Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The curse of self suffiency...

One of my strengths, I think, has always my ability to cope with most situations on my own...

This is partly historical... when I was a young lad and my parents moved around a lot my main tactic to make friends was to keep myself to myself, and when someone came to talk to me, to befriend them... This tactic was mostly successful, and as a by-product of it I am quite happy on my own, left to my own devices 90% of the time.

There are 2 main problems with this tactic. The first is the 10% of the time when I really need someone to chat with, or just to be social... I can talk to people if there is some excuse to do so... a shared activity, close proximity for extended periods of time, or an introduction by a mutual friend... And occasionally someone will come and talk to me... which I can cope with just fine...

The second problem is when it comes to meeting women... Because on those occasions when someone comes to speak to me, it is always, without fail, a guy that comes to talk to me.... This left me in the position of having lots of guy friends, and very few female ones.... Now when I started doing Salsa this evened out a bit, but now I'm all alone on the wrong side of the planet, and suddenly both of these problems are thrown into sharp relief...

Sometimes I think it would be simpler if I was the kind of person that feared being alone more then I fear the prospect of trying to start a conversation with a stranger.... Or maybe the kind of person that can't help but say whatever random thoughts pass through their mind...

Who knows...

Saturday, 6 December 2008

On a sandbank on the Mekhong...

Picture the scene...

Myself and Icecream in a boat on the Mekong river, looking out for freshwater dolphins....

The peace and solitude is only broken by the presence of one other boat, contaning 2 people... but the scene is pretty quiet, very special...

Then suddenly the peace is broken by a shout from the other boat "Hey... Is your name Trevor Howland?"...

I was slightly puzzled, kinda shocked... Who was this guy? How did he know my name? Was it someone from university or school that had changed loads? Am I being followed by the FBI for some imaginary crime?

Then he explained, he had seen my name on the register that we signed when we got on the boats, and he was John Howland from Australia... This was pretty crazy... I have NEVER met someone that shares my surname before, and yet here we were,the only 4 people in sight (apart from the local drivers of the boats), and one of them was a Howland! I suddenly got an insight into how Dave Gorman felt when he met another Dave Gorman...

So we pulled up onto a sandbank, shook hands, he took a picture. I would have, but my camera ran out of batteries just before... And that was that.. Another Howland. He seemed pretty cool, so the family name was in good hands. Then we went back to the guest house...

Oh yea, the fresh water dolphins were pretty cool as well!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

High speed travel...

Travelling with Icecream is kind of opening my eyes to how most people travel...

You know, you go to some place, see all of the things that there is to see, and then you go to another place...

I personally like to spend time in a place doing nothing... the surface reason is that it gives me a better feel for a place, for the people, gives me time to explore a city at my leisure... I suspect that the real reason is that I'm too lazy to immediately go on any tours that a place has to offer, and then pack up all of my stuff and move onto the next place.

Not that I'm complaining. The last week has been lots of fun, I've probably done much more stuff then I ever would have if left to my own devices, and having someone to do it with makes things all the more fun!

I think I'm going to need a couple of weeks holiday after this traveling...

Monday, 17 November 2008

Thailand!

Wow!

Its been a long time since I posted anything!

I can only blame Thailand for being so entertaining that I haven't had time to post...

This is only partly true; I have had time, but somehow being in Thailand makes even doing nothing into a pleasurable experience! Thus my addiction to 2 hour massages!

So first I think I'll tell you about leaving Nepal. I have found that travel in Nepal is always a fraught experience. Buses breaking down, and being transformed into saunas as water is poured over the extremely overheated engine. Traffic jams that seem to stretch as far as the eye can see, and are made constantly worse by people trying to overtake, and blocking the little traffic that is trying to come the other way...

So anyway, I kinda hoped that the plane journey as i left Nepal would be less... incident packed. After all, if the engine starts smoking when you're 8000 meters up, it isn't a simple case of stopping in a lay-by and pouring water on it until it cools down... Nepal had one last surprise though.

As we waited in the departures lounge (I was only slightly worried that our flight didn't appear on the departure board), the shuttle bus parked up outside, ready to take us away from the lounge and towards the plane. People started filing on board. I waited, knowing that we would all be seated eventually, and having gotten to a good point in my book. So the first bus filled up, the doors closed, and it pulled away, and waited 10 meters down the road. Another bus pulled up, and much to every ones confusion... including the airport staff... it promptly pulled away again without letting anyone on board.

Confusion reigned for a while. The airport staff got into a little huddle, before pointing at the plane that was 50 meters away on the tarmac, and telling us to walk to it... the result being that we arrive at the plane before all of the people that had been packed onto the bus. Why we couldn't have all just walked to the plane is beyond me... I think they like to spice up travel in Nepal!

Since then I have been in Thailand. I have to say that I love it here. The people are so friendly. The women are so consistently hot. The scenery is so beautiful. The food is great. Just like the last time I was here, I am considering my options for moving here....

On the subject of the hot women. There is something very refreshing about the way that the Thai people are comfortable with being good looking. They don't seem to be overly self conscious about it. It starts at a young age... the children are almost without exception cute. And if you point a camera at them they will quite happily pull a little pose making them even cuter. The school kids are dressed sexlessly, and this is accepted without question. It is only once people leave school that they start to dress sexy. This makes a refreshing change to back home where young children are sometimes dressed in adult sexy clothes.

I have lots more to write about Thailand, but I may just leave it at that for now... there seems to be a darker underbelly to the country, that you don't see on first inspection. The ex-pats that live here seem to be split into those that still love it and wouldn't go anywhere else, and those that constantly grumble about undefined things, generally drinking every night. You find at least one of these grumbling ex-pats in every bar, but they are never that clear about what is wrong with the place... maybe it needs further investigation....

(I suspect that the grumbling ex-pats are those that have taken a "bar girl" as their partner, and been disappointed when she turns out to be only after the money...)

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Moonlit procession

This is the view from the top of Poon Hill which is near Ghorepani in Nepal.

For a start the name is a massive misnomer... I didn't see a single poon up there! Probably because it was far too cold for that kind of nonsense...

Getting this photo involved waking up at 4.30 and trekking up a hill for 1 and a half hours.

