Tuesday, 10 November 2009

notes from a small sofa

The plane from Bangkok landed at Kathmandu international airport in the late morning and my connecting internal flight to Pokhara wasn’t till 2pm. So I had plenty of time to walk the several hundred metres to the domestic terminal….

Hang on a minute…..Noooooooo!

Well that was what was supposed to of happened, but I broke my leg and snapped my ankle in Malaysia during the middle of August! So instead of arriving in Nepal I went to the day surgery unit at Milton Keynes hospital to have the screws removed.

Since the last operation to have my screws fitted back in the 1st week of September I have been mostly bored! Ten weeks of sitting on a sofa thinking about what I should have been doing instead


paragliding in Bali
Diving in Bali
Seeing the dragons on the island of komodo
Hanging out on the Tioman islands (where the film south pacific was filmed) and diving in amongst the pristine corals offshore
Learning to surf in the warm waters off the east coast of Malaysia

I’ve been sitting on two sofas, my parents and my sisters and there are pros and cons to each of them

Parent’s sofa pros
Free beer
When it rains I don’t get wet whilst having a fag outside

Parent’s sofa cons
Afternoon “quiet times”
Having to watch “midsummer murders” seemingly every bloody day!
Getting off the sofa, it’s to low down for comfort

Sister’s sofa pros
Control of the tv remote till 7pm
A double bed to sleep on (round the parents its only a single)
Wifi internet access

Sister’s sofa cons
Having to pay for my own beer and food
Going up the stairs
Not having a downstairs toilet
Cat hair

If it’s raining, getting wet when having a fag!

After the 1st week of the operation I had a nice lightweight polycarbonate cast fitted which was great but the fun started after it came off 4 weeks later….

Q) How much fun can it be to peel dead skin off the sole of your foot?
A) Lots!!!!!

However the people around you might beg to differ.

With the cast off I could start trying to flex my ankle again and stretch my Achilles tendon. Flexing my foot away from me was quite easy to achieve but trying to point my toes towards me hasn’t been as successful. I still have over an inch to go….

Right now I have a two week wait whilst the wound heals and hopefully I’ll avoid getting an infection in it.

After that the physiotherapy rehabilitation begins …..

Ps: every time my sister picked me up from the parent’s house to take me down to her place my parents gave her a cash “bribe” or “backhander” to make sure she did…it’s so nice to be wanted!

Monday, 17 August 2009

I'm H.A.P.P.Y

My sister wheeled me to the car park of terminal 5 and once we were on the road heading towards the M4 I looked at her with big puppy dog eyes. Moments later I was impersonating a beagle that had just been rescued by the A.L.F. My head was sticking out of the window with a fag in my mouth enjoying the coolness of an English summer morning, the complete lack of humidity in the air and the six hundred or so chemicals found in a full fat Marlboro

40 minutes and a few fags later we reached my sister’s house in Wokingham. Coffee, a bacon buttie and a beer followed and then it was back on the road to Buckingham, my parent’s house and the A&E department of Milton Keynes hospital.

My parents were pleased to see me (but that wouldn’t last for long) and after a coffee and a chat my mum took me to the hospital. After chatting with the lass at A&E I had an appointment for the fracture clinic on Wednesday morning. Back at the house, my feet were up, a large plate of cheese was nearby and the TV was on Dave for all those lovely reruns of Top Gear!

On Wednesday I was back at the hospital chatting with the doctor as we looked at my x-rays. Turns out that the doctors in Malaysia had missed the fact that my fibula had sheared of the ankle bone!!! The doctor told me how many screws and bits of wire would be needed to rebuild my ankle and then I was wheeled up to ward 21 to await the surgery the following morning.

The last time I stayed in a hospital was over 20 years ago (for a broken leg…same bone, same leg!) and I really wasn’t looking forward to it…but was I in for a surprise! The ward only had 6 beds in it, each of them with a remote control for raising and lowering various bits of the mattress, which was nice. The nurses and health care assistants were great, they brought me coffee!!!!

The following day I woke up in the recovery room after the surgery and for some reason they wouldn’t give me a coffee. Also someone had shaved the top of my right thigh? Back on the ward the nurse, after much pleading, produced a coffee. Damn it tasted great!

The next morning (Friday) I was discharged, with new and comfortable crutches and a bag of painkillers. I had a week of lounging around the house until I had to return for a check up and a lite weight cast at the fracture clinic.

Back at the parents house life was easy if somewhat slow, boring and slightly painful. The painkillers did the trick and after a little pondering I worked out that I hadn’t had a bowel movement for 3 days. I think that a couple of pounds of cheese on the Monday and Tuesday had blocked me up somewhat. Thankfully I had some laxative along with the painkillers and by the next day I was “with movement” which was nice!

The next Friday I was back at the fracture clinic for the post op one week check up. After the x-ray I swung into the doctor’s office to see him looking intently at my x-ray. Even I, with my limited medical training, could see that they was something not quite right! Turns out that my bones had “pinged” apart and that I would need to go under the knife again, this time with bigger screws…bugger!

Back on ward 21 I said hello once again to the nurses and settled down into the bed I had left behind last week. The surgery was booked for the following morning until I mentioned to the doctor that some puss had oozed trough the bandages. I was put on a course of anti-biotics and as this was the bank holiday weekend I would be here till the doctor came back on Tuesday.

Once again the nurses and care assistants were just great. The coffee was hot and strong and the food was surprisingly tasty. The long weekend was indeed long and only my liver was enjoying the rest!

On the Tuesday the consultant came back from his weekend off and looked at my ankle. I would be having the surgery the next day! However…the next day came around and it turns out they were busy. As I was a low priority and they were unable to guarantee a place on the table instead of spending all day “nil by mouth” only to be disappointed by the evening time they booked me in for the next day. Even before the doctor had left the ward I was pressing the call button to order breakfast!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

I'm sure i am...


Getting off the bus at the main carnival landing site I was greeted by the intriguing looks of school kids at the bus stop. This wasn’t a surprise as the carnival site was the local school.
Meeting up with the local pilots, a few of whom I had met before, we jumped into a 4x4 and headed off to the landing zone nearest the ridge and take off. Asked if I wanted to fly I replied “Nah!” All I wanted was a shower and a cold beer. A few hours later the pilots had landed and we made our way to the festival accommodation.

