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I’m currently in England. Its summer here but sure doesn’t feel like it! Blogs still to come: Busan city, trip to the DMZ, Phuket Thailand, trouble in Malaysia and mountains in Nepal.

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Welcome to Another Random Jotting from Backpacker Paul!

Great Britain – This is Norwich, England

Norwich, Norfolk, England, Autumn, 2017: My home city, Norwich has plenty of historic interest. From original cobbled stone streets lined with Tudor era buildings to the Edwardian and Georgian developments in the hart of the city. Reconstruction after the ravages of World War 2 has seen theses buildings preserved to pristine condition making Norwich city centre popular with domestic tourists and international students.

Over the next few posts I’ll attempt to share the sights and hopefully the sounds of life in a small English city that you’ve probably never heard of before now!

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For now, here’s a set of general images from our fine city and if time permits I’ll home in on features such as the historic Castle and our magnificent cathedral, oh and of course we’ll walk around the market!

England – Back on Home Ground

London, England, June 2017: Its been a long flight, leaving Kathmandu nearly 24 hours ago with a change of aircraft at Abu Dhabi. Etihad flight 11 is a red eye, leaving at 2.30 in the morning! I try to avoid these flights but a I needed to change my ticket and this was all that was left! Etihad operates a standard economy cabin with the same amount of leg room and seat size as all the other operators – not very much of either. Unfortunately for me I didn’t eat much much in the ultra expensive Abu Dhabi airport in the hope of some decent food on the flight. So it was pretty disappointing to be served with 1 small plastic sandwich shortly after take off. Yes, the inside was pretty grim being furnished with processed everything. Zero points for Etihad on the EY11 bound for London!

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Over London at last!Yes, in about 20 minutes we’ll be on British soil for the first time in 6 months. Here are some views of the city as this Airbus 380 meanders towards the final approach the London’s Heathrow airport.

Turning around London’s East End here are some pretty good views of the City Airport.

So how many London landmarks can you spot from these photos?

And that dear readers ends this travel season for 2017. I need to recharge my bank account and plan for travel season 2018 – perhaps you can inspire me with some interesting destination suggestions. Once again thanks for tuning into my random jottings and I hope the casual nature of the dialogue wasn’t too boring 🙂

Nepal – Goodbye, Farewell, So Long….

Pokhara, Nepal, June 2017:  After 3 weeks of teaching mathematics and English spellings to the local kids, its time to say goodbye for another season and head home to England where hopefully the summer will have arrived. Its always hard to say goodbye to Nepal and especially to those here in Pokhara. But goodbye it is as the long road ahead beckons. First its that 7-8 hour bus ride to Kathmandu for a night stop. A late afternoon flight to Abu Dhabi the next day to connect with a red eye flight to London in the early hours of day three!

Its off season so the airport queues are somewhat less than they otherwise would be. The security queue is nice and short which enables me to grab some time for a little plane spotting before jetting off to Abu Dhabi.

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These poor Air India passengers are made to wait in the rain for transport to the terminal.  Below, a selection of the operators arriving and departing TIA, Kathmandu Airport.

At last its time to leave Nepal and head towards London via Abu Dhabi on this Etihad Airbus. The plane is practically empty, surprising since these Middle Eastern flights are usually packed with migrant workers. A seat on the right, by the window should provide some nice views leaving the Kathmandu Valley….

This flight circles the airport as it climbs up out of the valley before setting course towards Abu Dhabi following the Himalayan Mountain range – and what a view!

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Goodbye Nepal, nice to have been here once again….

Nepal – Mountains And More Mountains

Pokhara, Nepal, June 2017:  well, I’ve made it to June in one piece. Having started out in January flying from London to Nepal and onward to various points in Southeast Asia this years trip is almost at an end. Just over 3 weeks and I’ll be jetting off back to London, but before then I’m going to enjoy just a little bit more of the Himalayas and some of the Nepali local life.

