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I’ve worked abroad a few times. Just like most people who do it, I seek labour to help me fund the rest of my traveling – hostels, food, drink, transport, and everything else in between. It can add up to be a pretty big bill.

I’ve taught English, handed out flyers on the street and sold promotion packages. Soon (fingers crossed…) I’ll either be employed in a bar, or on a farm.

To work, officially, you need a work visa. But there are PLENTY of places who will overlook this small detail. In fact, of the three jobs abroad I have held up until now, only one required any proof that I was legally eligible to work. One. The others? They’ve decided to take the calculated risk, which of course means that you do too.

Thailand

My Thai working visa was organised through a company called CIEE – the people who also found my teaching placement. I paid them a fee (which I found to be very reasonable) which covered all the costs of my visa, plus a great deal more, and it took away the headache of going through all the paperwork myself. Not bad. Because CIEE handled my paperwork, I don’t know much about obtaining a working visa for Thailand. What I understand is that you must first have a non-immigrant visa on your passport. Then to obtain a work permit, it seems that you must have a job lined up with an employer who will in effect ‘sponsor’ you and provide a contract with your job description and the dates that you will be employed.

In Thailand, my English teaching job was very official. I filled in any number of forms, got a fancy stamp in my passport, got a whole new booklet (my work permit) that looked a lot like another passport and signed a document every month when I received my salary.

We never came across any real problems, and I received my salary in cash which made things a lot simpler. The only hiccup was that my original contract ended on the last day of school. Of course it would; why not, right? The problem? Once my contract was over, I was no loner authorised to stay in the country and would have to either leave, or at least do a quick hop over the border to get a new entry visa as a tourist. The issue: it would mean missing the last week of school to get to the border and back. Luckily, we were able to have our contracts extended as long as the other teachers and I promised not to demand a salary for the extra month which, in theory, we could probably have done.

After teaching, and a couple of months of traveling through Laos and Cambodia, I was back in Thailand and looking for ways to save my dwindling pile of money. Now, of course, I had no valid work permit and nor did my traveling friend. So what did we do? We landed on Koh Phi Phi and quickly became one of the many travelers you see there handing out flyers for the various bars, advertising free buckets (of alcohol), free barbeques, Thai boxing, and any number of incentives to drive traffic. We were paid in cash at the end of each night, no questions asked. The problem is, the island had a slight run-in with the law and, as a result, the police (usually bribed to look the other way) took our photos and shut the bars down early. Luckily that was the worst that happened. I still got paid.

In theory, you are taking the risk of getting in trouble if you do this. But in my own experience and from what I’ve seen, the benefit outweighs the risk. It’s more often the company (i.e. the bar that hired me) that deal with the problems. The police know that you’re going to be gone soon anyway. Spending time getting you in trouble is rarely worthwhile for them.

Australia

Now I’m spending time in Australia, and again looking for ways to support myself and enable my traveling.

Before I arrived here, I obtained a Working Holiday Visa which was incredibly easy. Australia does all of their visas online, which means no need to send your passport anywhere. All I did was apply online, make a quick appointment at the doctors for a chest x-ray, and presto – a visa confirmation in my Gmail inbox. Simple as that.

Unlike the Thai visa, I didn’t have to have a job lined up for me. The Working Holiday Visa allows you to seek any kind of work after you have entered the country for up to six months at a time. Much easier.

When I first came here back in May, I stopped in Byron Bay for about a week. While I didn’t work there, I became good friends with quite a few people who did. Everyone I met worked in the hostel where I had a bed – Aquarius Backpackers. I don’t think that their work required a Working Holiday Visa, although most of them had one and often held a second job in bars and offices in the town. I would strongly recommend looking for hostel work to anyone traveling around Oz. It doesn’t require much work (at Aquarius, it was two hours a day) and your pay is in the form of free accommodation. It’s perfect if you’re running low on money and looking for ways to ease the pain. With free accommodation, you’re saving anywhere from $20 – $40/night. That’s pretty good if you ask me!

