Rice fields, cooking classes and wood carving – Ubud, Bali

Thursday 14th January

I loved the dive so much the day before that I decided to book in for one that day as well. I had booked an early boat off the island but I changed it for a later time and went back to the dive centre for 8am. I was with Adi again and two German lads. We set out again, this time we went to Turtle Heaven dive site. So many turtles!!! They were all massive and glorious. I didn’t even know turtles could get that big! Turtle heaven is the most beautiful place I have dived. I mean, I’ve only done 6 dives but it was definitely my favourite. Not only where there so many turtles but the fish were breath taking. So beautiful and colourful. They just surround you and mesmerise you. Its so incredible. I took my go pro that time and so hopefully got some decent footage. We stayed on the bottom for about 45 minutes again, exploring. When we got back to the dive shop, I had time to get changed and grab some lunch before getting my boat back to Bali. The boat crossing wasn’t too bad and it was easy enough to find my transfer bus to take me to Kuta. I got dropped off on the main street and walked to my hostel, where I checked in. I chilled out a bit before going to get some food. While I was eating I bumped in to a girl that I had met a few months previously in Hanoi, Vietnam. It was crazy. She was working at the hostel now. Ha. I chatted to her for a bit before heading out for a walk. I explored down the streets for a bit and then treated myself to getting my nails done an a full body massage. The massage was incredible. I’m not sure what she did to me but I felt so sleepy and drunk after. She must have really got those toxins going. It was getting late when I got in from my pamper session and I was so tired that I pretty much went straight to bed.

Friday 15th January

The day before, I had booked my morning shuttle bus to Ubud. After seeing eat pray love, and seeing loads of photos, I was super excited to get there. The bus picked me up from my hostel and I got chatting to two girls, Gracie and Becky. They were just starting their travels. We stayed on that bus for a bit and then had to transfer on to a different bus. It only took an hour to get to Ubud. We were dropped off near the centre. The girls decided to see if the hostel I had booked had room for them, so we all grabbed a taxi together. After checking in we met another girl in our dorm, Louise.  Me, Becky and Gracie decided to go and see the monkey forest. Louise had already been the day before and so said she would meet us for lunch afterwards. We were staying 10/15 minutes up the road from Monkey forest so we set off. I had heard that the monkeys could be a bit grabby so I made sure not to have any lose articles on me. They weren’t that bad though. Very cute! There were so many of them, all different ages.

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Some of the younger ones were very inquisitive which was cute, until the mothers saw and became very protective. They can be quite scary when they bare their teeth at you. We spent about an hour walking around. It really was a beautiful place.

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On the way out, one monkey took an interest in Becky’s water bottle. Its best not to argue with them so she let him have it. The cheeky little bugger opened the bottle while it was tipped over. All the water ran out and down the hill and the monkey had a drink. They are so clever! We met up with Louise and went to find somewhere to have lunch.
That afternoon we went to find the ridge walk that Louise had heard about. We walked through the town until we came to the start of the trail. Ubud itself is quite small. It is very lovely though. There are a lot of beautiful buildings. The place is famous for the arts and crafts there. All the shops are full of artwork you can buy. It’s wonderful. Luckily it was cooling down by the time we started on the trail. I wouldn’t recommend doing it in the heat of the day. It was a lovely walk, it took you up so you could walk along and look over the some rice paddies. I tried to climb a bit higher up at one stage. Mistake, it was hard to get back down and I ended up slipping in the dirt. Haha. Oops.

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We carried on walking until we came to this little cafe / restaurant place. The view from there was lovely. We sat overlooking the Koy Karp pond and watched the sunset while eating pancakes and drinking iced coffee

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Just before it got dark we decided to head back. We wanted to get back before it got dark but didn’t manage. Instead we had to walk along the trail by phone light, occasionally breaking spider webs with our faces. Ahh!
We made it back eventually though and all had a well needed shower! That evening we just hung out in the hostel, chatting.

Saturday 16th January.

The previous day we had booked a day long tour with a taxi man. There are a lot of tours your can book and they drive you all round the surrounding areas so you can visit the famous temples and rice paddies. We all got up early and went out to have breakfast. Our taxi man met us out side our hostel and we all piled in the car. The first stop was a temple that I had seen when I researched Ubud. I was very excited. We drove for about an hour or so before we got there. We were heading north and high into the mountains so the temperature was a nice, cooler temperature. We got out the car and and it was lovely to walk around and not sweat. The temple was called Ulun Danu temple. I think its a traditional Balinese style. I saw a few that shape.

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It was really pretty where it was situated. Lots of lovely gardens and flowers to have a look at.

After we had a good look we got back in to our car and our driver took us to the next stop which were the famous rice paddies. We could see them as we were driving up. They were so beautiful with all the layers.

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So green and luscious looking. We got out the car and did the little walk through the paddies and met the driver on the other side. The temperature had got warmer again because we had come down from the mountains. There was a man working in one of the paddies. It must be hard work, especially in that sun! After our little walk we stopped off in a little restaurant to have lunch. Our table was on a balcony over looking the paddies. Such a beautiful view. Of course, we all had the nasi goreng. It was so good!

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The next stop after lunch was at a coffee tasting place. They had the special “luwak coffee” which we were all eager to try… I can’t think why though…

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We tried a few different flavours. They were all really good. We even got to see the Luwak animals that eat the coffee beans. Bless them, working away to make some delicious coffee!

The final stop of the day was another temple over by the coast, called the Tanah Lot temple. The temple was out to sea a little bit on a rock. It was really pretty to look at, especially with all the waves around it.

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It was blummin hot though and we were all tired by this point. We had a little wander around the market bit and an ice cream before heading back to the car to get back.
That evening we all went out for dinner. We went to this lovely restaurant over the road and had the most delicious meal! The food was so good!!

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We had a lovely time. After dinner we nipped into a few shops before heading back to the hostel to spend the night chilling out.

Sunday 17th January

I got up early to say good bye to the girls. Becky and Gracie were moving on to the coast in Bali and Louise was heading to the Gili Islands. I had a bit of a lie in after they left before heading out for breakfast. I found a cafe and had a big bowl of fruit, honey and yoghurt. I decided to spend the afternoon taking in the arty culture of Ubud. I wandered around and had a look in some shops before finding my way to the Puri Lukisan art museum. There were four building surrounding a beautiful garden.

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Each building held a different kind of artwork, ranging from paintings to sculptures. I fell in love with the traditional sculptures. Some of them were so big and intricate. I want one. I took my time looking at each piece. I really enjoyed it.

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After I finished looking around the museum I headed back to the hostel for a bit. I had booked to do a traditional Balinese cooking class that evening, it started at 4pm. It was being held in a restaurant about 10 minutes walk away. I found my way there and I was met by a lady. It must have been the longest restaurant ever. She led me to the back and it seemed to go on forever. It was mostly outside. She led me down a little path. There were tables dotted around everywhere. The whole place was beautifully decorated with plants and trees. It was so lovely.

