Archive for the ‘thailand’ Category

Thai: Smooth As Silk

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

The night before leaving for Thailand I slept a grand total of three hours, but fortunately for me my wonderful roommates pushed me out of bed and we were all out the door by seven am to go to the airport. Me, Kayla, Courtney, Jordan, Lindsay, and Ian were all going on the Thailand trip and all the girls were ended up sitting downstairs in the cab for a good ten minutes while we waited for the boys to show up. We all remarked on the oddity of this, little did we know that waiting on Jordan and Ian was to become a major pastime of our Thailand adventure. We got to the airport, checked in, and within two hours were sitting on our group flight to Bankok, Thailand. Everything about Thai air was purple. The blankets and pillows were purple, every third seat was purple and the airplane was just generally quite colorful.

"Thai: Smooth As Silk", and o so purple

We were served two full meals and a small snack on our flight which was about ten hours, but after the twenty one hour marathon flight from LAX to Sydney, everything else feels paltry by comparison. The in flight meals were actually quite good, I mean as far as airline flight goes anyway. One of the side dishes in the first meal we got was a crab meat salad with cucumber and corn. Not that I ate it being  a vegetarian, but I still found it impressive that an airline meal included crab meat. The second meal had stir fried noodles with shrimp and vegetables, and I didn’t eat the shrimp but I was told they were quite good as well.

The seats were so brilliantly colored. On our airplane we had yellow seats too.

After our ten hour flight to Bankok we had some time to hang out in the Bankok airport and then we boarded another one-hour flight to Chang Mai. While in the Bankok airport I changed my $200 AUD into just over $6,000 baht. I felt so rich carrying around that much money in my wallet. In the airport we found a Burger King, Auntie Annes, Subway, McDonalds, Dairy Queen, and a Starbucks, globalization at its finest. By the time we got off our flight in Chang Mai it was nighttime, and our group of 45 kids and our one fearless leader, Christinan, were loaded into a caravan of small red passenger trucks.

Garden outside the Bankok Airport

Our transportation for our travels in Chang Mai

We were taken from the airport to a Thai restaurant near the hotel that already had tables set for us. We had our first authentic thai meal family style and then headed to the Imperial Pink Hotel to check in.

Family style Thai meal

Cool lantern in the center of the restaurant

First authentic Thai meal post 10 hour flight

I think some people did go out that first night, but after a full day spent trying and failing to sleep on planes and very little sleep the night before I was ready for a shower and a sleep so that is exactly what I did so I could greet my first day in Chang Mai bright eyed and bushy tailed.

To Thailand!

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

It’s currently 3:44am in Australia and of course I am still awake. This always happens to me on the eve of a big trip. I am excited in the days/weeks leading up to it and then the night before, when the reality of it finally sets it I get anxious. I get nervous about packing and traveling and my first impulse is to not want to go. I have fought through this so many times I have learned to laugh at it, but this parade of emotion still charges through my brain before every trip without fail. So here I am, packed, ready to go, unable to sleep and the cab is coming to take the group of six of us to the airport in 3 hours. At this point sleep would really be more like a nap, or for me a cat nap since naps are only naps in proportion to the number of hours you sleep, and when you sleep 12 hours on average a four hour nap is reasonable.

Anyway, in a few hours I will be headed to the airport to fly to Thailand,  a nation plentiful in mangoes, monkeys, and elephants but low on internet access. Therefore, I will not be returning to my blog until May 2nd, try not to miss me! I promise to return with tales of fantastic adventures and pictures of elephants with long winded explanations to accompany them. This year I will celebrate easter by trekking through a Thai jungle and riding an elephant up a mountain, so I promise to bring back stories of the most unconventional easter celebration ever. Jesus rode a donkey and I will ride an elephant.

My Easter chariot awaits

Thanks for reading, see you in 10 days!

Is it Possible to Be Jealous of My Own Life?

