Gaylords Say 'No'

...more commonly mean 'Yes'

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Outside The Box

It's so very nearly over - it's not but it nearly is. I tried so very hard not to count the days but it's official - today I'm counting, just 3 more sleeps. I don't know how I've failed to mention the building site I'm living on as well since being here - it is a major deep excavation, they're building a new underground railway and this is to be the station.

Ah so many things I won't miss, but let's not dwell aye - oh but I kind of am aren't I! Let's focus on the good, why not, I got out of this shithole for a couple of days and travelled to the coast to Durban - it was beautiful and finally a chance to spot some decent totty, namely in the form of surfer dudes on the beachfront, my word they cut a fine figure!! Despite it being winter here, you would not have known it as we basked in a glorious 26 degrees overlooking the Indian Ocean supping on a cold beer.

Two days felt a week it was that good, being able to walk out of your front door without fear of being mugged or worse, felt like a treat! We went to the Ocean Park there, you know one of those places with aquariums and dolphins and shit. The dolphin show was one of the worse things I had ever seen, but quite funny (in an embarassing kind of way) during the 30 minutes of the show we could bare to sit through we saw about 5 minutes of actual dolphins (gay sharks according to glee) and 25 minutes of awful filler, including dolphin biology and life cycle set to music "The baby suckles it's mother for up to a year-ear".

When we got back to the airport, narrowly avoiding death by our taxi driver falling asleep and veering into the oncoming traffic! We find our flight has been delayed, they closed the airport for the king and queen of Spain, subsequently flights were not allowed to land - some had had to return to the origin airport, we're quite happy our friend has access to the business lounge and we settle in to the free bar.

One of the few surprise experiences of this trip was actually trying a session of boxing - I can't say I was particularly great at it. But it was just a brilliant bit of exercise and I will definitely try it again.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Daniel In The Lions Den


I was going to title this entry Lions and Tigers and Bears oh my, but that would be a lie, there were no tigers or bears. If I'd called it Lions and Cheetahs and Giraffe and Meerkat and Porcupine and Hyena and Zebra oh my that would have been more accurate but a little lengthy.

None the less that pretty much sums up what I did on my first day off in two weeks and it was great fun. We travelled to a small safari park on the outskirts of the city where we were invited to 'Touch-A-Cub' signs everywhere, even encouraging children to do it, it's a bit wrong isn't it! But how cute they are - they were so docile in the midday sun and really weren't bothered by our presence and 'touching' at all. We also got to pet a Giraffe but it's not the same as a lion, I mean it's neck is much longer for a start.

I finally got myself to a match as well, Argentina v Mexico, and it was a goody in the wake of England's dismal performance. What I particularly liked about it was the fans, lively and loud, but openly wanting to enjoy it with their oppositions. Seeing fans from two different teams take pictures together is something I think would never be seen in English football. The seats were excellent, just 10 rows from the pitch right on the central line thingy and it was also great to see footballing legend Maradonna strutting around and flashing a picture of his 1986 squad - much to the joy of onlooking fans!

The workload has finally stepped down from bonkers to manageable and I have to say some of the editors here are producing absolutely sublime stuff, I'm quite envious, but it's good to be in their company and glean a little knowledge from them. A team bonding night out bowling certainly helped ail some of the cabin fever that has been setting in of late and given the poor performance on my first round everyone was quite surprised when I doubled my score to come third in the second.

But this is where I'm at at the moment. Counting down the days!

Friday, June 25, 2010

On Your Bike

Well I decided to head out on a tour of the Soweto township on my morning off, it seems ridiculous to be in a country and be protected from what it might actually be like. Yes, yes, yes, I know it's 'in the interest of our safety' but a little bit of common sense and self-awareness surely (not two words I normally associate with myself).
We're picked up and taken out to backpackers, on the journey one of the party informs us he's not feeling well and could well have Malaria, he's concerned he hasn't taken his tablets for the last few days, he's a little prone to exaggeration so we ignore him.
The township covers an area of around 140km squared and has a population somewhere between 3.5 and 5 million people. It is hidden from view in Jo'burg by a range of massive man-made mountains, they are actually deposits from the gold mines apparently, and allegedly there are plans for them to be removed. FUN FACT: Jo'burg is the only major city in the world not to be on the coast or a river and was established because of the gold.
We choose our bikes and set off, apparently a lot of the money from the tour is fed back into the community, I only hope it is, at £60 for the day it's certainly not cheap and the first part of the community we visit certainly needs it.

There was much discussion as to whether a bunch of white tourists should be paraded through a very poor area of the city where people live in tiny and filthy living conditions - the waste and effluence on the ground was disgusting. I can see the argument but I believe if people don't see this for themselves they remain ignorant to the extremes of society. That said the people are infectiously happy and smiley and they just want to say hello and shake your hand the kids are particularly sweet.
It's a shameful legacy from apartheid that such a large community still live likes this, but we're informed by the tour guide that the rate in which conditions are improving are the greatest they have ever been, things like toilets and clean water supplies - the basic things we take for granted. We are invited to look around one of the homes, it's tiny, about the size of my kitchen and at one time as many as 5 people may have lived there. There's a thick stench of pot in the air so I decide not to stick around.

Later we are offered some local brews to taste - it's a large black bowl containing a local brew, we are informed it is incredibly rude to smell something before you are offered it - I'm handed the bowl and cautiously take a sip, it's much nicer than I expect, a bit like a watered down cider, we're then told it's very weak and that you'd probably have to drink 5 litres of the stuff for it to have any kind of affect. We're then offered some meat that has been prepared for us - I'm told it's 'head of cow, not the brains or eye or anything like that, it is the cheek', I haven't the stomach for this and decline, others are more bold.

After this the tour takes us into a more middle-class areas of the township, it's almost as if they want to shock us first, we visit Mandela's house, Winnie's (Mandela not Pooh) and finally Desmond TuTu's none of them are in, shame I bought muffins and quite fancied a cuppa. Finally we're taken to a local bar for late lunch, it's the most authentic place I've been since being here, locals are sat around and it's modest and unassuming. I wish we were able to take in more places like this whilst we are here, places that actually feel authentically African.