This turned out to be a “typical Malay village homestead experience”, so I got to sleep on the floor of a hut. As alcohol was banned all I got was a shower! The price of the weekend was only 50RM (£8.70) but the actual cost was a lot higher than that. Thanks must go to the state government and the Malaysian tourist board that had heavily subsidised it. For the money you got

Four nights accommodation
Breakfast, lunch and diner
Free transport to take off
Free recovery from landing
Free transport to and from kuala lumpur international airport

And of course the chance to win the top cash prize of nearly £600 if you came 1st In the flight endurance challenge…I wasn’t holding out any hope of winning that!

The next morning it was up early and after breakfast off to take off for 6 hours of parawaiting! The wind was coming from every direction except the one we needed to take off from. Thankfully there were several shade marquees to lounge under but it was still damn hot. It was approaching 4pm when the wind finally settled down in the right direction and people started to take off.

With about 15 people in the sky I took of and all I got was that sinking feeling! Well a 5 minute flight is better than no flight at all. The landing zone at the bottom of the ridge is a series of dirt tracks winding their way through the terraces of a newly planted palm tree plantation. The roads are in all directions so no matter which way the wind is blowing a place to land is easy to find.

I had set up a nice long approach glide following one of the tracks (in a nil wind environment) and was gently coming into land. A few metres above the ground I was drifting away from the middle of the track and out towards the edge. Weight shifting to the right with my brakes fully on I came into land with the knowledge that the landing would require several steps to run off the speed but nothing too serious or strenuous.

My right foot hit the track, my left hit the slightly softer ground on the edge of the track. I was halfway through my next stride when it came to my attention that I was unable to move my left leg (turns out it was trapped under a rock)…bugger! The right hand side of my body smacked into the dirt and gravel of the track before I tumbled ass over tit, coming to a rest on my back. I lifted up my head and looked at my left leg. Somehow the laces of the boot were facing me whilst the toes were pointing downwards to the left and my ankle bone was “resting” on the cuff of the boot pushing against the skin. “That’s going to need surgery” I said to myself.

Then the pain hit me…..

I wailed for help and then through gritted teeth kept on saying fuck, fuck, fuck me, fuck it hurts, oh fuck me it hurts, fuck it, fuck……….

The rescue team’s 4x4 turned up very quickly and the looks on all three of their faces were far from reassuring!!!!

30 minutes later I was in the A&E of the local hospital and yes the pain in my ankle was still there. X-rays followed then a bed and a decent amount of painkillers. By 20:20 the drugs had worn off and the pain returned with a vengeance. The 1st two shots of drugs really were far from effective and it took an hour of searing pain till I managed to persuade them for a 3rd hit. This time they changed the drug and it worked.

At 11pm I was wheeled into a room and they explained that the nice man standing in the corner would be manually putting my ankle back into place. After seeing the look on my face they assured me that they would give me a painkilling injection 1st…phew! The drug worked really well and my smiling euphoric face watched as the man grabbed hold of my ankle and foot, pulled then clicked my ankle back into position. Then a cast was put on and I was wheeled back to the ward, my bed and a drug induced stupor that lasted till the morning.

Come the morning came the x-rays and the doctors. The x-ray showed that I had broken my fibula (news to me!) about 5 inches below the knee and also that I had chipped a chunk of bone off my ankle that would need securing back into place with either a screw or a plate. When they started to discuss surgery times I interrupted them. “Thanks but no thanks” I said “I’m going back to England ASAP and have the surgery done there”. At 1st they were all against it but when I pointed out that I was actually travelling they relented. They had assumed that I was in fact an Ex-pat!

As I was travelling they gave me a very safe cast that came halfway up my thigh and weighed several kilos. On Saturday afternoon I was discharged and I managed to get a flight on Sunday afternoon back to England via Hong Kong.

My sister was waiting for me when I came through the arrivals gate at 05:36 Monday morning

Sunday, 9 August 2009

i know i am...

Days of lounging around in the red tomato garden café and Debbie’s bar finally came to an end! After 4 hours sleep I was up way to early to catch the 07:30 ferry back to the mainland and the bus to Kuala Lumpur. I had 4 nights in the city and I was in town a few hours before the community shield kicked off. Chelsea won and I was happy.

I was in town to get a 60 day visa for Indonesia and after checking the location of the embassy via Google maps I was on my way on Monday morning. Turns out Google maps got the location wrong and after a long 20 minute walk to the right coordinates I arrived at the embassy.(which by the way was only a 10 minute walk from my hotel!!!!!) My way was blocked by etiquette: I was wearing shorts and not long trousers. As it turns out I don’t own a pair of long pants, so looks like I had to go shopping after all.

The next day, wearing long pants, I turned up early and applied for the visa. Forms were filled out, money paid and between 4pm and 5pm that day I would be able to pick up my passport complete with the visa!
After wishing the day away I picked up the passport and on the way back to the hotel I popped into a mall for some window shopping and A/C therapy! What a stroke of luck…I was wondering around a sports shop when I came across the holy grail of travelling shoes….Merrells!!!! As was in need for a new pair of shoes it was a joy to behold.

On Thursday morning I was back on the road heading down to the small town of Bahau a few hours south of Kuala Lumpur to take part in the international paragliding festival that was taking place over the weekend.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Attack of the killer fish!

I was flying out of Medan international airport (relax, you can smoke inside. Past passport control, 1st floor on the right!) with airasia.com. Being a low cost airline if your bags weigh more than 15kgs you have to pay extra. My bag weighs 20kgs so I paid the extra when I booked the ticket online. Putting the bag on the scales at check in I was, at first, surprised to see the bag was in fact 21.3kg! Then I remembered the paintings and shirt (dad, the shirt is mine alright!) I had brought when I was at Lake Maninjau. The employee of the airline stated the obvious but I replied that it was only a kilo over, so did it really matter that much. Turns out it did! I replied sarcastically that maybe I should take a kilo out of the bag and put it in my carry on luggage. “Yes, that’s fine” was her reply. I am still trying to work out the logic of that!

The flight took less time then it takes to read the in-flight magazine and by the time I was checked into the hostel in Georgetown I had only missed the 1st 9 laps of the German gp. Sadly there were no seats left on the Monday ferry so instead I will be going on the Tuesday morning one instead.

