Jenny’s Asian Adventure – Day 15, Friday 4th December

-11pm, Brighton-

Home. Finally.

Today was fairly uneventful. My stomach was still being rubbish so tried some Immodium. Why didn’t I try one earlier? That would have sorted me out so much sooner! By 7:30am I was in a taxi on the way to the airport, a drive that takes “about an hour”. So I allowed extra time for traffic. Waste of time, I was there in 35 minutes, 3 hours before my flight.

Flight home
My flight home: journal writing, chocolate and gin

Successfully negotiated check in (no oversized baggage this time!), security (electronic devices go in a bag) and passport control. Bought myself a snazzy neck cushion after my last long flight, to then find that BA have adjustable head rests making my cushion both redundant and super uncomfortable. You certainly don’t starve on a BA flight. Spicy prawns with rice, cheese and crackers and cake after take off, a snack box of nachos, sweets and cereal bars and pasta before landing. This is as well as the complimentary bar service and tuck box! I grabbed a Freddo when I went to get some gin. My first proper gin and tonic for two weeks – super strong which really helped me deal with the turbulence! Their film list is pretty good – in the 13 hours on board I watched Jurassic World, Minions The Movie (although I think I fell asleep for some of this), Ant Man and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Not too shabby.

Then we got to Heathrow. The problem with arriving super early means your bag is the very last through to baggage reclaim. Boarded a bus to take me to T4 and missed my National Express coach by mere seconds so I had a joyous wait of 2 hours for the next one. I was relieved to finally reach Brighton, until I stepped off the coach and screamed as I had stepped out into a storm – freezing cold, 40 mph winds. Nope. Not ready for that.

Wat Arun

Quick summary:

White Temple
White Temple

Would I recommend this? Yes, as the alternative was being alone in a strange country where I didn’t know anyone. G Adventures planning all your travel and accommodation makes everything so easy and Channy was the best person ever. We all love Channy.

What do I regret? The burger on the last day, not going for the whole month’s trip, not visiting Cambodia, not buying a neck cushion on the way out there, trying Dioralyte, not packing more pairs of clean socks.

Best thing I did? Wat Arun, the White Temple, Thai cooking class, buying a clean t shirt to wear on the flight home, seeing Jo in Hanoi, packing anti-histamine tablets and cream as I had awful bites and heat rash all over my hands, taking Immodium before my 13 hour flight.

What did I pack and not use? A money belt – I felt so safe everywhere I went and just used my normal backpack, talcum powder, most of my medicine that was recommended I bring.

What’s next? Currently looking at a train trip in America from Boston to Chicago via New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC, September 2016 if anyone wants to join me.

Jenny’s Asian Adventure – Day 14, Thursday 3rd December

-Bangkok, 10pm-

Final view of Bangkok

Finally on my last proper day in Bangkok I got the lie in I’ve been waiting for since I left work. I slept until 9am! Not long enough, but most days have been 6am alarms so I was happy with that. Then I had to load up my bag, lug it downstairs, check out and check back in to my new room for the final night. Major faff but ended up on the 11th floor with a view over the city so it was ok. We decided to go get a proper Thai massage to celebrate. Wow – I was put in positions I didn’t know my body was capable of doing. Considering I paid for a back and neck massage, I got more than I bargained for!

Wat Arun
Wat Arun

Starting with a foot massage, she worked up my legs and gave my bum a good squeeze before sitting on me and attempting to press all of my bones and organs into the floor. My fingers and toes were pulled one by one to pop them – my old broken toe was especially painful. Then, whilst laying on my front, she pulled my arms out behind me and pulled me into a cobra position. After being told to move into a sitting position, I was twisted and turned in every possible way. Bits of me cracked that I didn’t thank could, or should- crack. When my time was finally up, I did actually feel pretty good. And the whole thing was made better by Sarah loudly complaining about it hurting and the Thai women laughing at her.

