Friday, June 30, 2006

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Home Coming..... :-)

We're shopping our hearts out in bangkok & Can't Wait to see you all!!!


Friday, June 23, 2006

Thailand explored

Hi Guys,

Sorry I haven’t written for a while, but it has been a kinda hectic and busy holiday. So where was I last, where have I been, and what have I been up to?

I think I was in Ayutthaya last. We spent an extra day in Ayutthaya, going round Wat’s (temples) getting a book stamped, so that when we got back to the tourist office we could get a special medalian for free-apparently they do this every year, and this year the medalian was to commemorate the King’s 60th Jubilee which occurred while we were here-they absolutely love their King. We then went out and had a look at some of the temples which are lit up at night-they look absolutely amazing, so different to the day time.

The next day we got up early to catch a train to Khorat, but the early train wasn’t running so we sat in the train station for a couple of hours until the next one. When we got to Khorat we caught a bus straight to Phimai, where we visited the most stunning Wat. It is an old Khmer Wat, and is the most extensively restored Wat in Thailand-and also the most beautiful we have seen. The carvings on it were just amazing-so intricate, and beautiful-even thought they were so old and weathered.

The next day we had a look around the National Museum in Phimai, had a look at another ruin, and then at the old City Wall gate, about all that is left of the City Wall. We then got a bus to an old Archeological Site. It took a bit of finding, as the directions we were given were once again not accurate-it seems the way in Thailand, you really need to triple check everything to make sure you get the right information. The Archeological Site was really interesting. There were 3 digs, and they had mainly uncovered bodies, from between 2500 years old to 500 years old, each era having a completely different style of burial. You could visit all 3 digs, but only the first one really had anything to see, and the other 2 just had a couple of small objects in them.

We then went back to Khorat where we booked into a Hotel which looked alright, but when I got into the shower, I discovered I was sharing it with at least 5 cockroaches, as well as numerous ones we also saw later in the room. We decided we couldn’t stay there and found a better one just down the road. The next day we saw a monument in the city (about all there is to see in Khorat), and the old City Wall, did some shopping, and then caught the train back to Bangkok. In Bangkok we had a quick look at the night bazaar, and then caught another train to Surat Thani, where we had to get a bus to get to Krabi.

We wanted to have a quick look at Surat Thani, but were told by everyone that there was nothing to see, and were basically hearded onto a bus, without having the chance to even see anything-we were not impressed. The bus then took us to a bus stop, and then had to wait for a mini bus. The mini bus was then jam packed with people, the luggage on the roof. When started to rain they attempted to put a tarp over the baggage, which didn’t work, so it all got wet, plus they didn’t know where they were going and got lost, so by the time we got to Krabi we were less than impressed.

I had met some Americans in Bangkok who lived in Krabi, so we gave them a ring and asked if they would like to go out for tea as it was my birthday-they were so happy to hear from us, and took us to a lovely restaurant in Ao Nang.

The nest day we decided not to stay in Krabi, as it wasn’t near the beach, and went to Ao Nang instead, it is quite resorty, and on the beach front with a couple of quite nice beaches.

From Ao Nang we went on a 4 island tour round the bay. We went to one island which was stunning. It was low tide, so you could walk from the island we landed on to another 2 islands, across the sandbars. The sand was so white, although the beaches weren’t all that wide, and they had a fair bit of rubbish on them. We then went around the corner to a place called chicken rock, named because it looks like a chickens head, and went snorkeling-it was so nice and warm, and great to see some coral, tropical fish and lots of sea urchins. I have never been swimming in tropical waters before. We then went to another island to have lunch, and walked up to the end of the beach to look as some monkeys, they are so cheeky. Finally we went to Raily beach where it was raining quite a bit, but went swimming anyway, and the water was so warm, it was about 32 degrees. When we got back to Ao Nang we went for another swim, but the water was not clear, and not as warm, so was not nearly as nice.

We decided to hire some bikes and head out to a National Park, which had quite a few waterfalls in it. As it happen in the rainy season, it poured while we were at the National Park, and we might as well have been in a shower, we were absolutely soaked, but the 2 waterfalls we visited were very nice, and worth the drowning we got for it.

We then decided to go to Phi Phi, so got a speed boat over and visited the Phi Phi Ley on the way. We went to a lovely lagoon, which had the most gorgeous coloured water in it, before heading to Phi Phi Doh where we were dropped off. There is not a whole lot to do on the island, mainly sit on the beach which we did the day we arrived. However it was raining the next day-not exactly beach weather, so we went up to the viewpoint, and looked out across the island, it was just stunning. It would have been nice to have nice weather, but as we didn’t have a lot of time anyway, we decided to head off to Phuket, as we couldn’t really enjoy the beach on Phi Phi. We met a guy on Phi Phi who had lost both his son and daughter-in-law in the Tsunami, when they were here in their honeymoon, and a family of 5 who had been on the beach when the Tsunami hit, and amazingly had all survived-how they managed that one is a miracle.

