Northern Thailand – Pai

Then in the morning we went to Pai. We had been recommended Pai a lot by various travellers. Its about a 2/3 hour journey from Chiang Mai, and such a beautiful drive through lush Thai jungle. We stopped along the way for a nice rice lunch in a little road side cafe. When we arrived we went straight to our hostel; Spicypai, another recommendation from a travelling friend. This was a nice friendly hostel, just beware of the mosquitos and spiders. The rooms are bamboo shacks with holes in the walls and the beds are crazy  uncomfortable….but for one night the hostel has a good vibe. I can’t say there’s much to do in Pai but enjoy the relaxing atmosphere, a big buddha and a canyon, pick one to watch the sunset, we tried to do both and kind of ended up missing it. Just about managed to get a couple of snaps over the canyon which was amazing. In the evening we went to walking street and had a few drinks, the night life is pretty good here if your interested!

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After our outdoor shower we started making our way back to Chiang Mai, goodbye hippies and mushroom lovers! Just as we were winding through the middle of nowhere enjoying the northern Thailand jungle..bang! we managed to get ourselves a puncture :(. The roads to Pai are in perfect condition so we realised it was because the inner tubing had melted in the heat!

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Northern Thailand – Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle

Next day we took a day trip to Chiang Rai and the golden triangle.

We left at 7am. Got into the usual minivan, where every Thai and other Asian seem to have permission to drive like an F1 racer. We first stopped at the eggy hot springs. These have been encompassed into mini wishing well like creations and dumped in the middle of a car park so everyone can visit and eat at the same time. They were pretty hot and steamy (with the usual sulphur odour). The difference here is that some very cleaver ladies started up their own boiled egg business, plopping small baskets if eggs in the boiling ponds to then sell on.

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We then drove onto the white temple which is a must see! Even if it was rather rushed and very crowded, it’s still beautiful.

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We then kept driving and went on a boat trip over to Laos For a quick stop. After a buffet lunch we went to the viewpoint where you can see Myanmer,  Laos and Thailand.  We had a great local guide called Tik who was a really interesting guy.

 

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The hill tribe and long neck was the final stop and we just about managed to get a quick photo and chat with one of the ladies before a storm decided to set in!

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We all bundled into the van and then about halfway back to Chiang Mai the van broke down…It was our lucky day! Tik was very good about it and 40 mins later another van turned up to deliver us back to the hostel…sleep time!

We had a chilled out day in Chiang Mai after this, walking around the markets.

South Thailand – Koh Samui 

We flew from Chiang Mai into Surat Thani, got on a bus from outside the airport and then on the ferry to Koh Samui. This was all pretty easy, we had booked our bus/boat combo to koh samui online but there were a few travel desks at the airport offering the same service for 400B. The airport is tiny and we got our bags and were out of customs all in about 20 mins.

At the ferry port in Koh Samui we then got a beemo (local bus) to our hotel near Big Buddha. We paid 100B each which was much cheaper than the 700B the taxis wanted. Just keep walking to the very end of the pier and you’ll see them. Koh Samui was a nice couple of chilled days mostly sat by the pool and a couple of walks along the beach. The hotel pool was lovely but thats about it, we were in a fan room which is a huge error in Thailand. Unless you are a great sleeper or completely broke don’t do it! Also a word of warning, Samui Mermaid where we stayed was right underneath the flight path so it felt like planes were landing in the bed.

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From Koh Samui we got the ferry, from Big Buddha Pier, to Koh Phangan (200B) each. Already the vibe had switched, everyone was drinking on the boat and getting in the full moon mood!

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Our hostel was called Fellinis, a 2 min walk from Haad Rin pier, above a pizza restaurant. The hostel was really small but we met a few nice people :). As it was full moon accommodation was really expensive and hard to book, a lot of places had a 5 night min. So if your planning on going to a full moon book asap!

 

North Thailand – Chiang Mai and Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

From Bangkok, we took an over-night sleeper bus to Chiang Mai. We got to chiang mai at 6am. We paid 550 baht each, sadly the transport is a lot more expensive here in Thailand compared to Vietnam but the service was much better! and we got a snack bag too.

From Khao San Road to the bus station (Morchit) we took a local bus which was 15 baht, way cheaper than a tuk tuk. We also had the pleasure of meeting some lovely locals…a Thai gentleman who identified as what looked like a Native American rock god. Donning a Metallica t shit, cowboy boots, a sarong and a animal belt..as Big fan of Metallica he kindly sang for us, while he sipped away on his bottle of vodka. The only English words he knew were ‘ohh yeahhh’.

Once in chiang mai we made it to our hostel: brick house. The best thing about here was the comfy beds, the location was fine,  although impossible to get any food at 7am when we arrived. Thai people seem to be up late and late risers too.

From chiang mai we booked a few trips; firstly two days/one night at the elephant jungle sactuary, this wasn’t cheap but at least the money is justified. We paid around 4,500 each. They picked us up from the hostel in the morning and we drove about 2 hours to get to the sanctuary.  The elephants are all rescued from riding camps and circus’ s. When we arrived we met the elephants, there were about 6/7 at this camp and fed them bananas, sugar cane and wheat.  With the guides we then made up medicine balls consisting of ; salt, whole grain rice, banana, tarrot, which we also fed to the elephants.

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After we had some lunch, we had the best experience of taking the elephants To ‘the spa’. The elephants were lead to a huge mud hole where they slowly walked in and a few started to sit and even lie down so you could smother them in thick, smelly mud! We then walked with them to a little waterfall and washed the mud off.

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Sadly this was the end of day 1 and we drove to where we were staying the night; camp 6, in a little wooden shack with two couples. Here we met young Ronaldo who was learning to test his playing skills. We couldn’t get too close as even at only a few months old he was a lot bigger than us and his barging skills much better! Danielle nearly got sent flying and Chrissy pinned to a tree. Our guide for the evening was an ex monk called jade who cooked us up a great green curry and fed us Thai mojitos.  Thanks to `John` and Ally from Bexleyheath it was tonight that we learnt about Cowspiracy which changed our life! For anyone interested about the effects humans have on the planet go and watch it!!!

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The next day we had a walk around the camp, fed another tribe of elephants and met one of the biggest males. Stunning creature to watch roam around and wash himself in the mud… and also get a little frisky around some of the females 😮 which was an eye opener.

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We followed the elephants slowly through the scrub and back toward the camp where we left them and had a long walk to two waterfalls.  After spending the afternoon hiking we went to see the oldest elephant they owned at the sanctuary who was 74 years old, the only thing that showed her age was her huge size and wrinkly skin.  They had a new born elephant here too who was so cute! He lead his mother and his two flanking boy elephant body guards around the compound. They protected him in the middle of a very tight triangle and almost stepped on anyone close by.

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We then got driven back to the hostel after saying some emotional elephant goodbyes.

That night we took a walk around the nearby night markets and lara bought a watch….for a great price…and Danielle continued her hunt for more baggy trousers.

Next day we took a day trip to Chiang Rai and the golden triangle.