Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Blogging

The great thing about blogging, is discovering new bloggers and today I have done just that and I wanted to share with you some of their work - in the hope that you will go and take a look some more at their blog.

image source: nomadicpursuits.com

image source: nomadicpursuits.com

image source: nomadicpursuits.com

image source: nomadicpursuits.com

image source: nomadicpursuits.com

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

12 countries in 12 months

At the beginning if the year I set myself a challenge, which some people said I'd never do. This has only made me more determined to do it. 

What was the challenge? Well the title kind if gives it away, but you can read some more about it here

As I'm four months in now, I thought I'd give you all an update. So far the plan is going well and I've seen four countries in the last four months. 

My 4 countries so far

Here are the stamps to prove it and here are some of my favourite pictures from each of those places...

Australia

China

London

Thailand

Don't forget to follow me here too...

Monday, 24 March 2014

Where did you go in Thailand?

This is a question that I am being asked a lot, so thought it might be something that you guys are interested in too - as if you are planning a trip, it will let you know what kind of things you can fit into your time frame.  Something which I had no idea about before I left England.  But if I were you, I'd forget the planning and just go with it.

In two weeks, I traveled from Bangkok on the night train, to Chaing Mai.  Once we were in Chaing Mai, we spent one night in a Guest House called HK House II, which you can check out on Trip Advisor.


We looked around a lot of different temples in Chaing Mai, all in one morning and had lots of fun taking photos and seeing each different building.  We even stopped off for some cake half way through the day...


We then had the challenge of our two day trek, so we needed to leave our bags somewhere.  Most hotels/hostels/guesthouses are happy to leave your bags with them for a fee though.  So when we asked our guest house how much it would be to do this, we were pleasantly surprised when they said we could do so free of charge and then have a shower, etc... when we came back for free too.  This honestly was turning into my favourite place very quickly.  The hotel manager even shorted out our bus tickets for us and took us to the bus station, ready for our night bus all the way back to Bangkok.

One of the baby Elephants we saw on our trek
After our night bus, we then had a flight to catch from Bangkok domestic airport to Phuket.  It was only a short flight, which I slept through most of and then we were soon landing.

TIP: When you arrive at the airport and need to get to the ferry dock, don't worry about buying a bus ticket, they will make you wait until they have 10 people to fill the bus before they leave - which could take hours. Just pay for the Taxi and get to the terminal before the ferry leaves without you.

Once you are there, you need to buy your ticket, if you haven't already - you will then be given a sticker for yourself and a sticker for your bag.  Make sure you put the one on your bag, because they only take the bags that have the stickers on off of the boat in the right places.  When we got on the boat, I wasn't too keen on where they were storing them.  However, we got on and off the boat fine and with our bags waiting for us on the pier.  These guys, although it may not seem like it, do have some idea of what they are doing.

We then spent a few nights in Phi Phi, where we partied at the half moon party and went on a snorkeling tour of the Phi Phi islands - including Maya Bay, Monkey Island and swimming with sharks and turtles.



After Phi Phi, it was time for some R and R.  We hadn't stopped for agesssss and just, well done nothing.  So we booked a 4 star hotel (which was on offer with 80% off) and spent a day around the pool in Krabi.  The hotel was slightly secluded, so we made our way back to Ao Nang, which has a lot more going on and is a great base if you want to get to the Islands (Phi Phi, Railay, etc...), most of which are all featured in films.

Here we stayed in Full Moon House and Resort.  Don't be fooled by the name, this isn't a party destination.  The hut was lovely, really quiet and the rooms were gorgeous.  The couple that owned the resort gave us such a warm welcome too and even booked our bus tour for us the next morning, so that we had enough time to make our way over to Railay Beach.



Railay Beach was beautiful and if you make your way over there for the day or even the week, only buy your ticket for the way across - so then you can buy another ticket back at any point in the day without having to find the right boat again.

After making our way there and back in the morning, we jumped on our bus to Surat Thani, ready to catch the boat to Ko Samui.

Grandfather Clock
Our Hotel

We arrived in Koh Samui and stayed in another new resort - this one for a few more days than any of the others.  This was called Samui Beach Resort, which again was great - but it's definitely not the second life and soul of Sumui people say it is.  If you want to Party, then you need to be in Cheweng and if you are in Cheweng then you need to make a trip to the Ark Bar and if you have the money, stay there too.

Holly in the Ark Bar
I think this kid has to have been my favourite part of The Ark Bar...


This is the longest place that we stayed our entire trip and is perfect for families as well as younger people.  If you wanted to, you can still stay here and get a Taxi around to Cheweng too, which is what we did while we were there.

