Home Again! | October 25, 2003

Flew into Heathrow this morning at 5am to be greeted by a beautiful, crisp autumn morning. I have to say my initial immersion into the British climate was a bit of a shock, so I was glad to get home and put on my winter clothes. Suffice to say nothing much has happened in the last 2 weeks. Everything is still overpriced, the majority of British people are still insufferably rude, and the streets are still littered with rubbish (although luckily this time of year, most of it's obscured by fallen leaves).

Still, Brighton is a very cool place to come back to. After all, how many places in the world would you see Zoe Ball (d-list UK celeb) shopping at your local supermarket. I'd love to live overseas (Oz, NZ, HK etc), but if I have to live in the UK I cant think of a nicer spot than Brighton. Oh, and I even managed to score a couple of ticket to see Ed Burn at the last night (tonight) of the Brighton Comedy Festival.

So the holiday was very cool. Vietnam was great. Having spent a good deal of time traveling around different countries, I have to say that the Vietnamese are possible the most friendly people I've come across. My girlfriend fell over outside a shop on our last day and broke her shoe. The people from the shop came running out to see if she was OK (which she was), and somebody walking past fixed her shoe there and then for nothing. I'd like to see that happening outside your local branch of McDonalds.

Saigon is a very cool city. Like most big asian cities, it's pretty manic. People living their lives out on the streets rather than tucked away inside like people in the west. Hungry? Need your Honda Dream fixed? Need a haircut or want your ears cleaned? They'll be somebody sitting in a tiny plastic stall by the side of the road only too willing to help.

Most people think Saigon is a little dull, preferring the charm of Hanoi. To be honest Hanoi is a much prettier city and has everything that the decreeing backpacker could want. However Saigon is a very cool place if you know where to look. It's kind of short on tourist attractions, but makes up for it in nightlife.

The city has some great places to eat, far too many to name here. However if you're a veggie I'd strongly recommend checking out Tib. Oh, and if you like your Thai food, Chao Thai is a must. As for Bars, there are plenty, from expat bars such as Sheridans (run by a friend of ours dad) to the ultra trendy Q Bar or the highly entertaining Carmen Bar.

However the Jewel of the trip was the 5 days we spent in Cambodia looking around Angkor. We were there in the middle of the rainy season, which had both it's benefits and also it's problems. On the positive side of things there were very few tourists. I'd imagine the place is a nightmare in high season, but luckily we had many of the smaller temples to ourselves and even the bigger ones like the Bayon weren't swamped and when we visited Angkor Wat you could have counted the other tourists on one hand.

However because of the gray skies it wasn't ideal photography weather. No beautiful light or glorious sunsets to speak of, so I'm not holding my breath with my photos. I bought over 20 rolls of film with me expecting to shoot most of them at Angkor, however in the end I think I only shot 5 or 6 rolls. I get the pics back on Mon/Tue but am not expecting much. Will definitely have to go back again when the light is better.

I don't know if any of you visited the link I posted in my last entry to the wonderful photography of John McDermott, however if you didn't I'd strongly recommend you give it a look. We were fortunate to meet up with the man himself, as he was running an exhibition of his work in the Grand Hotel. John Achieves such a distinctive look by using Infrared film, something I know very little about. He was kind enough to explain a little about his technique and how infrared film used to be used by the military. Apparently is was used to find camouflaged positions in densely forested areas because the foliage comes out almost white, allowing camouflaged targets to be easily spotted.

Used for artistic purposes it creates an amazingly distinctive look and is definitely something I'd like to play with. However it sounds like it could be pretty tricky to use so I probably need to master regular film first.

So anyway I'm now back. However It's probably going to take me a while to settle back into things. In 2 weeks I ended up getting over 600 emails. around 350 were picked up by my spam filter. Another 200 spams got though (now trashed), but that still leaves mw with around 50 emails to read and reply to. So if you happen to have sent me an email, I will get back to you if I can, but it'll take some time for me to clear my email backlog.

I had intended to blog while I was away. However I was enjoying not being near a computer so much that I decided to just give things a break for the duration. Sorry that people were greeted with a blank home page for a week or so. Next time I go away I'll have to remember to up the number of days posts I display.

I have to say that I was a little saddened seeing all the comment spam on my blog when I got back this morning. It was almost like going away on holiday and coming back to find your house vandalized. Really not very nice. So I just wanted to say a big thanks to all the Viagra and porn pushers abusing this site in my absence. Nothing like abusing somebody's hospitality and good nature for your own selfish ends. You'll get your comeuppance in the end. You'll just spoil it for others in the process.

So, on the whole I had a really good holiday. I visited Angkor, a place I've wanted to go for a good few years now, ate well, drank well, got a little colour and will hopefully have one or two nice pics to show for it all.

Posted at October 25, 2003 2:17 PM


Egor Kloos said on October 25, 2003 11:03 PM

Sounds like you really did enjoy yourself ;) Good to hear all is well. Unplugging for a couple of weeks does sound like a good idea. Think I just might follow suit.

Scrivs said on October 26, 2003 1:05 AM

Glad to hear you are back Andy.

Chris Owens said on October 26, 2003 2:06 AM

Welcome back Andy.

And very nice post, it was just like being there. ;-)

oli said on October 26, 2003 4:37 AM

Welcome back indeed. You might find some helpful anti-comment spam links in an email from me if you looked…

Ruben said on October 26, 2003 9:07 PM

Welcome back. Nice to read those travel stories.

justin said on October 27, 2003 1:04 AM

Good to see you had a great time and enjoyed yourself. Unplugging often is a great practice to do and helps rejuvinate oneself. Looking forward to more posts .

Jon Hicks said on October 27, 2003 11:13 AM

Welcome back - get those photos online! BTW, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to do that, I’ve been fiddling with photostack - http://photostack.org/. If you don’t need a complicated database it works great.

Your problems with comment spam are exactly what I fear. Not knowing that you’ve got dodgy links sitting in your site, giving it bad karma. I’m using the MT Blacklist plug-in (http://www.jayallen.org/misc/projects/mt-blacklist/), and haven’t had any troubles so far.