For the last month in Sydney I worked for Redhot PR, selling promotional packages for Sydney’s top hair salons on the street, in shopping centres, on the beach. Just about anywhere. The pros: they also promote bars and big events, which meant free club entry, and free tickets to things like the Space Ibiza party I went to on New Years Day. They also sent me to Melbourne for a week to work, paying for my flight and accommodation. Plus, every Friday they provided drinks and a small party in the office before we headed out for the night. They certainly piled on the added bonuses.

The cons: technically we were not allowed to sell inside shopping centres, the airport, or anywhere else, which meant spending the day dodging security guards and occasionally getting kicked out. There was no hourly wage, which meant all of my income was commission based. This could be seen as a good thing, as it meant your potential salary is completely unlimited. The difficulty is, if you’re having a rough day, you’re not on your game – you come home with nothing. A lot of people are fantastic at this job. Myself – I had a great start, but I quickly got worn down and eventually it became impossible for me to stay. You’ll find, in Sydney at least, that there are a LOT of jobs like this. My advice – give it a go, and try to stick it out for one week. If, by then, you don’t see the potential, at least you tried, but a week should be enough time for you to see whether you have what it takes.

Next on my list is either bar work or farm work, so we’ll see how it goes!

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I’ve had some issues with Internet connectivity lately so here goes the very delayed last entry to my traveling blog. Since I left Australia I was back in London for two weeks, doing some work for a quick bank account boost, and I’m currently in the States visiting friends and family for a few weeks.

Here it goes:
So after leaving Sydney I headed up to Byron Bay with the Wills. We got off the bus after what ended up being a pretty sleepless night for me and arrived to several backpacker staff with their vans trying to draw us to their hostels. It worked; Will, Will and I were too tired to do any deciding ourselves, so we followed a blond Canadian named Eric to his van and he took us to Aquarius hostel.
We checked in to the nicest dorm I’ve ever stayed in and picked beds on the top floor of our duplex style room where we met Katie, another Canadian who had also just arrived.
Our first day in Byron was spent watching the rain POUR down like I’ve never seen before. We realized that this may go on, so we found out about bus trips to a place called Nimbin – a hippie town that hasn’t moved on since about 1968. We took a very psychedelic bus tour to the town listening to Pink Floyd, The Doors and other ‘free love’ bands to arrive in a multi-coloured tie-dye town. Walking down the main street was an exercise in turning down one offer after another for weed, brownies, more weed, cookies…you get the idea. I took a tour of the Nimbin Museum whose design concept was something along the lines of ‘here’s some stuff I found on the street/at the flea market/in my cellar.’ There was stuff EVERYWHERE, and none of it seemed to make any sort of sense. Hippie heaven. At the end, before exiting, we met a 50-something year old woman rushing off yelling “just wait 15 minutes guys, I’ll be back with the cookies soon, I just have to pick them up from my house.” This wasn’t just a nice lady who baked things for visitors. She made her money making tourists feel like they were on a Grateful Dead tour, or a character in Ken Kesey’s acid charged life. On the way home our bus driver pointed out all the ‘beautiful shades of green’ in the countryside and took us through the mud back to our Byron home. Where it was still raining.
Unfortunately the rain continued so after meeting the backpacker staff and we spent our nights exploring Byron Bay nightlife with them and spending most of our days watching the rain come down with two days of sun that we spent on the beach and walking to the lighthouse – the Easternmost point of mainland Australia.
After a few days I decided I needed to make a move up north if I wanted to see more of the country. One problem. All that rain? Causes problems. Like flooding. In both directions.
Nobody, myself included, could get in or (more importantly) OUT of Byron for a few days.
I embraced my fate and paid at the reception for more nights at Aquarius. At least I could hang out here with people I liked, and I got free dinner every night, even if it was the same stuff over and over again… free is free. Plus we entertained ourselves with pub quiz nights and poker tournaments.
For all the less-than-ideal weather, I had an amazing time in Byron Bay thanks to the Wills, Katie and the Aquarius staff. After deciding that it was time for me to leave I realized that my time was now quite short, so instead of heading up north I headed back to Sydney and the twins. Since the highway was still flooded I took a flight from the small airport inland that was still accessible down to Sydney airport where Joh met me to take me back to another few days of home comforts. Mike and Lisa were still around so I spent my last few days seeing them, taking a day trip to the Blue Mountains, and going to the Sydney Aquarium where I saw a platypus! They’d been hiding when we went to the Sydney Zoo in my first week, so I was glad to check off that last Australian animal from my list after kangaroo, wallaby and koala among others.
I also cooked a meal for Nad, Sal, Joh and Lisa that went down well, I think?
I loved Australia, a sentiment perhaps not expressed well enough in this shortened version of my time there, but I have decided to save up as quickly as possible for a return trip on a one year work-holiday visa.
So that’s it! I took a flight from Sydney back to Bangkok where I spent a day doing some last minute shopping and sharing my stories with new travelers experiencing their first nights abroad on Koh San Road. Then it was back to the airport to travel back to London and home.
Seven and a half months later, a term of teaching and an amazing backpacker experience through Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and finally Australia and I’m back where I started. Back in the Foster home in Crouch End, London. Dreaming of my next adventure.
I’ve had a great time writing this blog and plan on setting up a more permanent URL to continue life as a blogger, so watch this space for a final update and a name URL address.
Thanks for reading, commenting, and sending me all those great letters and packages. I write for you. 🙂
“The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page.” – St Augustine.

