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The Smug Adventures of Murph, Tay, Colly & Erin

a travel blog by Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin

Save this to your favourites and then use just this link to check where we are all at until 2007!

You can see photos on the photos part and read away as we travel smuggly!

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Greetings From Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand

Could our trip have got off to a more smug start? Not only do we have 365 days of holiday left, but our first meal in Bangkok was at a five star hotel (due to the immeasurable benefits of Murphs extensive extended family) and our first day spent lounging around a 5 star pool.

Visited the Grand Palace, Temples and a giant reclining buddha.

Disappointed by only having seen about 5 lady boys but upset by the amount of sex tourists disguised as normal looking men.

We're heading to Chang Mai tonight on a dream of a 12 hour overnight bus. can't wait!

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on March 24, 2006 from Bangkok, Thailand
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Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, Thailand

After some sort of a sleepless nightmare of an overnight bus we arrived in Chiang Mai and managed to bag a hostel with a pool- to die for. Goes without saying that the next couple of days were spent lounging by said pool in preparation for the three days trekking we were about to embark upon.

So the trek begins- delighted to find our group were extremely fun, not so delighted when we started walking uphill! Couldn't believe how extremely out-doorsey we were being and how we embraced looking exceedingly rank- sweaty, ugly and boy-like. The first night was an initiation into "travelly wavelly-ness" as we sat around with our group, guides and thai village folk whilst singing along to a guitar.

The night got more random however when opium smoking and moonshine drinking was interspersed with random thai massages from the locals. At which point the night got even more random when the village children came to dance for us, although we suspect our rendition of the time-warp for them was even more special.

The next day after having been promised a tropical waterfall we found ourselves not in a timotei advert but a pokey, murky pond where tay caused a scene when attacked by a leech (more likely a tadpole).

Got to our camp for the second night, delighted to find it was a jurassic park esque jungle setting..... however things were not so rosy when we discovered in our sleeping hut an unwanted guest in the form of Mr Leeroy Gustafer Pickles, a spider the size of a baby's head. When the chief of the village was alerted of this peril, we felt sure comfort in his experience of evil jungle spiders and how to eliminate them. However in a Steve Irwin like manner he proceeded to simply poke the spider with a long stick thus only angering Leeroy and hiding him from our sight, the enemy was now at an unknown location. However we soon found our response to Leeroy was somewhat dramatic considering that the extras from "Arachnaphobia" had been re-housed in our camp post-filming.

Next morning elephant rides all round. Colly and Erin got the dud slow one and were no where to be seen for the duration. However Murph and Tay rode Edgar- apparently the world's most competitive elephant. Whenever momentarily distracted by branches, Edgar took it upon himself to regain prime position on the walk by off roading and almost decapitating murph. Finally came the bamboo rafting where we found our punter was a psychotic livewire which made for an interesting trip down the river- ending with us paddling in sewage and rat infested water.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on March 30, 2006 from Chiang Mai, Thailand
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Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong

Chiang Khong, Thailand

After a good night's sleep and a nice shower we realised we had sorely misjudged the amount of days we needed in Northern Thailand and to our horror discovered that plan B "sitting by the hostel pool" was thwarted by cloudy weather. So plan C "random daytrips" was called into action.

Day trip #1.
A cheap tour of Chiang Mai on a tuk-tuk. Won over by our driver brandishing a photo of his 3 beautiful children we proceeded to allow him to take us to every factory within the province. We enjoyed the jewellery, the egg shell boxes and the parasol painting. However things took a turn for the worse when we rocked up to an animal skin factory. Realised it was time to cut our losses when we actually began to consider purchasing a burberry purse made from the skin of a stingray. At this point we started demanding temples, and got taken to a temple 100 metres from our starting point- only it was three hours and six factories later. After a walk around the site we discovered a couple of young monks perched under a sign advertising "Monk Chats" so proceeded to sit down and quiz them with intellectual questions such as "is it true you can't touch girls" and the piece de resistance "what happens if you bump into one by accident?".

Day trip #2
Visited village tribes outside of city. Accosted by hoards of village children attempting to flog "beautiful" bracelets, goes without saying we all came home with one.

