Tag Archives: Thailand

Thai islands, part 1

Hello dear reader,

Welcome to what is probably the penultimate travel blog entry, because we fly home in nine days!! I can hear you all breathing a sigh of relief. Thank you to all of you have stuck with me from the very beginning. I’ve loved having the blog as a diary, and also a way to tell the stories of our trips to my friends and family.

Through the blog I’ve discovered a new love for writing, and as I’m almost a hundred posts in, it seems a shame to throw in the towel now. I’m going to keep the blog going even when I’m at home. Sure, I probably won’t have anything that interesting to write about (except wedding planning… Cough) but I’ve really enjoyed having a new hobby that I can do anywhere (hello international airports) and anytime (hello insomnia!)

So, the past week has been spent having a look around the south of Thailand.
It was really nice to return to Thailand. It’s been the first time we’ve “returned” anywhere on the trip, but it’s a relief to arrive somewhere and understand how it all works, and how to say “hello” and “thank you.”

Unfortunately on the way out of Cambodia I developed tonsillitis. I’d like to take a moment to share with you, and anyone who may or may not have had tonsillitis in the past, one of my favourite ever pieces of journalism: Charlie Brooker on the horrors of tonsillitis.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/jul/28/healthandwellbeing.health

It’s worse, far worse, than international terrorism and child abuse combined.”

Although the above quote is a slight over statement, I love to return to this piece every time I get tonsillitis and share it with anyone who doesn’t understand how FUCKING TERRIBLE IT IS.

So our flight to from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Phuket, Thailand wasn’t a fun one for me.

I went hot cold hot cold hot cold and I couldn’t wear my hoodie because it’s currently in quarantine after I slept in it in a bed full of bedbugs in Siem Reap. (But that’s a song I shall sing another day.)

We changed flights in Bangkok where we were delayed, but I was semi conscious so I didn’t really know or care that much about it.

FINALLY we got to Phuket and had some food (an ice cream for me) and fell asleep.

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(Above is the only photo I took in Phuket! See, told you I was ill! Haha. Our room was really cool, it felt like we were staying in a church and I had a nice new dress on.)

The next day was a slow plod to an English-speaking pharmacy where I demanded antibiotics and then went back to bed with a nice little spittoon next to me. Special shout out to Thomas Copley (aka Nurse Copley) who is basically a SAINT. I seriously don’t understand how people can travel alone. There have been far to many occasions where I’ve been bedridden on this trip (hello Vietnam!) and I’ve relied on Tom to get food for me otherwise I would have died.

Anyway, nothing was achieved for 48 hours other than walking around the corner to visit that cat cafe. I love cats!!!

Then we moved to another side of Phuket, closer to Kata beach. We found our hostel, and as I got there I saw a little dog sat on the bar stool by reception. As I walked towards it to say hello (“sawadee ka!”) it stuck its paw out and gave me a high five! This was one of the best moments ever as it felt like an achievement to even make it there in my sweaty and delirious state!
The hostel was okay but the bathroom was grim and full of cockroaches so we had to knock loudly on the door and turn the lights on and off a few times before we could enter. (To scare them off into their holes) It was a bit hysterical really but I’ve got to the point where I’ll put up with anything!

We chilled by the beach for two days which was nice, and I began to feel better. What would we do without antibiotics?

After Phuket we went to Koh Phi Phi, which was really nice, more filled with backpackers so we felt a bit more at home and I was beginning to feel more human.

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We basically lazed and wandered around for two days. Our hostel was really grim and the toilet was in the shower, but it was okay. We had a crazy thunderstorm one night. The thunder was so loud that it was like someone banging a drum in your chest.

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(our lovely toilet in the shower, for your viewing pleasure.)

The next day we went for a very slow plod up to a viewpoint above Ko Phi Phi. To get there, we followed the tsunami evacuation route. It’s good to see that these have all been put into place after the 2004 tragedy.

