CharlieV the Traveller

What a Weekend!

Bushmans River Mouth

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This past long weekend, I was invited along with my girlfriend to Boesmansriviermond (Bushmans River Mouth) to stay at one of her friend’s house. Of course any weekend away is great, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as awesome as it was.

Bushmans is about an hour and a half from Port Elizabeth along the R72, depending on traffic or what roadworks they’re busy with. I think my girlfriend started to worry about me at some parts when I got stuck behind trucks and other people that really shouldn’t be on the road because of the way they drive. Nonetheless we arrived at suppertime, in one piece (and without causing vehicular manslaughter), after only having left after work on Friday.

You’re kinda forced to relax from when you arrive. There are very few shops and over weekends they all close at 2pm (of course you could drive to Kenton-On-Sea or Port Alfred but you’re so chilled out, that even that seems like an effort. There is a local pub called the Bushmans Pub & Grub (previously Buccaneers?). The Gateway Tourism Centre at the entrance also has some amenities such as a internet cafe and restaurant. Up until the 80’s there wasn’t even electricity or water in most houses, but even so, you should take your own drinking water.

We spent our Saturday swimming at the river and having a braai while the rugby was on. We played some pool for Ship Sherry (drink a shot if you lose, and I lost quite a bit…). We did very little else. Sunday was spent cruising up the river on a speedboat – the whole day actually. Just cruising up and then back down, stopping to cool down for a dip in the river once in a while. We went up quite far but not as far as we could have. Supposedly you can go up about 30km or so. Surprisingly, even though we went up quite far (about 20km?), the water is still salty (and kind of chilly!).

It was really an awesome weekend and a big thanks to Enzo, Aluschka and the rest  for a really epic weekend. Also thanks to Marcell (sic) & Co for the brilliant boat trip!

For more info on Boesmansriviermond, go look at their website. If you’re looking for a nice relaxing holiday, look no further!

Thailand: The End #1

A 12 segment panoramic image of the Hong Kong ...

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It’s been a crazy two weeks and by the end we would have travelled over 29000 kilometres and if you think about it, the world is 24 500 or so kilometres at the equator, so we might as well have done that, although doubt we would have had as much fun…

We spent our last night in Bangkok at The Rock Pub again and the same band was playing and even recognised us “farangs” and played a song we requested by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, which they wouldn’t the last time.

We left at 13:30 Bangkok time to head back home, stopping for six hours in Hong Kong, where we are now, before flying nine hours to Dubai, where we wait for another four and a half hours. That is followed by a eight hour flight to Jo’burg where we have a last wait of two hours before heading home. The trip back totals about 36 hours including all the stops, etm.

Thank God Hong Kong has free internet and wi-fi, or I may have been liable to commit murder or worse.

It’s been awesome, but I just wanna head home now and see some familiar faces and surroundings and also where I know what the hell is going on and less likely to be ripped off 🙂

Bangkok #4: It All Comes To An End

Siam Center

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It’s been a fun two weeks here in the Land Of Smiles, but honestly, it was enough – anymore and violence was very likely. Bangkok is something you have to do over a few days, and not a whole week. If it was just a few days, I would’ve been less likely to realise just how much everyone is trying to make a quick buck. When I say everyone is in on it, I mean it – from the security, to the cab drivers, to the hotel staff and the guy on the street, no-one is innocent. Instead of taking you to the best place or the cheapest place, they will take you to a place where they get a cut and if you don’t know the places, you’re likely to be getting screwed over. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome place and I would come back sometime if I could, but next time, I’ll be way better prepared and armed with this knowledge.

But enough of that, I don’t want to be naysayer, because this place is really cool and since my last post, we have been checking out the Siam Centre(s) and last night we went out to a “discotheque”, as the cab driver called it.

First off, the Siam Centre; its three rather big centres linked to each other and we didn’t even get through the whole place, it was just too much. They’re definitely better than anything back home and better laid out. The Siam Paragon is a smaller one with the Paragon Department store spanning 5 floors surrounded by a lot more stores and has a oceanarium in the basement. The main Siam Centre is four floors with a relatively new Madame Toussards on the 6th floor. Then lastly, is the Siam Discovery which is about the same size.