Despite June being on the cusp of the rainy season, there are thankfully still enough gaps in the weather to grab some rather nice images of the Annapurna mountains, especially early morning and after a spell of rain.

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June is also a good time for other forms of nature, especially bugs, snakes and lizards. The Bananas start to ripen, sweet and delicious with no added chemicals! Here’s a few of my latest Nepal natural history shots…

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June is also when the mosquito’s get hungry and have a special desire for white skin! The good news is that mosquito’s in Nepal are big and you can usually see them coming during daylight. The big black and white striped variety can be dangerous so watch out!

I’ve written plenty about Nepal, including my earthquake experience. Rather than have me write repetitively, please feel free to use the search box for my previous Nepal posts where you will find an interesting insight into local life.

 

Nepal – Landslide on the Prithivi Highway

Kathmandu, Nepal, June 2017:  Kuala Lumpur, Kathmandu and Pokhara – yes, after having recovered from a nasty lingering virus I’m ready to tackle the now infamous Prithivi highway to Pokhara once again. It’s a journey not for those with a nervous disposition or the unadventurous  – for you, I’d recommend taking a flight, about £80 one way and 25 minutes. By bus, £6 and upto 8 hours, more during the rainy season.

you can see photos from a previous post here, but be warned – not if your the nervous type 🙂   Read Post now…

A broken down truck, usually with a flat tyre is enough to bring the Prithivi highway to a grinding halt. This time its a landslide, well that’s the word on the bus as it comes to a gentle stop behind a thousand other vehicles. An estimated 2 hour delay is going to make this a very long day! So, stuck miles away from any town or village, the only thing to do is stroll up and down in the stifling heat of the day. Actually its not that bad since the natives work up courage to say a few words and then as if by magic a truck appears with ice-creams and frozen lollies. Oh and the nearby monkeys provide some acrobatics for a while!

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And so some 4 hours late, with raging thunderstorms all around, the bus pulls into Pokhara bus park – at least here in one piece with sanity still intact.

 

Nepal – Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Kathmandu and a Virus

Bangkok, Thailand, May 2017: Back to Nepal via Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur but any thoughts of sightseeing inbetween have been somewhat curtailed. A nasty, debilitating virus has hit with its ugly symptoms manifesting on my first night in Bangkok beginning with the odd sensation that I needed to occasionally stretch then tighten my leg muscles. By morning I was quite feeling of nausea with ebbing energy levels. Thereafter sickness kicked in until around 3 in the afternoon by which time I had zero energy. Yes, its hard to even get out of bed and head for the toilet pan! Any thoughts of getting out are completely out of the question for today and probably tomorrow.

Day two arrives with energy at zero having had a disturbed night, but at least the vomiting has ceased. Zero energy and zero appetite but I can just about drag myself towards the kettle and make some tea. So, one more day in this Bangkok hotel before my flight to Kuala Lumpur. Sleeping better now but with a very sore back – like sleeping with a sunburn.

Day three, still with energy well below par I ‘m able to drag myself onto 2 buses and make my way across town to the airport for my flight to Kuala Lumpur. A freezing cold bus and still with that sore skin sensation its not a great journey! An odd mix of hunger and nausea prevents me from eating any quantities of food. I have an appetite back but then when faced with food I can’t eat that much of it. Kuala Lumpur late afternoon with energy back down to almost zero. Still no real appetite.

Day four with no real energy. All I can do is drag myself around the guesthouse here in Kuala Lumpur. That hunger with nausea sensation is still here spoiling what should be the best food experience in all of Asia. That soreness of the skin hasn’t subsided any either.

Day five with a little more energy. Its a real effort but I did make it out to the street and across to the shopping mall ATM. Still unable to eat in any quantity. Stll sleeping with that sunburn sensation.

Day 6, the same as day five! With a flight to Kathmandu tomorrow I’m seriously considering seeking medical attention – thankfully I have insurance! There’s a pharmacy across the street in the NU Mall. A very nice Chinese gives me about half a dozen white pills and is confident they’ll fix everything! These Chinese pills are making me feel rather light headed and well, after that I don’t know what happened since presumably I was sound asleep.