Of course, this is a pretty famous viewing point, so I wasn't the only person to think of doing this. In fact it seemed like there were hundreds of us, all trekking up the side of the hill, all wearing the standard issue LED head-torches, trudging in single file in complete silence.

It was a kind of strange experience, almost like watching some medieval pilgrimage, it was easy to imagine that all of the lights shining up the hill were from flaming torches, all the hooded and swaddled trekkers were monks.

In fact it reminded me of a scene from an old game that I used to play at my mates house on his Amiga 500. The game was called moonstone, and was basically a glorified fighting game, the highlight of which was the ability to slice off your enemies head from time to time...

Aaaaaaanyway, the point was that in this game there was a scene with a load of monks going up a hill all carrying torches, and the sight of the procession up the hill reminded me of that.

Nice sunrise though.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Hail to the Addidas...

I just got back from trekking in the Himalayas, and I just have to take this time to praise my trusty footwear.


As you can see they aren't really designed for the task of climbing mountains, but they coped admirably...

For 2 weeks they handled everything that the Himalayas had to throw at them, going up to an altitude of 4130m, over high passes, mountain streams, rickety bridges and all manner of surfaces and slopes.

To be fair they are slightly the worse for wear now... the right one has a hole in the side of it, the left one has a huge hole in the base where it looks like my heel is going to fall out...

In spite of all of this I can't seem to bring myself to throw them away now... we have been through a lot together, maybe i will send them back to England where my mother can keep them (in an odour proof box) for posterity, and when I am famous they can be a site of pilgrimage for the faithful to visit....

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Kathmandu part 4

Ok, I realise that I have left you all hanging for the 4th part of the story, and this is mainly because I have been trekking in the Himalayas. That post is still to come, but for now I will finish the Kathmandu part...

So I just came out of the airport, only to find that the taxi driver that had lent me the money for my visa was missing...

Of course another taxi driver grabbed me pretty much sraight away and stated pulling me towards his taxi.

I tried in vain to tell him that I had a taxi driver already, but he fobbed off my objections saying "My friend, he lent you money? It is ok, he told me to take you.."

I didn't see much of an alternative here either, so I follow this guy to another taxi, where he gives me to ANOTHER guy and explains that I owe 2000 Rupees (it was actually 3500) and that I can give it to this guy, it is ok...

Well, this guy takes me to a hotel, that is different to the one that the first guy wanted to take me to, and I get my room and everything seems to settle down for a while.

Having my tea later that evening I am approached by some guy who claims to be a travel agent (actually, he was a travel agent) and offers me various trekking offers, I decline them all, but agree to go with him to his office the next day. In the course of this conversation he mentions that the 3500 Rupees that I owe can also be paid to him (what kind of weird syndicate do they operate in Kathmandu anyway?).

I still have no money, so it is immaterial, and he soon leaves me alone. Shortly after this the second taxi driver appears, and offers to walk me to an ATM, where I can finally get some Rupees and pay SOMEONE back what I owe. This mission is accomplished reasonably easily, but instead of then taking me back to the hotel, he takes me down a small alley, where he says his friend can lend him a bike....

Thus begins a very short, a very hair raising, and an awakening experience of riding pillion through the streets of Kathmandu... If you read my post about Egyptian driving a few months ago ( http://trevssalsatravels.blogspot.com/2008/08/egypt-is-also-crazy.html ), well, the driving in Kathmandu is similar... slightly less manic, but on roads which are at the most one lane wide. It was surprisingly fun....

We eventually made it back to the hotel, where my new friend (who i haven't seen since) bade me goodnight, and I went to bed.

The next morning, true to his word, the travel agent took me to his offices. We walked there, a 10 minute walk. Who should appear in the crowds of Tamel but the original taxi driver, the one that lent me the cash in the first place for my visa.

He seemed to be a mix of shocked and delighted to see me. At any rate he rushed over and started asking me where had I got to, did I have his money, what hotel I was staying at, etc, etc... Between myself and the travel agent we calmed him down, I explained that I had paid back the cash to another taxi driver (this was, he claimed, the first he had heard of this). This wasn't helped by the fact that I couldn't give a name, or any contact details for this other driver....

He insisted on coming for breakfast with myself and my travel agent, where he had only a beer. And then left us....

This was pretty much the last I saw of this guy, except that he came to my hotel later that evening and sat with me for a while. But he left pretty much straight away when it was apparent that I was with someone else...

This was pretty much the end of my adventures in Kathmandu... A couple of days later I left to go Trekking (which I purchased off the aforementioned travel agent)... but that is another story...

Friday, 3 October 2008

Kathmandu or bust...

So I finally arrived in Kathmandu, after various ups and downs, and having managed to snatch half an hours sleep (making it at least an hours sleep in the previous 24 hours).

The first trauma was getting a visa. Luckily it is possible to attain a visa upon entry to Nepal without too much trouble. I say that... It wouldn't have been too much trouble if I had any money at all on me... Well, any dollars, pounds, euros or other major denominations on me.

I asked where the nearest ATM was and was told it was downstairs, past the visa control. was slightly nervous about this after the impossibility of getting past customs in India, but I needn't have worried... The ATM machine was in fact outside the airport, so I had to go through the visa control, down an escalator, through a security check, past the luggage carousel, through customs, and out of the airport. I did this without any hassle whatsoever, and in fact the police were very helpful the whole time in helping me to enter the country illegally...

My first major problem in fact was to get through the throngs of taxi drivers that were trying to take me to their hotels. I said no firmly to them all, and looked around for the ATM, which was luckily very well signposted. One of the taxi drivers tagged along with me anyway, and "showed" me where the ATM was...

Second major issue was discovering that the only ATM for about 5 miles was out of order...

The taxi driver offered to take me to a bank which was just around the corner. It was closed...

Then the taxi driver offered to lend me the money I needed to get my visa. I realised that I had little choice in the matter and agreed to his proposal then headed back into the airport clutching the cash and paperwork that I needed. Back through customs the wrong way, past the luggage conveyor, through a security check... the wrong way, up a down escalator (a bit like being on the travellator on gladiators...), past the lift which i saw that i could have taken up to the first floor, back through the visa control area, and to the back of the queue for visas.

With my newly stamped visa in mt passport I headed down the escalator again, through the security check, only to discover that my luggage hadn't arrived...