In Phuket we spend the day shopping and went up to the viewpoint which looked out across the town. It was quite nice, but not as nice as Phi Phi, there were a lot more houses, and not as much beach. We also went to a large Buddha statue on the way up the mountain, which was huge, one of the biggest we have seen.

That’s about all for now, we are now heading back to Bangkok to do some more shopping, and maybe a little sightseeing, before we fly out in only 3 days-its been too soon since we arrived here, we really didn’t have enough time to see nearly what we wanted to.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Thai photos!

It took ages to download these photos so I demand that you ENJOY! Here is Rhainnon and I today in Ayuthaya which is north of Bangkok. We visited Khmer temple was fantastic. They are beutiful! It was scorching HOT all everyday really! We like these photos becasue we don't look too moist and sticky....we dont have that many pictures of oursleves for that very reason! We look too shiny and I keep saying...'oh, there another one to print out in balck and white!' (can't see the shine and all). Lots of love to everyone. We are safe, happy and of course sweating our asses off!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Bangkok, Chiang Mai,'re now updated!!

Hey Everyone,

Cara and Rhiannon (Cara’s friend from uni) are in Thailand!!!!!!!!!! We are having an awesome, hot, sweaty, non-touristy time. We are slowly increasing our Thai vocabulary. At the moment we cant read nor understand a thing and think the Thai alphabet is squiggly lines (Rhiannon), exotic (Cara) but we can say 5 things- hi and goodbye/sa-wat-ti-ka (same word- its like aloha, ciao, namaste, salut), toilet/hong-nam (very important and learned after getting tired of miming at 7/11’s), thankyou/ka-pu-ka, how much is this/tow-rye-ka (after which everyone replies in Thai so it is not soooo useful) and no/myow (we are still working on yes). Today we added ‘See ya/Pu-knee-pope-can….don’t look at the phonetic spelling all of you who know fluent Thai! Thai is a tonal language….something which we are currently ignoring and therefore probably saying all sorts of stuff!

