Tag Archives: Thailand

A week of Thailand’s Islands, in photos…

31 Aug

It’s been a looooooong time since I blogged anything, like I said, I’m a “traveler” now. Well, I was. It all comes to an end tomorrow when I ship off back to my beloved Bali to start working on another book, hurrah! I fell in love with the place when I spent a month there in June and I feel soooo lucky that I can now go back, for even longer. More to come on that…

It’s been an incredible few months since I left Sydney. I’ve seen loads, done a ton of new things and met some truly wonderful, inspiring and lovely people. I also caught up with some good friends from Dubai for a week of doing NOTHING on the islands of Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. I say nothing, but this nothing includes pressing our heads against naked drag queens, slurping spirits from giant buckers and being dangled by traveling trapeze artists on darkened streets… and probably a few more things my rum haze won’t let me remember, obviously!

Thought I’d give a quick photo summary of our time on the islands, because I’m frickin’ LAZY (I mean until I’ve had time to digest it into words). This is the gist of it, basically, though are a few more here if you’d like to feast your eyes on some extra debauchery:

MONDAY:

TUESDAY:

WEDNESDAY:

THURSDAY:

FRIDAY:

SATURDAY:

SUNDAY:

Make of it what you will xxx

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So this is paradise? (What “The Beach” looks like today)

21 Jul

Suffice to say “The Beach” was pretty packed today. Leonardo DiCaprio seems to have filled out a bit however. He chose to hover with a camera at the shoreline, his bulging beer gut hanging over his bright blue speedos in full view of the masses, all of whom were struggling to find a spot to swim amongst the bobbing speed boats.

Maya Bay, where Danny Boyle chose to film the scenes of utter Eden for the movie back in 2000, was once a solitary beach paradise, a tropical bliss in the middle of the turquoise ocean that was hard to reach and even harder to leave. Today however, it looks like this:

Perhaps it was a tad naive of me to think the Intrepid explorers and I would actually descend in paradise when we stepped off our noisy, diesel-guzzling speedboat this morning as part of our Phi Phi day trip. But hmm, I wasn’t really expecting the essence of Skegness on a Saturday.

An added treat was a bunch of blokes in turbans doing star jumps…

Wikipedia says the beach seen in the film is not the same as it is in real life anyway. A lot was added with special effects during post production and apparently crew members flattened the beach with a tractor and added a few palm trees, just to give it that extra zing. The Tsunami of 2004 put it right again, as nature tends to do, whipping it up and reshaping it back its former glory. Well…  I’m sure it’s glorious at night, anyway, when there’s no one on it. But in the day, it’s just more of this, really:

I did manage to get a couple of nice shots of my new (younger obviously) friends looking hot in their bikinis. It’s a shame you can see half the global population of Japan, the UK and America behind them. Maybe we can fix it up somehow… bring it back to its Hollywood movie splendour. Is anyone any good at Photoshop?

Thai River Rapids and the Spooky warnings of doom…

20 Jul

Today has been the unluckiest day I think I’ve ever had. In spite of setting off for my Intrepid tour (from Bangkok to Singapore) with no problem, on the way onto the train, which we rode south overnight to Khao Sok National Park, I fell over the prongs of a fork lift truck and smashed my foot. Yeeeeoooowwwww!!! Luckily my new friends (there are 12 of us in the group) didn’t cast me off as a complete loser and we spent the majority of the bumpy ride talking, bonding over the questionable food and discussing what the next two weeks have in store. It’s my first Intrepid trip and within seconds of meeting this bunch I just knew we were gonna have an awesome time!

However, today, after I’d had a long-awaited shower at the gorgeous Morning Mist Resort in Khao Sok, I tripped and fell over a random bathroom step (which really shouldn’t have been there, hmph) and did one of those cartoon slippy slidey dances all over the tiled floor for what seemed like hours until I finally regained my balance by grabbing the toilet seat. Oh, the class.

