Izzi and Tom

Our big adventures
Living in: England, United Kingdom
  • Day24

    Day 24/72: Singapore day 2

    4 hours ago in Singapore

    We woke up and had a lazy breakfast at the hostel this morning, enjoying the cake we picked up from a bakery late last night. We got the MRT to the botanic gardens and spent an absolutely beautiful and very hot and humid morning wondering around the gardens. The gardens are huge, with so many different areas, lakes and trees, with rainforest sections, fountains of all kinds and English country garden sections to make us feel slightly at home in the sweltering heat.

    The really impressive part of the garden was the orchid gardens, which cost about £3 to enter, and were absolutely huge and gorgeous; crammed full of the most beautiful hybrids of orchids in the world. There is a whole heritage and vip section of the orchid gardens, where famous or influential people who come to Singapore botanic Gardens get an orchid hybrid bred and named in their honour. A special favourite of ours was the Princess Diana orchid, which was absolutely beautiful.

    The heat in Singapore is very different to the heat in Thailand. In Thailand the heat is the first thing you notice when you walk out the door, whereas in Singapore the heat kind of sneaks up on you, to the point where you don't realise how hot you are until you find it impossible to try to cool down. We walked around the orchid gardens baking in the heat, wishing desperately that there would be the slightest lick of wind to soothe us, and standing slightly too close to the fountains to try and get the cool water to possibly splash on us a tiny bit.

    Once we had exhausted the gardens we headed to Chinatown where we enjoyed a huge lunch at a Chinese restaurant. The lunch consisted of egg fried rice, sweet and sour pork and kung pow chicken, and was absolutely incredible. We were very obviously the only tourists in the restaurant and the only people who had no idea how the whole premise of sharing large plates of food worked, but luckily the waitress was very friendly and explained it all as she gave us forks instead of chopsticks...

    We spent a while wondering around the shops in Chinatown, marvelling at inner painted bottles. Our next stop was the Gardens by the Bay. This time we paid to go inside the Cloud Forest: a dome very like the Eden Centre, in that it's an environment inside a dome where many plants are grown. It's quite incredible, huge waterfall in the middle and clouds hovering to create environments for many different types of plant, including lots of carnivorous ones. The centre had lots to do and learn about, and at the end had a huge portion on climate change and how to do better.

    The next dome we went to was the Flower Dome, which wasn't quite as impressive as it seemed to be mainly dedicated to Christmas decorations... But included a lot of roses which smelt incredible.

    We walked across a very impressive bridge past part of the F1 track and wondered into a very expensive shopping centre and got an enormous chocolate brownie and dark chocolate cake from a chocolate shop called The Dark Gallery. It was incredible; the richest brownie, but still incredibly light and fluffy!

    Right now I am writing this blog post while Tom gets his hair cut at a very expensive barbours, and absolutely raves about having a head massage while they are washing his hair; 'I'm never washing my own hair again!'
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  • Day23

    Day 23/72: Singapore

    November 19 in Singapore

    Woke early this morning and got packed ready to go to the airport. On the way in, Phuket airport was stressful so we gave ourselves plenty of time to check in etc. Luckily though, we passed through breezily and changed our 1000's of Baht for a disappointing amount of Singapore Dollars (the days of bartering in hundreds are behind us). We stepped off Thai soil, the feeling of leaving Thailand for good not quite sinking in, and flew on to our next stage of the trip, Singapore.

    We expected a change but even so, the difference between Thailand and Singapore is significant. We got on the train that runs above the streets of the city and looking down, saw what looks like those CGI make-ups of new building developments you see outside building sites, or on the internet. It's such a clean looking, modern city. Best compared to a large, well looked after European city like Brussels, with a distinct air of business. We got tourist 3 day underground/overground rail passes, and everyone speaks English so we arrived at the hostel with ease. We'd just set ourselves up on the bunk beds and decided to head out to explore, when the rain came down and the streets were suddenly rushing with water. We decided to wait for another 10 minutes before borrowing an umbrella from the hostel and making a run for it.

    The first stop on our exploring list was the long bar at Raffles Hotel, famous for making the cocktail the Singapore Sling. In this very bar in 1920, men would frequent to have a drink or 5 and observe the women walking along the street below. The women, who were not allowed to drink in those days, were given fruits and juices to drink. The barman at the time then came up with the idea of making a drink that looked like juice but adding clear spirits so the women could drink alcohol without being caught. It worked a treat and over time, dispelled the social norm that it was bad taste for women to drink alcohol. It's a gin based cocktail with cointreau, benedictine, pineapple juice, lime juice, grenadine and cherry liqueur. Extremely tasty! The bar itself was bizarre too! It had bamboo fans that wafted lazily overhead, and sacks of peanuts that you could eat and then drop the shells on the floor, so that it looked like the ground of a very chic monkey's house.

