A Cambodia Bound Wendy

Many of our volunteers want to continue to travel whilst doing their volunteering work. The best and easiest way to do this is to visit the beautiful and historical country of Cambodia. Most of our volunteers will spend the weekend in this amazing country, giving themselves just enough time to see, arguably, the most famous city, Siem Reap. A few days really doesn’t do this magical country justice though so I really do try to encourage volunteers to spend at least a week in Cambodia if they have time available at the end of their trip.

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Tonle Sap Lake which drains into the Mekong River that runs through Phnom Penh.

A lot of people don’t really know much about Cambodia and what there is to do apart from see temples so I have put together a week long travel plan that will let you experience Siem Reap to the fullest. I have also made one for the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh and then a combined week long plan that encompasses the very best of both of these places.

There are obviously several other places to go in Cambodia that are beautiful, but if you only have a short time then I think that these two locations will offer you beauty, history and also some of the most famous sights of natural and historical significance that the country has to offer.

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Ta Prohm Temple, home to the famous Banyan tree seen in the Lara Croft movie

If you are thinking of volunteering with Starfish Volunteers and you would like to have some time in Cambodia then mention this when you book your trip and our wonderful staff in Bangkok will arrange for you to have the travel week of your choice added onto the end of your trip. This not only ensures that you will be able to see the very best of what is on offer but will also take the hassle and worry out of you organising it yourself 😀

Win, Win, Situation!

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Independence Monument in the capital, Phnom Penh

Visit the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page to take a look at the different projects we have on offer, don’t forget to mention the Cambodia Extension when you book as well 😀

Once you have done that take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages to see what else I am up to on a day to day basis as well as what you can expect on each of our incredible projects!

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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A Fact Filled Wendy

After having so many ‘How To’ posts over the last few days I decided to do something different.

Thailand is a very beautiful country, parts of it are never seen by tourists or travelers and even now secrets are still discovered in abandoned temples. There is so much of this country that people just don’t know about so I thought that I would share a few of my favourite ‘little known’ titbits about Thailand.

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1. Thailand means ‘Land of the Free’ and is the only country in South East Asia that hasn’t been colonized by a European nation

2.It is considered uncultured to place your bag on the ground. This is because both the floor and your feet are considered filthy

3. It is illegal to leave your home if you’re not wearing any pants

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4. Thailand is one of the largest producers of pineapples in the world – good thing as well, as I LOVE me some pineapple!

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5. The Miss Universe pageant has been won twice by Thai contestants; once in 1965 and once in 1988

กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตรโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบูรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์

6. Bangkok is the Western name for the country’s capital. It is in fact the longest country capital name in the world… Krungthepmahanakhon Amornrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharat Ratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amornphiman Awa-tarnsatthit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit. The name itself is a story about Thailand, when translated into English can be read as;

The Capital City of Angels, The Residence of The Emerald Buddha, The Great City of Impregnable, The Gracefulness of the city is steadfast and thriving, The Grand Capital which is abundant with The Nine Noble Gems, it is a Pleasant Capital, The City is abounding with the enormous Royal Palaces that resembles as the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated God, Home of the Gods Incarnate, which was Erected by Vishnu at Indra’s Behest.

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7. Thailand has around 35,000 temples! Better get yourself some good walking shoes to see that all

8. One tenth of all animal species can be found in Thailand

That’t about 870,000 species!!!!!

9. It is forbidden to touch a Monk if you are a woman

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10. The Beach starring Leonardo di Caprio was filmed on Phi Phi Island

If you fancy discovering more of Thailand’s secrets then you should take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page for projects that will allow you to experience this amazing country yourself.

Once you have done that then take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages to see some of the unknown sides of Thailand that I discover everyday 😀

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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A Girly Solo Wendy

I know that I already did a post about single travel but one thing that came to mind when I was writing, and is always a question I get asked, is about sole female travel. I know that there are some places in the world that are dangerous and are even more so for female travels so I know there is a concern when it comes to solo female travel. I decided to write this post to tackle the most regularly mentioned concerns by female travels and how best to deal with them and make your traveling experience the very best that it can be.

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Don’t Think About The Possible Dangers

There are a million things that can go wrong, no matter how you are travelling. In fact, there are a million things that can go wrong in your life just by stepping out the front door. But, that doesn’t stop you from getting on with your life right? So when you are travelling do the same thing!

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Be Aware

Keep your wits about you and an eye on your surroundings at all times. Spend time looking around you and taking note of what you see. Be present in every moment. This will help alert you to any potential dangers. Don’t make the mistake of suspecting danger or problems that aren’t there though. Simply walking down a dark street will not end up in you getting raped and kidnapped, trust me, I do it all the time and I have yet to be raped or kidnapped.

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Trust Your Intuition

It always knows best. If something doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it. There is a reason why you get that unsettled feeling in your stomach when you meet that strange person on the beach, in a club or restaurant. Don’t freak yourself out by imaginary monsters, but definitely pay attention to those little messages our animal instincts give us. They are your friend but don’t mix them up with nervousness, nervousness can be an amazing emotion that when beaten gives you the most incredible adrenaline rush.

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Walk Assertively And Confidently

You know when you walk down the street and you see people who just give off that vibe of ‘don’t screw with me’? You need to become one of those people, or at least fake being one of those people. If you walk with confidence and don’t make yourself look like a target then you won’t be.

Possible con men and attackers look to those who seem vulnerable. Walk with your head held high, and confidently greet people and look them in the eye. I have done this many times when I have felt that familiar pang of fear in a situation where you don’t have control, and it instantly made me feel very strong and brave.

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Keep People Informed

This is especially important for solo women travelers. When you are travelling with someone else, you always have someone watching your back and looking out for you, but when you are own you need to have someone who knows where they can find you if anything happens. Let people you know and trust know where you are going and when. With today’s social media this can involve something as quick as an email, Facebook message, twitter update or Skype call.

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Remember You’re A Girl

This might sound stupid but you have to remember that if you are a girl, guys are going to look at you. Whether it be a night out or a trip to a temple, guys will always be on the look out for girls. I know that I notice when cute boys walk past me, they might not be trying to get anyone’s attention but, your face is your face and there isn’t much you can do about that.

If you don’t want to be getting unwanted attention from guys or even girls then just remember how you may be being perceived. If you are wandering around wearing a small skirt and a low cut shirt then people will naturally assume you are looking for something you might not be. Don’t take this as you have to dress like a nun the whole time but just be aware that if you were tiny shorts when you go out then chances are you will be greeted with whistles and comments. So just be conscious of how other will see you.

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Don’t Be That Drunk Girl

No matter where you go in the world, there will always be ‘That Drunk Girl’. You know the one you just feel the biggest sense of pity for, she has lost one of her shoes, her hair is a mess, smells like sick and look, now she is getting hit on by someone she will definitely regret in the morning.

Remember which drink is yours, keep and eye on it and don’t ever let it out of your sight. These are standard rules in life but when we travel and begin to feel safe and comfortable we can all get a little careless. You don’t want to become that drunk girl now do you? So just watch how much you are drinking and stay aware of your surroundings, like where the exits or security are.

