(Cont) and finally, whoever has been reading this (apparently very detailed and tmi) blog! Stories from India to come soon!
All in all, those 20 days were really something. Now sitting in Delhi, even though I just came back a week and a half ago, the experience seems like it was such a long time ago. Looking back, I feel very privileged to have travelled like this, as I know a lot of 20 year old girls don't get similar opportunities. Even though one can say it was only 2 countries, it was the form of travelling, the people I was surrounded by and the constant activity that was totally new and that put me out of my comfort zone. This trip I tagged along to my friends post uni travels, but now I have a much better idea of how it's actually done and should be planned (or rather unplanned) and can't wait to organise a longer adventure in a new region, which hopefully won't be in too long! A lot of people adore travelling and now I totally understand the appeal. Thank you to my parents for helping me and allowing me to attend this trip, sagar and his friends for inviting me to come along, (cont)
The international airport was also super developed - Bangkok is so modern, I didn't realise! Definitely need to come back and explore this city further. I think the fact that I liked it so much also means id like places Hong Kong and Singapore, so definitely a lot more to see!
Saturday, 10th October - the last day! I was the first to leave that day so I really just had a few hours. I wanted to do a lot but nothing much was opened till the evening, I should have planned ahead. Mandeep was feeling better so we headed to an Indian cafe for brunch - had a chai and paneer paratha after so long,mmm. I guess I couldn't wait till I reached India a few hours later! Afterwards we checked out of the hostel and went back to bed station as it had a direct sky train to the airport-we left our bags and I went to MBK mall. It had normal shops but also a market type place inside. I was basically searching for a shirt that says 'same same but different' - this is a typical Thai phrase, used mostly in markets, when vendors are trying to describe products. By the time I was back at the hostel it was time for me to leave. I said goodbye to sagar and Mandeep and went off to the Bangkok sky train - it's really developed and the journey to the airport was filled with great views.
(Cont) there was so much traffic that taxing a taxi back to the restaurant made no sense. I discovered that Bangkok has these things called motorbike taxis - so convenient! Just hop on the back of one and get to your destination much faster. They should have such a service in more cities! Took one and got to the restaurant super fast. The aunty at dinner was saying how she feels very safe in Bangkok and that it's totally okay for a girl to walk around alone and take public transport like metros, so it was good to hear that it was safer than I expected. After dinner we went to a night market - I wasn't able to find much I liked but sagar went all out and bought loads of those loose elephant pants. We could have gone to the sky bar after but I was pretty tired and didn't have nice clothes on me - looking back I should have gone though! However, there's so much I didn't see in Bangkok, and there's really not much one can do in a day and half, so Im just thinking about my next trip back!
(Cont) went off to explore and a massage. Sagar said this place called Healthland had amazing massages so I went along for the second and last Thai massage of the trip. For some reason I agreed to do a foot massage with him - the ticklish part of me was dead scared but the curious part of me wanted to see what's so great about this and how much I could survive. I tried to tell them to be gentle with me, and when I finally explained I was 'caksi'- ticklish in Thai, the counter ladys response was don't kick my masseuse, so witty haha. Anyways it was nicer than I expected and I managed to enjoy most of it! After that sagar showed me around some nice hotels (no toilet break this time though) and we walked back to the hostel. Mandeep still wasn't well but tried to come for dinner with us as we were meeting sagars family friends at a Lebanese restaurant called Beirut cafe. He was so unwell in the taxi though that when we reached we went right back to the hostel to drop him off. (Cont)
Friday, 9th October - I woke up to wondering where and when Leke ended up, to find out he passed out on a bean bag on his way up to the room! He was leaving in the morning, so we said our goodbyes. Leke's a really talented, kind and unique guy with a lot of ideas- it was great getting to know him this trip. The other 2 then went back to sleep and I took a nice hour long shower. Mandeep then started to feel weak and ill (luckily I felt fine by then)- we also had to search for a new hostel for the night which we eventually found - Mile Map, which was in a much better area - silom. The area had loads of restaurants and markets around it, really liked the vibe! The room wasn't ready when we arrived though and then our room didn't have a window, but otherwise the hostel was decent for one night. We then searched for food and found Siam cafe for lunch, where I had some Asian version of spaghetti. Mandeep was then really feeling worse so we dropped him off in the room and sagar and I (cont)
(Cont) lekes last night with us as he was leaving the first. We were supposed to go to Lebua Sky Bar (where hangover 2 was filmed) but it was too late and was closing soon. We ended up going to a jazz bar instead called Saxophone. Leke went crazy here! It was exactly his kind of vibe and music and he danced all night, with everyone watching him and dancing with him. Wish I could enjoy dancing so much hah. It was a really cool place though, I was really glad we went there. He then wanted to go out and found some people from the bar to take us out - we met 2 Thai girls, Sine and Jenny who were really sweet! We went to a nice area which was full of clubs (looked exactly like a club area in London, just everyone was Thai), but couldn't go anywhere as mandeep, I and sagar were wearing flip flops. After a lot of discussion the 3 of us went back to the hostel (I was still feeling a bit sick and weak so was craving some rest) and leke went on to party till the early hours! What a day!
