A Travellerspoint blog

Thailand

Bangkok

Final stop....Bangkok!

It was definitely a nice treat to fly instead of getting on a very long bus journey. It saved us a whole day and only cost around £50 to fly from Phuket to Bangkok.

Got to the hotel and unpacked, chilled out for a little bit then forced ourselves to get up make a plan for our short amount of time there then set off on our final leg of the adventure...

We got on a local bus to go to Wat Pho (a.k.a. the Reclining Budha). On the trip we went through the streets on Bangkok and it was such a change! You can certainly tell it is the capital - it was so busy! Each pavement was so busy that you could not see the floor...thousands of people everywhere and lots of different markets stalls. It was mental but seriously cool too. The Budha was really cool, a lot different from the last one which made me glad we had chosen to get and see that one. The area it was in was so different, I actually felt like I was in USA!

We just so happened to be in Bangkok during Songkran, which is the Thai New Year. It was pure coincidence as we had no idea when we booked it but I am really glad it fell onto that weekend. During Songkran the locals (and the tourists!) all join in in a massive water fight. I did not realise beforehand how involved they get in it, but it is crazy! We would be walking down the street and a truck would drive past with the back full of both kids and adults with huge buckets of water that they threw at everyone and anyone. We went to Kho San Road on the main night of the celebrations, so the road was cut off and a huge party and water fight took place. It is safe to say we got soaked. There was some local celebrities that everyone was going mad over walking down the main street (they were something to do with the government and tourism and very popular - although we had no idea who they were) and they came over to us to ask us questions, it was all filmed so I was on Thai TV!

The next day we got up early and went to Chatakan Market. We had been told it was big but I had no idea it would be like that. It was ten times bigger than any market I have ever been to - at least. We saw a bag in a shop earlier on and decided to go back to get it - it took nearly an hour for us to find the shop again. It was such a maze. The only thing that I did not like was the "pet" section. Lots of animals, mainly puppies, in tiny cages looking like they were dying, it wasn't nice. We easily spent our remaining money on souvenirs and presents.

We had tea in China Town. I have been to a few China Towns before but this one has to be my favourite. The food was amazing and very cheap. Plus the atmosphere was unreal. And it was mainly outside - so we just sat at a little table on a random pavement eating wantons and noodles. Really good experience.

Our final day in Bangkok (and in Thailand) was one that we took a while to decide what to do. I was torn because I really wanted to go and see the tigers and Tiger Temple. I was torn because of all the rumors you hear about how they are all drugged up, but at the same time who doesn't want to get their picture taken with a huge tiger? It was also not the cheapest trip, but after some deliberation we decided it was not something that we wanted to regret not doing - so we got some money out and booked the trip. The most annoying part was that you couldn't do a trip that took you just to the temple, you had to do a full day and a lot of other things that we were particularly wanting to do.

The first stop on the trip was the floating markets in Karachinabari, which to be fair was really cool. It was so different to anything I have seen before, which made it worth while. Next we went to the bridge over the River Kwai (for those of you who don't know there is a film named The Bridge Over The River Kwai and it is set there) We also stopped for lunch. Then finally we got to go (after another two hour bus ride) to Tiger Temple.

