5 Apr 2011

Backpacking Book Worm

Last year I went on a three month trip to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia with a friend.  The experience was hilarious, ridiculous, surprising, humbling, monstrously tiring, and gave me a renewed appreciation for the 'miserable' weather we have here in England (let me tell you now, there is nothing more miserable than your own sweat relentlessly blurring your vision whilst you are crossing a flimsy bamboo bridge across sheer heights, with nothing to hold on to on either side).  I have included some wonderful photos of my trip in this post to stir your inner travel bug - if you decide to use any please place a link back to this post!

The wonderfully tranquil sunsets of Koh Tao - even though the beach was crowded with people, everyone stayed quite still and quiet as the sun went down.

Above and below are more Koh Tao sunsets.  We stayed on this island for a week and every evening we would go for a swim, then watch day become night ... very understated and moderate yes, but we then made up for it by visiting Lotus Bar every night too ...

Throughout the journey I had a book with me.  I first picked up The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on the island of Koh Tao, Thailand where our journey began.  In actual fact, our journey began in Bangkok, but we hated it there so I have decided it was just another leg of the journey.  I was very impressed at the idea of book swap shop - 'That is such a great idea, they should do that everywhere!', I think were my exact words.

I then picked up The Occupation in Singapore at, you guessed it, a book swap shelf in our hostel (I had by this point realised that they did do this everywhere).  It took me a long time to finish The Occupation because we got off on the wrong foot.  I loved the thought of books moving around the world via strangers, especially as the inside cover of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo had been signed by people who had read it before me.  Two girls from the UK and a boy from the USA.  I followed suit and signed my name, the month and year I had read the book, and which country I was from.  Isn't that sweet?  I took the book from Koh Tao to Singapore so who knows where it is now, or where it had been before.

Ang Thong National Park, located near Koh Phangnan.

This was the day we visited Maya Bay (where The Beach was filmed) near Phi Phi.

Sleepy butterflies in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia.  I felt so sorry for them having been wrapped up in paper for God knows how long.

Trying to trick my camera into taking professional photos ... not working.

I found the best thing about backpacking was the bizarre chance encounters, two being an amaretto fuelled night with some McLaren Group staff in Singapore, and bumping into a girl I went to school with in Melbourne (okay, so I knew she was backpacking at the time but I certainly didn't expect to bump into her, plus we were near the outskirts around Brunswick Street, not the city centre ... WEIRD!).

The famous Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, by day and night (day when we entered the shopping centre, night by the time we left).

The idea behind book swapping, of course, is to give a book in order to take a book.  A rule that my backpacking companion ignored in Cairns.  She stole (and it wasn't even from our hostel) Fools Die by Mario Puzo - the same gent who wrote The Godfather.  Despite berating her for committing a crime, it did look like a very good book, so imagine my surprise and excitement when I returned home yesterday to find a book shaped package waiting for me!  I should explain at this point that Ms Thief flew on to New Zealand when I flew home and she has been in Queenstown ever since.  She returns home in six weeks so I had better get reading!

The weather in Singapore looks rather mild in this photo, in reality it was so hot a part of me genuinely believed my time on earth was up.  I remember taking this photo in a hurry so that I could run back into the shade.

This waterfall photo was taken in Australia (that's your first clue), and it was all very ... mysterious ... (second clue, if you haven't guessed it by now then shame on you).

My backpacking bud writing messages of love in the sand on Whitehaven Beach, located in the Whitsunday Islands off the East coast of Australia.  The weather on that particular day was mild, but we didn't mind because it meant we had the entire beach to ourselves.

Above is an image from the Nimbin Museum, in the ever dreamy town of Nimbin, Australia.  Below is a small sample of the artistic flair found in Melbourne, Australia.  In my opinion, this is by far the best place in Australia and I would definitely go back - it had loads of quirky little book shops but unfortunately I didn't get time to explore them.

If you have ever been backpacking please share your bizarre chance encounters and any other stories!  If you have never tried backpacking I highly reccomend it, even if it is for only a few weeks.  My time spent travelling met not one of my expectations, yet in no way was it dissappointing or dull.