Afterwards we headed back to relax a bit before going out last night to a place called the Bossy Pub. It was a good one with some awesome tunes being played by the DJs and we got back to the hotel at about 3am. I think I may have gone a bit overboard with the Jack & Cokes though…

Anyway, as it stands now, I’m pretty broke and ready to head home. I’m gonna miss this place a bit, but there is no place like home. So till Monday when we’re back, this is goodbye from me.

Bangkok #3: Boom-boom show, yes?

Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand, Octob...

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Was a busy day yesterday, so didn’t really have time to blog at all, but was exact opposite today. Yesterday we were going to go to the Floating Market, but the idea of travelling for an hour to float in a boat in a market seemed crazy. That’s all Bangkok is, a big shopping mall, so to travel all that way for the same stuff seemed a bit mad. Instead we took a 30 minute trip with our limo driver I mentioned, Tony, to Bangkok’s amusement park called Dream World. It was pretty awesome to embrace my inner child for a day. We got there at about 10:30 and only left at about four in the afternoon; we did almost every single ride (except the ones that are kids only.)

Then we went back to the hotel and chilled before Tony took us out at about 7ish, to go watch what he called “boom boom show.” Now this is where I think the whole sex scene in Bangkok is just one big tourist trap. Don’t get me wrong, it was something you had to see, but I prefer going to places like Candy’s and Golden Curtain – the beers dont cost R50 and you don’t pay more than R200 to go in. Maybe we went to the wrong place, although it was recommended to us, but to be honest  don’t feel like wasting more money on seriously freaky strip shows, think razor blades and ping pong balls. Before we went out though, we ate at an seriously impressive restaurant called Kuang’s Seafood and ate like kings!

The night did improve as we managed to find a kick-ass rock club nearby called The Rock Pub, Bangkok’s House of Rock. There was a band that I can’t pronounce or even spell, but they were doing awesome covers of everything from The Beatles to Metallica and were damn good at it as well! We decided to head back on Saturday, since it was a pretty quiet night and the band had finished playing at close to midnight.

Today we attempted to go catch some sun by the pool, but inbetween the sun being blocked by the hotel for about an hour or so and clouds appearing just as it was coming out again, it didn’t work really well. Just before 6pm local time, we headed out to the tailor we went to a few days back and did the final fit on our suits. Alex’s was perfect, but my pants were a bit tight, so he said to come back at 7:30pm again to collect them. To say I am satisfied with it though, is a major understatement, it is beyond awesome. So in less than an hour I will go collect my English cashmere suit and five egyptian cotton shirts. The best part is the guy said he can send us suits to South Africa if we want to get more later. He will send them to us whenever we want. At Just over R1500 for a suit and five shirts, it will be very tempting!

Until next time!

Bangkok #2: Wat?

Grand Palace with Temple of the Emerald Buddha...

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The day today was spent doing the tour of the major Wats and the Grand Palace. They were seriously awesome, but at the end I had enough, to say the least (too much of a good thing…).

We managed to get hold of a “limo” driver who took us around from place to place and picked us up when done. He had a old Volvo S70, but compared to the cabs and tuk-tuks it was awesome. He only charged us 400 Baht each for the whole day compared to about 100 Baht for one trip in a tuk-tuk/cab.

We started off at Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple), which is constructed almost entirely out of marble. We then moved on Wat Phra Kaew (The Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha) which took about and hour and a half to get around – there are some amazing buildings there.

Afterwards it was on to Wat Pho (The Reclining Buddha or Sleeping Buddha) which has a Buddha statue about 50m long and 10m high in a sleeping position. At this stage, Alex was ready to give up, but I convinced him to go to the last one on my list – Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn) which had some serious steps going up, but the view is pretty cool on top. Admittedly, by this stage, I was also sick of walking around the temples/Wats and it was time to call Tony, our driver, to get us to Phantip Plaza, which is a short walk away from the hotel. It’s basically a huge mall, with about 5 levels, full of electronics stores. It was cool, but we decided to come back later, when we wanted to spend some money (and had more patience.)