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Eventually we came to the back and she sat me down and gave me a very refreshing iced tea to drink. I was joined by the other ladies on the course. There were 6 of us in total. Our teacher met us and took us into the vegetable and herb garden. She explained what everything was and what it was used for. It was really interesting. She took us to where we would be cooking. It was like a kitchen area. There was a table full off fresh fruit and vegetables and herbs and spices. Next to it was our preparation table. We each had a place to stand with a knife, chopping board and cook book.

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We made 4 or 5 dishes. It was really fun. We had to cut up and prepare the meat and vegetables and herbs etc and then we all had a go at cooking the ingredients and learning how to make the dishes. I even got to male Nasi Goreng!

After we had finished everything. We all sat down together and got to eat the food we had made. It was all so good!

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I got chatting to a lady called Kim from America. She was really lovely. We decided to go for a drink after dinner. Everyone else had to get back to their hotels so just me and Kim went for a glass of wine. She works at a vineyard so she was teaching me about wine. We had a lovely chat in this posh bar. It was lovely meeting her! After our drink we said good night. I headed back to the hostel and read my book for a bit before bed.

Monday 18th January

When I was at the museum the day before, I booked myself on to a wood carving workshop. I had been looking for one to do but so far hadn’t been able to find one. The museum did loads of different craft workshops but the wood carving one really caught my eye. I arrived at 9am, after breakfast. The workshop was outside on this little raised platform with a roof but no walls. There were loads of cushions on the floor and a table. I met my teacher and relalised that it was just me doing the workshop! I was given a piece of wood and my teacher told me to pick a design. Obviously I chose the elephant.

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I had to start off by drawing the design on the wood using a stencil. It didn’t take long before we got stuck in. I didn’t realise how difficult it would be! There were so many chisels and tools to use to scrape out the wood. There were also so many different techniques to get all the different angles. My teacher was so good though and he taught me well. It was slow going, I was scared I would do it wrong!! I was doing well though and I slowly made progress. Half way through the morning we had a little break and had banana fritters and iced tea. Very nice 😀 we carried on until lunch time and my elephant was coming along nicely.

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All the food and drinks were in with the price of the course. At midday we broke for lunch and I had nasi goreng in the museum restaurant, overlooking the beautiful garden. After an hour we cracked on again. I think getting the detail and making it tidy was the hardest part! I eventually managed though and at about 3pm I was finished and was able to varnish it!!

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I was so super proud with myself and my little carving. I had such a good time doing it and chatting to my teacher. I learnt all about his family and everything. (Can’t remember his name though 🙈)

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I thanked him a lot and then returned back to my hostel. I was shattered after all that concentration. That night I went back to the really good restaurant over the road and had myself a lovely grotty burger and a beer. Well earnt!!

Next stop… Back to Bangkok.

Paradise beaches, movie nights and scuba diving – Phuket, Thailand. Kuta, Bali and the Gili Islands, Indonesia

Saturday 2nd January

Before we went to Bali, we had to stop over one night in Phuket, to then fly to Bangkok, and from there to Bali. We got up and made our way down to the pier, stopping off for breakfast on the way. The boat took us to the mainland.

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Happy Chappies

We had organised a transfer to our hostel with the boat ticket and the oldest, smallest man in the world met us off the boat. I have no idea how he reached the pedals to drive the mini van. He was a very slow driver, which was probably for the best. We set off,  Meash was staying at a different place to us, so after some difficulty finding the place, we dropped him off first. Then the fun started. The old man clearly had no idea where we were going. All we had was an address but that didn’t seem to help him. He drove around for a bit and must have got out and asked 5 different people for directions. We didn’t know where we were meant to be going but I could see we were going away from the beach. He was driving down this road and we were all telling him to turn around. He either couldn’t hear, or understand us because he paid no attention and carried on in completely the wrong direction. Nightmare!!! After stopping to ask a few more people, I got annoyed and got out the van with him to ask directions myself. We were literally down the road from where we needed to be and must have driven past the place 5 times! Ugh. We made it eventually and checked in. That evening we met Meash and we all went for dinner down on the beach.

Sunday 3rd January

We weren’t due to fly to Bangkok until midnight so we had the whole day to relax. We spent the day by the pool near Meash’s hotel. It was lovely. I accidentally put my kindle on a wet towel and it some how sucked the water up through the charge point and died 😱😱😱  I was horrified. I went to the little market near by and bought a kg of rice to put it in to hopefully dry out. I was gutted!!

At about 8.30 we made our way to the airport to catch our flight to Bangkok. It was only an hour flight but a bit delayed.

Monday 4th January

Our flight out to Bali was at 6am in the morning. We landed at 1.30am we went to find somewhere to get a few hours kip. Impossible. They were playing the loudest most annoying music. It was like Santa’s grotto music on speed. The air con was pumping out as well. I think I managed about 20 minutes sleep. We eventually went to check in to our flight to Bali. I bought a new neck pillow which I was very glad of when we got on the plane. It was about a 4 hour journey and we were all shattered.

The first thing you notice about Bali is the heat! Oh my, its warm!!!
We all got a taxi to our hotel. I immediately really liked Denpasa. Its all small roads and little streets. No massive highways or anything. Meash had booked our hostel and it was very basic. We had a fan but the room was sweltering. We sat outside the room for a bit chatting to the guys that worked at the hostel. I had heard mixed reviews about the Balinese people. I loved them straight away. They are so lovely and always up for a laugh and a joke. One of the guys who was from a remote island kept asking to take my picture. Haha. Not accustomed to blonde hair. After a bit, we decided to go for a wander.

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We were staying south of Denpassa, in Kuta. The culture of the place is so apparent. There are temples and statues everywhere. Not massive ones, but little ones built in amongst the shops. They have these gargoyle (Bygone) statues everywhere. I presume there are a protective thing.

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The floor is also covered with tiny square baskets made out of bamboo with all kinds of herbs and flowers, cakes and bits and bobs in. You have to be careful not to step on them. I researched it later on and apparently they are offerings to the gods to keep the peace. They are outside all the shops and at junctions on the road because this is where incidents or altacations are more likely to happen.
After exploring for a bit we decided to try a bit of local food and went to a place called Bamboo Corner. I had chicken satay and it was delish. Kuta is very popular with the Australians as a place to come and surf, so we decided to check out the beach.
The waves were huge and aggressive!! I wasn’t used to it after the calm seas in the rest of Asia.