Our next stop, was Koh Phangan where you guessed it - we went to the full moon party.  There aren't many photos of our time here, because Holly had her phone stolen. 


But here's another video of our time there...



After the Full Moon party I had managed to lose Holly, finding her again just after our boat had left the Island.  So we booked ourselves onto another boat, which got us back just over an hour before our flight was due to leave.  We then needed to get to the airport asap, so we didn't miss our flight.  Jumping in a Taxi, we said we needed to get there fast - but safely.

TIP: If you are planning on going to the full moon party - I would stay here, the hostel (if not the owner) was awesome.

However, this wasn't going to be the way things planned out.  The car we were travelling in crashed and we thought we were about to die.  The car spun into the on coming traffic, after being hit on the rear left hand passenger side - exactly where I was sitting. We were also on a bridge, so there wasn't a lot saying that we were about to make it out of there alive.  Luckily we did, but both cars, on inspection, were right offs.

The car was still driving with lots of creaking, scratching and scrapping all the way to the airport and we thought it was probably going to blow up on the way there - especially as the petrol tank had taken a good hit. 

During our whole time in Thailand, this was probably the dumbest thing we did.  Nothing is worth putting yourself at risk like this, not even missing a flight.

Our flight back, wasn't a comfortable one - my bum was slightly grazed from the accident and my back (after fracturing it in the summer) wasn't at its best.  There was also the added worry of the Malaysia Airlines flight having just gone missing over the Thai Gulf.  We knew that this was being taken pretty seriously at the time as a high jacking, as the Thai Navy's presence in the Gulf was huge.  As we arrived in Koh Samui their were five Navy ships sitting in the waters.

Finally, we made it back to Bangkok safe and sound, ready to fly home the very next day and as much as I love travelling, I was definitely ready to come back home.

All in all, I have just worked out (roughly) that after 6 flights, 5 trains, 3 buses and a car crash - we travelled an average of 19,000 miles in 2 weeks.

Don't forget to follow me here too...

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Why I think people aren't missing the point of a #nomakeupselfie

Recently I have noticed the momentum of the #nomakeupselfie growing on Facebook and other social media channels like Instagram and Twitter.  However, with this, I have also noticed the cynics - who have the opinion that people are missing the point of the campaign.  

I can honestly say that I don't think that people are missing the point at all.

Sometimes it isn't just about raising money (although it obviously helps when paying for research), but it is about by raising awareness. I think that if this campaign reaches even just one person, who then thinks to check themselves and it saves their life, then it will have more than done its job.

I have also seen a lot of people posting the selfie and saying that they have then gone on to donate - so no I don't think anyone is missing the point of the campaign - because I don't think there was an official aim when it was started.

This campaign has definitely made an impact though, as so many women are nominating each other and the media are picking up on it. Essentially, this is a free campaign for Breast cancer awareness, as the reach is now phenomenal and even if it makes a slight difference, its made one.

There has been one point that was raised during this though, which I think is a point that a lot of people miss when they talk about breast cancer.  This is the fact that it can and does effect men too.  It is also something that although not as common, can effect younger people too.

So before I unveil my #nomakeupselfie, please make sure you are doing these checks every day...

TOUCH your breasts. Can you feel anything unusual?
LOOK for changes. Is there any change in shape or texture?
CHECK anything unusual with your doctor.




Touch

  • Can you feel a lump? Either in the breast, upper chest or armpits.
  • Is there a lumpy area? Or unusual thickening of the breast tissue that doesn’t go away?
  • Is there any unusual pain? Either in part of the breast or the armpit.

Look

  • Any change in size or shape? For example, one breast might become larger or lower than the other.
  • Any change in skin texture? Such as puckering or dimpling of the skin of the breast.
  • Any change in colour? For example the breast may look red or inflamed.
  • What about the appearance or direction of the nipple? For example, one might become inverted (turned in) when it normally points out.
  • Any unusual discharge? One or both nipples might have a discharge.
  • Any rash or crusting? Of the nipple or surrounding area.

Check

  • Is anything unusual? If so, get it checked out by your doctor as soon as possible.
If you need any more information though, check out their website here.

Finally, here is my no makeup selfie


Have you taken part in the campaign too? Send me a link below of your #nomakeupselfie.

Don't forget to donate to the cause too, by texting 70099 you will donate £3 to breast cancer awareness.

