Location: Londinium, UK
It seems that even though I'm back a few handful of you still look at this blog. Yeah I know! You must be really bored at work or something. I want to do a bit more travelling in my lifetime, so hopefully will get this blog up and running again.
Watch this space
Well this is the final entry! I'm back at home and glad to be back.
Beware as i'm sure I'll be bugging you all at some point.
See you soon x
Ayuthaya by night was a difference for photos.
Now in Bangkok and about to run out of internet time so I'll make it quick.
Went to a weekend market in North Bangkok today lots of fun.
Going home on Tuesday...Boo Hoo.
Finally left north Thailand. It's so hot there.
The thai cookery course was wicked. I learned how to carve a watermelon into a flower and make all the curries.
Dave returned and we decided to try a Thai massage... No not the type that you are thinking. A authentic thai massage. It was wicked.
We headed up to the moutains that afternoon, to a place called Pai. A bit touristy but beautiful hills and scenery and temples.
We headed to the hot springs on our first day where I attempted to boil an egg in the spring, but it was a shoddy attempt.
The next day, we walked in the heat of the day to the Temple on the hill which was beautiful but hard work. Then grabbed a minibus back to Chiang Mai.
We only stayed in Chiang Mai for one night and woke up early the next day to get a bus to Sukothai where there are many ruined temples. Sukothai was so hot!!! The temples were cool, but I felt a little templed out especially after all the temples we had visited and the heat.
The next day, which is today we woke up at 6am to get an early but to Ayuthaya - another town famous for temples. Tonight we are doing the sunset tour of the temples so hopefully the photos will have a different view to the others.
Bee signing off for now...
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Greetings from Chiang Mai,
Yep finally got bored of sitting on a beach in Ko Chang, so decided to head up to the North and see what it has to offer.
Since I last wrote, Dave and I are really lucky. We hired a moped to travel around the whole of Ko Chang, seeing secluded beaches and and had a small accident. Don't worry though we're both fine with a lucky escape. Unfortunately for Dave he broke my fall and took the worst of it. We had to cough up quite a bit for the superficial damage to the bike and hide all our cuts and grazings. I'm going to return home looking like I've been through wars...
The next day it was time to go. I think we had exhausted all the sights of Ko Chang. So we took a taxi to the ferry port; the ferry to the mainland; a 5hrs coach trip with lots of annoying tourists singing James Blunt; a taxi to Bangkok airport; a plane to Chiang Mai and finally a taxi to our hotel in Chaing Mai. Woo!
The next day, we focused on organising ourselves on a trekking tour. Unfortunately we have temporarily separated as we wanted to do different types of trekking. Dave opted for the hardcore 3 day trekking and I went for the 2 days more outdoor activities.The elephant ride, bamboo raft and white water rafting whilst spending the night with the Lahu Hilltribes. We also had a 3hr, uphill, sliding in the mud trek. I've just returned from that today and am alone until tomorrow when Dave returns. I've booked myself on a thai cooking class tomorrow so that I can cook more thai food for my family.
Hope everyone is well.
Location: Siam Reap/ Phom Penh/Kampot, Cambodia
Wow it's been ages since I last wrote. I've whizzed by Cambodia and am now back in Thailand on the last leg of my travels... :(
I visited 37 amazing temples out of the 128 in Angkor within 3 days!! So a bit templed out. It was really fun though doing 12hrs of temples. Angkor was really touristy but I managed to trek through it all and avoid tourists in my photos.
On our fourth day in Siam Reap, we visited a floating village. Amazing to see life afloat water. Schools, supermarkets, homes, offices and restaurants all floating around on a lake. I got some good pics.
Next we headed to Phom Penh, Cambodia's capital city. As soon as we arrived we headed straight out to see the Killing fields of Cheung Ek and the genocidal museum of S-21, which was a detention centre of the Khmer Rouge victims before they were sent to their deaths in the Killing Fields. A really tramatic experience that left everyone in a sullen and sedate mood, but it had to be done for all those people who suffered needlessly.
Needing to raise spirits the next day, we visited Watt Phom and the Cambodian Grand palace where the King of Cambodia actually resides. Talk about blinged out!!!
Later we went to visit the huge markets in Phom Penh. So many things to entice the average shopper. I went a bit mad buying things and not wanting to leave. Our moto driver got a bit fed up having to carry around all my shopping.
Catching a really early bus after completing all the sites of Phom Penh we headed to the southern state of Kampot.
Bit of a kafuffle getting there as the main bridge to the city had collapsed. Kampot is a ghost town. I swear it must have a total population of 100 people.
We went to visit the crocodile and Elephant caves as soon as we arrived. As you can prob tell, I'm trying to cram in as many sites as possible before I leave.