We return our bikes and sit in the sun listening to a band practicing for a gig while we wait for transport back, we're pretty sure we know the words to the song My Africa after the fourth time they've played it. After which they stop and the lead singer comes over and chats to us, I can barely resist the urge to ask him if he knows 'My Africa'.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ding Ding

Well it's been a manic first week - hence the lack of posts. Having arrived and launched straight into work on a system that I needed some orientation with was a bit stressful to say the least - then the whole system failing on a grand scale produced a huge back load of work which I didn't deal with that well! But then a conversation with my great mate Bren and I realise it's time for a reality check.

After three days and 36 hours at work I'm grateful to shift onto slightly more sociable hours - late afternoon to midnight which means I have a chance to take the 'social shuttle' in the morning to one of the other districts of Jo'burg. It strikes me as you travel about that in this city you move from compound to compound, every one tells you it's unsafe to simply walk the streets, I can't conceive that people would actually be happy living like this and as if to prove otherwise all the local people we've met have been really friendly and genuinely so.

I started writing this a few days ago and I'm now actually ten days in to the work and am feeling as settled as I think you can in this sort of situation, I've even been amused by a few of the items on the menu at one of the restaurants we went to:
Personally I think I'd go for the man rump!

Also at dinner this evening I ordered a cocktail only to have it delivered in a teapot - novel!
I'm hoping to get out on a bike trip into Soweto in a couple of days time - then I might have some more interesting things to tell you!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Out In Africa...


Well I’m finally here having endured my worse fear in the air, a plane full of Dutch people – well alright I’m not actually a ‘Dutch-hater’, although they were slightly annoying, what I’m actually referring to is the super-Jumbo A380 I flew out on from Paris – yes Paris not London to Jo’burg.

The accommodation is not exactly three star, well any star really, I climb the fire escape to get to my room – I don’t have to, it’s just quicker and more reliable than the lift, plus it’s only 3 floors up! But from the outside is does bare more than a passing resemblance to some of the prisons I’ve visited on my travels but hey the cells are serviced every morning! I will publish some pictures when I get chance to take some, I am slightly regretting my decision not to bring my SLR.

What I’ve seen of the city so far is interesting. It’s quite a tired looking city with a lot of dilapidated buildings dotted around the place. Although it’s only been a couple of days and what can you actually tell from the window of a bus that ships you along the same route every day?

The uniform is almost identical to previous years issue and not one that I intend keeping! However the work setup is pretty nice – brand spanking new Macs with the latest release of software, and while I certainly need some orientation round the system – I’m quite pleased I got in practice before I left and have an awesome bunch of guys and gals around me providing support.

Took the ‘social shuttle’ out to Sandton for dinner last night as apparently our area is far too dangerous to walk out in even during the day. No one has had a positive word to say about it – even out here, but I can’t help feel that we, at least a little, are victims of scare mongering, even if it’s for our own safety, there’s a certain feeling of box ticking going on.

As for the meal it was phenomenal, it was a restaurant combined with a butchers so you choose your meat and then have it cooked for you! I went for Surf & Turf, just gorgeous! (sorry veggies!!).

Well that’s it for now, I can’t see that this is going to be a daily report of drunken bawdiness simply owing to the circumstances, but watch this space and enjoy the football!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Nation Awaits...

...my arrival in South Africa. Ah how quickly life moves on suddenly it's World Cup time again and 4 years have flashed by, what have I got to show for it? Well a few more grey (distinguished I'll say) hairs, a hint more bitterness, alright a lot more bitterness and not much else, but at least I've finally got an excuse to write some nonsense on my blog once more!

I don't know what to expect in the next 5 weeks, some exciting, colourful and passionate football. A lot of hard work and some great banter with some top crew. Will it be like Valencia, Austria or Vietnam, doubt it, but it will be unique! Watch this space.

"Garcon! More free nibbles please"

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fatigue (pron: Fatty Gay)

Okay I’ve been here a week now and not seen one boat race, most of the printed media and secondary broadcast media, ie any other than us, the host media (who are ‘impartial’) are beginning to turn on the skippers of the two crew, they’re both billionaires and this is fast turning into a wank-off between them, it seems when conditions are right for one boat to race it’s wrong for the other and as they seem able to interpret the rules, or make them up, however they see fit, well we could be here along time.

What’s bothering me more though is the lack of a gym, the constantly bad food I’m eating (grabbing what you can when you can) is pushing my gut out considerably, well that and the beer I’m consuming to while away the hours with the rest of the crew, it’s not so much the amount in anyone night, otherwise I’d of had some great stories to write up it’s just the few after work every night! Trust me this is not Austria 2008!!


I’ve only woken up once surrounded by pink wafers after a late night binge, sadly that’s factually correct, but then so is the story of one of our crew asking for what sounded like ‘porky boing boing’, I believe it should have been something like ‘por que Boing Boing’ he was quite simply asking for directions for the restaurant called ‘Boing Boing’.

We did finally get a day off today though, there’s only so much filler you can create when there is no news.
So we took a wander in to the old town on foot, it’s a lovely city Valencia and certainly somewhere I’d like to visit again when I’m not in this weird working limbo. En route we take in the opera house, the aquatic centre and the museum, well we don’t actually go in but the architecture is so remarkable it’s an attraction in it’s own right.

We take lunch in the old town square then a couple of us head off for go-karting in the afternoon, I enjoy it much more than expected and manage to get passed by only one person during my session!

In the evening we find a fantastic Chinese restaurant where it’s not only all you can eat, but also cooked to order from your own selection from the fresh food counters.
It’s delicious and I intend returning frequently!!

Finally in my boredom and work travelling stylee I’ve started a new lip-sync video on my mobile, I’ll keep you posted!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Size Matters

video

So yet again racing has been cancelled, this time 'ooh the waves are a bit big' it's pathetic, it's beautiful and sunny here, lot's of day sailors are out, but oh no if you're a seafaring type apparently this isn't good for racing. We've had the early start in case it happened, this will get annoying.

