Thursday, 29 October 2009

Indo... yeehaa!

Made it to Indonesia! Imediately feels completely differant to the last place (not Singapore!), smiley, chatty, helpful people. We arrived via Batam which is an island 10km off Singapore where we had our visas stamped then hopped on a plane (super cheap) up to Medan. The car arrived on the date it was due and we headed down to the port to the customs office to attempt to clear it ourselves.

First thing that happened on arrival at customs head office was that we were looked after! Taken into the office of one of the officials who told us where our container was and that it was 5km away and we needed to go to the smaller customs office there. Of course we had no transport (taxi had left) so he borrowed a friends car and drove us there himself. It gets better. At the small office he introduces us to Ady who will look after us. Ady arranges for me to hop on the back of a bike with his "fixer" and we shoot off to the relevant import office where we are taken past the main desk, where everyone else goes, and into the operations managers office. His name is Wayan which is a Balinese name (not difficult to work out as they only have four!) and so I said "how are you?" in Balinese as opposed to Indonesian, he was blown away! So my new best friend smooths our import gives us a discount rate and handed over the clearance papers. Meanwhile Ady contacted the shippers and Mr Saur from the shippers arranged for a truck to bring the container from the port to his yard where we drove the car out!! All this while Kym was sat in Ady's office being fed and watered! £148 all in. A bit differant from the £600 in India. Bloody brilliant.

So we leave Medan today via Carrefour to stock up, and head to the orangutang sanctuary at Bukit Lawang.

On the road again and it feels great.....

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Photo Happy?

Photo Singapore

Photo Singapore

Photo Singapore

Photo Singapore

Photo "Botanika"

Photo "Botanika"

Photo Singapore

Photo Garth and Sheila


Just another quickie.. Been at Garth and Sheila's in Singapore receiving therapy by way of being totally spoilt by the pair of them. Posh restaurants, trendy lunches, swimming pool, bicycle, beer fridge and chauffeured everywhere. Thank you so much you two.

Sorted the Indonesian visas, re-united with my boards that I left here early this year and are now off to Sumatra tomorrow. Car should arrive in Medan tomorrow so with good fortune and o doubt some greasing of palms we should have our home back later this week.

This week has felt like we've been lifted out of our travels and given time to process what just happened and I can't stress how nice it's been, but we watched a bit of Charlie and Ewan on "the Long way round" this morning and have got the itch again.

Photo Singapore

Friday, 16 October 2009

Quick add on..

...just got the details of the shipping... the boat is called... Kama Bhum..!!!!?

Photo Washing

Don't let Kym tell you I never do any washing!!

Photo Wrapped

Gone..... nearly

Car's in another box and we is currently in the YWCA in Chennai for 24 more hours.

After much wrangling and two free nights in a posh hotel (courtesy of mine and Kym's screaming at the customer relations guy at Toyota) we managed to leave Hyderabad with the car in almost one piece. The CR guy at Toyota asked me in all seriousness "is it not like this in British garages" I confessed that the "rip off the customer" mentality still occasional occurred, but had to admit that generally when you take a car to a garage for repairs in the UK you don't expect it to take 6 weeks and be lied to constantly and then find that when you pick the car up the work hasn't in fact been done and you have to spend the next 12 hours at the garage shouting at people what needs to be done next. "Oh" he said.

Journey was without incident and Chennai on a Sunday afternoon appeared to be nothing like the doom and gloom painted by the Lonely Planet. Wide roads, trees and even street sweepers! Check into the YWCA which is a bit like a 1950's hospital. Old but very clean and with very polite staff, so many in fact we're not sure what they all do. There are four guys that sit on a bench at the foot of the staircase all in a blue uniform, that seem to spend the day drawing lines in books with rulers? Care in the community?

Visited the shipping agents told them what they had to do and yesterday lo and behold I took the car to a container yard and checked in with customs (lovely office), car loaded and bubble wrapped (!) and now back in the YW for 24 hours before we catch a plane for Singapore.

The car will be en-route to Medan in Indonesia for 10-15 days so I think, not wanting ti impose too much on our friends in Singapore, that we may train it up into Malaysia and find a beach on Langkawi to tan ourselves on. Then fast ferry from Penang to Medan to meet the car. Well that's a rough plan.

Kym got food poisoning two days ago and was spectacularly sick for a night ("Gary... it won't go down the sink.." lovely, I knew there was a reason I don't eat fish) but is recovering and thanks for the staff here who looked after her yesterday while I was at the docks. I have decided after much derision from my best man that it was time for the locks to fall. I was convinced I was starting to look like Prof. Mick from the Time Team so off it came and it feels great. Laugh all you want!

