Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Insurance & Jabs!

With only a few days to go, I figured I best get my insurance done. I kept putting it off because the price was just heartbreaking, but I've been working so much the past two weeks that I figured it was about time.

I used Insure & Go, have hazardous activities covered, but not valuables. Also, because I have medical conditions (depression and insomnia) that I take medication for, I had to pay an excess. I also included my trip to the USA after for a month. Overall it came to £131.88 - the medical conditions cost an extra £40, and the extension to activities covered cost an extra £20.

Matthew and I got jabs at Boots pharmacy over a month a go now. I only needed to have yellow fever - it was a requirement for many countries. It cost me £58 including certificate. Matt has spent around £40 on malaria tablets - however, we're only in a high risk area for about 2 days so I'm just going to cover up/ spray lots. I can't justify the price for the little risk. Also, the tablets made me so ill in Asia that I couldn't take them anyway.

Here's a quick outline of what I've spent before I've even left! (Sad times):
- £150 random travel items - fleeces, travel towel, toiletries, bags, chargers, backpack etc.
- £60 jabs
- £130 insurance

= £340

I am very excited to be leaving so soon.... 3 days, 13 hours and 51 minutes. I mean, I truly am gutted about the weather, I hope South America is still busy with tourists! Who wants to go there at this time of year.... Hopefully other students. I'll keep you posted on that....At least when I go to Texas/ Florida/ Louisiana the weather is amazing!

I have already encountered a problem with travelling with another person around South America though.... Because of the weather I was contemplating a detour from Peru up through Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela - but Matt has refused the plan.... Knowing me, I'd make a last minute decision in Peru and just change route - but we'll see eh.... I'll work on it.

If you're bored - check out my arrival in Bangkok last year.... 'Hilarious' moment where I was definitely unprepared/ felt like I was going to be murdered....  http://www.nevertooyoungtotravel.co.uk/2014/06/emirates-airlines-to-dubai-then-bangkok.html

Monday, 22 June 2015

Average weather/ rainfall

UGHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Awful weather. So cold :(.

- Rio - Average: 21 - High: 23 Low: 19 Rainfall: 2mm average, 8 days average.
- Campo Grand - Average: 22 - High: 28 Low: 16 - Rainfall
- Santa Cruz - Average: 20 - High: 26 Low: 14 - Rainfall: 60mm average, 5 days average.
- Sucre - Average 12 - High: 19, Low: 4 - Rainfall: 10mm average, 0 days average.
- Salar Uyuni - Average 11 - High: 21, Low: 1 - Rainfall 2% chance. Snowfall 0% chance.
- La Paz - Average: 5 - High: 13 Low: -3, Rainfall: 10mm average, 2 days, 9% chance. Snowfall: 7% chance.
- Lake Titicaca - High: 26 Low: 10. Rainfall: 17mm average, 7 days.
- Cusco/ Ollantaytambo - Average: 11, High: 19 Low: 2,Rainfall:  9% chance, Snowfall: 0%.

- Arequipa - Average: 15, High: 22, Low: 7. Rainfall: 10mm, average rain days 0.
- Arica - Average: 15, High: 18, Low: 14. Rainfall: 0mm.
- Antofagasta - Average: 14, High: 17, Low: 10. Rainfall: 3mm, 1 day.
- Atacama - Average: 12, High: 22, Low: 2. Rainfall: 1% chance, Snowfall; 0%.
- Santiago - Average: 12, High: 16, Low: 4, Rainfall: 40mm, 7 days.
- Buenos Aires - Average: 14, High: 17, Low: 10, Rainfall: 50mm, 8 days.
- Curtiba - Average: 16, High:20, Low: 11, Rainfall: 16% chance.
- Sao Paulo - Average: 19, High: 24, Low: 14, Rainfall: 10mm, 8 days.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Planning for the USA

I've been given £1000 by the university so want to see how much of my own money I use and provide a guide for others doing trip.

  • 4th September London Heathrow (3:00pm) to Orlando (10:20pm): STA Travel, £417.46 – Sleep in airport
  • Orlando (6:30am) to Miami (11:25am) MegaBus, £2.20 (including table seat reservation & booking fee)
  • Miami Beach International £64.10 for 3 days (tourist tax included that I pay on arrival).
    • Check-in: 15:00 / Check-out: 11:00am
    • Address: 236 9th street, btwn Washington & Collins, Miami, Florida, USA, FL 33139
    •  Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
    • From the Airport, take Super Shuttle (S11- Blue Van) or the J Bus to 41st Street & Indian Creek transfer to C or K bus to 9th Street and Washington Avenue. From Greyhound (Miami Downtown) 700 Biscayne Blvd. Walk across Biscayne Blvd. and at the bus stop take a C, H or S bus to Washington Avenue and 9th Street.
  •  Miami (7:45pm) to Dallas (9:54pm): £73.70 (including one checked baggage & carry-on)
  • Dallas (11:45pm) to Lubbock (6:30am Friday 11th Sept) - £26
  • Lubbock Accommodation: Free, staying with friend who moved to USA in Year 2, who was my pen pal for years. Doing research at TexasTech University.
  • Lubbock (10:30pm) to Dallas (5:10am Thursday 17th September) - £26
  • Dallas to Austin
  • Austin to San Antonio
  • San Antonio to New Orleans
  • New Orleans to Tallahassee
  • 27th September - Orlando (7:30pm) to London Heathrow (11:25am 28th Sept).
= Overall: £612.66 

Monday, 8 June 2015

Quick guide to backpacking Thailand!