Wat Arun
Wat Arun

After our massage, my empty belly took over and we went to a place next to our hotel where I shoved a cheeseburger with egg and fries down my face in about 3 minutes flat. It felt so good. For about 30 minutes. Then my bowels fell out. Two weeks of travelling around and my stomach was fine, one burger and I’m sat dying on the toilet for an hour. Needless to say, I felt a bit delicate but I was determined not to waste my last day so I headed out to Wat Arun (alone, as everyone else was moving on to different hostels). This is because I wasn’t able to leave the toilet until 3pm, and the Grand Palace closes at 3:30pm. After haggling a tuk tuk down from 400 baht to 270 baht, off we shot across the city.

With the wind rushing past me I felt better – until we stopped and I was instantly covered in sweat. But I made it to the Wat without dying, and it was definitely worth the trip. Admittedly, a lot of it was under scaffolding and netting, but it was incredible. Covered all over in intricate mosaics and statues of monkeys and

Wat Arun
Wat Arun

demons, I lost myself for an hour walking around slack jawed. The surrounding buildings are just as beautiful, filled with murals and giant statues. Sadly after an hour I was drenched in sweat from head to toe  and in need of some air con. Annoyingly, my tuk tuk driver had offered to wait for me and I politely declined. Don’t do this. I wandered around for 20 minutes trying to find a taxi or tuk tuk to take me home. I eventually accosted a man who, I’m pretty sure, had finished for the day. I was so desperate to get back I didn’t even bother to haggle him down from 300 baht.

Wat Arun
Wat Arun

Gross fact: I got back to my hotel, laid on my bed and when I got up there was a big wet patch on my duvet cover where I had been laying. Pretty grim. I spent the next few hours trying to get all my things in order for my flight home and got distracted by watching the sudden downpour of rain and lightning I could see from my new room. I eventually left my hotel to meet the lovely Sammy for my final meal. We were the least enthusiastic people party people out on Khao San Road that night [current Jenny: I then found out that Sammy had gone out partying again that night, oh to be 18 again…]. With my tummy still intent on emptying itself every so often, I had a final meal of friend noodles with chicken. Fairly bland but thought that was best given the situation!

Time for bed, gutted to be ending my adventure but I am so ready to get out of the heat! My flight home awaits…


Wat Arun
Wat Arun


Jenny’s Asian Adventure – Day 13, Wednesday 2nd December

-Bangkok, 1am-

Wat Trimit

The train was alright. Although every time the train jolted around (this happened a lot), I jerked awake. Then we got woken up at 6am ready for our scheduled arrival time of 6.50am. We actually pulled into the station a little after 8am. Grumbling and groaning about the extra hour’s sleep we have had, we all picked up our packs and headed out t Bangkok. Fuck me Bangkok is HOT and HUMID. 34 degrees on our first day. That’s unnecessary really. After a hurried breakfast we were allowed into our rooms. I was feeling pretty crap at this point, dehydration + heat + lack of sleep leaves Jenny feeling really rather rubbish. So I decided to break into my bag of medicine. Dioralyte tastes like salty grim water it turns out. I drank half of the advised 200ml and gave up and just drank the majority of a 1.5l bottle of water. That, plus paracetamol and a good shower, sorted me out. A few hours later and us cool kids went to see the giant Buddha statue (otherwise known as Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon at Wat Traimit). Well, they walked me there and waited in the shade whilst Josh and I went to see it – the others had seen it when they started in Bangkok a month earlier. It really was a giant Buddha statue. According to my Triposo app, people didn’t know it was gold for a while as they had painted over it with stucco to protect it when the Burmese army invaded.

Giant Buddha
Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon

After walking up what felt like a million steps (actually only about 40 but it was damn hot) we had sweated up a storm, so as we physically mopped up our faces we piled into taxis and went to MBK. Basically a huge shopping centre, but it had air con so I was happy. After a massive Mexican feast in their food hall (with a great card paying system),  we had a mooch around the market up on the top floor. I was persuaded into buying a ridiculous pair of trousers – you know, the ‘traveller’ style, big and baggy and decorated with elephants. They’re damn comfy and cost £3 so I regret nothing.

