thailand summed up in one

Thailand Travel Blog

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ok, so this isnt a journal entry or anything. the aim is to capture everything here that i did in thailand, with a considerable lack of punctuation because im lazy.

i would have been updating a personal blog as i went but i didnt have enough internet access...and i accidently deleted part of my website. whoops.

saturday, 12th september. i bought my tickets three days before i actually flew, travel insurance the night before. ive always wanted to go to thailand, im half singaporean so ive done several countries out there before but this was the first time i was going on a holiday alone. i have a thai friend out tehre so the aim was to kill two birds with one stone and visit her as well as travel around. i even had the intention of going to vietnam and halong bay but it didnt really work out..

so anywho.
saturday afternoon i left my village for a two hour train trip to london and the underground out to heathrow, not as crowded or as bad as i thought for saturday. its definately worth sorting your boarding pass online because if you do so 36 hours before, you can also choose your seat which for an aisle seat to stretch or just easier access to the toilets without the awkward rear or crotch motion.

i was flying with qatar air, who i think are really good, im sceptic of planes because you dont have room and the food is terrible and i dont sleep on them, but they are worth it for flights to asia. you get a nice selection for the tele and on the flight back i even dared to try the food which was ok. i wasnt sick at least.

stop overs are always cheaper and it gives you a chance to move around abit and at least say you went to another country. after 7 hours i went to doha, qatar which is the worlds most depressing air port - was offered a job here, so glad i didnt take it - it was like a beach without the sea, and at 31 degrees at 5am, its a hot place.

touched down in bangkok, thailand at 9.30pm local time and was greeted by my thai friend and taken to khao san road which at the time i had no clue was the tourist hotspot. september is the down season if you can call it that, which still had everyone thinking it was mardi gras.
i went out straight away and was greeted by a selection of irish bars, but a considerable lack of irish, but everyone speaks english well enough. i went to mulligans which was round the corner and had massaman curry which was amazing, choice of meat with potato and sweet potato, almost like yellow bean with it also.

went to a bar shark where every hour seemed to be happy hour and it seems everyone drinks cocktail buckets as opposed to sipping on vodka lemonades, i was happy that i could drink white russians for £2. which on reflection is why my bank balance is lower...

they say thailand is the land of smile, but i was finding that the locals werent as friendly as tourists, it wasnt bad, in england no-one greets you, but everyone just says hello, where you from, lets go drinking.

ended up going to shamrock which upstairs has live bands every night, live bands are a big thing in thailand and everyone can sing fairly well, albeit not necessarily the right words. my average night ended about 4/5am on khao san, and i found it difficult to find places open as clubs might be free entry but they close at 2. i also found out a girl who i thought was a friend of a friend and jabbering away to me all night had been trying to propose to me so that was a new one..

the next day whilst faffing in the pool i met a south african, deon who was there to sort a visa for taiwan and became my new friend for the day, we proceeded to go out and were sitting in a bar when a vendor got abit angry with us for not buying a lighter, he started shoving and saying he was going to kick our asses, as he had a knife we didnt bother retaliating TIP: blank vendors and just say no, youll here a scraping of a woman with a frog trying to sell you bands and hats, two weeks time youll buy a frog because its like the national emblem of thailand for you.. also lose any compunctions about hitting a child, some are right little sh*ts when they try and hawk flowers at you and some wont get the hint - please note i didnt actually hit a child but some were pushing it with prodding the kidneys
but that situation was the closest i came to anything, and it led to oppurtunity when i was introduced to two lovely finnish girls, dina & sari, on the table across. we got talking and they had just arrived that night so we went to shamrock again with live bands, the night ended with my drinks being smashed and myself talking to the guitarist about where i could buy paul reeds in thailand - i still have the shop number and address as a treasured memory.

it was here that i was introduced to chang. chang is amazing. its 6% proof and the national beer, so its cheap as chips. just over £1 for a litre and you can buy it anywhere and there are no laws about walking down the road drinking from two bottles. hell.yes

the next morning i saw deon off and woke up my finns, i can recommend waking up early because its nice to see everyone setting up. its best to go down the back streets because thats where people start cooking and they arent hawking ralph lauren at you. it was agreed to go to the grand royal palace which houses the jade emerald buddha - its not emerald, they just didnt know minerals when it was named -

