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Trapped in Paradise

The walls are starting to close in

Hi all. Time for a catch-up on my travel plans. This isn't the blog entry I was going to write, about my travel to Khao Sok and my experiences here, that'll hopefully come later today or tomorrow, but this is whats's happening to me now.

I wrote the first few paragraphs of this 3 days ago, then it got worse.

It's 36 degrees outside as I sit in the shade drinking a strawberry shake in paradise. There are certainly worse places to be trapped.

Not a bad view

But I'm not trapped, not yet. I still have options, though these seem to change daily and this travelling adventure that I took on 3 weeks ago is becoming harder and harder to complete.

Rewind back 3 weeks to my original plan. I was to travel to Bangkok, stay there for a few days, then make my way down to the island of Koh Tao to learn to dive then travel down to Khao Sok to experience the rain forest for a few days before leaving Thailand. Check, check and check.

I was then going to fly to Vietnam, travel north through the country for a month, then into Laos, then sail down the Mekong back into Northern Thailand possibly visiting Myanmar time permitting. But now Vietnam has closed it's borders to pretty much everyone, Malaysia has done the same, and now Indonesia. It looks like I'm heading North.

Myanmar (formerly Burma) is still allowing tourists in, although not if you've been to certain countries in the last 14 days (I haven't) and Laos will also let me in. As it stands today.

You can't blame anyone, A lot of these countries have little in the way of Coronavirus cases, Myanmar claim they've had none. And they want to keep it that way. I think my best bet it to get a train back to Bangkok and go visit the Myanmar Embassy, from there I can travel across the Bridge over the River Kwai and make my way overland. Hopefully.

Another update: I wrote that last bit last night, and since then, both Myanmar and Laos have closed. At this point all I can do is get to Bangkok, extend my visa for a further 30 days and review my options or hope that a country opens. At this point I've looked at going anywhere from Nepal to Malawi.

I don't want to have to come home. I know it's a real possibility at this point and an understandable act, but it still feels like giving up. I could go back to the UK, 'wait for it to all blow over' and try again, but while I have enough money to last at least another 6 months out here, that money would get sucked up in no time back home, and that's besides losing loads of it to flights.

It's times like these that the whole 'solo' bit becomes a pain. If I had someone here with me, they could help plan, make decisions, but then I guess they could also decide that they want to return, so I guess that's a bonus of being alone.

It's strange being here and there still being so little about the virus being talked about. Sure, when I meet people the subject always comes up much the same as Brexit did when I travelled solo around Greece a couple of years back. It's still something that's happening elsewhere for us. But my Mum is self isolating, my Sister is self isolating as she's come down with something. My friends are working from home or the office is closed. I am very aware how real it is back home. It's all that's on the news, social media, Youtube.

All I can do is try to move forward.

Posted by cblanc102 07:34 Archived in Thailand Tagged travel thailand vietnam visa koh khao sok tao coronavirus Comments (2)

Basically, I'm doing this all wrong

Updates blog #1

So a state of play so to speak.

As I end my 19th day of this trip (it feels a lot longer) and inch ever closer to my sisters' estimates of how long I'd last out here on my own (21 days both, thanks girls! xx) I've already learned some valuable lessons, some painful.

I've been on Koh Tao now for 2 weeks, it's a paradise, filled with backpackers, great food, amazing sunsets and lovely people, but I've been here too long. After a few days here I decided that once a month I should spend a week in one place, and I'm sticking with that. Have a chance to regroup, replan, recharge re other stuff. You need it after travelling a while. But I've been here two weeks now and it's too long.

This isn't a holiday. I told myself this before I left. Some will say I worked hard (they're wrong), so I deserve it (they're right), but staying this long anywhere kinda goes against the whole idea of the trip. I picked two weeks in the first place, because of the scuba diving that would take up 5 days, but it was still too long here on this small island, I've done all I need to do and that with the last 3 days basically being laid up with a blistered back, which brings me to :

Injuries - These are pretty much all self inflicted, but ongoing. I still have 7 or 8 urchin spines in my hand, they look like they're getting close to leaving, but still painful at times. I'm covered with bites and unsure if that's because the repellent I bought was cheap shit or just I keep forgetting to use it. And then my back.

