Squirk's Overseas Experience

The tales of one Kiwi returning to Mother Britain and exploring the Big Wide World... without being eaten by a shark.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Wiggles used to be a metal band

Wow. Two nights, five visits from emergency services. What a crazy town.

I went out with Alex and a couple of hostel buddies on Saturday night—we almost saw Basement Jaxx live at Hyde Park. Instead, we just climbed trees and sat outside watching the grandmas and grandpas get their respective grooves on.

After some quality kebab time with Alex, a couple of Kronenbourgs and good amount of retarded flopping about, it was time for me to head home and take my first London Night Bus—almost.

I was a witness to a crime involving two dudes, some cocaine, a broken shop-front window, and a seven-inch gash bleeding all over the footpath. I hung around until the ambulance and the police had both come and done their thing.

Last night, a burning car exploded just a few meters from where I was standing. I got the chance to dial 999 and ask for the fire brigade and everything. (It was a blue Chrysler Neon from the mid-nineties)

Also, Burger King's Whopper burger is just the latest in a bad run of bland food I've been subjected to in this hemisphere. I'm sure there's some good stuff around somewhere, though.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Thus ends the fortnight of insanity

Wow. I really expected to be able to update this blog at least a few times during the trip. I guess when you're on a road trip covering 8 countries in 15 days, you've got to make a few sacrifices.

Here's the Cliff's Notes version:

Two weeks worth of Friday nights and Monday mornings. Walking around foreign parts in the hot, hot sun. Paying for water and for toilets.

I'm still reling on internet cafés for updates, so please understand that I can't publish as fast as I would like.

Credit's running out... bye!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Tour mates

I was expecting the Contiki tour to be a lot like Brian Thacker's book describes it—I guess our group is a bit on the tame side.

We've got a few Canadians, quite a few Americans, a couple of Mexicans, half a dozen Aussies, a similarly-sized clique of Malaysians, plus a mish-mash of others. No Europeans, unsuprisingly.

There are two brother-sister pairs on the trip, and it seems that the brother from Pair 1 is hooking up with the sister from Pair 2. Maybe vice-versa. Creepy.

I'm not sure how to read Lilian, the Tex-Mex. She seems to have the hots for our tour leader, Joel, and keeps accidentally calling me by that name. I haven't really clicked with anyone, but I seem to get on all right with most people (blokey Aussies and confused small-town American teenagers excluded).

I'm also getting crap for not calling home. Meh.

European Whirl

My goodness. They're not kidding when they call this tour the Whirl. Today is the first time we're staying in one city for the whole day.

I'm feeling a little exhausted, but I figure I'll have to wait until our return to London before I can rest properly.

Internet access has been remarkably scarce on this trip. It's not that the cities lack facilities—it's simply the speed with which we tour leaves very little time to sit down, let alone browse the Internet!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Hostel territory

I'm now staying in the same Alex—I had booked into Ashlee House but it seems that Alex had stayed there for two months some time ago and refused to let me go anywhere near the place.

I've met most of the staff here (and slept in their room) and the place seems pretty interesting so far.

I also got a look-in at the flat I'm going to stay in when I return from Europe—it's further away from a Tube station than I'd like, but the flatmates seem pretty awesome.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Old friends, new friends

I spent most of the morning talking to a Mexican that slept under me.

I taught him a little Māori and discussed travel, unemployment, gun control, and culture erosion.

I shopped at Tesco's and met up with my old flatmate and former co-worker, Alex. We bought a SIM card for my mobile phone (which was more of a mission than you might expect), but I get the feeling that I'll be using a different provider once I get sorted.

I look forward to meeting some of Alex's hostel-mates—as well as getting accomodation closer to a Tube station. I'm sick of walking.

Hostelling the hard way

Urk. I really, really, really should have booked my accommodation before I arrived. Really. I wound up walking around London with my 20kg pack for about six hours last night. I also paid more for a sandwich than I'm used to spending on a nice café meal back home. By the time I managed to find a hostel that wasn't booked full, I was about ready to collapse. Even that didn't turn out to be so easy.

The night staff on at the YHA Hollands Head were... inexperienced. After dicking around for what seemed like half an hour, they issued me with a keycard and told me to take Bed 1 in Room 13. The guy that was already in Bed 1 didn't think that was a fantastic idea, and I don't think the other person in Room 13 thought much of being disturbed by some random New Zealander either.

After being issued with a new room (and hearing stories about how it was all the day staff's fault for not keeping proper records) I woke up an entire dorm of young women. Again no bed, but I don't think that was the major concern on their minds.

By this stage I was seriously considering taking a lesson from my Tokyo friends and passing out on a park bench. Luckily, though, the cripple I was with noticed that reception seemed to be reading the booking sheet incorrectly. A bit of arguing resulted in a spare bed each, and I got to sleep about 1 am—9 hours since arriving in London, and over 27 hours since waking up in Tokyo that morning. Suprisingly, lack of sleep and food did not seem to cause many difficulties.

They didn't give me my breakfast token, either.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Fast Eddie the Scotsman

I don't know why the flight to Heathrow felt at least twice as long as the first 12-hour flight. I even had a friendly Scottish Welshman to talk to. I haven't booked accommodation in London yet so I hope I find a place without hassle.

London looks amazing from the air. Russia is a world of differences. I'm on the other side of the world. My phone works. This keyboard is just silly.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Bright lights, big city, short time

Wow. Japan has been an amazing experience, but it has been far too short to appreciate the country properly. Shortly, I'll be boarding my Japan Airlines flight to London; I just thought I'd let you all know.

My meagre Japanese seems to have improved a little—I can even read a few things now without Romaji. I will have plenty to update when I find a comfortable spot: I've been taking buku notes (I think that means lots of notes).

Okay, I don't have any more 100 JPY coins, so this will have to be all for now.

See you in London!