Thailand

Chiang Rai a city of mountainous scenery 

After a lovely few days spent in Chiang Mai we decided to catch a bus to head further north to the city of Chiang Rai beautiful temples ranging in many colours.

It’s not often on travellers list of places to visit but offers a variety of things to experience and home to some of the most beautiful temples.
We decided to check ourselves into the Condotel hotel for two nights giving us a day and a half to explore the markets, temples and the beautiful views.

Waking the next morning early we decided to hire a scooter for 300baht for the day.

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First on our list was to visit Wat Rong Khun also known as the white temple. I had seen pictures of this place and couldn’t wait to see it with my own eyes.

Just 11 km outside of the city we were amazed by the amount of tourists surrounding this place. With a 50 baht entrance fee. It is definitely worth a visit. A beautiful contemperary art exhibit in the style of a Buddhist temple in the province of Chiang Rai.

We spent between 1-2 hours walking around the grounds, there is still work being done due to an earthquake which destroyed parts of it and also they are creating more buildings. It is definitely a remarkable place.

After this we travelled to Wat Rong Seu also known as the blue temple. The art work was incredible, the interior was so impressive I just sat down for so long taking in the beautiful artwork. it was very overwhelming.

A short drive away we discovered a local food market, I personally found the smells too much. Also witnessing fish placed on sliver dishes which were still alive but glasping for oxygen and lots of raw meat it was too much for me.

I was happy to enjoy a very tasty burger at a nice peaceful hostel run by an Irishmen.
The following morning we travelled a short distance of 6 km by scooter to visit the big Buddha.

Completely white whilst sitting on the top of a hill it was very incredible. With a lift taking you to the top to see views across the country. We found ourselves seeing some incredible artwork inside but it was not complete. I think the 40 baht fee will increase once it is completed.

Returning the scooter in the afternoon we decided to catch a local bus for 65 baht to Chiang Kong.

Our plan was to spend one night in Chiang Kong and cross the boarder into Laos the following morning.

 

Thailand

Elephant Jungle Santuary

 A dream come true.

For a very long time I have wished to see elephants in a natural habitat.

After much research we decided to visit the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary.

Elephant jungle sanuatary is an eco tourism project. 60 km outside of Chiang Mai. This project gives elephants a second chance and a place to live free from danger and harm.

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The money to visit the camp go towards keeping the elephants well fed and happy. unfortunately there are still many elephants used in tourism and very few are treated well. elephants are not designed to carry weight on their back and strongly disagree with trekking.

They have been used by humans to perform many tasks over the last 5000 years. it saddens me that there is still widespread abuse and poaching due to the increase in tourism. This has resulted in a decline in elephant numbers

Its official elephants have become an endangered species.

The camp we visited was a natural habitat to 7 elephants which  had been rescued from tourism. with a 15 minute walk through the jungle and across a river we reached the camp.

We were briefed by our guide about the elephants living at this camp, what to expect and how to approach the elephants correctly.

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My first glimpse of the elephants, I was full of butterflies mixed with adrenaline. we changed our clothing, whilst provided with a traditional manut top to wear.

I was informed this is because the elephants recognise the design and can trust the humans.

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We spent some quality time feeding the elephants bananas and fresh grass. it was nice to give the elephants lots of love.

After much time devoted to giving these gentle giants lots of affection. we followed them down to the river where they enjoyed drinking the water From the river. Elephants drink around 2000 litres along with 150 kg of food per day. it was so incredible getting so close to them.

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After a great morning, we were provided a very tasty and satifying lunch of rice, chicken and vegetables.

After lunch we enjoyed learning how to create Medicine balls for the elephants. with a mix of rice, wood and bananas crushed up with form them into nice balls.

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The afternoon we enjoyed some mud bathing with them. of course myself and markus didn’t waste the opportunity to get completely covered with the assistance of the guides.

The mud we rubbed on the elephants ruff skin. with them spraying water everywhere. I never laughed so much. walkng along the river the elephants embraced in rolling around in the river. it was so lovely seeing these creatures enjoying being themselves.

The day at the camp was incredible, it was such an enlightenment to witness the life of these elephants. getting super close to these creatures. They seemed happy, they were allowed to roam freely, with the mahouts keeping an eye on them.
The mahouts didnt use any form intimidation to manage them, we felt assured these animals had genuine care and passion given to them.

It is definitely one experience which I would recommend, especially to rise awareness of how endangered these beautiful creatures are.

Thailand

Chiang Mai: cats, elephants, and tattoos. 

From Sukhothai we took a government run day bus to Chiang Mai costing 230baht each. The journey took around 6 hours with a few stops. Most buses like the aircon really cold so we have learnt now to always wear long sleeved clothes.

