Undoubtedly this is the best time of our lives, but with the enviable highs comes the inevitable lows. We could never compress all our highs into a top ten, but ironically, some of the ‘worst’ times are the ones we have had the most laughs over. Whilst hiilarious for us now, they were rather stressful at the time. Let this be a warning for all you full mooners out there, most of these happened in Koh Phangan.
1. Being chased in flip flops by dogs frothing and biting at our heels, only for us to fall over, have them sniff us then leave us alone.
2. The ‘sleeper’ bus from Krabi to Bangkok. Every three hours, lights on “everybody off! Off the bus NOW! Wait on road, next bus soon.” An hour later… still no bus.
3. Bed bugs, sunburn and prickly heat. Our constant frantic attempts to scratch made us look like we were doing some kind of hysterical dance wherever we went.
4. The only hotel we’d prebooked and paid for turning out to be a shed. Forced to upgrade to a hut (bigger shed but with bed) for the same price again.
5. So keen in our first few weeks to make friends, we apprehended an ‘unusual character’ for 4 days of our travels and, spurring each other on, worked ourselves into a frenzy whereby we were convinced he was a murderer. Furniture against the door that night. (N.B. there was no evidence to suggest murderous tendencies whatsoever.)
6. Hiring a boat for Charlotte’s birthday, only to discover that it was actually a rowing boat which prior to rental was used as a bin.
7. Our only early night in a hostel, discovering at 3am we were sharing the room with 6 naked Essex boys, who after one was sick in their bed, grabbed everyone’s duvets and switched, playing some kind of vomit-duvet roulette.
As you’re going about your day in Thailand it’s not unusual to come across the odd sign or two. And by odd, we mean odd. You become more and more accustomed to them but some never failed to make us smile. Here are a few of our favourites:
When Lucy came to visit us in Thailand, we experienced two weeks of laughter, culture and total chaos. Once we’d shown her the key tourist attractions, Lucy awoke on day 6, only to declare that today it was her heart’s desire to get a Thai tattoo to commemorate her holiday thus far. What would she get? “I’ll decide when I get there” was her brilliant response.
Currently working towards being in the police force, Lucy was pleased to learn that her favourite symbol from the tattoo catalogue stood for protection against guns… Perfect! And that’s what she went for.
The worst part about Lucy’s visit was her leaving, but at least we felt assured she was leaving safer and more protected than when she’d first arrived…
*Warning: excessively long post, only immediate family need feel obliged to read*
For anyone who knows us or has been following our blog, you would not be wrong to assume that we were not at all prepared for what lay ahead. For example, instead of purchasing appropriate road bikes, we opted for the cheapest bikes we could lay our hands on, which happened to be mountain bikes – not at all fit for our purposes (in fact they tethered us to the road!).
DAY 1: ‘NOT THE BEST START!’
Chiang Mai to Lampang – 106km/66 miles (Route 11)
And so it begins… 0km down, 800km to go…
We’d aimed to start at 5.30am, so rising at 7.30 we were slightly behind schedule. We were slightly put out further when first mounting our bicycles and discovering our little rucksacks were far too heavy for the front baskets that we’d bought to save weight on our backs, and we couldn’t turn the bike handles to steer. Nevermind… they’re only little…. on our backs they go! Rather than panicking at these small hindrances, we went for a calming latte in Starbucks to send us on our way! Of course this was an error, and the enormity of actually doing the bike ride, rather than just talking about it, soon sank in. Continue reading →
Charlotte’s mum came to visit us for a week in Bangkok – it was brilliant to see her and gave us a real boost as we were starting to become a bit homesick by that point. Whilst Catherine really enjoyed the madness of Bangkok, elephants have always been a passion of hers and so we headed to Chiang Mai for a couple of nights…
It was such a treat to visit Charlotte and Sarah in Thailand, so when Charlotte suggested we spend a day at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai I was ecstatic. We boarded the overnight train from Bangkok’s busy station around 6.00 pm on Sunday evening and arrived in Chiang Mai refreshed and happy around 10.00 am the next day. Before heading for our hotel we paid a visit to the official office of the Elephant Nature Park in the centre of Chaing Mai and booked the last two places for the next day.
We were collected from our hotel at 8.00 am by the tour guide in a very smart mini bus and were introduced to the rest of our group (about 10 of us). The journey was just over an hour’s drive up into the hills and we were given an overview of the Park’s mission – to protect, nurture and rehabilitate rescued elephants in a natural, loving environment.
The Park was founded in 1996 by a local woman named Sanguden Chailert (or Lek to everyone who knows her) and is the only one of its kind in Thailand. ‘Lek’ means ‘small’ in Thai so it’s ironic that she is so akin to these magnificent giants! The elephants under Lek’s care come mainly from private owners and she has had to negotiate fees to enable them to join her herd. Some had outlived their usefulness to loggers, whilst others were no longer of any use to trekking camp owners.
So when we told our friends that we were heading for a Thai Massage at a prison, we didn’t receive the most enthusiastic response. Yet if you head to Trip Advisor you’ll see that the Chiang Mai Women’s Prison is one of the most highly rated places to visit in Chiang Mai and it was up there with our favourite experiences in Thailand.
Brilliantly, there is a spa and restaurant alongside the prison, which is staffed by inmates due for release within the next six months, having been imprisoned for minor crimes. It’s a genius scheme, teaching these women a trade, social skills and acting as a stepping stone towards integrating them back into society. Just as noteworthy, was that having gone for many many many massages in Thailand, this was by far the best.
We’ve been so lucky with visitors and as Tate checked in to head home, Lucy’s plane was landing. She was here for our last two weeks of officially living and working in Bangkok and so it was a chance to do loads of the touristy things we’d been meaning to do for ages. Top of the list was to visit a floating market. It wasn’t as good as we’d hoped, the dirty water not matching the postcards and being in a boat also meant that you couldn’t escape the hassling vendors. However, it was an experience and it was a definite novelty.
Here’s our ‘market rating’ below:
Range of products: 2/5
Commercialisation (1 being very commericalised): 1/5
Overall opinion: 2/5
Several hours later we watched from the nearby bar as tourists took turns to pose with our masterpiece. We thought one girl was about to commit sabotage but instead she just added this fitting contribution: