Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Thursday 26th August 2004 - Day 347/365 - Bangkok, Thailand to Fleet, Hampshire, England

Happy Birthday Lucas!

I've no ideas of days and when things have happened. I find myself on the evening of the 26th at my computer desk in Fleet with my trip over. The last couple of days have been a bit of a blur.

Currently I'm not going to make too much effort to contact anybody. Just going to take a few days to get my feet under the table and see how the land lies.

I'll take you back to Tuesday night (Thailand time). Having made the decision to return home and changed my flight home to depart from Bangkok on Thursday night, it promised to be the longest 60 hours of my life. My flight on Wednesday morning from Krabi to Bangkok cost as much as it would have done to catch a bus to Phuket. Bizarre. Equally bizarre was the golf course in between the runways.

Faced with a 36 hour wait in Bangkok airport, I plopped for the pleading option and was put on the standby list for that nights flight. The wait was well worthwhile as I scraped onto the Big Plane home and that is how I ended up here. All over in a bit of a flash.

I have no negative thoughts on coming home. It just feels like home. I guess that proves it was the right move.

The first thing I noticed was that people talk proper English.

Where are all the mopeds? and all the traffic for that matter? I expected it everywhere. 6am isn't too early for rush hour.

Coming back into Fleet and the surrounding area, my old world, somehow everything seemed smaller, but normal and right.

At home waiting for me, were my fatter cats, my boomerang, a cooked breakfast with black pudding, a fleet win (come on the bloo's), a wardrobe with more than 7 t shirts in it, radio 5, my trainers, jeans, my watch and a fluffy towel.

Had a visit from my next door neighbour. I thought she'd come round to see me so chatted away at her for ages, but it turned out she didn't want me. Never mind.

Had an invite to go see Briggsy in Kingston. Sorry I had to decline. I'm sure you understand.

Spoke to Big Steve and then a visit in the evening.

Stan came round, which was nice. He kept me awake all day and was good value as ever.

Spoke to Hx too.

Its good to see and talk to you all. Everyone I'll be in contact with shortly. Give me time, I need to sort out my mobile contract. There are no team orders here.

Why is everyone in short sleeves. It's bloody freezing.

Mum cooked Roast Pork tonight. Threw the routine up the swanny. And all that with jet lag too.

BTW the blog goes on in the short term. Resettling back into reality and all. Will explain more in tomorrows posting.

Wednesday 25th August 2004 - Day 346/365 - Ao Nang, Thailand to Bangkok, Thailand

Off the cuff last night I changed my plans and booked a flight to Bangkok for today rather than going to Phuket. It was only 2765 Baht and my hope is to get the next plane home. It wasn't quite as unplanned as I make it sound, it's something I've been considering for a while. I've said before that I'm ready for home. I'm just weary of travelling, my hearts no longer in it and I see no point in delaying the inevitable.

I don't look on it as a negative step. I'm really looking forward to doing normal things, like working, watching football, my Mum's cooking, having a beer and a game of pool in a proper pub and catching up with all my real friends, instead of the fake friends you meet on the way that you play lets pretend with. I'll just point out that I have also met many good lifelong friends along the way.

I think Asia is harder to travel around on your own. It doesn't have the hostel comradry of Oz. MOst of the accomodation is guesthouses. I could make the effort to meet people, but I really am past caring. I can't be arsed with the tours or making the effort with new people. A sure sign that I'm ready for home.

This posting probably sounds very depressing, but I assure you that I am far from depressed. I'm actually very positive about the future. I just feel like a row boat on a pond and the attendant is saying. "Come in Mr Bloo, your time is up." and what a time it's been.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Tuesday 24th August 2004 - Day 345/365 - Ao Nang, Thailand

"No I don't want a bloody suit"

"Layla" came on in the cafe I was in and one stupid young Englisg girl gets all excited and says "Oh, is that the Bill?" Doesn't it make you feel proud? I must escape from these people.

I watched the beach volleyball, where the Aussie chick hurt her shoulder, played on bravely and played on it alot and ultimately lost. Then watched Brit, Amir Khan, totally demolish the Korean in the first round to guarantee himself a medal. Finally watched the Iraq v Paraguay semi final. The Iraqis sadly lack quality, but boy to they have some pluck and contributed to a good game, but ultimated the class shown through, that and a couple of off side goals.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Monday 23rd August 2004 - Day 344/365 - Ao Nang, Thailand

Ao Nang is surrounded by amazing rock formations that just erupt out of the ground and form steep cliffs.

