Travelling with Terrevista Trails

Travel With Terevistatrails.com

My Blog Has Moved Home!

Posted by paulyrob on June 15, 2010

My travel blog has moved to a new home, it’s now on the same server as the rest of my website.  I won’t bore you with ALL the technical hassles migrating a blog involves but I’m soooo pleased it’s over.

New blog can be found at:

http://terrevistatrails.com/blog/

Drop by,  say hello

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My Icelandic Volcano Travel Hell

Posted by paulyrob on April 18, 2010

The Volcano That's Stopping All Air Travel

Yes, it really is my Icelandic Volcano Travel Hell.

On Sunday I was due to fly from Edinburgh to Heathrow and from there to New Zealand.  But because of Iceland’s latest ashy export I am now trapped in Edinburgh  –  with no escape in sight.  Instead of flying into a warm, tropical autumn, I am suffering in a wet, freezing, windy, Northern European country.  Tomorrow my misery will continue when, instead of enjoying Qantas hospitality, I will have to go to work instead.

Who knows when I’ll escape.

At least the Icelanders have a ready market for the huge pool of lava they’re producing

Worlds Largest Lava Lamp

Worlds Largest Lava Lamp

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Snow Shoe Virgin

Posted by paulyrob on March 30, 2010

I don’t ski.  I’ve never skied.  I’d like to ski.  I’d like to snowboard even more but I don’t want to learn.  I don’t want to spend time on nursery slopes falling over and looking stupid, or, even worse, wondering if I’m wearing the right salopetts, gloves, boot, bindings etc.  Even more worse I don’t want to turn into one of the ski crowd.  You know who you are and you know what I mean.

In an effort to get me to at least try something on the snow other than building snowmen, ace skier Audrey persuaded me to give snow shoeing a try.  She reasoned it was a good, safe winter sport, got you into the mountains and was easy to master.  Also there would be no learning in front of others – if you can walk you can snow shoe.  I had my doubts.  But, in the middle of March I found myself in the village of Chatel in the Portes du Soleil region hiring a pair of snow shoes and a pair of ski poles (for a very reasonable 4 euro) and zooming up the mountain in the cable car.

There was plenty of snow around and I was immediately intimidated by hordes of what looked like 4 year old children effortlesly swooshing down black runs.  The site of a single ski coming down the hill minus its owner was both funny and worrying at the same time.  The fact that it was a ski and not a snow shoe was very comforting though.

Now, I bet the non snow shoers among you have a mental image of a snow shoe – probably something like this I guess. That’s what I thought too so imagine my surprise to find they are actually basically bits of oblong plastic with straps  to bind to your feet.  Of course had I done any research before going to Chatel I would have known this but, in the best tradition of rubbish British Arctic expeditions I trusted to ignorance and the belief I would instinctively know what to do.

After eventually finding a trail we set off up a not too steep slope.  Within a 100 meters I was gasping like a wheezy obscene phone caller and starting to sweat profusely.  Who’d have thought that the air at 6,500 feet would be so thin?  After 200 meters I was ready to dump the poles – I just couldn’t co-ordinate walking and trying to use them at the same time.  Perhaps I should have started with one pole and worked my way up.  In another 100 meters I was feeling dehydrated and looking for some clean snow to quench my thirst.  This was turning into hard work.

In most stories of adventure and hardhsip, the author usually reaches a point where everything suddenly clicks and the whole enterprise instantly becomes easier.  Well, not for me it didn’t.  After a few minutes I gave up on the sticks and just carried them, and walking immediately became a little easier, I could at least get some kind of rythym  going. But the walking still wasn’t easy.  The shoes are so wide that you have to make a real effort to keep your legs apart as you step otherwise one shoe will land on the other and you’ll stumble.  I also had problems because my feet point outwards so I also had to try and keep them feet pointed straight ahead to stop the snow shoes from clashing.  It was no wonder I couldn’t co-ordinate the sticks as I walked – too bloody busy trying to organise my feet and legs.

On the main tracks the snow was pretty compacted and I don’t think this suited the snow shoes.  Stepping off the track onto deep snow the shoes came into their own.  I could push my stick about 2 feet into the snow but the shoes sank in only about an inch and walking was definitely easier – not easy, just easier.

After about 90 minutes I was drenched in sweat, my legs ached, my face was starting to burn in the sun, I was unbeliveably thirsty and felt knackered  – but, the views were spectacular and I was thousands of feet up in the Alps on a Monday lunchtime – way, way better than being at work.