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He Isn’t The One

I know that some people do meet the loves of their lives whilst traveling but you do need to remember that in countries where white skin is coveted, like Thailand, Cambodia or the Philippines, that guys find it an achievement if they get a white girl into bed.

Yes he might be charming, handsome and speak a little English but you have to wonder how many other girls he has been like that with. If someone is trying to get you back to theirs, kiss you in public or get you to leave with them, they probably aren’t the best person for you. Having lived in the same place in Thailand for a while now, I know the sleezy guys that just want to bang a white girl, so when I see them on a night out where volunteers come with me, I make sure to let the girls know; as well as the sleezy guys!!

Also just remember the view you leave of white girls with the actions you do. If you go home with some guy the night you meet him, him and all the people who see, are going to think that that is what white girls are like. I know from being friends with Thai guys that the general opinion is that white girls are easy. For the girl it is just a fling on holiday but for the guys and the other people who see, she is fueling the idea that white girls are easy. So just be conscious of the things that will be said about you.

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Listen To People In The Know

If I was in a situation or country that I hadn’t experienced before then I would always make sure to trust and believe what the people who have been there before, live or work there say to me. I find so often that female volunteers will say ‘Him putting his arm around me in a photo is fine’ or ‘Its just a kiss on the cheek in a photo’. Yes this might be what it is to you but when it comes to local customs and displays of public affection you REALLY should listen to the people in the know.

In Thailand you DO NOT show public displays of affection. You just don’t. This is Thailand, not your home country. Things are different here. When a guy puts his arm around you in a photo it means MUCH more to him than it does to you. He will use that photo to show his friends, and when you look that close to him, he can make up anything he wants to his friends. So on a night out, or any situation in fact, if someone in the know tells you not to do something, you should listen to them.

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Just Trust This Face ^^

I think what I am basically getting at with this whole post, is just to be aware of what you are doing and don’t make yourself a target. It really isn’t scary to travel as a single female traveler, I know, I have done it several times, but you do have to have a heightened awareness that guys don’t have to, purely because you are female.

To see how I cope as a female in Thailand with the situations that I get into then take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages.

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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A Solo Wendy

I realised after my post last week that all of our volunteers face different issues when they travel depending on whether they are single travelers, couples or even just weary females. So for the rest of the week I will be posting helpful advice for everyone else!! Hopefully they will be of some use to you and will make you less scared and more excited about traveling!!!

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Thinking lots about the places I want to travel when I get older haha

When I was younger I had dreams of travelling the world and visiting all the places in my history books, my fairy tale stories, and my fathers stories. As I grew up my body ached for travel. Coming from a military family, I never stayed in one place for very long and traveling gave me the remedy to the pain I felt from staying stuck in one place.

Many others feel this exact same thing but the thing is, they either don’t have anyone to travel with or they are terrified of travelling alone. Seeing nothing but monsters hiding down alleyways and long evenings staring into space with only your thoughts and perhaps a good book for company. These fears overpower dreams and comatose you into remaining stuck in the life that you don’t enjoy or feel fulfilled with.

These are valid fears.

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No one wants to be alone when they travel. No one wants to experience the time of their life without somebody to share it with. But just because you start out your journey alone doesn’t mean you will spend it or even finish it in the same way. You will meet people. You will be able to share your experience with others, even more amazing is that you will be able to experience them with people who have the same sort of attitude and ideals to you.

But, those who allow fears to prevent them from travelling, don’t understand this truth.

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In fact, I think solo travel is one of the friendliest and easiest way to make friends – friendships that have a lasting and meaningful impact upon your life. Friendships on the travel road will broaden your horizons in so many way. Even as I write this I am waiting for a call from a girl I met a few weeks ago in Cambodia who has come over to Surin to hang out for a few days. If I hadn’t traveled alone, I never would have met her and forged the great friendship we now have.

Just remember when you meet someone new that they are feeling the same way you are, they are nervous, weary, scared even so be the one to reach out a hand and a smile to make them feel more at ease and to know friends can be made anywhere.

It’s tough at first, but as with everything it gets easier and soon you’ll find yourself stopping to share your life story with every new person you meet and asking them to do the same. This is one of my favourite ways to discover the undiscovered. My own wandering had led me to find some amazing places that aren’t always in the guide books, so if I share my experiences, and have others do the same with me, then everyone’s lives are more enriched.

Another wonderful thing about traveling is that no one knows or really cares about who you are, where you are from, what you do for a living, how many cats you have. They really just want to know who are you right now. It’s easy to not have defensive walls in place because you can be whoever you choose, you can be the better person you want to be.

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Another friend I made during my last Cambodia trip 🙂

So if you are worried about meeting new people whilst travelling then just follow these simple tips.

Take small steps every day to meet new people. Start with small conversations with strangers, it doesn’t have to be anything deep or meaningful, ask if they know a good restaurant or something, you might learn some insider local knowledge.

Attend any parties or get togethers that your accommodation is offering or that you get offered an invitation to. It’s a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the atmosphere of fun and freedom to meet new people

Go out on your own to restaurants and bars. Obviously be careful and keep your wits about you but you will end up finding other who are on their own and you just go from there.

If you have already made friends then don’t forget to be open to welcoming new people in. What you give out will always return to you. Remember the times when you were alone and others invited you in.

My last piece of advice is for anyone travelling or not, Don’t be a douche! Be nice, use your manners, show respect, be open and friendly to hearing other people’s stories and memories as well as sharing your own. Also remember that others have a voice and their own stories as well!

Finally remember the most powerful words on the planet

Thank you!

Thank you for asking me to sit with you and chat.
Thank you for inviting me out to dinner with y’all.
Thank you for helping me when I was lost.
Thank you for sharing your story.
Thank you for listening to mine.

I have never been a shy person, I have been on stages from when I could walk so I was never able to be shy but I understand those that are. I have met so many people through my life who are shy, not because they want to be but because they just aren’t sure how to NOT be. I will always try to involve those who are a little quieter as I know the damage that can be done by being ignored by others, just because I am confident and loud doesn’t mean I haven’t had my fair share of being ignored and shunned for the way I am.

Just give it a go, meet new people and forge new friendships, plus if it all goes balls up then you don’t have to worry about ever seeing them again anyway!!!

Take a second to look at the  Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page for the most amazing volunteer opportunities in Thailand.

Then check out my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages for more of my silly face!!

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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How To Stay A Healthy Wendy

Having had a sudden increase in the numbers of sick volunteers, leading me back and forth to the hospital and hotels, I was thinking about what they must be doing to get so sick. Chances are that they aren’t doing anything and thinking that standards are the same as in the Western World. As much as I will go on and on about the safety of the places I eat and drink from everyday, I obviously haven’t been to every place in Surin so can’t vouch for them all.

