My favourite part about backpacking

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My favourite part!!
Agh there is so many!!

Firstly how you can turn up in a place where you know nothing about it or the people or anyone who is there and leave with a ton of friends.

Secondly that when you say “I’m going to have a quiet one for my tour tomorrow” YOU NEVER DO!!!

Thirdly!! People are so happy on the road. No matter what they are doing they are smiling because they are doing the best thing anyone can do with their time – which is to explore our world we have been given.

And lastly!!! Because I get to share my experience with so many others who are on the same path as me.

So much love and peace to all you guys xxxxxxxx

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Us letting lanterns go in river of Hoi An with fellow travellers’

Ho chi Minh city

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Arriving in ho chi minh city (Saigon) was a breath of fresh air in comparison to the dirty streets of Phnom Penh.
We arrived early morning and hurried to our couchsurfer’s home in district 3 so we could drop our bags and relax.
Saigon is so much cleaner than Cambodia. It’s visible from the moment the bus stopped. Life seems more ordered here. But alot more traffic, yet like in all Asian cities the drivers are all kind and no road rage is shown while everyone cuts each other off. I now can cross a road confidently! I know the motorbikes will go around me so you just got to go or you’ll be waiting for hours. At the pedestrian crossing nothing will stop for you either.

Lydia – our Indonesian host in Saigon opened her home to us. She lives in a small but large to us, studio apartment in district 3 of the city. It’s very modern and includes a western shower and toilet!!!!!
There’s a beautiful terrace and even though there is only one couch we are sharing the floor. On our arrival she made us a fruit buffet! Then for lunch a delicious Indonesian noodle dish. Her friend who is also her belly dancing teacher was over and showed us some of her beautiful belly dancing outfits. Lydia is also a designer and has some amazing outfits.
We decided to dress up really pretty, hair, makeup, dresses and the lot to go clubbing!
It’s ladies night in the city on Tuesday’s with free cocktails so it was a great night. Lydia has a daughter. Her name is Sophie. Her husband lives 4 hours away and works for the united nations so her family is always moving. She has lived in indonesia, Malaysia, Germany, London and is soon to move to Peru. Little Sophie speak so many languages and is an amazing child! I painted her face as a kitten and a little dalmation dog.
The life I would love! After meeting Lydia I really want to concentrate on learning languages and work for the united nations or be a diplomat!

We pulled an all nighter. The night life is fantastic in Saigon. I met up with my brothers good friend from when they were kids. He works as an English teacher now in Saigon.
To battle the hangover I attempted to make vegemite on toast using a wok. It turned out “ok”. Wok toast with cheese is the best though!!

Another thing about saigon I noticed is that Facebook is banned. So everyone goes through opera but apparently the government done this to protect his people.

Saigon set a great first view of Vietnam and so far I think Vietnam is going to be one of my favourite countries!

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My little kitty I painted

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I made vegemite on toast using a wok

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The group having lunch

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Ready to head out with some great friends!

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At Lush

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A really cool picture!!

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Drinking beer on the street getting pumped for a good night

Volunteering at Soi Dogs

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You can’t change the world by helping one dog, but you will change the world for that one dog.

“The greatness of a nation and it’s moral progress can be judged by the way it’s animals are treated.” -Mahatma Gandhi

-Written on the wall at Soi Dogs

The experience at Soi Dogs animal shelter was one I will always remember. It was short but meaningful.

To see all these animals getting the help which they deserve. Seeing how a dog that had gone through so much torture and heartbreak with our human species can still run to me and jump for joy that I might pat him or take him out for a walk.

As volunteers we were responsible for human contact with all the animals except the dogs under going cancer treatments or that had infectious skin diseases.

We lay in the puppy pen for awhile getting trampled by over excited pup’s who just wanted to play ball.
This is where I was introduced to Shiver, a dog that must of gone to hell and back in it’s lifetime. Shiver is scared of every human even the people that have worked at soi dogs for years. She will dart from side to side trying to get further away from humans. She is kept in the puppy cage because she is too shy to rough it with the big dogs but the soi dogs leader said that she teaches the young pups how to behave which is why she is allowed to stay there.

