Posts Tagged With: beachtravellers

10 Things I Learned While Travelling the World

I’ve been back in Canada for a little less than a month now and have had some time to decompress and to think about my trip.  At first, I thought I hadn’t really changed at all during my travels, but it actually has in a million tiny ways.  I’d like to share that with you now:

10. The Journey is the Thing

My trip had no specific goal, other than to relax, enjoy and experience the world that was far away from home.  This turned out to a great way to travel and, for me, to not focus on the result, but to really take the journey for what it was – an adventure into the unknown.

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9. We are all the Same

I included this in my last list, but I want to say it again.  I love people, and the truest realization I had again while I was overseas is that we are all, at our most basic level, very similar.  We just want to be happy; to have enough food to eat, a roof over our heads, some people who love us and a purpose in life that brings us joy.  I saw all kinds of people living in many different ways as I worked though six countries, but they all have this in common. We are all part of one big human family, and it doesn’t matter where you are from or what you are doing with your life, some things are the same within all of us.

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8. Travel is as Easy and as Hard as you Want it To Be

PATIENCE.  This one virtue has eluded me my whole life, and nothing cures the need for control than a less than smooth travel experience.  I learned about the essence of the journey in my search for patience as I met setbacks and mishaps along the road.   I learned how to be more adaptable, to let things slide, and to only care about the most important things along the way.

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7. Roll with the Waves

This one is a good follow-up to #8.  When I rolled with the upsets along the way, the journey got even more interesting: I saw some things I would otherwise have missed, or had a completely new experiences I wasn’t expecting to have.  By saying “Yes!” I got into more trouble, saw more unexpected things, and had more impromptu adventures than if I had stuck to a strict schedule and followed it the whole way along.

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6. Pay Attention

I learned that there is beauty in the details.  That every city is an intricate mess that somehow works in its own unique way.  That the road less traveled sometimes results in a washed out car or monkeys attacking your windshield.  To stop and save the kittens, get lost on a bike and get found again, and that fun can be found in every airport, bus station, or boat ride.  By paying true attention to my surroundings, I was also able to glimpse into the local life of the people, and have real experiences from the country I was visiting.  That, to me, is priceless.

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5. Embrace the Inner Hippie

I’m normally a goal-oriented, round the clock, by the book kind of person.  To escape that mentality for a while and embrace my inner beach bum was an enlightening experience.  I had whole days with no plans and nothing to do, vague ideas of where the day would take me, and days where I just went with the flow.  That rarely happens in my “real” life in Canada, and it was refreshing to break out of the bubble of who I think I am and step into the sandals of my inner Hippie Goddess.  She is someone I want to know better, and a side of me that I won’t soon forget now that we’ve been re-aquainted!

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4. Trust the Kindness of Strangers

In my travels I stayed with family friends, friends of friends, new friends and people I didn’t even know at all. I was welcomed into countless homes with open arms, to people eager to share in my travel journey and get to know me.  I feel SO blessed to now have friends from all over the world, and want to thank each and every one of you for your hospitality and help in exploring all these new places 🙂 If you ever travel, and someone recommends that you stay with a friend or you have family/friends to stay with overseas, DO IT! It will completely change your perspective on the country you are visiting, because you get to see it through the eyes of a local.  A thousand thank-you’s again to all those who put me up while I was abroad!  You are welcome to return the favour here in Canada anytime!

3. Comfort Zones are Boring

I did something new and crazy in every country I went to: Surfing in Indonesia, Parasailing in Philippines, and even Skydiving in New Zealand.  Get out of your comfort zone and try some new and crazy stuff.  It will enrich your travel experience and add a whole new level of fun.  Besides, that’s what travel is for: new experiences and adventures! It doesn’t matter how scared you are – do something wild and crazy!  eat that cricket off a Bangkok bug cart!  Take the jet boat ride through the canyon!  Throw yourself out of a plane! These things are the highlights of my travels as I look back on them now, the times I challenged myself and really went for it.

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2. Theres No Place like Home

Canada is an amazing country. I learned this while I was abroad through other travellers stories about my home country, that it is a well-loved place in the world and worth exploring in its own right.  Talking about it with others made me realize how much I love being a Canadian and how lucky I am to call this place my home.  I never really appreciated it until I left for a long time and realized what a phenomenal place it is.

