A Travellerspoint blog

Chiang Mai 2

Back to Bangkok tomorrow

semi-overcast 30 °C

I'm really going to miss Chiang Mai, and especially this guest house...

Sunday
It was so hot and sunny on Sunday, we had a really lazy start to the day, just sunbathing on the roof-top garden and reading. After lunch we decided to do the Lonely Planet Walking Tour of the Wats (temples) as there are so many, it takes you round the majority, or best ones. We started but then the heat got too much and we took a short cut straight to the women's prison! There's this shop opposite it that sells products that the women make in prison, and there's a massage parlour where they have been trained and give massages! It was pretty cool! I think Alex found the idea of getting a massage by an ex-prisoner a bit too creepy so we left!
We ended up find an English pub that was serving Sunday roasts, and Alex got so excited! They even accepted pounds sterling in there, it was all a bit strange, felt a bit too much like home!

Monday
I'm not too sure what we did yesterday... The heat has really been knocking us out recently... I think we went to exchange some books at a second hand book shop and had a little wander around. Oh, and then we had the most massive dinner at this Mexican place! Seriously sick of rice and curry now, so was great to eat something different!
In the 7elevens here they sell bottles of margarita (like breezers) for only 32 Baht so we bought a few of those and sat on the roof garden last night. It's so easy to be chilled out here, it just has such a relaxed atmosphere and from the roof you can here the music from downstairs and see lightening but you don't ever hear thunder, and geckos run around, it was a really nice relaxed evening.

Tuesday
Today was probably the coolest day ever! We went on an elephant trek day, and it was just incredible! We got picked up at 8:30am and a minibus load of us went to a local market to buy some fruit for the elephants we were going to be meeting. Its about an hour drive from the old city to the elephant camp, as you go right up the hills towards the mountains.
Once there we got changed into swimming costumes and then our Mahout outfits on top. They're these baggy blue shirt and cropped trousers, not to mention the awesome straw hats!
Then we got to meet the elephants! We then got a lesson in the history of Asian elephants and how they differ from African elephants, and then some basic instructions in how to get on and off (including demonstrations) and how to pronounce the commands for when you're ridding them.
They loved the bananas and watermelon that everyone bought them, and then it was time to get on and go for a ride! Oh my word, it was so funny! I'm not convinced they were listening to us at all, but luckily they're "owners" came with and would help us out when we got stuck! The elephants walked in the shallow river that ran around the valley the camp was in, we had such a beautiful view! The heat was so much for them though they would occasionally refuse to come out of the river, or would stop under a tree for shade and not move for ages, was really funny!
Then came bath time! The elephants walked into a deep bit of river on a bend and lay down for us to slide off into the water. We were given buckets and brushes to clean them with, but of course, it turned into a massive water fight, it was like Songkran all over again! It was so much fun! Really was just such an amazing day, its good to be leaving Chiang Mai on such a high.

Tomorrow we've booked ourselves a spa day with the last of our money, and then we get our bus back to Bangkok in the evening. It's sad to be leaving here. Not really looking forward to going back to Bangkok, even if it is only for 2 days! And then we fly home! I can't believe its almost over! Its gone so quickly!

Can't wait to see everyone back home, hope you have a great week and see you all soon!

Rach xx

Posted by Rachellina 06:23 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Chiang Mai

and last days in Bangkok

sunny 30 °C

I love Chiang Mai, it's like a mini city, and there's so much to do here! So much cheaper as well!

