23.6.15; BANGKOK, Thailand

Okay, so I started writing this one shortly after the last, but with the whole mugging and broken charger incident, I haven’t been able to get back on it until now. Without further ado…

Another installment has arrived! Life is just too busy at the moment; I never realised how difficult it would be to keep a travel blog whilst actually travelling? Being constantly on the move, wanting to fit in as much as possible and see all I can isn’t really conducive to sitting down at the end of the day and writing about it. It’s more conducive to me stumbling into my dorm late in the evening, having a quick shower and falling, already half asleep, into bed. With perhaps a bit of added, pointless faffing about on my phone.

Yep, definitely some of that.

On Monday morning – or rather, closer to noon after the excesses of the previous night – I checked out of my Khao San hostel, and left my bags there in order to go and enjoy another day of unburdened (physically, at least) exploring the city.

Also, I’d mention that I wasn’t really hung over, just quite tired. And that it had taken the grand total of one mixed drink, half of a vodka and Red Bull bucket, one Smirnoff ice, and a pink cocktail, to get me well and truly drunk. Understandable, since I haven’t been drinking at all in India. And it makes a night out cheaper, I suppose? I’d gotten to that point at uni where nothing at all seemed to get me drunk except the magic vodka and Red Bull, discovered by accident one night at a gig with… questionable and hungover-ridden results.

ANYWAY.

It was another pad thai for breakfast – 30 Baht, not bad – which I made the grievous error in spicing FAR too much and having to choke it down with a brave face in order not to look like a total newbie tourist. I managed. There were a few tears but I managed. Following the suggestions in the Lonely Planet guide for Bangkok, I decided to tackle a couple more of the Bangkok districts. There are quite a few and though I didn’t manage to see every area of interest, I hope to be able to explore a little bit more when I stop there before flying home in August.

My pad thai breakfast!
My pad thai breakfast!

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21.6.15; BANGKOK, Thailand

So, behold, my first blog entry from Thailand! I’ve been pretty bad with updating recently, and so at the time of writing, I’ve already been gone from Bangkok for a couple of days… Whoops! Better late than never though, I guess, and I always note down what I’ve done, so fear not! You’ll still get the low down on all my doings in Bangkok.

UPDATE: A couple of days? I’m a damned liar. It’s been two weeks.

ANOTHER UPDATE: *hides* It’s been nearly a month. I’m in Cambodia. Darn.

I am crap. I apologise. Having been on the move a bit more, it’s been a little more difficult to get stuff done, and when I say that, I mean that when I do get a chance, I get distracted by social media and watching cliche films like “The Beach” on Youtube. Whoops.

Let’s take a trip back in time and borders to Bangkok where my Southeast Asian adventure kicked off.

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20.6.15; NEW DELHI, India

I got up at an absolutely RIDICULOUS hour on the Wednesday of that week; sad but necessary to get to Jaipur for a reasonable time, as the journey is nearly six hours long. Ideally, I would have liked to stay overnight, and had planned to stay with a Couchsurfing host, but it didn’t work out with the train times. When I’d been booking the tickets, I’d told the counter guy all this and watched his expression go from “mild interest” to “really couldn’t give less of a shit”.

I’ll write a focus post on my day in Jaipur when I get a chance (around the time I’ll write all those other location based ones, eh?) but for the moment, let it suffice to say that the day was very full, hot, exhausting, exciting, draining, confusing and a whole range of contradictions. Despite it being part of the “Golden Triangle”, I had mixed feelings about Jaipur and didn’t really love it as much as I did Delhi. For me, the hawkers were too aggressive (and that’s saying something, having been in Delhi for a week!), the sights not as impressive as I’d thought, and the place lacked the charm of Agra.

At the Amber Fort just outside Jaipur
At the Amber Fort just outside Jaipur

More on that later.

As I’d taken the sleeper train back from Jaipur (and that’s a whole other story!), I was fretting for about an hour before the train reached Delhi for fear of missing my stop and ending up in the back-arse of India in the early hours of the morning. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that, and after a few responses of confirmation to my questions of “Delhi? Next stop?” and quizzical looks, I managed to get off the train at the Old Delhi station just after 5am.

