The trip of a life Thai’me

Yes, your absolutely wrong to think I’m not going to have a cheesy Thailand pun as my title in attempt of being funny- obv. Well in case you didn’t catch on to what the post is about, here we go anyways. In the summer, I spent just under a month travelling around south east Asia with my boyfriend- Shane. And what an experience it was to say the least… from being forced to try burnt scorpion, to receiving a death threat from a Thai taxi driver, and experiencing horrendous food poisoning, its’ just your standard trip to Thailand I suppose? Well in this blog I’m going to be sharing some of my experiences and tips with you, so feel free to have a wee read on.

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Why Thailand?  

Well for one, everyone goes to it, so it must be admired for a reason (yes, I’m a sheep) … and two, your lying if you say it isn’t on your bucket list!

Initially I was extremely hesitant about going away and thought I wouldn’t be able to cope with being on the other side of the world basically. On top of that the whole living out of a suitcase for a month without having my mummy there to do the washing; just wasn’t appealing to me. But here I am, wishing I was back there right now and dwelling on all the class mems I made. In other words, I manned up and would go back in a heartbeat if I could.

So, jumping right in, our trip began in Dublin where we flew to Helsinki and then landed in Thailand- weird I know, everyone usually stops in Dubai as their connecting flight. But when you’re on a student budget and Helsinki is cheaper, it’s the one I’m going to go for.  The flight in total was just abit over 13hrs and to be honest I’m not really a big fan of flying. I’ll admit I cried on the first flight, due to the turbulence being a nightmare, I truly thought I was a goner at a stage, but after a ‘few’ G&T’s the nerves were gonzo. Apart from being dramatic, the flight went in quick enough as there was plenty of cracker movies to watch. Marley & Me and The Greatest Showman certainly kept me occupied.

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The breakdown of our trip:

Bangkok otherwise known as the land of buckets. I remember just arriving into the city and thinking NUTTERS. You know how on a motorway there’s 3 lanes allocated to fit 3 cars? Well they make about 7 cars fit in that space, and then coming up the side of you there’s Susan on the moped with about 4 of her children crammed on it and none of them with a helmet between them. Was stressin’ for them!

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Chaing Mai was OK. I really recommend the ‘Johnny boy elephant sanctuary’. The workers are such good craic and the sanctuary is completely against animal cruelty which is a plus! Although when we were booking the elephants the man told us to get into his van and he would show us some pics- being naïve, we hopped in. After about 20mins sailing around, while the man and his 2 workers were upfront, we started to panic a bit and by a bit, I mean a lot. We assumed the worst and thought we were getting kidnapped, as we couldn’t understand how it was taking so long to see ‘pics’ and why it took 3 men. So anyways we started to tactically plan our big escape, and came up with jumping out of the truck (its like a open back truck thing) at the next red light and make a run for it. Long story short, the wee man’s office just turned out to be situated far away and in the end,  he gave us a free lift to our hotel.

Koh Samuai is an example of why I would recommend booking as you go along, as what you see online is not always what it looks like. The hotel on our first night was basically in a jungle, so yes you can imagine all the creepy crawleys etc lingering around our wee bungalow. Just before we went to bed we heard numerous clicking/ tapping on the door, which really sounded like someone was trying to get in. Being out in the middle of nowhere I was not taking any chances! So I grabbed the hair spray and scissors and had them at the ready incase any baddies were coming in to tackle us. Well it turned out that the clicking noise was a lizard. We seen it run along the floor once we turned the lights on and were both standing screaming on top of the coffee table, like 2 big girls. But there you go lizards make clicking noises and they are EVERYWHERE in Thailand.

Koh Phangan is only good for the full moon party- which is mental. Other than that, it’s pretty boring.

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Koh Toa was my absolute FAV. This island is the best for snorkelling as the water is literally crystal clear, and the island is so stunning, and much cleaner compared to others.

Phi Phi is picture perfect, although when we went it rained bar one day. So, we went to monkey beach, the monkeys are cute to look at but they are so cheeky and try to sneak on to the boats to hitch a lift back to the islands.

Phuket, I got food poising from pizza and was bed bound. Though, its V good for all your fake trainers (hey, fake it till I make it), if you haggle them down that is.

There you are that’s Thailand for you in a short and sweet version, I’ll not bore use to death anymore.

