The Hub – Changing Lives, Changing Futures

150870_10151507765426195_926473052_nBangkok sees a steady stream of travelers drawn in by its legendary hedonistic pleasures, ancient temples and chockablock markets. There are, of course, daily glimpses into Bangkok’s less-glamorous side; the beggar asleep in the doorway, the used needle in the kerb, the child begging. For too many, this is merely an annoyance, another hassle to wave away. And, for too many, Bangkok is a place to flee to, escaping rural poverty, chasing impossible dreams, running from abusive homes or hiding from personal tragedies. The children come from all corners of Thailand and scrape by on the streets.

It is a merciless existence. Children, as young as five, sleep in makeshift shelters as the trains rumble by. They find food however they can, but too often not often enough. Many find there are no role models, no access to education, and no chance to escape. Others fall prey to drugs and alcohol abuse, crime and prostitution. Children are trafficked, enduring unimaginable horrors. And others find The Hub.


An incentive of Thai and Australian charities, The Hub provides a safe and welcoming environment for Bangkok’s street and underprivileged children. Here the children receive more than the welcome “grub and scrub,” they receive a chance at a new life. Here, their most basic necessities are met with a smile: a safe place to sleep, a soothing shower, a warm meal and clean clothes. Life skills programmes, assistance with education and enrichment opportunities keep the centre filled with the sounds of happy children. From the streets of Bangkok, broken families and stolen childhood, comes a new chosen family. A place to grow, love and nurture.

The Hub’s life skills programmes empower children to take control of their health and safety. From sexual health awareness to road safety, the Hub’s children learn, day by day, a healthy and enjoyable way to develop as individuals. They are exposed to more dangers than any child should be subjected, and they meet these challenges with an unnerving grace, carefully stored wisdom and a heartbreakingly gap-toothed smile.  Doctors visit, and hairdressers come, and the therapists guide, all working together to return these children to the happiness and security they deserve. Recognizing education as a priority in poverty alleviation, The Hub provides the encouragement to return to school, monetary assistance needed and tutoring to succeed. For those uninterested in education, vocational training is provided, giving the teenage participants a chance of economic security.

IMG_8843The Hub recognizes the right and need of every child to express themselves creatively.  Afternoon comes and the centre is turned into a whirl of activity. Graceful Thai dancers lean over the stairwell to the B-boys turning impossible stunts below. Local school children visit and conduct an art workshop. The place is decorated with the children’s artwork, books cover the walls and computers offer a glimpse into the wider world. The running club provides a healthy outlet for the children, who burn off seemingly impossible amounts of energy after a night sleeping rough. Guest teachers come, offering everything from circus to music. The children are alive with it. The dedication displayed by the dancers is awe-inspiring. Every day, without fail, they come and practice for hours, sweat pouring off them in the steamy Bangkok heat. Some nights they head to a nearby park, transforming the street into a stage. The camaraderie is heart-warming; as older children become the role models they never had for their younger friends.  Click here to see the kids in action!

IMG_8708The Hub provides its children more than a safe haven; it offers them a new chance at life. It provides the children the vital opportunity to achieve academically, professionally and personally. It is a lifeline that helps them to escape a life of exploitation and fear, while offering them the support to thrive and grow.  To say The Hub is a miracle is not a lapse into hyperbole. Everyday, The Hub is giving children the most precious gift: the fortune to be a child today and the future of a confident, able adult.

To learn more about The Hub, enquire about volunteer opportunities or to donate, please visit their website at


Bell Makers and Giant Mushrooms: Exploring the Unexpected

There’s something intrinsically satisfying about riding the train to the end of the line. Some thirteen hours out of Bangkok, Ubon Ratchathani  province is nearly at the Thai-Laos boarder. The city of same name to a working town with none of the picturesque colonial stylings, enduring cultural practices, sunny beaches or ancient wats that define Thailand’s tourist scene.  It’s interesting precisely because of that. Ubon Ratchathani offers the opportunity to see a living culture unchanged by tourism.  Gongs and drums awaken the city at five, by mid-afternoon, the town apparently closes its doors. From the fruit customized ukuleles in ukulele shop to the neon plastic flowers at the religious paraphernalia shops, there’s no shortage of unconventional gifts for friends back home.  The park comes to life at dusk, with the town’s inhabitants playing games of football or the traditional sepak takraw, joining aerobics classes to pounding techno, cycling, running, skateboarding, using the outdoor gyms. If you’ve brought your trainers, join in! Or if the sun and a day’s walking have you tired out, sugar cane and coconut venders are happy to satisfy a thirsty wanderer.   Both the morning and the night market are bustling affairs. Come with an empty belly and a willingness to try something new!