Wednesday
We had an animal day on Wednesday, went to Bangkok zoo first which was pretty appalling. The animals had such small enclosures, and they'd put paint on an elephant and its baby and they were stood by the entrance as an attraction. It was just a bit horrible really, made us both really sad. The journey there was interesting as we went past the government building that has had all the protests, we saw the warning on fco website not to go there on the 10th and 19th of every month as those are protest days apparently. Its like a massive camp site that is plastered in signs and barred off by big barriers. It was all a bit bizarre to be honest, kind of hard to believe all that is going on and by being just 5 minutes away you wouldn't have a clue!
Next we went back into Siam to go to the Ocean World. Now that was just amazing! Must have been the best aquarium I've ever been to! Me and Alex were fascinated by this strange Napoleon fish that just doesn't look like a real fish!It looked like a model, just such strange shape and colour and big eyes that looked controlled. The walk-through underwater world was immense, just massive sharks and sting rays everywhere! Just incredible, made me really consider doing a diving course as its just a different world under the sea!

Thursday
Our last day in Bangkok, yay! We thought we'd go check out Chinatown. Started by following the lonely planet walking guide, and then proceeded to get completely lost! The streets were so long and busy, and they sell the strangest things I've ever seen! There were bags and bags of what looked like massive pale watsits, and then there was another street selling every sort of object you can imagine all in marble, whole sections of just metal work stuff and another with just bags! It was like each street was dedicated to a different product!
We eventually found our way back out, and then that night we got the bus to Chiang Mai for only 350 Baht.

Friday
We arrived in Chiang Mai at 6:30am, and were all herded off the bus and into tuktuks which then took us to 'Nice Place 2' guest house where we were offered tea and coffee and were subjected to a hard-sale of treks to do in Chiang Mai! A group of girls lied and said they'd already booked a trek, and then the man started asking for the receipt! It was quite funny to watch, but we weren't that impressed! So we made a hasty escape explaining that we'd already booked and paid for a place to stay and weren't going to look at their rooms as we couldn't change our minds!
Green Tulip Guest house is lovely! The family running it are really friendly, and the chef here, Stella, is completely mental! the rooms are gorgeous, it feels like a home away from home. The whole of Chiang Mai is amazing, nothing like Bangkok.
We went for an early morning walk after checking in, and its unbelievable how many temples there are, at least 2 on every street! We feel completely cultured out.
Alex saw in the guide book that there are Pandas at the zoo here, so guess where we went, Chiang Mai zoo! It's so much better than Bangkok though, the enclosures are massive! Alex got to feed the hippos some potatoes and I got to feed the giraffes! We paid the extra to go into the panda section, they were amazing to see up so close! The mum and dad, and their baby!

Saturday
The people here are so friendly, unlike in Bangkok if someone is being nice to you, the chances are they are trying to scam you, whereas here they just genuinely are nice friendly people!
We went for a wonder down the Saturday walking street market as they were still setting up. The markets here are nothing like Khao San Road, they sell such different and interesting things. During the market there was suddenly a loud speaker playing a song throughout the whole market. It was the King's national anthem, and EVERYONE just stopped dead and waited for it to finish. It was so odd, if Alex hadn't warned me about it earlier on I would have thought I was in some sci-fi film! It's incredible just how devoted they are to their King, there are massive posters and billiards of him absolutely everywhere!
We also found the temple at the end of the market where there are monks that you can talk to and ask questions, and where they hold meditation classes. We had a conversation with a monk for about half an hour, he told us about why he became a monk and all about Buddhism and meditation. I think Alex is quite keen to do a meditation class, but I don't think I could sit for 2-3 hours in a temple in this heat!

I'll have to catch up the last couple of days next time as I don't want to over-stay my free internet usage here! This guest house rocks! Free internet!

Glad everyone is doing well back home, Happy Easter for Sunday!

Rach xx

Posted by Rachellina 00:09 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Bangkok

...via Krabi

storm 29 °C

Alex and I both managed to get food poisoning so the last few days haven't been that great...

Friday
The trip to Railay beach wasn't too bad, but then dragging our luggage around trying to find a place to sleep that night was hard work as people kept giving us random directions up hills that weren't correct! Elise (the girl we met in Phi Phi) came with us, and eventually we found a place called Rapaly on the east beach. It was up some rickety stairs to the most basic cabin you can imagine. Just a mattress on the floor and a wet-room bathroom, and a mozzy net! But after Phi Phi it actually felt really nice to be so basic and in such a non-touristy area. We had a chilled out first night. It was nothing like Phi Phi, just so calm and relaxed. There seemed to be a total of 5 bars in the whole area, so we had a few cocktails, watched an acoustic set in one bar and played some pool.

