I wasn't going to post again in Asia but Bangkok has pissed me off so much that I need to vent. Good points first: have said goodbye to most people from the tour in the past two days 😢. Loved going to the cinema and bowling with a few of the girls yesterday and then shopping again today with some of the others. Today I went to Central World shopping center that has a H&M, topshop and miss selfridge etc but also has a marks and sparks (random). I bought far too much in H&M (to replace my dusty, dirty, ruined clothes of course).
Now for the bad points: restaurant service has been awful. Wrong orders, cold food, one massive bill, unhelpful staff.
Second: transport. It is impossible to get around this city quickly or for a decent price. The metro is amazing but goes hardly anywhere. The tuk tuk s and taxis just rip you off constantly, or don't even stop when you flag them down, and you can only get an uber if you've got WiFi. Aghhhhh! Can't wait to get to Australia on Sunday.
21 February 2018
Final day of the Indochina tour. We left the Yangon hotel at 6am and travelled to the airport. Micheal and Jen had a priority pass which let's them and up to 3 others use the lounge at the airport. Myself and two others were the lucky ones they saw first to ask to join. I had so much sugar. Doughnuts for breakfast was obviously an amazing idea at the time. The flight was only an hour to Bangkok. I then asked at so many desks about someone removing the (still broken) lock from my bag. A women looked at me blankly and another man just laughed at the fact I didn't know the code. Arrived at the hotel a full 42 days after we left the first time and dumped the bags before getting an uber to the MBK mall. Had some lunch and explored before going back to the hotel to check in. Last meal tonight in the infamous Khao San road area so should be interesting.
20 February 2018
So after a nice relaxed lie in. I went to get a pedicure and my nails done. The girls working there were very nice but obviously spoke no English. I had to get our guide to translate that I apologise for being so ticklish. Excuse the ugly feet picture. Also we got a snack of Watermelon from he staff which was a nice addition. After that we got a taxi to Myanmar Plaza to play an Escape game. Unfortunately, we didn't win (which I took quite badly-shock!)
After that I needed to take out some frustration at losing so we went to the Lazer Arena. First game we played against local teenage boys so obviously we lost but then we played individually for our second game and of course I....... Was the worst player lol. I have never sweated so much in my life, it was disgusting. Fun times overall though. On the way back to the hotel I saw the pagoda from the taxi (that's as close as I'm getting today). Went for dinner at a place called Gekko that does Japanese Cuisine (and cocktails).
19 February 2018
Arrived at 6.00 into Yangon and had breakfast at the hotel. Then went on a walking tour of the city. Finally stopped at the shopping Mall and had a well needed coffee. After that I went to the local cinema to watch Black Panther. The cinema was pitch black (could not see a thing!). I also think we need to adopt the Burmese way of watching the clips at the end of a Marvel film, where they just stop and forward the credits. Genius idea. Then went for a posh chinese lunch at Shangri-la Hotel. Went back to the hotel after that and napped for a couple of hours (I needed it) before dinner.
18 February 2018
I am currently writing this at 5am on the over night bus from Mandalay to Yagon. It is a lot better than the last one. This one has tvs in the seats to watch movies etc. We also got given a snack box consisting of biscuits and cake. I decided to watch Harry Potter but fell asleep before the end. An hour and a half into the journey we had a loo stop. Pretty grim toilets and a lot of mosquitos. The bus was then hounded by a pack of hungry stray dogs that the stewardess (yes, on a bus) had to keep shooing away.
All peaceful on the journey until 4.30am when the bus came to an extremely abrupt stop. At which point the driver and his sidekick ran to the back of the bus. 5 minutes later they came back and put what looked like a Patch kit (for a tyre?) in the side of the bus. They all got back on the bus but didn't shut the luggage compartment (lucky I was awake to see). I told our guide, she told them and we had to stop again. Hoping no one's luggage flew out in the meantime. #busdrama
17 February 2018
This morning I had a rude awakening when I awoke at 4.55 to find two men (cleaners) in my room. They obviously thought there was no one in the room because my room mate went to go on the balloon. They then proceeded, after they finished their conversation, to take my room key therefore leaving me with no lights or power in the room. I got up, stormed to the hotel reception and demanded my key back. Couldn't get back to sleep after that and we left for breakfast at 8 at Sanon, a restaurant that teaches local people culinary skills.
