Tuesday, 25 March 2014

"First the worst, second the best" Phi Phi, second visit

Richard left Phuket then me, Bas and Bert left by ferry the same morning. It was weird not having Richard there, I didn't wanna hang around!! 
I knew whatever happened in Phi Phi it would be so much different to my haphazard first visit with Beca and I'd be some kind of "safe" (from myself;) with the boys.

We hadn't pre-booked anywhere to stay "we'll do it when we get there". I'd read reviews on a few places in our price range (around 500tb, £10) and they all looked rough so we hoped for a little bargain miracle on arrival .. 
One of the places I had already checked out and avoided booking was Golden Hill Bungalows, the reviews were awful. Of course we ended up staying there "it's the only place within our budget". I'm so glad we got to check it out for ourselves, we loved it there!! 
Wild monkeys jump on the roofs in the morning, the family owners were lovely and their little twin daughters were so cute!! "Jack nearly drowned one of them in the pool and made her cry", oopsy.
The pool was great for chilling in the day and for meeting new people too - lesson learnt, don't always disregard somewhere because of reviews (some people just like moaning about everything!!), check it for yourself.

Phi Phi welcomed me with open arms this time .. I knew the layout of the island, what to expect, the kind of things that could potentially go wrong .. we had nights of pure madness on the beach "he just stripped and did the fire limbo, backwards, naked holding his balls!!" but we did some "touristy" things too so this visit was all the more special.

Bits from Phi Phi part 2;
- One of the first nights on the beach I told the boys I was "going back to bed" only to be discovered hours later outside a tattoo parlour with pen all over my neck "Bas! You've saved me, take me home friend!!". I woke up in the morning in panic mode "is it a tattoo? oh fuck oh fuck!!" Thankfully it was only blue biro!

- The following night I pulled the same "going bed" card and went and got a bamboo tattoo of a "tiger claw" behind my ear. I'd known I wanted that the previous night but the artists had been smoking bongs in the back room "don't tell anyone" so were too smashed to design what I really wanted (I hadn't been on the bong with them that night, swear;). This night though as soon as the guy drew it I was like "do it, do it now!". 
I loved getting my bamboo tattoo done, it feels like they chisel it into you, it's weird like you take the pain because you know how pleased you'll be with the result. I woke up chuffed with my new artwork that next morning.

- We started pretty much every night in the Reggae Bar watching men (and women) of all shapes and sizes boxing for glory and a free bucket .. I didn't go here once on my first Phi Phi visit - big mistake! It's the best place to start every night, no two nights are the same as it's always different people fighting. 
Some have fun with it, some go a bit coco and batter each other - you see many things you won't forget! 
Hugo, a wicked guy from our place had met some beautiful model girls (well done Hugo, think they were from Brazil?) .. they had a fight with each other and really went for it while looking flawless the whole time. They were great, really fun girls and they made the men in the crowd very happy that night!!

- Bas and I did a 1/2 day tour to "the beach where The Beach was filmed", it was a brilliant experience, loved it! We swam to Monkey Bay, went snorkelling, kayaked, had a meal on the boat at sunset and of course visited the main attraction, Maya Bay. 
So many people told me it would be "too crowded" and "tourists ruin it" but I didn't feel like that at all. We had plenty of space to take in the beauty of the bay and jump around trying to recreate the famous group jumping shot from the end of the film. We met two fab girls, Hannah and Nicola on that trip too, it was ace to meet some fun girls to hang out with as so far on my trip girls hadn't been so easy to find!

- On the 2nd last day we met two Brummies, Jack and Dean at our pool, they were messing about and I thought "uh oh, here we go, mental Brits!". As it turned out the moment I started talking to them I loved them, funny guys with story after story! 
I'm not entirely sure how Dean has coped through their years of friendship with Jack being as off the wall as he is. We partied together that night on the beach and someone (not me, swear;) covered Dean in orange face paint "sorry mate, you've been tango'd" ha ha.

