'For Adventures of a lifetime'

Sunday, 11 August 2013

The Final Blog From Thailand

Family and friends....your loved ones are returning home after a pretty amazing trip with many tales to tell, However, they would appreciate you coming to the right terminal (No. 4) at Heathrow for their expected arrival at 6.45 am on Tuesday 13 August 2013. Flight 9w 120 – Jet Airways. The staff will be happy to hand over the responsibility :-) Unfortunately, I won’t be there to meet you all as I’m flying from Bangkok to Sri Lanka for a family holiday. The girls have been a real pleasure the whole trip and I’ve personally enjoyed spending time with them :-)...I know they have done you proud! Susie – Hey famalam, just checking that you do know to collect on Tuesday morning – please!! Without being a spoilt brat, please may I make some requests ( I love you mum) PLEEEEASE rice ban for at least a month with the exception of chile con carne. Also, for dinner can I have the insaaaane gnocchi with chorizo and melted cheese. As long as you guys +Jack are there I’ll be happy:-) missing you and can’t wait to see you all and give prezzies! Xox Georgia W - Hello! Just wanted to say please could somebody come and pick me up at Heathrow Airport on Tuesday. I have missed you all lots and am excited to be coming home but I have had a great time!! Please could we have lasagne and garlic bread for dinner and brownies too :-) and Please no rice for a while until I say it’s okay again ;). Lots of love Georgia xox Beth – Family, Hi! So I realised that we never actually discussed pick up plans however it would be lovely to see you at Heathrow Tuesday mornbeen ing :-) I have had an absolutely amazing time and have lots to tell you about but I have missed you all and I am really looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday. David, say hi to stinkabelle for me! Xxxxxx Emily- hey mum and dad! Been having such a great time here but soo looking forward to seeing you tomorrow, been missing you lots. Just make sure your on time and go to the right terminal ;) looking forward for a big, squeezy hug and telling you everything I have been up to. I love you lots xxxxxxxx Hattie- Hey guys, been missing you soo much and I cant wait to see you tomorrow at the airport. Looking forward to seeing everyone including Tess and Scooby. Missing my hugs from you all, and cant wait to tell you everything we have been up to and give you your prezzies. Please make sure your on time so that I wont have to wait longer to see you, and maybe stop in Tesco or Sainsburys on the way home as Im craving a chicken salad for lunch (the chicken tikka pieces!). Love you lots and lots xxxxxxxx Millie – Hello everyone :D /I’ve had such an amazing time and am really looking forward to seeing you bright and early :-) I know you wont be late as I have heard that Daddy is already up to date on the times and terminals :-) See you very soon, and really looking forward to seeing Neela!!! Xxxxxxxxx Love you all xxxxxx Jaime – hey guys!!! Been missing you so so much and I can’t wait to see you all!! So so close now! I didn’t really discuss pick up plans but please be at Heathrow on time, (will has already told me he will be early!) I have so much to tell you! See you tomorrow morning. Love you all lots and lots and lots and lots xxxxxxxx Maddie – hey guys, literally cannot wait to see you all! Have had an absolutely amazing time but have missed you so so much! Please make sure you’re at the airport on time and make sure Jem wakes up and comes as well. Can’t wait for my marmite on toast, see you soon, love you loads and loads xxxxxxxx Rhiannon- Hey guys can’t believe I’m coming back home tomorrow! I’ve had the most amazing time but I can’t wait to see you guys! Please could you possible spare the time to come and pick me up from HEATHROW airport tomorrow morning (with some orange juice please). I’ve missed you loads and will see you very soon with so many great stories to tell you! Love you loads xxxxxx P.s please could you put some mince in the fridge I’m craving lasagne Annie – Hola! Cant believe its been a whole month since Ive seen you, its flown by! We have literally had the most amazing time ever and so sad to be leaving but also so excited to see you :-) Please remember to pick me up and make sure that you’re at the right airport and everything (I know what you’re like!) Please can I not have rice for the next 4-6 months, see you very very soon!!! Love you xxxxxxxxxxxxx Helaina- Hellooo Its been so amazing and I Can’t wait to see you all! Dad please make sure you’re not late, or at the wrong airport ;) please no rice at least not until after Christmas. Lots of love and see you soon :-) xxxxxxxxx Sophie- Hey Duckers! I’ve had such an amazing time away but have missed you guys! Cant believe I’m coming home tomorrow! I have so many cool stories to tell you all. Please remember to pick me up from the right airport :-) please can I not have rice for the next year! See you all very soon! Oh and remember to stock the fridge!! lots of love xxxxxx Gini- I have had the best time out here and I’m sad to leave but I’m really excited to see you all, I have missed you all! Please make sure you all turn up on time and I will be very grateful if there is a full fridge and a clean bed at home haha, love you lots and lots, see you in a few hours! Xoxoxoxox Georgia S – Hey family :-) I’ve had the most amazing time out here but I’m so excited to see you all! Have so many photos to show you all and lots of presents (especially for Mima). In much need of mum’s lasagne and lots and lots of orange juice. Love you all very much and can’t wait to see you all. xxxxxx Thats it folks....All done here....Enjoy your time with the family x (Cliff AKA Ed.)