The Long Neck tribe came last- even after meeting them face to face- still not sure why anyone would want a giraffe neck or a long flappy earlobe.

Finally moved on to Chiang Rai- getting a little more off the beaten track. For anyone planning to go here would definitely not recommend day trip #3 to Mae Salong. Did we miss something? Promised by guidebook a mystical Chinese village set in the hills- were disappointed to find a crusty old settlement with the only Chinese influence being "poundstretcher" style Chinese Lanterns.

After racing home from disastrous 5 hour round trip to Mae Salong all very excited about finding ourselves and being at one with nature on impending "jungle retreat". Alarm bells started to ring when Colly and Tay found themselves clinging on to the back of a truck for dear life on treacherous mountain climb. After the jouney/near death experience to our destination we realised it wasn't going to be all hot springs and waterfalls as we found ourselves, in fact, a little too close to nature for our liking. After sleepless night spooning with iguanas and Leeroy's cousins we observed the Sunrise over the mountains at 6:00am and decided that this had definitely been out-doorsey enough for us and headed back to the comforts of the city at 9:00am.

Jumped on sweaty bus to Chiang Khong where we are waiting until tomorrow to cross the border into Laos.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on April 6, 2006 from Chiang Khong, Thailand
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Laos Baby!

Muang Piang, Laos

After spending two days in Chiang Khong we crossed the Thai/ Laos border for a 2 day slow boat trip up the Mekong to Luang Prabang. Luckily the scenery and sunsets were absolutely amazing because after 14 hours sat on a plank of wood our arses had seen happier days!

First night out in Luang Prabang was group 'slow boat' bonding exploring the city when in the distance we saw.....could those be bright lights? Could that be music? Could that be a sex-tourist-free zone? YES! It was Hive Bar, and we were sure to get involved in some vodka redbull as soon as possible. After hearing a number of reports that all bars in Laos closed at 11pm we were delighted to discover an after-hours backstreet drinking den run by the world's campest Chinese man and a shockingly agressive ladyboy (apparently the hormones aren't working) So in convoy we headed to 'Hong's Cafe' where in no time at all the police came and kicked everyone out due to excessive noise from rowdy drinkers and illegal levels of sweating.
Morning time came and it took four university graduates an alarmingly long time to realise that we had been robbed. After some confusion it was established that Erin and Tay's room had been visited by the ninja from Ocean's Eleven who had crept into their room in the early hours of the morning and stolen some money, their phones and Erin's camera. A trip to the Tourist police caused some friction as we had 'rudely' interrupted their game of bowls. After listening to heated discussions between police and the hostel owners that noone would translate for us, we came away with a 'police report' and let them get back to their busy day's work.

The following day we managed to find waterfalls of timotei advert-style proportions. A happy day was spent frolicking in crystal clear waters only disturbed by Murph's sudden attack of vertigo. Upon shimmying up a tree trunk she found herself trapped, her only way of escape was to jump into the waters below. After a grand audience had gathered she finally plopped into the water like a pencil.
The next day was complete cheese on toast as we became the Von Trapp family and cycled around the city.

If you're wondering why it looks as though we have just had a bucket of water tipped over our heads, that is because we had.....by every child in Luang Prabang. Apparently New Year celebrations in Loas involve children lining the streets and drenching every passer-by with buckets of water. Funny for the first couple of days until we realised the major drawback would be a nappyrash epidemic....so now we break into a sprint whenever we see one of the little buggers.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on April 12, 2006 from Muang Piang, Laos
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Journey to the Centre of the Earth ........and other adventures

Vientiane, Laos

For anyone planning to travel from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng by bus, please heed the following advice:
a)Under no circumstances feel it necessary to go out the night before and get blind drunk.
b)Colly would strongly recommend sleeping in a bed the night before and not the toilet floor.
c)Fight the urge to press snooze and try to wake up at least 10 minutes before you have to leave.
d)If you are of a nervous disposition avoid looking out the windows at all times as your driver is likely to be a maniac.
e) If a man with a huge rifle gets on there is no need to kick up a massive fuss as he's there "for your protection".
f) Under normal circumstances we would not suggest this for a long journey, but in this case, it is advisable to scoff all of your food rations before the bus starts as the relentless wiggley worm jerking makes it frustratingly impossible to eat (ice lollies can be purchased along the route)
Other than that, sit back, relax and enjoy!

