Monday, 28 October 2013

Trekking in Chiang Mai washed down with Muay Thai

After having a blast in Sukothai we ventured off to the bus station to take the (supposedly) five hour bus ride to Chiang Mai. We paid for 2nd class tickets at least expecting a seat however this wasnt the case, what we ended up with was essentially a shelf at the back of the bus to fit all seven of us on. There was one mattress on half the side the rest highly uncomfortable steel, what made matters worse was the air conditioning was constantly dripping making the whole place wet. It was an interesting painful ride that actually lasted seven hours instead of the advertised five, but hey, this is Thailand.

Upon arrival we headed to JJ guesthouse, the lady here was trying to sell us some tours that they do and offered a discount for our group, we decided on the one day trek consisting of a visit to: an orchid and butterfly garden, elephant riding, white water rafting, a visit to the long neck tribe village and a walk to a waterfall. The day was incredible, I have never done anything like it. Riding the elephants was fantastic, half way through I moved from the chair and rode right at the front of it desperatly keeping my balance. The long neck tribe village was bizzare, I'd seen it on telly before and really dont understand it, I guess its their tradition but im not entirely sure how ethical it is for them to have tourists walking through every single day, truth be told it was like visiting a human zoo. The white water rafting was incredible, a proper rush in some of the wilder rapids. On one of the calmer straight paths we jumped out and let the river carry us for a bit I narrowly avoided some serious damage to my feet and legs on rocks but it was awesome. After some freshly prepared pad thai for lunch (the best ive had so far in Thailand) we had a little trek to the waterfall, this spot was so good, our tour guide told us we could slide down it from the top and it would be safe, I was cautious at first but after he showed us himself I did it; over and over again. It was so refreshing as the water was freezing. That then concluded the trek and we headed back to the guesthouse.

In Chiang Mai they have Muay Thai fights every night. The lady at our guesthouse said she could get us tickets at a discounted price so we took 16, this was all of our group plus the others we had met on our trek. The seats we got were excellent, she must have a hook up there as less than half hour in, me and a few others were upgraded to VIP ringside for free. It was a brilliant night and we placed some small bets between us to spice it up further. Later came the final big fight of the night, New Zealand VS Thailand. It was a tough call on who would win and it ended with the Kiwi winning. When it was over we all headed to a bar that turned out to be the same place all the fighters were drinking too, I went over and got a picture with Richie, the champion of the night.

Our plan is to stay in Chiang Mai for a few more days. As my group only have two more stops before they want to go to Laos I may stay here and try to settle for a while but im still undecided. One of our friends Chooks is leaving to go back to London and tonight is his last night so were going for a nice meal somewhere.

Ive just come back from an amazing massage from a place that is literally next door to our guesthouse, it cost me £2! Tomorrow I think we are renting some scooters and going exploring.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Sukhothai, Thailand's first capital

Getting to Sukothai was a breeze, a short bus of just an hour. When we arrived we were greeted by a couple of tuk tuk drivers offering us a ride to the "4T Guesthouse" it was bungalow accommodation with a pool, it looked pretty sweet and was a good price so we decided to take them up on it. As soon as we put our bags down we dived straight into the pool, it was a beautiful relief from the hot Thai sun.  In the evening we checked out a few of the local bars and by the end of night we had become a group of around 25 with people from all over the world. We invited them all back to the guesthouse for a pool party and it turned into an seriously good night, we partied long into the early hours. In the morning, while all the others were still in bed nursing hangovers, I headed back to the pool. I ended up  being in there for four hours playing frissbee with Jan, a German kid here with his parents.

Once the others surfaced we decided to head to the old city and hire bikes. The guesthouse staff said though that there wouldnt be time to get round it all on bikes. As an alternative they suggested taking a couple tuk tuks and thier driver's would take us all around on a tour, after some discussion on price we whittled it down a bit and set off. The day was spot on! The drivers were so funny and very knowledgeable, the tour was supposed to be three hours but ended up being over four, we had such a good day that we treated them to dinner, we gained a lot of knowledge through these guys, of Thailand, and the orginal capital city Sukothai.