We had a nice walk. It was very sweaty, but we met some nice kittens and the view was cool. On the way back down the hill, my foot slipped from underneath me and I completely stacked it. My knee was bleeding so badly that it was running all the way down to my ankles but I just laughed because it ALWAYS HAPPENS TO ME. Tom said “you’ve taken to travelling like a duck with bricks in its pockets,” and then a German man shouted at me for wearing the wrong shoes. No rest for the wicked eh?

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That evening we watched a fire show on the beach which was nice.

Next stop: Koh Lanta. We’d heard Koh Lanta was a nice chilled island to visit. We got a tuk tuk to our hotel which was literally just on a road in the middle of nowhere. Because it’s low season, “quiet” means “totally dead.” Also, we had overlooked that we were visiting a Muslim island during Ramadan. Most travellers rent motorbikes or scooters but because we’re both too clumsy (see above) and we’ve seen too many people covered in bandages we’ve decided against using them. This meant that we were in the middle of nowhere for 48 hours. Because it’s rainy season the weather has been pretty pants so we just basically did nothing! I didn’t take a single photo because it was literally just a dirt road in the rain.

Onwards! Krabi! This was one that I was really excited about because we’d booked somewhere faaaaaancy as a treat for Tom’s birthday. By fancy, I mean £50 a night, but it really goes a long way in Thailand! We checked into the Krabi resort, and Tom said “it’s my birthday tomorrow, is it possible to get an upgrade?” And it worked! Amazing. I need to be more assertive. “Britain needs serts!”

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We were taken to our suite in a little golf buggy and the novelties didn’t wear off for the next 48 hours. Our room was stunning, and huge, and octagonal. We had a lovely bathroom bigger than many rooms we’ve stayed in with a sunken bath. The resort had two massive pools, all you can eat buffet breakfast…. Oh it was just paradise! I’ve never appreciated luxury so much! Tom’s birthday was great, we just spent the day eating and drinking and lying by the pool ordering drinks and charging them to our room which just felt amazing until we checked out and paid the ransom the next day haha!

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(The birthday boy)

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I leave you with the above photo to distract from my despair that the next time I write here we will be GOING HOME!!!😭😭😭

Okay time for happy thoughts, here are some things that have made me laugh so far in the Thai islands:

  • During our time at the Krabi Resort (posh hotel) there was a monkey on the loose who kept emptying the bin at the bottom of the stairs, looting all over the place, and generally causing chaos. The staff laid out a big trap filled with bananas but he wasn’t interested.
  • Also at the Krabi Resort there was a gigantic lizard who was about four foot long and was doing laps around a little posh moat area, making everyone who spotted him scream. Clearly the animals at the resort didn’t get the memo about it being a swanky place!
  • When boarding one of the boats between the islands there was a very official man in an official uniform making an official announcement…. By shouting through a traffic cone.

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Goodbye Thailand

Goodbye Thailand, you’ve been good to us. I still can’t believe I can get a bus for four hours across the country for £1.30, when it costs me £2.40 to get from Harehills to the centre of Leeds! Also, food costs us 1 quid each per dish. Insane.

Kind people, scorching days, incredible food. Next time we see you we will be three weeks away from coming home! How insane is that. Tomorrow we will be crossing a bridge over the Mekong river that’ll take us into Laos.

Heres some photos from our last few places: Pai, Chaing Rai and Chaing Kong. A photo speaks 1,000 words, and I’m glad about that because I’m not in the mood to write today!

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Chiang Mai

The following day we were headed to Chiang Mai. The bus took longer than expected and didn’t make a single toilet break in the six hour journey. It seems Thai people don’t have bladders or food intolerances but somehow I made it there without disasters. Once we got to Chiang Mai, we got a hair-raising Tuk Tuk to our hostel. The woman driving would go on the wrong side of the road to avoid traffic jams, she under took then cut up another tuk tuk driver whilst screaming at him. Then we came to a small traffic jam and she got out of the vehicle, stormed out to the driver behind us and started screaming at him and rocking his tuk tuk until it nearly fell over. I was convinced we were about to be involved in some kind of road rage incident but once again, we somehow survived.

