Ruby Settling In OK

Things here have been fine since my last post. We really have had enough of our small room where we live, so make an effort to get away every weekend now. We have been off to Shrewsbury and Richmond recently, with a camping trip to the Isle of Wight coming up this weekend. We both feel a little more positive and comfortable now that Ruby has started work as there is less pressure financially on us and she also feels like she’s contributing. In general she is very happy with life in UK, but may take some time to get exactly where she wants career-wise. But it’s a start for her, and at the very least Ruby is saving up some money and quickly improving her English.

Aside from the next few weekends we haven’t planned too much. I am just relieved to be able to finally end my credit card after carrying that bill for ages. I will then be entirely debt-free for the first time since 1999! That’s worthy of a celebration, certainly.

We hope to visit China in October to visit Ruby’s 85 year old grandfather, but not sure yet if we’ll be moving out then or not. I hope after that trip to choose the next Asian desination myself, as i really want to go to either Sri Lanka or Borneo next year. I miss travelling a little bit, but in general am happy in UK since returning.

I have nearly got through the close season where the importance of football is clearest. Soon it will be back and i’ll have plenty to fill my time. Whilst waiting i have set up more websites to try to make a little extra money and am hopeful that at xmas they’ll bring in some handy extra money. With each site only costing $10 plus my time, it’s a risk-free gamble.

Things here have been fine since my last post. We really have had enough of our small room where we live, so make an effort to get away every weekend now. We have been off to Shrewsbury and Richmond recently, with a camping trip to the Isle of Wight coming up this weekend. We both feel a little more positive and comfortable now that Ruby has started work as there is less pressure financially on us and she also feels like she’s contributing. In general she is very happy with life in UK, but may take some time to get exactly where she wants career-wise. But it’s a start for her, and at the very least Ruby is saving up some money and quickly improving her English.

Aside from the next few weekends we haven’t planned too much. I am just relieved to be able to finally end my credit card after carrying that bill for ages. I will then be entirely debt-free for the first time since 1999! That’s worthy of a celebration, certainly.

We hope to visit China in October to visit Ruby’s 85 year old grandfather, but not sure yet if we’ll be moving out then or not. I hope after that trip to choose the next Asian desination myself, as i really want to go to either Sri Lanka or Borneo next year. I miss travelling a little bit, but in general am happy in UK since returning.

I have nearly got through the close season where the importance of football is clearest. Soon it will be back and i’ll have plenty to fill my time. Whilst waiting i have set up more websites to try to make a little extra money and am hopeful that at xmas they’ll bring in some handy extra money. With each site only costing $10 plus my time, it’s a risk-free gamble.

Cultured afternoon of Art, Moganshan Road, North Shanghai

After skimming through my Shanghai Guidebooks i noticed that there was an area of small artist shops & exhibitions just around the corner from my flat in Moganshan Lu. The guide went on about 2 specific exhibitions, but we ignored that and just went around and met different artists. There was quite alot of political art which surprised me, plus also contemporary oil paintings and other handcrafts, photography and sculpture. It was a good way to spend the afternoon and we stayed for several hours in the end. Please see the photos below. After wandering around for so long i had a sleep before going out for Sushi in the evening.

Although i liked a lot of the stuff here it was a little overpriced as compared other art in other parts of the city and particularly other cities. I saw a fantastic painting that Ruby and i both wanted, but at 6,000 pounds i don’t think it will be sold anytime soon!

It was good to see that there is a sprawling contemporary arts seen within Shanghai from just around the corner and that freedom of expression does exist to a certain degree here despite what some might think. I can see myself coming back every few months to see what new artists and styles appear in the future.

Cromer, Norfolk Day Trip – Rolling Back The Years

It is a good 20 years since i last went here, and it was great to go back to the seaside resort of Cromer where i had caught smal crabs many years ago as a youngster. It is one of my few memories of childhood and so wanted to spend a few hours pottering around this quiet town to see if it had changed, and try to see if i could recall any of it again.