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I have survived another ten nights on Koh Pha Ngan. Somehow.

Claudia and I took a bus and an evening ferry over to the island where we met two other English girls, Claire and Laura, on their way to Koh Tao via Koh Pha Ngan for one night.

Since the full moon was on the same night as last month, Claudia and I assumed that the half moon party – basically the same as full moon except in the jungle.. would also be the same day, giving us one night to rest before starting the party. However once we got to the island we quickly found out that in fact the half moon party was that night, so there would be no rest for us. Skipping the half moon party was not an option since we had yet to make it to one.

So we booked into the same place we stayed last month – Rin Beach Resort and got a cheaper deal since we’re getting further into low season now which was a nice surprise. After some dinner at the Lucky Crab where Claudia and I shared our favourite green curry we headed back to our balconies via the liquor store where we bought ingredients for our own buckets.

The only way to drink alcohol on Koh Pha Ngan is in bucket form. It’s a rare sight to see a glass of gin & tonic, because why get a glass when you can get a whole bucket for about 4 pounds?! A bucket consists of one of those half size bottles of the alcohol of your choice (ours was vodka) and then whatever mixers you like (our choice was M-150 or Red Bull and a bottle of Sprite). If you’re drinking these buckets on your own and you have a normal capacity for alcohol you can very easily get through two or three of these, or four or five if you’re a man perhaps. If you’re sharing, you can start to lose count, or if you’re Claudia and you have an amazing capacity for vodka and M-150 you can go through six all by yourself. Claudia’s a real trooper.

After sharing a bucket between the three of us we hopped on the back of some taxi motorbikes and headed off to the jungle where we came across a party almost exclusively lit by UV lights going strong. I’m not sure how long we lasted, but long enough anyway before we realized it was time for us to get home. On the way out I ran into Chris – the bartender of Outback bar who I met last month when I was here and whose job I considered taking at one point. The drive to and from half moon is pretty hair raising – Koh Pha Ngan hills are not something to be taken lightly, so I sat in the taxi and held on to Chris while he held on to the back bars, and Claudia found room on the roof since the inside was full. I have no idea how she survived, but I’m so glad she did.

After that night you’d think we’d have a night or two off, but the thing about Koh Pha Ngan is that it possesses this weird kind of energy that somehow makes going out every single night surprisingly easy. We often described it to people as this Bermuda Triangle, or Twilight Zone, where every night was a Friday night, and everyday was a Saturday spent recovering from the night before and getting ready for that nights festivities.