Phi phi islands

If you've ever been to Phi Phi, you'll know this place is a little bit cray.  So it's probably not a good idea if you arrive on the night of the half moon party, having had a total of around 9 hours sleep, after camping for two days in the jungle, attempting to sleep on a night bus and a boat - you'll probably end up falling asleep standing (yes that's exactly what I did).

I was so tired I had a mini melt down on the phone to my BFF at home....  This is a first for me when travelling.  I have never so much as cried once on a trip away, so this means only one thing - I was beyond tired.

The party however was rocking and I loved every minute of it that I was awake for. 

Half Moon Party in Phi Phi

Holly managed an all might rave though, after a few red bulls which are full of god knows what and arrived back at the room around 7am after sleeping on the wrong balcony all night.  

We don't understand the mo top either?!

The next day we booked an awesome snorkeling around the following places on a long tail boat:
- maya bay (phi phi lei)
- long beach (where we snorkeled with reef sharks)
- monkey island
- bamboo island 

Here are a few pics from our time in the Phi Phi Islands...

Monkey Island Stop

Little Lagoon we stopped in

Phi Phi Islands

Few silly photos on the boat in Phi Phi

Maya Bay - where The Beach was filmed

Holly on Monkey Island

Don't forget to follow me here too...

Friday, 14 March 2014

Jungle is massive

So out first trip in a Thailand was via a night train to Chaing Mai, north of Bangkok.

Bangkok Train station

Which we felt pretty safe on, especially with these guys keeping an eye on us...

Train to Chaing Mai
The sleeper trains are pretty cosy and after a chat with out new American friends, we settled into our second class bunks and slept most if the night. 

[TIP: wear something warm on the train it gets pretty cold, even though blankets and pillows are provided]

Holly snapping while I'm napping
When we arrived in Chaing Mai we were picked up by the guys from our guest house and made to feel so at home.  They even warned us (all be it a little too late) about the Thai con (http://www.hikinginheels.co.uk/2014/03/the-thai-con.html?m=1).

For a trip in Chaing Mai to the jungle, including bamboo rafting and seeing the elephants, you should expect to pay somewhere in the region of 1500 BHT.

But more importantly you should have the time if your life. 

The trekking was hard, it was hot and I was being such a girl about it. But I loved every second. 

Here are some of my favourite parts of the trip and I can honestly say, if it wasn't for these guys, we wouldn't have had half the fun we did! 

Waterfall on jungle trek
Taking a few snaps of the waterfall, I would recommend packing a small camera for this - you don't want to carry any more than you need to. As you can see me and Holly has all the essentials packed... 

Camp fire

Team Trekkers

Holly and her furry friend

I've never really camped before, only once on Fraser Island and that was a long time ago now.  But sitting around the camp fire chatting about the day was awesome.  Holly made friends with a pup she named Betty and Betty ever so cutely slept on her lap all evening.

We even sang some nursery rhymes (yes you got it) around the camp fire. 

The guys helping me over a tree bridge

These guys helped so much on the treks, they helped us across lakes, saved me from bees and red ants, made sure I was ok every time I screamed like a girl and generally had great banter for the whole trip. 

Rope bridge

Except for when they were being boys and terrifying me on the rope bridge, bouncing it up and down (haha).  I ran for dear life over to the safety of Hols! 

We then waited around, giving the elephants a little bath and finally rounded up our trip having a small ride on the elephants.

CHEESE

Elephant riding

Elephant selfie

Loving the elephant #SELFIE, however I think Holly's SELFIE with the Thai nanna is the best! 

Thai Lady

When we arrived back from the trek, rotton, smelly and basically covered in mud we jumped straight in the shower of our hotel in Chaing Mai and had out first cuppa in what felt like weeks. 

Cup of English Tea Please...
 After this, we jumped back on another night bus to Bangkok, ready to catch a flight to Phuket and a boat to the Phi Phi islands. 

Off to Bangkok on the night bus

I'll fill you in on this adventure tomorrow! 

Recommendations:

- book trips in the place you're staying 
- if you're a back packer on a budget, SK house 2 is a great place to stay, it's a great place even if you aren't a back packer. A family run business, with pick ups from the train station and everyone makes you feel so welcome.
- if you're travelling during low season just show up and you'll get a cheaper room than booking online.
- don't worry too much about air con rooms, we've found a fan is fine and you won't freeze in the middle of the night.
- if you're not a fan of trekking, I'd book an elephant sanctuary instead of a two day trip too.
- spend a morning looking around the temples in Chaing Mai, you can walk to them all.
- go to the night market. It's one if the best we've seen in Thailand with lots of cool trinkets and presents for people at home.

Don't forget to follow me here too...