A Travellerspoint blog

Stag Dos and Weddings / June - July 2008

"The police find Englishmen sleeping in fountains"

sunny
View AKL-MAN on suggs69's travel map.

Poland / 29 May - 2 June 2008

I arrived in Manchester and the lovely George picked me up and took me home. No sooner was I here but I was off on the first stag do to Poland. It took me longer to get there than it did to fly home from Bangkok.
Went to Retford, stayed over, up early to drive up to Sheffield to catch a coach down to Luton to catch a flight to Katowich and then a minibus to Krakow. Phew!
There were about 26 of us for Dave's stag do. Krakow's a beautiful city, unspoilt by any WWII bombs. It helped not having a cloud in the sky for the weekend but I was well impressed.

wed_dragon.jpg
--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

Several of us took a trip on the Saturday to Auschwitz, a memorial to the devestating effects of the Holocaust. It was a long but extremely interesting and powerful day. It was a hot day and we hardly had any water and no food but because of what we were being taught, the effects paled into comparision to how it must have been all those years ago, and there was a feeling of guilt alongside a feeling of hunger.

wed_Auschwitz.jpg
--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

Not allowed to go into the details of the rest of the stag do, but it was Gold. Some decent bars there and the city is definitely worth a trip to. If, as I've heard, there are a lot of Polish men coming to UK, I'm not sure why because there are a hell of a lot of stunning Polish women in Krakow.

Doncaster / 14 June 2008

Two weeks later and it was the wedding of David & Jo-Anne, held and receptioned at Doncaster racecourse. Plenty a drink, got drunk and had a great laugh all night. Interesting and very popular sweepstake was held with all the guests to guess how long the speeches would take. Suggest you do the same at the next wedding you go to.

wed_dave.jpg
--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

Leeds / 28 June 2008

Two weeks later it was Nat's stag do. I got a train over to Huddersfield and then up to Leeds for a comedy night (check out Richard & Mr Timkins if you can) followed by beer, beer, curry, beer vaguely in that order. After a delightful breakfast in the morning I made my way home.

Huddersfield / 12 July 2008

yet another two weeks later, Nathan & Lindsey's got married. It was held in Huddesfield and it was the first time I saw a man marry his brother. Nathan's brother is, of course, a priest, and it was a wonderful ceremony and then later on we were drinking again at the reception. It wasn't a late night for me as I was getting the midnight train home.

wed_nat.jpg
--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

When I was last over in the UK in 2005 I went over to Rome for a couple of nights with both Dave and Nat and met Jo-Anne and Lindsey so it was fantastic to catch up with them again.

And after all that I thought maybe it's time to look for work....

Posted by suggs69 12:21 Archived in Poland Tagged events Comments (0)

Thailand to Britain

Keep the Dream Alive... hit snooze

sunny
View AKL-MAN on suggs69's travel map.

....Bangkok on the other hand / 19 - 21 May 2008

Bangkok's new airport is pretty damn good. After landing I was out past customs and had my bag within five minutes. Couldn't change my Dongs though. Oh well, they'll be useful for when I go back to Viet Nam.

I stayed just round the corner from Khao San Road at Rambuttri Village Inn. It's pretty decent, just slightly set back and out of the way and has a pool on the roof so we made use of that immediately. In the evening we had a mooch around Khao San to see what had changed since I was last here in 1999.

Not much and a lot.

That is to say, it's still manic with stalls everywhere selling t-shirts and stuff but some new buildings have been put up behind them. Gullivers is still there on the corner but someone's moved Boots. There's more Europeans here and less asians than there is in Auckland.

On the way back to the hotel there were crowds everywhere. It was Buddha Day and Somdet Phra Nang Chao Sirikit Phra Borommarachininat was coming to visit the nearby temple, or to give her the easy title: Queen Sirikit of Thailand. Officials and security were all lined up and down the road came several limos. Apparently, you're not allowed to take photos of the queen, well that's what the tourist police told me, so I had to quickly knock up this quick sketch. She did wave when she got out though gawd bless 'er (or "buddha bless her").

thai_queen.jpg
--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

The next morning we went along the river and saw the reclining Buddha (the biggest at 46 metres) and the rest of the grounds at Wat Pho. It's pretty cool. There's all these statues guarding the doors and they all look happy or camp. Like you'd ever get guards like that.

thai_guard.jpg
--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

Leanne was heading down to Koh Tao to continue her three month tour, so I saw her to the coach and said "sawat dii khrap".

