I've managed to finish 2 decent novels in the past 36 hours, which brought back all the wonderful memories of devouring books when i was younger, a passion which has been unable to manifest itself lately(how many books have i started and not finished?") and i'm glad that I managed to pick relatively interesting books to ensure that I didn't feel the disappointment I feel with some of the literature I'm picking nowadays (read one, read all?). It helped I was on duty, though I missed a class outing. Bother.

No, I think I'm being picky. And it helps when something you're reading is resonant, touches a nerve.

Disgrace, J.M Coetzee

I like some books, and I'm disinterested in others. I've acquired a weird skill of attuning myself to the level the book is pegged for. For example, a book like "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" for example. It is the sort of book I would initially dismiss because it's a stupid book about making money with an arrogant writer who's ripping off millions. Putting prejudices aside though, I can read the book rather dispassionately and even find a modicum of sense in some things that he's saying. (So, he's not a ripoff after all). And some practical things are learnt. Very well.

Professor Lurie is a teacher of classics, unfortunately, in modern South Africa, the need for graduates of the school system to be well-versed in skills for lifetime employment is acute. As such, Prof. Lurie has to make do with teaching modules of Communications, beneath him perhaps, but as he says it keeps him grounded and humble. Once a year he has a course on literature, and it happens to be Romantic poetry this year (ooooh). He looks forward to this with the primal longing of a prisoner in detention barracks hoping to get his colour pencils so he can start drawing, a salvation, if you can call it that, something that seperates him from all the other detainees. Unfortunately, all he has are a bunch of disinterested, disengaged souls, phillistines who cannot differentiate their Byron from their Blake, and that's when Prof Lurie realises he probably still is a prisoner. Of course, this is probably all too damning on the poor students who must have liked poetry in the first place, only unable to match Prof Luries years of erudition and scholarly work on his pet topic.

Professor Lurie's extra-curricular activities are the gratification that sex brings. They used to be wives, women, and now a whore. The whore though, unexpectedly walks out of his life, plunging him into an abyss of boredom. It is from this dark abyss where the germinal seeds of his downfall are planted.

True to his nature, Prof Lurie is beguiled by a student of his. Fair play to him, he is one romantic bastard. He sleeps with her, and although he's no longer the hunk he was when he was younger, he's probably still pretty damn good, but unfortunately 50 yr old men and an 18 year old girl do not go together, not today, not in this world.

Word gets out, and he is summoned for a hearing. What they really want to hear though, is an apology, which Prof Lurie will not grace them with. Dignity, or just trying to be a stubborn old fuck, but he refuses to believe what he does was wrong, that men were born to fuck, and damn why should you punish people for doing that.

Away from it all, he ventures to the country to stay with his daughter, and why not, for he is an outcast in Cape Town. Unwanted. He brings with himself the dignity that his intelligence affords him. Lucy, the farm-owning daughter, with all her dogs, is leading a peaceful if benign existence, though she herself is an anomaly in an increasingly black and male land-holding estate since the removal of apartheid.

This peace is shattered when 3 men enter the place and smash it to bits. Prof Lurie is mildly burned(burnt?) in the process, and Lucy is raped. The relationship begins to fall apart as Lucy begins to withdraw and remove herself from whatever rational advice is given. And day by day the clock ticks, and Prof Lurie is aging.

I remembered this book, the Penguin classic version, a few years back. It was a brown mangy dog, scratching itself. Disgrace. Prof Lurie, having to wander away like Cain with a mark on his shoulder.

I probably do not understand what it's like to age, to suddenly have all this time which you needed when you were younger. Beautifying the house, painting it, like my dad, trying to find a peaceful coexistence with the rest of the world. How painful it must be for the apotheosis of the self to fade away, to learn that one is no longer needed or required any more.

Is it Prof Lurie's god-given right to fuck? To share his beauty with the world. And not to deny himself his nature, which would be hypocrisy. And how does he feel towards the 3 black boys who raped his daughter? Is it right for them to remain so animal? But it's different of course, his is the way of Byron, theirs is the way of dogs. Is that the only difference? His daughter, though different, shares the same characteristic of clinging to the world the way she sees it, refusing to let circumstances change them. Or has Prof Lurie been disgraced by running away to his quiet refuge. I'm quite sure I had more to say, but this will suffice for now.

