Happy Valentines Day from Crazy Bangkok…

Asia ~ Thailand ~ Bangkok

Well, my ‘Asia-trip’ is over once again…  I’m now relaxing in front of my own computer, in my own bedroom… ahh, and my own bed – nice!  But first – Bangkok…

Arrival in Bangkok was crazy – our flight was supposed to get us into Bangkok in time for Matt’s flight to Hong Kong – you don’t need to know anymore – we arrived at the Krabi airport to find that our flight had been delayed – and it continued to be delayed.  Finally, Matt bought a different ticket for an earlier flight, and off he sped, arriving just in time for his connecting flight.  Mum and I had to wait around for the original flight and eventually got to Bangkok (and I grabbed a quick snooze on the plane, much to mum’s disgust)…

We spent our first two nights in a hotel ‘just near’ Khao San Road.  Turns out it was only 5minutes away, as the crow flies, but as the average Aussie attempts to cross the 7 lane intersection without getting killed, it was a hell of a lot further away.  And yet, we made it across to Khao San to do some shopping, as well as knock back some Mai Tai’s (a necessity to boost our courage before attempting the walk back…).  Khao San is as crazy as ever, with vendors selling everything from pad thai to deep fried cockroaches, bikini’s to fishermen pants.  And backpackers just everywhere…

Khao San Road

Khao San Road

On one of our days, mum and I visited the snake farm in downtown Bangkok – an interesting and slightly terrifying experience.  It is the second oldest snake farm in the world, and is a leader in Thailand for snake anti-venom.   We heard a talk (with slideshow), and then they bought out some of their deadly friends.  The presenter was a crack up, telling us in an extremely dramatic voice about just how fast this particular snake can kill… After explaining that Australia has some of the worlds most dangerous animals – snakes, spiders, jellyfish, sharks etc etc, he asked if anyone was from Australia. Mum and I looked at each other and decided not to answer till we knew what it was all about. Another guy put up his hand. “What do you think is Australia’s most deadliest animal?” asked the guide. “The brown snake?” replied the Aussie guy. “No”, said the guide in a very serious tone. “The Australian woman…”

Me with a python

Me with a python

After mum took off, I spent my last few days at a hostel on Khao San Road. Spent my days swimming and shopping, and my evenings in bars. Met a group of people starting out their travels in Bangkok and saw a couple of movies with them – only $4 for a movie here (although you do have to stand for the Kings anthem).

And now I’m back home. Survived my flight home and am just getting ready to start uni. Ugh. Already planning the next travels – back to China area somewhere or another…

Take Care All,
xoxo bobbi

Being bitten by underwater ‘mosquitoes’

Asia ~ Thailand ~ Krabi ~ Koh Lanta

Welcome to warm weather! I love Thailand! Finally I am no longer shivering from the cold Beijing winter (although it is a little chilly in some of the air-conditioned rooms). After a early early morning, I arrived at the new Bangkok Airport to meet my mum and Matt. The new airport is nice enough, although the walk from the where you get off the plane through to where you pick up your luggage is a little long… Never mind, met up with my fellow travelers and we caught up over Thai curry, before catching our flight to Krabi. Krabi was just a pit stop where we stayed the night before heading over to the ultimate destination – Lanta Island.

At the last minute, mum and I managed to find a beautiful resort area on the bottom end of Lanta, and it is there that we stayed for a couple of blissful days. On our first full day, Matt and I spent the day snorkeling at Koh Raa – beautiful. Of course, it wasn’t without drama – we caught a long boat to the diving boat, and after boarding the diving boat we found out that the engine was playing up. Never fear – the diving group had another big boat, which they quickly pulled up beside us. A little too quickly, as it turned out, because, as the boat was coming in along-side us, they hit the boat, causing all the oxygen tanks behind me to spill out onto the deck, knocking us over. Thankfully I’m a quick mover – I copped the brunt of it, but only managed to get a tank on my little toe. The snorkeling itself was awesome – we saw a heap of different beautiful fish, as well as a sea snake and a tortoise. We also spotted (and got ‘bitten’ by) a huge number of small jellyfish (‘mosquitoes’), which kept us scurrying out of their way.