At the hostel the owner warmly greeted us and sat us down for a good hour and half whilst she showed us maps and discussed trips etc. All the while I was just thinking “JUST LET ME GO TO THE SODDING TOILET” haha. We booked a trip for few days afterwards to go and see the elephants, which I was really excited about! That evening, the owner cooked us a meal along with two Germans who were also staying, which was really kind, and delicious!

The following day we had a lie in, missed breakfast, staggered out into the heat… Couldn’t figure out what to do or find a restaurant so had a pot noodle (they’re much better this side of the globe, honest) and then caught a small bus up to a temple on the top of a hill just outside of Chaing Mai. The bus, which is standard in Thailand, was basically a pick up truck with a roof and two benches inside, one against each window side. It hurtled in and out of the traffic and then up the mountain. Because I could only see out sideways, and had a dodgy tummy anyway, I began to feel horrifically travel sick. It got so bad that I thought I was about to be sick when the bus finally stopped 40 minutes later. I am not exaggerating when I say I was about two minutes away from vomiting. Tom said I was completely grey. I sat on the pavement with my head in my hands for a few minutes, waiting for it to pass, then the driver came out and smeared some peppermint oil onto my nostrils. This was quite alarming, as I didn’t really know what was going on but felt too ill to care. The peppermint helped a bit, and also made my eyes water so much it looked like I was crying. HA.

 

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(The only photo I got of the temple as I felt too lousy.)

Eventually I dragged myself up the 200 or so steps up to the temple. This was in the midday heat and I just felt awful. Anyway, it was good to see the temple I guess. On the way back down the driver let me sit behind her front seat so I was facing forwards and didn’t feel so awful. I also was sat next to an American bloke who told me some horror stories about using a moped in Vietnam and Laos, so Ive decided bikes and mopeds are definitely off the agenda, and that we will just stock up on travel sickness tablets instead!
When we were back in Chiang Mai, we had a wander around the Saturday market. There’s lots of lovely things for sale. Tom wanted some food, but when we went to the food stalls there were lots of mussels and god knows what else covered in flies and strong smells so I found myself with my hat pressed to my mouth and clutching my belly and just had to go and chill at the hostel for a bit. A few hours later, we ventured out and had some eggy chilli soup which I managed to splash into my eye… Not a very good day for me really haha!!

The next day was Sunday, and a fairly lazy one for us. We just chilled out and in the evening went to the Sunday market, which was really nice and arty. Had an early night in preparation for the ELEPHANTS.

I barely slept that night because I was really excited and also really hot. We got up at 6.30 ready for our pick up and had some breakfast in the hostel. We were put in one of my favourite trucks, but as there was only me and Tom on it, I managed to hang my head out of the window and face forward, a bit like when you see a dog hanging out of a car on the motorway. Not feeling sick this time, yay!

We drove for an hour out of Chaing Mai and up into the jungly mountains. When we arrived we were greeted by our guide, and sat down for a briefing. We were delighted to discover it was only Tom and me, so we were eager for lots of elephant time! The Hug Elephant Sanctuary had a pet monkey called Chilli, who was kept chained up to a tree. This made me feel really apprehensive about how the elephants would be treated….

….But it ended up being fine!

We walked up a hill into the forest where we saw the two elephants just chilling. We each had a bag of bananas and we were shown how to feed the elephants. This was just an insane experience. The elephants are so huge! And they instantly recognised the banana bags so their trunk just came straight at you and into the bag. We held the bananas out and they took it in their trunks and popped them in their mouths. The trunk was like something off a Star Wars film! So flexible and snake-like and it was constantly making a sucking noise whilst grappling for a banana. The elephants were so quick, you’d hand them a banana and before you had time to reach for another, their trunk was already in the bag! So funny.

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imageWe learnt how the elephant sanctuary was formed. A lot of elephants in Thailand are used for tourist rides, which aren’t good for the animals. It’s a tricky issue, because most of the time, a poor family will own the elephant, which is their only source of income. The solution made by the Hug Elephant Sanctuary is that the elephants and their human families move to the sanctuary, where they are much better looked after, and fed and bathed by the tourists, plus there’s still a source of income for the families.
So, the elephants are used to human company, but are much happier than when used for treks.