Most people come here to go out to koh Phi Phi (The Beach) and the James Bond Island, but we all know that I'm not most people.

Sunday 22nd August 2004 - Day 343/365 - Ao Nang, Thailand

"Tropical beaches, Fiery cuisine, Sex Industry." That is what the lonely planet says makes Thailand famous.

Today it rained and rained and rained and rained.

The shopkeepers are all sad, everyone depressed, but I don't care. I don't mind rain. My skins waterproof.

People can say that this isn't Thailand, but it is, at least at this time of year.

The Thai coverage of the Olympics is all in Thai and they only seem to televise Boxing.

Did I mention that it rained today.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Saturday 21st August 2004 - Day 342/365 - Tanjung Bungah, Penang, Malaysia to Ao Nang, Thailand

After my parents left last night, folowing a farewell that we had waited all day for, had come up rather quickly and was far too brief, I slipped off to the Night Market to spend the remaining Ringits. Loads of stalls down there, but they all sell the same stuff. Mainly cheap DVD's.

Boy do those Durians smell. How can anybody even think of eating them.

Got a taxi back to the hotel.

Driver - You on your own?

Bloo - Yeah

Driver - You want some company for tonight?

Bloo - Not the kind your offering.

Oh the offers you get when you're footloose and fancy free. There was an uncomfortable silence the rest of the way.

Saw Chris Hoy win our first gold medal. Seems that the Brits are out there in Numbers and creating a great atmosphere, even if we haven't got a terrific standard of athletes out there.

I shedded a load of my weight and a bag to my parents to take home for me. Man it's nice to be back to just the one bag.

The minibus picked me up at 6.30 for the trip to Thailand. No dramas at the border. Feelings on entering Thailand were again looking at coming home and what it's going to be like for the first few days. I'm only 6 hours different to home now.

This is my 9th country in my year, excluding England and Hutt River Province.

Why don't half the moped riders wear helmets? Why are there 3 people on most most mopeds? Why do most of the pillions ride side saddle? How can you ride when you have one hand on the bike and one hand on the baby? What's an American doing on the bus and why does he have to talk so loud? I wanna shoot him, god knows what the arabs wants to do to him.

I had a 2 hour wait in Hat Yai. They just drop you on a corner cafe and say the bus will be along later. They obviously run to schedules, but there is no indication of this. The Minibus to Krabi arrived on time, but leaked, you couldn't open the door from the inside, we were crammed in like sardines and even I had to bend over double to get to my seat. Oh and it rained. Boy did it rain and boy did it leak. If anything happened I think they'd have to use a tin opened to get us out.

From Krabi I caught a bus out to Ao Nang where I had cheated and booked a room. I paid $29 us a night for it, which for Thailand is very expensive. However I figure I've done my stint slumming it and whilst it's cheap I may as well make hay while the sun shines. I want my last 3 weeks to be as comfortable as possible. I'm right on the beach which is cool.

I saw my first He/She or She/He, I'm never sure which it is. He/She or She/He was actually my waiter/waiteress or waiteress/waiter and very convincing He/She or She/He was until He/She or She/He spoke. Then you notice He/She or She/He was very flat chested and had the makings of a lunch box. Best 220 Baht I've ever spent, on the meal, in fact its the only bahts I've spent so far.

Got to watch the mighty Spurs again. Conceded a few chances early doors, but have done well when you consider that over the season they have changed a whole team with the exception of Ledley. A squad that had underachievement written all over it had to be changed. With the signing of Carrick I do believe that we now have 3 of Englands best young midfielders and a spine of a team that could go on and win lots of England caps. We also signed a couple of quality experienced short term fixes that have supplemented our young players nicely. Still not counting any chickens.

............. and Fleet got there first point of the season too. 1-1 againt Tooting and Mitcham.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Friday 20th August 2004 - Day 341/365 - Tanjung Bungah, Penang, Malaysia

Did the rounds saying bye to the Barmen, waitress, bell boys and local shop keepers and dishing out books and flip flops (don't ask), much to there delight.

It's been nice to see my folks again. We've played cards, darts and pool and drunk beer and Singapore Slings and Rusty Nails and listened to crap music. Sometimes it's felt like the Pontins Crocodile Club, but not often.

I'm sure they've seen a difference in me. They did say that they were amazed that I've got this far and really did think that I'd be home by Xmas 2003. In truth, the only time that I considered coming home early was from Penang, when I wasn't very well.

My parents fly home tonight, whilst I remain for one more night before heading to Thailand for the final 23 days of my trip.

