Thailand to England
07.15.2009 38 °C
the last time i wrote i was in Bangkok enjoying Songkran! which was a blast except, my phone and my ipod no longer have working lights in them because they got a little wet during the festival! but they still work so its ok. haha Anyway after the festival was over i left Bangkok via train. and boy was it a long train ride! 15 hours over night, in a third class sitting train! it was me and a few dozen Thai people! i was squished in with a nice Thai family who didn't speak a word of English but the grandpa of the family who had a few drinks because his wife did the pretending to drink a drink motion, was trying very hard to talk to me, and was getting frustrated when i couldn't understand but was super happy when i figured out what he was saying! haha i found it amazing that with the very few Thai words i picked up while i was there and the very few English words he could understand, i managed to tell him how i old i was and he told me how old he was, and i figured out he was asking me where i was going after Thailand and he understood when i told him Europe, then America , then home. but there was other stuff that i just couldn't understand. Also when traveling on a Thai train you'll notice the locals are pros at getting food from outside the train while staying in the train, they know what food is at each stop and when exactly the train is going to stop where. one lady who was i could only assume the daughter of the older man who was talking to me, i think saw the puzzled look on my face when the train stopped and everyone stuck their heads out the window and came back in with food. she bought me coconut ice cream! and they also offered me sticky rice and chicken! i think if you want to understand the Thai people and their culture the best way to do it is to take a 15 hour train ride with the locals. you see first hand how they interact with each other. there was a lady with a baby that didn't know the lady who got me the ice cream but when she sat down, the lady who bought me the ice cream fed the baby sticky rice and it was totally cool with the mum of the baby. I'm not how many places you would see that happen. they're just so close as people you would think they were all one big family! they go out of their way for each other, and even when they get in car accidents they don't yell at each other they laugh it off. I'm not even kidding i saw a taxi and a motorbike crash right into each other the guy on the motor bike was laughing as he limped over to talk to the taxi driver and the taxi driver was laughing as he pointed out the damage on his car!
the Songkran festival was amazing! the locals loved soaking not only each other but the tourists! and they start them off young, there were little kids just barely able to walk with little water guns, that's when i would get down at their level and let them shoot me, their faces would just light up and their parents would give you a grateful smile for making the kids day!
so when i finally arrived in Chiang Mai where the train was headed, i had only a few hours to find my guesthouse, shower and get a hold of the elephant place i was going to see that day. with the help of a few locals i found my guesthouse, but finding an Internet place that was open to get a hold of the elephant place was harder. i finally after 30 mins of walking around found a place open and it was actually cheap with a fast connection. i got a hold of the elephant place and went back to my guesthouse to get ready!
i had about a week to debate whether or not i would ride an elephant. i took a class in college called Eco tourism, where we touched on the idea green tourism, things like whale watching, trekking in forest. things that seem ok to do and wont really hurt nature and the earth but there are big debates on whether it should be done or not because in whale watching the boats get to close to whales and can kill them and people want to touch the whales. so we had this big debate on to touch or not to touch. at the time of the class i really didn't give it much thought to be honest. But then when i thought about riding an elephant, i started to look into it and you would be surprised at how many of these places are so cruel to the elephants. and its even more surprising that they would be like that in Thailand because in Thailand the elephant is worshiped by the Thai people, you see them everywhere in some shape or form. but yet they treat them so badly that they re endangered over here now. So after thinking about that and being reminded by a friend about the whole to touch or not to touch thing i opted out of the elephant riding, but i still wanted to see them and get up close and personal with them. i did some research online and found a place called the Elephant Nature Park. it was started by a lady, who wanted to help all the elephants that were being mistreated through logging, street begging, and tourist attractions. she doesn't discourage people from going to these places because she said they are her neighbours, and she wouldn't disrespect them like that. but she does ask people to look into places before going to them and see how the elephants are treated. This nature park has 34 elephants now all except the one that was actually born on the day i went were saved from a life of torture and pain. they have lots of land which they can roam on at any time except night, because there is a banana plant very close by and they would get in a lot of trouble if they were to steal the bananas from there haha.
The day starts out by a hour bus ride to the Park while watching a video on how the place got started, then we arrive at the Park and get introduced to the elephants followed by a feeding time, and bath time with the elephants where you actually get to go in the river with these wonderful creatures and scrub them down and throw water on them. then we had a huge Thai buffet lunch, which was amazing! then there was another feeding and bath time, we got to see the new elephant born that day but she was very protected by two bigger elephants that were with her. we had free time just to wonder around and take pictures of the elephants, and ask questions and learn more about the elephants. it was an amazing day that i will never forget and I'm so glad i chose not to ride the elephants but instead this great experience.
After the Elephant park i spent another day in Chiang Mai, just so i could actually get some sleep and not have to worry about getting up early for a bus or train. But the following day i did get up early to catch a bus to the Laos border. As you all know because of the tuk tuk accident i had to go back to Thailand, and because of that my visa got messed up and my flight was booked for after my visa expired and i couldn't change it so i had to do what they call a visa run, where i crossed the border for a day into the North part of Laos and stayed over night so when i went back to Thailand the next day i would get a new free 15 day visa that would allow me to stay longer in Thailand, without having to pay extra. Plus the baguettes in Laos are to die for! so on the day i was leaving i got three for the road! and they were yummy!
