Spring Break in Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

I know, I know. I’ve been gone a while and my site has been totally dead, but don’t you worry because this post is about to blow your mind! For my mid-semester break, here in Australia, four friends of mine and I all ventured to Bangkok, Thailand! First things first, Thailand is hot. We went in early April and it was in the 90’s Fahrenheit the whole time I was there — that’s right around 32 Celsius — and it was humid! Sunscreen was definitely necessary and even with my 50+ broad spectrum I still managed to get a nice sunburn on my shoulders and neck! When we first arrived in Thailand we just relaxed because we arrived late in the evening on Saturday, so we grabbed dinner and went to bed.

Sunday: We explored the Sunday markets just outside the part of Bangkok we were staying in. Because we were far from most of the sites we wanted to visit, we had to take a lot of taxis and if you have never been to Bangkok, you have no idea how hard catching a taxi can be — definitely read up on this if you plan on visiting Bangkok! The markets were huge and have lots of amazing stands for food, clothes, lights, etc. You name it, Sunday markets have it!

Monday: This was our second full day in Bangkok — we explored all of the popular temples in and around the city! Here are some of my best shots from the day!

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Part of a massive wall mural on the outside of the temple!

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While the temples were amazing and an amazing experience, Tuesday was my favorite day in Thailand because we got to spend it at an animal sanctuary called The Wildlife Friends Foundation, Thailand. Here, we got a tour of the whole sanctuary and met a number of their sweet residents! After our tour we got to spend the rest of our afternoon with a truly gentle giant, Boonmee, a 55 year old rescued elephant, as well as a few of the sanctuary’s other elephants!

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One of several Dusky Langur monkeys that live at the sanctuary!

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Taking Boonmee for a walk!

Give me the fruit!

Give me the fruit!

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Bath time!

Roomie sprayed us with the hose...

Roomie sprayed us with the hose…

My roommate and friend, Sara, and I with the elephants!

My roommate and friend, Sara, and I with the elephants!

Sharing the love!

Sharing the love!

Wednesday: Well, we were meant to go on a rain forest zip line, but it decided to monsoon so instead we spent the morning indoors drying off and waiting for the rain to pass. Later in the afternoon we all went separate ways on our plans. I went out with my friend, Cara, and got our nails done and went and did a little shopping!

Here we are in a Tuk Tuk on our way to the mall!

Here we are in a Tuk Tuk on our way to the mall!

Here is the inside of the Tuk Tuk!

Here is the inside of the Tuk Tuk!

Thursday: This was our last day in Thailand and we spent it at an all day spa called Oasis. I received a package treatment that included a full body sugar scrub, a hot oil full body massage, and a traditional Thai facial. Then we were off on our flight back to Melbourne, relaxed and ready for a lazy weekend before starting classes again on Monday!

Our welcome Ginger tea at the spa!

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A Weekend in Queensland

Australia, Melbourne

I arrived in Australia on February 16th. While I would be living in Melbourne for the duration of my study abroad, I did spend an incredible three day weekend in Cairns, Queensland.

On our first day in Cairns we had a free day, so we all of course went shopping and went out for drinks. This was also the day after my 21st birthday (February 15th), which was lost when I crossed the dateline. I celebrated my 21st at a very nice establishment called The Wool Shed. I spent the night trying Australian beer, which I am not a fan of (For the record!) and table dancing. Table Dancing as in the night where said establishment allows customers to dance on their tables. It was all good fun. Unfortunately I have no photographs from this evening.

The second day I spent at a very nice rain forest park called RainForeStation. This is where a number of spectacular things happened. Firstly, I held a koala and she was absolutely the cutest and softest little sweetheart.RainForeStation, Cairns, Australia-Ellanna-Photo 1

I also had a wonderful opportunity to feed and pet some kangaroos. DSC_0176RainForeStation, Cairns, Australia-Ellanna-Photo 2DSC_0186DSC_0191

These guys are Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Red Kangaroos are too dangerous to really be interacted with because of their strength, size, and aggression. At RainForeStation I also went on a drive through the (wait for it!) rain forest!

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We also were taken on a guided tour through the park to visit some other critters! Here are my favorite highlights!

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On my last day in Cairns I took a 2 hour boat ride out to the Great Barrier Reef, where I went scuba diving and snorkeling (I also got a wicked sun burn). I will post a picture of my friends, Taylor and Cara, and I in our wet suits. All my other media from this trip is video footage that is not allowed on this page. I will be posting again soon! I hope you all enjoyed this post!DCIM100GOPRO

What to Pack for a Study Abroad

Australia, Melbourne

I wrote this three days before I left for Melbourne when I finally started packing. I hope my misery becomes someone’s salvation.

Clothes

1) Make a list (or buy one, like I did)

  • Use your list to help you get a general idea of the kinds of things most people bring on any sort of travel experience.

2) Mark off the things you bring on your list.

  • This will help you keep track of all your belongings that you came with. If you leave with more, nice job you’re a shopaholic like me. If you’re leaving with less, there’s a problem.

3) Pick things you know you’ll wear.

  • There’s nothing more useless than a pair of heels you will NEVER wear or that t-shirt you love but it’s too tight so you WON’T wear it.

4) Pick things that suit the local weather.

  • Example: I won’t be bringing my giant snow boots. This is Australia. Try hiking boots, some flats that go with everything, and a pair of plain sandals.

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5) Limit accessories.

  • I know it’s hard, but try to limit the amount of jewelry and accessories you’re bring. This limits thefts and losses. It also allows you to buy more when you arrive…
    • Example:
      • 1 Necklace (that goes with everything)
      • 2 hats (that are super simple)

6) Don’t forget really important and necessary things.

