Getting lost on purpose

Yes it was on purpose and not just because I got a bit confused! This post returns to my Spring Festival adventures around Thailand, so lets pick up where I left off – being a lone ranger.

Since I knew I was going to spend the second half of my trip on my lonesome, I thought that the easiest way to do it would be to ease myself in and spend another day in Bangkok before flying North to Chiang Mai. It turned out that this was a great decision, as it meant that I could see more of the capital, be by myself but know how to get around and where I was based, and not feel like I was being rushed to see everything when I first got there. As it happens we’d accidentally had a late night watching a movie in the common room, so the ability to sleep in and not bother anyone was pretty luxurious! I went to what had become our usual place for breakfast – i’m sure the staff looked funnily at me for being by myself and not with Charlotte and Elijah – and decided that I’d head in the rough direction of the Siam Museum and see what was around there. It meant travelling on the train and on a ferry, but again because I’d already been in the city I wasn’t worried. I was confused however when a man approached me and started talking to me in French, even after I assured him I was English! So although my boss here and most people agree I have a very ‘English’ face, according to this man I was French looking! He only started speaking English once he heard my very bad French.

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Flower market!

Anyway! A journey later I got off the ferry and immediately started wandering around the markety type place which was around the dock. Once I’d found the road and looked at the map I headed in the direction of the museum. Along the way I got distracted by a flower market and lots of little shops which I promised to return to later – I didn’t want to go into the museum with shopping bags. Finding the actual museum as difficult though. I knew I was on the right street but didn’t realise it was down a side street and ended up walking up and down a good few times. Since it was now around midday it was boiling hot and the nearby school was starting to let its children out it was started to get crowded on the streets, but I eventually saw a sign for the museum and headed in. Like most people I interacted with in Thailand, the staff spoke very good English and I was soon sat down waiting for a video presentation on the history of the people of Thailand.

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On the whole, the museum was very good. I spent a good couple of hours wandering around and learning about Thailand’s history and culture and it genuinely helped me understand the country a little more. The museum wasn’t that busy so it was really peaceful and I really enjoyed myself. At one point I found myself being dressed up in traditional Thai clothing and had a Chinese family gawping at me at the same time which was hilarious. I did love the outfit though and it was really comfortable – I started walking off with the headband on until the staff stopped me! After exploring the museum for a few hours and gaining another wristband to add to my collection, I had a late lunch in the cafe on  site before wandering back towards the shops I’d promised to go in earlier. Heading back to the hostel, via an insanely crowded ferry and very friendly Chinese family, I got off the train a little early and wandered around a fancy mall in search of the a selfie stick to replace the one I’d lost in Kantiang Bay. Sadly the mall was too posh to sell such items so I ended up getting a haircut since the ends were becoming atrocious!! Feeling fancy with my new hair (but wishing I’d wore makeup) I splurged on a sushi dinner and went back to pack before my flight the next day.

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I’m so fancy….

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Bangkok – Phuket – Koh Lanta 

After been bitten to death in Bangkok the next day we flew to Phuket to continue our adventures. Getting a taxi to use the meter to the airport was unexpectedly stressful, but eventually our bags and us were on our way! After the flight we got a bus to near our hostel. Not a regular journey but a typical Asian journey, more people than seats, no clear instruction on when we actually had to get off and no approximate journey time. So after an unspecified amount of time we were at the last sto and presumed it was time to depart!

Following the instructions from our hostel we found it pretty easily. Because we got there quite late and were leaving early in the morning for the ferry we’d decided to stay at a hostel near the pier. As a result there wasn’t much around, but after wandering the streets we found a local place that sold the absolute best pad Thai in the world. It was also the only place we went that didn’t speak English much!

Up early for the ferry we got caught up in mayhem at the pier, and worried that we were going to miss the ferry we paid quite a lot more than the way back. Naturally at this point my backpack broke and gave me a nice bruise on my arm to add to the bug bites on my forehead! The ferry itself was fine, they put Mr Bean on for people to watch and after changing ferries at Koh Phi Phi we finally got to our island around midday.


  The rest of the day was spent settling into our Time for Lime bungalow, swimming, sunbathing and relaxing. It was the start of a great week!

The first Thai adventure!

This is the beginning of an epic set of blog posts about my incredible Spring Festival trip to Thailand. The week before I left I was super busy packing and marking exams so I’m behind on my planned posts for what life is like in the Shiz but Thailand is a much more exciting thing to write about!

And so begins my 20 hour journey from Shijiazhuang to Bangkok via Beijing and Ningbo (which I’m still not entirely sure where it is other than somewhere in China). The actual flight time was less than 7 hours, but being a last minute cheapskate I had many hours waiting in airports and getting sleeper trains to Beijing. Thankfully I had an e reader full of books, iPod full of music and plenty of people watching opportunities to entertain me, and once I got to Bangkok and finally found the (amazing) hostel, I was greeted by Elijah and Charlotte and a very nice shower!!


