Travel

DAY TWO & THREE

Day 2

So the reason why this post contains two days is because April 13th was entirely spent on an airplane and at an airport, but since this is by day, I felt it was also important to include. After our first full day of travelling, we landed at Shanghai Pudong Airport.

11329722_10152741849742493_1283667126_nThe Shanghai airport was an interesting one, mostly because of the giant panda store – and every other store that sold pandas. You’d think China was famous for pandas or something. In China, or at least at Pudong Airport, there are no water fountains. Instead, there are hot and warm water coolers that happened to be out of order yet made weird robot noises. The line-ups for boarding are non-existent and instead are just crowds of tourists waiting to board.

Luckily our layover wasn’t too long and we didn’t have to spend too time at the airport. We had pretty much gone stir crazy from flying more than 14 hours in a metal tube (see photo above).

After another 4 hours of flying we finally made it to Bangkok – let’s call that Day 3.

Day 3

After clearing customs at Bangkok International Airport we were all pretty nervous to get our backpacks. Apparently a bunch of Chinese tourists have ruined it for the rest of the world and airport staff decided to take matters into their own hand – take every single baggage off of the carousel and cross-reference every single piece of luggage with baggage tags. Lesson learned here: ALWAYS KEEP YOUR BAGGAGE TAGS. Of course to add to the stress, I ended up having Jenn’s and she ended up having mine. After collecting our bags we had read online to head downstairs to the public taxi area (a cheaper way to travel, less touristy). We were staying at a little hostel named Udee Bangkok and of course it was downudee twin the sketchiest and tiniest alley way. Upon arrival we were told that our April 13th booking did not count for 3am (the time we arrived at the hostel) so we rented a room with two twin beds, pushed them together (see right – I slept in the crack), and we slept for the next 4-5 hours.

On the plane we learned that we had accidentally, but conveniently, planned our trip around Songkran.

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My handy dandy $3 guidebook told us to head to Khao San Road to have the best time during Songkran. After eating the free breakfast our hostel provided us with (wooo!), the receptionist told us which bus to take and being the cheapest way, we headed towards the bus stop. Thailand is a funny place where taxis come up to you when you need a bus, and buses come up to you when you need a taxi. And tuk tuks ALWAYS approach you.

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The bus was another adventure on its own. Not only were we sure we were going to get in trouble because we didn’t pay when we got on, but we didn’t know where to pay once we got off. Turns out, some forms of public buses are completely free! (Note to future travellers, the bus was red with a giant blue sign on the front – the ones you have to pay for have air conditioning).

Anyway.

Jenn and Deanna, being hungry and in Thailand, the obvious first thing to eat is Pad Thai. None of the Songkran festivities had started so we sat down for a bite to eat.

After searching up and down Khao San Road we finally picked the cheapest and best water guns we wanted (we also bought a waterproof case for our phones – just in case). Words can’t describe the amount of water on Khao San Road that day. The weather was beautiful and it was the perfect day for a giant water fight. Luckily Jenn had a waterproof camera and you can see some of it here. I think one of the funniest parts of the water fight was when a Chinese lady stood behind us while her husband snapped photos of us altogether…and then her 4 other relatives hopped in the photo. I also had my first (and the best of the trip) Pad Thai in Thailand – it’s definitely not the same in Canada.

After some water festivities and strangers caressing our cheek to put chalk on it, we decided totry the local beer. We found a restaurant by the side of the road (one in the less busy part of the chaos) and had some Leo beer. The sun was super hot and beating down on us, I pretty much had a tan by this point (yay for Asian skin!).

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We bought some Thai-elephant pants, headed back to our hostel and tried to try off our clothes on the rooftop patio of our hostel. We headed to Chinatown for some food and settled on the busiest restaurant (hoping it meant tastiest). We had some Chang beer, some tasty food and we were basically out for the night. Our first full day in Thailand was over. Songkran will forever be the reason my passport is just a little ruined…

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Travel

DAY ONE

They say getting there is half the battle, but in the case of South East Asia, it’s pretty much the hardest part. A month ago today, Jenn, De and I headed to the airport for our big adventure. Luckily we were able to get seats next to each other for both flights of our trip.