I only had a week in Thailand and I'd be blowed if I was going to spend it all in Bangkok so I booked a coach and ferry to Koh Samet the next morning. I'd never been there and figured it was close enough to chill out on a beach for a few days. I'd obviously not got a ticket to Moscow for the final but now I was worried whether I'd made the mistake of leaving the security of Bangkok where it was obviously going to be on in the myriad bars, to go to a small quiet island out of tourist season where the bars may close before the 2am kick off.

Koh Samet / 21 - 25 May 2008

A coach, a minibus and a slow boat later I was on Koh Samed and checked into the easiest, though not necessarily the cheapest, place on the Hat Sai Kaew beach. What a hole it was, dark n dingey. Oh well, for one night only.
I then spent the afternoon checking bars which would show the football and better places to stay for a few days.

After wandering round the bars and accomodation past beaches Ao Hin Khok down to Ao Phai, I soon came to the conclusion that this could be the island where the Westerners bring their Thai brides. I could be wrong. Giggedy.

I think there was only one set of beach huts I never looked at. None were as good as what I remembered from other islands and all were far back from the beach (in my budget). Still, Naga bar seemed to be the place to watch the match and so it proved, and Jo from Bradford was there too to serve beers. After a nailbiting final, I took my leave and the next day picked up bag and checked the one place I skipped yesterday. How did I miss this? White Sand gave me a place on the beach. Quality, and right in the middle of the action. Just what I was looking for to chill out. Although the pillows did make a passable impression of sandbags.

thai_beach.jpg

--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

Most of my time was then spent either swimming, lying on the beach or sat in an internet cafe reading the football write ups. Sat on the beach, you get these guys walking past with three baskets hanging off their over-the-shoulder stick: dried squid, hard boiled eggs or nuts. Mmmmm, just what I want after sitting in the sun. Nope, I need a beer. And red curry for breakfast. That's me settled back into Thai life.

I did get off my arse one day to go on a boat cruise round the island with stops to scuba. I thought it'd be a good time to test my waterproof camera but it wasn't clear enough nor were there that many fish. Met a nice Norwegian couple, Ann and Stien, and went out for dinner with them that evening, sat on the beach, watching the fire jugglers at Ploy Talay. Stien has been living in Bangkok studying and said there is a better island to go to (somewhere that sounds like Prachuap Khiri Khan).

thai_fire.jpg

--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

Bangkok / 25 - 26 May 2008

On the way back from Koh Samet I bumped into a lovely Canadian couple and a Kiwi lass called Brett & Kiera and Julie, a and a bonkers English guy called Micky. Wow! Nice guy and loads to say and interesting too but he could talk for England. Funnily enough he did represent Britain - and it was back in 1980 at the Moscow olympics - at cycling. All the way back from the minibus to the big bus he yabbered on and on. I couldn't get a word in edgeways not even to ask him a question.

TIP: on the mainland near Samet, go to Jim's bar in Banphe on 16th April and watch the fun

I had a night and a day in Bangkok so that evening Julie, Kiera, Brett and I went to Khao San, drinking some "fucking good beer" and wandering and wondering what head gear to buy off the street vendors and had a superb night and a great laugh.

thai_beer.jpg

--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

The next day we went to Pangtip Mall, a huge shopping mall just for IT equipment which Micky had told us about. It's madness. Nearly every shop sells the same thing. At first it was geek heaven but it quickly got tiring. Was cheap though.

I braved getting back to Khao San on the back of a bike. WOW!! I thought the ice in my drink earlier may have given me the runs but this was terrifying. I thought I may end up under the wheels of a bus... going round and round.. or at the very least get my knees chafed by the the madman steering this thing through tiny, and closing, gaps in the traffic. Fucking crazy and it didn't help the driver having the hump at the agreed 60 baht and wanting more.

thai_traffic.jpg

--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

TIP: go to Pangtip IT mall for a cheap flash drive to backup your photos onto

But I lived to tell the tale, and now I am writing on my tiny Eee PC laptop I bought at the IT mall. I couldn't use the PC until I got to the airport to charge the battery and you wouldn't believe the first thing I did. I plugged in my memory stick that I had been using around internet cafes and thought "that's odd.. dont remember that Funny UST Scandal AVI file", and double clicked it. As soon as that second click went down I realised what I had just done and pulled out the memeory stick but it was too late. I'd given my new laptop a bloody virus!!! Spent all the time since then trying to connect to web to see how to remove it. Of all people to do it! All good now though.

