Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more . .

.. Or close up the wall with our English dead!

Surprise!! It will be for a few of you anyway. You see, although some of those on my mailing list may have been in my company very recently and have been expecting (even demanding) a resumption of my somewhat surrealist travel blog, others will have heard no word of my exploits for approximately two years. And if that’s you, you’re receiving this because you were privy to my last great adventure and I thought you might enjoy the dubious honour of being copied in on this, the Sequel!

That’s right boys and girls, the time has finally come for South Yorkshire’s most intrepid, least prepared, seldom presentable and frequently foul-mouthed scrofulous drinkist to attempt, once again, to conquer the lands of the Orient. Rucksacks have been packed, safety nets have been cast aside, all possessions have been sold, given away or burnt atop a sacrificial pyre, and Thunderbirds are at last, GO. I suppose one could say that the trip has already started, as I departed the UK yesterday and I’m currently living out of a backpack. But for me, the adventure proper commences on the 14th with a flight to the sunny shores of Vietnam.

HCMC - October 2013 / @Marie-Carmen Infantes

HCMC – October 2013 / @Marie-Carmen Infantes

And this time dear readers, I shaln’t be going alone . . .

Every sequel needs new characters and every hero, a sidekick. As Kirk needs Spok, as Holmes needs Watson, the great & powerful Mr Bob requires a companion to share a beer in an exotic locale, to laugh uproariously at the outrageous facial hair of foreign types, to guard my backpack while I’m locked in the khazi with my good friend Jimmy Squits, and occasionally to simply point out those times when the great and powerful, wise and all-knowing Mr Bob has inadvertently put his t-shirt on inside out, his underpants on back to front, and drunkenly mistaken a sacred shrine for a public convenience.

This illustrious position was of course first offered to such great names as Chuck Norris, Ranulph Finnes and Peter Dinklage. But, in view of these individual’s other commitments. It seems I will be forced to settle for my girlfriend, the Beneficent Miss Marie-Carmen. Probably for the best really, nobody doubts for example, Robin’s loyalty and dedication to Batman’s cause, but I wouldn’t think he did much to warm the big man’s bed of an evening.

Some of you know her well, others may vaguely recall her as the red-haired frenchist who led me on a tour of Burma during the civil war (a 65 year war which incidentally, officially ended just weeks after of our visit. Perhaps the UN would care to sponsor us for a trip to the Korean Peninsular?). Regardless, no one can doubt her credentials, blessed as she is with ample travel experience, a cracking pair of boobs and the ability to speak more languages than your average pope. She’ll be handling the photography and I’ll be concerning myself with my customary beverage-induced ramblings (largely in parentheses) and further hilarious misuse of the semi-colon.

All clear? Ok, on to the ‘meat & spuds’ then. And as this story will feature two protagonists, I’ll be providing you with two brief perspectives on the planned itinerary.

The plan in the mind’s eye of Miss Marie-Carmen:

  • Fly to Ho Chi Minh City in the south of Vietnam.
  • Acquire transportation. Motorcycle / Jeep / Tuk-tuk / Donkey / Space-Hopper / Whatever.
  • Head North. Spend 2 – 3 months touring the legacy of President Lydon B Johnson’s little 1960’s Southeast Asian holiday.
  • A spot of fishing and diving in the magnificent Halong Bay.
  • Turn the space-hopper westward to traverse Laos and Thailand, approximately one month each.
  • Revisit Bangkok. Drink tequila at the spot where an impromptu argument in a Kao San alleyway brought about our union and spawned a myriad ambitious and deeply silly ideas.
  • Turn East for a quick jaunt through Cambodia to bring us back to Vietnam. Likely highlights of this leg include playing Indiana Jones in the sprawling ruins of Angkor Wat, and trying to avoid being shot by any atrabilious remnants of the Khmer Rouge.
  • Fly from Vietnam to Sri Lanka.
  • Acquire flamboyantly painted auto-rickshaw for the long journey North through my old stomping ground of India and Nepal, then down into Bangladesh.
  • Fly to China. Eat spaniel sandwiches and learn Kung-Fu.
  • Board the trans-Mongolian railway in Beijing and ride that baby right across the Gobi desert to Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia.
  • Acquire horses. Really this time. Travel the plains and steppes of Mongolia astride said equines. Miss Marie-Carmen shall charm the indigenous tribes-people and Mr Bob shall wear a very, very splendid hat.
  • Crowbar visits to Philippines, Malaysia and a revisit to Burma somewhere into this plan, wherever time, weather and budget permit.
  • Get married.
  • Open a B&B on the beach in one of the aforementioned countries, with seventeen dogs and absolutely no children.
  • Live happily ever after.

Well, it’s nice to have a plan. If only so that one can watch helplessly as it sails out of the window. Man plans and God laughs. I prefer to keep things simple, and thus I present to you. . .

The plan in the mind’s eye of the Great and Powerful Mr Bob:

  • Fly to Vietnam.
  • Purchase inflatable alligator.
  • ????????????????
  • Profit.

Whichever of these strategies comes to fruition you can be fairly certain that when we next meet I’ll be at least a year or two older and sporting a suntan and a massive grin. And I suppose, at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.

That’s all folks. To you the people of Great Britain (and a few other places) I wish you all the best, may your lives be filled with joy and wonder. And, exclusively to the people of Yorkshire, may your brown sauce bottle never run dry.

Peace and Love,

Robb. x

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