Back with a Bang!

With it being our last day on Koh Chang, and after yesterday’s wet weather, everybody was hoping for some sunshine so we could enjoy our last day on White Sand beach. We were not disappointed, so as soon as we had finished breakfast we made our way down to the beach with plenty of beach supplies (including sun cream so don’t worry mums and dads). (Ed. Some of us suffered though :-)) The beach was beautiful with stunning white sand and glistening blue seas, there were even swings dotted along the beach which we all had a go on. Then in groups we went swimming in the sea and Cliff taught us the art of body surfing which some got the hang of more than others. For lunch we all visited Seven Eleven and the market stalls to get a picnic lunch. After lunch we played a short game (Ed. Guys I don’t think 2 minutes of hitting the ball to each other constitutes a game lol) of beach volleyball which retired from the water to the beach after some of us got nibbled by crabs in the water. After another quick dip in the sea we went back to the hotel for a hot shower during which we smothered our salt ridden hair in the rest conditioner we had left. Once we were all cleaned of sand and salt, we met up so we could go to dinner at a restaurant on the beach. It was a really nice evening but everyone was starting to realise that the trip was coming to an end and to round off the meal Cliff gave an unexpected heartfelt speech which we were all moved by, as we have all grown so close as a group throughout the trip (Ed. Awh...sniff sniff ). After dinner we stopped to watch some fire dancers who were breathing fire and doing tricks with fire batons. Once we were back at the hotel we all departed to our rooms to pack our bags ready for travelling to Bangkok and then go to bed after a relaxing but long day. Georgia Willows

Island Paradise

The team woke up quite early after probably the best night sleep of our trip so far in really comfy beds after actually using the sheets provided by the hotel for the first time as there was no fear of bed bugs here. Hoping to catch as many rays as possible during the day. However our plans were put on halt as we awoke to an overcast sky, so instead we headed to breakfast in the hotel restaurant while others headed to our favourite local 7eleven for a cheaper breakfast option. In the morning light we were finally able to see the full stunning beauty of the island. Our little villas with temple-like roofing were at the foot of a rainforest covered mountain and the rest of the island was covered in other massive beautiful mountains. We then headed to the luxurious pool were we quickly claimed the majority of the loungers and started our 2 days of (hopefully) tanning. After a few minutes we couldn’t resist the call of the pool any longer and we headed in to discover it was the perfect temperature. However after a few hours the heavens decided to open....yet again. We hoped it would soon stop and so continued to swim in the rain for a while before realising we had been a bit stupid and left all our stuff out in the rain, so we quickly grabbed our stuff and headed back to our rooms. We then met up for lunch where yet again Pad Thai was a favourite amongst the group before heading down to the beach. This had to be the highlight of the day, the stunning white sand beach stretched on forever with palm trees lining the shore. We were officially in an island paradise and lots of the group quickly got out their camera to capture the scenery. The big wooden swings attached to the palm trees were a big hit with the group until Cliff pushed Beth and I a bit too hard and we collided with a palm tree.. we were bit more cautious afterwards. After some had a quick dip in the sea we headed back up to the hotel stopping at a sundae shop on the way where most of the team treated themselves to some yummy looking sundaes (Gini’s and Sophie’s Banana Bliss Sundae’s looked especially good). We met for dinner early tonight as being a group of 14 teenage girls we wanted to get shopping done before we ate. A quick taxi ride took us to th e main strip of restaurants and shops where we split up to shop and eat. After spending far too much money on gifts and a few treats we headed in search for a restaurant where many opted for a western option as the thought of more rice still makes many shudder. For pudding many of the team headed to the same roti street food seller. Rotis are a kind of fried pancake with which most have banana and chocolate a new favourite food for the group. The man at this particular stall had serious skills flipping, throwing and spinning utensils around as he made our roti much to our excitement. Many of us then took our roti down to the beach where we sat under the twinkling lanterns hanging in the palm trees thinking of how crazy this past last month had been and how strange it will be to return to normal life back home! We then headed back to the hotel where we welcomed our big comfy beds with open arms hoping for another great nights sleep. Rhiannon