It was a long journey to the UK, made worse by checking out before midday and flying at 1am and the hotel didn't have a room for me to clean up in. Neither did the airport unless you have mega US $$ to spare. I should have slept but Emirates always have the coolest movies and TV programmes to watch. One that I have to see more of is a UK comedy called Not Going Out with Lee Mack. Funny as.

TIP: if your flight is late at night or early in the morning, it's worth keeping the room on (or half if they allow)

Posted by suggs69 12:19 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

New Zealand to Vietnam

Random Acts of Kindness

sunny
View AKL-MAN on suggs69's travel map.

Auckland to Sydney / 6 May 2008

The journey started with a visit from the Foo Fighters to Auckland (excellent concert, stood to the side of the stage), and afterwards Sunaiya kindly took me towards the airport, dropping me off at a nearby hotel so I could say hello and goodbye to J9 who was staying there.

The QANTAS flight to Sydney was nothing special, although the free Burger King at Auckland Airport was handy as I had spent up. On arriving at Sydney a few fun and games began. Even though I was continuing on to Viet Nam with JetStar (the QANTAS budget airline), QANTAS had told me there was no provision to do an international transfer and I had to collect my bags from the other side of customs and then check in again. Both Sydney customs and other security questioned where I was staying for my duration in Australia.
"Here, in the airport for a few hours".
"You’re in the wrong place, you need international transfer"
"Yeah, you'd think that but QANTAS told me.. etc."
"Same company"
"Yeah I know but QANTAS told me.. etc."

So after waiting until the last bags got collected and a new batch from a new plane started circling I enquired where my bag was.
"Automatically onto the next flight"
"but QANTAS told me.. ah forget it. Cheers" and hoped it would indeed show up at Ho Chi Minh airport later in the day.

P5061288_S..ean_me_.jpg
--see bigger, better, brighter photos: 45 here and 45 here--

So what to do in Australia for 5 hours? I'd already mentioned I'd be checking into Oz and Jean was already on her way to the airport, complete with a bag of presents, food and smiles for the onward journey. Absolutely ace. We had a few drinks and Ikuo kindly came along for a pint too. Before long though I was feeling very tired and had to check in.

I wasn't looking forward to a long haul budget airline flight but I managed to get a half decent seat and slept most of it.

Ho Chi Minh City (formerly S-S-S-S-S-Saigon) / 6 - 8 May 2008

Although anxious, the bag showed up on the belt. I handed US$8 to the airport taxi service and asked for the backpacker area of De Tham..... hoping that I would actually end up there.

The heat, the cacophony of motorcycle horns and sheer amount of traffic hit me first. How on earth was I going to get there without hitting another vehicle. But that I did (in taxi drivers we trust) and there waiting for me, heads atop a large goldfish bowl of vodka and Red Bull were Leanne and Dianne. We had a good drink and catch up before crashing back at large room above STA travel.

Fortunately for me they had been here a few days and had pre-organised the Cu Chi Tunnels trip the following day. These were the tunnels that the Viet Cong used to stay in, cook in, get around, and simply confuse and get on top of the Americans. The tour started off with a video that was very anti-American and it pretty much continued in the American bashing theme. I really wasn't too clued up on why the Yanks were there and the more I read about it the more convoluted but interesting Viet Nam's history gets. I'll leave that to you.

We got to walk, nay, crawl into the tunnels (not sure if it was the best idea with my back) but it really was a squeeze and these had been opened up a bit more for tourists. I was fortunate that I was at the front following the guide as he had a torch. Unfortunately, it also meant that I saw the huge creepy crawly centipedes on the wall, just before the torch blinded me. It was all very claustrophobic and some people couldn't last the full distance.

P5071306_V..rawlie_.jpg
--see bigger, better, brighter photos: 45 here and 45 here--

After that we nipped into the War Remnants Museum (for a bit more septic bashing). It was quite graphic and some of the exhibits of the atrocities crossed the line I thought, but then I guess not as bad as actually being in the war.

TIP: go to museum before the tunnel trip and you'll understand it better

It was time to see a bit more of the city.
The vast number of bikes really is crazy. It looks like chaos on the roads but it works. Crossing the road is not so much an art form as a test of faith.. blind faith. They do have pavements but they ride on them too and they park there too so you cant avoid the roads. Crossing at the lights seems to be even more dangerous than the middle of the road. As we stood there waiting for a gap in the traffic, a bloke sat down behind us shouted "just go.. they will avoid". As the saying goes; when in Ho Chi Minh City, do as the Ho Chi Minhs do, so with a squeaky bum, we crossed and made it. Phew! It's actually quite fun after a few times.