(Cont) 2 hours for getting to the airport - and it took exactly that much time! I started feeling really ill in the car but took some paracetamol and felt alright by the time we got on he flight. The airport was really nice but not much to eat! We ended up buying food on the plane (never done that before) but it was actually much cheaper than the airport food, plus huge helpings! The flight went by so fast, by the time I finished eating we were about to land-definitely the fastest flight I've been on (just over an hour). We arrived in Bangkok around 10pm, got a airport cab and reached our hostel The Bed Station. Would definitely recommend this one - it's priced the same as others, but got great ambience and is super neat and clean. Every bed also has its own curtain, power plugs, light - which actually wasn't so common with the other hostels. Unfortunately we had only booked one night and it was fully booked out for the next! Anyways, our night was just beginning then. It was (cont)
(Cont) Vietnam. The lady running the plane was Vietnamese though, and she was super friendly and was telling us about how she started the place (Saigon Baguette and Cafe). A bunch of men from a top restaurant were also eating there and asked her to start supplying bread to them - was pretty cool to see such a 'business' exchange taking place! Afterwards we wanted to walk around before heading back. We passed the shangri la hotel so used their wonderfully fragrant and clean toilet LOL. Sagar apparently does this regularly so showed us how to enter the hotel to do this inconspicuously. Afterwards we found a really nice park called Maha Bandula - we realised were in the 'nice' part of Yangon. We spoke about what we would do if we suddenly lost each other and everything and had to start from zero at that spot - leke for example said he'd busk and end up opening up his own bar! It was then time to leave - our flight was at 8 but the traffic was just so bad that we planned (cont)
(Cont) throughout, plus he wasn't even looking like an official guide, but oh well, he was a nice guy:p also I found out my animal is a dragon because I was born on a Saturday (we all had fierce animals except for sagar who was a guinea pig haha.) After that we went to a park and I wanted to visit Rangoon Medical College as my nanaji had studied there for a year while he was in Burma. The others didn't really feel like going but sagar, being a good friend, came with me. It was quite old and empty, I wasn't even sure if it was still in proper use, after all, he was there in 1940. It was still pretty cool though, took photos and videos! Also I hope we went to the correct building haha. Anyways after that we were hungry so the guys found a place with banh mi, which is a Vietnamese sandwich. I started to feel a bit sick while walking there so I just ordered a baby version of it - it was pretty good but I didn't see what the fuss was about - will need to try an authentic one in (cont)
(Cont) We headed over to the hostel to leave our bags there. We asked the same taxi to come back for us at 4 to get us to the airport, but he never showed up pfff (was better though, we ended up getting there for a much better price with someone else). We chilled at the hostel which wasn't even ours for a while, and headed over to a noodle place (Shan Noodle House) which was rated #1 on trip advisor! Was nice to see a little local joint as number 1, usually it's expensive restaurants. I had some sticky noodle soup which actually was very nice, but as usual I wasn't able to finish it - next time I travel I need someone to share my food with! After that we headed to the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. It was huge! There were 4 main entrances (East north west South) and they were all quite a bit of a walk apart. It was really beautiful though, definitely worth a visit. We figured we might as well get a tour guide, but his English was so bad that it was so difficult to understand him (cont)
18 October 2015
Thursday, 8th October - We arrived around 6.30 am at the same bus station we were at a few days back. I remember my first impressions of Yangon at the time, so much traffic, dirt, noise, I thought the rough travelling would begin - but every place we had visited after that was wonderful and it was actually nice to be back in familiar Yangon. Plus I knew we would go into the city today! We were in Yangon for only a day, with a flight to Bangkok in the evening, but this much time actually turned out to be enough for us. We were going to leave our big bags at the bus station but luckily one of the guys we met at inle told us we could leave our bags at his hostel. One thing I've learned while travelling is that one can't be too attached to their belongings, and should always carry their essentials on them- though the bus station seemed safe enough, we were all mentally prepared that if our bags went missing for reason, it would 'just' be our clothes. (cont)
(Cont) time to spare so headed to a chill bar. Sagar however discovered that there's a badminton court right next door so we played for over an hour - was good fun! Was so glad we had that extra room in the hotel though as everyone was so sweaty again we needed a shower. We got ready for the bus which was late but eventually came. The ride was around 12 hours from inle to Yangon - we all had our own TVs though like on flights but the movie choice was pretty pathetic. This bus was particularly unpleasant as so many people were coughing and puking pretty much the whole night. Still got some sleep though but I'd rather opt for something else than this bus next time!
Wednesday, 7th October - I made sure to wake up for breakfast (as we missed it the day before), which had the best scrambled eggs I've ever had. We then all felt like chilling, so watched a movie called Enders Game on the TV in the hotel. It was then time to check out but the hotel staff let us keep one room till the evening - so nice! We didn't have our bicycles anymore so we had to walk into town. What's usually a 5-10 minute bike ride became over 30mins of walking, reaaally missed my yellow bike then. We finally got into town and went to one owl grill again. We didn't have enough local currency to pay for the food though so I went off in search for a bank. Finally found one and I came across an interesting fact - we get different exchange rates based on what type of a bill you give - eg you'll get a better rate if you give a 100 dollars rather than 5. Never knew that, I wonder where else they do that! After our lunch we went a local market which was alright. We then had more (cont)
17 October 2015
(Cont) and I was of course the slowest. The village ended up being the same one we saw the day before and the monastery was over an hour uphill so we just decided to go back as the sun was setting soon (plus I genuinely didn't want to go through that cycle ride:p). The other guys were annoyed but I didn't mind too much as it was a good workout and a pretty scenic ride. We then headed back to the hotel (sagar of course had to get another massage, an obsession of his we discovered). We rested after our 20km+ cycle ride and went for dinner with some of the other tourists we had met. It was a pretty amusing dinner as the neighbour of the restaurant started talking with us and telling us really lame jokes. Other than that he was a really nice guy who was trying to become a tour guide and wanted to improve his English. Everyone had local food but I had to have spaghetti which was actually really tasty. I ended up spending the most though (9000kyat😵😵😵) = 5 pounds - so expensive for burma!
