Tuesday, October 31, 2006

24th Oct - 2nd Nov (Australia here I come, you ripper!)

My final day of diving in Tioman was a little dissapointing after such a great dive two days ago, a wreck of an old fishing boat which attracted one big school of fish and not much else. I took the 13.00 boat back to Mersing which had to stop offshore due to the low tide, and smaller boats came out to transfer us to the jetty. Over a couple of days spoke to STA travel and Qantas and eventually managed to bring Melbourne flight forward so that I could be there for the weekend. I hadn't really spoke to anyone much for a few days so I was looking forward to meeting Karen and Christophe in Oz. Bryan Robson has joined Steve Mcmahon on the ESPN team. The 11.00 bus to Singapore dropped us at the Malaysia border for a very quick exit stamp, back on the bus for a couple of minutes then dropped us at Singapore immigration where we queued for an hour before getting back on a bus for the rest of the journey to the centre (and I thought Singapore was super efficient). I took a taxi to the very nice YMCA which was full so walked as far as the Hawaii hostel and stopped there as it was about to rain; not a pretty place but cheap. My room consisted of two bunk beds, my room mates were two Japs and a local guy who was quite friendly. I found a nice restaurant then came back and watched 'Domino' starring Kiera Knightley on the local chap's portable VCD player.

After a McDonalds brekky, I went to the Qantas office to discover my flight from Rio to Blighty doesn't look possible as they are all booked as soon as they are available; STA hadn't told me this when they said all I had to do was ring and tell them what date i needed (I couldn't book it at the time because the computer system cannot book flights more than a year ahead). I'll make some more inquiries with STA but it looks like i may have to pay extra and fly via Madrid. Singapore is one of the best and cheapest places to buy electronics so if I was going to replace my damaged camera anywhere it had to be here. After much deliberation I came away with a nice new Fuji for 450 dollars(S), about 150 pound. I took the excelent metro to the excellent airport where i had a much needed shower for $9. Sat with an aussie girl called Karen on the flight and spoke to her quite a bit in between eating a good in-flight meal, watching a decent aussie film 'Train to Freo' and listening to a good in-flight cd 'Sergio Mendes - Timeless' (kind of R&B samba) which I have since acquired onto my mp3 player along with the Killers new one (thanks to Christophe). I tried to sleep, I even used the eye mask, but not a wink.

I had arrived in Oz and collected my luggage by about 05.45 and the 06.00 bus to Melbourne centre was quick due to the lack of trafic which meant I got to Karen's house far too early and sat around in the freezing cold until Karen woke up. I didn't expect any cold weather in Oz but for the first couple of days the skies were clear blue and the wind made it feel like winter. Karen is an old Swindon friend and Christophe is soon to be her husband, their place is nice, spacious and really central. I spent some time putting photos onto my blog using Christophes computer, slept for an hour, went for a massive burger and bought the Oz lonely planet for full price (they didn't have any fake copies!), went back and started planning. After a couple more hours of sleep, I went with Karen to a Japanese restaurant for my first taste of sushi which was ok. Christophe joined us later for a few beers and we talked until late.

My first full day in Melbourne was a Saturday. Christophe, Kaz and I went to the Queen Victoria market where we bought Shrimps for the barbie! (among other things). Chilled out for most of the day, ate some Spag bol, drank red wine and later met up with Roo and Belinda for drinks (Roo is a friend of Richards who is a good friend from my uni days, Roo moved over here recently to be with his aussie girlfriend Belinda). Christophe, Kaz and I went for some Japanese food but this time i wasn't so adventurous and had chicken.

On Sunday, the three of us took the tram to St Kilda beach, had lunch and a good look around before returning for a BBQ with Roo and Belinda and Christophe's friends, Andrei and Anna. Kangeroo steak is very nice and according to Christophe, very similar to horse meat, the dirty snail eating b@startds! as Catherine Tate would say (no offence Christophe!) I ate until i thought i might explode.