I know that I am terribly neglectful when it comes to health and safety of myself not only with food but just in general life. I am well known as the strange rainbow who does stupid stuff hahaha This is, in all fairness, a very apt description of my life. If there is a 50% chance I will survive I will do it.

My famous line is:

‘I’ve had a good run, so you know………..

it’ll be alright’

I do understand that 99% of people aren’t like me and actually regards about their own safety so  after some thinking I came up with a couple of tips about how to stay healthy and not get sick when travelling Asia.

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Wash Your Hands Often

This is one of those things that I was always discouraged from doing as a child, my mum knew I was going to get dirty and realised that getting me to clean my hands after every situation I got into would probably cause a drought in our area. I am incredibly resilient though so for the normal population I would recommend that you do wash your hands often whilst in Thailand. It is also a great idea to carry around one of those small bottles of hand sanitizer if you aren’t sure whether or not you will be in the vicinity of a bathroom, which chances are, in Thailand, you won’t be.

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Keep An Eye On The Water

In Surin all of the restaurants use purified water in their cooking and as their drinking water, this is also true of the ice as well, so please don’t feel as if you can’t be drinking any of the water or ice here!! For places you haven’t visited before, just ask them if the water is purified or not, if they say no, then obviously don’t drink it and if it tastes weird, don’t drink it. Simples 🙂

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Cooked Is More Reliable Than Fresh

As with everywhere in the world, cooked food is more reliable than fresh produce. Don’ t let this fact deter you from eating fresh produce jut make sure you wash it before you eat it. When it comes to restaurants, again the ones I take people to regularly in Surin, are clean and you won’t get sick. Don’t let the initial Thai tummy convince you you are sick though. Everyone gets sick in their first few days but that won’t be from the quality of the food, it will be your body getting used to the sudden temperature, climate and dietary changes.

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When In Doubt, Take It Easy On The Meat

Meat does attract more bugs and flies than anything else you can buy, this means that it can turn quicker. If you aren’t sure of the restaurant then just stick to vegetarian dishes that obviously contain no meat. If you ever go to one of the incredible Thai BBQ places you do need to make sure that the meat that you pick up is cooked properly. This is where pretty much all of our currently ill volunteers got sick. They didn’t cook their food properly and obviously their bodies were not one bit happy with it! Just follow the same rules of cooking you would in your home country.

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A Little Bacteria Is A Good Thing

The only way you will ever be able to achieve my iron stomach is to constantly maintain a layer of good bacteria within your system. You can’t possibly hope to fight off any kind of infection or illness if your body has none of the antigens or intelligence about how to defeat it. It is kind of like going into a test without revising. You will definitely fail if you don’t try in the first place.

Obviously be careful with your creativity and food choices, you don’t want to end up in the hospital now!

So consider keeping things clean, but don’t sanitize everything you touch – living in an anti-bacterial world can put you at risk when you leave the bubble more than a little bit of exposure.

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Look For High Turnover And Low Fly-count

When you are looking for street restaurants to visit, this is a great rule of thumb to have. If you see a high turnover of food that means that the people cooking are always doing so, so ingredients won’t be left to get walked all over by flies or other beasties. This doesn’t mean however that quiet places aren’t clean or safe though, so if you see somewhere that is quiet and you fancy trying it, then take a look at the level of flies, if there are a lot then it probably means they have a lot to eat. If food is covered then flies won’t hang around, ain’t no fly got time for that!!

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Check Your Glass And Silverware

Don’t obsess, but give it the once-over. It may be better to drink your soda or beer directly out of the bottle than from a glass (or wipe the glass if you must). You can always ask for a straw to drink fruit juices or sodas, chances are you will be given one anyway when you are in Surin and other places in Thailand. Thinking about it, I never see Thais drinking direct from anything but a beer bottle haha Don’t be scared to ask for new cutlery if the ones you are presented with seem unclean. Many places in Thailand have their cutlery stored in small pencil case type boxes on the tables so they aren’t susceptible to flies.

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Peel Your Fruits And Vegetables

When everything you eat is cooked, you will crave fresh fruits and vegetables, I know I ADORE pineapple! Make sure you try it when you are in Thailand as it arguably has some of the best pineapple in the world. When you buy fruit, buy the kind you can peel – bananas, cucumbers, carrots, papayas, avocados, etc. Avoid lettuce or anything with a skin you eat (e.g., tomatoes), but if you really fancy one, don’t think that you can’t just because of the skin, just give it a wash and it will all be good 😀

A lot of the time though, no matter how clean a place looks, you may just be the unlucky one that gets something that your body doesn’t agree with. I know that I have eaten at restaurants I know are clean and safe but have managed to end up getting a little ill, not for any particular reason, just because I was unlucky that’s all 😀

One major tip I can give you to keeping your stomach and everywhere else in check it be consistent. If you are eating Thai food, stick to Thai food. I’m not saying you can’t have pizza or KFC if you fancy it, i’m just saying that your stomach gets comfortable digesting one kind of food, so if you mess around with that then you will pay for it.

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I know that if I eat western food that I do get a little ill, not because of the quality of the food, just because my system isn’t used to it anymore 😀

Just don’t worry too much about getting sick, it is very rare that people end up in the hospital, most people get a day or two and then they are perfectly fine.

If you still haven’t planned your trip to Thailand and want an idea of what you can do then take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page, for some incredible volunteer projects from Medical Care to Elephant Conservation.

After that, pop on over to my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages for more of my sillyness 😀

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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A Jet Lagged Wendy

So over the last few posts I have been talking about how you can save in order to travel and then how to save whilst you are traveling.; hopefully these were helpful for your planning, decision making and your wallet.

Now it is onto one of the most important and irritating issues that occurs with traveling;

Jet Lag

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What Is Jet Lag And How Do You Get It?

Jet lag is extreme tiredness and other physical effects, like memory lapses, felt by a person after a long flight across several time zones, which disrupts the bodies 24 hour rhythm. It is basically the spawn of Satan, nothing good ever comes from jet lag. It can take a few days to a few weeks for your body to adjust to a new time zone. This can make things difficult if you are bouncing from time zone to time zone in a short period of time.

You don’t even have to be flying in order to get jet lag, don’t let the name fool you 🙂

Travelling in general will have this same tiring effect, that can often have a HUGE effect on everything from your sleeping pattern to your health.

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When Is Jet Lag Worst?

For me I would say that travelling backwards in time screws me up the most. Traveling East disrupts your natural body clock as your body thinks it is much later than it actually is and it is very difficult to adjust. Traveling to the West is often not as bad but jat lag effects people in different ways for different directions.

My Secret Jet Lag Cure

I was looking up how to deal with jet lag a couple of years ago and found this article on the best ways to deal with it. A lot of the advice was preparing your body before you even left your home, not sleeping on the plane unless you were in the ‘sleeping time’ of the country you were visiting and lots of other stuff, that realistically, most of us don’t do.

Most people continue to work up until the day before they travel so adjusting your body clock, even if it is a good idea, is not something most can do.

