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Neglection

Unfortunately recently I’ve found myself so caught up in day to day life – a new job, a new house and generally adapting to life back in the UK, that I feel like I’ve neglected one of the things that for the past few years has been one of the most important. Travel; and writing about it. I don’t write for anyone else but myself, it’s just a bonus if other people want to read my ramblings. I’ve always found the process of putting pen to paper (or now fingers to keyboard) extremely therapeutic.

This won’t be a long or well thought out post but just one to say (and to remind myself) that this blog isn’t done yet, and neither is my desire to travel – I just need to re-ignite it. So for the next few weeks, no matter how busy, I’m going to start planning a hypothetical trip. Okay so it will probably only be for two weeks or so (it’s just not practical to keep quitting jobs!) but I’ve come to realise that planning, reading blogs and generally getting excited about the concept of travel is something that I miss, and it’s something that essentially makes me happier.  I want to find somewhere else, like I’ve found many times before, that makes me feel like this:

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The hunt begins….

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Home Vs Travel (part 2)

Travelling Vs staying in one place

I’m pretty sure when people picture the life of backpacker, the literal travelling part isn’t the first thing they think about. When in fact, when you’re on limited time, you spend way more time getting from a to b than you do actually enjoying yourself. Most of this time is spent desperately trying to sleep or cure your unbearable boredom. The occasional daytime coach journey in New Zealand with and a bus full of tour group friends is fine, and occasionally travel time can be rewarding. You can meet new friends and stop at some pretty interesting places along the way, not to mention seeing some beautiful scenery out of the window.

The Kiwi Experience bus

The Kiwi Experience bus – a fun way to travel

But when you start to do an overnight journey on a horrendous bus every couple of days in South East Asia, it really starts to wear you down.

At one point during my recent travels we were doing a 10-16 hour overnight journey every 2 days. When you consider that I’m an extremely light sleeper, my time spent on those buses was some of my worst. I would lie awake, often desperate for a wee, cramped and uncomfortable, just wishing I was at home with my duvet. Every time we booked transport in Asia we would pray it would be decent – you never knew what was going to come around the corner. Don’t even get me started on our horrendous day spent crossing the Thailand/Cambodia border, or my 30-hour journey from Vietnam to Laos. Of course it was all worth it, but I don’t think people who haven’t travelled really understand how unbearable and tiring it can be at times. There’s definitely something to be said for going back to the same place and the comfort of your own bed every day. The actual travelling part of backpacking can be the worst part of it and it’s something that is often overlooked.

stuck at the back of a mini bus for 8 hours with minimal aircon and the sun blasting through the window = bad times

Being stuck at the back of a mini bus for 8 hours with minimal aircon and the sun blasting through the window = bad times

Claustraphobic sleeper bus in Cambodia

Claustraphobic sleeper bus in Cambodia

Meeting new people Vs old friends and family

This is another one of the best parts of being away from home that can sometimes be a negative. I love meeting new people, hearing their stories and making friends all over the world. Someone you know for a week when you’re backpacking can become your friend for a lifetime, and you never know when you’re going to meet those people. It’s exciting and I’ve met some truly amazing people. They can change you in ways that the friends you’ve known your whole life and shared the same experiences with can’t. It’s one of the main reasons I decided to travel alone when I went on my round-the-world trip in 2012. That way you’re forced to go out of your way to meet new people and not just stick with what is familiar.

Queenstown

Sharing a jump with a group of new friends in Queenstown

On the other hand, after weeks of travelling around Australia and New Zealand and staying in shared hostel rooms I have to admit that constantly meeting new people and telling the standard ‘where I’ve been, where I’m going, what I’ve done’ story started to really grate on me. I just wanted to be around someone who knew me – someone who I was comfortable sitting in silence with and not constantly making the effort.

As close as you can become to your travel buddies, no one ever quite compares to the people that know you best. I’m aware that not everyone will feel this way and that maybe I’m just lucky to have grown up with such a great group of friends, but they’re my number one positive reason for being home. Of course, now I’m home, being in the same place as my boyfriend means a lot to me too. On my down days where I was feeling homesick or upset I would miss my family, friends and him more than anything. It’s what makes you feel at your most homesick. Those are the days I remind myself of when I wish I were travelling again.  

