Archive for the 'Thailand' Category

Published by Linda on 10 Jul 2008

Bangkok Revisited & Koh Samui

And so we found ourselves back in Bangkok after a overnight train from Chiang Mai which was only about 4 hours delayed!!!! We were to lose 3 of our group and pick up 4 new people so we will be a group of 18 heading to Koh Samui. Bangkok was just the same as we left it really. We had a good going away night for Dee, Jen & Justin. Dee & Jen are the Irish contingent so now I’m the only Paddy left on tour :-)

Saturday found us going to the most fabulous buffet dinner where I had potatoes – Yippeeeeeeee!!! It’s been a while so I was really excited. This was followed by a Lady Boy show, which to be honest I wasn’t hugely interested in but actually it turned out to be really entertaining. Some of them were pretty convincing and much more glamorous looking than us I can tell you, particularly now that we’re crusty backpackers :-)

I should explain a few of the photos on my flickr account. When we got back to the hotel, we decided to see if we could fit inside this laundry bag, followed by expert face painting. We ended up giggling like little kids and left Amy zipped up in the bag outside our Tour Leader’s door and played runaway knock. I know, I know real mature and you had to be there but it was funny as hell :-)

 

Balmed out by the pool on sunday which is nothing exciting but we did see this incredible rainbow, couldn’t fit it all in one photo and the ones I took don’t do it justice but it was basically a rainbow circle around the sun. Never seen anything like it. Also it confused the crap out of my leprechaun instincts……how you find the pot of gold if there’s no end to the rainbow!!!!

On Sunday evening we departed Bangkok for the second time and boarded our overnight train to Southern Thailand. This was followed by a bus ride, ferry ride and another bus ride to get to our hotel in Koh Samui. Journey took 21 hours and was pretty tiring and we were glad to see the sun was splitting the stones on our beach.

Koh Samui is pretty much as I expected – completely commercialised. There are a number of Boots Chemists and Tescos. There are some unspolit parts but you kinda have to look for them now. If we were travelling between November and March we would have gone to Koh Phi Phi which is meant to be far more unspoilt – but them’s the breaks.

We had a few chilled out days soaking up the sun on the beach and didn’t do a whole lot to be honest. We did have a night out which was good old craic, spotted a few more ladyboys but the bars and clubs were kinda sleazy and one night was definitely enough.

The mossie war continues…..on our last night we got a lovely dinner right on the beach – of course we were bitten alive, so much so my legs were completely swollen deformed the next day. I was in the chemist stocking up on malaria tablets for Indonesia and the pharmacist just looked at me said “Oh no, what happpened to your legs?” Arrrrrgggggghhhhhhhhh!!!!! She’s sooooo not meant to say that!!!!!! I won’t miss Thailand for them I can tell you, the Thai buggers seem to really be fond of me.

That evening we got the ferry back to the mainland to get a bus to catch our overight train and that ended our time in Thailand. I’m not too sure I’m sad to have left there. I have very mixed feelings about Thailand, in some ways I love it but in an other way I feel very unsettled there. There’s no real reason for this as it is very safe. I think it’s just a feeling that not so long ago it was completely unspoilt and now it has completely sold out and become too westernised for it’s own good. Also I think they do depend on tourism quite a lot, especially in the islands but some treat you as if you’re tiresome and annoying them. I guess tourists are ten-a-penny out there. They call Thailand the “Land of Smiles” but I saw more 7/11 stores than smiles to be honest. That said there must be a 7/11 on every corner so I guess it’s not so bad.

 

 

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157605931538542/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published by Linda on 06 Jul 2008

The Power Canoe to Chiang Mai

And so the day we’d been dreading for so many weeks dawned. It was a dry day which was a good start. Monica still triple-bagged all the contents of her bag and double-bagged her entire rucksack just in case!! I know that’s overload but you get really wet sitting in the canoe so it stands to reason that you might as well prevent ALL your gear getting wet too!! I should mention that the guidebooks don’t recommend that you use this canoe as they have flipped from time to time resulting in fatalities!!!!!

