I read various different blogs and researched alot before I committed myself to getting a Sak Yant. But what is a Sak Yant? A Sak Yant is a religious Buddhist tattoo originating in Thailand and Myanmar, the tattoos all have different “powers” consisting of Protection, Wealth, Health, Happiness, Attraction etc etc. The technique used to create a Sak Yant is either bamboo or a long metal rod (its quite painful)
In my search for the understanding of other cultures and the world I decided this experience would be beneficial to my knowledge and the perfect way to literally document my travel in Thailand.
So How and Where?
The most known temple for Yantra tattoos is the temple Wat Bang Phra. It’s about one hour in a cab from Bangkok.
What to expect at the temple.
You have to get to the temple as early as possible so we left at like 5.30 am. Luckily our cab driver was very nice and did all of the translating for us when we got to the temple. So the arranging with the monks was done and from then on you had to just wait…
You can choose either to have it done completely traditionally where the monk decided where and what he will tattoo on your body- please note the needle is not new and not sterilised. This method will not cost you anything just a donation to the temple which is a packet of cigarettes, insense sticks and some flowers.
You can also choose to go upstairs in the temple where you can pay, depending on the tattoo (usually around £30) and the needle will be the same but it is sterilised in alcohol after every person.
The monk will not talk to you during the whole procedure and there is silence in the room. All I could hear was the stabbing from the metal pole going into my back. After the tattoo is complete (mine took 20 mins) the monk will ask you to sit with your tattoo facing him, he will place gold leaf on the tattoo, then he will begin a chant to bless the tattoo. The whole experience is very spiritual, and even with the risk of contaminated needles, I’m completely happy with the Sak Yant I received and consequently have no diseases! Woo hoo!
I went to the local Drug store and picked up an antibacterial cream and just kept applying till it was fully healed, I had 3 tattoos previous to my Sak Yant and this one has the no pain or scabbing when it healed…Magical Powers?
As my Number 2 of 7 of the New Wonders of the World I was very excited to explore Petra!
Being able to do a full day tour is a rarity when you work on a cruise ship so I grabbed the chance and paid up!
So when you get the the entrance of Petra you will be pass though various market stalls all trying to sell you Petra souvenirs etc- including a head turban which they will nicely fashion on you so you look like the real ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ or ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. But shop around because the prices get cheaper the closer you are to the entrance. Petra it’s self is miles long so you really do need a full morning and afternoon to reach all of the points of interest.
With the little time we had we managed to make it to The Church which took us past the famous Treasury. For me the most interesting part of the trip was the walk to the treasury- walking though a HUGE cravass and then seeing the small glimpse of the Treasury.
And that was the end of Petra…Only 5 more Wonders to go!
Ok, so first of all if you haven’t already been to a Full Moon then you really do have to go. Even if you’re not into partying, a Full Moon Party is one of the most exhilarating and fun nights you will ever have in Thailand. Yes, the beach does get destroyed and the drunks and high people do kind of ruin the island, but this has been going on for over 20 years! The locals are making money from the 20,000 tourist then don the beaches every month buying buckets, merchendise, and street food.- its a case of if you can’t beat them join them….then escape the island after the party as quick as you can! Attending a Full Moon is dirty business so here are my top tips on surviving the night.
Stay away from Haadrin Beach- We booked a nice little beach bungalow at Ban Tai, its far enough away that you cannot hear any of the party and the beach is beautiful!
Bum Bag or Fanny Pack if you’re American– if you take a backpack or shoulder bag they can easily be cut away from you in the crowds and you wouldn’t notice. With a Bum Bag you can keep your hand near at all times and its just easier, all of your stuff is right in front of you! I picked up a really nice leather fringe pouch with a metal buckle from one of the local market stalls.
SENSIBLE SHOES!- You may think I’m being a Grandma but if you see all the shit that ends up on the sand you will die! Glass, urine, condoms- you name it! A pair of Nike’s will do to protect your feet from the ickyness.
Do not go swimming/paddling/bathing- Stay out of the water! Haadrin Beach becomes a human toilet on the night of the Full Moon. The are people pissing next to people having sex next to people vomiting…you don’t want to be in there trust me, you will see!
Have a meeting point- So in the midst of 20,000 drunk people and you are also drunk its very easy to lose your friends, and for me being a girl its really important not to get split up. So find a place like a 7/11 or something and agree as a meeting point if you ever get split up.
AND MY LAST AND FINAL TIP- Take a trip to Mushroom Mountain, you’re gonna save yourself some money and have an awesome time 😉 PSYCHEDELIC BABY!!