6th October, Tuesday - We had a pretty lazy morning and booked our night bus tickets to Rangoon/Yangon for the next day. We then headed to One Owl Grill - an amazing restaurant cafe which had a menu which completely spoiled us for choice - local, Lebanese, American, British type food. We learned that in Burma it's good manners to have a huge amount of items on a menu - a sign of hospitality, and every single restaurant we went to abided by this rule. Amazing! I really enjoyed this place and we actually ended up coming here a few more times in our remaining 30 hours in inle lol. After that we planned to cycle more into the rural area and visit a local vineyard. We tasted different kinds of wine, picked our favourites and went to see the how it is processed. Unfortunately the grapes were out of season when we were there but it was still interesting to see the plane itself. We then cycled on further as apparently there was a village and monastery worth seeing. We cycled and cycled (cont)
(Cont) found a roller blading place which was a pretty random thing to do in inle. It was great fun though and they had all kinds of curves and little obstacles over which one had to jump. I just skated around blissfully while most of the guys jumped all over these (and of course fell a lot too, so funny). After that we went for an Italian dinner and had a few drinks, after which a lot of the guys were already 'gone' for the night so I headed back to the hotel and fell asleep to meet the parents on TV!
(Cont), a temple (where women are prohibited to enter a main praying area 😑), and a monastery called Nga Phe Chaung - we all really enjoyed this one as it was very serene, airy, scenic and there was actually a picture story of Buddha. Monks and baby kittens were everywhere. It was then time to leave and return to the city, around 4pm. We flowed through a floating garden, which sounds more exciting than it was, but was pretty nonetheless. We were all quite tired and snoozed on our way back. We then took our bicycles from the port and stopped by Sin Yaw restaurant for pancakes. Here we met some more people - a Norwegian and French guy, and then Louis' friends from uni also joined. I was the only girl as usual but oh well, met so many new people! I headed back to the hotel to look for the room key which I was totally unable to find and was sooo worried as the hotel said they'll have to change the whole lock system in the room - in the end it was in sagars bag though phew. We then (cont)
Monday, 5th October - Our day started with a boat ride around inle lake. It was long thin boat with 5 chairs attached to it, though if the chairs were not there around 30 people could fit in it lol (which we saw the locals doing). We floated along the lake, which was stunning - lake inle is so scenic, with mountains surrounding the entire area. On the way we also a typical boat rower, who was manoeuvring the boat with his leg - this is a tradition in lake inle, as many prefer standing on the boats to be able to see better ahead and avoid the water plants and weeds, which obstruct the way- they therefore attach a paddle to their leg and control the direction of the boat with that. Hope that makes sense! It was pretty interesting to see that there are entire villages built upon the lake - can't imagine the devastation when floods come. We had many stops - a local market, a silver/precious stone shop where I bought a ruby from Mogok, a silk/cotton weaving area, (cont)
(Cont) called Inle Lotus Hotel. It was so wonderful, around 8 pounds a night too! The people there were also so kind, definitely one of the nicest hotel staff I've met. Plus a welcome passion fruit juice added to the wonderfulness haha. We freshened up and rented bicycles (no bikes, not even ebikes here!) and headed off in search for food. We had a chill night and rested well after a day of being cramped in a car, plus we had an early start the next day.
Our last day in Bagan and later a travelling day. We headed off at 5am to check out the sunrise. While it wasn't the sunrise I was hoping to see as it was a bit cloudy and had drizzled again, it was still pretty amazing and a great goodbye to Bagan. There was another girl from Australia who had come alone in the dark - pretty independent and brave of her! We then had a basic breakfast at the hostel and headed off on the mini bus to lake inle. They had completely stuffed the minibus with 11 people, opening up all those foldable seats to get everyone in. It was so uncomfortable, but oh well, important to experience that too. I was really amused at one point though when the driver started putting on some akon smack that loud in the car and other similar music - we all really enjoyed that for a while, lol. After around 10 hours we arrived in the beautiful inle. We had to pay an entry fee of 10 dollars, which is apparently the norm (we also had to pay for Bagan). Our hotel was (cont)
(Cont) as I had feared - had good practice from hiking in Chiang Mai! The sunset was a fail again as it was a cloudy day but the view was truly amazing. We found a pretty sweet spot at the top and sat there for over an hour. There were loads of monkeys which I was initially excited about as I find them cute, but they were jumping around like crazy and stealing people's water bottles - watching a monkey drink from a bottle is very amusing. Then there were hundreds of them and only 6 of us so we were a bit creeped out. All was okay in the end and we headed back to the hostel. The guys played a game of bingo and I took my time to shower. Had an early night as we wanted to try out luck again and check out the sunrise the next day!