I think the cabin fever is setting in, I was given this graphic to play into the gallery this morning and I burst out laughing. I think Jon will find this reminiscent of one of our old 'technical drawing' days!

That's it for today - farewell.

Monday, February 08, 2010

A Storm Brewing

Well what can I say, it's Monday, I'd like to say more has happened over the weekend but it's mostly been work, work, work! 12 hour plus days, but it's all good, the town has transformed over the weekend and there is now a real buzz about the America's Cup which starts today.

There's two super amazing yachts and people are still in disagreement about which team is likely to win. However what's been drawing my attention is the tea we're all drinking here, I'm delighted to be supping on a steaming brew of...

And while I'm on the topic of refreshments, at the warm up party on Saturday night (yes there was a party!) they were quite literally serving pints of gins and tonics. Fabulous!
The following morning, tales are already circulating the production office of my antics on the dance floor - but I'll spare you the details!I'm seriously regretting not bringing my SLR with me now, there have been some amazing sunrises and sunsets (Pictured: yesterdays sunset) somehow my crappy little 2 mega pixel Nokia does not do it justice. In addition the whole port is quite pretty as well, as are some of the Spanish men, but that's just an observation rather than a tale at the moment!

Finally, as we are live this morning and I am responsible for edited content in this part of the production we have an early call time, up at 5:45am (although that's not as bad as the cameramen and other crew) and it's seems I am not the only person who suffered a bad nights sleep, courtesy of the teenagers running riot in the hotel until 2:30am.


Friday, February 05, 2010

Home, Suite, Home.

Well here I am in Valencia, it's not a jolly holi' this time though, this is work baby and it's serious business. Pictured is the van we're in and the box edit suite that is to be my home.

Annoyingly I still seem to be suffering the effects of jet lag from Cambodia, ping up at 5 this morning as I have been since I got back. I'm hoping my first stint of work in nearly a month might kick my arse back into gear.

My arrival at the hotel last night was joyous, well by that I mean not really. The taxi dropped me off at a hotel, 'nice' I thought (quickly forgetting the hardships of two weeks ago and all those valuable lessons I 'learnt' about myself), I was sure it was the right one, there was some bloke from a sailing team wandering about,
"I'm sorry Sir, we 'ave nothing in your name, are you sure?"
Well no I'm not as it happens and it turns out I've printed out the wrong document, all I have is a box on a map, I show it to him optimistically, somehow and thankfully he knows where it is. So I trudge across a city I don't know, bag in tow, thankfully I find it and check in.

Yes I know it's a bit of a dull post, think of it as a scene setter!


Monday, February 01, 2010

So Long, Farewell...

Well that inevitable moment has arrived, I'm leaving, what happened on the last day I hear you ask? Not too much, a temple, the Royal Palace, dinner at a fabulous and ethical restaurant, that's about it, why can't all blog entries be this quick?

What did I get from this holiday? Well strengthening friendships, learning a bit about myself, an amazing outlook at a completely different way of life, oh and maybe a touch of the shits. Would I come back to these countries? Vietnam: NO, Cambodia: YES.

I don't really know what I was expecting from this holiday in hindsight, I knew it wouldn't be conventional that's for sure and I can't believe it's all over so quickly. For those of you who've followed the blog, thank you I hope you've enjoyed it and there will be more from my adventures in Spain, which start in about 4 days!!

Aw kawn everybody!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Suprise, Suprise, Chuck!

Now I always thought I'd be the sort of person that couldn't be surprised, I thought perhaps I'd know what people were up to - well in a long list of things I'm discovering about myself this holiday this was another, my friends up to birthday surprise mischief under my very nose!!

I was very spoilt by my friends on Thursday night, they had managed to arrange a number of surprises in cahoots with my mate Trix. It started with pressies, fab as always and one of which I may have to leave here, it's called a Linga, but I'll allow the more curious reader to Google that fella and find out what it is! Needless to say with my reputation for always getting pulled across for additional screening at airport security, this item would do me no favours!!

We take the disco Tuk Tuk into town again, once again we cruise through the main bars, pullings doughnuts, this time in front of a copper with Michael Jackson 'Don't Stop Till You Get Enough' providing the backing. The policeman whistles him to stop, he clearly has had enough! We jump out and get some food, then we're off on a circuit of the main bars. I really like Siem Reep, it's got a nice atmosphere and the lively bit is all close together. We head up to a lovely bar called Miss Wongs, with a name like that I know it must have some gay connection - sure enough the owner is and he's just a really lovely guy called Dean.

It's here that the final surprise of the night has been laid on by Trix and Mac, it's abirthday cake! I'm really touched, not just any old cake it's all decorated and has my name in the icing, they've managed to pull it all of in less than a day!! It's massive, but the bar is cosy, so we share the cake around with our fellow punters! I'm loving the town so much and seeing my long lost friends that it's suggested I stay here another day - so I do! Even at 10:30pm it's possible to make the relevant arrangements in this country!

One of our last ports of call is the towns only gay bar called Linga (seriously look it up!) it's just me and Mac left now, it's quite late and most people have gone home, a few eager male escorts try and make an advance on me, but their inappropriate touching is making me feel rather uncomfortable! I head home giddy as a pig in shit! And promptly try and call my flat mate to tell her how happy I am - it goes to answerphone - message done - pass out!

FRIDAY

Have a much more relaxed day, Mac picks me up in the morning and takes me to a war relic museum, I'm astounded by how recent some of the pieces are. However, the main order of the day is to relax and thank fully Mac knows where and the guy that runs it.

The day is spent lazily by a lovely quiet pool, the place is called Aqua, a few beers, food and music, it's a great way to chill. In the evening I join Mac and Trix for a meal in their home and then Trix and I end up back in town again! Needless to say it's not a quick pint and once again I'm home at 2, this time there's the burden of packing and being up in 4 hours time to get the morning bus back to Phnom Penh.

