Archive | January, 2013

Bangkok

30 Jan

So we made it. After two treacherous plane journeys (where not all the disasters I’d envisaged actually occurred) we’re here in Bangkok. After travelling through numerous different time zones and being confused as to whether we should be asleep or awake, we found ourselves in a taxi to the centre of Bangkok. Our plan of action was stealth, we attempted to make conversation with the taxi man so he wouldn’t have the heart to rip us off. Being British, our natural inclination was to talk about the weather but our driver wasn’t having any of it. It seemed he didn’t care to inform us of how much it tends to rain in Bangkok and instead pumped up the volume of the radio (I was not and have not yet become accustomed to Thai music – it’s shite).

We reached the centre and the driver callously threw us out before driving off without giving us our change (approximately £1 but it was the principal) and we found ourselves being immediately harassed by Thai men asking where we were staying. To begin with we couldn’t understand how they knew that we were new to Bangkok and very very lost, but soon realised the massive great backpacks and lily white skin were a mild giveaway.

We’re staying in a hotel just off the Khao San Road which is meant to be the most lively backpacker area of Bangkok, but I was still surprised about some aspects of the city. It’s a lot dirtier than I imagined (it doesn’t exactly instil confidence when the residents wander round with what can only be described as surgical masks on their faces as if they’re avoiding SARS or something) and i didn’t expect the women’s voices to be genuinely that high pitched. (Massaaaaage? You like an oil massaaaaage?) The people try and sell you the biggest load of tripe from bbq’d scorpions to stripey Klu Klux Klan-style hats, but it does make a good atmosphere.

I’ve found myself being increasingly suspicious of the food here, especially the street food stalls which have mountains of noodles and chicken out in the sun all day, but I’m trying my best to persevere because I’m not being the guy who eats Burger King in a foreign country.

After a pretty chilled first day of looking round the markets, yesterday we were much more cultured by going on our (free) Bangkok temple tour. We were shown around three of the most famous temples in the city, although they are everywhere because 95% of the country are Buddhists. It brought back some childhood memories for Lucia and I because our mums went through a phase of becoming Buddhists (don’t ask…I did say they did everything together). We used to get dragged along to the Buddhist conventions where they would meditate whilst our 9-year-old selves would play Betty Spaghetti outside, or on one occasion, with an aptly-named Bob the Buddhist Dog. The Buddhism phase didn’t last, but I can see why it appealed to them now because it was very calming inside the temples, especially compared to the 30+ degree heat outside (this is Thailand’s idea of Winter).

I am really enjoying it so far, it is amazing to see such a different culture to ours and it’s nice shrugging off the London etiquette that says you mustn’t speak to anybody you don’t know. We’ve met some funny people and last night appear to have integrated ourselves into a ‘wolfpack’ (we woke up this morning with bracelets to prove it) though it won’t last because we go to Koh Tao tomorrow.

We had an interesting day today which involved a combination of elephants, tigers, and Sana vomiting on a Japanese lady’s bare legs, but I’ll tell you more about that in another post because this one is getting quite long and I’m only just getting used to typing on the iPad.

Missing everyone in England,

Cat xxx

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Reasons I’m Worried About Travelling

26 Jan

All who know me will recognise that one of my most irritating personality traits is to over-think things. I have been planning this trip for over 6 months, and that has given me quite a lot of thinking time which has allowed me to develop some fairly sizeable concerns.

  • I have a massive fear of flying

I’ve always been one for phobias – from Lil Wayne to pigeons i’ve conquered them all, but this one might be the biggest (and contain the most realistic threat). I wish I was joking when I say that I recite ‘sacred heart of Jesus I place my trust in thee’ on loop for the duration of any flights I have to endure, but unfortunately I’m not. My stomach drops when I think about the fact that over the next four months, on eight occasions, I will essentially be floating in a tin box in the sky for obscene amounts of time. It gets worse when I remember that the first of these flights is taking place tomorrow, in a double-decker plane. A DOUBLE-DECKER PLANE. Like an actual bus, in the sky. I don’t even know how that can happen. I don’t think I want to know.

