Hostel Chic

As a student, I’ve become accustomed to the notion when travelling with friends to always opt for the backpackers/hostel accommodation (primarily because the Ritz is always full, naturally, and odds are we are likely to get kicked out). When I traveled to Greece last year with Tash, our first nights accommodation in Athens was worrying to say the least. Despite the promised 5 star view of Acropolis from our balcony, we were too scared to leave our room or even use the elevator, a true culture shock.

Our 5 star view in Athens - NEVER AGAIN

Our 5 star view in Athens – NEVER AGAIN

I’ve heard nightmare renditions of backpacker tales in Bangkok, probably used as the blueprint for Taken. However, given that I’m not spending Euro’s everyday, multiplying everything by 10 and Liam Neeson probably won’t be my dorm buddy, I’m definitely more open to the upgraded facilities that the semi hotel route has to offer – something more then just a standard TripAdvisor rating. UrbanDictionary now defines the word ‘taken’ as “when a young naive girl is abducted and subsequently trafficked/murdered in a remote location, ie: Peru, Thailand”. 

screenshot

Urban Dictionary’s take on Taken and Thailand, fueling my mother’s apprehension.

Despite such lucrative propaganda, a new hostel trend in Thailand has emerged known as ‘design hostels’. 

These hostels are decked out with thematic decor throughout, with a mix of contemporary design and bright colours with statement architectural features and artwork.

Lubd

Lub d hostel in Bangkok

In Bangkok, Lud d Silom describes itself as one of the founders of the ‘design hostel’ movement. It has become so popular that a second hostel as been added in Siam and together forms an active part of the hosteling community. Lub d makes a vigilant effort to ensure its customers have good time whilst getting to know the city. Pub crawls, city walks and hostel parties are advertised brightly throughout ensuring you don’t miss a thing. Simultaneously, if you are feeling for a more a relaxed evening, a cinema room is provided with bean bag chairs and a stack of DVDs.

Lubd1Lubd2

Prices at Lub d vary in accordance to the time year but a one night stay in mid January will set you back R343 for a two bed, shared bathroom room. A private two bed room with accompanying bathroom will set you back R529 per night, whilst a single bed in a dorm is priced at R140 per night. All rooms include air conditioning, WiFi as well as access to in house bar and restaurant.

private roomprivate room 2

SONY DSChotel bathroom

4 Decho Road, Suriyawong
Bangrak, Bangkok 10500 Thailand
Tel: +66 (0) 2634 7999 | Email: contact.silom@lubd.com
Twitter | Facebook
Book Here

So Hostel in Chiang Mai is another trendy example of the design hostel. Nicknamed ‘Soho’ after the trendy New York suburb, SoHo boasts an array of colours, geometric prints, vibrant and eclectic decor balanced with an all round cool and contemporary feel.

So Hostel - Chiang Mai

So Hostel /”SoHo” – Chiang Mai

Travel bloggers alike have dubbed it the Oasis of good taste in Chiang Mai and its central location is of much convenience to travelers. The hostel boasts an array of amenities such as private rooms, flexible dorm rooms, a kitchen, laundry facilities, bike rentals, an elevator, WiFi, gardens and terrace and a rooftop deck.

kitchenelevator

Again, prices at So Hostel are subject to season but a one night stay in mid January in a private two bed, one bathroom room will set you back R467 per night. A bed in a 6 bedroom dorm with communal bathroom with set you back R102 per night, a bed in an 8 dorm, R90 per night and a single bed in a 12 bed dorm is R81 per night. All rooms are equipped with air conditioning and free WiFi.

soho dormOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

64/2 Loy Khroh Road
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Tel: +66 53 206 360 | Facebook
Book here

Hope this helps settle any Taken fears and insecurities around Thailand and youthful hostel accommodation. (secretly hoping my mom reads this post)

Advertisements

Cost of Living: Bangkok vs. Cape Town

bangkok city buildings

I’ve been hearing all over the show that the cost of living in Thailand is unbelievably cheap. After excessive googling I’ve come to the conclusion that there might be a bit of truth to these claims.  However it can be as cheap as you make it, especially in the city. If you are open to street food and stalls, a meal can set you back as little as R20, go to a upmarket restaurant and you could pay 10 times that.

the cost of living

Average meal at inexpensive restaurant                          55 Baht              R17

Average meal in Cape Town at inexpensive restaurant R70

3 course meal for two at upmarket restaurant               600 Baht            R186

3 course meal for two at Sevruga, Cape Town R450

0.5l local beer                                                                50 Baht            R15.50