First day in Vang Vieng, hired mountain bikes, again maximum chaffage due to continuation of water throwing. Trips to some caves proved to be a "999" special waiting to happen. Four young girls armed only with hot pants and flipflops enter the caves with one Laos boy and a mere three head torches, expecting a pleasant stroll. We soon realised we were infact extreme pot-holing! Particularly for Tay, whose flipflop bit the dust half way into the trip, and she was forced to scale the rock barefooted-hardcore. Despite the perils which included deep ravines and a swamp like lagoon, the caves were incredible and we would strongly recommend a visit (except for the safety conscious).

Day was rounded off perfectly lounging in a bamboo beach hut bar which showed immense appreciation for 5ive by playing an entire album.

The next day was spent indulging in the infamous tubing which gives Vang Vieng its name among backpackers. For those unfamiliar with tubing, it involves floating down the Nam Song river in an inflatable tractor Tyre innard, breaking up the 3 km journey with bar stops and rope swings.

Due to it being dry season the tubing was unfortunately not quite as extreme as expected, and involved us basically walking half the 3km journey along the rocky river bed dragging our rings behind us. However, we made up for this by discovering at one particular bar a new found love for Lao whisky, redbull and coke. The highlights of the day included Colly losing her tube after it rushed down the river without her, jumping off rope swings and then comparing ridiculous sunburns due to cloudy weather complacency. Needless to say, the night continued in a similar vein with a shocking amount of our new favourite drink. We meet some new friends (who couldn't miss us due to the glare of our rouged limbs) who had the dubious pleasure of being our neighbours at the hostel, and the object of harrassment for the rest of the night. Matt, Hope you've learnt your lesson that asking a drunk Colly if she has had a henna tattoo done will go down about as well as a 15km Field of jars. Luckily enough, Vang Vieng is its own hangover cure as it is dotted with bars and restuarants, with bed like seating which show Friends reruns from dawn til dusk.

Currently in Vientiane having chosen the extremely sporty method of travel - a day of kayaking. Never having looked sexier on out life jackets and helmets, we risked life and (still slightly rouged) limbs down rapids. Erin and Collys attempt at the rapid was doomed from the start when they collided with the first rock and immediately capsized - "You've Been Framed" gold dust.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on April 17, 2006 from Vientiane, Laos
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No Man's Land

Hanoi, Vietnam

Blogboy, we sincerely apologise for what you are about to read. After completely disregarding your advice, the following horrific events ocurred.....why oh why didn't we listen to your wise words?!! After a couple of sleepy days in Vientiane we took a 24 hour bus to take us straight to Hanoi. We all expected a hellish journey but little did we know it was going to be worse than we could ever have imagined. The events that transpired here were so traumatic that it has taken us a couple of days to be able to relive this nightmare.

19:00- Depart Vientiane on a dangerously overloaded bus. A city's supply of sugar and our rucksacks filled the aisle.
22:00- Entire bus disembarks for a communal wee on edge of a Laos road.
00:00- Sleeping was impossible enough a feat on the overnight bus, yet any efforts were further squandered by a chorus of snorers that surrounded us.
06:30- Arrive at border.
07:45- Stamped out of Laos with no problems. However, Erin C Gillham notices slight water damage to passport. With blissful disregard we proceed to the Vietnamese Immigration Office.
08:00- Murph, Tay and Colly progress swiftly and smoothly through immigration and are happily stamped into Vietnam.
08:02- One of the guards (referred to from this point on as Satan) hands back Erin's passport and exclaims- "No entry!"
08:03- Erin turns to Murph with bottom lip quivering saying, "they won't let me in as my passport is damaged." Murph retorts, "don't be ridiculous," and returns confidently to the desk, said passport in hand. Satan again says, "No entry," at which point the passport is thrown on the desk with a slightly hysterical shriek of, "this is a British passport!"
08:04- Erin starts crying.
08:05- Tay starts crying.
08:06- Murph starts crying.
08:07- Coldfish Collman manages to hold back her tears.
08:08- Phone call to Daddy Gillham. After a chipmunk-esque explanation from Erin, Daddy G requests to speak to someone who isn't crying. Recomposed Murph takes the call and explains that his daughter has in fact been refused entry into Vietnam. We are essentially stuck in No Man's Land.
08:20- An attempt to smuggle Erin into the country was thwarted by a wall of guards. We are not going anywhere, unfortunately our bus is- without us.
08:30- The Embassy is called and they say they will speak to Satan.
08:40- Embassy call us back to inform us that Satan has repeatedly hung up on them, the situation looks desperate.