Though cold, the weather was good with clear sunshine helping me to take some decent photos, see below. We also had customary Fish ‘n’ Chips, with additional Baked Beans for me! The place really reminded me of Old England, a far cry from the hectic, multi-cultural life in London that i had been involved in myself. I’ll be honest, i certainly prefer the latter, which offers up more choice and variety to our otherwise mundane lives, but to see Cromer for the day was interesting and relaxing.

Something i would say for Norfolk from the few days that i have been here is the incredible friendliness that people seem to offer freely around which i have not experienced in China or indeed in London. It is refreshing and takes a while to get used to.

It suits my parents to be here in Norfolk, as my father happily talks to anything and anyone. Later in life, such places would be ideal, but for now the money and culture is in London, so that is where i will head on Friday…

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Cheap Kuala Lumpur ideas needed!

I am starting to get pretty excited and curious about my short stay in Malaysia in a few days time. I must confess to knowing very little about this country and hope to learn about it in the few days that i will be there before flying back to UK. I expect to see plenty of modern high-tech stuff similar to Shanghai and Bangkok and also believe that some old British colonial architecture remains in tact too. I have lined up Hostel Cosmopolitan as the best cheap choice that i can find, and need some ideas for things to do before my flight on Friday afternoon.

So far this page has some good stuff including a monster bird park in the city center, a historical tour, trip to the Petronas Towers and plenty of asian markets as good options.

Funds running low

We have had a lot of problems in recent days with our cashflow. Having been away from the UK for over a year, my debit and credit cards have helpfully been cancelled by HSBC, for reasons they have creatively come up with in order to try to paper over the cracks of the recession, which the banks collectively caused themselves.
My bank used to be pretty good for service, and helpful where possible. But since i left the UK the ‘world bank’ as they call themselves have just given me responses like “sorry sir, can’t help you” or “oh, we can’t do that” or similar. Anyway, having saved up £1,500 before this trip i thought my problems would be at an end. We now have had issues moving cash to the right cards that work in the right country. This has proved harder than expected and our main concerns are just getting home safely and making our flights. We should be fine, and one of the many avenues of cash we’ve tried to set up should come available soon, and help us get home. We’ve still had a GREAT time, but next time i hope we can go without any worries in the back of our minds and just concentrate on organising things to do.

I fly out from Malaysia on Friday and have found a decent looking hostel at £3 a night, which looks like just what the doctor ordered! A few nights there and some local street food in Kuala Lumpur should see me home, whilst Ruby only needs a coach-ride back to Bangkok where she can journey back to Guangzhou and then onto her flat in Ningbo.

Thailand trip coming to a close :-(

We’ll soon by going our separate ways as the trip draws to a close. It has been really great, and the past few days we have been in South Thailand relaxing and just enjoying the seaside and local food. This was what i had planned many months ago, and for me is the type of Thailand that i like most. We have been staying in Ao Nang Beach in Krabi Province in the south of the country, and it has served as a great base from which to island hop around the many beautiful surrounding areas on offer. Having dragged our heavy luggage around Bangkok we decided to find a good hotel and stay there for the duration of the trip. The one we found on Hostelworld.com is about £10 per night and more than adequate for our needs. It is clean, stylish, spacious and with Wifi in the rooms.

Ruby has already mentioned that she wants to return to Thailand at some point and see some of the remaining islands. It has been an exciting time for her to leave China for the first time and get to know a different asian culture at close quarters. Her main observation is the relative politeness of the Thai people, and the cleaner countryside on offer here. There were many Chinese influences in Bangkok for her, but the areas of South Thailand that we have seen so far have been more like Spanish island resorts with small seaside shops and fresh seafood the main attractions. There are also predominantly westerners here, with Thai workers, and most appear to be Germans, Russians and the like.

Bangkok done… Off to Krabi tomorrow…

We have had a GOOD time in Bangkok, and are really looking forward to the second week of the trip, which should be the island paradise that most people consider when talking of Thailand. Bangkok has been an interesting place for many reasons, and decent starting point for discovering Thailand, but the island retreats are really what we came here for.

