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I’m Back…!

I’m back! I’m not quite sure where I’m back from, but I’m back. In all honesty, I’ve just not written in my blog since Thailand and I’ve been bored lately so I thought it was about time I started doing something I love again. Hence today’s topic – boredom!

Boredom…

Do you ever get bored? I do. Someone recently said to me that ‘only boring people get bored’. Naturally, I felt quite offended. Surely, I’m the epitome of joy and laughter every time I’m in their presence? Obviously not.

However, it gave me some food for thought… What leads people (me) to get bored? Are people (me) expecting too much from life and others around them (me)? It’s a tough one. I really don’t have the answers. But, surely I’m not bored because I’m boring? I’m not too worried about that idea anyway. I have too many friends and a fiance to know that’s not the case!

My problem lies here – I just like to get the most out of life. You’re thinking ‘don’t we all Miss High Horse’. But I’m not a ‘sit around and do nothing all day’ kinda person. Not. At.All. Whereas some people are and I can’t understand it for the life of me. I just can’t do it!

Unfortunately, I’m not the type of person who enjoys their own company too much either. I can just about cope with Me, Myself and I for a few hours and then I get bored and I pine for the presence and conversation of other people. Especially people who engage my mind; make me laugh; teach me about life; bring something new to the ever-expanding table. So maybe I am boring? If I can’t even entertain myself (no dirty thinkers) then it’s not looking good for the ‘only boring people get bored’ idea.

When I approached this topic with someone else they tried to make me feel better by explaining that ‘if you’re bored it just means that you have no worries or stress to think about’. Of course, I revelled in this idea. Luckily, I don’t have any real worries or stress at this moment in my life. Even if I did, I don’t really stress out about things that are important. Me, Myself and I would rather stress out about things that turn out to be insignificant when it comes down to it – exactly why I’m not that fond of my own company sometimes. My mind seems to go in overdrive and forgets all the rules of rational thinking. In the end, their explanation didn’t really help me either. I don’t have any worries or stress – great! What should I do next time I get bored then? Create some unnecessary worries or stress for myself? No thank you.

Honestly, I don’t expect to be swept off my feet every weekend to seek out the next-best adventure; or taken out to swanky restaurants drinking cocktails by the gin-glass whilst looking out at TripAdvisor’s top rated view in the town. It does sound lovely – but I’m aware that this isn’t reality. Unless you’re one of these modern-day celebrities who lives the life of luxury and extravagance; as frequently featured on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and just about any other social media platform that you can observe their ‘private’ lives on. For the normal working person, like me, this lifestyle of frequent holidays, dining out every day, socialising at any and every event going, isn’t reality.

In actual fact, reality is doing the housework, feeding the cat, doing the food shopping, going out for the occasional meal, working overtime to save for the next holiday, cooking tea, spending quality time with family and friends and so-on and so-forth. That’s the way life is. Run-of-the-mill. In between it all, I get bored. I want to experience life, I want to learn new things and meet new people and have new conversations and go out for walks and see sights I’ve never seen before, and even see sights that I have seen before… but still it gets me out of the house, making the most of this beautiful life I’ve got, even if it is only to go walking in the Peak District! It gets Me away from Myself and I.

In the end, I’m the only person who can cure my fits of boredom. If (not that I expect anyone to read this and think it’s worth replying to) anyone reading this thinks anything different, or even the same, then enlighten me. It’s something I love about people – they always have their opinions – so please share them.

Bye for now…

P.s I’ll be changing the look and name of my blog at some point but not sure what to yet. Suggestions are welcomed.

Calm your tits, rest your breasts, hakuna your tatas. 

After spending a few days in Bangkok, we decided that we’d had enough of the city life and wanted to go somewhere for a few days before Oliver arrived here on Saturday :-). So we decided to travel up to Kanchanaburi, or Kanchan, just a few hours north west of Bangkok. A few people we’ve met told us that Kanchan is a very chilled-out place and that it has a lot of WW2 history there such as the Burma Railway pass and museums. I’m not normally a museum type person but this sounded particularly interesting because you can walk the railway or ‘Hellfire Pass’ as its called, and I love a good ramble with a view. 

After researching ways to get to Kanchan, we decided to get the 7.50am train from Thonburi train station which is at the other side of Bangkok. So we headed outside about 7.30am to get a taxi, which was a huge mistake and we should have known better with Bangkok traffic as we only moved about thirty yards in five minutes. At which point I suggested that we get on a motorbike taxi – something I’ve wanted to do since I’ve been here and this was the perfect excuse! On I hopped, held onto the handle at the back and off we went. It was madness! But I absolutely loved it, whizzing in and out of traffic, without a helmet on, the wind blowing my eyelashes away, trying to be a good pillion and sitting straight! It was the best time of my life! Probably one of the highlights so far to be honest. If people come to Bangkok and don’t do it, they’re missing out on the full Thailand experience. After thirty-five minutes of the best time of my life, we arrived at the train station fifteen minutes late but luckily for us so was he train. Another Thai custom is to always be late, they’re never on time but luckily this is the first and only time it’s worked in our favour. 