TIP: if theres one tip you take from this its this one the scam that everyone is in on. it happened a couple of times to me, and its nothing malicious, but every thai person who sees you wondering around lost will approach and be helpful. theyll give soem spiel about being a teacher and how they love to help tourists and recommend the sites you should go to see. they also say that you should take a tuk tuk - motorbike taxi - but only the yellow ones as they are government leased, the white ones are private. please note there is no such thing as a white license plate, they are all yellow. the next one is that they encourage you go to the TAT, its the tourism board for thailand - they even have it on the map - but they dont tell you there are millions everywhere. inside your greeted by smiles and very good english and they have a convenient 20% discount for you and will come up with a ballpark figure for how much whatever you want to do is. DONT do it. its like a billion pounds more then anything, i was given a figure of about £400 for a trip to chiang mai and hanoi. the scam is that the tuk tuks get given money for taking tourists there so they can buy fuel. as said, its nothing malicious and your doing your little bit to help out, but dont listen to the offers.

the teacher proceeded to tell us the palace was closed till 2.30 - another lie, its never closed less its something important - so we went around looking at a very large buddha and another one before the grand palace where our driver was annoyed we werent interested in the tour of probably nothing that we didnt want to buy into.

the palace costs 350 to get inand i definately recommend it, its amazing. its made up of several seperate buildings, each with such intricacy in design and detail, its constantly under refurb because one pillar might have a million pieces of glass mosaic on it. whilst here with the finns i was introduced to a canadian, sam, who sari had arranged to meet through this site (go travel buddy!) who informed me was planning on heading to chiang mai the next day. i had made absolutely no plans on what to do in thailand but i had looked a lil bit at what was here and it was on my list of places to go, so i said id see him the next day there.

i stayed at the rikka inn on khao san for 3 nights, which is about 800 baht a night - i didnt know this was or wasnt the going - for an air con room, and it has a pool ontop. on reflection id say not to bother, its a lovely place but unless you require the air con, your out all the time so your practically having a place for your bags and somewhere to sleep for two hours. id recommend joes guest house - on the road across - where rooms with fans cost 350, guest houses are your best bet, but with the currency exchange if you want you can splooge that lil bit more.

TIP: thailand works backwards when it comes to air travel, over here if you have a last minute cancellation or spare tickets on a plane they go cheap because you want to sell them. over there they jack the price up by about four times, id recommend buying tickets in advance or even from a travel agent out there. in phuket i had a problem trying to get back to bangkok as plane tickets kept selling out, the website for the airlines was slow and it was expensive. i went to a travel agent who got me a seat on a fully booked plane for half the price advertised online..

i later found out people say do bangkok then head north to see the sights and jungle, then people go south to wind down on a beach before going home.

the flight to chiang mai was about 1,500 and lasts only an hour, you get about 4 flights a day with thai airways and air asia. chiang mai is a far throw from bangkok, its an old fortified city against the burmese and whilst new builds have sprouted up all around the remains of the city wall still stand. the skyline is dominated by holiday inn and the merriot with i think a hilton there also. i stayed in a place that again was excessive because my thai friend delegated where to stay, i didnt understand or follow, but the benefits meant we were next door to the night bazaar.

after alot of hasstle and dodgy phones not working - it would have made so much sense for us to get thai phones... - we met up with sam at his place the parasol in, parasol is abit pricey also around 800 baht but its situated right in the centre of chiang mai city - i still cant say it was a city, it was pretty small - we went around in the afternoon wat (temple spotting) - cue a 'teacher' telling us where to go. we managed to see all of the temples in about 4 hours and were left slightly disheartened at the lack of much to do in the city. its very much more a family spot as we couldnt find that many bars in the city, but we came across a travel agent who was advertising adventure days. we signed up for a day long programme for 900 - with a discount! yeah right.. - of elephant riding, white water rafting, climbing a waterfall/swimming, bamboo rafting and visiting a traditional thai village aka they live in kampungs.

that evening we went to the night bazaar which is like a market that goes on for a mile or so, granted they all sell the same things of fake tiger shoes and polo - seems ed hardy is the main fake out there at the moment - but it had several restaurants - definately more seafood to the north - and we had a nice selection of squid, fish, mussels and duck. which didnt agree with me later as i felt a lil bit sick so i had an early night of about 2, but a thunder storm kept me up so i sat and watched that.

