A Guide to Thailand: Chiang Mai [Part 2 of 6]

Part 2: Chiang Mai

After two days in Bangkok, we flew to Chiang Mai. We stayed here for 6 nights in total and it was my favourite part of the whole trip. I would definitely come back here in the future as there was so much we didn’t get time to see.

  1. Doi Inthanon National Park. I would definitely recommend this park to anyone staying in Chiang Mai. It was one of the pricier things we did but was completely worth it! It was 1300THB (£30) for the day, which included: transport to and from our hostel, transport all around the park, entry to the park and lunch. The tour takes you to the highest point in Thailand, also home to the burial ground of the last King of Chiang Mai who was one of the first people to try and preserve the forests of Northern Thailand. We also saw the Royal Chedis, which are two temple-like buildings built for the King and Queen on their 60th They were both surrounded with beautiful gardens and had views overlooking Chiang Mai. We then stopped at the Royal Gardens. It was a beautiful area full of colourful plants and flowers with a lake in the centre with swans and fish. We were then taken to a small hill tribe where we had the opportunity to buy some local produce, such as coffee and hand-made scarves. And finally we visited Wachirathan Falls. Here we had an all-you-can-eat lunch of local dishes before dipping our toes in the bottom of the waterfall. You can also stand at the top and feel the spray of the water! This is a great place to go if you’re looking to learn a little more about the history and culture of Chang Mai.

 

  1. Night Bazaar. We didn’t spend long here but it was recommended to us by a few people so we made sure to check it out. It was a few streets lined with bars, restaurants, clubs and souvenir stalls. We walked all around it before picking a random bar to sit down and have a drink in. This bar was advertised as an Irish bar but definitely wasn’t! The only thing Irish in there was the name ‘Irish Bar’ on the outside and a few green decorations! But we stayed anyway. It was one bar in a small group. After sitting down and taking in everything around us, we realised the area was completely run by lady boys and we were the only women there! The only other customers were lone middle aged men!! We had a giggle, finished our drinks and headed back to the hostel. Although we didn’t go into any other bars, they all looked pretty lively. If you were looking to party in Chiang Mai, this is the place to go.

 

  1. Old City (the square). The main place to go in Chiang Mai is Old City, also referred to as ‘the square’. Here is where you’ll find all the temples, the Sunday market, street food market and lots of other cafes and accommodation. The Night Bazaar is also just opposite it. We spent a full day here just walking around in and out of temples. It cost nothing to go in to any of them so is a great stop for budget travellers.

 

  1. Sunday Market. This is a must see if you are in Chiang Mai on a Sunday. We were told by everyone we met to visit it if we got the chance so we did! I was expecting just one street lined with souvenir stalls. However, when we arrived we saw that it was actually several streets and a few courtyards absolutely crammed with stalls! You could buy pretty much any souvenir you could think of. Clothes, bookmarks, matches, pictures, fans, toys – you name it, they had it! There was also a food court full of lots of different local and freshly made food. We stopped here and I had some pumpkin fries, which were amazing! We looked around a lot of the stalls and between us bought A LOT! Here is the best and cheapest place to get the famous baggy trousers. I didn’t get any here as I bought a maxi dress instead. It was 300THB (£7). It is advised that you haggle with the sellers here as they will charge tourists more than the product is worth so don’t be afraid to offer a lower price. Just not too low as you don’t want offend them. Another traveller we met suggested going 40% lower than the given price and work up from there.

 

  1. Accommodation. While in Chiang Mai we stayed in Thai Thai Hostel, which again we found through Hostel World. [Link below]. It was such a good hostel and I would definitely recommend it to others. The staff were so welcoming and friendly, happy to help us with anything we needed. Whenever we got back from a day out they always took the time to ask us how our day had been and what we had planned for the next day. It was much busier than our last hostel, packed with other young travellers. Everyone chilled in the common room in the evenings to play cards, watch TV and drink Chiang Beer creating a homely atmosphere. It was about a fifteen-minute walk from Old City and a fifteen-minute drive from the airport so a perfect location!

 

 

[http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Thai-Thai-Hostel/Chiang-Mai/268093?dateFrom=2017-08-14&dateTo=2017-08-17&number_of_guests=2]

A Guide to Thailand: Bangkok [Part 1 of 6]

[I was going to write a full travel blog on everything we did in Thailand but realised I could write pages and pages as there is so much to talk about! I decided to do a short summary post instead on each of the places we went and just discuss the things that are important for future travellers, the mistakes we made and the cool things we found. I hope this is helpful for anyone looking to travel in the future! If you want to know any more about what we did, feel free to ask in the comments below!]