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(That trunk is just saying “excuse me?? Banana please!)

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The whole day felt like such a privilege, and I’m so glad that I got to hang out with the stunning creatures when it was just me and Tom and the trainers. In the afternoon, we were joined by four British lads and we took the elephants for a walk down to a big mud bath. The bath is really cooling for the elephants and they love it! We patted mud onto their skin, which feels like really rough old leather, with wirey hairs all over it. Then we headed to a big pool where the elephants kept lying down under the water and then sticking their trunks up to breath. So funny! It was hilarious when they trumpeted and squirted water everywhere.

All in all, it was a wonderful day!

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(Exit stage left, pursued by an elephant)

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Suhkothai

We got the bus from Phitsanulok to Suhkothai which was quite manageable because it was only an hours journey. Suhkothai is a city split into two halves: old and new. We were staying in the new side, and eager to visit the old side which is full of more ancient temples. We found our hostel, checked in, and then went for a wander to find some lunch.

To my absolute delight we came across a restaurant called “Poo Reastaurant.” As it had the best name I think I’ve ever heard for a food establishment, we decided to eat there. The food was good, and not at all pooey! The rest of the day was spent in the air conditioned bubble of our room.

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We’re currently in April, Thailand’s hottest month. It’s averaging 40 degrees each day. I’m currently struggling with guilt, feeling that I’m in such an incredible place, I don’t want to spend the day reading, or browsing the Internet when I should be exploring…. but in reality, it’s just too hot to be walking around. The ideal thing is to get up and out early, siesta through lunchtime and then at around 4pm head back out. In our hostels when we get back from sight-seeing around lunchtime, it’s very common for the staff to just be asleep on the floor with a fan on them. It takes me back to when we visited Morocco one August and just spent the majority of the time in bed because it was so hot haha!

So the next day, we were up and out early. We caught a bus to the gates of the Suhkothai Temple park, where we hired a bike each (I realise that I’d sworn to never cycle again in Thailand, but the alternative was even worse)

We ended up having a really lovely morning cycling all around the ancient ruined temples. It was one of those places that really captures the imagination. There were lots of monks everywhere, their orange robes beautiful against the blue sky and reflected in the water. We saw one monk who had loads of gear and a big Gandalf stick who’d been on pilgrimage. There were also lots of young boy monks walking in a long line following their teacher. It’s wonderful to imagine the temples and monks being pretty much the same for the past few hundred years. In the true style of travelling juxtapositions, we had to leave the beautiful park abruptly because I was having a stomach eruption. HOHOHO Asia with a stomach that is dodgy at the best of times…. It’s a good job I’ve got a sense of humour!

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Ayutthaya and Phitsanulok

Disclaimer : apologies about the rubbish photos in this post. I cleared my phone before I got a chance to upload the photos so I had to take them off Facebook and some have ended up miniature!!

In Kanchanuburi, the Songkram celebrations were just rounding up, so we got completely soaked whilst we had our lunch and didn’t manage to dry out before our minibus to Ayutthaya arrived. Cue bouncing around in very soggy clothes for a few hours, but thankfully the minivan had air conditioning so it wasn’t too killer.

Our hostel in Ayutthaya was awesome, and full of little quirks, like the fish pond full of koi that were bigger than Penny and Parker.

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(The door to our room) can I just stop and say that it’s costing us 7 QUID a night for a double ensuite room. How mental is that?! We were paying 20 quid to stay on a campsite in New Zealand in a tent! Amazing. It seems we’ll make it home before we’re bankrupt after all!

The hostel was in a bizarre location though, on the side of a dual carriageway and quite far out of town. We went for a wander that evening, saw a temple and tried to find a restaurant as we were starving. Eventually we were ushered into a family run job alongside the river. It was stunning but we could barely afford the menu and resorted to counting out coins before we could leave. Slightly awkward because we were the only ones in there and shared some weird watery soup and a bottle of water… Not quite the rich westerners the host had in mind!