Photo No not the old office.... the current one.

Photo Passing time in the Shipping agents office.

Photo Bcak on the road Hyderabad to Chennai

Photo emptying the car in Hyderabad

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Just so you all know, if you want to post a comment to our blog just click on the word comment under the post or photo you want to comment on and follow instructions.Thanks.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Would just like to share with you some of the snippets from some of the great E-mails & support we have had -

Claude, New Zealand.

Just had a look at your latest photos and adventure, stunning scenery but I don't think I would like all the difficulties you are going through, too much to be enjoyable.
I do hope you get out of there soon and that you will be able to be on your way safely and happily before long. Back here not much since my last email. The weather is very unsettled, as you may have heard there has been a earthquake and a tsunami in Samoa, quite a lot of damage and many lives lost. Samoa is quite close to NZ and as you are probably aware lots of Samoan live here in Auckland, furthermore, NZ government helps Samoa big time since they are not very economically strong at the best of time, right now there are a lot of help and support taking place in order to help rebuild was is left of the island. A real tragedy.
Well, as I said, not much to report, it is still early for me to get my thoughts going in a constructive manner!!! so before I waffle on too much I will wish you both lots of patience and a sense of humour.

Take care and go well. Big hugs + Lots of love

Jen - Australia,

I had a lovely chat with monsieur cocoa today and he told me about your blog. So i thought i would check it out, and got hooked, i read the whole thing from start to finish! I look forward to more... The french family were pretty inspirational..i have dreams of something similar with my tribe....Anyway i hope to see you guys here when you finally get to oz.

Thanks for the tales. Happy travels, Jen x

Jen- Australia.

I understand the travel bit being hard, and what makes is harder is you feel guilty for not enjoying yourself and people thinking you are whinging when you are doing such an amazing thing. BUT, travelling is bloody hard...the constant moving, the constant searching for basic necessities, the packing and unpacking, people have as a rule given up a nomadic existence for a reason. So you shouldn't feel bad if you are having a bad time. I just hope it improves. The accident must have been a bit of a shock. Sounds like you could do with some TLC, shame you aren't in Australia already. Look after yourself and give yourself a treat!!
The blog is great, you are both good story tellers, and the photos are amazing.

Anyway i better go, frank is unrolling toilet rolls, and the house looks like a Nepalese temple with prayer flags floating in the breeze...!
Jen. xxxxxx

Not much to report otherwise, just thought I would say HI, HI, Hi. Hope you get somewhere with your car but don't waste too much energy on it, the main thing is that your are both OK and well, the rest is very frustrating but in the big scheme of life very low down on the priority, Sorry, not trying to sound patronising but encouraging and supportive.
do your best, but if you have to walk away with of hole in your budget, c'est la vie and part of the adventure.
Amazing how these little ants can become quite annoying so rapidly... Will have to find someway of dealing with my annoyance and will try to ignore them, may be they will go away... Or I will just stop typing, may be that would be a good idea and I could go and cook a delicious diner for the crew, tonight,a little saute of prawns with garlic and a hint of citrus je ne sais quoi, actually sounds good but have no idea how this latest idea will turn out. Will serve it on a bed of couscous with crispy vegetables with a sprinkle of orange zest and toasted nuts. If it sounds good to you, feel free to drop in anytime, always room for you guys.

Must go now, waffled enough already, must keep captain cod fish happy and fed.

Keep up the good work.

Biggest hugs, sunny skies and stunning sunsets


Angela - it will all be worth it! X

Igor - Big kisses to you both from all of us!!! We think a lot about you. Hope you will get out quickly now and with your truck !!!! See you soon!!!!

Emma - You're not still in India are you? See, it's just like home - everything needs a form and an official person. So that you know we are suffering with you in spirit, I'll dedicate my current gut lurgy to you and Gary. Much love and bug hugs to you both. Still what a brilliant story it will be...

Fabienne - Hey Kym. Sounds like it's been a bit tough lately ;( Just think - you are on the journey to an amazing new chapter in your life!! Its very courageous to do what you're doing. Give yourself a pat on the back for pushing the boundaries and facing the challenges head on. You will come away even stronger for it! Big hug. Xx F.

Eleonore - I love you xxx

Rebecca - hi honey - hope you both healthy and well and having an awesome time! love to you both x x x

Kat - oh me god!!! wow wee, how amazing for you. Megs updated me on your incredible journey!!!! For fear of sounding abit cheesy I'm so excited for you xxx loads of love.