The chances of me doing any more snow shoeing before next winter are pretty remote but I guess there might be an opportunity during my upcoming trip to New Zealand.  I’ll do it again but next time I’ll be ready for it – do some research, find what type of snow shoes I really need, wear better clothes, take plenty to drink and head for nice powder snow on one of the hundreds of Alpine snow show trails.

And once I’ve mastered the snow shoe, the snow board will be next.

Dude.

Snowshoes and MC Hammer Pants

Snowshoes and MC Hammer Pants

Standing up was easily mastered
Alpine View

Alpine View

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Siem Reap to Bangkok by Taxi

Posted by paulyrob on March 10, 2010

Taxi for Terrevista!

In Cambodia, what costs £100 and lasts 45 minutes?  A flight from Siem Reap to Bangkok.  Bangkok Airways seem to have this route sown up so,  if you wanna fly, you gotta pay. On top of this there’s the $20 (£13.30)’departure tax’ (make sure you have crisp, clean dollars or else they’ll be refused) and the cost of getting from Bangkok airport to downtown – say 250  baht (£5) in a tax.  O/T DON’T take an airport limo from BKK airport because it will cost you at least 2,000 – that’s £38.50!  I’ve not done it but I know 2 people who have been talked into doing this.

I’m rambling – back to the costs.  Flying Siem Reap – Bangkok is going to cost you at least £118 and maybe even more if you don’t get a special deal fare.  You could go all the way back to Phnom Pehn and fly with Air Asia for about half that price but it’s a  5 hour coach trip back tp PP.  And then you’ll have to get a tuk tuk or taxi to the airport.  And then you have to fly with Air Asia.  Who will charge you at least $5 per kilo for every kilo you are over their anorexic 15kg luggage allowance.

So what’s the alternative?  Easy!  Take a taxi!  Yep, a taxi from your hotel in Siem Reap will cost you less than flying.  You’ll be transported door to door, it’s comfortable, you won’t have to pay a departure tax, can stop when you want, and, depending on your driver and the other traffic, maybe experience the thrill of white knuckle taxi passenger adventure travel.  It’s not all roses though, there are some drawbacks.  It’s slower than flying, allow for about 6 -7 hours on the road.  You might die in a spectacular pile up.  And, er, that’s about it.  Oh, and if being green bothers you, all the meter taxis in Thailand run on LPG not petrol.  It’s a win/win situation.

Myself and Yvonne, my travelling companion for this trip, were picked up at the Guest House Supemarket just after mid-day on Sunday 3rd January.  Our taxi was in fact a large car with tinted windows, curtains and aircon.  It had cost $25 and had been arranged by the ever helpful Den at The Peace of Angkor just around the corner from the New Apsara Guesthouse.  Most folk heading for the border set off early morning and this results in big queues and long waits in Poipet.  Leave later, get there early afternoon and there’s no waiting.

The road to Poipet and the border used to be know as one of the worst in SE Asia – but not anymore.  It’s all newly surfaced, smooth and very, very impressive.  The countryside isn’t that exciting, mainly flat and open.  The main interest is in passing the pickup trucks carrying at least 30 passengers – including kids sitting on the cab roof, legs dangling down the windscreen, the driver peering through the gaps.

That's me - 3rd from the left

Poipet can only be described as a dirty, dusty, crap heap – obviously a very poor place.  It’s taken us about 90 minutes to get here on the empty road with a good driver.  As soon as we pull up the taxi attracts a small crowd of people trying to carry our bags, organise transport or just lead us to the admin offices – only 2o meters away.  We manage to make the short walk to the departure office without any help.  After a quick glance at our passports the impressively uniformed Cambodian official stamps our visas with the exit stamp and we walk into Thailand.  The border buildings are very large and impressive – really out of place.  Even more so when you realise that they actually house casinos and that’s why so many Thai’s come to this place – it’s the Vegas of Cambodia!  Actually it’s more like the Reno, Nevada of Cambodia.

There are large queues of tourists waiting to get into Cambodia and they look unhappy standing there in the very hot sun.  I make a mental note never to get here early afternoon if I ever travel from Thailand to Cambodia.  On the Thai side of the border entry into the country means filling in a form (if there aren’t any around the room you can get one from the desk of  the  last immigration officer on the right), standing in line for a few minutes and then getting your passport stamped.  And that’s it – you’re in Rongklua, Thailand.

