Archive for April, 2008

Day 9 – Chiang Mai

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Today we had a much more relaxing day. We went to a beautiful temple at the top of the mountains. We walked into a temple, sat down (with our feet facing away from the Bhudda of course!) while the monk splashed holy water at us. He asked us to come forward and he tied a white string around our wrists and said a good luck prayer. How enlightening!

After we visited a beautiful umbrella factory, thai silk factory and an Indian rug factory (he was the only boring one, as if I’m going to fork out $70 for the smallest rug!!) Next Si got his teeth whitened in town. The Songkhran Festival was really in full swing!!!

When we arrived at our guest house we had another swim, had a couple drinks with our trek group and went to Mu Thai boxing. The first fighters looked like they were only 10!!! We had good seats but unfortunately I didn’t see any knock outs 🙁

I’ve decided I really like Chiang Mai and wished I’d spent less time in Bangkok and more time here. It is realllllyyy cheap here, a good feed in a restaurant for $2, I love good Pad Thai!!! 

Day 8 – Chiang Mai

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

After an average sleep that was awoken by the sounds of roosters from the local village going off at between 3.30am and 6am and geckos chirping we had a big feed of toast, eggs and bananas. We split up from the rest of our group (because they were doing the three day trek). We walked back down the way we came (because the other way was much longer and the heat was too much). We stopped at the waterfall again for a swim and went back to the restaurant, where we got soaked again. On the way down our hungover guide put leaf branches in buffalo dung and said it was good luck.

After our well deserved lunch we walked down to the elephant jungle walk. By this point Si didn’t have much battery in his camera left so we only got a few photos, but paid 100B for an awesome framed photo. The elephant ride was awesome, our elephant was so hungry!!!! We bought 3 bags of bananas (20B each) and she scoffed them down. It was really scary when the elephant walked downhill because I thought we would tip forward. The elephant also kept getting itchy and rubbing itself against the tree. 

After our ride we got a ride back with another group, arrived at our guesthouse, bought a 10B cold chocolate milkshake and jumped in the pool. I must of spent 2 hours just relaxing. After having a shower we went to Night Bazaar to grab dinner and a 50B foot/leg massage. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh $2 for a for a foot massage

Day 7 – Chiang Mai

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Today was the first day of our 2 day trek. We started off our day by going bamboo rafting down the river. It was soooooo much fun. All the locals were lined up along the river banks splashing water at the rafts. It was awesome going down the river rapids too. I think today was the first day of the ‘Songkhran Festival’ (Thai New Year). Chiang Mai is supposed to be the best place to go. It’s when the whole town has a massage water fight for a week!!!

 We drove to a restaurant in an open van (with locals drenching us with water on the way) and had some yummy fried rice. After our tummies had settled we started our trek to the jungle. A few of us were a little behind the group (putting on our shoes) and we went to catch up and ended up lost in the first couple minutes!! We had to explain to a local we were looking for our guide and he zipped away on a motorcycle and told us to wait. Our trek was rather difficult, going up and down hills in temperatures over 30  degrees. I was the slowest and not a happy camper being left at the back the with Thai guide who didn’t exactly have the most fluent English. Our first proper stop was at a waterfall at it was the first time in the whole trip that I actually felt cold!

After a couple hours of walking (which seemed like days) we arrived at our bamboo hut in the mountains, the whole thing was made of bamboo. It had awesome views of the jungle. Our bed consisted of a bamboo mat with a 3 cm thick mattress on top, surrounded by a mosquito nett. After relaxing our feet, a few villagers came in one by one trying to sell us stuff. First the scarves and jewelry followed by the flute man. He was like "I know sing song, you know sing song?!" Si bought a flute for 100B. We ate green curry, vegetables and rice and drank beer by candle light. I forgot to mention one of our tour guides had been on the booze all day (but he was still faster than me!!!) and he was hilarious. He showed us stick games and one memorable quote from the trek was "Same same… but different". To put this saying in context a man might be trying to sell you a Gucci watch and say "same same but different" (same as a Gucci but fake). While yarning to our other 10 trekkers we tried smoking banana leaves and tobacco (he told us it keeps the mosquitoes away?) 