I shouldn't have been surprised really, I hadn't seen my backpack since I left Cyprus... Even if it had made it to Delhi I only had the words of the staff at Delhi that it had been picked up, that it had been kept safe, and that it had gotten on the flight. One of the last things that the staff there had done was hand me a label which was supposedly the ticket for my luggage. And bearing in mind that I hadn't even known that I was getting the flight until 20 minutes before it took off it wasn't too much of a surprise that my luggage hadn't made it onto the plane... Besides, the way my travels were going so far it would have been bucking the trend for my luggage to have arrived straight away...

I found out from someone that there would be some luggage on the next flight from Delhi, which was due in about an hour, so I went outside the airport (through customs again!) and told the driver the bad news. He wanted me to go for a cup of tea with him, but I decided to stay at the airport and wait for my bags, so I told him to wait outside for me and headed back inside (past customs again!!).

To cut a long story short my bags did finally arrive,not before most of the other people that were waiting for bags had left. I can honestly say that I have never been more relieved to see a bag in my life!

So I made my way past customs (for the 5th and final time!!!) and headed out into the (relatively) clear air outside the airport, only to discover that the taxi driver that I owed the cash to had vanished....

I think I'll save the finale (i hope) of the story for another post...

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Lost in Transit...

So when I left you on the last post I was in the arrivals lounge in Delhi airport, unsure of my fate.

Well, now I am writing from the comfort of my bed in Kathmandu, but lots of stuff happened between the two states...

First of all the airport security agreed that I could fy on to Kathmandu... but I would have to wait for the next day as all of the flights that day were full... I agreed to this seeming to have little choice in the matter. There was still the little issue of how I was to pay for the flights, as their machines still refused to take my visa debit cards, and the only atms were on the wrong side of all of the security...

So I was taken up to the transit lounge, which wasn't a very luxurious place. It basically consisted of a lot of sun lounger type chairs, or 3 more upmarket type places where you could pay extra to stay for a few hours... I managed to get one of them down to 4500 Rupees to allow me to stay for as long as it took for my flight to come (this was complicated by the fact that I didn't actually have a ticket yet...) Even after this there was the small matter of having to pay them, as I still had no rupees. We got round this by the manager of the lounge basically smuggling me past security, I think possibly by promising them free drinks.

So here I was... at last, actually in India... I briefly considered the option of doing a run for it, but without my passport, and most of my possesions I didn't think i would last long. I was never really cut out for a life on the run.

Five minutes later I was back behind the security cordon, proud owner of 6000 rupees. If I'd had my wits about me I would probably thought to get the money I needed for the flight as well, but then things probably wouldn't have turned out so nice as they did...

I was back in the transit lounge, trying to make myself comfortable, availing myself of the free food and drink. Every so often the airport staff would come to find me, and we would make another effort for me to pay for my plane ticket. This incidentally included an effort by them to get me past security again. However all the efforts of two airport employees couldn't do what some lowly waiter in the transit lounge had managed to do a mere hour earlier... Interesting eh?

Anyway, back in the transit lounge I had just discovered that the internet didn't work (which was one of the main reasons I had agreed to pay the price) when the airport staff rushed over to me, slapped a ticket on the table and said, "you have to board now, this flight leaves in 10 minutes!!".

I quickly gathered all of my things together and ran after them, through the security that led to the departure lounge, through all the duty free, back up to the security so that they would give my bag a tag to prove that it had been checked (security in India is a bit anal like that), and finally to the boarding area where I was bussed, along with some other passengers, to the plane.

It was only when I sat down that I realised that they hadn't asked me to pay a penny for my flight ticket...

You may think that the story is over now, but there is still the adventures that occured once that I arrived in Kathmandu... I'll leave that for another post...

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

The Joy of Travelling... part 1

Stuck in Delhi Arrivals Lounge...

I guess this is one of those things that makes travelling worthwhile... One of those things that I will laugh about as I tell people about it when I'm finally home (I guess I'm kinda missing out on that treat as I'm telling you right now, but at least you get to call me a dumb-ass...)

To be fair things could be worse... but this doesn't bode well as the first leg of my asian adventure...

You see... it isn't possible to get a visa on arrival in India! I know! Who knew?? I certainly didn't! The first hint I had was a few minutes after I arrived and the guy was giving me a puzzled look when I told him I didn't have a visa. The fact that he immidiately called over some security guards also didn't inspire confidence...

At first it was looking like they were going to force me to fly back to Cyprus... This would have been... embarassing, to say the least... Also very counter productive... Setting me back to square one, and wasting over £350 and about 3 days!

I have managed to convince them that they can send me on to Kathmandu. So I am at the moment sat in an Executive lounge, that set me back much more then a hotel would have (though the drinks are free... I've resisted so far, but I can see this getting messy later on...) Did I mention that they couldn't get me on the flight today? So I am in this executive "luxury" for 24 hours, at least.

I was planning to go to Kathmandu eventually anyway, so in a sense I have saved myself a few days, spent a bit of extra money, and made a minor fool of myself... So it wasnt a total waste!

There are still some issues with paying for my airline ticket, namely that they are refusing to accept my Visa Debit cards, and the only ATM is on the wrong side of the security that seperates the airport from India. So look out for updates, and I'll try to keep you posted.

If this goes on much longer i'll be like that guy in the film where Tom Hanks is living in an airport for some reason...

To be continued...

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Dilemmas....

It is hard travelling...

I have a decision to make. Do I stay in Cyprus for another month. Go to a salsa festival in Greece, and another one in Cyprus, and skip India and Nepal altogether.

Or do I stick with my original plan (with abit less time in India), and get to Nepal and check out the Himalayas...

On the one hand lots of salsa... and i could check out Nepal next year some time...

On the other it kinda defeats (part of) the point of staying for longer, ie so I can leave the villa keys with my parents...

And the salsa option will definately cost more money... and I will probably have to start watching my cash soonish...

I think I'm going to check out the mountains... they are calling me...

Saturday, 20 September 2008

My Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths

Friendly guy
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Good voice and posture
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Outwardly appear self confident
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Good cook
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Intelligent
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Love to dance (and maybe good at it...)
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Good (I mean excellent) at sex
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Strong
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Honest
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Good will power and self control
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Like of new experiences
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Curious
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Generally a happy person
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Love to learn

Weaknesses

Fear of approaching strangers
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Not very chatty (even with friends)
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Tendency to retreat inside my head when faced with a social situation in which I might have to be social.
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Lack of self control when it comes to food
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Tendency to over analyze
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Can be (very) lazy.
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Sometimes like to annoy people
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Not musical
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Tend to look for problems rather then solutions
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Don't show emotions
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Addicted to facebook...