The next book I read is The Fight, by Norman Mailer. It's another book written in the 3rd person but with the writer projecting himself on himself (weird). He refers to himself as "Norman" in the book.

It's about what's been hyped as the greatest fight in history. The rumble in the jungle. Over 30 years ago, Ali vs Foreman. Having watched the film and short clips of the fight, boxing just inspires. There's something guttural in watching the art of beating the next man to pulp. I'm not a boxing guy, but these guys apparently were artists. Ali would float from place to place in the ring(I always think footwork is impt in sports, but maybe that's cause I'm not a very strong person so skipping arnd is easier).

It's the way it happens in the story and the fight, as if what was willed to happen indeed happened. Through destiny. And Ali was giving the impression he wasn't training very hard, maybe he hadn't, but he'd been training long, and was probably worn out. It's the way they played to character in the ring, Foreman the big basher and Ali, came out floating like a butterfly, stinging like a bee, but comign up against a guy seemingly impervious to punches.

In subsequent rounds, as Ali kept close to the ropes, taking punishment, a strategy of masochism. Foreman bashed away, Ali taunted "Is that all you got Foreman". It's all the trash talk, it's for real, it's not fucking WWE.

In context, it was just a fight, it didn't save Zaire from crushing poverty and when you put everything into perspective. God. But putting everything into perspective means we are very small indeed.

I also saw my IQ scores for the first time this week, the one I took when I was pretty little. I was quite surprised really. You can't really divine much from a test. And when I did emode and stuff... I usually score the same for verbal and math. So I thought... gosh actually I probably could have been quite mathematical, just that I didn't study or something. I always thought it was a waste. And it's weird cause I think I think rather rationally or coldly at times.

Anyway, in the test scores my performance IQ is significantly lower. That's supposed to mean I'm not a performer right? Hah. But my verbal was pretty decent, and I guess, yeah if you ask me I'm a pretty verbal person. I remember words well, images, things just come back to me. I guess I'm not very good at a lot of things, but I just think a lot in words, and maybe that's why I don't do very well with other things. BUT it is a bad habit to rationalize away bad things like that, so i will STOP and I will be POSITIVE and change for the better. There.

Any other matters. heh. just like an ops order. OK. Church. Went to church alone today and was moved. I used to find mass boring and I must admit that it probably can't beat like all the funky Christian societies and lives that young Christians lead. Maybe I'm selfish but unfortunately I'm not a very good person when it comes to sharing lives so I guess that's my approach towards faith. I'm not very Christian but I keep getting moved in church. It's so homely, and there's a certain comfort about knowing what the priest will say next, hymns and traditions that have been passed down for hundreds of years. And it was the beatitudes! My favourite. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are the poor. Blessed, blessed, blessed. Viva the underdog!

And I went down to Mohammed Sultan for dinner today and thought, who is Mohammed Sultan? An ancient Malay Temenggong? Most interesting. What would he make today of the bars and the spanish guitars (strum strum) and the tile-lined sidewalks and the expats and the japanese ramen restaurants. And the alcohol and the puking young. Oh what sacrilege. But maybe he wasn't too good in his day and had a few harems himself.

Okay! C'est ca! C'est tout que je voulait decrire.


if you can't see alex's version



- General Information

- Things to prepare

- Itinerary � � � � � � � �

Singapore ��� Thailand (Singapore ��� Bangkok)

Thailand ��� Cambodia (Bangkok ��� Aranya Prathet ��� Siem Reap)

Cambodia ��� Vietnam (Siem Reap ��� Ang Kor Wat ��� Phnom Penh ��� Ho Chi Minh)

Vietnam ��� China (Ho Chi Minh ��� Danang ��� Hoi An ��� Danang ��� Hu茅 ���� � Hanoi ��� Halong Bay ��� Hanoi ��� Lao Cai ��� Kunming)

China ��� Singapore (Kunming ��� Dali ��� Lijiang ��� Kunming ��� Singapore)

- Hazard Table / RAWR-RMP

- Links

Disclaimer: All information below is not fabricated and is plagiarized either from the Lonely Planet guides that we bought at Kinokuniya and Border���s or from websites from Google.

