A Travellerspoint blog

Leaving Phuket for big, bad Bangkok!!

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Right, not too sure where Matt left off, and our last few days on Phuket are a bit of a blur so this may be a bit out of order..

Anyway, after the exam we had a couple of days to chill before receiving our spanking new TEFL certificates.. But they arrived safely from Bangkok Wednesday so we had a wee graduation do: got our certs, went to an open air restaurant perched on a cliff (well almost!) with an amazing panoramic view.. It was beautiful to watch the sun set over the sea while enjoying some delicious thai food, a drink or three and good company :)

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After that we headed to Bangla Rd again (same place I had eaten the bugs.. by the way, the cricket was ok, just a little crunchy and the legs/antennae got stuck in my mouth! but the silk worm was GROSS.. not much taste but the texture is icky!). It was a lovely night just chilling with our TEFL friends and some Thais (mainly farang's girlfriends), played jenga (normal kind and a harder Thai version) and had a laugh..

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After that we bummed around in Phuket until our accomodation ran out (Saturday 18th) and then headed to Bangkok, despite very almost staying as a friend offered us to stay at his until we got ourselves sorted.. but head off we did, and we are very glad we did :)

Bangkok is CRAZY.. big and polluted and both very developed and very undeveloped.. There is a skytrain and HUGE modern malls (better than any we see in Europe anyway) - Matt has fallen in love with one in particular, MBK, which is a giant cross between a market and a mall.. and then there are the soopa-doopa expensive ones (i.e. they have ferrari dealerships on the 4th floor etc!) and everything in between. But on the other hand, there are thousands of street food stalls, stray dogs and rickety old small buses that spew out noxious black fumes.. But I guess that's what makes the City of Angels so compelling, it's a wonderul jumble and there's always something interesting around the corner! Incidently Bangkok's name isn't actually Bangkok! It's 'real name' is actually 15 words long (and long words too!) but has been now officially truncated to Krung Thep which means City of Angels.. everyone calls it Bangkok because that's what traders used to call it after a village nearby!

Anyhow, we have been very busy here and have only managed to squeeze in a teeny bit of proper sight-seeing.. we went to see a temple (Wat) called Wat Po which houses the world's largest reclining Buddha.. it's 46m long!!! The Wat, like most Buddhist temples, is not just one building but the whole grounds which has several buildings and in this case lots of gold Buddha statues (this one even has a small school) and just wandering around the Wat is almost as impressive as the huge Buddha.. and after all that wandering we went for a thai massage at the famous Wat Po massage school (part of the temple, but slightly off the grounds) which was lovely. And here's another fact for you (hmm, i feel like an e-tourguide!): Thai massage doesn't necessrily aim to relax and feel pleasant. It was developed by monks who sit crossed legs for hours when meditating so Thai massage involves stretching, kneading, cracking and manipulating joints etc.. oh, and it uses pressure points too! Some of it was quite painful but we felt great afterwards!

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On the more practical side of things we've both found jobs: Matt starts Friday and I started on Monday despite a very heavy cold and sore throat. I've almost lost my voice now too! But this has turned into a mammoth entry so I will keep you all in suspense about my job as I'm going on a fieldtrip tomorrow and may well take photos of some of the wee critters! That is, if I haven't died of this cold or of a paracetemol OD overnight!

Besos a todos

xxx Meli

PS I wrote this a few days ago actually, but it's taken a while for us to upload the photos etc.. sorry!

Posted by meli1984 04:14 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Finishing up in Phuket

all seasons in one day 26 °C

Hey peeps,

We've finished our exams!! The final exam took much longer and involved a LOT of writing, but we got through it!

We've been doing a little more beach lounging seeing as we've had a little extra time. We've finished all our teaching classes too.

The first pictures are off the 'balloons' they send off here. As part of the celebration for the past full moon, they send these off in to the air and float candles on the sea as part of a buddhist celebration.

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There was also a big festival opening the tourist season! although it doesn't really start till December, it gives them an excuse to increase prices :).

John from the course took us to a couple beaches and let us borrow some snorkels. The first beach was a nightmare to get to! Meli had to get off the scooter and walk because it was very steep and rocky. There was some nice coral, but we were cut short because the tide was going out.

The next beach was Laem Sing. It was slightly more accessible and very beautiful. Here we did more snorkeling and did some airline diving. This involves a floating engine pumping air down to us through tubes. John owns a couple as part of his beach business, so we got a free test run! We did also help carry them down to the beach :).

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Theres a couple more pictures of us going out on Bangla Road. We went there after our final exam. The muay thai we saw was a bit rehearsed, but they were still clocking each other pretty hard! The man to the right of Meli is John. The last shot is of melissa popping a silk worm into her mouth! Note it was an action shot and Melissa wasn't posing with it on her tongue! She says it was horrible because when you bit down on it all the yucky stuff on the inside oozed out. Yuch. She also ate a grasshopper. Better her than me!

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Missing y'all, speak soon.

Matt

Posted by meli1984 03:00 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Phang Nga delights

all seasons in one day

Heya,

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of the vegetarian festival! After the festivities we decided to escape the heat in an airconditioned tour/antique shop. Without any real plans for the rest of the day, we ended up signing up for a tour of 'James Bond Island', whatever that was supposed to be.

