Monday, 24 June 2013


Hello cyber lovers, it's been a while - I say that every time and every time I'm shocked that it has been so long. I've been busy working, trying to save money for my next adventure and I've been reflecting - a lot (surprise, surprise...). I've found a way to express what I've found - what I've found so far - in a way I haven't used in a while. So here's a poem, it's got a title. 


You know a year ago I would have slapped you,
Forced you to recognise the pain you caused, 

Told you that you don't mess around with girls from South London.

But I let you go when I crossed over borders. 

When I climbed a mountain with monks, 
When I sat by the ocean and let it's waves tell me a story.

When I saw beauty 

and realised it has nothing to do with you.

I have journeyed; I have found and understood what it means to be alive.

I am me,
With no need for you.

Friday, 15 March 2013

...Have A Little Laugh.

So today is comic relief (in Britain, not sure if it happens in other countries, wait no I'm sure it doesn't happen in other countries...) and lots of people are doing lots of silly things to make people laugh and raise lots and lots of money. Well I'm not involved in anything comic wise but I still like to make people laugh so here it goes.

I found this video via the Huffington Post and it is HILARIOUS! It sure as bells made my Friday morning so why not spread some cheer I hear? And just for you I will!


Happy Friday people and please enjoy St Patrick's Day/weekend responsibly. (It's on Sunday but why not devote the whole weekend?)

Sunday, 10 March 2013

...The Last Book You Read.

The title is pretty self explanatory on this one, I want to know what the last book you read was and what it was like. As most of you know I am an avid reader and if the book is engaging I can finish it within a few days; I prefer to read then to watch tv (sounds like a bloody online dating blurb right? Sickening...).

I always like people to recommend a good book so this is where you guys come in, let me know what the last book you read was and give it a rating. Don't be scared (said in an American accent, preferably a rapper's accent...), you can post under this blog, on facebook or if your massively ashamed of what you've been reading then you can drop me a private message.

Now the last thing I read was Terry Pratchett's "Men at Arms" and before that it was David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas". I wanted to read the book before I saw the film and I'm glad I did. Bits of his book were (I'm not gonna lie) a struggle, I just didn't give a shit about the character and found my mind drifting off to another dimension. I did however LOVE the middle section, I thought it was well written and engaging (cor it seems like it's a Sunday of big words!) and just for that I would recommend it.

I adore anything Terry Pratchett writes, in my eyes he can do no wrong, he is a bloody genius. I am steadily making my way through his Discworld novels and if it was up to me I would have finished all the books by now but my brain can't handle that much awesomeness in one go. So I have to read in bursts of 2 or 3 otherwise my dreams become infected with Discworld characters and it's quite hard to get much sleep (I don't sleep much anyway so any intrusion on said sleep is NOT WELCOME). I have to read them in the order they were written (I don't know why, just put it down to one of those "eccentricities"). I finished "Men at Arms" in 3 days and I loved it, I really enjoy the Watch characters and anything with them, Death, the Witches or Rincewind in are amongst my favourite stories. If you haven't read any Pratchett then I highly recommend you do it, now, right now, I'm being totally serious.

Some people not familiar with the brilliance of Discworld may call this an obsession (Natalie this is directed at YOU...) and maybe it is but I really don't care, I am obsessed. The books even have their own shelf in my room...see...

a step too far?

 Please don't judge me, I've already judged myself.

Right anyway, I like to keep a stack of "books that must be read" in my room and it looks like this:

I've obviously read "Cloud Atlas" but all the bookshelves are full and it has no home. Next up is another Pratchett and then I want to finish Bram Stocker's Dracula. I'm trying to munch my way through a few of the classics that I neglected to read in Secondary School, primarily because they were "suggested reads" and back then anything that was "suggested" meant it was clearly not worth reading/doing/listening to...etc.

So if you've managed to stumble through this post and want to add books to my pile of "books that must be read" then please do! Don't be afraid! Embrace this! Embrace this right now! Look at all the exclamation marks! Clearly this is something worth doing!

I'll leave you to muse over this, as for me I'm going down to Sainsburys to buy me some ingredients to cook up a Mother's Day storm. I'm going to attempt to cook my mum her favourite food, I'm not going to say what it will be just in case she reads this, I like to cover my bases. I'd be an excellent spy. Fact.

Happy Mother's day everyone and remember a Mother is for life, not just for a day.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

...Playing The Waiting Game.

Now we play the waiting game a lot, especially us Brits, we like to show our perseverance for patience and we sit or stand quietly (sometimes making the occasional grunt or sigh - but that is as far as it goes, anymore and it would just be impolite now wouldn't it?) waiting for the queue to budge along, the hold music to err hold (witty I know), for that important email or further more for that all important phone call.

I have been playing the watchthephonetillitringsthengiveitafewsecondsbeforepouncing game. The phone is winning. The bastard. I'm waiting for that all important phone call to tell me that I'm fantastic and I must be employed RIGHT NOW. Obviously not in those exact words however something along those lines wouldn't go amiss. (I'm also waiting for a big ol' delivery of books - yes books, I hate not having anything to read and my new sense of reuse/renew/recycle has led me to ordering second hand books for half the price - result).