Hoi An / 8 - 10 May 2008

The next day it was time to say goodbye and good luck to Di as she flew home to Manchester and we flew to Hoi An. I already knew this trip was going to be a rush so a flight was the best option. I want to come back to take my time going round and stay places longer.

Hoi An is a beautiful little town. The old section has no cars and not that many bikes. We did a walking tour and a little shopping. This town has a huge number of clothes shops. Obviously rip offs but super cheap (if you've been to Thailand, this is far far cheaper). You can get almost anything made from just showing them a photo of what you want.

Hoi An was also an opportunity for me to catch up with Cath, who I used to work with at Skycity, and meet Grant. We had a delicious meal and then went onto the Happy King Kong bar for far too many beers followed by a race on the back of a motorbike home. Great lively pub.

In this town there is also an opportunity to partake in a Vietnamese cookery course. We went with the Red bridge and I must say, I excelled at it.

TIP: try to book early and get onto the morning course as you can enjoy their swimming pool afterwards in the afternoon

P5091414_V.._course.jpg
--see bigger, better, brighter photos: 45 here and 45 here--

About 50km away there are the ancient ruins of My Son (pronounced "me sun") which are the remains of the Champra kingdom from the 4th century. A smaller cousin of Angkor, it's impressive to see, but a certain nation bombed it to almost smithereens in the 60's..

Not long after getting back we're off again, heading on the tracks as we get the sleeper train up to Hanoi. We were fortunate to get a cabin to ourselves (and well worth spending a couple more dollars for a "soft bed") so we could spread out a bit but it was tricky to sleep with the bumping and rocking. The day part of the journey was well worth a view though as it winded along the coast. Shame to pass so many other towns and cities but this is a quick trip.

Hanoi / 11 - 12 May 2008

We got to Hanoi at 6am which is a bit early to check into hotels so we wandered around the Old Quarter of the city finding the best ones. Some just annoy the hell out of you asking you to wait for the room, it'll be free soon and then wait a bit more and then wait a bit more.. well, you get the idea.
We had one day only to see and plan so first up was the Mausoleum to see who Ho Chi Minh City was named after. It's very secure and strictly enforced (no cameras, no sunglasses, long sleeves, long trousers, no sandals, no noise) and rightly so. Everyone moves along in single file, no stopping. It's quite surreal. Not as surreal as the museum afterwards. It was almost like an art gallery-cum-museum where exhibits are displayed in weird and fantastic ways. I'd have like to have stayed longer but it was hammered. If it had been quieter it would have been easier to concentrate but the numbers of people there combined made an incredible din so I couldn't be bothered reading the displays. Although I gather a guide would have been better to explain the artefacts.

P5111491_V..Museum_.jpg
--see bigger, better, brighter photos: 45 here and 45 here--

After another old building/temple we caught a bike taxi to the water puppet theatre. The bike taxi was hair raising and several times I thought we were going to get hit by a car. The puppet show, well, it was ok.. different.

It was Bia Hoi o'clock. Finding a small junction in the Old Quarter, we sat down on small plastic chairs and ordered the local brew. About half a pint costs 3000 dong / NZ$0.24 / GBP£0.09 and you can watch as bikes whizz past and large cumbersome cars try to negotiate what I would consider an easy but tight corner but they make it seem so difficult with a three-point turn.

The Old Quarter in Hanoi is quite remarkable. Each street has a purpose to sell something a bit like sections in a department store. For instance, if you want a mirror, go to Mirror Avenue; if you want a security safe, go to the street down there, to the right and there's Safe Street; if you want some nappies, turn back and head back along Powder Road, turn left at Meat Way and the second right is Baby Boulevard.

The food is excellent, delicious and super cheap in Viet Nam (even when I'm not cooking it up) but sometimes you just want a piece of "home", so that night, on the last day of the Premiership, we went to the Irish bar for some pie, chips n beans and to watch United collect the title, albeit with Vietnamese commentary and fiddle-de-dee music in the background.

Halong Bay / 12 - 14 May 2008

ooh me head! Shouldn't have had too many beers last night.
Up early for a trip to Halong Bay, an area on the north eastern coast where hundreds of limestone islands rise out of the bay.
The minibus there was suicidal. Actually all buses are. The white line in the middle of the road is a jousting guide where smaller vehicles (usually the minibus you're in) can challenge vehicles considerably larger and of heavier tonnage for road supremacy. It's a game of chicken. Either that or the government has decided to change the side of the road they drive on, but in phases, starting with buses.