I'm sure there are more, anyone can feel free to add to the list!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Ignorance is bliss?

Small talk is one of my weaknesses. I find it very difficult to fill a silence with chatter. If talk isn't of supremem relevance, or plumbing the very depths of human experience, then I really feel I have very little to say...

I sometimes wonder if it would be great to be a bit stupider. I have observed that... less bright people... often have no problem making inane talk. And often, I've observed, this is because they will say the most monsterously stupid things! However, these inane observations and questions often lead to fascinating conversations as people try to clarify some point or another, and then they go off at a tangent and suddenly an animated conversation is happening!

So maybe it would be nice to be stupid, to not have the answers to reasonably simple problems just "appear" in my head, leaving no need to open my mouth to communicate about it...

Maybe...

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Transport in Cyprus

Whose great idea was it for all of the public transport to stop at 7pm in north Cyprus?

Apart from that it is very easy to get around in Cyprus... The public transport is, while erratic, plentiful and cheap. But there is this weird curfew at 7pm, after which it is necessary to get around by a private car, or by taxi!

Because of this anomaly I had to spend about £30 getting home last night, instead of the £3.50 which it would have cost had I arrived 10 minutes earlier!

For fucks sake!

(Note to self.... try to borrow Chris' scooter)

Monday, 15 September 2008

I'm jammin'... And hope you like jammin' too...

So I'm just coming to the end of my first salsa congress, which was the excellent Salsa Jam organised by DJ Salsero (otherwise known as Mehmet Aslan). The experience is really over far too quickly. I've been waiting for months for this, and here its over in just a weekend!

I think that a better length for a salsa congress would be a week! It would give more time to get to know everyone, would give a much better grounding in salsa, allow you to build on lessons learnt already and hopefully remove the feeling that everything is over far too soon!

Another thing that has become apparent is that I need a personal cameraman! Normally I am happy to takee the occasional photo when the opportunity presents itself. However, it is very difficult to take any pictures when you have your hands very full with dancing with a girl. It is as a result of this that I have managed to come out of the Salsa Jam with only a handful of photos, and with even fewer of me dancing!

I did however take a lot of videos (to be found on my facebook), mostly of the shows, which were absolutely mind blowing! I think I'll upload a video here... if I find the time...

Monday, 25 August 2008

A tale of two cities (Egyptian nights & days)

This is more a tale of 2 days. Our first 2 days in Cairo to be exact.

The first day was our day as tourists (also known as marks, or possibly mugs). Everyone saw us coming, we were taken on a "tour" of the city (that we purchased in the airport). This tour basically consisted of taking us to various shops to try to get us to buy various overpriced items. They also took us to see a man about a camel ride around the Pyramids. We went on it, but it was hugely overpriced. We still had fun of course, it was an unforgettable experience, but ever since we have had to endure the laughs of any Egyptians that we told about how much we paid for it...

The other day was our second day in Cairo. I'm lucky enough to have friends in Egypt. We met up with one of them on the second day, and she brought some friends who are locals of Cairo. These guys showed us a local side of Cairo that most visitors don't get to see...

We had some local style fast food, a river cruise in the Nile, a visit to a ridiculously large and shiny mall, a trip up a nearbye mountain (it was well past midnight by this point), and then a visit in the early hours to a local style shisha cafe to try this local delicacy. We were eventually dropped back at our hotel at around 7am.

The other notable contrast of this as compared to the first day was that these guys insisted on paying for everything, i guess because we were their guests in the country. Even when they left us for an hour in a local internet cafe, they left some money with the owner to cover our bill...

There was something that both days had in common, which was the phrase "Welcome to Egypt". It seems like every egyptian that speaks even a little English knows this phrase. But it somehow felt like on the second day they really meant it...

Egypt is also Crazy

Psychotic.

And probably sociopathic.

The first car ride we took was a perfect example of this... All car rides really, but especially the first one...

It was the taxi ride from the airport to the Hotel, and the driver ws what in the UK would be called a boy-racer. This combined with the rules of the road in Egypt meant that it was a ride I'll never forget. Sharlene on the other hand had her eyes closed and one of my hands in a vice-like grip.

A brief note of the rules of the road, Egypt stylee. It basically seems to be a combination of the rules "Every man for himself", and "Who dares, wins". So effectively any cubic foot of free road space is instantly moved into by someone. Be it a bus, a truck, a car, a bike, or even a pedestrian. The rule for who gets into a space seems to be that if you can get into it first, and you thing everyone else trying to get into it can stop in time, then you go for it. They do have lines in the road, but most people seem to ignore them. And the horn is used as a kind of "look at me" so that all of the other people trying to get into your square foot of road space know that you are also trying.

Surprisingly this all seems to work with relatively little mis-hap. As long as everyone knows the rules it is kinda safe. I've not seen any accidents yet, and the only damage done was to my poor clamped hand...

So yea, the sociopathy thing. I guess I mean that everyone is out for themselves, regardless of the consequences.

Thoughts of Cyprus

It is a crazy place...

Schitzophrenic.

The Northern part of the island is like no-where else. This is because technically it doesn't exist. It is unrecognised by the international community (apart from Turkey), and yet through some creative interpretation of international law it is counted as part of the EU.Its renegade status means that there are NONE of the large international businesses there (1). It must be one of the only countries in the world without a Starbucks, a Macdonalds or a Wallmart (or whatever the local re-branding is).

On the other hand the south of the island is full of all of the conveniences of western civilization. All of the stores and resteraunts seem to be there (even Nandos!) It is a comforting feeling, but slightly sad that the center of the southern half of Nicosea is just like the center of any large European city.

I think Cyprus is possibly the only place in the world where you can step from the Middle East, to the middle of Europe in the space of 100 meters...



(1) Apart from coca-cola of course... I suspect that you could visit tribes of remote amazonians that haven't had contact with the outside world for hundreds of years, and there would be 2 constants. The first would be coca-cola, and the second would be that they all supported Man Utd...