the next day, the first day its pissing it down, the bus turns up late and the guide informs us we have a special deal to everyone else on the bus that has been told the same thing.. and as last to arrive we set in to greet our gang for the day. sam, andrew 1 & 2 two americans, ulf a german, anne a french girl and her friend jen an english french. we travelled for about an hour south of chiang mai seeing the roads turn from wide highways to very bumpy jungle tracks. the scenary was breathtaking, as it was pissing it down you had mist rising from the canopy and you couldnt see the peaks, everything was lush and green and as we wound up the hills our first stop was the elephant riding. i dont have a say on whether or not its right/wrong to use elphants for this or how they are treated or how much the locals are paid for this. riding an elephant is an interesting experience, ive not ridden many animals but sitting in a wet seat on an animal a story up shifting from side to side on uneven surfaces is interesting to say the least. i was first up to climb on from a platform and after going down hill and waiting for everyoen you get used to your slow open top bus. we waded down a slope to a river and everyones though was are we going to cross this river? - seeing opium grown was interesting also - but when the group turned up we swung around and proceeded to trek up a run off river into the jungle. seeing the height of the cannopy was amazing, the creepers, and we got higher and higher and by the top we were probably 4 odd stories above the river without a seatbelt on the lumbering elephant, good traction control though. a few got bored on the trip and decided to just rip trees out.

soaked we stopped to have lunch and recieve photos of our alton towers trip before proceeding on to our next stop where we went to trek to a waterfall. unfortunately due to the rain we couldnt proceed up the waterfall, how much truth to this i dont know, but it was fun trekking for at least awhile by the river, we saw some falls albeit small and got some wading in - note to english people, shoes from next retain water, they dont expunge it.. - so trekking back we took our bus back down abit to get our raft on. raftings always fun but in thailand white water rafting doesnt mean the same thing. even with the higher water level, the current was strong enough, just there wasnt enough rapid. but its still worth it for the price and fun. at the end i asked if we could go swim, note: dont dive in. the water is pretty shallow and there could be rocks. i was lucky, i dived head (and helmet) first into a mound of sand. the depth changed from waist high to not able to touch the bottom and there were the odd rocks. at the end after stopping myself from being swept away - everyone had jumped in by now leaving not many people to control the boats which promptly slammed into walls and everything else - we rinsed down (having combined with a couple of other groups) and went on our way back with a stop off to a thai village.

thai villages dont seem that different from most villages with stilt houses, we simply walked through snapping photos. have to say the backdrop of mountains cant be to bad to have when you wake up to.

and with our day done we went back to chiang mai, exchanging contact details we arranged to meet up later for a drink.

sam met met in the bar of the guesthouse i was staying at and we went to riverside bar/restaurant for some food where the andrews and jen met us. here my thai friend introduced us to sam sung - thai whiskey/bourbon - and how they drink whiskey slammers.

splash of whiskey, splash of coke, soda water, salt and lime in a shot glass which is slammed before being drunk. now this tasted of crap and i promptly drank from the bottle as i wondered why we werent drinking much. turns out its 80% proof. so as we got drunk, we moved downstairs where all the locals come to watch bands, whilst singing along to muse i started talking to a group of 4/5 thai girls and drinking with them. asked them what was good in chiang mai for going to and they said a club called fabric so i dragged out group in several tuk tuks to this club which was actually pretty crap and expensive. we stayed till 4 ish when people started to go their way home. it was here that i had the one hiccup of my trip.

surfice to say i ended up getting a lift back to my guest house with one of the thai girls i met and her brother and some friends - thankyou so much - at 5am driving through chiang mai where i had no clue what they were saying or where i was staying. getting my stuff from my hotel room and taking a tuk tuk in the rain to stay at the parasol inn where my canadian friend was. in the morning i told him what had happened and that i was going back to bangkok to get my suitcase before carrying on down south. he had arranged to meet up with our finnish friends in phuket at koran beach, but he wasnt flying down till the next day with the andrews - who happened to be on the same flight, so i bid him to the next day, and flew back to bangkok to retrieve my suitcase from my friends flat. i then went back to the airport and was put on stand by for 4 hours. i then recieved confirmation i had a seat so promptly sprinted through 40 gates barefoot to be told the plane was delayed by 30 minutes - i had a similar thing in heathrow, they think its hilarious to open the gate and then say its closing when theres an hour left, and putting your plane the furthest away so you set the land speed record for sprinting for it - but whilst i was catching my breath i met several american women who were out to give medical aid to some villages.

