One of the fun things when travelling around on your own with very little money is staying in hostel dorm rooms.
My current room in Chiang Mai has 6 beds, well sort of beds. There’s a raised platform with six mattresses on, separated by some interesting MDF frames with curtains hanging from them for a little privacy. It’s alright and there is an interesting carousel of people coming and going. Different ages, nationalities (all female in this room, but in Bangkok and Koh Tao I stayed in mixed dorms).
I think I’ve manged not to annoy people too much. I mean no-one has told me that I’ve pissed them off and some have stayed in touch. I’ve tried to keep all my crap roughly in one place, use my headphones whilst listening to the radio or watching something. I haven’t had any smelly food or anything. I think I’m probably doing ok.
There do seem to be some unspoken rules though:
When you meet someone you have to ask the following questions:
- Where are you from?
- How long have you been travelling?
- Where have you been and where are you going next?
If you remember to you might also ask their name, but that seems to bee coming half way through a conversation most of the time in an ‘Oh, I’m Ellie by the way!’ ‘Yeah! I’m….’
Today I spent £20. It seems extravagant, especially considering my accommodation for 6 nights is costing me about £11, but I think it was worth it.
You may agree when you consider that I’ve had lessons, 6 meals of tasty and that it’s kept me off the streets and out of the sun (mostly). I had Thai cooking lessons with Baan Thai Cooking.
I spent most of my day wandering around museums and markets. My plan was to head out of the old city of Chiang Mai and have a look around the Textiles Museum in the Old Cultural Centre. Unfortunately, after spending an hour and a half looking for it, stopping for my new favourite drink at a coffee shop called ‘3 way coffee love’, I found that it was shut so headed back into town for a visit to the Lanna Folklife Museum.
I’ve bought a pair of Dr. Dre Beats because I thought it best not to have in-ear headphones whilst battling a possible ear infection. They’ve been amazing. After about 4 days of not listening to things I was suddenly filled with a world of my choosing, able to block out the bustle and clamour of Khao San Road, bus and train journeys.
I’ve not had over the ear headphones since I was about 12, so every time I’ve put them on I have the feeling that I should be listening to Now 29 on a coach trip to Alton Towers; my lunch box should have two packets of crisps – smokey bacon and chicken, there should be two drinks, two scotch eggs (!) and sandwiches which are a bit squished. Instead I’ve had iced coffee in a can and char sui buns from 7 Eleven. (In case you’re wondering, I have Now 29 on the ipod, but have been favouring Now 75 instead.)
When I was in the Serengeti last March/April time Joe, the Yr 5 teacher, came up with a game to keep us amused. Any time another safari car came by you had to wave at the occupants of the car. Easy enough you would think, but the game was to keep on waving for as long as you could, beyond the comfortable limits of being polite. You won if you managed to wave for the longest time, especially if the others waved back. If they didn’t they were normally termed ‘miserable bastards’ and waved at anyway with a fixed grin on our faces. It was like a car version of this:
Long car journeys when I was small always involved waving at other travellers, people in coaches, other children trapped in the back of cars being dragged by their parents to god-knows-where and, of course, truckers. You were most successful if you got a trucker to honk their horn at you as you drove past. Sometimes this would be accompanied by Dad’s truck driving country song mix tape. Later, in our battered space cruiser, the Fairport Convention album ‘Glady’s Leap’ got stuck in the tape player and so was on repeat for about 3 years. When I hear this song, I can still picture myself staring out of the moon roof, trying to count stars as we went Driving In The Dark.
I’ve been playing the waving game a little bit since getting here. It’s one of the things I do to entertain myself when I’m plodding around on my own. It seems to work well on boats, although everyone else gives up a little quicker than I do, but then they don’t know we’re playing. If they did, they’d probably try a little harder.
