It seems sleep is going to be a luxury for the next month as we were on the road but 7.30 in order to get from Bangkok to Siem Reap.

The border crossing between Thailand and Cambodia was crazy. There were people everywhere and their favourite hobby seemed to be to stare at us, especially Katy who is half Jamaican with crazy affro hair.

Siem Reap

We went to the New Hope foundation for dinner but first sat in an English lesson for a group of Cambodian teenagers. This school is free for them (unlike most schools here) and therefore aims to help families get out of a cycle of poverty, begging and prostitution. The children were so keen to learn and talk to us and the experience has definitely made me want to study for my TEFL after my NQT year is out of the way. Dinner was cooked in the onsite restaraunt school and included an appatizer of crickets fried with chilli which were actually quite tastey!

The next day we were up at 4 in the morning so we could get to Angkor Wat in time to see the sunrise. This turned out to be completely worth it, although after visiting Ta Prohm (the temple Tomb Raider was filmed in) and Bayon Temple (a Buddhist temple with tonnes of carvings of faces) queing with a load of Chinese tourists with no concept of personal space in the midday heat to climb to the top of Angkor Wat was not my favourite part of the day.

IMG-20150725-WA0033

After a power nap we went quad biking round the rice fields and got to see and stroke a buffalo. This was so fun! This was followed by shopping spree at the night market (I am now the proud owner of several cliché pairs of baggy elephant trousers) we were all well and truly ready to celebrate our travels over some very strong cocktails and then opportunity to teach the locals how to do the macarena (obviously one of my prouder moments). Cambodian Singapore Slings are amazing for future reference!

IMG-20150727-WA0006

Phonm Penn

We had a small and well needed lie in before the 5 hour bus journey to the Cambodian capital today. We got their quite late and so I decided to have pudding for dinner as I was quite tired. We again visited the night market although this one seemed to have a more western influence and I didn’t buy much.

We were up early the next morning to visit the S21 prison and Killing Fields used during the X regime. This was a struggle for everyone seeing the conditions 2million people were kept in and the smashed skulls of the victims who had been beaten to death.

During the afternoon we had some relaxation time by the pool followed by dinner, ice cream and most importantly frozen margaritas!

Sihanoukville

After a 5 hour, hot, sweaty grumpy bus journey it was time for the most well deserved sunbathe on the beach! The sand was so white and the sea turquoise; absolute paradise! We had a beach BBQ for dinner and watched people set off fireworks and lanterns right next to our table. Provably a bit of a hazard but in Asia health and safety does not exist haha.

We then partied in a local beach bar watching fire dancers and people doing the limbo under fire sticks! Whiskey and coke buckets were also $1 which made this place a winner all round. I could live in this paradise forever. There was a job going in the bar which seems a bit more tempting than teaching 30 children in September! We ended our party time with a swim in the sea before heading back.

Unfortunately the night came to a bit of a sour end as one of the girls I was with got her bag stolen by a man on a moped. She is covered in cuts a bruises and I have a big graze and bruise from my knee to ankle but luckily he got away with nothing more than $70, so a valuable lesson was learnt with limited consequences.

The next day we went on a boat trip and snorkled in the coral reef and had a BBQ on an island. The whole group for fairly burnt but it was lovely to sunbathe and drink bacrdi lying in the shallows.

IMG-20150730-WA0003

Landing in Bangkok was overhwelming when the actual realisation that I am going to be in South-east Asia for the next 5 weeks actually sunk in. After panicking that I wouldn’t be able to find my hotel I finally got there to be told I could not check in for another 2 hours. This called for my first adventure to find water and snacks.

I met up with some people doing similar trips to me and in the evening we took a boat trio round the river ending at China Town where I had my first taste of street food (£1 and I didn’t die or get sick!), it was amazing. I’m probably going to get very chubby when I’m out here!

The following day we managed to find the water taxi and explored the beautiful temples Bangkok has to offer although somehow we didn’t manage to find the statue of standing Buddha even though it is the biggest in Asia. I got back to my room to find a girl called Alix had moved in; I was a bit surprised at first but she’ll be sharing my room for the rest of the trip and seems lovely. We met the rest of the group that evening and after a few beers got quite excited for what’s to come!

Packing for going to Asia was essentially far more stressful and time consuming than I anticipated due to the fact that I had to try and cram enough clothes, accessories and essentials into a backpack for 5 weeks in countries that I did not know what the temperature and humidity would feel like. Also, I am a massive hoarder.