So, 12:30 and we get picked up by the tour company and driven to the setting off point, where the rest of the tourgroup is assembled. Here we are herded into another minivan and off we go! The people behind us are an assortiment of Icelanders, and the people in front of us Japanese, I think. Our Thai tour guide had excellent English, a shame that he talked so quickly without any breaks that we didnt understand a word of it.

First stop was what the locals call the Monkey Temple, which is actually a temple in a cave with a set of random buddha statues, including a big gold reclined one. But yes, there were loads of monkeys! Melissa also was blessed by the resident Buddhist monk.

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Next stop was the pier, with a quick loo break at a shop where I got myself a wonderful hat! Anyway, we climbed down into our longtail boat which took us on a trip around Phang Nga Marine National Park. Its basically a large shallow bay with lots of rock islands of all shapes and sizes and covered by tropical forest, but it was very beautiful!

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Our longtail boat picked its way around the islands and mangroves, taking us to our first stop, James Bond Island (AKA Ko Ping Kan) as featured in The Man With The Golden Gun, starring Roger Moore. Now its basically just an island with a hub of souvenir shops stuck in the middle, but it was still beautiful. There were also a few plaques on a wall that I believe were put there to commemorate some princess' visit. In front of the island stands Nail Island (Ko Tapu), which was quite cool.

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After that, we got back into the longtail and headed towards the Muslim Sea-Gypsy Village. However, as we approached the village we could see rain clouds closing in on us, but we thought we would be safe. As we were about to moor the boat, the heavens opened and we got very wet! It was a real tropical rainstorm. What most people see of the village are a few restaurants and a long alley of mostly souvenir shops. However, deviate from the beaten path and delve a little deeper, you find a ramshackle living village, complete with a telephone, a school and a mosque. About 200 people live on this village built on stilts on a sandbank, with a Tsunami evacuation route that leads to the big rock the side of the village is attached to.

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Back at the restaurant I was served a huge plate of fresh grilled prawns, before clambering back onto our boat and heading back to the mainland.

Since then we've been busy with our course again, only one week go, yay! Then we have to find jobs. Yay. Also, we took our first dip in the Indian Ocean! It was salty and wet.

Best news of all: we have a new phone! Number is still the same, scroll down to see it. Big up to Damian for txting us!!!

Posted by meli1984 01:59 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Phuket Vegetarian Festival

(ignore if you are squeamish)

Hi again,

While you were all fast alseep Saturday morning(or still out!) Matt and I took a long (in time, distance only 10km), overcrowded local bus (well, sort of a bus) to Phuket town at 7am. Given that we're at school all week, and neither of us are exactly morning people as I'm sure many of you know, there must have been a pretty compelling reason for this. This reason came in the form of a procession for the Vegetarian Festival here. If you're in a hurry or not interested in the details, just scroll down to the photos!

The Vegetarian Festival is a 9-day annual event celebrated by the population of Chinese descent here in Phuket (and some neighbouring provinces). It originated in the mid 19th century whan a troupe of theatre players fell ill (probably with malaria) but were miraculously cured by sticking to a strict vegetarian diet in honour of 2 emperor gods Kiew Ong Tai Teh and Yok Ong Sone Teh. When the locals heard of this, the were amazed and so the festival began: it is thought to bring good luck to indivduals and the community. The festival involves daily procession and various forms of mortification (which have got more extreme with time apparently).

In any case we can vouch for the fact it is pretty extreme these days. The procession we saw involved many people with their cheeks and faces pierced, as well as people in trances and their entourage. You can see in the pictures that the entourage and many spectators are wearing either all white (as is custom) or white and yellow. Yellow is the colour of the king here and yellow shirts are worn by most of the population once a week to
show their respect (this isn't forced or fake, they truly respect and care for their royal family, who seem to deserve it actually!). Here go the (quite disturbing) photos - try to imagine hundreds of people trickling by, many pierced, as well as loud fire crackers going off every few seconds..

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By the way, these aren't even the most extreme, and we didn't even see the firewalking or the climbing of ladder of blades!
Below is a photo of a mini makeshift shrine. Many locals set these up along the procession in front of their homes and shops. They include fruit, sweets and nine small cups of tea. These are either for the pierced people or people in trances to have for themselves or to bless and give back (I got a blessed sweet!)..

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After having our fill of extreme piercing we went to do some more tame touristy things! Details in next entry!!!!!!!!!

xxx meli and matt

Posted by meli1984 07:41 Archived in Thailand Tagged vegetarian Comments (0)

Our New Home

semi-overcast 25 °C

Hello again.. We thought we'd give you a little taster of our new home.. So we've added some photos of our flat, the view from our window, the pool and patong beach, and also us in the classroom.. Take care..

xxx meli

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PS we were just out drinking with some falang (westerners) and some thais that are our students.. and one of them (Moon) just told me I'm her favourite teacher!! But on the other hand they all seem to fancy Matt who they apparently think is very handsome :)

Posted by meli1984 08:13 Archived in Thailand Comments (2)

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