SATURDAY

Remarkably I'm up, but even better I seem to be in reasonable shape, when I got in last night I made myself a Berrocca and Alka Seltzer cocktail, thinking it might fight the hangover while I slept! It has. So not only do I make it early to the bus, I'm so early they allow me on the earlier departure, this turns out to be a small mistake.

2 hours into my journey the coach breaks down and we have to wait an hour for a replacement to pick us up, also the old bloke sat next to me seems to have a bladder issue and has got up and pushed past me 5 times in these first few hours, I suggest we swap places.

Normally reading on abus would make me want to vom, but for some reason today I'm having no problems and finish off one book and nearly an entire other one.

I'm very excited to see Tash and Tim at the hotel, they've come here to use the pool for the afternoon, Rich is enraged at the $8 fee, I flash my room key and barge past him 'laters losers!!' Talking of the hotel, it's put the rest of the trip in perspective, not that it really needed it, more a case of dotting the i's etc. Well once again it's late and I'm skirting details, but this should at least have kept you going for your mug-of-tea-and-Rich-Tea-break.

Tomorrow, final day expect tears, or something!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Summer Birthday: Ankor What?

Having a birthday in January has traditionally meant bad weather, well it's summer season here and I'm really enjoying a sunny birthday, despite the mercury rising!

It's fabulous to catch up with my mate Nicky (Trix) and her partner Mac, who act as impeccable hosts and tour guides to the town. Having a 'local' on our side means we're no longer being ripped off as tourists, she takes no bullshit!!

We have a driver for the day at $15, who takes us to 4 of the main temples, the entire network covers around 3000km square. They are phenomenal, and one can only imagine what it must have been like for the explorers who discovered them in the jungle in the 1930's, the sheer scale and age of them is remarkable.

Apologies for glossing over all the amazing places I've been, but it's birthday time and there's a stench of karaoke in the air and I wanna find where it's coming from! Expect a hangover tomorrow and an update from tonight! Laters friends!! xxx

Don't Fear The Reaper!

Well I've arrived in Siem Reap, not quite sure how. My mind seems to be a blank, something about a dead fish?

The experience is one I'll never forget, I've finally met up with my mate Trix who's lived here for 5 years. We check in at an English run guest house, right next to the river, it's an amazing setting and straight away we all know it's a place we'd like to come back to, arriving at the centre in the only disco Tuk Tuk in town, with Jolene blaring out and our driver pulling doughnuts in the square is hilarious!

We enjoy a meal and a few drinks in what is clearly a very laid back town, it's the most relaxed I've been since getting here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Murder On The Mekong Express

This story is based on actual events, the names of the people have been changed to protect the innocent.

I awoke uncharacteristically early, a cicada breaks the morning silence. There's a sense of unease in the air, it's almost as though death hangs in the air, like the slow lethargic mist that rolls across the city at first light.

I jump out of bed, immediately dropping to the floor to press out at least 100 push-ups and a stern set of unrelenting abdominal exercises, barely breaking a sweat. I spring to my feet and shower, DI Lovemuffin is ready for duty.

After toweling my firm torso dry I slip on a fresh, pressed cotton shirt, it slips and caresses the contours of my fine physique. Women have been known to fall at my feet at the sheer sight of me. I duck down to breakfast and sip at an orange juice squeezed by my firm manly fist and fresh Papaya served of a young orphan child's back. It's so degrading, I have to take the fruit myself.

My limo pulls up sharpish to transfer me to the Mekong Express, I'm traveling incognito, posing as a hippy tourist, I find myself burdened with two pathetic losers - there's no way they're stepping in the limo.

The three of us step out at the Phnom Pen central bus station, despite the commotion I cautiously eye the other passengers readying to board. A guy from the North West of England with a funny accent argues with his Bulgarian love trophy, a couple with a soft toy tend to a distressed child - always be wary of soft toys I note to myself. My attention is drawn to two students, they're being pushy and insist on carrying their special cargo on board. Naturally I've already deduced it's a fish in a bag and something fishy is definitely afoot.

Two Cambodian stunners greet me as I board first class. THUD. I turn sharpish, the two Asian beauties have fainted, 'of course they have' I chuckle to myself and find my way to my seat. The couple I'm traveling with insist on sitting with me - covert surveillance would be hampered by a normal DI - but not Lovemuffin.

My attention is briefly taken by a performance on my private screen. A scorcher of a woman in full ball gown is dancing sensually through a supermarket. SNAP OUT OF IT LOVEMUFFIN. The lurch of the Mekong Express draws my focus back, the fish, where is the fish? I must stop this woman next to me talking, I need a clear head.

I try and snap the other passengers discreetly with my button hole camera. The student reels as the shutter fires, it's okay, it's okay, his friends leg has broken, my cover is safe. My prowess rules. I must stop this woman talking to me. A shriek comes from up ahead, I jump, it's just the baby crying. FOCUS GODDAMMIT LOVEMUFFIN. one more jumnp like that and you'll blow your cover.

"I'm here on business" the man on the North West tells me.
"I from Bulgaria" adds love trophy.
These are all things I already know, I'd already deduced this with my superior intellect.

The coach screeched to a halt.

"Every body off, you eat now!"screamed the saucy Asian temptress (who had regained consciousness). As I shuffle past I slip her a wink. THUD.

The air was hot, sticky and tropical, 'much like a Callipo' I thought to myself, my thought is broken by a shrill scream;
"MURDER"
I sprint back to the Mekong Express, it's 40+ in the midday sun and near 100% humidity, but I easily outrun the other passengers and step back onboard. There in front of me the student is bent double, weaping, in his hands he holds out the fish. It's dead.

WHO DUNNIT?
The End.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Well reading back yesterdays post I can tell how tired I was, I skipped most of the detail from the afternoon and some of the paragraphs seems to lack basic grammar! I actually wanted to call the post '2 Dykes On The River Mekong' not because there were, but because I got chatting to a pair of them, they were actually very nice - not too 'lesbiany' at all - although I was fairly sure one of them was probably slightly more in charge!