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Now I'm in Egypt...

Ok, I'm in Egypt now. I have much more to say on the subject, but first I will have to find a place where I can check the internet, and have my journal with me at the same time...

So, the brief version...

I've seen the Pyramids, and the Spynx, I've riden a camel, and endured a terrifying car ride. There is much more to tell, but like I say, It's all in my journal...

I'll be back...

Saturday, 16 August 2008

A serious lack of time....

One thing that I seem to be finding is in spite of the fact that I do next to nothing most of the time, I still don't have enough time to do everything that I have to do!

I think the fact that the I have to move in order to do anything, and the temperature outside is so high that I don't really want to move far, is the main contributing factor.

For example, in order to write this blog I had to first of all have a shower, then get dressed, then apply sun block, then walk through 40 degree temperatures to the local hotel with the internet. After all this I will have to apply sun-block again, walk back through the searing temperatures, then when I return home I will have to shower, in order to remove the sticky combined feeling of sun block and sweat, and then put on new clothes...

So you see how a seemingly simple task turns into an ordeal.

If I want to do any shopping things are even more complicated. I have to get one of the fantastically erratic local busses, get off at the shop, then get back on the bus (probably after half an hours walk down the road waiting for the bus), and finally walk from the bus stop to the villa. If i want to get to a bank then i will have to get on another bus (for some reason the banks don't seem to be anywhere near the shops).

Not that I'm complaining about any of this. I don't want to appear negative. This is more in the way of being an excuse for not blogging more often.

I really love doing nothing...

;^)

Sunday, 10 August 2008

In Da Lobby.... Will there be T.P.?

So here I am. In Cyprus. On the first stop on my world travels. I've given up my job and my life in the uk. I won't see any of my uk friends for over a year. Unless they come out to visit me of course. And now I have started on my life of luxury, my retirement...

I somehow feel like i should feel something more. A palapable sense of relief perhaps, that I've escaped from the rat-race. Or some measure of trepidation at the vast wide unknown that I have thrust myself into.

Somehow I'm not feeling any of that. In some ways I guess it is a good thing, it shows that I am confident that I can handle whatever life and the world can throw at me. Perhaps it is symptomatic of a void of imagination, without the ability to even think of all of the things that could possibly go wrong. I'm kinda wondering if my ability to take things in my stride, without allowing them to affect me too much, is somehow limiting my appreciation of life...

I guess in the meantime while I figure that out I'll just have to continue to enjoy myself, and the awesome sunshine, foood and hospitality that I continue to find myself surrounded by...

PS. The title is partly because I am typing this in the lobby of a near-by hotel, which has wireless internet, and partly because I watched the Beavis and Butthead movie the other day. If you haven't seen it, I can thoroughly reccomend it!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Stuff has started arriving!


Some items arrived for me yesterday at work. It was very exciting. It also makes me realise how close I am to going away.

For the sake of completeness I have taken a picture of the things I have recieved so far.

these are (clockwise from the top right) my travel bag (duh), my lantern/torch, my imitation leatherman, my wind up headtorch, my travel towel, my universal adaptor and my money belt!

Which means that I am still waiting for my travel shoes, travel alarm clock and solar charger...

I think I still need to do more shopping...

Wooo!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Shopping!

I did some shopping last night, making full use of my mothers NHS discount! (Thanks mum :^)

Here is a list of the things I bought.

710069 Worldwide Travel Adapter 1 £ 8.50 £ 8.50
410447 U/C Passport Money Case 1 £ 7.22 £ 7.22
400002 Orient Express (Travel backpack)
1 £ 119.00 £ 119.00
710219 Microfibre Trek Towel L 1 £ 15.30 £ 15.30
620266 Cyba-Lite Stretchlite (torch)
1 £ 11.05 £ 11.05
680984 Suspension (Leatherman imitation thing)
1 £ 28.00 £ 28.00
620002 Ozone II Wind-Up Headtorch 1 £ 8.50 £ 8.50
680080 Time Traveller Alarm Clock 1 £ 5.95 £ 5.95
690026 Solar Charger 1 £ 25.50 £ 25.50
330197 Sieve (Walking trainers)
1 £ 42.50 £ 42.50



£ 271.52


£ 5.00


£ 276.52

A bargain I'm sure you'll agree! (and no, I don't want to know that you can get the same things elsewhere for a fraction of the cost!)

Monday, 7 July 2008

What Pisses me off?

The Eee pc is being delayed, with no word from the supplier! It was supposed to be released on the 1st of June... So far it is entirely awol...

On the plus side I have less then a month until I go away! Only 3 weeks of work to go! That is 15 days! And then indefinite leave!!! Wooo...

This means that I really should start getting things ready... I have yet to buy anything, apart from the Eee pc, which might not arrive before I go anyway... I think I'll be making some purchases tonight, get online and do some serious shopping (with my mothers NHS discounts of course ;^)

Oh, and another development... It looks like I will have a travelling companion for at least part of my journey! This always seems to happen! I plan to go away on my own, and then about a month before I go one (or more) of my friends decides that they would like to come with me! Not that I object, it is nice to travel with someone, at least at first, to ease myself into the whole thing...

Things are looking good. :^)

(I'm still pissed off about the Eee though!)

Monday, 23 June 2008

What makes me excited?


In a massive change of heart I have decided to take a laptop travelling with me!

It all started off with Claire mentioning that she had just got a new laptop to go travelling with...

- "I'm not going to take one" I breezily typed "far too bulky"

-"Not this one" she replied "its tiny, its called an eee, look it up"

Well, apart from the name instantly reminding me of my childhood friend, who I'm afraid will never be able to use one of these computers without bursting out laughing (eeeeeeeeee), I was kinda intrigued. So I looked it up!

Ever since then I have been in a kind of frenzy of excitement that only a guy that has discovered a new gadget can achieve. I started off thinking "Oh, I'll just get the cheapest one...". This is the Eee 700. And at £220 it is hard to say no to. But once I'd decided I couldn't say no to that... well... I may as well get the Eee900, with a whole 1024x600 (instead of the 700s 800x480) allowing most pages to be viewed without horizontal scrolling...

Then imagine my excitement.... A whole new Eee machine coming out in 8 days time! Woooo! This is the Eee901. All of the advantages of the 900, but with twice an much battery life, and some extra features...