Outside of Ubon Ratchathani are some real treasures. Be warned it’s a challenge to rent a motorbike so leave plenty of time to source one.  The airport is generally recommended as a reliable source, but be aware there’s a hefty deposit required.  Ban Pao Ao has been mercifully ignored by Lonely Planet and Google. As a result, the craftsmen at this ancient bell makers’ town are pleasantly amused by the sight of travellers.  The craftsmen here have been making the brass bells using the lost wax technique for centuries. It’s a community affair, with the men working the forge and the casting the larger bells and the women working on the tiny bells and carvings. If you are lucky, you may be offered the opportunity to try a hand at bell making or see the bells coming out of their clay casts. Much of the work goes to temples, but some of the work is on sale at the site. It’s the perfect opportunity to ensure the money you spend goes directly to the community! In the village, there’s also a women’ weaving co-operative that creates breath-taking works of silks beside the gentle rustling of the silkworms.

Further afield is the Pha Taem National Park. There’s well maintained camping and accommodation in the national park. The large ‘mushroom rocks’ are the park’s most recognizable feature. Worn by erosion, the mushroom-shaped rocks are awkwardly endearing. All around, previous travellers have built small cairns. Carefully gathering rocks and balancing your own makes you feel like a child again. The park also features a dramatic landscape of stark vistas, sheer cliffs, and volcanic rocks. There’s walk to a series of ancient cave paintings, as well as several to the numerous waterfalls that dot the park. Having your own transport in the park is crucial: it’s upwards of 15km between the various sites.  As the waterfalls are often dry during the winter, it’s worth checking at the visitor centre before embarking on any walks to them.

Exploring Ubon Ratchathani district is a  delightfully curious escapade.  The refreshing lack of tourist infrastructure is all part of the charm, albeit a time-consuming one. In a previous article, I observed it’s impossible to ‘do’ a place and Ubon Ratchathani proves that observation correct. Whether you come in the wet season for the waterfalls, lunchtime for a ghost town, or the outskirts for some Thai tunes and dancing girls, it’s ever changing and surprising. Ubon Ratchathani is an adventure worth every second of those thirteen hours from Bangkok.

Thailand – In Search of Paradise on a Budget

Located in the centre of south East Asia and bordered by Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Malaysia, Thailand has become a massive hot spot for tourists. It seems to cater for all, from the humble backpacker to the extravagant jet setter. With the contrast of ancient towns and temples in the north to the beautiful coastline dotted with islands in the south its popularity is not surprising.

Recently my girlfriend and I had a three-week holiday and joined the throng, but we wanted to find a piece of solitary bliss, a tropical island that selfishly would be ours. Was it possible in 2011 to find this secluded paradise when thousands of people visit Thailand each year?

Like most we landed in Bangkok, where we were instantly hit with the humidity, strange smells and the general congestion of this unfamiliar city. With no accommodation booked we wandered the busy streets in search of a cheap hotel or hostel. This somewhat haphazard task ended very quickly as there seemed to be places to stay on every corner. Prices for accommodation in Bangkok start from around twenty pounds, but don’t expect luxury at these low prices. I would recommend visiting this city to anyone but it is easy to find it daunting. Bangkok in rush hour is a nightmare and crossing the street can be hazardous. Thai’s drive on the left-hand side of the road (most of the time) and it seems anything goes, with bigger vehicles taking priority.

The best thing about Bangkok is the food, it is everywhere; street vendors cook some of the tastiest dishes I have eaten and at a small cost. China town is a must visit, the friendly but crowded streets blended with the aroma of Oriental cuisine will get any visitor wanting to return. Just leave your travel guide back at the hotel and follow your nose.

We decided two nights was enough in Bangkok, even though you could easily spend a week or two there. Unfortunately we did not have enough time. So we booked a flight to Phuket and headed down towards the coast.

Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and is greeted by the Andaman Sea in the southwest; it is the main gateway to the other small islands in the area, where cheap ferry rides can be taken. On arrival we were advised to take a bus to Patong, as we were promised beautiful sandy bays and budget accommodation. The bus ride allowed me time to take in the scenery. I envy the first westerner who discovered Phuket the landscape is stunning. It has fantastic beaches with warm waters, lined with coconut trees but care must be taken as downing’s are common.

These beautiful beaches are not a secret; thousands upon thousands of people come here each year to soak up the sun. My secluded paradise seemed completely impossible to find, as I looked at the hundreds of sun loungers in perfect rows along the whole length of the beach. Help came when I over heard a conversation by two Australian’s when sitting down for an evening meal in one of the many restaurants on the beachfront. They had come back from Ko Phi Phi earlier that day and were chatting excitedly about their adventure. We found out that this small island was fifty kilometres away from Phuket, the ferry was inexpensive and the beaches were surprisingly empty, if true this was the destination we had hoped for. No time wasted the ferry was booked that evening through the hostel manager.

Ko Phi Phi was completely destroyed by the 2004 Tsunami, but as the ferry pulled into the pier the next morning it was obvious that the main town was crammed full of accommodation and thriving businesses. It is impossible to believe that the destruction that hit this little island actually happened. We soon realised that in peak season booking accommodation in the main part of the town is essential. I dreaded waiting for the next ferry back to Phuket just because we had not booked a place to sleep. My guidebook surfaced and saved the day. The first place we saw on the map was Hat Yao or Long beach and cost two pounds to get there by taxi boat. A traditional wooden boat with a massive diesel engine took us noisily around the coast to one of the most beautiful places I have been. We were welcomed by dazzling turquoise water, a white sandy beach and not a sun lounger in sight.

Even though you can never completely avoid tourists in Thailand, Phi Phi was deserted in comparison to Bangkok and Phuket. We had found paradise at last.

Thailand: An Ongoing Adventure

You meet them in droves when traveling, people who’ve ‘done’ Fiji, the Amazon and China. Three weeks on a tourist bus and they have miraculously acquired supreme knowledge of the food (delicious but avoid the water), the people (so friendly!) and sites (amazing, but not nearly as good as Angkor Way which they did in 2003).  When the OED defines ‘to do’ as ‘to complete/achieve’, the question that begs to be answered is, ‘How? How on earth have you ‘done’ anywhere?’ One of travel’s greatest joys is that it can never be fully completed. Every time you visit a place it will have changed, your perspective will be different, your experiences new. Whether you’ve lived somewhere for years, or visited for the first time, there is always something new to explore.

To that end, I’m returning to Thailand. Bangkok, off the tourist trail of gilded palaces and Kao San Road, is a tangle of back alleys that are a photographer’s dream. Bridges cross over murky rivers, birdcages and orchids hang from eaves, small temples nestle street stalls and a fluro shellsuit clad life -size doll, eerily resembling Michael Jackson, holds up his hands in prayer. We drink coffee outside one of the many police stations, and contemplate purchasing some shiny cop shoes. We take the subway to see where it goes, coming out in a building made of blinding white lino and huge sheets of glass, the size of an airport departure lounge. Imagine coming into St. Pancreas and finding it deserted. We speak in whispers and ride nearly silent trains.

The train to Suratthani, however, takes twelve hours over night. First and second class seats are sold out and the VIP bus beyond the budget, so we resign ourselves to third. There are parts of the world where voluntarily traveling third class takes a serious degree of masochism, but on this train it’s positively luxurious. The lights are on all night and the temperature somewhere below freezing makes the journey something of an endurance test. But given it costs little less than £10, its worth the loss of sleep and blood circulation! Having said that, the seats recline and, unheard of luxury!, the bathroom has toilet paper. If you are inclined to feel cold, bring a jacket, particularly in the air-con first and second-class.  Hawkers wander the rows with beer, coffee, or fried chicken, in case you haven’t packed your own. Waking up to a sunrise over the jungle is one of life’s greatest pleasures, especially with chilled-solid chocolate for breakfast.