CYA, Clodagh x

Clodagh McFaul is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/clodaghmcfaul/ ; Facebook – https://en-gb.facebook.com/clodagh.mcfaul ; LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/clodagh-mcfaul-592381173/

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Dive Right In

The travel bug. Me, myself and I was fortunate enough to get bitten by this so-called travel bug back in the latter half of 2014, when I packed a bag, moved halfway across the world. It lasted well over a year until 2016 came swiftly around the corner and then I quickly packed my bags and moved back home to try and accomplish a degree (hopefully).

Since then my life has consisted of, Save. Travel. Save. Travel.

Four years later, and I can swiftly tick off, USA, South Africa, Australia, Thailand, Poland, The Netherlands, Malta, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesian islands of Bali & Gili, and the Philippines.

What has really captured my heart after the equivalent time of 19 months with a backpack glued to my back like a second skin?

Diving.

Having deep sea dived in numerous spots around the world, including Malta, The Great Barrier Reef; Queensland Australia, Gili in Indonesia and Bohol an Island in the Philippines,

I’ve found that nowhere (so far) can compare to Koh Tao. A small paradise island, somewhat isolated in the gulf of Thailand. Anyone that has been to Thailand or not has heard of the partiers dream the ‘Full Moon party’ and having been twice I can say it is a crazy experience. Well Koh Tao is situated just 1-hour boat journey north of the famous Koh Phangan land of the full moon parties and £2.00 Vodka buckets.

In English Koh Tao means ‘’Turtle Island’’ and it certainly lives up to that name let me tell you. No wonder this small island attracts thousands of visitors a year. The natural beauty of the place is close to utopia, both above on the snow white sandy beaches and below the water, with the rainbow coloured fish and corals.

Background check complete, now for diving.

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like a pro

Have you ever put much thought into or considered that there is a whole other world just out of our reach?

With simple breathing equipment, and goggles, a whole other world is at our fingertips. Experiencing the weightlessness while exploring the stunning visuals of the underwater wildlife you are truly immersed and feel like you have jumped into the screen of the latest David Attenborough documentary.

My first visit to Koh Tao, I completed my Open Water Diving course, which is the first diving course to complete, to gain a grasp and learn the fundamentals on diving, you also watch videos before even stepping into a swimming pool, after that you are thrown into the deep end ‘literally’ going to at maximum 18 metres down.

The first time you slowly sink down into the ocean, like that first scene in finding nemo, is pretty surreal. My brain felt like it was going to explode (not literally) but your body is screaming at you to resurface, as it’s the most unnatural thing. Breathing underwater. No matter how many times you silently tell yourself, your mind can’t comprehend how your lungs aren’t gasping for breath, and that you amusingly enough aren’t suffocating.

After my Open water course, the following year I chose to return to Koh Tao complete my Advanced Diving Course.

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When they call it advanced they really mean it. On my first dive I was 28 meters below swimming amongst Nemo and Dory, get this… UPSIDE DOWN. Head nearly in the sand kicking my legs like a propeller because apparently practicing being an underwater helicopter is an essential part of buoyancy skills.

If I asked you on the spot, tell me one of your happiest moments in life? What’s your first thought?

Mine? Hands down my first ever night dive. Pure serenity. My 13th dive to date was my first night dive.

Leaving the beach at 8pm to get on the boat while everyone else is popping open there first (or tenth) beer of the night doesn’t sound ideal, but the humming of the boat as it slowly ripples over the calm ocean water drowning out the white noise of the parties on land has a certain calming nature to it.

Jumping back first into the water with a small torch attached to your wrist, sounds chilling, but slowly sinking into the depths of the unknown wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be.

Once I was 20 or so metres down, looking up above was a school of stingrays swimming overhead, you would never see this during a day dive. It resembles watching birds fly as the majestically swam peacefully by.

Mind blown.

Next, the barracudas, skilful predators they have adapted to hunt at night as the torches from the scuba divers can sometimes stun a fish in a large school. Then strike… ripped to shreds.

Mind blown. (again)

Lastly the bioluminescence. Turning your torch off and diving in pure darkness, the miniscule particles of plankton at touch illumine. It doesn’t feel like you are underwater but high in the night sky. Psychedelic dancing colours of green, blue, and white right in front of your eyes, seems unimaginable to describe without first hand experiencing it. A mix of relaxation and pure joy. It’s completely different to any other form of scuba diving.

 

Honestly, if given the fortunate opportunity to try scuba diving, without a doubt…

Dive right in.