Thursday 19th August 2004 - Day 340/365 - Tanjung Bungah, Penang, Malaysia

Another day another trip to a cemetery and more cheap DVD's.

Watched the ladies weightlifting. What a bunch of Olga's. I demand that the Olympic council rename the sport. Surely it must be libelist to call them ladies.

I'm giving up going out and drinking when I get home. It's too expensive. I'm taking up table tennis.

It's my aim to win an Olympic Gold Medal before I die.

Wednesday 18th August 2004 - Day 339/365 - Tanjung Bungah, Penang, Malaysia.

Happy Birthday to ........................ me! Yep 21 (for the 9th time). All I can say is that I hope my 29th year is as good as my 28th. It's sure going to be different, but that's not necessarily bad. I'm quite excited about it.

I had to put on a pair of trousers and a shirt for the first time in a year. Footwear was thongs tho. We went out for a meal with Nagie. Nagie is the character who was locally enlisted, by the British Army for the Malaya crisis, who we met the other day. He lives in Malacca, on the mainland, south of KL, but was so excited about meeting my Dad (poor man) that he came all the way up to Penang.

Anyway he's been staying with his Sister and having pleaded poverty picked us up the other day in an S Class Merc. Suitably impressed he informed up that it belonged to his brother in law, saying he was in business. Well today we went to the business, a fabric stall in the market. What ever happened to 3 wheeled vans.

Nagie is 3rd generation Malaysian and of tamal descent so he took up to an Indian restaurant in Little India. The difference being that's it spicier, tastier and only costs 1gbp a dish, oh and the Malays eat with there fingers.

In the end it was quite embarrassing because Nagie and his friend has brought us all fairwell gifts. Dad got a Sarong. Apparently he used to wear them when he was here and thats where David Beckham gets his styling tips from. Anyway Nagie doesn't really want financial aid, he just wants recognition from the British Army. Fair play.

I convinced the house band to get off Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones tonight. They played G 'n' R "Sweet Child of Mine" for me. It cleared the bar, which was pretty good considering it was empty anyway. I'm just trying to expand there reportoire.

Tuesday 17th August 2004 - Day 338/365 - Tanjung Bungah, Penang, Malaysia.

I picked up Stans waterproof case for his camera today. Cost about 110 gbp saving him about 40 gbp. The lady in the shop asked if I wanted another receipt (repeatly) so that I can charge my friend more. She was shocked when I said no. "You very honest." Well it would kind of defeat the purpose. Anyway they are back in blighty on the 21st. I'm sure they'd love a visit and you can talk about me.

The sun came out today and everything looks so different and so much nicer. It's been warm here, we've had a few downpours, but the main problem has been a haze caused by forest fires in Indonesia (apparently).

Bought some cheap DVD's today. Good quality and only 75p. I reckon that Bad Santa is one of the funniest, most original movies I've seen. Wouldn't watch it with my parents tho.

I can't believe that the Grandstands aren't absolutely rammed for the womens beach volleyball. That would be the first tickets that I would buy.

Monday 16th August 2004 - Day 337/365 - Tanjung Bungah, Penang, Malaysia.

Hired a car for the drive to Taiping, another of Dad's old haunts. We got a Proton 1.5, which is basically what everyone drives over here. It was so sluggish that I kept checking the handbrake, because it felt like it was constantly on.

Taiping is back on the mainland. Having negoiated the scooter brigade and found the massive causeway we were back on the mainland and in Taiping after about 1.5 hours. The scooters come at you from all angles, including straight at you on a one way street.

When we got to Dad's old barracks in Kamunting, he exclaimed how much it has changed. Yep Dad things do change over 40 years. Even he's changed a bit. Anyway the former hospital is now a Malay artillery base. Dad caused a bit of a commotion at the guard room and ultimately was unsuccessful in getting a tour of the barracks. So we went to the war cemetery. As ever beautifully kept.

It was good to get into the bush and away from the tourists. Even saw a couple of monkeys in the wild.

In the car on the way back, Dad pipes up with. "Stuart, theres a knock coming from the engine"

"Er, no Dad that'll be the beat from the music." Those hearing aids are good.

Back in Penang we went to the war museum at the old fort in Batu Maung. Very interesting. Those Japs were buggers!

On the way back we decided to drive up the middle of the island. The last time I did that was in Tenerife. The road through the middle looked the most direct. It would have been quicker had there not been a massive Volcano in the centre. Fortunately there are no such obstacles in Penang.