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1. I am SO lucky

The fact that I was able to pull off this trip still boggles my mind.  There was so much planning involved – a years worth of time and effort went into it, and now that I’m back I can see what a privileged position I hold as a citizen of Canada.  I have enough food to eat, a roof over my head, and friends and family who love and care about me.  The rest is just gravy!  Upon returning I went to my bathroom and turned on the tap, thinking back to all the times I didn’t have access to fresh water on my travels. Something as simple as turning on the tap can take on new meaning after travelling: it represents all that we take for granted, being from a first world country were every comfort is provided for.  I feel that, now, I am able to name how lucky I truly am.

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Well. That’s it!  I’m sure I will update this blog again in the future as life takes me on more travels, but for now I am happy to have landed back in Canada, ready to take on the world 🙂

xo

D

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Categories: Australia, Cambodia, In the Air, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Phillipines, Singapore, Thailand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Near-Perfect Day in Paradise

Today was as near a perfect day as I could have imagined, a great start to our adventures with perfect weather and excellent friends.  After a great facetime chat with the fam, Chelsea and I hit the shops for a little ‘lucky” shopping in the morning.  Balinese people will give you great deals in the morning b/c they believe its good luck to make sales in the morning and will bring good business all day.  Then we met up with Cassidy and Nicole again to beach it up and get accosted by Balinese ladies who wanted to massage, pedicure, wax, and hassle the eff out of us.  I really like Kuta but it’s very touristy and crowded, people yelling at you from all over to come into their stores, get a massage, take a taxi – its hard to feel relaxed when someone is literally grabbing you and telling you to come into their store. Yargh.  We had a quick lunch and then carried on hassle-free poolside on the rooftop pool of our friends hotel. it was so perfect.  We even found time to do a little crossfit action, courtesy of Ravi, my new friend and all around cool BT guide.

After a quick hotel stop we went back out with our friends for a farewell dinner and had incredible Indonesian food.  The BT guides were so amazing to us, they helped us arrange our travel and figure out what to see and do while we’re here.  They have already made our Bali experience so memorable and fun, its been a pleasure to see old friends and get to know new ones.
What does tomorrow bring? Well, we journey off the beaten path and onwards to Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands!! we leave by speedboat tomorrow for some tiny islands and some more fun in the sun!
xoxo
D
Categories: Indonesia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bali, Beachtravellers Style!

  What an amazing two days its been here! I feel like I’ve been here way longer than two days.  Our first day here started with an exploratory walk around our area, trying to get our bearings and get used to Kuta. After another delicious Starbucks (sorryyyyy we are easing into the whole Indo thing, at least we didn’t have Wendy’s!)  there was a very interesting tourist trap experience on Kuta beach.  We were given these punch cards by some friendly guys and after we opened them we were told we WON!! MONEY!! All we had to do to collect it was go check out a hotel and get a tour.  Ok. It sounded fishy but hey the hotel was in the nice southern area of Nusa Dua and we had just gotten there, so the free taxi ride sounded appealing and we wanted to look around Bali.  Then, when we got there after a shortish drive, we checked out the hotel and were told unfortunately there was no one to show us around just then.  So a 15 minute ride, 10 minute look around the hotel and crappy discount voucher “prize” was the worst that happened. Woo! Free taxi rides!!

Our next stop was to meet up with some girlfriends who had been with us on our Beachtravellers Thailand trip and had just finished the BT Bali tour and we were eager to hear how their trip was. We had lunch and caught up and saw their hostel, and awesomely enough, some more guides and friends who we knew from Thailand last year!! BT reunion!!  We all went to 66 beach in Seminyak together, and I did what I loved best – got on the back of a friends scooter and scooted through Kuta! It made me a happy girl, and I was even happier when I saw the beautiful beach with beanbag chairs and colorful umbrellas scattered around. We settled in for some good beers, pizza and catchup chats, and I got to know some more cool BT people, the Bali guide crew who are obv just as phenomenal as their Thailand counterparts.
We ate sate’s at a tiny Indonesian restaurant and partied the night away in Kuta. I finally got to try the fabled Extra Joss, an Indonesian powdered energy drink that foams up in your mouth – and gives you a killer buzz!  There also may have been 20 shots for 100,000 rupiah, about ten bucks. and then another round. And then? dancing at Skybar, a complex which has nine separate bars on four levels, basically a playland for the young, drunk and stupid. It was no fun at all 😉
Needless to say, it was a stumbly walk home. Hehe.
Categories: Indonesia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What to Pack When Travelling Around the World