After a quick feast of Mexican food and a lovely long sleep, we set out in the morning to explore the Grand Palace, a top sight in Bangkok and where the King chills. Getting there via sky train and ferry, it was soon midday and roasting hot compared to the cold snap I’d experienced in China (a result of which being that I carted my coat all over Thailand). Thailand is a very Buddhist country, and there are dress codes in place when visiting temples and other important sites. With this in mind I wore a high necked dress that went down to my toes and I brought a scarf to cover my shoulders if it was needed. The Grand Palace helpfully has staff stopping you at the entrance and directing you to a place where you can rent clothing to cover up inappropriate areas. After waiting forever for Elijah to rent long trousers, me and Charlotte got stopped at the actual entrance to the palace because if you lifted up the scarf you could see my shoulders. As a result, Charlotte and I rented fabulous shirts to look presentable!

 Exploring the palace gave me the chance to experiment with my selfie stick for the first time which was fun. Hanging out in the sun meant my forehead became a lovely shade of red, but on the whole it was a great place to spend a few hours, there’s plenty to see and do and it was a great introduction to Thai culture.

            
After a much needed ice cream and pad thai, we wandered down to Khao San road and explored the market stalls around there, sticking up on the essentials for our upcoming trip to Koh Lanta. Swim shorts, flip flops and baggy trousers!

That evening me and Charlotte had a girls night involving good food and massages. Turns out im not a huge fan of massages, especially those focused on the back! It was a lot of fun though!

The next day, after a bit of discussion we decided to venture to one of the floating markets. Most are quite a trek away so we went to the nearest one, and with Charlotte’s insane researching skills we headed for a local bus recommended by a random blog. After waiting for roughly an hour and seeing buses go in the opposite direction we started to suspect that something was amiss. Then a helpful man interceded and informed us that the buses did a loop around the building and we needed to cross the road! Now at the right bus stop, it wasn’t long until we were heading off!!


Taling Chan floating market isn’t the biggest, but it has some amazing food! I tried scallops and pork neck for the first time – I’m a huge fan. It was here that I learnt that Thai salad is very different to Western salads, and Thai salad is very spicy! I didn’t make that mistake again! It was really nice to sit on floating platforms eating food that was fresh as could be and cooked by people right next to us or on little boats. Since it took so long for us to figure out the bus we seemed to have missed the main rush of people, and while it was still busy, it wasn’t uncomfortabley rammed.


  
For our last night in Bangkok we decided to have a few drinks and ended up eating pad Thai on the street and people watching. While it was fun at the time, what was not fun was the amount of bug bites I got, which made my legs look hideous on Koh Lanta!

 

 Very strange cosmopolitan!
The next day we travelled to Phuket to continue our adventure and all felt rather fragile at the airport!

新年快乐!

Happy New Year everyone! While a lot of my friends were travelling for Christmas and New Year, I stayed in the Shiz to save money. Plus I was working Christmas Eve and on New Year’s Eve until lunchtime so I didn’t think it was worth  going anywhere. I’m happy with my decision, as you will see, I had a great New Year’s Eve with my students and my friends!

 Me and some of class 4 after a party!

So teaching on the morning of New Year’s Eve wasn’t too painful, I had a fun lesson planned on festivals around the world (cheese rolling is the favourite so far) and although the classes asked for a movie, they accepted that they weren’t getting one pretty quickly. My second, and last class of the day, class 4, are one of my favourites. Their English isn’t the best and indeed the head boy of the class told me off once for expecting too much of them, but they are a very friendly class, and get involved without much prodding from me. One of the girls, Melantha, always makes a point of talking to me and giving me sweets, and invited me to their class party in the afternoon. I was so tired I delayed going, but the minute I got there I was so glad I’d dragged myself out of bed! Chinese school parties aren’t the awkward crisps and pop affair I remember from school, it’s more like a talent show. When I rocked up I was pulled into the room and the door quickly shut behind me, secrety style! I was then ushered into a seat and proceeded to watch my students show off all kinds of hidden talents!

  
  
  
  
Highlights included two boys who beat boxed, the shy girl in class becoming a dancer and one of the beat boxers playing what I presume is a traditional Chinese wind instrument. Once he performances were finished it was game time, which is how I ended up with a stick in my mouth transferring a roll of sellotape from one person to another. I’m not entirely sure that was appropriate considering they were my students!! At one point the students screamed and cheered as other students came in to perform a song, the rockstars of 42.

 

  
After a glorious nap and a shower at Sam’s since my shower was being repaired it was time to party western style! Me, Sam and Izzie headed for the bus to Sarah’s, all accidentally adhering to some theme – Sam was 80’s, me and my troll necklace were the 90’s, and Izzie was a cat. The group of people on the bus who spoke a little English absolutely loved it!
At Sarah we played various drinking games and chatted after devouring any food in the house! We rang in the new year on time, but around 2.30 I was nearly asleep on the sofa – wine makes me very tired! So I headed home in a taxi and fell fast asleep after having a very good New Year’s Eve!