After another interesting two and a half hour train journey through the lovely green countryside of Thailand, we arrived at Kanchan and went straight to a tourist information booking place to get a tour to Hellfire Pass, about an hours drive away. The museum we visited is situated at the top of the Hellfire Pass and it’s been developed by the Australian government in memory of those who died building the railway. Firstly, we wondered around the museum and took in the story about the Burma Railway, which I’m glad we did otherwise the walk on Hellfire Pass wouldn’t have been as meaningful. Walking down the pass itself, we could see remenants of the old track which 112,000 people died to build during ww2. Luckily we’d arrived at a good time because we missed the crowds of people, so we had long stretches of the track to ourselves. Great photo opportunities as well as just being able to enjoy it as it should be enjoyed, with quiet respect. As we walked through the cuttings that the prisoners of war carved into the mountain to hide the track, I felt strangely at peace. I tried to imagine what it must have been like to be a PoW working on this track and in the inhumane conditions they were forced to live and work eighteen hours a day in, in heat that made you short of breath after walking ten steps. But it’s incomprehensible. One thing I learnt whilst reading about the lives of the POWs is that the human body can go through so much. Much more than I or anyone I know has ever been through and hopefully will never go through. It’s horrifying to think people suffered like they did for a cause they didn’t believe in and I’m not naive enough to think it doesn’t happen in today’s world, but we’re so desensitised to it now. As an era of humans who haven’t really experienced pain and true suffering like people did in the wars, we can’t conceive the idea of what life was once like. And I know it’s ignorant to say this but until I’d been and visited this museum, I didn’t realise the impact ww2 had on other countries. I mean, it is in the name ‘World War’ but we don’t get taught about other countries in school. Or I didn’t anyway, only about Germany and England and even then I failed to listen because I didn’t like the concept that the world hadn’t always been as it is now. That is naive. 

Anyway, walking the pass was worth it, especially for the amazing view point we reached which looked over the trees below and the mountains in the distance. It was a hot day, with clear skies so the view point was welcomed; so was the rest. 

In the evening we had a wonder around Kanchan, which held an extremely care-free attitude. Something I haven’t experienced quite as much in the other places I’d visited. The main street was scatterered with small bars and restaurants, we chose some place to eat and had a nice pad Thai. Then we wondered into a reggae bar. With it being low season or ‘green season’ as it’s better known by Thai locals because of the amount of rain that falls, most places were fairly quiet but I could imagine that in high season Kanchan is quite an electric place. Emily took us to a reggae bar, which had traditional green, red and yellow Jamaican themed decor; including a hammock on the back wall with images of Bob Marley and other reggae artists pinned on the walls and a resident cat sleeping on the leather sofa in a corner.  Evidence of previous visitors of the bar were carved into the walls and ceiling with messages of peace and love. One message read ‘calm your tits, rest your breasts, hakuna your tatas’pretty mcuh summing up Kanchan in one quirky quote. As Tom was still feeling the effects of the stomach flu we only had one drink and went back to the room to get rest before travelling back to Bangkok the following day. 

All in all visiting Kanchan was worth it, even if just to take in the greenery on the journey there. Thailand is such a beautiful country when you get out of Bangkok. You don’t have to go far out of the hustle and bustle of Thailand’s capital to appreciate it’s dense, untouched ,evergreen rainforest and it’s huge limestone mountains towering above hidden caves and waterfalls. 

This is the true Thailand. 

RIP Britney Attenborough…

Thankfully we survived Saturday night in the horror-film director’s dream that was a hostel. Considering I was fully clothed and used my pac-a-mac as a pillow case (a measure I took in order to escape resting my head directly on a grimy pillow) I had a pretty good night’s sleep. It was all part of the experience I suppose. Despite Pak Chong being one of the most unsettling and outdated places I’ve ever visited, Khao Yai was worth it. 

We hired a tour guide for the day on Sunday, which was the best decision we’d made because without him we wouldn’t have experienced half as much as what we did. Luckily, we were able to get up close to lots of wildlife in their natural habitat such as wild snakes and scorpions; gibbons which were jumping across the trees above our heads; a group of macaques who enjoyed the human attention and nearly stole my iPhone; bats sleeping in the hollow of a standing tree; and we trekked for hours searching for crocodiles in the river. Sadly, because it’s rainy season the river was too high to see any. On the other hand, it was the perfect time to visit waterfalls so our guide took us to Hew Suwat Waterfall, an impressive natural wonder but strangely not as impressive as the ones I’ve seen back at home on my rambles with Gabes. To keep me entertained on the strenuous hike, Tom sang various renditions of Britney Spears songs followed by outbursts of David Attenborough style narration. Hence the ‘Britney Attenborough’ title. 

After spending nine hours exploring the national park we headed back to Pak Chong train station and caught the last train to Bangkok. Unintentionally, we bought first-class tickets which were 350 Baht (£7). If I didnt know I was on a train I could have mistaken the carriage for an aeroplane with the same reclining seats equipped with a free blanket, and the smartly dressed conductress navigating her way down the aisle with her trolley offering free refreshments and pineapple pie. Needless to say we slept well on Sunday night. 

On Monday we went out for brunch to a place in Bangkok near the apartment, had a wonder around the small Thai market nearby and then spent the rest of the day relaxing and planning where we wanted to go next. We decided to go to Lumpini park on Tuesday. 

Lumpini park is Bangkok’s answer to NYC’s Central Park, although not quite as developed. We found a spot next to the lake, under the shade of the trees and I read for an hour or so whilst listening to the fountain in the background. A baby monitor lizard wandered nearby looking for food, whilst a crow in the tree above kept making his mating call and a white-vented myna (a small white bird with long black legs) occasionally sauntered past me on the edge of the lake. A couple of Thai locals were nearby, using the park on their dinner break from 7/11 to relax; other tourists hired the pedalos on the lake and took pictures of the green landscape in the middle of the concrete jungle.