The weather heated up from Monday onwards and over the next few days I went to the old Gaol where Ned Kelley was hanged (I listened in on a school party's guided tour), the immigration museum, the aquarium, the excellent view of Melbourne from the Rialto tower, the amazing 'earth from above' exhibition (I recommend you see some of these pictures - they may be on the internet) and the Melbourne museum. In the evenings we ate food, drank beer and wine, talked and watched films; 'The Castle' is good aussie humour, 'Wolf Creek' is scary and 'Supersize me' is scary as well!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

18th - 23rd October - The black jack scam, Singapore

After sorting out my memory card, i walked around the shopping mall in search of boxer shorts, i bought 2 pairs yeterday, supposedly large, turned out to be for a large action man (no jokes about the lack of genitals please!), the ones from the department store said 31-33 inch waist, thought they would be safe, but no, I am now singing surprano! A local woman asked me the time and started talking to me and as i had bugger all to do i agreed to meet her family. It was supposedly her brothers house, her cousin prepared some nice food which i ate and then her brother, a card dealer at a casino showed me some tricks. His slight of hand was amazing, no matter how much he or i shuffled he could always turn exactly the cards he wanted. He told me about a bloke from Dubai who would be coming round later who had stitched him up by saying he would give him a percentage of his winnings and then giving him much less the previous night. He said i could play the Dubai bloke at black jack with him as dealer making sure i got the right cards and he'd take a cut of the winnings, it was fool proof but i didn't like it and all of a sudden the guy turned up for a game. The brother had given me 200 dollars to play with, which i must have doubled 4 times in 4 hands, at which point, on cue i said the next game would be my last. I had 21 so couldn't lose, the dealer was signalling that the guy had 20, but he raised the stakes to 50,000 dollars (which he placed on the table) but requested to see some proof that i could cover my losses if i had to. The dealer asked if i had a credit card or travellers cheques or something, my credit card was in my money belt and although i knew i couldn't lose the game, i wondered what would happen once i took the card out, so I claimed not to have any money at all, my travellers cheques are at the hotel, the dealer asked how much (to which I was very vague) and the game was declared void and I was driven to where i wanted to go (shitting myself the whole way). I went to the Petronas towers, at 84 storeys high they claim it was the tallest but is now second, but they only take us as high as the 42nd floor skywalk between the towers. That night my KFC food poisoning set in with fever and bad stomach and little sleep. The morning bus to Mersing started ok but by the end i had a headache and was dehydrated. The Mersing heat was unbearable so I checked into an empty dorm room in the East Coast Hotel and laid on my bed, read 'First they killed my Father' (I recommend you read it)and slept. I forced myself to eat a few mouthfuls of Pakora in the evening (my only meal of the day), went to an internet cafe, sat down, farted and left very quickly. One pair of my new tiny pants straight in the bin!

The next day started bad but after a while in the toilet i was feeling better. I took a boat to Tioman island, Salang resort and checked in to a very dingy chalet with mosquitos and ants running riot. It's only 10 metres from the sea when the tide is in though so i sleep well listening to the sound of the waves while insects feed on me. Malaysia is currently covered by a thick haze caused by deliberate forest fires in Indonesia, this happens every year and stays for maybe a month until the monsoon washes it away. The sun still manages to burn its way through though and the beach is very nice despite the onslaught of sand flies biting my feet. There are loads of chinese and indians here on holiday and because of some indian festival there are bangers going off at all times of day and night on the beach or in the street without any warning - it's lucky my stomach has hardened up or this may have caused another accident!

My four days here were spent reading on the beach and scuba diving. It felt good to be back in the water after 3 months and we did some excellent dives in groups of 3 or 4 off of a small boat. I saw my first turtle amongst many other things but the best dive was like an adventure playground of rocks and coral - it took a good bit of buoyancy control to get through all the narrow gaps and through the tunnels especially as there was a bit of surge to contend with - my best dive ever, having now done 14.

Unfortunately, as this is low season, there isn't too much to do in the evenings; there are a couple of restaurants but my appetite has not fully recovered yet and there is one bar. I did manage to watch the Liverpool v Man U game in an internet cafe where the local lads all cheered for Man U who won 2-0. I finished 'first they killed my father' and also 'the sorrow of war' which is a very dark and depressing fiction.