Alexandra McEvoy is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @alexmcevoy_ ; Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexandra-mcevoy-111ba5171/

The Travel Bug

The term ‘travel bug’ is something which I have discovered is very real. The moment you have the opportunity to wander aimlessly around a strange destination, is the moment you will be bitten. Is it the people you fall in love with? Or the fact you can do whatever you want, when you want? For me, it is a concoction of desires whipped up into a great, big mixing bowl; and Thailand is my first delicacy.

 

It wasn’t hard to pick Thailand as a worthy contender for my first trip. The cheap food, booze and stunning beaches is something which people worldwide are drawn to. Some of my University friends have been before and gave me advice and recommendations on the areas and activities. The possibilities are endless. Kayaking in a crystal clear blue lagoon, snorkelling with sharks and hiking massive mountains, have always been on my bucket list.

 

Discovering the culture was one of my favourite parts. It’s a whole different world to what we live back home. The hustle and bustle of Bangkok was the first taste of this month-long holiday. I had never seen something so chaotic yet so wonderful. Seeing the street sellers, massage ladies and smelling the local delicacies was something I’ll never forget. The constant smiles of Thai locals and their effort to sell you anything and everything always makes me laugh.

 

Scorpions, cockroaches and spiders for 1000 baht? Seems like a tasty bargain to me. Toasting under the intense heat, they were calling my name. “When in Thailand,” I thought. After tasting the crunch and spray of blood I knew I had made a huge mistake. But that unexpected aftertaste of crispy bacon made this one of my favourite moments.

 

Around the corner from the food vendors and restaurants, was the apparent madness of Khao San Road. It certainly lived up to its expectations. I’ll always remember the smell of buckets upon buckets of alcohol and crowds of dancing people who had similar traits of happiness. This reminded me of New York City being the ‘city that never sleeps’. The loud noises, bright lights and weirdly unique people – this lifestyle was wonderfully mad.

 

Although I loved the chaos of the city, it was time to unwind on the scenic beaches. There’s nothing better than feeling the sand beneath your toes and the sun on your skin. This place was paradise! I had seen Thailand on TV and on social media videos but it’s even more beautiful in person.

 

I was excited to wake up at the crack of dawn, relax on a boat and float over to Maya Bay. Supposedly one of the most stunning beaches in South East Asia, this dream island is the one from the movie “The Beach”. I could see why this place was so popular. Being one of the first people on the island was surreal. The limestone rocks looked like they were perfectly chiselled and the wooden long-tail boats were picture perfect. The crystal-clear water was so inviting and the cheeky monkeys’ stealing belongings was  like being in an outdoor paradise comedy show.

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Visiting the elephant sanctuary was up there with one of the best days of my life. We learnt about the cruel elephant trading that happens around the world and this sanctuary is one step closer to combatting this, as the proceeds go towards helping these big, friendly giants. It was amazing feeding and bathing them and swimming under a freezing waterfall whilst the two youngest elephants were play -fighting. To end the day on a high, I attended a cooking school where I whipped up 6 delicious Thai cuisines from scratch. When I arrived back to the hotel with a full stomach, they luckily upgraded me to the most extravagant room. As if that day could get any better!

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After travelling to 7 cities and islands, the urge to cancel my flight home was stronger than ever as the final day was approaching. We ended our journey in the same place where we started – Bangkok. This time, we splurged out our remaining cash on one of the most spectacular rooftop bars you could ever imagine. Looking over the city allowed us to reminisce about our memories of the past month, there were too many to even count!

 

 

Spinning around a plastic world globe is something you see in movies. My next trip will be 100 times more exciting as I’m travelling the world with one of my best pals. Australia, New Zealand and South America are definitely on the list. But who knows where we’ll end up!

 

Usually a bug’s bite is something that would irritate and annoy you. But the travel bug is a bite like no other. Go on, there’s a whole world out there to discover.

If you want to know more about the experience, please feel free to contact me.

 

Cal McIlwaine is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Facebook – Facebook Account / Twitter – Twitter Account / LinkedIn – Linkedin Account

 

Holidays of a lifetime

For most people, myself included, holidays are the highlight of the year. A lot of time and money goes in to planning and paying for the perfect get away to create experiences we will never forget.

I’m extremely lucky that in the past couple of years I’ve had two of the best holidays I’ll probably have in my life.