Once you clear immigration you’ll be approached by touts but if you want a taxi, ignore them and walk up to the right past a big sign that says something like ‘Tourists This Way’ and 100m later you’re in a busy market place and there’s a taxi company with a big sign saying ‘Bangkok 1,800 baht, Pattaya 2,000 baht’.  Have a chat to the man at the desk and your taxi will be organised for you.  You tell him where you want to go in Bangkok, pay him the money and that’s it.  There’s a cafe right next door so you can take a few minutes out to grab a drink or food and maybe have a bit of a look round.

Where Poipet was dusty and poor, Rongklua is busy with well dressed shoppers and there are lots of late model cars and 4×4’s everywhere.  Thai people tend to be small and slim but compared to the Cambodians only a few hundred meters away the Thais here look taller and much better fed.  The contrast really is quite striking.

Yvonne and I were soon heading down the road in a taxi that was a Thai taxi and not the limo we’d enjoyed earlier in the day.  It soon became clear that there was a LOT of traffic and the penny dropped.  I’d forgotten that the Thais celebrate New Year just as hard as the Scots and this had been a holiday weekend – now everyone was returning home to the big city.  The next few hours can only be described as an interesting experience.  Interesting in the way that everyone was tailgating everyone else at 70mph, or overtaking on the hard shoulder, or the central reservation or just driving 4 abreast down a 2 lane road.  Interesting in the way the road was suddenly coned off to one lane and everyone crept past the heavily armed Thai troops who were sitting around waiting for God knows what to happen

I put my seatbelt on, determined to increase my chances of survival in what I felt would be an inevitable crash.  Yvonne, who lives in Hong Kong and doesn’t drive, asked quite pointedly why I’d done that.  She either had nerves of steel or simply no appreciation of the potential danger all around.  I told her it was a European custom designed to bring good luck to travellers and keep them out of hospital.  I don’t think she bought it.  Unbelievably, we didn’t crash nor did we see any pile ups.  By the time we reached Bangkok I was absolutely wrecked – sustaining such a high level of nervous tension for so long really takes it out of you.  All I wanted was a big drink.

The trip from the border to Bangkok took 6 hours but the traffic was bad and we did stop a couple of times for comfort and drink breaks.  And for our diver to chain smoke at least 6 fags – I guess being a driver round takes a big toll on your health.

Overall I guess the taxi experience was than flying and I’d certainly do it again.  I’ve had friends do the trip the other way and they say it’s ok but there are numerous scams to watch out for on the Thai side of things.  Woz told me that when he did it he was approached by an official looking man with a clipboard near the border who said ‘Welcome to Cambodia. $25 entrance fee please.’  No shrinking violet and experienced traveller Woz replied that as far as he was concerned they hadn’t actually reached the border, let alone crossed it, and as he’d never been charged and entry fee before he wasn’t going to pay one now.  But he would have said it much more bluntly and used a lot (and I do mean a lot) of swearwords in making his point. Apparently the man ran off.

There’s a good write up of all the travel options for Bangkok to Siem Reap here.

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Airport Security Rant

Posted by paulyrob on February 18, 2010

I flew from Edinburgh airport twice in the past week.  One flight was a day trip to Birmingham. No, I wasn’t going on homage to the site of Crossroads or spend a day on the canals (more canal in Brum than there is in Venice) but it was a trip to the NEC to a trade show.

The second trip was to Heathrow for a weekend break to London.  So, two domestic flights, only hand baggage and two early morning starts.  Early morning but the airport was busy both times.  Busy but not overly busy but it still took 45 minutes to clear security. Standing in the queues I had plenty of time to consider ‘security’.

And the more I thought about it the more I wondered WTF is airport security actually supposed to achieve? Safety for passengers or employment of security staff?  On average every 4th passenger managed to trip the alarm passing through the actually security gate.  Which meant lengthy delays while the one male searcher and one female searcher gave the potential terrorist a thorough pat down.

One in four being stopped is a joke.  The old man in front of me had to use sticks to walk.  he was allowed through with them but then stopped and had to lean against the Xray machine while they sent his sticks through seperately.  They then decided to make him go through again without his sticks which he just about managed without falling over.  But he tripped the alarm again.  He then had to take his shoes off while balancing against the machine (luckily his daughter was there to help).  He was then given a thorough pat down while his shoes were X-rayed.  Eventually the staff decided he didn’t pose a threat and was allowed to carry on through to departures.

Where the very expensive shops sell more than enough sharp, flamable and potentially explosive stuff to make a whole range of aircraft destroying devices.

We’re told security screening is for our safety but it starts to lose its credibility when 25% of a queue are regarded as posing a potential terrorist threat.  And when security screening is so inconsistent.  Why do only some people have to take shoes and/or belts off?  Why don’t metal earing and rings seem to set the alarms off?  Why can’t you take disposbale razors through but can buy as many as you like airside?

I used to enjoy flying but now it’s becoming a pain in the arse.  Mickey mouse ‘security’ procedures that will never catch a determined organised terrorist followed by airlines imposing their own wacky rules on the amount of hand baggage you can take onboard (only 1 piece but it can weigh as much as you like) as well as charging a mind boggling 65p a minute to enquire about your flight have taken all the pleasure out of flying – especially short haul.

But I guess I’m stuck with it until someone perfects the teleport machine and can guarantee keeping fly’s out when I  get in.

Posted in Just General Travel Stuff | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

The Best Mosquito Repellents

Posted by paulyrob on January 31, 2010

Autan-and-OFF

OFF! and Autan

Despite what the folks back home think, travelling in the tropics isn’t all palm trees, white sandy beaches, fantastic food, incredible sights and cheap alcohol.  You also have to factor in the heat, humidity, strange money, “stomach problems”, ex-pats who can only be described as scum, exotic diseases and of course, mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes in this instance also refers to the zillions of bitey insects who are just waiting for YOU to come to their country and provide them with some exotic food.  In the interests of balance I have to point out that here in Scotland, especially on the West Coast mainland and Islands,  we have a particularly vicious summer insect called the midgie.  It doesn’t spread anything as terrible as malaria or dengue fever but its bites are incredibly itchy.  So far the only proven, scientific, way to avoid these little buggers is not to go to the West of Scotland in the summer months.  Seriously.

Back to the tropics though – it doesn’t matter what you rub on your skin or how much you cover up, you are still going to be bitten.  The best you can do is minimise risk by covering up vulnerable sites like ankles at night and using a really good mosquito repellent.  Slight diversion number 1 – the worst bites I’ve ever had were on my ankles and toes as a result of wearing flip flops in Khao San Road, Bangkok at night.  Slight diversion number 2 – mosquitoes bites DO spread disease (especially malaria in the rainy season) so make sure all your inoculations are up to date before you go.

In my years of travelling I’ve tried just about every type of mosquito repellent and I’ve learned 2 very important things:

–  ‘natural’ products are rubbish.  All they do is make you smell of lemon  –  a sure fire insect attractant in my experience

–  only something chock full of man made chemicals is going to protect you

The absolute best two products I’ve ever used (albeit not on a midgie) are OFF! and Autan, both made by S C Johnson (a family company apparently).

OFF! isn’t available in the UK but is big in the USA and can be bought in Thailand and Cambodia.  It contains DEET, not that nice a chemical but it is very effective.  It’s a white, odourless cream which you rub on to exposed skin.  If you want to read up about OFF! and see if it’s suitable for you, here’s the link to the web page.  I used it for the first time in Cambodia a couple of years ago and was very impressed with just how effective it is.  I couldn’t find it back in the UK though but I found Autan instead.

Autan doesn’t contain DEET,  but it does contain a new chemical called ICARIDIN which is the brand name  of the patented chemical KBR 3023 – apparently.  There’s a lot more info on the Autan web site

Autan No

here.  According to the site, ICARIDIN has only been in use for a few years but is seen as an efficient, less toxic (to humans but not mosquitoes) alternative to DEET.  I hope there are no long term side effects because I used Autan very liberally on my recent trip to Cambodia.  I took supplies with me just in case I couldn’t buy OFF! again  –  needn’t have worried, plenty of OFF! in Phnom Penh, especially in the upmarket chemist on the opposite corner to the Foreign Correspondents Club.

Autan proclaims that it has NO Fragrance, Colourings or Preservatives – which has to be good because perfume is a known mosquito attractant.