Part 1: Bangkok

 

  1. Taxis. This is an area we actually researched before travelling to Thailand. Despite this we still made mistakes and were still ripped off by the drivers a couple of times. When getting in a taxi be sure to check that they have turned the meter on as you are pulling away. Without the meter the driver is able to make up his own prices to charge you, which could be triple what the meter would’ve said. If they claim that the meter is broken and try to agree on a price with you then you need to be firm and tell them no and that you’ll get a different taxi. When this happened to us, it happened to be on the way to catch our flight and we didn’t want to risk being late so did try to attempt some bartering. As we expected this did not work and we paid double the expected price. On another occasion the meter was on but the taxi driver insisted we pay him double that price at the end of the journey. As tourists to the city, exhausted from travelling and desperate to get into our hostel, we paid him without arguing. He even helped himself to a service charge out of the change.

 

  1. Tuk-tuks. An alternative to taxis in Thailand is tuk-tuks. As they don’t have meters, the drivers are free to charge you whatever they want so make sure you discuss a price prior to the journey. Because of this they tend to be a lot pricier than a taxi driver so are probably better for shorter journeys. You also need to be firm with the driver about your desired destination as they’ve been known to make stops along the way to try and get tourists to spend more money. You need to be firm in telling them that you only wish to go to that one specific place.

 

  1. Khao San Road. This is the number one tourist spot during the night. It’s the place to go to eat, drink, party, shop for souvenirs and even watch Ping Pong shows, if that’s your cup of tea! Everyone here will try to sell you something so try to avoid stopping and speaking to the reps unless you are actually interested in what they are selling. If you’re not interested, just keep walking. You should definitely try the street food here as it’s so good and much cheaper than any restaurant and café.

 

  1. The Grand Palace and Wat Pho. A must-see if you’re in Bangkok! The temples are incredible and like nothing I’d ever seen before. We visited The Grand Palace first as it closes at 3:30pm. It cost us 550THB per person for entry (approximately £12.50), which was completely worth it for the amount we got to see. As it is a huge tourist attraction it was incredibly busy and sometimes hard to get from place to place. Expect to move around it slowly. We visited the Wat Pho afterwards, home to the reclining Buddha. It cost us 100THB (£2) for the Wat Pho which again was more than reasonable pricing. It was also a lot quieter here as it was later in the day. When visiting these Temples, make sure you dress respectfully as you will be refused entry and pointed to a nearby clothes shop if not. Your legs need to be covered and you should wear a top that is high necked and covers your shoulders.

 

  1. Accommodation. For our time in Bangkok, we stayed in Bed and Bike Hostel, which we found through Hostel World. [Link below]. It was by far the nicest hostel of our trip. We had a little four-bed room to ourselves which was spacious and fully air conditioned. The staff were very welcoming, making us feel at home with them. The common room area was lit with fairy lights and always had quiet music playing in the background creating a relaxing vibe, a stark contrast to the bustling city outside. It was the perfect space to come back to after a hectic day exploring Bangkok. Its location is also perfect being a twenty-minute walk from Khao San Road and a ten-minute walk from the Grand Palace. We loved it so much that we booked ourselves back in for another two nights at the end of our trip! I would highly recommend this hostel for anyone staying in Bangkok.

 

[http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Bangkok-Bed-and-Bike/Bangkok/100201]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

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“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-tah.” Humbert Humbert has fallen in love. He is head over heels with the girl of his dreams and can’t think of anything else but her. He would give anything to be with her, just the two of them alone together. So when he gets his chance, he takes it and never lets her go. They drive across the highway roads of America, stopping in motels along the way, leaving a trail of fake names and lies. He buys her all the treats she could ever ask for, gives in to her every need and want. Anything for his darling, nymphet Lolita. A love story? Not quite.

Lolita is the controversial story of a middle aged man, Humbert Humbert, who falls in love with his land-lady’s twelve-year-old daughter Dolores Haze, also known as Lolita. To stay close to the child, he marries her mother, Charlotte Haze, in the hope that he’ll one day have the opportunity to get Lolita all to himself. Sure enough, when Charlotte dies in a terrible accident, he seizes his chance and whisks Lolita away. They embark on a road trip across America together for several months before residing in a house in the town of Beardsley together.

Despite the shocking content and narrative of the story, readers will find themselves feeling sorry for Humbert. We know that what he has done to Lolita is wrong and should we hear this story on the news, we would be praying for the man to be locked up and the key thrown away. The first person perspective in this story allows us to understand Humbert’s motives and excuses behind his actions. It gives the reader a unique look into the mind-set of a paedophile, helping us to understand why he is drawn to Lolita in this way. We can see that although what he doing is undoubtedly wrong, it is being done out of love for the child. The reader begins to see him more as a sick man, rather than an evil one.