Well the first day wasn't too great. It was not that misty, but misty to the point where everything was flat and pale in colour. Our junk was just that. Add "great big pile of" in front of that. It took ages for them to get it started. We saw men come and go on small boats with spanners and fuel in hands, all other junks had left but when I asked our guide if anything was wrong, like a worthy politician, he denied it. When we finally set off, we went that slow, we could have been overtaken by swimmers. In fact, by the time we got to one area, other junks were anchored and their passengers were on kayaks, overtaking us! We never saw anything that the first day itinerary said we would and on reaching the Cave of Marvels, it had shut. I asked him again if anything wrong. No. He was on the phone for ages then backhanded some cash to the guy who let us in (perhaps the Vietnamese phrase should be "slipped some Dong in his hand"). On the positive side, at least we had the cave to ourselves but that was it for the day.
Need I go on.. oh ok, there was no promised air con, no electricity and the fresh water ran out on the boat. All our guide could do was play cards with his boaties. He got an earful then.

P5121681_V..ong_Bay.jpg
--see bigger, better, brighter photos: 45 here and 45 here--

Next morning we got fresh water delivered and we changed boats. Pity the people on a two day trip because they went back, slowly, on the poorly boat.

With Dave and Mardi, two lovely people from Perth, the four of us went kayaking, swimming, lunch on the beach, cycling and a short tour to a cave with an interesting Vietnamese fella. I say that because we learnt more off him than other guides, and he couldn't speak a word of English. It was all actions and writing diagrams on the cave wall/floor with a stone. He had hidden in this cave when he was young to avoid the bombs from President Johnson's military might.

The second night is spent in a hotel on Cat Ba island (we'd upgraded to take advantage of the pool - lot of money for a pool though, especially when you don't arrive till 5pm) and the next day was more kayaking and the suicidal bus back to Hanoi for Bia Hoi o'clock and a quick bite to eat before the Fancy Pants night train to Sapa.

Sapa / 15 - 18 May 2008

It looked very posh that Fanxipan train (named after the highest peak in Viet Nam; Fansipan, which I wouldn't mind climbing but not this time, with my back). Wood panelling in the compartments, fresh towellettes, cup of tea). It stopped at Lao Cai, 650m above sea level, and we continued in a minibus up the windy mountain roads to the cool air of Sapa, a further 1000m higher.

P5182062_Vietnam_Sapa.jpg
--see bigger, better, brighter photos: 45 here and 45 here--

A lovely quaint town, with an feeling of a ski resort (in fact it has had snow on occasion). Local women and girls all dressed in their tribe garments come up and follow you around everywhere. They say hello, ask you your name, where you're from in perfect English and then ask you to buy something. We packed what we thought we'd need for the 3 day trek (in our tiny daypacks) and dropped off the rest at the Bamboo Hotel.

Duc, our local guide, said at the beginning to ignore all the locals, don't buy anything and dont even say hello. Seemed a bit mean but he said it was because the girls should really be in school and unless tourists stop buying, they'll never get education. Fair point, although two of them were very persistent. They followed us about 6km along the track in expectation.

The trek was going through a few of the local mountain tribe villages and we stayed overnight in two of them. We passed by Lao Chai and visited a Black H'Mong house, had lunch then continued through the rice crops to Ta Van, where we stayed at Num's farm who were from the Red Dzao tribe. They had chicks, ducks, a cat fighting with a dog and water buffalo. I hadn't eaten dog yet and wondered how you could eat an animal that also was a pet but found out that they don't have pets. They all have functions. A dog is for security. When it gets on in life, they may eat it. Cats are also eaten.
We never had dog or cat that night.For a starter we had (and strangely I have a sneaking suspicion this isn't real local food), crinkle cut chips with garlic over them.
Garlic chips?
Garlic?
Chips?
..tasty though.

P5151948_Vietnam_Sapa.jpg
--see bigger, better, brighter photos: 45 here and 45 here--

The next day we went through Giang Ta Chai (Red Dzao) and Su Pan before stopping at Min's house in Ban Ho, home of Tay people. This was a much better homestay. Whereas last night we drank and ate separately, this time Min and Duc had relatives over and they invited us to their table where we ate and drank happy water (strong rice wine) with them, toasting something or other every minute.

After a diversion for a swim near the Jumping Frog waterfall the following morning, we set off back for .. hmm.. Bia Hoi o'clock. Duc showed me a backstreet local restaurant which is the best place to try dog (as opposed to what they usually give tourists) and then we checked into the Bamboo hotel, had a gloriously hot shower and then had some "ski-resort pizza" followed by some drinks in the Red Dragon English Pub (think there was some mis-translation there).

