After around 24 hours of flying, driving and waiting to travel, I was so pleased to finally arrive in Bangkok - desperate to get to my hotel for food and a shower. It was early evening when I arrived and I was keen to get out and check out the city for myself after hearing and reading so much about it. I spent a brief three nights in the city and as I write this I am waiting for my flight down to Trang where I will be ferrying and bussing my way to Koh Lanta to meet some friends. That's not a long time spent in Bangkok - don't worry I shall return at a later date for more fun - but it was long enough for the place to leave a lasting impression on me. I can tell it is definitely one of those places you will either love or hate - and I certainly hadn't expected to love it as much as I did. But what were my first impressions of Bangkok?
The hotel I was staying in was fabulous - I started out with a couple of nights in a hotel as a treat and it sure was! I was surprised to find op how far my money went here - it was a cheap hotel by English standards - more budget than a Travelodge but far more luxurious with huge rooms, really nice bathrooms, a view over the canal, restaurant, pool, gym and spa! Definitely a good way to start the trip - would really recommend the Nouvo City Hotel (just a short walk from Khao San road and the staff were amazing - even helping me organise my transport down to Koh Lanta!)
There is no standard type of traveller. Khao San road is a spiritual home for all types of backpacker, holiday-maker and traveller, and they mingle amongst each other freely. I love that there is no standard here, everyone is so unique and so nobody stands out, we all have a place. You could be walking down the street next to a dreadlocked backpacker, a family with two young children, someone else who came here on holiday and ended up staying for five years and a ladyboy. But all are welcome and all are eager to talk to you, make friends and experience this crazy world together. Being a solo traveller has been brilliant so far - I've made loads of friends and have barely been alone for a minute!
Back to The Hangover again - when they say "Bangkok has him now" I know exactly when they mean now - this city will suck you in to its core and it will spit you out again. I've seem some astonishing sights and after talking to a load of people, it seems that it is easy to have a little too much Bangkok - perhaps why some people can't handle the city. In small doses this place is great, but watch out for the buckets and watch out for the weirdness.
For those of you heading to Bangkok anytime soon - enjoy! And I hope you enjoyed this post - my first of many on the road - they will be slightly less frequent now, partly because I'm having so much fun and partly because it takes so much longer to format them on my iPad but I promise they will keep on coming! In the meantime, if you have any recommendations for Bangkok for when I return there, leave a comment - or any recommendations for Koh Phi Phi (my next destination) they would be very welcome!
Yesterday marked an official milestone ahead of my travels. My resignation was finally officially passed over to the big bosses (I handed it in a month early to help give them time to replace me before Christmas) - so that means there's really no going back now. Not that there was even a chance of me cancelling. My leaving party is on the horizon, I'm planning in lots of visits to see people before I go and I'm making sure I fill my boots with all those yummy Christmas foods in case I'm not back by next Christmas. It's all starting to become a bit real now and I can't quite believe how little time I have left at work - by the time you read this I will have just four Mondays left on the job! Everyone in the office is really excited for me, they're all counting down for me as well. It's such an amazing feeling to know how hard I've worked and for how long, and to now finally see that light at the end of the tunnel - that tropical sunlight beaming down at me. I've got just one more round of jabs left and everything else is finally falling into place, my plans are made and I've even started organising my travel wardrobe. So I thought it was about time I gave you guys an update on my plans for travelling:
My trip kicks off on January 6 when I fly out to Bangkok. After a couple of days sightseeing, shopping and eating in the city, I will head to the beaches and islands off south Thailand. Of course I'll be taking in the standard backpacker route via Ko Pha-Ngan, Ko Samui, Krabi and Ko Phi-Phi. I'm looking forward to a lot of time spent snorkelling, swimming and pretending to be a mermaid. I'm meeting some friends when I arrive, so I'm sure there will be a lot of partying and fun to be had - the perfect way to start the new year if you ask me, and I'm looking forward to starting my trip with a bang. I'll be spending a month and a half covering this ground, then for a complete change of pace, and to get my visa renewed, I'll be heading to Vietnam for two weeks where I plan to travel as much of the country as possible - a LOT of food will be consumed here and I'm looking forward to visiting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Halong Bay looks beautiful and I would love to go on one of the river tours.
When I head back to Thailand, I'm heading straight to Chiang Mai in the North, where the experience of a lifetime awaits me. I have booked to spend a week volunteering at an elephant sanctuary where I will be caring for, feeding and bathing elephants for the week. It is a dream come true to get to do this and I am beyond excited. I've not even set out yet and already I know this will be a highlight of the trip for me! My week there will be followed by another week or two in Chiang Mai, followed by a trip further north to Pai. I'm really looking forward to Pai - I know already from everything I have read and seen of the place that it is definitely somewhere I will be wanting to stay for a while. The next leg of my journey will be to visit Laos for a week or two spent relaxing, taking in the scenery, visiting temples and dolphin spotting. After Laos, I'll be heading to central Thailand, particularly the national parks and Sukhothai Historical Park. And then I might give myself some more time in Bangkok before heading to Cambodia for a few weeks for another huge highlight of my trip. I'm planning on staying at a yoga, meditation and health retreat for 10 days where I will be trying out a vegan diet, will be visiting the Cambodian temples, spending a bit of time just looking after myself and treating myself to a few massages. I'm really looking forward to this part of the trip and I'm pleased that there will be opportunities for me to explore the country further. I'll have to head back to Thailand to catch my flight to Oz for the next leg of my journey - at the moment I plan for this to be around May but that is open to change.
Australia is very unplanned at the moment, but I know I have a lot of friends to meet and catch up with - plus I have several people coming out to meet me for stages of my trip here so it's going to be a busy few months! I'm planning to travel around as much of the country as possible, and I'm hoping my friends will be quite scattered so I can use them as a guide for my travels. I'm really looking forward to checking out the surfing - my goal is to learn to stand up on a surfboard without help. I'm also looking forward to spending some time in the cities, particularly Melbourne, and of course the beaches - Bondi looks amazing! And I do have a little dream in the back of my mind of doing a bit of a Golden Coast road trip, but I'll definitely need some friends to keep me company. I haven't decided yet if I will need to work while I am in Oz - I will assess my funds along the way and will see if I want to pick up some more cash. I had planned for three months there, but I already know I'll be extending it to at least four months.
In New Zealand, I will again be visiting a few people, old family friends, but I'm also looking forward to having some time to myself to explore. I haven't got a plan yet, but I've definitely got a few things I really want to do - like visiting the glow-worm caves, whale and dolphin spotting, I would love to see the Southern Lights, I fancy a lot of outdoor activities, so more surfing, walking and climbing would be good. While I'm in NZ, I've also decided that I simply have to get a flight and go to Fiji, no matter how much it costs me. It just looks like paradise and I think I need a little taste of heaven. I have an idea in my head that if I can find a job in Oz or NZ to raise some more cash - I would love to raise enough to stay the full year and to fly back to Australia for new year to watch the fireworks at Sydney Harbour before catching my flights back to the UK via Dubai on January 6. Whew. Quite a trip huh?
I'm still researching places and working out my exact route, so if you have any suggestions or advice, please do leave a comment!
PS. I'd love if you would vote for me in the UK Blog Awards by clicking here and here.