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Published: January 2nd 2008
Before we start, we have some bad news ....... we're sorry to have to let you know that the Mills gerbils are no more....! Thanks to Philip, George, Archie and Harry for looking after them during their last couple of months!!
Ok, so way back on the 17th November (yes, we're that behind!) we took an overnight bus from Vientiane in Laos to Chiang Main in Thailand. We actually made a rare decision and went to the guest house recommended by our taxi driver - just outside the old city wall with a tiny freezing swimming pool, we paid 400 Baht (just under 7 pounds) for a really nice room.
We spent the first day walking round the city, the temples and the night market and enjoying our first taste of Thai food. The following day we did a cooking course, a wedding present from Anna, Kevin and Josie. We had a really good day, and after helping buy the ingredients from the local market, we cooked (and ate) yellow curry with chicken, steamed fish in banana leaves (didn't like so much), chicken with cashew nuts, fried big noodles with soy sauce, spicy prawn salad (very spicy) and bananas in
Our present from Sally and Geoff was a day at the Elephant Nature Park just north of Chiang Mai. We absolutely loved it here and haven't stopped raving about it to people we've met since. We helped feed the elephants and wash them in the river and we learnt loads about how working elephants are treated etc, we are now officially elephants bores! The park recommends that people don't go elephant trekking as it's not good for the elephants and they will have all gone through awful training as babies to "break their spirit". Also please don't encourage elephants being made to beg in the street. The owner, Lek, looks after 33 elephants, the 33rd arrived while we were there which was really special and moving to see. We would definitely recommend a visit! (see www.elephantnaturepark.org for more info)
Bangkok was our next stop and we spent our first night at the gorgeous YHA Baan Dinso. It was a bit of a budget buster so we moved to the infamous Khao San Road - pretty tacky and definitely more expensive than we'd expected. We spent 4 days there during which we visited the obligatory Buddhas (Standing,
Thai cooking lesson
Black, Lucky, Emerald - which is actually jade - and the big gold one lying on it's side), temples and were herded round the Grand Palace, but we mostly sunned ourselves in and by our hotel's rooftop pool. We did venture to Patpong one evening though to watch "ping pong"!!
Our next destination and wedding present (thanks Rob) was a 3 night stay in a beautifully located jungle lodge in Khao Sok National Park. The view from our riverside cottage was amazing and once we'd got used to sharing our bathroom with a couple of rather large spiders, we had a very peaceful and relaxing stay. As well as spending a fair amount of time watching the monkeys swinging through the trees near our cottage, we did a 12km day trek through the jungle which started with the sounds of gibbons singing, gave us our first experience of leeches and finished with a swim in a river gorge pool. We also did a night trek which wasn't as scary as we'd feared and during which we saw lemurs and civet cats in the trees close by.
Next was a night in Krabi and lots of mojitos and games
Feed me now!
Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai
of pool, followed by 2 nights on Ko Phi Phi. We'd been warned it would be expensive and here 700 Baht only got us a small dark hut with no view of the beach. Long Beach was lovely with white powder sand, turquoise sea, tropical fish swimming really near the beach and a curry that even David admitted was too hot! But the main resort, despite having been hit from both sides by the tsunami, was so built up that it could have been anywhere in the Canaries, and so we moved on to lovely Ko Lanta.
We spent a couple of nights in what looked like a multi-coloured paper mache Jurassic Park - the weird but good fun Cha Ba Bungalows. As the sea felt like semi-set jelly when you ran your fingers through it due to loads of small, see-through and harmless jelly fish, we decided to hire a scooter to explore the rest of the island and to find the perfect beach we were looking for. We found it, but we're not telling you where as it was lovely ad quiet! We took a holiday from backpacking and were able to splash out on a bit
of luxury for a couple of days thanks to our wedding present from Pauline. We had a brilliant time, the beach and sea were almost always deserted, the snorkelling was great, the food was gorgeous - the fried chicken curry at the bar next door was heavenly (we got talking to the boss there who bizarrely used to work at the Prince of Wales in Marlow and while we lived there!!!!) and the cheap bottle of rum we'd taken came in very handy for sitting on our balcony admiring the view!
We reluctantly left Ko Lanta and 2 mini buses and a ferry later and we were on Ko Tarutao, a Marine National Park. It's a really quiet place where the visitor centre, accommodation, shop and 1 restaurant are all run by the Park. There was a nice beach near our accommodation and we'd hoped to do a bit of snorkelling but there was nowhere to hire the kit so we settled on a 16km walk to a couple of other beaches and back, which, despite us both sweating buckets, we really enjoyed.
Our neighbours in Tarutao were Dave and Michelle from Manchester, who like us were leaving
Thailand and heading for Georgetown in Malaysia so we hooked up with them and a few hours later the 4 of us spent ages wandering the streets of Georgetown in the dark looking for somewhere half decent to stay. There's not really much to write about our stay there, there wasn't a great deal to do or see but we did have a great Indian! It was then on to Kuala Lumpur, another painful search for a room that wasn't awful and another couple of days of not having much to do, but we had another good Indian!
Until next time
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