Whilst I’m on the topic of 7/11’s (a chain of corner shops which sells everything you could ever need whilst backpacking Thailand) they are are a godsend to everyone and I am grateful that they are absolutely everywhere in South East Asis. Infact, there are over eight-thousand in the whole of Thailand, with over fifty percent of them in Bangkok alone. That’s four thousand in Bangkok! I know this because I researched it, being one of the many questions I’ve asked myself whilst being in Thailand. Another question I’ve asked myself is: what exactly is Thai logic? And I’ve come to the conclusion that Thai logic comes down to this: there’s no logic. No logic whatsoever. Take Lumpini park for instance. It has sprinklers all around the place supposedly to keep the grass and trees hydrated, which is strange grass anyway – it’s not like your normal English-cottage picture-postcard style grass, it’s like small leaves bunched together which forms a prickly surface to sit on, style grass. Except the sprinklers mostly hydrated the pavements, which made for an interesting walk around the park as we had to dodge the rotating jets of water, and one or two which were just casually watering the lake. Common sense. A classic example which just about sums up Thai logic perfectly is this: during learning to drive, Thai people are told that if they see an old lady trying to cross the road (I don’t know why its an old lady but I’m presuming that encompasses everybody) they aren’t supposed to stop because it will cause drivers behind to crash and someone will overtake them, knocking the old lady down anyway. Another example of Thai logic I’ve experienced whilst being here is that they bring out your food as soon as its ready, rather than making it so that it’s all ready at the same time. So no matter how many people are in your group or if you order a starter or main, they just bring it to you when it’s ready. Which means that most of the time you’ll have finished your full meal before the other person has even had theirs placed in front of them. Which is exactly what happened to us after we’d spent the day in Lumpini park. We ate at a really nice restaurant but they brought my meal out a long time before Tom’s so by the time his came is more or less finished. 

On Wednesday morning we went to Dusit zoo. It cost us 150 Baht (£3) to go in, which seems a bargain and it was considering the amount of animals we saw, but it was the most harrowing experience I’ve ever had in a zoo. Apparently, Dusit zoo is one of the best zoo’s in Asia in terms of the size of the enclosures and the way the animals are treated, but if this was the best then I definitely don’t want to visit any of the worst. It was so upsetting. I’m against any sort of animal cruelty anyway and I’m on the fence when it comes to zoos because I think that animals should be left in their natural habitat. With the exception of the lemurs and the squirrel monkeys, all the animals we saw looked so unhappy and melancholy. Especially in contradiction to the wild animals we saw in Khao Yai which were energetic and constantly making noise, just as you’d expect. These in the zoo were motionless, as if they’d been drugged. It felt so cruel. The zoo had so many lovely animals too: a majestical white lion which had red-raw sore eyes, a beautiful white tiger, two black bears – one of which was staring at a wall and swaying from side to side, a cheetah, three hippos stood in what was basically a concrete bunker, a saltwater crocodile which had no water whatsoever in its enclosure, the list could go on. Basically, Asia doesn’t have the same rules and regulations as the British when it comes to animals. I don’t think they have the same amount of respect either. Apparently it’s getting better bit by bit, but unfortunately tourism funds most of it. Like elephant riding and tiger temples. They’re just basically used as puppet shows for the entertainment of travellers. It’s sickening. 

Anyway, after a couple of hours helplessly wondering around the zoo, we got a taxi back to the apartment and we were greeted by Tom’s sister, Emily, who’d just landed in Bangkok from her trip back to England. Tom didn’t feel well, (caught stomach flu from me) so me and Emily went for food to a really nice little restaurant near her apartment with her friend Debbie, and that was that. Wednesday over with! 

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and some of Saturday…

Ok… So I’ve missed a few days worth of blogging but I’ll cram four and a half days into one post. 

On Tuesday morning we visited the Art in Paradise museum in Chiang Mai, which sounds pretty boring but the art creates optical illusions and gives you (and any budding photographer) the opportunity to become part of the art work. It’s really quite clever and rather different to anything I’ve been to before. As we had time to kill before our flight back to Bangkok in the afternoon it was an entertaining way to end our stay in Chiang Mai. 

As we’d already had a busy nine days in Thailand, we decided that Wednesday should be a ‘chill’ day. We ventured up to the infinity pool, sunbathed and read for a few hours in the morning and then it started to drizzle so we re-thought our plans and chose to go to the cinema. BTS took us to Terminal 21 which is, as suggested by the name, an airport themed shopping centre. Every floor (except the 6th floor which is the entertainment centre) is a homage to different cities from all over the globe, plus it is set out like a department store so that each floor houses shops which sell similar items e.g. beauty is all on one floor, womenswear on one, menswear on one, accessories on one, and so on. To add to the airport theme, you walk through a fake security screen to enter the centre and the security/information staff are all wearing airport security attire. After some deliberation we chose to watch the new Ghostbusters film. It was £2 each; surprisingly a bargain as everything is so modern and extravagant in Thai shopping centres. 

That’s one thing about Bangkok – it has astounded us with its amalgamation of the old with the new; the crisp and clean with the smelly and dirty; the over-the-top decoration with the run-down, barely standing huts; the pure over-indulgence of some places combined with the desperate lack of sanitation in others. This city is just a mixture of all walks of life, all types of demographic and Bangkok caters for them all in one way or another. 

As we were watching the trailers for new and up-coming films, a yellow screen interrupted and we were kindly asked to stand and pay tribute to the King of Thailand. The King’s anthem played whilst a myriad of photographs of the royal family played on the screen. After a couple of minutes the tribute ended and we sat back in our centrally placed spacious, reclining seats. I daren’t say too much about the King of Thailand as I don’t know anything about him at all really, except that he is adored throughout the country and it is a criminal offence to slander him in any way. Huge billboards with a variety of images of him on his own, with the Queen and with the Princess are placed all around. It might just be my observation, but the country is united by the love they have for their King. It’s a shame England isn’t the same about their Queen. 

Aside from the unbelievable price, the comfortable seats and the fitting tribute to the King, a cinema experience in Thailand is pretty much the same as in England. We picked a good film too. After the cinema we headed to an Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant called ‘The Hatter’. If you like themed restaurants, Thailand has them all and this one didn’t disappoint; it was like walking into the film set at the mad hatters tea party. 

We were sat at the ‘caterpillar’ themed booth, with cushions for chairs and tea trays for tables. The food was very nice but it was expensive (for Thailand) and very rich tasting. Upstairs was a secret shisha bar so after our meal we asked to go upstairs and enjoyed a bubblegum shish in the semi-open courtyard. BTS faithfully took us back to the apartment and that was the day over. 

