The Blog

Welcome home

Who can believe I have just finished my first year teaching Nursery in Thailand!? (I survived!) Its gone unbelievably fast, but that’s always a good sign right? Its really taken me by surprise how much I have loved teaching here. Its been so rewarding seeing the pupils development from day 1 when they don’t want to leave their parents, to the final day when they don’t even bother saying bye! I could not have got through the year though without the best TA’s; Miss Sat, Miss Ellen, Miss Donna and Miss Ann! It really makes such a positive difference when you have such lovely, hard working and supportive TA’s, I’m going to miss them next year! (I wish I could bring them with me).

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The summer holidays were a welcome break though as I was exhausted by the end of the term! It’s also been (nearly) a year before we moved away; my dad’s & aunties 60th and my nan’s 80th – the perfect time for a trip back home! As this is the longest I’ve ever been away from friends and family it was an emotional trip for me. Seeing my mum at the airport made me cry and seeing my dad walk away made me laugh (he thought I didn’t know he was coming – so he went to hide as my mum ran towards me with open arms, and much to her denial, crying a little bit! (My mum never cries!)). The first part of my trip was so busy as I spent time in Kent, Somerset, Guildford and London, eating all the food iv’e been missing (nando’s, roast dinner, fish and chips, English chocolate, Caramac, the list goes on!). I spent my time meeting goats, catching up with friends and family, strolling around London (my favourite city) and helping my sister with wedding related stuff. This for me meant a lot as she asked me to be her maid of honour! I was so excited to have the opportunity to be more involved, we spent the day wedding dress shopping and went to visit the location for the wedding, and I don’t want to give anything away but I think its perfect and even got quite emotional! The second part was spent in Manchester with Rob’s family. It was so lovely to see all his nieces and how they’ve grown up but it makes me miss everyone so much more. It was lovely to catch up with some friends and even visit my old work place, give Rob a full tour and check out the new cobbles! At the end of the 2 and a half weeks though I was exhausted and I was looking forward to seeing Charlie again as I was missing him lots.

Now, If you read my previous post, then your now know that we have a forever dog named Charlie! He is a little Chihuahua/Dachshund mix (we think) also known as a ‘Chiweenie’. He was abandoned on the side of a street in a horrible little cage and rescued by a nun: A little about this nun! She’s famous in the ‘dog rescue’ community and is known as the ‘selfie taking nun’ (she really loves sending selfies). A while ago she was kicked out of the temple because she refused to give up her rescue dogs (I should mention here, that she has 150+ street dogs under her care, and there’s been panic of a rabies outbreak). Naturally, she refused to give them up so she had no choice but to leave. When people heard about this, they fundraised and built her a shelter in the middle of the jungle for her and all the dogs. This is where we found Charlie. It was clear from the first minute we saw him that he should not be in that environment deserved a loving home, he’s simply not built for the street! We don’t know what happened to him or how he came to be there but it’s evident that hes been abused as he is very weary of new people and can be quite scared of men. However, with some little space and time he is the most loving, funny (and clumsy) dog and I don’t know how anyone could ever abuse and abandon him; I’m just glad that he’s found us and seems very very happy.

 



It’s now coming up to our 1 year anniversary for moving (cheesy I know) and I cant believe how fast it’s gone. It’s been so up and down, taking me at least 6 months to settle properly and really start enjoying my life in the land of smiles. Going back home and seeing everyone again made me feel so loved and missed so coming back has naturally made me feel a little home sick (but I’m sure it wont be long before I’m settled again!) My jet lag is all over the place (I couldn’t sleep till 5am the other night) and after 3 weeks off I’m definitely ready to go back to work. Tomorrow I start my new job; I am still a nursery teacher but at a Kindergarten that is much closer and the working hours are better to. Although I’m slightly nervous to start (I hate being the new person), I am excited to meet everyone, and surprisingly I’m starting to miss teaching and definitely feel ready to go back!

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Songkran!

Wow, It’s been so long since my last blog and I wish I had an excuse, but really i’ve just been super lazy! So much has happened since my last post; I’ve visited Chang Mai for Songkran; fostered a soi (street) dog; adopted a rescue dog; finished school and most recently, visited home. I will have to split this into 2 blogs, otherwise I will bore you with all my rambling (It’s hard to stop!)

So where to start? I’ll start with my trip to Chang Mai! Robs dad (Neil) came out to visit us during the Easter & Songkran half term. For those that don’t know, Songkran is a holiday to celebrate the Thai new year: And how do they celebrate? With a 3 day water fight! And there’s no way to escape it. To fully embrace this holiday we decided to head to Chang Mai, supposedly the best place to go. To get to Chang Mai in Northern Thailand we got the night train. I traveled 1st class on the night train when heading to Laos, but this time we stayed in 2nd class. The main difference is that in 1st class you have your own room, whereas 2nd class is laid out like a regular train, but the seats change into beds and you have a little curtain for some privacy. Our journey was quite uneventful apart from the lack of sleep. The lights don’t go out and it was surprisingly cold!

When we arrived in the morning we dumped our bags, and whilst Neil went to bed and recovered from the lack of sleep, Rob and I headed out for a wonder around. It didn’t take us long to stumble upon some beautiful temples and then we found a massage run by ex convicts! This is a popular scheme run in Chang Mai; the convicts are trained as masseuse’s to help rehabilitate them. Intrigued and feeling tired, we decided to get a massage and it did not disappoint. The following day we went on a day tour with the Elephant Nature park to visit some Elephants (there are lots of unreputable companies so we did a lot of research to find a legit one). We ventured off to a small tribe an hour out of Chang Mai; here, they have 3 rescued Elephants who can roam freely through the jungle. On the tour we got to follow the Elephants, walk with them, feed them, give them a mud bath and then swim in the river and give them a wash. As it was the day before Songkran spirits were high amongst the Thai people and the local tribe people came to join us which resulted in a huge water fight, in the river, surrounded by Elephants! It was such an amazing experience and one that will never be forgotten.

