Songkran

Songkran is Thailand’s New Year’s festival, celebrated on the 13th April each year. I was lucky enough to experience Songkran this year, in Bangkok, as I went to Khao San Road to celebrate it with my housemates. I will share my experience of Songkran.

Many wonderful things happen on Songkran, and I managed to witness a few of the events. Firstly, Songkran is essentially like a water festival, where water is thrown onto everyone, regardless of where you are, and what you are doing. Many places hold water fights, and people will bring along their water guns and other water devices to celebrate. The water is used as a metaphor for cleansing oneself from the past, and to start new. In addition, I saw people bringing along baby powder mixed with water, and they would walk on by as they touched people with it. However, I was unsure whether it was a sign to symbolise something, or just additional fun amongst the new year.

Everyone has a genuine smile upon their faces, and they will wish you a happy new year, even if they do not know you. It was literally the biggest water fight in the world. Do not bring any valuables with you, unless you want it to get wet, or if you have a waterproof bag. Even then, it is not enough! Water comes from every direction, and it is just a joy to be amongst the festivities. Unfortunately, I cannot comment about the other events held on Songkran, because I was unable to witness it all. This post does not do any justice for how amazing Songkran truly is! (I guess you will all have to experience it for yourself!)

I highly recommend everyone adding Songkran onto their bucket list, because it is an experience of a lifetime.

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Now, on to the outfit. It is a custom to wear a flowery type of pattern on Songkran, and so this was my attempt.

  1. Sunglasses – purchased in Malaysia at an unknown store, for an unknown price (sorry for my bad memory!)
  2. Choker – purchased in Bangkok for around the price of 100 Baht (just an estimation)
  3. Off-the-shoulder top – the top came with a matching head tie (which I decided to wear on my thigh as a gun holder), and was bought for the price of 200 Baht at the market stall in Central Plaza, Salaya
  4. Shorts – I bought it a year ago on eBay, and I am sorry to say again, I do not remember the price for it

(Sorry for being so useless and forgetful about the price of each item and where I purchased them from!)

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Cambodia

Last month, I spent a weekend in Siem Reap with my housemates, and before I went, I did not know what to expect.

Quite a lot of Cambodians working in the tourist industry were very well spoken in numerous amount of different languages. I heard them speaking English, French, German, Mandarin, Japanese and so on. I was truly impressed by how accommodating they were. I also loved listening to Khmer being spoken by the locals.

Overall, my short experience of Cambodia was extremely pleasant. Here are some of the things I did during my stay:

Angkor Wat

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In all honesty, if you ever have the chance to visit Cambodia, you must visit Angkor Wat – this is something perhaps most people would suggest. Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world, as well as being a beautiful sight to behold. There are several different types of tickets you can purchase when visiting Angkor Wat. The most popular types of tickets are the sunrise and sunset tickets. I decided to buy the sunrise ticket, so that I could watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat. Be warned, there are A LOT of people, so it can be a challenge to find a decent place to stand/sit and watch the sunrise. There are also many people with large cameras and tripods who will ask you to move out of the way, as they dictate most of the area for their cameras, rather than enjoying the moment as it is. But I guess that’s the downside of visiting a temple as beautiful as Angkor Wat, many others also want to visit it too. Nonetheless, do not let this prohibit you from visiting it.

Pub Street

[Forgot to take a photo of pub street! Sorry!]

Pub street is basically a very touristy area, and as the name implies, with many pubs and clubs clustered together in one area. It had a very friendly vibe and fun environment to be in. There is also plenty of street food to try out, and market stalls on the side. Make sure not to get conned, because some of the sellers will obviously attempt to charge you a higher price for what the product is worth (since I bought a skirt that was immediately ripped after one wash – the material was of very bad quality). You can always bargain with the sellers, as they are more than willing to sell off their products off as soon as possible. Everything is relatively cheap anyways, so bargaining for every item is not necessary.

Rent a Bike

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Renting bikes in Siem Reap is a very popular thing to do, and there are many bikes around from different shops that you can rent from. It is a relaxing way to get to know the neighbourhood surrounding one’s stay, but I would only recommend renting a bike for those who are confident on the roads in ASIA! The drivers and roads are not as safe as those in many Western countries. That being said, you can still rent a bike if you choose not to go on the main road, then that is fine.