Thursday isn’t worth talking about as throughout the night I spent most of it in the bathroom, wrentching my guts out and after the little sleep I did get I woke up feeling like I’d done a full body work out at the gym. Stomach flu. Thankfully it was only a 24 hour thing but it meant that we lost a day as we both spent it in the apartment. Although I insisted Tom should go out and do something, he stayed and kept me company. 

As I woke up feeling pretty well on Friday morning, most likely due to the gallons of water, two sachets of electrolytes and three slices of pizza (an ordeal Tom doesn’t ever want to speak of) which I painfully managed to force down my neck the night before, we decided to go to Ayutthaya to see the Buddha in the tree. The plan was to travel up to Ayutthaya by mini-van, visit the places we wanted to visit, stay the night in Ayutthaya and then travel further north-east to one of Thailand’s most visited nature parks – Khao Yai. After walking around Bangkok for half an hour we eventually found the place where the mini-van departs for Ayutthaya. We arrived in Ayutthaya earlier than we were allowed to check-in at our hostel, so we headed straight to Wat Phra Mahathat by Tuk-Tuk. Wat Phra Mahathat is an ancient temple ruin which houses the Buddha head in the tree – something of a phenomenon to Buddhist’s, and tourists alike. This temple was different to all the others we’ve visited so far; aside from the obvious, that it was a ruin, there was a serene atmosphere and it left a lot more to the imagination. The deep, red-bricked walls were stripped of all their former glory; weeds and grass sprouted from the mortar in between; delapidated Buddha’s with hands, heads, half their bodies missing were faithfully lined up against the walls. I enjoyed this temple more than any of the others. 

It’s a shame we didn’t feel the same way about the rest of Ayutthaya. After a few hours wandering around in the scorching heat and being ferried by our Tuk-Tuk driver who insisted we take him up on his three hour tour of Ayutthaya for 300 Baht (£6 and too good to be true) we found our hostel, checked in, paid our 250 Baht and then quickly decided that we were going to head back to Bangkok before visiting Khao Yai national park. Mainly because Tom didn’t pack the right attire, secondly because Ayutthaya wasn’t a place we felt we wanted to stay the night. For fifteen pence we travelled by rickety-train the twenty-five or so miles from Ayutthaya to Bangkok in an hour and a half. 

After a very good nights sleep, followed by a long shower in the morning we set off back to the train station near our apartment to travel to Pak Chong. The train arrived late, causing our journey to take us longer than expected – a total of four and a half hours rather than three. But it wasn’t so bad. I read quite a bit. Added some to this blog post. There were some nice views. There were local Thai people wandering up and down the aisle offering drinks and strange snacks such as fried chickens feet, crickets, pineapple, Panang curry with rice and other random snacks but even though I was hungry I daren’t risk it, not after the day I had on Thursday. 

Finally, after lots of jerking and stopping along the old track we arrived in Pak Chong searching for our hostel. Unfortunately, we found it. I think that’s all I’m going to say on the matter. Unhesitatingly we rushed out to find somewhere clean to eat and just be, preferably with wifi so I could FaceTime the love of my life (gag) and we came across a pastry and bakery place which looked like the only modern, hygienic building in Pak Chong. 

And here I am. I genuinely feel like we might not make it through tonight. American horror story screams at me. I just hope that Khao Yai is worth it. 

Rainy Day.

This morning we zip-lined through a mountain forest in the middle of a tropical storm. Well, for the first hour it was bright sunshine, then the rain started and lasted about two hours, which cut our zip-lining adventure short as we were given the opportunity to take a 10 minute walk back to the office. Except this walk was more like a life-threatening, vertical, mudslide to hell… The guide thought it was hilarious and to be honest the adventurer in me did too. Thankfully, once we were back at the office we were given towels and clean t-shirts, plus warm food and drinks whilst we waited for our bus back to the hostel. Just in time for the sun to come back out! 

After a brief shower and change at our hostel we went for a walk to the east side of Old Town where we’ve not been before; the heat was stifling. It hadn’t rained in the city, only in the mountains but we should have known something was coming. Eventually we’d had enough of walking and chose a restaurant to eat in which sold Khao Soi – a dish that was recommended to us by Canadian Russel and a very good recommendation indeed! Then it started to rain! So we paid our bill and hitched a taxi – who took us to the airport instead of our hostel because he misheard what I said. A nice 20 minute round trip for nothing. To say we’ve been blessed by two monks and are supposed to be gifted by luck and fortune, Buddha has really pissed on our Pad Thai today! 

But I am now in bed, feeling very comfortable, warm and content in our three-bed hostel room with Tom on the upper bunk-bed singing Lion King for his own entertainment. 

I can see tonight being a musical night! 

The Variety of Chiang Mai.

Yesterday was a day full of variety and spontaneity. Firstly we went up into the mountain by truck-taxi to visit Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep (yes another temple). The temple itself was pretty similar to the ones we’ve already seen but what made it worthwhile were the 309 steps up to it, the stunning views over Chiang Mai at the top and the downhill trek through steep, narrow woodland on the way back. 

Later, we visited Catmosphere – a cat sanctuary cafe! We were greeted at the door by the owner who kindly asked us to take our shoes off outside to replace them with some of their house-slippers and then clean our hands. He let us in, and seated us on the cushions on the floor, where we were instantly greeted by cats playing and chasing each other. I honestly think I felt more happy and content being surrounded by cats than I did by the elephants! There’s definitely a niche market for a cat-cafe in Barnsley: someone please open one! 🙂

After spending a good hour or so chilling with the cats and drinking our smoothies we flagged down a taxi and headed to a massage centre to have an hour long foot massage with reflexology. I’ve always wanted to have a foot massage but never had the chance to have one and seeing as we’ve walked at least 4 miles every day since we’ve been in Thailand we thought we’d treat our feet to some well needed respite. We chose to go to a massage centre that’s been opened for ex-prisoners of a Thai female prison. It was opened to help rehabilitate them back into the community instead of going back into a life of crime. It sounds very dubious, but we’ve walked past it every day on our travels and it was always busy with other likeminded tourists. We paid 200 Baht (£4) for an hours massage: divine! 

