I’ve had some issues with Internet connectivity lately so here goes the very delayed last entry to my traveling blog. Since I left Australia I was back in London for two weeks, doing some work for a quick bank account boost, and I’m currently in the States visiting friends and family for a few weeks.
Archive for the ‘Bangkok’ Category
So after my tour of Laos and Cambodia I headed back into the familiar Land of Smiles. It was nice to be in a country where I didn’t have to learn the language or customs as they were already old familiars to me.
The group split up a little due to various forms of travel. Matt and I took a very long bus from Sihanoukville to Bangkok. Actually I think it ended up being three buses? Four? Five? I lost count. But eventually we got to Khao San Road where we met up with Claudia and Calvin who had flown in from Phnom Penh.
There we also found Emily, Claudia’s friend from home who came to join us for a few weeks and we had one night in the big city before we said a tearful goodbye to the boys and the girls headed to Koh Pha Ngan for a week to join the infamous Full Moon Party. This is the same party I went to for my New Years Eve, so my time on Koh Pha Ngan was “same same, but different” (don’t ask, it’s a Thai phrase, I don’t know why they say it, but there you have it).
Our group became pretty huge after we met up with my friends from London, George, Sophie and Claudia, on top of meeting up with a couple – Graeme and Donna who we had briefly seen in Luang Prabang, and the five people they had also befriended on the island. On top of this Juliet had two friends from home meeting her, one of them brought a boyfriend and another friend in tow, AND Juliet’s friend from Chang Rai plus a friend joined us too so it was quite the crowd.
We spent a week in Koh Pha Ngan and it was pretty interesting watching the island go from relatively quiet to completely overrun by the time the full moon hit. Unlike New Years, this time we all managed to stay on the beach until the sun had risen which was quite a sight to see, although not all of us remember it…
I enjoyed beign on the island for longer and getting to know some people. I befriended a group of Thai guys who work at an art gallery there and who welcomed me into their studio to hang out, listen to guitar and have a few drinks each night when I was walking home from whatever bar we had been in. Koh Pha Ngan is a strange island and I’m not sure I could stay there for too long, but I’m happy I got to know it a bit better this time.
The next day was reserved for being as lazy as possible before Emily, Claudia and I said goodbye and made our way up to Chang Mai for Songkran from April 13th – 15th. Songkran is the Thai New Year celebration; it’s also celebrated in Cambodia and Laos I believe. It was essentially a three day long water fight on the streets. We reunited with Calvin who had been doing some volunteering work in the hilltribes outside of Chang Rai, and every day we went down to the streets armed with our super soakers ready for action. We parked ourselves near a backpacker corner of the city where the bars blasted music and people slowly drove down the streets in pick up trucks with enormous barrels of ICE water on the backs to soak unsuspecting pedestrians. The most fun was probably watching the Thai ladyboys strutting down the streets in their heels, hands in the air, getting drenched and loving it.
After three days of this we were exhausted. Emily, Claudia and I went to Pai, a village I visited in December (click here for the post) . My one day there was spent on rented motorbikes exploring around the various natural hotsprings and waterfalls. The village was significantly quieter than it had been in December, most likely because it was not a holiday weekend and it is summer now and Pai is a big tourist spot for Southern Thais to come in the winter so that they can feel the cold…I know, it’s strange, we don’t get it, but feeling cold is a novelty here. But it still had the feeling of a sleepy hippie town. After that I unfortunately had to leave to go to Myanmar…
The fun thing about visas is that they expire… A very long bus ride and a quick walk across the boarder and back again and I had a brand new visa, plus a new fun stamp on my passport, so everyone wins, especially the Burmese who are 500 Baht richer for every person like me. Rip off if you ask me….
After meeting the girls back in Chang Mai we headed down south for some more beachy goodness!
Quick update on the fun going on down in Bangkok. A couple of hours ago Thailand elected a new Prime Minister. For the Americans reading this, the process did not involve the whole population voting, the system worked closer to the British way of organising things. I guess they do hold popular elections here, but because this was a special circumstance, that didn’t happen.