What a busy month! I’ve been trying to cram it all in – work, seeing friends and family, and all those thousand little trip prep things that need to get done before I get on the road and head out to Bali, Indonesia, the first stop on my travels.  The most important part of my pre-trip prepping is my BRAND NEW Mountain Equipment Co-op fancy 70L backpack.  Yes – it’s big, but since I will be gone for close to four months, I need something that’s gonna hold all my crap!

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Oooo Aaaaah. Note the cool zipper front that allows you to see everything in your bag.  I had too many frantic packing moments last year to not invest in a good backpack of my own.  I also beat the S**T out of my last bag, so it was time for a new one!

I started packing with a jumble of stuff on the floor two months ago.  Yes. Two months.  I was excited!! I began with the things that served me well last year.

  • Compressible pillow for long bus rides (MEC $20.00)
  • Silk sleep sheet for comfort in grody SE Asia beds and questionable hostel sheets. (SAIL $30.00, don’t buy the cotton ones!! They are too heavy for equator climate!)
  • Sarongs from Thailand which tripled as towels, beach blankets and scarves (get them overseas)
  • Jean shorts. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. DONT buy these overseas, you will live in them)
  • Laundry sheets for washing bras/underwear/anything
  • Face wipes for sweaty refreshment
  • Toilet paper. There is none in Asia. haha. you think im joking.

After doing this I emptied my closets and made some “maybe” piles with clothes that I wouldn’t mind losing if they did get stolen/lost/wrecked. Then the ruthless sorting began.

Ask Yourself:  

What can I absolutely not live without?  

What are my basic essentials?

Packing Pile

My Top Ten Packing Tips

  1. Don’t buy anything until you are sure you need it – try to use what you have already.
  2. Don’t bring a towel – it will get gross and dirty. Bring a little packtowel instead, one that dries fast.
  3. Bring comfortable underwear. Seriously. That lace thong that looked so cute in the mirror at home will not be pretty on a Bangkok day trip.
  4. Bring money. Lots of money. Also ways to store that money on your person without looking like a stupid tourist. That $50 you tuck into your bra or sock may just save your life.
  5. Bring all the meds you are used to taking ( Pepto, Immodium, Benadryl, Nyquil, Gravol, Advil, Aleve, Aerius) cause the stuff sold in drugstores may look the same but be formulated very differently in other countries.
  6. Go to the travel doctor and get your shots, heavy-duty motion sickness pills, and gross but potent bug spray.
  7. In your carry-on, pack a set of clothes, bikini, and wash up stuff, enough to last you 4 or 5 days without your big bag.  My bag was delayed last year, and I would have been screwed without prepping this stuff and bringing it with me in my hand luggage.
  8. Keep your technology safe, dry and separate. Secure tangly wires with velcro ties and make note of all plugs, adaptors and chargers that you need while travelling.
  9. Dont bring any heavy stuff. Leave your books/guidebooks/CD’s/Weights/Whatever at home. You. Wont. Need. It
  10. Unpack when you have packed everything for the first time and take out two shirts, a pair of bottoms, and anything else you were undecided about. You. wont. need. it. Unpack your damn jeans too. Thats right. Let go of the jeans.
  11. Dont forget your phone charger, pajamas and underwear!!

Ok that was eleven. Oh well. Happy Packing!  If you have any questions, comments, quips or queries, please leave me a message below 🙂

Also, if you are curious, ask me for my itemized and categorized packing list and I will share it with you. It is extremely nerdy.  I don’t care! I love organizing!