Day 7 and a miracle -yes, those Chinese pills have fixed everything. No more soreness, energy levels back to almost normal. After almost a week of sufferance, I’m ready for the challenges of road travel in Nepal.

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Thailand – The Good, The bad and the Ugly, Nai Yang

Nai Yang, Phuket, Thailand,, May 2017: Having spent just over a week in Phuket’s North at Nai Yang, here’s a round up of the good, bad and ugly aspects of this trip. The expressions here are of Nai Yang’s Northern region, close to the airport and some distance from the tourist ghetto in the South.

The Good:  Largely undeveloped with that rustic and natural appeal. Quiet with no boom boom base anywhere so a good nights sleep! The variety of local food is comprehensive as it is all across Thailand. Excellent beaches and swimming up by the airport and further North. No visible prostitution, drug dealing or alcoholism. An aviation enthusiasts paradise.

The Bad:  Cheap accommodation is hard to find with with the cheapest about £7 for a hostel bed. Cheap single room accommodation is almost non existent. Local food prices about 15 to 20 Baht more expensive than in Bangkok and portions can be quite mean. Local folk can be quite arrogant. 200 Baht to get on the beach by Sirinat Park otherwise its a lengthy trek in the Jungle.

The Ugly: The dirtiest beaches I’ve seen anywhere in Asia – worse than even Sihanoukville in Cambodia. From Sirinat National Park South towards the tourist ghetto there’s broken glass, a ton of plastic and various other debris littering the entire length of beach. No food shacks along the beaches anywhere in Nai Yang.

Since Patong is where the action is on Phuket, this leaves Nai Yang relatively peaceful, calm and a great destination for that quiet week away from crowds. Its a favourite with Russian families, making up roughly 70% of the holidaying population here in Nai Yang, May 2017. Not my favourite beach destination I have to say and its unlikely I’ll be returning here anytime soon. Number one beach spot in Southeast Asia remains Sihanoukville’s Independence Beach, Cambodia.

So, to finish up with Nai Yang, a selection of random photos…

 

 

Thailand – Sirinat National Park, Nai Yang

Nai Yang, Phuket, Thailand, May 2017: Situated next to the Airport and stretching all the way to the tourist ghetto in the southern part of Nai Yang, this area of land is surprisingly well kept. The beach maybe full of garbage, but visitors to Nai Yang can enjoy some shady woodland walks while spotting snakes and oddly shaped birds!  One is supposed to pay 200 baht to access the place but its quite easy to navigate around the pay booth, located near the airport. Yes, a walk among nature is perhaps a welcome change for those needing an escape from the ghetto.

Here’s what visitors might spot in the park… (Google Map)

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A tree snake, quite a common sight around here as is the Hoopee bird. Look closely to spot insects and tree bugs that linger around the woodlands of Sirinat.

Thailand – The Old Town, Phuket

Nai Yang, Phuket, Thailand, May 2017:  About an hour South is Phuket town, the principle settlement and administrative capital of the island. On -line references to the old town, a preserved quarter, should make for an interesting few hours away from the beach. A local bus leaves the airport every hour, costs 100 Baht one way with various stops along the way. With the bust station just a few streets away from the old town, just a 10 minute stomp and one finds streets with character and steeped in colonial history.

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The area is limited to a few streets of shop houses turned quaint and quirky coffee shops that seem to be springing up all over Thailand. The odd villa and exquisite mansion can be spotted on the edges as can the local temple. Here’s a round up of what the old town looks like….

Temples are always good for few moments of escapism – escape from the hustle and bustle of the outside streets and relax in the peace and calm of a Buddhist temple complex. If the timing is right you can get lunch too!

On the edge of the old town…

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Here’s some useful Google links….

Bus Station for local bus towards the airport – Google Map

The Old Town – Google Map

Airport Bus Stop – Google Map