On the way back to the guesthouse we drove past a car crash scene with police everywhere, we slowed to have a look and at the last moment I spotted Jan and his parents; it was them involved in the crash. We got out the tuk tuk to check they were ok, luckily nobody was hurt but the car had done a 360 in road. Jan was very upset and shaken up and his dad was having a nightmare trying to talk to the police. His English is bad and even if it were good Thai police generally dont speak English so there was no way they would have got this sorted. Our driver Dom saved the day by speaking to the police, our Dutch friend Steven also speaks some German so going three ways the information got through. They had to go to the police station to confirm insurance details, they had insurance so it looked like it would all be fine. Dom told us they could be at the station some time so Jans dad asked me if I would look after him and take him back to the guesthouse. I talked to him all night via a translator app on my tab, he told me he is an inline speed skater and competes nationally, when he is 18 he hopes to make the commonwealth games, he was a cool kid. Three hours later his parents returned and everything was sorted, they would have a new car delivered the next day.

Our guesthouse, the staff and its tuk tuk drivers made our experience in Sukothai. If I find myself there again I shall certainly return to the 4T Guesthouse. Our next stop; Chiang Mai

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Party in Phitsanulok

My last night in Ayutthaya was not a pleasant experience. This was soley made up by the fact I ended up in a room, where while I was sleeping, I was awoken by a ridiculously large disgusting cockroach walking accross my face. At first I thought I was brushing off a fly but when I swatted my face and opened my eyes I saw this monstrous thing fly accross the room. I immediately jumped out of bed to work out what the hell I was gonna do. I had to get it in a good place to swat it and finally, when i could, I hammered that thing hard with my sandals. It was nasty!

Having sorted out a contact for some teaching work later in my travels I went to the train station to head north 4 hours to find my friends at Phitsanulok. Later that evening we headed to the night market, picked up a t-shirt then hit the waterfront where there was a strip of little bars. The place we sat down at was great, it was full of Thais not a single foreigner or "farang" as we are known. The table next to us was a family having a birthday party, there was a live band playing Thai hits which were very good. When certain songs came on all the kids at the table went mad, they all got up started dancing and clapping so we all got involved too. They absolutly loved that we joined in and I ended up practising some Thai with them, thier English was very minimal so it made for an interesting experience; they were very impressed with my efforts. A little while later we saw a boy who could only of been around 5 years old at most. He was with his mum selling roses and was absolutly fascinated when he spotted us. He came over and started pulling on our t-shirts wanting to be picked up, he was eager to see who these strange white people were. He ended up sitting at our table for a while getting in our pictures and trying to converse with us, we ended up taking two roses from him and he showed us all the money he made. He was absolutely chuffed to bits when we gave him a small empty chocolate box with a maget lid to put it all in, he ran off down the road with the biggest smile on his face. The evening continued, we ended up talking to lots of diffrent Thais who again had poor english but none the less they were very happy welcoming people, it was a great experience for all.

This morning we hit some more temples and I was very lucky to be blessed by a famous Tibetan monk. I knelt before him where he took some string and ran it through my hand muttering some words, he then tied the string to my wrist and with one last tap he was finished. I felt a positive sensation running though me after that. It was special.

Tomorrow we head further north again, to a place called Sukothai. Lets see what that has to offer.

Sunday, 20 October 2013


After a couple of days in Bangkok we decided it was time to move on so we arranged a minibus to take us to Ayutthaya the ex capital and highly historical city less than 2 hours drive north. We arrived to a sweet little guest house "Tonys Place" immediately noticing a much better more chilled out vibe compared to the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. After checking in we were offered a 2 hour boat tour with two temple stops, the ride was great and the temples sensational. One of the stops included visiting Thailands biggest Buddha which was very impresive. Along the boat ride we saw many homes on the river bank were flooded because of the monsoon, it was sad to see, certainly made me think about how some of these people live.