 

xoxo

D

Categories: Pre-Trip | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Part Two – Ten Things I Learned While Travelling in SE Asia

This is Part Two of my post about what I learned while travelling solo through SE Asia last summer 🙂 See Part One here

5) Trust Your Gut

This tip is CRUCIAL.  If your instinct is telling you one thing (don’t go down that alley/with that weird guy/don’t take a bucket from a stranger), DONT DO IT!!  Train your intuition to take you down the right path, but also remember that things are very different in SE Asia and what’s thought of as dangerous in North America is often not regarded the same way over there.  I remember this gross scary alley in Bangkok that led on a shortcut to our hostel.  The tour guides were the first to take us down there and we all thought “what the hell?!”.  But then we saw families treating the alley as their back yard, working and watching TV as their many pets caused a ruckus.  Sure, it smelled bad and there was junk everywhere, but that’s just the way it was in BKK – don’t have a backyard? grab an alleyway!  By the end of my trip I was walking down this same alley at three am, laughing at my new friends as they cowered at the thought of plunging into the dark.  If you are unsure – ask someone, because trusting your gut can go a long way – with the right guidance of course!!

Trust Your Gut

4) Let the Party Take You

Lets face it.  I partied HARD while I was overseas.  Harder than I ever have in my life, especially on the Beach Travellers wing of the trip, because I was surrounded by 27 of the most fun and fearless Canadians I have had the privilege of meeting!! Every night there was a new activity, theme party, or massive beach bash that you would simply HAVE to go to, no matter how much sun you got that day or what viewpoint hike you did.

The parties in Thailand and Cambodia absolutely blew my mind, especially the Full Moon Party, which I conquered twice!! For more info about the Full Moon, click here.  I learned a lot about myself through these party experiences, if you can believe it!  I learned I am a party rock star who knows how to manage my alcohol intake so I can stay up all night and often be the last woman standing!  Of course I had some rather rough mornings and I didn’t escape a puke or two but overall, it was worth it to party so hard because A) when the heck am I going to have the opportunity to rock out so hard in my life?? and B) I might as well get all this partying out of my system while I’m young enough to experience it properly!!

Moral of the story? Party HARD, but Party safe, know your limit and don’t accept drinks/rides/pills/buckets from strangers.

Party Herrrrrd

3) Friends are Family on the Road

When you travel, you are constantly meeting new people who seem friendlier and more interested in you than the people back home in boring, uptight North America.  This is because the BEST, friendliest and most worldly people know that travel is the ultimate learning experience, and go out of their way to meet new friends on the road.  It was harder to meet new friends while I was in my big group at the beginning of my trip, but as the months went by I learned how to strike up random conversations on buses and hostels to find new interesting people from all over the world.  Experiences can cement friendships too, like on Chelsea and I’s adventure on the Ko Tao night boat: we had to spoon with two lovely NZ girls on the way over cause there was no space, and they ended up being our fabulously fun travel companions for the next week!!

Bottom Line: Make it a point to meet new people while on the road, don’t just stick to your group of friends.  Make new ones from all over the world!!

Real Friends Party Naked

2) Embrace Your Inner Hippie

Go where the wind blows you. Throw away your shoes and wear a long skirt.  Grow your hair long and  forget about plucking your eyebrows. Learn to spin fire, like I did, or learn to surf, scuba or befriend a monkey for an afternoon.  Just let that North American uptight Type-A self slip away.  He or she will be back once you step off that plane and back to reality, trust me.  But there is something invaluable about embracing another way of life, something slower that is focused on personal growth and freedom. I found this amazing blissed out beach bum inside of me who finally was just going with the flow instead of planning every minute of every day.  Finding this side of myself was a crucial step of discovering who I am, and now I listen to my hippie self when she needs a day at the beach or a day in the park practicing spinning.  The lesson here is finding balance between the two selves and making sure both are being served in your lifestyle at home! 

Inner Hippies Chillin

1) It’s the Journey, not the Destination

As I traveled from one place to another, I found myself filled with anxiety again and again.  Will my train be on time? will we catch the ferry?  What If I don’t like the food they serve?

Those worries became less and less loud as I learned to treasure every crazy bus ride, bumpy boat trip and determined local who tried to sell me their wares. These detours and roadblocks became the best stories, the most memorable moments that I look back on and laugh.  Sure. my trip went well, I didn’t get mugged or kidnapped or hassled (too much), but there were definitely tough spots where I wished I had more control over the situation.  Every moment of my trip was important, even the times when I waited at the train station for hours or missed the boat to Ko Lipe and had to spend the night in Pak Bara.  If the journey is stressing you out, just stop, take a breath and marvel that you are halfway around the world, seeing sights that most people only dream of, and that you are lucky enough to have some cash in your pocket and clothes on your back, too. Wow!