We set our alarms for 7am the next day as the travel guide suggested “rising early and cycling around the ruins of Ayutthaya” before it got too hot. Tom had been awake all night, so we didn’t manage to leave the hostel until gone 10am.

We cycled to Wat Chaiwatthanaram (mouthful) a beautiful ruined temple that reminded me instantly of the Jungle Book. It was extra special because there was hardly anyone there. Lovely. Loads of the Buddhas were missing their heads due to a raid by the Burmese in the 1700s. The statues were believed to have gold inside. It’s a shame really, but in a way it just made it more atmospheric.

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We’d decided to cycle to the train station to pick up our tickets for travel the following day. On our way we saw a load of elephants waiting to be taken for rides by tourists. Their owners were sleeping on the chairs upon their backs in the building heat. I’ve read quite extensively about the way in which elephants are treated in order to train them to carry humans. It’s completely barbaric. We decided to watch instead, and I enjoyed watching the elephants squirting themselves with water to cool themselves down. They’re truly beautiful awe-inspiring creatures but watching them trudge down the dual carriageway carrying people was really quite depressing.

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(Ride bikes not elephants)

It was getting hotter. And hotter. And hotter. We didn’t realise how far the train station was. The roads were terrible. It was around 40 degrees.- I’m not exaggerating. We found ourselves on a fucking Thai motorway at one point where I had a kind of out of body experience and screamed at Tom “If you smile at me again, I’m going to push you under a truck!!!” This is an example of how I was feeling. Somehow we made it to the station.

Tom went inside to get the tickets whilst I stood outside, taking my hat off so I had somewhere to be sick into. I wasn’t sick but I came very close. When Tom came back outside he said “bloody hell you are PURPLE.” And went to get me a Fanta with lots of ice. (Love him) We cooled down a bit, had some lunch, and then I accosted several tuk tuk drivers asking if they’d take us and the bikes back to the hostel. No amount of eyelash batting would work, as they were only doing sight-seeing tours. We had to cycle. It was absolutely horrendous and I think I came close to falling unconscious. At one point I screamed “WHERE THE FUCK IS THIS FUCKING BRIDGE????!!!!”

Anyway. Every hideous experience is an education. Lessons learnt:
1)Do not cycle in 25km in 40 degree heat.
2) If the locals are sat in the shade looking at you like you’ve got two heads, it’s for a reason.
3) When I return home the first thing I will do is find who suggested “a cycle in Ayutthaya” and personally shoot them.
4) If you find a man who doesn’t object to death threats and still loves you when you’re crying and your head is purple, marry him.

The rest of the day was an exhausted delirium.

The following day we got a pimp-my-ride style tuk tuk to the train station. No more cycling for me HO HO HO! We arrived half an hour early, which was good because the train was 45 minutes late… No one seemed to know which train was which. Train guards told us to get on the train and get off the train. Also to walk between the platforms you literally walk on the train track. A bit stressful to say the least. Meanwhile, a clean shaven man with a MOLE BEARD kept walking past. Let me explain, he had a large facial mole and he’d decided to grow out his mole hair so he had a big long tuft of mole hair about twenty centimetres long flapping around his face. Not helping my state of mind….

Finally our train arrived and we were delighted to find it had air conditioning and half an hour in, we were given a meal! Crazy! So different to our first Thai train journey.
We arrived in Phitsanulok – and joy of joys – none of the tuk tuk drivers knew our hostel, despite our showing them the map and offering to direct them, they refused to take us. So we had to walk to the hostel in the lovely 40 degree heat with our bags on. Plus there’s no pavements, weird stray dogs everywhere, and it’s fucking impossible to cross the road. I arrived in a similar state to the previous day. Tom checked us in whilst I lay on my bag on the pavement outside. I have no shame anymore.