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17.6.15; NEW DELHI, India

The next day, it was time to explore New Delhi! Most attractions in India are closed on Mondays, but thankfully most of the things I wanted to see were either outside or still open. Firstly, yes, I did walk all day again! I went to Connaught Place, which is pretty much the commercial centre of New Delhi – most of the big avenues lead onto a traffic circle which goes around a circular colonnade of shops, banks and restaurants. It’s like being back in Europe! Costa and Starbucks lining the roads, etc. I even saw Marks and Spencer! Home comforts!

Connaught Place
Connaught Place

Of course, I HAD to stop for an iced coffee, but straight after that, I headed to the Jantar Mantar, which is a huge observatory just off Connaught Place. It’s quite incongruous with the surroundings! Imagine, these huge red stone instruments surrounded by modern office buildings; very strange! Entrance fee was 100 Rs, but it was worth paying as the place was not only interesting to look around but quite a nice peaceful place to sit in the shade and people watch.

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11.6.15; DEHRADUN, India

I’m writing this from my new favourite haunt, the Chhaya Café in Old Rajpur. It’s one of a few slightly hipster joints on the Old Mussoorie Road, a bit away from the hustle and bustle of inner Dehradun. Great, cheap food and drinks, a lovely view, and FREE WiFi! My dream location…

New fave
New fave

Okay, I lie. That’s the only bit I wrote in the café. Procrastinating much! Terrible…

On Thursday, I unfortunately was a bit ill again (does a week ever pass that something isn’t wrong with me???) and spent the day at home, reading and catching up with writing my book reviews – got a nice backlog to publish now, all waiting in the folder! I couldn’t believe that I had just a week left in Dehradun before I moved onto the next part of my journey… Friday wasn’t particularly eventful either as I’d improved a tiny bit – enough to drag myself to summer camp in the morning, but I spent most of the rest of the day asleep…

On Saturday I stayed home from the camp again, and made use of some of my time which wasn’t spent reading by repacking some of my bits and bobs in preparation for the next weeks packing challenge, and tidying all my stuff. Decided to give quite a few bits and pieces to the girls here because I REALLY don’t need all my stuff and it wouldn’t hurt to free up some space.

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4.6.15; DEHRADUN, India

First journal entry as a nineteen year old! Only one year left of being a teenager… What a grim thought. On Tuesday, I went to the summer camp as usual in the morning, and on today’s agenda was acting out the fairytale of Snow White! The kids do love acting things out, but they always feel terribly put upon when they have to play a King and Queen – they’re still at the age when even pretending to be married to someone is cringe-inducing. Ah, I remember those innocent times…

Afterwards, I headed out with Misha and Achala again. On my way to meet Misha (Achala was running a little late), I couldn’t resist running into a second-hand book depot at Astley Hall, opposite Gandhi Park, which is a much needed spot of green in the busy, dusty city which is Dehradun. It’s like a different world in the park – water features (admittedly lacking water) and trees everywhere – very pleasant! I’m told most protests start from there, perhaps in the same way that College Green In Bristol is a meeting point for that kind of thing.

Gandhi Park
Gandhi Park

I bought a couple of books, including Stephen King’s “Christine” and Austen’s “Northanger Abbey” – keep eyes peeled for the reviews! I also got a Lonely Planet Guide to Bangkok; I’m thinking that will be quite useful for when I’m there; I’m going to be in Bangkok on three separate occasions so I’ll probably get quite a bit of time to explore. I don’t want to just go to popular tourist stops, and I wouldn’t really use guidebooks to find cafes or places to stay and eat, but I think they’re very useful for tracking down all the sights and working out how to see what you want to in your available time frame.

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1.6.15; DEHRADUN, India

Wednesday’s session with the children in the summer school mainly revolved around learning the hokey-cokey, and yet ANOTHER Horrid Henry story. Not necessarily my favourite. They’re really enthusiastic about the hokey-cokey though… Perhaps a little too enthusiastic? Some children ended up on the floor. It looked a bit traumatic.

Followed this up with learning more kathak. I really find that classical dance is so much more interesting and enjoyable to learn than any modern styles. Obviously, that’s a huge generalisation, but I don’t take that well to contemporary of hip-hop. Not for lack of trying! It’s a bit sad that kids here are so obsessed with Western styles; be it clothes, music or dance, that not many of them want to learn kathak or take much interest in their own culture.