(Cont) school though as she had left to help her family and the village out with these tours. After that we heard about some meditation caves which we took us a while to find but we eventually came across - they were pretty shallow but it was still interesting to imagine people spending hours here in deep medication. We then had to rush back as we had an organised tour to Mt. Popa - a volcano about 40km from Bagan. We had lunch at black rose which was close to our hostel (I had the worst pizza ever, should have just ordered a local curry). We then took a mini bus to mt. Popa along with 2 other guys we met at the hostel. One was a crazy Belgian dude called Louis who seemed to be ecstatic about everything, and a German guy Adrian, who has earned enough money through online poker to fund his 1 year of travelling around all continents, including Antarctica- amazing! We headed off to climb mt popa - past the 777 steps and crazy monkeys. It wasn't easy but not as challenging (cont)
(Cont) a bit odd, a bit like I forgot to take off my face mask. Anyways after that we took our bikes and found a completely abandoned monastery (su shin su) - was so cool! There was some old statues and cut out heads which was a bit creepy but otherwise really fascinating - we kept imagining what it must have been like when it in full use. I then found a staircase with a few spiderwebs and convinced the guys that we should go up and check out the view (but obvs I didn't go first:p). It was really worth it, I'll definitely miss the views from the top of temples over Bagan. After that we headed out to a local village called Minathu. There was a young girl who welcomed us and offered to show us around. The village had a school, workshops, cigars, jewellery making and more - it was definitely adjusted for tourists but still pretty authentic. The girl had really good English and the tour sounded almost rehearsed, but it was still a great experience. We felt bad that she wasn't in (cont)
The next day we woke up pretty late and walked to a place called the golden leaf or something like that for breakfast. Walking was more challenging than it should have been for me as I was so used to biking around everywhere! Anyways I had a pancake here, and sagar got a lemon juice which was filled with insects but didn't complain to the staff as he knew they wouldn't be able to understand. He just asked for an empty glass with an explanation of 'because..insect' - it was so funny. A lot of people here also have a paste like substance on their faces which is called 'thanaka'. It's made of tree bark and water, mainly to prevent sun burn, but it's also a mark of beauty for some reason. I saw the owner of the restaurant had it on so I asked her where could I get it, and the next thing I see her taking a tree bark and creating a paste for me, which then applied all over my face. So sweet of her! It actually really helped as my face was cool for the whole day, though it did look (cont)
16 October 2015
(Cont) it was also a bit cloudy though to be fair. Either way, it was great being up there after our exhausting journey. It was getting dark so we decided to go back, and yay, my battery died again. We decided to just leave the bike there and take the keys with us and I got on the back of someone else's bike. I wasn't sure to how they would react to us leaving their bike in the middle of nowhere but the bike rental people actually apologised to us! So unexpected. Everyone then took a much needed shower (I'm always last though as apparently I take the longest) and slept away.
(Cont) we then headed off to lunch to a restaurant called Moon. It was amazing! All of us really enjoyed every dish we had there, both local and international. I somehow lost sagars sunglasses here though, I still can't figure out where they could have gone :(
After that things started getting more adventurous. After riding our bikes for a while it was time to view the sunset. We wanted to go somewhere more isolated, and were on our way but my stupid battery died. Sagar was being a good friend and pedalling for a while but it was just too much so we had to wait at a temple and call a mechanic. The sun was slowly starting to set! The mechanic finally arrived and exchanged my battery. During this time sagar and mandeep had gone somewhere and got stuck knee deep in the mud, LOL. We then rushed off to the chosen sunset temple and for some reason I followed mandeep and also got a bit stuck in the mud. We then eventually reached the temple - but didn't make it in time :( (cont)
(Cont) we continued riding around and went around some pretty cool pagodas of different sizes. All of them are so similar though and we got a bit bored after a few - and imagine, there are thousands of temples in Bagan! We were looking for something with a nicer view and less tourists so sagar found an off beaten track and led us to some more isolated temples. Everything else was genuinely so touristy and one couldn't really enjoy the place as there was always someone behind your back trying to sell you something. We also discovered a very interesting habit of little kids asking for foreign currency from all over the world - we though this was an amazing way for them to learn about other countries until someone approached me asking to exchange their rupees which someone gave them into the local kyats :/ anyways. We found a more isolated Temple and a local offered to take us to the top - really amazing views! Bagan is definitely one of the places which photos don't do justice. (Cont)
(Cont) If the normal bikes were available i'm sure we would have gotten those, but we had no access to them. Goes to show that if there's no supply of these bikes there's nothing one can do, and they'll just use the next best (and in this case environmentally friendly) option. I took a smaller bike with pedals as I thought it'll be easier for me to manoeuvre - bad idea. It was slower than the other bikes and the battery died twice! The pedals got me a short way but it just wasn't possible to go all the way back like that to the hostel. Anyways in the morning we visited a local temple which was pretty nice, and the guys got themselves a longyi, which is basically a piece of cloth you tie around your waist, coming out to be a long skirt till the ankles. I didn't get one as I knew I probably wouldn't ever wear it after these 3 days! We then weren't able to find leke for a while, and ended up finding him behind the temple being forced to buy something from the market lol. After that (cont
So much to update, so little time! It's been exactly 2 weeks since I reached Bagan, Burma, but as most things, it seems like ages ago. After the night bus and the retro taxi ride, we reached our hostel 'ostello bello' at around 7am. We noticed that in burma tourists seemed like more a novelty that people were fascinated by, as we still got a lot of smiles and waves the whole time- burma seemed like a pretty happy country:) our hostel was actually really nice and clean (but the most expensive, 22 dollars a night!) - many people say accommodation is very expensive in burma though so it seemed like it was just one of those things you have to accept. The reception was very friendly and one of the guys was actually Czech so I spoke in Czech after a verrrry long time. After showering and getting fresh we rented bikes and headed out for brunch. In Bagan, there are only ebikes allowed - they're much slower than normal bikes but so silent and much better for the environment of course (cont)
11 October 2015
10 October 2015
One chapter of this journey is over! :( Done with travelling around Thailand and Burma, on my flight to Delhi now. What an adventure these past 20 days have been. While the travelling itself wasn't as difficult and challenging as I expected as we did live very comfortably most of the time, I was definitely pushed out of my comfort zone a few times - travelling with guys I initially didn't know very well; meeting new people nearly every day; or hiking and cycling for km and km in the southern Asian heat - and much more. Everyone needs to travel AT LEAST once in their life, and for a longer time period. I feel that travelling alone would be even more fulfilling in a different way, as that way one is forced to become completely independent but at the same try and meet new people as they go along. I don't feel ready for something like that at the moment but definitely need to do that some point soon :)
8 October 2015
The last of burma!