After a looooooooooong day we got ready to go to bed. I went to go to the bathroom but got too scared because there was a big shiney black spider in the squat toilets so I got the Colombian girl to watch over me with her torch.  I had a relatively good sleep, mainly because I was so tired.

P.S. I had to climb out of the hut to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and was sooooooooo scared I had to get Simon to come with me. Kiwis are like wimps when it comes to big spiders and snakes!

Day 6 – Chiang Mai

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Ok the next few entries will be brief because I have limited time!!! I’m going to go back to my blog and add in details when I get back.

 Had a good sleep in. Ventured out into town and had yummy pad thai and the best banana smoothies. Chiang Mai is so much nicer to walk around without the big sky scrapers and being hounded every minute.

On the way home we got a facial scrub and massage. It only cost 90 B and I fell asleep when I had cold cucumber on my face!!! When we got back to our guest house we had a swim in the pool. I’m actually starting to like our guest house because of the cool tourists that come through and yarn to us. At night we had our trek meeting. I’m not sure if I’m keen on walking "up down up down" in 30 + temperatures.

After our meeting we went to night bazaar. They had a pretty good selection on things. The thing that stands out most of this market are the women who roam around, stroking a stick on a frog thing that makes a croaking sound. They hound you and try get you to buy jewelry. At least you can hear them coming from a distance.

Day 5 – Bangkok – Chiang Mai

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

Today was a more cruisey day. We packed up our luggage (I’m going to need to send something back soon!) and lazed around the pool for a couple hours. We went around the shops to find any last minute bargains, including labeled socks because they’re so dirt cheap, less than $1 each!

We had some Indian butter chicken at a restaurant and it tasted like ****** before catching our bus. We waited in our hotel lobby for half hour from 7pm to be picked up to the bus station and didn’t realise that we were supposed to be meeting just down the road!!! It was all good though because our BUS didn’t actually leave until 8.30pm. I didn’t have a good sleep at all, the seats weren’t that much better than an aeroplane and the movie was in Thai. We soooooooooooo should of booked our train earlier but we didn’t reralise it was the Thai New Year. We had one stop over at some big cafe place and used our free meal voucher. It tasted like ***. It was a slushy rice porridge with spicey green leaves and some sort of weird meat I can’t even explain (I hope it wasn’t dog)…I just got a chocolate milk (didn’t realise it was soy Frown) After finishing watching Super Bad in Si’s iPhone, I attempted to sleep. I was sleeping in 10 minute intervals all night because it was quite hard to find the perfect sleeping position!!! Our bus arrived in Chiang Mai 6am and a guy took us to our guest house. Our room isn’t as luxurious as our hotel in Bangkok.

Positives – it had a queen bed, air conditioning and a bathroom, pool

Negatives – the bed creaks REALLY LOUD if you roll over or move, the shower is really weird and sprays all over the toilet.

At least the hosts of the guest house seem really nice. Overall Chiang Mai seems so much relaxed than Bangkok and the air feels cleaner and there aren’t as many high rise buildings. I can’t wait to go to Night Bazaar markets. Apart from the trek I’m not sure what else we’ll do here, Mu Thai boxing or a cooking class. I’m open to suggestions.

Anyway I’ll have to update this entry at another date as it’s only lunch time…I’m hungry, this net cafe has no proper air-conditioning and there’s much exploring to do!!!


Day 4 – Bangkok

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Well what a big day we had today. We woke up at 5.45 am because we had to leave early for our Floating Market and River Kwai tour. I’m trying to type as fast as possible so I’ll be brief and fill in the details another time…

 First stop – Coconut sugar making place (tastes pretty good!)

