Meet our New Wanderluster- Lisa!

Meet Lisa Marie Wray (Instagram @littlewray). Our new Wanderluster! While myself and Rach are spending some quality time in Melbourne, Lisa is currently trekking through dense vegetation in Uganda, getting up and close with nature and wildlife. We will be sharing her pictures, videos and blog posts on our website. Go give her a follow and keep checking back for updates. 

Lisa loves adventure, here she is at the summit of Mount Snowdon
Lisa loves adventure, here she is at the summit of Mount Snowdon
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YouTube Video – Swimming with a Sea Turtle at the Whitsunday Islands

Hey Guys. We have just started a new YouTube channel and have hundreds of hours of footage to sort through. I filmed this Sea Turtle with my GoPro as we were snorkeling at the Whitsunday Islands, Australia. It was an amazing experience and totally unexpected. The soundtrack is Breathing Space by Vibrasphere. There will be many more videos to come. Please subscribe to our channel by clicking here.

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15 Travel Tips For Couples – Survival Guide

I was recently asked to feature as a guest blogger for a new website and travel app. I sat and rattled my brains over a cup of extra strong coffee, trying to decide on something that I could blog about. I thought of all of the places that we had been to in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bali, and Australia. I thought about all of the amazing things that we had experienced along the way, the people that we had met and the unbelievable food that we had tasted but while I was staring out of the window, deep in thought trying to stimulate my brain to blog, something occurred to me. After being in each others company for almost 24/7 for 11 months, after visiting 5 countries, after 20+ flights, after sleeping in 30+ different places of accommodation and after the countless life-changing experiences, we had survived the trip. Based on what people were telling us before our adventure and the number of people that were no longer together after their travels, this was supposed to be no easy feat but it can be, let me tell you how. This advice applies to couples in a relationship as per my experience but it could also apply to travel buddies.

Me and Rachel at Manchester Airport at the beginning of our journey
Me and Rachel at Manchester Airport at the beginning of our journey

1. Shared Memories
Let’s start off with the benefits of traveling with a partner. Traveling with a partner is a brilliant idea. In my opinion, experiences and memories are best when shared and there is nobody better to share those experiences with than the person (or people) that you choose to travel with you.

2. Growth
If you are in a relationship with somebody, then it makes absolute sense to travel with them rather than travel alone. You share the experiences with them, spend as much time together as you can, grow and learn together.

Myself and Rachel enjoyed seeing the temples and sights around Bangkok together.
Myself and Rachel enjoyed seeing the temples and sights around Bangkok together.


3. More Ideas
Combining your brain power and ideas is an instant benefit. One of you may know things that the other does not. You bounce off each other, learn from each other and before you know it, you will have destinations on your journey that you have never heard of but suddenly, you want to visit. Some of the best places I visited are places I had originally never heard of but I found out about them due to me and Rachel sharing our ideas prior to our travels.

4. Looking out for Each-other 
At some point on your adventure, one of you may fall sick (trust me this happens). Traveling with a partner means that you can look out for each other and look after one another. We met a girl on our journey who suffered from Dengue fever and had to spend a week in the hospital in Cambodia alone. She said it was terrifying being alone in a hospital abroad. On our last night in Asia, I had to take Rachel  to hospital in Ho Chi Minh city after she suddenly collapsed in an elevator, it was scary enough doing it together, I can’t imagine doing it alone, actually I’m not sure that she would have made it to the hospital alone since Ho Chi Minh City had no ambulances.

I took this picture at the hospital Rachel stayed in at Ho Chi Minh City
I took this picture at the hospital Rachel stayed in at Ho Chi Minh City


5. Manage Your Expectations

Before you start your journey, you should discuss the fact that you will be spending most of your time together and mentally prepare yourselves. Traveling involves a lot of personal stress, you have to carry all of that luggage around. Unpacking and re-packing when moving to a new destination was one of my biggest stresses. I turn into the Hulk when it is time to pack but luckily my partner had prepared herself for this.  Sometimes you will feel distant from each other but don’t worry, this does not mean that your relationship is in trouble, give each other space and remember that it is OK to do your own thing sometimes.

6. It’s not always like the movies or Instagram
Some of you may follow travel blogs or travel couples on Instagram; their pictures making you want to pack your bags and buy a flight ticket there and then but remember that there is a story behind every picture (even our own) and it is not always like the movies. You may hold hands and go running off into the sunset at some point but there will probably be some conflict along the way.