After a few hours in our air conditioned bubble, we were hungry and decided to head out to a nearby temple and to grab some food. After a lot of waiting to cross the road, and being chased by a questionable looking dog we found the temple. Outside were a group of Thai girls, all aged around ten. They asked if they could show us around the temple and practice their English. After they assured us it was free, they found a big skirt for me to wear to cover my legs. It was like a big tube. I stepped inside and they kindly fastened it up for me…. Little did I know that this skirt would completely humiliate me in just under an hours time…

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(Above we’re learning to fold lotus flowers as an offering to Buddha)

We enjoyed a tour of the temple. The girls encouraged us to join in with the wishes and prayers. We shook sticks out of a pot that corresponded with our numbered fortunes, which was lovely. Afterwards, they led us around the back of the temple, and we picked up two more bewildered Westerners.

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(Above the girls are translating our fortunes. Tom was told he’d have a baby girl, and I was told I’d have a boy. One of each it is then!)
We were led outside where we saw a big row of monks sat on chairs, whilst people queued up to be blessed by them. I was hesitant to join in, convinced I’d do something wrong, but the girls insisted. I knew that women had to be careful around monks as we aren’t meant to touch them and should dress modestly. I thought I was all good covered in my scarf and skirt…..

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I was handed a bottle of holy water and a small metal cup. I watched the girls ahead of me and followed suit. We had to crouch at the feet of each monk, pouring water into their hands which they would flick onto our heads in blessing.

At one point my knee hit the bench at their feet which was full of bottles of water and vases of flowers. It nearly toppled but I managed to stop it. I sighed a sigh of relief and then stood up. To my horror as I stood, my skirt dropped to my ankles. This was like some ridiculous Bridget Jones moment… A policeman ran up to me and pulled the skirt up whilst I just wanted to DIE. Tom told me afterward that he thought I was going to be arrested! I managed to pull the skirt back up and hold it in place for the rest of the monks. I was literally counting them down so I could escape and hide my red face. It was equally mortifying and hilarious in the end. Tom said that the other policemen were pissing themselves and taking photos.

WHY AM I LIKE THIS?!! Why does it always happen to me!!!!!!!!

We all piled into one of the girls’ dad’s cars. He’d invited us to join the family for dinner. We were taken to a on street restaurant where we were told that the traditional dish of “morning glory” (what?) was sold. Tom and the Canadian girl we were with were made to dress up in some kind of weird hula dress with fake boobs on the front and a sequinned hat. They then had to stand on the opposite side of the road from the restaurant with a big dustbin lid in their hand. The staff then stopped the traffic and the chef came out with a wok full of morning glory and threw it over his shoulder across the street and then Tom caught it in the dustbin lid.

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https://www.facebook.com/tom.copley/posts/10154183796910159 (the link is Video evidence for those who have Facebook. If not I’ll show you when I’m home xx)

It was one of the many moments I’ve had travelling when I’ve been thinking “what the fuck is going on???!!!” But just had to laugh and roll with it. And so concluded one of the most mortifying and hilarious days of the trip.

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Bangkok to Kanchanuburi

Next on the agenda: Thailand. Ever since I read Alex Garland’s “The Beach” as a teenager and watched the film adaptation I’ve had a burning desire to see Thailand! Okay, so the novel kind of degenerates into cannibalism but let’s sweep that under the carpet and just say that I was very excited!

 

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The flight from Osaka, Japan to Bangkok, Thailand was truly hideous. I think midnight is one of the worst times to fly: you’re hysterically tired and arrive in an unfamiliar country at a ridiculous time. Also we’re flying budget. Air Asia is the equivalent to Ryan Air (who the fuck is Ryan?!) so no leg room and incredibly narrow seats for a six hour flight wasn’t fun. Also, I’m certain that 80% of the passengers on the flight were screaming toddlers. It got to the point where I was ready to join them in a tantrum and I found myself muttering to Tom “let’s NEVER have children!”

