Alright, time for me to buck up my collective ideas and start blogging up a proverbial storm. I just logged into this blog and noticed that viewing numbers are… dwindling. I know, I know, I can hear you all saying “How can that possibly happen Royce, when you’re written word is as well-composed as any Shakespearean prose or play? I could read your blogs ten times over and still be absolutely riveted right up until the last little full stop!” Be that as it may, I’ve let the team down by my limited updates and sub-standard stutter, forced through an inadequate iPhone “keyboard” that requires my fingers (and approximately 92% of the worlds population’s fingers… at a haphazard guesstimate) to go at least one millionth the speed of my hugely-average brain. Fear not friends, an update is here!
A huge portion of Amber & my awesome journey, so far, has involved South East Asia (SEA). Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and finally Cambodia. If I had to describe this five and a half week trip through SEA in three words it would make a appropriately neat, alliterative title that a travel author might use (see above) which is both extremely clever and annoyingly catchy. Tuk-tuks, tummy bugs and temple tours are a constant in SEA and, to various degrees, are the cornerstone of any visit to that part of the world.
On a country-specific basis, Singapore was fun – but largely a 2-3 day stop-over at best, Malaysia was a brilliant mini-holiday for us and surprisingly cheap to bus around (in very comfortable buses), Thailand was Thailand (awesome), Laos was breath-taking, humbling and a reminder that “westernization” on various scales is NOT necessarily a win-win situation and, finally, Cambodia was amazing in all forms and our favourite part of the SEA adventure. Now, back to that title…
Tuk-tuks are EVERYWHERE. From country to country they vary in shape, size and approximate similarity to your standard motor-scooter-attached-to-a-passenger-seat. They are all ridiculously cheap… even if you get ripped off… which you may not be aware of until you take the same journey on a later, even cheaper, tuk-tuk. Tuk-tuk drivers are an interesting breed of people. The worst mistake you can make is paint them with the same brush – apart from the obvious impossibility of said paintbrush managing to withstand the work rate that necessitates the painting of an entire continent of tuk-tuk drivers. Some are dicks (and we all know that dicks are everywhere… it’s a scientific fact), some are genuinely nice guys and some are simply doing their best to earn a meagre living to provide for their family. My favourite tuk-tuk driver was a guy in Phnom Penh who simply stood next to his tuk-tuk holding a sign stating that he would not annoy/harrass prospective clientele (as most tuk-tuk drivers are prone to do) and that, should anyone require the services of a tuk-tuk driver, he would gladly oblige. Brilliant.
“Tummy Bugs” – Another common occurrence during any proper SEA adventure is a difference in the relationship between a traveler’s stomach, bowels and… end bit. Oh yes, there are a favoured few who are always quick to point out that no, they haven’t suffered from any such ailments (touch wood) and have the inner fortitude of cast iron box of air and should be hailed in a manner akin to a huge golden Bhudda BUT… most of the rest of us will experience some sort of “irregularity” in their normal constitution. I’ll leave the detail to your respective imaginations but I can tell you that all types of “movements” occur and just have to be dealt with. End of story.
Last, but not least, temples are everywhere in SEA. You can’t turn around or take a couple steps without coming across some type of structure dedicated to a religious entity. At first the novelty-factor makes them all amazing and intricately intriguing (which a good portion of them are) then, somewhere between the 30th and 50th temple, a level of numbness settles in. But even the most uncouth, simple-minded yobbo would appreciate such gems as the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai (Thailand) or Angkor Wat, Bayon, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm in Siem Reap, Cambodia. These amazingly detailed creations of man-made awesomeness are well worth any trip. And the history behind them is inspiring. I won’t fill the blog with another 500 words re-iterating what I’ve read and learnt, I’d simply advise googling the temples at your own leisure… should you feel that way inclined.
So, there you go. SEA in a nutshell. A raw, carefully-drafted, inedible, E-nutshell.