Sunday, 21 December 2014

Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma & Philippines Advice!

Indonesia:
Bali (Mainly Kuta Beach)
WARNING: Beware of scams. Bali is notorious for ripping you off. When riding around try to hide your money on you, only keep 50,000 on you to bribe police with, if you have anymore than that, they'll take it all off you. Also, watch out for money exchangers. Even if they count it out in front of you, ensure you pick it up, walk towards the door, and continue to count it again before you leave to avoid them shortchanging you.

Accommodation: Kayun Downtown Hostel. 10/10 location! Make sure you get the downtown one as there's another one nearby but its not as good. Right near the best nightclub on the strip, the SkyGardens. Watch out for pickpockets there, and also the amount of drugs in the area, especially Magic Mushrooms. Its close to a Western shopping mall, though I didn't learn this till my last day! (http://www.hostelbookers.com/hostels/indonesia/kuta/111247/)

Getting around: Mopeds. Of course!

Things to do: 
- Tour of Ubud (This is possible to do with a few friends and a moped. It is quite a long journey so would probably recommend staying a night in Ubud opposed to trying to do it in a day, especially if you're not very bike savy). In Ubud visit the Pemaksan Barong Tegaltamu Show in Batu Bulan, Gianyar. Explore Tegenungan waterfalls. Go to the Holy Springs to receive holy water and to pray & bisit the rice fields (http://www.nevertooyoungtotravel.com/2014/08/tour-of-ubud.html)
- Take a surf lesson/ watch a surf comp! Be careful who you use though. Honestly, both times I tried surfing I went to a local on the beach, but I wish I had forked out the extra money to go with one of the established companies in the area as one of the men who taught me was rubbish and put me in danger. (http://www.nevertooyoungtotravel.com/2014/08/padang-padang-ripcurl-surf-championships.html)
- I've heard the Gili Islands are great for partying, however, make sure you book these in advance as its quite a way and also is a very small place so has limited hostel space - hence why I couldn't visit.
- Go do watersports! (http://www.nevertooyoungtotravel.com/2014/08/watersports.html)

Yogyakarta 
Accommodation: N/A - No recommended accommodation from my point of view - I stayed in a nice hotel with my mother at this place called UNY, around £20 a night.

Getting around: The only way there really is to get around is via Taxi. You can get to the temples via local buses though.

To Jakarta: If you're going here, be sure to check around for the cheapest price and book in advance, they will rip you off if you turn up last minute. Also, bare in mind it's Asia... Indonesia is notoriously bad for misinforming you on timings/ so much traffic I was told in Lonely Planet it would be a 12 hour trip, but we didn't get there until 25 hours later. Even then, that was to Bogor, not Jakarta.

What to do:
- Prambanan Temple: Largest Hindu temple in SEA. Student entrance is £5, and you can get a 15p bus from the city centre that takes an hour to get here. Ensure you watch the traditional Ramayana ballet in the evening, book it when you get to the temple from the information desk, this is £8 a ticket. It can be slightly boring at parts, but is fascinating to see Indonesian traditions and myths. (http://www.nevertooyoungtotravel.com/2014/07/prambanan-temples-ramayana-ballet.html)
- Borobudur Temple: Transport through a tour provider is probably available, though we couldn't' seem to find any of these the time of year we were there as there were hardly any tourists around. Instead, we paid £20 for a return taxi and he waited for us for a few hours whilst we looked round. It took 2 hours to get there due to heavy amounts of traffic.(http://www.nevertooyoungtotravel.com/2014/07/borobudur-temple.html)