Saturday
Alex was the first one to get food poisoning and woke up pretty sick on Saturday, bless her. There was an awesome hammock on the porch of the cabin though so I just chilled out and read most of the morning. We ventured over to the west beach in the afternoon when Alex started to feel better and just lay on the sand. The sea was shallow for about 100 meters so we sat in the water, which was probably about the same temp as a bath, and just watched fish and crabs swimming past us!
That night they had the International Rock Climbing Fire Contest on the beach! It was like watching the best-of-the-best from Phi Phi, the crowd were all cheering them on and it had a really good atmosphere! No getting attacked my random flying fire sticks either!

Sunday
After feeling sorry for Alex all Saturday, I woke up on Sunday with food poisoning! And Sunday was travel day! Our epic 7-vehicle journey to Bangkok! 2:30 pm first we got in the trailer of a tractor to drive us out to the long boat as the sea goes far out but its all flat so it stays as shallows for up to 400m. Then the longboat took us to a dock at Krabi. A moped with a sort of golf cart attached to it took us to the nearest travel depot for the company we booked with. After an hour wait we got in a tuktuk. I think we all thought we were going to die in the tuktuk, they drive so badly at such speeds, and just hold the horn down constantly to make motorbikes move out of the way. I could just picture our luggage flying off the roof! Stopped at a cafe and waited for a minibus. The minibus wasn't that bad, 2 hour journey watching 'Sex and the City' for some unknown reason. Apparently men out here like the film and program!?? There were some huge holes in one particular road and we all thought we'd get stuck, but luckily we made it! Then waited at another cafe, before getting in yet another tuktuk! This tuktuk journey was quite quick and took us to yet another cafe where our night bus was apparently picking us up from (its about 7-8pm by now).
The bus was nice! Proper reclining seats and we got to watch Australia!

Monday
At 5:30 am the bus stopped just outside Khoa San Road in Bangkok, the backpacker area. We had just woken up and were completely disorientated! We sort of just followed a group of people and ended up in the hotel that I think Lawrence recommend to me. Its like living in luxury after the last week, and it even has a swimming pool on the roof!
After a short sleep we went for a look around the area, however we quickly decided that we just did not like Bangkok. It's so hectic, EVERYONE tries to scam you, yesterday was 35 degrees and people just stop you in the street and ask you random things and try to tell you where to go! I think it was probably because we were both still feeling sick and were shattered after the journey but we just couldn't deal with it all. We eventually managed to work out a map that we had and decided to go around some of the shopping areas out in Siam. Learning how to use the underground and sky train was interesting! They have like black plastic coin shaped tokens instead of tickets for the underground! They have guards that make you walk through metal detectors like in airports and at the last stop on the lines guards check the train before letting passengers on. Its all so strict, but I guess after all the bombings they have to be.

Tuesday
There was a huge thunderstorm this morning! We sat in bed and watched the lightening. I think some must have hit right above us as there was a flash and at the same time what sounded like a gun shot! Pretty cool storm!
This afternoon we went to The Grand Palace (someone tried to scam us by telling us it was closed today!!) It was so beautiful and ornate, and yet so not-beautiful. The statues have such strange faces and expressions, a lot of the them look quite creepy. Everything was gold coated and decorated with gems. There was this one temple with a famous Emerald Buddha in it, we had to be very careful not to point our feet at it! All a bit strange...
Khoa San Road is full of so many interesting stalls, you can buy illegal ID, PhDs, Driving Licenses, TEFL qualifications etc! The clothes stalls are immense, I think me and Alex are now pros at haggling! So many different places to eat and drink, the random Boots and Starbucks as well! I think I'm starting to like Bangkok a bit better today, but it still feels too much after the beach!

