Friday, 24 August 2012

Moved to

I've finally gotten around to swapping over from here over to my own hosted domain name at nextstopwhoknows

So if you want to continue to follow me I'll be over there from now onwards and updating the blog a lot more frequently.


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Trip round up!

I realise that I left the blog in a bit of a loop since I last posted an entry on Sept 10th. This was deliberate on my behalf as I hated coming back to it since we had to cut our trip short by three months.

As most of ye know, I hurt my back while at the end of our three week stint in Australia and it got to the point where the trip was no longer a viable option for us. Long story short, I had a ruptured L5S1 disc which was causing all the problems and this showed up on the MRI scam which I got done in Phuket. 

I tried to give it a few extra weeks to clear up while back in Thailand, but it just wasn't to be. Health is wealth as the saying goes, and looking after myself was my number one priority. So we ended up flying back home end of September, much to our dismay. But our insurance company insisted that I fly "first class" due to the nature of my injury. I initially declined as it meant Florence had to travel alone in economy, but the airline wouldn't let me board unless it was in first class. So first class it was ;) 

I got an appointment with a Spinal Surgeon in the Galway clinic hospital and few weeks ago, and he looked at my MRI scan and said that an operation was not required, even though it was a pretty large rupture. The pain has reduced a lot in the past five or six weeks and this he said was due to the body forming scar tissue around the ruptured disc and basically eating it away. So the only thing he said I can do is to rest up for 6-8 more to give the body enough time to more or less get rid of the disc, while slowing building up my walks and also my core muscles to help strengthen my back for the future. Swimming is also on the list of activities, but only if it doesn't cause any undue pain.

So that's where I stand at the moment. Not able to do much, but certainly in a lot better condition than I was back in September.

Funnily enough, we were originally scheduled to return to Ireland today(Wednesday 7th Dec). But since we've been back home now for three months, it seems like we were never away.

Asia is just a magical place. And although we didn't get to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia like we had planned to, the countries we did visit were just spectacular. After spending four months travelling around there I definitely got a good feel for the culture and people along with an even bigger hunger to someday return and finish what we initially set out to do. I'm not going to harper on about Asia, as I've already said enough about it many times.

In saying that, the wheels are in motion already for my next trip, which hopefully will be to South America in Jan 2013 for 6 months. I know it's a long way off, but I like to plan in advance and give myself enough time to both get back to full health and save. 

Between now and then there's going to be a lot of online poker played and the occasional live event. :)

Thanks to everyone for all the kind emails, texts and get well wishes over the course of the trip. Keeping a travel blog, or even just a normal blog is great as not only do you get to show off a few exotic locations along the way, but in years to come it will be nice to have both a written and photographic account of some of my travels. 

I plan on doing up a slideshow of the four months which I'll add here when I do so. For me a slideshow at the end of a trip ties everything up nicely and brings it to a close.


Saturday, 10 September 2011

The trip continues!

Its been a rollercoaster of a week since we left Australia to say the least. At this stage I’m very grateful to be still travelling.

To continue from where I ended the last blog entry, I managed(only just) to make my way from Brisbane to Bangkok without a wheelchair. The pain in my left leg was the worst kind of pain I’ve ever endured period, and only for Florence who was able to help me hobble along the terminals in the airports in Brisbane, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, I honestly don’t think I’d have made it.

It was obvious by the time we reached our hotel in Bangkok that I needed urgent medical help in order to keep the trip alive. We had two days of a wait in Bangkok before my cousin David Donnelly was flying out to meet us for a week in Phuket. So the plan was to rest up in bed for the two days and then get to a hospital in phuket.


We flew down to Phuket last Friday week after meeting David in Bangkok airport, and headed to Patong beach, where we already had spent a few days earlier in our trip.
After we got settled into a nice hotel just off the beach the first port of call was to get to a hospital, which ended up been in Phuket town (about 25 mins away) from Patong.
Before I go any further, I would like to say just how unbelievable the services were in that hospital. The standard was obviously to international requirements etc, but everything from the staff to decor was out of this world.

