It’s The Thailand Countdown…

(To be read with the strains of ‘The Final Countdown’ playing in the background, for that added sense of drama that only a power ballad can bring, and a bit of assonance with the title).

Only a couple of weeks ago, I was hanging around Reykjavik with my friend and we’d pass a Thai shop most days when we were going to and from our hotel. It was full to the brim with Thai furniture and trinkets, especially those little hypnotic waving cat figures, known as Beckoning Cats. Every time we’d give the waving golden yellow cats a little hello wave back, for luck, and I’d wonder what Thailand was really like. Well, last Thursday I got one massive step closer to actually finding out, as I was somehow lucky enough to win a Thai island hopping adventure with Contiki, through their Blogger Challenge (which was launched at the brilliant Traverse 2013 conference in Brighton)!

Thai Beckoning Cats in a shop window in Reykjavik

The Beckoning Cats that we saw every day in Iceland – definitely a lucky symbol for me.

This means I’ll be heading off for nine days of sun-soaked exploration with a group of like-minded travellers at some point before the end of August. We’ll be taking on Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan, three very different islands, each with their own personality. I’ll be looking out for the big Buddha statue on Koh Samui, discovering the hiking trails of Koh Tao and maybe trying out some water sports or beach yoga on Koh Pha Ngan.

By that time I’m also scheduled to get rid of my terrible phone (shout-out to Blackberry) and actually have something with a decent camera and the ability to hold more than one app, so there’ll be plenty of live updates along the way; I’m also planning to get to grips with Vine in the next few weeks, so look out for lots of six second videos of waving cats.

Thai flag on Koh Tao island, by Narisa

How beautiful does Koh Tao look? Credit: Narisa, via Flickr (

Being a research junkie, I’ll definitely be trawling travel blogs, forums and websites to get a good grounding of what to expect before I get there, as I don’t want to miss any hidden gems. I’ll also be picking the brains of a few friends that I know have already been there, done that and have filled up my Facebook newsfeed with their amazing photos to prove it… so it’ll be time for a little role reversal.

Koh Pha Ngan hills and sea view by Bosch_Goes_Asia

Koh Pha Ngan’s green views. Credit: Bosch_Goes_Asia, via Flickr (

Basically, I’m really excited about having the opportunity to discover Thailand, and I hope you’ll enjoy checking it out with me. Of course, if you have already been and want to share your tips, I’d love it if you’d do so – tweet me @misspallen.

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