the flight to phuket was again about an hour and when i arrived i waited and my bag didnt show up - i had planned for this with items in my backpack - but still annoyed at the lack of all my belongings. by now it was 12 at night, and there were no buses/taxis so i had to take a private taxi, all i knew was i was going to the pineapple guesthouse on koran beach. except no-one knew the pineapple. they knew koran beach, so i set out in the dead of night with a taxi driver and his boss jabbering in thai travelling for ages, and everywhere was shut and it was empty. nothing was going on, phuket was a ghost town and i was just thinking ohcrap. im going to be kidnapped and my genitals turned into a wind chime and i dont even have my suitcase. after dropping off his boss we proceeded through the dark, climbing a mountain and as we went over, the sky was lit up. going down it was like las vegas. everything was neon and the streets were full with people spilling out of bars, but we carried on through the lights and went back to darkness. twice he stopped to ask for directions and at 1am we pulled up to a dark street. i saw the sign pineapple on this small doorway and as the monsoon rain started to kick in i banged loudly on the glass. a small thai woman opens, clearly having been woken up, and i try to explain that id like to stay as my friends are here. finnish seemed to tip it for her and she picked up what i meant before running off. a minute later, dragging a very tired dina she points at me, then leaves to go back to bed.

ended up that they were staying in an 8 man dorm, but only them and a german girl occupied it. far to wound up after my trip i went with dina to the bar on the corner where we got talking to the owner who was playing thai poker with a norweigan and his thai lady friend, we stayed there till 4am, woke up in the morning to go get my bearings and have a look at the beach. we went back to be greeted by sam and the two andrews, who for lack of a better plan had come with from the airport to stay in the same complex - still a considerable lack of suitcase - where we then wondered around in the day and all hung out on the beach.

the next day we met emily, an american studying in bangkok, trent a mutal friend, also american who works as a diver in the maldives here to get a visa and tania, a swede. emily had arranged to meet with sam and sari through travel buddy and had picked up the other two along the way from bangkok. so as a troupe we went to the beach and spent the day body boarding and general swimming around. in the evening we went out for a big group meal and proceeded to play beer pong - a game i was only introduced to - with a lime instead of a ping pong ball till we managed to find one. seemed only i was the victor of the game sinking two glasses but we all carried on getting wrecked and carrying on we bought some alcohol and went to the beach till the wee hours - andrew, seeing your naked ass streaking down to the sea is still scarring me - where we then retired.

i cant remember what we did the next day.. but we decided we were going to go to phi phi the next day. the andrews were planning to go for a few days and we were going to go for a day, but we found out the ferry only operated twice a day at 10 and 2 so the rest of us decided to go along as a group and stay for a day. so the next morning we all woke up to take a bus at 8am down to the port. we were all put on a ferry and set out on the water, it was beaaaautiful. i dont have sea legs but i was ok, its an hour and a half and i think it cost 800 for the minibus pick up, the ferry - which had an open return - so we promptly faffed around posing and snapping away the group 'im on a boat' shots. arriving at phi phi - which is sexxxy from distance - jumping off we went to find accomodation through the small winding streets. phi phi is far far to touristy, to the point where i felt awkward with all the brands and tourists. the lads went to stay in air conned rooms whilst the girls, trent and myself went for a cheap shared fan room which ended up being kampungs on the mountainside high above the town giving us an amazing view of either side of the bay.

we went back to town - buying fetching cotton shirts which are a godsend. hey you look a berk on regent street but its loose and airy and protects the arms from the sun - where we arranged to go out on a trip with a canadian captain wed met, 1500 each got us as a group of 9 a days tour around the place. phi phi is made of two main islands, one where people stay and the other which houses things like maya bay - where they filmed the beach. we sailed out first to monkey bar, just round the corner from the dock where we swam out the beach with fruit to feed the monkeys, after some hiccups with people and snorkelling equipment *cough* finland *cough* we swam over reefs - all of us faffing around in the water longer then being interested in monkeys - where we proceeded to feed the monkeys who were just greedy and interested in whatever someone else had, i guess having people turn up all day everyday. we then sailed around the corner past viking bay - apparently here they have people camp out to shoot trespassers, people climb up to steal the birds nests of swifts. swifts build two nests, one with a dummy, the other with the eggs in. in china they are in huge demand  for birds nest soup - so we sailed past this quickly. we went and docked near a platform above another reef where we proceeded to eat lunch and then go swim some more. having someone throw you food to have 60 fish eat out your hand is an experience and a half. after faffing for awhile we went up the platform which led through to maya bay so we actually emerged from between the jungle onto the actual beach, which although breathtaking was slightly lacking. we proceeded to play with the sea cucumbers making them 'urinate' - YES we are children.. - and walk around the beaches there. making our way back we went back to the boat and after more diving/bombing we set sail out to sea where we drank chang and sailed back and forth till the sun went down.