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We went in the sea, it was not a relaxing experience. I nearly lost my bikini a few times and was dragged round like a rag doll. It was fun but exhausting!
We stayed on the beach for a bit before heading back to hostel and for a shower before dinner. I had to sit next to a fan for 20minites after my shower to cool down. You just immediately start sweating again as soon as you step out. We went out for dinner and then came back to endure the sweatiest night ever. We all just lay on our beds… Dripping. It was great.

Tuesday 5th January.

The day before, we had booked our boat over to the Gili Islands, next to Lombok. Meash wasn’t coming with us so we said goodbye to him and were collected by our minibus, to take us to the harbour. On the way to the harbour we were driven through the more touristy part of Kuta. There was macdonalds, Starbucks and loads of clothes shops. I was glad we stayed in the more local part, down the back alleys. We had to wait for a bit before we got on the boat so we had some food and got attacked by wasps. 😤
The speedboat over to the island took about 2 hours. I have been told before how beautiful the Gilis are but you don’t appreciate it until you arrive on the beach and see the crystal clear waters and the white sand. Its mesmerising. The Gills themselves are like another world. They are three tiny islands off the coast of Lombok (the island next to Bali). We went to Gili T first. Much like Koh Phi Phi in Thailand, there are no motorised vehicles. Instead there is an abundance of bicycles to rent and the streets are full of horse and cart. The main road across the front of the island, near the harbour, is all shops, dive centers and restaurants. We walked down the little dirt paths dodging the horses and eventually found our hostel. After checking in and basking in the aircon we went out for a walk and to find some food. We settled on a sheesha and Indian restaurant on the beach front.

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After dinner we walked a bit further along the main strip and found an open air cinema!! Perfect! They show two films a night and you get free popcorn in with the ticket. We settled down to watch the second film they were playing that evening; Entourage.

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The best thing about that day was that I gave my kindle one last chance and tried to charge it. It worked!!! KINDERELLA LIVES ON!!!!!

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Wednesday 6th January.

We had a bit of a lazy morning before heading out to find some food. We did intend to walk round the island but it was too blummin hot and we got distracted by massages. I had a good but rather painful foot massage. We spent the afternoon relaxing on the beach. There was a slight storm so we had to hide for a bit but the sun came back out again pretty sharpish. That evening we went out for dinner and then had a few drinks and a good dance at the Irish bar.

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Thursday 7th January

Another lazy day on the Gili T. We got out nails done and sunbathed a bit more. That night Erin wasn’t feeling very well but me and Bros went out for a sheesha and some red wine. We had an absolutely fantastic time. We ended up going to a bar and having a sing song with some people until the early hours. Before we knew it was 7am and the sun was coming up so we sat on the beach to watch. Such a great night!!

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Friday 8th January

Obviously having spent all night awake, we went to bed for a few hours. We got up again at 12 and went to find food.  We spent the rest of the day hungover but rented out some sunbeds at a rather gorgeous resort and I supped on lime juice

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That evening we abused the outdoor cinema and watched The Theory of everything and Jurassic World. 👍👍

Saturday 9th January

Alice was heading off to the mainland to catch her flight to Hong Kong and me and Erin were heading over to Gili Meno. We said our goodbyes to Broster (😢) and made our way to catch the 10 minute public boat to the next island. Meno is a much quieter island compared to Gili T. We arrived and managed to find our £4.30 a night luxury bungalow. Its very much a honeymoon island. Very chilled out and relaxed.

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We dropped our bags and went to explore. The island is beautiful and so quiet. We walked down the wooded paths and came out near the harbour. They have a tiny turtle sanctuary there which we went to have a look at. All the baby turtles were so cute!!!

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We continued our exploring and found our own private beach. It was completely untouched and so beautiful!

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We spent a few hours there before heading back. That evening we went out for dinner and then had a quiet night in reading.

Sunday 10th January.

After breakfast, we decided to explore the island. There is a lake on the island so we set off in search of it. The island is only 3miles wide at its largest point so it didn’t take us long.

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We spent the next two hours walking  along the beaches and through the wooded parts of the island having a good look around. It was absolutely sweltering hot though. We were absolutely exhausted by the time we got back.

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Such a beautiful place though. The locals are all lovely. After we made it back, sweating profusely, we went to a pool near our bungalow and spent the afternoon hiding from the sun. On our island exploration expedition we did find another open air cinema. It was on the other side of the island to where we were staying, so about a 20 minute walk away. That evening we set out to watch a film and have dinner.

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It was fun, but slightly scary, walking back down the little paths in the pitch black with only our torch and the geckos for company 😄

Monday 11th January

I had an awful night from an upset stomach. I had been suffering a bit for a few days. I stayed in bed for most of the day trying not to move while Erin, my hero, went out to get medicine for me. I managed to drag myself out later that afternoon to meet Erin near the beach for some food. I spent the rest of the day sitting in a little beach hut trying to recover. That evening we trudged back to the cinema to watch The Martian. We love a film!!!

Tuesday 12th January

Back to Gili T! We got an early boat back across. The hostel that we had booked to stay in was completely deserted so we sacked it off and went to find another one. We had to walk around in the heat for a bit but eventually managed to get a good deal for a private room. After we checked in we went to book a snorkelling trip. The boat was leaving within the half hour so went down to the harbour and collected our flippers and got on board the boat. We did three snorkelling stops. The water was so beautifully clear and the fish were amazing.

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On the second stop the guys doing the tour found a turtle for us. We jumped off the boat and swam quite far out until we found one. He was absolutely beautiful and quite big. It was upsetting though because everyone crowded him and they were sticking their go pros right in his face. Poor little guy. I did manage to see him slowly drift to the surface though to take a little gulp of air. 😍
After snorkelling, we stopped off at Gili Air to have lunch. We didn’t get to explore the island though. That evening we went for dinner and then inevitably, to the cinema 😄

Wednesday 13th January

Goodbye Erin!! 😦😦 She was leaving to go back to the mainland to make her way home. We said goodbye early and then I chilled out for a bit in the room before making my way to the dive centre. The day before, I had booked a small refresher course and a dive in the afternoon. I arrived at 11am and met my instructor. A lovely Swedish girl called Amanda. It had been about 5 months since I completed my open water PADI so I though it was wise to have a quick go in the pool to see if I remembered everything. We just did a few breathing, mask and buoyancy skills. Turns out its like riding a bike and I was set to go! I went to have some lunch but was back at 2pm, raring to go! My dive master was a local man called Adi. He was lovely. I was also introduced to Kim, who was also diving with us. She was brilliant, a lady from Australia. We got on board the boat and got kitted up

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The dive was epic! We were diving at the meno wall site. We jumped in the water and descended down the side of the coral wall. The coral was so beautiful. We saw loads of really cool fish…. And then the turtles came. Adi signalled to me to wait and then look up at the wall. There was a big turtle sitting on top of the wall. He pushed himself off and then ever so gracefully swam down towards me. As he got near me he pulled up and glided right over the top of my head and then swam off in to the blue abyss. It was so amazing! They are so big, yet graceful. We saw two other turtles, one was fast asleep in a little alcove in the coral. We stayed down for about 45 minutes, exploring. Adi had a brilliant eye and was pointing out all kinds of amazing fish and clams that I wouldn’t have seen. It was incredible to be back diving again. I love it so much!!! When we got back on the boat, Kim very kindly invited me out for dinner and drinks with her and her daughter. I joined them that evening at the Irish bar. I had a lovely time chatting to them. There were a few people there from the dive centre as well so we sat with them for a bit too. Such a lovely evening!!