Before that final night party Bas and I went up to the viewpoint. It feels like a million steps high and the sweating at the top is not pretty "sorry boys, I didn't just get out of the shower, promise" but it's well worth the walk. 
I went up with a fun group including Adam and Carly, more cool people from our bungalows. I looked out over Phi Phi and Maya Bay with a happy/ sad heart, thinking of the times I'd had on the island, the new people I'd met and would keep in touch with and the people I'd be gutted to leave the next day. 

Phi Phi part 2 was many things, I loved it!! I had to tear myself away, leaving my travel buddies Bas and Bert in hope of seeing them again soon. Making my way to Bangkok, the crazy city I love, to meet James "my friend of a friend from home" I had mixed feelings.
Leaving the boys I'd shared so much with behind was like a chapter had closed, would I see them again? I hoped and thought so ... but for now I had to focus on moving forward, turning my attention to Bangkok and what lay ahead with James, my fellow Welshman.

*** When I started blogging my trip I planned to write regularly but "living it" takes up more time than I have to write so I'm well behind here, leaving Phi Phi takes me to the first week of February - I have 4 more posts to come on Thailand, covering 4 more places before I went on to Laos in March. 
All of this is written from memory, it's nice to go back through my pics and re-live it all again as I share "Larasstory" - thanks for reading, for any feedback and sharing ***




Sunday, 9 March 2014

Your priorities on the road

Leaving London on 3rd Jan I had 6 goals (listed in order of importance) for my trip;

1. Have fun
2. Meet friends for life
3. Have more fun
4. Change my plans at any given moment whenever it suited me "go for it"
5. Stay safe (had to include that one as I know my mum will read this)
6. Not use social media very often "I don't want to be online all the time"

That was pretty much it!! 
One of my best friends spent the first fortnight with me on a mini "travels" in Thailand. We booked that bit in advance but ever since she left it's been a "day by day" "no plans" "see what I wanna do tomorrow" kind of trip and it's been nothing short of perfect thus far. 
Two months ticked off in Thailand, now in Laos and flying to Cambodia next I find myself saying "every day is a dream" a lot. 

As much as I keep most of my original goals going (with "have fun" remaining at the top spot where it will always be) I've realised some new "priorities" too;

1. Learn about the local people and culture of wherever I am.
2. Try my best to pick up (at least) the very basics of the language in each place.
3. Listen to my body if I feel rough - missing a party now and again isn't the end of the world for the sake of my health.
4. Expand my travels in any way possible, whether it be a day trip to a beautiful spot or booking flights to a place I'd never considered before "hell yeah I'll come to Bali with you in August!!"
5. Stick with the people I click with "the people make the places".
6. Take an hour out to sit in the sun and brush my hair more than once a week, matted dreadlocks are not so pretty ..
7. Look after others; so many travellers feel unwell/ down in the dumps/ homesick at some point or another. Being the one to check if they're ok and help where I can is important to me. Also, you never know when you might be the one in need a friendly face to help you on your trip too.
8. Listen to music I love every day. So many songs will always hold meaning and memories for special times and special people long after my travels are done.
9. Use social media every day if possible (the complete opposite of what I had set out to do). Found that I want to keep in touch with my loved ones and also "the outside world" more than I foresaw.
Sharing stories keeps everyone (who cares;) in the loop. 
Writing my blog gets my mind in gear to remember times that deserve to never be forgotten and keeping up with the news is crucial in knowing what's going on in our world.

Admittedly a few of my "new" goals are things I should have left home thinking about but being completely honest I didn't.
Now in my 10th week of my planned years away I am almost ashamed to note I didn't previously think about learning about local people and the culture too much. 

I saw traveling as one big party and believe me that's what I'm making it but it's not just about the nights I'll never forget. Traveling is multifaceted, every day myself and my companions learn something interesting and our world opens up and gets more exciting as we go.