I left the girls and Shiver in the pups pen and ventured to the older dogs pen. This is where I met Luna. A slightly blind, pure white furred dog that was so beautiful I wanted to take her home with me right then and there. She lay with me under the trees and was so lovable.

After the fun with the pups we got down and dirty with the big dogs. Crazy, silly, barking, mud rolling big boy dogs. We walked many dogs around the lake and back. We gave as many attention as we could. We were all given a leash and medical kit with eye wash, tweezers and tick powder for the dogs. We found a few ticks and removed them. Apparently ticks are a huge problem in Thailand.

We found Tim Tam, Kathryn’s dog that she sponsors monthly. She is adorable. We got to wash her along with many, many, many other dogs!

We visited the cats hospital and played with them for awhile, tricking the kittens with toy mice.

All in all it was a great day at Soi Dogs but the smell got to me in the end. Kathryn loves animals and doesn’t notice the smell but for me it was too much.

Tip came to pick us up from Soi dogs which is located near the Phuket international airport, about 10kms from the village we were staying at. I sat in the back of Tip’s truck and said goodbye to Soi Dogs.

If you would like to volunteer or sponsor a dog please do it really is worth every cent. We saw a puppy get adopted by a local thai woman and her American husband and he was so happy to go with his new family. Soi Dogs doesn’t charge for adoption, only for shipping charges if the dog is to be shipped out of Thailand, and they make sure the dogs go to good homes.

WWW.SOIDOG.ORG

The life within a Thai village

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Chat chai. I wont forget that name or the precious times spent there.

At the top of Phuket province far from the crowded sands of Patong and Phuket town lies a deserted beach with a few old fisherman trailing the beach by foot looking for their dinner.
The village is just before Sarasin bridge and at the top of Phuket province.

Walking the streets you see the way Thai’s really live. Washing their clothes in basins, their chickens next to them in cages, their children playing in the dirt with elastic bands. It’s so beautiful. You go to restaurants in the front yards of their houses where they cook your meal where they cook for their family. Their children bring out your meal with a complimentary salad of leaves, cucumber and ice.

Walking along the Sarasin bridge fisherman are catching fish with old fashioned nets with weights hanging from them. The fish they catch they put right on the fire to sell to passer bys. Their family lying on a blanket next to him sleeping or simply laughing with each other. Groups of thai ladies sit playing dominos out the front of their home. We go to an Internet cafe which is just a room at someone’s house with 5 computers in it, only 2 have Mouses connected and work. The young thai girl runs to her room only meters away and returns with her own laptop which she let’s us use.

We went to the local factory where the village work and make beautiful batik clothing and sheets. When I say factory I mean the front yard of a house where tables are set up with white sheets and young and old alike paint in wax then colour it in with water paints from little cut off bottles of pepsi. They then chemical the fabric, wash the fabric and boil the fabric so that the wax falls off. The end result is a beautiful hand made shirt, hanky or a piece for a frame.
This is the village’s bread winner you could say, the best in all of Thailand. Their famous trade. But from what we saw no tourists know as we were the only ones there besides the workers. The owner took photos of us looking at the fabric perhaps for advertising. The group was working on pieces for a big buyer in bangkok. The kids would come and paint in their breaks from school and blend the colours so beautifully it was amazing the artwork that was so quickly produced with so much variations of colour and light.
I advise you to look up the history of batik and visit this village and perhaps have a go at making it yourself!

The Russian with the yellow eyes.
A man we met on the beach the other day who had rode up from Phuket decided to move here to finish his thesis. He is staying in one of tip’s rooms. Tip also has a restaurant in the village. We met the yellow eyed Russian as we were riding our bikes down the deserted forest paths looking for a new beach to check out. He was one of the only other tourists we saw in the village and we got to talking about his life as an astronomer and shared a meal.

The speed bumps here are interesting. The speed bump is a simple thick rope laid across the road, wearing in some places, completely flat in others.
The people here ride mostly on motorbikes that have little rafts attached to the side with wheels which hold their family members or cooking utensils for the market under the bridge.