At this point we feel the need to point out that the border is in the middle of nowhere. Returning to Laos was not an option as we no longer had visas. In addition, due to there being no British Embassy in Laos, we would have had to return to Thailand to get a new passport and thats only if the Thai immigration guards would let 'the fugitive' in.

08:50- Erin is still crying and is showing no signs of stopping as her passport corrodes further.
08:55- We set up camp opposite the immigration guards. A stare-off ensues- us versus them.
10:00- It appears we are the talk of the Embassy and due to the serious nature of the event we are now in direct cahoots with the Vice Consulate, Elliot Haines- Our hero!
10:00- 14:00- The stare- off continues interspersed with random bouts of crying, fits of hysteria and plans of where the best place to sleep in No Man's Land would be.
14:02- One guard takes pity on us and hands us an unripe and therefore inedible mango. We gratefully accept this gift.
14:05- We come to the conclusion that the damage to the passport could not have been caused by water alone. Our investigative skills lead us to only one possibility- it was the acidic vapours from mosquito repellant that had leaked into Erin's bag. We could not enter Vietnam because of bloody mosquito repellant. Brilliant.
14:06- 15:00- Elliot advises us to charm and bribe the guards. An attempt at a bribe was met with laughter and a refusal of "never!" So operation 'charm the guards' began. A number of guards succumb to our feminine wiles. However, we soon realise it was not us, but our combination padlock that was drawing their attention. This gave us an idea, we began bargaining all of our possessions in exchange for the elsuive stamp in the passport. Murph even accepts a marriage proposal in exchange for the stamp...unfortunately for us he was only joking.
15:00- The Embassy finally has some positive feedback, at long last they have made contact with Satan and some sort of fax is on the way. This came just in time as Murph's last ditch attempt at swaying the guards favour (which involved walking up to the desk pointing frantically at "please help us" in the guidebook with a pleading face) was met with an icy stare from Satan and laughs from the other guards, who incidentally we believe were watching porn.
15:30- To quote Daddy G, "the diplomatic machine was in motion." The fax arrived and an incredibly official looking handwritten note scrawled on exercise book paper was signed by both parties.
16:00- After 8 long hours we hear the sweet sound of a stamp connecting with Erin's passport. Hallelujah! We are in!

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on April 23, 2006 from Hanoi, Vietnam
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Don't be angry Mummies and Daddies.................

