Travelling to Peru, New York, Boston, Toronto, China, Taiwan, Japan and Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Asia April 24th 2010

From Siem Reap I travelled down to Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. The city is a manic hub of activity, with an enormous number of children working and begging, poverty staring you in the eye every time you open them and illegal activity taking place pretty much everywhere you rest them. Spending time in Phnom Penh is like stepping back a couple of centuries in Europe. Hundreds (and that is no exaggeration) sleep on the filth-strewn streets every night and you can't sit for a minute without being approached by a child and asked to buy a book, a flower or a trinket. A dutch girl I met broke her arm one evening and needed to see a doctor, at the main hospital in the country she was told that there would be no ... read more
S21 Tuol Sleng Museum
S21 Tuol Sleng Museum
S21 Tuol Sleng Museum

Asia April 20th 2010

After finally getting to Siem Reap in Cambodia I spent two days exploring the temples of Angkor Wat. Although the 40 degree heat was almost too much to bear it was worth it for the breath-taking sunrise and sunset over the temples, and to contemplate how these extremely ornate buildings were constructed and used. Equally as impressive at the temples themselves are the trees that have taken them over - in many cases the trees extensive roots seemed to be holding up the temple walls. We hired a mototaxi driver for two days to take us around the temples which proved to be a very wise move, some crazy people seemed to be cycling! The number of different temples is impressive, but my favourite was the Bayon temple, which has hundreds (literally) of faces carved into ... read more
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat stone carvings
Angkor Wat trees

Asia April 19th 2010

Everything I had read about getting into Cambodia from Thailand made it sound pretty hard work and everything I read was correct! The bus journey, the travel agent assured me, would only be 6 hours and the road was REALLY good. And the Cambodian visa available at the border was REALLY straight forward. Of course. The journey was actually about 14 hours and involved all sorts of different HIGHLY neccessary stops, including an hour to wash the bus at the roadside. Our driver insisted that we couldn't get visas on the border and would need to pay him 2000 Thai Baht (about $50) to sort them out. I refused and said I would take the risk of not being able to get one at the border... I didn't mind doing that myself but a couple of ... read more

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok April 16th 2010

The Songkran festival is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year's Day from 13 to 15 April, although in reality it goes on for about a week. It coincides with the New Year of many calendars of South and Southeast Asia. The main celebration is to soak everyone in the vicinity with as much water as possible and to then cover them in mud. Being utterly mature I of course headed out straight away with a water pistol my friend got for me and joined in the fun, only stopping periodically to stock up on Thai lager or admire bullet holes in the walls of the buildings from the protests the other day. We even managed to lay our hands on a rediculous amount of the mud stuff they were covering everyone with and got ... read more
Songkran festival
Songkran festival
Hitching a ride in an ambulance

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok April 14th 2010

The day before I was supposed to be flying to Bangkok it was all over the news that a protest was taking place and that people had been killed. My Dutch friend was already in the city so I emailed him, this is what I got back: "I'm on my way to Bangkok. But can't get into Bangkok :P Got stuck somewhere halfway between Cambodia and Bangkok. Songkran in Bangkok is cancelled, and it might be hard to get around in the city. Are you still going to catch your flight? And are you planning on spending any time in Bangkok at all?" Followed by: "I am in Bangkok and my opinion has changed a lot after today. It's hard to describe but the whole vibe in the city is just amazing. People are lovely, and ... read more
Red shirts cooking free food
Red shirts
Red shirts

Asia » Japan » Hiroshima » Hiroshima April 11th 2010

Today I visited Hiroshima, a city that manufactures Mazda cars, has one of the world's best symphony orchestras and some of the best sports teams in Japan. But Hiroshima is also a city which is only known in the west for being the first place in the world to suffer an atomic bomb when one was detonated 600m above the city at 8:15am on the 6 August 1945. During World War II Hiroshima was the main base for Japanese troops and as a result there was a huge need for military housing and buildings. There were no men in the area available to demolish buildings and use the materials to build new ones, so instead, by 1945, the city was full of children at 'work camps' - doing heavy work on building sites from around 6 ... read more
Shin-chan's tricycle
Shin-chan with his older sister
Children's memorial

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto » Gion April 6th 2010

I spent five days in and around Kyoto, and there are temples and shrines on EVERY corner. There is no way you could ever visit them all, but I managed to see a fair few on a 20mile hike around the city, so here are some pictures of my favourites along with some other highlights from around the city...... read more
Inari Shrine
Inari statue
Himeji Castle

Asia » Japan » Tokyo April 4th 2010

What better to complete a trip to Japan than a bit of penis pandemonium? As luck would have it I was just passing through Kawasaki when they were celebrating their annual Kanamara Matsuri festival, when a gigantic bright pink iron penis is carried from a shrine through the streets with locals and visitors dancing after it! This is a true newspaper report of the event from Japan's english language paper: "Also, for people a bit peckish, there’s the usual fare of noodles and nibbles on offer, although for those particularly partial, a pecker or even a pussy may also be purchased. The former, on the whole, is a firm favourite! "An event that, along with phallic food, is a festival with the focus very much on fun and a fair amount of fornication. "The morning’s penis-based ... read more
Penis festival
Penis Festival
Carrying the penis

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Ginza April 4th 2010

Japanese youth culture is most obvious and easy to access in Tokyo, and especially easy when you have a friend who lives there! My old uni friend Yoshi met me one evening and took me for a Japanese BBQ where we even tried puffer fish ovary (?!?) before going to a typically Japanese kareoke booth! Everyone knows I can't sing at all, but nor can the Japanese, but they still love it. As well as this in Tokyo, there are whole districts dominated by Manga and Anime - Japanese cartoons with themes covering pretty much everything in life, and in areas such as Ikebukuro and Akehabara there are maid and butler bars where the staff are dressed as Anime characters, Manga-kissa shops where you can pay for a reclining chair for a night and have a ... read more
Performing :P
Yoshi getting a bit carried away!

Asia » Japan » Nagano April 3rd 2010

One of my first stops in Japan was in Jigokudani monkey park, north of Tokyo just outside Nagano. There is a lot of snow in the area and the monkeys get really cold - fortunately for them there are also a lot of hot springs and they like to warm up by soaking in the hot pools in the valley they inhabit. Here are some adorable pictures of them. ... read more
With the monkeys
Mother and baby

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