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documenting my life, thoughts and tips, one ramble at a time...

Thursday, August 11, 2016

South East Asia blues


This time three years ago, I found myself planning for a three-month trip across South East Asia having being successful in a serendipitous application to volunteer abroad. A bit of background, my three uni friends and I were literally all in the library doing an all-nighter during exam period and a spam email popped up with an application to teach abroad. On a whim we all said let’s go for it and see, little did we know that 3 out of 4 of us would be accepted. One month later we were applying for Thai Visas and packing to have what I can only describe as the best experience of my life to date.

With my travellers backpack full to bursting and after our two connected flights from London Heathrow Airport to Bahrain and then a flight from Bahrain to Bangkok we had arrived. Hungry, tired and extremely confused since none of us had bothered to check out what do to once we'd actually landed in Bangkok, we looked towards the Travellers bible: Lonely Plant Thailand for guidance. The Holy Guide pointed us towards Koh San Road: aka 'The Backpackers Ghetto'. After wondering for around 1 hour we found a cheap hostel, offloaded our backpacks and started exploring.

We spent around two weeks travelling before we headed to our schools to start teaching. I taught English to the whole Prattrom (Primary) for six weeks with classes often consisting of around 25+ students. I won’t for one second say that after 6 weeks of lessons with me my students were fluent in English, however, what this placement did teach me was how to be comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings, how to deal with challenges and how life really is about stepping outside of your comfort zone. What the students and teachers later told me is that they loved this programme because they were able to learn from me as well as teach me a few Thai phrases: Sawadeeka means hello and Saba di mi means how are you. I am happy to say to this day I still keep in contact with many of the teachers!


Me and some of my students (don't watch the miss match clothes please)

Me and the native teachers 


After my teaching programme I travelled for another 2 months with friends and my cousin Bianca (check out her Instagram btw she’s an incredible fashion stylist). We visited:

Thailand
Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Chan, Koh Phangan, Koh Phi Phi, Pai

Vietnam
Ho Chi Min City, Pai, Krabi, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hanoi

Cambodia
Koh Rong, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, Phonm Phen

The food and drink were incredible, tasty and cheap, everything out there was freshly made and it really made a difference to my overall health and wellbeing. My hair grew to the longest it’s ever been, my skin was glowing and due to the constant Vitamin D my serotonin levels were through the roof.

I cannot stress enough that everyone has to travel at some stage in their life, it does not have to be for as long as I went for but it is a must. You will come back with new memories, lifelong friends and for me a different outlook on life. What travelling really taught me is just to go with the flow, for example sometimes we'd be stuck on an overnight bus for hours on end, sleep deprived, sweating and reeking due to not having showered in two days but once you see that golden beach or clear blue water you immediately forget about the mountain you had to climb to get there. And that's how I now look at life no matter how shit life gets, I always convince myself to think positively and look towards the end goal. Everyone is on a journey, it does not matter how long it takes you to get there as long as everyday your taking the steps in the right direction. 



Koh Phi Phi Don

Halong Bay in Vietnam



I met so many people whilst travelling, I had an amazing time and my travel diary is hilarious. I am looking forward to creating more memories abroad in the upcoming years. Where next? Probably back to South East Asia, so that I can travel, Bali, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.


Here are some of my top tips for those of you looking to travel South East Asia:


  • TIP: Street food is so much tastier and cheaper than the restaurants. Don't listen to all the horror stories about easing yourself in we literally waited two days, if that, before we devoured about two plates each of street food and we were fine. 
  • TIP: Take a bum-bag and always travel with your passport and money.
  • TIP: Be prepared to wait, journeys rarely run on time. 
  • TIP: make sure you when travelling to Hoh Chi Min City that you have Vietnamese Dong BEFORE you arrive in Vietnam, as we found upon arriving that there was no Western Union or bank that would accept GBP travellers’ cheques. 
  • TIP: Night buses aren't easy, be prepared to be sweaty, dirty and sleep deprived especially since everyone is on a budget and goes for the cheapest bus tickets. 
  • TIP: Beware of the metered taxis
  • TIP: Baby wipes and hand sanitiser are lifesavers


Where would you like to travel next? 

Love,

Rosh xx









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