Nha Trang, Vietnam

So Hanoi. There are 3.4 million mopeds in Hanoi and we have seen/ been run over by every single one of them. Boy do they love tooting their horns. After tranquil Laos Hanoi seemed ridiculously hectic. We were there during the Communist Party Congress and it was a surreal experience to be surrounded by such blatant Communist propoganda. First port of call was a date with the British Embassy, where we were disappointed to find that our hero Elliot Haines was back in the UK and so we couldn't thank him in person for saving our asses at the border. (Incidentally Erin is now stuck with the most unfortunate passport photo for the next ten years- unlucky.) We indulged in a trip to the traditional water puppet theatre where we discovered 45 minutes of watching puppets dance in water is actually 40 minutes too long. Enjoyed an overnight boat trip to Ha Long Bay which involved cheesy star-gazing, yoga up on deck and collecting shells on a tiny deserted island- paradise. More importantly though we suprisingly managed to entertain ourselves for an hour and a half with an indepth discussion about yoghurt. Whilst on the boat trip we discovered a love for arty camera work so we urge you to enjoy any future use of black and white or sepia image mode used in the journal. In our haste to get to Nha Trang (legendary party town on the coast) we found ourselves getting involved in two overnight buses and a horrific 5am start in just 3 days. A visit to the De-militarised Zone "served as a poignant reminder of Vietnam's recent brutal history" (Murph). The trip was made especially interesting when our journey back became a race against time in order for us to catch our overnight bus. We were bundled into a small van whose driver decided to play 'how many random Vietnamese people can we pick up off the side of the road and squeeze in to the van.'At one point there was us and 15 Vietnamese people snuggled into a 9 seater vehicle and the sweaty experience was made even more extreme for Colly as she had to spend the journey's entirety pressed up against the armpit of a clammy old man. Once back in Hue we had 2 minutes to get back to the hostel and catch the bus- in our panic we bypassed the sensible and speedy motorcycle option and opted for the only mode of transport actually slower than walking- the cyclo, good effort girls.

So got to Nha Trang and for $20 we are basically staying in a penthouse suite with sky tv, room service (which we have definitely over indulged in) and a balcony- to die for. After six weeks of relative sobreity we were looking forward to Jaxx-style nights and a Reunion with Matt and Robbi- the boys from Vang Vieng. For the parent's sake we'll keep the details of the following four nights as brief as possible and have decided to document events using bullet points.

1. Murph got stung by a jelly fish on her face.

2. Erin had a drunken revelation that on her first night here she had dampened her curiosity about the "bum squirter" (the hoses located in toilets). This began a group initiation with individual trips to the toilet to sample said bum squirter. Robbi came off the worst after sorely misjudging the force of the bum squirter leaving his linen trousers somewhat sodden.

3. We spent one hungover and delirious day piled in our room listening to the entire score of Les Miserable with sing-a-long.

4. After drunken group deep and meaningfuls with the boys about how much we all loved each other the boys came out with a quote that scored a ridiculous amount of brownie points. After having likened us to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in Robbi's exact words "individually you are all amazing but together the whole is greater than the sum of your parts".

5. Murph found her male hair twin in the form of Phil who was sporting a waist length mane. By looking at their silhouettes it was impossible to tell who was who (Kavos ladies you will especially appreciate this after Murph's "I am the man from the Black Eyed Peas" comment.)Colly then proceeded to grab Phil and shout in his face, "I'm actually obsessed with you!" Poor bugger.

6. We intiated comedy dancing on the first night which resulted in the whole dance floor doing either the scissors or the knee to elbow.

7. Murph rang Charlie Parish on her mobile purely to demand to speak to his Mum.

8. Murph has lost two pairs of flip flops, her camera and her purse. However she remarkably still managed to come home with a bag full of toilet roll so it wasn't all bad.

9. In attempting to grab Erin's attention Robbi called out "E C G" at which point Erin turned around with indescribable excitement and squealed "Oh my God, those are my initials".

10. Everything else is censored.

We have four more days in Nha Trang (if our bodies can handle that many more buckets of Vodka Redbull) and then move on to Saigon.

For those having inquired regarding the author of our blog we would like to point out that it is the combined genius of all four of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on May 3, 2006 from Nha Trang, Vietnam
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The Return to Normality

