Saturday, 29 June 2013

Beauty in Ayutthaya.

As a History student, today was the most spectacular day. We met the StrayAsia team for the first time. On the whole, the group is lovely. Between you and me, there's two individuals that are rather annoying, but I'll just stay out of their way. We can hop on-and-off whenever we like so we don't have to stay around.
We went to Ayutthaya today, it was the old capital of Thailand before Burmese came, invaded and burnt down a load of their buildings, destroying the city and thus forcing them to move it to Bangkok. It was beautiful though and the temples were just astounding. All 14 of us had lunch together then we got a boat tour to 3 of the temples for 4 pounds. It was a really nice day but I was kind of upset that there were no plaques telling you historical information about the past of the buildings as you had no idea what you were looking at! Other than the obvious fact it was once the peak of civilisation. The last temple was the best and I fell in love with it. I felt like I was in Indiana Jones and Olivia felt like she was on temple run haha. It was great how empty the historical sites were too. It made them far more beautiful.
Afterwards, Taylor (a cute American guy), a Korean guy who I forget his name, and I, all went on a hunt for some white spirit to consume on the train to avoid costly prices. It took us ages but eventually we found some! Wooohooo. The train to Chiang Mai was so cool, I’ve never been on anything like it. We all had our own beds that were shielded from others but turned easily into normal seats after we’d gone. It was a strange experience. There was a party section of the train which we went to a drank a bit. Taylor and I just chatted for a few hours, it was fab, but nowhere to sit, so eventually I went back to my bed, and rolled around for a bit. It was so cold I kept constantly waking up! But the soft lulling of the train with its steady hum eventually sent me to sleep, best I could on transport anyway. I was bitten quite a bit and it really fucking hurt!
I’d give the train itself an 8 out of 10 for comfortableness given the price! Wish we could travel like that everywhere!
Huge Buddah statue! 

Friday, 28 June 2013

Never-ending whir of transport.

We left at 1pm and I annoyingly left my hoody behind at the hostel and didn’t want to spend the money going back to get it. The day was just filled with travelling, I finished another book on the boat and then we got on a bus and arrive in bangkok 1am. It was very boring and as usual, I couldn’t sleep at all. I just wanted to cry and curl up because originally we weren’t planning on getting a hotel as our next part of the journey left at 8am.
However, when we got to Bangkok, in all its noisy confusion, we decided to get a hotel. We ended up getting single beds and AC as it was the only room available but, at £4, it was still cheaper than buying a McDonalds and staying up all night.


Saying goodbye to our good friends at Spicy Tao.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Snorkelling on the Japanese Gardens.

We woke up around 10am, watched some TV, made some breakfast and eventually, when all the others were FINALLY ready, we made it down to the beach to get a taxi boat. It was such a trauma as they could hardly speak very good English and just didn’t have a clue what was going on. In the end they crammed 20 of us onto the smallest boat ever. It was a bit of a nightmare and took forever. We also hired snorkelling gear from them and in the end went to Japanese Gardens diving island. It was however, only £4 for a return journey and equipment. 
It was absolutely beautiful and one of the best things I’ve ever done. The water was so clear and the fish were so close. They weren’t afraid of humans at all, in fact, they kept fucking biting us, it kinda hurt! One made me bleed :(. But no, it was so worth it and so surreal swimming next to all the fishys amongst the coral.
Afterwards, the salt water hurt my eyes so I ended up sunbathing whilst reading and occasionally chatting to a lovely married Argentina couple who were on their honeymoon. I spoke to lots of people actually, it was nice. I then rejoined the water for a chat with some others. Our entire group were all so lovely and friendly it was a fab atmosphere. I did get rather tanned / burnt though. Thankfully I stopped when I did because I am starting to go slightly red but currently, its just really tan.
When we got back around 6:30, I skyped Matt for 30 minutes which was really nice, I could actually see and hear him - shocker! It was good to hear what he’d been up to and that.
Afterwards back at the hostel everyone sat round and watched a few films including Easy A, wooo. I couldn’t be bothered to go out drinking again, too much effort, but I went to bed quite late to make me tired for tomorrow’s journey back to the main land.
I’m really looking forward to the next few days, we're hoping to ride elephants and go to this meditation retreat with monks that Dan told us about.

