Through the clouds and over the sea…

Written en route to Thailand…

As I write this I’m 32,000ft in the air gazing out at the never-ending expand of white, fluffy clouds. 2 hours down and 7 hours to go, Navin and I are Thailand bound for a much-needed holiday! I can’t recall the last time I travelled and didn’t have everything planned out, perfectly scheduled into the hours and days I strictly calculated. I’m glad to say we’ve got little planned but a week of lying by the pool, cycling around Cape Panwa in Phuket and enjoying the friendliness of Thai hospitality. This said, it wouldn’t be a real holiday for me unless I had a bit of a wish list of the things I want to do…

Last year I travelled to Thailand to act as a facilitator on the 2nd University Scholars Leadership Symposium and snuck in a day in Phuket and a couple in Bangkok so I have see glimpses of what this beautiful country has to offer. Some of this list I’m doing again but others are completely new experiences. If you’ve been to Thailand before and have any suggestions, let me know!

 1. Learn to cook authentic Thai Massaman Curry.

Luckily we’re booked in with the bubbly and talented Poo, a lovely Thai lady who teaches cooking in the _ slum. Poo’s cooking experience involves a tour of the local market where most ingredients for our class are purchased and then a 2-hour class covering a 4 course menu. I picked the Saturday class especially because we’re learning Massaman Curry! If I could pick three things to eat before I die, Massaman would be one of them (alongside chicken schnitzel & chocolate mousse!)

2. Ride an elephant with a sustainable tourism provider.

Elephants would have to be my favourite animal in the world, I’m not sure why or when this started but I think they are such beautiful creatures! I’ve ridden elephants in Thailand and Nepal before and there is nothing like trekking through a jungle on the back of one of these majestic animals. I’m also determined to find a provider that really values and looks after the elephants as sadly elephant cruelty is rife throughout Thailand.

3. Go for a cycle around Cape Panwa

We’re staying in a beautifully secluded part of Phuket on the Andaman Sea and I’ve heard Cape Panwa is a beautiful place to cycle and take in some spectacular sunrises and fresh air. I’m going to need to do this more than once because I’m in training for my 200km cycle around Cambodia in January!

4. Enjoy a traditional Thai massage

After all my cycling and daily gym sessions (yes, I’m still keeping that up whilst I’m here!) I will definitely need a massage to get rid of all the aches and pains! Last time I was in Phuket there were huts set up along the beach for massages but I never got one so this is a definite must for this trip. There’s nothing more relaxing than the sound of waves gently crashing against the shore.

 5. Visit a temple

One of my favourite parts of travelling is immersing myself in local culture and for many countries, religion is often tied up into culture so this often involves visiting temples, mosques and holy places. Last time I missed out on visiting a temple whilst I was here, so this time I’m going to ensure one of our days in Bangkok is spent sailing down the Chao Phraya river, stopping by the floating markets and temples as we pass.

If we tick off these 5 things I’ll be very happy, but most of all I’m looking forward to spending a week of quality time and much needed R&R with Navin. As we look back on the past year and how fast it’s sped by, we’re looking forward to slowing down a notch in Thailand before a busy end to 2012!

Once I get a chance to go for a cycle I’ll also write a bit more about my upcoming Cambodia trip, however for now there’s some brief information on my online fundraising page. This trip started as a crazy idea with some friends last November, and to think a year later it’s become a reality with 18 other students and staff joining us is super humbling and exciting! I would love you to sponsor me as I ride and trek around Cambodia, all the money will be going to the Oaktree Foundation, a fantastic organisation that is very close to my heart, read more here. Head to “Caitlin in Cambodia” to donate. Any donation, big or small is very appreciated, so thank YOU.

(We’ve been enjoying the beautiful warm weather of Phuket for 2 days now and are looking forward to venturing out in to town today to get our bartering hats on! Stay tuned for my Thai adventures..)

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