Chiang Rai had a big influence on my decision to say that
“the north of Thailand is better than the south”
Controversial I know but in the end it all goes down to personal choice.
Literally as soon as we stepped out the taxi at Chiang Mai Airport the atmosphere completely changed. After spending the 2 days previous in Phuket the north was a welcome sight! We received no hassle at the airport and found the nicest taxi driver who told us that he lived in the jungle far north where he grew his own Opium and lives with tigers!- Fair enough.
After getting to our AMAZING hostel, Green Tulip House (there will be more coming about this haven) we were at the desk checking in and a local Thai man comes up to my friend with her purse in his hands- she had dropped her purse when she was getting out the taxi and this honest man returns the purse and wouldn’t take and money off us as a thank you! This is the first time that I had seen a local really care about a backpacker. ANOTHER REASON TO LOVE THE NORTH!
But anyway, stuff to do in Chiang Mai…
We took an amazing tour from Chiang Mai, basically it was an all day/all night tour with three parts.
The White Temple-
This is kind of Thailand’s version of Gaudi and the Sagarada Familia! The temple is still not complete with both old architecture and new. But it really is magnificent…
The Golden Triangle-
The golden triangle is a patch of land in the middle of the Mekong River separating Myanmar, Laos and Thailand- doesn’t sound very interesting right?
This patch of land was where most of the worlds Opium was traded, and it was traded it gold! The land belonged to no country or nobody so the currency was gold. Cool.
The Long Neck Karen Tribe-
First of all I thought ‘Karen” might have been one of the wives in the tribe with a really big neck. Wrong! Karen is the name of the tribe. I really enjoyed this part of the trip but kind of felt like we were at a ‘people zoo’- your lead round the ‘village’ where there are different stalls with tribes people of different ages and sizes (including neck length). Its all nice to see that these people do this to themselves as part of their culture but I think now the culture has been lost in tourism.
Learning to scuba will not only be a highlight of your trip to Thailand it will be a life skill you can use all around the world!
As well as the amazing views and beautiful islands, learning to dive in Thailand is soo much cheaper!
I completed my Open Water and Advanced Open Water Diver PADI course for only 16,600 THB or 320 GBP. This is more than half the price that you will pay in England,
The most popular place in Thailand to learn is the chilled out island Koh Tao, this island is small but insanely beautiful! The beaches are lined with cute little cafe and restaurants which come alive at night with fire shows and beach parties.
Me and my friend Stacey (thailand travel buddy) decided to go with Simple Life Divers as they were recommended by a hostel we previously stayed in at Koh Phangan.
The team at Simple Life were amazing! Accommodation is Included in the price of the course so we didn’t have far (down stairs) to go in the morning for our lessons. There is a bar opposite the dive centre when you can chill out with a bottle of Chang after a hard days dive.
I have pondered over this question ever since I joined my first cruise ship.
I would be lying if i said the job wasn’t hard and the money was amazing, but if you have a passion for travel and a low budget then its a good way to start.
The Pros and Cons of ‘Ship Life’
Breakfast in Italy, Dinner in Spain- If you have itchy feet like then this job is perfect, you are constantly on the move travelling dozens of countries in a matter of weeks.
The escape of 9-5- like most jobs on land you have various bill to pay, rent, electricity, car insurance and so on. when you work on a cruise ship the only bill you have to worry about is your bar bill in the Crew Bar!
Watch those pennies grow!- you have very limited outgoings and limited time to spend your salary, so after a 4-6 month contract you have a hefty wad to take home! (one of my main reasons for working on cruise ships)
Mini United Nations- The crew onboard come from all over the world so you learn to live and work (usually in harmony) with these people. I think this is a skill highly beneficial to any person as you learn to understand and adapt to culture and lifestyle differences of other people….oh and you make the most amazing friends!
All aboard!- Mostly the ship is in the same place for just a day, so unless you have the day off which is rare then you only have a couple of hours to quickly have some lunch and find some free WiFi. Not much time to really explore.
Currrency Problems- this is mainly just for the English who work on cruise ships. Most ships salaries are paid in either Euro or USD- this is great when you are travelling these countries, but when you eventually head back to England you have to half the savings you have when you convert to the ever mighty GBP!
It’s not walk in the park!- Working on a cruise ship is probably the most emotionally and physically tough job that I have ever had- you work long hours and have a lot of stress! You really do have to find something deep inside to survive and be successful at sea.
But all in all YES!
Deciding to work at sea has been highly beneficial to both my financial and travel wellbeing. Go for it.
Here are some of the many experiences I have had because of Cruise Ship travel…