Khao San Road
Khao San Road (Photo cred: Channy Moeun)

This day marked our final day together so Channy took us to Khao San Road for as private dinner. Food was good as always, and after dinner we went around the table talking about the trip. It all got a bit emosh. As Channy spoke about the trip and how we’ll always been family, I (completely honestly) felt a bit left out. I was there for 12 of the 30 days that everyone else did. I never felt fully part of the family. There are five beautiful people who welcomed me completely and utterly. Most of the others were friendly but didn’t exactly go out of their way to talk to me, and a few were just rude. Turns out that travelling doesn’t make everyone interesting – some people just want to stay in their cliques. But fuck them. I had a great time and couldn’t have cared less to say goodbye to most of them.

To Sarah, Debs, Sammy, Emily and Josh – thank you.

travelling group
Love love love these girls. (and Josh the photographer)

You guys made my trip. You put up with me for two weeks. We’ll always have Beerlao (the beer of Laos). We all decided to deal with our emotions in a grown up way and went drinking and dancing in a bar until midnight when my body gave up on me. Turns out when beers are 630ml you get a bit drunk. Especially when they’re £2.

My final day awaits…

Jenny’s Asian Adventure – Day 12, Tuesday 1st December

-10pm, somewhere between Chiang Mai and Bangkok-

P1010260The cooking class this morning was totally worth it. We were picked up by a little Thai lady and driven in a tuk tuk to a huge food market full of actual locals instead of tourists. We picked up a few ingredients that we would be using – one highlight “this vegetable is called morning glory – it doesn’t mean the same thing here as it does in England”. Oh how we laughed like children. Slightly strange moment when we walked into the meat section and on top of a tub of live fish, was a bag of frogs. Alive and just chilling in their mesh home. They didn’t look super happy.

Then we motored 15 minutes north of the city to her house. In the P1010265garden, under a cover luckily for my super pale skin, she has a number of gas burners and prep tables. Over the two hours we prepared and cooked: tofu pad thai; chicken with cashews; chicken massaman curry

Look, we’re cooking!

and made our own vegetable spring rolls with sweet chili sauce. Then we gathered around a big table for lunch to sample everything we had made, with

Intense frying action

leftovers being packed up for dinner – super handy when you’re about to get on an overnight train. Being on our feet for so long had tuckered us out so we spent a few hours relaxing at the hotel with beer (sadly no Beerlao, just Chang) and our books.


P1010279We were on the 6pm overnight train to Bangkok and I was a bit hesitant – will it be clean? Safe? Comfy? Turns out I had little to worry about. A few hours passed playing cards and reading before our seats converted into bunk beds. I presumed it would be laid out in cabins, but this train just had benches/beds along both walls in a long line. I quite liked this as it felt a bit like a big sleepover. Most people turned in early (like 9:30pm early) so I snuggled under my little blanket and had some quality

I made this

Dexter time – spoiler alert: the book series ends just as disappointingly as the TV series. They main carriage lights have been left on, very happy I’ve packed ear plugs and an eye mask! Let’s hope I get some sleep tonight.

Find out if I survived the night on day 13…




Jenny’s Asian Adventure – Day 11, Monday 30th November

-Chiang Mai, midnight-

P1010232So after the grasshopper incident in Laos, I was hoping for no more wildlife in my room. Alas, this morning I woke up and in the middle of my morning wee I noticed a toad sitting in the corner of my bathroom, who then hopped away and left through a crack in the wall. [current Jenny – it only struck me when I got back to England that I realised my room was on the first floor…] Decided against a shower at that point.P1010235 Another early start (seriously, these tours aren’t designed for anyone wanting to relax and have a lie in!) and we jumped in yet another mini van and drove to Chiang Rai’s White Temple. Before I explain about the temple, let me take a moment to discuss the mini van. There were stickers saying what was allowed inside, a selection include karaoke, smoking and naked ladies. Got to love Thailand.

P1010236Anyway, temple. A must see. Wat Rong Khun was designed and built by artists Chaloemchai Khositphiphat – who so far has spent 40 million Thai Baht of his own money on it, about £800,000. The outside is all white (funnily enough) and decorated with hands rising up from the ground symbolising human’s unrestrained desire. Crossing the bridge and entering the temple is like entering a different world. The stark white outside contrasts the busy fiery inside. Murals adorn the walls – demons and fire mixed with pop icons such as Michael Jackson, Harry Potter, Superman, Batman and Hello Kitty to name but a few. Seeing the temple is free thanks to the artists so if you’re ever in Northern Thailand check it out.