Saw a scooter learning centre. That must be where there are taught to use their mobiles, text, hold babies (really, I've got a pic), cut you up, undertake you and drive on the wrong side of the road.

I booked my bus to Thailand for Saturday. 65 rm pays for my 8 hour trip to Krabi. That's borderline robbery. Cuff me! (Please)

Sunday 15th August 2004 - Day 336/365 - Tanjung Bungah, Penang, Malaysia.

Watching the Olympics last night I really that I have gained an irrational hatred of most things American. However, It was nice to hear a nice and restrained rendition of the Star Spangled Banner after all the glitz and tat that I experienced in the US. The boy Phelps has done well, but he couldn't help whooping like, well like an American, when he won.

I can't remember the last time I missed the opening day of the football season. Actually it might have been 1992, when my parents decided to take me to Majorca as opposed to seeing Aldershot play Clapton in their inaugrual game as the new club. I did make Collier Row away on the Tuesday tho. Since then I've always holidayed outside of the football season. Maybe that partly explains my current marital status. It's been weird being away from football. I'm sure it's done me good, I'm just not sure how!

I did get to watch the mighty Spurs play the hub cap nickers live on Satelite. They get every single Premiership game shown as live or live over here. I may never leave (not really, I need to eat sometime). Anyway Spurs showed some signs of promise, but I'm not saying anything too positive until I've seen them a few more times. As a Spurs fan I've got used to false dawns.

Fleet got a pasting, according to the scoreline, 1-4 at Hastings. By all accounts it appears we were unlucky, but we would say that wouldn't we. Hopefully we'll have at least a few points by Bashley on the 14th September. Don't think I could keep my spirits up for too long if we get Xmas again still in single figures.

You've gotta love copies. Office 2003 and Dreamweaver 4 (not sure what Dad wants that for) for 5 rm each. Sorry Bill if you're reading. All bought from proper shops in pukka shopping malls and they work.

Taxi drivers. In KL the taxis all had meters and that's what you pay. In Penang, they have meters, but cover them up and haggle a price before you go anywhere. In fairness you find yourself arguing over 10p or something rediculous. It's still very reasonable.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Saturday 14th August 2004 - Day 335/365 - George Town, Penang, Malaysia.

Why am I still single? Well yes, mostly by choice, but also my Mum must take some of the credit. Last night whilst Dad and I played darts, Mum chatted to the singer. The singer being the only crumpet in the hotel, by virtue of the fact that she's the only one under 30 and doesn't wear a berka. Mum discussed with her my food poisoning, my Irritable Bowel and my divorce. Cheers.

It's the opening day of the football season. Despite Fleet's lowly finish last season, optimism is high (isn't it always before a ball is kicked) and I would dearly love to be in Hastings today. Come on the Bloo's.

Praise be a movement. 1st since Monday.

Friday 13th August 2004 - Day 334/365 - George Town, Penang, Malaysia.

I do feel uncomfortable around ordinary tourists. I've always had a sneaky suspicion that it just wasn't me. I find nothing relaxing about sitting round a pool or on a beach.

We did a tour of the island. We expected a tour of the island in a luxury coachs with loads of other tourists. We got an old taxi and a driver who didn't speak very good english. What followed was a drive around the whole island, passed the butterfly and fruit farms and the fishing. After 1.5 hours of total silence in the taxi the driver pipes up with "Do you want to see the Snake Temple". At which point point Dad replied. "Yes and we're supposed to stop at a fruit farm, a butterfly farm and a fishing village." Talk about bolting horses.

Anyway the snake temple was a terrible disappointment. I expected snake pits Indiana Jones stylee. Instead we got a couple of little 'venomous' snakes on branches, no doubt doped to the eyeballs.

Like good Englishmen we didn't complain, but we whinged like hell.

Today I'm feeling much more relaxed about the whole travelling in Asia thing, which has come a great relief.

I worked out that I had eaten squid. I couldn't work out what had done me and was beginning to question myself.

Thursday 12th August 2004 - Day 333/365 - George Town, Penang, Malaysia.

What meal do I want when I get back? That was the question that my Mum asked me the other night. Bit of a silly question really, because I return on a Tuesday. You see the Reeves (snr) residence is run under strict routines. One such routine is the weekly meal rota.