As soon as we finished having our little pamper session we headed straight outside, as on a Sunday Chiang Mai hosts one of the largest night markets in Thailand. It was extremely busy but there were lots of bargains to be had and not to mention the food vendors. A three course meal, from three seperate vendors, cost us £1.67 each! How can anyone complain at that? And the food was gorgeous. It was a nice way to end a very varied day in Chiang Mai. 

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and overnight stay with the Karen Hill Tribes – Chiang Mai. 

Wow! Where do I even start with the last two days? Apart from the fact that I stink and have mud congealed in places I didn’t think was possible, it’s been a sensational experience. I’m writing this as we’re travelling back to our hostel in the Sanctuary’s truck; the first thing I’ll do is have a nice long shower and a good scrub! Then I’ll FaceTime home (must speak to boyfriend and family who probably think I’m dead as I haven’t spoken to to them in 48 hours and I want to see my baby niece who will now be 10 days old). 

We chose to go to a sanctuary because it provides a better treatment of the elephants; riding them isn’t something the Jungle Sanctuary condones and I’m thankful they don’t. JuJu (one of the guides) told us that although humans have used elephants for thousands of years to perform certain tasks, it’s not kind on the elephants and the numbers of Asian elephants have reduced by two thirds in this century alone, with most of those living in captivity.  

We started the day at the sanctuary (an hour and half drive from Chiang Mai followed by a short trek through the jungle with some stunning scenery) by feeding the elephants bananas and corn up a very steep and slippery hillside. We had to shout ‘bon’ at the elephants so they knew we had food and they used their trunks to sniff it out, grab it from your hand and then tuck it into their mouth. One of the baby elephants (4 years old called Peeta) was a naughty boy; he kept stealing bananas from other elephants and trying to run away. He had a bit of a moment and was play-fighting with one of the other baby elephants which was amusing to watch. Surprisingly, we had plenty of time to feed, touch and get photos with them.They’re just such wonderful creatures. 

After a couple of hours with the elephants feeding them and getting up close and personal to them, we had our dinner or ‘likkle buffe for you’ as the guides called it, which was a traditional Thai buffet. Dinner came with a view; we sat on a bamboo platform overlooking the elephants playing in the river with the jungle mountain as a backdrop. 

After dinner we got changed into our swim suits and shorts – it was time for the mud bath! I have never fully immersed myself into a mud bath before nor have I ever wanted to, but the fact that the elephants were coming over to join us made it more inviting. But there was me thinking I’d just get a little bit muddy – maybe on my hands and arms from rubbing the elephants – oh how I was wrong. As soon as this thought left my head, a big clump of mud hit my back from one of the guides in the camp. And then it just turned into a massive mud fight – everyone was covered head to toe. It was just insane. A mud fight with elephants! What an experience! We played in the mud for a good half an hour and then we followed the elephants to a river not too far away where we cleaned them and ourselves by throwing water all over them and each other. Again, the elephants absolutely loved it. They just fell into the water and let all the tourists splash them and brush them down – they were getting pampered by us all. Baby elephant was a little scared but the mother made sure it felt safe by staying close to it. 

Afterwards we moved to a small waterfall nearby to wash ourselves down with some soap provided by the guides. I’ve never washed in a waterfall and although it gets you somewhat clean, when you’ve got mud in places you didn’t think mud could go it’s not the best way to get a deep clean! Especially as me and Tom were staying the night with the hill tribes and would most likely be unable to wash! 

Shortly after the waterfall shower we got changed and said goodbye to the elephants and the guides; who by-the-way, really care about and love the elephants. We trekked back up the mountain to the pick up truck and after a short ride we were dropped off at a small shop (a wooden, open-front hut at the side of the dirt-track road) where we were greeted by our hill tribe guide, Cop, and three other tourists who were also staying the night in the village with us – Sarah and Hillary, two friends from San Francisco, and Suzanne from LA. Instantly, they invited us to ‘join the party’ so we bought some Chang beer from the little man in the shop and went and chatted to the girls whilst we waited for our truck to take us to the village. Behind the hut there were some spectacular views of the jungle, it felt so serene and wonderful that is be spending the night in it. 

After a while Cop took us deeper into the jungle to our village and showed us to our 7 bed bamboo hut we were staying in for the night. Our beds were practically thick quilts on the floor, with a hard small rectangular shaped sponge for a pillow and a mosquito net hanging above. The shower and toilet block was a small hike up a hill, however I skipped the shower as I didn’t fancy getting wet again and thought it might add to the authenticity of the jungle experience if I stayed as I was. The waterfall shower pretty much cleaned me anyway. All five of us decided to go for a wonder as Cop told us there was a larger waterfall nearby; we could hear it gushing from our hut. To get to it we had to walk across a couple of man-made bridges; it was a tranquil place to admire. Tom and Suzanne had a swim; I just hopped across the stepping stones to get as close to it as possible as Cop warned us about an undercurrent which would drag you under if you got too close. 

Afterwards, we walked back to the village and made our tea with Cop in their restaurant, which overlooked the waterfall. Cop was really funny and would randomly sing out western songs like Kanye West’s ‘Gold Digger’ – “She take my money when I’m in need, yeah she’s a trifling friend indeed, oh she’s a gold digger” – funnier in a high pitched Thai-English style voice! 

Then it was time for bed. We all got layered up in our mosquito spray and cocooned ourselves into the mosquito nets. As we were off to sleep it started to rain; the heavy pitter-patter was very relaxing and I felt safe and secure in the middle of the jungle. 

