This is tropical Ko Lipe where Liz and I spent her birthday for the last couple of days. It’s a rather splendid place and here’s a short photo-diary to remind you why Thailand is still a popular tourist destination.
This is our final entry of our Rajathan trip, written by Octopussy…I mean Liz. Why Octopussy? Because we’re in Romantic Udaipur, where the rather kitch 1983 Bond movie was filmed. However, as Liz writes: “shunning the ‘antiques’, carpets, and tailoring being thrust at us we ended up by the water, watching the sun go down over Udaipur from the best viewpoint in town, in the company of professional photographers and the homeless.”
I had one of the most ridiculous conversations with two yachties last week. The couple were complaining that India was really expensive. Incredulous I responded by arguing that food here is so cheap one can eat out at a restaurant for a quid. Quite frankly these Moaning Myrtles really get on my wick. Ready for a rant?
Now that I’ve secured a cat-sitter for Millie, I can start thinking about my return home. I have to renew my visa, you see, so today begins my search for a flight. At the same time Liz has clocked up a bank of air miles with her old business airline, Virgin, so if push comes to shove I could always use these to get back from Mumbai to the UK.
If, however, my experience will be anything like the famous Virgin Customer Complaints letter I think I’ll be looking for alternatives. Some of you may remember this one doing the rounds last year; it is now heralded as the greatest customer complaints letter ever written. It’s quite apt that it’s Virgin and that the flight concerned was from Mumbai to Heathrow, exactly the same flight I’ll be looking for. For those who missed it or have forgotten just how amusing the letter was we reproduce it here in all its glory, complete with photographic evidence:
Dear Mr Branson
REF: Mumbai to Heathrow 7th December 2008
I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years. This latest incident takes the biscuit.
Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at the hands of your corporation.
Look at this Richard. Just look at it…
“…that and a threesome with two lesbians”, smiled my friend Cillian as we sat in Hotel Ceylon, tidying up a delicious mushroom masala.
“Hmmm, I don’t know”, I replied. “I still think food comes out on tops”.
We were discussing the merits of food, eating and dining out. We were pretty much in agreement that the greatest pleasure in life was food.
“Did I mention that they were Swedish?”, Cillian added. OK, second greatest pleasure.
My first and only experience with sailing boats arrived at the age of twelve in Bognor Regis. It was a school trip and involved myself and some unruly pals sprawling ourselves across a tiny single sailed yacht. The thing with kids is, you tell them something ten times and they don’t listen, what they actually need is the experience of something bad before they know not to do something ever again.
I only see him move once, and this was to pass us the bill. He limps his huge mass towards us and smiles through toad-like eyes. I imagine he is probably very good friend with James Bond, he seems to know everybody and things seemed to work around him to his satisfaction – whether this is down to wealth, culture or bloody hard work, I do not know, what I do know is it looks like a good life.
Short of trudging through somebody’s garden, we decide to descend, only to be stopped by two traditionally dressed women who insist on giving us directions. It turns out that a set of steps which were guarded by a charming black Labrador were in fact the correct route and we soon find ourselves onwards and upwards. Even the dogs here are friendly.
Seeing Jamie and Liz in their current home was quite emotional for me. For them to come and see my new house in North Essex was a walk in the park, for me to see them six hours from my front door was an achievement only blood can fuel. Touching, smelling, seeing Esper is something I can now carry with me for the rest of my life – now begins my account of Follow the Boat.
Pubs, beer and good paintbrushes vs good food, space and great climate. Which would you prefer? My extended trip back to the UK has been a real eye-opener but I frequently caught myself saying things like ‘it’s not like that in Turkey’. I can’t help it. I’ve made Turkey my temporary home but I’ve just spent a month back at my parents, in the bedroom I grew up in, and I quickly became British again. Now I’m returning to Turkey and I can’t help but compare and contrast. It’s an interesting exercise, but which is better? Turkey or England?
We decided to head next door to Hassan’s, where we were looking forward to meeting the owner. Oh boy, did we meet the owner. I’m not sure if he had got out of bed the wrong side, if he’d just had some terrible news, or if he’d taken an instant dislike to us but he was the most unpleasant man we have met in Turkey. The exchange went something like this…
At Platres we admired the colonial mansions left by the Brits and stopped to wander round Cleopatra’s, a mad shop full of tat and car boot sale memorabilia, run by a tiny ancient ant-like woman with the innate charm of a Lady and well-oiled diplomat.