Once we got off the bus we were immediately told that we would not be allowed inside because of what we were wearing. Beforehand, we were only told that we could not wear bright colours but had not been told anything about being completely covered up. There was, of course, a shop there where you could buy clothes from but they weren't cheap and I didn't even have my card with me. A girl that was on the trip with us kindly borrowed me a spare blouse she had with her. I put that on and pulled my dress down to make a long skirt and got told I could go in. Clare and I made a deal - I would go in for the first half hour, come out and swap clothes with her, then she could go in for the second. Once I finally got in I had to run to get near the main area. I saw one tiger and got a random girl to take my picture with it, which resulted in one of my head only, and one of the tiger only. Oh, and a near-by tree. Great. I saw another one and got a guy to take it for me and, although it wasn't great, you got the idea. Conscious of the time I asked a woman that worked there where the rest of the tigers were, who replied with "Oh, it all finished at three, they have all gone now" (We did not arrive to the place until three!). She mentioned that there would be two more making their way past in the next five mins, but that would be it. I was worried Clare would miss out so ran all the way back, only to get there and for them to tell us it was too late for her to go in, and I was not allowed to re-enter. Basically, it was a bad experience and I did get really annoyed. To top it all off once we got back our plans to go for a drink on one of the skyscrapers roof-top bars got called off as a big rain storm came in - so we ended up in McDonald's! I do feel though that the tigers that I saw were not drugged, as they seemed very awake and with it, if not a little fierce.

Even though it was our last day in Thailand and it had not gone to plan, we were able to do so much in the two and a half weeks that we were there and so much could have gone wrong, so really it wasn't ruined. It was just a shame.

I had such a brilliant time in Thailand, doing so many things that you could not do anywhere else and ticking a lot of boxes on the old bucket list. I am already looking forward to the next trip back - there's still so much more to do there!

Posted by LaurenF3 13:42 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Thailand

Phuket

Stop number 4....

We got to Phuket later on in the evening so did not do much that first day. Went for a bit of a walk and did a bit of exploring then had tea. On the way back we saw a bar that we had read about in the Lonely Planet book, so decided to stop off for a drink. There was a band playing when we got there, singing songs in Thai, but when they realised we were foreign they decide to play some English songs for us....which was basically Ronan Keating and The Lighthouse Family on repeat! It was really cute though....

The next morning we knew what we wanted to do - but finding reasonably priced transport was proving difficult. Then out of nowhere this little man in a little yellow van popped up (the same man who had been pestering us the night before to use him) and we bartered a good enough deal with him. We went to see The Big Buddha, which is a new monument that they are constructing in Phuket. It is not quite finished but close enough. It is huge! Looks really cool as well. Inside the building next to it was a monk blessing people. So, obviously, I had to have a good. It was a very different and interesting experience...although I don't know how genuine it was. Either way it is a pretty cool story to say that you have been blessed by a Thai monk....

On the way back from the Buddha we came across lots of elephants, some baby ones too which were ridiculously cute and playful!

On the way back the taxi man did not take us where we wanted to go...pulling over in a random place. He asked if we would do him a favour and took us to a shop insisting that all we had to do was look around. We had been warned about this before but he was nice enough to us and pre-asked us so we thought we would help him out. The shop was actually decent and we both ended up buying something from there! Then he took us to a tailors and that was just seriously awkward, so after that we put our foot down and he knew he had pushed his look and took us back. We did make a deal with our taxi man to pick us up later for our night out though - saved us quite a bit too.

We then went for a Thai massage. There was all sorts of massages available and, surprisingly enough, the cheapest was the full body traditional Thai massage. It was unlike any other I have experienced - and some times almost hurt! It was great though and I did feel relaxed and re-energised afterwards. It was also only 200Baht, which works out at about £4....so cheap! Went for street for afterwards. We were literally sitting in some Thai woman's garage. She had made lots of food and you could tell it was not meant for tourists because it was seriously hot!! I am a whimp when it comes to spicy foods but my small budget meant I had no other choice...so I ate the lot!

That night we went for a night out in a popular place called Patong. I did have a good night out but it was so Westernised I could have been in Magaluf. It was just one strip and it was full of poachers and reps trying to sell you things and get you into their bar. It really did not feel like Thailand. It was also full of lady-boys! I have to be honest...most of the lady-boys have better figures and bodies than half of the female population! And a lot are hard to tell..... good luck lads!

I tried my very hardest at the end of the night in my rather drunken manner to order a McDonald's (Yes, they do deliver in Thailand!). But, for the life of me I could not figure out how to dial out on the hotel phone and the night guard did not speak a word of English. My impression of the golden arches did not go down well and I am afraid it was mission unsuccessful!