But all this waiting has got me thinking, how do other countries/nationalities deal with having to wait? One of the things that wound me up in Asia were other people not queueing. Silly I know but I absolutely hate it when I've been standing there for ages and then some nitwit thinks it's perfectly okay to walk straight to the front because they think their issue is of greater importance then mine. And no I'm not referring to the Thais or the Cambodians, I'm referring to the tourists (bloody tourists) strolling to the front and then looking around shocked when people start complaining and telling them to go to the back. A brilliant example of this was when I was standing in the immigration queue to cross the border into Thailand, on the day were I seriously thought Asia was trying to break me (it nearly won - 4 and a half hours in the sun, shouldering two heavy backpacks, with no food/water or toilet access (cos I was alone I couldn't leave the queue innit?), moving inches every 30 mins - hell) and then all of a sudden I heard people shouting "no, get to the back" and I look up through sweat stained eyes to see a group of people manhandling a guy who was trying to reach someone/something further up in the queue and the people he was trying to barge through kicked off. It's totally understandable, they like me, had been standing in the heat for ages and I guess the overpowering sense of IT'S NOT FAIR gave them a surge of adrenaline because it wasn't fair, he should wait just like the rest of us and fair play to them for telling him so. This shouting carried on for a good few minutes, every time the guy tried to get past them they screamed and shoved him back, needless to say he didn't get past and like the rest of us he had to wait. Result.

So why do people do it? What, pray tell, was the point to my story? Serious questions I know and to be honest I don't really know the answer to either of those questions (to be fair I should know the answer to question 2 but I really just felt like giving a story that sort of backed up my point? *sigh* I was never good at essay writing...) I'm still trying to figure it out. Should we be made to learn how to queue? In fact does it all just boil down to learning how to be patient? Can you teach that? I know we are taught as children to be patient and "to wait our turn" but does it really stick once we grow up and away from our parental talons? Is it a cultural thing? Does it differ from person to person, nationality to nationality? Or is it a personality trait? Can you imagine teaches having to teach their children the art of patience once a week? I know in most schools that wouldn't go down well. So I have a lot of questions but not a lot of answers and I really want to know, yes I could just google it and be content with what wikipedia tells me but I want to debate this. Come on people debate with me!

Needless to say I think I am a patient person - to some degree. If I know what I want is in front of me and is not being given to me then I get angry and demand that the person controlling the said thing I want give it to me. Right now. But if it's something I can't see, something I have no control over whatsoever then - I'd like to think - my patience kicks in and I can't wait, play the waiting game for a while until the paranoia takes over and I convince myself that I don't want it anyway. (Waiting to hear whether or not I got the part is sending my paranoia into overdrive. I've been told by a good friend to wait (there it is again!) till the end of the week *sigh* fingers crossed eh?).

I've been breaking up the wait by playing mindless games on my phone, playing with the cat, quietly tidying up my mental space and giving the postman evils when he doesn't knock on the door, arms weighed down by my joyous package - I want my books dammit!!! They should have been here already *pout*. I have also downloaded (and paid for) a few new albums to lift my mood and give my soul some nourishment. My favourite album being "My Head Is An Animal" by Of Monsters and Men, I love it, it is perfect, it is beautiful and it fills me with a quiet joy every time I listen to it. The stand out song for me is "Your Bones" and it sounds something like this:

So watch and enjoy, please ignore the awful video, it was the only one I could find. If you fall in love with them then "your welcome", if you don't, well then bugger off. Please if you have any answers to my questions above then feel free to voice them, if you don't, well then bugger off. I will continue to play the waiting game and I will also continue to give the postman the stink eye (I know he has my books, he's holding them ransom...) I'll keep you updated cyber buddies.

Until then!

Friday, 15 February 2013

...This Is Fucking Awesome!

Hey party people, it's Friday so you know what I thought I'd share a song with you that I'm quite obsessed with. Since coming back from the East I have been bombarded with all the new music that's currently out at the moment and I have a list the size of my arm of all the music that I am loving! Currently I am crushing "Young the Giant" (their album is AWESOME) and Imagine Dragons song "Radioactive" - I don't know what is about that song but I love it. I could listen to it over and over again.

However all those amazingly ridiculous bands have nothing on this song, don't ask me why I like it so much but I really, really do. There's just something about it; it makes me wanna dance, it makes me want to get dolled up and shake my arse, in short IT IS FUCKING AWESOME! (Please fellows don't judge me by this choice - it's not Nicki Minaj or any of that shit don't worry...I haven't gone that far down the musical road).

Please enjoy!!

To all those still at work "Happy Friday" enjoy your weekend and to all those breaking up for half term, go to the nearest supermarket buy yourself your favourite tipple and GET DOWN MUTHAFUCKERS!


Tuesday, 12 February 2013

...Back in Britain.