Jakarta
Honestly, I wouldn't really recommend visiting Jakarta as there's not a lot to do here. It is kind of a grim city. If visiting, a night is long enough from what I could tell.
  • Accommodation: N/A 
  • Getting around: There is a free tourist bus that does a loop of places you might like to visit
  • What to do:
    • Visit the Independence monument: Not as impressive as other places, a tall pillar, a good place to walk round though. Lots of police about constantly to ensure your safety.
    • National museum: Good if you like ancient history.
    • Markets: Best markets in SEA! Cheapest knock-off goods and lots of choice.
      • http://www.nevertooyoungtotravel.com/2014/07/jakarta-city.html
Malaysia
Kuala Lumpar
  • Accommodation: Reggae Mansion. A little bit pricey at £10 a night, but an amazing atmosphere. There's a cinema to watch films with friends you've met whilst undoubtedly waiting for your next flight to depart for £2. A great rooftop bar that has different events on each night at relatively cheap prices, at least for KL anyway. Around the corner there is a well-connected train station. Don't do a me and forget that train stations actually close. If you're coming from the airport at a ridiculous time in the morning, it won't be open, you'll have to get a taxi. There is no cheap accommodation near the main centre hub where an airport drop-off would take you.
    •  http://www.hostelbookers.com/hostels/malaysia/kuala-lumpur/71026/
  • Getting around: 
    • To get from the airport, you can pre-book a bus with AirAsia in your ticket. If you haven't done this already, when you get to the KL airport ask around for the SkyBus, its just under 10 MYR (£2) to get into the centre. I've posted the link below for the timetable, though I never looked at this - just turned up and waited. Its definitely the cheapest way, you can get the train in but that's around £10. 
      • http://www.skybus.com.my/skybus/
    • To get around the city, the train system is slightly confusing but very cheap and there's plenty of people to ask for help.
  • What to do:
    • Go on the hostels 'Seven Wonders Tour', its 70 MYR (£14), but you get driven around in a nice air conditioned bus and meet people to spend the night with. It'll take you to the National Mosque, the old city centre with beautiful architecture and alights show of a mini paper model of the city showing its past, present and future, a Chinese temple, Batu caves, the Royal Selangor Museum, Royal Palace & the Independence monument.
      • http://www.nevertooyoungtotravel.com/2014/07/kuala-lumpur-day-tour.html
    • Break-out criminal mastermind game! Grab people from your hostel to enjoy this hidden gem. It's like playing Cluedo. Think carefully about what round you want to play, we found the 5 star one probably too hard, we would have never have gotten the answer without hints, but it was still a blast.
      • http://www.nevertooyoungtotravel.com/2014/07/murder-mystery-reality-role-play.html
    • Bukit Bintang for a night out! Don't leave it too late to explore outside the hostel, however lazy you may be feeling! This area has a great vibe and heaps to see/ many offers of unlimited drinks for women - woohoo.
      • http://www.nevertooyoungtotravel.com/2014/08/china-town-kl.html
Cameron Highlands:
Be careful not to venture out alone on the trails as a solo female. I was told not to do it as its very dangerous. Some trails have even been shut down as females have been raped or attacked there.

  • Accommodation: N/A, the place I stayed at wasn't great, can't remember the name.
  • Getting around:
    • Walking or bus.
  • What to do:
    • Go on a Mossy Forest trek
Langkawi:
  • Accommodation: N/A, the place I stayed at wasn't great, Havana Guesthouse.
  • Getting around: Get here from Penang for £13, 65 MYR. To get around Langkawi do so via Moped or taxi. It's a great place to moped around since its relatively quiet and nice and hilly.
  • What to do:
    • Cable Cart in the mountains for £7. 
    • Markets.
Georgetown/ Penang:
  • Accommodation: 80's Guesthouse on Love Lane.
  • Getting around: Everyone is pretty much in walking distance, if needed can get a taxi.
  • What to do:
    • Time Tunnel History Museum 
    • History of the Camera Museum 
Myanmar/ Burma
Yangon:
  • Accommodation: N/A, the place I stayed was ok, but they didn't even give you a quilt which was odd.
  • Getting around: Feet! Easy to walk everywhere you need. Small city.
  • What to do: Er.... That's a question I can't help with. A few nice Pagoda's, but after Bagan you'll be sick of them. 
Bagan:
- Accommodation: N/A the place I stayed was awful!
- Getting around: You can rent electronic bikes to get around, ensure yours works properly. Mine died a while into my journey and was a bitch to cycle back
- What to do: Well... that's obvious - just take in the beauty of the temples.

Inle Lake:
- Accommodation: N/A. 
- Getting around: Foot and boat
- What to do: Get a boat to Inle Lake, explore!