One of our friends at the top of a view-point Olivia went to.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Arrival in Koh Tao.

A week has past far too quickly for my liking! After a gruelling boat journey we made it to our final island, Koh Tao. I never believed in love at first site but I’ve fallen in love with this guy from the boat. He was beautiful. He had the most piercing blue eyes with gorgeous dark brown hair. My favorite. Great dress sense too.

We are staying in our first hostel, spicy tao. It's a complete dive but everywhere else was full, the room is tiny hot and cramped but the place has a lot of character. There is a cute communal area with lots of hammocks you can rent to sleep on (if you want to be eaten alive) and even a large flat screen TV, a luxury I have somewhat missed. Even though I don’t like James Bond, I miss films so am watching it with some others anyway. The english guys that own this place are lovely, not to mention gorgeously yum.
I’ve just been looking into plane tickets because we're doing so much travelling anyway, a 32 hour bus from Laos to Vietnam sounds like hell. 
**later**
We ended up watching oceans eleven too. I was slowly going crazy though because were in a jungle area near loads of mountains and towering palm trees it meant the amount of bugs was crazy! They kept eating me but I wacked on the bug repellent and it seemed to work.
Everyones really friendly so they invited us out for dinner and about 15 of us went. It was cute, and the restaurant was great, there were beanbags and it was on the beach. I had my first decent burger woohoo, but it did have onions in it which I hate. Best yet though by far. We all sat round and chatted for 2 hours, got to know everyone. This guy from UCL was funny, as were the diving boys, reminded me of back home. We want to go scuba diving tomorrow but £40 is too much, so instead we’re going to shark bay with a load of the people from our hotel to do some snorkelling instead. I can’t wait to go for a swim.
They then invited us out and we went to super busy beach bar called lotus where we bumped into loads from our old hotel. Including all the other boys :). We ended up staying with them most of the night and danced to the great music, got a bucket that tasted like cough syrup so stuck to the usual sex on the beach. Its weird because the cocktails out here are so strong it’ll be weird going back to like water in England. They hit you really quickly too.
George showing us his ‘Suffolk Dance’ at Lotus Bar.
The guys tried doing a lantern but couldn’t set it off as it would go into a house. We ended up walking home but we got so lost and it was so creepy. Just Olivia and I up walking up a huge hill to nowhere with no street lighting. Eventually we found the place after we backtracked for ages. I was sweating so much it was unbearable.
At this rate, I never want to stay in a hostel again, a cat kept coming in the room being so noisy then there was confusion over the beds, it was driving me crazy!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Eating problems.

I constantly feel like a little bloated child. I struggle to eat a small portion of chips without wanting to throw up or roll around for the next hour digesting it. Its so unlike me but hey, least I’ll come back super skinny! I fear I’ll turn into a sandwich though because that’s all I eat out here. They don’t have sausages or normal burgers and they give you ham when you ask for bacon. It's depressing. I’m so looking forward to Chang Mai to find a McDonalds or Burger King!