One thing I did find worked though, which I NEVER thought it would, is something very simple, and to quote my sister ‘crunchy’. ‘Crunchy’ is a term my sister uses for natural things in life, like not letting her children play with plastic and encouraging them to get down and dirty in every situation.

So are you ready?

?

?

?

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Get earthed

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Confused?

Yeah, I was as well when I read it. ‘Earthing’ yourself is something that connects your body with the earth and its natural magnetic field after traveling above it for such a long time.

Once you land in your destination and you have gotten to your hotel and checked in, you need to find somewhere with grass, dirt or sand, then kick off your shoes and immerse your feet in it. Have a sit down or a lie down, just make sure you are connected with the earth for about 30 minutes. Once those 30 mins are up just go about your daily business.

How does earthing work?

There is something about ‘being at one’ with the Earth that resets your body clock and allows you to beat jet lag 🙂

I try earthing every day which I generally achieve my sitting at my friends house and relaxing in his garden. I have noticed how I am not as tired after travelling or a busy day once I have ‘earthed’

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A very simple explanation of how it works is that the Earth holds tons of negative electrons and when we connect with our bare skin, most notably with your feet, they buzz on up inside of us and overpower all the positive electrons (the bad stuff) that is wreaking havoc on our body causing inflammation, imbalance and general all round wackiness; including jet lag.

You probably still have that specualtive look on your face right?

I figured as much haha

Just try it

You never know

What do you have to loose anyway?

If you want some less ‘crunchy’ ways to get over jet lag then maybe these tips will help you 🙂

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Sleep BEFORE you leave.

Sleep deficit will make jet lag worse.

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Drink Warm Water

Drinking warm water for the duration of your flight is an Ayurvedic technique. You know that ancient Indian philosophy that created meditation and yoga; it was their idea. I feel as if they know their stuff (They also did the whole bare foot ‘earthing’ thing too).

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Nap During the Flight

Take short little naps on the flight when you feel sleepy. It will help build those reserves. If you can sleep for longer make it so that you sleep during the sleep time of your arrival time zone.

Obviously don’t deprive yourself of the sleep your body needs, but if you can time it to your new country, you will feel the difference I promise

As soon as you board your plane set your phone to the new time zone and play to that if you are unsure of the time difference 😀

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Eat Small Meals Frequently

Make sure you are filling your body with lots of healthy food and avoid junk food as much as possible when flying or traveling. The sugar will make you crash, which is never a word that sits comfortably on a plane right? Having sugar highs and crashes will screw your body clock up, try to eat slow releasing energy foods like pasta or bananas if you can, but small plane meals are good as well.

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Go For A Wander

Walking and stretching will get that blood flowing. It’s great for so many reasons, plus you might even be able to talk your way into business class!

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Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine

Caffeine is the stimulant used by millions to keep them awake or to wake them up first thing in a morning. Don’t use it whilst travelling. Nothing could be worse. It is like having nothing but sugar but it ends worse than a sugar crash. Just trust me with this one.

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Find The Sun

Being in the sun fills your body with lots of healthy and happy vitamins that basically cheer you up, so as soon as you get to your destination, try to find some sun. This might be hard if you fly to somewhere that isn’t sunny or it is night time. but as soon as you can, go out into the sun and soak up the goodness

These are the things that I have found most useful from my own travels, if you have any tips or insider ideas then please feel free to leave a comment below. I am always on the look out for ways to not feel crap after travelling 😀

To see what you can do when you hit your destination, take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page for some amazing volunteering opportunities that will change your life 😀

And as always take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages, to see all the silly junk I get up to.

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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How To Be A Frugal Wendy

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Piggies love those pennies – make a penny jar!!

People constantly ask me about how I manage to have traveled as much as I have and how I manage to live in Thailand only being 22. There really are no special or fancy tricks to it, it’s all about common sense and desire that overcomes everything else.

As with anything in life, a lack of finances is what prevents people from beginning their travels in the first place. But if you really want it enough you can travel wherever you want for as long as you want. It may take time, but that moment when you realise that everything you have worked for is finally paying off is, for me, the most rewarding feeling in the world. Many people have often mistaken me for being very well off financially to have traveled the way I have. I wish!!! All I have done is make smart decisions with my spending and taken active steps to save up to do the things I so desperately want to in life.

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Sadly, most of us don’t have magic top hats full of money

Even though there aren’t any magical tricks, apart from winning the lottery, there are many tips I can give you that will help you save up for your incredible once in a lifetime trip to Thailand.

First of all you need to ask yourself the right financial questions

How can I create more money in my life?

and

How can I cut back in order to save more money?

(Remember a dollar saved is a dollar earned. Or Pound. Or Euro. Or Yen) How Can I Create More Money in Order to Travel?

and

How do I save money for travel?

For me I look at what I want from life and what I want to be able to look back on in years to come.

Will I really care about that pair of shoes, that one night out or that iPhone 71234234 when I am 75?

No is the answer to that question, I will look back at the adventures I have had and whilst sat in my rocking chair with my knitting, that is what will bring a smile to my aged face.

So what do you want in life? That once in a life time opportunity to swim with elephants or a night out?

Is buying ______________ worth giving up your dreams?
Could this ____________ be worth more to me than watching the sunrise over the Grand Canyon, teaching a child it’s first words in English or protecting an endangered species?

When I was in England I was working two full times jobs as well as putting myself through University as well. I wasn’t living at a parents house either so I had to pay for all my expenses; needless to say I wasn’t getting any sleep, but I knew it was all worth is for when I would be able to travel and do all the things I had dreamed of doing.

A couple of things you can always look at doing also include

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Lodgers/Renters

If you have space in your house or your flat and you want some extra cash then getting yourself a lodger is a great idea that will not only get you extra cash but will also mean that you might be in a position to have someone you trust looking after your property whilst you travel.

Which brings me on to renters. If you are a home owner or you are on a long term contract, I know that your home is often one of the biggest things stopping you from travelling. You can remedy this by having someone rent your house from you whilst you travel, if you are on a long term contract and you aren’t able to rent out then maybe ask a friend if they need somewhere to stay for a bit, get them to pay for a percentage of the expenses and you’re set!

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Ebay

Ebay and Craigslist, if you are in the States, are on the way to being your new BBFs.

Look at all of the things in the room you are in right now.

How much of that stuff do you actually need, use or even want? I can guarantee you that if you found the value of a lot of your items and how much of a financial difference that would make to your trip you would sell everything!!

Trade your materialistic things for memories.

It doesn’t even just have to be possessions it can be clothes as well, I know how many clothes I have bought from Ebay over the years and someone out there is making money off that so what’s to say you can’t be that person!

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Make it a Working Holiday

For many this is a very practical solution to traveling and staying employed. There are so many companies that already have overseas offices, ask around your own workplace and see if there are any oppertunities for moving to another office abroad. If this isn’t possible then just look for a new job abroad. As long as you get the right visa you can work pretty much anywhere and do everything from teaching to bar tending; these are actually the two easiest and most requested jobs for people traveling 🙂

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Save Your Tax Returns and Bonuses

Tax Returns, bonuses even Birthday money is all money that you don’t count on in life. You can only ever really count on your salary, so these unexpected lump sums of money can often provide you with enough money to pay for flights, a few more weeks of travel or even the sometimes pricey working visas.