Emirates provide unlimited free alcohol apparently, so I did consider getting absolutely shit-faced but then I realised that I would at some point be faced with a hangover and this, knowing my luck, would probably take place mid-flight. Well I can tell you now, I’ve flown hungover before and the spinning head mixed with the turbulent plane had a horrendous outcome. So I’ve ruled that one out. Instead I’ve gone for Valium. Let’s hope that works or Lucia will be in for an absolute treat.

  • My preparations were a little off the mark. Below are some examples:

Things I did do to prepare for my trip:

– Got an iPad mini for Christmas. I decided that what I needed most for my travelling experience (where I will be staying in shared hostels and will be extremely vulnerable to theft) was a gadget that is now one of the most valuable I own, second only to my laptop. I am taking bets on how far I get without losing it.

– Bought an inflatable pillow. For £17 (before I purchased my visa – priorities). Also I haven’t actually worked out how to blow it up.

– Did an internship which meant I could not earn any money for the month leading up to the trip.

Things I did not do to prepare for my trip:

-Apply for a working visa until 10 days ago.

-Work out how to access my money out there via a method that is not a complete con (STA card). This resulted in a minor break down and then a rushed application for a decent pre-paid cash card. (This story had a happy ending – the Caxton FX came through on Thursday, just so you’re not worrying etc)

(I did do other stuff like buy insect repellant and get two jobs before the internship to save up, just so you know I’m not totally stupid)

  • I am going to miss my boyfriend even more than usual

I think I took the long distance thing a bit too literally here. Surrey/Cheshire was bad enough without the extra few (thousand) miles and the small matter of being on different continents.

  • I really don’t want to get blackmailed into drug trafficking

Whilst commuting every day for the past month in and out of London, I have read newspapers and learnt that the world is a very bad place. And now I am about to go out and experience it. My first stop is Bangkok, and only this week has a British national been sentenced to death by firing squad (disgusting, look it up if you don’t know) in Indonesia because a gang in Bangkok said if she didn’t fill her suitcase with £1.6million worth of cocaine they’d kill her kids. I’m not quite sure of the logistics of that because I didn’t think her children were with her at the time, maybe she just had a penchant for cocaine smuggling. But still, what if Lucia and I get targeted? Stupidly unrealistic worry or actually quite feasible concern? I’m still not sure.

Aside from all these worries, I am also very excited. I want to see the Lady boys of Thailand in real life and not just in weird pictures, and I want to scuba dive at the Great Barrier Reef (even though I am scared of sharks after going through a phase of watching endless shark documentaries – should’ve added that to my list). I can’t wait to see for myself the ridiculous ratio of humans to sheep in New Zealand (worse than Wales!), and I am so excited to make some memories that I will never forget.

I’ll keep you posted,

Cat xxx

T-Minus Two Days

25 Jan

I’m going travelling on Sunday. So I thought I best hurry up and get going on that modern-day rite of passage that says we must blog about it for the sanity of our families and the curiosity of our friends. This will be my attempt.

I’m not really sure why I’m going travelling; I think it was something to do with having reached a bit of crisis in my life. I finished my education for good, got a law degree under my belt and suddenly found myself at this unadulterated, insufferable crossroads as pioneered by top trash early-noughties band Blazin’ Squad, who had the look of an ASBO and the sound of one too.

So I did what most sensible people do, and planned to run away.

I’m going with my friend Lucia. We went to school together from the age of four and have fairly entwined families, with our mothers sharing everything from gym memberships to an allotment, which possibly sees more care than ourselves during the spring and summer months.

Lucia and I

We’re pretty much going around the world (in only a little over 80 days – 103 to be precise). Our first stop is Thailand, then to Australia where we will work and travel up the east coast. Then we’re heading to New Zealand and have picked a campervan as our mode of transport. Potentially a little idealistic when you think that Lucia passed her test over three years ago and hadn’t set foot in a driver’s seat since then until two days ago when she had a refresher lesson. I’ll let you know how that one goes. We’ll be ending our trip in America, going to San Francisco and then LA.

So This Is My Blog. I will attempt to update it whenever I can and hope I can work out how to attach more pictures to illustrate my mind-blowing stories. I think I’m excited for the trip. It’s something new. As far as I’m aware I don’t think I need to find myself, but you never know what could be lurking on a beach somewhere in Brisbane.

Cat xxx