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Saturday 30th May 2015backpacking

First time traveller? First time coming to Thailand? Going away travelling for the first time without the comfort of those package tours you do in Europe can be scary. It makes you grow a pair and learn to stand on your own two feet. Go with it, that's what travelling is all about, meeting people, and learning from mistakes, seeing new cultures and how other people live. Don't be a tourist who will only eat in western restaurants, KFC and McDonalds and won't try street meat because they are street vendors and there may be a few critters scampering around the floor. These are some of the best meals you may have and possibly the cheapest. Chicken on a stick with sticky rice, yum! Noodle soup, OMG! Instead be a traveller, who is open to the delights of what the world has to offer and experience it.

I have just come back from a visa run in Malaysia and it got me thinking about my very first time in Thailand. Here are a few useful tips to help you get started, and then once you get to Koh Tao and come to see us at Big Blue whether you are learning to dive or are already certified we can all share our stories with a nice cold beer on the beach watching the sun go down.

When you book the tickets for the bus or train sometimes paying for a slightly more expensive one pays off. If you scrimp on things chances are so will they. Make sure all your valuables are on your body on the seat with you and not in your backpack in the hold underneath. Just go with the flow, they do this every day, if they tell you to wait and that another bus will pick you up, it will. Don't get nervous.

Be cautious of the food by the road where you stop for a toilet break, while thai food is amazing and 9 times out of 10 you won't have any issues, just think about the items of food you are going to buy. Rice and noodles that have been left standing for a while won't do you any harm, but when picking meat use your brain. You are going to be sat on a bus for another couple of hours so maybe just pick the veggies to save the risk of getting a dodgy tummy in a confined space and no direct access to a toilet!

Speaking of toilets...Take some toilet paper with you just in case. (it goes in the bin over here not down the toilet as they don’t have the same sewerage system we have, only put in the toilet what comes out of you.) While the bum gun is a probably one of the best inventions of all times and all hotels and hostels have them. Be aware that the road side stops have squat toilets that they don't all have bum guns or paper just a bucket and scoop. If you are scared by this hose don't be, it will change your life, and you will want to install one when you get home. The very first time you step up on the porcelain squat thrown can be daunting but again go with the flow. And a word of advice ladies, if you are going for pee face the wall, that way your jet stream goes down the hole and doesn't just get splashed up all over your flip flops (it only took me 5 years to work that bit out, for years I was using those pelvic floor muscles to control the speed which just made things worse!) number 2s however face away from the wall and aim into the hole not the flat part, you don't to use the scoop to help with the log flume!!

Make sure you have the right currency or cash with you that you can change just in case your cards don't work in the ATMs. No matter how many times you have told your bank that you are travelling, the one time when you will desperately need the ATM is the time they won't give you money, having cash makes those first 24 hours so much easier and the worries of how you are going to pay for your room, water and food are gone.

Don't lose you departure card, keep it with your passport to avoid any headaches and borders or airports, also take some copies of your passport just in case.

Use some common sense and don't lose bus or ferry tickets! They will charge you again!

The stories you will have to share with just getting from one place to another make up the whole experience of going travelling. What seems like a nightmare situation at the time will turn out to be the funniest thing that ever happened when you are sat in a bar sharing your stories with fellow travellers. Just remember TIT! This Is Thailand! Enjoy and happy travels, now let's do some #REALDIVING


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