General Information


Suggested time: 12 April 2005 ��� indefinite (approx. 30 days)

We decided that we should be free and easy on this trip, and so travel time will be dependent on many intangible factors that may delay the trip. Likewise, we could speed up if we do not like the place.


Thailand ��� � � � � � � � � � � � free 30-day visa, issued on arrival

Cambodia ���� � � � � � � � � � � US$20 for one month, issued at most borders and all airports

Ang Kor Wat ��� � � � � � � � � � � � US$40 for 3-day pass

Vietnam ��� � � � � � � � � � � � US$35-60 for 30-day visa, arrange in advance, fixed arrival & departure dates

� � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � Vietnamese visas can be arranged in Phnom Penh, available in Bangkok

China ��� � � � � � � � � � � � 30-day visa, issued at China Embassy (from past experience money is required)

I���m not too sure about Vietnam since it���s now part of ASEAN. Will probably check it out in detail, but visas alone could cost us more than US$100. Apparently it is advisable not to do all our visas before we leave as it is cheaper and much easier to get it at neighboring countries. Bangkok is a good place to do so.

Currency Conversions

Thailand:� � � � � � � � � � � US$1 ��� 39.92B (baht)

Cambodia:� � � � � � � � � � � US$1 ��� 3981r (riel)

Vietnam:� � � � � � � � � � � US$1 ��� 16174d (dong)

China:� � � � � � � � � � � � � US$1 ��� 8.30 yuan

Travelers��� Cheque

Thailand ��� cashed at nationwide banks for 20B commission / cheque

Cambodia ��� cashable in most big towns at 2% commission

Vietnam ��� cashed at nationwide banks for 1-4% commission

China ��� cashable at Bank of China (commission unkown)

I would probably be bringing more travelers��� cheque with me since I don���t get my supplementary card. All transactions are made in Singapore using US$. Only signature required when cashing the cheque at banks.


Thailand ��� 220V

Cambodia ��� 220V (power cuts often in provinces)

Vietnam ��� 220V (mostly) & 110V

China ��� 220V

Think we are quite safe when it comes to electrical appliances like Hp and iPod Chargers. Socket converters required though.

Things to Prepare

Essential Items ���

� � � � � � � � � � � Passport

� � � � � � � � � � � Cash

� � � � � � � � � � � Travelers��� Cheque

� � � � � � � � � � � Camera

� � � � � � � � � � � Underwear (disposable / cloth)

� � � � � � � � � � � Toiletries

� � � � � � � � � � � Good amount of clothing

� � � � � � � � � � � Watch

� � � � � � � � � � � Lonely Planet Travel Guides

� � � � � � � � � � � Maps

� � � � � � � � � � � Medical-kit (panadol, flu tablet, poh chai pills, cortisol cream, throat lozenges, e.t.c.)

� � � � � � � � � � � Pen (writing materials)

� � � � � � � � � � � Mosquito Repellent

� � � � � � � � � � � Sleeping Bag

� � � � � � � � � � � Water Bottle / water bag

� � � � � � � � � � � Foot powder

Mandatory Tasks ���

� � � � � � � � � � � Say goodbyes to friends and family

� � � � � � � � � � � Travel insurance

� � � � � � � � � � � Vaccination (recommended are � � � � � � Malaria pills, typhoid and hepatitis A)

� � � � � � � � � � � Get a good backpack

� � � � � � � � � � � Get good traveling shoes / boots

� � � � � � � � � � � Book flight ticket to Bangkok

� � � � � � � � � � �

Miscellaneous ���

� � � � � � � � � � � A good book

� � � � � � � � � � � iPod

� � � � � � � � � � �


Singapore ��� Thailand





Mode of Travel / Accomodation



At Changi Airport


Car / Taxi



To Bangkok


Tiger Airways ($98 for O/W ticket)



At Bangkok

2D / 2N

Hotel near Central Area

The later part of the day will be used to get transport and visas into Cambodia and Vietnam. We could shop or eat stuff for a day around Bangkok before departure.

Thailand ��� Cambodia



To Aranya Prathet





At Aranya Prathet





To Siem Reap





At Siem Reap

4D / 5N

Molina Village (Twin SGD$39)

Touristy place. We shouldn���t have a problem with accommodation. Will get the 3-day pass to Ang Kor Wat and visit the World���s largest religious site. Nightlife in Siem Reap is plenty, so we shouldn���t be too bored over there.