4 hours later we arrived in Mandalay where we headed to see a monestry covered in ornate Wood carvings. We then saw the world's biggest book. After that we took trucks (crazily driven) up the hill to see the sunset and the view over the city. The pagoda was covered in glass mosaic which made it incredibly bright and shiny. We then headed straight to dinner at a restaurant called Migalabar (which means hello). Exhausted from today so off to Bedfordshire I go.
16 February 2018
Today we had a day exploring Bagan. 4 of us opted for the air conditioned mini bus while the others had e-bikes (scooters). Glad I didn't get the scooter in the end because it was super hot and dusty, instead we did commentary from inside the bus. We saw the widest, the tallest, the oldest and the most beautiful Pagodas is Bagan. We saw soooo many Pagodas, Buddha statues and beautiful 11th century murals. We had an amazing vegetarian lunch and had some very pushy children stalking us for Currency from our own countries. The bus then turned into a party bus when the driver put on his collection of cover chart songs. We learnt about how lacquer products were made and then had a boat ride on the river and stopped on the beach to see the sun set. We sang Disney songs on the boat on the way back and went for dinner and drinks to celebrate one of the couples of the trip getting engaged this morning.
15 February 2018
We were on an overnight bus all night. I was dosed up on Benadryl which made me feel like I was underwater. We arrived at Bagan bus station at 4.30am and then slept on the new bus before going to see the sunrise over the Bagan Pagodas and to watch the balloons taking off. I thought it would be an anti climax like at Ankor Wat but it was actually very pretty even if two idiots with buzzing drones were annoying. I'm still not a morning person. After sunrise we went to the hotel for breakfast and left again at 9 to go to Popa Mountain Resort. On the way we stopped at Pai Toddy Palm plantation place where we learnt how the sap from the trees are used to make juice, alcohol, sweets and syrup. They also grow peanuts and make peanut oil, enter the cow going around in a circle. We had tea leaf salad for a snack and at the resort I sunbathed and swam. My chicken pasta lunch had the addition of an elastic band as a garnish. I'm glad the others spotted it before I chomped into it. Ta ta for now x
13 February 2018
Today I didn't get up until 10.30, cold was a little bit better so I went for pancakes at Pancake Kingdom (not much of a kingdom but delicious). I went for the classic lemon and sugar of course, it is pancake day after all. Then chillaxed until 3.30 when I went by tuk tuk to the Red Mountain vineyard and winery as the bike ride in 30 degree heat wasn't really appealing to me. The tasting wines weren't amazing but the chardonnay I had afterwards was delicious. The sun set and then we left sharpishly to avoid the giant mosquitos. Obviously not quick enough because I've got another two bites. In the evening we went to a restaurant called Chillax and the power went out, its a running theme at places here. The businesses seem to live off of their generators.
12 February 2018
Today didn't start off great. My cold is worse and my throat was so closed up I couldn't eat any breakfast. I still went on the trip though. We were on gondola type speed boats for the whole day. 5 people to a boat. We visited the floating villages, lots of Pagodas, Inle Lake itself, a lotus weaving workshop and met some ladies from a long neck tribe. The people row the boats using their foot which is amazing. All the people in Burma are lovely and don't mind the endless photos we take. The weather was so hot today and I kept falling asleep on the boats even when they were at full speed. Such a long day but worth it. Planning on having a poorly, duvet day tomorrow however.