Nha Trang, Vietnam

After the boys left we felt it necessary to have a night off to recharge our batteries. The next morning we had a Team Talk discussing Redbull, where after a sleepless night of hallucinations decided to quit cold Turkey. At the beach that day we met two Texan cowboys and enjoyed spectating as they instructed a group of eager young Vietnamese boys in a Navy commando style workout regime. Considering they looked like a couple of Hollywood stars this was of course a pleasurable experience for us. Arranged a dinner date 7pm sharp, by 8pm we realised we had officially been stood up! However, we recovered ever so quickly when our fish in claypots arrived- a taste sensation. Headed to the Sailing Club later that night to find that they were waiting, tails between their legs, with excuses at the ready. After flashing their Hollywood smiles, they were forgiven and the night continued in a typical Nha Trang style.
In Vietnam it is standard behaviour to ignore the annoying hawkers on the beach, however, in our fragile states we succumbed to the charms of a young Vietnamese boy brandishing a colossal collection of what is, in hindsight, relatively crap beach art. After examining the collection for approximately 2 hours, between us 5 were purchased. Surprisingly enough this lengthy deliberation did not prevent Erin from later realising she had purchased 2 identical pictures just in different colour schemes. Unlucky Mummy and Daddy Gillham, its the thought that counts. Murph and Tay were unable to tear themselves away from the charms of Why Not Bar on the final night, their tally is now 6 pairs of flip flops lost during one week in Nha Trang.

As much as we'd loved it there, we were relieved to say goodbye to Nha Trang and make a retreat to the mountainous resort of Dalat. Although it pretends to be in Vietnam we awoke after a 6 hour bus journey to find ourselves in the heart of the Swiss Alps. It was kag-in-a-bag/ jac-in-a-pac/ mac-in-a-sac en force as we strolled round a deceptively large lake (this was unfortunate for Erin as due to her turquoise waterproof and trouser set she morphed into a smurf for the day).

Next day had quite a few hours to kill so headed for a cable car where a thoroughly enjoyable day was had by all, soaking up the alpine atmosphere. The rest of the day was wiled away reading, writing and drinking bucket loads of free tea. True English girls at heart.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on May 8, 2006 from Nha Trang, Vietnam
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Die Hard Travellers

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

We knew we'd arrived in Saigon at the wrong time when the bus pulled up outside a bar still seething with sex tourists. Arriving in a new foreign city at 4:30am is not advisable- all normal hotels were closed so we found ourselves inhabiting a disgusting sweat box of a room. Being such hard core travellers we lasted one night in this squallor before transferring to a luxurious hotel around the corner. At a mere snippet of $4 a head, it included such amenities as air conditioning, satellite tv, fresh towels daily and a fridge to cool our beverages in. First day in Saigon was spent on official business collecting Erin Charlotte Gillham's new passport from the Embassy complete with particularly special photo. This was followed by a visit to the extremely up-market offices of Price Waterhouse Coopers where replacement phones for Tay and Erin had been Fedexed. We temporarily brightened up reception in our inappropriately scruffy beach wear- thanks JT. The official business continued as we toured the city desperately in search of a new black bra. For those who have never been to Asia, you will not appreciate how South-East Asian women are not particularly well endowed in the chest area. Many frantic cupped-hand gestures and requests for "one very big black bra!" were met with shocked bewilderment and little success.

A more cultural day followed and included some of the more conventional sights of Saigon. Visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels was an eye-opener on two accounts:

1) Anti- American feeling is still being encouraged. This was confirmed by viewing a propoganda film that referred to Americans as 'the brutal devil'.

2) We Westerners are absolutely massive. The Viet Cong fought in tunnels that were 60cm high- these have been doubled in height for the tourists and believe us it is still a tight squeeze.

There was almost another 999 moment when two members of our group failed to emerge from the original tunnels and the Guide firmly believed they were headed to Cambodia. Murph and Colly enjoyed impersonating Bond girls when they shot AK47's- pity their aim left a lot to be desired.