Family

Family

Being skint Vs earning money

The first time I went on a round-the-world trip was different to the second in regards to this point. I spent almost 3 years saving for the purpose of going on my first trip and so when it came down to spending the money I didn’t possess an ounce of guilt or regret. However, on my second trip I was spending inheritance money and it was something that never really felt right to me. As much as I would convince myself it was fine, I never felt like I’d earned the right to spend money I hadn’t made myself. In retrospect I realise that’s one of the reasons I never felt quite as relaxed on my second trip. I always felt like I should be keeping the money for something that would last – like a house or car, instead of eating away at it essentially having fun (although obviously there’s a lot more to travelling than that).  I also knew I had no job or financial stability to come back to in the UK, and that made me worry even more about slowly eating away at the money. It’s one of the reasons I came home when I did –I had to remember the real world I’d left back home and be realistic about my finances. It was either a month more of travelling or a new Macbook Pro.

By the end of my first trip I was also down to my emergency credit card and I came back to over £2000 of debt. It took me around 8 months to pay off and I don’t regret it for a minute but again, spending money that wasn’t mine took away from my enjoyment a little. I never felt completely comfortable with spending money and not earning any to make up for it. It also sometimes really gets to you when you want to buy some new clothes or just treat yourself -you’re constantly having to think about your bank balance. It’s not so much of an issue when you’re travelling somewhere cheap like Asia, but it really started to affect my experience (and health) while I was travelling up an extremely expensive East Coast of Australia and basically living off noodles, goon (the cheapest boxed wine imaginable) and McDonalds for five weeks.

The aptly named 'goonoodles' diet I adopted in Austraila

The aptly named ‘goonoodles’ diet I adopted in Austraila

Although it’s brilliant if you can find a way to earn as you go, or have enough money to spend without worrying about earning, it was never a luxury I had for very long. There’s definitely something to be said for being in a full time job and saving up for 2 weeks away where you can spend as much money as you want. You know you’re getting paid while you’re there and you’ve saved enough money to not feel guilty about it. Financial stability is something I think is often taken for granted over the life of a full-time travelling nomad.

Homesickness Vs Wanderlust

This is the biggest debate of all – which one do you feel more strongly? Some crave stability and some crave the unknown and a life of the unexpected. After my last post, I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle. I miss home when I’m away and I miss travelling when I’m at home. I’m realistic in my opinion that that’s just life – the grass is always greener. It’s in our nature to crave what we don’t have and you just have to make the most of what you do.

So for now I’ll focus on spending time with friends and family, treating myself to things I couldn’t afford if I were away, enjoying my home comforts, decorating and making the home I live in even nicer (that will come in a few weeks where I finally move into my own place). I can even buy new clothes and display them proudly in my wardrobe! I’ll try and satisfy my wanderlust by always having a trip in the pipeline, be it somewhere closer to home or further away – even just for a weekend, and I’ll find other things to get excited about that aren’t just travelling (such as planning my sisters wedding). For me I’m realising that it doesn’t have to be one-way or the other and that there is a middle ground – you just have to discover what works for you and find a way to appreciate it.

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Home Vs Travel (part 1)

I know a lot of people would read the title of this post and think, what’s the competition? Surely travelling wins – hands down. If that were true then everyone would be packing up and leaving. The truth is, it’s not that black and white. There are several reasons why not everyone is suited for the life of a backpacker and there’s even more for why I gave it up.

Although I don’t in any way want to put a negative spin on travelling – it’s still the best thing I’ve ever done and I would encourage anyone to do it, I do want to point out that there are also massive perks to being home and having a stable routine. I suspect these perks are widely under appreciated by anyone who hasn’t been away from home for a substantial amount of time (so much so that I often forget about them myself and I’m partly writing this as a reminder). These comparisons are something anyone thinking of booking a round-the-world trip of their own should give some serious thought.

Here’s how I would weigh up the differences between the two lifestyles.

Freedom Vs Routine

This is the biggest difference and the hardest one for me, especially now I’ve started full time work. Of course I miss my freedom big time. I miss not having to set an alarm and spending my days doing whatever I wanted – having no responsibilities and roaming from place to place whenever I felt like it. However, although it might be difficult for some to understand why, do that for so long and you start to crave a routine. While it’s extremely exciting, moving on and taking in new things every day can have a draining effect. I started to miss little things like going to the gym and getting up and eating at the same time every day. It might sound trivial but it’s the small things you miss when you’re away from home.