Today we were supposed to go to the lake but got caught up as I showed Liv the area of paradise I found yesterday and so we relaxed and sunbathed there. Liv then left and I rolled in the boiling water with the gentle breeze reading Dan Browns ‘Digital Fortress’ to reduce the weight of my bag.
I really wanted to go on the total wipeout game at the lake however we didn’t want to risk injuring ourselves. We get enough bruises from a night out! I’m upset I only bought my tablet not my kindle because the tablet dies so quickly! I also wish I had my iphone as this tablet is incredibly slow. Oh well I’ll book swap with other travellers.
We leave for Koh Tao tomorrow, another island. It's famous for scuba diving yet unfortunately this isn't within our budget so we're going to go snorkelling instead. Tonight were heading into haad rin for a few drinks and dinner with Emma and Ashton :).
**Later**
Just got back from haad rin. We sat on the beach and had dinner. I could manage a few chips but then I felt so ill and bloated I found a quiet area to lay down and to just observe the stars. After dinner we went shopping and I bought a full moon party t-shirt with ‘same same but different’. Its the iconic phrase out here written on everything and used to describe lots of things. For example a lot of the temples are same old, but each is slightly different.
Its so strange because I always want to just ring folks back home and tell them how much they’d love it. It would be perfect if Matthew, Vikki and my mother were out here!
Tuesday 25th June 2013
I constantly feel like a little bloated child. I struggle to eat a small portion of chips without wanting to throw up or roll around for the next hour digesting it. Its so unlike me but hey, least I’ll come back super skinny! I fear I’ll turn into a sandwich though because that’s all I eat out here. They don’t have sausages or normal burgers and they give you ham when you ask for bacon. Its depressing. I’m so looking forward to Chang Mai to find a McDonalds or bk!!
Today we were supposed to go to the lake but got caught up as I showed Liv the area of paradise I found yesterday and so we relaxed and sunbathed there. Liv then left and I rolled in the boiling water with the gentle breeze reading Dan Browns ‘Digital Fortress’ to reduce the weight of my bag lol.
I really wanted to go on the total wipeout game at the lake byt we didn’t want to risk injuring ourselves. We get enough bruises from a night out! I’m upset I only bought my tablet not my kindle bc the tablet dies so quickly! I also wish I had my iphone bc this tablet is so slow :( booo. Oh well I’ll book swap with other travellers.
We leave for Koh Tao tomorrow, another island. Its famous for diving but we can’t afford it. Were going to scuba dive instead. Tonight were heading into haad rin for a few drinks and dinner :).
**Later** Just got back from haad rin. I bought a full moon party tshirt with ‘same same but different’. Its the iconic phrase out here written on everything and used to describe lots of ings. For example a lot of the temples are same old, but each is slightly different.
We sat on the beach and had dinner. I could manage a few chips but then I felt so I’ll and bloated I found a quiet area to lay down and Just observe the stars. We went shopping, emma and ashton were with us too. Its so strange because I always want to just ring folks back home and tell them how much they’d love it. It would be perfect if matthew vikki and isabelle were out here!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Happiness is this.



I couldn’t bring myself to get up this morning because moving made me feel sick I was so hungover. I didn’t even drink that much but the heat makes you far more drunk.
I eventually had lunch with the guys and went for a walk to the sea. It is like bathing in a hot bath, it’s so strange. I just sat down in it as it was really shallow and there was no one around for miles. I’ve never felt so at peace in my life. It just felt like I was sitting in paradise with all these palm trees and gorgeous mountains around me. Again, I can’t explain it, but happiness is this. I don’t know how I’m going to cope with coming back home. At first, I thought I’d be really homesick, and I hated it when I got here, I wasn’t sure if I would last 9 weeks, but everyone told us it wears off, and I’m beginning to feel it already. Sure I miss my family and friends back home, but I mainly wish they could be with me here so I’d never have to leave!
In the afternoon, we read for a bit, it was too hot to do anything. We were going to walk to town but it was stupidly humid and the heat burnt everyone. Luckily I only went out in small sections and kept covered so I got tanned, but didn’t burn :).
This evening instead of going out for the 4th night in a row, we’re going to chill with a few drinks at the bar here. There’s about 15 of us so it makes for a nice atmosphere. The other CRGS students have gone home today. We kept bumping into Caitlin Leydon last night… that was also weird.
**Later**
We didn’t end up drinking, we were both too tired so went back to our room and chilled, read books and then attempted to sleep. I couldn’t get to sleep at all and ended up crying I was so frustrated. I was not a happy bunny this evening.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Full Moon Party.

During the day there is little to do here and so I recovered from the night before by curling up in bed till about 2pm, then we sunbathed and chilled out, being too lazy to move at all. We planned our route for the remainder of the trip seeing where we could afford extra days in which cities, got us super excited.
We began getting ready for the Full Moon at about 11pm, drank with all the guys, chatted with them and our 2 new good friends Emma and Ashton. We helped the guys neon up and then they let us use theirs too. I then drank a little bit of vodka and we eventually headed out just after midnight.
The Boys with their 7/11 neon signs.
All I can say is, if you ever get the chance to go to the Full Moon Party, do it. It was the best experience of my entire life and I’ve never felt happier than I did right there! It was by far the best night of my life. The amount of people there was surreal, and everyone was so friendly. We spent the night dancing away on podiums to every type of music you could hope for. I just can’t even put into words what the atmosphere was like. 

