The final countdown...


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February 9th 2010
Published: February 19th 2010
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We were looking forward to going back to Bangkok as it is one of our favorite citites, certainly our favourite in Asia anyway. It has everything you could want in a city.. fabulous shopping, cheap & tasty food, good and cheap (sometimes free!) public transport and loads to see and do. As is now typical of our time here Sophie had organised for us to come here for one thing and one thing only.. to shop.. Dale was delighted as always! We spent our days wanding the city, looking round the shopping centres and went on a silk buying mission to Little India to get some material for Sophie's mum which took us to a new area previously unexplored by us so we enjoyed walking around here too.

Whilst browsing in Siam Paragon Dale engineered a trip to 'just see' what was on at the cinema and as it was going to be our last trip here for a while we decided to treat ourselves and booked tickets to see Avatar in the 3D IMAX screen. We're a bit behind with technology these days so expected the 3D aspect to be like when we were kids with those paper glasses with one red eye and one green but things have progressed a little! We had proper big glasses and the 3D effect thorough these is just incredible, we even did the sad thing of sticking out our hands to try and touch the things in front of us.. geeks! We'd obviously heard all the hype about the film but to see it in 3D and on such a huge screen was fantastic and so worth the 350B (£7) price tag.. about the same as seeing a normal film in the UK!

Our weekend was fully taken up at the now traditional trip to the Chatachuk weekend market but this time Dale was in for a real treat and spent not only one full day there.. but two! Round and round and round we went spending the saved shopping money in our wallets and still only spent hardly anything! We'd needed to come here for some new threads anyway as we'd also planned a treat night to the Vertigo Bar in the city. Many people had recommended we go there on our travels but it has a strict dress policy so previously we haven't been able to go with only shorts & flip flops to wear. The Vertigo Bar is one of the highest bars in the city up on the roof of the Banyan Tree hotel, people said it had amazing views but it really is something else when you are up there seeing the bright lights spread out below you. Yes it is expensive at 250B (£5) for a beer but oh so worth it and it made the perfect last night for us as we really enjoyed getting dressed up.. something we rarely get to do these days!

We only had 2 weeks left before our flight home and had been discussing what to do with this time for a while now. A beach was definately on the list but which one?! After much deliberation we settled on returning to the Krabi province, our first destination in Thailand almost a year ago to the day. We decided to catch the sheep tourist bus down there and keep life seemingly easy so booked an overnight bus to Krabi town with one of the many agencies found around the Khao San area. We immediately regretted our decision as we were dragged all around the streets picking up various people from every hotel, then waiting for an hour by the side of the road for the bus to arrive before getting almost pushed over in the stampeed to get the best seats on the bus. The 9 hour 'direct' ride there was painless enough but you have to wonder whether 'direct' would mean stopping off in a town for an hour to drop off people & pick up others if it were in the UK?! All these reasons reminded us why we have avoided these kind of things like the plague throughout our trip and we'd encourage others to do the same.

After a one night stop in Krabi town we made our way over to Hat Ton Sai where we'd decided to stop for our last remaining week away. The beaches around this area are truly stunning and Ton Sai is the bargain place to appreciate them with cheap rooms (250B) and cheap food too... why change the habit of a lifetime and end in style! We do find the crowd here not the most welcoming though. This is probably because we're not in the 'cool rock climbing club' and are therefore outcasts from most other people because we can't boast about our amazing climbs all evening. Instead we opted so watch movies in our favourite restaurant every night to avoid having to speak to these people! They remind us a bit of the egotystical diver types who think they have achieved a new status by being able to dive down further or longer than the next person.. at the end of the day it's supposed to be a fun hobby not a competition!

Anyway, needless to say our days in Ton Sai roughly revolved around walking through the jungle to Railey or Pra Nang beach every morning, baking ourselves both sides on the beach, walking back to shower then watching movies whilst eating our favourite Thai food every evening. A truly relaxing time to polish off our 20 month trip.

A while back we'd booked our flight home with the now hugely popular KL - Stanstead (London) route given by Air Asia. For just over £150 each we got a flight, meals, additional luggage (for all the shopping!) and reserved seats which is a bargain. We'd planned for just a few days in KL to do.. surprise surprise shopping... we really do love this city but once you've been a few times you end up looking at much the same things every time so this was all the time we needed. On our 2nd to last night, to celebrate the end of our trip and also our 4th year anniversary of being together, we went out for a posh meal and a few jugs of beer... no cheap activity in this city! We had a great time getting dressed up again and as we sipped our beer overlooking one of the worlds greatest buildings (in our opinion) we reminisced over some of our favourite moments from the 20 months.

It was a really strange feeling for us counting down our last few days, it didn't quite seem like it was happening even though we'd had it planned for a few months now. We imagined what life would be like back at home and how nice it would be to see family & friends, but both agreed that life on the road experiencing these different cultures and countries suited our desired lifestyle much better than fusty old England. Don't get us wrong, since we've been away we have developed a new love for our
FerrariFerrariFerrari

Dale was being a geek!
home country and when we see it on tv we always marvel at what an underrated and beautiful country it is. It doesn't have much culture left as it's has all been swallowed up in the quest to live in a 'please everyone' environment but there is still a lot going for it.. so much so that we brought a copy of the England Lonely Planet and fully intend to discover all the things that people come here for when we return.