Mark - It was really great to chat with you both this morning, your photo's are awesome and the Electricity in your voice when you mentioned the Dali Lama was infectious - Thanks! Stay Safe we Love you very much S&Mx

Ian Ramon - amazing and inspirational reading, hope things are going a bit better for you now than last time i read some.
Safe journeys to you both.

Luke - you've done the yin your on the yang.

Rob - Glad you are both OK! Sound like you need a surf!

So please guys if you are enjoying the blog share with us your thoughts, even if it's only a one liner, it gives us the support we need to keep going when the times are hard & just really great to hear from anyone when the times are good. It is very easy to leave a comment on our blog or e-mail us & you'll never know how many times we check mail & comments to see if we have any.
You have the ability to put smiles on our faces.
ClAUDE - New Zealand.

Hi Guys

Me again, I sure will blame you if my orange jam is burned!!!

Two names are missing on your list, sorry but I have to tell you as it is.

THANK YOU to you both GARY & KYM for doing this trip and keeping us posted in your adventure, you are part of our life and you have enlightened many grey moments with your tales.

Keep them coming.

I have really got to go... more kisses & hugs (can never have enough of all this body stuff)


Thursday, 8 October 2009

Huge Thank you.

Well guys it's been six months now since we left the U.K to set off on our mad adventure & so far it sure has proved to be quite an adventure & still four more months left in Indonesia before we start our travels around Australia (if we actually have any money left that is.)
As most of you are aware the last six weeks have been some of the hardest but would of been even harder without our support network behind us. We would just like to Thank everyone for their tremendous support, and some, more individually.

To our fantastic Mum P, Thank you for being there through the good & bad times & always listening when we've just needed to sound off, and for all your love & pride, you make us feel like amazing people. Also Thank you for being so determined to leave comments on our blog, I think you need to tick the anonymous box & then just send !!

To my dear big brother Nic, Thanks Bro for all our Skype sessions, you always say the right thing & make me feel so proud of myself & you. I wish Skype could sort out virtual hugs too.

To Gary's Nan who never fails to warm our hearts with her excitement when she hears our voices when we call.

To my little sister Toirs who has to go & sit in a dingy old mans pub in Rotherham just to beable to have a skype chat with me, glad you've got over the embarrassment of talking to a computer while sitting in the corner of a pub being stared at. My one wish is that you could get Jon to also tag along.

Lou & Rob whom we have regular skype chat's with, so much so that Lou thinks we are still in Taunton & are just painting a different background every time we skype. Thanks Love for helping me release all those tears whenever our call ends & for all the love you,Rob & Archie give us over the net. You give us a sense of normality when all around us is insanity.

Claude, a huge Thank you for you regular e-mails, they are so refreshingly normal and help us to keep our feet on the ground by knowing that normal life goes on outside of this what sometime is our bizarre reality. Your a star.

Gareth & Su, BIG Thanks for looking after our responsibilities back home, you guys are doing a grand job, we couldn't do this trip with quite so much confidence if we didn't have friends like you.

Thea & Jamie, Thanks guys,we wouldn't be getting out of India without your help. For this we are in your debt. (but we will sort out how to pay you we promise!)

Julian, thanks mate for dropping everything & getting on the case with the parts for us, & also thanks for your honesty, you always tell it how it is.

And of course to everyone reading and following our journey especially the Magicseaweed lot who keep patting Gary on the back.

So huge Thanks guys really these last few weeks would of been even harder without all your support & love

Photo 1001 bar

celebratory beer after the cricket

Light at the end?

Somerset Sabres by virtue of making the final of the UK domestic 20twenty league were invited to play in the Indian champions league 20twenty tournament against a selection of the best 20twenty teams in the world. Their home base just happens to be Hyderabad. Fortunately or unfortunately depending on which way you look at it, their first game doesn't take place until Saturday night and by then we will hopefully be in Chennai. But after some detective work by Gareth back in Somerset we found out they were playing a practice game against Otago volts at a local club ground. So we hopped in a rickshaw and there they were playing on what could have been a village pitch anywhere. We couldn't help but be conspicuous we were the only spectators there! After a few questions and answers and some introductions we were made to feel welcome. After half time and with Somerset batting, Charl Willoughby (opening bowler) came over for a chat. It was great to hear news of Taunton but Kym can't believe no one has told her that TK Max is opening! At the end of the game (Sabres thrashed Volts) the whole team signed our India map posed for photo's and gave us some freebies. Can't really thank them enough for giving us a real lift after what have been a tough few weeks. They were all genuinely interested in our trip and it couldn't help but boost our pride in ourselves for what we're doing. Thanks guys definitely the best day in Hyderabad and good luck on Saturday (in front of 45,000 people!!).