On Monday I went to the post office (exciting I know) in order to lighten my bag by 1.3 kilos, then I went to the mall. During my 30 days in Sumatra the laundry (wo)man managed to lose two pairs of pants. The pants in question had travelled with me from England and two years on the road is a long time. However, as any man will know you only replace underwear when its long since started to fall apart (unless they are your “lucky pants”, then you will never part with them)

Midday on Tuesday I was back on the island of Langkawi and I quickly got back into the routine. This time, as a bonus I had cable tv in my chalet…sweet! The staff at both the red tomato garden café and Debbie’s place remembered my order as soon as I walked in. All I had to do was nod, sit down and await the arrival of the mug of coffee or the pint of Carlsberg, depending on which establishment I was in.

After a few days of relaxing and watching television (1st time in over 30 days) I splashed the cash and went diving on the Friday (17th). I dived the same two dive sites as before but as the viz was down to 4m in places it looked altogether different.

On the 1st dive, me and my dive buddy were slowly drifting with the current above the sandy bottom near the rocks a few metres away when I felt a sharp and intense pain in my left foot. Avoiding a sudden urge to spit out my reg in order to say “OW!” I looked around….just in time to see a trigger fish about to enjoy the sweet tasting meat of me for a second time. It opened its wide cavernous mouth, with blood dripping off its large razor edged teeth and went to clamp its grotesque jaws around my foot. At the precise moment my left leg lashed out, trailing crimson blood in the murky waters of the ocean like ruby coloured meteors burning across a twilight sky. My bleeding foot smacked into the trigger fish’s hide with a righteous force that spun it around several times, disorientated and confused the killer fish was in no condition to continue its ravenous attack. So with blood still flowing freely from the gaping wound in what was left of my foot I swam away to safety.

Okay…it didn’t happen quite like that!! I suppose a pinprick of blood was the most I split. But this is my 100th blog so I thought that for once I would exaggerate what happened a little. Unless you really want to read a blog about a short fat bald man lounging around drinking coffee and beer with the occasional scratching of body parts.

And yes, in the evening I had fish “n” chips….and then they ran out of Carlsberg….hello Tiger!

Monday, 6 July 2009


Out of the hotel early and straight onto the bus!

Two hours later I was somewhere in the large city of Medan. The coolness of the Karo Highlands had been replaced by the heat of the lowlands and no matter how nice (?) the street comer was I needed to get to the bus station. I jumped into the sidecar of the rickshaw and enjoyed the breeze but not the scenery. Arriving later at the bus station my driver asked several people where the bus and or minibus to Bukit Lawang could be found. Every person gave a different answer and following a five minute ride around the general vicinity of the bus station the bike conked out and refused to start. Sensing an opportunity I paid the man his due and grabbing my bags made my way to the terminal building. Within seconds I had the answer and wandered over to where the bus was parked. (Its bus lane number 6 if you wanted to know). A wait of 45 minutes ensued and then being the 1st on I got a seat next to the permanently open rear door (for the cooling breeze). Three hours later the bus came to the end of the road and I got off.

The guy I was chatting to on the bus (he works as a trekking guide) took me under his wing and showed me a hotel, he got a free lift the kilometre or so from the bus station. To get to the hotel meant crossing the river (this is the same river that back in the winter of 2003 during a flash flood, with a 20m high wall of water, destroyed nearly all of the village, killing hundreds of people in the process). The suspension bridge was narrow with large triangles of wires along its length. It was also the only wire, bamboo and wood plank bridge that I’ve seen that went up and down…twice! As my rucksack is wider than my shoulders I had trouble getting past each of the triangles. Thankfully my man looked around and saw my inane struggles, he came back and after unslinging the bag we each held an end.

The hotel (Wisma Leuser Sibayak) started were the bridge stopped (there are loads of different places to stay within the village and further upstream. Prices start from 50,000 and go up to 600,000) and I got the last free room…yippee!


Once the vocalisation of male teenage hormones had finished at around 2am I decided I would “try and get some sleep”, the mosquitoes had other ideas! Waking up bleary eyed before 7am my urge for the sweet nectar of caffeine laced black coffee was overwhelming, two glasses later I was feeling almost human.

The kids making the noise from last night were in fact English language students from Medan on a study tour. I got my own back later…

The village is located on a gentle curve of the river with all of the shops and most of the restaurants on the east bank. Crossing the bridge by my hotel I bimbled upstream checking out all of the small shops, restaurants and THE ROCK BAR!!!!

Now, let’s get back to those pesky kids…

I was chatting to Tony (owner of Tony’s pizzas) outside his shop, when some of the kids (well teenagers really but as I’m almost 40 I’m going to be calling anyone under the age of 21 a kid) came up to me. Each of them had a small booklet in their hands; the less shy one asked if I could sign their book. Turns out, in order to improve their English they had to go out and actually talk with the western tourists. Kids being kids they were just going up to people and saying “hello mister, please sign my book” and not much else. Me, being me, made each of them ask me three questions each and as I usually like to answer a question with a question they had to work hard to earn my signature. By the time I had finished Tony, along with a couple of other shopkeepers were struggling to stop laughing. With looks of relief on their faces I left the kids behind and carried on with my upstream bimble. Very quickly I had left the village behind and strung out along the path were small guest houses, each one more quiet than the last.

30 minutes and 27 students later I reached the end of the path. Workmen were busy repairing the way ahead and as it was hot I found a reason to turn around and retrace my steps.

50m downstream from my hotel is a weir, the main effect this has is to create a large swimming hole. With a lazy breast stroke I could hold my position in the beautifully cold waters. Of course I still had to dodge the out of control blown up inner tubes that everyone was riding down the shallow rapids.

Later during the middle of the afternoon the skies darkened, lightening flashed across the sky and the roar of thunder echoed through the trees. Then it rained…heavily! Within 20 minutes the once clear waters of the river had turned a muddy brown, the pace of the river had doubled and it had risen by a foot. Within an hour the river was unrecognisable to the one I saw in the morning and it had risen even further. After 2 hours the storm abated but the river kept surging well into the night.

In the evening before beers and pizza I went to the hotel front desk and got a mosquito net!


Another early morning…damn you fresh mountain jungle air! At least the mosquito net worked!