Learning kathak complete with Ghungroo bells!
Learning kathak complete with Ghungroo bells!

Nonetheless, I’m trying to learn as much as I can whilst I’m here. Maybe that should be a focus for me during my travels? Learning different dances from around the world? I never get bored of it! On Thursday, I did join in with a little bit of the hip-hop class, and it was good fun even if I’m pretty awful at it!

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27.5.15; DEHRADUN, India

I’m ill, AGAIN… I swear, there’s not a week goes by that something isn’t wrong with me. What is it this time? THE BLOODY FLU. Seriously. In possibly the hottest place I’ve ever lived, I have a cold.

Thanks, Satan.

Last Tuesday, I finally made good on my promise to the girls, and we went to Shruti’s house to watch the first part of Breaking Dawn; for my sins, I have already seen all the Twilight films, and loathe though I am to promote the ridiculous and unhealthy relationship depicted within them, the girls seem to love it. *cue distressed sighing*

Disclaimer: In no way did I enjoy this film. Any outward appearance of enjoying it will probably have been caused by tiredness and a lack of light in the room required to read the book I’d brought with me in anticipation of boredom and mild amusement at the film. Anyone claiming that I enjoyed it will be sued for slander and defamation of character.

This led to the girls quoting a few scenes from it OVER AND OVER again for the next few days, which is admittedly quite funny, especially when I do it in the required American accents. I concede amusement value, at least.

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14.5.15; DEHRADUN, India

Thursday 7th May was a big day for me! I was up bright and early to get to Shruti’s house for 6.45; we had to be in Rishikesh before 9am, to catch the bus from the booking office up to the BUNGEE PLATFORM!

I’ve wanted to do a bungee jump for such a long time; it’s been on my bucket list for years, but until I saw some advertisements in Rishikesh on my first trip there, I didn’t realise that I’d get to fulfil it so soon! It’s one of those things where you think, “I’ll do it one day…”, but never give all that much thought to what you would think if that day happened to be tomorrow. The company we decided to book the jump through is called “Jumpin Heights”, and their bridge is the highest bungee platform in India, at 83m above the valley floor just outside Rishikesh, over the Ganges.

The company seemed not only very professional with very good reviews, but they also had specialists from New Zealand working with them and catered for many visitors to the area; all seemed legit so we had booked a jump each for that day. The prices seemed almost too good to be true, like everything here.

In England, you’d pay £100 at the very least for a bungee jump. Here, I did mine for Rs 3000 – about £30 – and can confirm that the safety precautions were very good and the staff extremely professional. Another thing I didn’t tell my parents about beforehand; back home, I’m sure that the cheap price might have seemed an indicator of bad quality, but here in India, it’s quite a lot of money.

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6.5.15; DEHRADUN, India

On Saturday, I somewhat foolishly agreed to Shruti’s suggestion of a morning walk. I can safely say that won’t be happening again! Got up at 5am and went for a two hour walk (this bit is my fault, I said it was okay to keep going!), to the border of the Radaji National Park which is fairly close to where I’m staying. It was really beautiful to see the sunset and to be up and about so early, and I had the opportunity for a long chat with Shruti about so many different things, but it completely knocked me out for the whole rest of the day! I did an hour in the school (school ends at 10.30am on Saturdays) when we got back, and then had to take a nap straight away! Pretty much exhausted myself with that, and although the sunrise was nice, I think I’ll stick to seeing the sunsets! Not much else to report from Saturday that I can recall…

On Sunday, a couple of girls came to visit the shelter; in their mid-twenties, one has started her own NGO called “TeachGirls”, working for educating women and girls in the slum areas around Dehradun. It was interesting to talk to them as one had studied in England, at Cambridge University, for a year, and so we talked a lot about the differences between British and Indian Higher Education. I think we might meet up at some point during my stay and do something.

Afterwards, I went for a walk by myself out to the little temple in the wooded area, it’s a nice place to just sit and think for a while. Before the mosquitoes start biting at least… Went out to Pacific Mall after that to collect Radha from work. Had another quick browse around the shops but I’m finding that shops aren’t really doing it for me here; it’s far cheaper and more interesting to go to the market! When I got back, I tested a couple of the girls on some English vocab which I’d gone through with them the previous day.

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