In the morning, we all woke up quite refreshed, despite our beds being made from bamboo and our pillows as hard as a heavy doormat. Breakfast was served in the restaurant – a nice plate full of scrambled eggs with vegetables, French toast and Thai jam. A random combination but it was nice. Cop was to spend the day with us trekking from one camp to be next to see more of the elephants but first we were able to feed the elephants in this tribe, which was extra special because it was only for the five of us. A load more tourists arrived and we were able to watch as they did the same as we had done the day before – mud bath and bathe them in the river. Shortly after lunch, Cop guided us through the jungle to a smaller camp where we were able to meet a baby elephant which was only one month old! It was asleep with its mum so we had a wonder to a hut where a Thai woman was weaving a scarf. She didn’t speak any English but she taught us all how to thread it through and create the pattern she was so patiently making. Cop told us it takes her a full day to make one scarf – she was charging 200Baht which is the equivalent of about £4. Not much for a full day’s work and then she’s depending on people coming this far up the mountain to buy them. 

As we were about to leave the camp, the baby elephant and it’s mum walked up the hill so we were able to feed them some sugar cane and pat the small elephant. Mum was very protective but as soon as she knew we had food she felt happy – her ears were flapping, her tail was wagging and she was swaying side-to-side. Baby elephant was so cute!

Then we trekked further into the jungle, through steep woodland and rice fields where the locals were farming, back up to where we’d first met Cop and the girls at the hut shop where caught our truck ride back to our hostel for a long, warm shower but what an extraordinary 48 hours we’d had. Something I will never forget and which has made me appreciate the smaller things in life like mattresses and warm showers.

🙂 


Chiang Mai…

Earlier today we arrived in Chiang Mai. Instantly we felt more relaxed and at ease as we were wondering around this calm place. 

In comparison to Bangkok, Chiang Mai is quieter and more carefree; although there are lots of locals there are less people hassling you for Tuk Tuks and private tours, the air smells of fresh, crisp jungle; and random rain showers are quite refreshing in the heat. Although the clouds have been hanging low in the sky, we’ve been able to catch glimpses of the mountains in the jungle to the west of the city. This is where it’s at for me… Nature, mixed in with some culture mixed in with some exploring, and a little bit of relaxation. A foot massage is definitely on the cards, especially after all the trekking we’ll be doing! 

We’ve landed on our feet with this hostel were at tonight. I found it before we came and picked it because of its location and reviews. For the price (£2.50 each per night) we can’t complain. Infact, we’ve booked in for the following three nights after tomorrow night. 

Tomorrow we’re going to an elephant sanctuary and then staying overnight with a hill tribe in the jungle. We’re both so excited to finally be doing this. We booked it ages ago. I think it’ll be the experience of a lifetime! 

River Adventures.

So today started with a trip to Siam Centre – a large shopping centre with lots of quirky shops and cafes. We ventured into one in particular called Moomin Cafè which was themed on… you guessed it – the Moomins. This was more of Tom’s scene as he loved watching the Moomins when he was younger but the food we had was beautiful. We had pancakes and a smoothie each and they were delicious! It was a taste sensation and something very different to what we have experienced so far. The waiters in the restaurant brought over adult sized Moomin characters to come and sit with you, so whilst we ate our pancakes we sat with Mamma Moomin! It was a nice touch. It was an expensive meal though – coming in at £10 each – which is pretty dear in Thailand but the food was well worth it! 

After that we moved on to Saphan Taksin, via BTS (sky train), where we jumped onto a Chao Phraya Tourist Boat. For 150 Baht (about £3) we travelled up and down the river, stopping off at different places along the way. Firstly, we stopped off at Ratchawongse Pier where we ventured into Chinatown – a labyrinth of vibrant tightly packed market stalls selling anything and everything. The air was filled with so many rich smells coming from street vendors selling food; and the perfumery from the stalls; and the occasional waft of sewage from the gutters below! If you get a strong enough whiff it can knock you off your feet – and that’s a nice way of putting it. I haven’t mentioned it before but the smell of Bangkok’s streets aren’t too pleasant – it’s very potent to say the least!  

Next we hoped back on the tourist boat and headed to Tha Tien Pier where we got another ferry across to Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn). We hadn’t planned on visiting anymore temples today but as we were on Chao Phraya we thought we may as well heard over and see it. Most temples require you to cover up your knees and shoulders and we hadn’t planned for this so I bought an elephant sarong for 100Baht (£2) from a stall outside the temple and Tom bought some Thai pants. It turns out Tom didn’t need to bother but I did. Although I enjoyed this temple, it wasn’t as special as Wat Pho- but this was mainly due to the fact that it was under construction so it was covered in scaffolding. Still, the architecture is so intricately detailed and elaborately designed that you are forced to admire the beauty of this holy place. 

After that we ventured back across the river and down to Central Pier, where we caught another boat to Asiatique – a nighttime market full of places to eat and shop for all price ranges, plus a future zone which included a Ferris wheel, and lots of fair type attractions. Earlier on in the day we’d met a guy called Russel from Canada. He came to Wat Arun with us and then we’d arranged to meet him at the entrance to Asiatique because he seemed like a nice guy and he was travelling solo. All three of us had a wander around Asiatique, before tucking down on some traditional Thai cuisine. Again, this didn’t disappoint. 

Before we left Asiatique we grabbed the opportunity to see Bangkok in all its glory from the heights at the top of the Ferris wheel at sunset. We caught it at the perfect time as the sun set and the city transformed from daylight to dusk, into a spectacle of luminosity! It was an incredible experience that I shall never forget. Especially as I took about a million photos and videos! It was the perfect way to end the second day in Bangkok. 

Bangkok Initiation Complete!

