Days 630-639: Shanghaied In Shanghai

Day 630: A Moment of Terror 22.09.10 You know that stomach-dropping moment of terror you have when you realise that you’ve just, like really, really messed up?  I had one of those this morning.  Last week, when I did this trip in reverse, I put my GPS tracking device on the window sill next to my bed (economy class gives you a bunk bed in a room with 32 other people) as it likes to have a window to look out of in order to get a signal.  Nowt wrong with that, I collected it in the morning and all was dandy. However, on the return leg my bed was nowhere near the window.  I didn't want to leave my GPS thing there overnight as if some light-fingered gentleman did grab it, I would lose all my GPS tracks for the last couple of weeks: including…

Continue Reading Days 630-639: Shanghaied In Shanghai

Days 640-641: Sino-Sino Relations

02.10.10-03.10.10: In answer to the question I posed at the end of the last blog: VERY EASILY.  Yup, just like the globe (thanks to oil companies and climate changer deniers), relations between China and Taiwan are warming.  In fact, they’re becoming positively cosy.  Just last year it would have been impossible for me, as a Johnny Foreigner, to travel directly from China to Taiwan and back.  I may have been able to do it on a cargo ship to Hong Kong, but to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t holding my breath. Hurrah then for THE MAN IN SEAT 61 (http://www.seat61.com) one of the best websites in the world for overlanders such as myself, and one I do not hesitate to recommend.  When I was in India, I set Odyssey fan Alex Zelenjak in Sydney the task of finding me a route to Taiwan.  It didn’t take…

Continue Reading Days 640-641: Sino-Sino Relations

Day 642: Chinglish For Lovers

04.10.10: And the bus so pulled entered Chinese city Guangzhou and exited the ginger adventurer who you liked. If I have ridden a direct bus to Nanning (my under destination on the way to Vietnam), I will be late in the evening, and I will meet must discover the money bed and bed=waste, therefore (other) overnight bus as if future way, future way, future way, future way, way in the future… I jumped in the extraordinary Guangzhou subway have gotten down to the river, and enjoyed along strolling which took a walk, until I arrived at the Shamian island, first yielded to split between Britain and the French and without a doubt the most lovable spot in the city: The colony is magnificent, is forgiven despairs idiot wool anger and does not need important place destructive `cultural revolution (to makes human to want toward government apparatus…

Continue Reading Day 642: Chinglish For Lovers

Days 643-644: Back in ‘Nam

05.10.10-06.10.10: I arrived in the Chinese town of Nanning exceptionally early in the morning and looked about for transport to the border.  I honestly can’t remember how I got there, but I did and was one of the first people that day to cross into Vietnam.  I’ve got to say: nice border post: it seems to double as a national park.  After being stamped out of China and being stamped into my ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY THIRD country (WOO!) I took a free ride on one of the large electric golf buggies that take you to the nearby minibus park. I arrived just after nine and was gutted to be told that the next minibus for Hanoi wasn’t going to leave for another hour.  That was until I saw that the nine o’clock minibus hadn’t made it out of the bus park yet. Arms flailing and…

Continue Reading Days 643-644: Back in ‘Nam

Day 645: Charlie Don’t CouchSurf

07.10.10: Arrived Saigon at about 9am and scooted over to District 1 to meet up with me auld mucka Stan, here in South East Asia on holiday with his soon-to-be better half, Helen.  My backpack which I left in the luggage storage under the bus had got soaked on the way down here (apparently the middle of Vietnam is currently flooded), and I was in desperate need of the three ‘s’s: a shower a shave and a s---.  Stan and Helen graciously allowed me to abuse their hotel bathroom and before you could say ‘doesn’t he smell nice’, I was fresh-faced, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Also here in Saigon (having lived here for the past three years) was an old friend of Mandy’s and mine from Australia, Thro.  Thro (pronounced ‘throw) is here working as a teacher, has got himself a tasty young Vietnamese girlfriend and…

Continue Reading Day 645: Charlie Don’t CouchSurf

Day 646: Slumdong Millionaire

08.10.10: After a good couple of hours kip, I was roused by Thro on his way out to work.  I started uploading my epic Korea blog now that I could access Facebook and YouTube and Twitter (something I couldn’t do in China).  When Thro got back from work at 12, I was still at it (I hope you appreciate how much work goes into these damn things!), but I was ‘nearly done’.  The last bus for my next country – Cambodia – left at 2pm.  But then, there was an alternative… At 11.45pm there was a night bus to Cambodia.  In fact, I could buy a thru-ticket all the way to Bangkok in Thailand.  That meant I could hang out with my buddies a little longer and save on accommodation costs (something that at this stage of the journey I do not take lightly).  And if…

Continue Reading Day 646: Slumdong Millionaire

The PLAN!!!

So here we are, 180 countries down and just 20 to go – it’s mad to think that I only left Shanghai just over two weeks ago, and in that time I’ve managed to visit Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia – and with any luck I’ll be in Brunei (181) before close of play tomorrow and the Philippines (182) by the end of this week (typhoons permitting).  But if you think I’m “nearly there”, think again.  Every single remaining state is an island nation and none of them have anything approaching an international ferry service.  This could take a looooooooong time. A loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time. Here’s a draft of a sketch of a inkling of The Plan from here to the end of The Odyssey Expedition.  But as always, everything is open to change. 183: East Timor There is a Pelni (Indonesia’s…

Continue Reading The PLAN!!!

Day 647: Nobody Does It Better

09.10.10: The bus arrived at the Cambodian border at around 3.30am, and we had to wait until the damn thing opened (at 7am) before we could proceed.  Bit of an odd way of doing things, but the idea is that you sleep on the coach so you’re first over the border in the morning.  The problem is that Saigon is only three hours away from the border.  Maybe if Saigon was seven hours away it would be somehow more sensible, or maybe if the border was open 24 hours, but I guess it beats the bus leaving at 3am. By 8am we were in Cambodia and flying along on the way to the capital, Phnom Penh. The annoying couple nattered annoyingly for the next few hours, and I was tremendously concerned that my iPod might run out of batteries before they did. Cambodia will for a…

Continue Reading Day 647: Nobody Does It Better

Day 648: The Golden L-Shape

10.10.10: BANG! Before my brain could register where I was and what was going on, the front of the bus bounced a good foot off the ground, jolting my fellow passengers awake.  I braced myself for the bounce to hit the back of the bus, which it duly did, throwing me up in the air. We had hit something. Statistically, I was possibly due a crash, so I’m glad this was a tremendously minor affair.  The strange thing was that the driver kept driving – and driving fast.  Maybe it was a hit and run.  But passenger discontent forced the driver to pull over and a group of us shuffled off the bus to inspect the damage. The panel near the left headlight was a bit smashed up, but aside from that, there was no damage worth writing home about. “What did we hit?” I asked.…

Continue Reading Day 648: The Golden L-Shape

Days 649-650: To The Ends Of The Earth

11.10.10-12.10.10: After two hours kip (I actually didn’t bother using my bunk – the communal area of the backpackers did just as well), by 7.30am I was shovelling breakfast into my fat ginger gob and by 9 o’clock I was on the bus to Bangkok.  The wheels on the bus went round and round, round and round, round and round as I tore south through the country like some kind of angry Scotsman.  Only without the girly skirt. Arriving at Bangkok in the evening, I once again skirted the manic city I know and love and snapped up a ticket on the last bus to Singapore – country 179 – which if you’d care to glance at a map of the area (or, even better, work from memory) is on the other end of country 178 (Malaysia) and just a short ferry ride away from country…

Continue Reading Days 649-650: To The Ends Of The Earth