We both decided to watch the sunset from the Sydney Eye and were not disappointed.
We both decided to watch the sunset from the Sydney Eye and were not disappointed.


7. Shared Packing Space
Be sensible when packing. You should pack together to reduce the chance of forgetting anything. You should also share packing space on shared items such as lonely planet books so that they take up equal space in your backpacks. Collaborating and sharing packing space helps you both be aware of where things are.

8. Shared Responsibilities
Sharing responsibility is a must. You can’t just rely on your partner to know everything. If you happen to miss a flight because you had the wrong date or time, then you must share the blame. Make sure that you are both aware of the details of flights, times, dates etc. Myself and Rachel use a shared Google document that we can both access anywhere and at any time to check these details. 

We both agreed that we were going to visit the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary prior to our travels. It was an amazing experience.
We both agreed that we were going to visit the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary prior to our travels. It was an amazing experience.

9. Share the Expenses
Don’t stress about money too much. It’s obviously an integral part of traveling but neither myself or Rachel are blessed with money. We worked hard and earned more or less equal pay prior to our travels. We share our expenses. If you are not in a relationship where one of you earns significantly more than the other, then it is important to discuss sharing the expenses before departing. Be sensible and don’t worry, just keep track of your spending as you go. 

10. A Shoulder to Lean on 
It’s important to be kind and respectful to your partner in any relationship but even more so when traveling. They may have a support network back home or places where they feel comfortable. You will probably argue about the same things that you usually argue about. The scenery may change but sometimes the arguments don’t. Be respectful, be patient and just be there for your partner. 

Myself and Rachel at the Whitsunday Islands, Australia. Another amazing experience.
Myself and Rachel at the Whitsunday Islands, Australia. Another amazing experience.

11. Compromise
Compromise and push Each-other. I don’t mean push each-other physically, I certainly wouldn’t advise that abroad. Push each-others limits instead. You may have a different traveling style to your partner, which is very common. One of you may loud and busy and the other may like quiet and relaxed. You may love to wander around and get lost but your partner may like to have a structured itinerary. Be prepared to move out of your comfort zone and combine your travel styles. 

I took this picture of Rachel enjoying a sunset in Phu Quoc. An example of the kind of shots you can take when you are with partner.
I took this picture of Rachel enjoying a sunset in Phu Quoc. An example of the kind of shots you can take when you are with partner.

12. Alone Time
Everybody needs time to themselves. If you need some space, you can do something as simple as taking a small trip to the store while your partner relaxes in the hotel room.

13. Be open
Do not hide your feelings. Honesty is the best policy. If something is bugging you, be sure to talk about it. Don’t think that by talking about things, you will ruin the journey, the opposite is probably true. You will have fun if you are open and honest with each other. 

We loved snorkelling together in both Phuket, Thailand and across the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
We loved snorkelling together in both Phuket, Thailand and across the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

14. Better Photographs
Want to get a picture of yourself in front of a good backdrop or famous landmark? Getting a good picture of yourself can prove difficult on your own. I always feel a bit silly when using a selfie stick. The joys of having a travel partner is that you can take great photographs of each other which reduces the need for camera tripods and selfie sticks.

Rachel took this photograph of me at the top of Tiger Temple. I wouldn't have been able to get this shot alone.
Rachel took this photograph of me at the top of Tiger Temple. I wouldn’t have been able to get this shot alone.

15. Life is short and the world is wide
Experiences and happiness are simply best when shared. You will no doubt make great friends whether you travel solo or as a couple. Enjoy it and make the most of it. Have an amazing adventure.

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New Website Layout

Hey guys. It’s Craig here. We haven’t been too active on our website over the past few months but I’ve had quite a bit of free time lately and my creative juices are flowing again. We’ve introduced a new website layout and are going to be making some changes to our page, as well as introducing other Wanderlusters soon. The above image is how it should look on a desktop computer or laptop and the images below are how it should look on a tablet and phone. Let us know if you have any issues. Have a great weekend! 

The Wanderlusters UK website layout on a Tablet
The Wanderlusters UK website layout on a Tablet
The Wanderlusters UK website layout on a mobile device
The Wanderlusters UK website layout on a mobile device
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Krabi Town and Tiger Temple

People often mistake Tiger Temple for Tiger Kingdom. This post is about Tiger Temple which is a famous temple located at the top of 1,237 steps in Krabi Province, NOT Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai where it is rumoured that Tigers are sedated and put on display as a photo opportunity for tourists. We do not condone animal cruelty in any form. 