Anyway we had a lucky break in that 4 of the group decided to fly, which meant we could use their seats – seats being a very loose term!! Only 4 people per leg (2 hours) had to sit like the pic below…… 

…..whereas it should have been all of us. It was a long journey though and loads of us got really sunburnt but we made which was the main thing. The scenery was spectacular going down the Mekong River and you could see particles of gold in the sand when we stopped for breaks. Had to do the boarder crossing when we got to Thailand and then a six hour bus journey which was luxury compared to the boat!! Anyway we got into Chiang Mai at about midnight and put it all behind us. I’m kinda glad I experienced it too – now that it’s over anyway.

Chiang Mai is jam-packed with things to do. I decided to go for an elephant ride and bamboo rafting. Horrible to say it but the elephant ride was horrible. It seemed to be okay at the beginning but the four of us that went wanted to leave ten minutes after getting there. There were loads of elephants in a kind of barn and we couldn’t understand how they were all standing so close together until we saw them chained up on really short chains so they can only just stand there. We just felt awful and fed the poor fellas loads of bananas to ease our guilt. It should be noted that another lot of us went elephant riding, in a different facility, the following day and had a much more positive experience. it just so happened that we chose the wrong one.

After that we went bamboo rafting which is really just a gentle trip down the river but pleasant nonetheless. Just as we had got over the whole elephant experience we floated by one which was tethered to a tree and he was trying to pull his chain out of the ground!! Just kill me!! Kill me now!

The next day myself, Kat and Suze decided we would abseil down a 55 metre waterfall. It was brilliant!!!! Some rush! Didn’t look down much because I think I would have freaked myself out. It was dead slippy though so we were sliding all over the place. It was a single rope system which basically meant you fed the rope through with one hand and released it with the other. Had some nice looking rope burn by the end of the descent!!! This is myself and Kat looking fantastic in our gear :-) Suze had her waterproof camera, which we’ve had some technical difficulties with, but hopefully I’ll be able to post them up soon. Had a lovely swim under the waterfall after we’d finished and felt like we’d conquered the world!

We finished off our day by visiting the highest point in Thailand and saw the King’s and Queen’s Pergodas. Really beautiful spot, unfortunately the photos are a bit misty as we were literally up in the clouds!!!

So tired that evening that I treated myself to a thai massage which cost about 4 euro and ended our evening on the hotel veranda with pizza and beer. That summed up my activities in Chiang Mai but there was a pile of other things to do like white water rafting (I’m holding off until New Zealand), caving (did my time in caves!!), rock climbing and thai cookery courses. Amy also did a few days meditating and living with the monks which was pretty cool.

Must also mention the hotel that we stayed at which was like a mini jungle sanctuary. Loads of wildlife including birds, a parrot and a few turtles. Very leafy and lush spot and I’d recommend it and Chiang Mai to anyone.

 

 

 

Published by Linda on 24 Jun 2008

The Road to Bangkok……

…….okay so I’d heard about this journey long before I took it. The road from Siam Reap to Bangkok is meant to be one of the worst journeys in South East Asia. (there will be another getting from Laos to Thailand – an eight hour ride in a power canoe sitting with your knees up to your chest!!!!!) The guide book says that a certain airline is paying the government not to resurface the road so people will choose to fly!!! Anyway our tour leader said the first leg from Siam Reap to the Thai boarder can take anywhere between 3 and 8 hours (she’s done it in both) It was raining the night before so we were prepared for the worst……..honestly, it wasn’t that bad. The road started like this……

……..which was pretty good I thought, and eventually looked more like this……………

In fairness though, it was funny more than anything else. Bit of a rollarcoaster without the g-force. Anyhoo we got to the boarder in about 4 hours – bonus. Took a couple of hours to check out of Cambodia and get into Thailand (we took tuk-tuks between the boarders) The boarder towns are weird, I had been told this but there is a kind of strange atmosphere that I don’t quite know how to describe, loads of hussle and bustle and then at the same time you expect tumble weeds to roll by. Strangeness. We jumped on our bus to Bangkok which took about 6/7 hours. Almost took a hopper in the bus loo at one stage (few bruises but I’ll live) Sounds ridiculous but going to the bathroom is a big deal here, you have to battle between drinking enough so you don’t get dehydrated and not so much that you need to go, because there’s just some places you just don’t wannna!!!! Anyway we got into Bangkok about 7pm so it was only 12 hours (seems long I know but we were braced for 16/17 hours so it seemed like we did well)