Next stop… Ubud, Bali.

Snorkelling, New Year and Alice Broster – Koh Phi Phi

Monday 28th December

Super early start. We got a tuk tuk down to the pier at 5am to catch our ferry over to the mainland. It was still dark out. We got on board the ferry but the water was quite choppy. It was a bit of a rough one, I think Erin felt it the worst. The sunrise was really beautiful to watch though. The water calmed down eventually though and we made it to the mainland. We got on a big bus which drove us for three hours across the mainland. Was quite comfortable and I managed to sleep for a lot of it. We got off the bus and had to wait for an hour or so to be taken to the pier for our final ferry. There was a shaded area to sit with chairs though so it wasnt too bad. We were eventually collected and taken to the boat to take us to Phi Phi! Faye was with us and we met with her mate Natalie. After a quick (and delicious) baguette, we boarded the boat. I always love arriving at Phi Phi because it is such a beautiful island! Such blue water. There are no motorised vehicles there because it is so small. It makes it a bit if a mish to get to your hostel though. All the streets are small and crammed either side with shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and tattoo parlours. We asked a few people for directions and eventually made it to our hostel on the other side of the island. Phew. It was hot! Our hostel was lovely though. Had only been open 7 days so everything was brand new! We checked in, got showered and me, Meash and Erin went out for a walk and to find some food. One of the shops was selling cheapo novelty glasses, of course we had to purchase some…

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We found somewhere to eat and had an amazing wrap. After food we went for a walk along the beach. There are loads of bars lining the beach with mega tunes and fire dancers and breathers. We weren’t out for a big one though so we carried on walking until we found a quiet bar and had a few drinks. It was lovely.

Tuesday 29th December

That morning we went out to find some amazing bacon butties that Meash and Erin had eaten when they were on the island a few years ago. They were insane! Proper bacon and an egg. Yes!!! After breakkie, me, Natalie, Faye, Meash and Erin went to find a boat so we could go snorkelling. We got a good price off a local man, for three hours of his time and he went to get some snorkelling equipment for us. We all haphazardly got on the boat. Difficult..tiny ladders and unstable floating boats are a bad combination. We all got on though and we set off round the island.

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There were loads of boats on the water so it was crazily choppy. We all got absolutely soaked as we made our way to the first snorkelling stop. The water was a lot calmer there and so beautifully blue and clear.

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We jumped off the boat to have a swim. I put my mask on and had a look under the water to see that I was surrounded by beautiful blue and green fish. It was a bit weird to start with because I thought they were going to touch me but they were just swimming. The boat man had brought some bread with him so he chucked some bits in to bring the fish closer. That was a bit terrifying. The fish formed massive squabbling balls around the bread, not so great when the guy chucked the bread at your head. I didn’t like it very much and it was hard to swim away because I didn’t want to kick the fish!!
I got used to it though. Faye was a blummin nightmare. Haha. She was feeling poorly so didn’t come in for a swim, she just enjoyed chucking the bread near me and watching me scream as the fish swarmed round me. Snorkelling was beautiful. There are larger fish deep down that you can spot. All the coral is beautiful to look at as well. We went to two more snorkelling spots. The final one, I decided to try and practise my new diving skills off the boat. It went terribly wrong. I had to jump quite high up off the boat. I lost my nerve half way through and did a full body flop and got water up my nose. Not ideal. Made a great noise though.
Before we headed back, we got Meash to take a pic of us girls…

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The water was still really choppy on the way back. It was great fun though, crashing along the waves and getting soaked.  We arrived back on land and went for a late lunch in a bakery/ cafe. I had this amazing nutella and peanut butter milkshake. It was the best milkshake of my life! 
Me and Erin went for massages afterwards and to have a gand in some of the shops. I think the woman that massaged me hated me though. Serious pain.

That evening we all sat round in the hostel and had a few drinks. We met some people also staying there and decided to go out with them. We went to a few bars, had some buckets and ended up on the beach dancing the night away. It was such a good night!! Those buckets are lethal though!

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Wednesday 30th December

Hangover. I managed to make Meash come and have some breakkie with me. Full English from the amazing bacon place. It was much needed. After breakfast, I left Meash to go for a wander around and  have my lashes done. It took about an hour.  I did fall asleep half way through, snored and woke myself up. Ha. They looked great though. Little new year treat. Later on, I met up with the others and waited with them for a bit before heading down to the pier to go and meet Alice Broster!!! Wooo!!! I was a bit early so I went to have an iced coffee in a cafe. I went back to meet the boat and waited until I could see her little head walking in the crowd towards me. It was fantastic to see her! I didn’t warn her about the long walk to the hostel.. It was an emotional time for her with her big backpack. We arrived though and she got checked in and settled. That evening we all went out for Mexican food and to a roof top bar where they were playing a film.

Thursday 31st December

New years eve!

After breakfast, we decided to hire a boat out again and go and see Maya Bay. I didn’t have the best experience when I was there last, after nearly drowning, so I thought it might be nice to see it on a sunny day. We did some snorkelling again. Our boat man took us to some beautiful spots around the island. I remembered to take my go pro that time, can’t wait to see if the footage is any good. That evening we all grabbed some street food for dinner before sitting round in the common room of the hostel with beers before going out to celebrate.

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We headed out and went to a few bars before making our way to the beach for midnight. I didn’t really know what to expect for the celebrations, I wasn’t even sure if they would do a count down. They did. It was amazing. They turned all the music off and everyone counted down to midnight. At 12 o’clock the sky exploded with spectacular fireworks. It was honestly amazing. Second best New Year ever.

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Photo credit @ambf21

We danced like lunatics on the beach for a while before heading back. The first place we passed coming off the beach was a tattoo parlour. In our infinite drunken wisdom we decided to go in and Alice and Pilch decided to get a tattoo each. Alice’s could have been a horrible drunken mistake but it actually came out beautifully. A Thai scripture meaning success and good luck around her left wrist. Pilch on the other hand……..

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Left bum cheek 😂🙈 Hilarious. We went to the rooftop bar for a bit but then decided to call it a night and all headed back. Fantastic times!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!🎉🎉🎉🎊🎊

Friday 1st January.

