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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I don’t think we’ll ever forget arriving into the Khao San Road (where our hostel was) at midnight with weary legs and heavy backpacks. For anyone who’s not been there, imagine trying to walk through hundreds of tourists dancing to booming music in the middle of the street, most of them out of their minds on local spirits and laughing gas. Plus the hundreds of locals trying to get you into their bars, sell you flashing light toys and street food-fried spiders and cockroaches!
We somehow made it to our room (a sweatbox with a fan) and drifted off to the sounds of drunk teenagers and starboy.
In the morning we explored the less crazy Khao San Road and had a yummy, cheap (40baht), pad Thai for breakfast. The first of many to come! That night we took the local bus to soi cowboy… lots of bars, lots of western men, lots of lady boys and girls in bikinis. We sat and watched in amazement speaking to a nice couple from Yorkshire.
In the morning we took a tuk tuk (40baht) around some of the temples. It was boiling so we were pretty happy to be driven around in a shaded tuk tuk. Just be careful of the stop off at the tourist centre to try and get you to buy something. We just sat and talked to the lady and told her we couldn’t buy anything yet as we had to talk to our friends. Don’t feel pressure from the tuk tuk drivers they just really want you to buy something because then they get a fuel voucher.
From Phi Phi we got another ferry to Koh Lanta, 250B which took about an hour. In Koh Lanta, for our first night we stayed right by the ferry pier so was only a 2 min walk to the hostel. Was a nice small hostel, clean and comfortable called… Not great for meeting people though. We arrived about lunchtime so we walked to the closest beach (about 30 mins walk) and stayed to watch a beautiful sunset with a little sun downer.
The next morning we hired a scooter to explore the south of the island. We fell in love with Koh Lanta, was such a great island. Much quieter than the others we had been to in Thailand and had some really beautiful beaches. The accommodation was also really cheap. For the next three nights we stayed in a private room with air con, a balcony looking over the jungle and sea, and a great swimming pool! We felt like we were on holiday from our travelling life. We could sit on the balcony eating lunch and watch the monkeys and lizards roam about.
While we stayed here we explored Nui Beach which was a small rocky beach. Good for swimming just have to avoid the obvious massive rocks. We loved it here as it was so quiet, there was only a couple of other people on the beach and it had little bamboo sun shelters too.
We also went to bamboo bay which is right at the bottom of the island, we sat and watched another beautiful sunset from here. This beach is bigger but was still fairly quiet when we were there.
The other beach we explored on Koh Lanta was the more famous long beach. This wasn’t as nice unfortunately, there was a lot of litter and the water was quite murky. We still got to see a great sun set though and had a nice walk on the soft white sand!
On our last day we headed back up to near the ferry port to get our bus to Krabi Town. The bus was 300B and took 2 hours.
Koh Phi Phi is a tiny island and our hostel was only a couple mins walk from the pier… which unfortunately was about the only good thing about it! It was the cheapest thing we could find for a reason. Two nights was definitely enough! The beds were way too hard for granny Lara and we both got chewed to bits! Anyway Phi Phi was lovely, there’s a great view point to walk to on the north of the island and every night there’s beach parties with lots of fire throwing!
We took one of the boat tours to Maya Bay, Bamboo Beach, Shark Point snorkelling spot, and the plankton at night (which we didn’t get to see). This was 900B including the tax to go to Bamboo and Maya Bay. Pretty expensive for what it was but it’s the only way to get to ‘The Beach” Maya Bay which is truly stunning, just ignore the hundreds of other people. I think I actually preferred Bamboo Beach as it was much quieter with perfect, blindingly white sand!
From Phi Phi we got another ferry to Koh Lanta, 250B and took about an hour.
Some really bad planning on our part meant that we were travelling on Songkran. This is Thai New Year, a national holiday and the day to engage in a massive water fight. No one is safe! So unfortunately the traffic was awful. Anyway we got to the bus station in Phuket not too late. However, we then had a 40 min journey and the only transport on offer was a 450B beemo….the sides are completely open. Needless to stay we and our stuff got completely soaked… as we couldn’t get our phones out the driver then dropped us at the wrong place and even though we asked him to wait, by the time the reception had told us this wasn’t our hostel, he had disappeared. Lara ran down the street but nothing… b*&^rd!!! So after a meltdown, and realising there were no taxis on duty as they were all in the water fight, we decided it was time to walk. We had been calling taxis for 3.5 hours by this point! The walk was only 30 mins but with all our stuff and water carnage going on things weren’t looking good. We stared walking and by the time we got to the end of the road a scooter stopped to ask if we needed a ride. In desperation we paid him the 250B and proceeded to balance myself, Danielle, x3 massive bags and a Thai man onto a small scooter. I wish someone had a picture! So we made our way through the soaked streets of Patong. As I said before no one is safe…the driver tried his best to tell people to not wet our bags, and a lot of people were respectful of this, but Songkran almost reminded me of reading lord of the flies and with that we got completely soaked.
So anyway sadly we missed getting involved in the new year celebrations and just got pissed off! Travelling lesson 1 million and 1: make sure you know dates of all festivals and public holidays!
The next couple of days we hired a moped and explored the beaches to the south of the island. Firstly Karon beach where we sat for a lovely sunset. We’ve managed to see loads of stunning sunsets on the west side of Thailand. Karon beach is really busy with loads of water sports, however it’s still a nice spot with great soft sand and blue seas for swimming.
The next day we went a bit further south to Nai Harn beach and Karon view point. We managed to get lost and find a small deserted beach with just a few fishing boats and a great cheap place to have lunch.
We also made sure to have a little explore of patong at night time….don’t worry we did not go to a ping pong show!
From Phuket we got a ferry to Koh Phi Phi, this was 350B which included the transfer from our hostel to the Pier in Phuket.