    The second stop was the Gardens by the Bay. We found these after going to the wrong station and having to walk through constriction site Singapore but that was soon forgotten. The beauty of the gardens in the post rain haze was incredible and they have these huge "trees" that help the environment in some way. We're returning tomorrow to find out more, as there are 2 glass houses, one with a huge flower garden and the other with a forest in a cloud. We aren't sure how they managed to catch the cloud yet...
    It was really quiet, which was strange as we were sure Singapore was a fairly touristy spot. We wandered around the gardens, taking photos of the trees (which as night fell had been lit with a bedazzlement of lights) and nature and generally getting lost. Then, as we were making our way back to the nearest station, we came through the main tree area and saw a huge crowd crammed in together, all looking at the lights. Feeling pleased that we'd somehow avoided all the crowds, we headed up towards the station. As we got higher, we turned back to look at the trees from a different vantage point and saw that a light show had begun. The LED's flowed and colours burst up and down the branches and trunks! It was brilliant to watch and a real treat to end a very good day.
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  • Day22

    Day 22/72: Mai Khao

    November 18 in Thailand

    After a hot walk around the block this morning to attempt to find a restaurant that didn't exist, we got brunch at the hotel and rented a scooter for the day. We headed down to Mai Khao beach; a 10km long beach at the north of Phuket which is famous for being directly next to the runway.

    Our afternoon consisted of sitting on the beach until it was too hot to sit anymore and swimming in the sea to cool off, then sitting again. We got really good coconut ice cream and sticky rice from a stall at the top of the beach, and then got some more when I decided I didn't want to share mine. From where we were sat on the beach the planes pass awfully closely overhead, practically begging for photos to be taken.

    We mopeded down to the far end of the beach and found a restaurant to have some dinner; Tom yum (vegetables and chicken in tomato and cream spicy sauce) and fried rice, and thought mournfully about it being our last non-airport meal in Thailand as we leave for Singapore early morning tomorrow.

    We headed back to the beach to watch the sunset, which was slightly marred by the solid bank of cloud over the horizon, but still beautiful, and a few hundred meters down the beach there was a couple getting married which was very cool to watch.

    After filling up our moped from a petrol vending machine (honestly one of the coolest things about Thailand) and getting rid of all our spare change at the same time, we got back to the hotel and enjoyed a late evening in catching up on blogging!
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  • Day21

    Day 21/72: Phuket easy

    November 17 in Thailand

    We woke up at the wake park and tried to get up but it felt like we'd managed to pull every muscle in our bodies. After struggling out of bed and getting our stuff together, we went down for the free wake park breakfast (1 pancakes with sour cream and jam, 1 eggs, sausage, bacon and chips) and ordered a taxi. 15 minutes later, someone from fast and furious arrived in a pimped out Toyota Yaris, featuring go faster flames and petrol coloured rims. We then took the hour or so journey to our next place, a bungalow near the airport with a beach nearby. We arrived and relaxed for the rest of the day, had dinner of carbonara pizza and chicken fried rice, played cards, swam in the pool, did some much needed washing of clothes and did some reminiscing of the trip so far, as this leg of our travels draws near to the end.Read more

  • Day20

    Day 20/72: more wakeboarding

    November 16 in Thailand

    Another day of wakeboarding, finishing off all the x-men films and learning new tricks. A few days ago my dearly loved Nana died so we took a few days off island hopping to relax for a while. The plan was wakeboarding and chilling: which is very much what we have done!

  • Day19

    Day 19/72: Back in Phuket

    November 15 in Thailand

    We woke up after a night in civilisation once again, at Phuket Wake Park. A very chilled day was had. We went down to the lake and had some breakfast, then hit the water! Wakeboarded for a little while, then had a break and chilled out for an hour or so until lunch. Had a lunch of Pad Thai and chips (not in the same dish) and then went back on the water again. This trend generally carried on throughout the day, wakeboard, rest, eat, repeat, all the way until it got dark and the floodlights lit up the lake and we were night riding! After we finally became too tired to do anything more, we headed back to the room and had an X-men marathon before calling it a day! Another day like this and then we head back to the beach!Read more

  • Day17

    Day 17/72: mopeds and beaches

    November 13 in Thailand

    After breakfast this morning Tom decided to go for a long run down the beach. This proved to be a silly idea when he came back completely exhausted, sweating more than a person should be able to sweat, and barely able to take off his own shoes. A swim to cool down was needed, and after this we headed over the road to a moped rental place, and hired one for the day for just over £5.