The only thing I managed to write in my journal for the day was “Woooo! Time to leave.” And then I pretty much fell asleep on the plane. There’s something about the cabin pressure that makes me pass out – apparently Jenn was more affected than I was, because we pretty much heard 20 words come out of her mouth that entire plane ride.

We flew China Eastern Airlines and typically when I fly to Malaysia, I always have the personal screen in front of my seat. So I showed up expecting personal entertainment for the next 14 hours… no dice.

We watched the worst movie on the way there (The Adventurer) and they decided it was so bad, they had to play it twice in a row…

One of the things that would’ve been helpful on this trip was some sort of eReader. I have an iPad, but in fear of losing it I chose to leave it at home (clearly it would’ve been helpful to watch movies on the plane…). Luckily I had my Thailand guide on the plane so we could plan a basic outline of what we wanted to do when we landed.

If you’re taking a long flight I highly suggest airplane socks. I’m used to long-ass flights that take days to reach your destination and even I struggled on this flight. Whenever I travel with my mom her legs get swollen and I make fun of her – but this time I ended up with cankles for 3 days…I also suggest snacks, lots and lots of plane snacks.

After 14 hours of flying our first day was over – and we weren’t even there yet.

China Eastern Airlines: Review

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This was our airplane, with that awful font…

  • The language barrier on the plane was higher than usual. I’ve flown Malaysian Airlines countless times, and Cathay Pacific before, and I’ve never had trouble communicating or understanding my flight attendants until this trip. I found this trip that many of the flight attendants only understood basic English.
  • No real complaints about the food – for dinner we were given a choice of 2 meals and I chose chicken & noodles, for mid-morning/mid-night snack we were served a tuna (but mostly mayonaise) sandwich, and for “breakfast” I ate chicken & rice (yes I wrote these down because my mom always likes to know what food we were offered). However, on a more premium airline like Cathay Pacific we are typically offered an assortment of midnight snacks like endless Toblerones, Häagen-Dazs, chips and cup noodles.
  • Overall, no big complaints. We were also lucky enough to have no screaming babies…BONUS!
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Travel

DAY ZERO

Before we left…

Here are two of my best friends, Deanna and Jennifer.

We’ve been friends since high school and on a regularly-scheduled “let’s get together because we miss each other” night, the idea of travelling South East Asia came up. Obviously devastated that I couldn’t make it because of work I didn’t think much of it. Fast forward two weeks – turns out I had vacation I needed to take, so why not go across the world with my two best friends!

As we began to plan our trip we found it pretty overwhelming. We had so many things we wanted to do, so many things we needed to see, and so many different opinions from everyone. It was also challenging because I wanted to visit my family in Malaysia and De and Jenn had one more week than I did.

We created a Facebook group to post helpful links and ideas for the trip. It also helped us organize the 1001 links available to us a little better. After researching a bunch, we created a general plan of the cities we wanted to travel to and booked a return flight!

Some things you need to know before leaving for a backpacking trip:

  • Don’t buy a backpack unless you’re planning on getting a lot of use out of it. I guarantee you know somebody willing you lend you a backpack.
  • Do your research and create a general plan, but not TOO specific. You’ll want to have a general idea of where you’re going but you’ll need some time for “last-minute-I-didn’t-know-this-existed” plans.
  • Learn how to pack properly and travel light. Bring only the necessities. Remember, you can buy anything else you need when you’re there (clothes in South East Asia are so much cheaper, don’t bother carrying extra weight). There are plenty of helpful blogs online that can give you a general idea of what to pack. This one was particularly helpful for me.
  • Ask your friends for their advice. Chances are they know the best way to get around, the cheapest and coolest hostels, and great things to see and do.
  • Looking for a travel guide book? Go to Value Village. I picked mine up for less than $3.
  • Book your flights sooner than later. The prices increase closer to your date, as much as you hope they go down…
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