Saying that though, I’d be lying if I said freedom didn’t win this one. It’s by far the best thing about travelling and the main reason people choose to do it. I enjoy my job but I don’t think there’s many people who would pick full time work over having the option to do whatever you want every day, free from limitations.

Bondi beach

Taking as much time as I wanted to just sit and take in the scenery at Bondi Beach

A room full of stuff Vs a backpack

To me this is one of the biggest perks of being home. Living in the same shabby clothes for months at a time with barely any choice of outfits really started to drive me crazy while I was travelling. As did agonising over decisions about what I needed to ditch when I did rarely buy something new. Packing and re-packing the bag several times a week wasn’t much fun either, or constantly losing things in a mass of jumbled up, dirty clothes. It’s an absolute luxury to have a wardrobe full of clothes and not have to think about how much something will weigh when you buy it, not to mention things like luxury toiletries and sentimental items. Although when I first got home from both of my trips I did struggle a bit with the concept of having a choice.  It was so daunting that I actually ended up reaching for the familiar items in my backpack for a while!

So much choice of things to buy, yet so little space in your backpack!

So much choice of things to buy, yet so little space in your backpack!

Seeing new things Vs where you’ve always known

Again, this is a difficult one to give up. I miss the excitement of waking up every day not knowing what I would experience and the excitement of seeing something new and beautiful for the first time.

unexpectedly bumping into some elephants one morning in Laos

unexpectedly bumping into some elephants one morning in Laos

Although this can get tiring, it is my favourite thing about travelling and something I will always strive to do more. However, when I first came home I found I saw what had always been familiar and seemingly boring in a different way – experiencing so many new places has a funny way of making you appreciate what you see every day and suddenly recognising it for it’s own beauty.

Southerndown beach, South Wales

Southerndown beach, South Wales

A different culture Vs familiarity

On one hand experiencing a new culture and the local way of life is a big reason for why I went travelling in the first place. Living a different way of life is all part of seeing and experiencing new things. It’s exciting, it opens your eyes to the world and above all makes you simultaneously appreciate and dislike your own culture for what it is.

However, it’s also what made me feel the most homesick while I was travelling in South East Asia, and was the nicest feeling about coming home. After several border crossings involving rude, stern looking Asian men at the gates, it was refreshing to land at Heathrow and (although you might not believe it!) be greeted with smiles, pleases and thank you’s. It was convenient to spend my own currency, a relief not be constantly harassed to buy random items and so satisfying to eat a traditional Sunday Roast and proper cheddar cheese again. Like I said, it’s the little things that you miss. You really crave your home comforts when you’re away. As much as experiencing something completely different is one of the best things about travelling, if I had to choose one of these for long-term living, familiarity would win.

Experiencing a culture shock in Saigon - the place that made me feel the most homesick.

Experiencing a culture shock in Saigon – the place that made me feel the most homesick.

I have so many points to make on this subject that I’ve decided to divide the post into two to avoid it being one epic post! There is more to come in part two.

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Coming home – a long overdue post

Okay so this post is way overdue and that’s mainly because I’ve been pretty preoccupied. After my last post (which was way too long ago) my boyfriend came out to Thailand for 2 weeks (I’ll put some blogs up on where we went at some point too), and after not seeing him for over 2 months my time was to be spent with him and not writing blogs.

How could I find time to blog when I was staying at places with a view like this?!

How could I find time to blog when I was staying at places with a view like this?!

After that, I returned to the UK (my reasons for which can be found here) and my time was taken up by catching up with various friends, job hunting and basically sorting out my life again. Father’s day seemed like a fitting day to start writing again.

When I quit my job and decided to travel, taking a massive risk, I did it because I felt intuitively that it was the right thing to do. I still feel that way. Although there have been times where I’ve questioned my decision (mainly when I was back at home living with my sister, unemployed and trying to break into the tough industry of Graphic Design for the first time since leaving university 6 years ago), I stand by my belief that there’s no such thing as regrets. Something that may seem like a wrong decision was the one you were meant to make, and was also one that will eventually lead you to something better. I still miss travelling every day but I have no regrets about either coming home or quitting my job to go in the first place.