And that’s where we are up to now… at the internet cafe nearby to catch up.

Tomorrow it’s off to the Floating Market, about an hour out, so will let you know how that went.

Bangkok #1: We’ve arrived

View of Bangkok streets from the Baiyoke Tower II.

Image via Wikipedia

Just a quick update, we’ve arrived in Bangkok and checked in at the Baiyoke Sky Hotel, which is pimping to say the least!

We left Koh Phangan early this morning and caught the ferry back to Koh Samui and then the flight here. Yesterday was a very chilled day, which we spent kayaking to the island nearby and followed by a bit of shopping.

Since we’ve arrived in Bangkok, we spent the day exploring a little bit. The hotel has pretty much everything you would need, including a swimming pool, a driving range on the 18th floor, a fitness centre, an observation deck on the 77th floor (hotel has 84 floors I think) and way too much stuff to list here.

About an hour ago, we found a tailor that we liked and arranged for him to make a suit, five shirts and a tie for a little over R1500. We go back on the 6th for our final fitting, so we will see.

Anyways, thats all Ii can fit in now, so will post another update sometime. We’re headed back to the hotel and gonna stuff our faces at the buffet…

Koh Phangan #5: Full Moon Party


To say last night was epic is doing the party an injustice. It was just something that you had to experience for yourself.
We arrived on the beach about an hour before midnight and the beach was crazy!
We started walking from the entrance onto the beach up to the the far side, to the Paradise Bungalows, where the Full Moon Party originally started many years ago. It took about 45 minutes to get there and along the way there were different clubs playing different tunes. What was really impressive was that as you moved along, from one section to the other, you only heard the music from the club you were in front of.
Each club had there own entertainment as well, like fire-rope skipping and much more.
As the night went along though, things started getting out of control and people were peeing and worse in the ocean and it started to seem like a scene from a zombie movie, minus the whole flesh-eating bit.
I don’t really know what time we got out of there, because no-one seemed to bring anything valuable, including watches and cellphones. We got back to the resort at about 4ish though and then spent the whole day today recovering.
A little while ago, we went to a local massage parlour and got an AWESOME hour long massage. I also decided to jump into the deep end and got my back waxed. Ouch is all I can say, but I’m glad I did it.
As a side note, after catching a few taxis with other people and just speaking to people in general, I’ve realised that everyone on this island has some type of horror story. Whether it’s getting so wasted that they land up on the other side of the island or crashing a scooter, everyone has a story to tell, and if you’ve been reading my blog regularly, you’ll know I also have a few.
Tomorrow is our last full day on the island and honestly there isn’t much more to do, except possibly take the kayak out to the island nearby to the resort (about a 20 minute paddle). Then on the 3rd, its time to head to the craziness that is Bangkok.

Koh Phangan #4: Muay Thai


Last night we went down to Haad Rin for an awesome night of Muay Thai fighting. Having never seen it before live, it was insane to say the least!
In the one fight, it looked like the local champion actually broke the Koh Samui champion’s leg.
Once again, my luck was against me and halfway back after the fights, my scooter’s back tire got a puncture. After pushing it for about two kilometres, eventually one of the locals stopped and offered to take me back to the resort. It took some haggling, but he agreed to 600 Baht for the lift, but at that stage after pushing it so far already, I probably would have paid anything.
Of course, this morning we had to get the scooter back to where we hired them and paid 200 Baht for a new tube after having paid 500 to get it there. So at the end of the day, my puncture cost 1300 Baht (about R400).
After that, we took a awesome drive through the jungle to a remote village called Thong Nai Pan and found an awesome little stuck away arts shop to get some gifts. Needless to say as with the rest of the island, the views were amazing!
For now though, its time to relax and catch a nap in preparation for tonight.