To Phnom Penh


Bus / Speedboat



At Phnom Penh

3D / 3N


Mostly visiting the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, the museums and making sure that our Viet visas are done if we haven���t done so at Bangkok. Nightlife���s good, just that it���s dangerous.

Cambodia ��� Vietnam



To Moc Bai Border


Bus / Taxi at US$20



At Moc Bai Border





To Ho Chi Minh City


Bus / Taxi



At Ho Chi Minh City

3D / 3N


The most dangerous city in Vietnam, so we shouldn���t compromise safety just because we���re out of Cambodia. Lots of stuff to do.



To Nha Trang


Railway (SE2)



At Nha Trang

1D / 1N


Think it���s a damn popular beach or something. Maybe worth visiting for a day.



To Da Nang


Railway (S6)



To Hoi An


Taxi (30km away)



At Hoi An

1D / 1N


Showpiece of Vietnamese and colonial (French) architecture. World Heritage Site.



To Da Nang


Taxi (30km back)



To Hu茅


Railway (S8)



At Hu茅

2D / 1N


Got to have things to do around here. Not sure though.



To Hanoi


Railway (S4)



Detour to Halong Bay

3D / 2N

Package Tour / Boat

We just have to make this detour. Spectacular limestone formations rising out of turquoise waters ��� a dramatic backdrop for boating adventures. Cool. World Heritage Site again.



At Hanoi

3D / 2N


Probably won���t die of boredom here in Hanoi.

Vietnam ��� China


(Wed & Fri Only)


To Kunming via Lao Cai


Railway (North Railway Station) at US$18 for soft sleeper; alternative - take tickets to Lao Cai, stop there, cross the border by foot, then take a train in Hekou



At Kunming

2D / 1N




To Dali

Railway or Bus



At Dali

2D / 1N


I���m just waiting for someone to give me info on some tour package so that we can just copy. By the way, Dali and Lijiang aren���t the only attractions. We may need further discussion on this.

China ��� Singapore



To Singapore


Silk Air, Dragon Air or some airline

We���ll only go back when we want to. But it���s good to make a date so at least we���re on a schedule that we can choose to ignore.


I included this section only because it would probably be good to at least come up with some good counter-strategy if shit happens. And I���m talking like if we���re really in deep shit kinda thing.


Risk Factor

Develop Counter-measures

Determine Residual Risk

Heat injuries & other injuries


We should get acquainted with each town���s nearest clinic and bring a medical-kit so as to treat minor illnesses or lacerations.

Unless we���re really screwed, it really shouldn���t be a big problem. We should be aware of the symptoms of some dangerous diseases though.

Armed Robbery


Saigon and Phnom Penh have high crime rates. In a case of armed robbery, don���t reach for your pockets. Put your hands up and shut the fuck up. Remain calm and let them take the money.

Pickpockets are actually more common IMHO, so just be careful and don���t store too much cash in your wallet.

We could get lost.


Find nearest phone booth. Try talking to people who speak English. Ask for directions.

No big deal. It ain���t a bag-packing trip if we didn���t get lost for a time.

Separated from each other


My best guess is that Lip and me will have auto-roam. We could try to contact each other. In case of failed mobile contact, we can try to find each other for an hour and if we still can���t get each other we can go back to our accommodation or back to the previous railway station.

We got the in case shit happens money with us so we still can buy our way back to Bangkok. Shouldn���t be a problem.

We could be so bored we start smoking weed and getting ourselves drunk.


At least a guy should be sober enough to prevent shit from happening as well as know the way back.

We shouldn���t come to a point where we start mutilating our bodies.

Short of cash along the trip


We would of course chip in to help one another but if we were really left cashless we should start sleeping at train stations and eating crumbs to save enough to get back. We should work out a detailed budget and expense worksheet for the trip.

I won���t be able to get a supplementary card so we might really get short of cash if we don���t consider our finances.


http://vr.com.vn - Vietnam Railway

http://www.asiatravelmart.com - Good place to source for hotels and plane tickets.

http://www.asiarooms.com - Accommodation-solving tool