Gili Islands: Swimming with Turtles

Did you know that Indonesia is one of the only countries in the world that inhabits all 7 species of turtle? Pretty cool huh?

Liam and I took full advantage of this and booked ourself on a tour to snorkel around all three of the Gili islands yesterday.
  We went on a mission to spot as many turtles as we could. 

We set off from the harbour in a small boat at 10am with Cha Cha tours. A mere 100k each paid for our whole trip that included the rental of a snorkel, mask and fins. 

We swam in 2 spots in the morning. The tour guide leads you around and luckily for us we found a turtle swimming near the surface as soon as we jumped in. 

 He/she was so calm, swimming gracefully through the water, not at all startled by us humans. I’m pretty sure they’re used to sharing the sands of the Gilis with us tourists by now to be fair. 

  After we had worked up an appetite in our first two sessions, we headed for lunch overlooking the beautiful beach at Sasak Cafe on Gili Meno. We had already seen 5 turtles by this point! 

    
At our last two swimming spots, not only did we see 2 more turtles, we saw a wide range of beautiful corals of all colours and lots of wonderful fish!

    
 
  We also found a very interesting display of bicycles and racks under water? We took full advantage of this unique and weird experience..

   
  How cool is that?!

We  finished up around 2pm and headed back just as it started to rain. How’s that for timing? 

We spotted a total of 7 different turtles throughout the day, some of them bigger than the torso of my body. Crazy stuff. I would say a very successful snorkelling trip wouldn’t you?

  
If your visiting the Gili Islands i’d advised you to do this tour. Such a bargain!
And don’t forget to visit the Turtle Conservations on Gili T or Gili Meno. You can see all of the newly hatched turtles that the locals protect and feed for their first year of life.

When they are big and strong enough to fend for themselves, they have a big festival and set them free into the ocean. 

Please try to make a donation too as its a non-profit organisation and all the money goes to feeding and providing for the turtles. We need to help these mammals as many species face extinction due to various causes! 

Vietnam by foot

Ok let’s not take this literally. I don’t mean that we’ve actually walked from city to city, I’m not that fit. 

What I mean is that we haven’t got one taxi in the whole of Vietnam, we have walked everywhere, yes I’m very proud of myself. 
Every site, every museum, every park and every market. Our legs have done a lot of walking and every glide was worth it. 
  
We only had four exceptions, but all were very necessary. 

 Sleeper buses

Here’s the whole city to city part. Vietnam is 1000 miles in length from North to South, it would probably take a while to walk. 

Easy Riders

  Remember my post about Thangs easy riders in Phong Nha; the ex-hunters who take you around on bikes for the day? We used transport then, as the National Park is too long to walk and too dangerous for bicycles, so we had no choice but to drive to see the sites. 
Ha Long Bay & Cu Chi tunnels 

  
  The tunnels are built a 2.5 hour drive out of Saigon, and Ha Long Bay is a 4 hour drive west of Hanoi. So both are only really walkable if you have a spare few days and want to camp along the way. 


Bigs pro’s

We’re helping the environment – We’ve had no real contribution to pollution here (I think they have enough of that, what with all he motorbikes). 

We’ve saved money – with no pennies spent on cabs each day, we’re have lots spare in the kitty to either indulge or save for a future activity.

You get to know people better – When you have company along the way, you have endless amounts of time to really gets to know the person/people you’re with. Que the ‘what did you want to be when you were younger?’ type questions. 

Your keeping fit – Did you know that most people burn 120-160 calories per kilometre. That means in 10 kilometres you’ve burned a women’s full day of calorie intake, crazy hey.
Best of all.. 

You don’t realise your exercising – there thought of exercising pains me. I want to be thin but refuse to work hard to get a good body, so subconcious exercise is the way forward. 

It’s been lots of fun, and surprisingly you don’t realise how far you go, I haven’t even moaned about the walking; can you believe that??

The not so pro’s 

Safety on the roads – Some areas do not have a pavement so you have to walk beside the road. Just stay alert at all times and walk against the traffic so that you can see everything coming in front of you.

The noise – Vietnamese people just love to beep their horns, a 4 hour walk on main roads can start to give you a headache.
It takes up time – On foot is not advised if you’re on a tight schedule, but hey I’m a traveller, all we have is time. 

Pat on a back, well deserved I think. I challenge you to try it yourself! 

Pop on your walking shoes, grab a water from the VMart and go and explore. You never know what you might find! 

LwL x 

Chiang Mai: The Elephant Experience 

Yesterday we booked ourselves on to a half day your to an elephant sanctuary where we can feed, play and bathe the elephants. I’ve heard from many people that Chiang Mai is the best place to do this so I followed it up, as I didn’t find our previous visit to an Elephant Camp extremely satisfying. 