Took a boat down the canal – It was wobbly, felt like we were going to tip over all the time and it was raining cats and dogs!. We got absolutely drenched but it was quite exciting. We saw a big river python in the water eeeeeeeeek!

Had a yummy meal on the floating raft restaurant. It’s really cool, they untie the ropes and the restaurant floats down the river!

Teak wood furniture factory – made some amazing stuff

Went to Katchaburi War Museum, it was pretty sad to see what the British, Ozzies, Kiwis etc went thought to build the bridge.

Took a boat down the River Kwai to the main bridge. We walked across it and at the end we fed an elephant and Simon sat on it and got photos for only 100b ($4).

Went to the War cemetery to see the thousands of people that lost their lives. 

After our massive day (we were away from the hotel for 13 hours) we strolled the streets to try out some of the yummy food stalls. For 80b (about $3) we managed to have a really good feed and sit under the sparkling lights and shrines at the World Centre.

What an exhausting day…tomorrow will be a lot more cruisier with sightseeing the Grand Palace and temples 🙂 

Day 3 – Bangkok

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

This morning we got up early at went to THE weekend market. Have I mentioned how good fresh, cold pineapple is?!?!! (it’s only 10 b, less than 50c). It was an extremely hot day and I was quite disappointed. The best shopping is at MBK (even thought you have to pay 1b to use the toilet), Patpong market and all the stalls around our hotel. If you go to the stalls they can be quite desperate to make their first sale for good luck! When they get their first sale they brush the money you gave them all over their goods.

 After our let down of a market we went back to our hotel, had a swim/sunbathe and headed on ANOTHER motorbike to MBK mall. It’s so much faster in rush-hour traffic and only costs 70b (less than $2). I’m sure our insurance company wouldn’t be covering that sort of transportation. After catching some more bargain we went back Patpong markets to be hassled by the Barmen and DVD sellers.

Si is really starting to struggle with fitting in his shopping into his bag! He has bought so many clothes!!!

Day 2 – Bangkok

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Today we started the day with a refreshing swim, the pool is quite nice and apart from some of the air conditioning it’s the only time its the SLIGHTEST bit chilly!!! After our swim we walked to Pantec. Its a multi-level department store with heaps of electronics – it was more Si’s cup of tea than mine. We had some lunch there, pretty yummy and well priced (around 40 baht or 1.50). It was really annoying thought because we had to change money into ‘food court coupons’.

After filling ourselves with carbs and chilling out we did the craziest thing ever…we rode on a MOTORCYCLE to Patpong night markets. Even though I’m a ‘scooter enthusiast’ I found riding these things nearly made me wet myself. I sat on the back of a high-speed scooter, clutching the back of this boney Thai man, weaving in out and out traffic. I had to keep my knees as close in as possible as there were many times that they came millimetres away from clipping other cars, people, buildings etc. It was scarier than any ride at Dreamworld and I’m pretty sure I left nail marks and sweat patches on the drivers shoulders.

 Patpong market is the king of the fake merchandise markets!!! There were sooooooooo many handbags, rolex watches etc. At these markets they overpriced goods ridiculously e.g. a guess hangbag was offered at 1800 baht ($75) and I got it for 200 b ($8). Another difference about this market were the amount of times we got offered to see ‘ping pong shows’. They loooooove white people and EVERYONE hounds you.."madam, you loooook, your size?!?!?!" It was quite hilarious to see the number of people flash little business cards saying in big letters "SEX DVD".

I need another foot massage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Day 1 – Bangkok

Friday, April 4th, 2008

I thought Bangkok from crazy at night time but its even more crazy during the day time!!! From the moment we stepped outside our nicely conditioned hotel we get hassled by taxi drivers and tuk tuk drivers. Tuk tuk drivers are very pushy!!! They see a white person and lunge!!! Day tours, shopping blah blah blah.