Phillippines:
Manila:
Accommodation: Where2Next hostel.
- Getting around: So many options. Try to get jeepneys were possible, they're so cheap but there routes are very confusing. Tricycles are possible too but a lot more expensive. Taxis run everywhere, but drivers pretend to know locations when they have no idea really. 
- What to do: National museum, Manila Cathedral, Intramuros citadel, Fort Santiago & Mall of Asia

Boracay:
Accommodation: MNL Beach Hostel.
- Getting around: Foot, tricycle or mini taxi buses
- What to do: Cliff jumping - Go to Magic Islands, pretend to be a mermaid in one of the classes you can buy (I didn't do it - but it would be banter too) & go on the bar crawl.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Home time.

                                       

I thought I'd just quickly explain why I left in more detail/ give an update on the illness as people keep asking me about it. The diagnosis was Staphylococcus aureus, a gram-positive coccal bacterium. It was getting progressively worse to the point where I just didn't want to move from my hostel room because every time I moved my legs, they ached and I was so scared of spreading the infection even more if I got bitten again, scratched it and got an open wound - this was how they all started. I had eight of them, and they were all purple and yuck! There's another picture of them now, they're all mainly better after a week of antibiotics.

Being home is just dull. Read the article that just sums up everything called 'The hardest part of travelling nobody talks about'. http://www.nevertooyoungtotravel.com/2014/07/never-enough-time.html

'The sad part is once you’ve done your obligatory visits for being away for a year; you’re sitting in your childhood bedroom and realize nothing has changed. You’re glad everyone is happy and healthy and yes, people have gotten new jobs, boyfriends, engagements, etc., but part of you is screaming don’t you understand how much I have changed? And I don’t mean hair, weight, dress or anything else that has to do with appearance. I mean what’s going on inside of your head. The way your dreams have changed, they way you perceive people differently, the habits you’re happy you lost, the new things that are important to you. You want everyone to recognize this and you want to share and discuss it, but there’s no way to describe the way your spirit evolves when you leave everything you know behind and force yourself to use your brain in a real capacity, not on a written test in school. You know you’re thinking differently because you experience it every second of every day inside your head, but how do you communicate that to others?'

Not many people know this as I don't talk about it much, but I have depression & a BPD, and this is one of the main reasons I travel so much. I have an inability to face routine, I just melt into a pit of sadness. I always have to be busy and active and have people around me - which is exactly what travelling is. Although I travel alone, I am never actually alone. I don't need people to be talking to me, I just need the presence of other people. 

My BPD is the main reason I'm in a house with 14 people I've never met this year at uni. The whole housing process caused a lot of arguments in our kitchen, and I was just very stressed and wanted to remove myself from the situation, so told everyone I'd find my own place. I am awful at maintaining friendships, I just get into an odd mood and decide to cut people out even though I know I need them around. It's a stupid and vicious cycle. 

So, being back home and sitting in my bedroom alone is very hard and scary for me to do because over my holiday, I forgot what sadness felt like, something I thought would never happen. But I can honestly say, hand on my heart, that I was the happiest I have been in years. Travelling also helps me through the months as it gives me something to look forward to. Mums been watching over me since I've been back and making sure I set myself things to do in the day so I don't just spend it lying in bed... I have written 2 articles for my university paper and sorted out photos, ordered quilt covers for uni & been to several parties. I am planning things to do for the upcoming week to ensure my schedule is kept full. I am just really looking forward to going back to university to learn more as that helps to keep me busy so long as I am happy and have the ability to focus.

I can't wait for my next adventure. 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

The end of a sub-continent.

After 2 and a half months, 14 flights, over 150 hours on long distance buses, numerous trains, boats, tuk tuks, tricycles, jeepneys, mopeds and goodness knows what else, I made it home from my first long-term solo adventure in one piece.

I can’t say this journey didn’t push me to my limits at points, but I don’t have a single regret. From rock climbing and tight rope walking in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand, to trekking through the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia, to trusting a complete stranger and ending up riding a bull in Masabate, the Philippines…. it’s been a wild trip. I laughed, I cried, and I laughed again. I learnt what independence really means, and I felt an attachment to my family stronger than I ever had before after seeing the importance of familial relationship out there.


