Saturday, April 25, 2009

More from the Yang!

So things are pretty much back to normal since the robbery incident aside from not having a laptop to write my blog from or play with photos on.
The team has been climbing away with a few of the guys sending their projects aroundthe place (Nic sending sending his first 8a and Tobias sending an epic 8b+ being the most notable for sure!). A few more Tonsai folk have turned up including Nina and Rachelle and the vibe here is pretty good again, everyone psyched to climb in between plenty of chilling. We have been climbing at Lei Pi Shan mainly but had a great day at The Egg the other day for a day of chilled onsighting, heaps of fun!
I have bolted a new route at the crag Lei Pi Shan so that is my main source of psyche at the moment, should be able to do it pretty quick so I am psyched on a new first ascent :)
I twinged my back yesterday though, so today is a day of chilling with a great massage thrown in for good measure. Tonight will be karaoke and beers followed by another rest day tomorrow then monday it's back out to Lei Pi Shan to send my project!
I am really enjoying this town, nice and relaxed atmospherewith friendly locals, I can see myself spending quite some time here, but I will make some plans for my next destination soon-ish, maybe head to the Himalaya's for a while next, not 100% sure, but will decide soon haha.
Thats about it for now, more news soon once my back is better and I get out to send!!!

Tools of the trade, bolting at Lei Pi Shan

Heading out to The Egg

The view from The Egg

The guys on the back of a motornike taxi heading back from The Egg

Me on the motorbike taxi heading back from The Egg

Sunday, April 19, 2009


So last night both myself and Mike Call (the man behind Momentum Video Magazine) had our rooms in the Rock'n Grill in Yangshuo broken into by young theives I have dubbed the 'Teenage Rooftop Ninja Muthafuckers'.
In a VERY bold operation they got into the abandoned hotel next door and used a plank or ladder to span the gap from the abandoned hotels 3rd floor balconies to the rooftop outside our windows, crossed the gap infront of a busy street 3 floors in the air, then broke into out rooms through the windows stealing my laptop, mobile phone and cash and Mike's laptop, Ipod and a HD Video camera.
We thought my passports had been stolen but they have been recovered but not any of the rest of our equipment.
My blogging and photo's may be a little less frequent now, but I will try my best to keep stuff going up on here for everyone.
We are all fine, albeit a little bit angry at the situation, but we are trying to keep our spirits about it up.
More news soon.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Everybody was Kung Fu fighting...


As Lily put it, drizzle and gristle. Thats this place in a nutshell at the moment... rain most days and stange meat for dinner haha.
I am really enjoying Yangshuo. It is a pretty town with a stange blend of the rustic and the obvious tourist attractions. Old stone bridges, cobbled streets and street markets alongside tourist buses and river cruises.There is a great crew here, all fun people with a great vibe, and more friendly folk are on their way here in he next few days which will be fun! Today is a rest day so it is basically just a case of sit around, check emails, drink coffee, go for litle wanders around town, play cards... thats about it. There are other things we could be doing but we are all really lazy, so not much gets done. Not sure what it is about this place, but we do alot less climbing than you would expect and never have much energy to do much on rest days... strange, not sure what the lack of energy is from, but it's noticable in everyone.That being said we are still managing to do a reasonable amount of climbing. I have climbed some great routes up to 7a+ in a few shots and have a few harder things I am psyched to finish so hopefully some bigger news soon :-)

Everybody was kung fu fighting...