The beach that we caught the boat from to go snorkeling

The beach that we caught the boat from to go snorkeling

Whilst on Koh Lanta, we decided to hire motorbikes to scoot around. Our first attempt wasn’t so successful – they only had one spare bike, so we decided it’d be fine, we could ride with two people… Turns out we were wrong. First time on a bike, first time trying to balance on a bike – not particularly easy with two people. Fortunately, Matt chose the better option – he crashed the bike instead of taking us head first down a 50meter cliff into the sea… The next day we were able to hire a bike each (even mum!) and we headed off into the sunset on our bikes…

Matt & I on my bike

Matt & I on my bike

All of a sudden, it was time to leave. Unfortunately, our bikes had to be returned before we caught the bus to the airport – the bus was to pick us up at 6am, so it was with weary eyes (we went out to a funky outdoor club the night before) that we dragged ourselves out of bed at 4.30am… And proceeded to ride our bikes at a very slow speed into town (for we had just realised that we were dangerously close to running out of petrol – oops). As soon as we could see we were going to make it, we sped the last km and made it in time – phew!

And now I’m ready (I think) for the craziness of Bangkok – bring it on!

xoxo bobs

Bitten by a block of chocolate

Asia ~ Japan ~ Fukuoka ~ Kurume, Saga, Yame & Yufuin

Well, life back in Kurume is both fun and natsukashii – reminiscent of the past. I’ve spent the past 1 and a half weeks living with my first Japanese host family, and it’s been great, meeting friends from the past and catching up with everyone. Arrival in Kurume was great – I caught the train down to Kurume, and a taxi to Naoko’s house. In the taxi, I was actually able to communicate with the driver and give him directions – something I’m not yet able to do in China – a very satisfying experience. First night at Naoko’s was spent at the local Chinese restaurant, catching up with everyone and having a delicious dinner of Japanese Chinese food (much better than Australian Chinese food!).

Since then, I’ve been taken around to see the many sights of the area by a good many friends. We went to Yanagawa to do a boat cruise on the canals and had an amazing 60 year old man as our navigator/driver/entertainer. He sung songs (often with my name in them) and continually made jokes, of which I understood about half (his accent/use of slang was extremely strong). He even had me up on deck steering the boat… The boat itself was unique – it was steered and propelled by the driver at the back with a long stick (no motor here) and had a table in the middle which we sat around. The table had a blanket over the top, under which we stuck our legs. Under the table were big pots of hot coals, which kept the boat (and our legs) nice and warm. After our cruise we sat down for a lunch of eel and rice – yum! I also went to Saga with the Yoshida’s, to go to the local onsen – Japanese hot spring bath – a fantastic treat on a cold winters day.

Directing the boat where to go...

Directing the boat where to go...

Exploring Kurume has been fun and kind of sad – everything is changing dramatically. All the shops around where I used to hang out every day after school are closed – they have moved to the new shopping center that is out of town… Back at my old high school was interesting – I met up with my old homeroom teacher and English teacher, and met the two current ALTs (American English teachers). My old homeroom teacher had me go to his class and introduce myself in English (they are 3rd year students – grade 12 – studying English)… I gave a quick introduction – my name, age, what I’m studying etc and asked if they had any questions. Only one, from a loud boy in the front – ‘are you married?!’ (in Japanese). To which I replied, also in Japanese, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t understand Japanese, if you ask in English I might be able to answer’… No response!

My old highschool, Kurume Koutou Gakkou

My old highschool, Kurume Koutou Gakkou

I visited with the Hashizume family and went up to Kiyomizu to see the temple (imagine all the steps you’ve ever seen in your life, then double it)… and afterwards we went to a sushi ‘train’ restaurant to grab lunch – YUM. Dinner was again raw fish – this time at a favourite restaurant of Naoko & Hirosuke, with friends of theirs. The difference being that the raw fish I tried that night was fugu – the deadly pufferfish. And it was delicious (we also had it served as fried fish). Yesterday and this morning was spent at the Onsen resort in Yufuin – a fantastic place that we had all to ourselves – my belief is because it was so damn cold. But the hot baths were fantastic, and the dinner incredible. After dinner Naoko and I relaxed in my room and polished off a bottle of Australian chardonnay, a perfect end to my Japanese part of the trip.

Well, now I’m getting ready to head back to China – tomorrow I’ll be on a ferry to Qingdao – from there I’ll head up to Beijing to spend a bit of time shopping (and freezing my butt off!).