11 February 2018
We went to the airport in Kentung. I use the term airport loosely. A two room building with one xray scanner. Didn't have to give up our water or liquids and I walked through the metal detector with a slice of cake. Not an eye was batted. The plane was a 72 seater, propeller powered flying machine. I got the front seat (open door in case of emergency seat) and spent the journey listening to musical tunes with Ellen. Pretty smooth flight and had the bonus of a cheese roll and carrot cake. Once we landed at Heho airport, it was a quick toilet visit before getting the bus to our hotel near inlay lake. On the way we stopped at Ba Wa Sam Sa Ra Bridge to take some photos. As you can see I may have got a bit carried away with the photo filtering.
We have just arrive at our 4* Hotel and am loving the rare room amenities like a hairdryer and a make up mirror lol. Went out for dinner and had the worst ever pina colada but am trying to improve my cold by drinking hot honey/lemon/lime/ginger teas.
10 February 2018
Yesterday we went from Thailand to Myanmar. It took a while for AK (our new tour leader) to do the paperwork but all fine. 10 minutes into the bus journey we saw a house warming party going on and AK asked them if we could join. The party had definitely been going a while (people were VERY happy). The people wanted pictures with us and then started giving us so much food. Loads of music /karaoke going on, a real party atmosphere. It was surreal. We then were on the bus for what felt like forever and got to the hotel in Kentung in the evening. The next day we went to visit some of the hillside tribes. The word trek was mentioned and I'm not going to lie, I was apprehensive after the last time. It was hard going at points but only because I've now got a cold and cough and couldn't breath well. We gave toiletries to the ladies in the villages and sweets and toys to the children. They definitely had pressure tactics when selling their bracelets and bags etc. We were practically swamped.
9 February 2018
Said goodbye to some of the group today and then went to Art in Paradise, a 3d mural museum. I was like a kid in a candy shop, running around asking people to take photos. Loved it! Hung around the pool for a bit in the afternoon and went to a cute cafe called cozy. Met the new people that joined our tour and visited the night Market for some ice cream and sangria.
8 February 2018
We left for Ching mai at 7 in the morning. The mini bus ride was awful because of the boy racer driver we had. Mid way through the journey we stopped at the white temple which has got to be the most ornate one I've seen so far. We then arrived and got straight into another mini bus to go see the elephants at the sanctuary. They were amazing. We fed them bananas and sugar cane, got sloppy kisses from them, walked through the jungle with them and then washed them in the river. That part then turned into a big water fight and I did not have spare clothes with me so had a very wet journey back. We got street food for dinner and I also tried chicken heart and chicken intestine. Heart good / intestine bad. We then went to watch Thai boxing. A lot less blood than I was expecting but got covered in my fair share of sweat erghhhh. Funniest part was watching 5 guys trying to fight whilst blind folded.
6 February 2018
Last night we stayed at our home stay. Very little electric but had a lovely time. We walked around the village and saw the school. The children of the village then came to meet us (wanted sweets). Super cute kids who all wanted to look at the photos on my phone. One little lad could use my phone better than I could. We had an amazing dinner, played cards and then sat round the fire. Two of the local girls joined us (who were super sweet) and then we went to sleep in one of the local homes. Hard, thin mattress and mosquito net were provided. The sleeping on the floor doesn't bother me but I am getting so cold at night I haven't slept properly in 2 days. Back on the boat today for another 10hrs. Entertaining the group by letting them try to unlock the lock on my bag. Only 1000 combinations to go.
Writing this at the time but you guys won't read this for a couple of days. I'm on a boat in the middle of the Mekong River. The boat has one toilet and no windows to keep the biting wind out. Most people have had a nap but a few of us have been playing cards (bullshit, shit head, spit). Beating everyone at Spit (or slam or whatever you call it) because of the years of speedy practise with the sister in airports during our childhood. The view is pretty but 10hrs on a boat is definitely too long. Every so often the boat starts tipping one way or the other and we have to make sure we have equal people on each side to keep us level. Haven't had to take any travel sickness tablets yet, but that's probably because I've been eating my way through my snack supply. When that runs out we will definitely have an issue.