On my final day, i did a wreck dive which turned out to be not as exciting as I had expected, took a boat back to Mersing and tried to bring forward my Melbourne flight so that I could be there for the weekend, but it isn't possible so now I am wondering how to kill a few days.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

7th - 17th October (Visa fiasco)

My last day in Mui Ne, i awoke at 07.00, ran on the beach (very briefly),
then watched some locals paddling out to sea in upturned tea cups, pulling in the nets and sorting through all the fish and crabs. Booked a flight online from Siam Reap(Cambodia) to Kuala Lumpur(Malaysia) for the 17th Oct., took a bus to HCMC, booked an 8 dollar room and watched the premiership goals from last week. I booked a two day tour to end in Phnom Penh for 24 dollars and later watched 'School of Rock' and the first half shambles of England against Macedonia.

The tour took us by bus to Cai Be for a motorised boat on the Mekong - the heat and fumes on the boat sent me to sleep. Lunch, then back on the boat and bus to Chau Doc on the border where we stayed the night in a cheap hotel - I had to share a room with a Japanese chap who started a brief high pitched wailing in the middle of the night. I met a Canadian girl called Siobahn.
In the morning there was a row boat tour of the Chau Doc fish farms (see how these women row whilst facing forward - weird!) then a big boat to Lek Luang (Cambodia). The tour leader checked the passports and told me i would pay a big fine for overstaying my visa (not what the travel agent had said!) and that i should go back to HCMC to sort it out. At the border, the tour leader said they were unable to process my fine and i would have to return to HCMC and there was nobody i could argue with so i was getting quite frustrated. At the last minute they took 60 dollars, plus 20 for the Cambodia visa and i was just relieved to not have to go back. Arrived in Phnom Penh in the rain and went with Siobahn to Spring hotel recomended in the lonely planet - it worked out cheaper to get a twin room with air con. We walked to Chaay Heng restaurant also recommended in the lonely planet, a basic place with plastic chairs spilling onto the pavement packed with locals. The food was cheap and fantastic, we went again the next night. I bumped into Ben and Kate who I'd met in Hoi An so went for red wine with them.

Siobahn and I went via tuk tuk to the S21 museum and killing fields in the rain along the bumpiest road ever.
S21 was once a school, it became a prison, and now a museum.
The Khmer rouge were meticulous in their records of prisoners and the black and white photos of all the men, women and children they killed were haunting. The rain and thunder added to the sombre mood of the day. 8,985 bodies were exhumed from mass graves at the killing fields, possibly 2 million were killed across the country. I can't really describe it, you just have to see it to believe it. There were beggers with missing limbs and one with a badly burnt face outside S21. Siobahn and I spent 20 dollars on a 50kg bag of rice which we took to an orphanage where we played with the kids for a few hours - they stole my camera and took loads of photos.
It was nice to spend time around these poor kids laughing and playing after such a depressing day.

The six hour bus journey to Siam Reap cost 4 dollars - we were pounced on by tuk tuk drivers before we could even get off the bus, all shouting over each other with arguments like "I spoke to you first" for the sake of a dollar fare. Of course they want to get you into their hotel and also provide you with a lucrative tour of Angkor. We went to the 'Heart of Angkor' hotel, 12 dollars for a twin room and booked our motorbike riders for the next 2 days (it is illegal to hire your own motorbike here). Siam Reap seems very nice with smart little bars and restaurants clustered together in a street that is off limits to the local begging community of kids, women with babies and people with missing limbs. There is a lot of begging here.

An 05.00 wake up for an Angkor Wat sunrise that was obscured by cloud despite the generally clear, hot day.
My 1 week pass cost 60 dollars. Angkor Wat was very busy and absolutely massive but I was more impressed with Bayon
(giant faces carved into the stone) and Ta Prohm where trees grow amongst the ruins and Angelina Jolie came to film tomb raider.
There are many ancient temples to explore, dating from ninth to 13th century - miraculously spared by US bombs, how refreshing!
There are kids at every stop, selling t-shirts, postcards and souveniers or just begging, they are really persistent.
On the way back i saw this... Later we went to the excellent Khmer kitchen then i went for a 'seeing hands massage', recommended by the lonely planet for massage by blind people - it was excellent and only cost 4 dollars, I gave her five just because I am that kind of guy!

The next day we had a more civilised start time and the sights were mostly not as impressive. The heat was oppressive with very little shade. We finished up at a high spot near to Angkor Wat to watch the sun set. With bright sun in the west and dark clouds moving in quickly from the east, the sun was soon covered and the rain was heavy. I'm pretty sure one clap of thunder and lightning were less than 100 metres away - pretty lucky for Friday 13th! I had my waterproof coat but my walking shoes were soon soaked through. I took a couple of photos which i think damaged my camera which now doesn't work properly. I bumped into Michael and Aine who I'd met briefly in Hoi An and Mui Ne so we went out for food and drinks with them later. We went to Dead Fish bar where we fed the crocodiles.