Naoko, Hirosuke & I, standing by Yufu Mountain in Yufuin

Naoko, Hirosuke & I, standing by Yufu Mountain in Yufuin

Take care all

xo bobbi

p.s. watch out for the deadly swiss chocolate – it nearly snapped my finger in half when i tried to break a piece off – now i have an awesome bruise under my nail – why does this type of thing only happen to me?!

Living it up in Vegas

North America ~ United States of America ~ California ~ San Jose & Nevada ~ Las Vegas

Well, what a wild couple of weeks. Am now back in the U.K., but before I go into that, I’d like to explain a little of what I’ve been doing…

One of the girls that works at the shop, Remy, also works at a theme park called Paramount’s Great America, which is only 3 miles from home. She managed to get us free tickets, so mum and I spent a fun filled day at the park. We went on a day when the park wasn’t open to the public, it was a ‘school’s day’, where they focus on science and maths, and only school kids are at the park (although how a 9 year old can learn maths whilst on a rollercoaster is beyond me). So there were heaps and heaps of little kids under our feet. Luckily, the kids all left at about 4pm, so until 7pm we basically had the park to ourselves. We spent most of our time hanging upside down on various coasters and thrill rides. Whilst in the park we stumbled across Boomerang Bay, an ‘Aussie’ water park. There were ‘kangaroo crossing’ signs and toilets named ‘blokes’ and ‘sheilas’ everywhere…

One day was spent over the hill at Santa Cruz. There was a couple canoeing down under the wharf right next to the huge sea lions. It was great fun watching the sea lions come up next to the canoe and then dive under the canoe and just disappear. The faces on the people in the canoe were priceless… On the wharf we went to Stagnaro’s and had clam chowder… YUM! Didn’t get time to wander along the boardwalk, as there were absolutely millions of people about, but I’ve been there everytime I’ve been to the U.S., so I think I’ll cope.

Grandpoppa took me down to his Alameda, Santa Clara University last week. Was a complete culture shock. The university was gorgeous, really nice grounds. However, on the front lawns of the university there were girls sunbaking in bikini’s! Once we got past that we had to dogde girls and guys skateboarding their way to class… I’m not at all sure I’d be able to go to uni in California – I just don’t have the balance on a skateboard.

Las Vegas was fantastic. We flew up there on the tiniest plane I’ve ever been on, only 18 rows, with one flight attendant. Just before we got into Las Vegas there were heaps of turbulence, which was fun… Las Vegas was so hot compared to San Jose, definitely warmer than London! We stayed at the Boardwalk Casino, not one of the really well known ones, but still a great hotel. Each day we wandered along the strip, visiting Bellagio, Alladin, Caessars Palace, Mirage, Monte Carlo, Paris Las Vegas and the Venetian. My favorite was probably Bellagio, the lobby had a huge display of glass flowers covering the roof, made by a guy that mum and dad met a couple of years back. Paris Las Vegas is pretty cool too, inside the casino, the rood is made to look like the sky, it’s curved, painted light blue with clouds and has natural lights. As a result you lose track of time, and it’s a huge shock to walk outside and be greeted with the night…

It’s been a bit of a drag, as [legally] I’m not old enough. The legal age here is 21, which is a hastle. Whilst in Las Vegas I was only kicked out of one casino for underage gambling, not a bad effort I think! Oh yeh, nearly forgot. On my second day in Vegas I saw a real live Las Vegas Wedding!!! The pair got married in the tiny little gazebo in the ‘garden’ [read: 2 meter square lawn], at our hotel. Maurice and Petunia were really happy, or so the priest with the microphone proclaimed to the rest of us under-agers swimming in the hotel pool… Found another ‘under-age’ suitable venue that I quite liked – M&M World! Four storeys of m&m’s and m&m related products. They had one complete wall devoted just to m&m’s.

The rest of my time has been spent shopping, attempting to find a digital camera. My original camera stopped working back in India, so I just brought a cheap one there, but as you can probably see from the photos, the quality’s not that great. Now I have a better camera, so hopefully I’ll get some more photo’s up. I’ve also been catching up with all my family, seeing my cousins and so forth. My cousin Dave’s mate caught a pirana with inch long teeth last week in a local reservoir, bit of a shock to everyone. The fisheries department came in and confiscated it…

Well, hope everyone is having a dandy time back in Aussie. I’m now in Edinburgh (Scotland), I’ll be looking for a job soon, grr!

xoxo Bobs