I’ve returned wiser than I ever thought I would. I have learnt a great deal about Asian history and culture. The locals unknowingly taught me so much. From the way I take education for granted, to how meaningless money is in determining happiness. I’ve seen kids who have nothing but their family yet never before have I seen a face so filled with joy playing around in dirt, on the beach, or splashing with friends in muddy water.

As much as we increasingly lose faith in humanity due to the all the wrong doings in the world, I’ve been shown the strength of a community, and how generous and loving people can be without having reason. The world is warm, welcoming and ready to embrace you. It’s a shame the minority ruin this image for us.

Finally, I’d like to also take time to say thank-you to certain people for accompanying me along parts of my trip and making it all that much better. I really did meet some amazing people along the way. Of course it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention my Asian partner in crime, Olivia, for kindling my love of Asia last year. I wish you’d been with me girl, you’d have loved it, I miss you.

With that, I guess all I can say is I urge you to travel and push your boundaries.

Die with memories, not dreams.

Until next time South-East Asia, it’s been a fun ride.
Xx

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Go to Burma, I urge you!

So today, on my final day of real travel before I head home, I decided to treat myself. I left my hostel at 11am and crossed the street to this beauty salon called VIP treatment, and wow... They spent TWO hours giving me a manicure and a pedicure! Talk about hard work. I mean, they scrubbed at my hands and feet, cleaned and re cleaned them, filed and re-filed, worked on my nail beds again and again. Anyway, just when I thought they were about to stop they found another bit they needed to work on - it was endless! It was relaxing but also slightly awkward as they couldn't speak English, so casual chit chat wasn't on the agenda.

I ended up paying a lot for the service but that was by choice. It came to $15 USD, so £9, but because they were so nice, has taken so long and were so careful, I gave them $20. The lady who owned it even treated my leg wounds! She got out some latex gloves and asked if she could patch them up for me as my current plasters were coming off and they looked grim. She then got saline solution and iodine and sorted them all out for me far better than I ever could have done. Bless her, she was so concerned for me. 

Anyway, after popping to the shops to get some drink and new plasters, I decided to head off to find my new hotel so I could spend the after lounging around (as usual) and washing myself to feel acceptable enough to spend the day roaming around Bangkok tomorrow before boarding a flight back home. Sigh.

I read about a $20 USD double room that provides a free lift to the airport. I mean, a whole £12 worth of luxury. So I got a $4 (£2.50) taxi to the hotel... Only to find out the prices were VERY old and it's in fact now $50 USD a night. In annoyance I slumped out of the hotel, unsure where to go. So, I had to get another $4 taxi back to the centre to return to the hostel I was in! Great use of $8... Now I can't afford dinner as I have to pay $7 to get to the airport later and I don't want to withdraw money again. Booooo. 

I'll spend the evening curled up with a book. I've literally been tearing through books like tomorrow's never going to come. If only I could get into reading non-fiction! Problem with non-fiction is that I always want to write down everything I'm learning so I can't just enjoy the book. Either way, it's a good way to pass time and it helps to quicken the speed at which I read. 

I really have loved Burma and it was worth the money. Admittedly I'd have liked someone to travel with throughout Burma, but it has been the safest country in the whole of South East Asia which is ironic because this is the one people had most feared me being in, and I myself was most worried about visiting here. I’m telling you now, they treat their tourists like royalty – I’ve never had to worry about anything getting stolen either. People walk round with wallets and phones sticking out of there back pocket so clearly, and if this were London, it'd be gone instantly. However, nope, Yangon has little crime. 


All I can say is, go to Burma, see the country, engage with the people and see how beautiful it is before it turns into the next Thailand and becomes westernised beyond recognition. A lot of people I spoke to see it as the medium between for India and Thailand. It's somewhere on the edge of both at the moment, and for me, that's perfect. 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Sad news - coming home early!

It is with great sadness that I announce I shall be ending my trip early and coming home Thursday. I was originally supposed to be flying home today, however I changed my flight to the 8th of September as I wanted to learn to dive on koh tao and chill at the Islands before I return home. However, today I felt very illl. Last night I vomited, and today I felt dizzy and faint and had a stomach upset. Also, my legs ache very much and whenever I shower the wounds get a lot worse and therefore it seems silly to submerge them in water for days on end whilst I learn to dive. 