I also failed to mention the large German contingent with us, who I greatly enjoyed watching on several (in fact every) occasions, rush to get their bags loaded on first to each of our transports, only to have to wait till the end for them to be unloaded again! Needless to say though traveling by boat was a great way to do it.

Today

I was so pleased to get a lie in today and an altogether more relaxing day. A lazy start and we headed out for breakfast, sorted out our accomodation in Siem Reep (courtesy of my mate Trix who lives there) and transport there and back. We're hoping this will mean a far less stressful couple of days ahead.

It's soon lunch then we head of into town on a Tuk Tuk, we decide to choose the old guy who is sleeping in his, rather than the ones who have said 'you want tuk tuk?' every time we've dared step foot outside the hotel. He's a very sweet guy - despite the lack of conversation and waits for us when we arrive at the S21 museum.


Now this is a truly harrowing place, it's an old school that was converted by the Khmer Rouge into a prison camp and place of torture during Pol Pot's regime. We're shown a documentary film and despite the stifling heat in the room, it's gripping a moving. We're left wandering how a country can move on from such atrocities, yet still they are.


The saddest part though is the exhibition of the mugshots that were taken of all the victims who had been 'destroyed', a phrase I find particularly chilling, while they were at the camp. As Lucy pointed out, you feel that every face deserves your time and respect to honor the inoccent, yet there are thousands in many rooms. A walk through the cells that all still remain and exhibitions with display cabinets full of skulls is sobering to say the least.

Our tuk tuk driver is waiting smiling to take us back and I think all of us are thinking that our driver would have lived through it (incredibly) and almost certainly would have been affected by it in some way himself. We take a break and contemplate the day, it really puts things in perspective. So tomorrow we're back to the early starts, but not quite as hideous! Of to Siem Reep for 2 nights and a long awaited hook up with Nicky. Bring it on!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Crossing Over

So day 3 of 3 has arrived, again at 5.45am. I've been keeping notes of the days events as we've been out of communication, but no phone and telly I realise is no bad thing! Despite the quality of the hotel I do manage to get an omelette this morning. Sunrise is beautiful and I manage to snap a few shots before we're ushered off.

We're taken to a quay where a fleet of two-man boats are waiting all crewed by single ladies who row us to a fish-market and then on to a small village to witness Muslim scarves been woven. I'm joined in my boat by a Romanian guy called Marios who's doing the same tour but in reverse!

We have to leave promptly and jump on a boat taking us to the border, it's the first time we're uncrowded and we can lay out on the top deck in the morning sun. This is pretty much the order for the day, we switch into a smaller boat as we cross and this takes us to within an hour of Phenom Penh. The 17 of us disembark and are told to climb into a 12 seater bus with all our luggage in tow, no one is happy but it quickly becomes evident they don't care and it's the only way to get into the city.

Well it's 11:30 at night, I'm knackered and needless to say we made it okay and found a decent guesthouse, the evening was all good! Tomorrow we finally get a lay in! Good night.


Get Over Myself

The early start arrives, but not for want of more sleep. Breakfast in most of the places we've stayed consists of a loaf of very light bread and jam, the coffee is dire. I should perhaps point out at this point in the journey I know I seem to be focussing on the negative, but it's hard and it very wearing in the heat and noise which endures constantly, but I know this is a life experience and I am really enjoying it - even if it puts me way out of my comfort zone.

The second day is much better, our first port of call is a properly genuine water market, which we are spectators, it's a treat for the camera and puts us all in a much better frame of mind, this is what we came for - an experience not a sales pat. After this the boat continues through a small rural village where all the children run out of the houses to smile and wave at us, it's not put on, it's humbling and sweet. Further highlights of the day include rice husking, climbing a monkey bridge and sampling exotic fruits straight from the tree - the mango, papaya and pineapple are particularly delicious.

Eventually it's lunch and we stop at an outdoor restaurant where a wedding is taking place next door to us. The volume on the PA is so ridiculously loud we can barely hear ourselves, but more so it's distorting beyond belief and none of the guest are even watching the ceremony! Wedding seems to be a theme of the day, as we swap coaches onto a separate tour, our new guide questions my 'single supplement' on the room and wants to know if I'm married, on my response he says he can arrange a nice woman to come to my room. I can't help but think of a quote from Priscilla 'I Your Wife!', naturally I decline.

As the journey continues I find it incredible that the country allows such a heavy volume of traffic to use the roads they are currently in the process of building! In some parts we cross temporary steel bridges where we can see right through to the river. We arrive at Chau Doc, a border town and the hotel is horrific.

I'm telling myself it's for one night, we head out for food but even that seems to be a struggle, it's really difficult to do anything when you have to think about every single decision (the sort you take for granted at home) every guide book tells you don't have drinks with ice in, we've seen why first hand, unless they make the ice themselves, so you have to inspect it - don't buy food of street vendors, that's all there is. These are the things I am finding wear me down quickest and make me want my creature comforts most. I decide back in my hotel room that I should get over myself and respect the holiday for what it is!


Saionara Saigon!

A few days to acustomize to Vietnam and we're ready to get on the road, courtesy of the same company we toured with yesterday we're up at 6:30 for an 8am departure. We're heading off with a coach load of fellow travellers. We're exploring the Mekong Delta for three days partly by road, partly by boat. Our first stop is 2 hours in, at a petrol station, I wish I'd had my camera at the ready to snapshot the belligerent twat who was sparking up a cigarette right next to the no smoking sign - on the forecourt. Lucy took the lead and asked him not to but it quickly became clear he was drunk and didn't give a toss!

On with the tour and we're taken by boat to a Vietnamese market, it's clear it's not authentic and clearly targeting tourists. Various wares are thrust upon us and we repeatedly decline, it's bit of a pattern here. However lunch is a slightly more enjoyable affair, we stop at an island on the river, the food is mediocre but I h

Slightly deflated we're back on the boat and then back to the coach, I nod off only to awake an hour later and find we haven't moved at all, we promptly instructed to get off the coach and march to the ferry terminal "it's only a few kilometres", in the mid day sun I think to myself.