Temple Tour

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I took part in a temple tour, which consisted of me visiting five different temples in one day. It felt like I was temple hopping.

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Nonetheless, Cambodia is a lovely place to visit, and the Cambodians make it even lovelier. This is definitely one South East Asian country you should visit whenever you can. It is full of personality and friendly people.

(And what made my experience of Cambodia even better, was travelling with amazing and loving friends.)

Hua Hin

Hua Hin is a beautiful seaside resort, that is 3 hours south from Bangkok. I had the chance to visit the place, and it was a very touristic area, but still pleasant at the same time. Personally, for myself, it did not scream THAILAND but rather, a catered version of Thailand for foreign visitors. Nonetheless, it contains a beautiful beach, which was located right at the back of my hotel, so the pool led straigh onto the beach.

CAVES AND MOUNTAINS

Furthermore, I researched online about a famous cave an hour away from Hua Hin called, Phraya Nakhon Cave, and decided that it would be one place I must visit with my housemates. However, I was very clueless that to get to the cave, one must climb moutains…in this case, I had to climb TWO! It was a major shock for me, realising that I had to climb up a very steep and bumpy mountain, with no safety equipment at all. To top it all off, I am a very clumsy person, so I was petrified each time my foot would slip across the rocks, and as a result, I ended up lagging behind my friends (it was definetely an unforgettable experience). Each step, was to my belief, an inch closer to death, and I just wanted to end this trip. Fortunately, when I eventally reached the bottom of the mountain, after climbing both moutains twice, I was very proud of myself for not giving up (not an achievement that should really gain praise, but come on, I was a fish out of water).

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NIGHT MARKETS

Thailand is famous for night markets, and Hua Hin was no exception to this. Cicada Market was perhaps one of the best night markets I have ever been to, and it did not disappoint! Luckily, on the evening I went, there was a music festival going on at the same time, inside the market.

Photos featuring my housemates (aka The Fabulous 5).

If ever you get the chance to visit Thailand, I’d say spend a weekend in Hua Hin as part of your trip. I would advise that a few days are better than a week, since you can get most of what you want to do, done, within a couple of days.

My 21st Birthday

Blessed I was, to be able to celebrate my 21st birthday (back in November) in the beautiful country of Singapore. However, I will not reveal too much about what I got up to, apart from showing you all my birthday outfit, and a birthday video from my friend as a gift.

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  1. Dress – £14.99 from eBay.
  2. Shoes – From everything5pounds.
  3. Accessories – Roughly  £7 from eBay.
  4. Watch – Roughly £15 from Accessorize.
  5. Clutch – A gift from my sister for my year 11 prom (yes, I still have it) and unfortunately do not know where she bought it from.

HERE is my birthday video. Hopefully it speaks for itself, and show a bit of insight about how I celebrated it, and unveil a part of me to you.

Thank you Jesus, for the blessings, for the added year, and for the love.

Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya was once the capital city of the Kingdom of Siam. However, it was attacked by the Burmese, not once, but twice! (Pretty scary and badass).

Last weekend, I went to visit the ruins of Ayuttaya with my housemates, and it was overwhelming. So much history in once place. If you ever come to visit Thailand and want to get to know more about her story, come and visit Ayuttaya.

Below are some pictures I had taken of Ayuttaya:

Being Different, in a Collective Place

As amazing and beautiful as Thailand may be, I found one ultimate challenge I approached nearly every single day. Being different.

Now, I do not mean that I am something special and unique, who is beyond everyone else – that is not what I am trying to say.

As many may know, Asian countries tend to exist in a collective society, which branches under ‘collectivism’ and by definition (on a political stance) means – The ownership of land and the means of production by the people or the state, as a political principle or system.” Now, on a student level, I am trying to say that the students here tend to stick together in packs, doing the same thing, following the same routine of waking-up-partying-sleeping-repeat. I am not trying to put down this lifestyle, by no means, if you can still do this and keep up with all of your studies, good on you.

How am I different?

Firstly, I do not drink alcohol. This immediately placed me out of the circle of your regular student. Secondly, I do not like clubbing. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to dance, hence why back in Sussex I was in the salsa society and enjoyed your regular party around those whom I am comfortable with. However, I am not one who would be up for cramming myself into a packed room full of other sweaty and rowdy human beings trying to touch-you-up. I am not about that life.