View over Khao Sok

The hourly local bus to Khao Sok costs a fraction of the price of the tourist mini-buses, and the interior decorating is a treat.  Khao Suk borders Khao Sok national park and caters exclusively for tourists. Enjoy the novelty of sleeping in a tree house or beside the river. If you are after good food, stick to where the locals go, rather than the resorts. It’s a stunning national park, famed for the giant rhaphiolepis and huge limestone cliffs. Tour companies have a monopoly on the activities here, and, as always, its advisable to take a guide if going into the caves. Riding an elephant in Thailand has become the ultimate tourist cliché, but it’s not for nothing that it’s become so popular. Elephants (or Elephanys as the sign says) are beautiful animals and its impossible not be enchanted with them. Chose your tour operator wisely, if it seems the animals are abused or unhappy in anyway, ask to be taken back to your hotel.

The lake trip is the de-rigueur tour and involves a boat trip across the reservoir, swimming, a walk through the jungle and a cave trip. The cave trip alone makes it worth it, with stunning rock formations, bats and spiders whose eyes shine incandescent in the torchlight. Bring a head torch and be prepared to get wet. Reef shoes or heavy-duty sandals are ideal, and swimsuits are a great way to save your clothes. If you’re on the shorter side, you’ll be swimming sections of the cage and coming up to your thighs in the rivers! Your guide will tell you if it’s safe to enter, but never enter a cave when it’s raining or surrounding rivers turn brown. We exit the cave to the first raindrops of tropical rain shower and soon it’s a beautifully muddy dash back to the lakeside camp. The boat journey back is exquisitely beautiful with jungle-covered limestone mountains rising out of the water. It’s a sobering thought that this is a man-made environment; the land was flooded in 1986 to make the reservoir. Already, the environment is showing signs of stain and change.

On the outskirts of Khao Sok is a monkey temple. After you’ve had your fill of monkey antics, explore the rest of the complex. Bring a head torch for the cave behind the  Buddha statues, or if you have had enough of subterranean adventures, climb the rusting staircase to an enclave half way up a cliff face. If you can ride a motorbike, it’s a great way to go exploring for yourself. The village markets are always worth a look, and it’s amazing what a package tour will miss. There’s a whole range of hot springs, jungle walks and waterfalls to discover.

Khao Sok’s beauty comes from its unique geographical and environmental conditions. However, they do affect the weather. Be prepared for hot, sunny mornings and tropical downpours in the afternoon and evening. It’s the perfect excuse to retreat to your tree house with a beer, a few bats and the odd chameleon and watch the heavens open.

Talad Rot Fai: Bangkok’s Hippest Market

For the hip young things, Bangkok’s Chatacak market is old news. Overpriced, crawling with sweaty tourists and baby bunnies in tutus, swelteringly hot, row on row of the same stuff all held in a purpose built market. And, let’s be honest, a purpose built market? Who does that these days? If you’re all about the oversized geek-chic glasses, rockabilly beats and painted-on black skinny jeans, then Talad Rot Fai is the place to be seen.

Talad Rot Fai in Bangkok (Photo credit: Peter Newbigin)

It’s also the place to pick up everything from Bakelite to Bert and Ernie dolls, all in the dim half-light of dozens of abandoned train carriages, converted VW camper-vans, and market stalls scattered on the pavement. Started just a few years ago, disused train carriages have been converted into retro-chic bars and hold-alls for the treasures of yesteryear. Talad Rot Fai is known in English as ‘The Train Market” and it is an unmissable photo opportunity. The train carriages, the bright young things, the clothes, the jumble of antiques that changes throughout the night, the lighting… Charge your camera and get ready for some fantastic photos. Antiques dealers will be in paradise in the antiques sections, where hundreds of temptations crowd for space. Old mannequins lean against fancy pin-ball machines, ancient telephones tumble off smooth leather recliners, peeling advertisements and retrofitted vintage bikes tempt the passerby. Don’t expect any logic in layout or a set price. Half the fun is exploring and bargaining. For the serious collector, there are some definite finds here. It’s a long walk to the nearest ATM, so come financially prepared.

For those settled in Thailand, the nursery sections is a great, if slightly random, place to pick up new plants. Suit up for your next fancy-dress party, burlesque performance or simply next weekend with some amazing vintage clothes. But if you don’t fancy a powder-blue suit or a polyester prom dress, head round to the clothes section. Here, venders display their custom made t-shirts, hats, dresses, toys and skirts. Everything’s new, hip, and unique. And the dek neaw (hipsters) love it. At a fraction of the price of Khao San Road or Chatarak, its the perfect place to replace your travel-worn wardrobe with something different. Perhaps a complete penguin or turtle costume? Or an ironically ‘80s tee for the less zoologically-inclined? Some sequined hot-pants for your friends back home?