Every item I packed was chosen with a specific use in mind, but I have probably, in true Hannah style, managed to over-pack massively.

Initially this was my clothes I intended on taking (i.e. everything I would love to take)

IMG_20150713_184534

(After listening to my Mum for once I decided that maybe I should consider taking cotton over polyester tops and not take clothes with sentimental attachments) 

I then took the *sensible grown up approach (*Leon’s approach) and cut my packing down to this, still a massive amount of clothes I would inevitably have to throw out and miss and carry on my back like a camel!

IMG-20150713-WA0006 (1)

Eventually I got Leon round to talk sense into me and decide on the final items I would drag around Asia with me.

IMG_20150713_202001

My eventual packing list

  • Backpack:

    • Regatta Survivor 65
    • This backpack has been through a lot with me.. D of E, various Scout expeditions around Europe, to Kilimanjaro.  It is brilliant, with entry from the top and bottom allowing you to get your belongings easily if you pack wisely and remember where you have put stuff.
  • Electronics:

    • GoPro hero + accessories (headmount, chestmount and floaty mount for ultimate photo and video playtime)
    • Nikon waterproof and shockproof digital camera – I have a tendancy to break cameras
    • Pansonic lumix digital camera – just in case all other photography implements fail
    •  2 x 32GB memory cards
    • 8gb Ipod nano – old school but loaded with tunes, audio books and podcasts to keep me amused on long flights / overnight trains
    • Headphones
    • Kindle
    • Phone
    • Head torch
    • Mini speaker
    • All relevant chargers and cables and plug adapters for south-east Asia (the ones with 2 flat pins)
  • Clothes:

    • Dresses / play-suits – 1 long summery dress (can be dressed up in the evenings), 1 short summer dress, 2 play-suits (can be dressed up or down)
    • Bottoms – 2 pairs of denim shorts, 1 pair of lacy pretty shorts, 1 pair of cotton shorts, 1 pair of long cotton trousers (if I get burnt, for visiting temples; I will wear these on the plane too), 1 skirt
    • Tops – 2 x kimono style tops (in case I get burnt / cold / for visiting temples), 1 x long sleeved, cotton, white top (for visiting temples, throwing over stuff if I get burnt), 9 strap tops (some plain, some pretty), 2 x cotton t-shirts (in case I get burnt), 1 cardigan (to wear on the plane and for my eventual return to the UK), 2 x strapless tops
    • Pashimina (for covering shoulders, wrapping round me at night, covering up in temples)
    • Bikinis – 5 x bikinis – variety is the spice of life? All other travel blogs say to take 2 but they’re so small and pretty.
    • Shoes – animal flip flops (comfortable for walking around in the day time), Vans (to walk around when my feet are bored of flip flops, I will wear these on the plane), pretty sandals (to dress up in the evenings. NO HEELS EVER!)
    • Underwear – 8 x knickers, 3 x bras (including one strapless)
    • Socks – 3 x pairs – I will probably never wear these but who doesn’t like having cosy feet
    • Pyjamas – 3 x shorts and strap top sets
    • Sunglasses – Melon polarised sunglasses –my go to sunglasses, again on Leon’s recommendation.  You can design them yourself and they will be fixed for free if you break them; I am beginning to see a pattern here.
  • Toiletries:

I split my toiletries into 2 packs.  1 for washing and 1 for medical supplies.

  • Washing:
    • Shampoo and conditioner (travel size)
    • Soap
    • Deodrant (travel size)
    • Dry shampoo (travel size)
    • Hair spray (travel size)
    • Shower gel (travel size)
    • Baby wipes (instead of having to take lots of bottles of cleanser and toner etc)
    • Moisturiser (travel size) – I need to protect my tan, obviously
    • Makeup (mascara, eye-liner, eye brightener, eyebrow pencil)
    • Nail file
    • Lip balm
    • Mini hand sanitiser – I feel the loos at sometime may require this.. potentially entire body sanitiser!
  • Medical supplies:
    • Suncream (factor 25 and 15)
    • Deet
    • Bite cream
    • Plasters
    • Rehydration salts
    • Nurofen
    • Immodium tablets
    • Malaria tables (I opted for Malarone as you have to take them for the least amount of time and I am only in the Malaria risk areas for a week; the side effects of Malaria tablets can be pretty nasty)
  • Hand luggage:

    • I opted for a quicksilver satchel to avoid having to carry 2 rucksacks at once as I will spend a large majority of my time lugging my belongings from one bus, train, plane, you name it to another.
  • Accessories:

    • Hair ties and clips
    • Money belt – I don’t think my family would let me leave the country without this.. because apparently I am a prime target for handbag stealing locals
    • Bum-bag – because who doesn’t love wearing a sparkly bum-bag and dad dancing?
    • Travel towel
    • Travel pillow (for the plane and the pillows in hostels are always dodgy)
    • Small selection of jewellery
    • Set of playing cards
    • Documentation nicely organised for now in little folders.