Personally, I hate being bitten and now go out of my way to avoid being a target.  Bites on fingers and toes can be very irritating so at night I tend to go out wearing long trousers and socks – but not with sandals obviously!  If there are lots of mossies I’ll wear a long sleeve shirt too.  But I do draw the line at wearing a hoodie.  And if I’m going to be eating/drinking outside, I take Autan/OFF with me and keep exposed skin topped up throughout the night.  All very sensible  –  and on the nights I do non of these things I get bitten to buggery.

Of course to avoid being bitten in your room you need to sleep in a silk sleeping bag liner (the mossies can’t get at you and they are naturally repelled by the silk) and you need a gecko too.  This handsome devil would regularly come in to my room in Khampot and help himself to a few bugs.  If your room doesn’t have one, just call room service and they’ll send one up straight away 🙂

Gecko-Mossie-repellant

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The Supermarket Guesthouse – A New Concept

Posted by paulyrob on January 20, 2010

Wat Bo, Jeeves!

I spent the New Year period in Siem Reap (that’s in Cambodia and the town you head for if you want to see Angkor Wat).  I didn’t mean to go there, my plan was to head down to the beach in Sihanoukville but somehow I ended up at the other end of the country in Siem Reap.  After finally leaving Bangkok I headed for Phnom Penh (also in Cambodia – it’s the capital) and went to stay at the excellent Dara Reang Sey hotel .  I stayed there last year and the very charming owner, Dara, said she was delighted to see me back.  Probably says that to everyone but made me feel good all the same.

When I was there in ’09 I met a guy called Warren (Woz) who was looking to do some work for an NGO in Cambodia and we said we’d keep in touch.  We sent exactly 3 emails to each other during the whole of  ’09 but for guys, that’s pretty good – that’s male bonding!  Bit of a surprise then when Dara told me Warren was due in the hotel the next day.  And the next day he was just as astonished to see me sat there too.  He said he’s been living in Siem Reap for a couple of months and that I should head up there for New Year as there were a few others turning up who I knew too.

He said he was staying in a great place called the New Apsara Guest House, that it was cheap, clean,  close to town, had it’s own restaurant, giant rooms and free wi-fi but what made it different to everywhere else was that it was Guest House on the upper floors and supermarket come restaurant on the ground floor.  Warren negotiated a good rate for me for an aircon room and a few days later I was on the bus to Siem Reap.

As the bus approached the town I called Woz and asked where exactly I was headed once I’d left it and grabbed a tuk-tuk.  “It’s on the junction of Street 20 and Wat Bo Road – can’t miss it”.  And I didn’t although I was a bit thrown by the state of Wat Bo Road.  On previous visits Wat Bo Road was a dusty, potholed,  unsealed road – but in the space of 12 months it had been turned into a proper tarmac road.  It had kerbs (in places), markings down the middle and – being most impressive and absolutely redundant at the same time – zebra crossings!  But don’t step on one and expect the traffic to stop  –  a cosmetic paint job ain’t going to stop Cambodians driving like Cambodians.

What was more impressive was that as my tuk-tuk pulled up, the guest house staff took my bag straight up to my room and told me Woz was waiting for me round the corner at an outside table.  He certainly was and as I sat down one of the staff brought a chilled Beer Lao out for me and poured it into a glass.  Now that is service.

New Apsara Guest House

New Apsara Guest House

New Apsara Supermarket

New Apsara Supermarket

The New Apsara is everything Woz said it, er, was.  Other attractions include an ATM,  a shady balcony to catch up on email and just about everything else you need within a 50 meter walk – restaurants,  tour organisers,  laundry and a tuk-tuk rank.  500 meters up the road is a miniature model of Angkor Wat so,  really,  you could spend your whole visit here and avoid the hordes of tourists and the heat.

The supermarket is really well stocked with just about everything you need and the prices aren’t hiked up.  Beer Lao (big bottle) is $1.50 – straight from the chiller.  The food is all freshly cooked and is excellent quality and value.  For $4 you can have a huge breakfast with lots of options including fresh fruit, fresh baguette, eggs, bacon, pancakes etc.  And the coffee is the BEST I’ve tasted in a long time.

You can walk to the centre of Siem Reap in under 15 mins or take a tuk-tuk or moto and be there in 5.  Alternatively turn right at the river and have a walk up through the huts lining the banks and see a different,  more basic Cambodia.  Don’t worry,  the folks are all friendly but the experience will show you what a poor country Cambodia really is.