The morning looked promising so I picked up my bag and meandered down stream along the riverbank. A few hundred metres later I was in need of a path, I found one lying nearby

The dirt track slightly muddy from yesterday’s downpour skirted along the fringes of the jungle past small holdings, simple huts and houses. A couple of kms wandering led through a small rubber tree plantation and up to a sign for the bat cave (I hadn’t realised that Bruce had moved). So off to the bat cave I went. As I approached the bat cave a man of undeterminably age woke up and leaned forward on his woven mat covered lounge platform, his finger pointing to a sign. For 5000 rupiahs I got to open a gate; it revealed the path to the cave. The steep and slippery mud steps led down to a small path that shortly ended at the mouth of a narrow gulley. Throughout the eons, water had cut a path down through the rock and to make it accessible a couple of wooden ladders made the big gaps crossable. Thankfully there were a myriad of hand holds because I really didn’t trust the wet and slightly rotten wood ladders with my weight (Oi! Less of that)

Just before the entrance I stood and watched but mostly listened to the small troop of monkeys marching across the tree canopy above me. When they had passed by I entered into the cave.

Note so self: it’s been over two years since you put fresh batteries into the torch. Next time don’t leave it so long

My amazingly brilliant lens frogman dive torch is only as good as the batteries what power it. I had a back up torch in the base of my cheap lighter (and some people think that smoking is bad for you….go figure). Inside the now dimly lit cave there wasn’t much to see because it was mostly dark! Light did enter through a sizable hole in one of the small caverns but the light was being filtered by the green of the trees. Leaving the cave I entered back into the light. One path looks pretty much like another and after an hour’s walk zigzagging from path to path I came across a small river. With my shoes off I paddled upstream and around a bend.

The only human making a sound was me, I sat down on the riverbank and listened to the jungle…


Ever since the early 70’s people have been coming to Bukit Lawang to visit the Orang-Utan rehabilitation centre located near the village within the 9000 square kilometre national park.

I was no exception!

I combined a visit to the centre with a 3 hour jungle walk on the way back, for this you will need a guide. The apes are being rehabilitated back into the wild but twice a day the rangers (and the tourists) go to a feeding platform to give any apes that turn up milk and bananas. The somewhat uninspiring menu is to encourage the orang-utans to forage for themselves.

As I was waiting on the bank of the river for the canoe to ferry me across to the centre on the opposite side I spied my 1st orang-utan. This ape was so mentally scared by years of captivity that it didn’t like the jungle, other apes or any other wildlife. It preferred to hang out down by the river, close to humans and their food! I watched it walk slowly across the grass and up the steps of the park bungalow, where it sat and watched the tourists come up the path.

The trail to the current feeding platform (they are moved every six months or so) was a short, steep and slippery affair. When we arrived the ranger started to “bang the gong” to let the apes know that breakfast was about to be served.

After an anxious 20 minutes wait a solitary orang-utan turned up. Her name was Suma and she is 32 years old and 3 months pregnant. She slowly made her way across the platform, sat down and got comfy. Then she leaned down to take the cup of milk off the ranger. Bananas followed the milk, peeling back the skins on each one with her lips. Several quiet minutes went by as all the tourist just stared at Suma until the nearby call of a male got her excited and she went off in search of him.

Now, with the guide, we slowly walked across the jungle floor trying to follow suma through the trees. She stopped high up in a large tree and as I was standing right beneath her looking up I got a second or two’s warning of the golden shower heading my way. Thankfully I moved just in time. Soon after that we lost track of Suma and so continued on along the trails, passing an amazingly cool and laid back Thomas Leaf monkey on the way.

The tracks through the jungle were steep and muddy. Walking along the ground I was still moving from tree to tree, using vines and roots whenever the going got almost vertical to maintain balance and a “not falling flat on arse” posture.

By the time I got back to the river and the village I was hot, sweaty and happy in the knowledge that three hours of jungle trekking was in fact enough for me. You can, if you want to, go on multi day treks deep into the heart of the jungle, where along with orang-utans, lurk elephants, rhinos and tigers! Or, if you’re fat, lazy with knackered knees you can just relax down by the river. Chances are you’ll find a cold beer very close by!

On Sunday I’m taking the bus to Medan and then the rickshaw or taxi to the airport and in the evening I‘ll be on the Malaysian island of Penang again, maybe in time for the German GP. With any luck the next day, because lets face it Georgetown ain’t all that, I’ll be back on the island of Langkawi. Hopefully I’ll be staying at the Shirin guest house, quaffing beers and gorging on a burger or two at Debbie’s place.

I do this; so you don’t have too….

…By the way you really don’t need to thank me

Friday, 3 July 2009

cabbages and volcanoes

After spending a week in Tuk Tuk on the island of Samosir it was time to move on. Despite the fact that I never got to fly here I really did enjoy my time.

The 1st bus I was on left from Tomok 5kms away and I was getting a lift there but I didn’t realise that it would be on the back of a scooter. With my fat arse perched on the back seat, my 20 kilo bag was hanging out over the end. On my right shoulder was my day bag loaded down with laptop and cameras. Making me nicely balanced…not! Needless to say the front wheel was very light and the young chap doing the steering looked relived when we finally stopped.

20 minutes later the minibus left and we headed to Pangururan, the capital city of the island, on the other coast. Once there I changed minibuses and it headed off to Berastagi. I, along with 2 other adults and 2 small kids, was on the rear bench seat that was built for three. After 30 minutes or so my arse finally found a position of tolerance on the thinly padded seat that nestled between the two metal bars that kept the seat up. As the bus climbed up the side of the ridge every bump or jolt produced short painful spasms at the base of my ribcage on the right hand side. By the time we reached the main road my tailbone was numb, my right leg that rested half folded up on the wheel arch was starting to ache. Two hours later the numbness and aching was starting to turn into outright pain. Thankfully at that precise moment we stopped for a break….thank F**K for that!

Smoking a fag and trying to walk off my discomfort I heard another shout of “hello mister”. Once again I had to pose for a picture with a young lady; she held on tightly to my waist and rested her head on my shoulder…this never happened to me in England you know! Back on the road and I now had the bench seat to myself. So I was able to get comfy and enjoy the scenery, an hour later I was in Berastagi.

My 1st impression of Berastagi was that it was a “shithole of a town”. Never one to go on 1st impressions I had another look and changed my mind. It was a “f**king shithole of a town!” The reason I came here was to get up close and personal with a volcano or two and I should be able to do that tomorrow and then bugger off anywhere else.

The next day

I woke up early (06:30...I know!!!!) and had to lounge around in the hotel till the people that worked in the travel agents downstairs came in and opened up. Yep, all the doors leading to the outside were locked! I was going to pass some of the time by having a shower, even if it was a cold one (I haven’ had a hot shower since Banting). Sadly the shower didn’t work so I went “Victorian” and poured bucket after bucket of cold water over my head. It was strangely enjoyable! Once the hotel was open I rented a scooter (100,000 rupiahs this time “because the roads go up and down” was the reason given when I asked why it was so much but I am lazy…) and headed to the nearby café for a coffee or two.

