OK – ya’ll are gonna have to bear with me on this one as this is a very backdated blog and I was in Thailand what feels like forever ago.
I remember feeling very sad about leaving Laos as I had enjoyed it way more than I had ever expected to but it was time for our next adventure and country together. We made it across the border, also known as The Friendship Bridge, ourselves in a combination of tuktuks and buses. The feeling of sadness didn’t last long as we were now in Thailand and heading for our first destination Chiang Rai. You’ll have to excuse my excessively fat left hand – I got stung by something and my rings got stuck.
The views on the bus ride there was so beautiful – sunny blue skies and the fluffiest white cotton candy clouds you have ever seen!! I knew already I was going to love Thailand. After a couple of hours drive through the countryside, we were dropped off at the bus station and walked to our hostel, Mercy Hostel. As soon as we walked in we knew we would be very happy – the biggest comfiest beds we’ve slept in yet, really nice facilities and free cookies!! What more could you ask for from a hostel? We headed out for a wander around the town and to see what we could see and realised that it was our “1 month anniversary” of travelling together. So wine was in order. Wine lead to pasta. Pasta lead to dessert. Dessert lead to food coma! I always knew I had picked the right travel buddy! The following day we got an early start and decided to head out to the White Temple which Chiang Rai is famous for. We hopped on a local bus heading in that general direction and hoped for the best. After about 30 minutes the bus stopped at a set of traffic lights on a major junction and the driver started waving and shouting at us like a maniac to get off the bus…so we did – in total confusion, but got off nonetheless. It turns out that the White Temple has quite literally been plonked at the side of a main highway. Not what you would usually expect for a temple – you normally expect peaceful surroundings, beautiful gardens, but then again this Temple was unlike any others I have visited on my travels. It may well be white in colour, but the overarching theme of the temple seems very dark and like some kind of underworld trying to escape. We wandered around for a short time but all felt very strange about the place. Yes, it was called a temple, but it’s actually more like architectural “pea-cocking” rather than a place of worship. When the torrential rain hit we decided to call it a day at the temple and head out to the Khun Korn Waterfall, about 40 minutes drive from the temple. We haggled hard on our tuktuk and somehow made it there in one piece. After another 40 minutes of walking through the rainforest, we arrived at the waterfall and were lucky enough to be the only people there. It wasn’t as spectacular as some others I have been lucky enough to see on this trip, but being there alone made it all the more beautiful and peaceful. After a particularly stressful (!!!) day yesterday, we decided to have a day off to catch up on some life admin (aka laundry) and make some plans for the next few days. We knew we wanted to go hang out with some elephants at some point in Thailand but were both very against “elephant camps” and so many other places that claim to be “sanctuaries.” We had researched lots and knew where we didn’t want to go but we still hadn’t found somewhere we did want to go. Then we stumbled across Elephant Valley, based in Chiang Rai. It was a fairly new venture, still in their first year, but working off the back of their other sanctuary in Cambodia which they have had for over 10 years. This particular sanctuary pride themselves on creating an environment for their rescued elephants which is as natural as possible and where they can be free to do as they please. This means minimal human contact. The elephants will approach you of their own accord (which is quite a lot when you have a handful of bananas) and especially their naughty juvenile Lulu who was my absolute favourite.
After a long day at the sanctuary, we hopped on a bus to our next destination, Chiang Mai. On our first day, we decided to treat ourselves to a Thai massage, at the very famous vocational training centre in Chaing Mai, where women from the local prison are trained to become masseurs so that they can be easily employed after their release. We paid 400 Thai baht each (about 10 quid) for a 2 hour full body Thai massage. It has to be said it was without a doubt the best massage I have ever had – and to top it all off, she french braided my hair for me afterwards so i didn’t even need to do my own hair to go out that night!! Bonus!!That evening we headed out into town to explore the nights markets a bit and check out the again, very famous “Lady-Boy Cabaret.” It has to be said that whilst it was entertaining, it was an absolute car crash of a production. Costumes falling off, people falling over or off the stage, forgetting their lyrics. But like i said – it was entertaining. Although also somewhat off putting when you can be “out-girled” by a boy in a dress. Check out the dude here…..on the right…..in the pink. Yes, that’s a boy.
