Posts Tagged With: Air Asia

The Thai of my life!

Yesss, I finally got a window seat for my flight to Bangkok! Although saying that, I felt kinda blue peering out of the window and watching Penang shrink into nothing more than a ‘toy town’ below! I was sad because I knew that Bangkok was to be the last destination. Now, each time I board a plane, it feels as though it’s bringing me closer to ‘that day’ when I finally have to step onto the last airport shuttle headed for Heathrow 😦

Phew! Ok, so I’ve touched down in Bangkok…again haha! But this time of course, it’s for the last time on this leg of my journey *sighs. But anyways, I was really looking forward to seeing my Thai pals and hanging out in the city once more. I know my way around and well, just where to hang out and let my hair down so I will be making the most of my final week or so.

I got through immigration and customs all ok and had another stamp bashed into my passport allowing me up to 30 days stay. Hey, hang on a minute, I tell you what…I managed to get through Penang security AND Bangkoks with a 2ltr bottle of water in my hand! How that happened I don’t know but hey, that could have been ‘bomb’ liquid for all they knew muwahahah! That’s never happened before…I normally get my water taken off me but not that time haha! Just a random observation…

My fab friend Ken (or Kendoll as I call him) offered to come and meet me at the airport which was sweet of him. He even assisted me with my luggage and getting me to my hotel which was great actually and it avoided hearing all the ‘Excuse me Miss, you want taxi’ etc. Once I’d checked in, we went straight to the movies! Well, I had some movies to catch up on hey lol! So we had some food and watched Gravity (which is FAB for anyone who loves their space movies!)

30 degrees of Rain!

Oh noooo! The rain’s followed me all the way from Penang! And it’s determined to scrub off all proof of the slight jaundice looking tan I’ve achieved right before I hit Heathrow haha! Nevermind. I wasn’t going to let the rain put me off having a good time either on my final week of being a free spirit!

I tell you what though…I love the rain abroad, it’s so warm! Who needs wellies when you can wade through the puddles in yer flip flops! * Sighs, if only the rain was like this in the UK…wet and warm haha! The only bummer is that yes, you still get really dirty feet haha. Sometimes I’d look down and think, ‘Huh, since when did I get black grubby toes!’ hah! So yup, I will miss the ‘hot rain’ 🙂

The Flower Market

My friend Kendoll told me about a Flower Market near Koh Sarn Road and asked me if I’d been there before. “No, I haven’t. I’d love to see it though before I leave Thailand” I excitedly replied. “Yes, it will be good for your pictures”. So Kendoll agreed to take me there and show me around. It was amazing, I loved it! Plus it was a brucey bonus having a local to hang out with and speak ‘Thai’ to everyone for me haha!

It was just gorgeous! I could see the market folk all setting up their stalls ready before the customers flocked…although saying that, it didn’t actually get all that busy but again, another bonus for me! I could see trucks delivering bags FULL of flowers! Some Thai words were exchanged from the drivers to the stall owners and they’d then drive off. I watched as the marketers then opened each bag and literally picked out flowers one by one and ‘arrange’ them either in glorious bouquets or just singly in their rows.

It was just fascinating to take a slow walk around and see stall upon stall, row upon row and bouquet upon bunch of flowers in every shape, size and variety! Oh and the smells….WOW! For once it disguised that Bangkok ‘stench’ that I had become all too familiar with haha! It wasn’t just a flower market….it was like walking through a perfume factory! Oh and the colours, you would not believe it but the sellers even decorated their stands with the flowers by colour! So red with red, pinks with pinks etc…now that must have taken forever but it was quite an impressive display.
I found a Rose stall and stood and watched for a few moments as the market lady picked out what looked like a dozen roses and bundled them up with speed. Can you believe, that a dozen red, pink or yellow roses were the equivalent to 1 English pound….yes 1 POUND! Everyone would be buying their Mums or lovers a huge lorry load of them if they were that price in the UK right? Although it would probably cause our roses to become extinct at the same time too!

Once the flower stalls diminished, new stalls were revealed with a different variety of produce to entice… Wow, fruit and vegetables! Most of the fruit and veg still seemed so foreign to me (of course) well, I mean, a lot of it I had now tried but to name them….ppfftt, forget it! Un-hygienically, the stall owners even let their pets crawl all over their produce! Hmm…2 cats and a puppy – if that happened in the UK, they’d probably get shut down! It was cute all the same though because I wasn’t IN the market for buying that evening haha!

Bo in the Big City

Yay, my friend Bo from the School in Nang Rong came all the way over to Bangkok just to see me and party one last time woo hoo. So Ken, Bo and I all went out for dinner as soon as she arrived. It was sooo good to see Bo and I immediately threw my arms around her when I spotted her getting off the train at Thailand Cultural Centre. “BO…..how are you! So good to seeya again!” I screeched! “HELEN! I missed you!” Awww….

After a huge (and of course, rather cheap) plate of salmon and veg, we had a walk around town before hitting the city centre. It was rather funny actually because we found some 3D paintings on the walls….you know, the kind that you stand in and it looks like you’re abouts to fall into a black hole or something when really it’s all an illusion! That was fun. After much mucking about of pretending we had angel wings or were surfing the ocean, we then caught a tuk tuk into the Big C itself…

One last hit…

We all hopped out the tuk tuk (and probably all looking rather windswept too!) and took a slow stroll around Koh Sarn Road.

“I can’t believe you’ve never been to Koh Sarn Road before Bo?!” I said, giving Bo a wide eyed look. It made me chuckle though…’Hah, an English gal showing a Thai national around her own city!’ hehe.

It was so amusing to see Bo’s face as we walked past the usual stands selling all the tat I’d seen many a time….the wooden ‘croaking’ frogs, the brightly sewn bracelets with every obscene word you can think of, the ‘slinky’ penises! And then there were the stalls selling the edible bugs – scorpians and tarantulas on sticks, the giant locusts, bowls of hot fried meal worms YUK! Oh and don’t forget the clothing stalls displaying T-shirts in vivid colours with slogans of ‘I love BKK’ or ‘Chang Beer’. And then there are the club promoters bombarding you as you walk past their bars….”Hello Miss, you come inside. Buy one get on free bucket” Oh my goodness…and how could I forget this…”Hello Miss, you want to see Ping pong show? Or how about a happy ending?” You have to laugh at it all really. But I’m also glad I saw and heard all of that and glad Bo experienced it too even if she did look kinda shocked (same as me the first time hah!) And again, you have to avoid the limbless beggers sitting in the middle of your path which of course, is horrific to see but I have been told they are professional beggers who have made a trip specially from Cambodia because Koh Sarn is where all the tourists go! You know, when we were walking around, I was thinking to myself; It’s kinda like….you have to experience the darker side to see it and believe it – believe that it all goes on so you can appreciate all of the good, the beautiful and the wonderful things of this world if that makes any sense!?

We were pacing in slow motion for a while and in silence for most of it because I wanted Bo to take it all in. After hearing the many chants of “Excuse me Miss” this and that and the constant flow of hard and heavy bass music mixing into softer tones of live acoustic Bob Marley to Green Day variations, we decided to hit a club….yup, the one and only ‘The Club Koh Sarn’. I laughed to myself again thinking ‘The amount of times I’ve stumbled out of this club hehe’ Well, it just had to be done one last time……

Heights, Flights and….Hangovers!

Yup! You guessed it! Bo, Ken and I all had a wicked night in ‘The Club’ on Koh Sarn that night. Bo and I were also loving mucking about with the free glowsticks you get given when you walk in which immediately makes you feel 12 again haha, funny that! It was also fun chatting to the many different nationalities and hearing about where people had been or where they were off to next… One guy from Dublin came and sat with us and immediately plonked down 3 shots on our table “Drink with me!” He slurred and then promptly hiccuped! “No no, you go ahead” I replied….I really didn’t fancy doing shots that night as I knew that would kill me! The Irish fella was harmless though, just way more drunk than we were haha. He downed all the shots, chatted to us for a bit and then……threw up right at our feet! GROSS! Shame really haha. What a conversation killer that was so yup, we moved away sharpish and left him for his mates to clean up hahaha!

Ok, so falling out the club at 4am we grabbed a cab back to our destinations. We weren’t that drunk (well, not as bad as the Irish dude that’s for sure) but we were at that ‘happy state’ lets say! “Oh my Buddha! I have to be up around 8-8.30am to get ready for my flight!!” Stumbling with my words was a sure sign I needed to hit the hay….well, the TIME was a sure sign I needed to hit the hay hahah! Saying our goodbyes, we all headed our separate ways.

As soon as my head hit the pillow….well, actually, I can’t remember that bit but I do remember the horrid video game alarm of mine going off at a most unholy time! “Oh nooooo!” I groaned but miraculously was up, out and in a cab to the airport to catch my final flight to KL. I was feeling dehydrated, a little nauseous and ached from all the dancing we did the night before. But above all of that, I felt sad and had to fight my watery eyes from actually turning into waterfalls haha!

Finally boarding the plane to KL, I sat and watched the air crews usual safety routine of ‘what to do if’ and then sat staring out the window (yay, another window seat!) whilst listening to the tones of my ipod playing ‘One day I’ll fly away’. The rain outside was hitting the window (another symbolic moment hah!) as I stared blankly out into the distance. I then watched the run way lines gradually speed up and up until they became one continuous line….then the ‘G-force’ facelift feeling hit and we were up! Once more, I watched the airport, the buildings, the roads and cars all turn into nothing more than a ‘toy town’ below. It was almost as though the higher the plane went, the more ‘fake’ the toy town below became hah! Nausea crept over me once more and reminded me how much of a blast I’d had with my friends just hours before! Heavy eyelids encouraged me to make use of the 3hrs ‘free time’ to sleep the hangover off so I gave in resisting and soon drifted off into a sweet slumber…

“Hello Miss….MISS? Can you please open the window shutter” That must have been the 2nd or 3rd time the air hostess had muttered those words to me but the nudge from the person in the middle seat abruptly brought me back to ‘reality’ when they interrupted my slumber with their pointy elbow! “Sorry! Are we landing now?” I stuttered. “Yes, we are now arriving at Kuala Lumpur” Came the reply. “Great stuff!” I tried to sound enthusiastic but I was kinda blue knowing that actually, this was to be my final 3 days before heading home!!