The book is written in the style of a confession from Humbert. The foreword tells us of Humbert sat in his jail cell composing his confession, presumably to be read in court. We’re reminded of this throughout the story as he addresses the reader as the jury. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number 1…” he writes. His account is honest and he admits to everything he believes was wrongful of him. But he excuses himself for actions he believes to be justified. He fully understands throughout the novel that his actions were wrong in the eyes of the law as he is persistently fearful of being caught. He doesn’t seem to understand that his actions were wrong in the eyes of Lolita too. He seems to fully believe that she is in as infatuated with him as he is with her; he is blind sighted by his own love for her.

The book is a challenging read due to couple of reasons. Firstly, and most obviously is the content. While the story might be told like a love story, it is indisputably a story of paedophilia and abuse. Readers should not be fooled by Lolita and her own lust for Humbert. While she may not be trying to escape from this man, he is still holding her captive. Her willingness to stay with him does not justify his kidnapping and abuse of her. Secondly, the book is challenging due to the poetic language. Although the language is beautiful to read, at times you may find yourself re-reading passages, trying to figure out what it is you have just read. Due to both of these reasons, I found that Lolita wasn’t a book I could fully immerse myself with and sit and read for hours on end. I took my time reading some passages to fully understand them and frequently put the book down to think about what I had just read. Despite this, I would highly recommend it to others to read. It’s a unique story, doing what very few other novels do, by telling such a harrowing account of abuse from the abuser’s perspective

Although written over 60 years ago, the story of Lolita is one that is still very much relevant today. Stories of sexual abuse and paedophilia sadly are still very present in the news and are no more acceptable now than they were at the time of Lolita’s publication. The story focuses predominantly around the mind of Humbert rather than the time that these events took place. Although it is not modern, it could very easily be a story of the 21st century.

Does Feminism Come with a Dress Code?

ad_236938443Since the release of Vanity Fair Magazine this month, Emma Watson has faced a huge backlash of negative comments over her photoshoot featuring an image of her posing semi-nude. She’s been branded a hypocrite and stripped of her feminist title by the public. Journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer tweeted, “Emma Watson: “Feminism, feminism… gender wage gap… why oh why am I not taken seriously… feminism… oh, and here are my tits!” Another questioned why it’s not okay for Page 3 models to pose naked, but it’s fine for Emma Watson to do so. These are key examples of people today still not understanding what feminism is.

Feminism is about equality. It’s about women having equal rights to men and the freedom to be who they want to be. The choice to work or not; to have children or not; to wear what they want to wear. Being photographed for a fashion magazine semi-nude should in no way undermine or disregard these rights we as women have fought for. Emma Watson’s Vanity Fair photo shoot in comparison to Page 3 models are two very different mediums of modelling and should not be considered in the same way. Page 3 Girls are photographed to be placed in a daily newspaper where they can assume they will become the objects of the Male Gaze. Emma Watson’s modelling however was part of a piece of art by a professional Fashion photographer, Tim Walker. It was placed in a Fashion Magazine for audiences to look and admire at the clothes she is modelling and the overall aesthetic of the photo. Her boobs are not the subject and it is disappointing to see such a beautiful photo degraded down to just that. She responded in a recent interview stating “I don’t know what my tits have to do with it.”

Feminism is also about de-sexualising women’s bodies. Women’s breasts are primarily there to feed children; not to be viewed by others for their own pleasure. They are a part of a women’s body and should be embraced by them, not hidden away shamefully for fear of others objectifying them. Body confidence is another huge issue in our society today with many lacking it. When women are brave enough to do shoots like this, they should be celebrated for their confidence. Girls should be taught to love their skin and be comfortable in it. Not to hide it away. The idea that Watson should be shamed for loving her body is shocking. Journalist Federica Cocco tweeted “apparently you can’t be a feminist and love your body.”

As an advocate for women’s right, Emma Watson was appointed Ambassador for UN Women in 2014. This is the organisation behind the HeForShe campaign, formed the same year. Their goal is to encourage men to take action against inequalities faced by women. They currently have over 1 million active supporters. Free The Nipple campaign was set up in 2012 by a group of women who believed that they should be allowed to show their nipples in public. On a hot sunny day, a man can walk around topless and nobody would bat an eye, but if a woman were to do the same, she could be arrested for public indecency. The campaign is fighting for equality, empowerment and freedom for all humans. These two campaigns are both globally successful suggesting that feminism is still such a big issue in today’s society. The picture of Emma Watson and the backlash around it have proved how necessary and relevant they still are today, despite how much progress has already been made.

So, does feminism come with a dress code? Absolutely not. Women are free and entitled to dress how they want and should be free to do so without criticism. The way in which a person dresses does not determine the way they think and the morals they stand for. It is small minded to devalue someone’s morals and opinions purely because of the way they are dressed. Emma Watson’s shoot in Vanity Fair should be looked at for what it is: a piece of art.