Before I left the UK I spent the last month or so moving boxes of book, bags of crap, bookcases, wardrobes, beds and more to charity shops, my Mum's and the dump. It turns out I'm no longer 25 and it had a pretty disastrous effect on my back. When I was finally ready to leave and i filled my backpack up with a load of stuff that I probably won't end up using, it went as you'd likely imagine, it was painful to stand with it, let alone walk.

I carried it around the airport. I carried it around Bangkok and I carried it here. I am obviously rock hard, but it took it's toll. The first week here I couldn't lay on my left side because if I did I could barely get off the bed. Rock hard maybe. Old and decrepit certainly! After a week of swimming, it was fine when I had to move hotels, I finally felt good again.... Then I went snorkeling.

I snorkeled for an hour, taking videos that turned out to be pretty rubbish because if the currents. It was fine, it didn't feel bad, for about 2 hours. At first my back was just hot, then very hot, then so hot I couldn't seven stand in direct sunlight wearing my t-shirt because it was too painful. The next day it was blistery, but ok, then today the blisters started popping like bubble wrap and it again became a thing. It kinda feels like I've laid in stinging nettles, and tomorrow I have to carry my pack down the road for half an hour to catch a ferry, then a bus. Ode to joy!

Which brings me back to travel planning and the Coronavirus.

It's still my plan to leave Thailand by the end of next week. As far as I know I can still get a one month Visa and enter the country with just a health check. That's today though. People warned me about coming here because of the virus spreading, but now ironically it's the Asians that are worried about catching it from me. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I still have options, which is good. They all seem to be in even hotter countries, which isn't great, but I chose to turn up in South East Asia in the hot season, so screw me.

Meanwhile everywhere else in the world is going to hell in a handcart. Italy is closed, Spain pretty much too. Austria is banning gatherings of more than 5 people, that's a good number for the Dartford Festival but terrible for anywhere else! I have friends travelling to Vegas in two months who don't know if they're still going. The US has banned all flights from the UK and no one is saying how long it will last. It's the same everywhere. Then there's the stockpiling of goods, mostly non essential to the virus, just stuff that the shops have told people they can only buy a few of. There's no need for it. They should tell people that there's a shortage of Rolexes and see how well they sell. Then what happens when we run out of toilet paper? Use kitchen roll? Normal paper? Sod that, just make sure you have a fluffy pet.

Right, I should go to bed. It's 12:30 and I still need to pack ready for the morning. It's made a little easier by the fact I keep throwing stuff away or losing it. So far I've:

Lost my water bottle
Broken my glasses
Thrown away a hoodie, pair of shorts and a compression packing cube (I was able to do this because I threw away the other clothes and can now fit all my clothes into one cube).

It's making packing and carrying a bit easier!

Stay safe everyone, please share and leave a comment



I felt bad about having no photos to add as I've been laid out like an invalid for two days, so here's a picture I just took of a lizard running around my light eating insects. Enjoy!

Posted by cblanc102 08:57 Archived in Thailand Tagged travel thailand vietnam island scuba visa asia koh khao sok tao coronavirus Comments (2)

Damaged goods

There's loads here that can kill you, but it's the stuff that can't that you need to worry about

SCIENCE! ( I'll let everyone know when the science bit is done )

about 1 million years ago, the sun created photons at it's centre. Because of the massive gravity at the centre of the sun these photons travelled far slower than their usual speed of light.

Eventually (as I said, about a million years) they hit the Sun's surface, travelled 93 million miles through a vacuum ( about -270 degrees) and hit the Earth's surface.

They then burned through our atmosphere and into my poxy back!!


I've been here 17 days and my body is wrecked. I've been really careful with suntan lotion, putting it on all the time, staying in the shade where I can. but today like a dumbass I went snorkeling for an hour with lotion that's not waterproof. I felt fine, ate in the shade, drank plenty of water. but that's how the stupid Sun gets you!

So I'm in an immense amount of pain.Every part of me aches. I'll be fine I'm sure, lather myself with Aloe Vera, stay completely out of the Sun, but I have to leave in less than 3 days and I'm worried how I'm gonna carry a 15kg rucksack on my burnt back!