Arriving into Chiang Mai late afternoon we caught a tuk tuk to our hotel. The Lai Thai Guesthouse where we stayed for 3 nights. Recommend by a traveller we met. It had a pool which of course we made use of.

The following day we decided to find a local laundry place to wash some clothes. This is the only downside of being on the road constantly. Trying to find places to wash your clothing.

Wandering through the old city, we found  it very touristic. With many information offices, cafes and motorbike rental places. Chiang Mai is a well developed city, completely not how we imagined. It’s definitely worth a visit though. With some beautiful and impressive temples scattered around.

Wat Phra Singh being one of the main sights is stunning. Wandering around you will most likely see groups of monks.

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I personally was excited to discover the cat cafe which I had read about. Being such an animal lover it was on my list to visit. 5km outside the main area. We decided to walk this distance and save some money.

Catmosphere, with 20 cats of many different breeds, adopted and brought. They were beautiful. A few of of them approached us and were happy to cuddle up to us while others just chilled in the many boxes, couches and scratchposts.

Every evening we found ourselves at the night markets looking for food or just wandering around cheching local crafts and other things. The night market in Chiang Mai was definitely one of the best markets far on our trip with plenty of goods. With row after row of things we had to plan a route so we didn’t miss anything.

It was great to try lots of different Thai food for such cheap prices. We ate sushi, pad thai, deep fried sandwhiches, chicken and pork skewers, smoothies, freshly made icecreamrolls and loads of other things.

On our second day in Chiang Mai we visit the Elephant Jungle Sanuatary 1.5 hour away from the city. This has been on my bucket list for a very long time. Such a great experience (it deserves blog on its own).

I’m not sure how it happened, but I found myself getting my first tattoo. Markus was very keen to get himself one and suggested if I would be keen. We had done our research for one particular place which had good ratings. 10pm at night we found ourselves looking at designs and deciding to go for it.

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Markus went for the traditional bamboo technique, which looked pretty painful. I decided to get a small elephant on my wrist made with a mashine.

Our time in Chiang Mai was quite a brief encounter of this city. There is so much to offer within and outside of the city. Hiring a motorbike (scooter) I would recommend because  its one of the best ways to explore and having the freedom to see at your own pace. Also you wont get asked by every tuk tuk if you wanna go somewhere. haha

Next stop is Chiang Rai to see the White Temple and maybe some other nice things.

Thailand

Sukhothai the former capital of Thailand 

Experiencing one of the longest travelling hauls so far of 35 hours. Two bus rides, no sleep and a short stop in Bangkok we eventually made it to Sukhothai in the late evening.

We spent one day exploring this area, recommend by a Austrian man we met in Hsipaw in Myanmar. He told us it was worth a visit with not as many tourists around.

We checked ourselves into the Garden House, a nice and cheap accommodation for 700 baht for two nights, for a cute little bungalow with a private bathroom.

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The following morning after a good night’s sleep we decided to wander around for some breakfast finding a nice food truck providing a tasty menu.

We took the local mini bus for 60 baht into the old city, not how I would describe a mini bus but it did the job. But Asian standards are always way off. We both hired bicycles for a further 30 baht each for the day once we got there.

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Cycling around the old city, reminded us of Bagan. With the old ruins and temples scattered around. It was nice how peaceful it was.

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Due to the King passing away,  the park entrance was free. Usually a fee of 100baht per park (three of them) is required. We only had to pay 10baht per bike, which seemed alright.

With many great areas to explore we often stopped and took in the sights. Hiking up to various points giving us rewarding views over the park.

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The last bus back to new Sukhothai is at 6 pm. Well timed we managed to get a short glimpse of the sun setting over Buddha which was stunning.

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We decided to take a wander to the night markets. They are such a great eye opening experience to the real street food. Full of different smells and so much going on. It’s definitely worth witnessing.

Markus enjoyed eating many skewers for 10 baht each.

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After a good night sleep we checked out in the morning and made a plan to head to Chiangmai via bus.

Thailand

Krabi (island exploring) 

After catching a night bus from Bangkok we were fornunate to recieve a upgrade to a VIP coach which personally was so comfortable. Provided with a selection of refreshments and a toilet onboard we couldn’t complain.

Krabi is situated on the west side of Thailand, around 12 hours drive from Bangkok. We decided to spend 3 nights in Krabi, giving us time to explore the beaches and also the islands close by.

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Hiring a scooter for 24 hours  (200baht) gave us the freedom to explore without being tied to public transport. We decided to drive to Ao Nang beach which was very crowded with white people. My prediction was mostly British and Germans! ha

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We also discovered a nice secluded beach where we enjoyed a beautiful sunset and an evening swim basically on our own.