Pilch was getting the ferry back to the mainland later on that morning to fly to Vietnam so we went back to the cafe/bakery for breakfast. Another epic peanut butter and nutella milkshake. Fantastic start to the new year (what diet?) We said cheerio to Pilchard and then went for a wander around. Us girls treated ourselves to a pedicure and basically just monged around in the salon for a while. That evening, we went out for dinner with Meash and then up to the rooftop bar. We found Natalie and Faye up there so sat with them for a bit, having a chat.

Next stop…… Bali

Arrival of the boys, Christmas and learning how to dive – Koh Phangnan and Koh Tao.

Wednesday 23rd December

It was a very long day! We got up super early to get the taxi to take us to the pier. We said goodbye to Koh Lanta as we got on the ferry and crossed over to the main land. The ferry didn’t take too long, about 2 hours
We made a friend on the way

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When we got to the main land we had to get a bus over to the other side. That took another 3 ish hours. It was quite a nice bus though. Well, I say that, it was more that it was a coach rather than a cramped mini bus which is what I was expecting. The coach was brilliant news. We eventually made it to the other side and got on another ferry over to Phangnan. It was such a long day but eventually, 9 hours after we left, we made it. When we arrived on Phangnan it was absolutely tipping it down. We had to huddle together in the back of the tuk tuk taxi to keep dry. We made it to our hostel and went to find the boys; Pilch and Meash, (Ashby De La Zouch on tour). I assumed they would be in the bar but they were both asleep, bless them. We woke them up. After we settled in we decided to go out for some dinner. We went for a wander down the road and found a little cheap Thai place. It was so good to catch up with the boys.
We had some food and a few drinks before heading back to the hostel. That evening we played ring of fire with everyone and a few other lads in our dorm.

Thursday 24th December

Koh Phangnan is quite a big island so we decided to all rent out some scooters to make the most of it. We arranged the scooters through the hostel and then all set out to find some breakfast. We went down to the main beach where the full moon party takes place and immediately hated all the piss heads down there. It was so crowded and horrible. We found a restaurant on the beach front though and ordered some food. Afterwards, we went for a ride around the island. Having a scooter is the best!! We drove for a little while to the north of the island and found ourselves a lovely beach. We stayed there for a bit to relax and then eventually to watch the sun set a bit. 

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Before it got dark we headed out again and made our way back. It did start raining again on the way back though which made for an interesting ride. That evening Pilch wasn’t feeling too good from the horrific sunburn he managed to get. So me , Meash and Erin went out to this amazing Burger place. It was so good. It was very rainy though so we stayed there chatting for ages before daring to ride back in the rain!

Friday 25th December

CHRISTMASSSSS!!!!

I got up at about 9 and went out to get some rays near the pool in our hostel. It was a beautiful morning and felt quite strange to be sunbathing on Christmas day. I got myself a christmas coconut

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After a while everyone else got up too. Pilch did manage to loose the key for his bike though so we spent a while looking for that. We couldn’t find it so we had to call the bloke we rented the bikes out from. There was a mad panic where we though that Pilch’s bike had been stolen but it turns out it was there all along in front of us, just with someone else’s helmet on the seat. We all assumed it wasn’t his. Dearie me. After Pilch got a new key, we went for a ride on our bikes and stopped off at a restaurant with a beautiful view out to sea. We were all tinselled up with Santa hats on.

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It was hard to feel christmassy in the heat but we managed a bit. We had booked our Christmas dinner for 3pm so we made our way back and met with some other lads from our dorm. We got a taxi to the restaurant so we could all get sloshed. The Christmas dinner was actually quite good.

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We swapped prezzies and the boys very kindly bought a bottle of champers each for us to share. After dinner we played very intense jenga. We all had a brilliant time!! Unfortunately there wasn’t any Christmas crackers but I was happy enough with pigs in blankets and red wine 😀
There was a full moon party that night but me, Meash and Erin didn’t fancy it. Pilch went with some other people. Instead, we went to find a quieter bar and had a drink there. We couldn’t be bothered with a load of drunk and drug filled teenagers. Haha. Definitely getting old! We had a lovely chilled evening. On the way back to the hostel we stopped off for toasties and a little bar of cadburys from the 7 11. I wouldn’t do Christmas away from home again but I did have a lovely day.

Saturday 26th December

Me, Meash and Erin left Pilch to sleep after his all nighter and went out on our bikes. We stopped off for breakfast and then rode right to the north of the island where we found the most beautiful beach, there was even a swing!

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We stayed there for most of the afternoon, Meash even made a sandcastle.

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On the way back we stopped off at a waterfall. It was a bit of a sweaty trek to the top but it was pretty enough.

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I feel that after the spectacular waterfall in Luang Prabang, it takes a lot to impress me now.

That evening we went to a cheap Thai place for dinner and I actually befriended a child. Rarity! I think it was the owner’s boy but he was so chunky and cute! We made robots out of Lego and made them fight. Ha.

Sunday 27th December

We had an early start that morning to catch the ferry to Koh Tao. The boat was rammo jammed though which made for a not too pleasant journey. It took about an hour to get there but we made it and got a taxi to our hostel. Koh Tao is a lot smaller and nicer than Phangnan. We got some food near the water front and then went to a swimming pool near where we were staying. The pool was great, really deep. Everyone was diving in, but I couldn’t dive, so I decided to learn. Three hours, many belly flops and shouts of “just do it!!!” later, I managed!! 

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Other people round the pool were getting involved too. I think I had about 6 teachers in the end! I was very proud of myself 😀
That evening we went to the beach to get some dinner and watch the sun set. Such a beautiful place.

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Next stop… Koh Phi Phi

Massages, tattoos, beach times and scooters – Bangkok, Krabi and Koh Lanta

Monday 14th December

We landed in Kuala Lumpur at about 6am. The flight was a bit horrendous. So tired but too uncomfortable to sleep. I was so glad when we finally landed.  We were pretty shattered so we went to find a seat somewhere and set up camp. We weren’t due to fly to bangkok until 4pm. We tried and failed to get some sleep. In the end we just read our books until about 11 when we went to get breakfast. The time didn’t pass too slowly. We spent the rest of the time in Starbucks , drinking tea, before we went to check in for our flight. The flight to Bangkok was easy peasy. We landed and got a taxi to our hostel. It was so lovely to back in Thailand, which shocked me. Felt like going home. Everything is so easy and simple. It was great. We went out to get some food and ended up having an amazing Indian curry. It was so good!

I also had a glass of red wine for my wonderful Aunty Gill. Rest in peace. You will be greatly missed xxx

We stayed out for another cocktail because it was lovely and warm out. Back in Thailand and our first drinks in about 6 weeks. After a bit we headed back to get some sleep.

