AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

It’s Friday and as usual I downloaded the latest edition of The Economist. Perfect timing as today we take the train back to Bangkok then another train journey to Kanchanaburi, about 4.5 hours on a train in total. Anyway, I was reading this article about road safety: Road safety: Reinventing the wheel Road safety in Asia seems to be either completely ignored by governments and the police or everyone just breaks the law and seems to get away with it. A lot of Asian driving techniques appear to be based on luck, if they did it before and it worked they’ll do it again (until their luck runs out). Cutting corners, skipping red lights, just pulling out onto a road are all normal driving techniques. In most of Southeast Asia, in the cities and large towns at least, there has usually been a footpath at the side of the road. But, that footpath is usually used for anything but walking. In Vietnam almost all paths were used for restaurants, shops and moped parking. This made the paths almost unusable and we had to walk on the road, which in Vietnam is a terrifying experience. In China the footpaths are often shaded by trees, great to keep you out of the heat but annoying because the tree trunk takes away about 75% of the path width and also creating a very uneven path as the raised sections of soil provide a huge number of obstacles to avoid (I tripped on these so many times!). Also the path is often used by mopeds to keep them separated from the cars. In Thailand most footpaths are an extension to a shop or are in such bad repair that it is easier and far quicker to walk on the road. As The Economist article states the simple measure of having usable footpaths is a great way to improve safety, but there should be enforcement to stop encroachment onto the path. Driving techniques and modes of transport vary around the region but the one thing they have in common is appallingly low standards (which in a slightly arrogant way annoys me because I can’t drive in many of these countries without paperwork when I’ve passed tests in the UK far above and beyond the local standards). In China it feels like the people have just bought a car and driven off. Lanes in the road appear to meaningless as people just drive all over the road, ignoring the lines and swerving in front of each other. The law stating that turning right is allowed at any time regardless of traffic light colour results...

Read More

Christmas on the road.

Posted on Dec 24, 2013

Whilst planning for the trip one big decision was where to spend Christmas. Now it has got to the big day it really doesn’t feel like Christmas. For a start there has been no continual playing of Slade or The Pogues. Nor has there been the BBC’s advert showing doom and gloom in the Square. Despite missing out on the fantastic Christmas adverts from the major supermarkets we do know it is Christmas. The tourist areas are full of lights. The hotels have trees full of lights and decorations and yet it does not feel like Christmas. It is hot for one thing. Typically films and TV shows have snow and we associate this time of year with Santa, his sleigh and lots of snow. The reality in the UK is somewhat different. Christmas is about cold and dark days and long nights. Secondly, Christmas is about cheesy music. We have heard a few Christmas songs but it doesn’t get you in the Festive Spirit when it is hot. Thirdly, it’s all about the food. Some more exclusive hotels offer Christmas dinner but we are going to be at the temples. This means that for the first time ever or at least since I can remember we won’t be having Christmas lunch and gorging ourselves. Instead it will be a sandwich and some water sat in the shade. Finally, it is all about family and been with them. When my family moved to New Zealand it was very strange going to my Gran’s and it just been the three of us. I think this time of the year is about being with lots of people and family and friends. Now with just the two of us it doesn’t feel quite right. In conclusion, Christmas on the road doesn’t really exist. It is a another day. It may have been different if we were in a Christian country as places would be closed but in a Buddhist nation the 25th December is just another day. However, in years to come I will be able to say that I spent Christmas at Angkor. Not many people can say that. Merry Christmas and a Happy 2014! Posted from Siem Reap, Siem Reap,...

Read More