SA 500ml draft R22-27

thai beerJackBlack_1

0.5l imported beer                                                        100 Baht            R31

500ml Peroni Draft R29

Coke                                                                             18 Baht               R6

Coke in SA R9

Bottle of water  340ml                                                   10 Baht               R3

340ml Aquella R4

1l Milk                                                                           40 Baht             R12.50

Clover 1l  R13

Loaf of bread  (500g)                                                   30 Baht             R9.50

Albany whole wheat R11

Cappuccino                                                                50 Baht             R15.50

Knead cappuccino R19

Mid range bottle of wine                                             600 Baht             R186

Nederberg cab sav red R60

McDonalds combo meal                                            120 Baht              R37

Quarter pounder meal R46

McDonalds_Thailandmcd thai slip

Rent  (2 bedroom full furnished apartment)               5-8000 Baht                                    R1550-     R2475

2 bedroom fully furnished in CBD R8-10000

2 -4 bedroom townhouse                                         10000 Baht            R3100

2-4 bedroom townhouse in Claremont R17000

apartment 1apartment 2

Taxi fare per kilometre                                               5 Baht                   R1.55

Taxi per kilometre in Cape Town R9-11

Petrol per litre                                                           40 Baht                 R12.50

Petrol price in SA R13

Cinema international release                                   150 Baht                R47

South Africa cinema movie R50

us cost of living

I found this on a US blog about the cost of living in Thailand.

15 things to NOT do in THAILAND

Leading from my last post, my research for the top 15 things to do in Thailand led me to the top 15 things to NOT do in the land of the Thai.

 1)    Don’t make fun of a lady boy

So apparently these ‘lady boys’ have tempers. Maybe it’s the imbalanced concoction of female hormone enhancers mixed with fluctuating testosterone levels or maybe they’re just relatives of Naomi Campbell, nonetheless they are known to explode when tormented. Explode in the form of violent handbag attacks, throwing things, wrestling and/or the breaking of glass bottles over one’s head. Don’t make jokes, laugh or insult them unless you’re willing to pay for them.

Image

Hot dogs or legs? This joke won’t fly with ladyboys

2)    Don’t make out with anyone publicly Image

Contrary to popular belief, Asian persuasion isn’t a real thing. Thai’s have an issue with tongues touching and in fact barely hold hands or even hug in public. A PDA couples worst nightmare.

3)   Don’t fall victim to the ‘jewellery scam’.

ImageApparently this is most common when riding a tuk tuk (common mode of Thai transport). The taxi driver will inform you that your desired destination is unavailable due to renovations and will divert you to a dodgy area of town where your ‘new and similar destination’ awaits. This destination coincidentally happens to be in a jewellery store. Here you are either drugged or scammed into buying ‘cut price jewellery’ which turns out to be fake or both.

4)    Don’t hug a Monk

Image

This one is going to be tough for Shani as she finds them quite cute. Monks are forbidden to touch women and won’t even directly hand something to a woman. Men can be touched but need to keep a respectable distance. You are never allowed to be positioned higher then a Monk (the only time my vertically challenged growth will be advantageous)

Image

I’d recommend hugging this Monk if you can’t resist. He seems quite keen

5)    Don’t dress like a slut

Ironic considering the high frequency of lady boys, but dressing inappropriately will condemn you as an ‘alien’ by the Thai. You can wear shorts, but not inappropriate shorts, you can wear silk but not inappropriate silk; you just need to look tidy from your clothes to your hair. Bob Marley t-shirts are also frowned upon and border patrol won’t help you if you look like mess when trying to enter the country.

Image

Sign at the Thai border post

6)    Don’t take your clothes off

Despite being a tropical humid location, unless your on the beach, in a particular bar or in your own company, its best to keep your clothes on in Thailand. Girls need to cover their shoulders, knees and any cleavage when entering temples or sacred places.

7)    Don’t get angry

Thai people are generally mild-mannered and don’t appreciate voices being raised. In fact, they are so quite that foreigners can be heard miles away. If ever faced with the reality of an argument, stay calm and do not raise your voice, this only worsens the problem.

8)    Don’t whistle at night

The Thai people are very spiritual and believe it is bad luck to whistle at night as it is seen as an act of summoning spirits.

9)    Don’t touch a head

Unless you are a child or have a child, don’t touch anyone’s head. Touching someone’s head is seen as disrespectful. The head is seen as the cleanest, holiest and most sacred part of the body so don’t touch it or put anything on it.