Right well as most of you know I have returned from my epic wanderings and I'm now back home *sigh*, so I figured I'd give you an update from sunny old Britain - aren't you lucky bunnies? Well apart from my insides freezing on impact whenever I leave the "safe zone" (the safe zone being my bed, my bed is my heaven, God knows why one must leave the house!) not much has happened (looks like it's going to be a short blog!).

I put off writing this blog in the first week when I got back because it was all doom and gloom. I really wasn't happy to be home, in fact I would have preferred to be anywhere else but in England. That feeling only deepened whilst I waited patiently for my backpack to make it's journey from the plane's underbelly to my waiting arms and I heard a girl with a distinct Croydon accent and all I could think was "Oh God, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I cannot be here. Put me back on that plane, take me somewhere, ANYWHERE!" It's safe to say I lost a grip on what little sanity I had left in that following week. It was brilliant to see my family and the handful of friends I've seen so far has made coming home feel less like a step backwards and more like well, like a step, I guess. So I went and chopped off my "Asia-fro" and got down to business. (Not like hooker business as that sentence implied.)

I landed on my feet with my "job", even though it's not something I want to do, like it's not my career, which is fine I guess cos it pays the bills - sort of. But whilst on my epic adventure I realised that what I want to do is get back into acting, so my lovely lovelies that is exactly what I plan to do. I've been applying for jobs since I got back and now I have my first audition in 2 YEARS on Friday - wish me luck. I just hope my new found steam can carry me through it seeing as I'm totally bricking it, I think it's just down to having not done it for so long, do you know what I mean? Like when you haven't ridden a bike for 2 years and you get back on one and your like "how the fuck do I ride a bike?". It's the same kind of feeling - minus the bike of course, that would be a completely different audition if you get what I'm saying...!

My cousin told me to give it a while, that I'll fall back in love with London again and to be honest I didn't quite understand what she was saying. Before I left I wanted to escape the city and her hustle and bustle, the crazy crowds, the pavement hogging tourists and the countless cars, buses, cabs and trucks that seem to clutter her streets. Unfortunately none of those things have changed but what has changed is my outlook (vomit inducing sentence I know but please fellows just bear with me!) I don't get as irate when a tourist cuts me off or stops in the middle of the pavement to stare at a map because I was a tourist and I must have pissed a lot of people off with my irregular walking patterns and what must have seemed like stupid questions regarding transport. And she was right, I am falling back in love with London again, especially when I'm standing like a statue in the freezing cold waiting for my bus to chug up the hill and take me to work and I look out across the roof tops and I see the sun rising. That brings a smile to my semi frozen face, it make waking up at 6am all worth it - well sort of.

So good news London, I'm falling in love with all your rough edges all over again and this time I just hope the love lasts.

On another sunny side it tried to snow yesterday and the result left my garden looking like a botched version of the Ice Queen's servants, cousins, brothers garden. Pretty no? The cat hated it!

So I'll leave it there for now, I'll let you know how my audition went - please keep your cyber fingers crossed for me! I'll leave you with a final picture, in a way it's like a goodbye to South East Asia, like once and for all, so friends I'd like you to wish goodbye to the tower of beer. Goodbye friend, I'll drink you one tasty can after the other tasty can...

P.S. I forgot to give a big shout out to all my fellow traveller buddies out there, I hope it's all going swell and I will see you again someday, hopefully sooner rather then later!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

...Tales from Thailand - See you later South East Asia.

So I've given myself sometime to sit down and really go over what it is I have been doing for the past 4 and a half months and still I haven't really understood the enormity of it. Tomorrow I will be leaving on a jet plane and I'm not quite sure when I'll come back again. There are so many things I could tell you but to find the words for them would take me years. My world has changed immensely and I'm so glad it has. I've met some wonderful, kick arse people (I've also met a lot of c**ts), I've had experiences that I never imagined I would ever have, I've laughed, cried, basically I've grown up and hopefully the new found wisdom I have now will carry me through all the ups and downs life seems to keep throwing at me. I've also missed my sisters and my family more then I ever knew I would; I know we were close but the impact their absence left on my life is one that I won't forget. I know family can tug at your heart strings but boy, I love my family, their messed up and crazy (whose isn't?) but I wouldn't trade them for the world - aren't you guys lucky?! 

Not really sure how to start saying goodbye. I'm tempted to go back to the beginning and retell everything that I've done and tell you what my favourite bits have been. On the other hand I just want to slam you will loads of pictures you haven't seen and then hopefully you'll see why I'll miss this country so much. Which will it be?

After a few hours of careful deliberation I decided that I will give you both. Pictures you haven't seen before and my oh so endearing love for the beautiful countries I've been in.

Let us start with Cambodia, yes?

Cambodia has my heart, it is however in competition with New York but I think Cambodia is going to win, hands down. The country is amazing, I had so many experiences there that will shape me for the rest of my days and I am so thankful to the people that I now call family, I love them to bits and here, my ever loving bloggahaloics, I present to you my new family:

 Toooooooo much Absinthe....
Beginning to love the French...
 Not enough Absinthe...