What I have noticed in most of the places I’ve been to, around the UK, Western Europe, Tanzania, Kenya and now Thailand, is that children still delight in getting a wave out of strangers driving or sailing by. In Tanzania, children would rush to the sides of the road waving frantically, on the motorways of France, Spain and Germany they press their faces up against their car windows, hands madly shaking back and forth. In Thailand there’s a mixture of the two, kids by the side of the road, perched on scooters, in the front of pick up trucks. And anywhere you go you are greeted with huge smiles. If only we were by more adults.
I have Swimmer’s Ear. It’s a pain, but luckily not painful. I’ve got ear drops, a slightly seasick feeling and 11 hours until my train back to Bangkok.
It started off with a muggy feeling in my ear, then this morning I could barely hear out of it at all. But last night’s hostel, Salsa Hostel in Chumphon was clean, comfortable, immaculately fitted out in Ikea furniture and, best of all, has super fast internet. Call me shallow, but when I’m feeling a bit crappy all I want to do is be able to top up my itunes, stream a bit of telly and go to sleep in comfort. Check out wasn’t until noon, so 45 mins ago I re-packed my bag (gonna get tired of that really soon, but what can you do?) trundled downstairs and bought an icecream.
I’m going to sit here until i’m hungry enough for lunch, read ‘The Long War’ by Terry Pratchett and Steven Baxter and kill time until they politely move me on.
I’ve done quite well reading books recently – just finished ‘Little Exiles’ and ‘Bloody Women’ the former by Robert Dinsdale and the latter by Helen FitzGerald. Both good.
If you’re interested Little Exiles is about the children taken to Australia after WW2 and touches on the Stolen Generation, Bloody Women is about a woman arrested for having possibly murdered and dismembered some of her ex-boyfriends. Not normally things I’d go for but they were in the kindle daily deal.
Memorial candles treasuring lost loved ones in Prague, October 2013
The first film I remember seeing at the cinema was when I was 5 years old. It was Disney’s The Little Mermaid. I was amazed by it, immediately decided I wanted red hair like Ariel. We went to McDonalds and I got an Ursula toy with my Happy Meal. It was 1989.
Some time not long after I was amazed to see the video in Ritz (as it was then, don’t think it had become a Blockbusters, or indeed a cafe at that point) and begged Mum to buy it for me so that I could re-live that magical underwater world at home. Mum said no. It wasn’t the film. I disagreed, it had Ariel on the front and I could definitely read the words ‘Under the Sea’ there too. Mum said it wasn’t, it was just in the cinema. I disagreed and must have pestered er for ages because somehow I acquired that video. Of course it wasn’t The Little Mermaid, it was ‘Sing-a-long Songs Under the Sea‘ which did feature some of the Little Mermaid soundtrack, but also other vaguely water related Disney songs including one from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in which Kirk Douglas seems to be telling his shipmates about some sort of dalliance with a fish or two. Mr Jim Causley has been known to do an amusing cover of this if you ever get the chance to see/hear it. Ask him nicely.
My obsession with TLM grew and I was exceptionally jealous of my cousin Rebecca because she had an Ariel doll. I even used to pretend to be Ariel when swimming at Brackley Pool – the pool has two sets of steps in the shallow end, if you swam around underwater, legs together because you are a mermaid with a tail, singing ‘Part of your world‘ to yourself and timed it right you could push yourself up the steps, breaking out of the water at just the right point to recreate the iconic waves/big stone moment. To me, I was definitely a ginger mermaid, to everyone else I must have looked mental.
Another book review, this time a great set of books for children (or adults) which give a gateway into finding out more of the traditions, songs and legends of Britain. Given the Terry Pratchett twist that is!
I’ve had to leave the cafe I was in. I’d been there for about 45 minutes, nursing my cool drink and reading ‘The Shock of the Fall‘ by Nathan Filer on my kindle. I had to leave because as I got about 90% of the way through I was balling my eyes out and people were starting to look at me strangely.
Me being the Wicked Witch of the West at school for World Book Day 2013