There are two volcanoes nearby, both of which are active. I went to the furthest one first.

Passing through villages and cabbage fields (cabbages are Berastagi’s claim to fame. So much so that they have a large sculpture of a cabbage at the end of the main drag in town) the volcano appeared through a large gap in the trees. It looked how all volcanoes should, impressively shaped with clouds of steam rising from the crater at the top. You can walk up and down it in 10 ten hours, allegedly! I meandered along various roads passing monkeys in the trees, coming to a halt whenever I saw the volcano from a differing angle. After a while I looked down and saw the fuel gauge. I had already used up ¾ of a tank. Well lots of time screaming uphill in 2nd gear does tend to use up the petrol a tad. I then decided to head back to Berastagi; I reached the petrol station in the nick of time!

Now with a full tank of gas I headed out of town on the Medan road. Several kilometres later (when DID I stop using miles?) a left turn and a signpost caught my eye and I thought, why not. So I turned left and headed up a small valley towards the hot springs and the second volcano. Four MILES later I passed the hot springs and kept on climbing. To my right loomed the volcano, its serrated edge cut into the blue sky whilst sulphur laden steam belched from a white gash on its green side as if it came from the nostrils of a sleeping dragon. I arrived at a “T” junction and turned right uphill. I saw a gringo couple walking the small road, sweaty from the steep incline. The look on the guys face as I rode by smiling was a keeper. The road was tarmaced all the way and flicking between 1st and 2nd gear I arrived at the “car park”. From there it was a very easy 20 minute walk (and I am a slow walker) up a series of steps and pathways to the crater.


As the path left the scrub behind the desolation of the place took hold. In the distance across a rock strewn barren landscape steam erupted from sulphur covered holes, the smell of which was caught on the wind. As I climbed higher I reached the small crater. Only one side remained intact, the stones coloured in places a yellowish green, whilst at the bottom of the shallow crater water had collected covering half of the sandy bottom. The other half was covered in peoples names made from small rocks and pebbles. People sometimes really do have too much time on their hands!

Walking further uphill I reached the edge and looked out over the countryside. From here I could see another four volcanoes off in the distance. The steam belched forth from the nostril of the dragon close by and I caught the taste of the primeval in my mouth. The walk back down to the car park was refreshing as the wind had picked up. I spent several minutes watching the clouds develop on the peak of the volcano across the valley.

Berastagi is no longer considered a “f**king shit hole of a town”. It has been upgraded to a “complete dump of a place”. However once you leave the city limits its beautiful…

Tomorrow I’ll be off to a place that doesn’t have roads and I may even get to see my long lost brother!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

blue waters

After spending 1.5 million on Batik paintings, Jake from Café Bagoes said he would drive me to the bus depot in Bukittinggi. Following lunch (I had fried buffalo jerky and rice…nice!) he dropped me of at 4pm. Three hours later the bus finally turned up.
I had an isle seat, a very special isle seat. The thing that kept the reclining seat in a certain position was broken. Whenever the bus accelerated or went up a hill the seat would lean backwards. Therefore whenever the bus went downhill or braked, yep that’s right, the seat went forward! The narrow roads in west Sumatra are a slave to the terrain. Lots of steep hills and narrow valleys. After two hours of going forwards and backwards in the chair the guy behind me “finally realised” that I wasn’t doing it for his amusement or mine and so stopped forcibly pushing my chair upright every time it went back. I could have told him it was broken but this was much more fun! At 5am, ten hours into the journey we stopped for breakfast (three fags and a yawn!) and it took a few minutes for my legs to remember how to operate.

Arriving at 10am in a deserted bus yard in the town of Parapat on the shores of Lake Toba, a mini van appeared and took me to the ferry 2kms away. Once on board the ferry the whiteys were me, two German lads and a young English couple. Jake from Maninjau had already recommended a place to stay (Samosir Cottages) so I just chatted to the guy from there who was touting for business. He got the Germans to come along but the English couple made it quite clear that they weren’t getting involved with touts and would find there own place to stay thank you very much!

The place to stay on the (almost) island of Samosir is Tuk Tuk, a small village completely covering a kidney shaped piece of land protruding out into the waters of Lake Toba. All the hotels on the shore have their own jetties so it was 45 minutes till I reached my destination.

After being shown the nicest room available (100,000 rupiahs or £5.88) we slowly got down to my price per night, which is 50,000 (that evening I was starting to wonder if “saving” 90p a night by not having hot water was worth it!) I dropped the bags on the floor and made my way to the “shrine of coffee” that was the restaurant.

Back in my room I made use of the solitary plug socket (the place in Maninjau didn’t have one) and with my laptop on, music playing I lied down on the bed and dozed the rest of the day away. Come the evening, came my appetite and I had a few beers as well.

The next morning I woke up, yawned whilst looking at my watch and said to myself “7am is far too early to get out of bed” so I went back to sleep. A couple of hours later it was 9am, now that is a better time for breakfast.

An hour later I was on a scooter heading up the slope to take off. No, I wasn’t flying but I wanted to check it out. That and check out places to land as well. Turns out its sweet, lots of places to land along the length of the ridge even during the rice growing season. Now all I needed was the wind to arrive…

As I had the scooter for the entire day I decided to ride around the island. I made my way upwards along the road passing the work crew and the last of the freshly laid tarmac! The road leading to the end of the island was a good lesson in road construction. After the tarmac came compacted hardcore followed by compacted soil. This was followed by un-compacted or loose hardcore…that bit was fun! All the while as I travelled along the “road” if I looked to my left I would see the blue waters of Lake Toba and to my right paddy fields, open pasture and woodland. Several kilometres later I was back on tarmac, well kind of. Imagine a road of potholes linked together by slivers of tarmac! Eventually I reached the end of the road and the southernmost point of the island. The high ridge had given way to flat land.

Continuing on my circular route I slowly passed people “dressed to the nines”. I was wondering why this was until I passed a church and remembered it was a Sunday morning. It also explains why I was able to have fried pig for breakfast. Now, you can say what you like about the Christian faith but at least they let you have bacon with your fried eggs!

As I turned right and headed up the west coast, the road became more tarmac than pothole. Passing through small villages with traditional style houses (although nearly all of them had an extension built onto the back), lazy dogs and suicidal chickens. The softly sloping landscape was in complete contrast to the east coast and the dominating high ridge.