Or just have a mini tantrum and work it out, I had to step away and do that more than once 😉

Embrace the Journey

Well, that concludes my writing about my 2012 trip (only a few months late, lol!)

But you lucky people get to come with me on YET ANOTHER JOURNEY!! BIGGER, BETTER, LONGER!!

Last year was my fearless adventure, this year get ready for “Work Hard, Play Harder 2013 SE Asia/Oceania Trip!!!”

More tomorrow on that 🙂

xo

Categories: Cambodia, Thailand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Epic Travel to BKK and Goodbye Chelsea!

The 5 am ferry seemed like a dream – none of us had slept and we were all feeling sad to be leaving Ko Pha-ngan and Bottle Beach.  All four of us missed the epic sunrise and woke up with the Pier in sight and the sun blazing overhead.  One of the hardest goodbyes was next – Chelsea and I said goodbye to our friend Park who lives in Railay and our friend Carter who is a tour guide and country manager for Beach Travellers and also one of the coolest people I met on my travels and someone who helped to make our trip as amazing as it possibly could have been.  Chels and I just looked at each other, waiting together in the train station so early in the morning, and burst into tears.  I’m not sure whether it was a combination of sadness, being so tired, and sleep deprived, but we were super emotional that whole day.  Our last full day together as platonic wives and we would be spending it on a fifteen hour train journey to Bangkok together.  Euchh.

The train journey was something new – we had both done this journey before, but overnight both times.  It was a completely different experience during the day.  The country rolled by our window – verdant, lush and never-changing green.  We reminisced over our experiences together, laughing, crying and comparing stories.  That ride was one of the longest I took while travelling – all I can say is thank Buddha for air-conditioning!

We finally noticed the scenery start to change about two hours outside of Bangkok and veryyyy slowllyyy made our way into the heart of the city for one last tuk-tuk ride to Khao San Road, our home away from home.  I found a very cheap and clean room for the night at the 7-Holder Guest House and we shopped for  bit until I felt like I was going to pass out from exhaustion.

We had our tearful goodbye that night when Chelsea went to the airport. When I started my journey alone a month and a half before, I had never dreamed I would meet so many fantastic and interesting people on my journey, and I couldn’t have asked for a better travel buddy than the one Chels ended up being to me.  It seemed at every turn we were on the same page with what we waned to do, see and experience on our trip.  She was incredibly easy-going and fun, easy to get along with and full of life.  Our adventurous spirits we definitely matched – and now I not only have all of these incredible memories but a new friend for life!  Needless to say, our goodbyes were pretty emotional – silly girls! We are already making plans for our next adventure – we shouldn’t have been so sad!

I spent a strange night in BKK that evening alone. But I wouldn’t have to worry, I would be meeting new friends soon on my trip from BKK to Siem Reap in Cambodia!

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Categories: Cambodia, Thailand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Welcome Home to Bottle Beach

Our arrival at Bottle Beach was full of mixed emotions – we were so happy to be going back to one of our favourite places in the world, but sad to be doing it without our group of friends that we had made during our Beach Travellers trip.  Our ferry ride over from Ko Tao had been uneventful – the extra ta-wenty Baht we had paid for air-con in our little ferry had been a sweet luxury item.

In Thong Sala (the main town on Koh Phangan) we loaded up on supplies to take with us to Bottle Beach, where everything is a bit more expensive due to the fact it’s on a very remote beach that you can only get to by boat.  We were loaded up with all kinds of goodies when we caught our ride across the island to Chalok-lum, the town on the North side of the island, and boarded a little long tail boat which would finally take us home!  The staff greeted us as if we were long lost friends – “welcome home!” they said as we checked in and got settled.  We had been dreaming of Bottle Beach for so long – it seemed surreal to finally be back there again in paradise.

We spent the afternoon with our friends who worked at the resort, practicing fire spinning with Cheeky my favourite bartender, trading stories and making plans for the full moon and our next few days.  We met up with some German friends of ours who had taken our advice and decided to stay at the resort, and had a fun reunion night!  The next day we waited for some more friends to arrive, and got ready for what would be the highlight of our time on Bottle – Full Moon!

The morning of full moon we climbed to the viewpoint to check out the amazing view from the top of one of the surrounding hills.  Everywhere you looked from the top was unspoiled green beauty – there was very little in terms of developed resort land on that side of the island – it was so beautiful, pristine and untouched – took my breath away.