AND THEN, after a two-hour trek through the National Park, to a stunning waterfall with two other girls called Lizzy and Jenny, on stepping off the roadside and into a store for a bag of fresh pineapple (just 10 baht, bargain!) I completely failed to notice the pointy roof of a hut sticking out at forehead level, and smashed right into it. Fergodssaaaaake! I clutched my head, expecting blood. Thankfully, there was nothing but the beginnings of a bruise…mainly to my pride.

But that’s not all… after getting back to the resort, thinking OK, now what the hell else can go wrong (?) I looked down and noticed blood gushing out from between my toes. It seems a leech must have seen a prime opportunity to feast on my foot when I stepped through the grass near my hut. I didn’t see the little bugger, or feel anything actually, but the river of blood marks the point of his snack quite clearly. He’ll be full for a week on what he’s just drained from my body.

But that’s not it. Oh noooooo. Our guide Moh suggested a tubing expedition this afternoon, on giant rubber rings down the nearby river. Ummmm, hell no. Seriously. After everything that’s happened today already, I’d be pretty damn stupid to get in the river rapids, wouldn’t I? I mean, I already feel like a big enough tool, the last thing I need is to be the one who gets stuck on a rock, deflated and drowning as my group sails past me, oblivious.

“But you’ll be fine”, came the chorus.

“But I’m still gushing blood,” I protested (more to myself than the others).

“Oh come on, it’ll be OK, the water’s shallow anyway.”

I deliberated, “Ah, OK, I suppose I can wear a life jacket…”

I was the only one in our group who strapped on a bright orange inflatable lifejacket prior to our downstream expedition. Turned out, just five metres down the river, my ring decided to veer completely off course, straight towards a gathering of reeds and rocks. Naturally I hopped out, and immediately felt the strength of the current between my knees. Holeeeeee craaaaaaap!

My ring was begging to be let go, so I released it, watching it tumble into the reeds and then off down the river without me. My mind gushed over with movie-scene imaginings of helicopter rescues and those nice, warm, shiny tin-foil blankets they give to survivers. I stood there, rooted to the spot, thanking God for the previous “accidents” that led me to wear the lifejacket in the first place.

I noticed some people standing on the bridge in the distance, so I started waving, but they didn’t respond. I think a couple may have even whipped their cameras out and started taking photos of the girl in neon orange peril. (Tourists!)

I admit, I panicked, picturing my pathetic end, getting washed away in a river that all my new friends were using as a merry theme park ride in rubber rings, just moments away from my doom. The lip went, then the chin went, and then I screamed. I said the F word, which may or not translate in Thai but there was movement and suddenly a guy appeared on the river bank. He pulled off his shoes and started wading out to rescue me. My saviour!!!

Back on land he let me walk in his shoes and instructed me to get on a motorbike. HOLY CRAP, are you serious? I’ve escaped death what… four… five times today already and you want me to get on your motorbike?! But like a fool I got on, and he drove me back to the resort, relatively unscathed aside from the leech wound, which was still oozing blood like a miniature vampire bite between my toes.

I will point out that these “accidents” are entirely my fault, but it’s pretty freaky that they’re all happening at once, isn’t it?

I don’t think I should go out tonight, just in case. I think I’ll just stay here at the Morning Mist lodge, watch the birds and the butterflies flutter round my cute wooden cabin and read my book on the hammock, where nothing can kill me.

Spider Showers and the Eye of the Tiger…

14 Jul

WOW WOW WOW, what an experience! Chiang Mai has been incredible, both relaxing and adrenaline packed. We’re due to leave tomorrow after a week of fun including a cooking school, a less-than-average but in retrospect, awesome, jungle trek, shopping in tourist markets, riding elephants and getting massaged to the max!

The highlight for mum and I here in Chiang Mai however, has most definitely been stepping foot in several tiger’s cages.

