The Final Blog!

What a trip!

I’ve had the most amazing trip; I can’t say that I would have changed a thing. I’m amazed that I’ve coped with hostels, the constant travelling and avoided any major incidents at the same time- it’s been a blast!

I landed yesterday morning and have had the most brilliant 24 hours of just remembering what a fantastic life I have here at home for myself. For every single person who has sent me a message over the past few months, I really mean it when I say thank you; it has been quite overwhelming as to how many people have watched my journey come along and then to express excitement at my return to home, I am extremely grateful to everyone.

Travelling really does change the way that you see the world, and I no longer feel as if there are any boundaries to where I can go or what I can do in life, which is a great feeling. Along the way I’ve reminded myself how lucky I am to experience the things I have seen and done; it’s not for everyone.

I will miss writing my blogs; I’ve loved them! They will serve as a brilliant diary that I can’t wreck or lose in the future!

So all that remains to say is thank you for reading and the support over my trip, it really has been the most amazing opportunity. I decided to make the trip for a number of reasons and can honestly say it was the absolute best choice I’ve ever made and completely and utterly meant to be. To come back to fantastic family and friends, a great job and some exciting opportunities in the near future, the next chapter for me looks pretty damn good.

Now excuse me whilst I raid through my make up stash and get my fake tan on- some things will never change!

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Final Days in Hong Kong

So the final days of my trip are here! I’ve pushed everything under one very brief post in the interest of keeping everything together.

Today I headed to the other side of the river in Hong Kong over to Kowloon. Very much like it’s counterpart island, Kowloon is a mad rush of sights and sounds packed into a crazy city. I toured around before making a stop at the Ladies Market to pick up some gifts for home! In the evening I watched the Symphony of Lights Show that they put on every night over the river which was a beautiful way to say goodbye to Hong Kong.

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On the final morning before flying out I took a trip up to the peak of the island on the vertigo inducing tram to see Hong Kong from a pretty impressive hight! Such a nice way to see the city before leaving.

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One more final blog post to follow!

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Friday 27th March 2015

It’s official. I’m in love. 

No I haven’t found myself a rugby player- I’m in love with Hong Kong! It’s one of the most exciting places I’ve ever been lucky enough to go to; I was dying to get up and going this morning. 

I found myself back on a hop on hop off tour again; they are just such easy ways to see the city. Hong Kong’s transport system is amazing and I could easily get around without it, but it’s nice to be able to sit and chill with the commentary telling you what’s what at the same time- otherwise I would have had half a clue what I was looking at half the time!

It was super foggy and misty this morning which made taking photos s little tricky, but later on it cleared a little so was able to grab a good few shots of the city skyline. 

   

   

Stops included the Expo Centre, Victoria Peak, Causeway Bay (the equivalent of Picadilly Circus in London but crammed with ten times more stores), the escalators up to the Mid Levels (more on this in a minute) and Lan Kwai Fong and Soho, where we were last night; an area full of trendy bars and nightlife, antique shops and Man Mo Temple. 

   

        

Even I within the space of 24 hours, you can tell that HK has a lot of things figured out and works effectively and efficiently. The transport system is fantastic and even extends through the city with a very long series of escalators going up to the ‘Mid Levels’ of the city. As if this wasn’t clever enough, the escalators run one way from 6am until 10am down to the city to bring workers down into the central areas, and then from 10 am the direction switches and takes passengers up the hills of the city until midnight. Super clever!

After I had completed the loop for the tour around Hong Kong Island, I then took the bus to Stanley, which is a beach town about 25 minutes out of the main city. The drive up to Stanley was worth a trip there in itself, going past the beaches of Repulse Bay and then down into the town of Stanley itself, it made for an amazing view. 

   

   

I wandered round the well known Stanley Markets for a while before heading back into the city as it was early evening by now. I decided to head into Causeway Bay to have a sneaky peak at what the shopping of Hong Kong had to offer!! Before I knew it I’d spent a couple of hours browsing around and realising that I was now flagging in energy, headed back to the apartment. Such an amazing day; I’m really trying to see as much as I can in the time that I have here. Tomorrow will be spent exploring Kowloon; the other side of the city- I’m hoping all the activity knocks me out for the flight home!

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Thursday 26th March 2015

It felt a little like Christmas Eve last night- even though I was in my super cosy attic hotel room I barely slept, as I was so excited to be heading to Hong Kong today! After all of the research I’d done I was ready to get exploring. 

Turning up at Koh Samui airport was a nice little event in itself- it’s a really cute open air airport with a cosmopolitan shopping street running through it- it was very easy to forget you were in an airport! The flight was nice and short at just under three hours; Bangkok Airways are very very impressive service wise and I had a full row to myself so I was a happy bunny!

I landed in HK at around 4pm and it was 5:30pm before I made it into the city after getting luggage and SIM cards etc etc! I’m staying with an ex- student of my mum’s who has very kindly offered her apartment up for me to stay in whilst I’m here, and it’s extremely convenient in terms of location so it’s a great place to stay. 

