I wish I had the determination and time to write about everything day by day but here I am nearly half way through and not having documented a word other than a vague attempt at a diary which is still stuck in last week!
So, this month-long adventure is a 3 country tour starting and ending in Bangkok with two of my closest friends. We have already done 2 weeks and we are currently in our second country – Laos. Its been the most amazing time so far, it’s one of those trips that has gone by so fast but thinking back feels like you’ve been gone a lifetime. Its also just sinking in that I have been in a different country every week for the past 5 weeks and I am loving every second but also it begins to catch up after a while!
Here’s a little (or not so little) review of the first 9 days of adventures through Thailand:
I Started out in Bangkok at midnight on Friday 16th walking down a dark road attempting to find my hostel and my friend who was already meant to be in our room. I only found the hostel after 20 mins of walking thanks to two lovely locals and google maps only to find my friend was out partying with some other friends she had met, already enjoying Thailand! Eve came home not long after I arrived and we got some rest before Emma landed from the UK, who I hadn’t seen in a whole year! So, reunited our trip began and we started at full pace.
We are still not sure how much of a rip off we had on our first day but we were told it
was Buddha week by about 7 locals at different intervals and that tuktuks had free gas if we wanted a tour… which turned out to be a good way of us getting taken to their travel
agency and paying a large amount of money for a fully organised week package that gave us our whole week accommodation tour bookings and transfers. The overall price didn’t seem too bad and the tuktuk tour was amazing taking us to 3 temples and allowing us to see the giant standing Buddha, and a pretty quiet local temple that had both a reclined and a lucky Buddha.
I never really imagined I would be back in Bangkok so soon after I was there before (March) especially not re-seeing so many sights. We ended our tuktuk tour at the golden mountain and I appreciated it so much more this time around… the last time I was there was on my 21st Birthday! Our first pad thai for lunch from the corner of Khoa San road and a drink later on in the evening after a nap to help Emma curb the jet-lag which pretty much concluded our first day. With this package that we bought we had a full plan for the week already so we were able to sort of sit back and enjoy, although it did take away the element of choice that I was looking forward to having.
On Sunday we headed to Chatuchak market and spent nearly 4 hours walking around and buying unnecessary hippy trousers and tie-dye dresses but we refused to get a taxi back that wasn’t on a meter so our journey back to the hostel included an mrt to the skyrail to a station that sounded like ‘ratatouille’ to take a ferry canal boat to the golden mountain to walk back to KhaoSan road – we pretty much covered every form of transport in Bangkok in 2 days! That evening we got taken to the station to catch the overnight train up to Chiang Mai for our next stop.
The train was an experience and actually I’m really glad we got it instead of flying, I slept pretty well considering I was in the top ‘bunk’ which I was stopped from falling out of by two straps that were the width of belts suspended form the ceiling! The train takes 12 hours of rattling and reached Chiang Mai at about 8 am, from which our transfer picked us up and took us straight to our ‘hostel’ which looked more like a hotel with a pool and a private room. Wandering round Chiang Mai for the day was lovely and much more relaxed than Bangkok! The night bazaar was amazing and we sat and had a beer and listened to a live band for a while, but we needed an early night as we were booked on a two day trek the next morning.
The two day trek included 3 hours of hiking each day, a waterfall each day, bathing elephants and bamboo rafting! I could write forever about the ridiculousness of that trip but I don’t have space here. Things I took away from the experience include: very little sleep, a hilarious group of people, a guide who was very comfortable with his sexuality, a feeling that my fitness has dropped substantially and a lot of pictures of waterfalls and elephants (although most of those are currently stuck on my gopro… so that’ll have to wait)!
We had another 2 nights in Chang Mai after the trek and we met up with our group the evening we got back to go and see the Ladyboy Cabaret show together in the night bazaar – this was an experience I could not recommend enough, utterly hilarious! That ended up being followed by a seemingly fruitless search for an open bar as everything closes at 12, then nearly all (14 of us) ending up in a brothel by accident, then dancing on the bar at some small local hang out and ending up in what we were pretty sure was an illegal backstreet bar… so all in all a good night. The day after we went to the temple on the mountain and then had a “well deserved” massage before a dinner of street food… and accidentally ending up in a night club for 2 hours.
Friday morning we got picked up and taken on the windiest road I have ever experienced for 2 hours through over 700 curves to reach Pai! The slogan for Pai is “Pai is falling in love” and it didn’t take us long to figure out why. We were only there for a day and a half but we managed to see 2 waterfalls, the White Buddha at sunset and make it out to the secret hot springs! The only way of getting around is to hire a scooter which we did within 2 hours of arriving and headed off on our adventures! Luckily, we had read that the secret hot springs (Right picture) had a pretty windy and dangerous road to reach it so wasn’t for nervous riders so we saved it for the following day, and even then the nearly vertical hills up and down were very nerve racking and dangerous. It wasn’t until we handed the scooters back on the second day that we began to realise there was basically one person from every group that had a hand or leg bandaged or scratches somewhere, we suddenly felt very lucky to be completely unscathed! The night market in Pai was also brilliant with delicious street food (3 spring rolls for 20 baht aka 50p), we embraced the hippy feel with henna and began another night out that started out with just one drink… and ended at 4am. A 4am end to a night to get up for our punishing 9 hour bus ride to Chiang Khong starting at 6:45am was admittedly not the greatest idea. In our defence these nights out haven’t prevented us from getting up early and going full throttle every day!
The day went by slowly but surely and with plenty of stops including a surprising stop at the white temple outside Chiang Rai which I was desperate to see but thought we wouldn’t have time. We reached our hostel at Chiang Khong in the evening which had a view straight over the river Mekong and into Laos – our next destination. This was our first stop over on the 3 day journey to Luang Prabang on the slow boat down the Mekong…
The next entry and stint of our journey will be complete by Monday when we move onto Cambodia… stay posted for my Laos trip review!