Friday, 22 January 2016

My no bullshit guide to all the places I visited in Thailand

elephant and me

It's time to say goodbye to Thailand *insert sad face here*. Our visas expire on Sunday and today is our last day on Koh Tao. Tomorrow we start the ten hour journey back to Bangkok - BOOOO! We have had a ball in the month we've been here but now it's onwards to the next location.

I've got quite a few photos and stories to share from the places we've been in the last month but they're for another day. For now here is my no bullshit guide* to all the cities, villages, islands and towns we have been too during out time here.

Not a big fan of big cities where it's a million degrees and there are loads of people so we pretty much only spent time in Bangok when we were waiting for flights or trains to other places. It's hot, it smells, didn't really spend enough time here to judge properly.

Chiang Mai
Stayed in Old Town and loved it. Big city but doesn't feel like one. Super relaxed and chilled out, much cheaper than Bangkok. Lot's of nature related activities to do such as interacting with elephants or jungle trekking. Magical at New Year. Go to the Best Walkinn 2, it's cheap and the landlady is a sweetheart.

Pai is good but there isn't loads to do there. Good gateway to Laos. Jody got a wicked tattoo and we bought some nice things from the night market. Good second hand bookstore. Get there by shared minivan for around £4. Be warned if you get motion sickness though as the road has 762 turns so isn't the most pleasant. Tony's guest house costs £8.50 p/n, super peaceful and offers cracking views of the hills. 1km out of town though so would recommend you get a bike.

Bit seedy. Good base to go on day trips to islands like Phi Phi and James Bond Island, especially if you're short on time/money. Good for pubs, clubs and ping pong shows. Quite expensive compared to the North but can find accommodation to suit any budget.

Koh Phi Phi (day trip)
Personally wouldn't bother unless you are desperate to go to the Full Moon party or it was low season. Definitely nicer islands that you can go too. Bit grubby. Maya Beach was heaving with people. Snorkelling at Monkey Beach was okay but overcrowded tour boat meant overcrowded ocean. Saw a lot of litter in the sea aswell as heaps of sea urchins. Booked through this website. Staff were good, food was good, but like I said, overcrowding ruined it. Would advise a long tail tour.

Phang Nga Bay (day trip)
From Phuket we did a day trip to Phang Nga Bay which included Suwankuha Temple (monkey cave), Sea Canoeing round Talu Island, James Bond Island and lunch at the muslim fishing village, Panyee. Monkey Cave was cool, lot's of different Buddha statues. Sea Canoeing was awesome as you get taken into caves by a guide. James Bond Island was busy (Nowhere near as busy as Maya Bay though) but if you are a JB fan like Jody is, you will love it. Panyee was interesting but personally felt a bit scummy going there as a tourist.

Koh Lanta
Nice little island that isn't too overdeveloped (yet). Clean beaches and reasonably priced restaurants and accommodation. There are enough bars if you like to party aswell as a half moon party (not as well known/crazy as the ones on Phi Phi/Phangan I believe). Had a great massage on Klong Khong Beach (two women have a space inside a bar, no price list outside). Can see Muay Thai fights here for cheaper than you can see them on Krabi. Lots of mosquitos.

Koh Rok (day trip)
Cute little island 45 minutes away from Lanta by speedboat (Can't recommend Opal Speedboat tours enough). White sandy beach that isn't too busy despite all the tours that go there. Option to camp overnight. The water was crystal clear and was like snorkelling in an aquarium. You will see lot's of fish you recognise from Finding Nemo.

Only ended up staying here for two nights and the weather wasn't great so we didn't really leave the hotel room. Would have like to have visited Railay but oh well.

Koh Tao
Glad we spent 5 nights here. Not too busy. Fairly clean with loads of options for accommodation and food. Bit more expensive than the mainland but it is an island paradise so go figure. Plenty to explore although we mainly stuck to the Sairee beach area. Lot's of mosquitos here too. We stayed at the Simple Life Cliff View Resort in a fan bungalow for £15 a night. Highly recommended.

Various companies offer a cheap snorkelling tour around the island which was pretty good. We got bad weather in the morning though so couldn't go to a couple of spots. Millions of diving schools if you want to go a little deeper.

Have you been to any of these places? Do you disagree with me on any?

* These are just my personal thoughts. I know people who LOVED Phi Phi and despised Chiang Mai. It all boils down to personal taste. I'm not a fan of big crowds nor am I a big drinker so obviously I preferred the quieter spots.