I was in Bangkok before so I knew what to expect from it. Took fairly easy because we will be back there again on our way to Koh Samui. Had a good old night out in an Irish bar (where else!!) but I prepared some skittle vodka to drink before we got to the pub. It went down pretty well, although some of my work colleagues seem to be a lot more partial to it :-)

You can also partake in the local drink of choice which is basically any kind of cocktail in a bucket for $6. Dangerous stuff.

Also went to see the The Grand Palace which is home to the Emerald Buddha. I’ve never seen so many grossly overly decorative buildings in such a small space!

So much cash was spent on these buildings, it’s amazing. For instance each of these tiny golden tiles cost $1 and that was way when back when it was built!!

Honestly the buildings are squished in. You can’t take a photo of one without getting at least another in your view!!!! Would be much more impressive if they were separated out a little. The Emerald Buddha is in another temple (where you can’t take pictures) but lads he’s so small, what a disappointment – I was expecting great things and you can barely see him with all the other gold and glittery things in the temple!!!

I think I’ve said before that I’m getting a bit templed out and I am but at the same time I have this weird addiction to see more of them and every time I’m disappointed because they are gaudy monstrosities!! We’re moving on to Laos and then back into Chiang Mai before coming back to Bangkok again.

P.S. I think my attention span is going again, have given up reading – can’t sit still at the moment either, hoping Laos will sort me out.

Published by Linda on 23 May 2008

Chillaxing in Phuket

Hey all, so I decided to temporarily escape from Hong Kong and take a few days out relaxing before the tour starts on monday. Flew down to sunny Phuket. Man is it hot there!!!! Had to spend most of my time in the shade or I would have burnt to a crisp. Now usually if a place has Starbucks or Boots chemists and the like, I consider it to be officially ruined but I stayed off the beaten track a little which was much nicer.

The beaches are lovely here too, quite unspoilt which is a treat. Serious waves here for any surfers among us – Mick O’Connell you’d be in your element – probably for more reasons than that too :-)

As luck would have it I also met an old friend of mine here, Pam, who will be living here for the next few months. It was great to catch up with her as it had been way, way too long.

The Thai people are so friendly and nothing is too much trouble. They do, however, ask you sooooo many questions, What’s your name? What age are you? Where are you from? Where are you going? Who are you with? How long are you here for? And this was just a guy selling his wares from a street side stall! Now I am armed with my Lonely Plant guidebook which does warn that they will ask a load of questions, they don’t perceive it as an invasion of privacy. So the book gave sample questions including… What weight are you? I kinda thought, come on, they’d never ask you that!!! So out he comes with it…….What weight are you? I just had to laugh and said…. what? like in kilos???

No visit to Thailand would be complete without a traditional thai massage which come at the bargain price of 5 – 7 euros. So I ventured in and was met by a quintessentially teeny tiny Thai lady. (Lads they’re like a different species, especially when they’re stood next to a feckin pale freckled giant!!!) However, she didn’t feel quite so tiny when she was walking up and down my back!!! It was great though and I left with all my joints cracked and feeling like I did almost as much work as she did but completed re-energised and relaxed (or at least as relaxed as I can get) Oh and before any of you ask, no, I did not ask for or receive a “Happy Ending”

To finish off I should probably mention the Mosquito War. Up until the ripe old age of 29 I have never been bitten, EVER!!! The little feckers more than made up for it this time though. So on winged side approximately 40 BILLION mosquitos and on my side, little old me, a newly acquired bottle of repellant and a disgruntled lizard who I EVENTUALLY managed to gently coax into my room on my last night (alright, alright I hunted him into my room) Anyhoo I survived without getting any new bites so I was delighted. I am painfully aware that Round 2 is about to begin in Vietnam, but for now, I am happy to be quietly satisfied with the outcome of this particular battle.

This little guy is just turning red after jumping onto a nearby chair.

Didn’t take piles of photos but there’s another couple on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157605211347648/