The following day was Songkran! We were very excited, especially Neil, so we got up early and headed down to the old city wall, which we were told would be the best place to go (they weren’t wrong!) It wasn’t long before we got our first bucket of Ice cold water chucked over us. And this continued over the next 3 days! It’s really was an experience like no other; the streets are filled with pick up trucks full of people driving past, chucking ice cold water over you; your lucky if you only have 1 bucket of water chucked over you as your refilling and there really is no escape! It was a mistake to dry off and head out for dinner, driving around in a tuk tuk makes you an easy target and you don’t stay dry for very long! This went on for 3 whole days, (call us boring) but 1 day was enough for us. The following day we headed out of the city towards Doi Inthanon, a national park where we did a day tour visiting some famous sights including the highest point in Thailand and the Twin Pagodas.

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Upon returning we had fostered a Soi (street) dog, he was a little puppy called Bunny who was ADORABLE but, unfortunately, far too naughty for us! After making the mistake of moving into a pet friendly condo, Rob and I had been in debate for a while about whether to get a dog or not. To help us decide if it was right for us or not we started to dog sit for a few people in our building. That’s when Bunny came along! He was rescued from a restaurant where he was abandoned, only a few weeks old, he was covered in ticks and flees and suffering from an allergic reaction to them. After a few months of weening and recovery with his rescuer we wanted to foster him for a little bit, with hopes we could adopt him if it all went well. Unfortunately we soon realised he was not right for us and was definitely not suited to our lifestyle! He was VERY naughty, needed a lot of time, space and a very strong owner to take control of him. As hard as it was making the decision not to keep him it was the right thing to do. He’s now been adopted by his rescuer who he absolutely loves and has a much better living situation with. Not long after we then found charlie, our current, and forever dog <3. More about him on my next blog!

Koh Lipe vs Koh Tarutao

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With such a busy term it was a huge relief when half term finally came around. I could not wait to see more of Thailand. This holiday, me and Rob decided to visit Koh Lipe, a small Island just of the coast of Thailand near the Malaysian border after hearing how beautiful it was.

The journey there was surprisingly smooth. We went to the airport straight from school, flew to Hat Yai where we stopped over night before catching a 2 hour transfer the following morning to the pier and then an hour speed boat to the Island. (Its not easy to get to!) Our accommodation felt like a prison cell but for what works out as £5 a night I wouldn’t expect much more.

Upon arriving I was excited to see crystal clear water and perfectly soft white sand. We got a taxi to our accommodation; a bamboo hut, set back from the beach within the jungle. As soon as we arrived we felt relaxed and instantly switched off from the rest of the world.

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Koh Lipe is only a small Island with a laid back vibe and with expensive resorts to budget hostels and a mix of nice restaurants and bars, Koh Lipe attracts a mix of travelers and families. Our time here was very chilled and uneventful for the most part – we spent most of our time lazing around on the beach with a beer in our hand. One day we decided to get of the beaten track a little and discover some secret beaches. We headed over to a resort with a “private beach” where we spent the morning lazing around under a tree and swimming in the sea before moving on to a hidden beach. We trekked through the jungle and scrambled over big rocks to be rewarded by a beautiful, little beach all to ourselves! It felt like something from castaway and was the perfect place to spend the rest of the day. Well… We planned to anyway but it didn’t work out that way. As I ventured off exploring further down the beach I was heading back, (carefully) climbing through the little rocks, until I slipped, fell back and hit my head on a rock. Fortunately I was fine and just left with a headache and a nasty bump. Not long after Rob started to feel really ill and decided to see the doctor. Turns out he had an infected knee from a cut that has started to spread. Ouch! The rest of our time on Lipe was uneventful, apart from the sheer amount of mosquito bites I was suffering from. I lost count how many I had throughout the holiday but it was definitely more then 40… (I wish I was exaggerating – I got 20 in the first afternoon of being there before I put any mosquito repellent on).


The last few days of our holiday were spent in Koh Tarutao for our 3 year anniversary, also Valentine’s day (cheesy I know – and I don’t even like Valentines day). Koh Tarutao is the biggest island within the national park and the least built up. You can stay at one of the basic huts on the island if you book through the government website or you can simply turn up, hire camping stuff, and pitch your tent which is exactly what we did. Anyone who knows me will know that I am not really a camping sort of person. But, Rob has been asking me for years to go camping so finally I caved in (girlfriend points)! Despite sleeping in a very uncomfortable, hot stuffy tent with very, very basic and not very clean facilities, I surprisingly enjoyed it! We pitched a space right on the beach with the most beautiful view and even better sunsets. Waking up to that view in the morning is something money really can’t buy.

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The island is steeped in History with it having 2 prisons/work camps (holding 3000 people at its peak) used before the second world war where people were exiled. One prison was for political prisoners and the other was for more serious offenders, such as murderers. Here they were attempted to be rehabilitated. Unfortunately as WW2 broke out they were rationed and a lot of the prisoners died from malnutrition and basically slave labor. Those that survived, prisoners and guards (apparently) became pirates. What remains today is a only a few buildings of where the staff and some of the prisoners lived.

The afternoon we arrived we decided to hire some mountain bikes to go and explore the site of the old prisons. Little did we realise how far it was; we ended up cycling 14k to the first prison site (it was another 12k to the second site – we never made it that far!) In +30 degree heat!. Picture the steep windy roads the Olympians ride – that is what we had to cycle. When I say cycle, I should probably add that it was more a case of Rob pushing both our bikes up the road and me struggling to keep up. Along the way though we were rewarded with amazing views over the island and saw lots of monkeys, giant lizards and tropical birds. When we reached the first prison site we were anxious to go and explore. We followed an old cobbled path mostly taken over by the jungle. Along this route we saw a few wooden houses and a large wooden tomb used to punish prisoners by making them lie down in there for days at a time (unfortunately I don’t have any footage because my gopro battery died – always the worst time!). We didn’t last long though (the path went on for miles with lots of different ways to go) as we got to freaked out to view it all; the jungle was blocking the sun making it dark and we saw no one else on our whole trip which made it feel very eery, almost like we shouldn’t be there. It took us 2 hour to get back and that night we were so tired we were in bed and asleep by 8pm!