But that's only the start of my woes (read: whining)

I'm completely covered in mosquito bites, it turns out that the mosquito repellent clothes I bought don't work at night when you don't wear them. I have a mesh, but stuff gets in.

Blisters! I have loads from where I walked 11km in flip flops the first day like a dumbass! They're going now though. Yay!!

Various scrapes - I have a pretty large scratch on my knee I think came from coral, I still have urchin spines in my hand and a cut on my other hand I have no idea where it came from (probably scuba)

Each time I move somewhere, I hope it'll get better, but seeing as how I'm moving from a woody area to a rain-forest, I doubt it! I have leeches to look forward to!!

I bought some 1400 movies, 500 books, 1000 albums with me just for this kinda emergency! That's my weekend sorted haha

Be safe, STAY OUT OF THE SUN and don't leave me comments just calling me a wanker lol

Posted by cblanc102 08:20 Archived in Thailand Tagged beaches thailand sun koh tao mosquitoes sunburn stupidity Comments (0)

Spreading the news

travelling the world in the midst of a pandemic

I've been planning this trip a long time, years. I was supposed to leave a year ago if I'd gotten my arse into gear and sold all my stuff.

I had a plan, I'm good at plans and originally I was going to leave I think late Feb 2019 and travel from Northern India down to Thailand through Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. I was due to leave Colombo, the Capital of Sri Lanka on April 23rd. They had a series of bombings there on April 21st. The path not taken eh?

We've been going to Florida every two or so years for the last couple of decades, the last time was 2018. We were talking about going this year, but decided against it, which is why I ended up doing this trip now. Had we booked that, we would have been getting pretty excited about it by now, until this morning when we would have found out that all of the Theme Parks in the Orlando area have closed because of the Coronavirus.

Again, the road not taken.

There's not been much here about the Coronavirus. People talk about it, but it's always about other countries, where we come from, how it's affecting the people we know, and Italy. Lot's of people talk about Italy, but no one here really talks about the virus being in Thailand. I overheard a German man today say that it's too hot for it here, I'm not sure that's how it works. I had loads of calls from home about the virus yesterday, I read all the crazy goings on there and all around the world and I worry far more about it back home than I do here.

They have it here, there have been 70 confirmed cases so far, which puts Thailand 37th on the list of highest cases in the world, less even than Iceland. Vietnam, where I'm hoping to travel next, has even fewer cases, they're 48th in the world with just 39 cases so far.

But the countries here are very concerned, and it's making them jumpy about who they let in.

I'm moving on to Khao Sok National Park on Monday, it looks beautiful, I'm playing on being there 4 or 5 days. The plan was then to fly to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, but I'm hearing all sorts of stories about people being put in quarantine straight from the plane or not being allowed in at all. They've stopped all Visa Exemptions from most countries in Europe, but I was going for a full 30 day visa anyway, so I don't know. I also don't know if the fact that I'll have been in Thailand for almost a month will help? Or the fact that I'm flying from Thailand rather than from Europe? I guess a lot of the flights fly through Bangkok anyway..

I have lots of options whatever I do. I can try a different country, Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia, or extend my visa here and head north. All I can really do is keep checking the news, the official websites and the forums and work out what to do from there.

As I said, I'm very good at planning.

In the meanwhile, stay safe everyone. I'm thinking of you all x


I thought I should add a nice picture after this somewhat depressing blog entry, so here's where I snorkeled, ate and apparently got sunburn today. I'm not sure what the juggler's deal was lol

Posted by cblanc102 00:31 Archived in Thailand Tagged travel thailand vietnam visa koh khao sok tao coronavirus Comments (2)

Nature Boy

leaving the beach for a bit of relaxation

I'm in a pretty woody area.

Granted, there's a fairly busy road about 20 meters downhill from me, but it's all trees behind.

So far, my animal spotting has been pretty rubbish, and I'm quite happy about that! All I've seen so far are lizards of all sizes (though only one much bigger than your hand), loads of moths and butterflies, bats and bloody mosquitoes. Oh and I seem to have another cat. She's pretty scrawny though, which I think may be linked to her rubbish attempts at catching lizards as far as I've seen.

