Clare's Picturebook travel blog

Anyone for a free spa?

God! turtles must have lots of fun.

Always popular with the boys


The view to work

The beautiful Kae one of the world's funniest people

Khymer ruins at Prasat Meung Tam near Cambodian boder

Khymer beauty

Must be love

Clare got frogs and turtles mixed up

Mad volunteers Emma and Helen

What a scrubber.

Looking like a silly tourist

The commute


The iconic phrase

The view from work

As every girl discovered Thailand was no place to get a wax!

A new take on a wet t-shirt contest

My very well patients

The Elephant festival Surin


Watching the show

Darwin doesn't have a patch on this.

Some of the cheeky kids I taught

No break for Emma

I'd swap a Thai health clinic for working in the NHS

Making friends

That Thai friendliness

Busy market in Surin

The Royal yellow shirt worn in respect of the King

Sa wat dee ka




On the stunning island of Ko Samet

Thailand from day two enthralled and captivated me; on day one it terrified me, landing alone in Bangkok I was scared. It was the first trip I ever dared to take alone and I was terrified, that unconscious grip of fear that lay within me, which belongs to the unknown, but at the edge of that fear lay an excitement, an unshakable empowerment and sensational thrill. Met at the airport by a former Buddhist monk from the volunteer company, I felt a great privilege at his presence and a deep respect for his love of Elton John (I later found out that it was expected of all young Thai males to spend at least a few months as a monk, it is part of the journey to Nirvana, but I never met another Thai with a love of Elton). The taxi ride to the centre of Bangkok filled me with the thrill of adventure at the sprawling buzzing city, literally singing with the noise of lights and the chorus of engines, Bangkok was alive: literally thumping and beating with life.

That night alone in Bangkok I couldn't sleep I went to my wad of cash stashed in the not so unobvious secret hiding place of my backpack and counted my cash, well really the bank's cash from my battered student bank account. I counted the large green bills and wondered just how I was going to finance my months trip and how would I survive thousands of miles from all the people who loved and supported me at home and seemingly knew me inside out. It turns out that in the days and weeks that followed I began to know myself better; I learnt more about myself with out the influence of others thoughts and feelings. As much as I missed my friends and family being away from people that knew me so well liberated myself in a way, purely for the amount of time I had to think without restraint of the pattern of the familiar and with nothing but my own expectation.

The next day on the train ride to Surin, in the sumptuous heat punctured by the occasional blast of the functionally challenged air conditioner, I felt again what I made this trip for that feeling I will never forget a run of pure thrill through my body.

Pissing over a squat toilet trying to maintain an iron grip of my British thighs, against the determined assault of the rhythmic sway of the train, feeling the balmy heat and breeze against my face from the open window looking out upon miles of lusciously green paddy fields, I felt it freedom, I felt alive, alive from the spirit of adventure, alive for the sprit of this country opening itself to me.

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