I know that I used the interest I had gained off a large sum of money so that I could pay for my flights to and from New York.

Birthday money has gone towards accommodation costs.

Bonuses have gone to pay for volunteering.

This extra money should only ever be used for your dreams or your debts, I would probably go with debt first as you really don’t need that coming back and biting you in the ass later haha

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What You Need vs What You Want

This is something I still fall for on occasion. Do I NEED that night out in town or do I want it? I normally think I need it when I don’t – well, except my Birthday 😀

But you don’t need a lot in life to be happy, as long as you have somewhere to sleep, clothes on your back, food and probably the internet, you are fine.

Get rid of all those labels, the expensive price tags, the brand new cars and other goods, the fancy restaurants, and top shelf drinks. Start living on a needs basis not a want.

It will be hard at first but being frugal will pay off very quickly. Give it one month of living very strictly and you will see the financial and personal difference.

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Public Transport

Do you need a car?

Really?

I am pretty sure there will be public transport to that place you are trying to justify in your head isn’t there?

Yeah, I thought so haha

Cars are expensive.

Buses are not.

Walking or cycling are even FREE!

So save your money, help the environment, and ditch the car for the other forms of transport in the world.

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Eat at Home

You don’t need to be going out to fancy restaurants, or even a McDonald’s every night or even at all. Think of how much that Big Mac meal will set you back if you have 2 a week, then add it all up and that might pay for a hostel for a week, a visa or even part of your flights.

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Who wouldn’t want to cook at home with Nigella!

Cook at Home

One thing I never used to think about was how much money I was spending when I went out for lunch everyday between jobs. I might spend up to 5GBP in one day, buying a sandwich, a drink and a packet of crisps.

This adds up to WAY more money than I even want to think about.

Now if you take that money and use it to buy ingredients for simple meals you can make at home, which you can then take to work for lunch is much, much cheaper.

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Live Off One Wage

If you are travelling as a couple this is a GREAT way of saving money, really budget yourself so you only need to use one of your wages in order to pay for what you have to in life and then use the other as a savings wage. You will be amazed at how quickly you can save by doing this.

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Work Out a Travel Plan

I am all for flexible traveling but you really should have a basic idea of where you are going, and how much it is going to cost you in order to get there/live there/leave there.

How do you plan on getting around when you travel?
What sort of places are you willing to stay, where will you eat?
In other words how low budget do you plan to go?

You can make travel as expensive as you like, if you just HAVE to stay in the Ritz then you are going to have a bad time, if you don’t mind staying in a dorm or a less desirable location, then not only will you meet more people and see more of a place but you will also save yourself an incredible amount of money.

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Airline Credit Cards

Now I personally don’t own a credit card, I don’t agree with spending money that you don’t have, even if you have it in genuine money on another card. It just freaks me out as I know that I would rack up a huge debt by never paying for anything.

But there are specialist credit cards that are travel related or even from airline companies. Cards like these allow you to rack up airmiles and often other bonuses as well, for example if the company your credit card is from is in association with a hotel chain, you might be in line for cheaper accommodation.

Also make sure you utilize the initial sign up bonuses and all the monthly or weekly prize draws and competitions they do as well. Not only will this give you an opportunity to win a lump sum, it might even offer you the opportunity to get you an entire free travel experience.

Some U.S. carriers offer a branded card that gives you 30,000-50,000 bonus miles when you sign up and make one purchase. That’s a free round-trip economy ticket right there. By adding multiple users, you can multiply the bonus. Additionally, by signing up for non-branded cards such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can earn points offered by those cards and then transfer them to your favorite airline.

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Be Flexible

If you are flexible with your destination dates you will be surprised how much money you can spend. Flying mid week for example is ALWAYS cheaper than flying on a Friday or weekend, I don’t know why but that is just how it is. I use Skyscanner for all of my flight needs and they have a great section that allows you to check an entire month for departure and return flights that will work out the cheapest, they are normally only ever a few days different from your initial dates anyway.

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Travel Off-Season

Understandably off season is usually cheaper as the weather isn’t the greatest or it has the least amount of festivals or events BUT, traveling off season not only saves you money but also means that you can see places that would normally be full of tourists in a more natural way. There is nothing like going to a beach and being the only person there, this WON”T EVER happen if you travel in high season.

Before you embark on your travels research the off or shoulder seasons for the places you want to travel and tailor your trip around those times.

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Think Outside The Box

Why are the most popular destinations so expensive? Because everyone goes there!

Want to see a Thai beach but you don’t want to pay the prices of Koh Samui or see all the drunken teenage idiots on Koh Pangyan? Try Phi Phi or Krabi, they are equally as beautiful and much cheaper, granted they are more expensive than Northern Thailand, but it is the beach after all.

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Don’t Stay In A Hotel

Hotels are expensive, you are only sleeping there so do you really need to be paying $100 a night when you could stay in a hostel for a tenth of the price. I genuinely can’t even think of a time I have ever stayed in a proper hotel, I have been in them and experienced the marvel that is heated swimming pools, massage and room service but is that honestly better than swimming in the ocean, local massage and street food?

I don’t think so.

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Stay With Family/Friends

Do you happen to have any friends or family that live abroad? This is always a great excuse to travel, not only will you get to see family and friends but they might be able to put you up for a while which always cuts down costs.

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Shop Around

Chances are the easiest flights, hotels, tours or cruises are sponsored so won’t actually be as cheap as they appear. Make sure you dig around and look at as many websites, articles and comparison companies as possible. There is always a deal out there, they are just sometimes hard to find.

Don’t give up though!!

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Quit The Gym

You don’t need a gym in order to work out, the last time I checked running, jogging and cycling were all free to do in any city in the world. The gym just gives you a place to run on the spot and be sweaty with lots of other people. Join a running club. Cycle instead of using your car. Use the stairs instead of the lift. You will be getting the same amount of exercise but it will be free!!

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Cheapskate Socializing

You don’t need to get drunk to hang out with your friends. Drinking is incredibly expensive when you add up how much you spend in a week, so much so that you could probably buy flights with a months drinking money. Think of interesting ways to socialize with your friends that doesn’t cost anything, BBQ in the park, game of football, video game nights even a dinner party or movie night. There are more ways than you think to socialize for very little money.

Make sure you do go out and enjoy yourself every now and again as otherwise you will become very bitter about saving, not to mention, your mates will think you are really boring.

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Saving money is sort of like a financial diet, cut back on all the things you don’t need and that are bad for you but have those cheat days that keep you happy 🙂

To see the kinds of things you can be doing with the money you save up take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page for our amazing and life changing volunteer opportunities.