Do you share any similar goals as me on your trip? 

*** This post is my second time taking part in #SundayTraveler on twitter with FrankaboutCroatia.com and friends ... if you're a travel writer/ reader ;) and want to meet like minded people online to share your adventures/ future plans with be sure to check it out ***

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Smack it like you own it, Phuket

"My bag, my bag, my bag is on the bus!" Boss's face of horror as he watched his world being driven away on the bus we'd arrived on is my opening memory of my second vist to Phuket! 
Rich, Bert and me had got off the bus when we thought the driver said "Phuket" ... As it happens the side of the road wasn't our stop, whoopsy, we'd been on the transfer bus for hours and wanted off "the driver stops every 2 minutes to let people on, what's he playing at?".
Panic set in as we hailed a taxi to "follow that bus" (like they do in the movies), we reassured Boss "it'll be fine, promise" and tried not to laugh/ prayed it really would be fine ("drive faster drive" and "step on it" didn't work like it does in the movies!).
Relieved to report we caught the bus at Phuket station (the real stop) and Bossy got his bag back. Hurray!! All was good again. 

We headed straight to Patong, the dirty (oh so dirty!!!) hub of Phuket. We found Patong expensive compared to other places we'd been. It was rammed busy because of Chinese New Year celebrations but we found a place in the end and hit the beach.

Here's a little list of what went down in Phuket;

- We saw a deaf drunk Thai guy punch another Thai guy's glasses clean off his face on the beach then a fight broke out. 
The deaf drunk thought it was fine to pull a machete out on the other guy and try to chop him in half on the beach in front of everyone, great scenes !! 
The fight stopped when the other guy fly kicked the drunk (Bruce Lee style) in the face and knocked him out. "Can we not sit by the murders tomorrow please?"
- Rich, Boss and me hired bikes to go and check out the Big Buddha, got lost on route on a 'private beach' then tried to leave to carry on driving to the Buddha ..
To my shame our scooter failed to get up the hill on the way out, I had to get off and walk up it "no more baked beans for breakfast for me!!", smooth Lar, smooth - you look great today! Ha ha 
- Rich and me got blessed in happiness, health and good luck by a monk at the Big Buddha. Then the three of us watched the sun go down on Phuket from the highest point on the island, it was so peaceful and beautiful "I feel so at ease with life"
- My mystery illness (yawn!!) which had started days ago in Koh Phangan hit me hard the first two nights - day time I was ok, what's all that about?!!
I had to stay in with a fever, sweating it out, feeling weak and hating my body. FaceTime'd my family when I was in the depths of despair "Lar, this sounds serious, come home" "No way mum, I'd rather be dying out here than back home being healthy".
- By day 3 I was fine (thank god for us all, being ill is shit, it's boring talking about it and even writing about it now annoys me, ha) so we hit the town as the awesome foursome "let's see what it's all about then.."
- We saw so many things that night in Phuket my eyes nearly popped out. It was dirty, filthy, sex crazed, wrong - I loved it!! Madness on the Patong strip was one of the best nights I've had traveling.
.. Rich and me beat a Thai lady at Connect 4 (basically achieving the impossible)
.. We saw men and men and men and more men of all shapes, ages and sizes with Thai 'brides' (girls for the night, whateverrrrr). The men walked around like Kings, the girls looked like they'd zoned out of whatever the men said or did.
It's all about sex for the men and money for the girls ... "Did that guy get dressed in the dark?" "Who seriously thinks it's acceptable to leave the house like that?" "Swear half these guys are English"
.. Seeing young guys going off with Lady Boys without realising they are not "girls" is hilarious "would love to know what happens to those two later" "that Lady Boy is huge, good luck mate!"
.. We spent most of our night in Suzy Wongs, one of the funniest places I've ever been, ever !! Everywhere we looked men were doing things they shouldn't to Thai girls (no Lady Boys in this place). One man asked if I was one of the boys girlfriend, pretty sure he wanted to swing with us, it was so funny "nah sorry mate, we're busy". 
I nearly broke myself in half laughing in there, half of me wanted to get on the stage and swing on the poles with the girls but I didn't, I was good, ha.
- On our last day on the beach we saw a lady try parasailing, but she face planted and got dragged along by the boat instead, ouchy ;) "embarrassing, bless her, stop laughing, she'll see you!" 
- A guy in our place crashed his hired jet ski into a speedboat and ended up having to pay around £5,000 UK pounds to get the owners off his back "two of them waited outside for me all night incase I tried to do a runner"