I went out for dinner with my host Jo and some friends of hers and we ended up in a beautiful little Vietnamese place in Soho. Coming out of the underground into the Central district to see all of the lights of the shops and buildings around the area was definitely a “wow” moment for me. If I thought Melbourne used its space well, even Hong Kong could teach it a few things!

After dinner we headed to a bar which had the best cocktails ever- EVER. Instead of salt around the rims of the drink, they had a layer of powdery chocolate- I don’t know how they do it but if I ever discover the same thing in the UK then I might as well just wave goodbye to my liver. 

Finally we made it through the streets which were absolutely packed with all of the influx of rugby fans and the after-work crowd lounging at the bars, to head into a jazz club where one of Jo’s friends was singing that night. It was such a relaxed atmosphere and I definitely want to go to the well known jazz club in Manchester (the name escapes me!) when I’m home. 

We were home around 1am and I was very ready for some rest- I have a lot to see tomorrow!

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Wednesday 25th March 2015

My final morning in Koh Tao, and I’ve finally been struck down with a case of the infamous Thailand food poisoning. I was doing so well to avoid it!! But this, coupled with aches from my Thai massage yesterday, have left me pretty well comatosed today. 

So I thought by the time I got to the pier to take me back to Koh Samui, all I’d have to do would be to sit on the ferry for two hours and chill out. How wrong I was. 

I’m not one for sea-sickness, I’m really not. But the waves today tried their best to make me a victim- it was SERIOUSLY choppy conditions out there. So this combined with my current tender state, plus listening to dozens of people vomiting for two hours straight, did not leave me looking particularly healthy by the time I made it back onto dry land!

My day was saved as I checked into my new hotel at Koh Samui for one last night before I fly out tomorrow. The resort I’m staying at turned out to be a great little find- that cost me about £30 to stay for one night. Travelodge and Premier Inn need to up their games! It’s quite a small and boutique-y hotel (I hear this at work all the time and this just hits the nail on the head) with the first GREEN pool I’ve ever seen! Add to that that its right on the beach and that my room has two levels to it means that it’s a winner for me. 

  

  

  

The final picture is my view whilst I had my final dinner in Thailand. I’ve loved it here and am sure there will be many visits back to Thailanf and it’s surrounding neighbours in the future. 

So tomorrow I fly to my final stop on my journey- Hong Kong! 

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Tuesday 24th March 2015

One week today I’ll be home- eeeeee! I’m so excited to catch up with everyone and tell lots of travel stories when I’m home!

Haven’t had much to tell from Koh Tao- the weather hasn’t been that great the past few days here so I’ve spent the time relaxing, prepping some things for home and grabbing some sunshine by the pool when the sun has felt like turning up here!

I’ve spent the last three hours in an amazing spa so I’m completely and utterly chilled before I head back to pack up again this evening. I have tonight in Koh Tao, one more night in Koh Samui (just in case there’s any issues with the ferry tomorrow, best not to miss the flight to Hong Kong!) then will arrive in HK on Thursday 

Very. VERY. Excited. 

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Friday 20th March 2015

Packed and ready, I was all checked-out and on the way to the pier in what has to be the most swift transfer I’ve had in my entire trip; always helpful on these travel days!

Today I moved on to Koh Tao, a little island in the cluster of the eastern side of Thailand- most people tend to hit Koh Samui for relaxation and resorts, Koh Phangan for the well know Full Moon Party, and Koh Tao, the smallest of the three, is well know for it’s diving opportunities. I doubt I’ll be doing any diving whilst I’m here; snorkelling maybe, but relaxing on a beautiful island is high on my agenda.

I arrived mid afternoon and was greeted at the pier by a staff member from the hotel, which made life very easy. On the way to the hotel I got chatting to a doctor from home who was visiting her son on the island who works for one of the dive schools here, so it was nice to hear a bit about Koh Tao and grab a few recommendations at the same time.

After getting settled in, I decided to have an initial wander just to get my bearings for the next few days. The area is quite small and full of little streets that eventually open up to a giant beach, which was beautiful to wander down as the sun was starting to set. The sea was super clear and as warm as a bath- totally blissful!

   

  

Realising that I was starving, I ended up eating at one of the places that had been recommended to me earlier, and it was definitely a great choice. I was so chilled by the end of the meal that I decided not to head back but return to one of the little salons in the streets to get my nails done again, which they make super relaxing out here.

An hour and a half later I was on my way back to the hotel and could tell that then evening was starting to kick in here as bars got busier and music got louder, but made a mental note of some of the places around town to explore in the next few days as the island has some amazing looking eateries and boutique stores. More relaxation awaits!

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Thursday 19th March

One final day in Koh Samui today (for now)! Another chilled day by the pool today and slowly beginning to plan things for coming back home to hit the ground running. I can’t wait to do the smallest of things, like drive my car, run around Primark and to be able to fake tan again!! That’s after I’ve finished hugging and squeezing Mum, Dad and the bunny obviously!!! It really is little daft things you miss when you’re away though. 

I have nothing more interesting to say about the day; it was so chilled! So I’ll leave with three things I will miss about Thailand (and three things I definitely won’t!)