Drinks and food at Bangkok’s Train Market (Photo credit: Peter Newbigin)

Tired of all the shopping? Pick a train carriage and settle down for a cold beer or iced coffee. Or if you have fond memories of Woodstock (or simply wish you’d been there), have dinner out the back of a converted VW camper van. From live music to the best of the 50’s, there’s also some classic quality audio entertainment to be found. Come with an empty stomach and a full wallet. From bargain-priced noodles to fruit shakes to retro-inspired cocktails, its the chance to dine with the in-crowd. And speaking of the in-crowd, Talad Rot Fai offers some excellent people watching. This is a crowd that knows how to dress- and doesn’t let scorching hot nights or monsoon rains stand between them and some seriously impressive fashion. So grab a cold drink, sit back, and, from a stationary train carriage, watch the world go by.

Vintage fun at Talad Rot Fai (Photo credit: Peter Newbigin)

At present, the market runs Saturday and Sunday only. While Talad Rot Fai officially opens at 2pm, venders and crowds don’t start arriving till 8pm. The market runs until midnight. Public transport closes around 11:30, so if you want to see the market through to its final glorious moments, you’ll be catching a taxi home. Getting to Talad Rot Fai is easy on Bangkok’s metro/BTS systems. Simply catch the subway to Kamphaeng Phet station and walk away from Chatacak Market. There are sometimes signs pointing to Talad Rot Fai, but if in doubt, follow the dek neaw! Walk pass a bizarre collection of bonsai nurseries and glitzy nightclubs and the market will be on your right. The gate to the market is clearly signposted, but the sudden crowds, smell of food and 50‘s rock are the best indicator you’ve made it to the right spot. If you’d prefer, take the skytrain to Saphan Khwai and then take a taxi or tuk-tuk to market. Talad Rot Fai is relatively new so ask for the name of the market to be written in Thai as many taxi drivers are still unfamiliar with it.

Got your skinny jeans, camera and an empty stomach? All aboard!

Koh Tao: Peace, Quiet & Lots of Fish

Traveling from Koh Sok to Koh Tao is an easy and affordable trip on the tourist bus and boat. If you are after a little more freedom and adventure or are feeling the need for a lie-in (the tourist bus leaves at 6am), a couple of local buses and an overnight boat will get you there in a more leisurely style. Be prepared to fight for your bunk on the boat and a long wait at the pier. Waiting at the pier, however, is all part of the fun. There’s a range of street stalls selling everything you could possibly want to eat or drink, from fruit juices to candied sweet potato to a sophisticated G&T. Explore the tent market, with its tailors, gambling and stationary supplies.  It’s wonderful opportunity to people watch, be it locals or your fellow travelers!

Koh Tao

Landing in Koh Tao and it’s the usual barrage of tourist touts. If you know where you are going, be firm. If you don’t, get on island time from the moment you land, grab a fruit juice and then go about finding accommodation. After the tourist hoards have cleared, it’s a far more laid-back process. Taxi boats are a wonderful way to get about. While expensive, it’s a taxi and a sightseeing trip rolled into one and presents the opportunity to stay somewhere a little more out the way.  Enjoy it while you can,  by day two, the constant call of ‘taxi boat’ will start to grate! If its wild nights you’re after, its better to stay near the main beaches; negotiating the dirt roads after dark or a few drinks is a sure-fire way to make paying for that travel insurance worth every penny.  But if its tranquility you want, take a boat and go away from it all.  While you pay for the privilege, and there’s not much in the way of nightlife, there’s something to be said for a few days in a beach hut, falling asleep to the sea and cicadas instead of psy-trance and drunken teens.

Butterfly in Koh Tao

It’s the ultimate opportunity to pack light: swimsuit, sarong, sandals and sunnies. And mosquito repellent… Lots of mosquito repellant, several packs of mosquito coils, and copious amounts of whatever anti-itch method you subscribe to.  But any place where mosquitoes are the only drawback has to be pretty special. Of course, the sea is the ultimate retreat from the mozzies and the stress of everyday life. The beaches are stunning, archetypal clear blue water and white sands. There’s an abundance of tropical marine life, from literally rainbow fish to turtles. Koh Tao is a diver’s paradise and nearly every resort, tourist operator, restaurant, club or pub is affiliated with a dive school. Companies keep prices fair by all staying at roughly the same cost per dive, but may sweeten the deal with free accommodation or free dives, so its worth looking around for the best package.  Even if you aren’t interested in diving, the snorkeling is accessible and fun, and it’s easy to spend hours gazing at all manner of marine life without branching far from shore.

