Paris (July 07)

30 07 2007

Mona LisaSnails; frogs legs; coffee and croissants in street side cafés – Paris proved to be a very cool city in which to spend a weekend. Having a day off work to use, I opted to take a three day weekend and caught the EuroStar across to Paris. I’ve had a visit to Paris before, albeit very briefly, back in 2005 when a friend of mine managed to score two VIP passes to the opening of Space Mountain 2 at EuroDisney, however other than the inside of the theme park I never saw much of anything, so I was really looking forward to spending a little more time there and truly explore the city.

The first thing I noticed about Paris, is everything looks exactly the way you would expect it to, unlike London, most development in recent years has been on the outskirts of the city, leaving most of the inner city unchanged for decades, if not centuries. All the streets are lined with quaint Parisian homes, with their ornate little window grills the French seem to love so dearly; cramped little cafes dotted all over the place, full of dour looking Parisians; and much to my delight, stalls selling Nutella crepes at every turn.

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My Favorite Photos So Far

26 02 2007

My camera is my faithful companion while I am traveling, and according to Flickr, the site that hosts my photos, I now have 706 1,143 (Updated: 17/10/07) photos online. I thought I’d share my favourites from my adventures so far…

Click here to see my favourites.
(Best viewed in original size – click the ‘All Sizes’ button, and select Original)

A few of my favourites below.

DSC02101x 0701021723 - DSC02527 0612191756 - DSC02303
0701021646 - DSC02510 dsc01112.jpg DSC01517

Thailand (October 2006)

8 11 2006

Wat Po - Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Po - Bangkok, Thailand

We weaved unpredictably across lanes, slaloming between cars; my driver, despite initially seeming like a calm and docile chap, was obviously some sort of possessed maniac. With reckless abandon, and an apparent obliviousness to every other vehicle on the road we continued our white-knuckled ride across Bangkok, until finally, the taxi delivered me to my hostel leaving me slightly shaken and feeling like I just participated in a high-speed getaway.

Having never left the Western world before, the first thing that really struck me upon arriving in Thailand was the difference in cultures. It’s hard to say whether it’s their Buddhist beliefs, or a result of living in such a beautiful country, but Thailand’s reputation as ‘the land of smiles’, in my opinion, is very well deserved. Coming from the rather antisocial city of London, it was surprising to find how friendly the Thai’s actually were; and I was staggered on my second day in Bangkok, when a Thai couple I got talking to generously volunteered to show me around the city.

Having only dealt with the money hungry tuktuk drivers, I have to admit I was initially a little suspicious of their motives, but agreed nonetheless, and as it turned out my honorary guides, Rudy and Apple, not only went well out of their way to take me on my own personal tour around Bangkok, but took me places most tourists would never ever find. With them as my guides, we rode on the river ferry to destinations unknown and traversed through damp, dark twisting alleyways full of questionable smells to get to hidden markets selling all manner of weird and wonderful things, from supposedly edible scorpions to fake IDs. My guides, showing true Thai hospitality flatly refused to let me pay for anything, despite my countless objections, and it took much insistence on my part to get them to agree to let me buy them dinner to thank them for their amazing kindness.

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Ireland (Jan 2006)

28 01 2006

DSC01599 Ireland is about what I expected it to be. Fantastic. Friendly locals, lots of Guinness, whiskey and craic to go around too. (Craic being the Irish phrase for fun or enjoyment). I just got back from a week in the Emerald Isle.

Ireland is somewhat different to the mainland UK. To start with, religion and politics are definitely to be left off the conversation list, even though “The Troubles” of the last century are seemingly ancient history. Unlike the relatively secular New Zealand culture, religion is still a very important part of Ireland’s culture, even though the difference between the Catholic and Protestant faiths seem negligible to me, this doesn’t seem to be the prevailing opinion among the Irish themselves. I was discussing this subject with two Irish guys I met at the pub in Belfast, only to be told by the bartender the conversation was unsuitable, and we may be causing offence – so we either had to shut up, or leave; predictably we stayed where the Guinness was readily available.

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