Tuesday 15th December

We had about 10 days before we needed to be on Koh Phangnan. We decided to get a flight down to Krabi (£22 each – bargain) and then go to Koh Lanta for a few days before heading back over to Phangnan. We looked at flights and booked one for the next morning. We had a day in bangkok, so we did the obvious thing…. Got massages and our nails done!! We started off with a spot of breakfast at our usual place. Iced coffee with fruit, yoghurt and honey. Yes! As we were leaving we bumped in to Cynthia and Cory!! Weird! They were in bangkok and were leaving that night to fly home. What are the chances!? We stayed and chatted to them for a while before heading off to get our much needed massages. They were amazing. Next stop was nails. Mine were absolutely atrocious. It was so great being pampered. That evening we did the next obvious thing to do… Went to the cinema! We got a tuk tuk to MBK and went to see the Heart of the Ocean which was actually really good. I want to read Moby Dick now.

Wednesday 16th December

Early ish start to get a taxi to the airport. There was a parade happening in the streets near where we were staying so we had to leave half an hour earlier to allow for the traffic. The drive didn’t take too long though. We ended up being quite early for our flight so we got some breakkie and waited to board. It was a very short flight so before long we had landed in lovely Krabi. We got a taxi to our hostel. It was so sunny and lovely!! We went to get some food after we checked in and then went for a little walk to buy some postcards and the like. It was wonderful walking around in the sunshine with a light breeze. China was amazing but you cant beat a bit of sunshine!! After a bit it did start to rain though so we chilled down stairs in the hostel. That evening, the rain stopped. We went out for some street food at the market. Afterwards we went back to the bar at the hostel for some cocktails.

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We saw on Facebook that James Bunting, a guy who we met when we were crossing from Laos to Cambodia, was also on Krabi and staying near by. He popped over for a few drinks with us as well.

Thursday 17th December

We met up with James for breakfast before all getting the boat to Railey beach. You could catch the boat from right down the road from our hostel. The boat ride took about 40 minutes but it was beautiful on the water.

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We made it to the little pier and got off the boat. We went to find the best bit of beach and settled down in the sunshine. It was so hot! We all went in the sea and me and Erin practised picking each other up on our shoulders. We nailed it

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We had a lovely afternoon, had an ice cream (magnum gold… Obvs) and some lunch, which was a rubbish tiny jacket potato. Ha. We stayed to watched the sun start to go down before getting the boat back at 5pm. Railey beach is so beautiful.

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That evening, we got showered and went next door to get the most amazing burger ever! It was so good. Blue cheese and everything. Thailand is great for food. No more pot noodles. After dinner we went back to the bar at our hostel to play pool for a bit before bed.

Friday 18th December

James had already spent 2 weeks on Koh Lanta and had come back to Krabi to get a visa extension, he decided to come back to Koh Lanta with us. We were collected from our hostel at 11am. The mini bus was tiny and there was no leg room. Me and Erin were stuck right at the back.

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It took three hours to get to Koh Lanta. The bus went on a boat so we couldn’t even get out and stretch. I think it was one of my least favourite journeys. We eventually arrived and got dropped off at the long beach part of the island. It is so lovely there. Its off the main road and its just loads of bars, tattoo parlours, little shops, restaurants and places to stay. We managed to find a cheap dorm and dumped our stuff. Over the road was a little restaurant that did good, cheap Thai food. We ate there. There was also a tattoo place attached to it so I started chatting to the guy, Kay, about the tattoo that I wanted. He drew it up for me and I decided to go ahead with it. Its a fancy northern point, because I’m a grotty traveller. It took about 45 minutes to do with bamboo. Love it!

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Avril, a girl from Ireland, whom James knew from before decided to bite the bullet and get her tattoo done too so we all gave her moral support while she sat in the chair. We also met another guy called Steve, from Manchester. That night we all sat outside our dorm and played cards with a few beers.

Saturday 19th December

That morning we all went for breakfast on the beach. Erin decided to get her tattoo done. We had to wait for Kay to get ready and for him to sort out the template etc. She got a sun on her upper back. It looks really cool.

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We stayed in the restaurant while she got it done. It took about an hour and a half. That evening we went to the beach for some dinner. After dinner, we went to get a massage. Lying on a little hut on the beach, with the smell of the oils and the sound of the waves lapping against the shore as you get massage. Can’t complain really.  After the massage we went back for more cards and beers. Such a chilled lifestyle.

Sunday 20th December

James’s turn for a tattoo. We we for breakfast on the beach again before hand. He was meant to be getting it done at 12 but Thai time doesn’t work that way. Me and Erin went shopping for a bit while we waited.
Christmas is coming

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We chilled out in the restaurant until finally at 2.30, Kay started. It was a difficult design so it took him 4 and a half hours. The end result was really cool though.

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That evening, me, Erin, James and Steve got a tuk tuk to a bar down the road for some food. I had an amazing masaman curry. We had some beers and played pool for a bit. The pool table was huge though and it was very dark in there, a lot of guesswork involved. Ha.

Monday 21st December.

Sick to death of watching each other get tattooed, we decided to rent out some scooters and got exploring. Its not a very big island, there are only three main roads. It was great to be on a scooter again and have So much freedom.

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We scooted round for a while and then went to find a beach. We had a dip in the sea and a bit of a sunbathe. It was so hot though that it was nicer to be on the bikes. We carried on exploring and went to the Old Town. There were loads of nice shops on either side of the street and places to eat. We went to a little cafe run by an elderly couple. It was basically some chairs and tables outside their house on the main street. They were so lovely and they had the biggest, fattest, cat I have ever seen. She was called Wai Wai and it was love at first sight.

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We got some coffee and fruit shakes there. The old man gave us a magazine each and they had some simple Thai phrases in there. So we sat for a bit and tried to learn some Thai. After a bit the man came out with a pot of Chinese tea for us which was lovely and then, as we left they gave us two bags of banana chips. Honestly, the loveliest couple ever!! We went for a wander around some of the shops before setting off on our bikes again.  We drove round for a bit more before heading back. I decided I wanted a bit more pain and mutilation so I went back to Kay to get my right tregus re pierced.

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We went to the beach for dinner that evening and to watch the sunset and get another massage. Can’t help myself.

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Later on we sat outside our dorm with … You guessed it… Beers and cards!! We played ring of fire, more and more people kept joining us, in the end there were about 13 of us. It was great fun!! Many a beer. It got to about midnight and everyone but me and Erin went on to a different bar. We are old… We went to bed. Haha.

