Hi everyone- sorry its been ages putting this blog up, been having major computer problems so this blog was written a week ago but we though you might be interested to see what we've been up to any way. It's been an eventful few days since our last blog but you'll all be glad to hear that we made it into Thailand safely despite the lack of visa or flight! Our nice 2 hour flight (prepaid) was substituted for 36 hours on a bloody bus. But before we even started that fiasco we had our first illness of the trip-typical that we'd avoided Delhi belly for a month in India and the first day in Singapore Laura got sick. Really sick, it involved her lying in the middle of the corridor at 2 in the morning being sick into a bucket for about an hour, Hannah was lauras saving grace that night although we do worry about her common sense at 3 in the morning when she decided it was a good idea to pour the sick into the sink rather than down the toilet this led to the sink being blocked and Hannah having to break into the cleaning cupboard to retrieve a plunger, some rubber gloves and a long brush/pokey thing-fantastic, it was definitely a "you've got to laugh or you'll cry" sort of moment! After about 4 hours sleep we had to get up for our breakfast, cheered up when we discovered it included nesquick, scrambled egg,beans,toast,fruit and apple juice (all you can eat!) after eating quite literally all we could eat (laura a bit less) we ventured out with a mission to get ourselves into Thailand as soon as possible (Singapore we discovered was far too expensive for us to stay for a week for a rescheduled flight) People in Singapore were really helpful and we managed to get a bus from Singapore that afternoon to hat yai just over the Thai/Malaysian border. This journey was 16 hours and involved numerous stops when going through customs checks plus one at 2 a.m. where Hannah and laura were woken up by becca telling us we were at the thai border (which was in fact another four hours away) so we rushed off the bus bleary eyed to discover it was actually a petrol station! Once at Hat Yai, the next step was to get a bus from here to Bangkok. Aftershopping around we found one for 630 Baht (about 10 pounds) which we were told would take 12 hours, meaning we would arrive in Bangkok to meet Ellen t one in the morning. This is fact turned out to be complete rubbish. We were past the point of laughing about it when we had to stop for a 2.5 hour break when changing from a minibus to a packed coach, when we were also told the journey would actually take 18 hours. We were seriously not impressed!Eventually reached Bangkok at 5 in the morning, but as we're now used to, things didn't go according to plan when we were dropped at the side of the road in the outskirts of the city (about 15km from the bus station where we presumed Ellen would be waiting- How wrong we were but we'll get to that later!). After paying 200 Baht for a tuk-tuk to this station we discovered it was one of the largest bus stations in Asia and we hadn't arranged a specific place to meet. This resulted in a grand tour of the bus station with our bags. The point at which we then thought it would be a good idea to ring Ellen was when we found ourselves in the bus petrol station. After using a number of pay phones (all seemed to talk in Thai at us) we eventually got through to her and were enraged to hear that Ellen had to gone to the wrong bus station at the other side of Bangkok. Two hours of sitting on the platform followed during which we'd all decided that we were going to slap Ellen when we eventually saw her. When in fact, we actually just screamed and hugged and Ellen bursting into tears! It was a 2.5 hour car journey to Nakhon Sawan, near Ellen's house, which was made far more exciting by the fact that we were sat in the back of a pick-up truck eating ice cream and sun bathing! However, our first experience of Thai food wasn't the best and we decided not to let Ellen order breakfast for us again! Let's just say none of us like seafood - let alone at 8 in the morning when we're surrounded by Thai people looking expectantly down at you (most of whom were related to Ellen in some way). Ellen's village is a really nice place down by the river. We've taken over her room already (especially the king-size bed) and have enjoyed meeting her family (all 50 of them!) On the first day she showed us round the village which has a famous monastery which a past king has visited. It's so nice to be with someone who speaks the local language and knows about the area - it's like having a tour guide again but without the BO problem Sunil suffered from!Ellen's family really like to look after us, despite the language barrier. Had an amazing meal at her Auntie's house sat on the floor with about 12 family members and a conversation about chickens as Ellen's cousin's husband seems to be obsessed with them, much to his wife's disappointment. During their 3 weeks of marriage, he has so far purchased a cow, a bird and a chicken and is hoping to extend his collection. We spent our first full day just chilling. Went swimming in an outdoor pool in the city then ate our weight in food in the market - as Ellen was getting us to taste all the Thai delicacies - not that we were complaining - she definitely redeemed herself after the 'seafood soup for breakfast incident'.The next day Ellen's family continued their looking after us theme and took us to Bong Bharapet National Park which has the biggest swamp in Thailand (just in case you care). Went on a boat out on the swamp which was beautiful and really chilled, no one else in sight. Slightly bizarre experience when we went through the weeds and Ellen's family got really excited and lay on the floor literally hanging out the boat to pull off the lotus flowers heads, their edible apparently- didn't look it though we were quietly hoping we wouldn't be served them for dinner later on. We decided that although they looked completely ridiculous it looked like fun so we joined in. Went slightly over the top and ended up filling the whole boat with flower stems which we then had to share a car home with. Also saw some crocodiles in the river and laura got very excited when we discovered there was also a tortoise family possibly long lost cousins of chloe's she likes to think. Left Nakhon Sawan the next evening after another slightly bewildering day of being introduced to everyone Ellen knows in Thailand. We thought Indian sleeper trains were bad, at least they were actually sleeper trains. Beds would have been greatly appreciated on the 12 hour night journey to CHaing Mai even if they were wooden planks. Arrived in Chaing Mai at 6 in the morning and after long search for an open guest house we ended up in a place called Lek House which weirdly Laura discovered after a couple of minutes of confused déjà vu was the same place she stayed 2 years ago when she came with world challenge. Even have one of the same rooms- small world. First day in Chaing Mai was spent wandering, what we do best, as Ellen slept. Saw a couple of temples (just for a change) and ate what might have been dog on a stick. We were told it was chicken but neither looked nor tasted anything like any chicken we have ever sampled- it definitely pays off to be a vegetarian sometimes, Becca thought the whole thing was hilarious. Despite being knackered after the horrible train experience the night before we decided we had enough energy for a spot of shopping and made our way to Thailand's biggest night market. 