It’s not all sweetness and light at the New Apsara though.  A couple of times during my stay there was no water – don’t know if this is a regular occurrence but it was a pain.  Wifi works great on the 1st floor but kinda loses it’s way going up to the 2nd.  Others said it was a bit noisy in the morning but I never noticed this – but I noticed dogs barking in the night and others didn’t.  In the scheme of things,  not great hassles and ones the folks living in the riverside huts probably wouldn’t even comprehend as problems.

There’s lots of accommodation in Siem Reap and ordinarily I wouldn’t have given the New Apsara a second look  –  I don’t travel that ‘budget’.  But on this occasion I’m glad I listened to Woz – he was (Doh! done it again) spot on.  Lao,  Pov and Bunlot Laska  have a great little guest house here and I’ll happily stay here again on my next visit to Siem Reap.

Oh – nearly forgot.  The rooms were spotlessly clean as was the linen on the monster sized bed in my room.  There was absolutely no need to use one of the fantastic Jag Bag silk sleeping liners that I sell from my shop at www.terrevistatrails.com.   Come on guest house owners – lower your standards,  give me a chance here.

Monster Sized Bed

Posted in Accommodation in Cambodia, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Free WiFi at Bangkok Airport

Posted by paulyrob on January 14, 2010

bangkok airport departures

Bangkok Airport Departure

Suvarnabhumi – or Bangkok Airport as it’s now to us non Thai speakers – is a pretty busy place.  Things have changed there a bit since my last exit from Thailand 12 months ago in January 2009.  Then you queued to get your passport stamped by the happy, smiling official and passed immediately into the world of extremely expensive duty free shops and hideously overpriced restaurants.  You could buy as much water and as many razor blades as you wanted and they wouldn’t be taken off you until you reached the security checkpoint just by the boarding lounge.  Ok, the razor blades I could do without but not being able to take a bottle of water or any other liquid over 100ml onboard a 12 hour flight seriously sucked.  Have you ever tried getting a drink of water in cattle class  hours into a flight?  Never a flight attendant in sight – probably all having a party in the cockpit.

Anyway, this year – all change.  Go through passport control and security is your next stop – literally only 10 meters away.  And just like European security checks, the Thai checks are completely inconsistent too.  Some folk have to take off shoes, belts, bling, throw away fluids while others are just waved through without any checks.

But once through into the world of extremely expensive duty free shops and hideously overpriced restaurants you can at least buy as much liquid as you like to consume during your flight, safe inthe knowledge you won’t be disturbing the air crews in-flight party by asking for water.

Another sign of progress is the promise of free wifi too.  It’s there alright but it’s not exactly publicised.  So, if you really, really need to update your Facebook page or send that urgent email or even buy a fantastic Jag Bag Silk Sleeping Bag Liner from my shop at www.terrevistatrails.com, then bangkok airport will GIVE you 15 minutes FREE connectivity.  But you do have to jump through a couple of hoops though – this is Thailand after all.

First you have to find an Airport Information Desk.  There are a few about so this part is easy.  Next you have to ask for wifi access and you will be given a book to fill in your name and flight details.  Once you’ve done that you will be given a small,  sealed envelope marked ‘SVB Wireless Service’.  Open that carefully because you don’t want tear your instructions.  You might like to fire up our netbook at this point and find the wireless network SVB.  There will be a lot of networks to choose from, some secure and some apparently open.  Don’t wast your time checking the open ones – you’ll only be disappointed when you don’t get access.

One you’ve attached to SVB, open your browser and go to any website.  You’ll automatically be redirected to the SVB site and you can then enter the tricky Username (see pic) and not so tricky Password.  Click on OK or Enter – I can’t remember which – and wait for your connection to happen.  And then wait a bit more.  And then a bit longer.  And then…………. well, you get the picture.

Bangkok Airport Wifi

FREE Wifi Ticket

Bangkok Airport Free Wifi Network
Bangkok Airport Wifi User Name

Bangkok Airport Wifi User Name

Bangkok Airport Wifi Network

I tried for 20 mins to get my free 15 minutes of internet fix and nothing happened.  The airport was pretty busy that night so the network could have been overloaded but I was sat in a public area and I didn’t see anyone else with a laptop.  So who knows – there might be free wifi at Bangkok airport, there might not.

Or it might be like the Skytrain extension – the rails and pylons stretch all the way from the airport to the city now but there are no trains running yet.  Too many technical problems to overcome before the service finally starts.  Who knows.  This is Thailand.