The following morning we were abruptly awoken at 8am by the national anthem being played through the speakers on the island (everyday at 8am and 6pm the national anthem is played in public places and on the radio where everyone is expected to stop what they are doing). Having woken up early (for me) we were keen to see what the rest of the Island had to offer so we went kayaking through the mangrove in the jungle for an hour before we reached a crocodile cave. Being completely honest this was a little anti climatic and I enjoyed the kayaking more then the cave. The rest of our time on the island was spent relaxing on the beach taking in the views.
Overall I preferred Koh Tarutao to Koh Lipe as it gave you the feeling of having truly escaped it all and finding that little piece of paradise. The island itself is mostly jungle and because it is protected there are only a couple of Thai restaurants, limited accommodation, no cars and just one road taking you from one side of the island to the other. It was far less touristy than Lipe meaning we basically had the most beautiful beach I have ever seen, all to ourselves! We shared our camp site with wild boars and some very cheeky monkeys who went through my bag trying to steel some paracetamol and baby wipes! There was just one problem though – sand flys. We were warned about these and I did wear a lot of mosquito repellent but I still managed to get attacked (probably in between swimming and walking to the tent – it seemed almost impossible to avoid). By the end of the holiday I ended up looking (and feeling) like I have chicken pox with bites all over my whole body. My arms and legs came out in what is either hundreds of tiny tiny bites, or a reaction to something (I cant work it out) but at least I have a lovely tan!
So if your ever heading to Koh Lipe I would fully recommend going of the beaten track and visiting Koh Tarutao for a few days, just pack the mosquito repellent! (And lots of it).
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Christmas Staycation!

After our trip to Tokyo we decided to stay in Bangkok for Christmas and New Year. We wanted to make the most of our time off school so decided we would make it a “staycation”. I was looking forward to seeing what Bangkok has to offer and getting off the beaten track a little bit.

The first place we went to visit, which was by far the best thing we did, was visit the Airplane graveyard. This is only 5 minutes from where I live and something I drive past everyday going to school! Yet somehow, it’s one of those things you never get round to doing. So finally, we decided to go. The airplanes are left there and stripped of all the interior and a lot of materials which are sold as scrap. There are 3 Thai families who squat there and have made it their home, and also an income. As it continues to become more and more popular with tourists, the families now charge you to go in and nosy round (but not in the parts they live in, obviously). When we arrived we were greeted by a little boy, who must have been about 10, demanding 300 baht off me and Rob to get in. Once inside we didn’t hesitate to climb into the plane and start exploring, and what a surreal experience it was! One I would fully recommend to anyone who visits Bangkok.

The cinemas in Bangkok are very cheap and very good so we ended up going 3 times this staycation: Twice to a normal cinema to watch Jumanji and CoCo and once to a vintage cinema called Scala Theatre to watch The Greatest Showman. This cinema was by far the best; as you walk in you are greeted by a grand chandelier and  1920’s inspired decor. The cinema consists of only one screen, set back on a huge stage with grand curtains either side.

 

I wont bore you with all the details but here’s a list of everything else we did:

Caught the river boat into town.

Caturday cat cafe (my favourite cat cafe and excellent value for money too!)

Cycling and Kayaking in Rama 9 park.

Vanilla sky bar to watch the sunset.

Jim Thompson house.

Illumination festival.

Visited a penis shrine (out of curiosity – I should add!).

But mostly I have been binging on netflix. In hindsight I feel I probably should have chilled by the pool more (I really need to get a tan!!).

 

Merry Christmas!

In my opinion, Bangkok does Christmas well (for a country that doesn’t celebrate it). All the big shopping centers, department stores and supermarkets play Christmas music and some even have huge Christmas displays with amazing Christmas trees. It wasn’t too hard to find Christmas decorations to kit out our apartment and we even managed to find a few of our favourite Christmas foods (like crackers and chutney).  Christmas Eve was spent with Rob and our friend Kai, eating good food, drinking and playing lots of Uno! On Christmas morning we had a fancy breakfast, opened our presents and headed out to our bottomless brunch at the Radisson Blu where we met our friend Jess. With free flow alcohol from 12 till 3 you can only imagine how things got messy rather quickly. After a few too many bottles of prosecco Rob and Jess decided to sing the 12 Days of Christmas (trying to remember the words with help from tables around us) only to be told to be quiet from a very large table of scrooges. After lunch we headed over to Khao San Road, but with Bangkok being Bangkok, it took us an hour and a half in the taxi! This in itself was a funny journey and I like to think we kept the driver entertained. We tethered our phone up to the taxi and it quickly turned into karaoke, with Rob sat in the front, having borrowed the drivers baseball hat, Jess hanging out of the window shouting merry Christmas to everyone and me and Kai dancing to our favourite songs. When we did finally get to Khao San Road we didn’t last long. After a couple of buckets we were all feeling worse for wear and decided to head home. (It was very eventful but I wont go into our drunken antics).

 

Fortunately, the new year was a lot calmer! Me and Rob met some friends to see in the new year at a river bar event where we could watch the fireworks over the river. After this we jumped in a tuk tuk and headed over to Khao San Road. After a few buckets we decided to head home! All very boring really – no drunken antics this time!




 

Living somewhere is very different to visiting for a holiday and I have gone through phases of loving it and hating it. Spending Christmas away from your family, on the other side of the world, is also a very hard thing to do and I have missed them more then ever this holiday. However, having spent the festive season with great friends and exploring Bangkok over the past few weeks, I have really started to appreciate what an amazing city it really is and just how much it has to offer.

Tokyo

I wish I could admit that It’s taken me a while to write this blog because I have been really busy; but in reality I’ve been enjoying a lazy life of binging on Netflix and celebrating Christmas. Sometimes it’s nice not to do anything! However, I have finally found the motivation to write this blog, so here we go!

If you’ve read my other blogs, then by now I’m sure you will be aware that things rarely run smoothly for me and this trip was no different. Me and Rob were greeted at the airport by our friend Kai who looked very stressed but for good reason as Air Asia systems were down. The airport was crazy busy and after queuing to check in for what felt like forever, we were finally seen to – only to learn we were at the wrong check in desk! We were then sent to another one where we had to queue for another 40 minutes. Finally there, we all had to re check in and sort out our luggage. Once through security we grabbed a very quick lunch and then ran to the gate to board the plane with only minutes to spare!