The north of the island has the best road, it is also twisty…

When I got back to the hotel I was chatting away to one of the staff about flying. For some reason the take off site I saw didn’t look like the one on the internet. Turns out there are two take off sites…Doh!


Two coffees and four fags! Now that’s a breakfast for the legally dependant drug addict!

For the third day the weather was no good for flying, you do need some wind to take off. Instead I decided that I would once again hire a scooter and go up to take off, this time the one on top of the ridge! Once on the ridge I was trying to find the right road, you would think that with only two roads to choose from and the fact that I was on one of them it would be easy. Turns out the dirt track I had gone passed was the “road”! Going along the track the dirt soon gave way to misplaced cobbles and mud. Juggling speed, sideways movement and puddles of unknown depth I came to a fork in the road, I went left (in hindsight going right may of taken me to the take off site…Doh!). Passing through woodland the road condition unbelievably deteriorated! Several kilometres later the wonder of tarmac appeared around a corner and I was able to stop the bike and get off without getting my feet stuck in the mud. The once clean bike wasn’t anymore, the exhaust was covered in mud and the frame hinted at the colour it was.

In the middle of the island is a small lake. I saw three of them…???

Somewhere in the middle of the island on a once tarmac covered road I stopped and watched a raptor circling in an impossibly small thermal only metres wide. By the time I had taken my camera out it had plummeted to the ground hidden by the long grass before taking off again with a small mammal in its claws.

A couple of hours later I had traversed the interior of the island and had made it to the other side. Crossing over the bridge I left the island behind and travelled a few miles to the hot springs…why?

Back on the island I opened up the throttle and sped along the road I had already travelled the day before. This time I knew what was around the corners! Coming around the northern shore I noticed that not only was the wind blowing a gale it was also coming from the north. NO, NO, NO!!! I want a medium strength consistent wind coming from the east, is that too much to ask for!


Woke up and accepted the fact that there wasn’t a breath in the sky…




Throughout the night it rained whilst lightening streaked across the dark sky. As I drifted off to sleep I dreamt of taking off

I awoke to clear blue skies and once again no wind. After a long and lazy break of fast the wind picked up, perfect conditions for flying but only if the wind would stop blowing from the north and move around by 90 degrees and come from the east…it never did!

Following yesterday’s lounge act I thought that once again I would do “something”. So once again I was back on a scooter (75000 rupiahs with a full tank of gas) and headed north to the other side of the island. I went over the bridge and headed south leaving the island of Samosir behind. Riding along the headland the road turned inland. Five or six kilometres later I had a choice. Carry on with the main road and the dirt or turn right and go uphill on tarmac. Tough choice….not!

The smaller side road wound its way uphill passing through a few small villages until I came to a stop. The road was blocked by a small landslide and a JCB that was removing it. After a 15 minute wait chatting with the locals the build up of traffic was finally allowed to pass. Over the rise I saw an even smaller road leading off upwards, sweet!

This road was narrow and under used. It was also a very long time ago that it had been tarmaced. Around several corners the bike was screaming in 1st gear as I bounced off rocks and rubble, the back tyre jumping around as I weaved a course that was the least damaging to the bike and me! (My ribs no longer hurt but I am still getting painful muscle spasms in between the ribs on occasion. A lesser man would be in hospital to recover but I try to be brave and not go on and on about it)The road became narrower and narrower as the plants on either side encroached. The views, however, were wide and majestic.

An hour later I was back in the valley, riding along paddy fields and through hamlets and villages with the usual shouts of “hello mister” as I passed by.


I brought a bus ticket to somewhere else and I’m leaving Tuk Tuk in the morning. Hopefully I will be able to sit on the roof!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

In a hole

I arrived at Lake Maninjau on a Sunday. For 3 days it rained! My day was spent thus: wake up and walk to café bagoes at around 10am. Sit, read, eat and then leave at around 10pm. Lazy days and lounging nights. I was averaging around 3 books a day.
Lake Maninjau is found near the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Many years ago the volcano blew up leaving a large caldera. This filled with water and thus Lake Maninjau was formed. It is 17kms long, 8 kms wide and the road that circuits it is 70kms long.

The main reason I came here was to fly. The take off site was 1250 metres above sea level perched on the crater rim 5 kilometres from the small village of Lawang Top. To get to take off 1st you took a local bus to Mantur. This involved 44 hairpin corners on the road up the side of the crater rim. Once at Mantur I took a mini van the few kilometres to Lawang top. After that it was a 5 kilometre walk or on the second occasion a quick pillion ride on the back of a small scooter to the edge of the crater.

The views were just beautiful, the lake shimmering in the sunshine as the clouds were reflected of the surface. In the distance through a small gap in the crater wall you could see the Indian Ocean.

At take off I was all by myself as long as I didn’t include the 30 or so teenage school boys who kept on giving me helpful shouts of encouragement like “go on mister” and “don’t crash mister” and the 15 or so adults looking on with cameras ready. This was the 1st time that I had flown anywhere new by myself. Nervous…you bet! At take off the edge of the lake was 800m down and 3 kilometres away. Looking across the view I was trying to find somewhere suitable to land. June is in the middle of the rice growing season so there wasn’t a great deal of choice. I spotted two landing areas that “looked” okay and then I took off…

The take off was good and I turned to the left, if I had turned right I might not have enough height to clear the electrical wires going from pylon to pylon down the side of the crater. The views were great and the flying was smooth, enjoyable and I had the sky to myself. After a while I decided to head out towards the lake and land. Going across the two “landing sites” I decided that maybe I should have looked at bit closer before I leaped…

I was about 400m above the fields when I found myself a landing site that didn’t have wires going across it. It did however have trees at either end and 30m behind it electrical cables strung out between the pylons. So it looked like I would have to lose the height above the landing site…time to concentrate!

My last turn was a little tight and so I came in a little faster than I would of liked but being a lazy bastard I couldn’t be arsed to run off the speed so I rolled instead. Trust me it’s a lot safer!

The following day I needed to go to Bukittinggi and the atm (there isn’t one here in Maninjau). I spent 4 hours walking around the town and I didn’t feel the urge to get my camera out once. I did however buy a very nice shirt! For the 1st time in my life I am a multi millionaire. Walking around with a 1000000 in your wallet is great, even if it is less than £100.

The next day was the day that had to happen sooner or later…I smacked!