On our final day in Phuket we got a bus to Kata beach (local bus service cost us 35Baht whereas a taxi would have cost us 500Baht!). It wasn't great weather but we chilled out on the beach and went for food before returning to the hotel for a chilled night in. The hotel was really nice and modern but two things went wrong....1) the guy on reception told us he had booked a taxi for us for the morning to get to the airport. We were leaving around 5am when there were no taxis patrolling the streets. When out taxi did not turn up a random guy helped us and we made it with plenty of time. 2) We paid cash upon arrival at the hotel, but once I got home to the UK they had also charged my credit card (which I used to book and pay the deposit with online) in full also. They have since refunded it but it was not a hassle I needed!

I can't say I didn't like Phuket because I did, I just did not enjoy it as much as everywhere else and do not feel it had as much to offer! Still, it is one of the main cities in Thailand and needs to be experienced.

Posted by LaurenF3 14:27 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Thailand

Koh Phi Phi

Yet again - more traveling! We got a bus to Krabi where we had a three hour wait. Then a taxi to the port and a ferry over to Ko Phi Phi.

First impressions of the island - so cool! It is so unlike anywhere else I had been. It was similar to a small shanty town but with a seriously cool and edgy vibe. It was not at all like I imagined and very different from the places we had been previously. There was so much going on with little stalls and markets and food everywhere. And there are no cars on the island either! Everyone is on bikes or foot. But seeing as it is only a small place it does make sense.

We got to the hotel - nice place. Got ourselves cleaned up and went for a wander. There was so much that I wanted to buy, but I managed to hold back (partly because I wanted to see if it was cheaper in Bangkok and also because I did not want to have to carry it around in my backpack until I had to). The shops all sell similar stuff so if you want something BARTER!! They will go cheaper 90% of the time.

Before I went people we always asking me "Are you going to try street food?" with a worried look on their face and concern in their voices. Of course I was going to try street food. It is one of the main reasons I wanted to go to Thailand - to try all sorts of new food. We immediately went to try some once we had left the hotel. Standing in front of the food I can see why people would be cautious about trying it; there were flies landing on it constantly and you had no idea how long it had been there for. But, nonetheless, Clare and I chose a selection of different things including prawns, fishcakes and BBQ chicken, and tucked in. I have to admit, it was the best food I'd had since I had been there, as well as the cheapest. And after that, we barely ate in a restaurant again!

At night we got dressed up and went to see what the island had to offer. We had read that the fire shows we a must see on Phi Phi so we went to watch one at a bar called Slinky's. It was really good. The guys were pretty fearless when it came to throwing fire all around and above them and they certainly did put on a show. As much as I enjoyed it, it did seem to be never ending! Eventually we moved on, only to find that every single bar along the beach front also had a fire show on! We walked right along the beach front, stopping off now and then in the bars and having a boogie in one. We headed back (and got slightly distracted, running onto one dance floor when we heard One Direction!).

One the walk home I came up with a brilliant idea....let's get a tattoo! Clare is not a fan of them but that didn't stop me! I only wanted something small, and mainly did it because I wanted to try it native style - with bamboo! I chose a little elephant (fitting, don't you think?) and had it done just above my ankle. It was really cool and interesting to watch the guy do it with no electricity just a long, thin piece of bamboo that he moved so quickly! I thought it was going to be more painful but have to admit it did not hurt as much as the usual way...