After some financial issues were resolved we can now relax a little more. My cards from UK were not really much use, but i can rely on my Shanghai cards to get me by until back in blighty. We’ve managed to see the main sites in Bangkok without being too tourist-anal and have struck a good balance between sight-seeing and relaxing. I am hoping that the beach areas of Thailand will offer the simplicities that we need – sun, sea and sizzling seafood! :-) Only time will tell, and there are many options available for that island paradise feel. Krabi looks good for its location which allows Ruby and I to go our separate ways reasonably equidistant from our respective flights home – Bangkok for her and Kuala Lumpur for me.

We feel a bit more in control of our trip now and i’ve negotiated well with locals to get some completely free Tuk-Tuk trips around the city on the agreement that we’d spend a short time in local tailors, which reward drivers for delivering unsuspecting tourists. An Oscar-winning actor i might not be, but i have atleast seemed interested enough in my token 10 minutes in each establishment to earn my driver 50 Baht (£1) and allowed him to carry on our journey for free. It seems a good deal to me, and better than earlier in the week when we let the drivers tell us the deals.

I have just stuck all our photos from the last five days or so in Thailand on my Flickr account, so check that out if you’re interested… I shall also add another post soon, once we arrive in Krabi. We’re not sure yet, but that maybe our permanent base for the week before we part our separate ways and i return to London town on the 30th!!!

Thailand… at last!!

Finally, after a lot of faffing about and organising we have arrived in Bangkok and have two weeks to spend in Thailand. We haven’t planned to much for the trip itself, but instead were busy getting Ruby’s flat in Ningbo up and running and adding a visa to her brand new passport. The Chinese holidays also delayed us as many things were shut down at the start of this month. After spending a week in her flat we managed to fly out via Guangzhou and Ruby is an excited traveller who has left China for the first time. Having targeted Thailand for a good holiday when i first came to Asia, i am pleased to finally have made it here and all i meant to do has now been done.

Main experiences so far after a few days here have been avoiding all the scams that go on and generally enjoying meeting the lovely Thai people. We’re looking forward to getting out to the calmer, cleaner Thai countryside in a few days and i will also be flying back from Malaysia so can enjoy one or two nights in Kuala Lumpur.

Packing Going Well, Out By Sunday

Damn packing is boring! My stuff will soon be on the way home in two large boxes. The rest i shall cart around Thailand for a few weeks. Ruby had a whopping 80KG for me to drag around Shanghai this morning. Certainly, i will be pleased to have all this done by the end of the week.

They say that job hunting and moving house are some of the more stressful things you can do. Well, to do both at the same time isn’t ideal, but i wouldn’t say we’re too stressed out yet, just a bit bored of moving all the time. I will be pleased to finally settle down into a flat of my own soon, hopefully early next year, as renting isn’t exactly a great investment and im certainly happy to stay in London for a few years if all goes well.

It’s quite funny to be back on Facebook. I might not like the thing, but it is quite an important way to keep up on things these days, particularly if you have friends in different places, which i do after living in a few different cities. Having said that, most people are just like “Oh, you know, same old same old”. But i’m the age where the odd person will have just got married, child or whatever. And by the time i get to 40 i guess they’ll be some divorces too :-P (Though hope not!) I am quite glad to see my parents haven’t, and never will be, joining the thing though. To have your parents as friends on Facebook is like having a party as a teenager and giving them free reign – it just ain’t a good idea!!

One Week Left In Shanghai

It will be a BUSY week with plenty of packing and organising to get through. We are trying to send all our things by courier early this week so that tidying up the flat will be easier. I haven’t got too much to send back and can keep most in my suitcase. It isn’t ideal to carry too much around Thailand, though, so my Wii & Ipod Speaker system will get home a month early! I’m hoping to stick all my valuable bits into one box and send via EMS. It shouldn’t cost much more than a few hundred Yuan to get that back to my parents’ house in the UK. A number of colleagues have sent boxes home to Europe without any problems so it should be fairly straight forward.

We now plan to move Ruby’s things to Lanzhou where she can stay with her family until her visa comes through, hopefully later this year. We shall have a short tour around China to complete some tasks before we end up in Thailand. We shall visit Ningbo, Xian, Lanzhou and maybe also Qingdao before heading south to the golden sand beaches & blue clear waters :-) With everything done at that point, the holiday should be a great, relaxing break. Our funds look ok too for a good month or so there.