The Waiting Game...

After our ‘personal wake up call’ from Beth into our cabins on the overnight train, we were surprised to realise that most of us had actually had a really good night’s sleep, despite the bumpiness and heat throughout the night. We lay in our comfy cabin beds for a while until we were told that we were nearly at Bangkok (our destination), so the beds were put a way and we packed up our bags excitedly, ready to get off the train at the scheduled time of 8.30. However we have learnt since that Thailand as a whole has no concept of time or time management...Waitwaite wait. 3 and a half hours later at 12 o’clock we finally arrived at Bangkok station.. But as soon as we got there it was manic. We realised that due to the late arrival of the train there did not seem to be any way that we would reach the final ferry in time to Koh Chang if we got the various public buses as we had planned. So with the view of the idealistic white sands of Koh Chang in our minds we did everything we could to make sure that we got on that ferry to enjoy our last few days in Thailand. A few of us rushed to a travel agency and booked 2 minivans to take us to the ferry pier, and after a 4 and a half hour bus journey we were on the boat and on our way to the island.. phew! When we arrived on the island we were picked up by 2 more minivans which took us to our final destination – the Thai Garden Hill Resort. Walking into the lobby we were really impressed; marble floors, pot plants, and a swimming pool straight ahead of us, a lot more luxurious than we had been used to! Georgia, Millie and Cliff went to check out rooms while we waited in anticipation, they came back looking glum and told us that the rooms were a bit of a disappointment. Our hearts sank as we had all been looking forward to these few days soo much, and of course having nice rooms is an important part of this! But they took a few seconds to enjoy our reactions and then told us that they were joking and that the rooms were just amazing as we had been hoping! Once we settled into our rooms we were really hungry and tired after a long 29 hours travelling, so we went out together and had dinner in a local Italian restaurant, all buzzing with excitement for the next few days. Annie Pope

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The overnight Train Experience - Chiang Mai to Bangkok