All in all Phuket was a blast but it was bitter-sweet, we all knew Rich was leaving for Australia from here so we made sure it was as much fun as it could be but the last night together we were all "don't go" "stay with us" "don't do it Rich" "Awoooo for life" 

Rich left and the Wolf Pack broke, we'd lost of leader of the pack!! :( For the first time in forever I was not happy!! I had to make a plan and I had to make it quick ... "Let's go to Phi Phi ..."

Phi Phi it was, sucker for a mad time, it seemed only right to head back with Bert and Boss ..
x
@LaraLain




Friday, 28 February 2014

"I ain't getting on no plane", why today never happened

I'm skipping ahead of posts in the pipeline by a month and a half (and had no intention of writing today!) but then realised the date ... 28th Feb ... the day I was originally scheduled to fly to Melbourne!
Had to note why I'm still flying around Koh Phangan and not on route to sunny Australia ..

Setting the scene: I'd wanted to travel for ages but the time was never 100% right, good things kept happening that kept me absolutely loving life in London. I got a great promotion up from my near 4 years working at the UK's best selling fashion weekly (LOOK magazine) to be part of the team on a global wine brand within in the same parent company (IPC Media).

The promotion was big and the new job was ace, loved my team and loved the work, there was simply too much good stuff falling into place to consider going away when I started that exciting new role in May 2013.

The job was a maternity cover, so I knew I would only be there until the lady I was covering for was back to resume her role at the end of the year ... 

The more money I made > the more time I spent thinking about exploring our world "more than London awaits me out there" > it clicked; the time my contract was up was the time I would hot foot it out of the UK and hit the road.

I never once considered going with anyone else, wanted the challenge of traveling on my own. I was raised as an only child (my little sister was born when I was in Uni in Cardiff <3) and have always been independent, happy with my own company, confident in everything I do - if I want something, I go all out and go get it !! 
Once I grasped the thought in my mind that was it; I sold nearly all my belongings, gave up my tiny flat near The Shard in Zone 1 of London and spent every day considering my exciting next step.

Originally I planned to "go and work in Australia for a year". I knew that with my Masters Degree in English, hard work over the last 5 years in London and varied experience (working in events, print and digital marketing with leading global brands) would ensure I could get a great, well paid job on the sunny side of the world.

Looking at potential flights one day with my family they said "why don't you do it properly Lar?" "if you're going away for a while you should see other places, not just Australia" - good point, well made, the seed was planted!! 

We looked at Round The World tickets with STA Travel and decided on one that would take me:

London > Dubai > Bangkok > Melbourne > New Zealand > America > London 

When I went to book in store with STA I didn't know I would have to do all of the above within 1 year only "I want to stay in Australia for at least a year to work" "Can I go to New Zealand first before Australia?" ... 
Errr in a word, 'no' I could do neither !! New Zealand first would mean crossing my flight route (not an option). Australia for a year would cancel out the rest of the time.

I settled on "booking up to Australia then" "I'll sort the rest on my way back".

Within my Bangkok stop I planned to land on 4th Jan "do Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia" then leave for Melbourne on 28th Feb and arrive in time to party at Future Music Festival with one of my best friends (she lives in Melbs full time).