Quitting my job with nothing else lined up with the way the job market is in the UK at the moment was a massive risk, and one that could end up backfiring in a big way. Although on paper it seemed like it could be a bad idea, I always had this strong feeling that things would somehow work out and be okay. Of course while I was away I had the occasional day of doubts. I would psych myself out and panic about coming back to a life of unemployment and regret, but I never shook that gut feeling that things would work out the way they were meant to work out and that the outcome would be a positive one. I believe in the power of positive thinking – if you believe it will happen then it will and if you believe you will fail and that’s exactly what you’ll do. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So far it looks like I was right. After two weeks spent organising, doing life admin and sorting through my belongings when I first returned to the UK, I applied for the first job I found – a job that just happened to seem like the ideal role for me. A few days later I had an interview and a week after that I had my first day. I moved back to Birmingham from my hometown in Cardiff, which again seemed like the right thing to do, carried on a relationship with my boyfriend (which by now finally meant us being in the same place) and began a search for my own place to live. That’s the last thing on my list. Although I’m scared to say it for fear of something going wrong, things seem to have worked out and at this moment in time, life is pretty good. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t gained my inheritance money and decided to travel again.

Finding something pretty closer to home at Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham

Finding something pretty closer to home at Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham

Although I miss the life of a backpacker on a regular basis, there were many times where I craved being home and having a routine when I was away. Although travelling is an amazing experience it’s not always about cocktails and sunsets on the beach – I had my down days where I really questioned what I was doing; where I was so tired, hot and homesick I could barely function – those are the days that are easy to forget and that I remind myself of when I feel sad that they’re over. When it comes down to it, although there are countless bloggers out there who I admire who suit the life of a full time nomad, it’s just not the life for me. I came to this decision while I was away and it was the most valuable decision I made. Not many people have the luxury of being faced with that option and turning it down.

It was all about weighing up my homesickness against my wanderlust and deciding which one was stronger. I can’t travel without missing home and I can’t be home without craving getting away and seeing more of the world (I’ll write more about that comparison in my next post). Unfortunately it is difficult to find a middle ground, but I’m going to try. I grew to love the backpacker lifestyle, even with it’s flaws, but it’s a difficult to find the time and the money to do it without working while you’re travelling, which is something that doesn’t appeal to me. After all, the freedom and lack of responsibility that come with travelling are it’s main appeal. Take them away and I know the homesickness would be overwhelming. So for now I’m going to try and settle for what most people do and plan holidays and weekends away, starting with Paris in a few weeks. I think for now I’m satisfied with that plan because for now, I’m happy to be home.

What I don't have when I'm travelling

What I don’t have when I’m travelling

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Experiencing Songkran in Chiang Mai and Bangkok

When I decided to come back to South East Asia I knew I wanted to time it around Songkran. It was an event I didn’t get to experience last time I travelled here and after a bit of reading up on the festival I regretted that I didn’t get the chance. All I really knew is that it was one big water fight – what’s not to love?

Aswell as being one big water fight it’s actually a celebration of the Thai New Year. It falls at the end of the dry season in Thailand which is their hottest time of year. The water represents washing away the old and making way for the new – a symbol of renewal. Chiang Mai is the place to be for the celebrations, where although officially it’s meant to last from 13th April – 15th April, it continues for six days or even longer. Since Jess’ flight home was booked for the 16th in Bangkok we decided we would experience half of it in Chiang Mai before travelling back to Khao San road towards the end.

Jess and I didn’t realise how early things would begin but quickly learnt from our mistake after venturing out on the 11th without our waterproof gear and getting absolutely drenched from the moment we stepped outside our hotel. We soon armed ourselves with our own water guns and joined a group at the side of the road (but not before they had attacked us several times with buckets of ice water – call it an initiation). Our first night of Songkran was spent filling our guns and attacking any passers by, moped drivers, tuk tuks or vans that drove in our path. It was like playing a computer game! I absolutely loved seeing adults band together and act like naughty little school children to attack the opposition. Every time someone would blast another it would be followed with a whole load of laughter, and it wasn’t just westerners that were involved but locals and people from all over the world – what a way to bring everyone together.

locals and westerners sharing a bucket of water and fighting for the same team

locals and westerners sharing a bucket of water and fighting for the same team

We went to bed, drenched but excited to experience a few days of Songkran madness. The next day we had our day with the elephants. We were naive enough to think we could escape a drenching but soon realised our mistake when our tuk tuk driver started purposely slowing down to stop for people at the side of the roads armed with buckets of ice water. One hour into the day and we were dripping wet! The fun continued when we stopped in the river and after bathing our elephants continued to use the buckets to have water fights with every white water raft that dared to cross our path.