I was at launch for about two hours trying to take off. Each time the wing came up it just didn’t feel right, or the wing wasn’t really inflated properly. In the end I did manage to take off. After 30 seconds I knew that my head wasn’t “right” and so I decided to come into land. The approach was fine and I made my final turn, about 10m off the ground when a gust of wind picked me up 20m and held me there (well it has got 8km journey over the water to get here). Damn…I knew that I would have to turn to lose the height or crash into the trees at the end of the LZ. So I made a tight 90 degree turn to the left, quickly followed by an even tighter 120 degree turn to the right. Heading downwind I made a very tight turn to get back over the LZ and come into land. I came in very fast, flaring as hard as I could. It wasn’t enough! I hit the ground hard and rolled 3 or 4 times. On the 1st roll my right kidney and ribcage got close and personal with a pointy rock peaking up through the grass. I came to a halt, on all fours with my mouth open gasping for air. When I finally stood up wincing in pain I noticed that the wind had whipped up the water and now the entire lake was covered in whitecaps…word to the wise, landing in a force 3 wind isn’t good.

It was 6km back to the guest house and no way was I walking there. Instead I got a life on the back of a motor bike. Every time we hit a bump I winced in pain. This is Indonesia so there were many bumps on the road.

Five days later and all is nearly well. I haven’t flown since partly because I’m not fully fit, the weather has been overdeveloping early on in the day but most importantly there is a small part of me that is a little bit scared to land!

In two days time I am leaving Lake Maninjau and spending 15 hours on overnight bus to Lake Toba. Hope the landing sites are better there than here!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Crossing the line

The ferry from Melaka left on time and within two hour it was halfway across the straits of Malacca. As it approached the Indonesian island of Sumatra the once blue sky turned hazy and slightly brown. (At this time of year forest fires “happen” reducing the visibility and the air quality)
Nearing the industrial city port of Dumai, oil tankers plied their trade in the swirling muddy waters whilst the lone old styled fishing vessel bobbed and heaved in the various wakes.

Custom clearance was easy and the $25 30 day visa on arrival was a simple purchase. Outside a small group of bus touts asked where I wanted to go. Not really feeling a need to spend a night in Dumai (who would!) I instead arranged a bus to Bukittinggi. The tout said it would leave at 4pm and arrived at 11pm. A small voice in the back of my head said “yeah right!”

After hanging around for 3 hours it was on the bus, glad that my legs are only 30 inches in length on a tall day. I tilted the chair back and relaxed, well as much as possible! Over 13 hours, countless potholes and with a large bump on the side of my head later I was dropped off on a deserted street corner that I assumed was Bukittinggi! It was and I was knackered…it was 5:30am the next day!

At some point during the early morning I had crossed the line and was now south of the equator!

90 minutes later after many, many, many hairpin turns I was next to Lake Maninjau in café bagoes having a very strong coffee. I booked myself into a nearby guest house on the edge of the lake and went to sleep three times during the day.

Maninjau used to be busy with tourist, its not anymore which is a shame. A bigger shame was the low cloud obscuring the rim of this caldera…no flying today.

Come the evening and I (once again) felt like a beer and as it turned out the Spanish round of the Moto gp was on….

Question: my bag weighs 20 kilos, it is heavy! Just over two years ago I used to weigh 20 kilos more than I do now. Therefore why is my bag heavy?

Monday, 1 June 2009

On the road to Melaka

After 17 nights I finally managed to “escape” the Shirin guest house, the red tomato café and Debbie’s bar at Cenang beach, Langkawi.
For the expense of RM125 (£22.30) I flew to Kuala Lumpur and back to the same guest house I had previously stayed in. For 3 days and nights I lounged…it was good!

On the 4th day I walked the 500m to the mono rail (with my way too heavy bag on my back) and climbed on board. After 2 stops I changed my carriage and went by train for two stops, then changed again for one more stop, got out and walked out of the station across the road to the bus station, twenty minutes later I was on my way to Banting.

The non- descript town of Banting isn’t found in any tourist guide, the reason being that there is absolutely nothing tourist here worth seeing. However it is the closest town to the launch site at Jugra Hill. Getting off at the bus station I had the choice of two hotels nearby. One was Hotel City and the other was Comfort Hotel (.com.my). The Comfort Hotel was nearer and as it had just opened it had a special offer, a standard room for only RM60 (£10.70) per night…bargain. In the evening once it had cooled down a little bit I went for a walk around the main part of town, 20 minutes later I was finished!

The next morning, with my glider on my back, I went to the bus station to get a local bus to near take off. Unfortunately there are no local buses to take off but a man with a car (notice how I didn’t use the word taxi) offered to drive the 15kms for only RM20, this price was reached after haggling!

The take off at Jugra hill is a bumpy steep but grassed and it stands 125m above sea level. It has a row of covered benches that shield you from the sun whilst the views stretch out to the sea some 10kms away. I arrived there at 10am and by 2pm I had had enough of “parawaiting” for the wind to die down. Walking down the hill I was looking forward to the 15km walk back to Banting under the hot afternoon malaysian sun. after 7kms I had stopped “looking forward” to the walk and was just trudging along one foot in front of the other when a car pulled up and offered my a lift back into town…yippee!!!!!!!

The next morning I was outside the hotel, breakfast in hand, looking at the clouds speeding across the sky…bugger! It was then I decide to cut my losses and get a bus to Melaka…I took the long way!

At the bus station in Banting I found out that I would have to travel Melaka via an interesting route.

Take the bus to the kuala lumpur international airport

As the bus approached the airport terminal an inviting image flashed across my mind…it was me standing at an airline ticket office asking for a flight to somewhere that was at least 15 degrees colder

Take the bus Nilai

No, I have no idea where this town was but it went around some interesting houses

Take the train to Seremban

It was only 3 stops on the commuter train and it took about 30 minutes. Inside the carriages the humans were packed like sardines in a tin

Take the bus to Tampin

It was a long 5 minute walk from the train station to the bus station. The only bus that went direct to Melaka wasn’t leaving for another 3 hours…so it was on the local bus to someplace nearer.

Take the bus to Melaka

Arriving at Tampin there was just enough time to have a fag before getting on another local bus to Melaka; it went the long way round via the traffic jams!

Take a taxi to the hotel

I finally arrived at the travellers lodge several hours after leaving Banting. I was tired but the cold shower was the refreshment I needed!

The town of Melaka, in the international language of trade, has been a complete whore! She has been used by the Chinese, the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British and various others. She sits at the narrowest point in the straits of Melaka and has a sheltered port. So now you know why!

