Sorry it's been so long, I've been super super busy as of late, well here's what I've been upto on the south part of my tour hopefully I can keep this post from being to horrendously long though I apologize now for my inevitable inability to do so:
Left half my old group member behind but went out with a bang, they decided to throw me an early bday/final group night party, there was a cake an everything :) ! We had a big party in one of our rooms with a fair amount of drinks and a lot of laughs, these guys knew how to make it feel like my bday and it was a great night all round.
So we started to go south and as well as getting to keep Graham, Rikka and Megha we joined 8 others (Cat, James, Lu, Jannika, Steve, Michelle, Braeden and Britney). Again we had a really nice group and everyone quickly jelled and started having a good laugh togethor, it must be a young traveller thing that means you meet really nice, like minded fun people that just get on well straight away or maybe its just everyones happy as they're on holiday either way its one of the great things about traveling.
On the day of my birthday we went to koh sok national park which is apparently the oldest rainforest in the world (tho I swear I was told that about the daintree :S). I can't think of a much cooler bday than I had in a rainforest, doing tubing down the river, playing on a big rope swing over the river, watching monkeys come out to play where we had just been later in the eve and topped off by a big night out in a open roof bar. It was also Michelle's bday on the same day which was a fair coincidence but made for even better celebrations. We stayed in koh sok for a few days, going on a day trip to see the gorgeous resevoir in the park and just generally enjoying the area.
Next we went to Koh Samui and stayed in a really chilled out area for a couple of days, we had huts at a guest house with a pool and bar right next to the gorgeous beach. The weather was as it has mostly been here beautifully sunny one minute and thunder and heavy rain the next but that made it even more fun. We stayed in the crazy warm water (I mean 32C warm! ) enjoying the cold heavy rain on our heads and the thunder & lightning show right overhead, there was something really cool and surreal about this. We also rented jet skis which are always a recipe for fun. In the eves we would walk along the beach to find restaurants and bars that are literally on the beach as well as lots of fire staff/pui displays which are pretty sweet even though they sometimes get a little close for comfort. Whilst there we also went to a lady boy cabaret show one eve which all the guys were dreading would be really seedy and cringe worthy but actually surprisingly well done and funny and turned out to be a very entertaining night out. Especially for the girls as at the end of the eve they managed to drag myself, steve and james up as well as some other guys took us back stage to dress us as women before parading us in front of a bar full of tourists and gay guys, god knows how graham got out of that one. We did all have a really funny laugh doing it and I'm now just waiting for the flood of comments some of the pics I've just put up are gonna get.
Right next we went to koh tao another island, which actually boasts the best diving in thailand, we had 3 days there to dive and chill out. Lots of the group did they're open water course there and really enjoyed it. I did 4 dives over 2 mornings and because I could pick which times I would be going I could pick which dive sites I'd go to and therefore what I'd be likely to experience. This was really cool as the first day they bent the rules a bit for me and took me diving through some caves including a 25m long cave which a really awesome experience that I won't forget in a hurry. Going over and around rocks and squeezing through holes with pillars of light coming down from some holes above so you could see everything. The next day I went to what is the best dive site they have around and saw tons of life all very active in a similar way to my wreck dive, including a really close view of a stingray, an octopus which are rare to see and was my first one and loads of clown fish.
The tour ended 5 days ago in Bangkok and I've just been doing a bit of shopping (I believe I was carrying around enough bags one day to qualify me as a woman) and hanging out with the remnants of the group as it slowly diminishes :(. I expected to get a bit bored by the end of the trip with 5 days to spare here but everyone in the group stayed togethor until we had to leave for other places and even tik our awesome guide came out to do stuff with us on what is now her holiday which was really nice to see that she just enjoyed hanging out with us enough. I haven't previously found goodbyes to hard but I here I've been really sad to see everyone go, just over so long together doing so much together its like you've been mates for longer and feels like you're saying goodbye to a good friend. In particular tik was one of the hardest and even she ended up crying and saying we were the nicest group she'd ever had which obviously says that I've been lucky in getting a really awesome group again.
Finally as this is my last post, I just wanna do some kinda summary about my travels and what they've been like for me so hold in there not too much reading to go now. I'm catching a bus this eve and will be back home (fingers crossed) by 7am tomorrow morning which feels really surreal now, since I've been gone for about 140 days and have only 1 left. As you can expect where the time has gone I really have no clue, how it's managed to fly past this quickly is beyond me. However it will be nice to be home now, especially to see my family and friends, catch up with you all and bore you to death with stories and pics that you may as well have already seen, I apologize in advance for that ;P. Right here's my super super summary:
Japan: crazy, crazy place a completely different world in terms of culture and loads of fun at the same time. A bit of hard work to travel at times, but certainly a jump start into traveling for me.
NZ: currently still my favourite place in the world, exciting and stunning countryside every where you look, extreme sports of every kind at you finger tips, a really chilled out atmosphere and western enough for you to feel really at home without anywhere near so much of our stress and materialism, in short my heaven.
Oz: more fun than I expected, amazing diving and a lot of awesome wildlife to see. I really need to go back someday and see the real outback australia though.
Thailand: A real mix between the difference of the really interesting countryside and hill tribes in the north, the touristized but great chilled out atmosphere and beaches of the south. Crazy stuff to see and do all around, gorgeous food and living like you're on holiday not backpacking because everything seems so cheap. If you stayed here long enough though street hawkers, dirty smoggy streets, random smells that really don't help hangovers and cheeky taxi drivers would drive you mad eventually. Having said that I could easily spend a while longer here and want to come back to see more of south east asia.
My travels have been really amazing, I've had so much fun, so many awesome people and so many new experiences. People say travelling really changes you but I like to think I was already fairly prepared for it by being outgoing, talking to anyone as if they've always been a mate, laid back, having a desire to explore, be actibe and try new things as well as simple views and values in life (this is sounding cocky so I'll stop there). Instead I prefer to think that its helped to confirm and enhance all these things in me and to further my desires to just get out there, do things and experience the world like nothing else could.
Thanks to everyone for the birthday messages including those who left some for me on facebook, I did manage to get them shortly after my birthday but haven't had a chance to right another post until now.
Katie: That sounds like a late birthday present from heaven, tho are u sure you can spare him for that long, who will do everything for you ? ;P Am home on sunday and have 2 weeks before I have to go back home so would love to catch up with you guys (at mine or urs) if you could squeeze me in tho I know how busy you guys are so no worries if not. xXx
Matt: thanks, can't believe we missed that bday meal, glad ur gonna be home for when I get back tho, it'll be really nice to see you. I'll look forward to seeing whether mum has tidied my room or rather the opposite which sounds more likely.
Mum/Dad: Thx for the message and having a bday meal even tho I wasn't there in order to keep up the tradition, fortunatley I had a pretty damn tasty thai meal of my own so your jealously tactics haven't quite worked on me there ;). Looking forward to seeing you all really soon now. X
Finally I just want to say a thanks to everyone who has read my blog (even occasionaly, I know I can blabber on) or looked at my pics and left me messages. I did the blog half as some records for myself and half just so I could keep in touch with you guys but really didn't expect you guys to keep up so well or leave so many messages and it's been really nice reading all the messages and replying I've really appreciated it. So well done you guys!