The next day we visited the abandoned hill station of the Bokor. It has a really creepy abandoned hotel situated at the top of the 2 and half hour bumpy drive hill. The hotel was built in 1930s but was abandoned when the french left and used as a detention centre during the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror. People used to be imprisoned in the swimming pool with a wire mesh to contain them all in. After their confession was withdrawn (usually after days and weeks of torture) they were thrown off a cliff. The day we visited it was really misty which added to the creepy effect.
Our tour of Bokor ended with a really nice cruise down the river back into town.
Next stop Sihanoukville (Kompong Som) a costal town in the south. Unfortunately, our luck ran out and it rained all the time in Sihanoukville. So no beach for us. We visited the cascades of Kbal Chan instead. I was still trying to ge used to the US dollar/ Cambodian Riel currency which beacame really confusing.
On our last day in Cambodia we decided to take a bus from Sihanoukville to the Thai border. Anticipating to arrive on Ko Chang on the same day. My God! That trip began at 7am and ended in Ko Chang at 9pm. The roads to the thai border were hurrendous. At times our driver asked everyone to get off the bus and walk through the ankle deep mud. I'll post a pic of it so you can see for yourself. Nearly all the cars got stuck in the mud and had to be toed out by catapillars.
Being in a a big group all heading to Ko Chang, we all arrived at the same time and chose to stay in the same hotel!! Wow, how I love the beaches. So nice and chilled again. Just like re-living Palolem all over again.
Today we went on a jungle trek in the untouched central part of Ko Chang. Man, did I go through the wars. Trainers are really no good. Climbing up 45 degree angled hills of mud, rocks and rivers. I was the worst at this. With the earth slipping beneath my feet, it was a real struggle to keep on my feet. Ok, so David hadn't made a complete trekker out of me, as I wasn't prepared for that trek. But it was definately a worth while trip.
I have befriended the local hairdresser who is my new Thai best friend. I had a 4hour appointment with her yesterday, and after today's trek I had to return for a quick repair job. Her name is Ohm and she's been teaching me to speak Thai. She has promised to take us out in her car to see authentic Ko Chang chefs cooking food.Looking forward to it.
Will keep you all posted on the next events in Chaing Mai (north thailand) soon.
Location: Siam Reap, Cambodia
It looks like I've jumped leaps and bounds since my last entry.
Since I last wrote. I returned to awful Chennai to pick up my Thai visa and had an exact awful experience as the last time. We stayed in Mamallapuram a bit longer chill in the quieter town and flew from Chennai to Mumbai on 24th June.
Arriving at Mumbai at 1am was not fun especially when you're really tired and have to find the hotel reseved earlier only to find that they never reserved a room for you in the first place. "Sók though, went found a better room in the same building!
We stayed for 4 days in Mumbai trying to take in as many sights as possible despite the heavy monsoon rainfall all day everyday. We visited the famous gate of India, hungout with Mumbai's elite at the Mocha sheesha bar, and toured the hundreds of market stalls at Crawford market. The last day was left to complete retail therapy, which is regrettable now as it's really heavy.
Our flight to Bankok left Mumbai International at 5am. Arriving at the airport at midnight was not a fun wait. I kept falling asleep during everything, that Dave practically carried me on to the plane for boarding. With no sleep at all during the flight we arrived in Bangkok to a massive crowd of tourists at passport control in the airport. We grabbed a cab to where our hotel was located. Unbeknown to us the driver dropped us off at the famous Kho San Road and couldn't be bothered to take us to our hotel. So we found a hotel on Ko San Road. Bangkok is so different to India in nearly every aspect. Quieter, cleaner and very catered for tourists. Big shopping malls and modern transport systems. Everything felt to easy and luxurious on this part of the holiday.
The last couple of days consisted of picking up a few necessary items for our trip to Cambodia and also a chance tobrowse at the things that interest my shopping bug. I.e. shoes!!!!
Today we woke up at 4am to catch the first bus out of Bangkok towards the Thai/Cambodian border. After the trauma of immigration from both sides, I'm so glad that I've finally made it to Siam Reap to see the Angkor Wat temples tomorrow.
Let you know how that goes...
Location: Pondicherry & Mamallapuram, India
Yep, managed to travel through two more places since I last wrote. Time is whizzing by now. I'm feeling a pre-nostalgia for leaving India, as it will signify a massive part of my journey over and even though I've spent nearly two months here, I still haven't been able to see many parts of India. Perhaps I will return one day.
Since my last entry, I was in Trichy. I did go to see the huge Rawarswamy Temple complex, with it's combination of ancient 16th century sculpture and architecture and more mordern, colourful gopurams. We hired a guide, who explained nearly everything about the temple and what the different chambers and statues meant. A bit overwhelming, but a nice change too after visiting many temples before and not understanding the background behind it all.
The second Shiva temple was a short walk away, but not as impressive as we arrived after sunset and didn't get to see much. One of the most frustrating things about visiting most of the temples here is that non-hindus are not permitted into many parts of the temples. Therefore, some temples only allow jus the front hall to view. It just makes you think, that "I've spent all the time getting here, for them to tell me I can't enter!" A bit annoying.