The swankiest toilets ever.

The trip from there to Chiang Mai was another few hours (a lot of this trip was spent in a bus) of farmland and winding roads, with a toilet break at ‘Cabbages and Condoms’. Yup. That’s the name. This afternoon was spent in a sweat as we had a little wander and looked at various temples. Wat Chedi Luang in particular was pretty spectacular. We were lucky enough to witness the monks praying and chanting in one of the most P1010246beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen. Arriving back at the hotel mere minutes before dinner (we might have got distracted by an incredibly strong mojito…) we headed out to the night market for food and shopping. Others went on to a Ladyboys show, but exhausted and knowing we needed to be up early for a Thai cooking class, we headed back early to chill out.

For epic food pictures, move on to day 12

P1010250 P1010254

Wat Chedi Luang



Jenny’s Asian Adventure – Day 9 & 10, 28th-29th November

[Current Jenny – I’m combining days 9 and 10 because we were sailing down the Mekong River so there’s not too much to say]

-Saturday 28th November-

P1010195 This morning we got up and headed down to the local mooring point to get on our river boat. This involved walking down a fairly steep slope, embarking one long-boat, walking across it then climbing onto the boat next to it. Not hard – unless you’re carrying your bulky 11kg backpack and day sack and the two boats are floating a good foot or two apart. Then, once you’ve clambered aboard, it’s shoes off instantly. We spent the next eight hours cruising down the river in the sunshine, looking out P1010199for dolphins (only to find out the next afternoon that the pink Mekong dolphins are down in Cambodia nearer the sea rather than near the north of Laos), tigers (none), elephants (none) and dinosaurs (didn’t expect to see them but the scenery was so reminiscent of Jurassic Park that it wouldn’t have been entirely a surprise to see one or two). The rest of the time was filled with napping, reading and playing a LOT of card games – including a very intense game of Cheat that lasted over an hour.

Some of us were better at jumping than others…

At 5pm we docked on a sandbank (I have no idea what the boat was moored to but it was still there in the morning so it was fine) and walked up the hill to a village where we stayed the night. To be honest, I had mixed emotions about the home stay. We did a tour of the village and learnt about the communities and their ‘simple’ lives – a community of farmers, children don’t start school until 8 years old so they can help their families on the farms. It all felt a bit ‘poverty tourism’ and I wasn’t super comfortable, We then sat down and were served a delicious meal cooked by the local people with fresh local produce – the garlic chicken was phenomenal, we were fighting over the last mouthful. Then we played with the local children, again something I wasn’t happy with.

Photo cred: Channy Moeun

This is mostly because children scare the crap out of me and I have no idea what to do. But then I made a friend with two girls who loved clapping and playing with my watch. Channy called us together and surprised us with a pile of workbooks to hand out to the children, this bit I liked. The kids were SO excited to get the workbooks it was incredible. Growing up in England it is very easy to take things like that for granted, but they were so grateful, it was so nice to see.


Photo cred: Channy Moeun

At this point it was around 8:30pm and we all went to our different houses. Sleeping under mosquito nets, on the floor, surrounded by the sounds of crickets, lizards cattle, chickens, pigs, goats and who knows what else! As it was

homestay 2
Me not looking at all awkward. Photo cred: Channy Moeun

so dark we all fell asleep pretty early – which was a good thing as we were up at 5am on Sunday morning to get back on the boat.


-Sunday 29th November-

This is what 18 hours on a boat does.

Our final day in Laos, again spent cruising up the Mekong river. Sunday passed in much the same way  Saturday did, with the exception that when we disembarked the boat we were taken to the Laos border, left Laos, drove to the Thai border and entered Thailand – yay to more passport stamps! Note: this was all done whilst carrying our big bags again. [Current Jenny – whilst I did love my bag, the second I emptied it in my flat in Brighton I was glad to be rid of it!] A bit later we reached our guest house in Chiang Khong – to get to my bathroom I had to go out onto my balcony and through a second door. A late dinner and straight to bed for me – I hadn’t slept super well in the home stay or on the boat so I was a big fan of my comfy double bed.

