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Published: January 19th 2013
I feel like I've been away for so long and yet when I look at a calendar, it's only been 3 weeks. Mental! Time flies when you're travelling around Thailand! So we left Koh Tao on the 10th and headed to Bangkok. I actually found it really hard to leave. I was enjoying the diving so much, I didn't want to stop! For the sake of our budget though, it was for the best! So with a heavy heart we headed for Bangkok. We first had to get a 3hour boat to Chumpon, waited there for an hour whilst being assaulted by a million insects, then took our first night bus. The bus itself was actually pretty nice but the 7 and a half hour journey was not. We were due to arrive in Bangkok at 5:30am but at 3:30 the bus suddenly stopped and we were all dragged off with our bags being flung onto the street. Half asleep, we scrambled around trying to find our stuff whilst being harrassed by taxi drivers and tuktuk drivers demanding to know where we were going. We had absolutely no idea where we were, felt extremely disorientated and confused so I told a
tuktuk driver, 'Khao San Road?' and he grabbed our bags and hauled us into his tuktuk. He drove us in one big circle and we ended up at Khao San Road, literally a five minute walk from where the bus dropped us off! Livid! At 3:30am, Khao San Road is crawling with drunken travellers, which isn't really what you need when you still feel half asleep and can barely carry your giant rucksack! So we tried to make our way down side streets, looking for somewhere to stay. We were told to wait to check in anywhere until 4am as they reset for the day then, otherwise we'd have to check out at 12! So we wandered til 4 then tried to find somewhere. Irritatingly, everywhere was fully booked so we searched for one miserable hour before heading back to Khao San Road and eventually found a room at 'Kawin Place'. It wasn't awful but was extremely overpriced. At 5am though, we didn't care! We got a few more hours sleep then set off into Bangkok, looking to see all the sights in one day. Unfortunately, it was a Buddhist holiday so most of the things we wanted to see
were closed. Brilliant. By chance though, a kind local with no hidden agenda (practically unheard of!) gave us a few tips and told us we could get a government tuktuk for 3 hours for 20baht! That's 40p to be driven anywhere we wanted to go for 3 hours! He also told us about a couple of things open to the public only on this one day. We saw the Lucky Buddha which on this one day, you could make a wish. We also saw the enormous standing Buddha at Wat Indraviharn temple. We went to the MBK mall which was unreal! Seven floors and millions of shops, it was a maze! It was cool to see that part of Bangkok, the busy modern city but because so many things were closed, we had to spend most of our time on the Khao San Road which was just like any other busy strip - full of bars, restaurants, stalls and many many tourists. We had one night there but it didn't really do that much for me!
We booked our ticket out of Bangkok for the next day. We went to the government run tourist office to enquire about a
ticket to Chiang Mai and before we knew it, a woman called Candy had organised our whole trip! We got another night bus to Chiang Mai. This bus was not as nice as the first and the journey was longer but ah well. We'll have to get used to it! I picked up a cold in Bangkok, classic! So that made the bus journey slightly more unpleasant, and probably for the people around me too! We arrived in Chiang Mai at about 5:30am. We'd booked ahead this time, thanks to Candy, so were taken to our hotel, 'Mandala House'. Despite booking ahead, our room wasn't ready so they made us sleep on the sofas in reception whilst we waited. Not impressed. It gets cold in Chiang Mai at night so I lay shivering for a few hours! We went off to the tourist agency at 9 to hear all about the trek we were booked into, then when we got back to the hotel at 11, our room was finally ready! To be fair, it was the nicest room we've had so far! Even had a TV and a fridge! Luxury! So we had a few days in Chiang Mai
to relax before our trek. We wandered the city, went to a different market every evening, tried different restaurants and food stalls and visited a few temples! We met a really nice couple from Australia in a bar and played copious games of 'Shithead' - a card game every traveller seems to know some variation of! Chiang Mai's a really lovely city, very relaxed! Not as hot as the islands or Bangkok but still warm!
We went trekking on the 16th! We were in a group of 14: 4 English, 3 Dutch, 6 French and 1 Hungarian! We were taken about 30mins north in Chiang Mai, to the foot of a mountain. We stopped at a market first to buy some supplies, then were taken to ride elephants! We went up and down a small part of the mountain and then through the river! It was amazing!! Albeit slightly uncomfortable, but incredible to sit on top of an elephant! After that we had lunch, then started trekking. First through rice fields, then into the jungle. We walked for a few hours up the mountain before arriving at our first home-stay by a waterfall. We all swam which was bloody
freezing! Then had dinner and spent the evening round the campfire getting to know everyone. It was a really nice group! The next day we walked further up the mountain for a few hours, stopped for lunch where we taught the Dutch girls 'Shithead', then trekked for a few more hours in the afternoon before stopping for the evening to stay with the Karen hill tribe. The village was really small, with only about 50 people and no electricity. The children sang for us and then we spent another night around the campfire playing games. The next day we walked down the mountain. At the bottom we were all piled into the back of a pick-up truck, sitting dangerously on the edge and holding on for dear life! We were taken to a river where we got to go bamboo rafting which was really fun! The water was freezing and obviously everyone was splashing and falling in but it was hilarious! Then that was it, trek over and back to Chiang Mai city! It was a really cool experience, I liked being active everyday and trying to find a path through the jungle! Now we have another day to chill
in Chiang Mai before we move onto Pai.
I'm a tiny bit concerned about my budget. I've spent more in the first month than I thought I would but then we have done some expensive things like diving and trekking and moving around the country! I also think we've spent a bit more due to naivety but we'll learn from that. We did work for a year and a half and saved more than enough so will be fine! I'm just an eternal worrier! I've so far resisted souvenirs because it's so early on in our trip and I don't want to waste money/have to carry more in my already very heavy backpack! I did, however succumb to a pair of the classic, baggy, hippy trousers everyone wears! They're so comfy and let's face it, you look damn cool! See the pic below for a prime example!
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