The team arose early this morning in order to spend a good last day in Chang Mai before we had to leave for the night train at 4 pm. Breakfast was brought at our now replaced tesco called 7eleven. The large amounts of rice and noodles the group has been eating, 7eleven is the teams favourite place to go and find the cheapest treat possible. If anyone is missing there is always a large chance that you will find them in 7eleven. (Ed...Along with at least 3 others of course ) After breakfast, the team split into two teams, half of which went to see some of the temples in Chang Mai and the other half spent the day by the river and wandering round the streets of Chang Mai. I was in the half that spent the morning looking around the temples. The largest temple we went to was called ‘imput name of temple here’ The buildings were very decorative and the overall colour theme was gold. When we walked into one section of the temple, the monks were all sitting on the floor at their small tables in there orange gowns being served lunch. We all noticed how their lunch seemed to be a typical healthy meal of broth, rice with chicken and vegetables followed by rambutans for pudding (a meal the team has grown very use to during our month here.) However we then noticed that hidden in a plastic bag by one of the monks was a KFC “finger lickin’” good family sized bucket of chicken! As twelve o’clock came and we had just finished looking around the temples, the heavens decided to open. Coming from England we like to consider ourselves ‘at one with the rain’ and do not associate it to be a problem for us.....we thought wrong! The rain was incredibly heavy and could not even be compared to England. Within fifteen minutes the water on the roads was up to peoples ankles. We decided to make a quick dash from the temple to a nearby cafe. What wollies we can be sometimes! As we ran down the flooded streets of Chang Mai, we were being laughed at by the locals who had been sensible and stayed in their shelter. I don’t think they’d ever seen such a bunch of lunatics! When we arrived at the cafe, they handed us a roll of loo paper to help dry off but by now the thought of being dry was a lost cause as we all looked like we had just jumped into a swimming pool. We soon found a ‘truk tuk’ to take us back to where we were staying so we could dry off. To no surprise the other half of the team had also made their way back to the guesthouse to escape the drenching rain. The idea of going out in the rain again was not too appealing and therefore we spent the rest of the afternoon in the guesthouse playing with the resident dogs. (One of which was wearing a Batman t-shirt) At 4 pm the ‘truk tuk’ arrived to take us to the station for our train from Chang Mai to Bangkok. We got on our train and we were on our way by 530pm. Some people were sceptical about the idea of spending a whole night on a train in a bunk (bottom bunk if you’re lucky to avoid the slight worry of rolling out during the night) rocking backwards and forwards to the movement of the train but sitting in my top bunk now, listening to the silence around me, I think it is safe to say that nobody has had trouble falling asleep. (Ed. To our disappointment the overnight train was not quite what we were expecting and having experienced a few overnight trains in my time was different to what I was expecting too...I was expecting individual cabins but none of that was evident. However, as the journey continued a conductor came round and set up the beds...A curtain made the whole thing private...however, Some (me) didn’t sleep well and was being rolled around and shaken awake every hour ) Tomorrow morning when we get off in Bangkok, we are getting straight onto a minibus to a ferry port to take us to the island of Ko Chang – our last section of the trip! Beth Lance

Pampering, Pool and Purchases

No early wake-up call this morning much to everyone’s appreciation. Now full in the R and R phase of the trip it was up to us to decide what we wanted to do and being girls we of course chose to hit the salon and soak up the sun by a pool. Those of us that went to the salon either got a manicure or a pedicure. Due to the amount of walking in muddy boots and wet socks the team had been doing the state of some of our feet and toe nails was quite appalling and in much need of some TLC. (Ed. I would just like to point out I wasn’t part of this!!! Lol) Once the ladies were finished our feet looked good as new with clean painted toe nails and no hard skin. Everyone spent the afternoon around the pool. The weather was amazing. Hours were spent just lying in the sun or swimming in the pool. For some a little more suncream should have been applied but nothing too disastrous. (Ed. the pool was part of an Ecco Resort which the girls had found on the internet...$3 got us a towel and all day access...However, getting to the pool was a bit of an epic...not mentioning anyone’s map Miss Mc!!!) The evening was spent yet again at the nightmarkets. After last night’s spending spree, a lot of people told themselves that they weren’t going to spend a lot of money. That didn’t happen. Most people came back with at least 1 full bag of items they had bought for either themselves of friends and family. Georgia Stratford

Arrival in Chiang Mai - Oh my...

The team was relieved to find themselves finally off trek and were excited for the remaining week of rest and relaxation. However the five hour bus journey from Mae Sot to Chiang Mai made R and R seem further and further away. After lots of snacking, sleeping and playing with a stray kitten the team found themselves at Ben ‘s Guest House around 2 o’clock. We all split off to explore Thailand’s second largest city after Bangkok in the search of lunch. Some groups were more successful than others by finding the closed night market, others just found the nearest cafe and relaxed and recovered there with the help of fruit shakes and club sandwiches. We all gathered at five thirty for a group meeting and arranged timings for returning and waking up the following morning. Around seven o’clock showered and hungry again we all set off to the huge night market. Me, along with the entire team did not anticipate spending so much money after Bangkok. (Ed. some of us resisted the temptation ;-)). However the night market drew us in and bartering became the new lacrosse as everyone was competing to win by getting the lowest price for goods. The market stretched down the main street and the majority of side streets were packed with individual stalls. The atmosphere was incredible and the rush you get when you buy something for half the asking price is unimaginable. The highs of shopping soon plummeted when we got to our rooms and discovered that we had absolutely no room in our already stuffed bags. We decided to leave the situation for the morning as we were knackered and a good sleep and lie in was in order. Suzie Kelly

The final Trek day!