Puppies in Koh Tao

Motorbikes, scooters, dirt bikes and ATVs are all available to rent. They are a great way to see the island, particularly when it’s hot and the hills make walking hard work. All your mother’s warnings about being safe and sensible should be heeded, the dirt or sand roads can be rough going, and tourists and locals alike abandon any pretense at road courtesy or safety.  While travel guides seem to place the blame on the ‘three-to-a-bike with an underage driver’ locals, its much more likely to be the 18 year old gap-yearer with a hangover, trail bike and no concept of a speed limit that will be your undoing. Convince yourself its all part of the fun and enjoy the freedom. After all, when you get back to London, chances are you won’t be swerving to avoid the lizards!

Unfortunately, there aren’t many isolated beaches left, and half the restaurants offer more Western food than Thai. If you want a chance to experience Thai culture,  Koh Tao certainly shouldn’t be your only Thailand destination.

But whether you spend your days diving or relaxing, your nights falling asleep to the sea or drinking spirits by the bucket, Koh Tao offers something for everyone.

Thailand Types

This year saw my first trip to Thailand, and while I was determined to not fall into the student-esque stereotype of riding on elephants, drinking my body weight in cocktail buckets, and covering myself in neon paint, I couldn’t help but notice that there were certain other categories that many people I met fell into…

Gap yah girlies:

Lou, Henny and Fi are at nearly at the end of their gap yah travels.  They started off with Gee, Tops and Poppy in South America, worked at an orphanage in Africa for a month, went to Burma for a bit (‘none of the food was Western!’) and travelled down through India (‘such a humbling experience’) before arriving in South-East Asia.  Gee, Tops and Poppy decided to go home early (‘simply too exhausted’) but our three girlies are just super excited to be in Thailand.  This is, like, the last freedom they’ll have before uni, so they totes want to make the most of it by getting silly drunk on buckets and snogging boys that are, like, really old (i.e. 21+).

Traveller Tw*t:

Greg has been everywhere, and as a result knows exactly where you should and shouldn’t go, and what you should and shouldn’t do.  He can’t believe that you wasted your money on that boat trip to Maya Bay – apparently the whole thing is overrated and spoiled by all the tourists.  You flew down to Phuket?  Mate, should have taken the bus – it’s just a more authentic experience.  He’s been to Koh Phangan three times, and thinks it’s a great thing you didn’t go for Full Moon.  Mate, he just happened to be there for the party each year, thinks the whole thing is a total waste of time, and just went because he was bored…  It’s a bit of a mystery as to how Greg funds his travels, but it seems his currency is unwanted advice.  You’re talking about a holiday you took in Italy, did you know that Italians love African exports?  Speaking of Africa, did I tell you about the time I was in Mozambique?  You have to go, but make sure you avoid Heights Resort, completely Westernised area, you get no idea of true African culture…  Cheers Greg.

The one who never left:

Martin is from Austria, and came to Thailand 15 years ago.  He’s yet to go home…  After having an amphetamine-laced Red Bull-induced epiphany that his life in Europe was going nowhere, he decided to stay in the islands for a few more weeks.  Weeks turned into months, which turned into years, and he’s now the owner/manager of a backpackers’ hostel just near Haad Rin beach.  Martin is seen as a fountain of knowledge when it comes to Koh Phangan: where to go, what to see, best places to eat, where to avoid, which bars sell the best spliffs…  Martin is more local than most of the locals.

Lad soc:

Mike, Zach and Jonny are tearing Thailand up!  They’ve just finished their first year of uni, so are well-versed in how to drink to the point where you feel invincible and can still perform with a girl.  LAD POINTS!  There was that hilarious week on Koh Phi Phi where all three of them snogged the same girl (jokes mate), and they’ll make it more hilarious when they get home by telling their uni pals that she did more than just a kiss and fumble.  The boys are on a tight budget, so it’s pad Thai by day and multiple buckets by night, teamed with the lower end of the accommodation spectrum.  Mate, all the more incentive to score each night, you might get some air con!