Koh Phangan #3: Just Cruising


It’s been a busy two days of driving around on our scooters and checking out stuff around the island. Of course, going with the trend so far, something had to go wrong.
Today a swarm of some insects (that I wasn’t going to try identify since I was fleeing for my life) attacked me when I stopped on the side of the road to take some photos.
I ended up getting stung twice and to say it was painful is a major understatement. It wasn’t long before that subsided and I was fine though, after Alex managed to pull out the, almost centimetre long, stingers that is.
We did manage to cruise around almost the whole island, except the east side which we couldn’t fit in with everything else. We also managed to see Phaeng Waterfall and got to the viewpoint on top of the hill, before a big tour group started coming up, which was really cool, although the cloudy day spoiled it only a bit.
We also scouted the Haad Rin beach a bit before we pitch up for tomorrow’s New Years Full Moon Party.
On the plus side, we did manage to locate the location of the Half-moon Festival and find the lost room key which is always good…

Koh Phangan #2: Half Moon Festival


I had my first and last Bucket(s) last night at an epic party called the Half Moon Festival. It’s a huge party on the mountain in the jungle here on the island.
That said sometime in the night, I lost our room key and Alex got ripped by paying 600 Baht for a scooter ride back. To put it into perspective, I paid 100 Baht for my ride back. Why did we catch separate lifts? Well I passed out and he couldn’t find me.
So that is why I said my first and last bucket…
Regardless, it was an awesome party and I hope the New Year Full Moon Party is just as awesome. And since I decided to lose the key, we spent the night sleeping on the porch of our room until the reception opened in the morning, which really made me popular.
But besides that, today we got our scooters and as only I could do, after 5 minutes or so, I crashed it when I hit some gravel while turning. No it wasn’t damaged, but I got a few cuts and scratches on my hand and leg. It’s been cool since then though and we cruised around the island a bit before coming back for a swim and to just chill a bit. While out we came across a guy selling everything from petrol to cooldrink to mushrooms.
Anyway that’s all for now, I am gonna catch a quick power-nap before doing heading out tonight

Koh Phangan #1: The holiday officially starts!


It’s been two days of travel – four plane rides, one night in Bangkok, one very wet catamaran ride and a trip on the back of some converted bakkie that is the local taxi – but we are here in Koh Phangan and the place we are staying is to put it simply – AWESOME 🙂
After dropping everyone else that was in the taxi off, there were some doubts about the place. The one place we saw was called Charm Resort and it was anything but that.
I can’t guarantee that I’ll be doing anymore blogging for the next six days, so for now goodbye…

Thailand Baby #6: Koh Samui


I’m beginning to think that shaving my hair before flying here was a bad idea. Every time I have gone through a security check point, I have been called to one side and have been searched by hand. Damn profiling!
But regardless, we have arrived at Koh Samui and are waiting for the ferry to Koh Phangan. Sometime in this week we have to come back here, because there are some cool things to do like a canopy tour over the jungle and ATV tours.
But for now, the plan is to get to Koh Phangan and get rid of our bags so we can go get out and do the tourist thing.

Thailand Baby #5: At Long Last

Enjoy Authentic Thai Cuisine on Board - Ayutth...

Image by via Flickr

After more than 24 hours of travel, we have arrived in Thailand, although we’re pretty tired and have to get up again at 5am to catch the next flight.

We have just had our first taste of Thai food and it was pretty awesome. The intention is to eat stuff I would never normally eat. Tonight it was “ginger fried chicken sweet”, or that’s the direct translation anyway. My taste buds are spinning outta control, but it was pretty awesome.

The one problem so far is trying to communicate, granted it’s probably better than some other countries but when I asked for a glass of Coke, I got a empty glass. Note to self: keep it simple, just ask for Coke 😛

After minimal sleep on the plane, today is just a chill out before the actual fun begins…

Since all I had was 20 Baht (20 minutes access), this is going to be a really quick update. The other hoptels have free wireless, so should be able to post more then.