The market under the bridge. Where we spent most nights, eating, laughing, learning thai and testing foods we didn’t know. My favourite would have to be the Thai twist on a snow cone. They had 6 different jars holding pineapple pieces, green sweet bread cubes, something that looked like fish eyes, black smelly jelly, white smelly jelly and pumpkin pieces. The lady used a small, foam bowl and we chose our fillings. I chose the sweet green bread and pineapple. She then put sugar syrup on top. She took a huge block of solid ice over to this old fashioned machine where she fixed the ice in place, put my bowl underneath and started turning the machine. It made shaved ice perfectly. We then chose from 5 bottles of liquids for the topping. Don’t ask me what they were, I don’t speak thai but to say the least – delicious. I chose green and red and she then asked, “Milk?”
And of course I say WHY NOT! I think it may have been condescend milk but on top it just finished off the Thai snowcone perfectly. My absolute favourite dish so far!

It is an amazing feeling sitting in the back of a pick up truck, your hair blazing in the wind as you go 100km down a highway. Your backpack lying at your feet and police men waving to you as you go.

Reflections in the window of a Malay train

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Sitting comfortably in my window seat peering into the dark as the Malaysian landscape passes me without a thought.

A late passenger and his mother place themselves in the empty seat in front of me. The little boy was ever so eager to have the window seat and immediately claimed it as his own, kneeling and hands lightly gripping the window.

He starred onward. It was dark outside but it seemed he could see beyond such darkness of night.
This beauty of a child is so tame and exuberant.

His little black hat upon his head led me to think he was a Buddhist child.

• • •

Every sound catches his attention, every object a new friend. Train stations passed without a second glance.
He is simple. He knows the meaning to life. He understands why the moon shines. He doesn’t question her guiding hand or rules. He trusts the unknown for he is pure and in his small world he is un touchable, he is simply here.

Just be.

“Be
Believe
Become,” said Lana.

A little excerpt from my personal journal.

Across the sea to Koh Phi Phi….

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We left KL in a rush. Bags dragging along side after scoffing down a delicious Mi Goreng that equaled about 90c Australian. Pulling out the chilli’s as I ate as quick as possible so we wouldnt miss our train to Hat Yai.

We cut it so absolutely close that the train driver was yelling. Our wonderful hosts, Alin and Syah, drove us to the train station. The next mere 15 hours was over air conditioned, 2nd class comfort. At the border we had to all get out to get out stamps for Thailand only allowing us 15 days as we crossed overland but once we go to Cambodia and then cross back in we get another 15 days. Everything in Asia is over air conditioned. You go from boiling to freezing in minutes, I carry a jumper around just in case.

At Hat Yai we got ripped off double pay on a mini bus to Krabi town.

“650 ฿.” said the pushy Thai man.

I asked the English girl beside me how much she payed and she said the same so I thought it was normal as we didnt know the AUD to BAHT conversion rate yet. Well we all got ripped off besides the Swiss guys who paid 300 ฿ for the overly cramped, highly air conditioned, very mini van to Krabi.

At Krabi we got a cheap room for 150 ฿ – cheap as we would get in thailand we learnt later. We explored the fairy lit streets to the food market by the river. In the early hours of the morning we decided it would be a fabulous idea to dye my hair red. I then resembled a crab perhaps that fits in well in Krabi.

From Krabi we caught a ferry to Phi Phi – the island of no smoke, no motorbikes, no cars, just my two big feet! We realised it was quite touristic but still so beautiful. We scored a room for about 333 ฿ a night which was apparently good for Phi Phi. We have all been sharing a bed for the last week. We know each others habits and moods and are beginning to feel like sisters.

Our room smelt like old socks and mould. Indicating from the mould on the walls we realised it wasnt our old, dirty socks that made our noses cringe. That night we watched a movie, The Adventures of Tin Tin, on the roof top of Banana Bar with free popcorn and a delicious cocktail in hand. Then to the 7 11 for beer and the like and onwards to the crazy beach party nightlife. About 7 clubs lined up all spilling out onto the sand with Westeners on hand to speak English, Thai fire twirlers we later found out didnt like French boys and so much body paint. We eventually ended up in the water dancing and swimming. A sunken Long tail boat was a couple of metres away so we ventured out and danced on top of that. The moon shone so bright and since the full moon party was on in Koh Phangnan many people had left the island so the clubs were quiet. The group we were with was a mix of foreigners. The French boy had a go at Thai boxing with the fire twirlers and Lana ended up with a black lip. She looks like she has a moustace. It keeps us entertained on long bus rides. I met some amazing people on Phi Phi. Strangers become friends. People if you let them will open your eyes to so many things which is hidden in our minds.