Day 11 in Chiang Mai

Laos on the left, Thailand on the right

Jenny’s Asian Adventure – Day 8, Friday 27th November

-Luang Prabang, 11pm-

P1010149Today was awesome. We got up early and spent the morning at an elephant sanctuary. I have mixed feelings about the place – it was incredible and I love elephants more than anything and I got to be up close to the and feed them and stroke them and it was a great day. However. When we arrived, a HUGE group of tourists were already with the elephants so we went down to a little enclosure  and fed a mother and baby. All nice and good except the mother was chained to a tree.

It’s me with some elephants!

The keepers said this was to ensure we could see and pet the calf and to stop them walking off – which I understand but I’m still not ok with the
chain part.

Then we got to go ride them. Again, the mahout said all the blankets protected their backs (and obviously elephants are strong) but I felt a bit funny a bit it. With Christian on the neck ‘guiding’ it and myself and Sarah on the bench on the back. The elephants were obviously well-trained and knew the route as most of them didn’t need guiding – although Ping Pong had other ideas and had a little wander off into the trees. The mahouts were pretty funny, P1010164stealing our cameras and taking loads of photos and pointing out spiders – I shit you not we saw two that were the size of our faces which caused great amusement when people started screaming and hiding in their hoodies.

After riding them we went down to the Mekong to give them a little bath and a scrub. One final load of bamboo and we headed back to the vans P1010180and went to Phu Si Falls. A natural waterfall ending in a pool to swim in. We all dipped in, some better than others. Personally, I inched my way in to the freezing cold water, to then be nibbled by fish. Safe to say I got out fairly promptly.



Phu Si Falls

IMG_6290After a busy day, we went for street food and wandered around the night markets. IMG_6289The street food was basically massive stands full of stir-fried vegetables, rice, noodles and skewers of meat. One bowl for 15,000 kip aka £1.20. So good. [current Jenny: I think that meal was my favourite from the whole trip]. All really fresh and tasty. Plus Beerlao, obviously. The night market in Luang Prabang is better than in Hanoi. In Hanoi it was mostly tourist stuff and plastic rubbish, but here it was jewellery and clothing and bags and paintings. I wanted all of it! I bought a few presents for people and a Beerlao t-shirt and a patterned dress for myself. After wandering up and down twice, we called it quits and headed home.

Continue reading for adventures up the Mekong River



Jenny’s Asian Adventure – Day 7, Thursday 26th November

-Luang Prabang, 10pm-

View from the rest stop

This morning we loaded ourselves into our mini vans and headed off through the mountains to Luang Prabang. Whilst the roads were in pretty good shape, we spent seven hours twisting and turning every second, looking down the edges of mountains and across beautiful scenery. I only thought I was going to die a few (hundred) times. Speeding round blind corners whilst looking out the window down the edge into the abyss. Terrifying. Anyway, we survived – minus some

Toilet with a view!

people stopping for mini-vomits due to motion sickness. With a “happy stop” at the most incredible service station high in the mountains and toilets with a view and lunch in the clouds, I quite enjoyed the drive (once I stopped looking out the window!).


Finally we arrived in Luang Prabang. After checking in we headed out for an orientation walk. Our little group got

Lunch in the clouds

about a third of the way up the epic hill before we decided it was far too hot and we were far too tired for that shit.

Luang Prabang

Dinner at Lao Lao Garden! for the twins’ birthdays was a treat – they had reserved us the top section of the garden and decorated it with balloons and lanterns. All 20 of us – 18 tourists, the lovely Channy and our local Laos guide Seng – gathered for Beerlao (the beer of Laos), fruit wine (which some enjoyed more than others at 25%) and great food. Sadly mine arrived third to last so I was pretty hammered from my two giant beers and the free shots we got – no idea what it was but it tasted like an alcoholic lemon and honey. I quite liked it, no-one else did.



On to day 8!