Tuesday 22nd December

After a lie in, we got up and went to find some food. We stayed near the beach for a while. It was too hot to sunbathe so me and Erin went to rent scooters again with the hopes of getting a tan and staying cool as we rode along. We set off and spent the rest of the day zooming around the island. We went to see some shops and went back to see Wai Wai and the old couple. They taught us a bit more Thai and gave us more free banana chips. Love them! We did some shopping in old town, got some new shorts, new bikini and some tinsel. Hehe.
That evening we went to the Irish bar down the road. Irish bars have such great food! I had amazing steak pie, mash and gravy. It was soooo gooooood!! After a large meal, we were all pretty sleepy. We went back to our hostel and sat around chatting and playing cards before bed. I have to say this blog gets pretty boring when I’m in Thailand. Just eating, drinking and relaxing. Great stuff!

Next stop…. Koh Phangnan.

Pandas, opera shows and city walking tours, Chengdu and Chongqing, China

Monday 7th December

We had a pretty slow day. We were catching the night train that evening to Chengdu so we had a chilled one. We had a lie in and some breakkie and then stayed in the warmth of the Cafe on the roof of our hostel eating popcorn. Ha. The time came to get the bus to the station. We were told to catch the bus at the end of the road which would take us straight there. The bus came but there was no where to sit and the driver was a bit manic. We just had to stand and hold on to the poles for dear life and hope we didn’t topple over with our big back packs on. We got a few funny looks from some of the other passengers. The train station was the last stop and it was across the road from the bus station. Everything is in Chinese and so we didn’t know any better but accidentally went to the bus station first. Luckily some nice local pointed us in the right direction. Xi’an train station wasn’t as big as Beijing but it was still pretty hard to navigate. We went with a trial and error action plan. Queue up where you think and see if that works. Luckily it did and we managed to get our tickets and make it to our platform. We bought some noodles and an apple for the train. We sat in the platform on our bags and everyone around was staring at us. Its very strange. Makes you feel like a celeb. The apples we bought were massive and juicy so I ate mine. There was a man sitting near me and Erin told me that he was watching me with such great interest. We tried to talk to them a bit. Our train started boarding and I showed them my ticket just to check we were in the right place. All his mates came over and they were all looking at my ticket. Ha. I asked for it back sharpish. Didn’t want to wake up to loads of men intently watching me sleep!! We made it on the train and I swapped tickets with Erin so that she could go on the bottom bunk this time and I would be up on the top top bunk. It was going to be a 16 hour train ride so we settled in to read our books and eat our noodles. I climbed the dizzy heights to my bed at about half 9. Its not too bad once you lie down and close your eyes up there, but you can’t sit up and it isn’t the widest bed in the world. Not ideal for claustrophobics. So I put my sleep mask on to block out the ceiling light next to my head that resembled the sun and snuggled down for some shut eye.

Tuesday 8th December

I actually slept alright. Woke up a few times but it wasn’t too bad!! We were meant to be arriving at Chengdu at mid day so we spent the morning just listening to music and eating little cakes that I had bought the previous night. We arrived at Chengdu and poked our noses out in to the slightly warmer air. Travelling North to South was a great idea. I would hate it to get colder at each stop!! We were quite forceful with the taxi drivers this time and managed to get one to take us to our hostel. We checked in, dropped our bags and had showers to wash the train off. Our hostel didn’t really cater for westerners and all the tours were in Chinese.The WiFi in the hostel was a bit rubbish so we ventured out to find a cafe to do some research of what to do in Chengdu. There were loads of shopping malls and cafes near us.  We stayed for a few hours, had a delicious ice cream and chocolate sauce covered waffle. Later that evening we went out to find some pot noodles. Actually addicted!

Wednesday 9th December.

The main thing to do in Chengdu (and the reason that we went) was to go to the Panda breeding base. We got up early, had some breakfast and caught the bus outside our hostel. We were told we needed to get 2 busses. We stayed on the first one until we got to the bus station and then got off and tried to find our second bus. It was the most confusing place in the world. We couldn’t find our number bus anywhere. This man tried to help us. We showed him the number bus we needed and he just pointed down the road so we walked down a bit and waited but still no bus. The best time to get to the panda place was between 9 and 11 because that is when they are eating and are more lively. With this in mind we decided to sack off the bus and we got a taxi. More expensive but stress free! We arrived, bought our tickets and went inside

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It was like a zoo but much better. The are a few different enclosures but they really big and open. The paths between the enclosures are really nice too. Surrounded by masses of bamboo.

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We went to see the adult pandas first. They are so big and lovely and clumsy. The first one we saw was munching away on bamboo.

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Occasionally he would stop, rest his head on his paw and sigh. They are so lovely and calming to watch. We moved on to see some others. They were all enjoying their breakfast, they chomp really loudly on the leaves, one of them toppled on to his back while he was eating, he didn’t seem to notice.

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We spent a good few hours walking round and visiting all the pandas, they had red pandas too!

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Obviously we bought some appropriate head gear.

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They had a movie room where you could go and learn about the research breeding base and how it has helped the pandas.  We walked on, afterwards, and we found the really young ones. They were so adorable!!

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The even smaller baby ones in the nursery were too cute for words. I welled up because they were so cute. Sleeping balls of panda fluff!!

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You could stand there and watch them for ages! We started to walk back towards the exit but must have taken a wrong turning because we were walking up this road with trees either side for ages. It was all uphill. Eventually we came to a map an we saw where we were.

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I have no idea how it happened or why there is even a road that goes to the middle of nowhere and then back again!! Haha. We had no choice but to keep going and we eventually made it to the exit. Blummin nightmare!! We did try and get some lunch at the breeding base but all the restaurants there were ridiculously expensive. There was a little stall selling noodles by the lake there but we didn’t fancy sitting in the cold eating noodles.
We left and went to get the bus back. We arrived at the bus station and after a bit of running around after busses we managed to get on the right one. We were both starving on the bus and saw a pizza hut sign down the road. We make a snap decision and both jumped off the bus in the middle of nowhere to get some pizza. Turns out it was a brand new pizza hut that wasn’t even open yet! Noooo!! We had to keep walking down the road for a bit and as luck would have it, we found another pizza place which turned out to be really good. We carried on walking back to our hostel. We were only a few stops away so it only took us about 20 minutes to walk back. For the rest of the afternoon we went to the cafe over the road from our hostel to abuse the WiFi and have a chat to a few people from home. That evening we stayed in, out of the cold.

Thursday 10th December

We had planned to go and see a mountain near by. We went to reception to ask about how to get there, the lady checked and unfortunately all the early train tickets were booked and we wouldn’t have enough time to get there and get the last bus back. Instead we booked tickets for that evening to go to an “opera” show. That afternoon we decided to go and see a temple and a folk street near by which was only a few stops on the bus. The temple was pretty easy to find and we went to have a look around. It was very similar to the Lama temple that we went to previously in Beijing. There were various different buildings full of different Buddha statues and big pot of incense burning. Next to the temple was a really pretty garden park thing. All the leaves in the trees were beautiful different colours and it was really nice to walk around and appreciate the nature and the Chinese architecture.