10) Don’t point with your feet

Image

Notice the position of the feet

This is a big deal, Thai’s have a weird issue with feet. They are seen as the dirtiest part of the body so using them to facilitate daily life is not on. It is considered extremely impolite to point with your feet, I do this a lot on the beach when I’m lying down and want to point to something, a potentially problematic situation.

It’s also considered impolite to stand with your feet facing a temple or a monk, so basically if you’re a ballerina, your all good on this one. Other issues include using your feet to close something, keep a door open or kick something/someone.

11) Don’t get dirty

Ironic considering the humidity, constant heat and air pollution worthy of 8 million people running wild in Bangkok, however contrary to Christina Aguilera’s hit, being dirty and sweaty is really disrespectful. Cleanliness and appearance are key in Thai culture and even street workers and builders have clean uniforms at all time. Having long dirty hair is also not acceptable which makes me worry that they haven’t caught onto the baby powder trick yet? Also I can’t imagine myself looking particularly fresh after a day in the city followed by some flamboyant yoga…

Image

Bangkok air pollution

12) Don’t feed street elephantsImage

Having traveled some of parts of Europe and the United States, I’ve encounter many people who have a genuine misconception that I ride to school on elephants after feeding my pet cheetah breakfast in the morning. However, Thai’s really do ride around on elephants in the city. Whilst this is bizarre, its actually incredibly sad as the cruelty these animals are subjected to is utterly disgusting. Tourists are encouraged not to feed them as you are just facilitating their use in the city and doing them a gross disservice by saving their owners money, as they no longer have to feed them. If the elephant is too expensive to feed in the city, their owners will take them back to the rural areas. So don’t feed them!!!

13) Don’t enter an ‘upstairs’ bar

Upstairs bars are code for sex-bars-with-thugs-and-aggressive-‘girls’-who-want-your-money-and-are-willing-to-fight-you-for-it. They often have signs displaying free sex shows or free drinks and once they’ve enticed a naïve tourist like yourself looking for a good time, they slap you with a bill and ugly horrifying strippers attempt to get you to buy drinks all whilst some Thai thugs intimidate the shit out of you. Just don’t go!!

Image

Maybe a little dramatic but you can’t take any chances

14) Don’t fight a thai man

Speaking of fighting, don’t fight Thai men either. Thai men are generally quite small and relaxed people willing to handle drunk and obnoxious tourists from all cultures. However, they are preachers of the safety in numbers call and one drunken argument with a little Thai man could rapidly escalate into a one on twenty fight club scenario, you being Jared Leto.

Image

Jared Leto, not ideal.

15) DON’T DO DRUGS 

Aside from the obvious side effects of drug abuse, the physical state you may or may not find yourself in compounded with the subsequent looming after effects, encroaching demons and inevitable loser complex, your primary concern is not whether you have a pulse but rather whether you are going to see more then the inside of a prison cell for the next 30 years. Getting arrested in Thailand is no joke. Thai police don’t give a shit whether you consciously took drugs or had drugs planted in your drink. In the end, you’re going to jail. Think Pollsmoor prison on steroids and human rights violations that make Yemen and Tibet look like Amnesty International.

Image

Just your standard thai prison

15 things to do in THAILAND

Whilst I should be focusing on projects, assignments, graduating, completing a TEFL course and just planning my life next year, I just have one thing on my mind THAILAND.

Everyone who I’ve spoken to that has been to Thailand before have all reiterated the similar sentiments of not seeing half of what was on offer. Seeing as my friend Tash is only going to be with me for 3 weeks, we need to capitalize on moment available. So I’ve created a bucket list of 15 things to do in Thailand, some during the holiday and some over the year to come, ranging from inland activities in northern Thailand, to island parties, jungle adventures and festivals.

1)   Full Moon Party – Koh Phangan

Everyone will tell you this is a must. Fortunately for me this year the full moon party actually falls on New Year so all the more reason to go wild. I’ve always thought of New Years as being possibly the most overrated night of the year so hopefully this will exceed all expectations.

ko phangan full moon party on beach

2)   Big Blue diving – Ko Tao

Ko Tao is also known as ‘turtle island’ because of the exquisite ocean terrain and sea life. Big Blue is a resort that offers a range of diving activities, boat cruises and partying.

Image

3)   Release lanterns

I’ve seen so many breath taking photo’s of this and it happens all over Thailand. It seems like quite a spiritual and holistic practice, a good way to start my new year perhaps?