5 October 2015
3 October 2015
(Cont) decent and the food was actually much better than I expected. We then found an AC'd coffee shop which was more to our standards where we waited till our bus came - felt so spoiled! I feel like thanks to these commercial places I'm able to stay in my comfort zone - not sure if that's a good thing while travelling as it means i won't learn to adjust to new places that much.
After that it was time to get on the bus - I peed like 4 times before as the bus didn't have a toilet (though it did make occasional toilet breaks). What a bus - lots of leg space, adjustable chairs, screens with movies, and free beverages and blankets and toothbrush with toothpaste. Sagar and Mandeep said this is one of the nicest night buses and most are nothing compared to this one so we shouldn't be getting too used to it. Despite this I didn't get amazing sleep, rather a series of naps. We arrived at 7am on the dot and got a retro cab (no seats, just a big area in the back so sit/lay down) to the hostel.
Thursday was a travelling day. Taking a taxi to the Surat Thani airport early morning, flight to Bangkok, stopover there, then finally a flight to Yangon. We arrived there around 5pm, got our sims, exchanged our money and got out. Immigration was easy but they stopped one of our friends and asked him questions - everyone said that this was just because he was black, no other reason.
When we went out, I felt like in India. Chaotic roads, honking etc! Kinda missed it haha. We were supposed to take a night bus to Bagan so we went to the bus stuff station. Thank god the taxi driver helped us as this bus station was HUGE. We got our tickets and had 3 hours so we went to search for dinner. As we weren't really in the centre, we were the only tourists in the area and it was so difficult to communicate in English. Many didn't know what a menu was and some menus had 'friend' instead of 'fried' written on them lol. Like friend rice/friend noodles. We finally found a place which looked (cont)
(Cont) but one of them had a few scratches on them - leke had fallen on his bike the night before and the dealer noticed so he had to pay 3000 baht 😵 other than that the bikes were so much fun - a great way to get around areas like these. We then went off to catch a ferry to Surat Thani - our transit city. The sunset from the ferry was amazing. It then started raining though and when we arrived it was pouring like crazy - my first time experiencing such rain during this trip. Off came out our jackets for the first time and we got in the hotel in time. There were no restaurants around though so dinner was a 7/11 snack - enough to fill up my stomach :) the hotel was meh but the beds were sooo amazing that it had made that night stopover worth it.
The next morning (Wednesday) I woke up to Leke asking if anyone wants to go for an early morning Kayak ride. I was the only one up for it so off we went! It was quite an adventure - we were riding and saw an island that we wanted to reach. It was so much further than we expected and many times we just wanted to go back (keep in mind that land was still visible everywhere, even these short distances between islands can take ages to get to on a kayak!), but we persevered and finally reached - felt like such an accomplishment. We chilled there for a while, collected some seashells and back we went. The journey back is always easier :) we then checked out of the hotel and took our bikes around again as we still had a few hours left. We went to a mini golf course but it was so hot so I just chilled and kept score while the guys played. We then drove around more (such nice drives on the island) and went back to the hotel to get our bags and eat. We had to return our bikes (cont)
(Cont) It was leke's birthday the next day too so we snook out and found some goofy presents for him. He actually asked us for a comb and that was his favourite present as he always seems to be carrying it around with him now and combing his hair - so cute. We then went out for dinner (burger and fries after so long mmmm) and gave him his gifts. We weren't able to find a cake so we went to dunkin donuts (yes, it's here!) and got 23 munchkins and a donut for a good luck. We then went to a bar after but everyone was quite tired so it didn't seem that great. It was also time to say goodbye to Masha who was joining us for activities during the past few days, really glad I met her! Some other people also left but then leke started to a play a game with the waitress (where one has to hammer a nail into a tree trunk but the opposite side of a hammer) and things got interesting from there haha. The guys were then hanging out in the room and I had an early-ish night.
Before leaving to Burma we had another 2 days in Koh Phangan - we were considering going to another of the islands but then decided we should just spend quality time at this one as apparently these islands are quite similar anyways. We moved from the loud hostel to a hotel, which were basically a set of small bungalows by the beach - and actually cheaper than the hostel! Goes to show how much prices spike up during these big party seasons. We rented bikes for the day (so much nicer and easier to use than the ones in chiang mai) and set off to a beach called the Bottle beach. This turned it to be way more complicated than it should have been - long story short a lot of people ended up splitting from others so we had to look for each other and then we weren't able to find the beach so we settled for a closer one. This one was really nice too and I went kayaking for the first time! So fun! Really good exercise too and one can just float in the boat if tired. (Cont)
2 October 2015
It's 4.30am in the morning and were sat at a cafe stop station close to Meiktila - taking a night bus from Rangoon/yangon, Burma to Bagan - the temple city. Arriving in Burma was a strange feeling - though the roads and chaos were almost identical to India, it was still a bit of a shock - the true travelling began now - not staying in the nice hostels of chiang mai and the party island of koh phangan - nervous but excited for this adventure!
1 October 2015
Moments from Myanmar
30 September 2015
(Cont) and ended up meeting some interesting people - Thai, Saudi Arabians, Indian Americans etc. We stayed till sunrise and took a taxi back to the hostel - everyone was so dazed and confused, it was such an amusing ride. We slept in pretty late and had pizza for breakfast. I woke up with a bit of pain in my toe and saw that it was cut pretty deep - from the snorkelling earlier, and I think it got worse after walking on the beach at the full moon party. My friend was going to the hospital for his sea urchin feet so I just joined. It wasn't anything serious but they said that as I'm still travelling after I should get it treated. I did, got a bandage on my toe and moved on. Was so expensive though, 2500 baht for basically just cleaning and removing some skin for an infected cut 😵 anyways after that I just chilled and the hostel was showing some silly romantic comedy on a projector so we watched it. The hostel then had another bbq and I had an early night.