I found the shuttle bus to my hotel straight away and was soon on my way to ‘hibernation’! No, I won’t really be locking myself away for 3 days but I am looking forward to taking it easy and catching up with some telly etc…oh and MTV, who’s at number 1 right now, I have no idea haha? I will also be looking forward to catching a few of my Malaysian pals too and seeing what they are up to.

I will also have to think about what I’m going to do with my blog right? 😦 I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this but I guess I won’t have a lot to write about until the next time I explore the world and believe me, this is just the beginning (until I save up again!) Now I know I can do it, I have well and truly been bitten by this beautiful bug and I don’t intend to stop now! 😀

But this post isn’t the last one, don’t worry! I still have another one in me yet but that one may be coming to your screens from the good old UK!

So thanks again Thailand and for giving me the Thai of my life! 😉

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Pee-nang!

So, I’ve made it to Penang and oh my, what a difference to Bali! I’m missing Bali so much already and of course the wonderful friends I’ve made. But ho hum, that’s what the life of a traveller is all about 😉 Each and every moment is being stored, recorded, experienced and locked away for my memories 😀

Well, it took all day to get to Penang and theoretically speaking, it’s only 4hrs away from Bali! So anyways, I left at 9am and arrived at 9pm, phew! I slept well the first night, I tell thee haha!

I was pretty tired and groggy when the plane finally landed but I knew I could relax a bit as soon as I got in a cab. Waiting for my invisible man to finally make an appearance on the revolving luggage belt, I stood for a moment just taking in my surroundings. I must have been the only white person there but hey, I was pretty used to sticking out like a sore thumb now right hehe.

The invisible man and pink scarf…(yes, STILL clinging on in it’s now battered and rather dulled down shade of pink) slowly came round the belt. The whole back pack I must say is beginning to look just as tired as me haha! Hauling the invisible man onto my luggage trolley, I then joined the que for the customs and security checks….and straight away I was approached by one of the airport workers.

“Excuse me Miss, where you from Miss?” A stern looking Malaysian man started to walk over to me, his eyes narrowing the closer he got as if he was already trying to work out what he was going to say to my response! “I’m from the UK” I replied. Taking a dry gulp, I started to feel that nervous flutter rising up from the pit of my belly which of course is really silly because I hadn’t done anything wrong but in good old fashioned Readders style my mind was naturally awakening with it’s ever enthusiastic curiosity! “May I see your passport?” Asking with authority, I immediately passed it over, “Of course”. I was then beginning to wonder why I had been singled out from the line of other people…’Hmm…why is he not asking other people the same question?’ I thought to myself but of course, what can you do apart from follow orders! “How long you stay? “Oh just 9 days” “For holiday?” He asked…’Um, well, YEH!’ I was thinking….what else for haha…then my mind flashed to a comedy programme that I used to watch with my Dad ‘How not to live your life’ and my mind was then whizzing through all the things that I should NOT say at that moment LOL! But anyway, it was all fine and dandy and he left me alone after that…very odd! But at least I didn’t get strip searched lol! Without naming any names, I have met someone on my travels who has unfortunately been a strip search victim and this person is the most innocent looking person you could ever meet haha! 

To me to you….to LAZY BOYS please! 

Finally escaping the airport, I was greeted by a waft of heat…30 degrees of it engulfed my whole body and infact, it felt as though the heat was almost punishing me for enjoying the air conditioned environment inside! I wheeled the invisible man out to the front and followed the signs for the taxi rank. With the address of the hostel screwed up in one hand and the other pushing the trolley, it wasn’t long before I was approached by hoards of “Excuse me Miss, you want taxi?” Well, I’ve learnt to ignore these and follow the signs for the official airport taxi’s as you are bound to get a better rate. Chatting through the glass window of the taxi office, I was immediately assigned to a cabby man who slung my back pack straight in and ushered me into the car. This taxi office was actually a pre-paid service which I thought was pretty good…ok, so they could have been charging over the odds however, at least you knew that you’d already paid and didn’t have to worry about what the fee was going to be at the end of the ride! So, sliding into the back of the cab (note to ladies….I strongly suggest you always take the back seat…not that anythings ever happened to me but I just think that this is safer plus I just feel more comfortable in the back!) and we were off.

Wow, Penang is just lovely! It felt as though I was back in Kuala Lumpur except without the hustle and bustle of the city centre. I was then reminiscing about the start of my journey which began all those months ago…8 to be precise! I was also then day dreaming out the back of the taxi’s window as to how far I’ve come! ‘Hey, you’ve done the full circuit you know Hels, you should be proud of yourself!’ Said I to um, me haha! * Sighs! Re-focusing out of the window again, I could once more see familiar street food stalls selling whole chickens that were hanging in rows by their feet (heads included), noodle stands, hot and spicy mixtures and rice stalls oh and the all too familiar street dogs sniffing around for the odd scraps! Gorgeous palm trees, outdoor restaurants decorated with a multitude of bright lights trying to entice people in by their fancy-ness and locals going about or should I say buzzing about on their scooters! Note to self, I really want to get myself a pink scooter when I’m back in the UK haha, they are so much fun!

An hour passed and I was beginning to wonder where we were. “Um, do you actually know where Lazy Boys Guest House is?” I questionably asked. The aged taxi man seemed a bit lost in my opinion. “Yes, yes….Lady Boys I know!” Stating the wrong guest house whilst scratching his head was a clear giveaway that he didn’t have the faintest idea! Good job I wrote the full address and phone number down! Then literally a few moments later…”Crazy Boys eh?” “No, Lazy Boys!” I emphasized on the pronunciations of LAY ZEE BOYS as best I could haha! “Yes, yes that’s what I say to you!” Grrr…in my sleepy state, I was trying hard not to get annoyed but after the 10th time, yes TENTH or so time of hearing every variation of Lazy Boys, I suggested that he pulled over and called someone! “Ok, ok,, I ask my friend” Phew, finally we’re (hopefully) getting somewhere. The old man then stopped at the nearest street food stall and asked the worker if he’d ever heard of the place rarrrr! I made a firm but polite suggestion when he got back in the car “I have their phone number, just call them!” What is it with men and directions, they just don’t like just calling direct do they lol?

I think the taxi man was just as excited as me when we finally pulled up at Lazy Boys Guest House except I think his was more of a proud and boastful victory ‘Yay, I found it!’ kind of moment haha! Dumping my invisible man at the front door, he promptly sped off. Hauling the back pack up with both hands, I just couldn’t lift it, I didn’t have the strength to pull it on my back so I wobbled and hobbled with it swaying from left to right finally dropping it just inside the doorway so I could sign in.

Aww the owners are soo nice! I was warmly welcomed by the husband and wife who immediately took my things, showed me around and made me feel at ‘home’. So pleased I picked this place. The reviews all seemed fantastic on Trip Advisor and they weren’t wrong! My single room actually looks like the kind of bedroom I had as a teenager so straight away I felt pretty comforted by that. Hey and perks of staying here are; FREE laundry service, FREE cups of tea and coffee, use of kitchen and utensils oh AND there is a mini music room fully equiped with a drum kit, keyboard, acoustic and electric guitars woo hoo! After letting Mama and Papz know I’d arrived safely, I quickly whizzed to the 24hr convenience store next door and ‘stocked’ up! Yay, I could buy cereal and milk! After buying my essentials and labelling everything as ‘Helens, do not touch’, I then went to bed where I had the best nights kip I’d had in a while! ZZzz…

Lets go to the beach beach

Oops, I woke up at 10.30am Saturday morning haha, guess I needed it! The good thing about the room is that it’s so dark, although, could be a bad thing because I thought it was still the middle of the night when I woke up haha!

Rising from my slumber, I stumbled to the shower rooms to snap out of my sleep drunken state! A bowl of cereal and a cuppa tea later and I was readdy to explore my surroundings woo hoo.

I took a walk around and to be honest, there doesn’t seem a lot to do in the sleepy town centre but of course a bus ride here or there opens you up to a lot more. I know there are botanical gardens, a butterfly farm, the JUNGLE, beaches etc..but just for today, I felt a beach day was in order!

Finding the beach, I took a walk up one side, then the other and just enjoyed taking in the fresh air, the ‘fizzing’ sounds of the waves caressing the sand, the sights of people on jetski’s and gentle music wafting in the wind from nearby restaurants. “Ahh, this looks like a good spot” I thought to myself. Unrolling my beach mat (kindly lent to me by the guest house) and plonking myself down, I popped my ipod on and opened my journal. “Right, I’d best get updating ready for my blog”. I must have only scribbled a few words when…splodge….hmm, wiping off the small droplet of water I carried on. SPLODGE, SPLAT, oh noooo!! Smudged biro letters turned to water and began running down the page! ‘Dammit’ I had to run for cover because a few splodges and splats turned into the heaviest downpour I’d seen in a while. Hiding underneath what I can only describe as a ‘grass umbrella’ I waited for the rain to stop or at least subside. I waited..waited and waited some more until I had to give in to the rain! At least I found the bus stops on my jog around town…oh and MacDonalds too, oops! Well, after a month of detoxing and eating nothing but veg and salad in Ubud I thought ‘why not’ ! Haha.

So the first day was pretty much a wet beach and chill day…well, actually, it turned out most days were peeing down hence the name of the blog hehe!

Butterflies, Bugs and Beetles = 😀 

Ok, so Sunday I decide to get up early and find out where the Butterfly Farm was. I figured that if it was raining again then an indoor activity would be best. The hostel owners gave me a map of Penang and also a list of all the bus numbers and routes which was fab. So, armed with my map, the bus journeys and my camera, I was off…

Wow, what a seriously hot day! It reached 30 degrees and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky! ‘Oh, so today looks like it’s going to be hot as and I’m staying inside!’ Typical, I thought to myself but oh well…maybe I could hit the beach afterwards? I found the bus stop no problems, sat myself down and popped my ipod on and waited. It wasn’t long before I was approached for a ‘taxi’. A dark skinned Malaysian man came and sat himself down next to me and asked “Where you go Miss? I can take you” Turning my head towards the man I firmly said “No thank you, I am taking the bus out of town” Finally, he got the message and walked away but minutes later another Malaysian man came over and plonked himself down on the metal chairs. “Where you going?” He asked in a monotone voice. “For a day out” I replied, well, I didn’t want him to know exactly where right! “You need taxi? I give good price” “No thank you. I want to take the bus” I gave a firm answered and then popped the right headphone back into my ear to make it clear that I wasn’t interested in talking to him. He too got the message and thankfully bus 101 then appeared in the distance. Wow, it was only 1 Ringgit and 40 cents to get to the Butterfly Farm (I know 1 RM is about 20 English pence so less than 30p to get there!) A cab would have still been cheap but FAR cheaper to get the bus, plus it’s more fun to stare out the window and travel like one of the locals hey. Oh and the hostel owners warned me to ‘watch my valuables’ on the bus as other guests have complained of having things stolen…so just have your valuables at the front of you (so bags on laps ok!).