3 hours later we returned exhausted laden down with far more carrier bags than our budget should have allowed. We thought we had done really well when we had managed to march becca past all the fake designer bags but she caved at the very last minute (with a lot of persuasion from Ellen who doesn't understand the value of money) and to Hannah and Laura's dismay she spent 20 quid on a Mulberry number. She was, however, grinning all the way home and hasn't put it down since. She looks quite a sight wearing it with her newly purchased Pumba T-shirt (like Puma but with an extra b and a lovely little picture of a warthog- classy). The following day something very strange and slightly disconcerting happened- we spent the day apart! Its the first time in 6 weeks that we haven't been in each others company 24/7. Hannah had her heart set on an elephant ride and seeing the jungle which the other 2 had already done when they'd been to Thailand before. Ellen saw how desperate Hannah was and kindly offered to accompany her whilst Becca and Laura hired a pair of very cool mopeds Cassie and Hugo the Hondas. Drove up into the hills outside Chiang Mai. Driving on the windy mountain roads was a bit precarious at first but they soon got the hang of it and they decided it was a great way to discover loads of places they wouldn't have got the chance to see otherwise including temples, hilltribes, waterfalls and fantastic view points overlooking Chiang Mai which had a perfectly placed Thai ice-cream man. Thai ice-cream, it turns out, is the best we have ever had. It sounds weird but the combination of sticky sweet rice, ice-cream and condensed milk in a plastic cup is actually genius and its made even better by the fact it only costs 10 baht (less than 20p). Naturally our hearts leap every time we hear the bell from the ice- cream mans cart (or bicycle). Meanwhile Hannah and Ellen's adventure took them to the jungle where they rode elephants (Hannah's new favourite animals), trekked Indiana Jones style through the jungle after their crazy guide who walked about 100 mph and was unfazed by the poisonous snakes she kept telling them about and also visited hill tribes. Ashley you will be pleased to know Hannah saw someone being sneezed on by an elephant, unfortunately it was her who was being sneezed on but you cant have everything can you? Lunch at one hill tribe went slightly different to expected when the people in the village decided to get the tunes on and blasted out 'drop it like it's hot' and 'My humps', covered by Thai people who weren't particularly talented singers. Decided our budget wouldn't stretch to the white water rafting that the rest of the group was going on but Ellen made friends with the guide who loved the fact that she spoke Thai and let us go on for free. So much fun! Luckily its not rainy season so the rapids weren't too crazy (just as well or there's no way Hannah would have gone on) but was enough for us. Then went bamboo rafting which naturally didn't go according to plan and ended up capsizing. After being re-united with each other we headed out for a night on the town in Chiang Mai-early on it was decided that we would purchase the cheapest drink on the menu every place we went and this naturally led to quite an entertaining night which involved sampling a Thai delicacy, a very strong alcoholic beverage which had a snake soaking in it. We don't think we possess the acquired taste needed to appreciate this particular drink - Becca passed as she didn't think this came under category of vegetarian - gutted! The end of the night took an interesting turn when we met 3 blokes from Edinburgh University who were heading to the only club still open at 2 in the morning entitled SPICY! The name just about sums up how classy this establishment was! We'll spare you the details but let's just say it would without a doubt appear on the worst clubs in the world list and be a great place if you wanted to pick up a Thai bride! Chiang Mai is a nice city but a lot of the activites it has to do are in the surrounding areas so we looked into the cheapest way to get to Doi Inthanon national park which was 2 hours away. This turned out to be hiring a jeep for 26 hours for 1000 baht- enter Stanley the Suzuki (the worlds crappest jeep!!) Laura drove first and it didn't take long to discover why Stanley the Suzuki was so cheap. The list of problems he had didn't seem to end and the most popular phrase to be heard for the next day was " oh okay Stanley doesn't like that" which was said when changing gear, using brakes, trying to reverse or as we discovered the next morning even starting the engine. Parents we're guessing your glad to hear about this after we've handed back the jeep and we're all safe and well. We were all very happy and content with our road trip and despite his problems we all fell in love with Stanley. The national park was stunning- we made it (just about with a lot of roaring on Stanley's part) to the highest point in Thailand, really impressive above the clouds produced some lush views. Camped over night in a pretty chilly tent in the forest - we ll agreed it didn't feel at all like Thailand. We woke the next morning to learn that Stanley wasn't in the mood for a drive and he too doesn't like the cold-this resulted in 3 thai men, becca, laura and Ellen pushing him down a hill whilst Hannah stood watching munching on a packet of biscuits. This did the trick and we were slowly chugging away. The day was spent reaching the top and touring the waterfalls of the park. They were all pretty amazing and the last one we discovered we decided to do a spot of swimming- which actually turned out to be a spot of paddling as we were all terrified of the idea that there were snakes and fish lurking in the water. After an emotional farewell with Stanley we planned the next stage of our trip which is taking us to koh mak a tiny secluded island south of Bangkok coast-leaving chiang mai at 6 tomorrow morning and are very excited at the prospect of the famous Thai beaches!