Looking out over the old battlement wall at the Chicken Cave

Tobi waiting for our taxi back from the crag

Tara on 'Power Of One' 7a+ at Lei Pi Shan

Sunday, April 12, 2009



Easter Sunday. Rain all day, resting all day and an Easter Egg hunt tonight!I Left Hong Kong on a high note after Jess and I eating a brilliant steak on our last night. We headed to Shenzhen on the mainland by ferry the next morning and straight to the airport. Jess was off to Beijing then home and I was off to Guilin to go to Yangshuo. Jess got on her flight about midday and I spent 11 hours in Shenzhen Airport until my flight at 9pm... not a great day, but it was over soon enough. I met a nice girl from Hong Kong called Ronnie who was heading to Yangshuo as well so we headed to a hostel for the night in Guilin then out to Yangshuo on the bus the next day. Ronnie was a lifesaver, having someone who speaks Mandarin as a guide is a godsend... Thank you so much Ronnie!We got to Yangshuo and I checked into the 'Rock & Grill', the centre of the climbing scene in Yangshuo. It is a great little guest house that everyone hangs out in so it is the place to be in town. I met up with all my friends from Tonsai that night and we had some drinks then it was off to bed ready for my first taste of the climbing the next day.After a late breakfast (late starts are the norm here, thank god haha) and much deabting over where to go, we headed out to the amazing Moon Hill. A quick local bus then a 30 minute walk up a long hill of stairs and we were there. What an amazing place!!! A huge limestone arch on top of a hill overlooking the expansive karst area and the villages and fields below. I did a couple of nice routes, a 6b and a 6b+ then tried a great 7a+. The routes here are all really really long, all in the 30m+ category and are generally gently overhanging and technical face climbing. The quality of the routes was great and the grades are a bit stiffer than old Tonsai... it may take a while to get the fitness to climb as hard as I did in Tonsai haha.Everyone was having a rest day the following day so that night was a game of Centurian (100 shots of beer in 100 minutes!) followed by a drunken trip into the night life centre of town, eating pigs penis's on a stick, dancing in a strange local dance club, a 2am trip to McDonald's then a late bedtime.Today was just sleeping and chilling, generally recovering from a big night out so we can hopefully climb tomorrow, but it is raining alot so climbing might be off the cards for tomorrow so it may be drinks with the locals again tonight haha.

The view from my room at the 'Rock & Grill'

Ronnie and I on a bicycle taxi to the 'Rock & Grill'

Ronnie with my first Yangshuo lunch of snails

The arch at Moon Hill

Nic climbing on the arch at Moon Hill

Chinese chess

Early in our game of Centurian

Jon, Mattius, Tomaz and Sacha eating pigs penis's on a stick on our night out in Yangshuo

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hong Kong... big city stylin'