I have to admit that before coming to Thailand, I knew very little about the country except that I have a lot of friends who have spent many a drunken week here diving, sunbathing, and all in all ‘chilling out.’
Here’s some photos relevent to my previous posts.
As expected, elephant trekking and bamboo rafting was a fantastic experience. I highly recommend Kanchanaburi if you are ever in Thailand, it’s beautiful, and there’s a lot that I didn’t see, so I’m hoping to find time to return.
If you’ve heard of it, sorry to let you down in the movie culture side of things. I guess I haven’t seen as many films as I thought!
But the bridge has some interesting history that you should look up, to do with how it was built during WWII by POWs for Japan, thousands of which died during the construction/reconstruction (after the Allies bombed it). We almost got run over by a train, because we were not warned that the train tracks running along the bridge are still active! Luckily there’s little platforms along the bridge for pedestrians to cram onto to prevent death. How thoughtful.
Our hotel, as I said was a paradise running along the river Kwai, where I enjoyed a fantastic Thai massage. It’s hard to describe the hotel without this getting too long and boring, but just think peaceful jungle paradise. The picture is of the river by our hotel. The lamps are where we ate dinner.
Lisa and I shared an elephant ride, which was great. I got to ride on the elephant’s neck! And they went walking into the river and through the jungle. Then during our bamboo raft ride down the river, I actually spent most of the time swimming; so I get to say I’ve gone swimming in the River Kwai which at least my parents are exceptionally jealous of. The bonus is that I haven’t been sick since this experience either, which is probably against all odds.
Kelly and I are sharing a room that we have already had to rid of enormous spiders, a massive cockroach, and an ant infestation. But other than that….it’s still pretty annoying. The room is actually ok, it’s just frustrating since we have to continue living out of a suitcase, and school starts next week. Also, the shower is the bathroom. So each time we shower, the toilet, sink, and anything else in the bathroom gets soaked. But we have a Western toilet, which trust me is a blessing.
We saw the long boat racing in Nan on Sunday, which was fun. It’s one of the things this area is most known for, and we managed to catch the last day, which was lucky.
We are clearly the only white people for miles because we get treated like celebrities everywhere we go. At the boat event several people took pictures of us, and one guy even videotaped us. Everyone who can speak a little bit of English makes an effort to talk to us though, and last night we went out to dinner with Patarin, her husband and bunch of his friends who all had at least eight whiskeys each, and they spent the evening teaching us a lot of new Thai words, although I can’t remember most of them. I’m not sure if that’s because of the whiskey or the completely foreign language. We rode home sitting in the bed of Patarin’s pick-up which was amazing because the weather in the evenings up here is perfect, and the sky is full of stars, more than I’ve ever seen thanks to my city-dwelling life. There’s not much to see in the skies of London, New York, Baltimore or Boston I’m afraid.
There’s a good market five minutes from our guesthouse, which we will be buying everything from toiletries, clothes, school supplies, and food from since we have no kitchen. It’s going to take a few days to adjust to this place, but all in all Tha Wang Pha is a really nice area, as is Nan (the main city, about half an hour drive from here). In order to get around, it’s becoming more and more clear that our only option is going to be renting or possibly buying motorbikes. Absolutely everyone here has a motorbike of some sort, and the public transportation seems to be very sparse, if it exists at all, so we’ll be looking into that pretty soon.
That’s it for now. I’m here for a week, possibly going to Chang Mai for a couple of days if we can make it, and then school starts on November 3rd! I’ve already met one boy who goes to the school and also works in the market; he’s in the highest grade and spoke relatively fluent English so that’s a good sign!
I’ve tried to post a few photos (hopefully it has worked!). There are a lot more, but I’m borrowing Kelly’s thumb drive to upload these at an internet café so the rest will have to wait I’m afraid.
One = Neung
Two = Song
Three = Saam
Four = Sii
Five = Haa
Six = Hok
Seven = Jet
Eight = Baad
Nine = Gow
Ten = Siib
Just a quick post since I’m actually not sure when I’ll next be on this thing. Tomorrow I’m off on a my two day trip to ride elephants/go bamboo rafting/visit an orphanage, then on Saturday we leave for our sites where my internet may be slightly limited, I don’t know yet.