Khao San Road ruins lives! Our Bangkok initiation started with getting wasted and eating deep fried creepy crawlys – namely crickets and scorpions. I passed on the scorpion but very apprehensively and quickly chewed on a deep fried cricket for the longest 10 seconds of my life – it was vile. I have a video to prove it! 

After the insect incident we wandered around Khao San area for a while, being typical tourists and taking pictures of everything. We found this one bar we really liked which played decent music so we had a couple of Chang beers each (which are really nice but go straight to your head when you’ve been travelling for 24 hours and haven’t slept or eaten anything substantial) and then a couple more Chang beers, met two friendly couples, drank more Chang beers, drank a few fishbowls full of alcohol, danced a lot, sang to strangers and then travelled home by Tuk Tuk. We paid 400 Baht which is about £9. Which we now know was a rip-off; today we got a taxi from the other side of Bangkok to where we are staying in Ari and paid 170 Baht which is about £4. Lesson learned – but it was a great experience, although I can’t remember all of it, just the videos and photos I have! I don’t remember getting into the apartment. Upon waking up this morning on top of the bed with just my pants on, a head like I’d been run over by a Tuk Tuk and my mouth drier than the Sahara, I decided that Khao San Road had ruined my life! Slightly dramatic, but I felt so ill. Tom was on the sofa, he too woke up feeling ruined by Khao San. Initiation partly complete! 

After a shower and a barrocca we headed out to The Grand Palace and Wat Pho. We flagged down a taxi outside the apartment and said where we wanted to go but he misunderstood and took us to a region called Lat Phrao – the other side of Bangkok to where we wanted to go. But it was our fault we weren’t saying the place with the right accent and the taxi driver was very apologetic. Even our Thai phrase boom wasn’t helping us. In the end he rang someone who spoke English and they understood where we wanted to go. Still- he dropped us off at The Grand Palace so that’s where we went first. It’s a good job really because by the time we got there it was 11am and it was shutting at 1pm for a special festival for Asarnha Bucha Day (a Buddhist festival). This also meant that The Grand Palace was full of tourists. And the heat! Wow. It’s another level – I sweat in places I didn’t know could sweat. Then the hangover – that was also another level, made worse by the heat and the taxi ride there which made me feel sick and on edge 100% of the time I was in it. 

The roads in Bangkok are so busy and erratic – it literally is just every man for himself! I’ve never seen anything like it before. There are lanes but God knows what they’re for because no one seems to use them. Cars, busses, Tuk Tuks, motorbikes, mopeds, people walking through the traffic selling fruit, plucky pedestrians taking their life into their own hands by walking into oncoming traffic – it’s just madness. It’s organised chaos. When you’re actually moving that is; I think we spent 45 minutes of the hour long journey sat in traffic jams. Again – not ideal when you have a stinking hangover. The air con was appreciated though. 

The Grand Palace is a very extravagant complex. I didn’t really know what to expect but I was in awe of its beautiful architecture and intricate detail, all of which is a proud salute to the creativity and craftsmanship of Thai people. It was extremely spiritual; Tom was in his element. He enjoyed Wat Pho the most though. Wat Pho is a Buddhist temple complex and it houses the Reclining Buddha, which is a spectacle in itself. Definitely worth a visit of you like that sort of stuff. Even if you don’t you will get coaxed into the atmosphere and enjoy it. Due to the fact that it was Asarnha Bucha Day there were masses of Thai people carrying out their mantra prayers inside some of the temples. It was a delight to watch and it added to the spiritual ambience along with the smell of burning incense (which the Buddhist faithful uses during meditation or prayer rituals as a sacred offering and a way to honor the Triple Gem of the Buddha, his Dharma and the Sangha).

P.s Tom’s been educating me on Buddhism today – which I appreciated but I think he got tired of me asking questions all the time hah!

So yes, today I felt very spiritual and religious. I was blessed by a monk, I carried out a Buddhist Candle ritual but I can’t tell you what it was for – probably some cleansing of some sort. I’ll take all the cleansing I can get – especially if it helps get rid of hangovers! I even meditated a little today too – it would have been rude not to really. It was very relaxing and if I get chance to meditate again I will. 

After our hectic morning we came back to the apartment, FaceTimed home, had some sleep, a shower, got ready and caught the train to Sukhumvit district for a restaurant called Cabbages and Condoms. It’s a very unique restaurant and not as seedy as you’d initially think – it’s all about promoting safe sec guys! Although the light shades are made of condoms and there are mannequins dressed in a variety of condom outfits, the rest of the decor is very romantic (not for me and Tom obviously but we did feel like we were in a film) and the food is amazing! Our first Thai meal wasn’t disappointing, neither was the price. Two courses and two drinks each cost £20. After we paid the bill we were given two condoms each, instead of mints, which I thought was a nice touch. 

Subsequently, we travelled back to the apartment by BTS and here I am. Still hungover. I’ve just taken two more ibuprofen and I’m drinking my 10th litre of water to try to rehydrate myself before bed. I don’t want to feel like this EVER again! Especially not whilst I’m in Thailand. But we survived the first night and full day in Bangkok and loved every minute (except the taxi journeys, wanting to throw up every 5 minutes and having a constant headache). 

Let’s see what tomorrow brings! 


At the airport…

So we’ve just got through security, had a wonder around duty free (with a standard trying on of sunglasses and a spray or three of perfume) and now we’re having the usual pint in the bar before we go to board the plane in an hour and half. Meaning I have plenty of time to write a few words on my blog…

I can’t believe it’s actually come to this time already. I’ve been dreaming about this day for so long that it doesn’t feel real and this week I’ve felt quite nervous about it all. Not knowing where we’re going or where we’re staying from one day to the next is exciting but I’m feeling slightly apprehensive about it all. For some strange reason I’ve been having rather disturbing thoughts about being kidnapped, or falling from a cliff or being attacked by someone trying to steal my jewellery… Hence why I am not wearing any. Not even the ring my grandma bought me for my 21st birthday and it has NEVER been off my finger. Apparently I’m Tom’s ‘beard’ (a gay term I have only just heard of today and its a woman who a gay man uses to pretend to be straight), so I’m hoping this will be enough of a deterrent to stop any unwanted attention whilst I’m doing my travelling. I should be safe being Tom’s ‘beard’… Shouldn’t I? Tom feels a lot of responsibility for me too, even though he’s younger than me. I think he’s had the ‘Scarborough warning’ from my parents, his parents and Oliver! Poor lad. 