We spent most of our days in Lazyhouse watching films, or occasionally in Utopia watching Friends which they play all day long. Lazyhouse and Utopia are owned by the same guy who has great taste in good British food, so despite how expensive it was I had some delicious home comforts including a Sunday roast the day after full moon. It even had a Yorkshire pudding. Amazing.

Then each evening we headed down to Cactus Bar where Woody the Scot worked. We met Woody last month as well and since we quickly became his regulars again we got a nice discount on our vodka & Red Bull buckets. What a nice guy.

One day just to mix it up, Claudia and I rented a motorbike and drove to the other side of the island, up the coast and cutting across the middle over a mountain to visit Sara and Caroline. Sara is Claudia’s friend from school and both of them joined us down at Rin Beach for the last few days around full moon. The ride was pretty terrifying but I’m pretty proud of myself for making it and for not completely having a break down since the paved hills average a 20% incline and the unpaved roads have huge ravines in them caused by the water running down. But we made it there and back, then headed straight to Woody’s for a drink.

The good thing about being friends with the bartender (other than the cheap drinks) was that we could sit at the bar facing the beach for hours without being bothered and we got to watch all the Cactus fireboys do their thing each night. The Cactus fireboys are all young Thai guys who make a living by playing with fire, and doing it very well. After they started recognizing us they tried to get us involved and I once had to hold a stick of fire while another guy blew alcohol/kerosene at it to create an enormous fireball. I gave it back after one blow because I value my eyebrows and my unscarred skin.

A few days before full moon we were also joined by Will and Will, two English boys that Claudia had met in Chang Mai while I was in Koh Phi Phi with Emily. They were two guys traveling on their gap year before uni and were a great addition to the group. We also reunited with Bella and Lucy who we last saw on Koh Lanta, along with Lucy’s sister and friend who were over on holiday.

By the time full moon finally rolled around we had a pretty big group, with a few additional characters that we met on the island along with a few more faces from the past, mostly from Koh Phi Phi.

The actual night was a great time as expected. My favourite part might have been when me and some of the girls climbed up to Drop In bar’s balcony and entertained outselves by throwing ice cubes at unsuspecting people below. I know, I know, immature, but don’t pretend that you’re not laughing too.

The next day we had our Sunday roast at Lazyhouse and I went around to Woody, Chris. Ay (the bartender at Reggae bar who I talked to about being a teacher) and the Thai guy who ran the art gallery (I still feel bad for forgetting his name since he remembered my name after I’d been gone for a month…terrible) to say my goodbyes.

It was pretty difficult to leave this time, and I actually made one of the Wills walk back down to the beach with me to see it one more time because I couldn’t get to bed at about 1am. This was my last big party in Thailand and I don’t know when I’ll be back.

I’ve been in SE Asia for almost exactly seven months now, six of which have been in Thailand and while I don’t want to stay here forever, it still feels strange to leave and go back to a world I feel like I haven’t lived in for so long.

But the big unexpected surprise is that about four hours after I’ve written this blog I’ll be getting on a plane to….Sydney!!!

I’m a pretty lucky girl and I have some amazing people for godparents who have made it possible for me to go to Oz for about three weeks! It’s not a huge amount of time and I won’t get to see everything, but it’ll be an amazing chance to see a new country and a place I’ve always wanted to go. I’ll be arriving in Sydney on Wednesday morning and have no plans from there except to hopefully meet up with Will and Will again, plus Lisa, who you may remember from my teaching days. Lisa now works as an au pair in Sydney and is going to be a tourist with me this coming weekend. Thanks to all the people I’ve met traveling and to the connections I have through friends and family, I actually know quite a few people in Oz and I can’t wait to see some of them while seeing as much of the country as I can.

So there it is! My final post about Thailand. For now. 🙂

Next time I write here I’ll be in the Southern hemisphere for the first time, and will have landed on my fifth continent!

