Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Pause Menu

Countries Visited: 4
Number of Days Traveling: 175
Malaria Tablets Packed: 191
Malaria Tablets Consumed: 0
Photos Taken (approx): 5000
Books Read: 14
Favourite Books: 'Shantaram', 'Life of Pi' & 'Ghostwritten'.
Films Watched (excluding ones i'd already seen): 33 (approx)
Favourite New* Films: 'Slumdog Millionaire', 'Milk' & 'Up'.
Pairs of Flipflops: 2
Times Sick: 1
Days Ill in Bed: 0
Hospitals Visited: 0
Animals in Room: Ants, spiders, rat (plural), geckos, cockroaches...
Number of Haircuts: 1
Elephants Rescued: 2
Items Lost: 3 (nail clippers, torch & watch).
Best Party: Ko Chang, Thailand / Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Days Camping: 3
Best Food: Thailand (probably).
Worst Food: Vietnam (...probably).
Weirdest Meal: Ants & ant eggs (Cambodia).
Best Noodle Soup: Sukhothai, Thailand.
Best Coffee: Laos.
Favourite Beer: Angkor.
Favourite Beach: Ko Samet, Thailand.
Motorbikes Rented: 4
Best Place to Rent a Motorbike: Sa Pa, Vietnam.
Number of Hitchhikes: 2
Biggest Thunderstorm: Ayutthaya, Thailand.
Toughest Trek: Bokor National Park in Kampot, Cambodia / Luang Nam Tha, Laos.
Tattoos Received: ...
Longest Without Washing: 3 days.
Favourite Language: Khmer (Cambodian).
Guide Book: Rough Guide.
Best Activity: Rock climbing in Krabi, Thailand.
Most Beautiful Island: Ko Phi Phi, Thailand.
Cheapest Country: Cambodia.
Most Expensive Country: Vietnam.
Favourite Country: Whichever one I was in.
Worst Country: N/A
Highlight of Thailand: Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai.
Highlight of Cambodia: Srah Srang Village in Angkor.
Highlight of Vietnam: Easy Riders from Da Lat to Hoi An.
Highlight of Laos: Trekking in Luang Nam Tha.
Dont Leave Home Without: Tiger Balm

Thursday, 9 July 2009

End / Start

This is probably the last post. I cant think to summarize - and I also dont think it's possible or that I indeed need to being that this whole blog has been one big summary - so from now on feel free to find more interesting things to read on the internet in your not so free time.

What I will say is that I will miss the adventure a day that South-East Asia has provided. The careful chaos and arbitrary anarchy that i've enjoyed so much - a health and safety state this is not. I will also miss the people, local and traveling, the ones I knew for hours and ones I knew for days (or weeks). Thanks for being my best mates in minutes and making my trip what it was.

Special applause goes to Elephant Nature Park and the amazing people of Srah Srang village, I wont forget you lot in a hurry. You guys were undoubtedly the highlight of my trip, I know this without even having to think twice about it. I cannot however pick a favourite country because they were all so different and so good in their own way. I was probably more sad to leave Cambodia than any other country so if you want to use that as your answer you may.

I remember day 1, January 12th 2009, looking at my hand scrawled calendar (with Bangkok being all obnoxious in the background) and seriously wondering how I was going to survive the 180 days. But now, I dont think 180 days has ever gone so fast.

Goodbye from here, here, here & here and I will see you in the flesh as of Saturday morning. I am excited and I am not excited, probably more anxious about coming home than I was about leaving, a fear of the routine I suspect. The wonder.

End / Start. X

Monday, 6 July 2009


As good as it was before. With the added bonus of 2 new baby elephants, one of which was born only 3 months ago. A baby elephant - I say "baby", it's still the size of a sofa - is like a combination of a puppy and a baby, they have a 'im running and I dont think I can stop' quality about them. They're skin is soft in comparison (especially their trunks) and are of the weight (just) to climb over you if you're crouching or sitting. They can also go into 'nap' mode really quickly, stopping and swaying before keeling over for half hour or so - very cute.

Apart from that everything was the same, they'd built or expanded a few things - a river walkway being the biggest addition - and some of the people who were there before have left, but it was still the same amazing place. It was a nice thing to be remembered, surprised some with my return, especially the volunteer coordinators in the office on the first morning. It was nice to see Lek & Pom again, still dedicating every minute to their elephants and because I'd been before, was given more freedom and often helped the vc's in organisation or providing information to volunteers - did feel a little privileged I wont lie.

The group was a lot bigger than the last time I was there by atleast 15 people but we were a good bunch, quieter i'd say than before and we took longer to bond I think, but only because of the size thing. Tasks were same same with the addition of trench digging replacing fire breaking. Corn cutting, food preparation, tree planting, grass cutting, poo shoveling & elephant bathing were still staple chores, but they never feel like it, it's always a laugh. My determination to get a permanent position at the park only increased, although I think people normally aren't so blunt about it so I think they thought I wasn't serious. How wrong they are.

So it's full on wet season now, it rained everyday at the park, normally constant and heavy for the whole day but it was nice to see the contrast between the hot and wet seasons - dust becomes mud and baron becomes grass. It's still warm and people still got burnt in the sun but I really dont mind the rain and mud, although I got told today London is hotter than Bangkok which seems a little alien. I think im going to spend my last days between Chiang Mai and Bangkok but I have no plan, i'll take it easy and see what happens. The thought of coming home isn't exactly a good one (not to sound like a dick) but home is a weird concept right now. I feel the need to warn you in advance, expect a bit of a comedown... :-/

Im off to rainbathe. X