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The following day we planned to drive our scooter to the Emerald Pool, 50km outside of Krabi. It was an easy drive, mostly on one highway which was decent.

There is a fee of 200baht per person for foreigners (20 for locals) to enter the national park. A short walk through jungle, was enjoyed with beautiful views and pleasant sounds of the wildlife.

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The Emerald Pool is very popular with locals aswell as tourists. Despite being slightly busy. It was nice to enjoy a swim in the clear water after walking in 33 degrees.

Once we had cooled ourselves off, we wandered up to the Blue Pool which was not for swimming due to being a hot spring (aprox 60°C) but was nice to take photos and enjoy the peacefulness.

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For our dinner we wandered down to the Riverside where they had a great selection of food markets. Much food was consumed from Pad Thai, grilled chicken and honey pancakes.

Our last day in Krabi we booked to explored 5 islands in the Andaman sea. Hong island being one of them. The tour was 1000baht each plus an entrance fee of 400baht. This included a pick up from our accommodation, a speed boat ride, lunch, snorkel equipment and a drop off back to our accommation.

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I read many reviews about these tours being so touristic. Fortunately we were a small group of 10 with two friendly guides. We found most places we visited weren’t to crowded. Our first stop we enjoyed 30 minutes of snorkeling off an unhabited island called Red Rock which offered a great opportunity to see so many tropical fish.

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Hong island we spent 90 minutes soaking up the sun whilst relaxing on the beach and taking in the gorgeous view.

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The islands were just so magical, just how I imagined it too be. We enjoyed lunch on the beach and some time snorkeling.

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Overall the tour was actually worth the money, a nice group of people, informative guides, beautiful beaches and not to rushed.

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Krabi was a lovely place to stop and spend some time at. Offering a great selection of islands to visit as well as some amazing national parks on the main land close by.

Next stop the island of Ko Lanta.

Thailand

3 nights in Bangkok (Start of a street food addiction)

After a very speedy flight with AirAsia from Yangon we landed into Bangkok in the early afternoon.

After one month in Myanmar it was exciting to experience a new country and culture. We took a bus from the airport to Koh San road, where we were imersed into the crazy tourist heaven. With street food stalls and markets everywhere. Our hotel was just across the river so for 3baht we caught the ferry.

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Our hotel the Baan Wanglang Riverside situated beside the river had perfect views and a decent breakfast with a rooftop bar. We decided to wander around the following day paying 100 baht for a tuk tuk to take us around to several highlights of Bangkok including the Golden Mount, Chinatown, and the Grand Palace.

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The traffic in Bangkok is so extreme. I learnt the traffic system means nothing and motorbikes driving on the footpaths is completely normal. Something which would never happen in Europe. Police officers controlling the flow is also normal in case the traffic lights don’t work.

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The food though, walking around Chinatown there was so much choice. Definately a good place for feeling satisfied. Sea food, Thai pancakes,  pad Thai, meat skewers and a wild choice of fruit.

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I noticed since the king passed away, the majority of the Thai people, we’re  wearing black as a sign of mourning. Especially around the Grand Palace where many locals gathered around.

Personally Bangkok was one big chaotic city, of course coming from Myanmar it seem way more developed and westernised. McDonalds, and all the other fast food chains on every street.

We were happy to be heading south to the coast and spend some time on Thai beaches.

Next stop krabi

Thailand

Ko Lanta island paradise 

Ko Lanta, beautiful sandy beaches and far away from the tourist islands like Phi Phi or Koh Samui.

After a 2.5 hour ferry ride, we hopped onto the back of an open truck and headed to our beach accommodation.

Lanta Paragon Resort, situated right at the beach. It was amazing. Staying in a nice little bungalow with bathroom and balcony we couldn’t of asked for more.

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We had originally booked 3 nights but decided to extend for a further 2 nights.

Many mornings and afternoon we spent enjoying the beautiful golden beach on our door step, with a lovely restaurant connected to the accommodation. It provided a great selection of food at reasonable prices and a happy hour (5-7pm) where we enjoyed a few cocktails on the beach.

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We decided to hire a scooter for two days costing 200 baht per day and explored the old town of Lanta and most of the coast line. Stopping at many beaches at any opportunity for a swim.

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Also on the island tucked away in the heart of the jungle is a bat cave and a waterfall. We enjoyed a refreshing cool off under the water. On the way back we had some company from some small monkeys. Jumping from branches and walking along the path. I was so excited how close we were to them.

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Soaking up the sun, eating good food and having the beach so close to us for 5 days was just heavenly. We didn’t want to leave.

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It was one place which we both really enjoyed and didn´t have itchy feet to move on.