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So I successfully completed three nights of being a promotions girl for Reggae bar. While it was nice to get the small income (can’t complain when you’re getting free alcohol all night plus 300Baht and you’re only paying 200Baht for your bed…) I really enjoyed the chance to get to meet so many different people. Holding a pack of flyers in your hand is a great excuse to talk to complete strangers. The Tiger Bar and Reggae Bar promoters were a great group of people, almost exclusively Brits interestingly enough, and we definitely knew how to have fun. I got to watch the sunrise after my first night of work and then sit on the curbside commiserating with other over tired staff the next day. Then I got to see what influence the Thai mafia/police (same thing…) have around here on my second night, then on my last night I was reminded that my job was actually illegal. Technically.

On most/all of the Thai islands, the place is controlled by the Thai mafia. The only reason bars, especially on the beach, party until the sun comes up is because they pay off the police enough to keep them from shutting down the music. Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t go to plan. Someone doesn’t get their money, or someone elses causes a problem and people get angry. A few days before my first day of work a stabbing occurred at one of the beach bars. The story differs, some people say the guy survived, some insist he’s dead, some say it was a fight between two white guys, others say a Thai bar staff member was involved. Either way, the police were not happy about it. After a few days of uncooperation, the police decided they were going to starve out the information that they apparently think is being kept by some barstaff. So on my second night, all the bars on the island got the call that they had to shut down at 1am or there woul be trouble. Most Thai people don’t like trouble, in fact they really go out of their way to avoid it, so by 1am the island went dark despite the many many angry football fans who were waiting to watch the semi final game at 1:30am. It was a nil-nil game anyway; at least they didn’t have to miss any epic history making match. After walking to the beach just to briefly observe the shocked tourists standing around still trying to order alcohol, I headed home for a proper nights sleep.

Our third night out, the same call went out – 1am shut down. We started work at 7pm – an hour earlier than usual, however Claudia and I showed up at 7:20, unaware of the time change, grabbed our flyers then ran off to sit down for dinner… Very good work ethic, I know. After a yummy green curry we set out to actually start promoting, only to be quickly shut down. A strange looking Thai man had come around taking photos of the white promotion staff, then shortly after that our manager came around taking away our flyers and saying “Immigration police, go go go, come back in one hour.” So we walked off around the corner, found the Tiger Bar staff and joined them at their bar to wait it out and share travel stories.
After our hour waiting period I wandered back to find the immigration police had decided that Reggae Bar wasn’t such a bad place and they would in fact be spending the whole night there. Hmm.. I walked up to the bar, was very generously still given my full wages, then told to hang around outside the bar and discreetly ‘promote’ Reggae Bar without the flyers for awhile. That didnt have to last very long since a curfew was already set. This time it seems the cops relented and allowed one of the beach bars to keep their big screens running without sound so as not to upset the football hooligans two nights in a row. After watching what seemed like the longest game ever with some fellow staff at the beach, I made it home in time to sleep for about three hours before an early wake up and a boat ride to the mainland.

Claudia and I made the ferry, then got into a minivan to drive down to Hat Yai where we hired a private taxi to drive us down aross the Malaysian border and back again. Got to love those visa runs. So now we have one night in Hat Yai before heading to Koh Pha Ngan once again for full moon number three. Hey why not, right?

Then, my very big news is that I may be headed Down Under after all! Will keep you updated…

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The group split up again temporarily and Emily and I headed down to Koh Phi Phi while Claudia stayed behind to meet up one more time with our old travel buddy Calvin before he headed back to Canada and the real world again.

We spent four lovely nights on one of the nicest islands I’ve seen. Our guesthouse was situated on a beautiful beach in a protected bay with white sand and blue waters. Not bad.

The tides in the bay are amazing; I suppose because the level of the sand is so even the tides appear absolutely enormous. Around midday there is often only a few feet of beach, but by the middle of the night you can walk out almost 100 feet before you hit any water at all.

We spent most of the time being beach bums during the day and checking out the bars at night. We managed to run into Bella, a friend of Emily and Claudia’s from home and her friend Lucy who were traveling around the world and celebrating Bella’s 23rd birthday on the island which was a great reason to celebrate!