Oh my word, the bus driver was a maniac! He was driving so fast that I seriously thought we were going to make it round the bends on 2 wheels! I had to hang on to the bars as tightly as I could! One poor tourist let go for a split second to re-adjust her bag but a 2 wheeled turn of a corner and she went flying tee hee! Her partner had to catch her! No language was needed at that moment either, all of us tourists were exchanging looks of ‘Strewth! Are we there yet?’ haha.

Phew, finally the bus driver came to an abrupt stop almost causing me to head butt the person in front of me and shouted “Butterfly Farm” Ooh fab! So I hopped off (probably looking rather green in the face at this point along with the other tourists hah) and like a Lemming, I followed them for a few metres thinking they too were heading the same way. We walked up the road in a crowd of mixed accents and languages but they all soon veered off into the Toy Museum leaving just me, myself and I exposed. Hmm…I guess the Butterfly Farm is further up, so I kept walking until about 5 mins later there it was! I did actually spot a huge monitor lizard blocking my path and typically, once I managed to get the camera out, it slid off, boo!

Wow, the Butterfly Farm was so cool and I recommend anyone who makes it to Penang to make the trip out. It’s so close to Batu Ferringhi and just under 6 english pounds to enter. I could see every variety, every colour, shape and size of butterfly fluttering about and doing butterfly things haha. Then you take a walk through the bugs and reptiles corner which of course is my favourite woo hoo! Ooo, snakes, scorpians, spiders, beetles and reptiles 😀 In actual fact, I could identify (not by name) a lot of the bugs and reptiles that I had seen on my travels too which amazed me! I then realised just how much wildlife I had encountered along the way!

I then came to a platform showing illustrations of all the different bugs, animals and wildlife etc in the world and just how different it is all over. Next to the ‘Nature’s Atlas’ there was an option to play some music so I loaded up ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong and it was amazing! The display then seemed to light up all the different mammals, landscapes, bugs and plants etc in sync with the music and just at that moment, I smiled to myself and actually, I didn’t care that I probably looked like a smiley freak haha because yes, it is a wonderful world and the music carried me off into a day dream about my travelling adventures to date and made me feel so very fortunate to have discovered just some of the world 🙂

The Perfect Stranger…

After much butterflying and bugging around, I then took a walk back to the bus stop and headed for Batu Ferringhi to find a spot for lunch. I quickly found a nice place (the most packed one around of course! It’s common sense to always head for the one where all the people are at!) I sat down and ordered some chicken and fried rice and did a bit of people watching. There was just one other white couple and the rest were all locals…a good sign really because I wanted to go where all the locals ate and avoid the temptation of going back to MacDonalds haha! I also spotted a nice looking Chinese guy sitting on his own…I watched as he slurped up his snake like noodles and sipped the soup from his bowl. After a short while, the Chinese man went up to pay his bill and um…..MINE!! I didn’t realise he’d paid my bill until he was walking out..”Hey, that handsome Chinese man just pay your bill Miss” Shouted the Waitress! Omg! Well, the whole restaurant turned to look at me and as usual, I went bright red! My mind was racing with questions like ‘Why? Why would he do that? Who was he? Why didn’t he just say hello if he wanted to chat with someone?’ “Huh?! Really? But he’s a stranger to me” I stuttered…I didn’t really know what to do! Looking through the open flaps of the restaurant (which was literally a glorified marquee) I caught his gaze as he walked around the corner and before he went out of sight I managed to mouth the words ‘Thank you’ He smiled back and then disappeared.

Soon the buzz of peoples gossiping, points and stares disappeared and thankfully went back to focusing on the food on their plates once more. And I too went back to finishing my plate but I couldn’t help ponder about the kind stranger who wanted to randomly pay for the food I was eating! But then I was battling with my independent Beyonce alter ego of ‘I can pay for my own food thanks’ hahah…hmm, Penang is a small place so perhaps if I see him again I can find out why he wanted to do that or….I could just leave it for what it was – a kind gesture from a beautiful stranger 😉

Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang Hill

Wanting to explore more of Penang (and secretly hoping to bump into the perfect stranger again), I decided to catch another very speedy bus out for an afternoon so ended up at Penang Hill. There you can visit Kek Lok Si Temple which is beautiful! A huge white temple surrounded by wonderful grounds, a wishing tree and a wishing pond packed with Koi Carp! The temple itself is like a mix of Thai, Chinese and Burmese styles so it was different from what I had seen before.

As soon as I got there, I was busy looking around until I came across the wishing tree. You basically buy a ribbon with your chosen message (from the options they have on display) and hang it on one of the branches. I chose ‘Constant Happiness’ of course 😀 Then I took a walk over to the wishing pond although, couples were crowding the wishing pond and enjoying their ‘moments’ together so I sat there feeding the hungry carp with some bought fish food pellets hehe…that was fun though. I spotted a big black fish in there which wasn’t a carp but more like a cat fish? I wanted to stick my finger in the water to see what it would do…so I dapped a small stick in and ‘SNAP’ the black fish had hidden teeth and attacked the stick as though it could have been some kind of small prey for it’s lunch hah! Phew, so glad I didn’t risk my finger in there lol!

After much pottering about, I decided to grab something to eat before heading back. A local told me “If you want to try local food, then you have to try Laksa” Laksa is basically a spicy fish soup. Hmm, sounded pretty nasty to me but hey, I wanted to try it and eat as a ‘local’.

So, taking a seat in a local street cafe, the waiter plonks down a bowl of this Laksa. “Enjoy!” “Thanks!” With chopsticks, you pick up the noodles and fish with one hand and then plonk the mixture onto a spoon with the other and well, slurp it up! To start with I wasn’t too sure but actually, I started to rather like it! I believe the fish was mackerel but it tasted a bit like spicy tuna and I love tuna so I ate it all up hah!

Turns out, the owners have been running this cafe for 57 years! Yup, 57yrs of knocking out the same dish, day in, day out…oh and get this…that is ALL they make! It all became clear once I’d taken a glance around the packed seats…everyone was in fact eating the same dish! “Everyday people come here to eat my Laksa. Some ordering 2 / 3 bowls per time” The owner seemed to proud to be able to boast this as fact of course. I was then day dreaming and thinking ‘I bet every line in the cafe owners face could tell the story of how all this began!’ In fact, the table I was sitting on starting filling up as there were no seats left! ‘Wow, people really do fill this place up fast!’ I thought to myself, taking a final slurp from my spicy fishy dish. But what a fascinating story hey and one that the cafe owner will continue going on and on no doubt.

Busy doing nothing!

The following days were complete wash outs…the heavy rain was as persistent as an army of a thousand drummers and stormy winds seemed to scatter the rain like seeds leaving limited dry patches to take refuse under! “Hmm, what am I going to do with myself?” I thought…well, it’s a good job the hostel owners and guests were easy to get along with at Lazyboys. I really didn’t do much at all apart from laze around, chat with other travellers and sink a few Tiger beers whilst listening to Azlan (one of the hostel owners who yes, shares the same name as the Lion from The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe haha!) playing his own rendition of ‘No Woman no cry’ on his acoustic guitar…”Azlan, you keep missing out the verse that repeats ‘Everything’s gonna be alright, everything’s gonna be alright!’ Haha” “Ah yes, so I do haha…Oh well, this is Azlan’s version!”

I was desperate to go trekking in Penang’s National Park but I felt rather jinxed by the weather, oh and the fact that I was alone too was another issue! Hmm. Grabbing a Tiger beer from the fridge, I peeled back the ring pull hearing it snap and fizz. Once the bubbles crept back into the can, I took a slurp and then pondered for a minute or two. “Azlan, do you think trekking is possible alone?” “No. You will need a guide but really it’s better in a group. Also, with the rain, you could slip and fall or worse still, lose the path. But also, even when the sun is out, it will be too hot to trek and it’s not an easy walk” He seemed quite serious. “Oh” I didn’t really know what to reply…it seemed a harsh catch 22 situation because yes, I could have hired a guide but I really didn’t want to just go off into the jungle with a stranger either…I would have rather fancied going in a group, safety in numbers and all that.

Life’s a Beach

So with trekking looking more like a ‘could have, would have’ scenario…some kind of mass laziness came over me haha! I thought to myself, you know, you’ve done so much trekking, you’ve seen so many jungles why not just take these 9 days to do absolutely nothing! With the beach conveniently over the road, I spent much of my time there and loved it 😉 I loved sitting there and taking in all the sights, sounds and smells….lovers taking a romantic sandy stroll together, children playing volley ball, families taking a horse ride up the shore, locals trying to catch the slightest glare from tourists so they could rent out their deck chairs and umbrellas, watching teenagers fall off the banana boats and seeing the odd over weight, white balding man wearing things he really shouldn’t hahah! And trying to resist the succulent smells of barbequed food which would gently waft under your nose and turn into a seducing and beckoning finger – (just like it would in a cartoon) until your tummy would give in and grumble to it! Or watching the sand dogs (like street dogs but um, well, sand dogs) curl up and find a spot to snooze in….

But do you know what else I really loved about it all….the sitting there and not being noticed. I could just blend in and be ignored, I could be anyone I wanted to be on that beach. I mean, travelling is a great escape if you’re looking to escape anything (which of course I’m not) but there is something about sitting on a beach and watching the sun-setting while your favourite tunes gently serenade your ear drums – it’s so peaceful, so beautiful. But then, sometimes, I would feel a slight hollowness trying to rise up…hmm, what is this? Then it hit me…’Oh my god. I’ll be home in a week….ONE WEEK!’ Of course, I can’t wait to see my family and my friends but I just can’t believe that my wonderful journey will soon all be over. Day dreaming at the sinking sun sounds rather sentimental I know but it also felt rather symbolic to me too.