 Vietnam and Thailand

Planning started about six months in advance when we gathered a crowd and planned the dates. Then it all became real when we finally booked our flights and had something to look forward to! We headed off to Bangkok for the start of our six week trip not really having a notion what to expect.

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At the Top Gear spot on the Hai Van Pass

Beforehand we had planned a route and had a rough plan as to how long we were staying in each place. First up was Hanoi. Hanoi was absolute mayhem. It is constant madness with so many motorbikes about that you could barely cross the street. While we were here we went to Ha Long Bay for the hyped up Castaway Tour which is a must do if your ever in that neck of the woods! From here the plan was to go to Hue and stay for a couple of days.

After arriving we quickly realised it wasn’t really our cup of tea, so found locals who ran a bike touring company. So we rented bikes and had a guided tour through the Hai Van Pass to our next stop Hoi An. The Hai Van Pass, which some might recognise from Top Gear, was hands down one of the best days of my life and will take a lot of beating!

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Was quite proud of my handywork at bandaging

Next up was Nha Trang where we rented our own three story villa. For the equivalent of around £10 a night it really is true that you can live in luxury for the next to nothing! From there we planned another bike tour to Da Lat. Unfortunately for myself this one wasn’t as successful as the first for me as I ended up putting the bike into a ditch. I’m still maintaining that it was the bikes fault and not mine, but it sort of put a dampener on things! Pretty sure the place we ate that day also served us dog instead of pork, but the less said about that the better. From there we went to Mui Ne and then Ho Chi Minh and got ready to meet up with the other 10 of our group that were flying to meet us in Thailand.

We had 6 different stops in Thailand and so was a lot to squeeze in with a lot to do at each one. It consisted of a lot of boats and buses to get from island to island. Everything was planned around the full moon party in Koh Phangan, which I think should be on everyone’s bucket list. Absolute chaos.

My favourite place was probably Phi Phi, where you would think half of Ireland was there at the time. The elephant sanctuary and white water rafting in Chiang Mai and the Slip N Fly in Koh Phangan were probably the other highlights.

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West Coast of the States

Never having been to America before I was absolutely buzzing to be heading off here for 3 weeks. The plan was to do San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Yosemite.

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Probably looking a wee bit too happy than I should have been after the incident

However, the bad luck from Vietnam seemed to follow me when I was held at knife point in a bar in San Francisco. It really wasn’t the way I wanted to spend my first night out in the states, but that’s what I got. Don’t think I put my mum’s mind at ease either writing “Lol some boy just put a knife to my throat” into the family Whatsapp. On the upside it’s a good story to tell (because I’m not dead) and was usually greeted with “Welcome to America” by anyone we told.

We also had to fork out twice for our rental car as, being as stupid as we are, we didn’t realise you needed a credit card to put on file. Eventually we got sorted with the company saying, “You’re lucky you’re Irish” as the reason they helped us out.

Not everything was all doom and gloom but. In fact everything else we did was unbelievable. We did the usual touristy stuff like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the San Diego Zoo.

The highlight for me was definitely Las Vegas. We were there the week before the McGregor Mayweather fight, and so the buzz around Vegas was unreal. We went to Wet Republic when DJ Tiesto was playing which is something I’d say everyone should go to if they get the chance. Seeing all the different hotels was absolutely mad and people really don’t lie about how hot it is (all the time) there. After Vegas, Yosemite was the perfect spot for a chill out, with the dogs at our AirBnB greatly assisting in our recovery.

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All in all two absolutely once in a lifetime holidays (which have left me skint) that I don’t think will be topped. But I have learnt that you probably shouldn’t ever go on holiday with me as something bad is bound to happen!

Wonder what’s going to happen next year…

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The car that our Irish charm got us… not much but did the job

Daniel McGrenaghan is a Final Year Public Relations student at the University of Ulster Jordanstown. He can be found on Twitter @danielmcg132

Travelling 101

After finishing off a fantastic placement year at Smarts Communicate, I decided that I needed a big summer blowout before dedicating my life and soul to the Ulster University library for all that final year would entail.

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My best friend Jess and I booked to travel to Thailand and then Bali on a bit of a whim late on a weeknight. After getting over the initial panic of almost booking to travel for a year and a month instead of just a month, we soon forgot about the trip and got on with our jobs until the trip slowly crept up on us. It is safe to say that we were absolutely petrified, and did question if we could ever make our way across South East Asia and back successfully.