There’s a place called Tiger Kingdom here that basically charges an extortionate amount for the privilege of getting up close and personal with these beyond-beautiful creatures.  There’s some debate over how they’re pretty much exploiting them. Having visited and witnessed them yawning in boredom at having their legs picked up and their fluffy tails sung into like microphones, I have to say they probably are being exploited a bit, but some people also say they’re tranquilised and I don’t think that’s correct. The little fluffy tiger cubs were jumping around all over the place and we saw one adult getting very active with a slab of meat being dangled over a swimming pool as he took a bath. We were told they’re just docile in the daytime, usually, because they’re nocturnal.

I hope the tigers are being well looked after, because the experience of stroking those black and orange stripes and touching those huge padded paws, and looking right into those pink, open mouth and yellow eyes is mind-blowing. They’re blimmin’ huge! At one point, the giant female they call Sophia yawned, turned round and looked at me, and for a fleeting moment my life flashed before my eyes. I thought, “holy shit, I’m gonna get eaten by a tiger”, about two milliseconds after I thought, hey, if dying is my destiny today, imagine how cool it would be to get eaten by a tiger!”

Tigers are officially my new favourite animal I think, after lizards. I do like lizards. I admire living things that can stick to walls and still sing beautifully while they’re at it, like birds in the night time. They make a clicking sound, like a teacher’s tut over and over again, only it’s musical. They tut in time with the frogs and the cicadas and if you’re lucky they’ll let you pick them up, at which point they generally head for the warmest part of your body, like your bra. Lizards are everywhere here. You could carry a clicking, singing lizard your bra every day if you wanted to, in Chiang Mai. We saw a huge salamander too, pink, green and brown, living behind a painting on the wall of our jungle camp.

Back to that. Mum did very well as it involved a lot of walking, getting rained on and wading through mud. We had to sleep in a dorm with beds pressed together, so it was more like an orphanage in 1941 than a bedroom for tourists in Thailand… plus we saw a huuuuuuge centipede on the wall in the loo the next morning so I had to wait about an hour before I could pee.

We had a bad rower on our rubber river boat cruise. Instead of steering us round the dangling branches, he directed us straight through them, so we experienced regular showers of wet leaves and jungle spiders. The spiders were immense, evil and brown, the stuff of nightmares. They even floated on the water. Imagine! Luckily I didn’t cry but I did give the guy a bit of a telling off when we got to the other end, at which point we were informed it was his first time on the rapids and he’d never steered a boat before. Hmmm….

Anyway, we’re alive. We survived giant centipedes, showering with spiders and cuddling tigers. And we can both now cook Massaman curry too, thanks to our brilliant class with Cooking At Home Chiang Mai. (Will have to put some more piccies up about that one later).

Oh, we also made a video of the tigers, which includes our brief stop with a King Cobra. Enjoy! Next stop, Kanchanaburi. xx

An impending jungle trek…

9 Jul

This won’t be winning any awards for the best website design any time soon, but it does provide quite an exciting insight for the next few days in the Liz and Becky Thailand adventure. After some incredible experiences cuddling tigers, kissing pythons and getting hugged by elephant trunks yesterday, we’re heading off with a company called Buddy Tours on a three day, two night jungle trek… type thing.

The map above displays our route. Keep in mind that the temperature here in Chiang Mai is a suffocating 35 degrees, and it’s staggeringly humid too. If we don’t crumble at the first hot an sweaty hurdle it’ll be a miracle; there’s A LOT of walking involved here. But hey, we might lose a few pounds. And that’s never a bad thing.

We’re getting picked up tomorrow and driven to a waterfall, then we’ll do more walking and camp at an overnight grassy spot, which is called a lodge but looks more like a garden shed with some blankets in it. Hmmm. Anyway, the next day we get to go to a village populated by the Karen Long Neck tribe… well, a tourist version of one anyway. These are the people who wear bangles round their necks. Intriguing. I have lots of questions for these people. Can they only eat long and thin things that fit in their pipes, and if so, where do they buy their spaghetti when they live in the middle of nowhere?