A place of stark cultural contrasts, epic quantities of tightly packed vertical real estate... and bird nest soup. Thats Hong Kong.This place has to be one of the most contradictory I have been to. It has old, derilict buildings side by side with glass and marble, sanity defying gargantuans... high class restaraunts side by side with street meat vendors... and during the day it seems a tad messy and unorganised on the surface while underground the highly sofisticated MTR (Mass Transit Railway) moves millions of people around the city daily with effortless ease, then at night it turns into a dazzling array of lights, motion billboards, signs and boundless energy. There is also a very (to me) unexpected cultural mix here. Being in China I sort of expected lots of Chinese people, but only about half of the popolution seems to be Chinese, the rest is a mix of Arabs, Indians and a variety of ethnic Africans, with the ocassional western ex-pat thrown in for good measure. I arrived here on the 6th, landed at the airport only to be confused by the miriad of ways you can get into the city (This might sound silly, how many ways can there be, but trust me, it was confusing haha)... I ended up on a local bus that I hoped was going to pass nearby the only hotel name I had been recomended by other backpackers, The New Kowloon Hostel. With a little help from the bus driver I got to the Mirador Mansion, went to the 13th floor (not without being hounded by a mass of people trying to get you into their guest house... there are several on each floor and there are 16 floors...), checked into a room and lay down with a sigh of relief. I was sort of in the mood for laying around reading a book, but my cramped little 5 x 9 foot room with no window and a bathroom so small you have to sit on the toilet to take a shower isn't all that inviting for a lazy afternoon so I thought to hell with it, lets see Hong Kong! It was short live though. Within 10 minutes I had been offered hash, weed, crack, coke and ice and that was all just walking around my block (guess what sort of people live in my building?). I made a quick escape into the shopping district across the road, ate Mc Donalds (I took the easy, safe bet under the circumstances) then while trying to decide what the hell to do with myself in this crazy place with noone to talk to but the drug dealers and then I saw that welcoming beacon that always indicates safety, familiar surroundings and cold beer - and Irish Pub. I couldn't get in there quickly enough! I left about 2 hours later after a long chat and several pints with an ex-pat canadian austalian english teacher in her late 50's. I intended to go home and have an early night but after 5 mins in my cramped little apartment I opted for a stroll back down to a 2nd Irish pub I had noticed on the walk home. I walked in, grabbed a pint then went and sat down to watch the Football. It was then that I met my savior in this place. My light in the otherwise (metaphorically) dark place that is Hong Kong. Jessica is a very nice German marketing strategist that is here until thursday, same as I am (then we both go to Shenzhen to catch our next flights), which is a godsend as she is a load of fun, a barrel of laughs and a handful of trouble (haha your not trouble Jess, you just have a bad sense of direction sometimes :-p ). We had a few drinks then she took me to see the 'Avenue Of Stars' where all the Chinese stars have their handprints in the concrete and a Bruce Lee statue dominates the promenade. We took some photo's of the amazing Hong Kong skyline at night then ambled around the city. The next day was enourmous. We went to the markets, which ones I have no idea, but it took us a few tries before eventually finding the 'Ladies Market' where the only climbing stores in Hong Kong are and I bought some new shoes and a new harness which was at the top of my to do list. Then it was market shopping time. We haggled with shop owners, bargained with sales people and walked away with some clothes for Jess and a new shoulder bag and a leather bound diary for me.Next it was off to the old part of the city to see the Temple there. It was the first Chinese Temple built in Hong Kong and it was built on the first ever street in Hong Kong. It was a nice little incense filled place with some nice statues and figurines. Then it was a roam around the old part of the city to soak up the ambiance of it all and see all the specialty spice and bird nest stores. This was followed by an unsucessful trip to a building you can see over the whole city from... it was closed for renovations, then back to our rooms for nap before a big night. I hit the pillow and slept for 2 hours before waking up in a daze realizing I had about 20 minutes to shower and get down to meet Jess for dinner.We dined at a nice little Italian resteraunt nearby, had desert at a juice bar a few blocks away then headed on the subway to Lan Kwai Fong, the infamous little clubbing district of Hong Kong with its blocked off roads full of night clubs, bars and boutique cafe's. We found a nice little place, had only couple of drinks (which is nice for a change haha) and danced the night away for hours... had a ball out there... shakin' that ass haha.A taxi home, something to eat from the 7-Eleven on the corner and some cautious side stepping of the hash dealers and some fights in the foyers of our quasi-ghetto vertical suburbs (our apartment buildings haha) and now I am here, writing on my laptop at 3:30am in my matchbox sized room. Now it's off to sleep before I fall asleep sitting up in front of my laptop haha.More soon... watch this space!


Waking up in this tiny excuse for a room is weird, not just because it is small, but because it has no windows so it is completely dark no matter what time of day it is. I woke up this morning in pitch black thinking it is still the middle of the night only to discover it is 10am! Off for some coffee and baked goods with Jess for breakfast then we headed of to get our ferry tickets for the trip to Shenzhen tomorrow morning. Then it was back to pick up my Chinese Visa and found they would only give 30 days, not 3 months, so that means early May I will need to come back to Hong Kong to extend for another 30 days... ghey. Oh well. I booked a last minute flight to Guilin and I am ready to get off to Yangshuo! Will probably arrive on the m orning of the 10th as I land in Guilin at 10.10pm so will have to stay there for the night.Once all that was organised Jess and I headed out to Yuen Long, a outpost suburb of Hong Kong, for a wander around a less intense part of town which was nice. Back we came once we had enough of that then tonight I am off to eat a steak. Yes. A REAL steak... Asia in general does't do steak so I am soooo looking forward to it!Lets hope the next day or two goes smoothly and the next you here from me will be about some climbing!

The Hong Kong night skyline from the harbour promenade
Jessica at the markets... which ones? Who knows haha

Downtown in the old precinct of Hong Kong

A random wall in the temple

Inside the temple

A lion statue outside the temple
The incense rings burning inside the temple
Jess and I in Lan Kwai Fong

Looking down into the central courtyard of my ghetto apartment building

Huge carp and tortises we fed in a pond in Yuen Long

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Xin Chào from Hanoi!