Thirdly, I am a Christian. Thailand is not a Christian country, and nor are most of the students here at MUIC. But that is okay, because one of the reason I chose to come to Thailand, was to bring the gospel here.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel the pressure to drink and party all-the-time, because everyone else is doing it. I do feel the pressure. However, as long as you remember who you want to be, stand firm in your own identity, you can be strong. I’m not saying don’t do these things. But for myself personally, I most definitely should not drink, because I cannot handle alcohol and get easily drunk – which ultimately leaves me in a vulnerable position.

So I guess, being different is not always a bad thing. This is because you want to live a life that is your own, not someone else’s. Remember, to always do you and follow your heart. With Jesus, I know who I am.

First Day at MUIC

From the moment I woke up, I could feel the pit of my stomach start to make an uncomfortable movement inside, informing me that it was nervous. My mind began to create various scenes and images of chaos, about what could possibly go wrong today, and I felt crap… However, I prayed to God for His strength to be revealed, and I received a beautiful text message from my boyfriend wishing me well (which was around 2am UK time) – and I started to feel at ease. Both helped to calm me down, and I knew everything was going to be okay.

As part of my year abroad, I am studying at MUIC (Mahidol University International College). Back at home, my degree is English Literature, but here I am studying Intercultural Studies and Languages.

My uniform.

I arrived on campus around 12pm to have lunch with a friend at the cafeteria. A bunch of us sat together, and let me just say, Thai food is amaaaaazing!!! It is all cooked fresh, there and then. Hands down, it beats the food back in England, (sorry my fellow Brits!).

My first class was cancelled.

My Spanish class was enjoyable.

Not much to say, apart from the fact that I need to CHILL and stop thinking the worst is going to happen. Everything went well, and the students here are very friendly and helpful, although Thai students tend to be quite shy.

Thank you, MUIC, for a decent first day. *Major thumbs up!*

Year Abroad

It is officially 1 week until I fly out to Thailand! Big girl adventure!

So it only seems fair that I share with you all, how Thailand became part of my plan.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

I originally planned to do a three year Literature course at Sussex. Of course, I did want to do a year abroad, but decided against it, because I didn’t think that I would be in a financially stable position, otherwise. Another thing, I had no idea where I would have wanted to study.

During sixth form, I had my first Asian celebrity crush. And you’ve guessed it, he was Thai (Mario Maurer by the way). Oh goodness, now you all probably think I’m some crazy stalker. Sigh. As a result, I began researching more into the Thai culture, and watched their movies. Ever so slowly, I was no longer gushing over some celebrity, but found myself falling in love with the beautiful country. From the gorgeous beaches, to the way the Thai language looks and sounds, as well as the endless summer weather. My heart was set on visiting this country.

As soon as I went to university, I forgot about Thailand and how much I wanted to visit it. However, in my second year, I had a friend who was submitting her application for a year abroad, and of course I was so happy and excited for her – because it was an amazing opportunity unlike any other – but I couldn’t help being slightly envious at the same time.

It was too late for me to apply, I thought. I missed the deadline, and I didn’t tell anyone that I wanted to do a year abroad.

Then something amazing happened:

Original email I received about spaces available in Thailand.

When I received the email, my dream of visiting Thailand came flooding back. I sat down with one of my housemates, and discussed it with her. It all seemed quick, rash, and done on impulse, but I didn’t care, all I wanted was to be there.

Here is the story I posted on Humans of Sussex University:

Immediately I went straight to work on my application, but found out that 1 place had already been filled. My chances were getting slimmer. During my last day in Brighton before I went home for the Christmas holidays, I eventually received my reference 30 minutes before the study abroad office closed. I ran pass 4 bus stops in my heeled boots in order to catch the 25X and arrive on time. With 10 minutes to spare, I made it. Unfortunately, I didn’t fill out one page of my application properly. I thought it was all over. However, one of the women in the study abroad office said that she’ll sort it out for me and that I could give my application to her. This was one of the many blessings I received.”

I’m excited. I’m scared. I’m nervous. I’m sad about it. I’m happy about it. I’ve been feeling every emotion possible about this trip, but all I know is that I will love it. I want to have no regrets, none at all about this.

I just know that I am SO blessed, and I thank Jesus for the adventure I am about to take.