I absolutely, hands down, love this girl. She is an amazing woman and will go on to be an absolutely fantastic individual.

The terrors of cycling in the evening rush hour.

Most of these pictures speak for themselves, therefore they don't need captions. All I know is that I met a fanfuckingtastic bunch of people that I will cherish for the rest of my days (yeah ok I'm being a little sentimental - so shoot me!!). I don't have many pictures and some of the people that I love aren't in the pictures I posted but mates don't worry the love is there, it's all around you and I will follow you like a ghost till the end of your days (spooky huh?).

I've already given you a final blog of Cambodia so I won't reiterate all the stuff I said before because all of it stands true. Instead I will let you know how I feel about Thailand. I bloody love Thailand. Not as much as I love Cambodia though, although the people here are far nicer to me and one man even asked for my number - result! But no, the country is lovely, the people are friendly and the food is delicious. I will miss South East Asia with every once of my being but unfortunately there are more countries I wish to see and more environments I want to explore. But the highlights?

- Partying with my girls on Koh Phangnan and Koh Tao.
- Seeing the beauty that is Koh Chang.
- Elephants!!!
- The simplicity and extraordinary beauty of Chiang Mai.
- Monkeys (sometimes...).
- The friendliness.
- Elephants!!
- The food.
- Sangsom...

I will not however miss the heat, it is oppressive or the stench. When it gets really hot you can smell the sewers and that's just fucking gross. It is not a smell you want in your nostrils. I won't miss travelling on long haul buses even though that was an experience in itself.

I will miss the freedom, the anonymity of life over here. I can be who I want, say what I want and I don't give a fuck what anybody thinks. It will be something I will employ once I reach home soil so people, you have been warned.

I don't know what else to say. This experience has opened my eyes and I feel like I'm a better person for having done this (vom). I know that I can travel alone and never truly be alone. I know that I have the capacity to make friends and also the capacity to spot bullshit from a mile off. I am strong and I think that it is a beautiful thing to notice in yourself. Before I undermine this "journey" (God I hate that word...thank you Central!) I will leave you with a few pictures from Thailand. Again I don't have them all and a lot are missing (girls I want those pictures! How else am I going to build my shrine?) but I will leave you with a few, enjoy:


 Oh Nemo, if you only knew what lay ahead...

Goodbye South East Asia, I will always have fond memories of my time with you and that is how I'll leave it. I'm scared I will start sounding like a back alley prossie trying to get her pimp to love her honestly and none of us want that on my last night now do we? So I will bid you adieu. It's fucking emotional and I really don't want to do it but circumstances dictate otherwise. I have loved every fucking second here and I will not change it, not for all the money in the world. 

Now I will go downstairs and have a farewell drink with my friend Kip who runs the lovely cocktail bar outside my guest house. This time tomorrow I'll be trampling on English shores (just so you know it's 9.59 pm...).

For the last time,

Big Ocean crossing love ya'll.

Friday, 25 January 2013

...Tales from Thailand - Lopburi - Monkeys vs Elephants.

Now I don't want to mislead you (even though the title is pretty misleading...) there weren't any "actual" elephants in Lopburi and if there were I don't think that they would go around attacking monkeys. Well, at least I hope they wouldn't. No this is just to settle the life long debate of which animal is better, monkeys or elephants? Don't fear friends all will be revealed in this oh so revealing blog. (Do forgive me if I veer off into the dramatic and spectacular, it's been a long day and my brain just ain't what she used to be...)

My day started out with one mission - to see some gosh darn monkeys. There were a lot of obstacles put in my way and a batted them all down gracefully (mainly tuk tuk drivers and taxis trying to overcharge me and me having to be use the "big smile" to get what I want (and no I'm not referring to my breasts...geez)). I make it to the train station after the most terrifying ride on the back of a moto; I swear I never, ever want to be on the back of a moto in Bangkok ever again, he did give me a helmet though which made me feel a little bit better...only a little. Once I get there I buy my ticket, which only cost me a mere 28 Baht (that's like 70 pence - roughly) and await my train (I had to wait an hour because the travel agency woman told me the times for the trains ARRIVING from Lopburi not GOING to Lopburi *sigh* like I said before - obstacles). Just to give you a mental imagery the station looked like this:

And the train on the opposite platform (I had a lot of time to stand around and watch and be watched...creepy) looked like this:

And just so you get a well rounded comprehensive view of a Thai train the inside looks like this (I'm having a really hard time spelling the word train...):

Lovely no?

The journey wasn't too bad, it did take longer then they said to get there (obviously) and I did start to have a wee panic around oh 3 hours into the journey when we still hadn't got there and I was the only westerner in my carriage and perhaps the whole train. But luckily when it was time to get off the lovely Thai man on the seat across from mine told me that this was Lopburi and basically to move my arse before the train decides to move again. FYI the trains stop for about 20 seconds to let you off and on and then they start moving again, slowly at first and then you know, full speed. In some cases you have to walk across the tracks to get to the platform, there's no "live" rail though so no nasty shocks (trust me, I did it and I'm still here). The journey was interesting, lots of people were roaming up and down selling food and drinks and it was nice to see a bit of the Thai countryside - it looks a lot like the Cambodian countryside minus all the cows. I do miss seeing a cow every 45 seconds though.