The flight from Chiang Mai to Krabi was a short one, it lasted about an hour. Our bags were the first off the belt, so there was no waiting around. The transfer to Krabi Town was approx. 300B which was cheaper than we anticipated. 

Before flying, we had come to the decision to change our hotel to one more central; one thing that we have learned on our travels is that location is everything. 

Once we got checked in, we decided to arrange our transport to Koh Lanta for the following day. This was 300B each and our morning trip to Tiger Temple which was 200B each.

We were soon on our way to the room and we were presented with what we can only described as Leonardo DiCaprio’s room on The Beach (although he was staying in Bangkok). We were expecting Daffy to stick his head through the mesh above us and hand us a map to the secret beach but we didn’t get Daffy, instead we got Keith the cockroach, that’s right, Rachel named a cockroach Keith to make herself less frightened. 

The room was very basic but we were only staying there a night. It was a last minute booking and was very cheap, it was exactly what we needed. A tip for any travellers out there is that if you are only staying somewhere one night or will be spending a lot of time out and about you should aim to be as frugal as possible. Save your money for a place where you will be spending more time in the room. 

The room had a double bed, a wardrobe that was falling to bits and a chest of drawers that didn’t open. There was a fan above the bed and mesh openings around the top of the room. It had a very simple bathroom, everything we needed for a one night stay. We even had company in the form of Keith, who had settled quite comfortably on the shower controls. Rachel let out a blood curdling scream because the cockroach crawled over her hand but she was very brave and soon disposed of. Keith left the room unharmed in a carrier bag. 

We had a quick venture over to the night market in Krabi Town. “Same same but different” is the famous saying around Thailand and we soon came to understand that phrase. We grabbed some food at a restaurant on the outskirts of the market, and at exactly 10pm, everything stopped. All staff stood still, customers stood up, and everyone sang the national anthem. Once the anthem was finished, customers went back to eating/drinking, and vendors started to pack away their stalls.

We got back to the guesthouse/hotel and all the shutters were closed, only to then realise that we had forgotten to get the Wi-Fi password from the lady at reception. We quickly stole Wi-Fi from the hotel over the road so that we could message our families to tell them all was well.

The next morning we were picked up at 09:00 for Tiger Temple. It was around 20 minutes from Krabi Town. The views at the bottom were beautiful. There was what looked like a cliff face covered in trees and at the very top sat Tiger Temple in all of its glory. It looked like a long way up and it was. Before we started the 1,237 step ascent, we entered the Tiger Temple Cave (above). A pilgrimage destination for Buddhists. We then began our ascent.

The steps were not small steps. Some of them were well over a foot high! It was one of the hottest days we have had. The last time we had checked the temperature, it was 40°C.  As we were on our way up, some monkeys came to say hello. We were warned about the temple monkeys prior to our visit but we underestimated how sneaky and intelligent they are. As you can imagine, climbing 1,237 steps in 40 degree heat is thirsty work but this didn’t stop one cheeky monkey stealing the water out of our backpacks while we were distracted recording another. They are very good at working in teams. Upwards we climbed, very hot and very thirsty.

We took a few breathers on the way up as the heat was unbearable at parts. Rach leaned forward to fasten her shoes at one point and ripped her pants, front to back. Luckily, there was nobody directly behind us! I luckily had a spare pair in my backpack and Rach quickly changed into them, although they were several sizes too big. We ripped her pants up and turned them into sweat rags, which provided a little bit of comfort.

The mission to the top of the temple was one of the hardest things we have ever done physically and we still stand by this statement 2 months later. It would have been hard enough with water but was especially difficult with no water. Luckily for us, there was drinking water at the top. We drank and drank and then drank a little more before having our minds blown by the views. All of the fatigue and exhaustion we felt as we approached the top of the Temple were soon replaced by euphoria and amazement. On reaching the summit of Tiger Temple you are rewarded with 360 degree views and beautiful landscapes as far as the eye can see. The views were out of this world.

The journey back down was a lot easier than the journey up. We had a leisurely stroll back down the stairs to the bottom of the temple, passing exhausted people on their way up, making the same journey we had, we assured them it was worth the struggle and to watch out for monkeys stealing their water. 

We made it back to the hotel for 11:30. It took us 2 and a half hours to walk from our taxi, ascend Tiger Temple, enjoy the views and then descend tiger temple and get back to the hotel.  Most agencies give you a 3 hour time slot but we did it a little quicker as we quite enjoyed the difficult workout.  If you visit Krabi Town then Tiger Temple is a must see but the journey up is not for the faint hearted. The minivan for Koh Lanta collected us within 60 minutes of returning to the hotel. A brilliant day that we will both remember for the rest of our lives. 