4th Aug We all woke up at around 7am, ready for what we thought was going to be a whole morning of trekking. So we all prepared ourselves, put on our wet clothes from the day before, which were definatley letting off a strong smell now! Breakfast yet again was amazing, we had eggy bread and watermelon, and as always cooked so much there was still spare left over. While we were finishing our breakfast in the distance we started to spot a couple of elepants emerging from the trees. It felt like christmas had come early, the looks on our faces were exstatic, WE DIDN'T HAVE A MORNING OF TREKKNIG! The elepahants had come to collect us!! So we all climed on to the elephants in pairs with so much excitement of what was to come. We went through the jungle and through paddy fields. The views from the top of the elephants were so beautiful, you could see for miles and miles. After what seemes to go so quickly was actually nearly 3 hours and the elephants sat down and it was time for us to jump off. We then got on to the truck and headed back to Um Phang to collect the rest of our belongings and also have some lunch. After lunch we said our thank-you's to Mr Ump and his amazing 'wolf pack' for making our trekking experience one to remember even though at time it felt like hell! We then made our way back along the winding roads down the mountain to mae sot. We got to the hostel at 5.30pm, where we had a hot shower -which was much needed!! Next we went out for dinner, where most of us had western food as we had not had any choice of what food we got while we were on trek, even though the food was amazing. Helaina Thomas

Trek - Day 3 and 4 - The Tough Get Going!

Waking up after a great night sleep in the hammocks, we all packed up our bags ready for trek day 4! Breakfast was yet again toast and jam with omelette, weird combination but it works- and its a million times better than, yes you guessed it, rice! Before we set off on our main trek we went on a 3 km stroll through the jungle to the largest limestone waterfall in Thailand. It was humungous and full of power from previous flooding! After a mini photo sesh we returned for our rice lunch ...YUM, then departed for our 9km trek through the muddy jungle terrain. To our surprise the sun graced us with its presence. At first we were all excited, but soon realised the sweat and burn lines were far from ideal. As we saw rice fields and bamboo huts emerging, we knew we were approaching the remote village which is only accessible by foot. When we arrived we set up our mosquito nets in the school hall, as on the previous night we had all been eaten alive by mosquito’s. We had all cooled down from our day of trekking, so we had to brace ourselves for the freezing cold bucket shower!- but it had to be done as lets face it, we smelt bad. (Ed. I can confirm that statement !) Next was dinner....more rice! But our card games soon lifted the mood, the pineapple and hot chocolate was a life saver as we knew the approaching day of trekking would be hell. (Ed. I’m sure there was some Black Magic going on that night too ) The next morning we woke up extra early to get a good head start as we knew it would be a long and very tough day of trekking! It wasn’t to disappoint!!! We had our regular jam smothered toast for our breakfast to prepare ourselves. 15km of boiling sun, heavy bags, blistered feet and mountainous jungle terrain proved incredibly difficult for us all. After 8 hours of trekking we proved just how tough us Royal lot are! Although we had a very tiring day we all stayed cheerful and positive- especially when lunchtime came as we ate noodles out of handmade bamboo bowls and chopsticks by the riverside. It revived us all for the gruelling afternoon, including climbing up rocky slopes, crossing single bamboo bridges and facing a life threatening black and silver cobra! Quote from Cliff: “The hardest jungle trek day ever on World challenge”. When we finally reached where we were staying we were rewarded with coke, yumyums and fresh sweetcorn- it definitely hit the spot! We then chilled and rested for the evening and had a lovely BBQ dinner. We were all so hyped for the elephant trekking the next day so we got an early night in the hope that time would go quicker if we were asleep! Sophie Duckworth & Gini Misselbrook