The terminal, is clearly Vietnam at it's finest, practically third world, it's a hub that everyone uses regularly to cross the various tributaries of the delta region, it's hot, smelly and wearing. We promptly have to wait on the other side another hour for our coach to come across (passengers are not allowed to cross on the vehicles) to take us to the hotel, which we then discover is 500 yards up the road. Meanwhile a few other travellers jump on the back of mopeds to be taken to homestays, I can't quite help but think they're taking their lives in their hands!

The hotel is 1 star and I'm becoming increasingly aware of how lucky I am as a westerner to have such luxuries in my life as hot running water and even electricity, yet despite myself I'm not comfortable. We head out to find food and then we're off to bed, we have to be up at 5:45 am for the next leg.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cu Chi, Coo.

Well I was up obscenely early this morning after very little sleep in my hot and clammy cell, only to find that breakfast consisting of a loaf of bread and peanut butter did little to dispell my theory that I'm actually in a Vietnamese prison! Rich unfortunately has woken with a stomach bug (but grateful for the supplies of pepto-bismal I bought) so it's Lucy and I setting out for temples and tunnels today.

We're joined on the coach at 8am local time (1am UK with jet lag now set in) by some friends of Rich and Lucy, who they have met in previous travels. It's takes a good hour and a half to clear Saigon and our guide says the countries theory to solving the traffic problems are to copy Singapore and other countries with no traffic control at all!

We arrive at Cau Dai temple late in the morning, in time to see mid day mass, they worship a new religion here which is influenced by Taoism, Buddhism and another which I can't remember - despite the fact the tour guide repeated everything three times to us for an hour. As lovely and colorful as the temple was, for me the enlightenment of the tour was seeing the Vietnamese countryside once we had escaped the clutches of the city.

A reasonable lunch (about 1.50), and we were back on the road to visit the underground tunnels in Cu Chi. In this region of Vietnam a network of tunnels that were all hand dug stretch over a vast 200km area. The heat and the incessant noise from a Danish family who failed to show any interest in their children whatsoever made the journey a little wearing, that combined with a lack of sleep and the bus nearly careering of the road when it struck an oncoming lorry meant I wasn't quite able to show the level of enthusiasm I should have for such a significant part of the countries past. Still crawling just 20metres through one of the 'enlarged for tourists' tunnels was quite an experience and certainly not one for those with claustrophobia.

The day was okay but far too much traveling in the heat for what we actually saw. I was glad to get back to Saigon for a burger and a beer, well I'm off deep into the Meekong Delta for 3 days tomorrow, so I expect to be out of communication - bring on the rivers!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Danny Get's Some Fanny...

Well since evening has struck and my friends have gone to bed and I'm frankly far too scared to venture out on my own, I thought perhaps I'd conclude todays activities blog!

Big news, Danny has had some Fanny - and enjoyed it. No I haven't succumb to the temptresses of the night (and there are plenty) This Fanny is an ice cream parlor which comes highly recommended. I opted for the JaBaileys, which like the name suggests, had Cointreau in it, ha I jest it WAS Baileys, a miserable little squirt, but tasty all the same.

Rich and I did a circuit of the block this afternoon, but concluded there was nothing else to see in our area except more bars. We did find a half decent Thai place for dinner though, I say half decent, Rich and Lucy had a great dinner, mine was a bit shit. Still the fresh watermelon juice was delicious. I won the juices.

I was a little concerned before reviewing todays photos that I might not have captured the 'beat' of the city yet, but was happier with them when I saw them on the big screen. It's common courtesy to ask people if you can take their picture apparently, I /disagree, the book in turn disagrees with me, what would those well traveled journo's know.

Well I suppose I am a bit tired and we're up early for our excursion to the Cu Chi tunnels tomorrow, I'm 34 in a few day I can feel the symptoms of old age taking over, early smurley!

Vietnam. Good Morning.


Well here I am, fresh of the plane in mental Saigon (officially Ho Chi Minh City or HCMC) I was very grateful to see Rich and Lucy in arrivals at the airport, particularly given the insane amount of people there all waiting for other passengers, I have never seen that number of people, not even for a celebrity or football team, I half expected to see someone famous be ushered in behind me.

As for business class, as nice as it is, frankly I don't think it's worth the additional expense and the hotel I was booked into for my first night, again lovely, but it seemed to be close to nothing, well except other people. I took an hours power-nap after the journey and was impressed I survived the rest of the day.


So we venture out onto the streets, it's mental, you can't exaggerate how busy it is, it does that itself. Those of you who know me, will know I'm not the best at crossing roads, well here you have to let the traffic move around you and the trick to that is no squealing and slow and steady. Our first port of call was the war remnants museum. A little bit too much propaganda, but a firm reminder of the countries stern and recent history.
We wander back to Rich and Lucy's hotel, which is in a much more lively (it's relative!) area of the city. Stop for a drink, and plan out the next few days, even trying to relax you are constantly hassled by street vendors, quickly you have to ignore them, even catch them in the eye and they won't leave you alone! A spot of dinner and a relax in the evening, come 10:30 pm I'm out like a light.

I'm surprised to have slept right through till 8am and this morning - well it feels like morning! I go down for an impressive breakfast, 4 courses, then go back to join Rich and Lucy, today I've booked into their hotel, the room is a cell, but at 12 quid a night, I don't really care! We head down to the river - I'm filled with romantic notions of cafe bars and restaurants - the reality is a quite different, it's a wide working river and judging by the sheer number of ships, quite deep as well. Closer to the shore, there are people what I can only assume is fishing, but the water is so muddy I can't really tell. We stop for a drink - no sunglasses thanks - then lunch - seriously we don't want the glasses - then a coffee via the other Notre Dame cathedral and colonial post-office. There's a heavy French influence in Saigon, due to there occupation of the country at some point in history (god I've read my guide books well!).

We've booked four days of excursions for the princely sum of about 35quid - that includes accommodation, three of those on the Mekong Delta traveling up the river, eventually ending in Cambodia - don't expect posts! Rich has shown me a picture he took of me, I look pastey and English, it's not a good look! Well we're off to dinner shortly so that's it for today!


