Sunday, 25 July 2010

DO remember it as the best time of your life

Rain, beans on toast and the Post Office lady telling me in no uncertain terms that no I may not borrow some I have to buy my own sellotape.... oh yes, I’m back in Blighty and 5 months of travelling has finally come to an end. It’s been fascinating, intoxicating, both hilarious and saddening, calming and exhilarating.... and by far the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.

I’ve seen things I never thought I’d see, done things I never thought I could do and found a smile in places I’d never thought to look. I’ve come face to face with an elephant, danced with ladyboys and been carried across mountains by a tribal granny. Asia truly is an amazing place and it’s filled with some of the most interesting, bright and open people I’ve ever met.

If you’ve ever thought of going somewhere new, somewhere different, somewhere you’ve never been before.... do it. I can guarantee you will never regret it. There’s a whole world out there- and life’s too short.

Thanks for reading everyone- I’ll keep blogging about any new adventures that come my way and post the links on here as soon as they’re up and running so make sure to check back every now and again.

Bye for now,

Katie xxx

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

DO eat your way around Penang

Everything you hear is true- the food here is weird, wonderful and dangerously, belt-buckle-poppingly LUSH.

Just spent an entire, fabulous afternoon stuffing everything under the sun into my face in little India. In just two hours I've munched tandoori chicken samosas, fried yellow bean cakes, Putu Mayam (steamed noodles with grated coconut and palm sugar- which, by the way, are the best thing EVER), and sweet Indian pulled tea. Add that to the local Chinese buffet I had for lunch, traditional Islamic dried fruits for an afternoon snack and the dim sum we are planning to have for dinner in just over an hour and you've got yourself one fat mama. Fat, but happy. I bet Father Christmas has his summer holidays here.

DON'T get sucked into diving on Koh Tao

Unless you want to spend 800 quid in a week (oh yes, I nearly fainted when I realized) and potentially never leave.

Be aware: scuba diving is far, FAR more awesome than you probably think it is, and if you'd like to keep it that way and have some sort of a stab at a normal career/ house/ family then I suggest you stay well away.

Take yours truly for example- only came for an Open Water course, ended up emptying my bank account, getting certified all the way up to Rescue Diver in less than two weeks and am already planning on coming back to train and work as a Divemaster for the next 6 months.

Make a sensible risk assessment and make it now.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

DON'T have your boob fall out in a foreigners' Muay Thai match infront of a hundred strong audience composed almost entirely of pervy British men

Bad times for her. At least she won.

Somehow I don't think the judge's eye was on her uppercuts though.

DO learn some skills in Chiang Mai

If you're feeling like a bit of a culture vulture then this is the place to be. You can learn anything from yoga to muay thai here if you've got the baht. I for one am now both a master chef and a professional masseuse, and I've got the handwritten certificates to prove it.

If you do fancy getting your Ramsay on then I would recommend Pad Thai cookery school, because Meow, the lady who runs it, is an absolute riot. Some of her gems for the day included:

"Can use any mushrooms.... magic mushrooms good for party, everybody can fly"

"Boys wash you hands, no want chilli willy"

and, the ultimate classic:

"Think of you lover.... pound it like an M16 machine gun"

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

DON'T get the minibus from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang

I do realise that this blog is getting populated with stories about horrific bus journeys but feeling like you are going to die on public transport is a surprisingly regular occurrence out here.

Now, I'm not one for spooking easily but you haven't known fear until you've torn round dusty mountain roads with no barriers at 60mph in 5th gear. I swear I spent the entire 6 hours hyperventilating and clinging on to my headrest. We nearly crashed twice and at narrowly missed ploughing into a cockerel at one point. Oh and yelling at the driver doesn't help, in case you were wondering.

To top it all off, the retards at the front had their windows open so the aircon didn't work. The added worry that sliding around on our own bum sweat was going to topple the bus just brought a whole new dimension of terror to the experience.

I suggest getting the big bus and just praying your driver isn't a kamikaze lunatic- knowing Laotian vehicles its top speed is probably 10mph anyway and at least you'll have a few breakdowns to gather your nerves.

Friday, 21 May 2010

DO prepare yourself for Vang Vieng

Oh, Vang Vieng, home of the infamous tubing (or 'TUUUUUBIIIINNG' yelled with your tongue hanging out of your mouth like a St. Bernard and both hands clasped in rock signs, if you want to be totally accurate)- where the sole daytime activity is floating down a river on a rubber tube being lassoed into rickety bars and plied with buckets and shots of whiskey so strong it will make your eyes water.

The whole thing is just a mish-mash of horrible ideas made immeasurably worse by throwing complete drunkards into the equation. Rope swings over water so shallow you can see the rocks, for example, suddenly seem like the best idea EVER after a few buckets, until you see someone surface with a nose bleed. There's also the infamous Death Slide, on which it is well known that more than one person has broken their neck but people still go hurtling down with their eyes closed in a backwards Superman. To top it all off, there is the gentle evening pastime of Fire Limbo, which people attempt when they're so pissed their breath could catch fire. Matt is a shining example of such sensibleness, enduring burns in places one should never catch fire just for the title of 'Limbo King' and a crown that looked like a hotdog scrawled across his back in permanent marker.

Some of the weaker ones just get sucked into it and can't escape- they only came for a two day holiday and you see them trailing around three months later, still rocking a disco wig with condoms stuck in it looking like they haven't slept since they were born.

By the end of our own week, two of the group were ill from swallowing half of the Mekong, one had been arrested and three of us normally house proud girls had to sneak out of the back entrance of the hotel because the mess in the room was bordering on the obscene. All in all a successful trip I'd say.