Lopburi is a quiet town, not much to see there apart from a few ruined Khmer like temples and once out of the station I am accosted by a lady and her bilke/tuk tuk/pedal seat thing and she says she will take me around for 100 Baht, so I was like cool (watch carefully for she features heavily in this tale...). So we go to a few temples and I'm like, where are the fricking monkeys? Then she takes me past a market and I'm like yeah nice, now tell me, where are the fricking monkeys? (Don't worry I didn't actually verbally abuse this woman). So I say to her, where is the monkey temple? And she's like "oh! You want to go to the monkey temple?" No shit Sherlock, why else would I travel 3 and a half hours to get here? So she eventually takes me there and by this time my excitement has started to build, I keep catching glimpses of monkeys and then there they are, on the street, hanging off of lampposts and baloneys, running along telephone wires and generally being a menace. I was a little disappointed, it wasn't what I quite imagined. I pictured gangs of monkeys roaming the streets, terrifying but amazing their human neighbours. She must have noticed my disappointment for she told me that the streets are where they hang out but the temple is their home.

So we go to the temple. I pay my 50 Baht and bam! It's monkey heaven. It starts with only a few,

And I think really? Is this all the monkeys? Then we round a corner and there they all are. I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated,

there were just so many of them, mummy monkeys, daddy monkeys, sisters, brothers, babies, the whole extended family and the place reeked of monkey piss - mmmmm, nice. So yeah I felt a like they maybe were secretly plotting to take over the human race by sheer number and monkey intimidation tactics but then this fella(?) put my mind at ease:

Just chilling with his/her stomach out, getting all the fleas and ticks picked off by the lesser monkeys. The big monkeys were mean though, I saw more monkey on monkey crime then I would like to admit and the "guides" were ready with the sling shots and sticks, which the monkeys cowered at when raised towards them. That made me sad. I know that they can be infuriating and it is only meant as a warning but the reaction to the stick being lifted was too much for my poor monkey loving heart to bear. Some of them monkeys were proper scabby though and I passed one licking the wall, God knows why it was doing it but I guess even in the monkey world you have some that aren't quite right.

Anyway I then explored the inside of the temple, which was cool, like I said before it reminded me a lot of Angkor Wat, the architecture was similar and so was the layout. All the Buddha's that were in the temple were beheaded though which was a little bit creepy, I asked my tour guide why but I don't think she understood my question, instead she told me to look up because the ceiling was full of bats. That was enough to freak me out, I do not want to be that close to a bat.

After the narrow escape from the bats and the monkeys I went and had lunch at a place that reeked of monkey piss (mmmmmm) and then headed back to the train station where my "lovely" tour guide tried to charge me 200 baht for a 45 min trip. I was not impressed. I refused to give her the money and told her that we settled on 100 baht so she's going to get 100 baht. I was so angry. After being nice to me all day she decided to try hoodwink me out of an extra 100 baht? After I paid for her drink at lunch as well! The sneaky son of a witch. I understand it's all business and they think that we farangs are loaded but matey, tricks like that don't swing with me. Needless to say that put a bit of a dampener of the day, I then had to wait nearly 2 hours for my train back to Bangkok (boooo). The train back was hot and cramped but it just reminded me of being on the London underground so I wasn't too fussed. By the time I get back into Bangkok I'm starving and I head in the direction of noodle soup and sleep.

But we still haven't addressed our argument have we (promise, I promise this is the end...) monkeys vs elephants? Well I have to say it's got to be elephants. After seeing the monkeys today and watching them frolic and errm attack each other I have decided that I much rather sit on the back of an elephant, riding through the jungle (terrified of falling to my death) then be surrounded by monkeys. It's a sad day for monkeys all over the world. I did have a great time watching them though and it was refreshing to get out of Bangkok for the day but at least now I know and I can put my curiosity to bed (that is only until I get to see some orang-utans!).

So fellows I must bid you goodnight, my typing has become erratic and I'm not quite sure what I'm talking about but I know that tonight I will definitely be dreaming about monkeys. Let's just hope I didn't "accidentally" bring one of those suckers back with me. I would have heard it by now no? Tomorrow I will go check out the weekend market and maybe spend some money in a frivolous fashion...

Until then!

Big Ocean crossing love ya'll!

P.S I'm gonna leave you with my favourite picture of the day:

I was the one behind the bars. They were the free ones.

P.P.S I'll also give you the ex-rated monkey chilling on the steps picture. Enjoy.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

...Tales from Thailand - From Koh Chang to Chiang Mai.

So my cyber lovers I haven't posted for a while and there is a very good reason for that, I have simply been too busy! Awful thing to say but unfortunately that is the truth. So, I hear you cry, what exactly have you been doing Rachel? Why let me tell you. I have been jumping on and off boats (not for fun may I add), I have been cramped into bus after bus and I have enjoyed many a beautiful sunset, cocktail and elephant. Oh and I've done some cheeky shopping - whoops! But let me begin from the beginning.