When it comes to travelling I have never claimed to be a professional and would say I’m actually quite the opposite due to my occasional forgetfulness. Team that with Jess’s lack of direction and we were proving quite the team. However, against the odds Jess and I managed to:

Catch 8 flights,

Make 9 boat trips,

Visit 6 different islands.

All without losing anything more significant than the contents of my stomach due to some questionable driving on occasion.

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I have briefly surmised what the experience has taught me:

Just appreciate it

Take time to take it in. When travelling from place to place I never wanted to sleep because I was constantly trying to take in my surroundings while listening to new music Friday on Spotify and battling my tiredness. These moments allowed for reflection and appreciation. You will learn a lot about yourself while travelling and I learned exactly how fortunate I was. However, on the contrary, I did also learn that I need to buy the travel socks that old people wear to help their poor circulation, as my feet, knees and ankles now double in size on long-haul flights, who knew?

It’s kind of all about the people you meet

I think that when it comes to travelling, it really is what you make it, so always make an attempt to spend time getting to know the people you meet along the way. Everyone has their own interesting story and outlook so make time to listen to it. We met some really great people and between Jess and I, we have tried to keep in contact with most of them, promising to meet up again in the future.

Plan… but don’t plan too much

The best thing to do is to make a rough list of the things that you really want to do, the once in a lifetime kind of things and aim to complete them. No need to try and jam pack 5 activities into one day because you won’t give yourself time to enjoy them and will stifle the fun. Furthermore, there will always be an alternative route, it may not be the comfiest or the fastest or indeed come with the luxury of air conditioning, but my point is don’t stress if things don’t go according to plan. Sometimes the beauty is in taking a few extra hours and travelling the scenic route.

You don’t need to spend much to have fun

Everyone assumes that they can’t afford to travel, and granted, it is pretty expensive by the end but cheap really can be cheerful sometimes. Some of the nicest meals I had cost little more than a quid and the most hilarious nights were spent in some of the most tragic hostels fully furnished with insect infestations of course. It was cool to stay in nice resorts as they are pretty inexpensive but don’t get too hung up on that. Save your money to spend it on experiences while your there.

Lastly and in my opinion, most importantly:

Pick your travel buddy wisely!MR2I never really anticipated how vital this element would be but my trip really would not have been the same without Jess and nowhere near as fun. We worked well together as we had a good understanding of each other and respected each other’s views, opinions and space. We were able to pick each other up, laugh with each other and at each other, never letting anything get too serious.

My advice for anyone considering jetting off to explore pastures further afield is to book it, pack a bag and go! Don’t hesitate and allow for any self-doubt.

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And a bonus tip: If you are ever in Bali, you need to check out La Favela, trust me!

Megan Rea is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/megan-rea-a52437111/

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A young bunch of girls gong to Santa Ponsa as our FIRST girl holiday, you can imagine the excitement!!

Checking in at the airport, the Facebook and Instagram pic, Snapchat polluted, what else do you expect from 18 and 19 year olds??

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Few years later, now ‘mature’ 22 year olds, off we went again holiday planning.

The same group of girls, minus a few… deciding in a group chat where shall we go on holidays? Exciting of course, but not your ‘ordinary’ sunny two week holiday to France, Spain etc (as much as I did try to persuade this)

Reality hit, it was May, there we were sharing ideas in the no other place than the local pub!

As I said before, not once could I persuade a two week holiday to France or Spain etc, I may as well of been talking to the wall!!

One extreme to the next and later that night, flights were booked to Thailand 🙂

Not knowing one thing about this country other than it would be a long flight, it has many different bugs and people recommend to stay in hostels as they are ‘cheap and cheerful’.

Listening to many people about how cheap Thailand is (note to self, it is not cheap if you travel like us girls) we thought, why not? We are only young the once!

In all the excitement of course we didn’t research into much detail and booked it for ‘rainy season’

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Future advice, check the seasonal weather changes!

Off we went 4 best friends to the land of Thailand, no clue where to go, what to do, what to expect, or what to eat (nothing but pizza, chips, pasta and garlic bread). To say the least we ‘took the bull by the horns’ and what an experience we had!!! Arriving at numerous airports etc with my surname on a board with a slightly different spelling which was ‘holywood’ for our airport collection

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 We lived the dream for 2 weeks!!!