Thus, my parents looked into it as they too want me home and found that I could change my flight for free to the 4th of September, or... Pay £350 and change it to Thursday. I could have easily survived and I told them not to worry about it if it was over £150 as it wasn't worth it, however, dad just really wants me safe and at home, so he wanted to pay for the flight to be changed. I kind of paid £100 towards it because originally I was going to ask dad if he could reimburse my medical fees, but because he just paid for the flight, I didn't bother. I still feel awful about it though, I didn't want them to spend that money, it's my fault I'm ill as I chose to be out here, so it's awfully nice of him to pay to return me home. 

Anyway, I'm upset I won't get to dive but I know that I'll have plenty more chances in the future. You know me, I always have to be travelling when I get the chance! No doubt in the next few years I'll be in an amazing dive spot and will learn then. At least on the upside I get to save money for this year to start university with a bit of cash. That will be nice.

Illness is getting worse.

Today I didn't roll out of bed till 2pm, even then I could have stayed there all day as I feel horrid but I knew I needed to get hold of the doctors as my leg was getting much worse and I needed the antibiotics. So I rung them and they eventually got back to me, so I hopped in a taxi there and back, collected it, $27 USD for 14 tablets, ouch. Not awful though.

On the way back I had to stop by my old hostel to pay them as I forgot last time, and then tried finding a hairdressers but none of them knew what blonde was, and once they finally understood, they knew they didn't have the colour... I guess it was a push. 

Anyway, I wandered around trying to find my hostel, and I started to feel awful again. I had tried to eat but I couldn't stomach it and it was too spicy. I was so glad when I finally got back to the hostel, I had to collapse in bed, put the air conditing on full and try not to vomit. I ended up having a really dodgy stomach too and just blah. I felt awful.

I'd been speaking to mum and dad and we agreed if I could come home early, I probably should.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Beauty of boats on Inle Lake, Burma

Today we woke, had our breakfast and then followed our boat driver down to the docks. It cost 15,000 MMK (£9) to hire him for the day, but since it was split 3 ways it was only £3 each. Bargain. The journey down to the lake took about 40 minutes but was beautiful and fun to see all the little kids running around and all the fishermen beginning and ending their trips out. 

The lake itself was a lot bigger than I expected and dirtier too, but given the backdrop of lush green mountains and sunshine, it was still a beautiful place and I'd definitely say it's a must do for those visiting Burma. We first went to see a pagoda and I bought a few souvenirs. One of them I am totally in love with, this wooden boat with a little fisherman and his net on the back. It was just cute and I'm looking forward to add it to my travel memorabilia shelf. 






On our way to the water village we passed some of the fisherman and their technique is just incredible. It's hard to describe but basically they control the paddle/ row using their foot leaving both hands free to work with the net. Of course they don't want to use the motor otherwise they'll disturb the fish in the water. It was actually amazing. I have a video I'll post when I get home, but yeah... Just... Awesome! Some of the people doing it are so young too, I mean... When I was 8 years old I was busy worrying about what Pokemon cards I could swap to get a shiny, yet here they are, helping to make a living for their family and seemingly happy to do so. 





The water villages themselves are also fantastic. So much effort has gone into each building and the fact they have to row to get anything beyond their houses seems like an awful lot of effort! Lots of little kids were enjoying themselves swimming in the lake and as usual, were excited to see us pass which was pleasant. They even have floating gardens where they grow their crops. Watching them work on them was something else, so much skill and patience required!








We stopped at the jumping cat monastery, named that because a monk had previously taught a cat to jump through a hoop. However, to my sadness I learned that the monk and the cat had both passed away. There were lots of baby kittens there though, and they were just adorable! 




Eventually come midday we decided to head back because the heat started to come through the clouds causing us to fear burning. We'd also seen everything that we wanted and so headed back.