Friday, April 8th, 2011
I have been so enjoying my life in Sydney lately that I had almost forgotten about my upcoming spring (technically its fall here) break trip. I will be going on a 10 day pre arranged excursion to Thailand through my study abroad program. I received a copy of the itinerary to my email yesterday, and in the interest of making everyone hate me I have posted it here. It is as follows:
DAY 1 – CHIANG MAI ARRIVAL
Travel Day – Our group arrives in Chiang Mai this evening. Here, you will be met by guides and
transferred to hotel for our evening welcome dinner.
DAY 2 – CHIANG MAI / HILLTRIBE VILLAGE
This morning we transfer in small local trucks to an Elephant Camp located on the outskirts of
Chiang Mai. Everyone will get to ride the elephants through the local countryside. After meeting
the elephants, we continue into the mountains with a stop for lunch.
After lunch, we begin our afternoon with a hike to a Hilltribe Village. The walk takes
approximately 3 hours and takes us through the countryside and other small villages, affording us
a glimpse into the lives of locals. Upon arrival at our village for the evening, we enjoy a
traditional dinner by candlelight, meet villagers, and enjoy some local entertainment before
preparing for bed.

Chiang Mai

DAY 3 – CHIANG MAI
This morning we enjoy breakfast with the villagers and then board our taxi trucks and head back
to Chiang Mai.
This evening is at your leisure. Take some time to enjoy the fabulous street bazaar of Chiang Mai
which contains blocks of open-air markets, with abundant cheap food, and amazing arts and
crafts. All of this is within walking distance from your hotel.
DAY 4 – CHIANG MAI
We leave the hotel early this morning to travel to the original Chiang Mai cookery school where
you can try your hand at making traditional Thai dishes and then dine on the results.
This afternoon we drive up Suthep Mountain, which is located west of the city. The journey is
around 17km and provides us with excellent views over Chiang Mai City. Near the summit is the
stunning Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. This temple, one of the most important of the province and
an enduring symbol of Chiang Mai, is a place of fascinating history and legends.
Our Chiang Mai cultural experience finishes with a traditional Thai dining experience and
authentic Lanna entertainment.
DAY 5 – TRAVEL DAY / KRABI
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before we transfer to the airport to meet our flights to Krabi via
Bangkok. Upon arrival, we are transferred via minibus and longtail boat to the beach area of
Krabi. After some time to check-in, we provide a short orientation tour of the resort and local
area before providing the rest of the afternoon and evening to be enjoyed at your leisure. A
welcome dinner will be provided at the resort.

Krabi

DAY 6 – KRABI
Enjoy this amazing place as you wish today. Although there are no organized activities, there are
many options for you to choose from. You may want to go monkey-spotting as Krabi has many
primates playing in and around the beaches. Alternatively, you may choose to go sea-kayaking or
perhaps try your hand at climbing or caving that this area is known for. Or you can simply like
on the beach or enjoy a massage (or two).
DAY 7 – KRABI / PHI PHI
Around lunchtime, we depart Krabi via high-powered speedboats as we head to the island of Phi
Phi Don. Along the way, we take a bit of time to enjoy some great snorkeling (equipment
provided). We check into our hotel accommodations, have some free time, and then travel to
the island of Phi Phi Lei where the movie “The Beach” would filmed. Our boats take us to
numerous impressive locations as we explore the island. After some free time on the beach, we
head back for dinner. The evening is free for you to take in a fire show or perhaps check out the
local market.

Phi Phi

DAY 8 – PHI PHI / PHUKET
After breakfast, we head to Phi Phi Don for the island of Phuket. We view some smaller island on
the way and arrive with plenty of time for some afternoon shopping in street markets.

Phuket (pronounced Pu-ket, get your minds out of the gutter!)

The current exchange rate is about $1AUD = 30 baht. (The Australian dollar and the American dollar are very nearly equal at the moment) 70 – 100 baht will buy you an upscale dinner at a local thai restaurant ( for those of you who are not mathematically inclined this means I can eat a fancy dinner for $3.5 USD roughly, and get a massage for an hour for about the same price)
It is very easy to eat and drink for a day on $10
15 days left till I leave! Anyone left who doesn’t hate me yet?

April Adventures to Come!