After a relatively smooth flight we landed safely and made our way from the Airport to our accommodation. This was easier then I had thought, but not without it’s challenges. We very quickly learnt that the Tokyo train network is vast and at first glance, a tad intimidating. With the help of some friendly staff we found where we needed to go but couldn’t find the right platform, or even where to buy a ticket from! Several times we got very lost on the Tokyo trains and had several expats help us find our way! By the end of the week we had sort of understood how it works but I did start to wonder if anyone ever truly understands it?

Having arrived late at night we decided to head straight out to see the famous Shibuya Crossing. For those who don’t know what it is, it’s a famous landmark; the busiest crossing in the world (apparently). Its a great place to watch the world go by and see the bright lights of Tokyo. As we were walking around It didn’t take long to stumble across our first arcade. It was crazy – 6 floors of games, with each floor dedicated to one style of game, including gambling (it felt like the Las Vegas of Asia).  With hundreds of people sat around playing; some were even multitasking by playing games on their phone at the same time. What surprised me the most though, was how it was filled with mostly Japanese business men, suited and booted, who have clearly just left work.

The following day we got up early and ventured to one of Tokyo’s most famous, and probably most beautiful parks; Shinjuku National Garden. With it being early winter most of the leaves had either turned golden yellow or a fiery shade of red and there were even some cherry blossoms still in bloom. Tokyo has many beautiful parks which we took time to walk around in; they are so relaxing and a perfect way to escape the city without actually leaving. Rob and I found a dog cafe near another beautiful park filled with lakes and fallen leaves; Yoyogi. At the dog cafe you could sit and spend time petting them or take them for a walk in the park. Not being able to resist, we hired a little grey toy poodle named Peko! It was hard not to steal her and sneak her back with us, she was adorable.

One day we stumbled upon a street called Takeashita. Intrigued, we took stroll down but quickly realised it was the most touristy street in Tokyo! Partly for it’s name, but mainly because of the quirky, typical Japanese style fashion shops, dessert and animal cafes. Wanting to check out some of the animal cafes Tokyo has to offer, we decided to visit an owl one. The owls were in a closed off room next to the cafe, for hygiene reasons, but you could go in at your allocated time (they give the owls regular breaks between visits). You are then taught all about the owls and their different personalities and then given the opportunity to pet and even hold them if you wanted to. Following this we found a Purikura shop; a whole floor filled with giant photo booths. It works like a normal photo booth, only it is triple the size (designed for big groups) where you are given a variety of poses to copy. You then go to the next booth where you can photo shop the hell out of your photos. It’s mostly popular with Japanese school girls but we found it so much fun and a perfect souvenir for our trip!

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One of the highlights of the trip had to be Mari Kart; we dressed up as different Mario Kart characters, hopped in some themed go karts and had a 3 hour tour of the city! It was crazy but amazing to be driving around Tokyo as though we were in a game. Every time we stopped people would wave and take photos with us, it was very surreal! Continuing the gaming theme we then headed over to a famous gaming area in Tokyo called Akhabara, or Electric Town. We found more arcade and gambling places, vintage game shops, and sex shop department stores: As with most big cities, there is a seedy x rated side to Tokyo which we may, or may not have accidentally stumbled across… In this area you can find many maid bars, with young girls standing outside trying to tempt you in (we didn’t visit any of these, I should probably add). We did however have a little look in the sex shop department store where they had everything you could imagine and more, including used knickers for sale! Something that really shocked me though, was a small sign we noticed next to the changing room. The sign stated that if you tried something on and let them take a photo, you could have a discount! As we were walking down the stairs in this shop we then noticed hundreds of photos of girls in sexy lingerie, who have obviously wanted the discount. The ironic thing is they would either hide their face but have everything else out, or have their boobs covered but their down below out, or visa versa! After this we went to check out an anime store. Little did we realise though, that it was an anime porn store! I wont describe some of the things we saw, but it was very funny and some of it shocking!

Later that night, as if it wasn’t enough of a crazy day we went to see the famous Robot Restaurant. There’s no way I can really explain this, you just have to see it for yourself – but it is as crazy as it sounds! From the moment you enter the building to the moment you leave, everything is thought about and everything is decked out in crazy lights and decor. The idea is you sit down in rows with a small table in front of you so you can eat a meal, whilst hundreds of dancers and robots put on a show for you. For me, it really did sum up everything Tokyo is about!

It wouldn’t be a true trip to Toyko unless you experienced what some of the night life has to offer! And it did not let us down. I wont go into details, but it started in an area known as Piss Alley (apparently, it got its name through the lack of toilets that used to be there!). The area is filled with lots of tiny alleys which are lined with little bars and restaurants. After a few highballs (Tokyo’s most popular drink) we ventured to the gay district, Shinjuku Ni-chome having been told about the bars there having arcades in the middle of the dance floor. Unfortunately, as it was a Monday night, it seemed everything was shut so we ended up in a tiny little bar with 8 locals (that’s as many as you could get in the bar). The locals were very friendly and after a few more highballs we ended up playing a game of crocodile dentist (this really takes me back!) – every time you lost, you did a shot (for free). As you can imagine it got quite messy and we ended our night in a karaoke room (would our trip truly be complete without karaoke?).

Our final day was spent at Disneyland! The park was still super busy, despite being on a school day but we managed to get on most of the rides with not too much of a queue. Personally I preferred the Hong Kong park though because it was quieter and we managed to see everything, including all the shows in one day. We didn’t get to see any shows at the Tokyo park because it was either too busy; you had to get a “lottery ticket” or we couldn’t find the stage! We did get to see the Christmas parade though which was amazing and the whole place was decorated for Christmas so it felt very festive! The perfect way to end our trip.

The Food

One of the things I was really looking forward to in Tokyo was the food, and it did not disappoint! We went to an amazing Ramen restaurant, Ichiran, where you pay and choose your what noodle you want from a machine, then you wait to be seated in a little individual booth. They bring the (amazing) ramen to you, close your shutter and your free to slurp away without anyone seeing you! Bliss!

The second amazing restaurant we tried was a katsu curry place, Go Go Curry. It’s similar to Ichiran in the sense its in a tiny basement and you order from a machine. Then you sit down, watch it be whipped up freshly in front of you and bring it over to your table. It was the best katsu curry Iv’e ever tried! Even better than Wagamamas (sorry).