After you have done that then take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages to see all the fun and normally very cheap adventures I get up to 😀

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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A Very Happy, If Older, Wendy

So a couple of you may know that it was my birthday yesterday and I can honestly say that it made me realise how much I love traveling, and especially Thailand. My 21st last year was spent being Lara Croft in the temples of Cambodia and this year, having spent a week in Cambodia to arrange a new visa, I got to spend my birthday, this year, back in my adopted home town of Surin.

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Belated Birthday celebrations in Bangkok with two AMAZING girls, Caroline and Becki (2012)

I can honestly say it was one of the best birthdays I have had, although I may not of had all the people that matter to me celebrating with me, I know that they were there in spirit and luckily I had all my friends here to make up for it. I got to hang out with my two big brothers, have my favourite local band sing one of my favourite songs as well as sing me Happy Birthday and I got to do it all after having some great Skype calls with people who I cherish around the world.

But like I said, my birthday this year really did make me appreciate what I have in life and appreciate even more the wonderful place I get to live and work in. I have never really fitted in in England, I don’t so much like the culture, the way people treat each other and the lack of morals of many of the people that live there. Thailand on the other hand fits me very well and these are a few reason why I, and you, should love this, the beautiful ‘Land of Smiles’.

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When I step out of my house each day the heat wraps around me like an embrace and the familiar smells waft up my nose. This might be the smell of rotten fruit, previous evening’s garbage and left over food for the Soi dogs, but I a 2 minute walk to 7/11 conjurers the beautiful and mouth-watering aroma of roasted pork, noodles and petrol; most people won’t know that petrol is one of my favourite smells, and when you mix this with pork you are on to one of the most beautiful smells ever imaginable!!

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One of the cute Soi Dogs that lives near my house

Every place and every step in Thailand brings you something new to savour: tastes, smells, warmth, humility, friendliness and spiritual peace. I have never found anywhere else that has managed to always surprise and humble me at the same time, even on a journey I have done a thousand times, I can’t bring myself to close my eyes and sleep as this amazing environment still instills so much excitement in me.

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Cannot get enough of the food here

So here are some reasons why I love Thailand so much.

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A sunset in Khao Yai National Park

Freedom

England is a culture that is rigid with rules, fees, fines, taxes and expectations. Humans are meant to be free and able to enjoy this wonderful journey. Being ferried from one part of life to another, because that is ‘what you do’ just doesn’t fit me, or what I think life is about.

I love what seems to be almost an absence of rules in Thailand. Despite this people generally go about living their life making responsible decisions and being kind to one another; I think this is mostly down to their Buddhist upbringing but also Thais seem to just have a much greater level of respect for each other than Western society does.

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Tom Yam Soup

Food

Even though I only tend to eat once a day, I could honestly eat Thai food constantly, if I could create some kind of portable Thai food conveyor belt that was always stocked with my favourite foods then I would be a very happy rainbow 😀

The Thai create dishes with ingrediants that if you saw them on their own, you would think to be completely inedible, but as with most things in life, Thais find a way to make something beautiful from nothing. If you want to see a couple of beautiful Thai dishes you can experience whilst here, then take a look at my ‘Top Ten Thai Dishes’ post from a couple of weeks ago.

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Phi Phi Islands in South Thailand

Exoticness

(Unsure if this is a real word or not haha)

For me, Thailand is the height of exotic. There are countless different sides to this beautiful diamond of a country that, even in my 9 months here, I still stumble upon new and beautiful places and things that I wasn’t aware of.

I love the cultural celebrations, the religious ceremonies, the strange food, beautiful beaches and most of all the charming and welcoming people that no matter how stressful a day has been, will always make me smile.

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My two big brothers!!

People

I can’t explain how homely Thailand feels, if you are in the tourist hotspots you probably won’t experience this but if you are in ‘real’ Thailand then you will defintily know what I am talking about. When you come to Thailand, the people here make you feel as though you are part of their family, the people at my local 7/11 for example have included me in so many of their staff nights out, in jokes and general banter. This all comes from Thais being very open and kind people who accept everyone for who they are, no matter how silly or brightly coloured their hair is 😀

You instantly feel good around Thais and all your guards drop because you know all they bring to the table is acceptance, warmth and love. There have been a couple of times I have had a bad day, either from stresses at work, people giving me a hard time or just from getting out of bed on the wrong side and one kind word from a random Thai person on the street, in a passing truck or at Big C has completely lifted my spirit and made me smile again.

They want to laugh more than they want to argue, complain or be bitter. Life is all about being happy, so why waste time being anything other than that?

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Monks presentation

Spirituality

Thai people are very much in tune with their religion, they live everyday in order to be a good person. Following the teachings of Buddha and accepting life as it is makes Thais very laid back and appreciative of the small things in life.

Their attitude is to be kind always.

Choose happiness, be respectful, consider others, laugh often.

I love how they stop to honour Buddha and the King at every photo and statue they see. They bend low to pass you something with two hands. They greet you with a Wai blessing. They are so reverent and believe that your actions have consequences, so choose the actions that bring about those happy, positive results for all people involved. More people need to learn from these peaceful and loving people.

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Language

I don’t know why I love Thai. I think it has a lot to do with how different it is from any other language and that it is still very mysterious to the vast population of the world. Hundreds of thousands of people learn Spanish or Japanese every year but nobody learns Thai. In the touristy locations the Thais speak English and for the places that Thais don’t learn English you can get around with hand signals and Google translate. For me though, I want to learn one of the lesser known languages in the world, not only to improve my own life experience, but also to show that even though my skin may be white, that I can put in as much effort to learn a language as the Thais do.

Thais are very humble and kind but they will happily laugh with you at all your silly mistakes and pathetic attempts to speak their language!

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A boy enjoy Songkran – Thai New Year

Living For The Moment

Thailand forces people to live in the moment. When you walk down the street you can’t do so whilst worrying about all the silly things in life as you are on an adventure of sorts with the countless tuk tuks, cars, mobile street carts, motorbikes, people, all moving amongst one another. You are forced to be present or die. And when you think about it, that is what life should be. Live for the now, not for the past that is gone or the future that will never be.

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There really is nothing like Thai traffic

Living With Chaos

When you first see Thailand, all you see is the hundreds of busy and bustling cars, tuk tuks, motorbikes, people, children running around barefoot, dogs chasing each other for territory, cats stalking their pray, vendors hollering about their wares and school children on the way to school.

Yet despite all this chaos their is a constant essence of calm in Thailand.

Take a second to stand and watch the chaos unfold and you will still see a beautiful moment of calm amongst the storm whether it is a stolen smile between to young Thais, a child’s beaming smile after being given a sweet snack or an old dog just observing the territory he has spent years protecting.

Seeing butterflies is my personal reminder to just take a second to appreciate the here and now.

When I am busy with things in my own mind, or worrying about things I really have no control over, I always see a pair of butterflies playfully chasing each other in the warm breeze and it makes me realise that I need to stop.

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Miss International Queen Pageant in Bangkok

Acceptance

One of my favourite things about Thailand is that you will be loved and accepted no matter who you are and what you believe in. You aren’t treated differently for anything, whether it be your skin, your hair, your gender, your sexual preference or taste in fashion.