So I think I'm going to get one of those. At £320 it is about £100 more then I was originally envisaging, and I am going to have to buy a 2.5 inch external hard drive to store all of my files, and maybe a new mp3 player (the eee runs linux, so iTunes is a no-no)... Of course there are a slew of similar micro-laptops coming out as well, but I've read the reviews, and I think I'll stick with this for now...

Of course a lot can change in 8 days...

Thursday, 19 June 2008

How to fall in love...

Something strange has been happening recently. In fact I suspect it has always been happening, but I have just never spotted it before...

In fact I think this could explain a lot of very strange things in life,. Phenomenon that I have been puzzled by in the past, all of a sudden seem to make sense...

So, what am I talking about I hear you ask? Well, it is to do with falling in love with someone, and why we always seem to fall for the wrong people. It especially applies to women, though i suspect that it applies to guys as well, just I am more likely to observe it in women. Bearing this in mind, the tale I will tell is from the female perspective...

It goes like this. Girl meets guy. He clearly isn't right for her. She knows this right from the start. The reason for this unsuitability can be one of many reasons. Maybe the guy is taken. Maybe he is gay. Maybe is the wrong culture, colour...... it could be almost anything. The important point at this stage is that it renders the guy utterly incompatible for a long term relationship.

The logical part of the womans mind knows this to be true, so it allows the woman to flirt with the guy. She does this knowing full well that she won't fall for him, because he is totally incompatible. She thinks it is just some harmless flirting and fun. However, the human is a complex beast. And the emotional side seems to operate on a completely different level from the logical side, often without the logical side knowing or suspecting what is going on...

So what happens is that the logical part of the brain knows that she isn't interested. However the emotional side doesn't listen. It responds to the flirting as it has been programmed to through millions of years of evolution; and proceeds to fall in love...

Love may be a strong word, lets say that the emotional side forms an attachment. The logical side often doesn't realise this, and certainly won't admit it, at least that is until there is the chance that the guy could be taken away...

And so heartbreak is born.

I think that this explains why women always (ok, not always) fall for the asshole, why it is easier to fall for someone on the other side of the world, then someone down the road. And why nice guys have such a hard time. After all, if a guy is "logically" ideal for a relationship, then all of a sudden there is tension (on both sides) and the naturalness of the interaction is suddenly ruined. Wheras if there is no expectation, everyone can relax, and everything "just happens" (how many times have I heard that?).

Black and white "Cash for Kids" Charity Salsa event


I went to a charity salsa event in Leeds the other day (on Tuesday the 17th of June 2008). Seeing that there was a theme to the event I of course dressed for the part. As shown in the picture on the right. ;^)

There was loads of advertising blurb about the event, so to save me repeating all of that I'm just going to copy and paste it...

"Black and White Salsa Charity Night

We would like to invite you, and as many guests as you wish to bring, to a charity salsa event at Quid Pro Quo, Greek Street, in the heart of Leeds city centre.

The night will begin with a fun salsa class designed for absolute beginners starting at 7.30pm. Followed by an intermediate class at 8.30pm and then music and dancing for everyone until late.

Each class is only £5.00 and all proceeds from the salsa classes will be donated to Cash for Kids.

The theme for the night is ‘black and white,’ so have fun and get dressed up!"


The night went very well. And you'll be glad to hear that I got my mojo back, salsawise! I think just having a few days off, between friday night and tuesday night, helped me to integrate some of the things i have learned. I seemed to pick up moves quickly, do them (more or less) correctly, and most imporantly when it came to the free dancing, I was having lots of fun again! Ok, so maybe a lot of the moves i was doing weren't strictly speaking salsa, or any good, but I was having fun, I was reacting to the music, and my partners were having fun. And I think that is the most important thing!

I might restrict myself to 2 salsa events a week from now on... which is going to be tricky I think. But it will be worth it to keep me motivated. (plus it will allow me to do other things, that don't involve dancing!!!)

Sunday, 15 June 2008

My after video.... honest ;^)

video

Salsa, after!

video
This is the real after salsa video. Not quite as exciting, but on the plus side, I'm in it!

The one above was Lee and Shelly. London, 2007 champions & voted UK’s top dance act. There is no way I can do the splits like that!

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Overdoing the salsa...

I just got back from The Engine Shed. There I saw some amazing dancers, and did a bit of dancing of my own...

But I think I might have overdone it...

I heard tales of people plateauing in their salsa experience. They say that you get to a level, and then you can't learn any more. I think I was reaching that level anyway, but the last week of dancing really pushed me over the edge.

There was the Salsamatazz Masquerade Ball on Saturday, followed by Viva Cuba. About 7 hours of salsa (and a bit of tango and some bachata)...

Then the usual 2 hours of Bachata, and 1 of La Rueda on Sunday...

2 hours of salsa, and one more of free dancing on Tuesday...

An hour and a half in Guiseley on Wednesday...

The usual 2 hours of salsa (plus some free dancing) on Thursday.

Then this salsa night at the Engine Shed tonight. About 5 hours...

Which by my calculations equals about 21 hours of salsa (or similar dances) in the last 7 days....


That is enough for anyone! I am giving up for at least a week I think... or I would, but I have the Black and White Charity salsa event on Tuesday, which i definitely have to go to...
And a salsa Ball next Saturday, which I will also have to go to....

But apart from that I'm putting it on the back burner.... We'll see how I feel after that!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Friendship...

You're going to have to wait for the after video, at least until I can figure out a way to shrink down a video to less then 100 Mb.

In the meantime I read an article in New Scientist last night that touched my heart! It goes a little something like this...

"Making It Less Of An Uphill Struggle

Having a friend at your side can turn a mountain into a molehill.

Simone Schnall at the University of Plumoth, UK, and her colleagues asked students to estimate the steepness of a hill by tilting a board to match its slope.

Students with a friend nearby assessed the hill at 10 to 15 per cent less steep compared with those who were alone during the test. The longer the friends had known each other and the warmer their relationship, the less steep the hill appeared.


Schnails team also found thatjust thinking about a close friend or family member - as opposed to a neutral person, or someone you dislike - made the hill appear up to 20 per cent gentler (Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, DOI:10.1016/j.esp.2008.04.011)."(New Scientist 14th June 2008, pg 15)

This seemed like a simple yet elegant proof that it is good to have friends, they make life seem that little bit easier! So everyone, take care of your friends, be there if they need you, and one day they will be there for you, ready to make your life that little bit easier...