Trichy, as a tourist attraction only really has the temples for sight-seeing. It was the first neon-style city we had been to since arriving in India, and after spending some time in some of India's big cities, we realised that cities are just not our thing. They don't offer many attractions like in Euorpean cities like London, Rome or Paris. They operate more like a business, where people don't really influence, shape or have little effect to the ambience of the city.
So off we headed to the old french colonial quarter of Pondicherry. This place on first impression felt like Brighton beach, without the hyperdermic needles! It was weird like in Panaji, I felt as though I was not in India but I had left India briefly for the French Riviera after walking the streets. The road names are in french, the policemen wear caps like in France, here the caps are red, a small reminder of a Tommy Cooper hat. We indulged in lovely seafood and Mr Whippy ice-creams...Yummy!
We also, made a day trip to a freaky place called Auroville. It is a place in India, that exists like it's own country, people from all over the world live there to practice a life of unity. The meditation lifestyle is based on the teachings of a man named Sri Surobindo and Auroville was created from his spiritual partner 'Mother'. The whole concept and idea of Auroville was intresting, but the whole place had a cult-like air to it. The people who live there are self sufficent and are cut off from the outside world, they are also encouraged to bring their families and education is taught with an Aurovilian mind-set. Spooky...
We visited the Matrimandir, a golden, alien space-like sphere, designed to be the central soul of Auroville, whilst Auroville in construction is designed in the shape of a galaxy.
After spooking ourselves out with that experience, we asked out driver to take us to the beach. Little did we know that he took us to a private beach for Aurovilians only. Being foreigners, the guards assumed that we're Aurovillians and let us in. Not understanding how the sense of unity worked if Aurovillians had their own private beach aloof from everyone, we went for a swim. The beach couldn't compare to any of the beaches on Goa, but it was still nice to swim after vising so many cities recently.
We left Pondicherry with a feeling of not achieving much due to the heat of the days and went to Mamallapuram.
Mamallapuram is a small historical town near to Chennai. It has many hindu temples and relics. Unfortunately, Mamallapuram was hit by the tsunami of 2004 and many people who lived by the beach before, now live in temporary hut accomodation by the highway. The tsunami affected many people here and flooded some of the temples. As soon as we arrived in Mamallapuram, our first day consisted of an early morning start to go to Chennai to apply for our Thai visas. We used this opportunity to scope out Chennai and see if it's as bad as many tourists have told us. The visit allowed us to decide whether it's worth staying in Chennai for a few days before flying out to Mumbai next week.
Chennai is a huge city. We caught a bus to the road of the Thai embassy. However, the bus stop was 4km away from the Embassy on the same road. How can a road be so long? This city being so big makes transport difficult, either you squeeze like sardines on a bus in the 38 degree heat, or you are at the mercy of the autorickshaw drivers who charge extortionate fares.
Returning back to Mamallapuram at the end of the day, we decided against staying in Chennai after weighing out the pros and cons.
Today is our third day in Mamallapuram, we visited the crocodile bank and snake park. Seeing the reptiles feeding was amazing as I love reptiles! Learning about all the types of crocodiles in the world was cool. The only thing I didn't enjoy so much was seeing the snake farm where they extracted venom from vipers and King cobras. Maybe a hundred or so a day are de-venomed, it's not nice seeing someone whack a snake's head on a pole to remove the venom then shoving the snake back in a pot. But I guess the cause for infliction is good, to produce anti-venom.
After the reptilian experience, we returned to the coastline to visit the Tiger caves and Shiva Lingam temple. We've just returned back to the hotel so I thought I'd enter our recent activities.
Will update more stuff later.
Location: Madurai, Kanyakumari & Trichy, India
Madurai, what can I say. The only attraction in this bustling city is the Sri Meenakshi Temple complex. Wasn't my favourite place, but not all that bad either. A bit difficult to find a cafe though.
Headed to Kanyakumari, India's version to England's Lands End. It eerily feels like being at Blackpool, with the time warp feeling and sea-shell vendors everywhere!!! The is a big temple full of bats, but really decorative, two islands with memorials on them, the Ghandi memorial and sunset point. We also went to Baywatch, India's waterpark. It was crap compared to anything I've been to in England, but humourous in how primitive indians think luxury is.
It's really hot in Madurai and Kanyakumari, basically the whole state of Tamil Nadu. The views from all the bus rides are flat arid land and sometimes scenes like the grand canyon.
We left Kanyakumari a couple of days ago on an 11hr bus ride in the torturous heat of the sun to Trichy. Can you imagine not being able to go to the loo for that long?
So far we've seen the Rock Fort Temple. We had to take a local intercity bus. However, everything is written in Tamil. No one can speak Hindi, some speak very little English and they all expect me to be able to speak in Tamil, despite looking Japanese to them.
Today we will be heading for two more temples across the Cauvery River. We're just waiting for the sun to calm down a bit.
Catch you all later.