Anyway. Rant over. We arrived in one piece which is the main thing! To my delight we hopped into a bright pink taxi and were whistled over to our hostel. The taxi driver insisted that we should pay extra to take the highway to avoid the traffic, to which I responded “traffic at 6am? Yeah right!” He laughed but we agreed anyway, too tired to argue. I fell asleep about four times in the taxi, with Tom poking me to keep me awake. The hostel was really nice and we learnt that a free breakfast would be served from 7am. Not wanting to miss out on free food, we set an alarm for an hour later and climbed into bed fully clothed. I’m glad we did because breakfast was an INCREDIBLE buffet, which was a surreal dreamlike experience.

After food we went back to bed and woke up at around 2pm. It was SOOO HOT. Japan was one of the coldest places on our trip so we had to readjust to the tropics of Thailand. The day was pretty much a write off because we were bloody knackered and a bit disorientated. We basically wandered bleary-eyed around the block, bought water, did some laundry, had some food at the hostel and went back to bed.

The next day we were up, feeling refreshed and ready to explore Bangkok. We walked to the river and caught a boat to Wat Pho. The boat was pretty much like a stressful bus journey but via water. It pulled up and we laughed because it was so rammed with people. The workers onboard would have given the gestapo a run for their money “GET INSIDE! HURRY UP!!! GET INSIDE!!!!!”
Thankfully there were no windows so there was some airflow and it cost around 20p each, but it wasn’t a pleasant journey.

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Wat Pho is one of the biggest Buddhist temples in Bangkok and home to the famous reclining Buddha. We arrived at around 9.30am so it wasn’t too busy and really beautiful and hot. We explored, taking our shoes on and off and on and off as we went into the shrines. We then came across the Thai massage school that’s inside the temple. We decided to treat ourselves to a massage, going for 30 minutes rather than an hour each in case we didn’t like it!
We were led to two beds next to eachother and instructed to lie on our sides. What followed was a whole body massage including feet, legs, having your fingers pulled and clicked, back clicked, shoulders, head, ears….
It was painful but relaxing at the same time, and I realised how sore my feet, calves and back were! I felt amazing afterwards and managed to not laugh too much, even when I could hear some loud slapping noises and someone screaming…. I kept my eyes closed but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Tom!
We then went to check out the reclining Buddha. He was huge!
Wandering onwards we found a Thai restaurant for lunch and sat giggling whilst we ate listening to incredibly loud and incredibly terrible karaoke.

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We then headed to the famous Khoa San Road, described in The Beach as “the backpacking centre of the universe.” It’s basically loads of bars full of backpackers, stalls selling clothes and ornaments, tattoo shops, and neon signs. It was good to get our bearings in preparation for the upcoming Songkran celebrations the following day….

That evening we got tickets to visit the Calypso Theatre to watch the famous Ladyboys of Bangkok perform. It was something else!

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We were ushered into a really posh cabaret style theatre where we sipped beer and waited for the curtain to arrive. Well. I don’t know how to put it into words but it was essentially a very camp cabaret show, complete with the Sound of Music, Chicago etc. It was easy to forget that the performers were born men. They were very captivating! There were some very bizarre moments, as you can imagine.
Afterwards we went to the exit where all the ladyboys were lined up offering to take photos with the audience members. We grabbed a photo with a few of the girls, and then one of them had a 500 baht (£10) note in her hand and was saying “mister! Mister!” To Tom and pointing at the note. I had a sensation that we were about to be fleeced and they all started pulling notes out of Tom’s wallet and we legged it…
Haha. Kind of a surreal experience really but we managed to get away before we were left completely penniless.

 

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The following day we headed to the supermarket to buy some water guns. We’d timed our trip impeccably by accident to be in Bangkok for Songkran (Thai new year) the Thai people celebrate by bathing the Buddha in water, and then their families and friends. The idea is that you are cleansed of your misfortunes and given lots of luck for the next year. This degenerates into a huge street water fight. We headed to the boat, where we went to find the train station we needed the following day. We were anxious that the tickets would be sold out due to the festivities but we were in luck. The boat and walk in 30 degree heat were pretty taxing – we were both drenched in sweat – so I made the executive decision that we’d get a taxi the next day – I really didn’t fancy doing that journey with my backpack.