Craig and Rach 

 

 

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Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai

Chiang Rai was a great experience. As mentioned in the previous post, the majestic White Temple and the gothic Black House are a must see if you visit Chiang Rai. The clock tower is also worth checking out if you are in town, it comes to life briefly at around 8pm, so make sure you get there prior. The show only lasts 5-10 minutes or so. 

The White Temple in Chiang Rai

Our bus from Chiang Rai left at about 1pm. We were en-route back to Chiang Mai, one of our favourite locations to date. The bus journey was smooth and the staff were as friendly as ever. Free water and snacks to keep us going. I was in a particular creative mood on the journey back, so I decided to edit some of our GoPro from Bangkok. The video is below. 

Bangkok – The Wanderlusters UK – GoPro Footage

Some GoPro footage of Bangkok that I edited on the bus from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai. This is just a glimpse of what Bangkok has to offer. – Craig

Posted by The Wanderlusters UK on Samstag, 29. April 2017

The journey took about 3 and a half hours. We arrived back in Chiang Mai at approx. 5pm. We then got an Uber to Wayside Guest House, where we were staying. The room was the most basic we’ve had until this point. A bed, wet room, balcony with a view of a brick wall and our first time with no air con, but the room was cheap and in a good location; besides, we were only there one night.

Wayside Guesthouse - Chiang Mai

We gave ourselves 30 minutes or so to relax, sort our things and then head out for one last night around Chiang Mai. Just as we were about to leave the room, Rach hit her knee off the corner of the bed, which resulted in a big green and blue bruise that would stay there for a few days, ouch. 

Wayside Guesthouse - Chiang Mai

The staff at the hotel were very friendly. They printed our boarding passes off for us for our flight to Krabi the following day and asked us if we required anything else. Food was the only thing on our minds, so off we went. We wandered the relaxed city of Chiang Mai. I came across a stall selling Chang Beer vests and replaced my old one with a new one. This one was a better fit than the last. 

Lanterns in Chiang Mai

We walked around for a while and stumbled across the main area of night life where the Zoe in Yellow bar is located etc, before hearing a loud noise and seeing lights coming from within some of the inner walls of the city. We ventured towards them and as we were walking through one of the gates, I felt a sharp pain shoot through my foot. I had somehow managed to impale my toe with a toothpick! It was sticking out of my toe. This was a freak accident, the city itself is quite clean. We found a Boots store nearby where I got some antiseptic and plasters, problem solved and on we went. 

Nightlife in Chiang Mai

The noise and the lights was actually coming from basketball tournament within the square. There was quite a large crowd watching the games. We stayed to take a few photos and then decided to try a nearby bar that we had heard about, the THC Rooftop Bar. 

Basketball in Chiang Mai

We ventured up several flights of stairs to get to the THC Rooftop Bar. It was a cool, trendy, reggae style bar as the name probably suggests. The bar did look pretty cool and it had a very chilled feel. The neon lights, cushions to sit on instead of chairs, great view overlooking the ongoing basketball games in the square but the drinks were stupidly overpriced. Water, for example was 80B when it is normally 10B. We had one drink of water each and then left.

THC Rooftop Bar in Chiang Mai

The popular weekend market was too far for us to walk, so we decided to venture to our favourite night market that we frequently visited on our last trip to Chiang Mai. The night market was much busier this time as it was a weekend and stalls went on for as far as the eye could see. This meant one thing… lots of food! We indulged in some giant chicken spring rolls, which were so tasty, then ate Thai Dumplings, which were delicious and then we ventured to our favourite little food stall. We ordered all sorts, so much food that I can’t even remember what we ordered!

Night Market in Chiang Mai

Then the heavens opened and within a few seconds everything in sight was covered in rain. The locals reacted fast and pulled covers over their stalls. The customers dispersed to get to somewhere dry but me and Rachel only cared about our food. We sat in the rain and ate until the rain came down even heavier, not moving because we were getting drenched, oh no, the only reason decided to move was because the rain water was ruining Rachel’s soup. We took shelter under a tarp at the food stall we had ordered from and finished our meal. The food was amazing as always but the cockroach that decided to crawl over my soaking foot wasn’t as enjoyable. We waddled back home to the hotel with happy tummies.

