Monday, July 25, 2005

the end

Okay, that's it.

Tales of unemployment, Crystal Palace and home decorating coming your way soon on, but from all at Rough Guides, Jumpers and Outer Mongolia, it's time to say goodnight and goodbye.

Thanks so much for tuning in (you're such a lovely audience, we'd like to take you home with us).

So it's goodbye from him. And it's goodbye from her.

Cheers, god bless and goodnight. See you the same time next week.

rough guides, jumpers and outer-mongolia Posted by Picasa

the credits

RGJOM wouldn't have been possible without the help of the following. Thanks to all..

Our family and friends, all of whom had to go a year without seeing us (to some no doubt a blessing in disguise).

All the other travellers we met along the way - Serkut from Istanbul; Bo, Xenia, Artur, Trudi, Stefan, Stefan's mum, Dave from the Trans Siberian; the 2 'old farts', Daley, Minima, Ian and Heather from the Annapurna circuit; Mike, Mike's wife and the Economist couple from Jaisalmer; Aasha from Streatham (the only person to fly out to see us!); Jon and Ruth at the Pimenta; Claire and Stuart in Bangkok, Kuta and Gili Air; Jess and Steve in Vietnam and Laos; the Tesco couple from Don Khone; the Japanese girl we had dinner with in Phom Penh; the smelly German thief and the nice Australian girl in Kuching; the original 'happy couple' - Fred and Lenie from the Netherlands; Matthew and Fran from Makuzi Beach; the Dutch family on the South Luanga safari; Sadie at Jungle Junction and probably many more..

We had many impromptu guides but specifically the following deserve a mention - Karma from Nepal, Phu and the other guy from Hanoi, Eddy from Flores, Martin from South Luanga, Boldo the driver from Mongolia (bumpy bumpy bumpy!), Tiger and his sidekick on the camel trek in India, Mr Bean at the Chu Chi tunnels...

With the exception of the Bangkok dragon, every hotel provided a smiling face for the night but specifically we'd like to thank the staff at Gunes Hotel in Turkey, Ali's Pension in Egridir, White Lion in Yangshuo, Snowtail Hotel in Pokhara, Ranesh in Nawalgargth, Joseph at Sona House in Alleppy, Jacob at the Pimenta, everyone at Bee Saigon, the kids running SalaPhae in Laos, the Scottish lady at Coconut Cottages, Marsha and Bryan at Blaincroft, Dmitry in St Petersburg (cherry ravioli breakfast!), Brett at Jungle Junction and Frennus and Sybille at the Alternative Space in Namibia.

Thanks to Crystal Palace. As ever, the perfect backdrop to the year. Ultimately a sad, though expected ending. It kept us amused and gave us something to talk to everyone we met about.

And of course to the unsung millions - all those that tried to sell us things, take us on their rickshaws, give us a boat ride, invited us into their house or just simply smiled and chatted to us. The world really isn't full of terrorists and suicide bombers, it's full of lovely, lovely people.......we are the world, we are the children, we are the ones to make a brighter day.......

And finally, to Courtney, a kiss is still a kiss in Casablanca. Thanks.

the favourite places

The first 10.
Istanbul, Turkey
Pokhara, Nepal
Jaisalmer, India
Alleppey, India
Hoi An, Vietnam
Luang Prabang, Laos
Don Khone, Laos
Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia
Vancouver, Canada
Swakopmund, Namibia

The next 10;
Cappadocia, Turkey;, Zhaoxing, China; Hong Kong; Bangkok; Hanoi; Ubud, Bali; Makuzi Beach, Malawi; Livingstone, Zambia and Cape Town, South Africa.

The worst 5 places:
Yogyakarta, Dieng Plateau, Bandung, Bogor and Jakarta - all on Java, Indonesia. What a wonderful 8 days it was visiting them in quick succession.

the favourite photos

Again, the awards committee has sat in judgement, and the following photos, added between other posts, are the best 10 from the last year.

wicked, simonga, zambia Posted by Picasa

defeat fatigue, georgetown, malaysia Posted by Picasa

the favourite hotels

The first 5:
Sona House, Alleppey, India. Coconut pancakes, the manically talkative Joseph and a fantastic tropical garden.
Gunes Hotel, Nemrot Dagi, Turkey. Grassy green carpet lawn in the middle of a desert.
Samode Palace, India. Blowing the budget in the Hall of Mirrors.
Sala Phae, Don Khone, Laos. Stunning rooms floating on the Mekong. The best place.
Coconut Cottages, Gili Air, Indonesia. Another day, another gorgeous tropical garden.

The next lot:
Snowhill Hotel, Pokhara: Bee Saigon, Saigon, Vietnam; Blaincroft, Gravenhurst, Canada; White Lion, Yangshuo, China; Jungle Junction, Livingstone, Zambia; WestEnd GuestHouse, Vancouver; The Alternative Space, Swakopmund, Namibia.

