VIDEO – An Epic Arctic Adventure.

Join us on an incredible arctic adventure in Finnish Lapland!

We spent five days gaining a real Finnish experience from snowmobiling, husky rides, visiting Polar Bears to sleeping in an igloo!

This travel vlog captures our whole trip from visiting Santa to being pulled through a snow covered forest by a Reindeer, deep into Finland’s Winter Wonderland.

The big question is though is did we see the Northern Lights?

Nuggets, Orange Juice and The Coffin

We again dodged traffic after arriving at the train station for our overnight train. Beth forgot her tablet so we had to run back to the hotel about 1/4 of a mile away in Bangkoks early evening humidity – sweat on. We did however manage to grab some nuggets from KFC which were greasily good and a change from noodles and broth. We eat these on the polished floor of the main station hall watching Thai Boxing on a large screen, along with a large number of Monks who sat in their own cordoned area – Monk Class possibly?

  
The train we boarded itself was huge, as long as the eye can see. We boarded and an enthusiastic waiter persuaded us to purchase orange juice. The song he sang is a must see! If anyone can mix it with a dub step or a bit of bass let me know! This guy will be a YouTube sensation! Thai’s Got Talent 2015, possibly? If you’re reading Cowell (I know you’re not) sign him up!

Orange Juice, Orange Juice

  
He later served us a meal of soup, chilli chicken and rice, red pork curry and a few chunks of pineapple for 170 baht – just over £3! He clipped in our table and dressed it with a tartan table cloth. 

The amenities on board were fairly basic – a whole the diameter of a pint glass to aim for. The exit was rather difficult also as you try and navigate a route out of the confined space avoiding other people’s missed attempts!  

  
The group are bonding well we have a diverse range of backgrounds. Trainee US and German Naval Officers, a Nurse, an Air Traffic Controller, a Speech Therapist, an investment banker, just to name a few professions. They are from all over the world too – Kat our tour leader is Thai, a couple from New Zealand, America and the Brits too. 

The speed in which the man made the bed up was impressive. He can make my bed at home any day. The two seats folded down to make a lower bunk and the top bunk folded down from the roof, pretty neat. 

So I’m currently in my coffin, it’s six foot long and about three foot high and sways over every piece of track. Unfortunately they don’t turn the carriage lights off, so it’s well lit. It’s not too bad though the beds comfy, just noisy. Apologies if I’ve switched from past to present tense, I won’t be able to publish this until tomorrow when I find a wifi connection. 

   
      On another note – how cool are my Elephant Pants?! 

     

Bye Bangkok

The neon lights were a blur as they raced through the traffic, swerving and dodging all vehicles on the road – pretty much sums up the group of 5 Tuk Tuks that took us to Khao San Road last night. The adrenaline was certainly pumping! 

 

Khao San Road was crazy. Live bands, Karaoke and DJ’s were spred along the straight the half a mile strip littered with stools offering everything from ‘Ping Pong’ Shows (use your imagination), deep fried insects to T-Shirts. We had one beer, soaked up the atmosphere and people watched – lady boys galore!

 

  This morning we caught a minibus at 08:00 and headed for Damneon Saduak Floating Market   about an hour away from Bangkok. We took to the water at speed taking a longboat to the market before transferring to paddle boat. The canal was full with stalls on each side and boats selling hats, noodle soups, which we had for lunch and deep fried bananas and packed with tourists in boats too – imagine the M25 in rush hour. 

   
   

  

  
This afternoon we headed to MBK Shopping Mall – José Mourinho was spotted there last week! I added Buriram United’s football shirt to my large collection of shirts. 

  
  
Tonight we are heading to the south and Samui bound on a sleeper train. 

Bangkok you’ve been a blast!

Fandom, Temples and Cool Monks

Faced a little fan stardom today with a number of Asian tourists taking photos of me, they weren’t very discreet about it! Felt like offering them a selfie but resisted the temptation! 

After travelling for around 15 hours we arrived in a pitch black Bangkok around 18:30 local time. We managed to hail a pink taxi outside and made the 25 mile journey into the centre for an astonishing £8! How far would you get in London for that amount? The end of the street maybe? 

  
We spent our first night in the wrong hotel after noticing that our tour was not listed on their notice board (view from our room above) I managed to stay calm, it was nothing compared to Nairobi airport catching fire two days before I landed two years ago. We checked our itinerary and realised the hotel we should have been stopping in was a short 5 minute walk away (terrace picture below).