It was quite emotional for us both travelling to the airport and checking into our last flight (on this journey anyway) but as we already have plans for another trip in a years time, this stage just feels like a continuation of our adventure.. it will just be a bit of a longer stop over! Of course we get asked all the time what our favourite places/countries/experiences were so we plan to do a futher blog with our highlights.. it will be hard as there are so many but it will help us to remember what we did when we are sat back in our house in cold England so it will be as much for our benefit as for our readers!

The flight home was a long one at 14 hours and you get what you pay for! The seats were surprisingly big with plenty of legroom even for 6'2" Dale so we can't be negative on that point. We had heard that you can purchase mini tv's with movies etc so had planned to get one of these but the price (RM30 or £6) and the fact that the movies were not up to date changed our mind so we were faced with 14 hours of boredom! We both had books so had something to do.. that was until the lights went out and we discovered that along with most of the other seats, our lights didn't work so no reading for us! It went quite quickly though and after enduring 16 hour bus rides with no leg room at all it was relatively luxurious so we'd definately use them again.

We arrived back in England at 22.00 on Tuesday 9th February and were greeted by parents from both sides and Sophie's sister. We were still feeling a bit like it wasn't happening to us and it all felt a bit strange to be back on home soil but driving back into our home town of Northampton made us realise that not much had changed... roadworks on the M1, people driving way too fast, freezing temperatures! We'd been awake for pretty much 24 hours by the time we got home so welcomed the sight of Eleanor's spare bed and fell into a fitful sleep wondering if we'd wake up the next day and it had all been a dream...





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Sophie in our s**thole roomSophie in our s**thole room
Sophie in our s**thole room

we always stay in in BKK.. it's cheap and has a tv & air con!


19th February 2010

Wow
Hi Sophie and Dale Well, what can I say, from your blogs it looks like you have had the most amazing time away. Am definately going to miss reading the latest instalments, and will definately be looking back on your blogs for advice on all the places I will be visiting! Its pretty cold and miserable here in England, as youve probably noticed :-) Am sure you will take a while to aclimatise, thanks for keeping my occupied at work all this time! Vicki
19th February 2010

Welcome back!
Been traveling vicariously through your blogs for a while now, shame it has had to end! Good luck on the saving for your next trip and I look forward to the "best of" blog to follow. If you do end up visiting India on your next trip I'm sure, even after all the places you've seen, that you'll be totally blown away. Welcome back to cold England, enjoy it as a tourist! Scott
19th February 2010

I've enjoyed your blog and pics for some time now over the winter months here in Blighty. It gave me fond memmories of my trip a couple of years back. like you said coming home is like another stop on the ittinery, its just that you'll have to stop over a little longer untill the next destination this time. Welcome home and Cheers! mytb.org/paul-and-emma
19th February 2010

My lnspiration
I second Phil Vicki's comments. I have looked forward to each and every update for the last year. A silent "yes!" feeling when I receive a notifiation in my hotmail that you have posted a blog. A truly inspiring journey hence the reason why myself and partner are currently saving; to travel next year and plan to visit a fair few of your recomendations. I would just like to say thanks for all the tips and look forward to your updates next year :-) Natalie
20th February 2010

So long, farewell....
Ah guys, nice last blog. I can't believe your journey has come to an end. We have loved every blog and every photo and even look back now and again for advice. For all the time Dee and I have been away, you guys have just been over in another country.......now we are out here all on our own!! Loving the UK Lonely Planet idea......we have spoken about the fact we never explore our home country loads , good plan. Good luck finding jobs, cars etc. Lots of Love Holly and Dee - who miss you loads!!! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
20th February 2010

What a pitty
I will miss your blog. It was a pleasure to follow your trip. walter
22nd February 2010

Wow! What a trip!
I enjoyed reading your blogs and am sorry to see them end for awhile. I went to school in Dalat and the Cameron Highlands, so appreciated your impressions. I tend to take shorter trips to various regions (e.g. you can read my travelblogs of my trip last summer where I took three weeks for China (where I took my Mom to west China where she lived in 1949), Thailand (including Railay Beach), and Vietnam (including back to my old school at Dalat). My next priorities are South America and Australia and New Zealand. However, I have dreamed of taking round the world trip following much the same itinerary as yours...South America, New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, but then to Africa (I hated India), before returning to the U.S. My question is: Could you have done your trip in half the time (or less) by taking direct routes (e.g., stopping in Indonesia on the way to Singapore and not backtracking so much), and eliminating duplication (e.g., just going to where the best beaches are, or going to see the orangutans in Borneo instead of also Sumatra). And by doing so and having the funds saved, would you have preferred to have spent a bit more money for transportation or lodging in certain places (e.g., renting a jeep in Bali to get around, or flying from Bangkok to Krabi on Air Asia for peanuts rather than taking all night busses), or spent time in India as you originally planned. If you were to do the trip again, or recomend a route for someone like me, what would you do differently? And what would you budget? Hopefully you can cover this in your end of trip blog.
22nd February 2010

welcome back!
Guys!, I was nearly in tears reading this last blog! I know how you feel, it was weird and exciting at the same time when our trip finished and it took a while to get used to the "western society" again, specially because we live in England, but our families live in Spain and Germany, so we were on our own :o( I'm going to miss your blogs!!!!
25th February 2010

''It doesn't have much culture left as it's has all been swallowed up in the quest to live in a 'please everyone' environment'' Better than the bad old days, of pleasing only the small percentage who were the aristrocacy. If you could get your wish, and preserve English culture at any period in history you want, which would you choose. If you choose 2000 years ago, then Hail Ceasar, crusifixations on the left, and probably on the right too. ;)
16th June 2010

A good time !
I would say a good time was had. Welcome back!

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