And the worst:
Bob Marley Hotel, Muktinath, Nepal. Anywhere at 3800m is going to be cold but this place adds carpet to make it damp as well. Add in the same 4 Bob Marley songs on repeat all night, a seemingly mute transvesite owner and chronic food poisoning (for Pete in 2001, Ms Love in 2004). Next time stay next door.

the fly, gili air, lombok, indonesia Posted by Picasa

summer nights, don khone, laos Posted by Picasa

vietnam smiles, sa pa, vietnam Posted by Picasa

the favourite meals

The first 10:
The place on the 3rd night in Corsica. Perefect French homecooking.
Kings Lodge, Hong Kong. Dim Sum, Wagammama style.
The Third Eye, Kathmandu. Curries, floor cushions and lanterns.
Kream Korner, Alleppey. Indian spicy finally - we went 5 nights running.
Mango Rooms, Hoi An, Vietnam. Local food, western presentation. The best meal.
Blue Elephant, Luang Prabang. French colonial food in a beautiful setting.
The restaurant by the bridge, Don Khone, Laos. Sticky rice, papaya salad and fried fish.
The place behind the temple, Bangkok. The best Thai food outside of Clapham.
Raincity Grill, Vancouver. Post engagement nosebag.
The place up the side street in Ubud, Bali. Avocado chocolate milkshakes.
Le Quartier Francais, Franschoek, South Africa. Soho food at African prices.

The next 10:
Hotel Kempinsky, Moscow; the street vendor next to May Mae street in Hanoi; Cafe Pakone in Luang Prabang; Makuzi Beach, Malawi; Cloud 9, Yangshuo, China; Ali's Pension, Egridir, Turkey; the roast chicken place up the alley in Naxos, Greece; Doy Doy, Istanbul.

And the worst;
Hotel Tramp, Moscow. Pipping the Russian buffet car on the Trans Siberian. to this coveted title is quite an achievement... hot dogs, month old bread, ketchup, stale jam wafers. That was just breakfast on day one, and it got worse on days 2 and 3.

watch out for jesus, kerala, india Posted by Picasa

cows on the promenade, varanasi, india Posted by Picasa

flying home (clouds below the mountains), nepal Posted by Picasa

the favourite sights

The first 10:
The limestone chimneys of Cappodocia, Turkey
The communist squares - Red, Tiananmen and the one in Ulan Bator
Backwater rivers and canals of Kerala, India
Taj Mahal
African safari parks - Etosha, Namibia and South Luanga in Zambia
Hoi An morning market, Vietnam
Sand dunes of Namibia, Swakopmund and Sossousvlei
Jaisalmer and the forts of Rajhastan, India
Tea plantations of Munnar, India.
Thorong La pass, Nepal

The next 10:
Rice fields of Ubud, Bali; Angkor Wat, Cambodia; Luang Prabang, Laos; Bako National Park, Malaysia; Hong Kong skyline; Ha Long Bay, Vietnam; Victoria Falls, Zambia; Table Mountain, Cape Town; Nemrot Dagi, Turkey; Shetlwaki murals of northern India; coral reefs of Indonesia.

tyranosaurus rex for dinner, outer mongolia Posted by Picasa

paying respect to lenin, red square, moscow Posted by Picasa

more turkish tea? nemrot dagi, turkey Posted by Picasa

the favourite journeys

The first 10:
Ikaria to Mykonos ferry. High seas and late nights.
Trans-Siberian Railway. 6 days, the ultimate journey.
Annapurna circuit walk, Nepal. The worldest greatest trek.
Jomson to Pokhara flight, Nepal. 20 minutes of flying above the clouds but below the mountains.
Kowloon to HK Island ferry. The Star shuttle ferry.
Chitwan, Nepal to Varanasi, India. Buses, jeeps, trains, rickshaws all in 24 hours of madness.
Kumily to Munnar, Kerala, India. Rockin' to U2 in an Ambassador taxi.
Luang Prabang to Munong Noi boat, Laos. 8 hours riding the rapids.
Don Khone, Laos to Phon Penh. Speedboat thrill ride.
Swakopmund to Sesseriem. Desert, gravel roads and the Tropic of Capricorn.

The worst:
Well, most of them seemed the worst at the time but you can't help but look back fondly at them. Except maybe 5 hours stuck in the back of a pickup truck in Namibia.

the statistics

20 countries (22 if you count Macau and Hong Kong, 26 if you count transit stopovers in Germany, Holland, Korea and Kenya).
335 days.
129 places visited.
179 different beds slept in.
2 cameras.
4 continents.
6 pairs of mens jeans.
923 games of back gammon (approx).
17 nights spent sleeping on trains.
3 nights spent sleeping on buses.
8 hours spent apart in one year (while Courtney shopped for wedding dresses).
35 flights, umpteen train rides, countless bus rides and an awful lot of sneaky luxury taxis.

the website

Well, if you listen to both of us talking to each other, then you'd think we'd practically invented the world of personal websites. Clearly this is rather wide of the mark, but nonetheless we can certainly claim a whole host of copycat sites!

It might look as if we spent the whole year in internet cafes (and at time it certainly felt that way) but in reality the website was a fantastic release from the day to day rigours of travel.

Obviously we were alarmed when it turned into a transatlantic chatroom - every teenagers ultimate nightmare come true when your parents (both sets!) start chatting not only with each other, but with your mates. Unsupervised and all!

Nevertheless, thanks to all those that looked but never commented - the silent majority. But the biggest thanks must go to those that commented - Canadian Mom, Graham and Janet, Nick and Liz, Melissa, Sam, Will, Keith, Bridget, Supertheo, Jim W and many more.

The Oscar for best poster came down to a 2 horse race. After much deliberation (and knowing that the Landlord can take solace in the fact that he was writing to a far greater audience than in his dayjob - plus he never wrote nothin' nice), the award goes to Auntie Woodstock. Everyone needs a greatest fan. The yellow tshirt is in the post...

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