Anyway, Tom’s currently chewing my ear off about some shit that happened at school this week so I cant concentrate on my blog. 

See you at the other side! 

This is my very first post…

This is my very first post.

Where do I start? Well, I’ll start by saying that as a lover of words of the English language and as I’m pretty decent with them (I don’t mind saying so myself), I thought that it’d be interesting to capture my thoughts as I travel Thailand this summer via a blog. Originally, I was going to do it the old school way and write in a paperback diary, but I’m backpacking so weight is limited and it seems unnecessary carrying a diary when I have a device I can use just as easily. It might not go well. I might be too enthralled with life to write a blog, but I intend to write it every day. Undeniably photographs are an amazing way to capture memories and you’ll see some of my amateur photography skills on here too (Instagram’s filters can take the credit for most of the likes I get on photographs ha). But I believe that there’s nothing like using words to capture a feeling you once had, in that one moment or space in time, and it be ready for you to recreate again in a month, a year or ten years time, when you read it again. And that’s the whole point of this blog for me. It’s not for anyone else; it’s for me. If other people read it and find it entertaining – well, then it’s a bonus!

So here goes…

Originally, this trip was an instant reaction to my last relationship breakdown. Clichè I know – but ever since I was a young girl the idea of “spending a summer travelling” was on my bucket list. Then life i.e. jobs, money, university, boyfriends, then a fiancé, buying a house, getting a mortgage – all got in the way. I don’t want to drone on about my last relationship as we all know how that story ends – the details are unnecessary. There’s no animosity between us anymore, he’s truly an amazing man – we just weren’t right for each other. For one reason or another we brought the worst out in each other and in those last few years we had together I lost myself. I’d morphed into a person I didn’t recognise anymore.

So when I made the decision that enough was enough, travelling around Thailand was on my list of priorities. To find myself again. And finally do something for myself. How selfishly gratifying to go travelling solo and experience the world and life with no one manipulating my decisions.

Change came all at the same time for me last year – as apparently it does for all scorpios (p.s – I’m a believer in astrology and how our birth date aligns our personalities with the world – hence the name of my blog). I left my fiancé after eight and a half years together, I moved in with my parents, I lost some friends and family through the break up and I changed my career of five years too. So last year was a huge turning point for me in all walks of life; it was devastating and exhilarating all at once.

A career change brought with it the opportunity to have seven weeks off over the summer (an ideal time to go travelling as I’d always wanted) and it introduced me to a new set of really good friends. Tom was one of them. It’s strange really because when I first met him I thought he was annoying and he thought I had ridiculous hair! Nevertheless, we quickly warmed to each other and we’ve become really good friends. After about a month of us getting to know each other, and as if by some purposeful creation of the world, Tom broke up with his boyfriend and being the good friend I was, I invited him on my soul-chasing Thailand trip. He needed it as much as me and I knew it’d work.  He didn’t annoy me and it was easy being around him. I knew that spending five or so weeks with him wouldn’t be hard and we could be free to do as we both pleased without irritating each other. My solo trip turned into a duo trip and I couldn’t be happier to share it with someone I get on so well with.

So here’s the exciting bit… We’re flying two weeks today! We’ll be in Thailand for five weeks and two days. We have a brief outline of where we want to go and what we want to see. The only things we have booked are: our flights there, an internal flight from Bangkok to Chaing Mai a few days into the trip, an elephant sanctuary experience in Chiang Mai and a hostel in Chaing Mai for one night. The rest is on a spontaneous, “let’s do this”, “let’s stay here one more night” or “let’s move on” kind of basis and I’m going to document it all on here. I’m not nervous one bit; I’m excited for the thrill of not knowing where the journey could take us, but I trust that we can handle this. At least I think we can…

Anyhow, I’ve been writing this blog post on my way to and from Ingleton waterfall trail with Gabes – my sunset chasing partner. I’ve been blessed with meeting this beautiful person this year, along with her brother Oliver who is purely an angel in my eyes. Oliver has been many things to me this last eight months: a bit of fun, a confidante, an adviser, a  repairer, a friend, a boyfriend, a lover, a soul mate – my soul mate (get the sick bucket on stand by). Surely soul mates can’t be expected to stay apart for too long?  I can’t go a day without pining for him (bleurgh)… no honestly I can’t! So thirty seven days seems preposterous! Thankfully, he’s flying out to meet me and Tom three weeks in to the trip and I’m so happy he is. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather experience some of the magical sights Thailand can offer (no offence Tom). Anyway, as I was saying, today me and Gabes have trudged through woods, hiked up hills, climbed up a near vertical cliff to get behind a waterfall, practiced some yoga up a hill, clowned around for some photo shots, had a nature wee behind a wall where some sheep were highly disapproving of our need for the relief on our bladders, and just generally enjoyed the world of nature.

So, if anyone is interested in following my journey through Thailand this summer (I don’t expect there to be many other than some of my family) this post should give you a little taste of my writing style and maybe what I’ll be getting up to every day. Who knows what could happen? Bear with me though because as you can probably tell, I’m quite a deep thinker (another Scorpio trait), my mind can often run away with me sometimes and I can go off on tangents, so explaining my thoughts isn’t always as straight forward as you’d think. I know said I’m pretty good with words, I’m often just not quick with them.

So, yeah, this was my very first post!

“What a time to be alive!”