Things I’ll miss:

1) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- everything is SO CHEAP. Even on the islands where everything has to be shipped out so prices include “island tax” – it’s still not a patch on western prices. If there was a way that you could move here and still bring in a western wage, you could quite easily exist like royalty here. 

2) People are desperate for your business- it shows, but also works. In the UK, trying to get a haircut, nail appointment or even table at a fancy restaurant- you’re usually in for a wait. Here, they’re practically dragging you in off the streets, and most places are usually so quiet that staff are sat outside eating ice creams or playing on their phones. I can’t quite say that Thailand has mastered the art of customer service yet, but in terms of efficiency- it’s not hard to get what you want out here. 

3) The language barrier out here has been difficult to say the least- more so than I had anticipated- but the flip side is the translations to be seen out here. There have been some brilliant ones and I’m usually too slow/ forgetful to take photos of them, but they can be absolutely hilarious. The only one I have a photo of isn’t particularly “wrong”- the choice of wording just made me giggle. 



Things I’ll happily leave behind:

1) The male population here are… Enthusiastic, shall we say. They take staring to another level, and sometimes the women join them which is slightly more unusual. I get it- I’m practically an alien for them- Western, paler than milk (I STILL can’t tan naturally!) and relatively tall compared to Thai women- but still- it’s extremely annoying. And sometimes intimidating- but mostly just highly irritating. 

2) Whilst the western world bemoans it’s health and safety society, the opposite seems to exist out here. Hundreds of open cables spark electricity in the streets here, I’d be interested to see how many incidents are caused a week due to this! Between that and unfinished roads, piers that look as though they’re about to collapse and the driving standards out here- it’s amazing I’ve survived this long!

3) I touched on this earlier when I mentioned about customer service out here- for the “land of smiles”, I haven’t encountered a lot of… Well, smiling. From waitresses slamming plates down in front of you, to bar staff standing over you whilst you pay a bill or sales assistants that physically follow you around the store,matching you move for move- it’s been one of the more frustrating aspects of traveling in Asia. One of the more irritating examples was a Sephora employee accusing me of queue jumping when I blatantly hadn’t, and even her colleague stating that I hadn’t, she still gave a rubbish service and then tried to complement my eye makeup to make up for it- too late missy!! I’m not in intolerant or impatient person by most standards- those traits were passed mostly to my sibling!!- but there have been so many times where I’ve considered learning a few well placed Thai swear words just to express myself!

On to Koh Tao tomorrow, a little island about an hour away from Samui- my last “new” island in Thailand!

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Wednesday 18th March 2015

After yesterday’s tour and jam-packed schedule, it was back to a relaxed pool day today!

In the early evening I decided to walk up through the main town of Chaweng up to the central part of town and a big shopping centre to grab a few things. Normally in the heat I could have easily jumped in a taxi but it’s been slightly cooler today so I braved the long walk! It was nice to see a different part of the island that was a little more lively; Chaweng has a reputation for being pretty sleazy but wasn’t half as bad as I had expected?!

It was nice to just wander, grab some essentials and see some of the markets that were full of life around the town!



Not much to tell other than that, it might be a few relaxing days for a little while now! I have one day left in Koh Samui tomorrow before moving on to Koh Tao, which is supposed to be stunning so I’m excited for that. Otherwise, I’m just making the most of relaxing and catching up with some of my favourite people from home- life is good!!

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Tuesday 17th March 2015

More tours! I’ve loved doing all of the tours on my trip, it’s such a good way to  get a feel for a place in a short space of time and come out with some really great photos at the same time.

First up this morning was an elephant and monkey ‘show’ – I use the term show loosely as they were about ten minutes long each! I know there are mixed opinions on these kind of things and questionable as to the ethics behind keeping animals in captivity, but I tried to keep that out of my mind and see it for what it is on the surface- light hearted entertainment. The parks that are so common for this kind of thing in Thailand make me laugh- it’s basically a piece of land with some large wooden buildings crammed with the things they reckon most tourists want to see. So it all ends up a bit of a mish mash- you’ve got Thai boxing next to the elephants, and a Thai cooking school next to the monkeys- not sure how I feel about the hygiene aspect of that…





The theme of  ‘shoving things on a bit of land’ seemed to contains across the day! Next was a site of temples and just generally odd things that I assume had some kind of Buddhist  meaning- the guide wasn’t particularly up for explaining things and seemed more interested in running off to chat to every staff member at all of the locations, so I know very little about some of the things I saw today!











I’ve loved the temples here; nothing will come close to the Grand Palace of Bangkok, but everything I’ve seen is just beautiful. 





Then onto another Big Buddha ( all places in Thailand seem to have a Big Buddha installed!!)





Heading south on the island, we stopped off at a beautiful viewpoint on the island- just look at that sea!!



One of the strangest stops of the day was next- to see the Grandfather and Grandmother rocks-  because they apparently look like a man and a woman- now I could see this, so if anyone can and I’m missing something please enlighten me!











From rocks to waterfalls:









… To a mummified monk- with sunglasses…







At which point we were all very glad of some food as it was about 4pm by this point!!! Completely knackered, we headed back to the hotel and I had a very quiet evening- how to see an island in a day!

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