One afternoon, I sat on the beach to scribble an idea for a short novel (just an idea that I may pursue once I’m back!) and a sand dog walked right over to me and just stood just a few metres directly in front of me and stared. ‘Ok, just stay calm, just stay calm….’ Telling myself to stay calm was just not going to happen but I had to try and stop the fear from breaking through my pores and giving the sand dog the green light to bite! I dropped my gaze to the sand because I didn’t want to try and play a stare out game with what could potentially be a dangerous dog right?? ‘Ok, um, try and look busy’ I carried on scribbling to through off a ‘Bothered, do I look bothered that you’re standing there?’ demeanor haha! And then the sand dog curled up, sighed and started to snooze right there in front of me. ‘Aww, he seems alright’ Phew! My fear began to disappear and I felt relaxed that the sand dog and I had made our ‘peace’ of sharing our space together.

Moments later, the sand dog got up and stepped even closer to me and laid down once more to kip. In fact, the sand dog kept getting closer to me until he was literally sat by my side. It was rather cute actually….the stray sand dog, my bodyguard haha! “I guess you get lonely too sometimes hey lil one!” I said, giving him a lil tickle on the head. So there I was, scribbling the drafts for a potential novel whilst taking in the most beautiful sunset of the week with my stray sand dog. I bet it looked rather funny to the locals casually walking past too hahah but I know it made me chuckle!

Georgetown

Wow, time to check out of Lazyboys and head for Guest Inn Muntri in Georgetown. 7 nights in Penang seemed to fly by but hey, now it was time to explore the main town.

I arrived at my new hostel and was immediately shown to my room and woah…it was like a prison cell (well, from what I’ve seen on telly haha!). I’m not claustrophobic but the room was so small that I feared I may actually develop the phobia just from staying there! So picture this….a tiny room that even the invisible man had trouble fitting into, no windows to peer out of and nowhere to hang your clothes…oh AND, I got eaten alive by mozzies before I’d even got into bed that night! There does seem to be more mozzies here than in Bali so I well and truly paid the price for forgetting to apply my bug repellent that day.

Avoiding hanging around at the hostel, I went off to explore my new town! I must say, I much preferred Penang. Penang is quieter and I was also missing ‘my’ beach! Georgetown is more about the history and the buildings. However, the buildings are very pretty…they seem to come in every pastel shade going! I saw pale minty green buildings along with fine yellow, orange and pink structures, it was rather stunning. There were also a lot more tourists and a lot more bars to walk in and fall out of but I wasn’t too impressed hah. ‘Oh well, just another night and I’ll then be heading back to Bangkok to see my friends’ I thought to myself and hey, whatever the situation…it is what you make of it.

I did actually check out of the hostel to avoid being suffocated and bittern to death by mozzies and pitched up in a much nicer place so I could enjoy my final night in Penang in comfort 😉

Getting a cab back to the airport was funny, well, not so funny actually. The day I checked out was typically a ‘monsoon’ day and the rain was bucketing down. I hailed a red and white cab down and asked for the airport. I trusted the look of this cab because of the ‘This taxi is metered, no haggling’ sign on the door…’Great stuff, this’ll do’ “Hello, taxi to airport please?” “Yes, get in” comes the enthusiastic reply from the taxi dude. I firmly responded with “Meter” as I chucked my bag in the front seat. “No, no…fixed price, 50 Ringgits” “Forget it!” I couldn’t believe it. So it wasn’t metered at all then!?

I hailed the next red and white cabby down and opened the door and asked the same question. “Metered taxi to airport please” “No meter. I do fixed price only” “Well, why say you’re a metered taxi when clearly you’re not!” I was getting a bit hacked off with not just the taxi guys but just at how tourists can be treated in this way. I told him to get lost and walked away leaving the door wide open for all the rain to come pouring in haha! It was funny seeing this Malaysian taxi driver ranting what I can only assume to be bad words at me. I stood under nearby ledge for shelter from the rain and smirked to myself watching in amusement as the cabby driver frantically tried to reach to shut the door of his cab to stop anymore rain seeping in. I could then see him dapping the inside of the door with tissues before he then wheel spinned off…..good punishment for him really hehe!

A chinese man and his daughter saw the whole thing (and no, sadly it wasn’t my perfect stranger coming out of nowhere to whisk me off haha) but he asked what happened and was I ok. James was his name and his daughter was called Nikki. “I just picked my daughter up from her computer class. I live right by the airport so I can take you there” After much umm-ing and arr-ing, I thought it would be pretty safe as he was with his daughter and she’d be coming along for the ride too. So James and Nikki drove me to the airport and all for free, he wouldn’t take a dime for his efforts even when I insisted. There really are some wonderfully kind people out there…always trust your gut and go with what feels right and you’ll be ok! My instinct has kept me safe and believe me, your intuition grows tenfold when you’re out in the world.

And that was beautiful Penang! It was short but it was very sweet. However, I feel I need to come back just for the trekking one day!

Someone once told me ‘A wise man said, leave some things undone’ I’d like to interpret that to mean….’Because you can come back and knot the bits you left for they will then become the best bits!’ 😉

So farewell Penang – Bangkok here I come just for one last hit! I’m looking forward to saying my final goodbyes to my Thai pals and catch up with the movies, bowling, drinking etc 😀 Then it’s one final trip back to KL where it all began….

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Ozzy ozzy ozzy….

If someone had said to me a year ago, “You will be visiting Australia” I would have laughed it off…..but right now, here I sit typing up new tales from Oz land as we speak! Still can’t believe I am here in Sydney Australia…just unbelievable!

Back to the Future!

Leaving Thailand was super hard and yes, as soon as I was on that plane, I did watch it disappear (well, from the aisle seat anyways!) into a nothingness black sky below (it was a night flight!)

Going back a little….the whole flying experience was a breeze. I flew with Air Asia who all in all aren’t bad, they sure are better than Orient Thai who I certainly wouldn’t recommend! Oh if you’re going to hire the in-flight entertainment, there are only about 5 Hollywood movies pre-loaded plus the battery on the 10.1 inch tablet started dropping quite rapidly so just watch that if you’re on a long haul flight so I now have to become accustomed to a new time…Australia is 9hrs ahead of the UK and 3hrs ahead of Thailand so I guess it’s like going ‘back to the future’ haha! It’s a bit of a nightmare skyping home though!

I didn’t sleep at all on the plane…I just watched a few movies and listened to a bit of Justin Timberlake and then it was pretty much time to get off! As soon as the wheels touched down, I just couldn’t believe I was in the land of Oz!!

Anything to Declare?

Before you get off the plane, you are asked to fill out an arrivals card and my word…the questions are quite funny actually for example..’Are you coming into our country with any meat, poultry or fish? Are you entering with any medicines? Are you arriving with any soil on your shoes?’ Hmm..well I ticked no for everything and then realised that my hiking boots may still have some dried mud on them? I was then thinking…do I declare or don’t I? But don’t worry..there was actually hardly anything on my boots and definitely nothing worth mentioning anyways but at the time I was fretting hah!

Then an announcement came over the speakers about illnesses…’If you are sick or have been ill abroad, you need to report it. Our Airline crew are also expected to report any sick passengers that they may have encountered’ What!! Ok, so my strange random case of scarlet fever had gone but I had a terrible cold and chesty cough…so there I was again, worrying about if I had been ‘reported’ hah! Then there was the mention of sniffer dogs being used (if they were uber suspicious I guess), blimey!

So you get off the plane and obviously have to clear immigration…no problem but then you have to get through quarantine! Oh great! My imagination was running wild again…’what if they notice I’m not 100% and pull me up on it?’ ‘What if they want a blood sample and it turns out I’m actually harboring some kind of jungle fever?’ Gulp! But it was dead easy…the chap checked my arrivals card and told me to exit via ‘Lane 8’ and that was it…I’d by-passed the quarantine and ended up in the arrivals lounge woo hoo! Then it was time for me to grab a cab straight to Mikes. All I remember thinking was 2 things 1. Goddammit it’s freezing (15 degrees – half the temperature of Thailand) and 2. So far, Sydney looked a bit like England. I got in the cab and gave the driver Mikes address and then sleepy heavy eyes got the better of me and forced me to drift off….

Possibly the Perfect City….

It was so good to finally arrive at Mikes! I hadn’t seen him in over a year and neither of us could believe I was there in Oz so it was great catching up! Sitting on the sofa I did start drifting off again so after a few hours kip, I was right as rain.

On Friday, Mike took me for a walk so I could get used to my new surroundings. It was amazing! Everything just looked perfect and even though it was cold, the sun was still shining. I could see wide roads decorated with beautiful tall palm trees, huge houses with pristine and perfect front lawns, committed joggers whooshing past leaving a scent of heavy deodrant as if to cover up their ‘sweatiness’ oh and I could also hear new bird calls which made it sound like I was in paradise! That was another thing I couldn’t wait to see / hear, Australia’s wildlife…it’s exciting (yet scary at the same time) sharing the same land as some of the most poisonous creatures on earth right?!

We walked through the nearest park again avoiding more committed joggers (and believe me, I’ve noticed there are a lot in Sydney!) and it was then just across the harbour I could see the Opera House and the Bridge. It was that moment that made me realised the Readders was definitely in Oz!!

At the beginning of the week, with everyone being at work, me, myself and I (and a Sydney guidebook) decided to catch a bus into the city itself. Wow! Sydney is amazing! Still kinda think it looks a bit like the UK but it’s bigger and cleaner (sorry UK but it is!). Sitting on the bus into the city was cool, it drove over the Bridge and just over to my left I could see the Opera House. And I tell you something else, it is such a joy to overhear peoples conversations and actually be able to understand them all haha! It really is the small things I guess!

My eyes were darting all over the place! I could see impressive buildings from modern looking sky scrapers so tall you had to crook your neck to see the top right through to older looking french architectural buildings so it’s like a ‘modern meets culture’ – a great compromise so you have a bit of both.