Me and Rob are both big fans of Gyoza, so it was only natural that we wanted to try as much as we could! We visited a few different places but our favourite by far was this little place in Tokyo’s Golden Gai. You order through an ipad on your table and choose what type of gyoza you want. We had several different, mouthwateringly good types, but the best by far was one the waiter recommended, a normal gyoza but with a soup inside so as you bite into it, it oozes out. Sounds messy, but it was worth it!

Finally, It wouldn’t be a trip to Tokyo without trying some Sushi! Neither me nor Kai really like it but we thought we would give it ago. We visited a conveyor belt sushi bar called Genki Sushi. Here, you order your sushi of an ipad, and a few minutes later your sushi is sent out to you on a conveyor belt. Perfecto! As someone who doesn’t eat it, I thought it was surprising good – although me and Kai did order chips (I know, its bad).

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Khao Yai

IMG-20171023-WA0000It was an eventful start for our trip to Khao Yai, and as it’s me, i’m not at all surprised. For those of you who don’t know me, I should probably mention now that things rarely run smoothly; mainly due to my scatty personality. So, back to Khao Yai. I will start from the beginning: Rob and I met Kai and his friend Nicola at Ramkhamhaeng airport link, where we were planning to get the train to Mo Chit, from there we could then catch a bus that would take us to Khao Yai. Having met at the station I then realised it would be quicker and cheaper to get a taxi as I had in my head that Mo Chit was central Bangkok (Its not). Quickly, we ordered a big taxi and were on our way. Once arrived at the bus station I knew we needed ticket counter 49. As we were looking around we found the desk numbers 47, 48, 50, 51… Where the hell was 49!? After walking around looking like lost tourists (which we were, kind of) we decided to ask someone and quickly learnt it was upstairs (phew). Having bought the bus tickets we then had 3 minutes to catch the bus, so off we ran. Realising the bus wasn’t quite what I had imagined it would be I decided it was wise to go to the toilet before embarking the 3 hour bus journey. So I dumped my stuff on the floor, including the tickets, and ran to the loo. Once I was ready to get on the bus I was asked to show my ticket. As Rob and Kai were already on there so I assumed they had my ticket – a quick phone call later and I realised no one had the tickets. I had lost them (sorry guys). Off I ran back to the loo to search for them whilst everyone else looked through their bags. I searched every cubicle, tried to ask the toilet attendant (she spoke no English) and even looked in the bins. To no avail they were not found. In the end Kai had to run all the way back to the ticket office in 30C+ heat to reprint the tickets (thank you Kai!!) and in the mad panic he accidentally shoved a monk out of the way (maybe this is why Kai has the luck he does…) The bus itself reminded me off the old school bus I used to catch every morning, only this one was built for Thai people; It was tiny, smelly and very very clunky.

3 hours later we finally arrived! As we walked into the hotel I was genuinely speechless, no photos do it justice. The hotel is very open so the building blends into the outdoors seamlessly and it instantly feels like a 5* retreat. In fact, I felt as though I had just entered rehab (in a good way) after a week in Koh Phi Phi. Soon after arriving I found myself relaxing in the restaurant with a Darjeeling tea waiting for our room to be ready. They were running late so we went to check out Kai and Nicolas room, which was amazing; they had a plunge pool in their private patio and a huge open plan living and bedroom area. 2 hours later our room was finally ready! In comparison to the other room ours was a lot smaller but had a huge balcony that hosted a bath overlooking the mountains! It was beautiful.

 

 

The next day we woke up early to join a tour in the national park. Having set off we joined a group of 8 other people, some French, some English and some Austrian. Everyone in the group was lovely and it didn’t take long for us all to start talking. The first part of the tour was a 3 hour trek through the jungle where we got to see poisonous snakes, spiders, monkeys and even some horn bills! After a quick stop for lunch in a watch tower over looking a watering hole where all the wild animals go to eat (unfortunately there weren’t any there when we went) we made our way back to the truck. The next stop was visiting the famous waterfall that was used to film “the beach”. After a steep climb down we were rewarded with an amazing view of the waterfall with a beautiful rainbow at the bottom. With Kai being Kai, and not being built for the jungle life he didn’t dress appropriately; with a pair of shorts (trousers were advised) and his red designer trainers, paired with sexy leach socks, he nearly fell in whilst standing on a big rock trying to get a good photo – fortunately he managed to stop himself in time otherwise it may not have ended so well! (Although it would have been funny for us!)

 

 

The last part of our tour involved driving around the park searching for wild elephants. It didn’t take us long to find one as we entered the elephant zone of the park. 5 minutes later we got stuck behind lots of cars turning around, flashing their warning lights or simply waiting. Ignoring all these cars our driver overtook and slowly drove down the road only to be met by a wild elephant! I was in awe of this amazing animal; so intimidating yet gentle. The elephant was in the road for a good few minutes before crossing over and heading back into the jungle. As we turned around and headed back up the road we were then greeted by another elephant crossing the road! It was such a surreal moment and one I won’t forget any time soon, it was simply amazing.
Upon arriving at the hotel we were all feeling tired and decided to eat the hotel restaurant out of convenience. As we walked in we noticed the staff learning how to say “the restaurant is full” in English which I found ironic as the restaurant was completely empty – in fact, every time we went there for dinner we were the only ones there! As we left the staff all wanted a photo with Rob, maybe it was because they thought he was famous.. Or maybe it was just because we were their only customers? Probably! We all  headed back to Kai and Nicolas room to chill out for a bit, only this was far from relaxing! As we entered the room we soon realised that they had left the patio door wide open and as a result, a giant beast like moth decided to chill out in their room. I wish I had a photo but I was too scared to get that close to it. It took over an hour to get it out as we were all too scared to go near it and in the end Kai wrapped a towel over it and chucked the towel outside, wafting it about 10 times to ensure it was gone!
The next day we had a lazy morning by the infinity pool before embarking on the second part of the tour. In the afternoon we met the tour group again who took us down to a natural spring to go swimming. This was a lot smaller and a lot busier then I had expected it to be, almost spoiling the view. However, I have never seen water quite so clear or fresh, despite the amount of people there. The next stop was visiting an underground cave that was originally used as a temple before the monks were given the funds to build one above ground. Whilst in this cave we got to see a tarantula, hammer head spider and various other scary looking insects. We then had to squeeze and climb through a very narrow part of the cave which then opened up to a very large bat cave. As the sun was setting we made our way out and traveled to another cave. Here, we stood outside and waited until we got to witness millions of bats leaving the cave; a constant stream of black in the sky for over an hour as they headed out to hunt. The same thing happens every night, at the same time, at the same place like clockwork. As the night came in we were then shown a millipede that the tour guide had found, who then, without hesitation put it onto Kai’s face! I had absolutely zero interest in touching any of these creepy crawlies and kept well away. To end the tour our tour guide then got out his telescope and lined it up with the moon. The sky was so clear; you could see so many stars and never have I seen the moon look so clear as I did that night.

