Published: October 21st 2010October 20th 2010
We thought it was finally time that we started a blog to keep you all informed of what we have been up to!
Our first destination was Phuket where we spent 4 nights in a lovely hotel complete with swimming pool, air conditioning and an apple computer in the room! Flash packers, us?!? Still it only cost us £6 per night and helped us get over the jet lag quickly. We didn’t do much in Phuket other than sit on the beach and eat and drink and meet up with Katie and Seb who arrived from Singapore. We all thought Phuket didn’t have much to offer (other than amazing street food cooked by a lady called Mama) and we were staying in Karon which is meant to be one of the least touristy places!
We then got a bus and a ferry over to Koh Phangan and after a full days travelling thought a nice refreshing dip in the sea would be good. Unfortunately the sea was the temperature of bath water and we would have to walk out about 300m before the water became deeper than our knees - cold shower instead then! Went to the pre
and full moon parties which the island is famous for, and really enjoyed both. We actually met the man called Suti who started the whole thing 20 years ago at Paradise Bungalows - its changed a bit since then apparently! Dan and Seb jumped through rings of fire and Dan went down a slide through a fire bridge and managed to come back bleeding because he bit his tongue on landing! Hired mopeds on 2 days which was great (after Dan learnt where the breaks were and how to avoid the bushes, it was touch and go as to whether Laura would actually get on the back for a while!) because it meant we could explore the island and find the beaches where we could swim and snorkel. Left Phangan after 4 nights and headed over to Koh Phi Phi (we should have done these islands in a different order but we wanted to be in Phangan for the full moon and wanted to do our diving course in Phi Phi).
Koh Phi Phi was definitely a highlight of our time in Thailand. The island is beautiful, they have no vehicles there other than boats and the locals we
met were lovely. We spent 3 days doing our SSI (Scuba Schools International) course here which meant early mornings, long days and homework (much to Dan’s disgust) and a swimming test (much to Laura’s disgust!) We had to complete 4 hour long dives and a written exam to become qualified open water divers. The diving was amazing and we saw so many fish, coral, turtles, stingrays and a Black Tip reef shark! Really glad we have done this at the start of our trip as we now plan to make the most of it and dive in Bali and Fiji when we get there. Our dive boat moored in Maya Bay for lunch which is the beach where the film ‘The Beach’ was set, really pretty but somewhat spoilt by the huge number of other boats and tourists in the bay. On our 3rd night in Phi Phi, whilst we were doing our homework, Dan came into the room and said we were going to have to pack as we were about to be flooded. It had been raining heavily for about an hour and we had a stream right next to our room which seemed to be draining the
whole town! We couldn’t believe how quickly the water came and it within no time at all it burst its banks and was heading for our room! We shoved everything into our bags, put the bedside tables on top of the bed and waded over to Kate and Seb’s room which was on stilts. Our room was now flooded and the rain was not letting up. All but the top step of Kate’s room was now underwater so they packed too and we piled everything on top of their bed. The locals were trying to dam the stream banks and clear the stream of the debris that were slowing up the water draining away and eventually the rain slowed so we decided to take a risk, put on our waterproof jackets and go out for dinner. Luckily when we returned a couple of hours later most of the water had drained away as quickly as it had arrived and the upside was that Dan and I could no longer stay in our room so got upgraded to a room with air conditioning and hot water! Luxury!! Left Phi Phi after an amazing 4 days and got an overnight coach up
Only spent 2 days in Bangkok, but felt this was enough. We decided not to stay on the backpacker street; Khao San Road, but did visit it during the day to explore the market. Saw the huge reclining Budda at Wat Pho, went to Dusit zoo (mainly to ride the bike boats), went to China town and managed to find nowhere we wanted to eat, travelled on tuk tuk, boat, sky rail, local bus, coach, taxi boats and car taxis, visited Patong night market and had a drunken night out at Soi Cowboy. We weren’t sad to leave Bangkok as we weren’t really enjoying the hectic city after the relaxing islands.
