The northern line

This is officially the furthest north I have ever been. Officially. Also, GNER’s wi-fi service ain’t half bad, although charging ten quid a pop for something that at best gives you speeds equivalent to a dial-up modem does seem rather cheeky.

Other random observations:

  • The train manager sounds rather like a Dalek. If Daleks came from the North of England and used the phrase “your co-operation would be greatly appreciated” at the end of each sentence then that would be him, spot on.
  • Competition does still exist on the railways, at least in a snipey we’re-better-than-them kind of way. Apparently the reason we’re 15 minutes delayed is due to us having ended up behind a “slow-moving Virgin train” somewhere round Doncaster. But I wouldn’t mess with the guy, because he sounds like a Dalek.
  • At least three quarters of England is covered in oil seed rape at the moment, it seems. It looks kinda freaky when you see this much of it – like some strange alien farming experiment gone wrong.
  • Just north of Doncaster near the M62 there’s a large collection of coal-fired power stations dotted around the place. Freaky things.

Password paranoia

Never change the password for your web-based email account when you’re drunk a little worse for wear. You’ll never remember it the next day and then Google will make you wait five days before letting you go through the security questions.


The end

Cath – you were so right when you described Bangkok as “a little bit crazy”. Today is day 7 in Thailand and the day I fly back to the UK – I’ll be hitting the tarmac at Heathrow tomorrow (Thursday) morning and heading up to Northampton pretty soon after that. Can’t wait for a good long shower!

I’ve seen a gazillion different temples and shrines and been all around this mad city by taxi, by river boat and in the legendary tuk-tuks that seem to appear on the front covers of all the guide books, but whose drivers aren’t quite as innocent as you might like them to be. My attempt to get the bus back from the Skyrail station last night failed – leading to a 45 minute walk back along lots of long, dark and wet streets – but the Skyrail itself and the subway are a simply marvelous way of getting around, although slightly limited by their routes.

I took a break from the heat, humity and pollution of the city with a rather unplanned but truly memorable trip up to Kanchanburi provice, which is a two-to-three hour drive out of the city to the east and not far at all from the Burmese border. Aside from the compulsory trip to the World War II sights around the River Kwai or ‘Death Railway’ bridge and the Australian-sponsored museum at ‘Hellfire Pass’ a little bit further up the track towards Burma – both of which were rather poignant places to visit – much fun was had over the course of the generally well-organised three-day tour.

Highlights included eating snake meat, dancing to songs about elephants, riding on an elephant and stroking live tigers at the Buddist monastery that we visited. Photos to follow!

Today is a day of relaxing and seeing a couple more sights that are within walking distance of the hostel I’ve been staying at for the last two nights. I’m determined that there will be no more bus disasters for now, at least not until I get back into the UK 🙂


So I made it to Bangkok safely last night, despite it being a little bit late to make it into the city by the time I’d cleared immigration and the rest of it, necessitating a stop-over in one the hotels near the airport, some 25km north of Bangkok centre. This proved slightly expensive in comparison with the guest houses further into the city where I’m staying tonight, but nonetheless it was somewhere to stay and the bed was HUGE.

I’m still acclimatizing to the heat, the humidity, the smell and the sheer busyness of this place, but it’s just mad. In the nicest way possible, of course :-).

The sight-seeing starts tomorrow!

Thai Noodles

Whenever you’re stuck for somewhere to eat in a random place around the world, you can always trust the Rough Guide to locate a suitably unique establishment for you.

So today the mental preparations for Bangkok began with the eating of vegetable and tofu Thai noodles down a small side street in Byron Bay. I wish I could stay here for longer, and I also wish that I’d remembered to take the photo before I started eating the darned food.

Thai Noodles

Yippee for cybercafes that let you access the contents of your memory cards while you surf though! This place is on the ball.


My feet ache quite a lot at the moment after almost two solid days of wandering around Quensland’s sub-tropical capital, but I’m just about getting to know the place and getting back into the swing of city life.

Armed with my camera, today I visited the Botanical Gardens on the eastern slopes of Mount Coot-tha, which are only some thirty years old (the gardens having been moved from their former site just south of the city centre, following several devastating floods), but home to a pretty amazing selection of plants nonetheless. I met an elderly couple strolling around the maze of paths that criss-cross the site, who I accompanied on the short bus ride up to the summit of the mountain. Stunning views indeed.

Lunch was had in back in the centre one of the many food courts which seem to be scattered around all of the big Aussie cities, followed by a trip to a couple of museums, where I stayed until closing time. I walked back from the Queensland Museum via South Brisbane and the West End – both rather student-y looking areas with the usual selection of take-aways, restaurants and convenience stores – and crossed the river over the William Jolly Bridge as dusk set in.

Now I need to recharge both my camera’s batteries and my own metaphorical batteries in readiness for my day-trip to Byron Bay across the state border in New South Wales tomorrow. The stay there on the way down to Sydney was cancelled in favour of spending my last weekend in the cafe society surrounds of Melbourne, so a day-trip will have to do instead. Yay 6AM buses!


Today is Coffee and Smoothies day here in the Sunshine coast’s glamour capital of Noosa Heads, or at least it is for me. Today is a chillout and admin day, which kicked off with breakfast in a friendly little cafe around the corner from the hostel where I stayed last night and will end with me wandering around the streets of “Brissie” taking lots of photos, if the plans work out OK.

After a few days in Brisbane I’m planning on spending the weekend in Melbourne before heading back to Sydney for my flight to Bangkok a week on Wednesday. This however does involve me booking some cheap-ish plane tickets before I get on my Greyhound in a couple of hours, so we’ll see what happens. Yesterday I was planning on getting the bus down all the way to Sydney, but I’m bored of buses now so it’s time to put Plan Melbourne into action instead. It’s all a bit last minute, which perhaps isn’t ideal but at least it makes it more of an adventure!