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We found the folk street next. There were a few stalls selling bracelets and other bits of jewellery and food. All the places that we had been to so far in China were built up with shopping malls. We found a little road that was full of more local shops and local people. It was really cool to have a wander around and see the other side of China and how the locals live.  We spent a few hours walking around and then went for a coffee before heading back to our hostel to collect our tickets for the show that evening. When we arrived at the hostel the lady on reception jumped up and ran over to us. It appears that they had thought we had forgotten to collect our tickets and thought we had gone straight to the theatre. Calm down guys. Its all under control. We weren’t even late. The lady told us that her manager had gone to the theatre with our tickets and that she would meet us there. How sweet! We had to get the bus to the theatre. It was only a few stops in the opposite direction to the one we caught earlier. We stood at the bus stop and watched as the bus we wanted sailed by. Oops. We then went to the correct bus stop and managed to make it to the theatre. It was a behind a few buildings so we had to keep showing people a piece of paper with the name of the theatre written in Chinese on, so they could point us. We met the manager and she gave us our tickets. Its turns out we were mega early and the whole place was pretty empty as we took our seats….and ate our popcorn 😄

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The show was advertised as opera but the lady at the hostel said that it included loads of different performances so we were quite excited, we didn’t know what to expect. Turns out the show was absolutely fantastic!!!! It was a basic love story but there was singing and dancing and stick puppets and magic and trapeze artists and shadow puppets and fire breathers and rappers and gymnasts. The costumes they wore were incredible as well. There was narrator and she translated what she was saying to English and there was even little screens either side of the stage with very loose subtitles. I say loose… Apparently one of the song lyrics was “all the women are beautiful and 30% are dexterous.”
The final bit that they did was called changing faces or something. The actors came out in these extraordinary costumes with masks on (which I wasn’t keen, on, but got used to). I still don’t know how they did it but they would occasionally wave their hand across their face and the mask they were wearing would change. It blew my mind. It was amazing. I was so impressed. Even more so that the ticket only cost £8 each!! Marvellous night! After the show we walked back to the hostel. It was nice to see all the sky scrapers lit up.

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They have these weird statues of people walking along on the pavement as well. They get in the way more than anything but they were quite cool

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Friday 11th December

We had a train booked to Chongqing for midday. It was only a 2 hour train. Shortest journey ever! We spent the morning in the hostel and then got a taxi to the station. It was quite a snazzy station that resembled an airport. Much more organised than Beijing station! We did have to queue forever to collect our tickets though. The Chinese don’t seem to understand the concept of a queue either. They just kept pushing in at the front, much to our anger. We eventually got our tickets though and found our platform. We had paid an extra £2 each for first class as a treat. Such a treat. Big armchair style seat each, loads of room. It was great.

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I almost wished the journey was longer than 2 hours! We zoomed off and had a lovely comfortable journey, eating pot noodles and admiring the Chinese countryside. The hostel that we were staying at had a collection service which was great. No taxi man arguments! Chongqing is absolutely massive! High rises and skyscrapers as far as you can see. You think you are in the main bit and then you go over a huge bridge and then you are in another main bit. Its insane. We were taken by a nice lady to our hostel and then climbed the million and one steps (yes, I counted) up to reception. We checked in and had some food. I was starting to be struck down by a cold at this point and the hostel common room was blummin freezing so I went to our dorm to get a bit of kip and ward off the germs. An hour or so later, Erin came to find me and we decided to go out for a walk and see what we could find. Again, we were in a built up area surrounded by shopping malls. Chongqing is an odd place though. There are what looks like slums right next to the poshest mall or building you have seen. We walked around and stumbled on a night market. It was mainly food but not very appetizing. Looked like vats of smelly, slimy rats tails. Ew. We went on and came out on to the main shopping bit. Prada, Chanel, Guess. Loads of really posh shops. I got a hot chocolate from Starbucks to make me feel better and we had a wander around some of the (less expensive) shops. When we got cold, we wandered back to the hostel to get some sleep.

Saturday 12th December.

After a cheeky lie in, we spent the morning being very entertained by a very drunk Australian guy in the hostel. I was feeling a bit better after a good nights sleep. We had booked to go on a city walking tour that afternoon and had to meet every one at 2pm, one metro stop away. We were chatting to a guy called Alvin from Malaysia as well. He was getting the metro to the train station at the same time as us. He actually came in handy because the ticket machine wasn’t working and he could speak Chinese so told the ticket guy where we wanted to go. Ha. We got off at the right stop, went out the wrong exit, went back in, went out the right exit and saw a girl surrounded by a group of people holding a “city walking tour sign”. She came over and introduced her self and asked if we spoke Chinese. Nope. She said she didn’t speak English that well. Haa. Oh well. We cracked on and walked to our first stop which was an old monument. She spoke a lot in Chinese to the rest of the group and then would try and quickly sum up what she had said to us. It was nice to have a walk around though and there were signs in English that we could read to get a better explanation. I don’t know why, but we seemed to be attracting the drunks that day. An old drunk man took a liking to us and insisting on following the group and speaking to us in Chinese. Ha. Bless him. The walk was actually really good and we went to loads of different places that we wouldn’t have thought or known to go to. We learnt about the history of the city, and went to the old walking streets to have a look. We even bought a little egg custard tart off a stall.

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One of the coolest bits was when we went to see the ruins of an old French church. We had to clamber through a wall into what looked like a junk yard to see the back of it. We climbed up some steps from there and the view of the old and new bridges and the city were really good.!!

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This is a door for a tiny restaurant that apparently serves the best hot pot. It only has two tables though so you have to reserve your place well in advance…

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The tour lasted about three hours in total and we ended up right near our hostel which was super handy! That evening we ventured out and I managed to find a lasagne for dinner which was lovely! We had a wander around the area a bit more and then went to Starbucks to have a big mug of English breakfast tea. The staff were quite confused when we asked for a bit of milk to put in our tea.

Sunday 13th December.

We had one final day in China before flying back to Kuala Lumpur. We went to a bakery to get some breakfast and found this amazing half blueberry cake, half pie thing. We walked round the shops a bit more but we didn’t really have much to do as we had walked the length and breadth of the city the day before. Inevitably we made our way to Starbucks for more tea and a spot of reading. Late afternoon, we went back to the hostel to get our bags and then made our way on the subway to the airport. So many stops on the subway!!! The airport was a bit mental. You couldnt go through to check in until an allocated time so everyone just had to sit in the entrance of the airport. We had to wait for about an hour. Ugh. We made it through and checked in but then found out that our flight had been delayed an hour and so had to wait until 1am. We had a final Chinese meal while we waited. Dumplings for me and noodles for Erin. It was tasty.

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Next stop… Back to Thailand… Via a very long airport stop in Kuala Lumpur.