Next we caught a train to Kanchanaburi, East of Bangkok. We rented bikes and cycled to the bridge over the river Kwae , World War 2 and Jeath war museum and cemetery of the prisoners of war, which was a really interesting day. Laura had her first massage here (which we needed after the 4 hour bumpy, wooden seat, train ride!) An hour massage cost about £4, cheap! Whilst here, Glastonbury tickets went on sale and the 4 of us wanted them! We sat for
4 hours with our 2 laptops pressing the refresh button on the see tickets websites and constantly trying to ring from both skype accounts and literally got nowhere, other than our skype account getting blocked! Luckily our dear friend Rach was also trying for us from home and with only 20 minutes to go before they fully sold out she managed to book us our tickets!! We were very happy and relieved after a pretty boring and stressful afternoon of trying! This means we definitely have to be back in the UK before the end of June. After 2 nights in Kanchanaburi, we caught 2 public buses to go to Ayuthaya an ancient Thai city.
Ayuthaya is a really pretty town with lots of ruins scattered around it and is located on an island due to the convergence of 3 rivers. We rent bikes again as an easy way to get around and see it all. As well as the ruins, we saw a snake that had just had its head cut off by a local! Nice! Only spent one night here as the next evening we caught the overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. We
really enjoyed the train, definitely the best way to travel!
We spent 2 days in Chiang Mai wandering around exploring and doing more bartering in the night markets. Had a really good night out at the Roots, Rock and Reggae bar. After a few days in the city we decided it was time to do some adventure stuff so we booked onto a 2 day trek which was another highlight of our time in Thailand. We were picked up at 9am and our first stop was to ride elephants. After some fried rice for lunch we set off into the jungle for a 6km trek uphill to Lahu village where we were spending the night. The trekking wasn’t easy as the ground was really steep and it had rained the night before so it was very slippy. We had to cross lots of rivers which resulted in very wet feet for Laura who wasn’t so good at keeping her balance on slippery wet rocks! We finally arrived at the top and can safely say that there wasn’t any part of our bodies that weren’t covered in sweat! Luckily the locals in the village were able to supply us with
some cold Chang beers which were greatly received! Showering wasn’t great as it was simply a bucket of ice cold water that you had to throw over yourself but it was better than nothing. Dinner was cooked for us by the locals and it tasted great and after that we sat around a bonfire chatting and drinking until we went to bed in a large wooden hut with mattresses and mosquito nets. The next day we were headed down the mountain which we thought would be easier but turned out to be more difficult because of it being so steep and our shoes having no grip! We were very pleased when we got to stop at a waterfall and swim in the freezing water! After the trekking we did some white water rafting which was brilliant fun and definitely something we want to do again (probably when we get to New Zealand). Next was bamboo rafting which was hilarious as they put 5 of us on one raft so it was more like a bamboo submarine and Seb was instructed to stand up and steer and power us which resulted in him falling in. We were all pretty exhausted after
2 very fun filled days so couldn’t wait to shower and get a good nights sleep. Unfortunately we had to endure a bus ride to our last destination in Thailand first. We set off to Pai on a mini bus which had to go around no less than 762 bends before we arrived, just what we needed!
Pai is a small town with a hippy and laid back atmosphere. We really like it and ended up staying 3 nights. Our hostel had a swimming pool which we were really please about as we’d been missing the sea. We rented mopeds again here to get out and explore the hills of rural northern Thailand. We visited Tha Pai hot springs thinking that a nice mineral bath sounded lovely, however the water was just too hot and there was no way we could get in it! At the very top the water was 80ᵒC and the locals were boiling eggs in it! We also went to Mo Paeng waterfall which was much more refreshing and really stunning. Spent the evenings making the most of our last Thai meals and enjoying the cool little bars the town has to offer. After our
3 days we got the bus to Chiang Khong slept the night there and the next day we said goodbye to Thailand before crossing the Mekong River into Laos.
So after 3 and a half weeks we feel with have managed to not be ‘flash packers’ (with the exception of Phuket, but that was more a mini holiday before the travelling began!) We don’t seem to be having any negative side effects from our malaria tablets so glad we didn’t spend loads getting the really expensive ones. Dan has not had a single insect bite yet whilst Laura is showering herself in deet and the buggars are still finding the patches not covered and biting her there instead!
Hope you are all well,
Lots of love
Laura and Dan
There are more photos below