Thailand: The first day of the big adventure

After nearly a year of planning and saving, on Thursday 2 November 2017 we finally arrived in Bangkok to begin our year-long rock climbing-and-travelling adventure, and it feelt pretty surreal.

When you’ve been looking forward to something for so long and it finally happens, your brain refuses to believe it has become reality. So even though I know these are just the first few days of the three months which I am going to spend in South East Asia, I can’t help feeling like we are only here on a two-week holiday and fretting about not making the most of my time.

So on our first day, we managed to get through as much touristy stuff as you would if you were only here for a short break from the daily grind. We ate ALL the street food; we visited a temple in China Town; went to see the Grand Palace (though we actually intended to see the Wat Pho temple, which is next to it); we took a (free!) boat ride up and down the river in celebration of the River Festival; and we even found time for a fish foot spa (which was very tickly and not at all as freaky as it sounds).

Palace

We spent a good couple of hours in the Palace, which houses the famous reclining Buddha (a huge, gold statue, which sits inside a traditionally ornate worship building – we wondered if they built the Buddha inside the existing temple, or constructed the walls around him?).

Reclining Buddha

As it got dark, many food stalls opened up inside the Palace walls – not sure if this was in celebration of the Festival or simply the usual thing after sunset. We had amazing banana pancakes drizzled with condensed milk (respect to the Thais for serving pancakes the way they should be – with condensed milk, as anyone who grew up in Russia will agree).

Clay enjoying the yummy pancakes
Clay enjoying the yummy pancakes

I also discovered that I absolutely love Pad Thai in Thailand – it’s not much like what we get back home. It is made from sticky glass noodles, with tiny little fried shrimp which add a huge amount of flavour. Definitely going through a bit of a Pad Thai addiction.

As expected, by the end of the first day of our big adventure we were extremely tired and spent 11 hours straight sleeping. Luckily, the hostel we stayed at was really comfortable – we had a private room, but with no windows, making it even harder to wake up!

The place is situated in the middle of China Town and is called Our Secret Base. It is run by a young Thai couple – Ping and her boyfriend – who both speak perfect English and are absolutely lovely! Would recommend to anyone staying in Bangkok.

The benefits of mindfulness for climbing

A mindfulness practice for me usually looks like this: lie down; begin meditation; try to focus on my breath for a bit; think about something else; do a bit more focused breathing; wake up half an hour later, confused about how I managed to fall asleep.

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photo by: priyam.n

Tantrums and tears: Dealing with failure in climbing

Those of us who are seriously addicted to this climbing thing will know the desperate frustration of failure on a route we have psyched ourselves up to send, and many will have experienced the resulting tantrums. Sometimes I feel like a spoilt child who has been denied sweets before lunchtime – stomping feet, tears and all.

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Review: Climbing Frog Belay Glasses

I had always wondered about these goofy-looking belay glasses that people sometimes sport at climbing gyms – I didn’t even know what they were at first, then I tried a pair on and felt vaguely dizzy.

The idea behind them is that you can see the climber above while belaying without having to lift your head and strain your neck for hours to keep an eye on them. They have special lenses that allow you to see like this.

In theory, it makes sense and I was always tempted to give them a shot, but I wasn’t going to fork out £40-£50 just to try them – and what if I didn’t like them anyway?
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The changing perceptions of summer

Your perceptions of a ‘disappointing’ summer change quite substantially when outdoor climbing is the main goal.

This summer has at times felt distinctly British – we’ve had a coupe of properly hot weeks so far and a couple with mid-twenties temperatures in the heart of the city, but most of the time leaving the house without a jacket and an umbrella hasn’t been advisable.

Continue reading The changing perceptions of summer