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Summer Festival Camping

Posted by paulyrob on July 4, 2009

Sea of Tents
Sea of Tents

Festival Camping Gear

It’s a fact that the best festivals always involve camping – and if this is your first festival, you need to go with the right attitude to camping.  Forget any ideas you have about waking up to fresh country air, calm, birdsong and greenery – this is festival camping.  Its only relation to mainstream leisure camping is that tents and sleeping bags are involved. Remember this and you won’t go far wrong.

There’s a ton of advice out there on festival camping – what to take, where to pitch up, how to arrange your tents in circles, that kind of thing.  And there’s plenty of websites and shops who’ll sell you a complete ‘Festival Camping Pack’ – some of these deals are pretty good too.  But you have to strike a balance between performance and cost because, sadly, there’s a chance your kit might not make it home with you.  If it’s good quality and expensive it might go ‘walkabout’.  Or you just can’t be bothered to pack it away again at Festival end. Or, and this is much more likely, you can’t actually remember where it is at Festival close.  A weekend of heavy festivalling can have a pretty bad effect on the memory.

Given the normal British summer, the nights will either be cold or roasting hot.  If they’re cold you’ll be relying on your sleeping bag to keep you warm.  Waking up cold and hungover is a pretty poor start to the day.  Preferably you need to wake up warm – and hungover. Still hungover, agreed, but you won’t feel quite as bad. A lot of ‘Festival Pack’ sleeping bags are pretty basic and won’t actually keep you that warm but buying a decent bag could set you back as much again as the ‘Pack’ did.

And what if there’s a heatwave and it’s like an oven in your tent?  You don’t want to wake up too hot, dehydrated and hungover now do you?

It’s a dilemma but there is a solution.  You don’t need to buy a new, top of the range, sleeping bag nor do you have to sleep exposed to the elements (and bugs) to stay comfortable. All you have to do is buy a lightweight silk sleeping bag liner.

Silk liners are brilliant!

Use one inside your sleeping bag and it will increase the temperature by anything up to eight degrees – as well as protecting your sleeping bag from muddy feet and the like.  If it’s too hot to use a sleeping bag, just sleep inside the liner.  It’ll help keep you cool by ‘wicking’ moisture away from your body, it’ll also keep insects away from you and silk just feels soooooo luxurious against your skin.

A decent silk sleeping bag liner is lightweight and takes up next to no room in a rucksack or day pack.  You’ll easily be able to carry it with you even if you decide to leave the rest of your kit for the Festival clear up team.

The New Zealand made Jag Bag silk sleeping bag liners are some of the best on the market.  They start at only £16 and come in a range of styles, colours and prices.  There’s even a double sized silk liner for those who’d like to share the luxurious experience of silk on skin.  All the liners come in their own silk stuff sack, are hand washable and dry in minutes – handy if you have some kind of Festival ‘accident’. Here’s a few pictures to give you an idea of exactly what the Jag Bag silk liners are like:

Sunset Shades Jag Bag and Stuff Sack
Sunset Shades Jag Bag and Stuff Sack
Turquoise Jag Bag
Turquoise Jag Bag
Turquoise Jag Bag Detail
Turquoise Jag Bag Detail
Paua Jag Bag Detail
Paua Jag Bag Detail

Jag Bag Size Guide
Jag Bag Size Guide

My personal recommendation for a Festival Camping liner would be the Standard Fine Silk Liner at just £16 (plus P+P).  It offers outstanding comfort and value for money and is small enough to be stuffed into a pocket.  All the Jag Bag silk sleeping bag liners I sell are posted out within 2 days of purchase and they all have a Lifetime Guarantee.  If they ever fail in normal use just send them back for a replacement. Please note – using them to slide across muddy festival fields doesn’t count as normal use.

Silk is an incredibly strong and flexible natural product and treated properly, a Jag Bag silk sleeping bag liner will give years of use.  They’re not just for Festival Camping either they’re ideal for mainstream leisure camping, extreme camping or any kind of travelling.  You can use then in sleeping bags, tents, dorms, hotel beds where you fancy a barrier between you and the sheets or even just by themselves. They can keep you cool, they can keep you warm.  A Jag Bag silk sleeping bag liner is an indispensable and versatile piece of kit.

You can check out the full range of Jag Bags here.

Gather Round

Gather Round

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Trans-Siberian Trainspotters on the Mongol Rally

Posted by paulyrob on June 20, 2009

Follow the epic adventure here

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