I had a completely different experience of full moon this time around – Chelsea and I got ready together and helped the other Beach Travellers group with their paint and party preparations.  I felt like a pro – the nervous excitement I had from the first time was gone – I felt like I knew what was in store for us, but still was excited to watch the night unfold again!

We boarded the speedboat and the anticipation was the same – rounding the bend, hearing the pulsing music under the bright light of the full moon, and finally seeing the beach lit up and spread out before us as we landed and formed a human chain to get to our meeting spot.  This time I had so many energy drinks at the beginning of the night, all I did was dance for about – oh – four hours until realizing I was starving and set out with a group of friends to find the amazing chicken place I had found last time.  We found it and ate yummy chicken schnitzels whole watching the mayhem unfold around us.  I managed to walk all the way down the beach this time to the very last bar, listening to all the different music on offer as we walked by snapping pictures of the drunk, passed out, and generally outrageous people surrounding us.  Eventually we figured out that the spot our group was hanging out at had the best music, so we made our way back to our rendezvous point and danced the night away, watching the sun come up together.

The day after was a bit of a write-off, on account of us staying up all night to do the full moon thing.  We luckily had a fantastic pool and some great friends to entertain us, so there was no shortage of laughs to keep us going into the evening.  During my second time around at Bottle, I felt like time had stopped – I had everything I needed with me and nothing to do but just simply enjoy and relax. During our last night I bar tended behind the bar with the staff, wearing my staff shirt of course!

Our last night was bittersweet, because we just had so much fun with each other but we knew it had to end, too soon.  We stayed up all night as our ferry was ridiculously early and we had to catch a 3:30(am!) ride to the other side of the island to catch it.  It was a long, bumpy, pitch dark ride on bad roads in the early morning, taking us away from our Thai family and friends and onwards onto separate journeys….my solo adventure was about to get real.

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Three Nights in Bangkok

Leaving Railay was sad because I loved it there so much, and also didn’t want to put my shoes back on and face another night train. I actually slept 12 of the 14 hours it took us to get back, but it wasn’t too bad in the end. We got to stay at our old guesthouse, too, which made it feel like more of a homecoming instead of a goodbye. We had a lot of stuff to do, though, before the end of our trip! First up was bowling and karaoke together (hilarious video to follow), and a super yum group lunch where I tried some new food, and cabbed it back to our place to get ready for what would be an epic night on Khao San road.

So epic, in fact, that I missed the temple tour the next day ;-( but I did make it out for the weekend market and a full day (literally a whole day) of shopping, I must have spent about 3000 baht, which seems like a lot but is actually about 100 dollars CAD.

On our last day we gathered for a group dinner on top of one of the tallest buildings in Bangkok. We had sushi, salad and all kinds of other Western food we had been missing on our trip. We took a bunch of great group pics and enjoyed our last full night together! Of course, Khao San road was just as fun as the previous night, but bittersweet cause we knew it would be our last night to party together 😦

I feel really blessed to have ended up with such a great group of people on my tour, we were all such good friends by the end of our time together, and I definitely made new friendships that will last me a lifetime 🙂 I was also so happy to have found some adventurous girls who were ready to head out with me on the next part of our journey. We gathered together for final speeches and goodbyes on our last night, and reminisced about our awesome trip and got to thank our amazing guides Jon and Nikki for taking us seamlessly through such an incredible trip!!

But of course for me the fun was only beginning! Our last day in Bangkok, I set out with a lady friend to walk and get lost and possibly find the Grand Palace, which we eventually did, after finding a university graduation and a museum (which was closed,boo) The Palace was, of course, unbelievable, so glad I got to fit it in, it was a spot not to be missed, you could feel in the air how important and sacred a space it was. We got slightly lost on our way back (fun!) and met these two adorable German girls who asked us about where they should stay. We took them under our wing, got them un-lost and even got them all the way back to our decent guesthouse so they could check it out. We ended up eating with them later at an Indian Restaurant with my friend Chris, an Aussie who I had met recently in Toronto (small world!) Who just so happened to be in Bangkok at the same time as me. That night the five of us tore up Khao San one last time, and the rest of our friends left either for home or other exotic destinations. It was time for my “solo” adventure to begin!

