Day M231: Hang on, I’m Kunming

Tue 15.05.12: 8am came and went. It was by this stage I realised that when the nice lady at the Guangzhou bus station has said the bus took 14 hours, she meant to say it arrived at 14 hours. As in 2pm the next day. This did not bode well for my race down to Kuala Lumpur for the Gold Star Line ship leaving on Friday. Now it would be afternoon by the time I arrived in Kunming, at best. Oh why didn’t I leave Guangzhou on Sunday as I had intended?! Buggeration on stilts. So it was after two in the afternoon before the bus rolled into to Kunming East Bus Station. I went inside and was told that the bus for Laos left from the Southern Bus Station – which makes sense, since Laos is pretty much due south of here. Having bus stations…

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Day M230: On The Road Again

Mon 14.05.12: Apart from that brief unpleasantness in Australia, travelling up and down to Townsville on one of those wretched overpriced Aussie coaches, this ‘phase’ of The Odyssey Expedition has seen little land travel. Much of the past eight months have been spent at sea and I had almost forgotten what it was like to have to hold in a poo for days until a decent karzee presented itself. I would quickly have to relearn that lesson if I was to press on with this insane little quest. Last night, again intending to go to sleep before the dawn chorus for once in my life, I found myself quite embroiled in the football. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m not the biggest of sports fans, but I do like to take a passing interest – and big important matches are always of interest to…

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Day M229: The New Arrival

Sun 13.05.12: Over the last three and a half years I’ve missed a shed load of my friend’s life events that photos on Facebook just can’t compensate for. The weddings of Si and Lol, Michelle and Daniel, Brian and Laura, Lucy and Tim, Scott and Louise, Stan and Helen (for which I was supposed to be Best Man)*. I’m currently racing home to Liverpool so I don’t miss three more weddings – Dino and Ruth, Hugh and Gemma and Danny and Penny – which are due to take place at the end of August/beginning of September. I’ve also missed a load of births and also (on a sadder note) a number of funerals. That being the case, it was several shades of awesome today to be the first of Chris and Debbie’s mates from Liverpool to meet baby Talia, the Scouse Clan’s newest arrival. I even…

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Days M227-228: Holy Macau!

Fri 11.05.12 – Sat 12.05.12: This would be my last full day in Fragrant Harbour, or as you know it, Hong Kong. It started late (as last night had ended), but before long I was up an’ at ’em, collecting my Chinese visa and heading over to the Queen Vic for a bite to eat. I won a free meal at the Queen Victoria for coming second at the quiz on Monday, and if there’s something I’ve learnt in life it’s that you should never pass up the opportunity for a free lunch. Therefore I dropped by, and although Stuart wasn’t there, helped myself to a generous steak. See kids? Being a smart-arse sometimes pays dividends. I don’t see you getting a free lunch for being good at football, fellow schoolmates of mine quite possibly picked before me ARE YOU READING THIS? The rest of the…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Days 624-629: How Do We Solve A Problem Like Korea?

DAY 624: DISMEMBERMENT 16.09.10: So I disembarked (hilariously described on the ferry’s website as ‘dismemberment’)... ...onto the native soil of country number 169, South Korea – a place at pains to remind you that it’s the only divided country in the world.  Which it is.  If you ignore Cyprus/Northern Cyprus. And Ireland/Northern Ireland. And Israel/Palestine. And North Sudan/South Sudan. And Somalia/Somaliland. And China/Taiwan. And Pakistan/Bangladesh. And Mongolia/Inner Mongolia. And Macedonia/Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. And Georgia/South Ossetia/Abkhazia. And Azerbaijan/Nagorno-Karabakh. And… But pedantry aside, North and South Korea have been officially at war for over fifty years now (there was only a ceasefire, not a peace treaty) and now we have a crazy situation in which the southern half of the country is one of the richest and most progressive in the world, while the northern half is a basketcase and something akin to George Orwell’s 1984,…

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Day 623: Guten Tag!

15.09.10: So Qingdao , what are you famous for?  Ah, you were a German concession town were you?  And you’re where the Tsingtao brewery is based?  Excellent.  I’ll have a pint.  What’s that?  It’s 50p? I’ll take two.  Ahh… My love affair with China (so much easier to navigate than anywhere in Africa, the Middle East or India ) undiminished, I arrived in Qingdao hoping to take the ferry to Korea today.  Seriously, if this was India, I would have had to give five months notice, spent three days trying to find the correct window and drafted a memo the length of the Gettysburg address to explain exactly why I wanted to get on the ferry (as well as supplying the mortal remains of my great grandfather to prove I’m not of Pakistani descent).  But this is China , so I just asked for a ticket, paid the money and got the ticket. Super. So I…

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