I ended up walking around the City centre and then Darling Harbour and then had a nose around ‘Wildlife Sydney Zoo’ oh and had my photo taken in the mouth of the worlds biggest croc haha! Catching the bus back to Mikes, I found out you can get a ‘My Multi’ travel pass…well worth doing if you’re going to be travelling around a fair bit. There are different zones 1, 2 and 3. 2 seems to suit me but for $52 I can use the trains, buses and / or ferries as much as I want for 7 days which is pretty good. A great site for transport timetables etc.. is http://www.131500.com.au

Getting around is pretty easy and within a few days, I was already beginning to know my way around too. Annoyingly I don’t have one of these iPhones with GPS or anything so I’m relying on traditional paper maps but actually, I’ve been well chuffed with my map reading skills haha! Ok, so there was one time I did get a little lost but that was the fun part…getting lost and then finding all these other places I wouldn’t have found otherwise for example, I stumbled across Paddy’s Markets! A friend did tell me (thanks Emrys) there was a huge market right in the centre and hey ho, I accidentally found it woo hoo! I also found China town too. That was funny, without realising it, I was thinking to myself…hang on a minute, there are a lot of Asian people walking about…awesome, I’m back in Thailand haha! There really is something for everyone in Sydney…bars, restaurants, markets, history, museums, parks etc…It is like a huge London I reckon! A lot of their roads are also named after places in London and they also have their own version of Hyde Park too.

Open Top Bus Tour(s)!

What a perfect way to get around Sydney! I decided to book on a sightseeing bus so I could see the highlights of Sydney but also to see if there was anything I wanted to go back to in the week…which yep, I’d spotted a Museum with a photography gallery on and also a Botanical Garden that I wanted to have a peep in. I highly recommend this tour to anyone who wishes to see the City in an afternoon. Sydney Explorer takes you around the City in 90 minutes and of course covers all the ‘must sees’ including the Opera House, the Bridge and the Rocks etc..

I actually booked onto 2 tours because they were doing a 2 for 1 deal and it was perfect because the other tour was headed out to Bondi Beach which was another place I really wanted to go. The tickets can be validated for either 24 or 48hrs and you can literally hop on or off whenever you like within your time limit. When the bus arrived at Bondi Beach I hopped off and spent a good hour just pottering about there. I’d promised my Step Bro Kyle that I’d find Bondi Skate Park and take a few shots for him too. While I was taking photos of the skaters, I suddenly heard this voice to my right. “Are you a photographer?” I looked down and saw a guy about my age sitting on a bench also watching the skaters. I also noticed he was cutting up a lemon which I thought was a bit odd but I poo pooed it. “Um, no, just taking some shots for my Step Bro” I didn’t want to get into how I was this aspiring photographer you see so turned my head and carried on taking photos.. “Thirsty?” Looking back at the man on the bench, he was now holding up a bottle and swishing it from side to side causing the brown liquid to lash around inside the bottle as if to try and tempt me with it? “Is that….Tequilla? Um, no thanks, I’m good” I point blank refused…it wasn’t even lunch time either…Oh and I mean, I wouldn’t have said yes if it was later in the day either haha! “Yep, Tequilla indeed. Ok, suit yourself!” Then this guy dabbed some salt along the line of his thumb on his right hand and yep…there he was doing tequilla slammers for his lunch! Well, I didn’t stick around so got the snaps I wanted and then headed back for my open top bus haha.

I tell you what, Bondi reminded me of Cornwall! I think it’s just the laid back atmosphere and seeing all the surfers, surf shops, wacky novelty shops, bars and restaurants etc…I could have spent all day there but I had to get back.

Bit of this and a bit of that! 

Well well! I’ve been mixing it all up and fitting in what I can here to make the most of the time I’ve got so I’ve been getting beached up, zoo’d up, cultured and agricultural hah!

Yep, Mike and I took a look around Sydneys Botanical Gardens and the Australian Museum displaying the photographers gallery. The gallery was amazing! It was a Wildlife Photography display and the runner ups (and the winners) photos were being shown…wow, some of the photographs were so inspiring! I found myself staring at one photo in particular for ages…it was a photograph (which was a runner up and really should have won in my opinion) of a monkey that some locals had caught (I’ve completely forgotten the country now but looked somewhere like Indonesia?) and the hunters children were holding the monkey up to the camera to show off their furry prisoner (who sadly was going to be killed and eaten). What grabbed my attention was the expression on the monkeys face, poor thing looked petrified and naturally you would be if you were abouts to be cooked up into a monkey brains soup right?! The photograph had so much depth to it…the scenario, the expressions on the kids faces who were excited and the expression on the monkeys face which was the complete opposite…it was as though he knew he was going to be eaten. I just couldn’t stop staring at it! The winner was actually a young kid from Bedford, a village not far from my Mum so that was kinda cool to see a winning pic so close to home even though it was 8,000 odd miles away hah!

After our imagination had gotten lost in the photographers gallery, we sneaked upstairs to the Dinosaurs display (I think our ticket only covered us for the photography bit you see haha!). That was awesome! My Dad would have loved it in there..of course you can imagine it was full of enormous dinosaur bones all pinned together to show you the sheer size of these monsters! You just can’t comprehend what it must have been like living in the dino’s era hey! How scary would that have been! I put my head inside the skull of a T Rex and omg, his jaws probably wouldn’t even need to chew…bet they gobbled their prey up whole hah!

August 16th i took myself off to Taronga Zoo. I knew I had to be busy that day as it would have been my Brothers 30th Birthday…so what better way to keep the mind busy by visiting another zoo!  I had been recommended Taronga Zoo which was only about a 12 minute ferry ride out of Sydney and a ‘must see’. I’d also heard you could get your photo holding a cuddly Koala so it was something I had to tick off the list! One of Mikes house mates actually had the day off too that day so we both went together. It was nice to have the company actually and wonder about with someone.

Wow, this place is amazing, you have to go, it is huge! You can easily spend a whole day here wondering about plus there is a cable car ride that you can take and see the whole of Sydney below! The only thing is, you can’t actually hold a Koala here, it’s some kind of rule they have over in New South Wales but I think any other state you can hold them. I didn’t have my pic with a Koala here as it was pretty expensive and you aren’t that close to the lil bears either lol!

Over the weekend, Mike and I took a ferry over to Manly Beach. I did laugh at the name hehe…I wonder how they came up with that! Similar to Bondi with again, a very similar atmosphere..cool, calm and chilled oh and saturated with beautiful people (well, of course, define beautiful!)…what I should say is, the place is full of buff, bronzed fella’s (sorry guys, can’t report back on the gals as my eyes were too busy soaking up buffed boys hahah!) But yup, awesome day looking around and taking in the rays of Manly Beach! I actually took myself back there a few times and found there’s a lot more there than you first think. I found an art gallery, scenic walkways, Shelly Beach oh and a super haunted place called Quarantine Station! Well, it’s meant to be the most haunted place in Australia!

Reminising

So after a good week with Mike, I decided to move on and stay with an old school friend who I found out also lived in Sydney! Gemma lives in Narwee which was only about 20-30 minutes up the road but it gave me the chance to catch up with her and also see a new area. Gemma’s place is awesome! They have such a gorgeous house (pool and granny annexe included) and a family of 3 beautiful girls. Of course, I’ve been staying in the granny annexe all to myself which has been a dream…makes a change from hostels and sofa surfing haha.

Gemma’s been showing me around the sights. We all went out for a trip to Botany Bay and had a look around the places where Captain Cook first docked his boat and discovered Australia which was pretty cool.

I tell you what, their wildlife is amazing here. So far, I’ve only seen about 2 lizards (and very small ones at that) but their birds are stunning! First of all, you won’t miss out on seeing the many white Cockatoos! They are everywhere! When I first saw one, I was thinking ‘Has someone’s parrot gone missing?’ haha. And they also have beautiful Rainbow Lorikeets…again, they are like small colourful parrots! Not seen any scary snakes or red back spiders yet but there’s still time 😉 Oh and the other birds I have seen are Mynahs! I then found myself wondering about Morris and if he was still surviving out there.

So anyways, all in all Narwee is the perfect location. Gemma is right on the train line so I’ve been able to get out and about and take myself off whenever and wherever!

I’ve made many a trip into the city…The other day I walked around for hours! I walked right the way across the harbour bridge and all  the way back again and up one of the turrets to get an overview of Sydney. I then walked all the way over to the Opera House for a peep inside. Actually, a french guy asked me to film him ‘free styling’ down the steps on his BMX bike, he was pretty good actually! I should have asked him if he was going to put that on You Tube!

Blue Mountains 

I decided to book myself on a day tour to the blue mountains via PJ Tours. Wow, I highly recommend this place! It gives you a taste of just how breathtaking the scenary in Australia really is…but this is just the tip of it! Australia is HUGE and I don’t think you realise just how big this place is until you get here…

After a few teething problems (missed the bus the 1st day and the 2nd day I was waiting in the wrong place….mistake of the tour company I’ll have you know haha!) I finally made it 3rd time lucky haha but my word was it worth it.

It was an early start..the bus picked me up from the City at 7.25am and then drove us all to the tour office. From 8am we were then on the road to our first stop, Echo Point. Brrrrr, it was freezing over at the mountains and I’m sure the wind was trying its dam hardest to blow all of us tourists right over and down the mountainous edge…hey that brings a whole new meaning to ‘She’ll be coming down the mountain’ hey hehe.  They had snow up there just 2 days ago so that gives you an idea of how cold it felt. Just be sure to take a jumper AND jacket and possibly your gloves too hah! I loved this place. We got to watch an Aborigine show oh and guess what…..I got pulled up to the front with 3 other girls haha! Was so embarrassing! Note to self, never sit at the front cos it’s bound to happen!! They taught us the female peacocks dance and played their didgeridoos at the same time. Then 2 men were pulled up to help perform the ‘male’ dance. That was fun! Afterwards we were driven to the main attraction of the Blue Mountains.