The next day we decided to go over to Phi Phi Ley Togo so we could visit Maya beach (the famous beach from the film "The Beach"). We inquired about a boat and got told they only go at certain times, so waited around, paid and got on. What we didn't realise is that we had ended up paying for a half day trip, when all we wanted to do was get to the beach and sunbathe! We first went across to Monkey Beach, where lots of small monkeys hassled tourists for food. They were far too greedy and confident!! We went snorkeling again, this time it was much better and I saw some really amazing fish! Even saw a snake in the water (which was probably around the time that I got out) then finally got the boat to Maya beach. We were told we only had an hour there and first had to climb through a cave and across a broken bridge before getting there, and we had to pay to get onto the beach. When we finally got onto the beach, which I admit was very beautiful, we lay down to sunbathe to only be completely covered in sand. It was unbelievably windy and the sand actually hurt as it slammed against my body. So basically it was not the most successful of days. Throw into that the added factor that on the way back the wind got worse, causing the waves to get very bad and the small boat that we were in was not quite managing. It was a rather scary experience!

Phi Phi is well worth a visit. It has a cool, fun vibe and there is lots to do and such a great atmosphere. The only thing I would say is it was full of British people and tourists, which did start to take something away from the island!

Posted by LaurenF3 05:00 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Thailand

Kao Sok

Stop number two - Kao Sok.

When we finally arrived here after waiting around the majority of the day it was dark and raining (it is the wettest part of Thailand!). We didn't have anywhere booked and just asked our taxi driver to take us somewhere reasonably priced. He did not speak a lot of English so it was a worry as to whether or not he understood us. But, eventually, he did stop off at a place called Jungle Huts. It was dark and in the middle of a jungle so it was safe to say we were a little scared. Nonetheless we paid for a room anyway and booked on to the trip for the next morning.

The next day everything felt rather different. In the day light and after a good nights sleep I began to appreciate how cool it was that I was in a hut in the air in the middle of a jungle in Thailand. Also the two days one night trip that I was about to go on was the one thing I had most been looking forward to when planning Thailand. We got ready and headed off for our trip to Kao Sok National Park.

When we arrived at the lake we had to get a long-tail boat for an hour across it. I can hand on my heart say I have never seen anywhere as beautiful as this place was. The water was such a lovely blue colour and the cliffs and rocks that surrounded it we stunnin. It really was a wonderful sight. As we got closer we finally saw our accommodation for the night - small, wooden huts that were floating on the lake. Seriously cool! The hut was no bigger than the mattress on the floor, which along with a pillow, blanket and mosquito net were all that was in it. The toilets were the only let down to the whole trip but it is just one of those things you have to deal with. You had to walk along several planks of wood to get to the shore, then trek up a steep hillside, a few steps and you were there. But they were dirty and dingy and the big-scary-wasp-but-worse things were flying around in there. In the day it was just about bare-able, but at night when you through in pitch blackness to the mixture you had no chance of getting me up there. Even to the extent....well I won't go in to detail but it involved a water bottle and a pair of nail scissors...

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The first activity on the trip was a four-hour trek through the middle of the jungle to a cave. We saw lots of cool things on the way, like monkeys, big spiders, chameleons, and after two hours got to the entrance of the cave. Now it may have been naive of me or I may not have been listening but I was under the impression that we would get to the cave have a peek inside then go back the way we came. Didn't take long for me to realise we were going through it and out the other end! We each got a head torch and headed inside. The first thing we saw were huge spiders. I mean they were ridiculous. I'm not scared of spiders but when I saw one moving next to me my god it was creepy. They were actually so big they looked fake! I also saw catfish, pig-bats, frogs and some weird creature that our leader described as half spider/half scorpion. The cave itself was not what I expected. It ended up being a hard core caving experience. There were parts where the walls got so narrow and close together that it was uncomfortable, and at times it got so deep I had to swim because I couldn't touch the floor! If that same cave had been in this country there would have been safety ropes everywhere and everyone would have had a hard hat on, but the leaders were not in the slightest bit worried. It was rather empowering. Especially once we had crawled out of the exit and turned around, because to look at it from that side it just looked simply like a bunch of rocks. It was truly amazing to believe that I had just crawled out of it. I also believe that the fact that there was no warning of how it was going to be and that it wasn't easy was a great idea, because then people cannot start to doubt themselves and think that they can't do it. Instead you are thrown into it and you [i]have[i] to do it. And you come out feeling like you have really accomplished something.