A Nha Trang Reunion was had when we met up with a couple of Swedish girls and took them to our favourite restaurant. The reason we loved this restaurant is simply because they added copious amounts of cheese to every dish-a chef after our own hearts. Following dinner we returned to our luxurious suite to sample some Vietnamese vodka we had chilled in our fridge. Now we fancy ourselves as connoisseurs of cheap nasty vodka (Tesco Value anyone?) from hairspray to paint stripper we've had them all. However nothing could prepare us for the aftertaste of this shocker. It had a bizarre biscuity/ nutty/ foody/ indescribable flavour which offended even our hardened palates. This was continued the next morning when Erin rose to take a morning swig of refreshing water only to discover she had gulped a mouthful of vodka- she then proceeded to spend the next 30 minutes wretching into the toilet.
So far on the trip we have discovered a particularly astute talent at selecting the worst weather days for outdoor activities. So yet again, ignoring the clouds we traipsed to the waterpark where we found a slide that is rivalled by no other. Mounting a dingy in pairs we were plunged into complete darkness. Taken by surprise there were girly screams all round- only amplified by the unexpected finale of a free-fall drop into a plunge pool. Of course following its discovery we then proceeded to repeat the experience approximately 59 times. After excited Baywatch style runs into the wave pool, we discovered it was more of a gentle swell but it made for a great stage to watch the impressive thunderstorm that ensued in the afternoon.

To satisfy our love for the Mekong River and family orientated organised day trips, we took a two day tour to the Delta. This included observing quintessential Vietnamese floating markets and of course stopping along the way to learn the fine art of making obscure Asian delicacies. The Coconut candy was a surprising treat pity the snake wine (used as Viagra) didn't go down quite so well (no pun intended). No matter how spectacular the views of the banks of the Mekong, they were nothing compared to the events that transpired on our journey home. After three hours on a sweaty bus we were feeling fairly fatigued and subdued- this would not last long. Our guide who had been fairly uncharismatic and cranky throughout our trip suddenly came to life in what can only be described as an impromptu concert. He stood at the head of the bus microphone in hand and announced he would sing for us a traditional Chinese folk song. Our ears immediately pricked up- this was unusual but we had seen nothing yet. After a pretty ropey rendition of the Chinese folk song (to which the bus sat- a group of silent and confused spectators). The guide then began to belt out a variety of songs (mostly unrecognisable). Our personal favourite was undoubtedly the audience participation number 'We Will Rock You' to which he became most animated and urged the bus to clap and sing along with him. He showed Gary Barlow-esque song-writing ability when he spelt the word c-o-c-o-n-u-t to the classic tune of 'Freres Jacques'- a moving performance.

After a tearful farewell to our hotel and Vietnam we boarded a bus to the Kingdom of Cambodia.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on May 19, 2006 from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
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No Man's Land, Part Deux (nearly)

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

12.00pm- We arrive at the border with Erin clutching both new and old passport in hand hoping for a smooth transition.
12:03pm- Erin breaks into a cold sweat upon sighting the all to familiar uniform of the Immigration officers.
12.04pm- Erin bravely approaches the desk and presents 'the passport'.
12:05pm- The guard looks stern and exits the booth.
12:06pm- Oh shit.
12:07pm- While Erin stands stranded at the desk Murph, Tay and Colly make a secret pact to sever all ties with "the fugitive," and continue regardless.
12:08pm- The short lived plan is thwarted when they realise that having entirely matching travelling attire makes them all too clearly recognisable as a group.
12:09pm- After Erin is dragged off to an outhouse Murph, Tay and Colly merrily make a beeline for Duty Free and spend the last of their Vietnamese currency on some Mars miniatures.
12:10pm- Murph, Tay and Colly position themselves on the sidelines and observe the drama unfolding whilst enjoying their chocolatey light bite.
12:11pm- Erin is being detained, stranded amongst a pack of immigration guards- her fate in their hands yet again.
12:12pm- The girl realise their friendship with Erin is simply a burden, she has trouble written all over her. They now begin to Hope that she will actually be stuck at the border. Plans to recruit a replacement group member commence.
12:43pm- Luckily for Erin after 30 minutes of deliberations the guards decide to let her off with purchase of a new visa to be stuck in her new shiny passport. The old one is now permanently banished to the bottom of her rucksack, never to be seen again.
12:44pm- Finally the girls leave Vietnam and enter Cambodia.
12:45pm- On seeing Erin pass successfully through to Cambodia, coldfish Collman breaks down and releases the well overdue pent up tears and cries, "oh God, she's still here!"

(Erin cried no tears during the course of this day)

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on May 22, 2006 from Phnom Penh, Cambodia
from the travel blog: The Smug Adventures of Murph, Tay, Colly & Erin
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