Back in the village I stopped at the market and bought myself some jewellery. I also bought my dad a little gift heheheh. I hope he loves it 😉. After going to the bakery I met Athenia back at the hotel and all I can say is, well, remind me to learn about strangers before I offer to share a room with them to split the cost! This girl is VERY odd, she is a total hygiene freak. She keeps pressuring me to take a shower. Girl... I'll take a shower when I want thank you! (Don't worry it's not because I smell, I've already showered today she just insists on every morning and night despite the fact the waters freezing cold and it takes my hair forever to dry). She also is very selfish - she wouldn't let me go to food places I liked, and wouldn't let Nicole and I look in any shops because she despised them. She also wouldn't let me charge any of my gadgets because hers were so much more important than mine to be at 100%! Gah! She's also the worlds slowest walker it's actually painful. I ended up just walking ahead with Nicole and leaving her behind haha. She was getting on Nicole's nerves too. She had gone really weird over the fact that she had the tinniest cut on her foot, making such a huge deal of it even though Nicole and I could hardly see it. It's so weird that for someone so selfish she's an aids worker... How does that work. Dunno. Just yeah... I'm glad I'm a very patient person.

Anyway, we sat around in the hotel for ages as we were told the tuk tuk would take us to the bus at 4pm, but it didn't get there till 5:30pm then the bus didn't leave till 6:30pm and it was hot on the bus but luckily I got two seats to myself. The bus finally arrived in Yangon at 5:30am. It was an awful bus ride as I vomited and felt ill most of the way! It was weird because it was fine when I first got on. I read the book 'will you remember me when I'm gone' about a mum dying of cancer... And oh my gosh, once again (as with me and all books lately), I cried my eyes out! I finished the book in one sitting and it was a great book. Anyway, Athenia was much more poorly than I and threw up loads along with having awful diarrhoea. Yuck. 

When we got to Yangon we got a taxi to a hostel she had booked for us and again we only have to pay for one night even though were really staying for two as we arrived at 6:30am. The hostel is really nice and we get our own air conditioning units each and a curtain to hide us from the world. There's also a million plugs which is really handy because most places have a severe shortage of them! So yeah, I passed out right away. 

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Rest day

So, inle lake. Today we weren't feeling very active so went and got lunch after walking round for what felt like forever. Even though loads of restaurants we passed I liked food at, she insisted to keep looking... Then forced me to go to a restaurant where I didn't even like any of the food! I was a good little girl though and ate vegetable rice with chicken before strolling home.

I spent most of the day in bed but we did go out at 6pm to meet Nicole (another girl from the bus) for dinner where I had a nice, but very expensive, pizza and got swarmed by Mosquitos that I was desperate to hide from. Inle lake town is very very quiet, there are few tourists and nothing goes on. They're just a rural town with a peaceful relaxing atmosphere. 

Bed time. 

Friday, 15 August 2014

Hiding from the heat.

Today I spent the day sitting in front of a local pagoda reading a book on Burmese history - yes, shocking, I know, me! Reading a history book! (I was impressed with myself too). But again, it got too hot I headed back to the hotel and laid down in the lobby as it's the coolest area in the whole hotel. I began to read we were liars again to piece together the things I didn't quite link at the time and it made my eyes well up all over again.



Finally, hours passed and a tuk tuk came at 6pm to take us to a bus that left at 7:30pm to inle lake. It cost 11,000 MMK (£6.70) and we arrived at 4:30am, overall taking 8 hours. There was a bit of drama on the bus though as this girl had her doggy bag stolen where she'd put her camera and iPod in. The police got involved and luckily they found the group of French people that had just got off the bus. They were really drunk and rowdy the whole trip apparently, but I'd taken a Valium so I was fast asleep. Turns out one had accidentally taken it thinking it was his friends. Apparently they weren't very apologetic and were being stereotypical obnoxious French lads. The police also weren't that fussed about this girls missing belongings until she said she had a US passport. Because she's also got a Korean passport and is from there, they didn't care. But international problems with large countries really worry the police.

All over Burma there are signs that say to be kind and look after tourists, it's nice because it works and everyone is lovely. 

Anyway, we arrived groggy and tired and all hopped into a tuk tuk. I ended up finding a double room with this girl Athenia, who had her stuff stolen, and we didn't even have to pay for that night, they allowed us to check in super early and only charged us for the night that evening. Relief! 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The thousand temples of Bagan.