I have always admired how gay/lesbian and ‘ladyboys’ are  treated with respect and love within society. They are teased in a friendly way that is not meant with any malice, much the same as people who aren’t stick thin are. There is absolutely no bullying at all, so snickering remarks about people you see on the street or in a club or bar. Everyone is a person and for that are honored.

Thinking about it, the only times I can think of any sort of derogatory comments or behaviour towards anyone seen as ‘different’, is from Westerners who can’t seem to accept that, just because a person doesn’t think the same as you that they should be ridiculed and made to feel worthless.

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All you need for 1 day in Thailand – around 2GBP

Cheap Living

I won’t lie, I have lived here for 9 months and haven’t once used the kitchen in my house, if it wasn’t where the cups and bin lived then I wouldn’t even know where it is. It is only 30-40B to eat out for any meal so I really have no reason to make my own food. Travel from Surin to Bangkok is 407B, around 8GBP or $12, I couldn’t even get from my house in York to Leeds on that much money!!!

You can live well in Thailand. And life is for living well.

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Beautiful Beaches

The beaches are stunning, the sand soft and white, crystal clear, blue or jade water, depending where you are. The water is calm and gentle and beckons you to come snorkelling and play with tropical fish up close.

Fresh fruit is available everywhere, with the added bonus of being locally sourced and organic. The catch of the day is cooked on an evening, the smell of roasting fish, crackling and spiting over hot coals, always makes me smile and my mouth water.

There are still many beaches that haven’t been taken over my 20 something Westerners so don’t loose hope when you see most of the beaches are advertised for the bars and pub crawls.

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The Famous Tuk Tuk

Transport

One of my favourite ways to travel in Bangkok, whenever I am there, is my motorbike taxi. I love being a part of the hustle and bustle of Bangkok traffic. Your driver will career around bends with oncoming traffic from every direction but does so with such control and experience you don’t bat an eyelid.

Having a tuk tuk drive on the way home after a night out is one of the best parts of my night. I love tumbling into a tuk tuk and knowing that all the local drivers know where my house is so there is no worry to getting lost. I haven’t found anywhere else that remembers where I live!!

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Enjoying a night out with my best friend Nangfa!

Night Life

In Thailand life begins at night time. This doesn’t just mean the bars or clubs but includes the night markets, the street stalls full of tasty and delicious food by the park and the generally more relaxed vibe on an evening. I have sat outside 7/11 with friends just people watching, trying the food of the various stalls and joking with the 7/11 staff; I really don’t miss my Playstation in times like that haha

So those are the things I really love about Thailand. I would to hear what you love about Thailand and what makes it a truly amazing travel destination.

If you haven’t made your way to this incredible country then you need to check out the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page, where you can pick a project that will change your life as well as the lives of the Thais you will work with.

And as always have a look at my TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages for my own Thailand experience!

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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How To Contact A Wendy

Talking is always positive. That’s why I talk too much.
– Louis C. K.

Traveling is by far one of my most favourite things to do, I can’t even begin to describe the overwhelming feelings I get when I get to experience a new place, it’s smells, it’s sights and also it’s customs. For me, I grew up in a military family so I am used to not being around my family for long periods of time, I know that this isn’t the case for everyone though and that keeping in contact with parents, partners and friends is sometimes one of the most important things to do each day, so I thought I would write a post about the easiest ways to keep your loved ones informed of what your up to 😀

Thailand isn’t a backwards country, we do have the Internet. I do still get shocked by the looks of shock on some people’s faces when they realise that Thailand has WiFi and mobile Internet, you would think that some people think we all live in the jungle and spearfish for our food everyday???

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People do spear fish but then they put the pictures of their catch up on Facebook and Instagram!

Finding somewhere to hook up to the internet in Thailand requires a 5 minute walk in any direction, being a newly developed country, Thailand is exploding with modern technology as its young people are desperate to become tech savvy.

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Even tiny villages have access to the internet!

Keeping in contact with your family and friends back at home is something that is very simple to do and here are just a few ways to do it.

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There are more blogs about cats than humans

Blogging

One thing that I have noticed becoming more popular with the volunteers we have with us is blogging. Now I know a little bit about blogging, I don’t do it so much on a personal level like my volunteers do but I do it on a professional/travel level. I find that it is an amazing platform that not only let’s people who care about you see what you are up to, but also people from all over the world. I use WordPress as my primary blogging site but I was recently approached by a company called Glipho who have asked me to write for the travel section of their blogging network site; something that was both very surprising and humbling 🙂

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Take a look at my newly created Glipho account here.

There are two other very famous and useful blogging sites which are, Blogger and also Tumblr, I myself have a Tumblr which you can by clicking here >>> Tumblr. Tumblr is more of a photo based blog site which is great to see an overview of what people are doing, whereas Blogger and WordPress are writing platforms where you write blogs about whatever you feel like for that moment in time; I want to write about rainbows sometimes but feel as though people probably wouldn’t be interested in rainbows and what they taste like.

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Check out the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page!!

Facebook

Facebook is the most famous social networking site and is obviously now a part of pretty much everyone on the planets lives. You get up, you check Facebook, you’re at work, you check Facebook, you’re in the bathroom, you check Facebook. Facebook is very much ingrained in people’s lives that it is very easy to update in seconds with pictures, videos and statuses about what you are doing. I have also found that Facebook is a great place to upload photos to. I keep hard copies of all my travel photos, but for photos of nights out and amusing things that happen through my day I just upload to Facebook then delete them from my camera or my phone. When I was a volunteer I loaded all of my photos up to Facebook as a form of cloud storage which gave me so much free space to continue to take more and more pictures of my travels.

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Calling Cards / SIM Cards

Calling back to your home country is sometimes the number one thing volunteers want to organise when they get into Surin. SIM Cards are only 50B from any 7/11 and credit here in Thailand is incredibly cheap at only a few Baht a minute for calls both within Thailand and abroad. I always recommend people to get themselves a Thai SIM card even if they aren’t planning to make calls, because people who have a smart phone can still be charged for hooking up to the Internet by their home phone companies, whether that be Verizon, 3 or Vodaphone. Plus it is also MUCH, MUCH cheaper to call home countries from a Thai SIM than a home SIM; trust me you will be happy to return home without a massive phone bill waiting for you.

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Email

For me email is only used for business emails to companies and other members of staff, oh also to my Dad as well as he has absolutely no idea what Facebook is, how it works or even how it works. Emails are nearly as age old as letters these day but I think there is something quite nice about waiting for a few days and receiving a nice long email from my Dad about what him and his family have been up to.

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If you have any questions about any volunteer projects you can always Skype us!