What has been strange is seeing so many people that we've previously met. We might have met someone a few weeks ago, and then in a completely random chance meeting you'll bump into them in a completely different part of the country! Its getting to be a bit bizarre, like small world syndrome as Alex calls it!

We've booked our tickets to Chiang Mai to leave Thursday night, so probably spend the next couple of days doing a bit more exploring here before heading up! I hope Chiang Mai isn't as hectic as Bangkok.

Missing home a lot this week, hope everyone's ok!

Rach xx

Posted by Rachellina 08:34 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Songkran

Thai New Year on Koh Phi Phi

sunny 30 °C

What do we do for New Year? Get drunk. What do the Thais do? Have a week long water fight!

Tuesday
Me and Alex decided to have a bit of an adventure, as the beach can get a bit boring, and we decided to walk up to the view point on the island which is a hefty half hour trek up the hillside in the baking heat! After 10 mins I did start to wonder why we were doing this, but the view at the top was definately worth it. From the view point you can look over the two bays of the island. Its just stunning! After marvelling the view and our triumph of the almighty hill we saw a sign for a third view point, and the beach the on the other side of the hill. Stupidly we thought we've walked all this way, we may as well go see what the other beach is like... There was no real path down to the next beach, it was more of a jungle trek on a narrow almost path. Wearing bikinis and flip flops we proceeded to slip, skid and trip down the path for about 30 mins! However, yet again the trek was worth it as the beach we reached was just an undiscovered paradise. The beach was to perfect, the sea was clearer than we've seen before and fish were swimming right up in the shallows. There were some cute little beach huts for accommodation, a bar and a restaurant that served the spiciest curry we've come across yet! It was just amazing. Like an undiscovered piece of Thailand!

Wednesday
SONGKRAN! We joined the water fight late (slept in) but thats not to say we didn't get totally drenched and covered in this wierd paste they put on your cheeks. Initially Songkran was a way in which the people would respect their elderd by sprinking water on them as a sign that the old year was being washed away. It still has those elements, some of the more traditional people have been holding buckets sprinkling everyone, but to be fair, the majority just want to soak you with powerful waterguns, buckets, water bottles, hoses, anything really! And they put this paste on your faces, I think its a sign of respect or something. So for a whole day no matter where you are going or how you are dressed you get soaked by the end of the street and round the corner there is bound to be someone waiting to paste your face! Probably the best New Year I've ever had! It lasts all week in places like Bangkok and Chiang Mai!

Today
I finally got to go scuba diving today! Dragged ourselves out of bed for a 7am start, and got on the boat. Alex did snorkling. I started to get a bit scared as our instructor, Rich, started telling us what we would have to do. Talking about equipment and gages and equilizing and these tests we had to do, it all started to sound a bit scary! The first jump in was the worst. My snorkel didn't work and I had to save air so got a lot of sea water in my mouth, the sea was choppy where we were and he then told us we had to go down under water to do the tests! The tests were just to make sure we would know what to do if we lost our mouth pieces or our mask filled up with water, but I panicked a couple of times before I got the hang of it. Once I got going though it was absolutely incredible!
The best parts were the coral reefs where we saw little clown fish (like in Finding Nemo), these cool Eels that dart out and bite you if you're not careful, and then we saw some turtles! It was so amazing, the turtle was massive and was eating something on the rocks. We all just swam round him, they are so relaxed they have a look at you and then carry on with what they're doing! The sea is so warm, and you get the same sensation in your ears as when you take-off or land in a plane. It was pretty amazing. Not sure its for me long term though, I like dry land! But I'm glad I tried it.

I think we've both had enough of Phi Phi now, thinking of moving on to Krabi tomorrow, hopefully check out this famous Rai Leh beach that I keep hearing about from travellers. Although it has its bad points, staying a doorm room had been amazing. We've been staying with these really cool Irish guys that basically plan to take over Phi Phi (funny to watch) and this awasome french girl. People come and go, stay a night or two before moving on, but we hear such cool stories, and exchange places that you've been and ideas of where to go next... Just amazing how friendly and open they all are, really opens your eyes to what people from other cultures are actually like.

Hope everyone back home is ok, thanks for the message Stacey! :) Love you all

Rach
xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by Rachellina 02:49 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Koh Phi Phi

Beautiful

sunny 33 °C

I think I've found the most beautiful place on the planet, I could spend the rest of my life here doing nothing! I did almost get set on fire last night though....

Phuket
We had an amazing last day in Phuket. We got fish foot spas, where you put your feet in the top of a massive fish tank and these tiny little fish "clean" your feet by nibbling them! You have to fight every natural instinct not to kick them off as its so ticklish!
There is the big hill overlooking Karon and Kata beaches, and top is this "Big Buddah" so we thought we'd go have a look. It was absolutely massive, and they were rebuilding parts of it with little marble slabs that you could buy and sign, so me and Alex shared a little slab to "make a wish". The views from the top were incredible! We had a lovely lady taxi driver who stopped and waited for us, and then was our guide tour stopping at the best view points on the way down so we could take more pictures.
We spotted an elephant trekking place on the way back down too, so we just had to do it! Our elephant we rode was called Natalie, and her trainer was amazing! His catchphrase was "if you're scared, I'm happy!" He kept pretending to not be in control and would make her walk towards the edge of the cliff face. He then climbed off and said we could move up and sit on her head (we'd been on a chair thing on her back). It was just amazing! Every time he said her name she would give a little squeak, and she collected water in her trunk and sprayed us!
That night we went out in Patong which was OK. Definitely less creepy old men!

Saturday
We got an early morning boat over to Koh Phi Phi and just fell in love with the place as soon as we arrived. We finally feel like we're in Thailand! The place is just crammed with little shop stalls, places to eat, diving centers, hostels, and then has the most beautiful beaches and bays! The water is turquoise and the bays are surrounded by forest covered hills! Its just stunning!
We got a bit lost after dinner the first night and ended up at Stones Bar, sat on cushions on the beach, with these little piles of sand holding fire lanterns, drinking cocktails. Met some very drunk people from Exeter that night! The guy had come to Thailand 2 and 1/2 years ago, decided he didn't want to go home so went to Australia with a working visa and is only just going home for the first time this week! Once you're here, you just can't imagine leaving!

Sunday
After realising our budget would quickly fall apart if weren't careful we decided to change apartments and so are now staying in a dorm room. Staying there all week cost the same as one night in the place we moved from! All we really did yesterday was laze about on the beach. The guys that are in our dorm work nights handing out leaflets, and they said they would show us some good places to go so we went out with them last night.
Me and Alex decided to go to the fire show beach bar! These young guys were twirling fire sticks around so fast and jumping about on the stage, it was amazing, I've never seen anything like it before! The youngest must have been about 8-10 yrs old! Anyway, we're sat there cheering along with everyone else as this one guy keeps doing his throwing the stick right up in the air trick, and this one time he must have completely misjudged it, because the next thing I know, its on my chair!! Alex jumped up, but I don't why but I just didn't respond, and so the guy rushes over and knocks it away! I found the whole thing so funny (maybe they put something in my drink :/ ), but the poor guy looked like he was about to have a heart attack! Anyway, it didn't even touch me so someone is obviously looking out for me!
After that we had a good night out with the guys, they're a laugh! Oh, and Chinese girls absolutely love Alex's dancing! They swarm around her! I have no idea why, but its so funny to watch!

Today
Not done an awful lot again today, much lazyness! But I think we'll have an alcohol free night tonight, and hopefully book to go on a scuba diving trip for tomorrow! Can't wait! :D

Missing everyone, wish you could all be here with me! Having a great time with Alex though, she's been a real star!

Love you all

Rach xx

Posted by Rachellina 02:49 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

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