:^)

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Before

To show everyone the extent to which my dancing has improved I am posting my before and after dancing videos.

This is the before, and shows me dancing at a friends wedding...

(on the plus side you can clearly see that I was enjoying myself...)

video

Monday, 9 June 2008

The Salsa Masked ball and being Molested in Bachata!


I had quite a busy weekend of dancing this weekend, in roasting hot temperatures. Pretty good preparation for my travels really...

There was a Salsa Masked ball on Saturday night. For some reason the hosting Hotel had its heating on at the start of the night. This on top of the naturally hot ambient temperature, the candles all over the place, and a room full of vigorously exercising people added up to a sauna-like atmosphere. But still, a good time was had by all. And I learnt my first bits of Tango... It was ok, but not as fun as salsa!

I was attending with the lovely folks in the picture* , who shall remain un-named, in order to protect the innocent... We had a great time, and I met some excellent people, some of whom had travelled the whole length of the country to get there (you know who you are...)!

We also had a bachata class in at the ball (always fun) in which the teacher (a big fat black dude who was hilarious) made a point that the guys shouldn't thrust while dancing. I don't know if you're familiar with bachata, but it is performed very close to the partner, and there is a hip flick at the end of every step. This hip flick is supposed to be to the side, but apparently some guys (and one in particular) had turned this sideways flick into a forwards thrust.

I thought this was fairly harmless and at worst an amusing story until i came to my regular bachata class on Sunday. At this there was one, slightly older lady, who was doing exactly this! After every single step she would do a little *thrust*...

Not only was this painful and potentially debilitating (luckily I was a fair bit taller then her), it just felt all wrong. I couldn't wait to finish dancing with her, I felt used, and molested...

I think it maybe gave me a bit of an insight of what it is like for a woman to dance with a guy that is "copping a feel"!!

I'll never behave inappropriately at dancing again (not that I did anyway...)

*Just to clear things up... I'm not in the picture!

Friday, 6 June 2008

2 months to go!!!

It is two months from today untill I set off on my journey...

I can't believe the time has passed so quickly...

It seems like only a few days ago that I was merely contemplating this trip, and work were hassling me to see if I could give them a more definate time scale...

I know that the weeks are going to pass faster and faster up until the point that I go (and probably right up until the time that I return, but that is a long time away, no need to think about that!). It is starting to sink in now. Only 8 or 9 of each of my dance classes before I go. Only 9 more weekends. Only 7 more Monday mornings at work. The time is running out on my normal life!

Of course I have oodles and oodles of things still to be done before I go. I need to buy essential equipment. This includes, but isn't limited to a new backpack, a new mp3 player, a travel towel, some fold up salsa shoes, a hat (very important), some shorts, a leatherman, plasters, and other things too numerous for me to remember them all.

I also need to look into getting some foreign currency (the sooner the better given the way the pound seems to be going), get some insurance, possibly buy a ticket onwards from Cyprus. I need to book my salsa conventions, resign from work, possibly get a new bank account sorted, finish getting my innoculations and have a blood test.

Then there are the things I'm leaving behind. My friends. I need to say farewell to them all. (I still need some of their phone numbers after my last phone died!) My flat, I'm giving it up, but I need to pack away those items I want to keep, and find a place for them to stay (thanks to my Mum and Dad), and do something with all of the things I don't want any more...

I'm absolutely certain that there are numerous other things which I need to do before I go, I'm far too disorganised to think that I have remembered everything, and I'm sure that as the weeks go on I will find numerous things that I have forgotten. (If any of you can see anything, just leave a comment).

I was going to finish this post with a conclusion, but I can't think of one, so heres a quote instead...

"For my part I travel not to go anywhere but to go. I travel for
travel's sake. The great affair is to move, to feel the needs and
hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off the featherbed of
civilization and find the global granite underfoot and strewn with
cutting flint." Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Sunburn!


I went walking in the Yorkshire Dales this weekend, and the picture on the right shows the results....

I am starting to wonder what 18 months of tropical sunshine will do to me if that is the effect of a single afternoon of Englands anaemic sunlight.

Better pack the factor 50!

I'm kinda hoping that when I return I will have bronze skin, and blonde hair, but given my previous track record I'm suspecting my normal "off-white" colour, and maybe strawberry blonde!

Inventory

This is a list of the things I think I'll need to take with me. It is work in progress at the moment, so any thoughts of other things I'll need let me know...

Backpack (one of those with a smaller backpack that zips onto it.)
Couple of t-shirts
Few pairs of pants/socks
Couple of pairs of shorts
Couple of pairs of jeans
Wide brimmed hat
Long sleeved cotton (top) shirt
Footwear (Trainers, sandals, fold up salsa shoes)
First aid kits
Condoms (lots)
Money belt
Padlock
MP3 player
Travel speakers
Mobile Phone
Couple of books
Sun glasses
Bathroom stuff (Shower gel, shampoo, hair wax, toothbrush/toothpaste, deoderant.)
Sunscreen/ aftersun (this item added after a recent walking trip in the Yorkshire Dales!)
Antibacterial Handwash (Thanks to Angela for advising this)
Malaria Tablets
Towel (travel)
Pens
Notepad
Leatherman
Torch (head torch)
Passport
Travel documents
cash/american express...

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Innoculations

I went for some innoculations last week. The nurse who gave me them seems to be an inverted hypochondriac...

That is she assumes that other people will get ill. It is quite a good quality for a nurse I guess, but as I sat there listening to her worrying about me getting diseases that had never even been found in a region, and reccomending that I get the innoculations "just to be on the safe side", I found myself wondering. Is it worth living your life in fear of imaginary events that might not happen in any case.

Sure, it makes sense to take precautions, like getting injections, but I wouldn't let the fear of diseases stop me from going travelling... So why would I let the fear of rejection stop me from doing other things in my life? Especially when rejection is so much easier to take (if approached properly) then... well... life threatening diseases....

I dunno, I'm not changing my life overnight (not yet anyway), but maybe I can stop letting fear run my life, at least a little bit...

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Travel Itinerary

Thought that I'd post a rough itinerary of where I will be, and when.

