It’s been a while since I last wrote here, in my defense I do have a litany of excuses – in chronological order: my iphone was stolen in Cambodia, I met a lovely lady in Thailand and forgot about the rest of the world for a while, I had an accident and broke my finger in the Philippines (more on that later).. additionally, I’ve rarely been inclined to spend too much downtime writing things up in an internet cafe. However, in Japan, internet cafes are often cheaper to stay and spend the night than hostels, which is where I am writing this from in Tokyo, instead of what I should be doing of course, sleeping.
It’s hard to convey how insane and entirely different Japan is from anywhere else I’ve been before.. it really feels like stepping into another planet! The pictures I’ve taken don’t really do it justice either, it feels like it’s something only one can get a feel for once they visit for themselves. Well, I’ll give it a shot anyway.
For English speaking readers: This is an email I wrote to a friend of mine considering moving to Bali some day – written in French as she doesn’t speak too much English, I thought it would be worth including here. You can use google translate to read it in English if you like.
Pour les Francophones: voici un extrait d’un email que j’ai ecrit a une amie qui pense de peut etre s’installer a Bali un jour..(desole pour les accents qui manquent, mais c’est difficil avec le iphone ou le clavier australien..) Continue reading →
Buying a suit in Bangkok is a popular activity for many travellers passing through, with its reputation for kick ass threads and comparatively cheap prices to what they can buy back home. There is an abundance of tailors to be found in many parts of the city, and there will be no shortage of salesmen trying to get you into their shop at any given opportunity.
Having read the excellent advice given here, and researched independent reviews, I decided to go with Excelsior tailors. Their shop is somewhat well hidden off one of the main roads in Silom, so this was already an indication that they were a different class from the rip-off merchants found hustling customers on Kho San Road.
The owner, Sonny, of Indian descent was very welcoming, accommodating and arranged a free pick up from my hostel to take me to the shop.
The shop, Sonny and me
On inspection of the photos on the wall I noticed that celebrities including Elijah Woods had frequented the tailor (apologies for the fuzzy picture below, unintentional!), and I suppose that with my visit they’ll have a new addition to this collection. Continue reading →
Istanbul was the first stop on my sabbatical trip as it was the furthest Easyjet would take me from London towards my eventual intended destination – New Zealand for my cousin’s wedding in February. I had been warned that the weather would be crap in December, that the taxi drivers would rip you off, and about the various scams, including the one where the unsuspecting traveller is lured by the offer of friendship, booze & company of hot women; which had all made me slightly anxious. However, as I found out, there was nothing to worry about… apart from the undercover police we ran away from (more on that later).
I have just got back from spending a weekend in Barcelona, with a swiss girlfriend of mine who had never been there before. I was already pretty familiar with the city, having first visited back in 2004 during my erasmus year in Salamanca when I came to stay with a local family of a friend of mine and hear some DJs bang out the ones and twos at the Sonar electronic music festival. Subsequent visits brought more memories and good times; couchsurfing en route to Cuba where I stayed with a trapeze artist and partied with hippies on a rooftop terrace; my most recent visit last year with another lady friend from Colombia where we rode around on a motorcycle with a side car.. most people know about the main sites i.e. the ramblas, the gaudi buildings and the sagrada famillia, here are some other recommendations and pieces of advice based on my experiences I thought would be worth sharing for anyone planning to visit:
Seeing as my sabbatical departure day is approaching, I booked myself for a dental checkup in London recently. The clinic I went to just next to Covent Garden had an impressive setup – Italian opera playing in the background, attractive eastern European assistants.. and matching prices too! I was told I needed 900 pounds worth of work done on 6 fillings..
After some research however it turns out that I will probably be better off having dental work out in Thailand which has a reputation for high quality dentistry for prices that amount to a fraction of what we pay over here. There are a range of Thai clinics that specialize in operations for overseas patients, some even arranging pickup and transport from the airport for people coming over with the express primary purpose of having their teeth done. According to a doctor friend of mine, the practice of medical tourism is rife these days, with people traveling to have top-notch cheap boob jobs in Colombia, getting heart surgery in India or seeing a shrink in Buenos Aires.
In my case, instead of paying 140 pounds per filling in London, they are about 14 pounds instead in Thailand. That’s a no-brainer then!