That is about the only way to describe the last 5 days.
The 1st of April saw Susie and I end up on a cruise trip (not a deep water soloing one unfortunately) of Ha Long Bay with 3 great English chaps we met the night before - Tom, Dan & Paul. We all headed off first thing in the morning and after sailing to Ha Long City and transferring boats we headed out into the bay. We met our other crew for the boat trip including Noa and her parents who were great fun. Ha Long Bay means 'Bay of the Descending Dragon' and the story goes that it was created by a dragon that came to earth to defend the local people from Chinese invaders. It is made up of about 3000 little islands and it is one of the most strikingly beautiful places I have ever seen. We headed to one island with a massive cave system on it and explored the cave, then went kayaking, then swam in the bay were all jumping off the top balcony of the ship, then had a great night of drinking and karaoke on the boat. It was such a good night, hilarious! The next day we cruised around the bay some more, saw the pearl farms then headed back to Ha Long City and off on a buss back to Hanoi. We booked into some hotels and backpackers hostels and had a fun night out in Hanoi where I met masses of great folk all staying in our little alley way full of hotels (Ngo Huyen if your coming here... its the best street to stay on in the Old Quarter for sure!). Noa, her parents and I headed to the Museum of Ethnology in the morning. Such a great museum full of the history of the different ethnic tribes of Vietnam and how they came here, what the live like, etc, etc as well as an open air section with replica's of traditional houses and villages that you can walk around and in, so cool. Then in the afternoon Noa and I were off into the Old Quarter to explore. We walked around and found some of our new friends and headed to Bia Hoi (street corner beer vendors where you sit on a street corner on the road in little plastic stools and drink 30 cent home brew beer from kegs on the footpath) for a few beers. Then Noa and I went for a look around the markets nearby and took some photos. After we got back to the hotels I found Susie again and we were off to the Water Puppet Theatre to see to famous show there. It was pretty amazing to watch the live musicians playing traditional music and seeing the water puppets dance through the water sets mimicking dragons and all sorts of historical events.
After that Susie plus Noa and her folks headed off to catch the overnight train to Sapa leaving me on my own again. But all was good! I found my new backpacker friends on a rooftop bar and we ended up having the most hilarious night out which included one little punk trying to pick pocket me in the street and Tony and I stumbling home at 2.30am, not lost, but fairly borderline haha, eating Pho Ba (beef noodle soup, the best!) then heading to bed in the small hours of the morning. Last night was not much better. I intended to have a quiet night but the hostel was having a Hawaiian night so that got out of hand pretty quickly and I ended up drinking and playing pool at Finnegan's, the nearby Irish bar, till midnight when the cops come and close all the bars down (apart from the ones that pay the bribe to stay open later), the eating Pho Ba atg 1am and falling asleep drunk at an absurd hour yet again haha. I swear I try to be good sometimes but my arm has the breaking strain of a friggin Kit Kat haha.
All is good hear obviously, having a blast, but I am off tomorrow morning to Hong Kong for a few days then out to Yangshuo! Can't wait to climb... all this partying and I feel like have put on 5 kilos and wont be able to do a thing! Hears hoping I haven't lost too much in my few weeks of laziness and excessive shenanigans :-)

Pics below are in reverse order for some odd reason, start at the bottom and go up :)

Water Puppet Theatre

Band at the Water Puppet Theatre

Tofu at the markets

Hanoi Markets

Noa, Jacko (from Queanbeyan, what are the odds?!?!), Rachel, Tony and an Irish guy who's name escapes me... all at Bia Hoi

Bia Hoi Corner

In a replica traditional Vietnamese house

One of the replica traditional houses

A scroll at the Museum of Ethnology

Me jumping into Ha Long Bay from our boat at dusk

Me and Dan ripping the karaoke up

And again

Ha Long Bay again

The cave on one of the islands on Ha long Bay (note the size of the stalactite formation on the right... 15 metres thick and from ceiling to floor like a huge column... massive!)

Ha Long Bay - The Bay of the Descending Dragon