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

In place of our normal Tuesday adventuring this week Yaella and I popped into a local Backpackers World Travelers travel agency. This is basically a free travel agent that makes money by receiving kick backs from the tour companies they recommend, and they specialize in booking cheap trip for students and backpackers. The purpose of that visit was to nail down our reservations for a trip to Tasmania that we have been discussing going on. We weren’t really sure what kind of activities we wanted to go on while we were there, but we knew we wanted to do a wineglass bay tour.

Wine glass Bay

Tasmania is part of Australia technically, but most Australians don’t actually consider it to be. It is kinda the unloved red headed step child in most Australians minds.  While looking at brochures and doing research for our trip I found this quote that said “Tasmania is an island of inspiration, a world apart, not a world away.” Most of the natural environment of Tasmania remains untouched, and 37% of the total land mass lies in national parks, world heritage sites, and wildlife reserves. The climate is incredibly bipolar, and the travel agent was telling us that it could be warm enough to go swimming and snow in the same day depending on where you are in the country.

The island is 226 miles long from its northernmost to its southernmost point, and 190 mi from west to east. So its not huge. Still, Yaella and I are looking at doing a five day trip there and getting a fair amount of hiking in during that time.

We would probably fly into Lanceston and work our way down to Hobart, which is the capitol city, and fly home from there.

While we are still ironing out plans to go to Tasmania during a weekend in April, we have already booked our flights to Melbourne for the first weekend of April. Yaella, Lyndsay, Jordan and I will all be flying out at 5pm on April 1st, staying in a hostel and getting up early the next day to do an all day tour of the Great Ocean Road. This is the one attraction everyone keeps insisting is THE thing to do in Melboure (in Australia this is pronounced Mel- bin) so we have booked our tickets already.

The 12 Apostles limestone rock formations

The Great Ocean Road is a 151 mi stretch of road along the south-eastern coast. The road was built by soliders that had returned home from WWI between 1919 and 1932, and is the world’s largest war memorial; dedicated to those lost in the war. It is an important tourist attraction in the region, which winds through varying terrain alongside the coast, and provides access to several prominent landmarks; including the Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations.

The tour we booked is a bus tour that basically takes all day, but lets you out at different points along the route for varying amounts of time.

The Great Ocean Road

Plenty of time on planes traveling means plenty of time to catch up on my readings for class while I am a safe distance away from an internet connection, which is my major downfall in terms of distractions. At the end of April I will leave for my spring break trip (technically a fall break trip in the southern hemisphere) to Thailand! I am so pumped about this I even downloaded an app onto my ipod that counts down the days, as of today only 30 days to go! I also enrolled in a frequent flier program because I am going to be racking up some crazy miles and it would be nice to log all of them and earn a free flight somewhere, since I will undoubtedly be broke as a joke by the end of this trip.

In other news, I applied for the Study Abroad Internship program through the International Student office at Usyd and was accepted. The next step was for them to send me internship options in the fields I had expressed interest in, which for me were media and communications, and public relations. They sent me a long list of internship option profiles, each one detailing the type of work I would be doing and some background on the company I would be working with. I was asked to rank these in order of preference, and a day later I heard that I had an interview with the Office of PR and Development at the University of Sydney, which is great because that means I don’t have to walk very far to get to it should I get the position.

On Tuesday I went over for the interview and the guy who would be my boss interviewed me and was really laid back and had a great sense of humor. He is also an american who up until four months ago worked with the University of Chicago. He was impressed with my background in writing and asked for me to send him some published writing samples. We chatted for over 45 minutes about Australia and America and it seemed like it went really well. If I get the position I would be drafting and editing proposals for groups who are seeking grants for projects and research in addition to dealing with the public relations aspects of public and private donors. There was also talk of the creation of a database of all the donors USyd has dealt with in the past, which would require some research and data entry. I am supposed to hear back by the end of the week so heres hoping! Should I get the position I can transfer it back to UMW for credit and it would also count as a class here, which would be fantastic because it would mean I could drop something else and have less homework and more time to travel. The way I see it I would rather spend my time here traveling and getting in as much of the country as I can because classrooms and homework pretty much look the same everywhere you go.