Look I don't want the f***ing sunglasses.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brief Encounter



Well actually it's got nothing to do with briefs at all. It's just I'm in a weird point of transit in Bangkok! With an hour to burn. I've showered, coffeed, technically it's midnight UK time, but less of that I'm on holiday an in the immortal words of last years Eurovision entry for the UK, this is 'My Time' My moment etc, etc.

Anyway I'm on holiday in Vientam and Cambodia for 2 weeks so I thought I'd resurrect the blog. And you all thought I'd given up on it! Fools.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Doctor, Noooooo.

In case you didn't know, I'm suffering at the moment, I mean REALLY suffering. It's serious, I've had to take time off work and everything, which I never do.

I'm finally on antibiotics, but the symptoms have been ghastly, and what I had to go through to get the pharmaceuticals was, well, unusual. I went to the local doctors surgery only to find it's closed on a Thursday afternoon, so people don't get sick then then, apparently. So I went to the chemists and they recommended a local private doctor, I rang him and he told me 'no appointment was necessary' the alarm bells should have been ringing.

So I arrive at the 'doctors', denoted by a sign hanging on the door of a property that otherwise looks like a normal terraced house. I sit and wait in a 1970's style lounge which is lit by a single bulb in the corner of the room. I'm alone. Shortly the doctor comes out an asks me into his 'surgery', which in reality is the kitchen of this house, honestly.

I feel like I'm on set of some dodgy soap (that would be more preferable) there's a few medical props dotted around, but mostly it's a kitchen. He conducts a few doctory type tests, listens to my chest etc. then without warning pokes his fingers hard into my eyes 'does that hurt?', 'you just poked me in the eye of course it did', 'good', he then proceeded to write me out the prescription, well if that's what it takes to get drugs these days, I suppose it's better than a poke in the eye, oh no wait.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Heat Is On

I've just been reading about the 'amazing Sweatz Vest' on Amazon, intrigued I read one of their customer reviews of the product:

" I've lost four inches off my chest and two inches off my waist, now some of the fatty's at work are inspired and are taking up exercise with your Sweatz Vest. I believe your 'vests' have contributed to my weight loss, and as a result I promote your product."


Well what a nice person, 'the fatty's at work', inspiration for everyone I feel.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Scary Babies... Continued

As if that freakish baby I saw in the Sunday supplement wasn't enough, this is what I saw Christmas shopping a few weeks ago. Vacuum-packed-anatomically-correct devil babies. I mean look at the horrific fuckers, no question, these definitely come alive at night and crawl round the store in their clear plastic wrappers. FACT.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Now I'm Scared!

Just in case you needed proof that I actually have entered Sven into the Eurovision competition for next year, here it is, 100% genuine I promise!

God what have I done?

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Hate Umbrellas: An Occasional Series, A Permanent Anger

Yes, yes, yes, I know I've ranted about them before, but...

It's pissing it down in London this morning and the brolly brigade are out in force. Watching them, avoiding them, nay hating them I've realised something, the people who use them are selfish, that's right, completely self-absorbed bastards.
Think about it the umbrella is designed for one person, it's their own little protective world and before you bark on at me about golf umbrellas and how you could probably fit a whole Vietnamese family under one of them, have you ever seen anyone try do that? No I thought not, there's another whole special pot of anger for golf umbrellas frankly and the utter, utter, c*nts who tote them in my face down t'narrow street o'London.

I know I shouldn't be upsite by such trivialities, but I am, I enjoy the rain, I enjoy being a little bit damp, it helps me connect with nature and not hide away from it like those pricks under cover.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Cherish The Thought

Look at this frightening thing being advertised in one of the weekend supplements, it's not so much the picture as the description that accompanies it, as follows completeley unedited:

'The beauty of God's handiwork takes our breath away, as we marvel at the details in this newborn baby girl's exquisite face... her delicate wisps of hair... her long, supple fingers... her tiny, wrinkled feet. Still slightly flushed from the miracle of birth, she snuggles happily in your arms and waits for you to give her a name. Then all you need to do for her is... Cherish her.'

I mean seriously what the f**k, who is this crap being targetted exactly? Even more frightening is who the f**k is actually buying this shit. What dark hole in their life is this masking, I would say filling, but no way, this is for someone with 'issues' and some shitty little doll ain't gonna fix that I'm afraid!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Spot of Bother

I know I probably shouldn't even be posting this and I've deliberately not included a picture (trust me it would have been gross). I squeezed a spot yesterday and never before have I seen so much puss, it was disgusting. I even squeezed again and even more came out, it was revolting and now I have an unsightly blemish on my face and no amount of concealer can hide this hideous crater.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sven For Eurovision 2009


Hands up who wants Sven to represent the UK in Moscow at the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest?

Okay, okay, settle down class, while rumours abound of Sven's demise, here is a cold hard fact; the BBC are inviting anyone, yes anyone, to sing for the UK in next year's competition. I think we all know what that means.


So who's with me.... er Sven.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gym'll Fix It / Stacking It On

Not that I imagine anyone else reading this will care a bean, but this week has been a week of firsts for me in the gym. Three sessions, in each one I achieved something new. First time I did pull-ups unassisted, first time I did all the weights in the chest press stack (100kg) and finally the first time I did all the weights on the leg press stack(190kg).

All I can say is nnnnnaraarghh.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Beside The Seaside...

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside, this is why. I really love it when a storm is brewing, great for brushing the cobwebs away as well!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Man Sandwich

Just seen on the menu at a cafe 'Man-Wich'. Just walked away with a slap around the chops.

Credit Due

Never before has the phrase 'Credit Due where Credit's Due' fitted more literally than it does in this little slot here, let me explain:

Two friends owed me some cash, for anonymity let's call them Mr. Ollins and Mr. Amberton, both with completely separate reasons, yet both on the same day and completely unknown to one another decide to give the payment references comedy text.