On a ferry back to Surat Thani now - seems like the only time I have to write is while travelling from one place to another. On Sunday we woke up pretty late after the jungle party and went for breakfast - Masha, a Belarusian/Belgian girl who we met the night before, joined us and we then spent the rest of the day in the pool by the beach - so chill. Leke was trying to learn how to swim and luckily there was a swimming instructor who offered to help. The main highlight of the day was the full moon party though - this is the party that people travel from far to attend. It was obviously quite overhyped then but I tried to keep my expectations realistic. Overall it was pretty sick - the whole thing was on the stretch of a beach, with loads of little bars and snack huts and stages with different kinds of music. One of our friends got 'lucky' but ended up with some sea urchins in his feet so debatable whether it was worth it:p I ended up walking around a lot and exploring the beach (cont)
29 September 2015
(Cont) was pretty meh.
We went back and they had a free bbq. Was nice having salad and potato mash after such a long time (I tried but didn't like the meat).
We were so tired so took a nap but the night was just starting. There was a big party called the 'jungle party' which as its name suggests was in the middle of the jungle. Other than the entry being extremely overpriced (500 baht / 10 pounds 😳, London style) it was pretty cool. We got some buckets of alcohol and mixers and just explored and danced. I met a few new people but otherwise the night was pretty much normal and predictable. We left around 3am and slept till the afternoon!
(Cont) inflatable mattress type thing, where I climb to the edge of it and 2 people jump on the other edge, allowing me to fly in the air for a while and land in the water. Apparently because I don't weigh that much (ehm ehm) I would jump extra high and indeed I did! I landed on my side (ouch) but it was so cool. Got a video too:) the water was also so amazing - it was so warm, pretty much room temperature, not cold like I expected a lake to be!
The last stop after was the Amsterdam bar - this pretty much had the products one would expect an Amsterdam related bar to have. I was surprised as I heard that Thailand has right drug laws so how could they run such a famous bar? The organisers said that these place are run by the mafia and that the whole system is so corrupt (surprise surprise) that this place has been running for years and will be fine. Anyways I just chilled after a tiring day and everyone was so excited by some ice cream cookie sandwich that they had but it (cont)
(Cont) of us went snorkelling. This was also really something as I had never seen so many fish just below the water surface. I'm sure scuba diving would be an amazing experience for me! We were also feeding the fish some bread and cupcakes lol so it was cool to see all the fish gather in one place to capture the food when I was underwater. After that we chilled and got some fresh fruit juices. It was time for the true adventure - the total wipeout obstacle course. We drove a few minutes to another place - this was basically a lake with random challenges - such as swimming and jumping and climbing under and over random obstacles (see picture). It didn't look too challenging (boy was I wrong) but I took a life jacket with me anyway just in case. All in all I can say that I really need to improve my stamina and swimming technique lol! It was still really fun though and watching other succeed/fail at this was hilarious. My highlight of this was probably getting on this large (cont)
So the crazy mango tour on Saturday - it really was something! We woke up to some fresh fruit and summery cocktails - never had a drink this early in my life lol. We first went to a temple and were getting to know the other people on the tour with us, who were mainly from our hostel. We then went to a beach - I was so excited, it was the prettiest beach I've seen (as I've just been to crowded ones so far) with white sand and clear and warm-ish water. There were still quite a few people but it was so nice - next time Maldives for some private beaches and bungalows :p the guys were playing football and rugby so I just sat down with another girl - I felt like such a girl at that time lol with my period strong as ever as well :( after that we went to another beach which people call the 'secret beach'(koh roham) - it was even nicer and had a resort type feel with hammocks and bars and swings everywhere! We were exfoliating our skin in the water with the sand haha and afterwards some (cont)
27 September 2015
(Cont) eg the mattresses didn't have springs coming out and the ladder from the bunk bed was not falling off, wooo
It was a really good welcome to the hostel (ringside) and Island overall which also makes a huge difference. The place was full of British people actually (like everyone was white and good looking actually haha), it felt like this was some mtv show. At first I felt uncomfortable, we were quite tired so we just went to a table in the back and played cards. Two of the guys then went to look for some bigger party and we just went for a walk, but there were so many stray dogs that we got scared lol and just came back and had an early. We booked a tour for the next day called the crazy mango tour which was organised by Ringside - it really was crazy!
We're in Koh Phangan! A well known Thai party island. The last 2 days have again been really eventful. On Friday we checked out of the hostel in Chiang Mai, went to return our bikes and were on our way to Surat Thani. I was really impressed with air Asia - it was raining when we arrived and they opened umbrellas for each of us for the 20 metre walk to the airport where they were waiting to pick up the umbrellas for us! Such little things make a difference in the quality of service. We rushed to buy a bus and ferry ticket, which we just made in time. It was quite a long journey overall and we arrived around 9pm. The cab driver didn't know where our hostel was, so we were passing by a few places and there was this place which looked very lively, like a club, and we then realised it was our hostel! So cool. We got a great welcome and some free shots lol. You could tell this was definitely a party island. The rooms were also much nicer than the other hostel (cont)
26 September 2015
25 September 2015
(Cont) and drove into a beautiful valley with fields and into an open air house with a bunch of stoves and dining areas. We made coconut soup, red thai curry, pad thai, mango sticky rice and fried veggies - obviously I couldn't finish all of it! It was a really fun experience and the chef was a joker too so that made the atmosphere better. We all got a recipe book after so I'll definitely be cooking some of that back home. We finished when it was dark already and chilled at the hostel before going to sleep.
