Thursday, 24 July 2014

2014 Travelling Highlights Part 1 – Thailand

Hey guys.

Sorry for being MIA for the last six weeks, but I’ve been doing a spot of travelling! I spent all of June walking, busing and flying around Thailand, which was utterly fantastical – but exhausting! And despite the military coo – which wasn’t at all as scary as English news made it out to be – meaning the papers didn’t show you the soldiers taking selfies, or allowing the tourists to pose for pictures on the army tanks! It was a really great holiday and I want to share with you all some of the more thrilling moments of this trip.

Number 1 – Bann Chang Elephant park in Chiangmai, THAILAD

One of my favourite things was coming here and spending two nights and three days feeding, washing, riding and learning to take care of elephants.

Unlike most elephant parks, this place will take in all elephants, both the good and the bad, the young and the old, as well as both the sweet and ill tempted. They rescue their elephants from all over Thailand, and provide the care and attention needed to ensure the elephants lead happy and care free lives.

While the Mahuts (the elephants caretakers) all carried the required bull hook, they are rarely used and you can see each Mahut has a special relationship with their own elephants. Not to mention the Mahuts were all particularly entertaining and enjoyed trying to speak to you with their broken English.

 However while it was sad seeing elephants that had been previously abused – our guide admitted three of the elephants had even killed their previous owners due to ill treatment – It was rewarding to see the good work being done at Bann Chang and should you go to Thailand, I would recommend this as a number one place to visit.

You can learn a lot about the elephants, the how’s and why’s in which they came to live in the park, the way in which to look after them, the right and wrong ways in which they can be ridden. It truly is an overall amazing experience and I took pleasure in learning each elephant’s personality. Some grab food politely, others are greedy and snatch. Some just want to play while others are not quite so friendly and will give you a good wack with their trunks if you get to close… or squirt you with water.

It really is a must! Please feel free to check out their website HERE!

Number 2 – The Golden Palace in Bangkok

A beautiful place to walk around – although if you visit in the height of summer be sure to take a drink! And be warned before you go in, both legs must be fully covered, a woman must have sleeves of some sort (apparently a shawl is not enough – or you are considered too sexy!) and definitely show no cleavage. It’s also an advantage to wear shoes that are easy to slip off as many of the temples require you remove your footwear!

So while getting through the door is often a challenge for many, once you are in the sights are well worth the effort. The statues, the buildings, everything is a mass of colour and history. And being deceptively large, at a wandering pace it will easily take you at least four hours to walk through. Sun glasses might also be a good thing to back as the Palace is, suffice to say, Dazzling!

Number 3 – Chiangmai Town

I adored Chiangmai! There is so much to do both in and outside the town. I would recommend the bike tours - especially the one to the waterfall - and the spas! If you want to pamper yourself, go ahead. I spent four and half hours being pummelled, stretched, rubbed and lathered with goo that turned my skin baby soft and left my brain like mush! All for £50! It was fantastic!

However my favourite thing was the Sunday Market. Prices are cheap, but even so you can haggle – and the markets sell everything! From bags to electronics, food, leather, silks, you name it, they have it! Be prepared to buy very much, but spend very little!

So if you plan to spend any time in Chiangmai, please, please try and be there on a weekend!

Number 4 – Scuba Diving! In Phuket!

So my friend could scuba dive, I could not. Yet finding my hotel literally around the corner from the local dive shop (Aussie Divers) I soon found myself getting talked into taking my Open Water Diving Course and getting my license. Oh boy was it worth it! Not only was my instructor amazing (despite his jokes and obvious entertainment at our screw ups) but learning with only one other student, and taking your first dive into clear blue waters were we saw (A miniscule) mantra ray, a very large turtle, a ship wreck and more fish than I knew existed… it was truly magical!

So Overall…

(What can I say - I live in China! Pizza is a novelty for me!)

Granted there were many other wonderful things, yet these were the most phenomenal that I experienced in Thailand. But after 5 weeks, surprisingly not as much money as you would think, lots of pizza and some amazing sun sets, I am now back in mainland China. However I just spent three very wonderful days in Singapore (a post on that adventure will soon be following) and I am ultra excited to announce, I have just booked a week in Japan! Which, those of you who know me can attest, it has been my lifelong dream to visit! And there is only two weeks to go!

In regards to book reviews, be sure I’ve got lots of reading done these past few weeks! Hopefully now I am home I can catch up on my sleep and will have some reviews up soon! How’s everyone else’s summer going?

Love and Hugs all