IMG_20150719_213851 (1)

My bag and hand luggage all ready to go!  It looks very small for over a months worth of stuff, meaning I have probably forgotten something important; I definitely have a passport, money and documentation so I’m sure I’ll be fine!  I have tried to pack so I have room left in my backpack for souvenirs and fabric (roll on Hoi An!) without having to throw away any of my belongings.

For the next 5 or 6 weeks I have the pleasure of hosting Leon’s blog.  For once,  he is not the one jet-setting round the world.  I am nervously embarking on my first small amount of lone-travelling;  the Indochina discovery tour of South-east Asia (I was not brave enough to go it alone).

 Stay tuned

🙂

Rough draft: at work so no spell checking or pictures, will sort things out later. I also really shouldn’t of left this so long, it’s been a couple months now and I can’t really recall the order of things.

I will start by saying I failed… well I didn’t actually fail because I was never offically trying and you know what they say, don’t try can’t fail. What I’m talking about is the whole no flying thing. When I was in HCMC I noticed that I was rapidly running out of money and still had to get all the way down to KL for my flight home… the plan of bumming around Thailand for a month until the full moon party just wasn’t going to happen, in fact at this point I wasn’t even sure I could make it to KL and survive until the time of the flight.

The plan was to join the guys on a bus into Cambodia and then go across into Thailand and bangkok before heading down to the Islands… this was about the same price as a flight from HCMC to Bangkok but with the added cost of the Visa and the few extra days it would take it just didn’t look feasible with my remaining assets so I jumped on a plane to Bangkok and skipped Cambodia completly… not the end of the world as I do plan to go back as I missed out of Laos anyway.

Continue reading

Nha Trang

Now up to 7 of us in the group (Jess, Rach, Izzy, Matt, Andrew, Julia & Myself) we hit the more backpackery / party town of Nha Trang just in time for the full moon party!

Start with the standard stuff: The hostel was alright, at first it was annoying as we booked in as 5 people but they split us into different rooms (different floors actually) but in the end wasn’t all bad. Me and Rach got a 4 bed room and a new room-mate who we adopted… Dickie!

So here’s what we got up in during our week(?) there.

Continue reading

Hue

Well we didn’t actually do anything in Hue. Actually apart from going round the corner to confirm our onward bus tickets I didn’t leave the street the hostel was on. None of us felt that great and the only thing we could think of was the food we had when we were at the DMZ… it didn’t immobilize just increase laziness.

The bar at the hostel (Hue Backpackers) was a brilliant place. Food wasn’t bad and drinks were great. From 5-6pm was unlimited free beer (you just had to finish a bottle before being given another) and then happy hour was soon after.

On the first night there the barman was giving free shots to everyone every time the Roosters (Australian rugby league) scored… they won against the Panthers 34/12 – Everyone was pretty drunk before 10.

Here we met Matt and bumped into Andrew & Julia again… seems they are a few days behind us.

Hoi An

600+ tailors in this town and it shows. Continue reading

I really should of done this sooner… I mean it’s been over 2 months since I was in Vietnam and to be honest since I didn’t make any notes on paper things are a bit blurry already so this post may be a bit lacking compared to my others!

Well let’s start at the beginning…

I jumped on the bus in Yangshuo to start the long bus/night train journey down to Hanoi and who happened to sit next to me other than two Ozzie girls (Jess & Rach) I met a few nights ago at the big beach party. It was cool to say hi and catch up but not really anything special (I mean you re-bump into fellow travellers all the time so didn’t think much of it) well that was until we go to the train station and ended up being in the same 4 bed cabin… not much chance of that happening!

At silly o’clock in the morning we hit the happy jolly border crossing which is where we met a fellow English girl Izzie and quickly adopted her. She just happened to be heading to the same hostel in Hanoi which was cool and this was the start of our Vietnam family!

Continue reading