Day two in Ayutthaya we hired some very sketchy looking push bikes and took the streets, lets just say it made for a very interesting day. Nobody died but it was pretty close a few times, we biked around finding lots of diffrent temples on the way it was absolute jokes. What's crazy about this place is the amount of wild dogs, I mean literally everywhere on every corner on every street down every ally; they're everywhere. They are all pretty docile and on the surface of no threat, they completly ignore humans and just seem to wander around aimlessly. I did have one pretty scary incident with one on our bike ride though where out of the blue one made a go for me, as I was on my bike I got away quickly but my heart was pounding. 

The rest of my travel buddies left this morning to head a bit further north however im staying back for another day or two as I need to visit a place that can potentially offer me some work teaching English. Although I dont plan on doing this just yet thier head office is in the city so it makes sense to pop them a visit. From my doorstep I can find someone to take me to where my friends are so its no issuse, all forms of transport here are in abundance and very cheap.
Thats it for now, its very hot so I think it's time for a nice ice cold smoothie.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

First Night In Bangkok

All my worries about meeting people sharply came to an end when I met no less that 8 people on the plane doing the same thing as me! Upon arrival to Bangkok we shared a couple of cabs and headed toward the Khao San Road. It wasnt as hot as I thought it would be luckily but man there was some crazy traffic (apprently the small narrow hard shoulder is used as a constant driving lane) We all checked into our various hostels we pre booked and met up for a drink, several hours and several beers later we decided we wanted a massage, we went for the full body swedish for an hour coming to a whopping price of five pounds. It was incredible! The night continued on walking up and down the Khao San, I think I must have been asked two dozens times if I wanted to buy a suit or if I wanted "cheep cheep tuk tuk ride" I read that this road is notorious for scammers and that it is.

The craziest thing of the night was involving a deadly black insect.  I always said jokingly that I would eat a scorpion off a stick in Bangkok not actually thinking that I would ever do it. Well it turns out I did. We were at a bar sat outside and this lady was walking around selling these terrifying looking things, I had plenty of dutch courage at this point so picked a medium sized one out and ate the thing whole. Suprisingly it actually tasted good, just a little bit too crunchy!

I write this post this morning from my hostel room, I think we're heading to MBK today (huge shopping mall) as I need to pick up a cheap phone, other than im not sure what the plan is, probably gonna get another massage.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

At The Airport

The trip to the airport was as you'd expect. We left at 5.30AM so it was still dark out, I was still tired and I had a million thoughts going through my mind, most of all the question, what an earth am I doing?! I kept telling myself "you're going on an adventure, you have done all you research, you'll be fine". Deep down I know I'll be fine, I figure if I wasnt worried at all then that in itself would be something to worry about; a little apprehension is surely good.

When I arrived at the airport check in was nice and smooth so I went out for one last smoke. When I came back inside, it was only to discover a piano in the middle of the lounge with a big sign saying "play me" I thought it would be rude not to so I walked right over and played a few litle songs for the busy people rushing around trying to catch thier flight. When I got up, only then did I realise I had a bit of an audience watching me, it was pretty good fun, a good way to kill a little time. Im currently sat waiting for my flight which takes off in an hour. Get me on that plane already!


Friday, 4 October 2013

Opening Post

To kick off my blog I guess I should explain what that whole thing is about. I have long dreamed to travel and after hearing and reading so much about South East Asia I decided to finally turn my dream into a reality. On Tuesday the 15th October I set off, starting my adventure in Bangkok. After many months of research and forum reading I decided to take a kind of 'go with the flow' attitude so have only planned a very loose itinerary covering 4 countries: Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. I will slowly go wherever the wind takes me until April/May 2014 when I will return home.

This blog will be a place I document my adventures and stories along the way to look back on when I'm older, it will also be a place for you to keep up with me while I'm on my travels. Who knows it may even inspire you to start an adventure of your own.

That's it for now. Feel free to follow.