If anyone reading will be in roughly the same places, at roughly the same times, we can see about maybe hooking up...

August 6th I fly to Cyprus. This is the only date that is set in stone at the moment.

I will be spending roughly 2 weeks in Cyprus (mostly in the Northern Turkish part). I plan to do lots of diving here. And lounging by the pool, and other such things...

Then I will fly over to Egypt (or possibly get a boat over), and spend 2 weeks in Egypt. In this time I will be visiting the Pyramids, possibly doing a bit of salsa, going to the Red Sea to do more scuba diving, and meeting up with some good friends I have over there...

After all of this excitement I will fly back to Cyprus, and do more diving,
and hanging by the pool, and whatnot, until the 12th of September when there is a Salsa convention starting (http://www.salsajamincyprus.com/).

Once the dancing has all finished I will be flying on to India. I'm not sure where I will be, but I plan to have a kind of flying visit of India, taking in a couple of towns for a couple of days and then moving pretty swiftly onto Nepal.

In Nepal I will be doing some trekking. I want to see the Himalayas from close up, and maybe I'll find a Buddhist Monastery or something and do some meditation on the top of the world. Nepal could take up to a month, and is one of the places I'm looking forwards to seeing the most...

After my calming time in Nepal I will be flying on to Thailand. Really there is too much I want to see in Thailand. I could probably spend 6 months just there, but among the locations I would like to get to are Chiang Mai, Pai, Bangkok (to visit some friends I made last time I was there. You know who you are ;^), Koh Tao, and a couple of other islands.

Somehow I have to fit all of this in before the 13th of November, when there is a salsa convention starting in Bangkok (http://www.salsabangkok.com/).

Once this is over I will be meeting a friend, and travelling with her to Cambodia. There I'm mostly interested in seeing Angkor Wat. But it will be interesting to see the culture and all that, and see how it contrasts to Thailand.

I'll probably pass back through Thailand after this, and on to Malaysia. Take in Kuala Lumpur and visit some good friends I have over there. Then check out some of their beaches (and maybe fit in a bit of salsa while I'm here).

Then on from Malaysia to Indonesia, where the plan is pretty much the same as in Malaysia. Visit some friends, see Jakarta, and then Bali, check out some beaches and just see what happens. It will be Christmas around this time, so I will either be spending Christmas and new year either in Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia. I'm not sure where yet, I'll just have to play it by ear...

Anyway, I have to fit all of this in in time to get to Sydney in time for the 29th of January (in fact, probably the 28th in time for my birthday!), which is when and where the 3rd salsa convention of my travels kicks off (http://www.sydneysalsacongress.com.au/). I'm hoping a good Australian friend will join me for this.

I think Allan will be joining me sometime about here, and we will travel around Australia, possibly doing a bit of work here and there (i already have my work and travel visa, and an Aussie phone number!). My Australian Visa lasts for a year, so I will take full advantage of this, and then depending on funds, I will see what I want to do next....

(But if I do have lots of money still at this point New Zealand looks nice, then South America for Mardi Gras and finally South Africa for the world cup. But we'll have to see about that...)

Friday, 30 May 2008

Travelling companion application form

It has come to my attention that other people are interested in travelling the world, and seeing as how I am doing that it makes sense to have a couple of them along with me for parts of the trip. To this end I have drawn up a quick application form to weed out the wheat from the chaff.

The process couldn't be simpler, just print out the form below, fill it in with your answers and send it to me with a stamped adressed envelope to yourself...

Anyone with a succesfull application will be asked back for an interview...

Basic information

1. Real name ( first + last ) :
2. Age :
3. Height : (cm)
4. Weight : (kg)
5. Measurements (cm) :
6. Country of Origin :
7. Eye colour :
8. Real hair colour :
9. Current hair colour :

Contact information

10. Address :

11. Post code :
12. Country :
13. Email :
14. Mobile phone :
15. Home phone :

Getting to know you

16. Are you a travel virgin ? Y N
17. If no, how many past travel experiences have you had ?
18. Do you smoke ? Y N
19. Do you use any illegal substances ? Y N
20. Do you have kids ? Y N
21. If yes, how many ?
22. Do you workout ( fitness ) ? Y N
23. Do you currently have a source of income ? Y N
24. If yes, what is it ?
25. Do you live on your own ? Y N
26. If no, whom do you currently reside with ?
27. What kind of car do you drive ?
28. Furthest level of education ( ex : high school, college... ) ?
29. Do you like to read ? Y N
30. Do you cook ? Y N
31. Do you have any siblings ? Y N
32. What is your religion ?
33. What is your political persuasion ?
34. How many piercings ( not including ears ) do you have ?
35. How many tatoos do you have ?
35. What is your current favourite movie of all time ?
36. Do you like South Park animated series ? Y N
37. List your favourite genres of music in order of most favourite to least favourite ?

Reasons I should pick you

38. What is your idea of a perfect holiday in three sentences or less ?



39. Explain why I should pick you as my travelling companion in one sentence:



40. List any special skills that you may have that are relevant to this position:



41. What are your hobbies and interests ?




Travelling background

List the details of your past three travel experiences starting with the most recent.
Start date :
End date :
What countries did you visit?
Places of interest that you saw on the way:
Were you in trouble with the law at any time in your visits?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

List the details of your past three travel experiences starting with the most recent.
Start date :
End date :
What countries did you visit?
Places of interest that you saw on the way:
Were you in trouble with the law at any time in your visits?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Start date :
End date :
What countries did you visit?
Places of interest that you saw on the way:
Were you in trouble with the law at any time in your visits?

ReferencesPlease supply three references and their phone numbers or email addresses.






If there is anything else that you think will be relevant, please use the space below to tell us what they are.

Introducing............ Trev! :^)

Hello avid readers! (all 2 of you!)

This is my first attempt at blogging, so please bear with me while I find my feet. Oh, wait, *checks in shoes*, yep here they are!

The primary purpose of the blog, as you may have guessed, is to document the lead up to, the preperation for, and the actualisation of my travels around the world! It will stand alongside my facebook group that is serving the same purpose for the denizens of facebook.

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=15237024747

While I'm here I might also post any random thoughts that I have on life, the universe, food, the price of eggs and tv shows...

That will have to do you for now, more updates to follow!