W.O.A.H! Words will not be able to express the sheer beauty of this place! The 3 Sisters rock formation was stunning, well, the whole scenic backdrop was a jaw dropping treat for the eyes. We all piled into a cable car with a glass bottom which yup, was pretty scary watching the safety of the loading platform suddenly disappear making way to the incredible drop below my trainers! I was thinking ‘Is this thing secure?’ ‘What if the glass falls out!?’ Gulp! A hoard of Japanese tourists were all hogging the view but I managed to get some shots between the mass of heads and bodies. You then all pile into another cable car which takes you down to the bottom of the mountains. Finally touching the ground, we were then left to have a wonder around the Rainforest walkway which was amazing. First thing you notice is how tall the trees are and how small you are. Old haunting looking trees eerily tower over you and peer down with their crooked branches as if to say ‘What are you doing in my neck of the woods?’ Haha. Walking around, I spotted a Lyre bird scratching at the forest floor. These birds are incredible, they mimic other bird calls as well as other (un-natural) sounds including, car alarms, chainsaws and cameras clicking! So clever! Check them out on You tube.

I also spotted a lot of rusty old mining equipment that the miners once used back in the day. I even came across an original entrance to one of the old mines which was pretty cool. Almost an hour had passed and it was time for me to make my way back up and find the coach. Now this was the best bit…to get back up to the top you had to take the old scenic railway – a 52 degree inclining train! Yup, it really was an omg moment haha!

Waiting for the train, I noticed a sign which explained you could adjust your seat to a whoppingly terrifying 64 degree angle…Now this I had to try lol! The railway line looked horrendously steep and it got me thinking how on earth does it work? Then without fail my trustee ol’ imagination started to kick in again…’So, what happens if the brakes fail, would the train suddenly whoosh straight back down leaving your stomach at the top…like a lift that’s suddenly lost all its power?’ Gulp. Then I could see it slowly descending the side of the mountain to come and claim its victims, oh I mean, pick us tourists up haha. The doors opened upwards all futuristic like…exactly in the same fashion as the car from back to the future (Delorean I think it’s called?) So I slid in and like a big kid I was already fiddling with the seats angles haha. Waiting for the train to start, you just can’t help but sit a moment and take the impressive views in. The train then started to make its sharp climb back up to the top and oh my word..I was trying to film the event but I kidd you not, the train felt as though it was getting steeper the further it went up the mountain lol…so much in fact that the invisible hands of gravity came right into my carriage and yanked me forward! Yep, ladies and gents, I slipped right off my seat haha. It was awesome though and the views just leave you speechless. At the top, I grabbed a hot choccy to warm my cold (now also blue) hands and then found the coach. Next stop was a quaint little sleepy town called Leura where we were to grab some lunch.

Leura is such a sweet little place! It seems pretty untouched and by that I mean there were no big chain stores or fast food restaurants. Apparently MacDonalds tried to open a store here but the people of Leura objected (and good for them standing up to these giants I say). But Maccy D’s got the huff about it and took them to court and the result…they lost! So there will never be a Maccers in Leura or in fact Katoomba haha.

The houses are so pretty here, they all seem to have an American countryside meets Aussie outback style… Pristine and quirky wooden houses complete with the white pickett fence 🙂

After some munch and a nose about, it was time for our next stop… Featherdale Wildlife Park! This is another place I recommend you take a trip here if you can. This place is ideal for kids too as it’s very hands on (also perfect for me hah!). You get to feed the Kangaroos, have your photo with a Kookaburra sitting on your arm oh and not forgetting the cuddly Koala’s! That was so cute. You can’t hold the Koalas but here you are allowed to touch them and stand close to have your photos with them. Then it was back on the coach and time to take a drive over to our River Cruise. We actually passed the Stadium where the Sydney Olympics were held too (back in 2000) so that was another sight ticked off.

Arriving at Holmbush, we boarded our Captain Cook Cruise boat to take us all back to Circular Quay where the trip would finish. I went and sat on the top deck and got right up to the front (of course) and watched in wait for Sydneys harbour to appear in view. The sun was beginning to set and covered everything with beautiful gold, orange and pink shades, it was just stunning. The couples all rushed up to the top deck at this point to take in the romance of it all which then kinda made me feel like a billy no mates haha. Before long, the sun had disappeared now giving the moon it’s chance to shine. I then watched in a stunned silence as the bridge and harbour came into view…seeing it all at night time is a MUST. It’s funny isn’t it how night time can show you a completely different scene. Passing the bridge and the Opera House all lit up was just spectacular. I’m so glad I went on this day trip. Pulling in to our stop, I couldn’t help but feel a little homesick. I just wished my Mum, Dad and Bro could have seen these wonderful sights that I’d witnessed today.

Off to the Valley…

Remember I went to the  Similan Islands back in April (in Thailand) and got stranded on the live-a-board boat during a huge storm? Well, a lovely family who I met on the boat said I could come and stay with them if I ever came to Oz so…….that’s where I am right this very second, in their wonderful home!!  The Blue Mountains and the Hunter Valley just have to be the most beautiful places I’ve been lucky enough to see in Oz so far. As soon as I arrived at Lynne and Robs home, I was just lost for words! Now I really am in the true Australia…right in the outback or infact…the bush!

Their house is just gorgeous! They are situated on a slight hill and literally surrounded by trees, hills more trees oh and a mountain in the distance! Straight away Lynne showed me around. I think I was just in some kind of stunned silence hah! Oh and guess what….there was a Wombat in the garden, I just couldn’t believe it! So of course, I was snapping away and getting piccies of him munching the lawn. There were also Kookaburra’s everywhere…it was almost like they all wanted to come and stare at me being the new person on the block, it was so surreal.

As soon as I’d been shown my room, Lynne and I went off for a walk to meet the neighbour Ross. And when I say walk, it’s literally through the bush! It was so cool. Lynne spotted a Wallaby just hopping off in the distance and again, I just couldn’t believe my eyes. It’s just another world here having all this wonderful wildlife in their garden! Well walking on through the bush we got totally lost and Lynne was getting worried because it was dusk at this point and as soon as dusk hits, it really doesn’t take long for the darkness to fall. So picture that…it’s getting dark, neither of us have mobiles on us and we’ve no idea where we’re headed! I was secretly trying not to panic and hoped that Lynne would soon recognise a rock or tree that took us the right way again. We were clambering up and over thick branches, climbing huge rocks, getting our feet stuck in wet boggy patches but then thankfully we could see a clearing and went for it. Phew, we found a path which actually led back to Lynnes house. “I think we’ll go back to the house and then drive us to the neighbours haha”  I let out a nervous but very relieved laugh and looked forward to a very much needed glass of wine from one of the bottles we were taking with us!

Well, oh my word! The neighbours house came into view and it literally felt as though I’d stepped onto the set of a movie! It was like a huge wooden cabin! The car headlights shone onto the front of the house and revealed a man bent down on one knee and vigorously prodding a burning log fire…wow, I really have landed in the outback hey! After the initial meet and greet, we all sat round the fire and had a ‘sausage sizzler’ with a few glasses of vino, gobble gobble! Rob (Lynnes husband) then joined us and we all sat around chatting away about life in general lol. One thing I noticed is just how clear the sky at night is here, that’s because there is so much light pollution in Sydney so the stars are so much brighter here. Rob was pointing out what star was what and I’m hoping I can remember them all for when I go to Ayes Rock (I’ll be camping out under the stars you see…that’s for my next blog ;))

Ross then showed me around his home. It was truly amazing but what made it even more special was the fact he built it all by hand himself! The only way I can describe this place is like so…think huge log cabin (or a lumberjacks house) in the middle of nowhere…wooden floors, huge open kitchen, open fire (rug included!) a small cabin (or shed) to the side of the house….wow! I think this huge wooden house had everything apart from a Bear or Deers head proudly hanging on the wall from above the fire haha!

Ross is such a fascinating man! I would love to spend more time chatting to him. I thought he must have been a builder having built this fine structure himself but no! He is actually a bug scientist…yep you heard me right…a bug scientist (ok, I forget the correct term now) but I was in my element! So there I was, outside with wonderful people munching a sausage sizzler, enjoying a few glasses of hunter valley wine and talking to my version of David Attenborough!! We were chatting about spiders, snakes and anything bug related. I said to Ross how I wished I could have been like David Attenborough and he said why not….it’s never too late!

In the morning at Lynnes house, I was enjoying munching my brekkie sitting outside and still not quite believing that I was actually here! Suddenly, 2 brightly coloured parrots landed on the bird table! Wow! Cor that makes a change from sparrows or blue tits hey! It really is amazing how you can be in the city one minute and then in the middle of nowhere the next day. I absolutely love it here and I’m so glad I decided to come to Hunter Valley. I reckon I can safely say I am more of a country gal than a city gal ya know!

So….what’s next on the Readders adventures? I’m only here for a few days as I will soon be flying out to Alice Springs to meet  another tour group. Now this is something I can’t wait for…I will be camping out under the stars at Ayres Rock and hiking around the Kings Canyon woo hoo! It’s just for 2 nights but I reckon it’s one of those must see and do adventures. I also can’t wait to meet the other people on the tour because having done previous gap adventure tours, the people are always fun and like minded individuals.

So, I’ll give your eyes a break for now and I will tell you all about my Red Rock adventure for another time. I’d better do it before my Ozzie trip ends because the next chapter will be all about adventure number 3…..yep, Bali baby!!

xx

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Leaving the Land of Smiles – Insert sad face!

Ok, before I reflect upon ‘gushy’ sentimental goodbyes to Thailand, I must give you an up to date Readders Digest because hey, it’ll be the last one on Asia………or will it 😉

Flip-Flop saved my life….well, my foot!

Haha, ok, total exaggeration…..I will explain!

Do you know what? Ever since I have been back from BKK, my house has been ‘alive’ with creepy crawlies. It is ‘them’ now sharing their toys with me (or so it feels!). It might actually have a lot to do with it being the rainy season too. It has rained here in Thailand everyday which in turn brings all the beasties out! Huge spiders that jump, (yep, jump) enough to make even the sportiest of jumping athletes envious, giant army ants through to the teeniest of tiny ants, ginormous flying termites, geckos, lizards oh and a crab – a singular side walking crab haha! That was so odd! I stepped out my house one wet evening, torch in hand and there it was – a grey palm-sized crab staring up at me through it’s funny boggerly eyes! Of course, I had to fully inspect him with my torch all the while he was ‘eyeballing’ me right back. The crab then clasped his little claws together, repeatedly opening and closing them (at this point, I imagined his claws sounded like a chef sharpening his knives on his sharpening block!) as if to say ‘You come any closer…..I’m not afraid to use these!’ hah, so I tapped him gently with the tip of the torch and off he scuttled in a sideways motion.