Now I'm on my flight to Surat Thani from where we are taking a ferry to Ko Phangan, where the famous Full moon party takes place (this Sunday). Hopefully it'll be fun - I'll add shorter updates here as writing about these 3 days took up the entire flight uffff
(Cont) - found out later I left them in the back of the scooter. After that we went to the elephant park which was super cute! I really wanted to see a place where they were treated properly - though they were still in chains :( we fed them bananas which they just love - I had a whole bunch in my other hand a cheeky elephant just took all of them - around 20 and it ate in one mouthful and still wanted more haha. After that we went to an elephant show which is supposed to be crazy - elephants painting, playing darts, football, hoola hoops with their trunks - and it was exactly that. They're much better artists than I am. It was raining during the whole show quite heavily but they still performed extremely well. It was quite an experience! We then took our bikes back to chiang mai, went to the mall to get a snack and then went for cooking class (yes we wanted a snack before cooking class lol). This was also pretty cool as we first went to the food market, picked up the raw veggies (cont
(Cont) plus I was already in the jungle the day before. We either had the choice of going by taxi to the lake (Huay Tung Tao) and Maisa elephant park, or take a scooter. We of course took the scooter, more exciting and cheaper:p
At first it was difficult on the main road, I kept pressing the accelerator button along with the break - so silly of me but it was hard to control, the bike was quite heavy too. But then it got much easier and we filled up petrol and were ready to get on the highway - but then a police officer stopped us. And of course we didn't have an international license. We asked before what to do if this happened and we were told that it was nothing to worry about and we should just bribe the officer if something happens. Lol. So after 200 baht each from our pockets we continued on our journey.
We reached the lake which was really pretty and empty, which was so nice for once. We laid down in one of the huts and chilled. I had a key scare in between (cont)
(Cont) the dead skin cells off your feet: I knew that this was basically a tickle machine but we were able to convince them to let us try it for a minute so I thought why not - it was so weird. Like your feet are being vibrated but not in a pleasant way. It was really funny though and even a minute was too much but I'm really glad I tried it. Life is about new experiences!
After that we walked around and went to this mall (called maya or something like that) which had a pretty cool roof and rooftop bars. But everything closed by 12 which is really early for bars so we ended up chilling on roof and went back to the hostel a while later.
On Thursday (24th - finding it difficult to keep track of the day and date now!) we split up as half of us wanted to do zip riding and the other half something more chill (lake and elephants). I wanted to do both but I knew chiang mai is famous for elephants, and I felt that I could do zip riding in a lot of places (cont)
(Cont) We then finally headed back into the city, on a 1.5 hour journey during which I spent the majority of the time cleaning my nike's with wet wipes lol. When travelling, aaaalways carry hand sanitizer, wet wipes and tissues. So helpful.
When we got into the city everyone took a shower (our hostel was now a luxury hotel in comparison), gave in our laundry (50 baht/1 pound)/kilo, for washing drying and ironing! And we all got a massage. Lol. Of course I was extra tickly so I wasn't able to get a proper massage on area where I needed it the most (back, thighs) but it was still really good. I officially got a Thai massage haha.
Afterwards we went for dinner (Italian food - I really needed a break from Thai)! We then went for a ladyboy show, lol! There were basically a series of performances by the 'ladyboys' and all I can say about it is that it was truly entertaining. We then went to Chiang mai's night bazaar and on the way saw that foot massage thing where tiny fish eat (cont)
(Cont) quite chilly in the hills in the morning. We had bbq'd toast with another homemade fire and then it was time to pack up. We left the area close to Lahu village and headed for luckily a mostly downhill trek - this time deeper in the jungle. It was quite tough as well though! We then reached a waterfall where we were told we could swim but when we got there it didn't look that great so we just dipped our feet in. It was still quite scenic though and one of our friends (leke) slipped in which was entertaining:p
We then headed off for rafting - again we expecting some exciting white water rafting but we were told we were going to do bamboo rafting - I was still happy with that but when I saw what it actually was - just sitting on a bench on a boat type thing made of bamboo on a slow river - it was pretty dull. We weren't even the ones rowing, but I did get to try it out for a bit - apparently it was similar to punting.
(Cont) though we were disgustingly sweaty! We did end up doing so the next morning though - it wasn't as bad as I expected, but maybe my standards are finally lowering :p
The guide made his own fire in front of us and made dinner for us - all natural ingredients made right in front of us! Vapiano style haha.
We played cards and chilled for a while, but after dinner it was time for bed - at 8.30pm. We were so tired and was already pitch black dark but naturally most of us had trouble sleeping. I woke up a few times in the middle of the night, but overall it wasn't so bad - the atmosphere on the top of the hills was so interesting though and made the trip worth it. Our guide was quite the joker and there was another really sweet guy helping out who was deaf/dumb, and we managed to communicate with him pretty well.
I woke up with a lot of bites even though I had sprayed myself with like 3 layers of spray - oh well. We had some tea in the morning which was great as it was (cont)
(Cont) of wish I hadn't as well. It was actually one of the scariest things I've done as the hills that the elephants were climbing were really quite steep and if the elephant decided to do something else and not listen to the orders..it could have been really bad. We got off as soon as we could and returned to continue our journey. Just climbing from the elephant area to the car again was so so difficult for me, and it was just like 10mins uphill! I felt so unfit. And right after that the guide said the next 3.5 hours will be pretty much the same thing - omg. I'm not going to go on about how difficult the trek was but it was a true challenge, which I'm very happy I completed. The views at the top were so beautiful and it was worth it (plus I finally got a good workout)! We checked out where we staying - a hut with 8 mattresses ready for us, no electricity, a bathroom which was pretty much a hole and a bucket and hose for us to use to shower. No one really wanted to shower even (cont)
A little update on the past 3 days while on my flight from Chiang Mai to Surat Thani - consisting of some heavy jungle trekking, staying in a hut on the top of the hills for a night, going bamboo rafting, seeing elephants paint and playing football, a little bit of bribing, and riding scooters across the city.