Another activity that was included a night time safari, where we saw hornbills, frogs and fire flies. In order to listen and look for the creatures and animals the leader at one point turned off the engine for the boat. It was so so peaceful floating on the lake in almost silence. We went on a morning safari too and saw lots of monkeys and a huge eagle too.

Nighttime was not good. Clare had been worried and I had not been bothered in the slightest bit. I had got on to my mattress, tucked myself in to my mosquito net and fallen asleep easily. It was all fine until around three am I was woken up by a noise outside. It didn't take me long to realise that something was messing around with our stuff outside. I'm almost certain it was a monkey. It freaked me out and I could not get back to sleep after that. We did have a dodgy wooden window that wouldn't stay closed and I kept thinking any second now its going to jump through that window and attack me! Anyway point is I spent the rest of the night covered in sweat because I had to stay under the blanket (everyone knows your safe under there, right?) and awake because I could not get back to sleep. Safe to say I was not feeling too good in the morning!

Before we left for our activities the second day we had some time to ourselves. We went for a swim and went canoeing (which didn't last long) then sat outside our little hut and just observed. It was so nice to watch the Thai people that lived there. They seriously did not have a care in the world - and with so little! It puts us to shame. They have so much energy and so much fun! And I guess so much freedom too. It was nice to sit there and just watch them enjoy and entertain themselves. The kids are too cute!!

We left and went for another trek on the way back, this time very uphill. It was steep and strenuous but once at the top there was a fantastic view point that made it worth while. We said out goodbyes and left.

I don't think this part of Thailand is very popular with travelers or younger people, but it is seriously something that you need to at least consider doing if you are going to Thailand. It is up there as the most amazing and cool thing I have ever done and noone should pass up the opportunity to do it. I mean come on, how many of you can say you have slept in a floating hut on a beautiful lake in the middle of Thailand?
I can :)

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Posted by LaurenF3 14:30 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Thailand

Koh Phangan

Finally....Thailand!

As much as I was excited to get there, the journey was a huge blag. We had to get a lift to the Chester train station, get to train to London Euston, the underground to London Heathrow, a flight to New Dehli and a flight to Bangkok. But the journey did not end there. We then got on an overnight train from Bangkok to Chumpton (which was supposed to be a sleeper train with beds on,but had no such thing!), then a bus to the port, then a ferry across to Koh Phangan. All in all it took.....well I don't want to dwell on it, it was just a very long journey!

When we arrived at the port we went straight to the nearest restaurant for our first Thai meal. And boy oh boy it was good! We had not got any accommodation booked, as we were told that it is much cheaper to do it there than online from home, but had read up a few names previously. We got a taxi to Haad Rin (the best place to stay on the island) and ended up walking around aimlessly asking in different places but not being satisfied with any. In the end, we got a taxi to a place called Cocohut which we had read about in our Lonely Planet. It was way our of our daily budget and we knew this, but after all the traveling decided to treat ourselves to two nights here. It was a beautiful place to stay. We had a little hillside bungalow right next to the beach. There was a big pool too. It really was heaven. Despite our tiredness we immediately got our bikinis on and spent a chilled afternoon on the beach. Bliss.

That evening we got showered then went for tea on the resort. We also connected to the wi-fi and booked a cheap hostel for the final two nights on the island. We booked a trip for the day after next as well, which included a lot for a reasonable price.