one of the best days of my life

in the evening we went and had a meal - mexican isnt great over there - and proceeded out to a beach party, now i was expecting thousands of people but it was a hundred or so at each bar down the beach - about 3 bars - playing drinking games and stuff, now i love partying and drinking, but it felt to touristy and wasnt why i came to thailand. i left for a min to have some wind down time, and i recommend you go wander down the beach and just sit in the darkness with the waves lapping and look up. stars are different wherever you go and it puts a nice perspective on things. i came back where after drinking a lil dutch courage i proceeded to do fire limbo. props to trent for pipping me by one bar height, and kudos for us for being last white boys standing. the thai bar people who went that extra mile by going lower clearly do this everyday and they were also a head shorter then us. we went up and down the beach as everyone split up and there was some canadian girl involved and people copping off. andrew pissing in someones kitchen was my personal favourite with a response as to why he was doing it of IM AMERICAN

the next morning everyone worse for wear, we went to lounge on the beach before we said our goodbye to the andrews, who were staying for a couple of days, and make our way back to the ferry. this time back the ferry was filled so i ended up sitting atop for the way back, it was abit choppier but the spray was nice, at the dock we found out that they take your photo and print it on a plate as a memory. i scoured for mine, but alas. it appears someone in thailand now has a plate with my face on. lil bit creepy but ohwell.

so the 9 became 7 and we proceeded to our guesthouse. we went out for a meal and a final drink asuch as at 5 in the morning finland left for malaysia - i held back the tears ;) - and we became 5. i was planning to fly back to bangkok to soak up khao san road for a couple of days, do some shopping and visit the old capital of ayutthaya - play mortal kombat and tomb raider hahaha - but i ended up staying with the gang as we rented a car and a bike - trent is obsessed with riding a bike - and as tehy drove on the left, i was nominated driver of the car even though it was an automatic.

as we were driving to who knows where - our intention was the national park in the north of phuket - it started monsooning so we lost trent and emily and carried on (sam, tania and myself) where we found our way there. it was getting dark so we decided to trek up to get to the waterfall, we got about 2k and carried up the waterfall but it started getting dark under the jungle canopy and started raining so we fled back down on fear of beign stuck up there - i saw a spider and i dont like foreign ones, we think one bit my foot at pineapple as it went purple - where we met emily and trent. we decided to visit another beach on the way back to ours and stopped off at kamala beach. after a meal we went to a bar but it was dead and my last night asuch so sam and myself went to patong which is pretty much red light for phuket.

we took a taxi and mainly spent the first hour just walking up and down taking in the sights and sounds, every bar had go go girls and it was a little awkward, dont see why people pay for it or it appeals to them. so we found ourselves down a dead end backstreet and stopped off in a bar to get another drink for walking. we started talking to the people there and one of the girls went to take us to the club. clubs in patong are very different as its a way of girls to pick up clients which when your mate goes to the toilet feels alot like feeding time at the lion pen. at 3 we called it a night because i had to travel the next day.

so in the morning we drove back to karon beach - winding up and down the coast is definately worth renting a car for - and i took one final stroll down the beach before leaving for the airport. i flew back to bangkok and with three hours before i flew i stayed in the airport, had some food and then my adventure was over.

i flew back via doha again, talking to a girl from munich on the way over. it was night time and the bay of bengal was stormy as ever. seeing mile long forks of lightning at 30,000 is impressive as it gets.

i then transferred and landed at gatwick.

i recommend anyone and everyone go to thailand, even better without a plan.

im still in contact with the people i met, and im planning to go see the andrews in germany in november. im also considering throwing my job to go travel in the new year, visiting my finnish friends in australia and seeing the andrews in february. i have no plans concrete as of yet, so if anyone can recommend anywhere and everywhere to go or show me. apply within :)

matt
x

Dina_3 says:
hahaha...loving it as well!!!
Posted on: Oct 07, 2009
sariu says:
love it!
Posted on: Oct 06, 2009
armslikenoodles says:
sorry. its very long. i got bored at work :P
Posted on: Oct 06, 2009
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