The day started with leaving early morning (well, 9am) to the hills. We met a few other tourists who were going on the same hike as us. It really is so easy to meet new people while traveling! We were really excited for the whole trek but a lot of it was actually disappointing. Our first activity was elephant riding, but it was so horrible to see the elephants - they genuinely looked so sad, were being occasionally hit and were climbing up and down very steep hills. There were also just 4 of them there which was a bit strange as usually there should be herds staying together. We decided to ride them as we were there, but some of our friends decided not to and I kind (cont)
Today I am exactly 20 and a half years old ✌🏼️✌🏼✌🏼 (I like to keep track of these things)
24 September 2015
23 September 2015
22 September 2015
Today was a pretty interesting day - getting to a typical backpackers hostel, going to see tigers, visiting chiang mais and arguably Thailands most famous temple, and finally seeing a boxing match. It's great going to hostels as they really cater to your needs and are much more helpful regarding activities and events for young people than hotels. We took around an hour to get to the top of a hill to see the tiger park - one would actually pay according to the size of the lion they want to see - imagine we went to the counter and said 'I'll have a medium please!' Haha. We took quite a few photos with the Tigers which was quite exciting. There is a lot of talk about how unfair and cruel it is to keep these tigers locked up in cages from Birth for the entertainment of humans. Still not sure how I feel about this as of course one feels they would be 'happier' lit in the nature, they would be with their family and will definitely be able to catch some food. However, there's loads of (cont)
21 September 2015
(Cont) arguments that talk about how it's actually safer for these animals to be kept in a closed environment, as it can be dangerous for them to be out in the wild plus they'll have a good supply of food. Anyways I think this is a topic worth researching more to form an educated opinion!
Afterwards we went to see a famous temple (Wat Phra That Doi Suthep) - it was really beautiful and we saw an amazing view of the city from up there.
After dinner we attended a boxing match - I didn't really feel like going initially as it did stereotypically seem like more of a guy thing. But I did end up going and it was great! 7 rounds of matches (one of which between girls) and some did seem staged (with swords, or blindfolded) but in general it was good fun. The last match was crazy and actually a German guy won it.
Some water sports and hiking tomorrow, with a night booked in the jungle ✌🏼️✌🏼✌🏼
20 September 2015
After napping for a while, we went for a quick swim in the pool before heading out to the night market. This is basically a a street market, with your typical trinkets and clothes taking place from 6pm-11pm. It was pretty cool! I wanted to buy quite a few things but after all it was only the first day travelling so it didn't make sense to carry these things around - I'm sure we will find quite a few similar markets in the other cities. We also went for dinner to a pretty cool vegetarian place - there were so many food options to choose from for once haha. After that walked around and went to a rooftop garden bar (this already sounds better than it was) - it was alright but pretty empty. We were thinking of watching some local shows but decided to just head back and rest and enjoy the hotel - from now on only hostel life! Heading to the spicy thai backpackers hostel next :)
After arriving at the airport in the morning, I met my friend and we departed together to another airport an hour away, where we, along with the others, caught our flight to Chiangmai. One of the travellers, Mandeep, had booked us into a spacious hotel with an amazing view. Being too spoiled these days 🙈 as we were quite tired, we just ran some errands (I got a SIM card) and were searching for food for quite a while, eventually coming back and chilling at the hotel. Tomorrow will definitely be a more eventful day, after a well rested day today :)
Arrived safely in Thailand! How exciting. So far the only Asian country I've ever been to is India, so this genuinely is quite an experience for me. I was hoping to get the seat next to me free but instead there was a Rajasthani 'uncle'. He started chatting with me and offered me some parathas, which I kindly refused. He kept talking and ended up becoming one of those people you don't wanna sit next to on a plane😐 luckily he then fell asleep so I finally did as well. Sometimes I wish one could just have a conversation with people and not be afraid about other motives or their safety. But gotta be alert and cautious 🙅🏽
19 September 2015
The adventures and 'real travelling' officially begin! Had a hectic day in Delhi which actually mainly consisted of me struggling with packing everything into my backpack. But as always, everything worked out, actually even better than I expected. The weight of the bag was lower than I anticipated, I skipped an enormous line because I had checked in online, then I skipped an even longer immigration queue as I was lucky enough that my Masu (uncle) was travelling at the same time so I sneakily joined him, flying business class (all these fast tracks I tell you). And as a cherry on top, I went to the business lounge with him and had a gin and tonic, feeling so fancy. I'm now feeling less ready for the rough travelling though! But no regrets :p flying into Bangkok now, hopefully I'll get some sleep
18 September 2015
The day in Delhi! Had to run quite a few errands (and still going) but really enjoying the Delhi atmosphere, despite the heat. I would always rather feel hot than cold! Also had some street food (gol guppas and papdi chaat) which I have been craving for too long. It's nice to see the differences in Delhi since the last time I was here - it's definitely cleaner, with better roads (people even driving in their own lane most of the time) and the traffic, while still definitely existent, is less crazy. Looking forward to spending more time here when I'm back in October :)
This machine will carry me and a few hundred other people for 10 257 km in mid air 😳 - Brussels airport
good morning Prague (and see you later)
So I'm off on my journey! A long day of flying ahead, from Prague to Brussels to New Delhi (waking up at 4am and arriving around 10pm). So worth it though :)
17 September 2015
Arrived safely in Delhi. Leaving in less than 48 hours though! Gotta get me some gol guppas asap
Even with a 30kg limit (in contrast with the usual 23kg) packing is harder than ever! (This picture doesn't even contain half of the items carried by the way)