Despite our best of intentions to get an early night, it ended up with us spending most of the night drinking Laos Dark Beer in a jazz cafe and then stopping off at Tacos Bell on the way home for a small snack. We slept in really late the following day, but determined not to waste our time here, we dragged ourselves out of bed for our next adventure….Sticky Waterfall. We hired bikes as it was a good hours drive away and we had our off line maps downloaded so we would know how to get there. What we couldn’t control was the absolute torrential rain downpour on the freeway and the fact that MapsMe is the worst app ever created!! Even with my rather attractive plastic poncho on, I was still absolutely saturated. We carried on going and the sun came out, just in time for me to hit a massive bump in the road and watch my ray bans go sailing out of the cup holder of my bike and smashing onto the road!! Winning!! But at least I didn’t have the gimpy helmet this time…….
After a good hour or so of driving we finally made it to our destination – Sticky Waterfall, or Bua Thong Waterfall to give it it’s official name. It is nicknamed so because the rock formations are covered in calcium deposits that make the rock almost like pumice stone. This means that despite the rushing water, you can quite easily climb this waterfall right from the very bottoms, all the way to the top without slipping. Barefoot or with shoes on – it is almost (note almost) impossible to slip on these rocks. They feel like they are literally gripping onto your feet. Its quite a surreal experience. We spent a good hour or so playing around in and climbing the waterfall before realising it would soon be getting dark and we still had to get home. And what an adventure that would turnout to be, no thanks to MapsMe. Ceri, standby for one of your favourite travelling stories coming right up….😂
So we left the waterfall, with a marginally better idea of how to get back to the city, but we had MapsMe as a back up anyway. When we got nearer the city, MapsMe took us on a small detour which it called a “shortcut.” Before we knew it, it was dark and this godforsaken app had taken us into a building site under a freeway. Great. I was very much over being on the bike now – I was cold and wet and tired and just wanted to go home. Having spoken to the guy on site, he assured us that if we went the way the map was telling us, we would be able to get out the other side of the the underpass and onto the road we needed. Trouble was, what was between us and the other side of the underpass was a good 30 metres of thick, wet and very deep mud. Me being me (as per usual) though “F*ck it – I don’t care anymore – I just want to go home” so I started up my bike and went hell for leather through the mud thinking if i didn’t stop i would get a clear path through and wait for the others at the other side. How wrong could I be? So while Ceri is almost completely incapacitated and can barely breathe from laughing at me so much, I am now stuck knee deep in this mud and cannot go anywhere. Also not helped by the fact that i was laughing hysterically and trying to move my bike out at the same time. Tommy, the American guy who unfortunately for him had joined us for the day was less than impressed and kept shouting at me like a Dad which only served to make us laugh more. The nice man from the building site came traipsing over to try and help me and when he grabbed the back of my bike to move it, I instinctively grabbed the handlebars and therefore the accelerator, completely showering him from head to toe in mud. Ceri is almost dead at this point and I’m still being told off by Dad!! After a good 15 minutes of trying to move my bike, we eventually made it through to the other side unscathed. What we found when we got to the other side was that the exit was completely blocked by scaffolding, and even if we could get through it, it would mean driving on the wrong side of the road, into 3 lanes of oncoming traffic, just to get off at the side road where we needed to turn off. So back through the mud we went!! Absolute nightmare. We eventually made it out in one piece and decided to stop off somewhere on the way home to get some food. We stopped at Cowboy Hat Lady and had pork and rice for dinner. When Ceri sat down in the light, I pointed out that she had mud on her face, unbeknownst to me that it was me who put it there in the first place. All in the name of adventure!🙄
The following day, we set off for our next destination, Pai. It was fair to say that i was dreading the journey as someone who suffers from travel sickness. The road between Chaing Mai and Pai is about 150km but it famous for its 762 bends in the road. Hairpin bends, winding mountain roads, crazy steep hills. The drive was fairly awful, but Ceri and I watched the Little Mermaid to take the edge off. We finally arrived in one piece and checked into our lovely hostel, Common Grounds. A short walk from the centre of town, we had everything we needed and pretty ace room mates. We settled for an early night the first night to re-set then we would begin our adventures in this little hippie town tomorrow.
