That irrepressible desire to book more flights *sigh*

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Apparently not content with stopping over in Singapore on my way to NZ I have an overwhelming need to visit another country in Asia while I’m there. I have 1 weeks & I’m looking for travspiration (travel inspiration) of amazing places you have visited.

My top wants on the list are: incredible sights, cheap massages, amazing street food, easy going atmosphere…. I’m sure it won’t be difficult to find in Asia.

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I would like some adventure but absolutely no monkey related ‘fun’. I’m not a fan of monkeys. I tend to actively avoid any living animal show or display. I love animals & I refuse to support the exploitation of them. Even if the companies say the animals are treated well I’m sure they would prefer their freedom in the wild.

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While we’re on the subject of creatures the less mosquitos the better. I’m trying to put off Dengue Fever as long as possible. I’m estimating via probability I am about 50 bites away from being very high risk. That’s around 2 or 3 days worth of bites for me.

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I wouldn’t mind escaping the busy cities, learning Reiki, surfing, reading in a cute cafe & as you know eating. I can’t get enough of street food & grieved unashamadely for it once I left Thailand.

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I’ve been on Skyscanner checking flights & Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam & Thailand are all within my budget. I’m currently leaning towards Bali. All suggestions are welcome. Please comment & put a link to your blog if you have some interesting reading for me. Thanks!

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Bangkok, Bangkok

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 Here I am back in Bangkok with a few days to enjoy the city before I fly home. I love Bangkok! The pollution chokes me & makes my lungs feel like a car exhaust every now & again, but apart from that & the intolerable heat it’s an awesome place. I love the street food, shopping, hustle & bustle & (embarrassingly) the public transport. I am a massive fan of the air conditioned sky train!

I stayed in the Lub D hostel near Siam Square. It was double what I had previously paid last time I stayed in Bangkok but the location was so central & it was a lovely hostel. I went to the hostel I stayed in last time & was gladly reunited with my make up bag after 3 eyebrow less weeks. It is now a delight to be able to put my make up on.

My typical day in Bangkok would begin with walking long & far to explore with an iced Thai coffee, 18b. I don’t really enjoy the western or Thai breakfasts on offer so I would hold out until I was hungry enough & it felt close enough to lunch time to get some street food usually Pad Thai, chicken & cashew/ginger/chilli, curry or something delicious. When it got to hot I would go to the cinema 100b/£2 or browse in the air conditioned shopping centres or go for a massage. From noon the heat wouldn’t really subside until the late evening when I would go for something to eat again & have a few beers. Perfect days!

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The street food in Thailand is incredibly delicious & incredibly cheap! The first few days I was in Thailand I was a bit apprehensive as it didn’t look very clean & I was afraid of getting sick, after a week this was the only food I would eat. The thought of going to a restaurant would disappoint me. You really can’t beat street food. If you go to Thailand, don’t be afraid, go for it! I didn’t get sick once. And it tastes so much better than the chain restaurants. I promise you. You can even go to the 7/11 & get some beers to enjoy with your meal. Meals are normally around 40-60b/£1. I am dreading going home & having to pay ten times this for mediocre food. If only we could have street food in Ireland!

Please somebody start this!

I’m not a touristy tourist, I much prefer to people watch & take in the country & culture from an organic perspective. I do sometimes & often regrettably get caught up in the tourist attractions. There is no doubt they are beautiful attractions, it’s the atmosphere & commercial aspect I dislike. I will endeavour to keep to the path less walked & be an undercover traveller with an eye for the special things & not the most visited, highly publicised sights.

The reclining Buddah

The reclining Buddah

I did however visit Khao San Road to celebrate my friends birthday. This was full of tourists but didn’t bother me at all as I was drinking, eating & celebrating my friends birthday. She even bought a bag of fried bugs as a snack. Unfortunately I was pressured into trying one & caved (*sigh* I’m so easily led). Fyi, don’t bother.

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Beer & a bug

Links

http://www.siamsquare.lubd.com

South side islands

I flew from Chiang Mai to Phuket via Bangkok Don Muang all for about £40. Travelling puts me in horrendous form. Maybe if I had company I wouldn’t get as cranky. I hate waiting, being herded like cattle, eating rubbish processed food all day, the fear of missing flights & the fear of aerosinusitis.

