The end of June marked a whole 50% of the year down and only 6 months left to go until we enter a new decade! Wow. It also means I’m more than half way through my travels with just 4.5 months left until I plan to be back in the UK in time for my mum’s 50th, an impromptu (BA had a crazy flight sale, I have a credit card. Go figure) trip to NYC and of course, Christmas. I thought I’d catch you up on where I’ve been (geographically and mentally) over the last month…
The end of The Dragon Trip: Cambodia, #BathGate and a flight to Bangkok
June began on the island of Koh Rong in Cambodia. If you picture a desert island, it’s pretty much this: warm, turquoise waters, soft, white sand and a blazing sun up ahead. The nailed it on the palm tree quota too and there was even a litter of puppies at the beach-front hostel we stayed at! Puppies and bed bugs, but you can’t win it all.
I won’t go into too much detail about The Dragon Trip here because I’ve got another post coming later this week that shares my thoughts and feelings on the entire experience. Cambodia definitely wasn’t the best part of it and I wouldn’t want to unfairly give only a tiny snippet that doesn’t cover the bigger picture.
I will say though that by this point – 27 days into a jam packed 31 day tour around SE Asia – we were all knackered. I felt mentally and physically exhausted, sick of buses, morning alarms and a bit battered from the daily drinking culture that came with being part of a big, young, lively group. I can partly blame them, and partly blame the fact that beer was usually cheaper than water. Oops…
We travelled from Koh Rong to the capital of Phnom Penh, where we visited the humbling S21 Prison and Killing Fields to learn more about the tragedy that was the Khmer Rouge regime and the Cambodian Genocide, then on to Siem Reap. Here, everyone breathed a sigh of relief and ordered in another round of Angkor’s: we’d reached our final stop. The hostel – Lub D – was the nicest I’ve ever seen and a group of us even joined one of those cycling beer bike things round the city and hit world-famous Pub Street. Oh, and I ate a mealworm and a beetle. #gapyaaaah
Instagram vs. Reality
It was a weird feeling when the rest of the group made their way back to Bangkok. I’d been craving space and yet it felt eerily lonely. With another 3 nights in Siem Reap, we booked into a really nice hotel for some R&R. And a bath. All I wanted to do was sleep, nap, eat and bathe for 72 hours solid. In fact, I decided to pay extra for a gorgeous room with a giant bath tub (cheaper than therapy). Sensing a theme here?
The bath was a feature only. A big, luke warm, takes 5 hours to fill feature. I could’ve cried. I probably did cry. Asking concierge to help me with it turned into a weird, dramatic, 6 hour escapade which in short, saw us heading back to the hostel out of pocket and very disgruntled. STILL UNBATHED.
In case you think I’m really obsessed, baths are my happy place and by this point, I hadn’t had one since the first week of February.
Sleeper Train, Koh Samui and Koh Tao
After belatedly realising that Siem Reap airport isn’t much bigger than my nan’s living room and thus, there’s not much in the range of international flights, we flew back to Bangkok to get the sleeper train down to Suratthani ahead of a boat over to Koh Samui. I love the sleeper trains, they’re so cosy, I rest bizarrely well on them and there’s a nice sense of adventure involved.
Blurry but happy
Koh Samui, and in particular the apartment we rented, was breathtaking. So much so that a 6 night stay became a 13 night stay. I don’t have loads to report and that was kind of the point: to relax, rejuvenate, catch up on work and just be. There was a giant Tesco a short scooter ride away so I got both my supermarket fix and home-cooking fix and regained a sense of normality in the process. I’ll write more in detail about Koh Samui another time.
It’s a gorgeous oasis in the Gulf of Thailand and was very much a holiday within the scope of our trip.Prices are almost European, so that was a shock to the system, but the island – Fisherman’s Village, where we stayed, in particular – is beautiful and calm. We even went out for pizza and red wine which definitely is cheaper (and better) than therapy.
Gusto, Fisherman’s Village
After a couple of blissful weeks (I even logged out of social media for a bit and put my out of office on) we took a little boat over to Koh Tao to visit the world’s scuba diving capital. Yep, my love affair with diving is still going strong after I completed the Open Water and Advanced certs back in April. We spent a week at Big Blue, adding 10 dives in total to our logs, and although the 05:45 alarms were a killer, I relished being in the ocean every day. Minus a missing GoPro, it was an awesome week and I really noticed my skills improve too.
A Weekend in Bangkok and Waking up in South Korea
The last weekend of June was spent in Thailands buzzing capital, Bangkok. We rented a really cute little Airbnb away from the main tourist area and enjoyed eating street food and marvelling at the weird things on offer at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. We also visited Wat Pho as it had been closed for the King’s Coronation previously and marvelled at the giant reclining golden Buddha.
In the small hours of Monday morning – the 1st July – we boarded a flight to Seoul, the South Korean capital where we’re spending the first few weeks of July. And that concludes June, saucepots!
Salami Pizza from Gusto Italiano, Fisherman’s Village, Koh Samui
Wine! I haven’t had wine for months (too expensive or not really available in Asia) so it was such a treat to be able to buy a few bottles in Koh Samui and have a glass on the balcony
The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah. This was June’s book club pick (didn’t know I run an online book club? Join here!) and it was one of the most beautiful, heart-breaking, thought-provoking books I’ve ever devoured.
Killing Eve season 2 on BBC iPlayer. Not as good as season 1 but I love Sandra Oh and have a massive girl crush on Jody Comer.
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. I’m convinced this really helped to cure my Asia-induced acne saga. See my full travel skin routine below!