Photo Shiny happy people!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009


Got our extension stamps this morning. Told to be there at 1100, got the passport back at 1400. Car should be ready on Thursday so going to set off for Chennai early doors on Fri. Hopefully the floods will have receded a bit by then..

Friday, 2 October 2009

Photo Police station

apologies for quality but I took this with my phone. This is the office of Grupenfuhrer Himmler, on reflection you can see why his got a bad attitude.

Visa fun

The Police Commission Special Branch in Hyderabad isn't the first place you'd think of for visa matters but here it was that we found ourselves in the foreigners department along with about 50 Yemeni's, Nigerians, Somalians, Afghani's and other assorted nations. Turns out they are all students registering their residency in India. Honestly you'd think they were criminals from the lower classes the way they were treated. That went for us as well. You ask a question you get shouted at you ask someone else they shout something else. Eventually we found someone (I think we just made nuisances of ourselves until someone had to deal with us) to help us who took us to see they senior commissioner who told us we can't extend a tourist visa unless it is exceptional circumstances ie death or the like. We pointed out that it was illegal for us to leave the country without our vehicle (true) and that it was unable to be driven. He says "so put it on a lorry", fair point I suppose. Then Kym came in with the master stroke and made it clear that we didn't actually want to stay in India and if it wasn't for Indian bureaucracy and the fact that Toyota had failed spectacularly we would in fact be well on our way. Then she asked them for their help. The senior commissioner told his two staffers that he wanted us troubled no more and to give us the maximum 15 day extension. We were marched out of his office and back to the admin office where e the staffer made it abundantly clear that he did not want to do this. He said how do we know that the repair would be carried out in time, we told him it was a straightforward repair and the parts would be here soon. He wanted us to buy a plane ticket dated before the extension date, we told him that we would like nothing more but that if the repairs were done sooner we would like to fly earlier, he seemed insistent but his colleague pointed out that the big chief didn't want us troubled so he capitulated. Well that is to say he gave us two forms and told us to come back with 5 photos each, a letter of explanation passports and visas and a letter from our hotel confirming we were staying there, all copied 4 times. After to-ing and fro-ing a few times we got back to Police HQ and made ourselves nuisances again by going straight to his desk and sitting right under his nose. He couldn't ignore us for too long (he bloody tried though) and asked us what we were doing. Politely we explained we done everything he asked and he said "come back tomorrow at 1030". We both spoke over each other loudly enough for most of the room to hear of our disappointment at his order, again his colleague came to our rescue and told him to at least check the paperwork so that we would have no further hold ups tomorrow. Duly checked and stapled together he chucked it back at us and said see you tomorrow.

Such a lovely place. We couldn't wait to get back there. 1000 we got there along with all the Africans (all they are trying to do is what's required of them and they're treated like cattle, the guy who was dealing with us actually had aright go at one of them for not signing one of the hundreds of forms they have to fill out "you stupid bugger don't you have a brain in your skull go away and do it again". It just smacked of racism and made us feel really uncomfortable. After some queue jumping (Kym using the fact that the Africans are generally too polite to women to protest) we took our paper work to the Chief who duly signed it, then back through to the SS officer who quite clearly wasn't going to do any more for us. Once more his side kick helped us out. Now by now we knew it was a done deal what we didn't expect was to be given a slip of paper with a signature on it to go in our passports and be told we had to go back to HQ on the 6th Oct. Whoooppeeeee can't wait.

Photo Sheets

I promise you, these sheets have just been put on the bed by room service.

Photo Room

Photo Mmmmmm

Photo Bathroom

check out the water heater!!