Skype

Skype is probably the single greatest way of keeping in live contact with people across the world. I have so many friends that without Skype I would never be able to see or talk to them, the free calls that Skype provide are normally fantastic quality but this obviously depends on your Internet connection, speed and strength. I would recommend Skype to everyone, whether they are travelling or not, it gives you free phone calls that you can use on a laptop or PC but also on tablets like iPads, as well as on smart phones. I can call my Dad or my friends abroad from my phone like a regular phone call but it doesn’t cost me anything; which is my favourite thing 🙂

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Instant Messengers

As much as the messaging system on Facebook is great, actual text messaging is normally quicker and easier than doing the whole Facebook messenger thing. My favourite high speed instant messengers are Kik and What’s App, they can be used anywhere in the world and are instantaneous. You can send photos, videos, stickers and messages that are huge as well. In Thailand, and also across all of Asia, we also have an instant messenger called Line, Line is the same as Kik and What’s App but has a very definite Asian feel to it, I would suggest people to get Line if they are in Thailand or Asia for some time and want a way of communicating with friends they make locally, as people in Asia don’t really use Kik or What’s App as much as they use Line.

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Snapchat

I had Snapchat about a year ago now I think and I just didn’t understand the appeal of only being able to send a picture once, that you can’t save, to people who can only view it for a couple of seconds. Apparently I know nothing though as Snapchat has exploded into a huge thing that has taken over the world, everyone from Brazil to Burma has Snapchat nowadays and even though I don’t see the big deal about it, it is apparently a great way to share something that you are experiencing in that moment with lots of people at once.

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One of the many stupid faces I make for the folks on Snapchat 😀

You don’t have to keep in contact with people when you travel, for me, I like to have little to no Internet access when I travel; I think it distracts from everything else you are doing. How can you ever hope to enjoy a drive from Bangkok to Surin if all you are doing is checking Facebook the whole time. You miss so much by spending all your time with your head aimed to the ground staring at your phone. This is just me obviously and I have come to terms with being one of those odd people in life who really isn’t like anyone else, so if you need to keep in contact with your friends and family then all of the above methods are great to use, don’t think that because I didn’t mention carrier pigeon that you can’t use it though. I would love to use smoke signals more regularly but understand not many other people do 🙂

In order to keep in contact with me then check out my Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram pages, if you would rather come and hang out in person then take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page to choose your life changing volunteer project 😀

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

 

A Hot Wendy

One of the things volunteers find most difficult to deal with when they get to Thailand is the heat and the humidity. I know from when I was a volunteer that when I left Suvarnabhumi Airport the heat hit me like a ton of bricks, it was similar to that wall of heat you get when you stand in front of an oven and open the door. You know that heat that makes you stumble back because it’s such a powerful force? That’s the exact same feeling you get when you take your first step not only out of the airport but out of your front door everyday.

Thailand is hot, there is no other way to put it.

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Nothing beats a beautiful Thai sunset, even if it is BLAZINGLY hot!

The standard 30-40C isn’t the only thing you will have to adjust to either. You should also be aware that Thailand is one of the most humid countries in the world, imagine that episode of Friends where Monica’s hair becomes dissimilar to a birds nest, and your on the right track.

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I know I don’t want hair quite that frizzy

Chances are, you won’t be used to this heat, so you will need to make sure that you prepare yourself for what can only be described as the sweatiest few weeks of your life, will be water.

It really is true that water in the single most life giving thing in the world. If you stay in Thailand and don’t keep on top of your hydration levels you will be having a bad time. So you NEED to make sure that you are drinking two to three of the large bottles of water a day, this may see like a lot to people who don’t drink a lot of water and something that seems like an unachievable goal but I can promise you it isn’t and it shouldn’t be.

Keeping yourself hydrated should be your number one goal for each day and if you think that you can’t drink three large bottles of water a day then you need to make sure that you pick up a decent supply of re-hydration sachets from 7/11 or Big C. They don’t taste that nice, I won’t lie, but they will supply with you electrolytes and sugars that your body will need, don’t think that because I use the word sugar that drinking fizzy drinks like Coke or Sprite will achieve the same thing. It won’t. Drinking only fizzy drinks in a hot country like this will make you more dehydrated and the amount you will need to drink will make you unwell so just do yourself, your skin, your hair and your teeth a favour and drink water.

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Chang, one of the MANY different drinking water companies

Another tip to getting acclimatised is to NOT drink freezing cold drinks. That old wives tale of drinking hot things when you are hot is very true. If you drink ice drinks when you are hot it will lower your core temperature and actually make you hotter in the long run. There is nothing wrong with drinking water or juice from a fridge but you shouldn’t be freezing everything you buy as you will never get acclimatised. I know that drinking a lovely ice cold bottle of water is refreshing at the time but I can assure you that give it 10 minutes and you will be wanting to have another one as you will still be hot. If you drink room temperature liquids will keep you cool and will still be refreshing as well 🙂

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Always amuses me that coconuts aren’t actually brown!!

A great a natural drink that is delicious and very good for you is coconut water. This isn’t the same thing as coconut milk, coconut water is the liquid that is in coconuts straight from when they are cut open. Not only is it very refreshing but it is also very high in electrolytes and potassium which will re-hydrate you very quickly and give you sugars your body graves when you sweat a lot. It also has Loric Acid in it which is a natural inflammatory, so it reduces bloating which can occur when you drink a lot of water or fluids.

My final tip for getting used to the heat and keeping cool is a product that you can buy from 7/11. They are the most useful little things and not many foreigners know about them, even if they should do. These amazing little things are cool towels that cost about 13฿. They are super cool and will make you feel so invigorated and revitalised within seconds, not only that but they are also reusable as well, just douse them in water and then put them in the fridge and use them whenever you need to. Sorted 😀

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These magic little towels are amazing and SO refreshing

Another tip is if you can’t deal with the sun and the heat, then stay out of it. The houses volunteers stay in all have fans in the rooms so if you get to hot then just grab a book and relax in front of your fan; even right now I am laid on a cushion in my office, right in front of a fan, it keeps me cool and also makes me look like I’m in a Loreal advert!

Not only that but if you think about the clothes you wear before you get here then you will be doing yourself a huge favour. The best things to wear. Light coloured, loose fitting clothes that if possible are made for this weather. Sports brands, fishing brands or just outdoor clothing companies sell the most appropriate clothing. You don’t NEED to have these kinds of clothing so just having loose and light coloured, natural fabric will make your life much easier.

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This is a cute dress but you WILL melt if you wear it in Thailand

These are the best pieces of advice I can give to people about getting used to and coping with the heat and humidity here in Thailand. Some people are very lucky that it doesn’t effect them too much and they can acclimatise very quickly with very few problems, but some poor souls are unlucky and never seem to get used to the heat.

Thailand only has two seasons, these are hot, and then hot and raining, we don’t ever get a cool or cold season. The rainy season is much cooler than the Summer but it is still upwards of 30C, the cloud coverage does make the days and evenings cooler, you will see Thai people wearing coats and hoodies, as for us, it is cold, but for foreigners it isn’t cold.

Just prepare yourself for the heat and you should be fine, just remember to drink water ALL day and you will be perfectly fine!!

Now that you know how to cope with the heat in Thailand you can crack on and sign yourself up for one of our amazing volunteer programs at Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page.

As always if you want more from moi, just check out my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages 🙂

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto