WHERE TO PARK YOUR CAMPERVAN IN SYDNEY

So picture the scene: we made it to Sydney in old Alvin, enduring soaring temperatures, travelling through ghost towns, powered across the obscenely remote Nullabor, and we’re finally here… now what?

We were lucky enough to have a hotel for Christmas but that did in fact make moving the three of us back into the van for the next five days leading up to NYE seem slightly traumatic. And as anyone who has visited Syndey around this time will know, we were not the only backpackers in pursuit of the perfect (free) parking spot.

However, during our daily entrapment by Sydney’s one-way system and seeming refusal to allow any right turns, we spotted an entire street filled with campervans…

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GUEST POST BY DAVID TATE: MBK FIGHT NIGHT

Tate came to visit us from England for three weeks, spending two weeks in Bangkok and a week in Koh Samui, having the best time. We asked Tate to choose one of the main highlights of his trip to write about and he decided on the Muay Thai he watched. It’s a massive part of Thai culture and brilliant entertainment…

When I booked my ticket for three weeks in Thailand, the first thing on my list was eating as much Thai food as I could and the second was to watch some Muay Thai – so when Charlotte and Sarah told me about MBK Fight Night I felt like quite a few Christmases had come at once. This Muay Thai showcase is held every Wednesday at 6pm right outside MBK. It’s free, next to the National Stadium stop on the BTS, and attracts a lot of attention from tourists, travellers and Thai natives alike.

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BANGKOK AIRWAYS CINEMA

The Thais know how to do shopping malls and at the top of these skyscrapers, you’ll nearly always find a cinema to match the standard. You can see a film for just a couple of hundred baht, or alternatively go for for one of the more high-end options. Tate was visiting us from England, so we splashed out on two tickets to the fancy Bangkok Airways cinema, at the top of Siam Paragon.

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OUR GUIDE TO POOL CRASHING!

There are few things we enjoy more than immersing ourselves in the bustling Bangkok streets, but occasionally, amongst the markets, street food, queues of people and standstill traffic, it can get a bit sweaty. Add to that the extraordinary heat of March/April and the thought of escaping amongst the clouds for a few hours seems like utter bliss. Frustratingly for budget backpackers, whilst you’re shuffling along the hot pavements with the crowds, you need only tip your head back and scan the skyscrapers to spot the tell-tale signs of the roof-top pools. Sadly, very few hostels offer this luxury – but imagine if you could use one of these 5* pools for free…

If you are so inclined, these are some top tips for pool crashing and enjoying the luxurious facilities of some of Bangkok’s finest hotels, for free:

Step 1. Look smart; the hotel staff have to believe you genuinely belong lying around such a fantastic pool. Swap the backpacker trademark slogan t-shirts for something plain and simple.

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Slightly different from her usual backpacker look…

Step 2. Be confident. Strut in and don’t forget to smile at the doorman whilst offering him a breezy ‘Sawadee-ka!’ as if you do it everyday!

Step 3. Go straight to the lifts and press the button for the floor with ‘pool’ written next to it; if you can’t see that button just head for the top. Should there be a lift attendant simply ask for the pool, whilst smiling and asking about their day. Continue reading

COUCHSURFING IN SAMUI

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We’d been told about couchsurfing by some fellow backpackers who couldn’t speak highly enough about it, couchsurfing being their favourite way to travel. For those of you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a concept whereby people let travellers stay for free in their home. These people are the hosts, and the person visiting is the surfer. It’s an amazing way to meet local people and experience a place beyond the travel guide – and of course it’s a great way to save money.

The couchsurfing community is full of like-minded travellers and generally those who surf will also offer to host people when back in their home country. It’s a way for people with limited funds to travel and experience the world. In some areas where people have little money and cannot travel out of their home country, they can host someone from another country and still have the experience of meeting people from different cultures, practise their language skills and learn about other places. Many hosts take part, however, to meet lifelong friends and to offer support to travellers.

We were pretty excited about our first couchsurfing experience and were unsure what to expect. We set up our profiles on couchsurfing.com and started searching for people in Koh Samui. We saw a host with loads of brilliant reviews and the most beautiful, glamorous home. As first-time couch surfers we had no reviews, and as there were two of us we were slightly more awkward to host. We also acknowledged that this couple were likely to get loads of requests from surfers on a daily basis, so when we sent our request we didn’t hold out much hope.

We could not believe it when we received a response asking if we were available the following weekend, as they’d be able to host us, and if the weather held up ‘we could go out on the boat’. Our only reservation was that it seemed too good to be true…

Our host's beautiful garden

Our host’s beautiful garden

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