You could say it was like a girl version of the film ‘hangover’… I suppose a little less extreme, a group of girls like the film ‘Bridesmaids’ you could say. The least to say one girl got ate alive by god knows what kind of bugs and swoll like a balloon (literally). It was like team bonding busting blisters with needles you could say!! Drinking ourselves out of a hangover… I am sure you get where this is going!

It was an amazing experience, every girl trip has a few hiccups of course, would we really be friends if we didn’t?? Travelling from Bangkok (HUGE eye opener!!) vomiting at the smell of the streets as soon as we touched down. The ‘famous’ city smell of Bangkok consisted of on the street cooking of fish which looked highly contaminated (I promise, this is not a joke), the dead fish crying for help!

Then travelling to Phuket, Phi Phi then arriving in the most amazing, scenic place I could imagine Maya Bay

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This island is worth travelling to Thailand simply for the most exotic, peaceful views, no words can describe! Another boat and a long ass journey to Ko Samui then Ko Tao and back to the beautiful Ko Samui followed by a plane journey to the busy city of Chang Mai! Two weeks of travelling and we finally jumped on a plane to Bangkok to head back to the sunny Ireland (joke of the year)

4 girls who didn’t save 2p to go on holidays but managed between our savings and budgeting, we ended up having an absolute blast! If you take anything from this blog post, my advice is to put Thailand on your bucket list when your young folks!

*PS*

You NEED to go to the elephant sanctuary in Chang Mai

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**PPS**

I advise not to take a back pack if you do NOT travel light (girl problems)

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Go for at least 3 weeks… 2 is not enough to enjoy each destination!

BUT everything is a learning curve, Thailand is a must see 🙂

Breige Hollywood is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/breige-hollywood-a7b035116/ and Twitter @HollywoodBreige

A different approach to Thai travel

As appealing as the full moon parties appear, I did Thailand slightly differently. I ventured on a three week expedition that would promise adventure and an unforgettable cultural experience.

After completing the application process and being successful at the interview stage, it was a countdown until I jetted off to Thailand with World Challenge.

World challenge is an organisation that provides exhibitions for students who want to step outside of their comfort zone and explore the world. Their exhibitions offer trekking, culture highlights, a community volunteering project and adrenaline activities.

When accepted onto the programme, a condition of World Challenge was that I had to fundraise money before going on the trip. This was challenging and it was achieved through holding various coffee mornings, selling cakes and other treats at my sporting matches on a Saturday morning, pub quizzes, partnering with numerous local business to produce a hamper gift set for a raffle and doing sponsored events, such as abseiling.

I could not be prepared for the trip I was about to embark upon. It was truly an eye opening experience that provided me with the thirst to want to explore the world and help those in need and less fortunate than us. The exhibition was divided into 3 sections, adrenaline activities, R+R and cultural immersion, trekking in the rain-forests for 7 days and undertaking a volunteering project.

Thailand is an amazing country with so much culture to offer. We immersed ourselves in the way of living and paid visits to temples and shrines, great abandoned temples, met monks, excited our taste buds with the vibrant street food and explored up and down the country by travelling on night trains.

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We visited beautiful waterfalls, elephant sanctuaries and hot springs and completed adventure activities such as white water rafting.

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The trekking phase of the exhibition was challenging both mentally and physically. We were trekking in extremely humid conditions for 8 hours a day in the jungle, off the beaten track. We were led by 2 Thai men, who, at night would teach us the authentic Thai way of cooking.

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During this phase we stayed in hill tribes, made hammocks that swung between two trees and found shelter along the way. We encountered tarantulas, elephants and plenty more wild animals. It was a real Bear Grylls experience as I found myself snacking on insects (gross I know- but when everyone around you is doing it, it becomes the norm.)

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The final phase of the exhibition allowed us to yet again live alongside a local community in need, and being involved in powerful initiatives to collaborate with the community to make a difference. During the volunteering project our group helped to finish building a house for a family to live in. We also worked at a local farm for a number of days, packaging produce, feeding and taking care of the animals and helping them become more efficient in their technique and improve sanitation. We visited a local school and got to spend time with the underprivileged children and we were introduced to a woman who designer clothes in the area to try and support her family.

This trip definitely fed my desire for adventure and left me wanting more! If you thrive off of adventure, trying new things and helping people then an exhibition style trip is exactly what you need to do.. You won’t regret it!

Rebecca Reid is a Final Year Communication Management and Public Relations Student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on twitter @Rebecca12reid and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-reid-64b580153/