Another evening back in the house, I was standing over the sink brushing my teeth….of course, still sharing the sink with the giant army ants who set up residence in the overflow holes remember hah! They didn’t bother me anymore. If you cleaned the holes out, they’d just be back the next day anyway but the ants had become a regular common ‘fixture’ just like a soap dish or flannel – they’re always there!

Sitting back down, I noticed something on the side of my rubbery flip flop. ‘What is that?’ I noticed it was one of the giant ants. Thinking I’d accidentally squished one, I tried to flick it off…..it didn’t budge. A few more flicks and the giant ant was still firmly stuck to the side of the flip flop! I took a closer inspection…OMG! This giant ant wasn’t squished at all, this was obviously one of the soldiers and it was biting the side of my flip flop with it’s out of proportionately sized head! His huge jaw like pincers were ferociously  attacking that flip flop as though his life, his Queen and country depended on it! Well, I’m so glad that wasn’t my foot! I’m not kidding but he was near on slicing into the rubber as though it was a lump of butter – yeouch haha! Finally, I gave up and just stared at him in amazement gnawing away.  I was imagining him muttering away angrily to himself (with a mouthful of rubber of course) ‘Take that, and that!’ He finally got bored and scuttled off taking his funny looking ‘big head’ with him hah!

I think I’d better think it out again! 

So I’ve finally got my butt into gear and yes, I am leaving Thailand…the land of smiles as they call it. I just can’t believe it!

I’ve had to change my plans quite a few times actually and it’s taken much thought and careful consideration. I drafted ideas to take myself off to New Zealand after my Australian adventure….then off to West Papua, Indonesia to hang out with the loin clothed and bare breasted Dani Tribes (stop sniggering at the back haha!)….then another short flight up to the North Sumatra Province (still Indonesia) to trek through the dense jungles of Bukit Lawang in search of their resident ginger monkey (Orangutans) BUT I’ve sadly had to cancel those thoughts and fantasies because the FCO (coincidentally) believe both these areas of Indonesia to be unsafe for tourists right now. And as my parents are reading this I won’t go into the details but all I’ll say is…..as the good old saying goes ‘better to be safe than sorry’ I’ve come up with plan b!

I’ve decided to continue with my plans to Oz (Thursday 8th August to be precise woo hoo!) and then jet set off to Ubud, Bali for a month and CAN’T WAIT. I have read Ubud is fairly similar to Pai in Thailand and that is one place I wanted to visit but didn’t. Pai is said to be a relaxed and almost hippy like town 🙂 In short, Ubud looks to be bustling with culture, (markets :D), scrummy food oh and yoga, massage and healing practices! Being trained in Reiki, I would really like to experience ‘Indonesian’ reiki and in fact, pick up some new techniques if I am able to have extra lessons out there! 🙂

After spending a ‘spiritual’ time hippy-ing it up in Bali, I will then fly off to Penang in Malaysia (near Georgetown) where I aim to trek the jungles of Penang State Park and also take myself off to visit monkey and turtle beach.

Then it’ll be more jungle trekking down at Taman Negara National Park before hitting Kuala Lumpur once more.

Let me clear my throat! 

Oh my goodness! What a wonderful send off I had on Friday morning! I was sooo nervous the night before because June asked me to do a ‘goodbye’ speech in Friday mornings assembly! ‘Speech!!’ I thought…..’Oh no!! “Is that Ok?” June asked, peering over the top of her familiar thick rimmed glasses. Perhaps she could sense my hesitancy by the ‘rabbit in the headlights’ expression on my face hah!

Well, I had to reply with; “Of course, I would love to!” Suddenly that injection of adrenalin was drawn up and injected straight into the pit of my stomach. I could already feel the adrenalin travelling through my system and I imagined the chemicals taking a ride on my red blood cells as though it was on some kind of ‘tubing’ adventure rushing through my veins! It brought back memories of when I did my welcome speech! ‘Oh, stop it Helen! It should be easier this time because you know them all now….right!?’ Well, easier or not, it still made me break out into that cold sweat like before haha!

So Thursday evening after I’d booked a few flights and accommodation for Bali 😀 I then went straight back to the house to write up a short speech. I thought it would be great to finish by saying something in Thai followed by all of us singing one of their favourite songs that I’d taught them…’Wherever I go!’ Ken text me some Thai words and with that my speech done it was time for bed!

Beetle Bum!

As usual I did my daily routine of shaking out my inner silk liner and then my sleeping bag because one thing I’ve learnt out here…is anything can be lurking in your shoes, under towels OR maybe sleeping bags! With everything shaken out (and nothing falling out), I got tucked up, rested my head on my brick of a pillow and soon started to slip into the land of nod…..

I woke up suddenly around 4.30am and couldnt get back to sleep. I felt itchy, hot and bothered. Trying to ignore these annoying sleep interrupters, I forced my eyes shut and tried desperately to get back to my lovely little dream of working the red carpet at the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival hah! (been on my mind a lot this week you see!).

Suddenly, it felt as though something crawled over one of my legs! ‘What the hell?’ Surely I’d imagined it and it was just my silk liner brushing against my irritated skin? Nothing can get in here, I’m wrapped up snug as a bug in this and not with a bug right!? Nope, there it was again. Scratching the back of my leg from under the sleeping bag, I tried to ignore it for a second time! This time, I felt something crawling over my butt and when I went to scratch, I felt something!! ‘AARRRRGGHHH’ I screamed haha! If only this was on tape…it must have looked so funny! Well, I was trying to scramble out of that sleeping bag as fast as I could but I was encased and trapped in the silk liner and the sleeping bag so picture this: my legs were frantically kicking about so much that I could have sworn I looked like I was pedaling one of Fred Flintstones leg powered cars hahah!!

Finally escaping the prison of my sleeping bag, I jumped up and brushed myself down….nothing on me! Ok, lets shake out both the bags….and there it was….a small black beetle GROSS! God knows how it got into the inner liner but I wasn’t happy. I spritzed the place with bug spray and then felt comforted enough by that to soon rejoin the land of slumber. But then it only felt like a few moments later when the awful electric sounding alarm went off!! :/

Graduation Day?!

Right, it’s speech time! It actually felt as though it was my very own graduation day or something. I was nervous but at the same time, felt quite sad too. I know I banged on about becoming ‘bored’ nearer the end of my time at the school but actually, I’d come to realise just how much the school had become a part of me.

So, it’s 8am and the whole school have begun congregating outside for their Friday mornings assembly. The children all walked over neatly in their lines and sat down together row upon row. All the teachers then sat at the sides so they could keep an eye on them all! Waiting for the assembly to begin, I looked around and saw all 700 little faces sitting down and staring straight towards the front. As usual, they all looked so well behaved and so ‘regimented’. Following the usual morning ritual, the first kid walked up to the front and began speaking in Thai and then the Thai’s National Anthem would be sung whilst one kid would raise Thailands’ flag up the pole. Flag now flying, June stepped up to make an announcement….I was suddenly transported back to my first day, my first speech. The injection of adrenalin was once again ready to shoot it’s dreaded concoction of poison into my system! I was waiting for my ‘turn’ and in turn, waiting for the reaction of pure fear to take over for I knew June was building up to my ‘leaving’ speech!

Moments later (which felt like a lifetime of waiting!)……

“Helen, would you be kind enough to come up to the front please?” June was now looking at me and pointing the microphone in my direction. Now over 700 faces were also looking at me! Oops, there it goes…adrenalin is now tubing on my river red so it should help me through ha!

Taking the microphone, I nervously began my farewell speech to everyone. Even though I had written a few selected words, I couldn’t help but think…’do they actually know what I am going on about?’  haha! Towards the end of my chatter, I then said something in Thai to them all….now that (I think!) they did all understand! To end, I asked all the children to join me in singing one of their favourite songs which went down well.

Oh this is what I said in Thai;

Khobkhun mak kha

Tea hai oh kas di chan

Ma yooh tee nee

Mee kwam sook

Mahk mahk kha

This basically means thank you for having me, I’ve really enjoyed staying at the school and teaching English to you all..

Afterwards, the Sub Director came up to the front and began talking to me. He’d also put together a few words together for me! It was so touching! Although I didn’t understand the first part (which was all in Thai), he ended by speaking to me in English 🙂 He expressed the schools gratitude for my help, kindness and for also sacrificing my time for them. He then also went on to say that I will always be in their memories and their hearts and I’m always welcome……*sobs! I was just lost for words after that….not knowing what to say, I just kept repeating ‘Thank you, thank you’ and glared back at him with watery eyes and a bright red chevvy chase! haha!

After the Sub Directors words, the school presented me with a beautiful handmade silk scarf that I will treasure forever. It was then that the kids thought it would be funny to bundle me hahaha little buggers 😉

Sing us one final song

Once everything had become settled and all the kids were off in their classes, I was then booked up for my final lessons too. It was so sad…the children didn’t want the lessons to end and in fact, they ran over time which of course, I didn’t mind at all.

Back in the office, I was thinking, I really should get packing once schools finished but the school had other plans….

After ‘work’, the teachers all took me out for dinner and karaoke! It was my surprise leaving party 😀 I had no idea! We all enjoyed a banquet of food along with more ‘speeches’ and more beautiful pressies! The food was delish. Star was shoving all sorts under my nose, bowls of green soup like liquids, funny looking meat balls that came in different colours (white and brown), fishy things (steamed and grilled and yup, eyeballs intact)….. ‘Helen, you must try this and also this one!’ Star wanted me to try as much Thai food as I could before going on my way but I also think she was trying to fatten me up just like all mothers do (I saw Star and June as my surrogate Mums you see aww). Oh one embarrassing thing happened…when I tried one of the spicy meat balls, I tried to cut one in half with my spoon but as soon as I pressed into it…the thing grew wings and just flew right off the plate and onto the floor! I thought no one had seen but once I’d bent down and picked the meatball up…my eyes caught everyone elses staring at me! They all then broke into laughter and yep, once again, I had rosy Readders cheeks hahaha!

