Archive for the ‘Main’ Category

Back in Buenos Aires

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Almost eight months after leaving the UK I am back in Buenos Aires – briefly. The travel bug has well and truly bitten and there are places I want to see and things I want to do in Argentina. So I’m here for two to three weeks and then I’m heading south to Ushuaia. I’ll travel from there through Patagonia and back to Buenos Aires again for an indefinite stay.

When I left home the objective was to get back here to dance more tango. After nearly eight months of travelling with only three milongas attended the compulsion to dance every night had worn thin. I’d been here nearly a week, been to three milongas and not danced. I felt rusty and scared and unwilling to inflict myself upon unsuspecting tangueras or my friends.

Well that couldn’t continue. I remembered what I wrote in July last year – attitude is everything. I gave myself a good talking to, turned up at La Milonga del los Consagrados earlier than normal, got off my arse and onto the pista. Happily I found I can still dance tango. Yes I was rusty. Yes I’d forgotten some vocabulary. But noone gave me an early “gracias” and  I got several “que lindo”s. There are some things I need to work on but there are always things to work on.

I’m going to bed happy.

More Beijing tango

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

After Tuesday night’s successful foray into Beijing tango I decided to have another outing. It’s not like Buenos Aires with a choice of half a dozen or more milongas on a weeknight, but there actually is some tango somewhere most nights of the week. On Thursday night it was the “Tango at it’s core” milonga organised by Beijing Tango and held above the Sino-Chu wine bar. Their website hadn’t been updated for a while but a phone call confirmed it was on.

I went with Dawn and Phillip. We got there for the last hour. There were only four couples and a couple of spare leaders when we arrived, dancing to traditional music organised in tandas. The standard of dancing was a little higher than on Tuesday, not that it mattered much to me. I’m so out of practice that I brought the average well down. Another couple and a single follower arrived after us. Amazingly Dawn knew the lone follower. It’s a small world!  Unlike on Tuesday night, most of the dancers there were foreigners, although all seemed to be resident in Beijing.

It was another fun night and I was tempted to go to a third milonga on Friday night. Instead I ended up at a couchsurfing meeting/meal and afterwards a jazz/swing club. The music was good and there were dancers there, but they were doing lindy hop or east coast swing so I just watched and listened. Nevertheless it was a good night out.

Milonga in Vietnam

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Back in Hanoi after Ha Long bay I had to decide where to go next. Plan A was rejoin Hannah in Bangkok on May 28th. I think we rushed Cambodia and I really liked what I saw of it so plan B was go back there for a while. Plan C was bump up the country count and go to Malaysia for a while. Plans B and C both include going back to Thailand for a couple of weeks to get in a diving course and some beach time in the islands before the next leg on my round the world ticket.

I spent a couple of days in Hanoi seeing the city and deciding that Plan B was the one to go for. There are direct flights from Hanoi to Siem Reap but they’re very expensive. Flights to Phnom Penh are indirect via Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh and are a bit less expensive. Another two days on buses was the cheapest way to get to Cambodia. For this time rich, money constrained traveller the best price/performance compromise was to fly to Ho Chi Minh and take a bus back to Phnom Penh. Factoring in the taxi fares and a night in a hostel in Ho Chi Minh the journey cost about US$100.

I tried to get a Chinese visa in Hanoi. According to the embassy website it is possible to get a same day visa but when I arrived at the embassy on Wednesday morning they said the earliest I could collect it would be Thursday. Oh, and I needed to provide additional documentation, not listed on the website or on the application form. So I went off and collected the additional paperwork they wanted and got back to the embassy at a couple of minutes past 11am to find it closed. The sign on on the door says it’s open Monday-Friday from 8am-11:30am for applications and from 4:30pm-5:00pm for collection only. Grrrr.

On Thursday I flew to Ho Chi Minh with Jetstar. The flight was delayed seven hours, which I didn’t discover until I tried to check in at Hanoi airport. Luckily they managed to transfer me onto an earlier flight which was also delayed. So I got to Ho Chi Minh pretty close to the advertised time of my original flight. Second time around Ho Chi Minh seemed slightly less chaotic. Google told me about a possible milonga on Friday night. That would be worth an extra night in town. An email to Tony, the organiser, confirmed it was on.  Ta.Tango organise a weekly class and milonga on Friday nights at Press Cafe – 14 Alexandre De Rhodes, District 1 – walking distance from my hotel. I spent some time in the afternoon trying to find a shoe shop with something more appropriate for dancing than flip flops. My search was unsuccessful. By the time I had showered and eaten dinner it was too late to get there for the class.  When I arrived at the venue the milonga was just starting and I found a mixture of about twenty locals and foreigners, regulars and visitors. Numbers were fairly well balanced. The music was traditional, arranged in tandas with cortinas. Refreshments were provided and everyone was really friendly. My trainers were too sticky on the floor so I danced in my socks. I felt rather rusty having not danced tango since early March but didn’t do too badly. The evening passed far too quickly and I was sad to say goodbye to everyone at the end of the milonga. If I’m in Ho Chi Minh again I’ll be sure to visit again. If you’re passing through the city and want to tango you should too.

Next morning I was up early for the bus to Phnom Penh.