The next day Siobahn went off on a motorbike, I lazed about for a bit then hired a mountain bike for 3 dollars. I found the land mine museum, a Khmer heritage display and then went to Angkor Wat again. The lense on my camera has stopped working, i have since had a quote of about 50 pound to get it fixed so i will continue to hold open the slidey thing with a tooth pick every time i turn it on! I have started to find Siobahn quite annoying in a "there was this one time, at band camp....." kind of way. On Sunday I had a lovely roast chicken dinner at the Irish pub and spent most of the day reading and watching tv. The most noteworthy adventure was that the bathroom door handle was faulty so that when i went in for a shower i managed to lock myself in, i must have been banging on the door and walls for about ten minutes before the hotel bloke came to let me out. I met up with Ben and Kate in a restaurant/bar where the beers are 25c if you buy food. I had spring rolls, ginger chicken and 10 draught beers for 6 dollars - bargain! We discussed high brow issues such as poverty and corruption.

At 07.00 a motorbike was waiting to take me to three of the further afield sights;
Beng Melea are excellent overgrown ruins, Kbal spean is a waterfall and river with rock carvings and lingas in and beside the river - the road here was terrible and not really worth the effort, and Bantay Srei made from red stone with some intricate carvings.

Next day, i went to burn a cd but the memory card was corrupted again - i managed to get most of it back again in Kuala Lumpur which is where i flew to today. At the airport i found i had to pay an extra 25 dollars in airport tax, the price of the flight now is making me wish i had gone overland through Thailand, i could have climbed at Rayley beach again. Despite studying the lonely planet, i haven't got a clue what to do in Malaysia or Singapore. In Kuala Lumpur (KL), the public transport seems pretty good, the food is cheap (but i did get food poisoning from the KFC) and the hostel is cheap and nasty! Beer is expensive, from 6R (1 pound) in a shop to 14R in a street restaurant. I watched waterworld in the hostel commen area whilst trying to plan my next move.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

28th September - 6th October (The tropical storm)

There were a few people going to the same hotel as us as we got off the train in Hue; the older aussie couple who i'd met Monday and a young NZ couple, Oscar and Fleur. Daz and I arranged to share a car and driver to go to Vinh Moc tunnels, it cost us 10 dollars each and it was great to explore the tunnels in such a small group at our own pace instaed of being with a bus load of people in these confined spaces. Vinh Moc's tunnels are not as famous or extensive as those at Cu Chi near Ho Chi Minh city (HCMC) and they have more headroom despite not having been altered much to suit tourists (unlike Cu Chi). Some say Vinh Moc tunnels are better although having seen pictures from Cu Chi i wish i had gone there as well. In both cases, people lived for sometimes months and years underground, babies were born and raised here and resistance launched from here - it's pretty amazing to see.

On the way back, our car was stopped by police and we thought we might get a taste of police corruption and have to hand over money, we had no idea what was going on as they took our driver away for a few minutes, it turned out to be a speeding ticket.

The next morning we shared a car with the NZ couple again to visit three temples - the weather switching between baking sun, overcast, and pouring rain. We took the tourist bus to Hoi An and checked in to the hotel 'Hai au' that Declan had recommended. The Aussie and NZ couples were there as well. It was a little out of the town but the room and staff were nice. 13 dollars per room. Hoi an is famous for it's cheap tailored suits which Daz was keen to arrange, I don't wear suits as often as Daz and hadn't planned to get one but they were really cheap and looked great so I decided to replace my 'Suits You' suit that i have been wearing to all smart gatherings for the past ten years with my own tailored suit costing 45 dollars which Daz was good enough to take back to dear old blighty for me. Daz got 2 suits, one the same material as mine and we looked well smart. I hope i don't lose or gain too much weight before i go home or I'll end up looking like a sack of spuds for baby Casey's christening! During our time in Hoi an we checked out all the happening bars and restaurants and played a bit of pool. Silver tongued Daz soon got friendly with an American girl called Jess.