 

 

Kai and Nicola headed back to Bangkok the following day, whilst me and Rob had one last day. We spent it relaxing by the pool and ventured out for dinner to the Chocolate Factory in the afternoon. As it was the day of the Kings funeral, everyone was dressed in black, literally everyone – apart from Rob; Rob was in bright colours having not thought about it, and as the restaurant got busier and busier Rob grew more awkward, much to my amusement!
My time in Khao Yai has been so relaxing and chilled, quite the opposite to Koh Phi Phi and it was exactly what I needed. I had a lot of thinking time on this holiday and times it felt very surreal; Staying in a 5 star hotel with a bath on the balcony, an amazing view and an infinity pool, I could not afford to stay one night here if it were in England! Fortunately with Thai prices and a discount through a booking agency it was affordable in Thailand and I feel incredibly lucky that I have these opportunities.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/240360403″>Khao Yai 2017</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user73037337″>Sarah Szeithauer Adam</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Koh Phi Phi!

Having been in Bangkok for nearly 2 months now I was feeling very ready to see more of Thailand. So, after much debate on deciding where to go me and Rob finally decided to head down South with friends to visit the Island that is Koh Phi Phi and I was extremely excited!

Before going to the Island I thought it would be a great idea to buy a massive unicorn lilo (because you cant enjoy your holiday until you’ve got a good Insta pic, babes!). I didn’t quite realise just how big it would be, and fitting it into my hand luggage was a struggle. Once at the hotel Rob and I ventured out to buy a pump for the lilo, as Kai had told us that you could buy them everywhere on the island (Thanks for that Kai…), turns out, nowhere sells them. In the end we borrowed a very small hand pump from a very kind lady in a very small shop. It took us half an hour to pump the bloody thing up. Half an hour! When we returned to the hotel pool we were getting some very strange looks, we definitely looked like ‘daddys credit card backpackers’. 

Out first night in Koh Phi Phi was interesting, and I cant say I remember much to be completely honest! It all started relatively calm with a few pre drinks and a nice meal out; it all went wrong when we decided to have a bucket whilst watching Thai Boxing. For those of you who haven’t been to Thailand before, Thai Boxing is very popular with drunk tourists volunteering to beat each other up, literally. After a bucket Kai’s friend Charles (the most British person I’ve ever met) decided to have a go. 10 minutes later he came out of the ring slightly worse for wear and ordered another bucket to numb the pain. A few buckets later and we decided to hit the beach rave. I don’t remember much but what I do remember is fire dancers, neon paint, more buckets, dancing like crazy and Rob ending the night straddling a giant penis with a bucket on his head. The walk home I was informed that I was demanding a McDonald’s (there are none on the Island but it sounds like something I would say!) and rob turned into the crazy cat man* stroking every cat he saw (there was a lot) so it took us a long time to get home.

The next morning I awoke feeling rather worse for ware. Wanting to embrace the day I got up and took our newly named unicorn, Roy to the beach. Carrying him there was not easy, Rob and Kai took it in turns to carry him on their head, bending down every time there was an electric cable, canopy or whatever else was in the way. We had a lot of funny looks, comments and even people taking photos! (I can only imagine how we looked). The beach itself was stunning and I will never forget the view, it was literally paradise. That was until my hangover kicked in and I suddenly had a dodgy stomach, casually walking over to the toilets like nothing was wrong I suddenly realised I had to pay 30 baht, which I didn’t have… Panicking by this point I ran back over and, not so politely asked Kai “have you got 30 baht? I’m going to shit myself!” (The glamour of living in Thailand).

After prancing about in the water on Roy for a while Kai was heading back when he got stung by a Sea Urchin! Which previously we had seen a warning sign about them being life threatening! Fortunately, after a trip to the clinic and a very blue finger he was told he would be fine with some pain relief and antiseptic.

22711884_10159683271330106_1436483116_oLater in the day, having returned to the hotel to recover, Kai thought it would be wise to leave his balcony doors open. As I was on my balcony I saw a monkey casually stroll into his room! Heading over to warn him I found Kai hiding in the bathroom and the monkey raiding the bin, the fridge and then Kai’s bag. At this point I decided to be the hero and get the monkey out. Picking up Kai’s flipflop I threatened throwing it at the monkey, but as I did it hissed its giant teeth and ran towards me. I have never been so scared, I had visions of it clinging and biting my leg. I literally ran for my life, but before I could, Kai shoved me out of the way and left the room first. Eventually the monkey left, after peeing all over Kai’s clothes.

 

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That night we met some friends for dinner, and after planning to have a calm one – we ended up drinking buckets back at the beach rave. This time I was (very embarrassingly) trying to learn how to hula hoop and ended up on the Rodeo Bull ride, I am very proud of the fact that I thrashed Kai and Rob on it but did end up with a very swollen, sore little finger and a very sore foot.

The next morning, you can only imagine how rough I was feeling. But once again, not wanting to waste the day we booked a half day boat trip on a Thai long boat. Firstly we went to a place called Monkey Beach, which is exactly what it says. I wont lie about the fact that me, Rob and Kai were all petrified by these little monkeys after the hotel incident. The next stop was Maya Bay, where “The Beach” was filmed. It was much quieter then I had hoped and it was absolutely beautiful, no pictures do it justice! Moving on we then went snorkeling, which was all great until Kai got stung by ANOTHER Sea Urchin!! I have never known someone to have luck quite like Kai (this is one reason why I love him, he cracks me up) – fortunately he takes it all in his stride and is one of the most positive people I have ever met! Despite nearly passing out from the pain, he carried on, almost as though nothing had happened.