We headed out around lunch time to pick up our bikes for the next couple of days as there is so much to see around this little town. Our first stop would be the Hot Springs, about 30 minutes drive out of town. The roads there were much the same as the roads from Chiang Mai and it had been raining so we were trying to take it easy. It was not particularly pleasant driving conditions and my bike was “a bit dodgy” even on the straight roads but we powered through. That was until I hit a patch of mud at the bottom of the hill just by the entrance to the hot springs. With everyone else in front of me, no one saw me come flying off my bike as the back wheel skidded and came out from under me. I took quite a tumble and my bike ended up upside down in the rain water ditch at the side of the road. I had scraped up my knee, ankle, foot and hand and fairly sure I may have broken a couple of ribs as it was pretty hard to breathe (for a good 6 weeks – Sorry Mum! 🙄) I had tried to pick up my bike myself but had no luck. I had paid the insurance waiver on it so couldn’t have cared less if I left it in the ditch at the side of the road, but a few minutes later a lovely local man came to my rescue and picked up my bike for me. This is when the American boys came back for me to see if I was OK. Somehow, I managed to get back on my bike (even though I was loathed to) and carry on riding to the Hot Springs. I had earned my very first “Thai Tattoo.” I suspect warm river water was not the best things for all my open cuts but I had driven all the way out there so I wasn’t about to miss out now.
After a couple of hours at the hot springs and a quick visit to another waterfall, we headed back to our hostel to get some dinner and head out for well earned drinks that evening. It got very messy very quickly and ended up with another new (unwanted) piercing for Ceri and a blinding hangover for each of us!! I think we were going to like Pai. The following morning, sore all over and generally feeling like death we headed out with our room mates to get breakfast. I needed an epic hangover cure and what I found was “Big’s Little Cafe” on the main street in Pai. The man was an actual hero – home made sausage, bacon, hash browns, eggs, baked beans…it was an actual life saver – for an hour or so at best. Then we all hit a wall and had to go home to bed again! Late in the afternoon we decided to give life another go and hopped back on the bikes again (I know – I must be mad!!) and headed out to the White Buddha and Pai Canyon. The view from the top of the mountain over Pai was just beautiful but we decided to head over to Pai Canyon for sunset. Although a bit cloudy it was so beautiful – even when being eaten alive by sand flies as I waited for Ceri to come back from her mountaineering adventure! I tried to go out for drinks again that night but couldn’t face it and was still sore all over so I headed home for a quiet night in. True to form, our final night in Pai was another messy one – but here is us looking pretty before it all went wrong! Again. 😂The following afternoon, we headed back to Chiang Mai and checked into our new hostel, Brick House Hostel. We went out in town that night to the renowned Zoe in Yellow. Yet another messy night under our belts! 🤦🏽♀️
The following day we headed out of the city to the Thai Farm Cooking School, a beautiful organic farm located about 30 minutes from the city and completely self sufficient. All the meals we cooked were using ingredients grown at the farm. We spent the day learning how to make tom yum soup, pad Thai, red Thai curry, chicken and Thai basil and bananas in coconut milk. Apart from the hangover it was an amazing day and I can’t wait to fret back in a proper kitchen to cook it all again!! To finish off our final day with the American boys, we all headed out to the Muay Thai Boxing that night for a “bit of culture.” We went to the ticket office and before we knew it we were thrown in the back of a tuktuk and sent off across town to god only knows where. After about half an hour we arrived at a local boxing ring and made our way in. Now I’m not a huge fan of boxing so it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but we did see to TKOs and some pretty bad ass women’s boxing! The following day we hopped on a night bus to Kalasin, in the North East of Thailand where Ceri had been living and working before we met. We spent 2 days hanging out with all her friends, eating and drinking so much good food and planning more adventures. My life was changed here by Honey Toast…❤️.
After 2 wonderful days in Kalasin we finally headed on down to Bangkok, our final stop before we called half time on Thailand to head to Myanmar. We checked into Bodega Hostel and we’re lucky enough to meet up with our favourite Israeli girls again!! Ceri and I spent the day wandering around the vast Chatachuk Weekend Market before getting dolled up for the evening and heading to the Lebua Sky Bar with Dayna & Jordan. We had an absolutely beautiful evening taking in the stunning Bangkok night skyline with an obscenely expensive bottle of wine. But hey, YOLO right? Can’t wait for Israel 2K18 ladies! 😉
Our time in Thailand had come to a temporary end while we headed to Myanmar for more adventures and to celebrate Ceri’s birthday. Myanmar blog is already up and running for those of you that haven’t already seen it, if you want to that is!