Simon and I went for a wee stroll in the morning and nothing was really open at 8/9am am. We did however get hassled by tuk tuk drivers saying "too early, we take you somewhere!!!". As if I’m going to believe ANYTHING a tuk tuk driver says.

After breaky we walked around the streets, they are soooooooooo many stalls and little side shops. We met some guy who told us where to book our train (another guy mentioned the same place) so we thought it would be ok to go there. He told a tuk tuk driver not to rip us off when we going to travel there. It was a hair-rising driver. The tuk tuk asked if we wanted to stop at shops but we said no. Luckily he didn’t take us to any gem stone rip offs or tailors. We got there and booked our train + accommodation and trek and it wasn’t til getting back to our hotel and reading Lonely Planet that we got ripped off- well overpriced. Oh Well we’ve learned our lesson. Here are some things we’ve learnt from day 1.

DON’T TRUST THAIS, even if they seem nice. WHO CARES if they have "family" in NZ or AUSTRALIA. They only think of themselves.

Learn the word "NO" (mai ao) and say it to everyone!!!

Say you’ve been in Bangkok for like 3 weeks, Thais LOVE newbys to the city.

After our ‘bargain’ booking we got an AWESOME Thai leg massage in some shop off the street. It was soooooooooooooooo nice it’s so much cheaper than home. I never get massages!!! After our legs were energized we hopped in a tuk tuk and offered him a set price 50 baht, which we thought was good because the other one was only 20!!!. The guy was an absolute IDIOT. We were supposed to go to MBK (the MAJOR shopping mall) but ended up going to an intense gemstone place with guards with guns, just so he could get his petrol, GRRRRRRRRRRR. We hopped back in was like ‘MBK, MBK!!!!!!’. He was so annoying and said "ONE MORE SHOP!!!". We were fed up and jumped out at the lights and got an overpriced Taxi there. USE THE METER!!!! MBK was quite overwhelming. The shops are cramped, more like 8 stories of hundreds of small markets. There were so many rip offs of labels, a shame that I’m not ‘petite’ enough to fit their "XL" which is a size 10 in NZ.

After our mucking about with the tuk tuk we decided to walk a couple k back to the hotel. Unfortunately Si got his bearings mixed up and we totally walked the wrong way and had to walk sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo far to get to our hotel. 

As soon as we finished walking back to our hotel (I was soaked in sweat after walking so far in high temperatures) we had a free dinner and Thai performance. It was a nice meal and awesome Thai dance show, we got lots of photos. It was the only thing ‘free’ we’ve had on this trip and it was great to talk to an Australian family about their experiences in Thailand.

Righteo enough sitting around in this air-conditioned net cafe – We’re off to find some yummy pineapple, have a swim and visit some temples.

 Look forward to the next update!!!


Beginnings – The Flight

Friday, April 4th, 2008

What a long and exhausting flight!!! Luckily I didn’t sit next to any snorers or screaming children. The kai was pretty good and I was quite satisfied with my own wee T.V screen, go Singapore Airlines!!!

 Singapore Airport is a pretty cool airport because they have the internet and so many shops and things to keep you occupied. We were in Terminal 2 so we didn’t get to see the new Terminal 3 with the swimming pool!!!

 We finally arrived in Bangkok Airport and followed the advice of a Swiss man sitting next to us. It was much better to get a taxi OUTSIDE the airport and ignore the PUSHY taxi drivers. We paid only 300 baht ($12) for a 30k taxi instead of 1000 baht ($40). The taxi didn’t have a speedometer in his car so it was a rather interesting ride!!! (fast, zipping in and out of 7 lanes).

 We finally arrived at our hotel – The Indro Regent. It’s a pretty nice room on the 17th (top) floor. The bed is MASSIVE (superking) and the air conditioning is cool and quiet. Bangkok is SUCH a hot place. The temperature is a average of 35 degrees + 90% humidity (a slightly mild steam room) + pollution.

After a loooooong day we had a great sleep and actually woke up early the next day!!!