On our last afternoon we hired Kayaks and ventured out to sea where we soaked up the view, swam in the clear water and then lost half our possessions from capsizing the boats trying to get back in! The rest of the holiday was pretty chilled in comparison, apart from me being poorly for most of it (partly self inflicted from one too many buckets).

Tomorrow we are off to Kao Yai, a National Park just North of Bangkok. This trip will be a completely different vibe to Koh Phi Phi, exploring the jungle and hopefully seeing some wild elephants! I cant wait to see another side to Thailand and will fill you all in on my next blog.

 

*Koh Phi Phi has a lot of cats, and I mean a lot. They are all very tame and friendly, and I’m gathering, fairly well looked after (for strays anyway). After our first day of being on the island a cat followed us upstairs to our room, Rob started stroking her and not long after she started following him around the whole hotel. If Rob walked into someone else’s room, she would follow. Rob then decided to buy cat food the next day. The cat then returned every morning and night and waited outside our door to be fed. By the end of the holiday we had named her Roy Junior and she was chilling quite happily in our room!

Surviving as a Teacher

Finally! I have somehow (I’m still figuring out how…) managed to totally wing it and survive my first term as a Teacher! And to my surprise, I have really enjoyed it. I have had a few different jobs in my time; working in retail, as a care worker and in the Film & TV industry working in Costume. But I have to say that so far, Teaching has been the most rewarding; working in Retail is awful. Full stop. Literally just awful, and working as a carer was extremely rewarding but unfortunately the hours, management and money really let it down. Having studied for years and dedicating so much time to make a career out of Costume it was a hard decision to put that on hold for a few years, if not forever. I made the decision to leave the Industry because I wanted to travel and see the world; I was tired of working long hours, tired of being tired and I was tired of the Film & TV Industry generally that I found, for me, to be very superficial and not very rewarding.

So here I am, writing a blog about being a Teacher which, if someone had told me I would be doing a few years ago, I would never have believed them. I always hated the idea of being a Teacher, and to be fair – I still do in some ways. I’m not sure I could ever teach in England and I definitely could not teach older kids (does anyone else find them intimidating or is that just me?). At the moment I have a class with 10 2 year old’s who I absolutely adore.

The main challenge I have faced is the language barrier and the different levels of English the children can speak. It’s easy to see who has been to nursery before and who has parents teaching them English at home. Some of my pupils had never spoken English before coming to Nursery and none of their family members speak it (communicating to the parents is always a struggle!) so getting them to understand my instruction can at times, be very difficult. Having said that, It’s amazing to see how much they absorb from you so quickly. All the pupils have now settled in and we have a set routine. Not every day is a good day though, there are days when the pupils don’t respond to the lesson’s very well or they are getting distracted all the time and wont listen, It’s a constant battle on days like that and it can be quite draining (especially when you have a pupil who wont stop crying). The good thing about teaching 2 year old’s, that can also be a problem, is that they copy you and they copy each other; It’s a good thing because at that age they become more aware of whats going on around them and part of the learning process if through copying; But the reason this is also a problem is because one pupil in particular likes to copy what I say; If i’m telling someone to be quiet, or sit down, or stand nicely he likes to copy me. The other issue I find is them copying each other; if one starts jumping on the bed at nap time about 3 others will start doing it. I find myself constantly telling them to stop jumping on the bed! (One part of teaching I struggle with is not laughing. Quite often the children will do something naughty or silly, that is actually quite funny, but as I need to tell them off I have to keep my poker face!).

Because of the language barrier I have naturally picked up a little bit more Thai from the children which has helped me to communicate with them in order for them to learn what that word means in English. Technically you are not allowed to speak Thai at school but for the first few weeks I found I had to otherwise they had no clue what I was saying! Some key words and phrases I have learnt are;

“Ngiiap” – Quiet!

“Nang-Long” – Sit down!

“Bpuuat-chii” – Pee pee

“U u” – Poo poo.

“Mai” – You add to the end of a word to make it a question; “U u mai?” (Poo poo?)

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The working hours at the school, compared to my previous job are absolutely amazing. Every morning before the school day starts everyone gathers to sing the Thai National Anthem and raise the Thai flag*. My Pupil’s arrive at 8.30 and have left by 2.30; I leave school at 4pm and am generally home within half an hour. When I first started work I found myself not knowing what to do with myself in the evenings, but It didn’t take long for me to get used to it. When the Sun is out (which doesn’t seem that often at the moment, bring on the dry season) I can go to the swimming pool, sometimes I go into town, to the gym, the cinema or just chill out at home. I have joined a netball team on Monday evenings which initially, I didn’t actually like and only joined for social reasons but now I find myself enjoying it and look forward to it every week.

For the October half term we initially only had 1 week off, however, it was announced earlier in the year that all schools would have to close for 1 week from Mon 23rd for the late Kings cremation, meaning we now have 2 weeks off (hurrah!). It has been a whole year since the King died and the anniversary of his death was on Friday 13th October which meant we had that day off work. For the month of October we have been advised to wear somber colours and dress modestly, keep any leisurely activities and entertainment to a minimum and all Thai websites are now in black and white. The cinema has very minimal showings and some places are not serving alcohol. On the week beginning 23rd October events will be running all week for the buildup to the Kings cremation on Friday 26th October. On this day, most shops will be closed, including supermarkets and some public transport will be free in order for people to attend the Kings cremation in the evening. We have been advised to leave the city for that week as there will be not much to do, and incredibly busy and intense in town. So now its half term and I am off to the South of Thailand visiting a beautiful island called Koh Phi Phi for a week on Monday, and then to Khao Yai – a national park 2 hours north of Bangkok for the second week. I cant bloody wait!

Koh Phi Phi and Khao Yai ❤

*(at 8am and 6pm everyday the National Anthem is played, and it is expected, when out in public, to stop what you are doing and stand silently, and at the end bow you head to show respect. When you go to the cinema, before every film, the National Anthem is played and again, you must stand up to show your respect). 
**All photos I have attached have come from the schools FB page and Website (not my own personal images…). 