   

 We hailed and haggled a Tuk Tuk to our first destination saving ourselves the equivalent of a pound – winning! After a few hair raising misses we arrived at the beautiful Grand Palace. 

  
The Grand Palace was built in 1752 and went on to be the home of Thai royalty for some 150 years. It’s a ‘must see’ in Bangkok and it is clear why the craftsmanship is really impressive and it looks beautiful! I purchased some jazzy ‘elephant pants’ as shorts above the knee are prohibited. You can find out more about the Palace here: http://www.bangkok.com/attraction-palace/grand-palace.htm

   
       

 
Next was onto Wat Pho home of the Recling Buddha. Another complex of impressively designed buildings and many shrines to former Monks, with golden Buddha’s as grave stones to their ashes.  More detail on: http://www.bangkok.com/attraction-temple/wat-po.htm
  
  

    

We returned to our new hotel via the flower market – far cheaper than the forecourt for a bunch! Dodging mopeds in the narrow streets of China town was next for a spot of shopping. Purchasing some nice gifts. 
A highlight of the day was two aviator wearing Monks in the back a Tuk Tuk playing with their  smart phones 😂!

  

Wi-Fi at 36,000ft?!?

Wi-Fi at 36,000 feet? Yeah, I was surprised too! I remember listening to the whirls, groans and beeps of dial up some 10 years ago. Now you can get it on the plane!

  
The service on Emirates is great, good food and a large selection of music, films and TV shows. They even have every UK number one back to the mid 1950s, Dexy’s Midnight Runners hit ‘Come on Eileen’ from 1982has to be the best find. 

We had a quick connection in Dubai Airport (which seems huge) and now we have 3 hours 52 minutes until Bangkok where we shall make an attempt to get into the city center. 

BLOG – Balloon Kenya: Vending Machine Apprentice Style Task – Video

On Thursday morning we took to the streets of Nakuru talking to both the public and local vendors to see whether or not a vending machine would be viable. We later presented our finidings to the group.

We found that Street Vendors would like a quick and easy place to buy snacks. Many of them have to walk to supermarkets which are a fair distance from their stalls and therefore have to leave them, resulting in a loss of sales.

Our machine would be placed in the main marketplace and allow the customer to select the coins that they receive as change. Change has been found to be a big problem as many shops replace small change with sweets.

BLOG – Balloon Kenya: One Hell of a Journey

Wednesday’s fire at Nairobi’s airport meant that the tents that they had erected were only able to cope with a small proportion of its normal schedule. This meant that the Balloon Kenya Fellows were sent to various airports across East Africa.

The night before Christmas was the only way to describe the amount of sleep I got prior to travelling to the airport – none. In all fairness it wouldn’t of been a great night’s sleep bearing in mind my alarm was set for 01:45 in order to catch my flight from Heathrow at 06:50.

The first flight left slightly late and was bound for Brussels, a 2 hour wait then saw us join a connection to Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. The flight was again delayed and was sat on the concourse for an hour longer than it should of meaning that we arrived in Uganda’s at gone midnight.

Our first night was spent in a lodge on the shore of Lake Victoria, near Entebbe. We arrived at the hotel at just after 01:00 and were told that an evening meal had been prepared. After eating we got to bed around 02:00 and set an alarm for 04:15 for breakfast before leaving for Kenya by coach at 05:00.

An entourage of 5 coaches were outside the hotel for the 10 hour journey to Nairobi – so we were told. We knew that Nairobi was 3 hours from Nakuru and thought that the journey would take around 7 hours to travel. Having only just crossed the Kenyan border after 7 hours we thought that it might take longer than we were told and arrived at the hotel at gone 21:00.

Image

However the bubble of the coach allowed me to witness the beauty of both Uganda and Kenya. Uganda notably has better roads for example. I’ll never forget watch the silhouettes of fisherman head out over Lake Victoria on a misty sunrise, it was beautiful!

We passed through Kampala, the capital of Uganda and it couldn’t be compared to our capital. I took note of different things on my journey and I’ll share them with you:

  • Shacks selling everything from bike parts to bananas to toilets, bed frames and coffins line the majority of the roads
  • Packed streets at 7am – Kampala was full of bikes, motorbikes, tuk-tuks and cars
  • A cow on a petrol forecourt
  • Motorbikes with up to 4/5 people on them (some children)
  • A Leicester City shirt in the small Kenyan town of Bungoma
  • People with AK47’s wearing high-vis acting as traffic lights at roadwork’s holding green and red flags

I’ve only been here three days, but I’m loving it!