In the pouring rain, Daz and I took a bus to My Son, the site of ancient Cham relics from 8th to 13th centuries, temples living areas etc almost totally destroyed by US bombs which pissed me off a bit as it is something of a recurring theme! With news of a bad storm approaching, Daz and I had a nice steak and chips for lunch as there were rumours that everything would be closed later. Daz, Jess and I managed to find a bar with a generator and we stayed there until late. As we left the storm was picking up but the moped riders were still there to take us to our hotel.

The storm hit big time at about 02.00, the window shutters were banging in the wind and a little water was coming in under the balcony door. We fastened the shutters and got our bags off of the floor and with earplugs in I went back to sleep. We awoke at 08.00 with the bedroom flooded, the hotel was full of water, there was a big hole in the roof and a river running down the stair wells - there was no electric or phones. I helped the staff mop water for a while (I have a lot of training for this!) but it was pretty futile. Lots of people helped and the friendly staff were constantly smiling and helpful. I spoke to a girl who was desperate to get to her family home near the beach and was worried about her family - she later told me they were fine but there home was ruined. The hotel gave us noodles and by 11.00 it had died down enough for us to go and inspect the damage - lots of damaged roofs,

trees down and flooding but it was good to see how quickly the Vietnamese people went about sorting everything out and opening their shops again, most without electric. In the evening the hotel provided us with more free food, we went out for drinks at an excellent bar with good music and taught Daz and Jess 'shithead' which I ruled at, i also beat Daz at table footy which left him demoralised and wondering why i am so good at everything! The hotel was locked when we got back so I shouted up to Oscar's room and he came and let us in which was a relief as the streets were pretty wet!

Not surprisingly, our flight to Nha Trang was cancelled and there were no buses - we were forced to stay in Hoi An a while longer and revise Darrens carefully laid plans, booking flights to HCMC for 58 dollars each, but Hoi An is a nice place to be stranded and the sun came out for a bike ride to the beach. The sea was pretty rough and deposited loiads of storm debris on the beach in the afternoon which the locals went about sorting through and clearing up. In the evening the streets were noisier than before and all the restaurants were busy. Kids everywhere were doing the dragon dance to the sound of a loud beating drum.

At the airport check-in, the electricity generator failed and i expected massive delays to result but all was ok. We arrived in HCMC in pouring rain and flooding. The next morning Daz, Jess and I took a bus to Mui Ne beach where it was hot and sunny, we found a nice place by the sea (Hiep Hoa resort), went for a nice lunch (tuna steak), put on sun cream, poured with rain so sorted out my emails and banking. We all went for happy hour cocktails and played some doubles pool.

The next day the weather kept changing, we did boogie boarding, ate lunch by the sea (barracuda in spicy coconut sauce) and Daz tried to teach Jess and I the basics of surfing - it was hard work but we both managed to stand up on the board and i enjoyed it enough to want to try again in Oz. In the evening we went to a fantastic restaurant where i had BBQ seabass for 5 dollars. We went for happy hour cocktails and played pool doubles against some annoying drunk lads, one annoyed Daz by standing over the pocket he was aiming for so I finished off with a well cocky 'colour of money' shot staring straight at the lad - he wasn't amused.

I decided to stay a bit longer in Mui Ne, Daz and Jess were due to leave on an 09.00 bus for HCMC which was cancelled due to a breakdown. They ended up getting a 55 dollar taxi to make sure Daz could get his 14.00 flight. As soon as they left the sun came out and i had a sweltering day on the beach. Sampled some street food, stamed dough balls with a minced pork and egg filling, not bad.

Friday, October 06, 2006

20th - 27th September - (Mui Ne beach - Vietnam)

In Dien Bien Phu my money situation was starting to look a little low, with this in mind i managed to convince the hotel to change my 10 pound note into Dong for a les than favourable rate (they will only be able to change it in Hanoi). The bus driver from Dien Bien Phu to Sonla tried to charge me an extra 20,000d on top of my 55,000d ticket for my large rucksack - although this is about 70p, my funds are low and i have a suspicion that this is just a trumped up tourist charge so i stand my ground - the drivers assistant also tries but they give up when i go to get off saying i will ask at the ticket office - a small victory which i started regretting later when my bladder had got to the point where i had to ask them to stop the bus (usually they have stops every couple of hours). By this point i had made several local friends at the back of the bus as they all were fascinated by my mp3 player, i passed it around for them to hear Morrissey which they all seemed to enjoy. With these guys on my side the bus soon stopped much to my relief.