So we arrive in Koh Chang from Bangkok sometime last week, please don't ask me how we got there for frankly I can't quite remember (must have had something to do with me staying up till 3 in the morning playing Jenga and Uno, the latter being the most ridiculously stupid game I have ever, ever come across) but once we get to our hotel I feel like we are in paradise. It is absolutely beautiful and after some of the places I have had the unfortunate displeasure to be sleeping in, this one felt like heaven. It was right on the sea, there was no beach only pebbles but there were hammocks and a little platform you could chill on and watch the sunset. The guys running the hotel are fantastic and they made me feel right at home, so much so we extended our trip for 2 more days. They had specific rules at this place, which I tried my best to abide by. If your feeling a bit confused then don't worry, I can hear your minds turning over with questions, all of them needing appropriate answers I'm sure but fear not, take a look at the picture below and all shall be revealed (I feel like some sort of warped, backstreet magician...):

Not too bad eh? But like I said they were super friendly and they made my stay there even more enjoyable then if I was sitting in any other hotel on the island. Just make sure you follow the rules...

Needless to say I didn't really do much during those 6 days. I relaxed, I ate (some fantastic noodle soup by the way and I am now addicted. I need to learn how to make it, just so that I can eat it everyday when I get home. And yes I mean EVERYDAY.) I drank, I lay in a hammock, I read - a lot, I drank some more and I was thoroughly entertained everyday by the Thai guys. One night they got out a violin, a guitar, an improvised drum and started laying down some sweet music. It was brilliant. The sunsets were the best I've seen, maybe because there were no obstructions, maybe because the sky was so clear or maybe, just maybe because I was one hundred percent relaxed. I had a total feeling of calm which has stayed with me on this "last" leg of my trip. Whenever I feel like I'm getting wound up I just remember the peace I felt being there and all is restored to normal - well as normal as my emotions can get that is. Instead of painting you a beautiful picture of what the sky looked like, how it's colours intertwined with each other and danced across the sky till the sun went down, I will instead show you, seeing as a picture can tell you more then my words ever could.

Pretty right?

After we blow out of Koh Chang (again another boat and bus but this time we weren't given a ticket, which was a nightmare. Our pick up driver called ahead and told them that we were coming so whenever we mentioned what guest house we were from, the bus guys were like "Ohhhh Gu's Bay, okay." Explains a lot doesn't it?) we go back to Bangkok (again) for a whirlwind visit and this time hit all the temples and not just Khoa San road. There was a lot of roadside alcohol consumed - don't worry it's totally safe, think of it like a pop up bar that never really goes anywhere but the cocktails were only 59 Baht so I wasn't complaining. If you do go to Bangkok try and stay on the road opposite Khoa San (well it's like the road opposite the road next to Khoa San road) because there are a lot of nice hostels/guest houses, pop up bars and the street food down there is amazing. There is also a nice little street market selling pretty little shiny things that I always have to try my best to resist. So yeah I digress, the temples. they were really pretty and completely different to the ones you find in Cambodia. The Thai temples are ornately decorated in red and gold and absolutely everything is shiny, it reminded me more of Chinese temples. It wasn't what I expected but I was pleasantly surprised. My favourite Buddha in the whole Wat was this one:

Mainly because it's so super shiny but what you can't see in the picture is the detailing. Every level had a mini Buddha carved into it and that folks is impressive.

I hope some of you haven't switched off because now we are getting to the main event, the one thing you've all been waiting for. We get to the elephants...

And Chiang Mai - have to tell you a bit about the city it ain't all elephants you know, geez...

The city is beautiful, it's vibrant, it's friendly, it's like Bangkok's older sister who had her crazy days and is now just content to sit back and watch the action unfold. There are lots of temples/restaurants/bars/hostels for a traveller to relax in and explore but I prefer the ones of the beaten track, like the street stall selling noodle soup (yep I tracked down more of it) for 25 Baht, which tasted delicious or the random tattoo bar selling cocktails for 50 Baht (yep I found impossibly cheap, wonderful tasting cocktails, I'm like a bloodhound for alcohol - damn that sounds awful doesn't it?) where you can listen to a bit of reggae, drink your cocktail in peace and if your feeling really brave you can get a tattoo from the "parlour" in the corner. We even got a bit of free live music thrown in just for shits and giggles. I don't know what it is about Thai people but they really love to sing and it is so wonderful to hear, it's not pretentious, their not looking for praise or even an audience, they just sing because they bloody well like doing it. Absolutely fantastic. 

