Contiki to Asia: Thailand

6 April 2015
So I've been wanting to write this post for ages but I couldn't find my memory card with all my pictures on so I haven't been able to but I have now found it so I've been spending most of the day downloading the 700+ photos and thats just on one memory card! opps! Last year Llymlrs went on a Contiki trip to Asia for 14 days and through seeing all the pictures and blog posts, I was super jealous! I've always wanted to Asia and see the sights plus I have had an urge to travel since I have been going through my quarter life crisis (I know right!) and wondering what to do with the rest of my life! When Lily got back from her trip she posted a photo on Instagram of her jumping into a waterfall with a caption letting followers know that she was holding a competition for Contiki to let one of us win a Contiki trip of our own if we post a photo of us showing our inner child and tagging it. I was like 'YES! amazing...I need this trip' and posted this....

The caption was 'Me in an adult sized ball pit of balloons' and a month or so later I got a comment on my photo letting me know I had won the competition!! I couldn't believe my eyes and I was jumping up and down, like a child finding out they are going to Disneyland. I emailed them right away to see what trip I had won and they told me I had a £1500 budget to pick what trip I wanted. It was a no-brainer for me and so the 14 day Asian Adventure trip was booked! All I had to do was pay for my own flights but seeing how much money I saved I weren't bothered by that at all. You have no idea what this meant to me!

So Contiki is a tour company that arranges your whole holiday for you. All accommodation is included as well as some excursions, travel and some meals. You go with a group of up to 30 people and all aged between 18-35 so its a great way to meet some new like-minded people.

The day arrived for me to leave on my once in a lifetime trip, and there I was backpack and hand luggage in hand, on my way to Gatwick to get on my first long haul flight..on my Asia!! (Is this real life!?) I was super nervous about the flying alone part but once I was on the plane and ready to go I was fine. I had a quick stop in Dubai on the way as I was getting two flights there but this worked out better for me as it gave me a chance to stretch my legs and get some 'fresh' air.

Once I arrived in Bangkok I had a taxi pick me up and take me to the hotel. I completely forgot it was only 7:30am when I arrived, so my jetlag was already pretty bad by this point. I pleaded with the receptionist to let me in my room early as I desperately needed a nap. Eventually I was allowed in and hit the sack straight away! I soon got woken by my new room mate Maria but I didn't mind at all as she was super lovely. We chatted and slept some more ready for the first night of the trip.

It got a bit later in the day as so we went to the bar next door to meet some more of our Contiki group. They were all some welcoming and lovely. It got to 6pm and it was time to meet the whole of the group, our tour guide and head out for dinner (and just a 'couple' of drinks)

That night lots of drinks were had, laughter and jokes were made and tuk tuks were riden. It was a great night where we all got to bond and create our first memories of the trip. The next day we got up bright and early, checked out of the hotel and headed out for our first temple visit...

The Grand Palace / Bangkok

This was a great temple to visit! The craftsmanship on the buildings is just beautiful so there are lots to look at. We all got given a square of gold leaf to put onto the Buddha too, look how neat I got mine. I was really proud of that...its the small things that please me. Theres so much to learn and admire while your there so if you ever decide to travel to Bangkok, make sure to visit.

Soon after this we got to take a trip along the klongs (canals) of Bangkok and feed some of the fish with bread. The sea and river always calms me so this was a nice little cruise to sit and chill on although if its a little windy you could get a little sea sick!

We then jumped onto an overnight train to Chiang Mai which was an interesting experience. It feels like your a student all over again as the seats turn into beds that you sleep in over night. I got woken up but a couple of cockroaches crawling in my bed which freaked me out and I hardly slept but thats all part of the experience, right? If I done this again I would definitely have the top bunk! In the early hours of the morning you will get woken up by the staff calling out 'Orangeee Juiceee' trying to make you buy some, and trust me they don't give up but it ended up becoming a running joke each morning at the hotels after that.

Doi Suthep Temple / Chiang Mai

I really enjoyed this temple too! The stairs up to it were really hard to climb but its a good workout for your legs. You always have to take your shoes off when you enter a temple as a sign of respect. You also have to wear long trousers and cover your arms sometimes, so make sure you take appropriate clothing when you go. You can always pick some up at a local market if you dont have any, which feel more authentic anyway.

Our local guide told us about each of the Buddha's which represented each day of the week. It can then translate into and what animal and colour you are depending on the day and year you are born. I'm a wednesday child, year of the horse and green is my colour. They all have their own meanings and are pretty interesting too as it can tell you something about yourself you might not have thought about.

I also done this fortune telling thing where I had a cup of sticks and I had to sit down, shake them and see what number fell out. There are then pieces of paper on the wall that tell you something, which can be good or bad but both times for me, the stick came out blank? I never asked the tour guide what that meant as I was too scared it was something bad. I also walked around this walking square where you hold flowers, walk around three times and make a wish. I'm not going to tell you my wish just yet as it hasn't come true but I will do if it does. Its a really calming temple and everyone is there to wish for good fortune for them and their families so its a great place to relax if you want more positivity in your life.

Thai Cooking Class

As well as there being lots of thing included in the trip, you can also pay for some optional extras while your there. One of them was a Thai cooking class, which I opted for straight away as I love cooking and theres no better time to learn than in the country itself. Our teacher took us through the market and told us a bit about different vegetables and spices that were used before he took us to his kitchen in the beautiful countryside.

You can see in one of the photos that the teacher done the trick of the flames which we actually got to try out ourselves if we wanted to. I thought there was nothing to lose to went for it, to be surprised how hot it was! So hilarious though, but don't try this one at home kids! We got to cook a variety of tasty dishes including 'Cashew Chicken' and 'Massaman Curry'. It was some of the tastiest food I have eaten in a while, even if I did cook it myself. The best thing about the evening was everyone sitting around the tables at the end and eating it all while drinking a cold Chang beer. Thats the life! You also get given a recipe written by the teacher himself so you can re-create the dishes yourself.

To end a great evening we went to see some Thai kickboxing which was pretty epic in the end. The last fight was a french guy who must have been over 6ft tall against a Thai boy around the same weight. The fight lasted all of 2 minutes when the french boxer kicked him straight in the head and knocked him cold out on the floor. There was lots of blood but pretty awesome to watch.

White Temple - Chang Rai

We were lucky enough to stop off at the beautiful white temple on our journey through Thailand. It was my favourite from the whole trip as I just loved the contemporary edge to a traditional design. Its much more stunning in real life too so make sure you check it out if you ever visit.

Hill Tribe Visit

Another additional excursion was paying a visit to the traditional hill tribes up on the hills in Chang Mai. There were roughly five tribes in the hills that we went to see. My favourite were the longnecks as they really fascinated me with all the gold rings and the stories about what they see as beautiful, it really got you thinking.

This lady was my favourite. I loved how upbeat and happy she was which lifted the whole mood of the group. I couldn't help but buy a embroidered purse and bracelet from her stall.

This little kid was the cutest! As I was taking photos of him and his mother he crawled up to me as he was really fascinated by my camera. He was trying to push all the buttons and ending up taking the photo above, which really brought a smile to my face.

I really enjoyed taking these photos because when I looked back at them and looked into the eyes of the people I was taking the photos of I could really see they had lots of stories to tell. They all have a look about them which I cant help but think about and wonder what they have been through. Thailand was great and I enjoyed ever minute of it but it wasn't over yet. Our next journey was in Laos..


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