We spent our second day half by the pool and half by the beach. It took us all of seven steps to cross over (yes - I did count). I was a little bad as I was feeling very lazy and could not be bothered to get up and get myself some water, and ended up going very faint and dizzy. Lesson learnt - make sure you drink plenty of water! We stayed at the resort again for tea and had cocktails sent to the table of two Ozzie lads we had met in the pool during the day. They were such good fun and taught us lots of Ozzie sayings! We ended up drinking with them for a while then moved on to, wait for it, the local Irish bar. I can never seem to escape an Irish bar no matter what part of the world I am in! We hadn't planned on drinking that night due to the trip the next day but you just can't help it sometimes can ya! We did immediately pass out as soon as we got back to the room.

Woke up and did not feel great at all. Sucked it up though and went on the trip we had booked. It was called the Eco Nature Tour. It cost us 2500Bhat and it included elephant riding, Chinese temples, waterfall, snorkeling and a trek. The elephant riding was very cool. Such big creatures! I had no idea how high up I would feel on it!! Her hairs felt so bristly too. It as good fun - the guy even made me sit on her head. It's not every day you get to say you went trekking through a jungle whilst sitting on an elephants head. The waterfall we went to see was dried up due to it being dry season, but we did get to climb up it and at the top was a beautiful natural pool. It was so cold and refreshing! (Although it took no more than ten minutes after getting out for me to be covered in sweat again!) The Chinese temple was interesting to see - so different from any church or chapel I've been in.

Then we went snorkeling. Now, I'll admit, I am a bit of a whimp when it comes to the sea. The vastness of it scares me senseless! And the whole not knowing what I am stepping on or what is underneath me - its just freaky. But it does also fascinate me. So I was willing to give snorkeling a go. What a mistake that was! Firstly, the majority of the seabed was covered (seriously, I mean covered) in sea urchins. The spikes on the things were so long!! Secondly, have you ever came across a sea cucumber? No? Me either. So when I saw this long, black thing on the sand next to me I crapped myself, though it was an eel and jumped back, placing my hand on none other but said sea urchin! I was quite lucky actually it kind of scraped the surface - could have been a lot worse. But that just put me on edge and I spent the rest of the "adventure" freaking out at the slightest thing. It did not help that the water was no deeper than a few foot, so I could never put myself upright. Anyway, I survived and all that.

After this trip we went back and moved to our budget hostel. And budget it was. The room did not even have a window! The air con that we had paid for didn't even work, which we realised after unpacking, then had to move rooms. But I guess you get what you pay for and it had a bed for two nights and that was all we needed.

The next morning we woke up and found the whole island had had a power cut. We found a place and ordered some breakfast. I am not one to be fussy or put off by anything when it comes to food, but the three very black, very long, very thick hairs that I found in my scrambled eggs most definitely did put me off it! (Luckily I was with my friend Clare who doesn't eat a lot so I got to finish hers!) We spent the day on Sunrise beach (famous for the Full Moon Party) then went out for a seriously cheap Thai meal. At night we went back to Sunrise beach and had a bucket of vodka and lemonade, then got a taxi to the Half Moon Party. We had only found out earlier in the day that the Half Moon Party costs 500Bhat and is a twenty minute drive away in a taxi. It almost put us off, but am I glad we went. It was one of the best nights ever. So much more than I expected. I went along with tradition and got a neon face paint then danced the night away. We found the two Ozzie lads and spent most of the night with them. The venue is seriously cool - there are even hammocks for a break!! Had a really amazing night and would recommend it to anyone.

But boy did we regret it the next morning. We had to be up after only a few hours sleep and get on a ferry to Surat Thani. From there we had to get on a bus at two...which never showed up. It did not help that the bus we had booked was not through the same company as where we had got dropped off, as they were reluctant to help us. Eventually, for fear of wasting a night and day in the place, we paid for another bus to Kao Sok.

I don't know if it was because it was the first place that we had visited, or if it was due to the fact that I was hungover and feeling sorry for myself, but I felt really sad to be leaving Koh Phagnan. I could have easily spent the whole two weeks on that island, and would love to go back. It is a must do if visiting Thailand. 100%!!

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Posted by LaurenF3 14:15 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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