  • I’m talking about things like underwear and socks. You can pack tons of these things and feel no shame.
    • Ladies, bras don’t count. Limit yourself to your favorite 4 or 5. They take up a lot of space. Make sure that at least one is a sports bra.

Toiletries and Health

1) Hair

  • No heat stylers. As in, don’t bring your curling irons, straighteners, blowdryers, etc. The outlets are different. The wattage is different. Your blowdryer will explode and take your hair down with it. Buy them when you get there.
  • Bring only the products you can’t live without. For me that’s a pomade (Bedhead, Manipulator) and a leave in conditioner (Lush, R&B). Pack these in your checked bag, you won’t need them on the plane.
  • Buy larger items when you land. Example: I will be bringing a travel sized amount of cleansing conditioner and heat protectant because the containers or too large and fragile to pack. Pack the travel sized items in your carry on, as well as things you might need to keep your hair out of your face. For my fellow pixies, that means hair clips or pins. For my Rapunzel beauties, that means hair ties.

2) Face

  • Bring all of the following on to the plane with you. Seriously.
    • Facial Cleanser
    • Facial moisturizer (with SPF UVA/UVB 30 or more)
    • A serum or facial oil (for extra hydration because planes are dehydrating)
    • Lip balm
    • Toothbrush and toothpaste (and dental floss if you worry about gum disease, like me)
    • Face mask (if you so desire)
      • I bring a moisturizing one that can be worn a long time (Origins, Drink-Up Intensive Overnight Mask) because my face wash is super purifying and can leave my skin pretty dry, plus planes are dehydrating. As for people possibly staring at you, forget them. They’ll be mad they didn’t do the same when you get off the plane looking gorgeous.

3) Body

  • Bring on plane. You don’t want to get sick or dehydrated, which can lead to being sick.
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Vitamins
    • Snacks
    • Moisturizer
    • Motion sickness medicine
    • Water. A big bottle of delicious, nutritious water.
    • Ladies supplies if you are, in fact, a lady. If, in fact, you are a said lady experiencing “that time of the month”.
      • I’m so sorry you have to fly right now.
My cabinet of goodies in Melbourne.

My cabinet of goodies in Melbourne.

4) Mind

  • Bring all of this on the plane.
    • Books.
      • I’m bringing all of my books that I plan on reading on the plane or using while I’m in Melbourne.
        • 2 Cookbooks
        • 1 Travel Guide
        • 1 “For Fun” book that I can’t live without
    • Audio
      • I’m bringing my iPod. That is all.
        • Audiobooks
        • All my music.
    • Movies
      • I am going to bring my 5 favorite DVDs with me for usage in my apartment. I can watch them on my laptop on the plane if I want.

I will be doing another packing post later on which is all about my makeup. What I packed, how I decided, how I packed it, etc.

Study Abroad: My Fears and Thoughts

Australia, Melbourne

This trip has been 3 years in the making. I have spent hours reading, saving money, and imagining myself in Australia for 3 years. With 39 days left until my departure, I think it’s time that I finally shared my fears and thoughts on Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Let’s start with the fears. I mean, if I’m being really honest with myself, there are a lot of things to be afraid of in Australia (or on my way there because I am a second-rate airport navigator), but I don’t feel any sense of fear or impending doom. Perhaps it has not sunk in, yet, that I’ve actually made it this far. After 3 years of fantasizing about going to Australia, to actually be going is beyond mind blowing.

Another thing that is mind blowing to my frozen Alaskan ass is that I could actually be bitten by something venomous. The idea of being bitten by megafauna, such as sharks, is nothing new to me as I have lived my whole life in an ecosystem filled with bears, wolves, and whatever other supposedly horrifying creature you can conjure up when you hear the word “Alaska…”. However, venomous snakes, scorpions, fish, and even aquatic snails that could potentially send me to my grave? Yeah, that’s new.

The idea of a burn time is also new to me! For those of you who have never heard of a “burn time”, it is the time it takes for my pale body to wither and fry in a given intensity of sunshine. I wear my SPF 15 UVA/UVB protection daily on exposed limbs and my face, but even the midnight sun of Alaska cannot compare to the piercing rays of the Australian sun through a damaged Ozone. I’ve had intense sunburn before (Thanks, Mexico!) and I really do not have any intention of trying it again. Thus, I will be buying SPF 70 (Yes, I know there’s not much difference after SPF 30) water resistant sunscreen, SPF 30 lip-balm (because sunburned lips suck) and a whole lot of aloe gel. Sweet, sweet aloe gel.

Naturally, another fear of mine is breaking any social norms of Melbourne’s culture and being ostracized by the locals — Wait, come back! I need friends! Of course, the likelihood of me making absolutely no friends is very low. In a city with a current population of 4.25 million someone has to like me, right? Melbourne also has a lot — seriously, overflowing options — of things to do.

Of the previously spoken of options, I plan on participating in quite a few, but the one I’m most excited for is Australian Rules Football. Commonly referred to by a number of names: AFL (Australian Football League), footy (basic Aussie slang), Aerial Ping Pong (if you’re feeling fancy), or you can call it Aussie Rules, like I do. Which has a very interesting ball that is a mix between an American football and a rugby ball and equally interesting rules.

I also look forward to the markets and the food of Melbourne because I have heard and read a lot of good things about it. Melbourne has always been rated one of the most livable cities in the world, so while I have my worries about getting there and living there, I’m not that worried. If it’s meant to be, it will be! I mean, that is the Aussie attitude, “No worries, mate. She’ll be right.”

For some Aussie slang references and Aussie things in general, I recommend these guys:

http://www.koalanet.com.au/australian-slang.html — for the slang

http://thingsaussieslike.wordpress.com/speaking-aussie-style-2/ — for slang and more