We had to get back to Hyderabad. This time we booked AC sleeper which was a little more expensive but boy was it worth it. Curtains across the beds, padded chairs, air conditioning (suprisingly not too cold) and bedding provided in a little brown paper parcel all freshly laundered. The caterers didn't shout and the first Chai wallah didn't arrive 'till 0730 in the morning, do it people it's worth it. Nothing seemed to be progressing with the car and it had become obvious that we would have to extend our visas (oh joy). 2 and 1/2 weeks after telling us it would take about 20 days to get the parts, Toyota in Hyderabad 'fessed up that they had in fact failed miserably to even find out the part numbers. A quick internet search and a couple of calls and we'd managed to find not only the parts but the part numbers aswell, on imparting this infomation to Toyota they suggested it might be quicker to get the parts ourselves!!? The wonder of e-bay and friends in Brisbane and Much Haddham (real place, not made up(cheers Thea Jamie and Julian) and the parts are now being DHL'd to us here in Hyderabad. The really annoying part of this is that if we had ordered the parts to start with we wouldn't be here now. We're now in a shitty hotel, we could pay more and stay somewhere else but to be perfectly honest it would only be a different degree of shitty, and have been trying to keep our spirits up by tracking our parcel online and going to the cinema (Transformers 2 on Imax screen probably the closest I'll ever get to Megan Fox!!). Of course we have been going through the process of extending our visas aswell.

Photo Hampi

Photo Hampi

Was going to make some crack about the Hindu space programme but seeing as they've got a space craft orbiting the moon thought better of it.

Photo Hampi

Ganesh carved from one boulder.

Photo Hampi

Photo Hampi

Photo Hampi

Photo Hampi

Photo Hampi


No one ever said it was going to be easy (thanks for reminding us Julian;)) but for gods sake why do the Indians have to make everything so bloody difficult. Why can't you just approach a rickshaw driver instead of being hassled by them, and just say where you want to go, get in, get there and just pay a reasonable price. No, you have to go through the whole rigmarole of negotiating a price, of course they start of with something extortionate and you go from there. Normally this process is done light hearted and with some fun but here they just seem to want to rip you off, they think we're all millionaires, no really. Any how, we lucked into two rickshaws that needed to get to where we wanted to go so we hopped in. Then you start the fricken thing again when you get to a guesthouse! I deal with all of this by shutting up generally and letting Kym get mad at 'em but every now and then you just can't help going past frustrated and trying to point out to the person your dealing with the futility of the situation. Of course they have no idea what your talking about. Back to being quiet then!

Hampi was pretty cool in a sort of jungle book way, falling down temples surrendering to lush green vegetation with a beautiful river running through it in amongst a huge granite boulder landscape. Could have done with the king of swingers to cheer us up though. It's a huge area and the ruins are spread over miles so we hired bikes and went off cycling. Damn it was hot, and hilly, and no gears; but fun. The photo's do the place more justice than I can so check 'em out. The big tall temple is still very much in use and is a big religious pilgrimage site for Hindus and Jains alike (strictly no meat or alcohol in Hampi, but the hostels do serve "special drinks"!?) We were staying only a few yards from the temple so got used to seeing all the sadhus, babas and devotional pilgrims walking about in their meagre saffron robes with there painted faces asking for money from tourists to have a photo taken (guileless charlatans).

Photo Great scenery

Photo comfy?

Photo Waterfall

Photo Steve and Sarah discussing who's going on top.

Leaving John and Pema

Rattling along

First train journey was 18hrs. 1035 Thur arr 0615 Fri. Then a 1 hr wait and another 7hrs to our final destination Hospet which is Hampi's station. Neither of us was particularly looking forward to it but it served a purposed and got us moving again, plus we had Steve and Sarah as company. We'd booked sleeper class which I will do my best to describe. Imagine the old style carriages with separate compartments take away the compartment doors then on each side of the compartment put 3 bunks. The middle bunk folds up during the day so the bottom bunk becomes a 3 person (make that 5 Indians) bench seat. The top bunk is too close to the ceiling to sit up on. Now imagine outside the compartment there are two more bunks running along the side of the corridor. Don't forget to take away the fact that there are no doors or partitions and you hopefully have a vague picture of sleeper class. Now add plastic covered seats and vertical backs with a minuscule amount of padding, cockroaches, barred open windows and "caterers" walking past every 30 seconds shouting chai chai chai coffee coffee coffee bhaji bhaji bhaji etc etc etc and on top of that hundreds of dark brown eyes staring at you. It was all quite an experience...... for about 45 seconds. Somehow we got some sleep (unbelievably it actually goes quiet from about 2300 - 0430) and after breakfast of puffed pastry things (I've no idea) and chai at Madgaon station we hopped on the next train which was far less busy and rattled up on to the Deccan plateau through amazing scenery even passing under waterfalls. Steve having confessed to no sleep the night before climbed on to the top bunk and did a good impression of a corpse (so good that Sarah actually checked he was still breathing a couple of times!) so missing all of this. Kym and Sarah did what girls do best so I put the headphones on and blissed out to an hour of Cat Power.