After a leisurely stroll the next day around town in the clouds, I chose to forego dog and we got the train back to Hanoi and the airport.

Hanoi Airport - Bangkok / 19 May 2008

Fuck. I couldn't sleep and the train banged around up and down that much I thought it was going to bounce off the tracks. Everyone woke up. That was scary. Trains normally rock side to side a little, this was really up and down jumping stuff.

And that was that. We're at the airport now. Our visas are expiring tomorrow. I need to come back and take it easy, take longer and spend longer in each town and more towns. Two weeks was nowhere near enough. I had a great time, it's a beautiful country but I did feel rushed.

Tip: eat before you go to Hanoi airport.. what a rip off.. heaps more expensive than the rest of Viet Nam then 5% tax (thought airports are duty free?) then 10% something else charge... and they charge in US$ but if you want to pay in Dong they have a nice little exhorbitant rate for you.

So I took my Dong with me to exchange at Bangkok airport

Bangkok airport / 19 May 2008

Tip: use up all your Dong before you leave Viet Nam as you cannot change it outside of the country

D'OH!

love n hugs
xx

Posted by suggs69 12:46 Archived in Vietnam Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Batteries to Power, Turbines to Speed

Roger, Ready to Move Out

rain
View AKL-MAN on suggs69's travel map.

Hello again,
right.. now this Injury Blog is soon to turn back into a Travel Blog again as my back is feeling heaps better. I've stopped walking like the usual verbal suspect although my right leg is still slightly numb (weird since it was my left L5 sciatica nerve which was affected previously) but I've been told this will go. Ahem! The dressing is off and I have a nice neat n tidy scar on my back to which I have to "tell 'em I got knifed in Central Park. Chicks dig it".

Back_operation.jpg

So I am good to go. I have booked my flight outta here. I leave Tuesday 6 May at a nice respectable red eye time of 05:50, just after the Foo Fighters on Monday night. I'm heading to Vietnam via Sydney with Jetstar. This means a long haul on a budget airline with no food or entertainment. Promises to be Worst Flight Ever.

The original booking had me down for Sydney for a creditable five days and South East Asia for sweaty seven weeks. This time it's a nippy five hours and three weeks respectively. This is to get me back in Manchester in time for end of May when I don't hang around and go to Poland for a stag do, returning to Manchester for the Foo Fighters again. I really want to see whether they tell both cities they're the best. For the last few weeks I've been in stitches of a different kind as I've been a regular on the comedy circuit for the NZ International Comedy Festival. Not on the stage mind, merely a viewer and reviewer. More later.

I have already mentioned that I have been looked after incredibly well by Di, Paul and Isabella, and I cannot thank them enough for that (but.. Paul, next time, cross out the clue number after you complete a word in the cryptic crossword.. grrrr!) but the house is not theirs. It belongs to a small chap known to me as CC. He's a funny little fella. When he comes round he alternates between running and walking, so he'll jog halfway into a room then walk, then on the way out he'll skip for a few metres before slowing. It's a great way of getting about and a sure fire way to put a smile on your face as well as those around you. I think everyone should do this. I urge you to try it tomorrow at work or in the supermarket and see the positive results.

cc_collage_1x6.jpg

I should also mention that CC is very soft and loves a good tummy tickle, so much so that he'll drop down and faint as soon as you touch him as can be seen here. Unusually, and quite possibly unnaturally, he'll never use his claws on you, merely pads you away if he's had enough. Bender and Fry, who are fantastic and are now living a very contented life down in rural Rotorua, always managed to get the odd claw in if you annoyed them. Actually Fry would for any reason.

duck_cats__2_.jpg

Staying on the subject of cats, here's a snap of one taken outside a Fish and Chip shop, displaying the very pinnacle of patience:
cat_at_fish_shop.jpg

I'd better start packing again now. What a pain this is.
Will I be back? Of course I will. I want to come back and see a walkway and cycle path over the bridge. Vote now

me_Sunaiya_at_comedy.jpg

FAQs
When will you be in UK? See travel map (link at start)
How's your back? See above

Ka kite ano Aotearoa
Steve / Suggs
x x x

ps: Now that United have reached Moscow, there could be slight alterations to the plan. There are a few sticking points though that have to be overcome first: Travel, Visa, Accommodation and of course a ticket. I altered the start of my travels back in 1999 so that I could go to the European final so it's only apt that I alter them now for the final too.
Slim chance, I know. Very slim but do you know anyone who has a ticket for me?

pps: Is there a real life version of Facebook? Of course there is. See it here

ppps: Here's my run down of the comedy:

nz_comedy_fest.jpg

Opening Gala Superb night. I was a little uncomfortable due to the recent operation but it's a fabulous show to see performers that you wouldn't normally have chosen to see. That and you usually get their best material on the short time they're on stage. Paul Tonkinson, Mark Watson, David O'Doherty and Josie Long shone. A huge thank you to Kylie for getting me decent seats after the show had sold out.