5 February 2018
Early start at 6 because I wanted to beat the queues at the waterfall. We arrived early and were the only ones there (not even the staff). Saw the rescued bears in the sanctury (one only had three legs 😢). The waterfalls were beautiful and I found my inner dirty dancing pose on the bridge lol. Hiked up the hill to the top (nothing compared to the other day) and then waded in one of the pools (soooo cold). Headed back to town for brunch and then visited a local primary school. Later I went to help teenagers with conversational English at the Big Brother Mouse charity. In the evening I went to the Royal Lao theatre to watch some traditional Lao dancing (fell asleep a lot), so that's my culture for this part of the trip. Off on a two day boat journey tomorrow and will be staying in a rural Home stay so won't be updating this for a couple of days now.
4 February 2018
So today we left for Luang Prabang. The 7 hr bus journey was interesting. Any one that's ever seen the part in Summer Holiday where they are going up the steep, winding mountain and the thunderbird overtakes them will understand the sheer crazyness of the roads here. We had to stop for about 45 minutes while the locals built the road ahead of us (no joke) before We stopped at a picturesque lunch stop at the top of one of the mountains (the best view being from the toilet window/open wall). A lot of hair raising moments later (nearly hitting 1 dog, 2 pigs and a goat), we arrived. Beautiful hotel but no hot water yet. I then find out that I've accidently reset the padlock on my bag and therefore could not access ANYTHING in my bag. Oh dear. In the end a man from reception had to cut the zip off so I could get into my bag. Nightmare lol. We went out to dinner and I had the tasting menu all to my self. 7 dishes in all. PS why did I never realise papaya tasted like smelly feet. 🤮
3 February 2018
So today started off well. Went and did some kayaking and had a delicious lunch half way through. The next park was a 'trek'. Easy they said, only 600m they said. Think they forgot to mention it would be more like rock climbing than walking up a hill. Steep, Jagged and slippery rocks all the way up. Pictures wouldn't even do the difficulty justice. A few logs and wires to hold on to occasionally. I eventually reached the summit 20 minutes after most people and couldn't even enjoy the view because I was so angry and exhausted. It was physically and emotionally draining. All in all the worst part of the trip so far. I am still cross with our guide (someone is going to be getting the silent treatment) and todays trip company. We then went to Blue Lagoon (also falsely advertised). The pictures make it out to be secluded and picturesque when in fact its like a swimming pool resort. Had fun watching the others jumping in etc but that's about all the good that came out of today. 😤
1 February 2018
This morning we said goodbye to some of the group in Hanoi and headed to the airport for our flight to Laos, no flight drama, apart from it being very bumpy and me having a nose bleed. Arrived in Vientiane, already with my visa. Which was lucky because the printer broke when everyone else were getting theirs. So I was stood at baggage collection on my lonesome for a while. We had upgraded accommodation in Vientiane which is nice. After check in we went for lunch and I ate my body weight in Pad Thai and chicken wings. Then ended up leading the whole group to the temple (I am now referred to as 'teacher' when I know where to go or what to do) and saw the many Buddha statues. We then walked up to the monument (Laos equivalent of the arc de triomphe) and got 9 people in a Laos tuk tuk. For dinner we went to a lovely restaurant that had live music and I had fried crickets for a starter. Lots of '3 non blonds' singing later I'm heading for an early night.
30 January 2018
Arrived in Hanoi and went and had Pho (beef soup) for lunch. After that I went to the prison for a bit of culture. Learnt about how the French colonists oppressed the Vietnamese people. For dinner I chose to make my own rolls (very messy task) and we learnt how a Vietnamese egg coffee is made. It's now my favourite drink. Went out for drinks and dancing after dinner and got back in the early hours. Feeling a little worse for wear and having had only 4 hrs sleep I got up to go to the Ho Chi Mihn Musoleum. The que went on for miles (I am not exaggerating!) so we went for a coffee. When we got out there was not one person in the line and we walked straight in. We also visited the pagoda and Museum whilst there, a man wanted a selfie with me, odd. Lots of interesting art. A taxi man then tried to rip us off by changing the meter reading (never trust a chav). After that we went to the Vietnamese Women's Museum. Some bits were interesting. Finished the afternoon with a egg coffee and a nap.