On our last day there the four of us went on a boat trip to explore the other beaches and the second island of Koh Phi Phi which has, among it’s features, the beach used in the movie “The Beach.” We headed out and although the tide was pretty strong, Lucy and I were determined to go check out the famous beach. It was a pretty tiring swim from the boat and then a rather dangerous climb up and over some rocks on a very wobbly bamboo ladder, but we made it nonetheless. It would probably have been the most beautiful beach I’d ever seen if it weren’t for the hundred other people there thinking the same thing. The sand was soft and pure white and the water amazingly clear.

After that and some more snorkeling stops we hit Monkey Bay, a secluded beach inhabited by..monkeys! How did you know?? The four of us were the first ones to get on our kayaks and land on the beach. As we started to walk towards these monkeys I picked up a little plastic toy mobile phone thinking ‘oh cute, the monkey’s have toys.’ Then these ‘cute’ monkeys starting approaching us…at a full on sprint…and growling… I RAN back into the water which turned out to be a good choice since they can’t swim and therefore couldn’t get near us. Unfortunately Emily ran the other way and so after I chucked the plastic phone at them to get them away from Bella and myself they turned on poor Emily and one of them managed to sink it’s teeth into her knee before she could hit them away and run to safety. A little traumatic. She is now safe and sound back in England and halfway through a course of Rabies injections. Thanks Thailand. I skipped over this in my last post, but while we were in Pai, Emily also got her hand almost eaten off by a baby elephant. Thai animals and Emily Foot – maybe not such a good idea apparently.

After that we reunited with Claudia who had one night out with me in Phi Phi before we headed to Koh Lanta for some serious peace and quiet. Lanta is a beautiful island but thanks to low season it is really really quiet. Almost eerily so. I enjoyed my time with the girls but this place wasn’t for me. After three nights Claudia and I are now back in Koh Phi Phi! Our bank accounts are feeling very pressured, so to give them a little rest we have become one of those annoying people who stop you in the street with a flyer and try to get you to come to their bar. Yup. I’m a bar flyer girl. Hey it pays and covers my accomodation and most of my food/extra costs each day while we do it, so it doesn’t hurt. Last night was our first night and I actually enjoyed meeting all the other travellers like us who needed a bit of extra cash and an excuse to stay on this island just a bit longer.

After this our trip may be coming to an end sooner than I would like. Money being the main driving factor of course. I was thinking about the idea of going home today, and while it seems strange, I think I am getting close to achieving what I wanted out of this experience. There’s still a small hope that Claudia and I will make it to Vietnam, but barring that happening, it looks like a couple of weeks to make some last memories on the islands before a flight back to London town. Hopefully I will then be making it Stateside to see mum and dad and my other American loves for a few weeks before getting back to London to try and ride out this recession!

Meanwhile, back to the beach for a few hours before it’s time to hand out those flyers!

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So after my tour of Laos and Cambodia I headed back into the familiar Land of Smiles. It was nice to be in a country where I didn’t have to learn the language or customs as they were already old familiars to me.

The group split up a little due to various forms of travel. Matt and I took a very long bus from Sihanoukville to Bangkok. Actually I think it ended up being three buses? Four? Five? I lost count. But eventually we got to Khao San Road where we met up with Claudia and Calvin who had flown in from Phnom Penh.
There we also found Emily, Claudia’s friend from home who came to join us for a few weeks and we had one night in the big city before we said a tearful goodbye to the boys and the girls headed to Koh Pha Ngan for a week to join the infamous Full Moon Party. This is the same party I went to for my New Years Eve, so my time on Koh Pha Ngan was “same same, but different” (don’t ask, it’s a Thai phrase, I don’t know why they say it, but there you have it).

Our group became pretty huge after we met up with my friends from London, George, Sophie and Claudia, on top of meeting up with a couple – Graeme and Donna who we had briefly seen in Luang Prabang, and the five people they had also befriended on the island. On top of this Juliet had two friends from home meeting her, one of them brought a boyfriend and another friend in tow, AND Juliet’s friend from Chang Rai plus a friend joined us too so it was quite the crowd.