Everyone was right. I enjoyed this so much more than the camp we went to in Kanchanaburi. It was a lot more ethical. First and most importantly the trainers didn’t use sharp sticks to poke the elephants!

When we arrived, our lovely Guide for the day, Si, taught us some Thai language to use when riding our designated elephant, Johnny. To be honest, originally I weren’t sure about riding as I heard it’s not good for the elephants, but apparently that’s only when chairs are used on their back, and not when you ride freely?? 

  Johnny was little , cute and only five years old but he could already follow commands. 

  
We rode him for a little bit, fed him and then took him for a bath in the lake, it was so much fun! 

  
There are so many different elephant homes available in Chiang Mai that it can be quite difficult to choose. We decided to do a half day package which was 1500 baht each (around £30). Full days are around 2400 baht. 

   
I’ve heard good things about Hug Elephants and Woodies, but to be honest I think they’re all pretty much the same, just make sure you go for a sanctuary and not a camp! 

Feel free to add your Chiang Mai recommendations below! 

LwL x 

Bangkok Sightseeing: All Things Gold. 

First (and third) tuk tuk stop

The Giant Buddha

The 32-meter (100-foot) tall standing Buddha of Wat Indrawiharn used to be visible from just about any high vantage point around the old city. Now it’s hidden behind the new buildings from Thailand’s boom years of the 1980s and 90s.

       
 On route, a tropical rainstorm struck and when we got to the giant Buddha we could barely see it, let alone ourselves, so we got back into the tuk tuk (still getting very wet but hey it’s all part of the experience) and headed to the official government information centre. We was going to go home but our driver Sarpong told us that he gets a free meal if he takes us so of course we decided to go.

  
Government Information Centre

Now this is a place I would highly recommend for some information. We actually ended up booking the whole next month of our trip here. Covering all islands, travel and activities all the way up to Christmas where we’ll be in Koh Panghan. It was great and they were so helpful!   

The rain had finally stopped so back to the Golden Buddha we went..

   

   

    
  
  
Last but not least we headed to my favourite of the day..
The Gold Mount (Wat Saket)

Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan(Thai: วัดสระเกศราชวรมหาวิหาร, usually shortened to Wat Saket (rtgs: Wat Sa Ket)) is a Buddhist temple (Wat) in Pom Prap Sattru Phai district, Bangkok, Thailand.

  344 steps to reach the top and a cost of 20 baht – well worth the 40p!

  
  The temple dates back to the Ayutthaya era, when it was known as Wat Sakae. When Bangkok became the capital, King Rama I renovated the temple and gave it its present name.

  
  

  

Three different Kings were involved in the completion of this structure overall, making it the most important landmark in the whole of Thailand. 

  
 
  
Have you been Bangkok before? What was your favourite landmark?

LwL x 

Bangkok Sightseeing: Temples & Tuk Tuks

To be honest I’ve heard from many that you only need 2 nights in Bangkok. Today is my 2nd full day here after 2 nights and I agree. I am staying here another night with my friends as we will now be doing the month together, but here’s what we got up to yesterday..

After breakfast, a nice Canadian man in the travel shop told us to head to the Gold Mount for some sightseeing. It was already 12pm and we decided to save the floating markets until we head to Kachanaburi. 

Off we went, following the given directions and stumbled upon this beautiful temple on route.

  

The detail that goes into these are nothing short of amazing. The place is so peaceful. Apparently the Princess visited yesterday too! 

We learnt that this week is the Kings Birthday so there are lots of festivals/celebrations happening around Bangkok.

Unfortunately I wasn’t prepared or covered up for the temple as I wasn’t expecting to go there. Thankfully the very nice man at the front provided me with some coverage (which is why in some pics I have serious pattern colour clash). Like here..

  

   
    
I can see a storm brewing in those clouds..

   We made a wish.. 

 
 On our exit, the Temple host gave us lots of information on where to go and what to do for the day. He was so helpful that he even flagged down a government registered tuk tuk for us to take us around. 

5 of us squeezed in.. The journeys werent comfortable but they were definitely lots of fun.

  

  

 The first stop was the Giant Buddha which I’ll write about in my next post 😊

LwL x 

A night in Koh San Road

1 crazy road, hundreds of cheap shops, rows of bars and restaurant and unbelievable street food!

I thought it may be best to sum this up in pictures… 

     
 
Scorpion and cricket tasting, yum. I’m yet to pluck up the courage. 

    
Street food here is amazing though and its twice as tasty as restaurants, and half the price! My chicken pad Thai was 50 baht (approx. 90p)

My friend Nathan ended up eating 5..

   

  
   
We made some new friends, they were lovely.

Buckets of Samson whiskey and mixer was 200 baht – I think it’s fair to say I was quite drunk by 2am when we got home.

Today we have been doing lots of touristy things like temples and landmarks – I’ll post this tomorrow 😊

LwL X