Like Georgetown on the island of Penang Melaka is a world heritage listed town. Unlike Georgetown, I can see why. The centre of the old town is called the Dutch square. It’s not a square but there is a little windmill! Nearby is china town, little India and on the seafront just outside of the old town is Portuguese square.

In the evening I went for a walk down by the river and ended up in a little bar near the bridge. The rickshaw drivers were out in force peddling along the streets, their draped disco lights blinking on and off but never in time with the cheesy pop music that blared out of small tinny battery powered speakers.

The next morning (Sunday the 7th of June) I explored china town, the air conditioned shopping malls and then the cinema where I watched the latest terminator movie. During the heat of the late afternoon I relaxed in the “sitting room” of the hostel reading a book. Around 8pm, after a siesta, I was online via my laptop checking out the football result from the day before (nice one En-ger-land) and wondering what time the f1 race started. Leaning over the balcony I got my answer….about 10 minutes ago!! I rushed out of the hostel and headed to the street restaurant across the road.

Now its Monday and when I leave here I should be going by ferry…but as to when I leave, who knows?

Friday, 15 May 2009

Heather Nova part two

Three hours from the island of Penang by ferry is the island of Langkawi, the duty free island of Langkawi!

Q: what does that mean Andrew?
A: amongst other things is that a pint of beer only costs 10RM…happy happy drunken nights!!!!

I rocked up at the main island beach place thingy and got me a nice little aircon chalet for only 35RM (which is just under £7 a night) by some bizarre coincidence it’s only 40m from Debbie’s place an “Irish pub”. Honestly I don’t plan these things!!!!!

So I got here on Friday afternoon and the weekend was spent thus

Wake up around 10am
Have breakfast at midday
Spend the afternoon reading a book, or lounging on the bed with the a/c on max
In the evening, sit in the pub, drink lots of beer and watch football

I also went shopping! Next to the underwater world complex (complete with penguins…if I go there I’ll tell you all about it) are a couple of duty free shops selling high end gear. Needing a new pair of sunglasses and not wanting to buy a cheap pair of knock off’s (with zero UV filtering) I went inside. After trying on several pairs I settled on a pair of Bolle, lightweight with rubber grips (so they won’t slide down my nose). I asked the price and I think my brain must have been fried by the sun because I still brought them. I now have a pair of sunglasses that I need to wear everyday for the next decade to justify the purchase

Debbie’s Place:

There are only four things wrong with this pub

1) Staff saying hello


2) Staff saying goodbye


Both said high pitched insincere fashion, you know, like Americans do.

3) Having a meal

The food is great here but just when you’ve taken a mouthful a member of staff looms into view to ask if you are enjoying your meal…wouldn’t it be obvious???

4) Drinking beer

You’ve got an inch of beer left and a member of staff comes over and asks you if you would like another beer. You answer “not just yet”, a minute later another member of staff comes over and asks the same question!

Mind you the boss spends all night sitting by the till. Maybe she’s told the staff that times are hard and maybe she will have to reduce staff numbers. So they are all being super proactive in a customer service kinda way.

As I don’t work 40 hours a week or spend several hours a week commuting to and from work I need something to whinge about, otherwise I wouldn’t be English. Lets face it I can’t whinge about the weather….everyday is the same….hot and sunny!!!!!

On a Tuesday I hired a little scooter and headed towards a cable car some 15kms away. I didn’t bother with a map as it’s impossible to get lost on a small island. I found out later that nothing is impossible!!!
Arriving at the cable car I saw a big sign with the word closed on it. Damn you routine maintenance schedule. Oh well, another time I said to myself as I jumped back on board my two wheeled chariot.

I sped all over the island looking at the low and high points. I got back to my hut in the late afternoon and did what I’ve been doing since I got here.

On Friday it was a case of déjà vu as I rode a scooter (this time with shockingly bad brakes that made cornering interesting) back to the cable car. This time it was open! It took a quiet five minutes to reach the top, 700m above the sea. From the viewing platforms the whole of Langkawi Island could be seen along with many of the other 98 islands that make up this little place. The views were impressive, the cloud base was no higher than 800m and clouds were strung out across the vistas of land and sea, covering peaks and hiding islands in the distance.

From there I rode the long way around the island to Kuah, the capital. I stopped of halfway for a gander and spent several satisfying minutes practising doughnuts in a deserted gravel covered car park. When I finally got to Kuah I went to the office of East Marine diving and booked a days diving for tomorrow.

In the early morning (yes 8:20am is the early morning for me) I got picked up by the courtesy minibus and headed to the royal yacht club in Kuah. As there were only 4 divers and the same amount of snorkelers we used the small boat. Leaving the harbour behind the twin 200 horsepower engines bolted on the back of the boat opened up and within 45 minutes we had arrived at the Pulau Payar marine park some 19kms away from Langkawi Island. Ditching the snorkelers on the beach we headed off to the 1st dive site. Within minutes we were there and shortly after that I plunged into the blue. Being a marine park it has a no fishing policy so this meant that there were a shed load of fish around. Moving with the gentle current I passed healthy coral hard and soft, all swarming with fish. From large groupers to those tiny little incandescent blue fish whose name I’ve forgotten. On several occasions I looked underneath me to see several rainbow wrasse swimming within inches of me. One even came up and head butted my mask….that was a 1st!

The surface interval was spent on the beach. The snorkelers, mostly Japanese, were going crazy with delight from feeding the hundreds of fish

The second dive was around a small outcrop of green, football field in size. The wildlife was pretty much the same as the 1st dive. After a while we left the coral behind and headed out across the sand. Within a few metres of leaving the coral behind a trigger fish came off the bottom to say hello. If you dive, you know what happens next!!! 8 seconds of frantic on my back fining and I was safe, much to the amusement of my dive buddies!!! We continued across the sand until we came to a couple of wrecks. These were two boats that had been caught fishing in the marine park so the authorities sunk them to create an artificial reef…and so people like me would be kept happy.

I’m still not sure when I will be leaving here….

Some of the books I’ve read whilst I’ve been here

The year of living biblically by A.J. Rouke
Devil may care by Stephen Faulkes writing as Ian Fleming
Isle of dogs by Patricia Cornwell
Deception point by Dan brown
Island of the sequinned love nun by Christopher Moore
Who’s the B*****d in the black by Jeff winter
Sniper one by Sergeant Dan Mills
Tourist season and double whammy both by Carl Hiaasen