    We had picked up a map from the hotel lobby, and set out with a beach in mind, driving on quiet lanes with goats and cows lining the roadsides. After arriving at a sign saying 'beach' we followed it down a track, across rougher terrain than we thought a road could be, and finally reached the point where the road turned into a footpath (of sorts). We scrambled down through the thickets and plants, avoiding the landslides, and finally, sweating and tired, arrived on our own little, deserted, Thai beach. After a cooling swim we climbed back up and made our way back on the moped to where the path met a real road (with tarmac and everything).

    Our next stop was some lunch, we stopped at a little restaurant by the side of the road with kittens and friendly owners who brought us a free side of watermelon with our fried rice and chocolate milkshakes. We then set off on the road again, with the destination set on a spit of sand that stretches half way out to a neighboroughing island. We had an incredibly shallow swim, and wandered along the spit as far as the tide would let us.

    Our final stop of the day was (you guessed it) another beach. This was a long beach with no one sat on it (when we arrived, we obviously stared a trend because 5 minutes into our visit 6 other people decided to sit here too). We had another swim; the water wasn't quite cold enough to be refreshing, felt a bit like when the bath water starts to get cold and you debate whether to add a bit more hot water or not. The sun was beating down on the beach through the pine needles; an absolutely idyllic location with a cafe at the entrance with more kittens, one of whom decided to sit on our moped so we couldn't leave without giving her lots of cuddles.

    When we arrived back at the hotel we went for a lovely swim in the pool, and sat by the edge reading and playing cards. A very successful day all round!
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  • Day16

    Day 16/72: unwinding

    November 12 in Thailand

    Today was a day to chill. After the excitement of being in big party locations and really busy islands, the quietness and remoteness of Koh Yao Yai is exactly what we needed, and exactly what we hoped we might find. The resort is absolutely beautiful, and a welcome break from the hostels we were staying at before. We woke up early and watched the sun rise over the sea from the comfort of our bungalow.

    We had a light breakfast of omelettes, toast, pancakes, fresh fruit, coffee, tea, fresh fruit juices, fried rice with vegetables and potatoes. After this, we sat on the edge of the pool and proceeded to move very little for the rest of the morning, except when a huge beetle made me jump up, or when we overheated, and thus collapsed in the pool to cool off. After a hard morning of sitting we felt a bit peckish, so we got chicken burgers and chips and fruit from the resort restaurant. We then borrowed some paddle boards for the afternoon, and spent a few hours paddling up and down the beach. The sea was a tiny bit rough in places, and watching Tom fall in while trying to get onto the board was very amusing for everyone.

    After paddle boarding we then went back to sit by the pool, and Tom taught me how to play blackjack and poker, and I proceeded to get a bit carried away with gambling apparently fake money.

    The sunset over the hill was incredible, the colours were so vibrant and we enjoyed it while walking along the beach.

    After dinner we are now sat in our hut watching a huge tropical thunderstorm, complete with lightning and thunder over the sea.
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  • Day15

    Day 15/72: Phi Phi to Koh Yao Yoi

    November 11 in Thailand

    Another travel day but no less fun. This morning we went and had the same breakfast as yesterday in the same place (it was just that good) and then realising we checked out at 10 not 11, hurried back to the hostel to pack up. All in all, a great hostel, Frank the owner was brilliant and we wouldn't have got around the island with such ease if we hadn't spoken to him. He told us all the best places to go and it was brilliant. Anyway, we left our bags at the hostel as we had an afternoon boat, and went to the beach to relax. We found a lovely spot and settled down, had a swim and watched 2 climbers high above us on the huge rock faces that tower over the island. Tom dug an ingenious even if I do say so myself sand chair and sat writing yesterday's blog, and Izzi slept and went swimming. In the early afternoon we went and found a place for lunch (burritos mmmm), picked up our bags and headed for the pier. Also while walking down the beach paddling we saw a black tip reef shark which was incredible!

    We checked in our bags and chatted to the guy who was at the desk. He was from Phi Phi and told us about the island, how it used to be in the top 5 best places in the world 20 years ago. You could see why from photos, 20 years ago the island was covered in green palm trees and forest but since then has had a built up tourist town dropped onto the middle of it, with more and more developments still happening. Beautiful island though, we're really glad we went there because there so many options and it would have been very easy to neglect it to something else. We got on the speed boat and made the very bumpy journey across to our next destination, Koh Yao Yai. On Phi Phi, out of the hundreds of destinations we saw advertised on boat tours etc, we only saw one advertised for Koh Yao, so we knew it was going to be quiet. When we pulled up next to the tiny pier, a few taxis were waiting to take the 12 or so people on the boat to their various destinations. We hopped in and drove off, and it was like going back in time. This must have been what the islands were like before tourists came along. There were no markets, no stalls on the side of the roads, a couple of very simple shops we passed could have been in someone's house. It was ridiculously peaceful.