In the morning we ventured to the outside beaches of Phi Phi main island. Lana had gone missing so we had to go without her – but found her later before sunset.

Myself and Kat went to Monkey beach where the monkeys seem unbelievably calm as they munch on the bananas at their feet. But if you get to close, which I did, they turn into a rage and throw their long, dangly arms in the air and run at you! Three monkeys were my enemies there.

After we went snorkelling between two huge cliffs where you could see for miles in the beautiful, clear waters that are Koh Phi Phi. The water tastes different here, less salty perhaps. I found another enemy, the Sea Urchin. Whilst in the Solomon Islands back in 2007 I stood on one while far out from the main land and the pain was unbelievable. We were staying on a local island with nuns and the local fisherman said that when they step on an urchin they get a rock and smash the spikes deep into the flesh of the foot and wait for the body to reject them, slowly. So to put it simply I stayed far, far away from the sea urchin’s of Phi Phi.

We hopped back on the beautiful, Thai longtail boat that boasted beautiful flowers around its tail and of course the Thai flag and set off to “THE BEACH”. My favourite movie staring my favourite actor Leo d’caprico. Myself and Kat walked his footsteps looking for the spots in the movie which different things happened. There is NO waterfall by the way. The beach is super small, yet astoundingly beautiful. We ventured to the other side where more boats of tourists were arriving and the island felt quite cramped. Also there are no marijuana plants either. We devoured pineapple pieces on the long trip back to the main Island.

Leaving Phi Phi was a sad moment but onwards to Phuket we had decieded. The ferry set out from Phi Phi with really rough seas. We had chosen a seat right at the front of the ferry. I went outside to lie on the deck, sun tan and read my book. Titled “Self” by Yann Martel – great book. While I lay a stranger from Holland sat and asked to eat his lunch with me and we spoke about his life on Phi Phi as a DJ. Then out of no where the sea roared and we were covered in water nearly falling into the sea. We went back in to Lana and Kat and watched in horror as people around us were vommiting up their breakfasts. It’s a terrible site to see so many in disraught. We decided outside would be better so we sat in the cold for an hour till we eventually got to Phuket pier.

Our couchsurfer, Topsi, a Thai girl who is a dive instructer in a village far from Phuket is our host for our days here in Phuket province. The taxi to her place which is about 100km’s from Phuket’s tourist bonaza cost us 800฿ – no amount of my stern bargaining could lower the price. The nerve of the driver to ask for another 200 ฿ on arrival.

At Topsi’s we met her hilarious friends. Tip, or as I call her Tippy Tip Tip, is a mother of 2 who lives in the forest. She hired us her motorbikes for our time here for a mere 100 ฿ each (around $3) which we are using to venture about this small, remote village. It’s so nice to see no big McDonalds and all the shops close at 8 or 9pm. She is so kind to open her room to us. We are sleeping on the floor which is suprisingly comfy. The place where we will volunteer, Soi Dogs, is quite close perhaps 10km’s and we will volunteer here a few days. Its an animal shelter where Kat sponsers a dog called Tim Tam. When they found Tim Tam she had maggots growing in her ear. Now she is super healthy!!

Today we will ride our motorbikes along the beach path all the way to Phuket city, to Patong beach perhaps. Check out what the tourists are all so fussed about then return to our beautiful traditional Thai village. There is an imaginary lane for us on the far left. The traffic here is tame, un organised but there seems to be no accidents or anger on the roads. Same in Malaysia where the cars and motorbikes would so easily and nicely just merge in cutting each other off but no anger was displayed, it was just normal.

As we ride down the highway we get the occasional slow down and stare, the young boys yelling and whistling and of course the trucks beeping to get out of the way!

It has only been one night in Phuket so far and it has been a delightful change from the touristic trail.