis the Metro

I wasn't in any rush and am aware that some of my mates have families now so I've left it up to them to see when they are free and wanted to go out. It's been far better this way as I can spend more time chatting with them than flitting from one to another all on one night at a party.

I first thought I'd look for a car to help me get round. It's tricky looking for cars without a car. I only had a small budget. Initially I went to a car yard (I went on a bus and went past a pub called The Dog Inn, heaven knows what goes on in THAT car park!) but after seeing crap, I looked for a private sale. I found this delightful 10 year old runabout called Mavis. (hmmm.. there a Coronation Street theme to this blog). She's in good condition and has tax and MOT till next year so that's all good.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here and here

Road Trippin in the UK

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Very amateurish drawing of where I've been

I've been to quite a few places south and east of Manchester.
It was a mini tour of the UK. I initially went on the motorway down the M6 to Stoke Golding/Nuneaton but this was boring on the eyes so made the decision to stick to A and B roads to see villages and more scenery. One thing I've noticed is that a lot of road signs are covered with hedges and trees. Nobody seems to be trimming them back. My three theories are 1) people use Sat Nav now and dont need signs 2) locals know the roads anyway so dont need signs 3) cutbacks in the budget.
I cant use sat nav with Mavis because she doesn't have a cigarette lighter socket. BAH!

Some signs I did see when entering villages puzzled me: "Twinned with Bordeaux and Dusseldorf" eh??? It's twinned with one other town but not two. That's a kind of triplet theme you got going there.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here and here

I spent a bit of time on the road and saw some great sights and fab mates. I got as far south as Plymouth (Brida), as east as Thetford (Aussie Andy). Been to Newport Pagnell (Paula), Bath, Minchinhampton (Susie, Chris, mum, dad, Poppy, Jaffa), Stratford upon Avon, Stoke Golding (Amanda, Chris, Boris, Maggie), Alresford and Winchester twice (Beryl, Keith, grandad, grandma), Chelmsford (Jason, Karen, Stan, Jeanette), Exeter (Holly), Ottery St Mary, World heritage site of Saltaire, Nottingham (San and Scott), Chesterfield, Pennsylvania, Dartmoor, and the mighty Reading or thereabouts (Mark, Nikki, Joe, Ellie, Honey), Bingley (Jane, Jayne, Mark, Lizzy Lou, Janet), Retford (Dave, Jo), Leeds, Huddesfield (Nat, Lindsay), Warwick etc.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here and here

Finally saw Stonehenge which is cheap as chips and well worth a visit if you're there. Certainly better than the 18 quid (I was still coverting from NZ dollars) for Warwick castle. It funny that sometimes you go to other countries and see their ancient sites but never see your own country's efforts. Anyway, now I have.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here and here

And I even took in smelly old London and saw Nikki & Carl, Daniel, Donna and all her ace mates, went to Chelmsford and had a wicked time at the V festival with Jason & Karen and Stan & Jeanette.

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--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here and here

Madchester yeahhhh

Back in Manchester I've not been to town much (apart from a few comedy shows and concerts (Jack Johnson was superb - and if you manage to see Ivan Brackenridge, do so for some laugh your head off comedy), I've mostly stayed localish at the Pole or a couple of times at the Loom or Boat, seeing some best mates who are too numerous to mention. Even Pilot Paul came over from America to be to rep for the Shell contingent - or maybe it was on business but I hadn't seen him for 8 years so that was cool.

My back has improved to the point where I can now play tennis and enjoying it thoroughly as Mike and I are pretty much the same level, so most of the games go to tie breakers (most - apart from the ones where I comprehensively hammer him).

It's been ace and now I'm off to Spain to Madrid, Valencia, and Bunol for La Tomatina: the annual tomato throwing festival.

Posted by suggs69 12:24 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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