I'm not sure what I think about the new place yet. It's very pretty, but at the moment my biggest worry is about breaking the damn bungalow. I'm not sure it's meant from an adult male, it creaks a lot when I walk on it. I spend a fair amount of my time thinking about weight displacement.


I arrived pretty late in the afternoon and by the time I'd had a kip it was about 5pm, so I haven't had a chance to look around. I'm only a couple of km away from where I was staying before, so if the worse comes to the worse, I can always just head back to familiar territory, but that's not really the point of the trip, which is to explore, right?

I'll rent a moped for a couple of days (It's a few quid a day) and really explore the island. I need to do something, I only finished the scuba 9 hours ago and already I'm feeling a bit lost. But then I also need to learn to switch off. To really relax. So, I'll have a day or two of doing that as well. I also found a leisure park round the corner with large screen sports, a 24 seat cinema (showing the original Star Wars this Sunday!) and a giant mini golf course!! I'm gonna have to give that a go.

Fast forward a few days and it's now Thursday. I really like this place. I've done pretty much nothing for two days but get some washing done by a woman round the corner, eat and relax. It's been great. I've arranged my travel on to the next place (Khao Sok National Park on Monday) and the only other beasties I've seen have been a bigger lizard with an enormous tail and what I think was a praying mantis, but it was very small and when I tried to get in closer the dumbass tried to fly away straight into my head.

Last night I went out to eat, I wanted a Pad Thai. I went to a busy cafe (always a good sign) down the road and ordered my dinner. And waited. And waited. And waited. I waited ages to get a menu, but when I ordered I waited at least another 45 mins. A guy had come in after I ordered, got his menu, ordered, got his food, eaten and paid and still I was sat there with nothing in front of me. I had asked the waiter a few times where my food was and he just kept saying it was coming. In the end I left before it came out. I walked to another place down the road and again ordered a Pad Thai and was told that it would take 45 mins so I left there too! At least he told me, but why does Pad Thai take so long to make there?? I've had it before and eventually had one at the pier last night, both of which only took 15 minutes and the lady last night gave me a free banana. Winner!

My winning Pad Thai. It was almost worth the wait

This morning I went out to rent a scooter. This is a very easy thing to do on Koh Tao, but also a very easy thing to do wrong. You hear all manner of horror stories about people getting charged loads of extras, or getting charged for non existent scratched when they bring it back, that sort of thing.

I asked the manager here for a recommendation and she suggested Oli's Motorcycle Shop back at the pier. I looked them up and while they're a little more expensive, they have a great reputation for not conning people, always good. To be honest, it was a little too easy! I turned up, gave them my money and driver's license, which is standard, some ask for your passport. No chance! I took photos and a video of the bike's existing scratches (there are many) and then I was off. Barely any training (Here's where you open the seat, here's where you put in fuel) and I was allowed to leave.

My history with bikes isn't great. When I was a kid I had a couple of pretty bad accidents on a bicycle and didn't sit on one again for about 20 years. I tried to have a go on a friends dirtbike in my 20s and was thrown one way while the bike went the other. But I did ride a moped around Goa for a week, mostly with my friend on the back and at one point drove on the motorway there for 45 mins each way (although I was following a taxi with my friend in as I didn't want to risk that. I did have a minor accident that ended up costing me a fair bit, but mostly it was alright.

So on this bike I get, driving around like an 80 year old but enjoying it immensely! I'm being overly careful, and I'm not great at doing a U-turn yet, but it's opened up the island for me!

But I'm sitting here typing this out as it's too damn hot! Seriously, it feels like my butt is on fire every time I sit on the damn thing. I'll go out a bit later and put a wet towel on it to calm the seat down, but I think I'll just sit here and drink coffee while watching a movie this afternoon. One thing I've found with this travelling lark, is that you're far less bothered about rushing around seeing everything when you don't have a time frame.

My ride

Posted by cblanc102 23:42 Archived in Thailand Tagged animals travel thailand island asia thai koh scooter pad tao solo Comments (1)

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