That’s all for now.

Thailand Baby! #4: JHB


So here we are, checked in, we are through customs and now sitting in the smoking lounge (you suck Alex). It’s really happening! In less than 24 hours we’ll be on the other side of customs in Thailand (hopefully).

Things seem to be going well so far. PE-Jhb flight went ahead of schedule, customs was a breeze, and the flight is on time.

The question is what do I do for the next two hours? I’m sure it’s gonna fly by…

Thailand Baby! #3: No Going Back


The day had arrived. We’ve got our boarding passes and are waiting for them to call our flight out over the loudspeaker.

A hour and a bit flight to Johannesburg. A four hour wait before a nine hour flight to Dubai, followed by a hour layover. Then it’s the last six hour flight to our destination – Thailand Baby!

Also while I’m at it, even though Port Elizabeth Airport is now international, it still sucks! And Primi Caffe is seriously bad, your coffee is shit and your service even worse

Thailand Baby! #2: One More Sleep…


That sums up my night…

My impulsive and procrastinating nature really bite me in the ass at times. Sure it may be balanced out by my need for control and chaotic organisation, but my paranoia makes it really interesting.
I know what I’m gonna pack about a week before, but leave it to the last night before I decide to pack. Then while I pack, my impulsiveness kicks in and I start changing things. Then when I’m done, I keep thinking I’ve forgotten something…

I know I’m ready; all that remains is to set my alarms and pack the last few things in the morning (toiletries and chargers, etm).

Fuck I’m excited! Did I mention that? Well I really am, I hope I sleep okay… my mind is spinning out of control!

No promises, but I’ll try put updates here if I get a chance!

Thailand Baby! #1: One week left (almost)


Image by Rakeman via Flickr

1 Week                        20 Hours

That is how long it is until I climb on the plane from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg. After a short stop in Dubai, I take the last step on my first visit to the “land of smiles” – Thailand.

I’d like to say I have all my shit sorted out and that I am prepared; I’ve read all the travel sites out there: Lonely Planet (incl Thorntree), Trip Advisor, and the multitudes of other sites that you would read if you were trying to prepare yourself. It worked pretty well for my UK trip and even for trips around my own country. It’s the geek in me, that need for trying to be prepared by mining the net for information. It’s that need for control, geeks need to be in control, it’s part of who we are.

That’s how Thailand is screwing me over. Everything I’ve read and everthing I’ve been told, leads me to a conclusion that control is not a word to be used when travelling Thailand and that I’m just gonna go with it and not even try. I’ve done all I can, now it’s just a matter of getting there and making the best of it.

Thailand: A Bit Of Bragging…

Baiyoke Sky Hotel
Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan

A friend implanted an idea in my head in the beginning of the year when he mentioned going to something called the Full Moon Party in Koh Pha Ngan in Thailand

At first I ignored what he had suggested, but then I realised I was being a douchebag by not even looking at what it was about. I then started reading some travel journals and travel sites and while there were a lot of warnings about drugs and such, most people said it was the ultimate party experience and how awesome it was.

This was followed by the financial check. Surprisingly Thailand is super cheap for most people especially South Africans. Normally for us South Africans, travel is restrictively expensive. Thailand: really cheap… awesome!

I then realised that this trip would tick off one of my lifetime travel goals: Experience an Asian New Years Party.

When I started looking into the costs, I realised that I could actually afford it, especially if we booked ourselves.

And so began a month or 2 of planning and arranging of finances, by August we were ready to book! We managed to be able to afford a week in Koh Phangan followed by a week in Bangkok.

And we are doing it in style! On the first day, the plan is to get tailored suits sorted for when we arrive back a week later. So for a week, we will party in up like students in Koh Phangan, for the Full Moon Party, over New Years Eve. Then its back to Bangkok, to party in style and take in all the sights and culture.

We are even staying in the tallest building in Thailand – The Baiyoke Sky Hotel. I cant wait!!

Baiyoke Sky Hotel

Baiyoke Sky Hotel, Bangkok