I arrived in Sonla in the early evening, checked in to a nice hotel and went out for some bia hoi (draught) at 2000d each i was soon a little tipsy, there were no food menus and my vietnamese efforts weren't working so i went hungry.

The next day was spent doing a lot of walking, using my nearly invisible photocopied lonely planet map to find an old french prison, virtually destroyed by wars, a war memorial garden and a very hot steep midday climb to a lookout tower.
Buildings here are usually 2-4 stories, very narrow and deep, usually with only the front painted - apparently there is some sort of tax based on house width. I went into the goat restaurant but with no English menu, decided not to risk it so ended up in a shabby cafe (also with no menu) drinking bottled beer (they didn't even have beer hoi!) and eating cold cuts of beef with rice. I was surrounded by friendly blokes who kept speaking to me in Vietnamese, undeterred by the fact i couldn't answer them, i didn't even have the lonely planet with me for some basic phrases!

My hotel didn't know the bus times so i decided to get to the station and wait. As my motorbike taxi got to the station the Hanoi bus was leaving so the timing was perfect. The bus was decent enough but the large briefcase under my feet made things a bit cramped. The bloke next to me spoke a little English, he also fell asleep and headbutted my shoulder on every bump and dribbled on me! I haggled a motorboke taxi from 40,000d to 30,000d to get from Hanoi bus station to the old quarter, the ride was scary and with nothing smaller i handed him 100,000d, he gave me some change and rode off quickly as i counted the bundle of notes, so i actually ended up paying 60,000 (great haggle!) I booked a decent 10 dollar room for the night, went out for bia hoi and some great food. I found my way to a bar with a pool table with the biggest roll i have ever seen where i lost a Baileys to the girl running the bar. I like the old quarter but it's a bit manic - the pavements are full of parked mopeds so there is nowhere to walk but the road where there are cars, mopeds, bicycles and people whizzing about - not good after a couple of drinks!

My mate Darren arrived on the 23rd so i moved across to the 45 dollar room he had booked on the internet (such decadence!) I spent some time watching premiership build up until Daz arrived at 15.00. The evening was spent with food and beers and watching Liverpool beat Spurs 3-0. I taught Daz a pool lesson and he pulled a New Zealand girl on his first night in town!

Here is a video of the Vietnamese electricity board...

Daz, jet lagged, slept until midday, then we went out to the Ho Chi Minh museum and the army museum. We spent some time admiring Hanoi women, who must be the fittest women in the world. Food drink and another pool lesson for Daz, a 03.30 finish and a 07.00 alarm for our bus trip to Halong bay. In the afternoon i phoned Carly who was making Sunday roast for the family - i could almost taste it!

On the bus to Halong city, Daz slept while i spoke to an aussie couple who ended up getting on to a different boat, but we saw them again several times over the next 2 weeks. On the boat we made friends with Declan and Edel from Dublin, about 27 years old, and we got on really well - there were only about 15 people on our big boat which had surprisingly spacious bedrooms with toilet and shower. Daz and i were next to the engine room which ran all night to provide electricity, my earplugs did the trick but Daz didn't sleep too well.
The weather was overcast and rainy but the views of the 1,969 limestone islands that surrounded us was impressive. We visited a massive cave with a ceiling worn smooth by water and large stalagmites/tites. The food on the boat was pretty good and as the weather prevented us from trekking or kayaking on the first day, Edel and i sampled some Vietnamese red wine which turned out to be good enough for a second bottle. Daz and Dec went for the beer.

The following day was again overcast with rain storms but we managed a little trekking as well as some kayaking and swimming while the sun was shining. Surprisingly, the 59 dollar tour 2 night tour included a very nice 3 star hotel on Cat ba island where Daz and I went for a 7 dollar massage with no happy ending which was a shame as the girl was cute! The massage was quite relaxing, followed by good food then we met with Dec and Edel for beer and wine and another excellent night.

The trip back to Hanoi seemed long. Our 19.00 train to Hue was now at 23.00 so we killed time by researching and booking a flight from Danang to Nha tran for Sunday for 48 dollars each - this flight was destined not to happen and we lost 12 dollars on the booking fee. Another pool lesson for Daz!