Words don't explain this, these words explain.

Tiernan talks travel

The journey from Siem Reap to Kratie was, if not hugely enjoyable, at least vaguely fascinating.

There were fifteen of us (and fifteen big bags) crammed into a minivan that could comfortably fit half that. It was 7 a.m. and we had supposedly a six hour journey ahead. I bent my cramped legs together, tucked them in beside me, sat back and, not for the first time in the last few weeks, thought longingly of the English transport facilities.

What Cambodia lacks in natural beauty, it more than makes up for in heat, and it wasn’t long before the Cambodian sun started bearing down on us, bringing the tin can minivan close to boiling point. It was hot, and only getting hotter given it was 9ish. With plenty of time to myself, I watched wistfully as the Cambodian countryside raced by and let my mind wander.

“It’s hot here,” I thought. “Really hot”. And my thoughts didn’t really change for the next 6 hours.

It was an arid landscape. Flat dusty brown land stretched in all directions. The charred trees had lost hope, accepting defeat at the hands of the sun. At various points, we were literally driving through what I can only describe as small forest fires. I could feel the heat as we drove past it. My experience of fire being largely limited to Hollywood films and gas hobs, this was definitely the most fiery fire I’ve ever seen before.

Hopefully Kratie brings respite from the desert and dead trees, and a ceiling fan that works better than our last.

On a separate note, we’re both buzzing to see some river Dolphins tomorrow, and be here in a town that isn’t centred around tourism (our natural backpacker instincts managed to steer us away effortlessly from the hordes of Asian package-tours that clogged up Siem Reap).

Anyway, I’m off to apply some after-sun. Talk soon.

P.S. Having written most of this on the bus itself, I feel the need to add that, after the above complaining, we did pass over some rivers, and saw the odd bit of greenery as a result.

P.P.S. The journey took 11 hours, not 6, and used 2 minivans in the end, not 1.



Angkor Wat

Today we rose for sunrise, and watched it at the Kings swimming pool back when he was rich and famous. It was pretty impressive, it has to be said, however, it was no Bagan. The temples, built in late 12th and early 13th century, we’re overrun with pretty large trees and it looked like they had been eaten. We spent the morning visiting Angkor’s most famous temples and yes they were pretty great, but alas I must stress, they were no Bagan. It was much more regulated and much much more overrun with tourists. We were pretty irritable come midday, and had had enough of the Asian tourists with their ‘wands if narcissism’, so went back for a snooze.

We’re currently sat by a pool that would cost each if us $14 to swim in if we could afford it, so instead we’re looking at it longingly and plotting to steal their toilet roll. The free canap├ęs have just been put out…… We’re moving in.



Tiernan is a sleeping machine

It’s 22:00 here, and right outside our window there seems to be a bunch of 10 Loas people singing karaoke very very very very very very very very loudly. Yet over the out of tune wailing and seemingly random clapping, I can here the familiar sleeping noises from the bed next to me. I really don’t know how he does it, I guess that’s just what being a seasoned backpacker does to you. If I could record this noise I would, although I doubt any microphone could handle it. This may stimulate an early onset of tinnitus.

In other news I ate my first bit of food in 4 days this evening, so hopefully I’ve rounded a corner. I feel terrible that I’ve held a fellow backpacker up in his travels; I’ll have to pay him back some way.

Tomorrow our whole day centers around the North London derby. COYG. Over and out.


Kangaroo down

We’ve had a lovely 5 days in Luang Prabang, and have really been treated. Our plans, however, suffered a setback as we had to cancel our overnight bus to Hannoi this evening as I have come down with a fever. I’ve had it about three days now and so it should be on it’s way soon. I’m being looked after wonderfully by my fellow backpacker, granny and Ken. “what doesn’t kill you, only makes you a better backpacker” right?

Check back soon


Chiang Rai – Bus – Luang Prabang

Apologies, we’ve been busy. Chiang Rai was an area of relaxation after the blitz that was Myanmar. In the morning of our first day we sought out the comforts of an artisan coffee shop where we indulged in East London cakes. Having remade contact with the western world, the rest of the day rather predictably followed suit (you can take the backpacker out of a Londoner, but you can’t take the Londoner out of a backpacker). We denounced another temple….the old home of the jade Buddah held a replica that was disappointingly large, controversial, I know.

We wandered, ate magnums, drank cokes. This is all very hard to admit. Then we attended the cinema to see American Sniper, which we thought would top up our action fix of the holiday, building on Jason Stratham’s work. It was an amazing film, but left us feeling a little dejected.

We had to regain a backpacking kudo or two, it was imperative, so we got hold of the spiciest street food around and burnt our faces off.

The next day saw us discovering that Chiang Rai is super sleepy. We saw the three main tourist attractions, the mirror temple was a highlight, before returning to the cinema to see Mordecai. If I had more time to expand, I would, but don’t ever watch that film! Really, don’t ever watch that film!

The next day we boarded an 18 hour bus to Luang Prabang. God it was long. I discovered pretty early on that the ‘reclining’ function of my seat didn’t function, so I was in the upright position for the whole journey…ish. 04:20 saw my position compromised as I flew into the knees of the person behind me. For the remaining two hours I had to sit upright without support, as the seat had broken completely. It really wasn’t a great journey. But we made it and met up with Grandma and Ken. More stories to follow shortly.

I’m ok mum


Tiernan talks travel

We woke up early to get a boat trip across Lake Inle. It was stunning. The mist rose delicately above the water, local fisherman went about their business, the mountains circled us in the distance. Without doubt one of the beauties of the world and yet I was only thinking about where would be the politest place to throw up. I’d taken my malaria tab on an empty stomach and was regretting it. In a great show of British stoicism and courtesy, I was able to hold it in and power through. Joe loved the trip. I loved it once I’d recovered. We both loved the girl at the cigar factory. All things considered, Lake Inle was a success.

First half completed, we embarked on the second, getting a taxi to Heho to board an internal flight to Kyiang Tung. We survived it – Mum, you can stop scanning the international news for plane crashes in Burma now.

We found out on arrival that, in one of our less fine backpacker moments, we’d missed the last bus to the Thai border and were stuck in Kyiang Tung with no information on how to get out. We ended up forking out far too much money on a cab journey with a driver who felt too comfortable with overtaking on bendy mountain roads, even laughing at one point when we drove past an overturned truck.

After a plane and taxi, we then had to walk the bridge into Mae Sai, Thailand, and were beginning to realise that we really hadn’t put as much thought as we should have into today’s journey. In one of our less fine backpacker moments, we’d missed the last bus and were stuck in Mae Sai with no information on how to get out. We ended up forking out far too much on a cab journey to Chiang Mai, thankfully though without any mountains en route.

It’s been a long day, but we’ve had a magnum each, leaving us happy and ready for bed.