Butttt "today never happened" as the more I researched Thailand and beyond the more I knew I couldn't possibly cram it all in to such a short time. I changed my flights (in my head) to arrive in Australia in late June. 6 months made more sense than 6 weeks and I had enough savings to see me through.

The flights never got changed to June! Something else has happened recently, something amazing that I will share soon and now going to Australia on 24th April !!

The adventure changes day by day and I wouldn't have it any other way. When I got in from the beach party last night I lay in bed and thought of everything that lies ahead of me, "feeling blessed" isn't a strong enough term to describe how grateful I am for things that I look forward to.

Sunday I leave Thailand after 2 months (feels like 2 years / 2 seconds at the same time!) to continue living "#Larasstory" in Laos.

The photo below of me and Jen (soon to be introduced properly in a few posts time;) was taken a couple of nights ago. It's one of the happiest photos I've ever seen of me, my smile is nearly cracking my face! Ha ha.
It sums up how I feel about the time since I left the UK, how I feel about today "never happening", how I feel about the next 9 weeks between me and getting to Australia and how I feel about the exciting twist that comes soon.

Look forward to sharing it all with you when I can !!!!

Thanks for reading my blog, I read every comment/ tweet/ email. Have to say "sorry" now for the amount of times I've said "I" in this post! Hate talking me, me, me but it was only the way to share today ��

X
@LaraLain



Thursday, 27 February 2014

10 must haves for Thailand and beyond ... Essential Travel Items !!

My next post was due to be about the trip to Phuket with the boys but my mind isn't ready for that just yet (need to remember all the highlights first!) 

So here's 10 key things I think every Thailand (and beyond) traveler should deffo consider owning. 

Some are aimed just at girls but most apply for the boys too. Provided I don't lose them on route you won't catch me anywhere without all the 10 things below: 

Feel Free oh yeahhhh !! 
This bag is one of the best things that came out of Koh Tao for me, Rich had a 10 litre one and on the way in on the boat from hell I realised I probably needed one too - they're water proof, lightweight, easy to carry and hangable pretty much anywhere with a detachable clip strap. sure they float too (nope I haven't tested that bit yet, no intentions of doing so when my iPad is in it either but hopefully won't need to find out!!).

Map it out !!
Father Christmas very kindly gave me this massive fold out map, it's big enough to "get in". It was my fave present before leaving home with details of all boat routes, train routes, places of interest etc in the places I hoped to visit. 
It's fab just laying it out and thinking "I've been here, here and here" "Am there now" "Not too bothered about seeing that" "Where next?". 
Looking at it inspires my adventure and it's fun to sit down and share with traveling pals (who then write all over it of course).

Bag it up !!
After losing various parts of my belongings and mind on my first visit to Phi Phi I picked up this little bag to wear on nights out for 100 Thai Baht, £1.80. 
It's big enough to carry your cash (and lipstick if you can even be bothered to wear any make up), light as a feather and easy to wear across your body, I wouldn't consider hitting a party without it.

Off / on !!
A seasoned traveler lady in Phi Phi (2nd time I went there - blog post coming soon about that trip!!) recommended this Off! mozzie spray "all the Thai girls use it, it's the best one". 
Having been away 4 weeks then I'd already tried most of the ranges in the pharmacies in Thailand so took her advice - glad I did! This is one of the cheapest sprays (approx 150 Thai Baht, £2.70) and a bottle lasts about a week. 
I spray it about 4 times a day, refusing to let those little shits ruin my day (itching a mozzie bite has some kind of relief thing about it but hey I can't stand them "mozzies are the only thing I hate about traveling").
Be warned, miss a spot and they will get it! For times like mine when I miss my elbow and then end up looking like I've got 3 elbows thanks to a bite, or when you ponder "I don't need to do my ears do I?" then end up having ouches you don't want .. White Tiger Balm is the one! 
Apply it when you itch and it will soothe and cool, keep using it until the bites are gone. 1 tub costs around 200 Thai Baht, £3.70, mine has lasted 5 weeks and is still going strong ...