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Bananna Pancake Trek

1st Aug Today was the day which everyone pictured when they signed up for world challenge two years ago. The lights have just been switched off and the only noises are sounds of insects, birds and God knows what else lies in the jungle. Cliff's interesting songs are playing softly in the background (joking... they're great... honest :)) as we lie in our hammocks attempting to fall asleep. We woke up from our tents at 8 o'clock after a, for most, a restless nights sleep. People stumbled out to visit our home made toliet and began to pack away our equipment once again. Everyone was once again pleased by the content and quanties at breakfast, egg, toast, jam and hot drinks! After breakfast we began our first day of real trekking! It was challenging as walking up hill was tiring for obvious reasons and walking downhill was just as bad as you had to hold yourself from slipping and sliding. As the time went on, and people got bored of staring at the empty jungle or brown mud that caked our boots, our guides kept us well entertained. They made us bamboo walking sticks, bamboo guns, leaf hats and grass leaf shooters. When we got half way into our 'steep hill trek' one guide described the trail ahead as a bananna pancake - all lumpy and bumpy. As we pressed though the pouring rain and over the bananna pancake terrian we were delighted to see the end. We dumped our backpacks and had a very long sit down! We talked about our usual topic- what food we miss! Then lunch was served! Slices of bread with tuna, fresh tomatoes, carrots, crisps, cabbage and lots of salad cream. After lunch we spent a good two hours putting up hammocks. This was a challenging task and thoughout the time Cliff's name echoed around the camp, voiced by distresed girls confused about where to start, filled with worry about falling out in the night. After this Cliff set out to find a water source for our shower. We were all disappointed as he had been succesfu and had found a cold barrel of water 1.5 k away - most where not keen about having to walk 5 minutes for a cold bucket shower! After we were changed and dry we played cards or had a nap - partly an attempt to hide from the red ants and mosquitoes which have literally biten everyone everywhere! At 7 o'clock we gathered for supper. We had more broth, rice, pork and vegtables. We then played a mass game of sharads which was very amusing - espically when Mrs Wentworth was given Sex in the City! Sleeply we clambered into our hammocks - which is VERY difficult and took several attempts! Millie Fletcher

Monday, 5 August 2013

Trek Day one - Rafting

31st July - We made it!!!!! Sitting in a tent underneath an overhanging cliff, bulging into different shapes above us, while listening to our guides playing the Beatles in the middle of a jungle in Um phang is definitely a unique place to write a blog. We all woke up at 7 and packed away the last of our things before breakfast. Breakfast came as a shock to all as food kept piling onto everyone’s plate, until each person had 4 pieces of toast, scrambled egg with carrot and onion and half a waffle, however, no one seemed to complain about the large quantity as they were soo pleased it wasn’t rice! Later at 11 we left to drive to a slower part of the river and everyone was so excited to experience the rafting onthe river. As we all set off we had no worries about our boats, that changed quickly. After an hour into ride the boats started to go wrong. Cliff’s boat had to bail water out of their boat as another boat had to save themselves from sinking by pumping up their boat as they paddled towards the side. While floating down the river we passed waterfalls, steep limestone cliffs, water monitors and went through rapids. The sights were stunning and idilic as we all craned our necks up at the towered rocks jotting out above us.========== When we had a break we had lunch next to a warm spring, which some ventured through the mud to step in the flooded, luke warm pool. Although most people were still stuffed from breakfast we all tried to shovel down as much rice as possible. After lunch the boats problems continued as seats deflated, spiders fell from the trees, ankle deep water and Hattie getting pooped on by a bird! Our final stop couldn’t have been at a steeper slope, after a few slips up the hill we all thought we were safe. Until one of our guides slipped off the hill, off the boat and spiralled into the water, causing hysterical laughter from everyone. We then relaxed in our tents and talked until dinner. Dinner smelt amazing and was so different to what we thought our food in the jungle would taste like. We started off with a broth with pork, potatoes and onion then we had rice with chicken and vegetables, it was soo good that Maddie had 4ths! As the day was winding down we had meeting on our most memorable events with some peoples being; the circus, waterfalls, tuk-tuks and cockroaches! Then we all went to view the freshly dug loo that had been designed and decorated with a flower by Cliff. We then all snuggled down in our tents to sleep, but everyone is still talking! 