White water rafters water fight

White water rafters water fight

That evening it was time to experience our first real evening of Songkran. The day before had just been a small introduction in comparison. We left our hotel room, armed with two guns and waterproof bags for our things (including my camera – hence the blurry photos), and prepared ourselves for a water fight war. You can fill your water guns up from the side of the road where there are several bins full of water – some free and some costing a small fee. Now the worst part of Songkran is that moment where you’re completely dry and someone pours an entire bucket of ice water on your head – it hurts, but it’s hilarious! When you walk out dry you might aswell have a bullseye on you as it’s common knowledge that no one should stay dry for long! So once you step onto the main street you’ll literally be so drenched with water you can barely breathe for a while. As someone who finds it quite difficult to deal with the heat, it was nice to feel cold in Thailand for once. Although, going into a 7/11 was a whole new experience – the air con hit you like needles! It was so cold everyone was in and out as fast as possible – it’s the first time I haven’t appreciated the escape from the sun.

Freezing in a 7/11

Freezing in a 7/11

For that reason, celebrations usually end in the evening when being constantly wet becomes a bit of a problem and you start to shiver. We spent two evenings in Chiang Mai and both times celebrations where at their peak in the day and coming to an end by about 8pm, leaving people retreating to their hotels or to the nearest club to carry on the party. On our second evening we joined another group having a battle with the other side of the road – again, a lot of fun.

water fight war!

water fight war!

They even bought out a foam machine at one point (I didn’t go under it after a bad experience feeling like I was going to drown last time I did that, but Jess was loving it). After a few days of Jess panicking about leaving her home of 7 months to go back to the UK, Songkran was just what she needed and she was in her element.

foam machine

foam machine

We retired at about midnight, drenched and ready to experience our first full day of Songkran the next day. It was no different except now they had stages up with water guns and music blasting out, and crowds and crowds of people dancing and spraying you with water thrown into the mix. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from Songkran and I guess part of me thought it’d just be a few kids with measly water guns – I was so wrong.

It is absolute chaos. Sometimes you’re being pelted from every side, ice water is being thrown on your head and you can barely see. Within about 5 minutes you won’t just be a bit wet – you’ll be soaked through. The only time I would find this particularly hard to deal with was when I was getting blasted in the eyes. I quickly learnt that wearing contact lenses puts you at a massive disadvantage during songkran! every time I was hit in the eye I had to pause and wipe them to be able to see again. I told a man this, whilst taking off my sunglasses that I was using for protection, and he thought it’d be a good idea to blast me in the eye from less than a metre away with a power water gun. It hurt like hell and for one moment I feared I might actually go blind!

It felt like I had a dagger in my eye and they were streaming. It took me a while to find my contact lens which had practically been welded to my eye with the force. Despite his apologies I couldn’t quite understand why he had felt the need to do it. He said to my friend – ‘why would you wear contact lenses to songkran?’ which really angered me. People need to spare a bit of sympathy for those amongst us who are practically blind when not wearing contacts or glasses, and something tells me glasses would not have been a safer option! That night I retreated back to the hotel with a hand over my eye and a contact lense lost (Jess had to lead me back as I could barely see). That is definitely one down side of Songkran and from then on I was extra protective of my eyes, refusing to take my sunglasses off even when the sun went down.

catching passengers unsuspecting passengers in a tuk tuk

catching passengers unsuspecting passengers in a tuk tuk

I only managed about 4 hours of Songkran in the day before I was ready to escape the chaos. So leaving Jess to it for a while I headed back to laze at the hotel pool for a while before our flight. I knew it was time for me to leave when I sat down out of the way and desperately tried to re-apply suncream. Now I wouldn’t mind if I was being blasted with water by accident, but the guy next to us was continually shooting me with water while I tried to do it, despite me asking him not to. Some people just had to ruin it! I was glad I chose to walk back at that moment as I passed a massive Songkran parade full of floats and buddha statues. The locals were walking up to them and pouring scented holy water on them. That’s where the tradition began. It’s believed that by doing that it will bring them luck and prosperity for the new year.