Monday, 18 January 2016

Don't worry, I'm still alive

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I wanted to change up the content on Alright Blondie but instead of doing that, I stopped blogging altogether.

It wasn't exactly intentional. I knew I wanted to start writing about other things but I wasn't feeling inspired or motivated to do anything related to it. I didn't want to spend hours at my laptop editing pictures and writing new articles that were half arsed so instead of churning out crap I just stopped for a few weeks.

Aswell as all that, I've also been having a shit load of fun so blogging kind of took a back seat. I've fallen in love with snorkelling, canoed through sea caves, got a badass tan, visited some unbelievably beautiful beaches, treated myself to two hour massages and Jody and I have been getting on amazingly well (Not that we didn't already but Thailand's been really good for us after spending 3 months in a Sydney hostel).

I have loads of photos and stories to share from Thailand aswell as a couple of other ideas for introducing new content. I want to change a couple of things like my header and menu bar but at the moment that's all been pushed to the side so I can enjoy my last few days in Thailand before moving on to the next spot.

So this post was just to say, I'm still here, I'm still alive. I'm having loads of fun in Thailand and I'm busy cooking up some new ideas to perk up Alright Blondie. I hope you will bear with me while I'm sort of on hiatus and in the meantime, there is plenty of old posts to be having a nosy at!

Sunday, 10 January 2016

The Elephant Nature Park.

A young elephant at ENP - please be warned there is a couple of sad stories in here.
I spent my day at ENP having my heart torn into pieces as our guide explained the elephant's stories. Elephants that had been abused, elephants with broken hips, elephants rescued from the tourism industry, elephants that had had their feet blown off by landmines.
The worst story was about one elephant who  had been pregnant and forced to work in the logging industry. She gave birth on the job and when she couldn't save her baby, she lay down and refused to work. The mahout started beating her and gouged one of her eyes out, leaving her blind.
Pretty shitty right?
Luckily, she was rescued by Lek, the founder of ENP. Lek and the mahouts devote themselves to their pachyderm friends and do everything in their power to help heal the elephants. As sad as it was to hear the elephant's stories, it was amazing to see just how far they had come in terms of trust and health.


Elephants are the national animal of Thailand and are supposedly highly regarded, but some aren't treated aswell as they should be.
On our way up to ENP we saw some elephants from another park. They had people in baskets on their backs and the mahouts were armed with bullhooks. Nice.
If you want to interact with elephants on your Thailand trip then please do some serious research.
Avoid places that offer riding, especially in baskets as elephants backs aren't made for it. To make elephants do this, they are taken away from their Mum's as babies and they have their spirits broken. I won't go in to too much detail but if you are interested then youtube it. Trust me, you won't be in any rush to hop on an elephant's back then.
Go somewhere where you interact with the elephants naturally. Where they can walk off if they lose interest. Where the mahouts show respect, love and care to the elephants. Where they don't offer rides.

 Seeing elephants was pretty amazing and to see them wandering around in a natural environment without people strapped to their backs was even better.
We paid £47 each to spend the day at ENP and that included pick up and a veggie lunch buffet. There are loads of different excursions available at ENP that include bathing the elephants, trekking with them or even volunteering with them. There are also a bazillion dogs and cats on site that have been rescued and just roam around waiting for some cuddles.
Check out the Elephant Nature Park site here.



Friday, 8 January 2016

Five random thoughts I've had about turning 24

A photo taken shortly after my 23rd birthday in Perth.
I turn 24 tomorrow. I'm in the South of Thailand now so I'm hoping my birthday will involve some beach time. And steak.
It's my second birthday away from home and birthdays just aren't the same without my Mum's balloon and cake delivery.
Surely at the age of 24 I should stop wearing t-shirts with Disney characters on and buying bags in the shape of animals?
I'm a grown up now. WHY AM I STILL GETTING SPOTS?!?!?!?!?
Is it bad that I'm looking forward to building up a cute and kitsch homeware collection when I eventually go home? Is this an age thing?
Thailand's cool but I'm sick of packing and un-packing. And everything being creased. And carrying my stupid, shitty backpack around. I'm definitely getting older.