But yesterday came the main attraction. After searching for the right elephant "trek" we landed on Baan Chang Elephant Camp and I'm glad I put my money into their cause. They rescue elephants from undesirable situations and give them a home at their camp. Our expert mahout for the day explained everything in great detail, like why the elephants are chained by the foot (some of the elephants don't get on with each other and if they were unchained it would be a full blown elephant war and also they would get loose and terrorise the neighbours), why they use the pointy stick thing (there is a proper name for it but I can't remember it and they use it only when the elephant has hurt another elephant/human and needs to be "corrected" - may I add they never, ever beat the elephants with it. That would just be cruel) and why they never ride on an elephant using a seat (it's not good for the elephants back). There was a lot more information but I feel I will just bore you if I keep going on, however after the information session we got to feed our elephants bananas and sugar cane (which they loved) and then we were taught the commands needed to guide our elephant and we then got to try those commands out. (eek!) I have to say getting on the little elephant was far more terrifying then getting on the big one. Mainly because she clearly was feeling stubborn that day and all she really wanted to do was blow air in your face and munch on some bananas and not have you climb on and off her back. After learning these commands and practising we had lunch, which was delicious and then we got to ride our elephant through a bit of jungle and then give them a bath. I can't remember the name of the elephant Roni and I had but she was pregnant so instead I called her Mama. *SIDE NOTE* They are not purposefully breeding elephants at the camp, this one just happened to catch the eye of another elephant and well everyone knows what happens after that.

All in all it was an amazing day and a fantastic experience. Watching the mahouts with their elephants was touching (it looked like each mahout had a specific elephant to look after) you could see how close they were to the elephant they were working with and most of them got on their elephants by "walking" up the trunk (the elephant bends it's head a little and the mahouts scamper up). Mama didn't really need much guidance, she happily plodded along and only needed a bit of direction when she stopped walking - I was however reluctant to make her keep walking seeing as she was preggers (it was totally okay for her to carry us though seeing as she weighed like 30 tons!) and did you know that elephants are pregnant for 24 MONTHS? Like seriously, can you imagine giving birth to a two year old? It's nuts. It was so nice to scrub down Mama, mainly because she was so hot and lying in the water must have been a real godsend for her and she thanked us by blowing a lovely stream of dirty elephant water at us. It was such a lovely day and I will leave you with a few pictures of Baan Chang and their wonderful elephants:

An absolutely once in a lifetime experience (I hate using that phrase but come on folks it really was) and one which I am so happy to have done. Next stop is Bangkok to see the floating market and to drop Roni off at the airport and then I'm heading up to Lopburi to see some monkeys yo!

Until then.

Big Ocean Crossing love ya'll.

Monday, 7 January 2013

...Tales from Thailand - Back to Bangkok.

So after a hectic week bouncing from island to island and loosing countless amounts of things, the latest being my comb and a pair of sandals (but I'm convinced that someone from the boat took one look at those grubby Birkenstocks and thought they just HAD to have them!) I finally arrived back at Bangkok and said a hearty how do you do to Khoa San road. This time round however there was no ping pong show (awwwww) and I have managed to keep hold of my bus and boat ticket for tomorrow AND I haven't lost any of my possessions or my dignity.

The boat and bus trip from Kho Tao to Bangkok wasn't that bad this time, apart from poor Kai being ill and feeling like her head was about to explode from all her diving, we managed to survive. We arrived 2 hours later then expected and the hostel we were meant to be staying in said it was too late to bring an extra bed to the room so that meant we were on a search round Bangkok for a bed for the night, with our giant backpackers - what fun! The first hostels were rocked up to had no space so I said to Kai we were just going to have to stay in the first hostel I stayed in the last time I was here and even though I vowed to never sleep there again these were dire circumstances. On our way to said hostel we decided to try our luck with one that was close to it called the Marcopolo Hostel, the lady was unwelcoming and said we could look at the room before we took it so we did and mateys let me tell you I wouldn't even let Ratbag sleep in that hostel, it was disgusting. We asked for the air con remote and she said money and passports first and then air con - I was not impressed, I picked up my stuff went downstairs and told her we will not be taking that room. Then it all kicked off. She accused Kai or having a shower and I told her how was that possible when 1. we don't have any towels and 2. your bloody shower doesn't even work! So she said she was going to call the police and I told her to go ahead. Then she said she was going to check the room and I told her to go ahead. She then told us that "THIS IS THAILAND", cheers mate for the update, totes forgot what country I was in. Daft bint. She eventually checked the room and then told us we could leave, after that experience I don't think I will be going back there anytime soon...We eventually made it to the first hostel and lay down our weary heads only to be shushed by the man in the room next to us cos we were being too loud but then again he was shushing everyone and eventually came out in his towel and banged on their door to tell them to shut up - what a delightful man!

The next day we meet up with Roni and Krissi and gave the usual welcome. In the evening we hit Khoa San road. Well I don't think I really need to elaborate about what happened after that. Lets just say 182 pictures, 3 buckets and one lost Nemo balloon later we were stumbling happy and drunk back to our collective hostels to sleep off the effects of dear Khoa San. I still don't think my liver has forgiven me and I made a promise to keep it safe from now on and I will try my best to adhere to my word. Remember, I did say try...