So I got seen by a G.P who then immediately referred me to the physiotherapy rehab section of the hospital where I got over the course of the week six physio sessions, drugs, x-rays, and a pair of crutches which totalled to 200 euro! I also got seen by a specialist who checked my x-rays and informed me that the pain I was suffering wasn’t from any spinal damage and that it was just a muscular/nerve impingement that more than likely came about from heavy lifting at the gym. Although I did slip coming off a train a week prior, and came down hard on my heels, but I didn't feel any pain at the time.


Anyways, to make a long story short I responded well to the treatment after two days that I didn’t need the crutches anymore and was able to hobble around without too much pain. The spinal traction and ultra sound treatment must have released a lot of the pain and that combined with the dry needling definitely took away a lot of the agony.

So as it stands now Smile the trip is still on and even though I definitely can’t move around quick I’m still able to get along and the auld wooden leg is still up for continuing.
That’s enough about the leg. Back to the week we spent in Patong with David. The weather was the hottest we’d experienced since starting our journey back nearly four months ago and needless to say we loved it.


The first night we arrived we ended up getting wasted on buckets of shots in some 24 hour bar ran by an English guy and his Swedish wife. It’s supposedly the only 24 hour bar in Patong and we tried to see if it was by drinking there until 5am! Drunk wasn’t the word!

The second night was continued in similar fashion except Florence didn’t feel like coming out so myself and David proceeded to visit a Ping-Pong show which wasn’t as good as the one I went to last time we were here. In saying that we got smashed off our faces on local Singha beer coupled with the odd sprinkling of shots here and there to mask the taste of the beer Smile


That was the last of the drinking for the week as the heat combined with potential hangovers didn’t make sense, especially when David was just out here for a week.
We rented out scooters for the week which allowed us to belt away whenever we wanted and not worry about walking around the place all the time. One of the days, the three of us took a spin up to the big Buddha statue on top of one of the mountains. This thing was massive and can be seen for literally miles in either direction. Its a place of worship and has a lot of stalls and markets there as well as a temple with monks handing out blessings as if they were going out of fashion.

The following day myself and David took off again for a long spin up north from Patong. We just rode along the coastline stopping here and there for the odd coffee and photography. Along the way we passed a good few bustling villages which gave a nice glimpse of the non tourist parts of the area. Stunning scenery the whole way. We wanted to see a waterfall along the way and when we got to one we found it was a 2km trek to get to it, so we manned up and hopped back on our scooters and headed back to Patong Smile! Fecking leg isn’t that good like!
Koh Phi Phi was a tour that we had planned to do on this trip as its where a lot of people talk about when they visit Thailand. The film “the Beach” starring Mr.Dicaprio was partly filmed on a part of it called Maya beach.


This is not my photo by the way, as our tour boat didn’t bring us to land on the beach due to tide restrictions at this time of year. Very disappointed we were to say the least but we did get a look at the beach from a distance and it looked stunning.
Our boat brought us to a a few islands as well as Phi Phi, namely monkey island and Ki island.


It’s interesting to know that the island of phi phi was more or less completely devastated as a result of the 2004 tsunami. But since then its been more or less rebuilt. Hard to imagine what it must have been like on a tiny island like that when the tsunami hit.


Monkey island was a little cove where monkeys came down when the long tail boats dropped people off to feed them. Flor and David opted to take a swim and snorkel, while I went to get some monkey snaps.

Florence tried her hand at one of these “leisure dives” that are taking the internet by storm.


……and David got eaten by some plant while out galavanting in the water….


The tour was only a one day tour as we didn’t fancy spending two days on phi phi with our time frame. But one day was plenty, if only we could have landed/seen maya beach up close, then it would have been perfect.


We got fairly toasted during the course of the day as we opted to sit out on top of the boat. The cool breeze was a killer as the wind burnt us just a tad!


Phi Phi is obviously a stunning island and if you ever get near it, then its definitely worth seeing. Its a real relaxed island with a chill out vibe that reminded me of the gili islands off the coast of Bali, Indonesia.


So after Phi Phi, it was time to fly back up to Bangkok as David was flying back home and we had to plan the second part of our journey.
So here we currently are in Chinatown, for a few days while we get our visa’s sorted for Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.


Its very smelly, sweaty and drizzling at the moment and a far cry from Patong but we love it. Hey, I’m just glad to be able to continue with my travels and for that I’m very thankful!

I’ll leave ye with my favourite photo I've taken in the past week….