Monday, 4 January 2016

A change in direction

Sunset over Wat Chiang Mun, Chiang Mai
Travelling is amazing. I've seen and done so many things I would never do in a million years. But I'm not going to write about it as much anymore.
As I mentioned in this post here I'm going to change things up here on Alright Blondie. When I first started blogging in 2014 I used to write silly posts like 18 signs you're getting older, 9 questions all 20 something girls dread and general posts on things I'd liked that week (films, make up, etc, etc). I carried on writing about these things when I got to Australia, but after a few months I decided to write about travel exclusively.
And in all honestly I'm a bit bored of it. 
Like I said, travelling has been great but I just don't feel like travel blogging is a direction I want to be heading in anymore. I like writing about daft things that make people laugh and give them something to smile about.

I want to write about things that I would want to read about. Long term relationships, good movie recommendations, food appreciation....You know what I mean?
That's not to say I'm going to stop writing about my travels altogether. I'm still having fun and I still want to share my pictures and thoughts on places (and it's a good way for my family to stay in the loop). I'm doing it on the cheap as well so if I can help someone who doesn't have a lot of cash have a great holiday then that's awesome.
Basically I'm just going to find a bit of balance to keep the creative juices flowing.
Over Christmas I had no interest in blogging really. I didn't want to write about what I'd been up to and had no ideas for future posts. That's when I decided I want to go back to the original format for Alright Blondie - travel, films, boyfriends, spending money...A bit of everything.
 Maybe I'm just a crappy writer/blogger and that's why I started to struggle with writing about my travels but I don't care. I enjoy rambling on and the fact that a few people read what I have to say. I'm just going to keep cracking on and see how it goes. Hopefully you guys will stick around :)
Hope everyone had a great New Year and that work isn't as horrendous as you think it's going to be!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

What it's like to travel with bright pink hair

This is my hair. It's bright pink at the moment but for how long I dunno. I like to mix it up. Back home people don't really care about my daft hair colour 'cos everyone has daft hair but here people seem pretty intrigued.
Shopkeepers/Street sellers have an easy way to engage in conversation.
In Kuta, it was a constant 'Nice Hair', 'Thank you!', 'Come in my shop, I have top that matches'. Jody is actually sick of my hair - In Australia, we were constantly called on by charity collectors, in Asia it's shop owners. The compliments are nice and that but I'm a poor backpacker so please leave me alone.
People actually stop what they are doing and stare.
I've actually had a few people on motorbikes pull over to look at my hair. Street vendors often stop serving food to have a nosey. As long as it's because of my hair and not 'cos I have something on my face that's cool.
People stop and make conversation purely based on my hair colour.
Whilst shopkeepers stop me in the hope of making a sale, some people stop me and use it as a genuine conversation starter. They then hear my accent and for some reason can't wait to talk to me about where I'm from and where I'm going. It's quite nice 'cos we get to speak to more locals this way and find out about more cool places to go.
Kids like me here.
Kids don't like me. Seriously. Dunno what it is, maybe they can smell/sense the fear? Anyway here kids smile at me and wave at me and talk to me. Maybe they think I'm some kind of real life cartoon character.
Have any of you travelled with brightly coloured hair? How do people react?


Friday, 1 January 2016

Hello 2016 - New Year's Eve in Chiang Mai

Lanterns in Chiang Mai
For the first time (in foreveeerrr) I really enjoyed my New Years Eve. Last year we had been in Australia for a few days and were finding it hard to adjust (the jetlag and the divs we lived with didn't help either). This time around we rang in the new year in Chiang Mai, Thailand, just the two of us, and spent the night feeling like we had wandered onto the set of Tangled.

NYE in Chiang Mai seemed very different to NYE in the UK. There were lot's of families enjoying the evening and not as many tits running around drunk (but maybe we were in the wrong part of the city?).

Due to my tendency for getting hangovers from hell, this was my first NYE sober in a long time and it was great waking up with a clear head. I was home for 12.30 and watched The Holiday - It was quite the civilised affair.
I'm not making any proper resolutions this year (mainly 'cos I'm shit at sticking to them) but I am going to make a conscious effort to be nice to everybody and enjoy the little things that life has to offer.
There's already some adventures in the pipeline for 2016 - More on that later - but they aren't going to be a year long this time.
When I get home I might try and stop drinking pepsi, eat more vegetables and join a gym but then again I might not.
I want to get a job that I enjoy so I'm not going to rush and take the first thing I'm offered. I'm going to temp for a while and see what happens.
I'm also going to keep plodding along with this little blog just because I like doing it. I think I'm gunna go back to writing about other things that interest me (not just travel) and see how it goes.
Ooh and I want some new tattoos and piercings - Priorities you know?
I hope everybody had a wonderful Christmas and a magical New Year and I wish you all the best for the year ahead. Much love xx