Let's be realistic !! 
Everyone should carry protection; to all the girls and boys thinking (or planning?;) on meeting someone you want to spend some "extra" time with - don't leave your bungalow without them !! You never know who you might meet. 
Girls unless you want to carry a baby or something else :/ on your trip then be protected !! Better be safe than sorry and never ever be ashamed of being careful! If you're old enough to go play then you're old enough to buy a pack ..
Next to Durex this looks like a sex toy? Ha ha - jokeeee ;) .. This LancĂ´me waterproof mascara is a must if you're a girl who wants to bat your eyes at your dream guy across a bucket ... 
if you can be assed to wear make up (you will sweat most of it off about an hour of going out) then waterproof is the only way - Pandas look cute in the wild but not the morning after!

Stick with meh !!
Ahhhh, shoes that don't come off! (the opposite to flipping flip flaps! ..) will be your hero on a night out .. lost 4 pairs of flip flops in the first 10 days of my trip .. Pretty much every bar in Thailand requests shoes to be removed and left outside - good luck finding your own flops when you've had a bucket !! Flops weren't made for dancing, they flick sand up ya bum and everyone stands on the back of them "wahh, people keep ruining my moves!" Ha. 
Invest 100 Thai Baht, £1.80, in some like these down Khao San Road in Bangkok and fly your home flag at the same time ;)

Sarong saviour !!
This sarong comes everywhere with me, used as a body cover up in temples, a skirt, sun shield, beach towel, blind ... the list goes on!! This cost 200 Thai Baht, £3.70, a bargain if ever I saw one. Be sure to pick one up early in your trip and keep it with you like a trusty friend ;) 

Time and date Queen !!
Father Christmas also gave me another wicked present with this big faced Addidas watch. I wake up in random places thinking "I need to check out at 11" "Shit! Am leaving the island on the ferry at 4" "where the fuck is my mate?" ... It's mega handy for putting your mind in the right place and has the date on it too. 
99% of travelers don't know the day, date or time (most just about know where they are but often mix up where they've been with where they're going next "it's all so amazing it's rolling into one"). 
Can't stress how handy a watch is! Perfect for checking your progressing tan too ..

4 bonus tips from my buddy, my pal @Jen_xx45;
* make up - makes her feel amazing for a night out after a day on the beach, she wouldn't do without her Maybelline waterproof mascara and 15 SPF Rimmel foundation.
extension lead (with a short lead so it doesn't take up lots of packing space) - lots of places only have one plug, when you're traveling with others it's great to share the power ;)
* Soltan sun cream and mozzie repellant combo spray - get 2 very important jobs done in 1
* Black sharpie pen - for marking food and toiletries etc when you're staying in hostels and sharing space with lots of randoms

x
@LaraLain









Sunday, 23 February 2014

"F**k the f**king boat man", Koh Tao

30 minutes after leaving Koh Phangan we regretted it. We only left in the first place "because we have to" "if we don't we'll stay here forever". We jumped on the ferry at Thongsala pier in high spirits, thinking of the unknown promise of a new island.

The boat started all chilled out, we sat on the railings at the back, in the sun and happily waved bye bye to Koh Phangan as our attention turned to what lay ahead for us an hour and a half away on Koh Tao.

The ferry crossing turned into one the worst experiences I've had in Thailand, one of the crew told Richard to get down from the railings as it was going to be bumpy .. at the time the sea was calm and we didn't think anything of it. 
Basically the trip to Koh Tao is 1/2 hour of chill and 1 hour of hell!! Once we hit the open water the sea was an absolute bitch, she didn't let up!! I wanted to take photos/ video to capture the horror of it but had to hold on so tight to stop myself skidding around the deck like Bambi it wasn't an option.