And the border i crossed at was actually a water crossing, so you take a boat across the river to get to Laos and back to Thailand, its much more enjoyable then a land crossing, although i was nervous standing up in the long tail boats with my backpack on when getting out because the boats are so skinny, when you step to one side the whole boat tips! but i managed not to fall into the water thankfully!
after a few more buses i finally arrived back in Bangkok! this time i stayed in the Backpacker area, lots of great cheap food and its just a fun atmosphere! i spent my last night in Bangkok wondering Koh San road, while drinking coconut shakes (which i miss very much!) and i love Kebabs now, you know the pitas stuffed with fresh meat craved off those spinning rotisseries, i believe its a Turkish kebab. so so yummy! and as much as hot stuff makes my eyes water i still eat it cause it tastes so good! i very much loved the Lamb ones.
Speaking of Lamb its one of the many things I've tried so far on my trip, i also had kangaroo, deer and duck! all which were very tasty! plus other random stuff in Thailand, that i don't know the names of because it got to the point where i stopped asking what stuff was and just tried it if it looked good! its pretty much the best way to do it in Thailand, unless you're a vegetarian, cause then you're pretty much screwed haha.
My flight left Bangkok for Mumbai around 1am on the 25th of April. i arrived fairly early cause i hate cutting stuff so close. so once i found out which counter i had to go to for my flight i went to get my boarding pass and the line was HUGE! and since i was going to India, i didn't really fit in, in the line. Even one of the airport staff asked me if i was in the right line! And the reason the line was so long was because every other person had a huge flat screen TV to check in... I'm not even kidding you! when i finally got closer to the front one of the members of the airline asked me if i had pants because i was wearing shorts at the time, and at first i was thrown of guard and i said "no, well in my bag i do." and he said oh ok. and i stood there for a second and was thinking maybe it has something to do with cause I'm flying to India and i have to cover up sorta of thing, and that made me a little angry and if that was the reason i wasn't going to be doing it, so i turned to the guy again and said "why do you want to know if i have pants?" and he said " cause my boss wants to upgrade you to business class free of charge but you have to be wearing pants cause its business class"
now whether this was true or not, a free upgrade to business class sounded good to me! so i told him to give me two minutes and i would go change! and i was happy i did! i love business class! haha so much space and food and drinks all the time! But i have to say I'm pretty sure i figured out the real reason they moved me to business class, when the only other white person on the plane happened to be sitting right next to me!
Things did get a little confusing at the Mumbai airport because i didn't have a visa so i had to be taken by a member of stuff to many different places until they figured out what to do with me. i had to go through security, to get into the departure lounge. where i slept for a few hours, until a different member of staff told me what was going on. and at this point i had already been in the airport for 6 hours and i was getting a little hungry but they only took rupees (Indian money) and the money exchange place wouldn't exchange money unless i had a Indian passport (don' ask me why, even the guy who worked in the airport was confused by this) so i asked the guy who got my boarding pass sorted out what i should do cause i was starving and i didn't want to spend 10 US dollars on a bag of chocolate. so he actually bought me a meal! i couldn't believe it, he was so nice, and actually apologized for all the hassle i had to go threw just to get a connecting flight! hours later i was finally on my way to London!
i was back in economy again, boo to that but luck would have it that my TV screen wasn't working so they moved me up to business class again! yay!! i swear i need to be rich so i can fly in business class all the time! haha
I'm staying in a town called Watford with a friend i met in Australia, while i was there. I've just been taking in the tourist sights for the last almost two weeks. I've been into London a few times, one of my favourite cities in the world! and i have to say I'm a pro on the tube (their underground) now. i even figured out how to get around when one of the lines wasn't running, just takes time and its the easiest way to travel in London! i went to the Warwick Castle, also visited the one and only University of Oxford. i also went to Hatfield House (Elizabeth I's original home) where i managed to break park of the garden yay me! haha but no worries i didn't get in any trouble.
i finally got to see London at night, the first time i was here we never ventured out at night, probably because we were only 18 at the time and nervous about it. London is even more spectacular at night all lit up! its too bad that its still a little chilly here or i would have stayed down there longer, but it was starting to feel like winter so i called it a night early but i did get some great photos.
i took the train up to Liverpool from London, while i was on the train i met an older lady and a guy around my age from Liverpool and they were telling me all about Liverpool what i should see what it's like. and Scott the guy offered to take me on a walking tour of the city and recommended i do the Magical Mystery Tour. Which is a Beatles tour and although i wouldnt call myself a fan of the Beatles i figured it would be worth while considering it is the home of the Beatles. and im so glad i did it because it was amazing! the guide knew so much and had lots of random information, and was funny. he was also in the most recent John Lennon movie put out by NBC playing John's best friend. Liverpool is another city that i just loved! People are actually really friendly there but of course like any city there are people you wouldnt want to talk to. i ended up staying for a week, my original plan was just to stay for three days but then i decided i would base myself there and take day trips to other places. One day i went to Blackpool, to the amusement park, Pleasure Beach, it was a cold day for rides, but i made sure i did everyone that was open! Another day i went to Chester City which is a nice little walled city, but it was a rainy day so there wasnt much to do!
The day before i left i went to Brimingham, to Cadbury World! it was excellent, it took over 3 hours to see everything! and i got a few free chocolate bars as well as chocolate in its liquid form with popcorn! yummy stuff!
Next up Ireland, France and Italy!
ps make love not war.