Tuesday, 28 January 2014

London calling

So the planned trip to Bangkok fell through, I guess it's a "nevermind" moment. You live, you learn. Next time I travel I won't be using STA Travel or any other agency, I'll book myself on the flights I want to go on, when I want to go on them without the hassle of trying to sort something out with a company that forces any change (or questions relating to) to go through an e-mail link with a guaranteed response time of 48 hours, which I have deduced means working hours rather than the 2 days that you may assume it would.  It took 2 weeks to get useable options tabled which when you're trying to work to a certain timeframe or budget can be a little frustrating.  Rather than just being able to pick up a phone, or pop into one of their global stores to explore options I had available to me, I had to abide by the following Terms and Conditions. With the night / day time difference sometimes meant simple queries could take a couple of days to resolve, assuming that they bothered to answer the poised query in the first place which the didn't always.  It can be a jagged little pill to take.

Terms & conditions▪ The Multiflex Pass can ONLY be redeemed by emailing our Global Travel Help Team via this link: http://www.statravel.co.uk/global-travel-help-enquiry.htm. Contacting us through any other channel will incur standard fees. 

So after the requisite to and fro's,   I was eventually given the following couple of feasible options;

  • Return to the UK, no extra cost (covered by the multiflex pass)
  • Pay an additional cost of £187, fly to Melbourne at the start of February, wait 5 hours for a connecting flight to Kuala Lumpur and then spend another month or so exploring more of Asia. 

This second option appealed to me for a several reasons. I had met some wonderful people who lived in the countries I travelled through previously and this would have given me the opportunity to meet a few of those people again and also explore the places that I had missed out on before and undoubtedly meet more interesting people along the way. Then of course there's the food.......

So I chose to return to the UK, the main reasons for which are;

  • I want to travel more but in order to do so I need to fund it. As I am yet to implement a way of sustaining myself financially whilst travelling this means returning to the UK, working and saving to fund my next adventure whilst also working out a way to make the next trips pay.
  • The Chinese New Year falls on January 31st  2014, which means by the time I returned to Asia I would have missed the celebrations which I would have loved to experience. Similarly the Thai new year (Songkran) falls in mid April,  after I would have left the continent to return to England. So Holding fire for now will maybe allow me to experience these events in future at the same time as doing some of the things I was planning.

So on Wednesday 29th at 16:50 I will leave Auckland International and travel via Australia and Dubai, past the darkside of the moon and onto London Heathrow, arriving at 11:35 on Thursday morning. A quick calculation will give a travel time of 17 hours which doesn't seem too bad. Factor in the time difference though and you will realise that it's more like 30 hours and that means there's a whole lot of "I spy" to get through with my single serving buddies. I'm going to have to get creative. 

My entire hand luggage is going to be filled with pillows to sit on and sleeping pills to munch. This should allow me to fall asleep and dribble on the person next to me without care or courtesy. I could alternatively spike the drink of any man, woman or child that I find particularly annoying then raise them up so high on the pillows that when they wake up they think the plane has shrunk. The potential for fun is only limited to what you can get away with before being thrown off the plane by rightly concerned cabin staff.

I also fully expect myself to look like a human puffer fish by the time I touchdown off the final flight, even more so than I usually do.. 

If I do bloat significantly then I will be left with little option but to change my name to Gill.  


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

21st January - once more into my breeches!!

strange things are a foot.

The last few days I have been sat staring at my laptop screen, my toe still swollen, numb and floppy from the stubbing that occurred just after I arrived here in New Zealand, drawing up plans for the return leg of my journey as well as attempting to write a small article based on some of my travel experiences, sort out some of the many photo's taken over the last few months and give some thought as to what the heal I'm going to do on a personal level when I finally return to the UK. It's kind of an open book scenario at the moment, a aged book with tired bindings but one that's waiting patiently for the story to be written upon it. At some point I'll nail it.

On the afternoon of the 29th of January I will begin my journey back to Thailand, stopping for a single night in Sydney, Australia before carrying on back to Bangkok where I will hopefully arrive at 0:55 on the 31st January. I then plan to then spend 2 nights in the capital before heading off on a 12 hour train ride to Chiang Mai in the north of the country, an area I missed out on my previous run. There I will take the time to indulge myself a bit of future planning, drink lots of coffee and once again sample lots of the fantastic cuisine for which the country is rightfully renowned. I may even finally get around to throwing myself off a ledge with a bungee chord attached to my ankles, as long as they promise to fix the other end to something secure. At least I know that I don't have anyone with a weighty life insurance policy on me hoping for a large payout upon my ultimate demise.

It's maybe difficult to convey just how much I have missed Asia since I left there, the friendly nature of the people, the natural beauty of the places and of course, the food. You may notice I did not include the heat and the mosquito's in that list, but it's a pleasure / pain thing you see. Besides, this time I'm going to be packing the strongest mosquito repellent I can possibly lay may hands on, or failing that the one with the wittiest name. So far the best I've found is "mosquitno".

So I'm entering Bangkok right when the current political protests are likely to be at their most virulent and disruptive. On the surface this trip may seem foolhardy at best but monitoring the situation from afar, it's not something about which I'm unduly concerned about although this may be subject to change as I get nearer the time. This will now be my 3rd visit to the City of Angels which hopefully will give me the experience and insight I need to move around as I would like for the initial short period that I'm there.

Time will tell I guess as it always does. I'm still ponderous as to why I haven't met anyone in Bangkok yet who is actually called Angel,  and also as to why I was seemingly unable to work "metatarsal" into my first paragraph.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

random entry - chilli con carne (08/01/2012)


Whilst I sit here in Auckland pondering options, I thought I would take the time just add a recipe for this Chilli Con Carne dish. My reasons for this are as follows;

a) It's the only recipe I can kind of remember how to do, so it's here now if I ever forget.
b) It tastes great
c) Someone else might like to try it (not likely).

so to make you will need;

cooking oil (olive oil)
crushed garlic (jar easy)
hot chilli paste (tube easy)
1 red bell pepper - seeds removed, sliced and diced
1 onion - chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
0.5 kg of mince (your choice)
1 goldfish* (optional)
Salt / Pepper to season
and whatever you want to serve alongside it. (ie bread / rice./ grated cheese / chips)

Step one
on a medium to high heat add;
2 tablespoons of olive oil,
1 nice big teaspoon full of crushed garlic,
1 nice big teaspoon full of Hot chill Paste
and fry together for a minute or so.

Step 2
Add the chopped onion and diced red pepper into the pan and fry together for another minute.

Step 3
Add the mince and carry on frying for another few minutes until the mince is nicely browned through.

Step 4 
Add the tin of tomatoes, mix thoroughly, reduce the heat to medium and cover / part cover the pan and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Step 5
taste it, if needed and a bit of salt, pepper or more chilli paste to liven things up
Add the kidney beans, mix together and recover for another 15 minutes minimum

Step 6*
Give the goldfish some food, it's probably hungry by now (not too much though)

Step 7 
Check the pan
If the Chilli is looking good serve it up

Step Ate
Get a drink.

Right, back to pondering