Needless to say when I arrived in Phuket with a banging headache in a lightning storm I was not at my very best. I waited around for the bus to Phuket town & when I got there I walked around in the rain looking for somewhere to stay. My damn Toms were so slippery on the pavement that I was tempted to throw them away in a rage & walk barefoot….. As a happy go lucky person I can have a wild temper, however I try not to act on it!

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After 45 mins of traipsing around & enquiring about availability I found somewhere lovely to stay & got an air conditioned twin room to myself for 300b/£6. After I ditched my stuff & showered the journey off I went for a wander around in the rain. There were a few bars & I ended up going for a curry in a french-esque restaurant. They were super keen to close 30 mins early so they hustled me out as quickly as possible. I wondered why the bothered seating me if they wanted to close so soon. As if I wasn’t pissed off already!

In the morning I was hopeful to get a ferry to Krabi. When I checked out the guy at the hostel said it would cost around 300-500b for a taxi or tuk tuk to Rassada Pier. I got a tuk tuk for 60b & was seething at the hostel guy for trying to hoodwink me. A paranoid & suspicious me ended up taking the ‘only’ ferry to Krabi after 8.30am via Koh Phi Phi. God only knows if this was true. I was over caring at this point (8.34am).

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The ferry was packed with holiday makers & backpackers. It was a drizzly hazy day so photo opportunities were not optimal. It was a picturesque trip to Koh Phi Phi, I’ve been spoilt with views after spending 7 months at sea so this was nothing new to me.

When we arrived at Koh Phi Phi I ditched my backpack at luggage storage for 50b/£1 & paid the 20b ‘Keep Koh Phi Phi clean’ fee. It was very warm & the pier was full of Thai men offering hotels, taxis, boat trips, etc…… then I was straight in to stall & restaurant tourist central. Get me out of here!!!! This is not my idea of fun. I managed to escape the chaos for a few hours until my connecting ferry to Krabi. I snuggled up & slept through this journey hoping to wake up in better form on the other side.

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We arrived in rainy Krabi at sunset. As usual I had no where to stay & was unsure of where exactly I had arrived. I ended up taking a tuk tuk to Krabi town for 50b/£1 with some other people. One girl was in the same situation as me so we stuck together & managed to find room in the Pak-Up hostel. My new friend was lovely & we really liked Pak-Up hostel. Our dorm mates were great & my mood had finally lifted. It’s a wonder what good company & comfort can do for your soul! We went for a walk around the market & had some street food followed by more drinks & incredible travelling stories. Travelling is like a contagious disease borne by word of mouth. Talking to other people encourages me to see more & travel more. My travel list is looking like quite a task to achieve!

I loved the atmosphere in Krabi. I ate delicious food, got an amazing massage, did some shopping at reasonable prices, had great company. What more could a girl want?? It wasn’t long before I was heading back to Bangkok for my flights back to Ireland.

Links

http://www.pakuphostel.com

https://foursquare.com/v/sabai-thai-massage-krabi/4dff66c0a809baedbd915cb2

Bitches be meditating

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In my quest for inner peace & happiness I have signed up for a Buddhist meditation retreat via Monk Chat. This is an overnight retreat featuring teachings of Buddhism, meditations & hopefully the tools to reach enlightenment. A bargain at 500b/£10 including transport to the meditation centre, overnight stay, dinner, breakfast & lunch.

We arrived at the meditation centre before 4pm & changed into our white clothes. I, like many others, opted to buy the fetching white ensemble from them – a white tshirt & white fisherman’s pants. Grand at 300b/£6.

Our accommodation was a basic, spacious (by my standards), 2 bed room, en suite. Same sex roomies – some couples had to be sleep in separate rooms for the night.

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Our teacher, Phra KK spoke to us about meditation & taught us the different methods: sitting, standing, walking, lying, & with beads. We chanted & paid respect to Buddah. It was a very calming experience. But then…  the horror when it dawned on me that it was a silent retreat! Surrounded by all these pals-to-be & great stories to be heard but no. It is not meant to be *sigh*

It wasn’t too bad, I survived! Although I was one of the few on the speaking spectrum whereas others were being really strict & didn’t say a word. I struggled to communicate via facial expressions, as I tend to, without looking like a caricature of myself. And I discovered that I have a rather sour meditation face, which is a great worry for me! I don’t look like a friendly mute which is a shame. It is clearly not for me.