I wish all of my friends could have experienced it, they would love it, it’s just… a whole new level of partying. There was a designated sleep zone which made me chuckle :).
I ended up coming home at 5:30am, and Olivia at 7:30am. Another strange coincidence happened today, on the way home I met some girls from Woodbridge who knew Clara from college! It' such a small world.
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The Next Morning at 7am taken by Olivia.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Drama at the waterfall party.

We finally decided to take a stroll into a more built up area to find an ATM. I ended up getting so angry as I couldn’t withdraw any money. I rung Barclays up to explain the problem, when I had gone into the centre they told me I'd have no troubles using it these days due to new technology. What rubbish that was! It cost me around 25 pounds in credit and it still wasn’t even solved! I actually wanted to cry I was so pissed off. That was more money then what I wanted to withdraw and they kept asking me the same questions again and again. YES I AM SCARLETT MANSFIELD NOW GIVE ME MY MONEY! Luckily Olivia had a cash card so she withdrew for the both of us. My dad managed to get the problem solved in the end.
The walk there was supposed to be 15 minutes, but it took more like 30, in the heat it makes a huge difference. It was boiling and I was getting stressed and fed up that nothing was going my way today. I bought some jam and bread to cheer myself up and we went for lunch, but I was so hot and feeling ill that I couldn’t eat it.
It’s not as cheap in this area as I expected. It still cost me £4 for a burger and chips, but local food is cheap. The burger I had this evening was revolting and I almost vomited because it looked like fried dogs poop! - Yuck.
We’re not sure yet where we’re going to go tonight. There is a jungle rave on, or the Paradise Bungalow pool party, but the pool party is apparently vile despite being an amazing time. The boys were telling us about how there are used condoms all in the pool and you’re just swimming whilst people are having sex around you… It sounds interesting to say the least. They referred to it as an STI trap haha.
So… we’ll see where the night takes us! xx
**Later**
It was a great night but also awful resulting in tears and shouting. Before we went out we pre drank at the hotel, the guys drank 75 bottles of beer between them, it was impressive. But not so impressive when they then drove straight into a ditch the second they got on their moped hahaha.
We got a lift in the back of an open top truck, as seen with the photos of Dixon and Olivia. It felt so very perks of being a wallflower. Liv just stood up had the wind blowing through her hair and we were all just laughing, watching the lights above us flash by in a blur in boiling hot weather on our way to the jungle for a rave. It was so surreal.
We didn’t want to pay entry so ended up sneaking in through the side. It was hilarious because we were just trying to avoid security and Liv ran into barbed wire then we all ventured through a swamp and got our feet soaked. However, Bucky properly tripped into it like a fish I laughed so hard. We all ended up being rather dirty but having saved a few pennies and had a hilarious time doing so, it was nothing that my bottle of sprite and white spirit couldn’t solve.
When inside it was mental, 10 x better than the night before. It was so crowded like 2000 people or more, but that’s where the night went wrong. I lost liv and she had all the money! I spent ages trying to find her and started panicking I couldn’t get home. I had three options really. Beg someone for taxi money, go back to a guys hotel and hope they don’t try any sexual advance, or walk home in a foreign place where I don't know the route and risk being attacked. Thankfully I came across the nicest girl ever, Rachael, and she paid for my taxi home because she was so worried about me. We left at 5:30am and I was so angry at liv when we got home because she knew I couldn't get home but had left without me. In her defence, she was hoping I would be back at the hotel already.
At least its a lesson learnt for the full moon party. I also still had a great night though as I hung out with a load of irish, Canadians and americans and we all sat round drinking buckets they bought me and getting to know one another. I hope I see them tomorrow!










Friday, 21 June 2013

First impressions of Ko Pha-ngan & the Waterfall Party.