Jeff Green Was hoping for a return of him and expected him to be great and he didn't disappoint. I find his relationship observations very accurate. Must buy his book(s).

Tony Lee Canadian XXX Rated hypnotist. Wasn't going to see him as seen hypnotist before and they're pretty much the same and he didn't really sell himself at the Corbett FAQ but we were sat behind SledDog, his Canadian support band (and their sound guy, Marc from Manchester - he's a Red), and they gave us a two for one voucher. It was funny as. Shame there weren't more people on stage but I think that's a reflection on a small Tuesday audience. It got full on and it was good not to see someone chomping on the usual onion-cum-apple (instead it was chomping on someone's arse).

Josie Long In a word: Daft n Nice. She was the surprise of the festival to me. Never heard of her but saw her two times (due to absolutely positively having to take someone else to see her). Endearingly funny all the way through her show and with art and slide show to keep you amused too. If she's in town, see her. If hearing about a snail who's wife is called Maureen is your cup of tea, see her twice.

Medium Rare Several up and coming Kiwi comedians so a bit hit and miss. Rees and his Tap Hop (a fusion of tap dancing and hip hop) was good to see. Added bonus, or bribery, was the sausage sizzle afterwards.

Paul Tonkinson How dooo. I saw this Yorkshireman about 11 years ago in Manchester and, aye, he wa' as good now as he wa' then. Down to earth, true to life and immensely funny. Doesn't pick on the audience which is great if you're sat on the front row. He's a Red too, getting up early to watch the 6.45am semi final kick off in the pub. Terrible choice in sweaters though!

David O'Doherty Brilliantly funny big Irish guy with a tiny organ. Or a small Irish guy with a big organ. I was too far back and high up to be sure. To be sure. And that was a Yamaha organ he was playing with. Doesn't just rely on the accent and is backed up with quality content and songs.

Ben Hurley Kiwi lad just back from UK. In a small intimate venue, he picked on the audience too much for my liking at the beginning but maybe I escaped cause I got me a Hurley appreciation beard on. Enjoyed the show much more when he left them alone. Sit further back and it'll be a good show. I've seen him before and without taking anything anyway from him, he seemed better and more confident in a larger room.

Corbett FAQ During the festival there is a free after-work chat show that local radio DJ Corbett hosts with three different comedians each week. This is also a good way to see what's on offer. And it's free. The second one with Neil Delamere was riotous. Neil took over the show taking the piss out of Corbett and had us cracking our sides and pissing up.
Did I mention it's free?

Late n Live These are great shows if you can get to them and last night was no exception. You don't know who's on till the night and sometimes they have people who aren't in the festival. We had an Iraqi called Noor, Neil Delamere, Funk Rabbit and Jimeoin all hosted by Mickey D. Great show. V v funny. If you're reading this and you're in Auckland on May 10, buy tickets now for the last Late n Live at the Classic Comedy Bar. It will be a cracker.

Big Show Jason Cook, Neil Delamere (again), John Fothergill and Eddie Ifft. ahhh.. I cant be bothered.. two geordies, the irish guy again and an american. Great night though. I'm all reviewed out especially when the big review is coming up now. Mind you, I bet nobody read this far down anyway. Suffice to say that afterwards we went back to Steve and Becky's to watch United spank West Ham with Ronaldo, very cockily, adding another brace his season's haul.

One Man Star Wars This show starts after I've left but I did want to see it. However, he was doing a show in Sydney last week and my friend, who is running out/ran out of money (that point is relevant but I'll keep her nameless as I'm nicking her material without asking) went along for the trilogy ride.

Here's her review:
"errrrrrrrrmm ahem well..... it wasnt really my cup of tea....!! well seen as i know FUCK ALL about star wars i didnt really understand it... but he was ok i guess. the audience loved it. but then again they were all true true full bodied star wars nerds!! i just wasnt geeky enough to get it. and plus the guy topped it off with the very amusingly witty american humour which only the yanks will ever find funny. i cringed quite a lot. it was like watching a little kid run around in an imaginary world after indulging in too much of daddys cocaine. you have to see it. but dont ever pay $44 when you should have really bought food."
[the performer is Canadian. Americans.. Canadians.. they're all the same though really aren't they?]

