Days 1,236-1,237: Escape From Khao San

Sun 20.05.12–Mon 21.05.12: When you gotta go, you’ve gotta go. I don’t need The Hangover II to tell me that Bangkok is more addictive than crack. I could happily stay here a long, long time, become that crazy drunken hippy guy with the nifty hat and the funny stories. But there is adventure afoot and nobody ever won an award for finishing 98% of a race. I HAVE FOUR COUNTRIES TO GO AND – ONE WAY OR ANOTHER – I WILL CONQUER THEM ALL!!! Wahaha! After my snail-like experience on the public bus from the border with Laos to Bangkok, I opted for a ‘VIP’ bus to take me down to Singapore (you can buy a direct ticket for about forty quid). It left at 6pm, giving me ample time to get myself a new fake student card on Khao San Road. Yes, I’m a criminal…

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Day 1,235: Bangkok-A-Go-Go

Sat 19.05.12: Another day of sifting through shipping timetables and arranging matters for further down the line. The most (de)pressing of which is what the hell is happening with Series 2 of my TV show. Well, some of you know the ins-and-outs of this, but most of you don’t. To cut a long story short, I was well and truly stitched up by the Powers That Be concerning Series 1. Criminally so, in my opinion. If I tell you that I have, to date, been paid less than £1,500 per episode for a show that’s been on heavy rotation for almost 2 years you might understand where I’m coming from, especially if you live in one of the fifty countries that my show has been repeated a zillion times on Nat Geo Adventure. Please understand that I’m not doing this for TV, I’m doing The Odyssey…

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Day 1,234: Something Fishy

Fri 18.05.12: I spent the day in the backpacker bar hunched over my computer attempting to find a clever way to get to Sri Lanka without flying. Now my mind had turned to the possibility of getting on a cargo ship to India (much more frequent) and then taking the ferry over to Colombo from Tuticorin. The ferry had stopped back in the early 80s as a result of the ongoing violence in the north of Sri Lanka, but with the Tamil Tigers now effectively (and quite possibly illegally) wiped out, the ferry had resumed. After finding some ships that might suit my purpose, I decided to have a look at the ferry timetable to see how frequent this ferry was and how much it was going to cost. That was when I found out that the ferry had once again ceased operations – this time…

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Day 1,233: Shot Down Over Bangkok

Thu 17.05.12: The bus got into Vientiane even earlier than expected – at around 3am. Nothing to do but wait in the tatty old bus station until the border opens. I tried to get some shut-eye, but ended up chatting with a backpacker called Arin. She asked me if I could guess where she was from and my first guess was South Korea… which was right! Oh yeah! Slam dunk! Man of the World, you better believe it! Arin joined me in a taxi from the main bus station to where the buses leave for the Thai border, but she got out at the airport from where she was flying home to Singapore. I wish I could bloody well fly… The buses to the border didn’t start until 7.30am, so I took a shared Tuk-Tuk, which was so painfully slow it was painful. He even stopped…

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Days 649-650: To The Ends Of The Earth

11.10.10-12.10.10: After two hours kip (I actually didn’t bother using my bunk – the communal area of the backpackers did just as well), by 7.30am I was shovelling breakfast into my fat ginger gob and by 9 o’clock I was on the bus to Bangkok.  The wheels on the bus went round and round, round and round, round and round as I tore south through the country like some kind of angry Scotsman.  Only without the girly skirt. Arriving at Bangkok in the evening, I once again skirted the manic city I know and love and snapped up a ticket on the last bus to Singapore – country 179 – which if you’d care to glance at a map of the area (or, even better, work from memory) is on the other end of country 178 (Malaysia) and just a short ferry ride away from country…

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Day 648: The Golden L-Shape

10.10.10: BANG! Before my brain could register where I was and what was going on, the front of the bus bounced a good foot off the ground, jolting my fellow passengers awake.  I braced myself for the bounce to hit the back of the bus, which it duly did, throwing me up in the air. We had hit something. Statistically, I was possibly due a crash, so I’m glad this was a tremendously minor affair.  The strange thing was that the driver kept driving – and driving fast.  Maybe it was a hit and run.  But passenger discontent forced the driver to pull over and a group of us shuffled off the bus to inspect the damage. The panel near the left headlight was a bit smashed up, but aside from that, there was no damage worth writing home about. “What did we hit?” I asked.…

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Day 647: Nobody Does It Better

09.10.10: The bus arrived at the Cambodian border at around 3.30am, and we had to wait until the damn thing opened (at 7am) before we could proceed.  Bit of an odd way of doing things, but the idea is that you sleep on the coach so you’re first over the border in the morning.  The problem is that Saigon is only three hours away from the border.  Maybe if Saigon was seven hours away it would be somehow more sensible, or maybe if the border was open 24 hours, but I guess it beats the bus leaving at 3am. By 8am we were in Cambodia and flying along on the way to the capital, Phnom Penh. The annoying couple nattered annoyingly for the next few hours, and I was tremendously concerned that my iPod might run out of batteries before they did. Cambodia will for a…

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