The train gently rocks you to and throw, causing your body to bounce calm up and down whilst you look out across the sun setting and the most beautiful peaceful landscape you've ever seen. There's no glass in the window that's in front of you and so a gentle breeze keeps you cool in the sticky heat and allows your senses to be filled with what you're passing thus giving you the sensation of being at one with the country. 

Occasionally you past little villages en route and the kids eagerly spring to their feet and begin frantically waving in hope you'll respond. With a quick acknowledgment in return these kids squeal with delight as their mums also look at you gleefully. Thankful for having made their day. 

You speed past wondering where these people will return to. What type of building they call home and what lives they lead. Whether they are educated or responsible for making income to help look after other members of their family. 

You pass little huts held together by string and filled with holes. You can't help but wonder what they do when it rains, or when the weather gets cold, or the river overflows and their houses flood. Their few possessions destroyed. You want to believe they'll go on to exceed their expectations. They look happy though, happy and thankful for what they have and so that's surely all that matters? Family means everything to these people.

The countryside is beautiful but beyond the sites I see, I know there is ongoing pain and struggling we could never comprehend. In Burma there's currently eleven bouts of civil-war related violence going on. The country was only opened to tourists recently and even then, a lot of the country is restricted due to danger. They have the worlds longest civil war going on... How do these people stay so optimistic? I admire them.








The train journey wasn't the worst thing to ever happen to me... In fact, it was pleasant and relaxing. A refreshing reminder of my surroundings. It had 2 double beds and 2 single beds between three of us. Admittedly they weren't the most comfortable things in the world, but far better than I had expected. The journey though... There were some very rough points along the way where I thought my brain was going to fall out of my head I was shaken up and down so vigorously. It was pretty mentallllll. Of course I didn't sleep very well at all but at least I had space to move around.

Before night fell I read the book 'we were liars', and on my gosh, I recommend every girl out there to read it. I had tears streaming down my eyes in the end. It's such a good book and it's a really easy holiday read. 

When we arrived in Bagan it was 11am and I've never experienced such excruciating dry heat in all my life. We went from forest shrub area to dry sand and the temperature just soared. It was unbearable to move in. We jumped into a taxi and paid the dodgy $15 entrance fee and checked in at the PanCherry Inn. I definitely wouldn't recommend to anyone. The rooms were hotter than outside and I didn't think that was possible. I was just melting into my bed. I showered (no warm water of course) and went to get changed, and by the time I had moved to my room I was already sweating and sticky. I slept for a few hours then decided maybe the weather had cooled down to go explore...

Boy was I wrong. I hired an electronic bike for 3000 and set off, only to have it break down on me a mile up the road! I then had to pedal it back... Let me assure you, these bikes are not made for pedalling. It was hard work and the heat just added to the nightmare. Eventually I got another bike and set off again. 

Finally made it to old Bagan and just searched round temples all day. I'll be honest, it was a bit repetitive, but I guess I'd been so excited for it that I wanted it to be amazing. 'Same same but different' as the Thais like to put it. All the temples were similar, but just slightly different in their own way. My favourite temples were the small ones with nobody around. I bought a book on the history of Burma and sat down at one of the temples to read it. 

I ended up feeling very faint and ill in the heat so found a cafe to sit in for a while. The man kept bringing me out food to be polite but obviously I wouldn't like it... Some of it I tried, then just hid the rest in my bag hahah. I felt too bad just not having any of it. 

At sunset, 6:30pm, I went to meet Christian and Edith (the couple that shared the train with me) on the main temple. It was nice, but it was too cloudy for a proper sunset which was a shame. My bike ride home alone was most enjoyable (other than the bike almost running out of power). It was just so chilling to know how ancient these temples were and how many of them there were just all around me. Talk about being in the center of history. It's a shame though because a lot of them have been re-done meaning they lost their authentic touch. I heard this is why it can't become a unesco world heritage site. It's sad really. It was still a beautiful little town though and housed some wonderful temples, but the number of them was just overwhelming!

I had the worst nights sleep I've ever had. The fan I had automatically turned itself of every hour, and I remember turning it back on at least 5 times even though it did nothing and I still sweated from every place possible whilst trying to semi cover up to avoid bites! Gah! Good day though.