So what have we done so far?
DAY 1-We met in Bangkok on June the 2nd after I fought the most amount of traffic I have ever seen to find Siam Square and Rhiannon. We met, found a very nasty and averagely priced for Bangkok (400Bhat= 13.30AUD=10Euros ) hotel room and wandered the streets taking it all in- the horrendous traffic, carbon monoxide, designer shops, street vendors selling cheap goods and scary food that would have the health authorities aghast (but was sooo good says Rhiannon).
DAY 2 was spent in Bangkok exploring the Palace and Reclining Buda (temple) followed by Thai massages and then we got up and left nasty Bangkok as soon as we could. We caught and overnight and allegedly air conditioned (ok, it got cold after a while) bus north to Chiang Mai. We had a 2am rest stop (what the?...everyone was sleeping and suddenly it was ‘wake up, off the bus’) where we bought strange packaged little round delicious(Rhiannon)/chalk like consistency (Cara) biscuits.
DAY 3 we hired bikes and rode thought the traffic mad streets exploring Chiang Mai which has more temples (or wats as they call them here) then you can poke a stick at (Rhiannon). In excess of 300, with 121 within the municipal limits (Lonely planet). All we had to do was wander or turn around and there was another beautiful and exquisitely decorated temple. Normally the exterior had dragons flanking the steps leading up to the door, coloured mirror mosaics, dogs in the yards and coloured tiled roofs. Monks in richly coloured robes are found inside outside and on the streets…everywhere. Rhiannon and I visited one very large, grand temple and ended up being asked to teach the mini-monks English which was really fun, so cute and just wow. I thought the head monk who asked us very clever for inviting us to teach- we ran through the alphabet many times, taught vowels and simple words. At the end he gave us his email address!
DAY 4 we hired the Thai version of a taxi (a sawngthaew…that pronunciation is lost on me) and visited a temple called Doi Suthep which is on a mountain and has dragons at the foot of the stairs that flank the entrance and their bodies continue up the entire 300 steps to the top. In our taxi we met Pin (Thai) who escorted us up, bought us the standard prayer pack consisting of 3 incense sticks, a long stemmed red rose and a long stemmed lotus flower. Pin showed us what to do with our prayer pack and how to shake a jar of sticks to and get an ancient Chinese Prophecy (Cara: number 16. Getting this number means you will be happy without trouble and suffering. Property, dignity and success will belong to you surely. Asking about illness, it’s already recovered from illness. As for lover he/she is very good and honest to you. Rhiannon: the 11th number tells that you are very lucky. It seems the full moon is without clouds. You benefit from your behaviour in the previous life. The lover, the cousins, and the debtor are very good to you. You will win the lawsuit.) We were all blessed in one of the temples by an old monk who dipped a bundle of sticks into water and flicked it at us while chanting. After which he gave us string bracelets which we tied on and are still wearing. I am quite fond of mine…we don’t know if we are supposed to wear them this long but are ignorance is bliss. We looked at a beautiful view over Chiang Mai. Pin then took us to the Warorot market in Chiang Mai and bought us lunch (omelet and rice). We walked the market and then got ready for our ‘cultural thing’ as Rhiannon just said. We attended a dinner and performance of Thai dancing which was very much like what I have done with my grandparents in Hawaii and New Zealand. We felt very cultured and dinner was yummy…we liked the fried banana the best.
DAY 5 we left Chiang Mai for Pai which is further north west. It is a very hippy town….full of all the Caucasians we have been glad not to see when eating at the street markets and biking around. It is perfect for those who would like to visit Thailand but not really see it and just chill out. People seem to come here with good intentions of staying bit and end up being here long term. Rhiannon and I had dinner with Patrick (USA), a random we met on our accommodation hunt, who speaks fluent Thai taught to him by the students he has taught English to in Bangkok every summer for the last 4 years. He ordered yummy things for us to eat and added chili, sugar and lime like Thais add to their meals (similar to westerners adding tomato sauce or mustard) and taught us lots of things about Thailand and its people. The Thai people are completely and utterly impressed with Patrick for speaking Thai….even more so then the French being impressed with me I think because no one speaks Thai. We were honored to be the first people he’d spoken English to for longer then 2 seconds in over a month! Go us!
DAY 6….TODAY we hired motorcycles…ok they are automatic and more like scooters I, with a wealth of experience from my single Croatia excursion (haughty voice), was ready for something bigger but had to think of Rhiannon…we both answered yes definetly when they asked us of we had experience ). We went and saw a waterfall, a village, a canyon, lots of beautiful countryside/jungle and saw and petted and fed ELEPHANTS! That’s right! We touched and cuddled and took millions of photos of them. We fed them mangoes and a reedy/sugar caney/grass thing. We have booked a 2 hour elephant ride for tomorrow which cost 450 Bhatt or 15AUD!!!! Lastly we visited a temple on the way home. We were invited into the temple by the monks, we sat down and all of a sudden were in the middle of what was probably evening prayer. The head monk gave us each a little stone tablet with Buddha on one side and a little mysterious critter on the other…..I love Buddhism!….I might become a Buddhist (an odd thing to say). I love scooters!....I keep singing ‘Ride Sally Ride’ and thinking things like ‘Open ‘er up’, ‘Pedal to the metal’, ‘I want to feel some air through my hair’ and “Varoom rooom rooom’ while flying along….Cara loves speed! I might be become a biker Buddhist. What’d ya think? P.S. We want to learn Thai.

Friday, June 02, 2006

En route to Thailand!

Hey! Am in the London Heathrow airport on my way to Thailand. My flight, BA 009 leaves for Thailand at 22:00! Rhiannon and I are meeting at Siam Square tomorrow...I have looked it up on maps and it seems easy to get to by public transport! Love you all and see you soon! Cara is sad to leave Europe!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Last stop before Thailand.....

Hello! Since the 24th of May I have been staying with my cousin Carola and her family in Bad Schönborn which is just south of Heidleberg. They are so nice and I am having a really nice and easy, stress free, relaxing time here! Watching movies, eating yummy home cooked food and here is what I have been up to in photos....these are all of my time Heidleberg. I went with Aniela (Carol's daughter) to Heidelberg for the day and met up with my frend Sam who is on exchange from Melb uni too! We were friends in Melbourne and thought we might meet up so it was pretty trippy to have it finally happen just a bit before I flew out!

The order is all mixed up:

Sam had a dinner party and I was invited!

Aniela and I eating ice cream at her favourite spot in Heidelberg! They have really good ice cream here!

Cara and the castle! Heidelberg Castle of course!

The Castle and fireworks....I think this is one of my favourite photos so far! The castel is so beautiful!

Sam, Cara and more ice cream! So YUMMY! Now how happy do we look about that!

To the Thailand....

Today at 6:50pm I will take my flight from Frankfurt airport to London (1 hour 40mins) and then onto Thailand (another 8 and a half hours). I will arrive in Bangkok at 3pm the next day.

Yesterday I bought bug spray, sun screen and some food to take. It will be bottled water and eating only boiled food for the next 3 weeks. No salad, no ice cubes (even though the heat will be stifling) and no raw vegetables due to danger of Hepatitis.

I have reduced my bag to practically nothing and intend to fill it with silky fabrics, flowy pants and things along those lines. I am hoping to be able to take my almost empty bag onto the plane with me therefore avoiding checcking my bag entirely (no one can mess with your lugguage if it is on the plane with you and locked up).