 

 

A city of extremes

After writing my last blog I continued to feel home sick over the next few days. I found myself not wanting to embrace any Thai culture, I was feeling stressed at the fact nothing is ever easy (like getting a phone contract*) and not wanting to leave the house. After a forcing myself out to go for food and to the cinema with friends I felt a little better but ultimately what I really needed was a lazy Sunday lounging around, eating my body weight in food and binging on Netflix. Which is exactly what I did, and I felt so much better for it. Since then I have managed to cook spaghetti bolognaise, mexican, and now we have bought a work top oven we cooked chicken wrapped in parma ham, stuffed with mushroom and blue cheese with honey BBQ sauce and mash potato! This was definitely a pay day splurge but well worth it. Now I’m back to loving Bangkok and want to explore it and embrace it again.

Despite no longer feeling homesick, something I am still feeling is missing my family and friends from back home so so much: I miss going to The Pilot (my dads favorite restaurant) on a Friday night when visiting my family for the weekend, or driving down to see my best friend in Miton Keynes and making friends with the local transvestites on a night out (hahahaha). I miss taking Robs nieces out for the day and spending time with his family! My sister has just had 2 amazing things happen to her – and being over here makes it hard because despite having access to skype and facetime its never quite the same as seeing and spending time with someone in person; you cant hug them and share the good news in quite the same way!

Moving to Bangkok has been a city of extremes, a city of opposites and a city of ups and downs: I have seen extreme wealth and extreme poverty: I have had posh bottomless brunches at 5* hotels and amazing street for that cost just 60 baht: And my emotions been all over the place, I have felt tired and emotional and seem to cry a lot easier – but then I’ve had some of the best times, made the best memories already and always get the surreal feeling of “Omfg, I live in Bangkok!” And would I change any of it? No way!**

*I bought a phone contract when we first arrived – I specifically asked for a rolling one and not a 1 month tourist card. However, I seemed to end up with this any way without realising (either as a scam or due to the language barrier, i’m not quite sure!). After 1 month I topped up my card, 800baht for unlimited internet…. But 2 weeks later my internet completly ran out and I couldnt make any texts or calls. Feeling stressed about this (because I had no way to contact anyone if I was in trouble) I went to the phone shop as soon as I could. Once there they informed me that my sim card was now invalid and I ended up having to pay another 500baht to get a new rolling contract. Which also meant a new number – so if you need it WhatsApp me (I’m still registered as my old number on there).
**Apart from maybe shipping all my family and friends out here… Obviously!

 

 

Feeling Homesick

After a mare of an evening i’m feeling inspired to write this blog. This is about something everyone will struggle with at some point of other whilst being an expat; homesickness. No matter how strong you are, or how natural you find moving abroad, or how much you love it – at some point or other everyone will feel this way, even if just a little bit.

The main thing I have struggled to adjust to is the food. Thailand has a reputation for amazing street food; phad thai, green thai curry, papaya salad, morning glory- I could go on. Now don’t get me wrong, these foods, and more, live up to the amazing reputation! And when you find an amazing street food place that charges you 60 baht (less then £1) for a meal you know your on the money. The issue is finding these places; they are more common along the BTS line but not so much when you venture further out (not farang friendly anyway – you at least need photo references!).

It may sound silly but my current homesickness was triggered by a rubbish evening trying to find some good food: After Rob suggested we get some street food for dinner I agreed to go to a market he discovered near us, despite being super tired, wanting to get in my pj’s and do absolutely nothing. On the bike we got and headed out but it took us a while to find the market and when we did it wasn’t very farang friendly (as I said earlier, you need photo references!). After venturing up the street we decided to head over to Bangkapi market as there’s lots of food markets there too. As we were venturing through the market there were lots of hot pot places (where you are given a broth and you cook & add the ingredients you want) but not what we were looking for (I just wanted a phad thai!). We finally decided on a little street food restaurant along the side of the road, which annoyingly did not serve phad thai – instead I ordered a “mango salad with crispy fish” which sounds nice and relatively normal, I was picturing something along the lines of battered fish. But what turned up was not what I expected; at first all seemed normal. That was until I tried it; after asking for little spice, it was still overpoweringly spicy and what was supposed to be “crispy fish” was actually just dry fish skin. Both the smell and the flavour were so overpowered by the fish it makes me feel sick just thinking about it! Very quickly we decided to ask for the bill (Check bin ka!!!!!). With the staff looking very offended that we hadn’t eaten any (Thais really really love their food) we made a quick escape and swung by Mcdonalds on the way home. This is a good time to add that I am so sick of Mcdonalds! I have eaten more since moving here then I have in my whole life,  and on top of that I have started drinking beer and I seem to live of pizza and rice. I am trying to go to the gym to balance it out, but I cant help but feel sluggish from my rather poor diet at the moment!

The lunches at school are free, so I shouldn’t complain but I cant help but feel that sometimes I’m not eating what they say I’m eating. Every day you have an option of rice, noodle, more rice, soup, some sort of meat (if your lucky it will have vej mixed in) and a very basic salad.. Sometimes it’s surprisingly nice but I cant help but feel that I have probably eaten dog at some point that’s been passed off as ‘pig’ or ‘chicken’ (everything is minced so you would never know). Your better off not thinking about what your eating, but for someone who doesn’t like to eat too much meat and would consider giving up meat its not very easy.

The biggest thing I struggle with is cooking. I love to cook and I miss it! Cooking healthy English food is so hard in Bangkok; the kitchens are small, you usually only have 1 or 2 hobs, no oven, and buying western food is expensive! So all in all it’s a whole lot of expensive faff. Not to mention the fact that it’s hard to find normal western food such as salt & vinegar crisps (anyone who knows me will know I really, really love my crisps), the sausages are made of chicken and they don’t farm beef or lamb in Thailand! They love adding sugar into bread, on top of toast and annoyingly on top of fruit (isn’t is sweet enough!?).

Don’t get me wrong, I do love Thai food and I love living here – generally I am very happy. But after a day at work, when your tired and drained from trying to get 2 year olds to listen to you all day and behave, you just want to get in, put on your pj’s and cook some good comfort food! Sometimes It’s a struggle.