Sunday - Roast (rotate - Pork, Lamb, Beef, Chicken)
Monday - Left overs with gravy.
Tuesday - Something with mince (rotate - Spag Bol, Rissolles, Meatloaf)
Wednesday - Curry
Thursday - Mixed Grill
Friday - Fish and Chips (Steak for me)
Saturday - M&S prepared dish or BBQ in summer (rain or shine)

All meals expertly prepared by my Mum apart from the BBQ which Mum still lights as Dad is at football. So you see, on the day I comeback I know that I will be eating mince. Dad once said to me that if you have routines then you never forget anything. Trouble is he does forget things. Yesterday he went out with on 1 hearing aid in.

I think the last few days has proved to me that I am ready for home. I need to use these last couple of weeks to relax as much as possible. If I don't then I may as well be at home freaking out.

Met another of Dad's contacts today. Nagie was a locally enlisted RAMC soldier during the 1960's. He's Malaysian and served 6 years in the British Army before the Army pulled out. He still had one year to serve and claims the army deserted him and is left with no pension. He's quite a character.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Wednesday 11th August 2004 - Day 332/365 - George Town, Penang, Malaysia.

Listened to the Malaysian house band completely obliterate 'We've only just begun' by The Carpenters. Those who were at the Officers Mess, Keogh Barracks on the 29th May 1999 will realize the significance of the song. Despite it all I still love the song. I think it has some of the best, most poignant lyrics. This version however was so bad that Dad had to take his hearing aids out.

We've only just begun to live
White lace and promises
A kiss for luck and we're on our way
We've only just begun

Before the rising sun we fly
So many roads to choose
We start our walking
And learn to run
And yes!
We've only just begun

(*) Sharin' horizons that are new to us
Watchin' the signs along the way
Talkin' it over just the two of us
Workin' together day to day, together

(**) And when the evening comes we smile
So much of life ahead
We'll find a place where there's room to grow
And yes!
We've only just begun

Repeat (*)

Repeat (**)

I think I've missed a trick with Malaysia. I find it dirty and smelly and all together rather unpleasant. The food, for the most part, I wouldn't even feed to a dog I hated, mainly because he'd be eating himself. The food that appears edible, on closer inspection is gammy cuts of meat, origin unknown. No wonder they are all skinny as rakes. I guess we're spoilt in the western world.

I don't find it any cheaper than anywhere else, unless, of course, malay labour has been used.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Tuesday 10th August 2004 - Day 331/365 - George Town, Penang, Malaysia.

Happy Birthday Glennis!

Read 'A Time to Die - the Kursk disaster'. That's my 40th book since I left. Sometimes I even amaze myself. The book explains the disaster in great detail. Can't even begin to comprehend what must have gone through the minds of the submariners.

Appetite - returning.

Bowels - blocked.

Monday 9th August 2004 - Day 330/365 - George Town, Penang, Malaysia.

After 2 days of turmoil I finally went to the quacks.

Diagnosis - Food poisoning

Solution - Imodium, antibiotics, something for food poisoning, something for stomach pain and rehydration salts.

I know it's not the most pleasant subject, but hey that's travelling and all for 120 ringets.

Down a notch on my belt too. Back to pre tour.

I thought I'd turned a corner, but then I came to Asia and now I hope I haven't put myself back.

Sunday 8th August 2004 - Day 329/365 - George Town, Penang, Malaysia.

Watched the Community Shield on the box today. I find it so depressing that Man U have stores over in this part of the world. The shirts are everywhere. They all love the English game, but what do they know about it. Just the drivel they get fed. They've only heard of Man U and more recently, for varying reasons, Arsenal, Chelsea and Real Madrid.

As for the game itself, i can't get overly excited. Yeah it was a good game, but how many English players were out there. In the starting line ups 2 for Arsenal, 3 for Man U, plus a couple of paddies and a taff. Bring on Fleet v Bashley and Andy Sinton who made his debut yesterday.

Saturday 7th August 2004 - Day 328/365 - Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Malaysia to George Town, Penang, Malaysia.

Happy Birthday Lisa!

Had the challenge today of trying to work out how we were going to get 3 people and all my parents luggage down to the bus station. In the end I caught a taxi with all the luggage and they walked. Serves them right.

The bus depot is total mayhem. Not really setup for lugging 2 massive and heavy suitcases around, but the 5 hour trip is a bargain at 23 ringets.

What followed was the most uncomfortable 5 hours of my life. The seats are comfortable enough. They're big reclining loungers that wouldn't go amiss in a living room, in front of a widescreen TV with a beer in hand, but unfortunately the lack of suspension on the bus negates all benefit from said lounger. The bumps, which come frequently on Malaysian freeways, and the accompanying foot high leap made sleep impossible and sort only to blend my stomach, which was already in turmoil.