The final final speeches were getting quite emotional but the last one from June ended with “If you come back next year, we would like you to join us!” Wow, sounds like I have a ‘job’ in the bag there if I really wanted one hey! 😀

Joe and M, the ladyboys of the school asked if they could play barbie with me in the morning….they wanted to dress me up in traditional Thai gear, full make up, the works! Well, hell yeh! What girl would refuse a pampering right! Only downside was that I had to meet them by the office at 8.30am. I knew it would be worth it though.

At the end of the evening, June and Star dropped me back at the house and I was dreading it for now, I had a monster job of repacking my old friend the invisible man! :/

Well, I was up until gone 2 in the morning busy making sure I’d got everything. I checked, double checked and triple checked the house. Phew, I think I’ve finally got the ‘knack of the pack’. Roll, squeeze, cram. Heavy at the bottom, light at the top and just make sure as much air is squeezed out of the bags too. I’ve actually heard some travellers will get their bags of clothes vacuum packed before they go…yeh, I can see how that will help….will give you more space too.

Finally, wrapping myself up in my silk liner and sleeping bag, I said my last goodnight to the house before drifting off……

Helen of Thai

Again, it only felt like I’d been asleep an hour or so before the dreaded mario brothers alarm shrieked at me to get up! I literally through on some trews and a Tshirt and got myself over to the staff room where I met Joe and M.

And wow! What an experience! Straight away, Joe started slapping on my make up and I had the works!! Dark black eyeshadow blending into lighter browns and 2 full sets of fake eyelashes! To finish, Joe slicked on the brightest pink lipstick I’ve ever worn haha! I was then fitted with a long black wig! Wow, the Readders with long black hair….I couldn’t wait to see how different that was going to make me look! I imagined it wouldn’t look too good against my pale skin though, I would probably look more like a vampire than a dainty Thai!

Now for the clothes. Joe wrapped the top half around me (under my Tshirt) and measured me up. It was like a beautiful silk bodice. You basically get ‘stitched’ into all the gear while you’re still fully clothed! Again it was the same for the bottom half…you get wrapped into the skirt part (over your trews) and then you have to wriggle out your trousers and Joe then popped in the final stitches so it was literally made to measure. Well, I couldn’t breathe haha! I imagined I was wearing a corset or something and that Joe had just put one foot on my back whilst pulling the strings so tight that every molecule of carbon dioxide was forced out of both my lungs hah! Once I was measured in and secured and stitched up, Joe then wrapped a delicate see through pink shawl around my shoulders to complete the clothing part. Joe and M then both ‘decorated’ me with all the traditional Thai jewellery including a crown, belt, bracelets etc…

Done! Excitedly clapping theirs hands (in a feminine ladyboy fashion), Joe and M stood me up and seemed so pleased with their ‘work’ and couldn’t wait to show me off outside to the school! I tell you what, all that gear was so heavy, I felt weighted down with accessories and I was also starting to feel rather hot in my new thick wraps but I couldn’t wait to see the finished look. Handing me the mirror, I just couldn’t believe what / who I saw! Wow, that just isn’t me! I looked completely different and couldn’t stop staring at the strangers reflection!

Walking out the office, the first person I saw was June “Wow….you look like an Angel, so beautiful!” Well, that was it, I started getting my usual and all to familiar rosy glow haha. Of course, who doesn’t like a compliment but I guess I was so overwhelmed with the whole look and with everyone’s kind comments.

The teachers all wanted their pictures taken with me, the children, standing by the schools Buddha statue etc…and Joe and M kept asking me to stand or sit in what felt to me like silly poses haha. But great fun all the same and an experience I feel very lucky to have been privileged with.  Thank you Joe and thank you M for transforming me into a full blown Thai!

Party in BKK

Finally, it came to say the last LAST goodbye to the school. Joe and M took all the gear back but I still had a face full of thick make up and I was fretting about the thought of sitting on the bus looking like a ladyboy myself haha….I pulled off the fake tarantula looking eyelashes which helped a bit and then heard June toot her car horn from outside the house.

Driving to the bus station must have taken at least 2hrs! June wanted to take me as far as she could you see which was very sweet of her. We chatted non stop all the way and it was actually this car journey that made me feel more ‘bonded’ with June than I had before…strange that and bad timing with the fact I was on my way outta there!

At the bus station, June helped me to get my ticket and gave me a big hug that felt like it seemed to go on and on. Both our eyes were welling up and June promptly said, “I have to go now, I can’t watch the bus pull away” and with that we both went our separate ways 😦 The double decker bus looked pretty empty so I zoomed straight up to the top to bag the front seat! Pulling out of the bus station, it was then I sobbed a little as I watched North Thailand disappear.

My bus was so late arriving at Morchit Station in Bangkok, it must have been 10.30pm. Once at Morchit Station, I then had to grab a short cab ride to the train station so I could catch the Skytrain to On Nut to meet my Japanese pal Tomo. Finally reaching On Nut station, the usual ‘thick’ smell of pollution and other stinky smells soon hit (and blocked up) my nostrils.  I met my friend Tomo nearby and we then both had to quickly get ready to go out and meet the others and party!

4 of us all partied hard in the touristy area of Koh Sarn Road! Walking the streets together, I looked around thinking ‘In a funny kinda way, I’m actually going to miss all of this’ The hustle and bustle, the buy one bucket get one free, the being approached every minute to come and see the next ping pong show or the ‘you want laughing gas?’ or the ‘you want to eat scorpian?’ haha! I’d gotten used to the same old lines and right at that moment, I suddenly didn’t feel like the ‘tourist’ anymore and found I kept repeating ‘Mai ao Kha’ (which means no thank you).

We all partied until the early wee hours at ‘The Club’ and had such a fun night! And one thing that did make me laugh…I actually made friends with someone who lives 2 miles from my Mums house in Bedford!! How incredible! Such a little big world!!

Ooooh you give me fever! 

Ok, so I thought it was more than likely my fault but I ended up falling rather sick 2 days after our party night. Being hungover on the Sunday, I didn’t feel anything more than ‘hungover’ but Sunday evening I was engulfed by an awful fever which ended up lasting for days. My throat was so painful, it was on fire and my temperature was fluctuating from hot to cold quicker than I could put a jumper on to then whipping it off again. When I’d actually lost my voice, I got in touch with my friend Ken for help….squeaking away like sooty and sweep, Ken and I met up and he rushed me straight to the pharmacy. I was becoming panicky you see with nasty bugs flying around such as Dengue fever and malaria I thought I could have picked something up ‘Oh great, what if I have one of these diseases?’ ‘Did I pick something up from the school on my last day?’ ‘Crap, I’d better be 100% by Thursday for my flight to Oz!!’

Well, Ken and the pharmacist were chatting away about my symptoms and I was then issued with anti bacterials, some more pills to sooth the pain of sore throats and some throat lozengers. I’m so grateful Ken was around to help! Phew! I couldn’t get over the fact that the chemist could just hand out Anti-B’s like that too….it was as though she was prescribing me skittles haha! Well, do you know what, I didn’t care if they were going to even be the right ones because at the time, I felt so ill, weak and shivery that I was willing to take anything.

Even though I’d just started taking all these pills (and probably sounding like a rattling pharmacy myself!), I developed a burning red itchy rash which started on my throat and soon spread downwards until my whole body was scarlet..then my stomach decided it wanted in on the ill action and began cramping up (felt like indigestion or something). Yep, I knew exactly what this was….Scarlet Fever! I’d had this once before when I was at college…you’d think you can’t get this kind of illness anymore, and god knows where I caught this, strange hey!

Well, a few sweaty days later…I had beaten the fever and my voice was slowly coming back! The rash has died down too and is nothing more than a few itchy patches now. I’m not yet 100% but not far off so do forgive me if my blog’s not quite up to my usual Readdy standards 😉

Goodbye Thailand

As much as I am looking forward to kicking up the pace on the running machine of adventure, I am actually going to miss the school as I said earlier and well, Thailand overall! I was starting to pick up their ‘ways’, their language (ok, so I only learnt a few words!) but I mean the way they speak, the way they talk to you e.g. the ‘Where are you going Miss?’ ‘How old are you?’ ‘Are you married?’ – which of course, in the beginning, I took all of this as being a bit rude or nosy however, Thai people have to be the least rudest people you could ever meet. They are so kind, generous and sincere and always seem willing to help you no matter how trivial the need.

My Thai friends even said I was beginning to dress and act like a Thai hahah! Although my dietry requirements could never adapt to all the spicy food…my poor tastebuds, my tummy, boy will I be glad to be leaving ‘phet’ (hot) food behind haha!

This might sound very sentimental because right now, the theme tune to Jurassic Park has just started playing on my ipod and is reminding me of when Judith and I went jungle trekking in Laos haha! Hey, maybe you should put it on while you’re reading this, music really does help the imagination 😉

So, here goes…..one door closes and another one opens (in the form of a plane haha)

Here we are! And what an incredible adventure Thailand (and Indochina) has given me but now, the time is right to go. I will soon be following the yellow brick road with my little wooden stick (white bag hanging off the end of it!) and waving goodbye with the other 😥

So when I am on that plane Thursday evening, feeling the planes wheels turning to straighten up for it’s powerful boost along the runway waiting for the plane to gradually speed up and up until the ‘super jet booster’ button is hit projecting all passengers ‘G forced’ faces back into their seats and up into the air……my mind will be rushing with beautiful memories. The elephants, the temples, the Buddha’s, the culture, the markets, the crickets (and eating of them!), my gecko family (who I wish all the best with their new batch when they finally come to hatch!), the giant ants and termites (well, maybe!), the parties, the friends, the jungle treks, their simple yet beautiful way of life, Helen’s bug hunts, the weather, the school, the food, their laid back ways (Thai time), their ‘don’t worry’ attitude and their traditions! The list could just go on and on!

I’m so so proud of myself! I can’t believe I’ve completed and survived the first leg of my journey. I know my Brother would be so proud too and I know he’s been looking after me along the way and I reckon he’d also be thinking, ‘You did it!’

I will be looking down from out the planes window, watching with watery eyes as Thailand shrinks in size until it looks nothing more than a miniature toy town…and perhaps like something that I imagined ‘happened’

Always in my heart, always in my memory, forever…..

Love you Thailand ❤

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