It took us what feels like a lifetime, but we have finally made it! I could hardly sleep a wink on the overnight bus, I kept drifting in and out. It was particularly frustrating because Olivia was zonko next to me! At 2am we made a little stop at a cute market place and continued driving till 5am where we got off and waited for a boat to arrive due at 7am. We just hung out with this lovely married couple from New Zealand, they were so pleasant to us and cute together. My tablet ran out of power and so he let me charge it with a nifty device he bought in Bangkok. 
Dock place we waited at.
The boat made us feel slightly sick as it began chucking it down with rain. It does that a lot here but it clears up quickly and the sun returns. The first island we arrived at was absolutely gorgeous I felt like we had come to paradise. We eventually got to our destination, Ko Pha-ngan at 10:30 and got a taxi to our hotel, Green Peace. It is so weird because the second person we met on the island was Jack Harry, a boy from the year above at our sixth form, who just happened to be at our bungalow area visiting his friends. Super strange. We went to our room immediately stripped off and hit the private beach to sunbath. It was unbearably hot so I took a refreshing ice cold shower whilst Olivia continued to soak up the rays.
Afterwards we went for a few drinks and lunch and met others from England staying here, we are always the youngest but I don't mind this. I attempted to expand my eating habits starting out with a bowl of rice, however it was too plain and so I added ketchup... Ketchup and rice do not go together well therefore I didn't end up eating either haha.
When evening rolled round we decided to go to the waterfall party in the jungle and so got some drinks. We paid 3 pounds for a bottle of vodka, I say vodka, the label has white spirit on it, rather concerning! If I go blind… You know why. Whoops. I'm glad there's so many 7/11's in Thailand though, they're so convenient. 
Anyway, we didn’t drink much because we wanted to see what the atmosphere at these types of places was like first! It was really cool though when we got there. We got a lift from our hotel owner for a cheap price but we had to walk down a really long path to get to the actual site because it was quite far into the jungle. It reminded me of a rave I went to in London but obviously 10x cooler because it wasn’t an abandoned warehouse, it was a jungle and it was Thailand! There were flashing lights with lots of neon UV colours glowing.
I made the right choice in decided to wear a neon dress as I was so easy to spot haha. We met loads of really nice people, it’s great because everyones so friendly but conversations are repetitive. It is always ‘Where are you going? How long have you been here? Where’s been your favorite place?’ etc. Some Irish guys were hilarious and wouldn’t leave us alone. They were a bit creepy too though but charming and come on - who doesn’t love an Irish accent? Here is a ‘TMI’ for you, but Liv and I went to pee in a bush side by side, and it was on a hill and yeah… you get the picture. We laughed so much I almost cried.





We didn’t stay that long, we left about 2am as we were still tired from travelling. We went back with Adam Dixon as he was going to sleep on a hammock, but got into a fight with the hotel owner as he hadn’t actually paid, he just couldn’t afford the taxi back to his place, despite the fact he had booked his own hotel haha. Too much alcohol I say!
But overall yeah, it was a great night. It was a shame there was no actual waterfall! There were about 7 CRGS students which was really weird and we made friends with these 2 girls from Chelmsford at our hotel bar and played cards with them before we drank which was nice :).
Anyway, over and out! xx
P.s. I now have my foot bandaged up because when I was sober but in the dark, I jumped off a palm tree and landed on a stone therefore I now need something softer other than a sock to soften the pain when I walk lol. I’m a total tit.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The journey has begun!