Parade

Parade

One of many buddha statues in the parade

One of many buddha statues in the parade

After a couple of hours it was time for us to begin a difficult task – transporting our bags from the hotel to the airport without getting everything drenched inside them. It bought up a whole load of new packing problems while I tried to squeeze everything valuable into my two small dry bags. After some careful packing and literally just as we were stepping outside the hotel lobby, the heavens opened. Yes – because we weren’t wet enough, we were now experiencing a tropical storm which weirdly only lasted from us leaving the hotel to entering the airport. And of course, we got absolutely pelted with water on our tuk tuk ride by teams at the side of the road and in trucks. We were slightly worried about our things but finding it funny more than anything. It was especially sweet to see little children loving getting in on the action – I would always squirt them back gently to make them laugh and then leave it at that, but some of them were evil little things – pooring ice water down your neck or the back of your shorts!

truck shootings

truck shootings

We turned up at the airport looking a right state. I’m not sure how but we seemed to be the only ones that had been effected by Songkran and everyone else was dry, leading to lots of strares and laughing at us before we managed to dry off and change into something more comfortable. To our amazement, Jess’ beast of a backpack was under the weight restrictions and after a Burger King feast we boarded our 1 hour flight to Bangkok (absolute luxury after so many painfully long bus journeys!).

We jumped in a taxi and reached Khao San road at around midnight, not looking forward to being drenched again and clutching our bags protectively. Luckily, Khao San seemed to be similar to Chiang Mai in that by midnight it had calmed down a bit and we miraculously made it through some back streets and to our hotel without a drop of water on us. We had a lie in the next morning and then armed ourselves for our second leg of Songkran on Khao San road.

It was much the same as Chiang Mai except in Bangkok there are a lot more locals carrying around flour and water, which they smear across your faces. I loved this tradition as they would come up to you, laughing, and touch your face so gently uttering either ‘happy new year’ or ‘sorry!’. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people smiling and laughing in one place.

cornflour and water

cornflour and water

We met up with a new group of people (who were with my old Stray Asia tour guide who was staying at the same place as us) and made our way down Khao San after a few beers. Now the problem with Khao San that you don’t get in Chiang Mai is that it’s extremely narrow and so as a result takes a long time to get down it and can get a little claustraphobic.

An almost unrecognisable Khao San road

An almost unrecognisable Khao San road

Laughter

Laughter

It was fun nonetheless but there were moments (especially when it got dark and I was drunk and too scared to take my sunglasses off so could barely see) where I felt quite panicked trying to make my way through the crowds. We powered through until about midnight until we were exhausted and ready to pass out.

A birdesye view of Khao san by 10pm

A birdesye view of Khao san by 10pm

The next day I woke up feeling like my head was going to explode and I knew I was done with Songkran. The last thing I felt like doing with a hangover was walking down a cramped road whilst getting flour and ice water thrown in my face! I felt like the novelty had well and truly worn off. Unfortunately I didn’t have a choice and again found myself completely drenched for the entire day. Songkran is fun, but on your fifth day of it I have to admit, it starts to get a little annoying. Especially when you’re at the hotel and all you want is some chocolate from the nearby 7/11 but you know it will mean a drenching to walk there and just isn’t worth it – it’s just not practical!

As a result, I was extremely happy to get up the next day and see that the festivities had completely ended. I thought it might take a few days but I didn’t get one drop of water thrown on me. Stalls were back out on Khao San and it was starting to look like the familiar road I know it to be. It was also the quietest I have ever seen it – almost eerily so. Obviously by that point a lot of people had either left or were too hungover to come out, plus a lot of the locals still had the day as a bank holiday. I was happy to have experienced Songkran but almost as happy to see it end.

All in all I would urge anyone to try and go to Thailand (or Myanmar, Cambodia or Laos, where it’s also celebrated) for Songkran. I think of the two places I preferred Chiang Mai just because you have a bit more space and it’s not so claustrophobic, but apart from that they’re pretty similar. It is a hell of a lot of fun and the atmosphere is brilliant. Everyone is happy and in high spirits and it really brings everyone together. But maybe do one or two days and then leave before it starts to drive you crazy!

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