Jenny’s Asian Adventure – Day 6, Wednesday 25th November

-Vang Vieng, 11pm-

Vang Vieng
Blue Lagoon

I’m getting worse at filling in my diary. It’s too hot. Today was nice and quiet which is just what I needed. I woke up this morning feeling good – probably because I’d had more than three hours sleep! Less good when we realised we had slept through breakfast, so instead we went to a cafe a few doors down from our guest house for french toast and pancakes. With full bellies, and hangovers for some, we jumped into our tuk tuk for a bone shattering 20 minute drive to the lagoon.

Cave, Vang Vieng
The cave

It was lovely. Swimming in the natural pool (with some massive fish), chilling in a wooden hut and climbing up the side of a mountain to see a cave [current Jenny: in hindsight, we didn’t realise how high we were climbing, and we might have at least taken a bottle of water if we had known]. Minus the 40 minute round climb, it was a really nice relaxing day before tomorrow’s seven hour drive through the mountains to Luang Prabang. Seven more hours of bumpy, uneven, potholed roads. Joy. Already looking forward to getting a massage in Bangkok in a week!

Vang Vieng
Sunset friends
Vang Vieng
Sunset. No filter.

After surviving the tuk tuk home, we headed down to the river to watch the sun set over the mountains. Sadly it was a bit cloudy but it was still spectacular. Another couple of Beerlaos later (and some pizza), we somehow ended up back in the night club playing beer pong. Turns out Korean boys are pretty good. But they also like drinking the beer they paid for so aren’t too unhappy when you turn down their leftover cups.

Vang vieng
Casual leaning with my giant hair. Humidity is not my friend.
Vang Vieng sunset
Vang Vieng sunset

Vang Vieng is lovely. It is a tiny town in a mountain in Laos but it is buzzing and full of young people – locals and tourists a like. It lacks a beach but has a happy, laid back beach feel to it. Whilst I admit getting there is hell due to the roads, it’s worth the journey.


Head to Luang Prabang on day 7…

Jenny’s Asian Adventure – Day 5, Tuesday 24th November

-Vientiane, 12:3pm-

Wat Si Saket

Wat Si Saket
Wat Si Saket
Wat Si Saket
I’d given up on make up at this point.
Pha That Luang
Pha That Luang

This morning (after no more grasshoppers appeared in my room) we went out in a tuk tuk and visited Wat Si Saket, the oldest temple in Vientiane dedicated to the war veterans; Patuxal, the victory memorial aka the Laos Arc De Triomphe; Pha That Luang, a gold temple and a rehabilitation centre with a small exhibition dedicated to Laos people that have lost limbs due to unexploded bombs and how the charity helps people with fitting prosthetics. Then we did the Western things and found a bakery and had milkshakes and cheesecake. So good. Totally worth it.


Tuk tuk selfie!


-Vang Vieng, 12.30am-

Wow Laos is beautiful. After our snacks in  Vientiane we got into our buses and spent four hours driving to Vang Vieng. The first two hours were fairly uninspiring – suburbs of the city, some fields and a bumpy road. The second two hours continued with the bumpy road but we started to wind our way up into the mountains and through thick forests. Occasionally there were some houses and farms, but mostly some breath taking scenery of the mountains.

We arrived into Vang Vieng just after sunset so off we went to arrange activities for the next day. Half the group wanted to go boozy tubing down the river. Whilst I was interested, it was pointed out to us that two people had died doing it THIS WEEK! So, instead, a group of us hired a tuk tuk to take us to a lagoon.

Activities booked, we headed to a really cool restaurant/bar for larb (traditional Laos cuisine). Then we decided to go for another drink and Channy took us to an ‘Irish’ bar. Great music, beer and a pool table. We then, for some unknown reason, headed across the road to a club/bar. I’ve never been in anywhere that sells balloons of laughing gas at the bar. After an hour of awkward dancing, we were told to leave at 12am. Turns out that in a communist country, the fun stops at midnight. We convinced a barman to let us play a quick game of beer pong (obviously). With that, we headed to bed [current Jenny: that was the first night I slept straight through until morning since being away].


Move on to day 6…