We headed to the hub of the water fight – Khoa San Road of course! I can’t put into words what an experience it was. I don’t even have any decent photos to show you because it was so wet we couldn’t take many… But there were hundreds and hundreds of people running around, squirting eachother, chucking buckets of water at eachother and hugging and dancing to super loud dance music in the street. It was a huge water fighting rave! I kept screaming “THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!!!” It felt amazing in the boiling heat and it was hilarious to see fully grown adults acting like kids. Songkran was one of the most amazing experiences of our trip so far, I’ll never forget it. After a few hours, we headed back. We dried out in the sun and then we got soaked again heading to the hostel. The streets are lined with groups of friends around huge water coolers full of water. The locals also have buckets of white paste which symbolises protection and is to ward off evil. We came back covered in the stuff!

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The next day we checked out and got a taxi to the train station. We were ridiculously early so we sat around baking on the platform for a few hours before the train arrived. The train to Kanchanuburi was crazily slow, and would often stop in the middle of nowhere for fifteen minutes at a time. We were drenched in sweat and sticking to the seats. The air coming through the windows was like having a hot hairdryer blown directly in your face. I could literally feel my eyeballs drying out.

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After a while, I put some music on and began to relax and enjoy the view. Opposite us was a female monk, bald headed and dressed in white robes. She held her friends hands in hers and read their palms, each reading taking around thirty minutes whilst the receiver hung on to her every word.
In the end I really enjoyed that journey!
We were met from the train by a tuk tuk organised by the hostel. A tuk tuk is a motorbike adapted to carry passengers. This one was essentially like a big side car. It was such a cool way of seeing the town, I felt like I was flying. I’m sure we’ll ride many many more before we go home! At the hostel the person who checked us in photographed our passports on his phone and then proceeded to spend 10 minutes screaming in rage and punching his phone and throwing it around the room whilst we sweated and wondered what the hell was going on. No answers there.

We chilled out in the room for a while. In the evening we met the owner and she drove us down to the edge of the river Kwai where the locals were all sat celebrating Songkran (no water fights this time, just food and drink) it was one of those really special evenings where there were no other backpackers in sight and we enjoyed a delicious and ridiculously cheap meal sat with the locals.

The next day we moved to a different hostel. We arrived too early to check in so we dumped our bags and headed to the death railway museum. Kanchanuburi is the town closest to the famous “bridge over the river Kwai”. To be honest, I’d heard the title of the film, but I’d never seen it, or knew anything about it. At the museum, I learnt all about the stretch of railway from Thailand to Burma that was built by the Japanese in world war 2 to get supplies into Burma. It was built using forced labour, in absolutely horrific conditions. Hundreds of thousands of Asians, and prisoners of war from England and Australia perished in the making, due to lack of adequate food and water, incredible heat, and untreated illness.
It was incredibly poignant to learn all about it in a beautifully air conditioned museum, then step outside and instantly want to seek shade and cover yourself in sun cream. I can’t imagine how terrible it was, but I can empathise with the heat.
Just outside the museum is a huge war cemetery.

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A moving day. We went and cooled down in the hostel and then that evening went to visit the bridge. You can walk over it and it’s flooded with tourists, and locals selling ice creams, cold drinks and nicnacs. It wasn’t as big as I’d imagined. I’m currently reading “the Bridge over the river Kwai” (kindles are good aren’t they?!) and it’s a good read.

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On our final day in Kanchanuburi we mostly chilled out. We took Tom for a haircut. It cost two quid. I can’t decide if he’s really brave or just sick of my dodgy haircuts. We then had a Thai massage. My masseuse was really lovely. She lives in England now, and was back to Thailand for Songkran. In London she charges £60.00 an hour for a massage and we paid… Four quid. Isn’t that insane? I’ll have to get as many massages as possible whilst I’m hear to make the most of it. It was a wonderful massage, I even had all my toes clicked! I felt awesome afterwards. The lady also told me that British people have awful backs and necks because we all work too hard hunched over computers all day, whereas the Thai people rarely have this issue. Interesting, huh?

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