How I looked when I landed.
How I looked 2 hours later.
The flight was excruciatingly painful! 15 hours but with stops at Frankfurt and Ho Chi Minh city. We were told about the stop at Ho Chi Minh City, and in small writing we were told of a fuel stop, however the fuel stop at Frankfurt turned out to be an entire stopover where we had to wait 3 hours overall before we could re-board the plane! It was most frustrating. 
The plane was a lot nicer than what we thought it would be. It had TV's on the backs of the seats with many movies available - It was good going bearing in mind we paid £420 for return flights. I definitely recommend Vietnam Airlines. To occupy my time on the journeyI watched ‘The Impossible’ and just cried my eyes out hysterically, totally embarrassing. It is a bit strange though that a put a movie about a tsunami in Thailand... on a plane to Thailand. Talk about worrying the passengers! Towards the end of the flight I began talking to a rather nice man from Cambridge who was studying Medicine. 
I’m now sat in the Stray bus office waiting to kill time, we thought it was like 5/ 6pm, but it was only 2pm! Killer. I’m falling asleep typing its horrible.
My first thoughts of Bangkok were ‘Wow, what a total dive’, it was just completely overwhelming and frightening. Poverty here appears rife as slums appear common and it's sad to see the MEDC’s just investing here just to exploit workers and make as much profit as they can. The only building that are well-built and glamorous are those by well established over-seas company. Everywhere else is incredibly run down. It’s staggering how awful the conditions are. Of course, you’re constantly harassed by people trying to sell you things of the street, and it’s incredibly annoying, but I’m already learning to fight them off.
When we first boarded the train to the city, we were totally clueless as to what to do, we just stumbled around for a while in random directions and realised our backpacks are unbearably heavy and that the straps just cut into our shoulders, making it miserable in the humidity. However, we found a shopping center, strolled around for a bit, and then caught a taxi. That in itself was a really weird experience because some ‘tourist police’ began talking to us, and jibbered away to the taxi driver in Thai. It was so strange, but I think he was telling him to use the meter so that he wouldn’t overcharge us as they often do with tourists. We went for lunch in some large bar, and had a cocktail that was super-strong and now I’m ready for bed! It seems all too surreal though.
**Update 5:50pm**
We had a good afternoon, at first it was way too muggy to bother moving, but we went for a little walk to look at a temple and some shops. We then ended up meeting a really lovely dutch girl on the same bus as us tonight so we all went out for cocktails at a local bar, had some red bull to wake me up and we just chatted for ages. It was really nice actually and I can’t wait to meet many more people on our travels :). Still got a while to wait though before our now bus arrives. *Sigh*, I was looking forward to a train!!
** Update late evening**
Wow. Just wow. You can totally see why the hangover says ‘Bangkok has him now’. Its mental, the bright lights and constant screams of vehicles whizzing by are deafening but hypnotising in a busy atmosphere I’ve never experienced. Venders harass you constantly whilst the smell of thai food hangs strong in the area and tourists stumble drunk out of bars. I spent ages trying to find food that I liked but we were both so tired! It took us ages to board the bus but we made new friends from Scotland who we spoke to for a bit and the cutest married couple from New Zealand. Eventually we boarded the bus at 9pm ready for the transfer to Koh Panghan, yawnnnnnn. The company Lomprayah are pretty unorganised and nothing really runs on time, but they were great value for money, so, if you're a budget backpacker like ourselves, it's a great way to get to the islands. (£20 for a single).

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Ah! Excitement - Not long left now.

It’s a scary thought that in 2 weeks from tomorrow, I’ll be on Vietnam airways off to Bangkok! At the moment, I won’t lie, I’m slightly petrified but I’m beyond excited for what lies ahead.
We start off at Koh Phangan for the full-moon party, and just a general relaxation for 5 days on the beach. It’s the only accommodation we’ve booked so far and it was a tasty £30 for 5 nights! The full-moon party is supposed to be one of the most craziest parties in the world, the population of the island triples to 60,000 on the night of the event and people come from all over the world to celebrate well… being young and alive!
The first 2 days of landing will be a nightmare though, I’m not looking forward to it at all. We leave Wednesday and after a 15 hours flight (with a stop in Ho Chi Minh City), we arrive in Bangkok at 10am local time on Thursday, we then have to hang around and explore the city till 8pm when we get on an over-night bus and arrive on the island at 9am the Friday. I’m not sure how my back will take it – I have constant problems with it from a snowboarding accident and it hurts to sit up straight!
I’ll admit, the first week won’t be all that cultural, in fact, I can just foresee a lot of partying, but we’re leaving the historical sites in Bangkok till the end of our trip when we fly home.
SIFUGDIFGFHB. It’s come around so quickly.
It seems like only last week Olivia and I were sat there on AS results day waiting for school to open whilst sitting in McDonalds discussing our passion for travelling and our desire to visit Asia. Then, just like that, we realised, why wait? Why not grab the chance whilst we’re still young and do not have university fees or living costs to worry about. And there we have it… We booked our flights in mid-October and booked the Stray Asia bus pass soon after.
It seems surreal. Sure, it’s cost me an arm and a leg, and I could have bought a beautiful car with the money or helped towards university costs, but mum has helped me towards the costs and Olivia and I both received £200 each from the wonderful Derek Wyatt after winning a travel grant from the school we attend. The rest of the money I’ve worked hard for. I made about £1500 myself, and £1500 was a combination of birthday and christmas money and funding from my mother and Derek.