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We finished at 9.30pm & I was exhausted from all the mindfulness. Despite my wish to fall asleep instantly, I didn’t manage to until well after midnight. I owe the sleep bank some hours.

At 5am in the morning Phra KK sounded the bell to wake us & again at 5.30am to call us to chanting & meditation practice. I’m not sure if I’m meditating right, but I find it soothing & helpful to clear my mind so I’m content that I’m feeling better & more mindful.

I had to leave the retreat early for a Skype interview – there is no wifi at the retreat so don’t bother taking your laptop. You won’t have much time to use it anyway. I recommend to take toilet roll as supplies in the toilets were low to non-existent.

Overall it was lovely speaking to the monks & getting an insight into their lives & their tips to mindfulness. If you are interested in doing this overnight meditation retreat I have posted the link below.

Links

http://www.monkchat.net

Hey Thailand! Here I am!

I have arrived in Thailand!

I am of course ridiculous & decided that I needed a new Chanel lipstick for my month of backpacking in Thailand. I know. I was rolling my eyes at myself when I was walking towards the till in duty free. I’m sure that was a lovely sight for the anxious cashier.

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When I arrived in Bangkok I opted on taking public transport to my hostel rather than the easy-way-out taxi – mainly due to it being rush hour & my massive dislike of sitting in traffic. The public transport was very straightforward, frequent & easy to navigate. I was pleased despite not being accustomed to the weight of my backpack yet!

I stayed at the Saphai Pae hostel. It was clean & spacious with a well laid out big bathroom block. I stayed in an 8 bed dorm on the female only floor. The staff were helpful & I would stay there again. After my well deserved shower I went for a wander about the area then went to bed. It was pure bliss to lie horizontal on a bed & stretch out. I was in heaven!

The next morning, after breakfast, I went to Hua Lampong train station to get a ticket for the overnight train to Chiang Mai for my Thai massage course. You can’t buy these tickets online & they sell out quickly so I was risking them being sold out. Luckily there were 4 seats left in the 2nd class air conditioned carriages. I opted for seat 15 as the other seats were very low numbers indicating they were near the toilet which might be a bit smelly & have through traffic all night with people using them. The only seat available that wasn’t near the toilets was an upper bunk. The upper bunks are slightly narrower than the bottom bunks but this didn’t really bother me. The ticket was 791b & would leave Bangkok at 6.10pm & arrive in Chiang Mai at 8.10am the following day.

I wandered around Bangkok & had some street food of gyoza for 50b (£1). I went to MBK & Siam centre to browse – I bought a few things I ‘needed’ but I didn’t go crazy because everything I buy I have to carry on my back.

I arrived at the station 45 mins early & my train was already being boarded. We took off at 6.10pm & an hour later a lady came around & started converting the seats into bunks. I was delighted! Another lady came around with a menu for dinner but I wasn’t very hungry. She seemed a bit offended that I didn’t order anything….

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The bunks on the train with their curtains closed

When I climbed into my bunk I fell straight to sleep – I’m not sure how as everyone was talking so loudly. I woke up a few hours later & read for a while, then I noticed a cockroach walk down the wall & under my mattress! Oh the horror! I was determined to go back to sleep so I put my earphones in (so the cockroach wouldn’t be able to burrow into my ears if he had the inclination, obviously) & anxiously fell asleep. At around 7am the lady came back to convert the bunks back to seats. I was massively jealous of the people in the bunks that she left until 8am. It seems that I have become obsessed with lying down.

I heard that transport is rarely on time in Thailand so I was surprised when we arrived bang on time! This was the last stop so everyone left the train & there was the usual hub bub in the train station of taxi & tuk tuk drivers, hostel owners, confused sleepy backpackers etc. I slipped into a nearby cafe to escape the bustle & enjoy a coffee. When relative calm resumed I found a tuk tuk driver & haggled him down to 200b for my trip to Baan Hom Samunphrai – Thai Massage School Herbal Retreat Centre. It was a bumpy 20 minute drive out of the city over a bridge, past the tamarind hedge to my home & haven for the following 2 weeks.

Links

Saphai Pae Hostel, Bangkok http://www.saphaipae.com

Baan Hom Samunphrai, Chiang Mai http://www.homprang.com