I have to say that it is actually rather clever of them both, I'd certainly never thought of doing that. So now I have a credit from both 'Wicker Baskets' and 'Dirty Trade', more fool them.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Put A Barbie On The Burger

I found myself with some time to burn in Milton Keynes last weekend (don't ask), so I decided to have a little mooch around the shops, as I passed by, PASSED BY, a toy shop, I noticed a horrific image of Barbie in a McDonald's outfit, my god won't somebody please think of the children. Having said that, small child in photo looks very happy.

Two foul companies now in bed with one another promoting yet another evil ideal to the next generation. Never worked on me mind, when I was in my first year of primary school, I guess about 6, I used to run into the play area at break time and stuff all the girls dolls under a huge cushion, then I would perch myself on it for the entire break so I wouldn't be bothered by them, girls AND dolls I mean. Sorry I knew I was gay when?




Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Who's Line Is It Anyway?

I'm totally freaked out this morning, just merrily walking along listening to Elton singing 'Are You Ready For Love', as it reaches the chorus I find myself singing along out loud and at that very same moment that I sing the title, my eyes catch a National Lottery poster in a shop window that reads 'Are You Ready?' I mean that is just freaky right?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hear Me Now

Need I say more..... (Matt comments please!)

Portion O'Pork Anyone?

Saw this wonderful sign at a local pub the other week. Well I'm sure you can all read what it says, all written on a bed sheet too.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cause For Concern?

Either this was the worlds most stupid terrorist on the tube this morning or just some poor buggers complimentary corporate convention backpack. I'm going for the latter but either way I wanted to alight the train pretty sharpish when I looked over and read the words:

'GlaxoSmithKline: Pediatric Infectious Diseases'


'nuff said.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mosquito Must Go

I am currently been driven to the brink of insanity by a bloody mosquito (me on the brink now that's a worry, just how far is that exactly?).

Anyway they keep buzzing round my face, my beautiful face, trying to take a suck at me, why isn't dating (what do I know about dating) this easy? Already in the course of writing two sentences in this entry I've had to get up and try and swat the fuck twice. The worse part is I now keep thinking I'm seeing and hearing them everywhere I go in the house, I am acting like bit of a fruit loop.

The problem is though, I do keep getting bitten by them and the bites itch like buggery (note: buggery shouldn't actually itch unless something is seriously wrong). There's one upstairs in my bedroom right now, I've been trying to catch it all day but some how it keeps eluding me. The worse part is being woken by the sound of a high-pitched whine right by my ear in the middle of the night (straight couples reading this insert some sort of clichéd joke along the lines of 'Ha! You should try sleeping next to my wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend').

Apparently it's only the females that bite, that figures (ooo sexist) and you know where I got that nugget of 'science' knowledge from, the 1995 movie Mosquito it's a terrible B-Movie, which they keep showing on the Sci-Fi channel. So anyway as I wrap this blog entry, the creature is still at large and I have just slapped the side of my face as it came in again.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Congratulations...

... to my great buddy Smahman, who now has an ickle Smahboy. Congratulations and jubilations etc, etc....

Friday, September 05, 2008

Blooming Marvellous


Well I showed my true gay colours in the pub last night and I'm proud of it.

I was in a pub owned by a friend-of-a-friend, clearly straight and blokey but trying to make his pub more appealing by adding a touch of colour in the form of flowers on the bar. I pointed out that they were terribly arranged and particularly the side facing the entrance, what would people think!?

I asked him if I might re-arrange the flowers for him and, let's face it, he was either going to say yes, or knock me out, fortunately I was granted the former and I set to work. In just a few minutes I had the arrangement sorted, wreaking of style and taste, with balance and volume, a display sure to please any customer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sod-U-OK?

Alright don't ask me how, I mean it's probably a fad or something, but in the last few weeks during the journey home, I've just started doing some of those Soduko puzzles in the free London papers.

Okay, so I'm new at it, but I have managed to finish a few of them and yesterday I just happened the woman sat next to me looking across at my finished puzzle and checking off her answers, I laughed.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Two Teas Dear

God went into the kitchen this morning, actually it wasn't God it was me, well I mean as far as I know it was me, and saw two cups of the most revolting looking tea I had ever seen, thick with milk and tea bag floating in the concoction, at first I thought maybe they've been here all night, then I touch the mug and discover they are piping.

Naturally I run back to get my phone and picture these foul creations, I mean the milk has curdled and no one in their right mind should touch them, yet 5 mins later, the evidence has disappeared.


End The Week As You Meant To Start It


Well I can't begin to explain how exhausted I am after the amount of work I've done this week, now I know how this quarry feels, men constantly taking away from an ever growing hole.

By the end of today I'll have clocked up nearly sixty hours, that's almost double the usual weekly working hours. I'm looking forward to a long weekend and a BIG wank.

(Pictured: An Exhausted Bauxite Mine in Grebnik, Kosovo. Mining began in 1966 and ceased in 1990, owing to the deteriorating political climate. For this story in full and a mine of other useful Kosovo mining facts, extract yourself some information at http://www.kosovo-mining.org/)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Oh Fantasy Free Me

I've been invited by the people I'm working with at the moment to take part in their fantasy football league, straight boys play that game too do they? Fancy that.

What's that you want another topless picture of Ronaldo, oh alright, if you insist...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Rock Horror!

Has anyone else heard that MTV are planning to remake The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with new songs and everything. Disgraceful, you never meddle with a classic. FACT!

I was pleased to hear via 'Random Acts of Violets' though that Richard O'Brien is firmly NOT involved with the project.

That Sync'ing Feeling

To all my adoring blog readers, I'd welcome any suggestions for any more songs I can create dodgy lip sync videos to! In case anyone doesn't know, I restrict the filming to my mobile phone, that is the only criteria!

At What Price?

Anyone else seen that program advertised 'Designer Vagina'?

What a bunch of twats.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Feeling Left Out?

Happy left-handed day. We are a unique, creative, and talented bunch, apparently, more left-handed people pass their driving test first time than right-handed people and us lefties are more prone to pyschotic illness, hmm, well I should be alright! So come celebrate with us, it is our right, er I mean left, or do I?