All the blog entries that I've managed to scratch down, while travelling around the world.
You can view these blog entries in reverse chronological order (below), or you can browse them in a monthly archive. You may find the monthly archive more convenient for catching up on older entries, or for finding specific entries or ranges of entries.
After two full days of rock-climbing, today I decided to pause my three-day course, and to relax and have a rest day. Three days in a row is simply too much: I'm tired and aching all over just from two; and I can't go on without a bit of time to catch my breath.
As anybody who's visited this country should be acutely aware of, Thailand is still a kingdom. A constitutional monarchy, to be precise: much like Great Britain's setup, where the king (or queen) is still technically the head of state, but where said king / queen actually retains very little power. In Thailand, however — unlike in most other surviving 12st-century monarchies — it's virtually impossible to not notice the fact that they have a king. They absolutely ADORE him! The king's photo is on every street corner, framed in gold and lit-up like a superstar. Speaking ill against the king is highly inadvisable: not only is it illegal; it also has about a 99% chance of pi$$ing off any local that you may encounter. All hail the king: he's pretty hot stuff around here.
As I approach the end of my massive world trip — I now have exactly one week to go, before I touch down back in Sydney — I can't help but think about what it's going to be like returning home. And one thing that keeps worrying me, is that after a year of travelling, my English language skills have become somewhat eroded! I never expected I'd ever be saying this: but I'm really concerned that my spoken English has deteriorated during my travels. I believe that it's been caused by a combination of my intensive Spanish study; of the significant amount of time that I've spent in non-English-speaking countries; and more than anything, of the amount of conversing that I've done, in English, with non-native English speakers.
Stewie's a great bloke, who's originally from sheeped-in-history Kiwiland, but who now lives in Brisbane as a high-school science teacher. Stewie's just been up in Laos, and the guy absolutely will not stop raving about the place: if he can be believed, then Laos is truly the most kick-a$$ place in the world, and at an unbelievably low price. Stewie's a lethal party animal; and like everyone else here on Ton Sai, he's here mainly to enjoy the amazing climbing to be found on this rather rocky ol' peninsula.
Randomness is part of travelness. And as travelness goes, tonight was filled with randomness. I bumped into a group of six (newly-acquainted) people this evening: four Germans, and two Austrians. Just walked past them on my way down to towards the beach, here at Ton Sai; and next thing I knew, I was off to "The Kasbah" with them, to join in on dinner and drinks. Then, what do you know: just after dinner, it was happy hour — 2-for-1 on Sang Som (Thai whisky) and coke — so out poured the rounds. And what's more: amidst the rainbow-coloured décor and the haze of weed smoke, we managed to find a Jenga set; and we enjoyed several hilarious rounds of this game (always funnier after a few drinks). Strange night, but good times.
Day two of my three-day rock climbing course stepped things up a notch. Yesterday was good fun, but nothing serious: just a few non-technical climbs on beginner runs, where I was teamed up with various people doing no-frills half-day sessions. Today, my venerable instructor Let taught me the most important and the most basic of technical climbing skills: how to perform top-rope lead climbing. It's very different to simply scrambling up carefree, with a rope above your head the entire time: more thrilling, but also far more scary.
For something completely different, this afternoon I continued doing what I started this morning: more fun climbing! We were a group of four this afternoon (plus Let as our instructor): Martina, a crazy Korean guy and his wife, and myself; and instead of the "1-2-3" wall, this time we headed over to the "Diamond Cave" cliffs, up on the northern side of Railay East bay. The climbing continued to be extremely fun, and to pose few real technical challenges. It also, however, continued to be utterly exhausting — by the time we were done for the day, I was wasted.
Like the famous tennis player, Martina is a thin, athletic girl from the fair realm of Switzerland. Martina hails from a small mountain village in the south-eastern region of Switzerland, where she's lucky enough to have been skiing her entire life. She now spends most of her winter months in a ski town in the country's Italian region, where she pays her way by working as a café waitress. Martina is fluent in German, English, French, Italian and Spanish — an impressive repertoire, even by (the not-too-shabby) Swiss standards. Martina climbed with me during this afternoon's session, where she blew us all away by conquering a climb that no-one else could.
This dude's real name is "Let", and he's my main instructor for the three-day climbing course that I'm doing here at Ton Sai. When I told Let that my name was "Jeremy", he had a lot of difficulty pronouncing it — the closest he could get was "Jet Li", and so that is now my official rock-climbing pseudonym. Let's a really nice guy: he's only been rock-climbing himself (let alone instructing!) for the past six months; before that, he spent ten years as a chef in a glamorous hotel restaurant in Phuket. His ability and his fitness levels are remarkable, considering how new he is to the sport; and after only six months of working with farangs, his English ain't so bad either.
If it's rock-climbing you're after, then Ton Sai is the place to be. In fact, there's very little else to do at Ton Sai — or in Railay — aside from lying on the beach: so if you're not into rock-climbing, then perhaps you should be someplace else. Last night I signed up for a comprehensive 3-day climbing course, with Ton Sai-based company "The Rock Shop" — and today was the first day of that course. I've never before been rock-climbing on a natural, outdoor wall; although I did a fair bit of indoor (artificial-wall) climbing many years ago, when I were a 'wee lad (plus I've abseiled down natural cliffs before). It was a sweaty, exhausting introduction to the sport — 9am-6pm, with a 1-hour lunch break — but it was more fun than anything I ever imagined; and I finished the day feeling a strong sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.