Throwback to our last night in Chiang Mai. Probably our favourite night market and street food to date. This was seconds before we got caught in a downpour (📸@craigreay )

Posted by The Wanderlusters UK on Dienstag, 20. Juni 2017

The next day we packed our bags, checked out and went for breakfast. We ventured for an English and American breakfast as we were craving some western food. As a boxing fan, I also caught up on the highlights of the Anthony Joshua Vs Vladamir Klitschko fight which had taken place the prior night.

Before we knew it we were in another tuk tuk and on our way to the airport again. This was our first domestic flight of our trip. The check-in was very easy and straight forward. We drank some super strong coffee, that was like rocket fuel and then an alarm went off in Rachel’s head – she had left her purse with her bank cards in! Rach went back through security, trying to stay calm as possible and luckily her purse was with a friendly member of staff. She described the contents of the purse and luckily she no issues in retrieving it. We were soon on the plane and on our way to Krabi. 

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Chiang Mai Day 4 – Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

This was one of our favourite experiences to date, and definitely one the most unforgettable.

We booked Elephant Jungle Sanctuary after doing some thorough research on Elephant Sanctuaries in Thailand. A lot of “Sanctuaries” in Thailand are actually training camps, as they promote riding on elephants, which is very cruel and painful for the elephants. We were stuck between two but settled on doing a full day at Elephant Jungle Sanctuary.

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is an ethical and sustainable eco-tourism project located approximately 60km from the city of Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. Founded in July 2014, it is a joint initiative between members of the Karen hill-tribes and Chiang Mai locals who were concerned about the welfare of elephants in Thailand.

Elephant Jungle Sacntuary

We booked the day direct with the company and thought we would be getting picked up at 08:00 from our hotel, however, due to a bit of a miscommunication with payments and confirmations, we ended up doing a half day instead of a full day. We were picked up at 11:30 from our hotel and given a refund for the half day that we had missed. We travelled on the back of a pickup truck to the sanctuary with two German guys, two French girls and a Canadian couple. They were all awesome people and the 90 minute ride to the Sanctuary flew over. We arrived at the sanctuary approx 1pm. 

Elephant Jungle Sacntuary

When we arrived we changed into Karen Tribe clothing and were given a quick crash course on feeding the elephants. We were given a several bunches of bananas each. We had to hold the bunch behind our backs and feed the elephants bananas one by one. Elephants are very smart, even when you hide the bananas behind your back, they know that they are there!

Elephants Banans

We also fed them sugar canes and they were given huge corn crops which they stripped themselves, which was awesome to watch. We got lots of photos and video footage with the elephants. 

Karen Tribe Clothing

After feeding the elephants we took them for a mud bath. The elephants literally collapsed in the mud whilst we gave them a good scrub with the mud. You could actually see them smile!

Elephant Scrub

After the “scrub” we took them to the water and gave them a bath and washed off all the mud. They were very relaxed and were loving every minute of the attention.

Elephant Bath

Once we had finished giving them a clean, we had a Thai buffet style lunch which was very tasty. Yellow Curry, rice, vegetables, omelette, lots of fruit. Yum.

There was a baby elephant at the sanctuary called Christiano Ronaldo, who we both fell in love with. On arrival to the sanctuary, he became very attached to an older elephant. This older elephant was very sharp and realised where we were sitting eating our lunch was the same place that they stored the bananas; and she came over and ransacked the place, everyone found it hilarious, except maybe the Karen Tribe men, who had a job on their hands getting her away from the banana gold mine. The baby elephant came back to me gave me a quick high-five before running after his foster mother, as if to say “Did you see that Ma’?! How badass am I?!”

Elephant Bananas

We learned that the Elephants are given a random name from the tribe on arrival to the sanctuary but after a year they choose their own name and have a ceremony. They will pick a name based on it’s personality and say the name. There is food placed in front of the elephant and if the elephant is happy with the name, it will eat the food or if it doesn’t eat (which means an unhappy elephant) they will pick another name. The ceremony can last up to a week.

We got changed back to our normal clothes and got in the pick-up to go back to our hotel, we slept all the way back. We both agreed that the half day was the perfect amount of time to see and do everything we did. A definite once in a lifetime experience.

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is based in Phuket and Chiang Mai, we would recommend this company to anyone; they love what they do and take such good care of these amazing animals.

Once we got back we got packed ready for our one night’s stay in Chiang Rai to visit the White Temple and the Black House.

Craig & Rach x

 

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