29 January 2018
Arrived in Han Oi and had breakfast at the hotel. Noddle soup, such a weird breakfast. Beautiful views on our boat in Halong Bay. Even if it is freezing (had to wear my thermals and hat and gloves) . Had a fish lunch on the boat and then visited the caves and went kayaking. An odd number of people meant I was solo. It was knackering but the scenery was worth it and think the canoe club peeps would be proud. Lol
The next morning we stopped at the Pearl farm. Who knew oysters could be artificially inseminated.
27 January 2018
Went to hue the other day and visited the imperial Palace. Very big and beautiful. Vietnam under 23s were playing an important match and the town was crazy. Went out for dinner and drinks in the evening before chilling the next day (drinking a lit if coffee). Got the 15 hr overnight train to Han Oi and played poker, blackjack and new market using Mentos as chips. The air-conditioning was soooo high, I was waking up all night shivering. Not nice.
26 January 2018
Busy day today. Went to Oodles of Noodles to learn about all the different types of noddles and how they are made and I got to be a TV chef for a bit. I then went for my second fitting at the dress tailors before going to make my own lantern. My junk modelling skills weren't great. I then went for my third dress fitting before going to a Vietnamese cooking class. We made 4 dishes all together and got to eat it all for dinner at the end. Rushing from dinner we made it to the river I'm time to see all the floating lanterns on the water. Hired a boat and made a wish as I put my lantern in the water. Had a look around the night market before heading back to the hotel.
25 January 2018
So arrived in Hoi An early this morning after having a total of 2 minutes warning that we had to get off the sleeper train(lucky we woke up early). The toilets were grim.
Went for breakfast and explored the town. Then went to Phin coffee house for some traditional Vietnamese coffee.
After that I tried out the hotel's pool (cold) and then myself and Ellen went to see if we could go on a basket boat. Taxi was fine and as we got out the taxi driver said 'this is my friend, you go on his motorbike'. WHAT!! anyone that knows me knows that's the last thing I would do in a million years. However somehow I found myself on the back of the bike (freaking out of course) and went all the way to the boat. Our paddling man/motorbike driver couldn't speak a word of English but was very impressive at making things out of leaves. I used my canoeing skills a bit when I had a turn and if there hadn't been hundreds of Chinese tourists in other boats listening to club music it would have be quite peacefull
22 January 2018
Overnight train was better than expected. We played some heads up and poker (betting with panda biscuits). Arrived in Nha Trang at 5.30am and went to the beach for breakfast. Went to the mud spa later that morning with a few of the girls, wasn't really traditional but very relaxing. Got my nails painted for a second time (still awful) and then went out for dinner. Wasn't feeling the clubbing vibe so went in search for a karaoke place. All of them were shut but we spotted a Spanish restaurant that had a live band so went in there. Saw the Vietnam version of Patrick Swayze and joined in with the conga, macarana and gang nam style.
Went to the cu chi tunnels today and learnt about the Viet cong. I was too chicken to go into the actual tunnels but it was interesting to learn about the Vietnam War from an actual veteran. Going on the over night train tonight so we'll see how that goes. Will be interesting seeing as everyone seem to be getting dodgy stomachs at the moment.
21 January 2018
Today we had breakfast at the home stay and then went to the floating markets. A long drive later we ended up in Hochimihn city, went and explored the markets and got my nails done. We then went out for dinner, a few cocktails and a bit of dancing. Finally ending up in good old Mcdonalds (don't judge me).