In the morning I said a sleepy goodbye to Kai and promised that I will see here in Beijing - I will keep to that promise. I don't like goodbyes. Saying goodbye to Thirza on Koh Tao was hard, I didn't want to leave her there, we had so much fun, made so many good memories, saying goodbye was just too much. This morning it was easier because I was half asleep and all I remember is telling Kai to stay and her leaving (waaaahhhhh!). I'm going to miss those two girls so much, I won't be able to look at a starfish the same way ever again because of them and for that I will always love them! Love you babieeeeesssssss. 

Today we did all the touristy things like visit China town and the extremely disorientating and ridiculously large shopping centre. After being in Cambodia for 3 and a half months I was not prepared to face such a massive western influence. It was too much, too much noise, too many people and way to many bright, shiny, tempting things which I had no money for. Give me cows, give me mud, give me lots of people on the streets chatting and enjoying themselves, not this shit. Needless to say I will not be returning.

Tonight we will sit by the river, which our hostel backs onto and watch all the boats go by. I'll drink some water, we will play some cards and the world will be at peace. Tomorrow Roni and I will be heading to Koh Chang to lie on a beach and soak up some sea breezing atmosphere - bliss.

I will leave you all with a few pictures, 2 of my girls and I before the carnage of the Full Moon party and one of a bridge in Bangkok. Enjoy!

Thirza and I.

Kai and I.

The bridge in Bangkok lit up by lights, ain't it pretty?

Big Ocean crossing love ya'll!!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

...Tales from Thailand - from Bangkok to Koh Phangnan.

Well here we are cyber fiends. It's the first of January 2013 and I'm sitting in a "resort" in Thailand, drinking a Chang and contemplating just how much I should tell you! A year ago I would never have believed I'd be sitting in Thailand on new years day but here I am, funny old world really isn't it?

So where to begin? The trip to Bangkok was horrendous. The bus was over packed so I ended up sitting on a plastic chair in the aisle, so ridiculous but it was either that or not get on the bus and that was not an option. So I took the plastic chair and proceeded to fall asleep. I then managed to loose my ticket on the bus and the really helpful ticket man refused to let me back on the bus. I told him regardless of what happens I am getting back on that bus and so he said he'd call the bus company and I told him to go ahead. How else did he think I got on the bus in the first place? So after that hoopla I make it to the border and well, that was a fucking nightmare. I have never felt so suicidal in my life. We were subjected to four hours in the sun, in a queue that barely moved, only to get to into the "office" and have it take 20 minutes to pass from Cambodia to Thailand. If you want to break someone please send then to the Cambodia/Thai border and have them wait with one backpack on their back and one on their front for four hours, with no food and no toilet. It sucked arse.

The rest of the journey was relatively pain free, apart from the fact I arrived in Bangkok at 10.15pm having missed the last night buses, trains and I had absolutely nowhere to stay. I was screwed. Luckily a group of lads took pity on me and found me somewhere to stay and where to buy my bus and boat ticket for the next day (which I promptly lost. I don't know what's wrong with me but I shouldn't be allowed to keep hold of ANY tickets EVER). We then proceeded to have dinner and go watch a ping pong show. I don't think I've seen anything so scarring in my life. I just don't get how they managed to fit so many things up themselves? Like, how is it possible? One woman had like a 4 metre chain up her fanny, which she then unravelled piece by piece to reveal the full enormity of her vagina. How? HOW?! Out of the whole "show" the worst part was watching the women's faces. They were totally blank, glassy eyed "performers" and all I could think was how did you end up here? What happened? When did you realise you could write with your fanny? Who put the chain up you? WHY CAN YOU MAKE YOUR ARSE WHISTLE??? Alas all of these questions have gone unanswered and so I shall move on, a little bit scared with way too many mental images to last me a lifetime.

The next day I was accosted by an Indian fortune teller who proceeded to tell me a lot of stuff I secretly knew myself and then he pulled a big trick out of the bag and wrote down my mum's middle name, the name of my ex and how old I was. The only thing he got wrong was my age. I don't think I can explain properly how completely and utterly freaked out I was. I literally wanted to run. My mum's middle name isn't something that is easy to spell, even I forget how to spell it sometimes and no I won't tell you what is (those of you who know my family know what it is but that's fine, I won't tell if you won't). So after that experience I was more then ready to get on my bus and head down to the island to meet all the other girls. But ho! I forgot, I lost my bloody ticket didn't I? Ha! Luckily I managed to get a copy of it and then I was on my way. I spent the journey gently napping and being entertained by an Aussie guy hopped up on xanax. It was a brilliant journey.

So in total I travelled for 2 days to get to Koh Phangnan and I can gladly say that it was worth the travelling. It is so beautiful here. The weather's been pretty shit but it's been really nice to see the girls again. The full moon party was, well, words can't really describe the experience. I definitely won't do it again and I'm not sure if I liked it...but I'm glad I went and experienced it. So yeah, I'm having a good time, I'm drinking a copious amount of beer and staying as far away as possible from any Indian man wearing a turban. Next stop will be Koh Tao and then back up to Bangkok to join Roni for the next leg of our adventure. I can't bloody wait.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you make it what you want.

Big Ocean crossing love ya'll.