After that we get to ride elephants and go bamboo rafting and hopefully stay alive in the heat long enough to get back to Chiang Mai. It’s very touristy here but I think it’s an easier place than Bangkok. Still gotta go back there to start my Intrepid tour on the 17th though. Looking forward to that. I know it’s gonna involve even more suffocating heat and even MORE sleeping in sheds, but hey, “it’s all an experience, isn’t it.”

 

Joining the dots….

30 May

Today I have mostly been joining the dots in my latest travel itinerary. And oh my god, for every moment of excitement I feel at the prospect of disappearing for a few months with nothing but a bag and my computer, I feel an equal measure of terror. What if I don’t see everything I’m supposed to see? What if I don’t find “myself” at all? Or what if I do and I realise I totally suck, and I come back defeated with braids and a bintang t-shirt?

It’s actually kind of cool planning such a massive trip, but every time I join two dots, 20 more present themselves. There are just so many blimmin places to go aren’t there!!! I’m a crappy planner too. It’s all on a word doc, like a modern scrap book of random crap that needs to be pasted together with superglue so as not to fall apart and scatter in the wind. I cut and paste something different every five minutes, changing my mind, going “yeeeeaaaah” and then, “ah, naaaaah” and confusing myself completely. I’m getting the feeling that doing something like this, something so open-ended, is probably better when you don’t have a plan at all.

At the moment, I’m doing three weeks in Bali, flying June 8th. This is the part I’m looking forward to most because I’m staying in some lovely, relaxing places (mostly in Ubud), which I’ll be writing about for a travel website. I wanna be all Julia Roberts here and ride a bike and crash into a hunk of man who’ll take me jungle trekking like Tarzan and Jane and introduce me to a world I never knew, a world of nature and spiritualism and little monkeys who sit on your shoulder and weave flowers into your hair and…. the rest. If this doesn’t happen I’ve heard that there are lots of wine bars there now, so it’ll be fine.

One of the places I’ll be staying at is the absolutely gorgeous looking Hanging Gardens, Ubud. How amazing does that look? Soooo excited about that. The relatively new Cinta Inn looks pretty swish, too! I think places like this will more than make up for what’s ahead, when I have to travel with stinky backpackers in Laos, Cambodia and Vietman, and probably sleep in hovels. I like the idea that I’m not over this sort of travelling – that I’ll muck in with the 21 and 22 year olds, sit up all night shouting, belching and snogging people I shouldn’t in between doing bong hits from a plastic bottle. But in reality I know I’ll be in bed by 10pm with earplugs in, crying, wishing they’d shut up and stop cartwheeling round my backpack.

I may have to limit my nights in hostels and opt to sleep on trains between locations, which I’m sure will be far more acceptable. (Oh shut up). Hmmmm…

The good thing is that mummy Wicks is coming to meet me in Bangkok, where we’ll peruse the markets and temples and then head up to Chinag Mai. We’re doing a cooking school there, and going on a tour to see some tribes who wear bangles round their elongated necks. I’m sure there’s a more factual description and purpose for these people, but my blatant ignorance is the reason I’m going. I wish to be enlightened. At what point do you wake up and decide that your neck’s not long enough? Is this something that happens often? Will I want a long bangled neck when I leave Thailand?

When mummy Wicks leaves, my good friend Dacey arrives, and we’re planning to head to Cambodia to see Siem Reap and some other things (can you tell where my research has hit a wall?), and maybe Laos. Though I’ve heard mixed reports about Laos. I’d like some tips if anyone’s been there? A while ago I had a vision from God about Laos. I’m still not sure what to make of it. The most notable “tourist attraction” there that I can find in the travel forums is a river for tubing with bars on either side of it. Bars for drinking in, of course – not metal bars preventing those who get into the river from getting out – that would just be mean.

Yeah… maybe not having a clue what to really do after Bali and Chiang Mai is the best thing, eh? After all, you can’t be sad about a plan not coming together when you don’t have one.

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