She stole the show with that review.
I guess I'm comedied out.

Posted by suggs69 19:23 Archived in New Zealand Tagged preparation Comments (0)

Back Update #5

Nil by Mouth

Not much of a travel blog this is it? I should be traipsing around Angkor Wat by now!

I was gasping for a cup of tea. The operation on Thursday meant nothing could pass my lips after midnight Wednesday. I can't function in the mornings without me cup of tea, but I spluttered on, starving and coughing with a different type of dry horror and Ross picked me up and took me to Mercy Hospital.

After a long wait, it was onto the bed and wheeled into the pre-op room. Got asked my name many many times, date of birth, what the operation is (don't they know?) and they asked if I wanted the bits out of me. Like the Curious Orange I said yes, then got one of those looks, a roll of eyes and then another form for the nurse to fill out.
my_disc.jpg

Then the anaesthetist asked me what my favourite pint was back in UK.
"Carling Premier"
"I've just given you a pint of it", he said as he removed a needle from my arm.
What?
eh?
ohhhhhhhzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz




dream.jpg



zzzzzzzzzzzz........
"Howwwww are youuuuuuu feeeeeeeling Mr Woodburrrrrn"
"sore"
PAZAMMM.. a shot of morphine

:o)

"Howww are youuu feeling Mr Woodburrrrn"
"can feel pain in my back still"
PHEEWUT.. a shot of morphine

:oD

"How are you feeling now Mr Woodburn"
"still sore"
SCHLOOSH.. the last shot of morphine

:D)

"Is there anything I can get you Mr Woodburn"
"cup.... of....... tea...... please", and all was good.

Bed goes up, bed goes down, bed goes up, bed goes down..

..then boy was I hungry. They didn't half feed me well. And with little exercise I guess I've put on a few pounds. After a bed wash n wipe (no page 3 stunnahs in this private hospital), I groggily surveyed the people around me. Two other back op chaps and a hip op guy.
It was good being in a mini 4 bed ward and the other inmates were ok.. Gerhard and Jay left the next day to leave Bob and I. We ended up being there till Monday morning, a day or two after we should have left but it was kind of relaxing and safe being there in hospital, knowing that they were feeding me tramadol painkillers, were feeding me, were there on standby and with a mini TV to watch United v Arsenal on Sky Sports 2 at 3am Monday.

When they changed the dressing on the hole in the back, I couldn't see it so I took a snapshot and although I never put a frame of reference in the picture, like my hand, it didn't look like the 1" pocket he said it'd be.
my_scar__2_.jpgmy_scar__1_.jpgmy_scar.jpg

Having visitors really cheered me up. It was great seeing Sunny, Ross, Diana, Cheese, Charlotte, Becky, Craig, Katchya, Jason and Karen. Not only that, but the ladies magazines (shite content - what do you find interesting in them ladies? - but the puzzles kept me amused), Jaffa cakes, Walkers prawn cocktail crisps, chocolates and flowers were all very welcome. I also got a phone call all the way from Leanne in Cambodia.

flowers.jpg

I didn't get much post-op instructions which was odd. Pretty much just go home. Not what to avoid or what stretches or exercises to do. Not when I can sit or drive or swim. Also my right knee and shin has been a bit numb since then but I have to go back to the specialist in a couple of weeks (it should be 6 weeks but I want to know how my travel situation is sooner).

Back at Di & Paul's now going bonkers with Suduko during the day but being a bit more sane Scrabulousing with Paul. I couldn't really ask for more from Di, Paul and Isabella. They have really looked after me and treated me like one of the family. Lucy and Mary came round to visit which also got me out walking a bit. The back seems to be slowly getting better although there are still aches and pains. The painkillers dont seem half as good as the ones they gave me in hospital and they only gave me 5 days worth (as opposed to 20 days worth of anti-inflams). It's the start of the comedy festival tomorrow and I may try to sit in on the opening night.

Laughter is the best medicine. Let's hope my stitches don't go PING!

love n hugs
xxxx

FAQs
When will I be leaving NZ?
Not sure. Maybe early May, but it's very dependant on my back and also if there will be any economy seats left.
Where will I be travelling?
Possibly via a beach or two in Vietnam. I'm pretty sure travelling around in overfull minivans on uneven roads is a no-no at this early stage.
When will I get to the UK?
Still aiming for late May.

Posted by suggs69 04:50 Archived in New Zealand Tagged health_and_medicine Comments (0)

(Entries 16 - 20 of 28) « Page 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 »