A while a go I boshed together a little travel guide based on our experiences, this is presuming you’re landing in Bangkok and want to take the classic backpacker route…

Upon landing in Bangkok, once you’ve learnt to cross the road and use the rail system, head to the boat company ‘Lomprayah’. Although it seems odd to be instantly leaving Bangkok, I think Bangkok is best experienced at the end of your travels upon your return home when you’re more accustomed to the hectic environment of Asian cities. Vietnam in particular will better prepare you for it - it comes as a shock first off. You either hate it or love it… It just so happened we HATED Bangkok - least favorite place ever, but each to their own.
Everyone tends to use the company Lomprayah but it’s cheaper going directly to them then booking it through someone else. It’s not that hard to find and is close to Koh San Road (the tourist scene). 

Here, you can then book a boat to Koh Phangan because as tourist, it’s well known that you must go to the full moon party! You’ll want to be there for 4 days - Pool party (though you might catch an STD in the water), Waterfall party & Jungle party as these all lead up to the full moon. There is little to do during the day though other than beach so I wouldn’t recommend staying there longer than 4 days if you’re on tight schedule. If you want to soak up the rays, I’d leave that for Koh Tao as the island is far more beautiful. 

I’m not sure where to recommend for your stay in Koh Phangan as we personally didn’t stay in a great place, it was too far out. Make sure you get a hostel on Haad rin, the place of the full moon otherwise literally NOTHING goes on elsewhere in the island (you’ll have to get tuk tuk to other parties, but that’s fine and cheap! ).
Straight after the full moon party, the next day everyone goes to koh tao - remember to pre-book boat and hostel as they book out fast. Go stay in Spicy Tao, the rooms are pretty shitty but its a central location and the atmosphere is wonderful, real family feel! Many people learn to dive on Koh Tao - if you have money do it. If not, snorkelling was still so much fun, you could see lots too. We went to the Japanese Gardens island and split a taxi boat there, super cheap again (About £4 including snorkel hire).

I’d recommend staying on Koh Tao for about 3 or 4 days - depends entirely of course if you plan on learning to dive. When you boat then bus back to Bangkok, it’s likely that you’ll have to stop over Bangkok for a night. Then, if you like history, head to Ayutthaya. Only stay there a night though, just has amazing temples, old capital of Thailand, not much else there though, it’s a shame that most travellers miss it when it’s such an undiscovered beauty. There are few tourists there unlikely the plagues of people that swarm common historical sites such as Angkor Wat. 

From here, I’d then recommend getting the overnight train to Chang Mai and then getting a bus to Pai for £3 from the bus station, they leave every hour until 5:30pm, takes 3 to 4 hours to get there, but beautiful journey! Best place ever. You MUST stay at Spicy Pai as that’s the thing that made it totally worth it. Again, real homely big family feel, and the huts are mega cool that you sleep in - have to book AT LEAST a week in advance though - you can do this through their facebook page. One thing that was a problem though was the frogs in the nearby rice fields. They were super loud. I’d recommend booking a tour in the center, it’ll be about £7 to see all the sights in Pai - 2 waterfalls, hot springs, WW2 memorial bridge etc. Such a cute little town with a great night life. Also super place to rent mopeds if you want to try your hand at them as it’s really quiet.

When you get back to Chang Mai, I’d recommend staying for a few nights as there’s lots of good excursions - MonkChat was the meditation center we went to. It was £10 but that included clothes, accommodation and food for 2 days, interesting experience. Also went white water rafting and elephant riding. It’s a cheap place to do things in Chang Mai. Stay at Deejai’s hostel or SpicyThai (though we heard better reviews from Deejais).
On the way to the Laos boarder, try to stop at the White Temple, really great place to be!

**Warning** Be careful of scams! We’ve heard of many people that have been robbed of their money as taxi drivers are known to charge ridiculous prices, especially in bangkok. Always ask for the meter to be used.
Most of all - Have fun & Good luck! Travel safely. 

Just some random travel tips!

  • Banking: Visit your bank with a parent and ask for them to have permission to talk to the bank - This is because despite being re-assured several times, and told they have the sufficient tech in place to prevent it, I was still blocked out of card two times: (http://www.nevertooyoungtotravel.co.uk/2014/06/dangers-of-solo-travel.html && http://www.nevertooyoungtotravel.co.uk/2013/06/drama-at-waterfall-party.html))
  • Always take some USD with you in case of emergency - this is because if really desperate (as I was above when my card wouldn't let me withdraw!) a lot of places will (reluctantly of course) let you pay with it.  
  • Bring an old phone, not a modern iPhone for example - the old Nokia's battery life is far longer, more weatherproof and you have less chance of being mugged if you need to bring it on a night out with you.
  • Female products: If you usually use tampons for example, a lot of Muslim-dominated regions I visited didn't have them due to tradition, that said, I still struggled even in modern built-up less religious areas such as in Thailand.