We spent a week in Koh Pha Ngan and it was pretty interesting watching the island go from relatively quiet to completely overrun by the time the full moon hit. Unlike New Years, this time we all managed to stay on the beach until the sun had risen which was quite a sight to see, although not all of us remember it…

I enjoyed beign on the island for longer and getting to know some people. I befriended a group of Thai guys who work at an art gallery there and who welcomed me into their studio to hang out, listen to guitar and have a few drinks each night when I was walking home from whatever bar we had been in. Koh Pha Ngan is a strange island and I’m not sure I could stay there for too long, but I’m happy I got to know it a bit better this time.

The next day was reserved for being as lazy as possible before Emily, Claudia and I said goodbye and made our way up to Chang Mai for Songkran from April 13th – 15th. Songkran is the Thai New Year celebration; it’s also celebrated in Cambodia and Laos I believe. It was essentially a three day long water fight on the streets. We reunited with Calvin who had been doing some volunteering work in the hilltribes outside of Chang Rai, and every day we went down to the streets armed with our super soakers ready for action. We parked ourselves near a backpacker corner of the city where the bars blasted music and people slowly drove down the streets in pick up trucks with enormous barrels of ICE water on the backs to soak unsuspecting pedestrians. The most fun was probably watching the Thai ladyboys strutting down the streets in their heels, hands in the air, getting drenched and loving it.

After three days of this we were exhausted. Emily, Claudia and I went to Pai, a village I visited in December (click here for the post) . My one day there was spent on rented motorbikes exploring around the various natural hotsprings and waterfalls. The village was significantly quieter than it had been in December, most likely because it was not a holiday weekend and it is summer now and Pai is a big tourist spot for Southern Thais to come in the winter so that they can feel the cold…I know, it’s strange, we don’t get it, but feeling cold is a novelty here. But it still had the feeling of a sleepy hippie town. After that I unfortunately had to leave to go to Myanmar…

The fun thing about visas is that they expire… A very long bus ride and a quick walk across the boarder and back again and I had a brand new visa, plus a new fun stamp on my passport, so everyone wins, especially the Burmese who are 500 Baht richer for every person like me. Rip off if you ask me….

After meeting the girls back in Chang Mai we headed down south for some more beachy goodness!

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I’ve talked a lot about where I’ve been going over the last few weeks but not that much about the people I’ve been sharing the experience with.
This is where I get all emotional about how great friends are…stop if you’ve heard this before, bottom line is – the friends I’ve had with me here are the bomb.
The places I’ve seen have been amazing but this experience would not have been nearly as fun if it weren’t for the people I’ve been with.
Juliet – one of the first people I met when I arrived in Thailand so many months ago now who will always keep me entertained with her drama from getting her passport lost by the Laos immigration office to swimming half drunk down the Mekong river with a broken hand… 🙂
Calvin – The youngest of our ‘family’ yet still the ‘dad’ somehow, whose feet haven’t touched a pair of shoes in months. (By the way Calvin you’re rubbing off on me, I’ve been barefoot since arriving in Koh Phangan)
Matt – I don’t think he knows why he stuck with us for six weeks, but we’re so happy he did, even if he did get a bit grumpy sometimes. 😉
Claudia – In Claudia I’ve managed to find someone with almsot the exact same ideas as me about what traveling should be like. Thanks to her I’ve got someone to go see Vietnam with and to hopefully get a job with!
Zoe – She wasn’t with us for nearly as long as I would have liked but my time in Van Vieng wouldn’t have been the same without her, as well as the rest of Laos of course!
Chris – I think he was healthy for about two days of the five weeks I knew him… Moral of the story, M-150 is dangerous stuff….
Patrick – The ‘talented bastard’ whose guitar skills have kept me entertained many a night..
Sophie, Claudia and George – My lovely London friends who I have joined in the islands for a week or so who remind me of what I miss from home.
These are the people who are in all my photos that I will one day manage to post, and they are the people who have made this the best trip of my life. Can you taste the cheese yet?! Whatever, deal with it.

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