20 January 2018
Today we travelled 10 hours into Vietnam. The border crossing was ridiculously hot and my face was sweating off. I fed the ant population with my pringles and then stopped for a late lunch. We got to the home stay in the evening and learnt how to make bunxio (Vietnam pancakes). Lots of the others are freaking out about the creepy crawlys and lizards, I'm not too fussed.
19 January 2018
Relaxing at the beaches in Sihanoukville. Got told I was white a lot (well, obvious) and made a pinky promise with a lady selling manicures on the beach. Hopefully didn't get burnt. Factor 50 definitely needed for me.
18 January 2018
17 January 2018
Today was very sombre as we visited the killing fields and S-21, the genocide museum. I was able to meet one of the only survivors from the prison.
Later we went for lunch at a sponsored restaurant that helps homeless children. I wasn't able to visit the school however without prior organisation.
We went round the market and got gelato in the sweltering heat. Some of the others went and got massages whilst some of us went to a bar. Kind of glad I chose not to get a massage after hearing the stories from the others. All in all a quite chilled day but sad not to be with my gran on her 95th birthday.
16 January 2018
Short one for today because we spent 7hrs on a bus, So not a lot to tell. The day started with a trip down the river to the biggest lake in South East Asia. On the way we saw a floating village. The bus journey was interesting. I'm amazed at the driving in South East Asia. It's so erratic and seems dangerous but everyone is the same so there never seem to be any accidents. We avoided many a dog and cow on the roads today. Finally got to Phnom Penh this evening in the dark and went for dinner. It took so long to come that I thought I was going to hit someone (first hangry moment of the trip). The guys got hustled by some 10 year olds playing rock, paper, scissors and deep fried tarantula and tarantula shots were tried (not by myself).
15 January 2018
Today we got up at 4am to go to Ankor Wat to see the sun rise. Got a blessing from one of the monks, it seemed to work because I didn't fall down any of the ridiculously steep steps. I fed the monkeys before we went to the other temples. After hours of temple walking we got back to the hotel at 1.30. I had a well needed nap before we went on a quad biking trip of the Cambodian country side. Not going to lie, I was captain slow for a bit but got some good videos on the action cam. We then went out for dinner followed by shopping at the Night Market.
14 January 2018
This morning we crossed into Cambodia. Easier than I expected. Had Amok (pictured) for lunch and then went to visit a g adventures project that helps a village. We met the children, learnt that there are female and male palm trees (who knew), learnt about how the rice is grown and harvested and then had a wonderful meal. Tonight we headed to the Phare Circus. One of the most amazing acrobatic shows I've seen, however the plot was slightly lost on me.
13 January 2018
So this was a day of exploring transport in Bangkok. So firstly I wake up early and get the subway to the nearest shopping district to buy 'correct' plug adapters. I then met some people from my tour and we got a taxi (crazy driver) into the city. We then got a tuk tuk (oh dear god I'm going to die car) to the pier followed by a boat (puke up my guts feeling) up the river. Next we got a Thai lunch (too spicy for me) and went and looked around Wat Po temple with the famous reclining Buddha. We then got a taxi back through the back streets of China Town with a driver who 'loved' his country music.
12 January 2018
What a journey. Finally arrived but it's the following day here. No mishaps with flights and I have a liking already for airplane food.
The change in Dubai went well and then I arrived in Bangkok. Firstly, I always pick the wrong immigration line to get into. No joke this guy must have been going slow on purpose. 50 minutes later I finally get to the front and have that awkward conversation about needing a multi entry visa. His response: 'you travel the world.. No'. After a lot of clarification I finally understood he wouldn't give me one (if they exist that is) and I'll have to get another in 30 days.
By the point I get through immigration getting my bag was no trouble because it had been going around the conveyor belt for half an hour already. Couldn't find the buses so decided to get the train, not to bad over all, I'm pretty capable when I put my mind to it.
A train and a subway later I arrived at the meeting hotel. Nice little complex, restaurant and spa on site. Just need to nap