Image

4)   Yoga

Shani and I have vowed to become yoga veterans during our year in Thailand. I need a way to stay fit and I’ve heard yoga is addictive. The picture below will be me a year from now.

Me in a year, obviously.

Me in a year, obviously.

5)   Baan Chang Elephant Park 

The elephant park is in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. It’s a park surrounded by dozens of Asian elephants that you can ride bare back through the jungle terrain.

Image

6)   Flower festival – Chiang Mai 

Flower festival

7)   Water festival – Chiang Mai 

water festival

8)   Tiger temple

My friend Cleo went to the Tiger Temple, a Theravada Buddhist temple in Western Thailand, earlier this year and uploaded these unbelievable photos herself just casually lying on a tiger? I’ve had an obsession with tigers ever since I can remember and I’ve only ever physically seen one once. Hopefully my nerves can handle some tiger cuddling.

My friend Cleo just casually lying on a tiger

My friend Cleo just casually lying on a tiger

9)   Floating Cinema

I’ve seen his image all over social media sites and figure now would be the perfect opportunity to do some research. It’s located on the rocky shoreline of Yoi Noi near Phuket and is known as the Archipelago Cinema. It is made from recyclable materials, showcases old school films and was created as part of the “Film on the Rocks” film festival.

floating cinema

10)   Thai massage

Full body Thai massages for as little as R20 – enough said.

Paradise

Paradise

11)   Eat bugs (maybe)

I can’t promise I’ll eat anything, the pictures are enough to make you sick but I’m interested to see whats on offer. I have an extreme phobia of snakes and worm like creatures so odds are against me that’ll be overcoming that any time soon.

Bug buffet

Bug buffet

12)   Floating Market – Damnoen Saduak

Damnoen Saduak is located about 30km outside Bangkok and is a market on river canals that you navigate your way through on a boat, stopping off whenever you feel tempted by any of the various ornaments, food and drink stalls on display.

floating market

13)   Lady Boy show

Upon my research, I decided a picture was not necessary – google it if you haven’t got a clue. I feel the shows (ping pong included) probably fall under the “when in Thailand” category but after a few drinks might be an evitable option. Whilst it definitely freaks the hell out of me, I’ve heard it’s quite impressive and I fully support the arts…

14)   Night Bazaar – Chiang Mai

Absolutely anything to do with shopping and I’m sold! The Night Bazaar in the centre of Chiang Mai is the biggest of its kind on Far East Asia. Everything from handcrafts, clothes, shoes wallets and jewels, not to mention the food!

night bizaar

15)   Chatuchak Weekend Market – Bangkok

More shopping, this time in Bangkok. Apparently it’s a lot like the Night Bazaar but being in the city it has more contemporary merchandise. I’ve tried searching for photos of the market and then stumbled upon a blog that recommended tourists to not take photos as many of the animals and reptiles sold at some are the stalls are captured illegally?? WELCOME TO ASIA.

chatuchak market

And the countdown begins

Image

Image

Cape Town, South Africa

Greetings from the greatest city on earth, Cape Town.

This blog will follow the next year and a bit of my life as I embark on the adventure of travel, exploration, teaching, independence, discovery and culture shock in Far East Asia, more specifically, Thailand. The idea that my life a year from now is going to be so drastically different is both scary and exciting. I’m a little apprehensive yet my excitement and readiness to go seems to trump any uncertainty – for now.

My name is Alexandra Cloete, known as Alex or “Al” to my close friends and my one-way ticket is brought and my departure date set for the 29 December 2013, which leaves exactly 116 days to go. I’m currently finishing off my post graduate diploma in Marketing after completing a 3 year undergrad in pint media production, media writing and political science. Between now and my departure date I need to do a TEFL course, plan a holiday, sort out visa’s, find a job in Thailand, find an apartment and most importantly decide on a city to live in, but more on that to come.

The first 3 weeks of my trip to the Far East will be a holiday through the islands and hopefully Laos with two of my best friends, Tash and Shani. Tash is coming for the 3 week holiday which will hopefully help in getting me settled and Shani and I will stay on to live, work, teach english and create a new life for ourselves in Thailand. the entire notion is daunting and scary but having spent the past 4 years at university, I’m ready for something new and more importantly, I need something new. New people, new city, new culture, new life.

Hopefully this blog will help inspire other young, confused graduates to take a step in a less explored and slightly scary direction, to travel a path seemingly less traveled all while providing a platform for entertainment, pretty pictures and maybe even a path for myself to “figure it all out”.

Bangkok-Night

Bangkok, Thailand