    After 10 minutes or so we pulled up at the gate to our accommodation. We were greeted by a lady who checked us in and took us to our hut. We were astonished by how quiet it was, so few people and it was like we'd stepped out of a huge concert into the street, and your ears are ringing in the night air. It's a lovely little place, with a few huts dropped amongst bushes and trees looking out over the sea to other islands on the horizon. There's a small area of loungers around a small pool, hammocks and beanbag areas, all far enough apart to seem like you're the only ones there. We went into our hut which was fantasticly equipped with bed, nice toilet, bath/jacuzzi thing, and air con. A backpackers dream. We chucked our stuff down and walked the 30 or so meters down to the sea. The view is awesome. The sea isn't one for swimming at this point, too shallow, but we're going to go exploring tomorrow and see what's around.

    After looking around and exploring the site, we had a 2 minute silence of remembrance, then got washed up and went for some dinner. There's a very small open air restaurant which serves most things for about £3-4, not bad at all. Izzi had a very spicy (blow your head off) spaghetti and salt fish dish, and Tom went for a chicken thigh potato peanut red curry. Both meals were excellent which was good news because I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't another place to eat that isn't a locals kitchen for miles. Also a big selection of cocktails! We're staying in Koh Yao for 3 nights, so I think we'll recharge ourselves here after being on the go, busy doing everything every day so far. It'll be an interesting contrast to the hyped up, thriving places we've been to already, and with only a week to go in Thailand we're hoping we'll have got the biggest chunk of what it has to offer by the end!
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  • Day14

    We got up early and headed out as it was a clear sunny morning. We went down to the beach to have a morning swim and take some photos. We wanted to go snorkeling but had too much stuff to leave on the beach, so decided to go for some breakfast and leave the rest of the stuff in the hostel. This was a great idea as breakfast was fantastic. Izzi had eggs, bacon and huge hunks of toast and Tom had eggy bread, maple Syrup and fruit. We then went and brought a couple of GoPro bits from a shop and then headed back to the beach to go for a snorkel. We found an area where some people were learning to scubadive and joined in, feeling great that we could use the same bit of sea and not have to pay a lot of money to do it. We'd bought snorkels the day before and they were brilliant. After snorkeling, we headed back to the hostel to get ready for the afternoon of island touring, and had a brilliant Pad Thai with a thick mango smoothie and an iced tea (this one was really odd, imagine making a Twinings peach fruit tea, pouring it over ice and then adding milk). But then it was time for the Island tour.

    We walked down to the longtail boat and met 4 others who were on the tour as well. We set off and the moment we left the harbour it started pelting it down with rain. It was mental, skipping over the sea with the rain crashing around us. We headed for our first stop, monkey beach, which is a cove where monkeys live on the cliffs and in the trees around the beach. Another boat had peanuts, so we took some and fed the monkeys that came down to the water. It was amazing to see them in the wild and be so close to them! We got back in the boat and headed off to the island south of Koh Phi Phi, called Phi Phi Lee. First stop there was a place called "blue lagoon" where we jumped off the boat and swam for a while. Beautiful place! We then headed round the corner to another bay where we could snorkel. The fish here were brilliant and we followed parrot rainbow fish, angel fish, powderblue surgeonfish and loads of sergeant majors. We swam up to an empty beach too, and for a couple of minutes we were by ourselves on our own Thai beach! The boat then took us to Maya Bay the setting from the film "The Beach". Until a few months ago, this was a huge tourist destination and hundreds of people flocked there every hour to walk on the beach. It got to the stage where 80% of the coral there had died, so the government banned boats and people from entering that part of the bay, and since then it has started to re grow. However, we snorkelled in another area further back from the bay and the amount of fish was incredible! They were swimming around some food and we could barely swim for the fish that circled!! We spent an hour there taking photos and swimming around. It was brilliant! The guys driving the boat cut up a pineapple for us to eat.

    After snorkeling here we sat on the boat for about 45 minutes waiting for it to get dark around us, then the boat drivers told us to jump in and wave out arms around. There were plankton glowing in the dark wherever you moved the water, it was absolutely incredible.

    After heading back to the shore, we grabbed some dinner and then headed to the fire show. This was insane, guys just dancing around with sticks or balls on fire, standing on top of each others shoulders spinning fireworks and fire, and at one point walking across a tight rope while spinning wheels on fire... Absolutely insane and nerve wracking but well worth seeing.
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