The second photo below shows Boss pre-the bumps, water came over that deck in front of us numerous times, we were chucked around like the sea was getting revenge on us for something we never knew we'd done ... "Fuck the fucking boat" "I think we're guna die".

People were white as a sheet, puking everywhere, scared and feeling seasick at the same time - no amount of travel sick tablets could make that journey bearable. Words are actually failing me to describe the journey. 
I held sick in the whole time "I can't puke in front of the boys, I'll die of embarrassment". I got on that boat looking decent and left it like I'd been dragged up (not sexy, not sexy at all). A random guy tried to talk to me at one point "is he for real?! If he talks to me again I'm guna do a sick all over him".

Anyway that's probably enough about puking .. if you watch The Wolf Of Wall Street film look out for the scene at sea, what we experienced reminds me of that, hated it !!! 
As it turns out apparently the crossing is often rough like that "if we'd known that before we wouldn't have come" "we're trapped here now, how will we ever leave?!" 
Bert and I cemented our friendship on that boat through shared fear "honestly thought we were guna die", Boss didn't enjoy it either, Rich didn't seem bothered by it at all; Mr. Chilled ;)

We couldn't find a place to stay for 4 people for ages, me and Bert missioned around the beachfront and ended up in a place he'd stayed in before (The AC Resort). When we got to our room we laughed "it is an actual bed - room" "beds in a row, niceeee". The beds were like concrete, we moved them around and I ended up on the floor by the bathroom "no walking on the bed with wet feet people!!" ha.

Koh Tao wasn't my fave place but I can't blame Koh Tao for that ... I got ill (yep again) and spent my days lying by the beach. Looking back now I had been ill in Koh Phangan but didn't realise, it all started to creep up on me in Koh Tao. 
My body ached all over and my legs felt weak "I can't moan in front of the boys", I didn't say anything to them, just kept myself to myself a bit when I could as I didn't have much energy. I hate moaning or saying anything negative so really didn't want to even talk about how shit I felt.

By night we partied. Funny how drinks can completely block out feeling ill hey?! .. obviously made my days worse for myself by doing so. I couldn't stay in though, no way !! 
Koh Tao is quite laid back as most people are there for diving so understandably don't want to be doing that hungover. We had no intention of diving "all everyone does is talk about diving" "no I don't wanna fucking dive" "if I wanna see a whale I'll look it up on YouTube".

The Cancun bar on the beach was the 'wildest' place we went to (still reallyyyy tame compared to Koh Phangan!!) and we found a place with live music too "nice to hear some proper music". One night we did laughing gas and I burst into tears on the beach (smooth me, smooth..) I had a few not so fine moments in Koh Tao, moments I've learned from but kinda wish didn't happen - thankfully life goes on ;)

I had times after dark I'll never forget, a lot of fun!! Can never look at a Kit Kat in the same way again "we had a Kit Kat". Think it's fair to say I come alive when the lights go out, ill or not I can't say no to a good time!!

The night we left Koh Tao we did it with dread, "please let this boat be better" we took a night ferry to Surat Thani with our next (much discussed) destination being agreed as Phuket. 

The night ferry was one of my fave things about the whole Koh Tao experience!! We had no need to worry about rough seas, it was wicked "how cool is this boat!" "It's like a prison" .. the layout of the night boat is ace, we all bunked next to each other. 
Excitement in the air we had grand plans of watching movies and having midnight snacks but we were all asleep by 10pm, it was one of the best sleeps I've and since leaving the UK, nestled in among "The Brotherhood".

Phuket would be the last place we had a full Wolf Pack as Rich was planning his trip back to Australia so we had to make it count big time and we didn't dissapoint ... 

x
@LaraLain








Saturday, 22 February 2014

16 things everyone should know about Thailand

I leave Thailand next week after 2 months of traveling up, down and around it like a yo-yo on acid, here's 16 things every traveler should know ... 