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Railay Beach – Round One

We took a short ferry to our next stop, Railay Beach, which is not an island but is cut off from the mainland  by a mountain range, and only accessible by boat. We arrived at low tide so the longtails had to tow us  in to the pier, and honestly the beach didn’t look that great – I will later go on to retract this statement, because I hadn’t seen the two amaaazing beaches on the other side!

I was immediately charmed by the main little walking street, though. There were no cars or even bikes on the path (street) up to our hotel. There was a big sign welcoming the beach travellers “home”, and it really would feel that way by the end of our five nights here!

We explored Railay after we got settled, and it was so charming, since it was low season it was also not very touristy, there were just enough people around to make the place lively.  There were beautiful walking paths (with monkeys crashing through your path sometimes), climbing walls, two beautiful beaches, little roti stands, a main “walking street” that was kind of like the centre of town, and lots of hidden places that our guides would show us.

There was literally only one bar that got busy and played pretty good tunes and featured an amazing fire show every night at eleven!   At this point I had seen fire spinning a few times on Bottle Beach and in Kanchanaburi, and played around with the stick on the beach a few times, but I had no idea that  first night when  I watched the show that by the time I left I  would light up and spin fire myself for the first time…and be changed by the experience forever!!

On Railay beach there is an awesome group of locals who spin fire, teach  rock climbing, dj at the clubs and meet people from all over the world who want to experience their home. It was such a great experience to have friendships with the people who make it such a fun and welcoming place.

Our first night everyone was super tired from partying in Phi Phi, so it was only me and Camille left to watch the fire show that night and experience The Last Bar, which literally feels like the last bar on earth. It sits at the end of the east beach, and is literally the last thing on the little strip. We would have both a Halloween in July party and a handcuff party (where you are handcuffed together for a whole evening, lol) in the bar, it was definitely the local watering hole.

We also had a cooking class one afternoon, a fire spinning lesson, a whole AWESOME day of rock climbing courtesy of Hot Rocks Climbing school, and many many beachy days in the sun.

I loved Railay so much the first time around, I decided I wanted to make it back a second time on my trip, which I did!

Railay round two was just as much fun as the first time around, but there was still Bangkok. Chiang Mai, Koh Lipe, to  go before I would make my way back there. Our group still had three final days in Bangkok together before we would all say goodbye and my solo journey would begin!

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Dives and Hunts in Phi Leh Bay

Our dive the next day was thankfully at 1pm, so we didn’t have to stress out too much about lost sleep or hangovers.

It was a good thing too, cause the dive was not to be missed! After a lesson on diving at the shop, we headed out on the boat to Phi Leh bay, the island which is the smaller (and more beautiful) sister of Phi Phi, untouched by development as it is a national park. It is also the site where The Beach was filmed, we got to see the real beauty of this little island the next day, but today was for exploring under the waves!

I was nervous and a bit claustrophobic in the dive suit on land, but as soon as we got in the water our dive instructors totally put us at ease!
It was amazing to swim through the depths, watching the neon fish swim in schools, the nemo fish dart in and out of the sea anemones, and we even saw a sea turtle feeding on the wall!! Our two dives were over too soon, and lunch on the boat was super good as well.

The next day we went on a boat trip, where we had an ocean swim party in a secluded bay, and climbed the (treacherous) rocks into Maya Bay to gaze in wonder at the pristine beach. It was truly breathtaking, even though the weather wasnt perfect we could all appreciate how beautiful this place was, and how lucky we all were to be there together experiencing it.

The third stop on our boat trip narrowly got rained out, but not after a yummy lunch and several successful beach pyramids!  The ride back on the front of the speedboat in the pelting rain listening to loud hard rock was a fun, albeit very wet, memory from that day!

The night brought us back  to land and off on a scavenger hunt that would lead me to the piercing parlor, down the street on a piggyback ride, into a muy thai boxing ring, and off the club, to dance with my friends and fend off all the guys we had met on our various misadventures on the island during the night!!

Overall I’d say Phi Phi was crowded, touristy, and not my favorite place we’d visited even though the natural beauty of the island was incredible. Id hate to think of what that island would be like during the high season, if I found it too busy right now during low season!

I was happy to leave the next day for Railay, which rivals Bottle Beach as my absolute favorite place I’ve visited in Thailand so far!!!

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