1 - leave home with an 'empty' backpack !! I wasted hundreds (and hundreds!!) of £££'s on stuff I didn't really "need" before I left ... Knock off (but faultless) Nike trainers out here cost around £20, while they are a steady £100+ in the UK ... money goes unbelievably far out here, trust me on this one!! Buy it alllllll when you get here

2 - if you go to Patong in Phuket get yourself to Suzy Wong's for a night you'll never forget, if you go to Phi Phi island kick start every night in the Reggae Bar for crazed Thai Boxing moments that make you say "ouch!!"

3 - you will get ill at some point (or often if you're like me, which is nice..!!) don't worry too much, it's part of it all, no need to call your mum paranoid, sweating at midnight and nearly in tears with fear thinking you're guna die "come home Lar, this is serious" "no way mum, I'd rather be dying out here than back home" .. it will pass (usually in about 48hrs!!)

4 - don't pretend you can ride a scooter if really in true actual life you've only been on the back of one before, let the scooter dudes show you how it's done and take it steady on your first few trips (hurling across the road on a blind corner in the dark is not fun!!). 
Whenever you get the chance travel by Tuk Tuk, the whole journey is hilarious, especially if you get a driver who thinks he's in a Batmobile

5 - you can never have enough mozzie spray, ever!! It stinks and the smell makes you choke if you're clever like me and breathe it in every time but spray everywhere - bites on the face do not help you conquer the hotties 

6 - a smile and a nod of the head with your hands clasped in a prayer goes a very long way in Thailand. Thai people are very kind and happy people (I loveeee them!!) show them manners and respect and they will do anything to help make your day even better

7 - a 1 hour foot and leg massage followed with a 30 min head, neck and shoulder rub sesh is the one and it will set you back £4 (200 Thai Baht) if you barter with the people running the place with a bit of cheeky skill 

8 - don't break the "2 bucket rule" ever, or follow my lead and break it about 3 times a week and wake up with the flashback horrors of FaceTime and over sharing photos you thought looked fanfuckingtastic at the time 

9 - box clever and eat Thai food often, you can have a lush meal and a drink for the equivalent of £2 (100 Thai Baht)

10 - mineral water is your very very good friend, the cheapest 10 Thai Baht (less than 5p) bottles are not!! Be sure to drink mineral water only, not the Thai shit from the rivers 

11 - 1/2 a "Happy Shake" from Mushroom Mountain is enough, if you're high on life in general like me you're probably best off avoiding them all together unless you want to laugh yourself into oblivion so much your sides hurt the next day "you're too happy for Shrooms Lar, you need downers if anything, no more Shrooms"

12 - hammocks are probably the most comfy thing you'll ever sleep in, make the most of the luxury you can't enjoy as freely back home 

13 - a mini iPad is an essential item if you have access to one, small and perfectly formed for being on the move, I can't imagine traveling without it

14 - bungalows do it better !! You can rent a bungalow from anything upwards of roughly £4 a night (200 Thai Baht) ... yep you read that correctly!! Have your "home from home" and make it your own by chucking your stuff everywhere like it's your bedroom back when you were little. 
Get a place with a pool if you're not by the sea, best place for meeting people and cooling down after a heavy night

15 - do the viewpoint walks, do a trek, do a boat trip, go diving, see the animals, visit the Buddha's, support your rugby or football team on match days .. be the "tourist" when possible for moments you'll treasure with like minded people 

16 - whatever you do, be thankful every day that you're doing it!! Traveling, for any amount of time, is a blessing if ever I knew one!! Make the memories you'll never forget and the friendships you can't remember your life before, take the photos, record the videos, follow my lead and live it like there's no tomorrow !! 

**** This post is my first submission to the #SundayTraveler party, a genius idea to share travel blogs with like minded writers from around the globe. 
See how you can get involved here http://www.frankaboutcroatia.com/konoba-batelina/ ... also be sure to check out the #SundayTraveler tag on twitter to get involved !! ****

X
@LaraLain