Once again I am incredibly behind the times, but its better than never!
So after the bitter dissapointment that was Ko Phi Phi, we continued our Thailand tour to a place called Ko Samui. Ko Samui is another small island that has been infiltrated by the student masses, but luckily for us there is still peace and quite to be had. Dave had read about a boring rubbish quiet beach, so we went there! After walking for what seemed like hours down a dirt track, towrds the sea, we stumbled across a building site called Silent Bungalow. Needless to say it was not Silent but they had room for us as long as we didn't mind the noise during the day. The 'room' was actually a garden shed, with a double bed in it, with a none flushing toilet and a hose pipe shower out the back, PERFECT!!!! The best thing about our shed was that it was right on the deserted beach. And the beach was not horrible at all, it was beautiful and EMPTY! So we had a shed, on our own beach for around 30p a night, heaven.
We soon made friends with two Thai girls (of questionable employment, if you know what I mean) who helped us rent a moped and showed us all the sites of the whole island. They also took us to all the real Thai places to eat i.e. a dimly lit car park with plastic stools in it with a cart that sold the best noodle soup in the world. We ended up staying there 10 days or so, we were going to leave earlier but hte Thai crazies talked us into going to the Full Moon Party with them. We went, we lost them and Dave PROPOSED!!!! For the full story you'll have to ask us when we get back!!!!
After the party Dave got a very cool tatoo and we left. TO THE NORTH, well through Phuket but thats not even worth chatting about!
We got an overnight train which was so very cool. Sleeper trains are very fun. Unfortunately Bangkok, is not. It's ok for a few days, but we got stuck there organising visas. Initially its fun because its new and there's stuff to see. The Grand Palace was beautiful as was Wat Po. Then there's the big shopping complexes, which are worth a look. The river taxis are great fun and quite a sight to see. The guy on the deck comunicates with the driver with only whistles, which direct him next to the jetties all along the river. The speed that they move is pretty scary but great fun. And then thats Bangkok done. We were staying on Koh San Road which is another famous 'backpacker' haunt. Bascially Phi Phi but no beach, more bars and more markets stalls and annoying tuk tuk drivers. The novelty wore of almost imediatley. Luckily time was sped up by meeting up with some friends we'd met along the way on their way home or off into Laos.
When we were finally free we got another sleeper train up to Chiang Mai, THE MOST charming city I have ever been to. Much smaller and much quieter, its Sunday market was the best we've seen and nothing is a chore like it is in other cities. From here we did a cooking course, a trek and something called 'Jungle Flight'
The cooking course was on an organic farm, which may sound gimicky from the point of view of england, but in Thailand, it just means a farm with a nice ethos! Our chef teacher was a lovely man called Sawat who was learning the art of meditation and generally trying to be a good Buddist, all in all being a nice person. He taught us about tolerance and Thai green curry. We learnt 6 dishes each was rather impressive for one day. Unfortuantely we both suffered food poisioning the next day!
When we were finally recovered we went off to 'Jungle Flght' which was essentially swinging from the top of the jungle canopy. We were of course wearing harnesses and enough safety gear to make the up tight idiots in England be proud. The guides were off their rockers and tried to scare us at every opportunity. They succeeded on a few occasions, especially on the abseil down where they jsut drop you until the last minute before you hit the platform, ARGH!!!! All in all a great experience, and readied us perfectly for our three day trek.
The trek was fantastic. The first day and night were spent with a fab group of people, all really interesting and diverse. There was a lot of uphill and subsequent sweating but was worth every drop. The view of the jungle and rice feilds at the top were astounding. We also got to ride on an elephant, which was amazing, but certainly was tainted by the fact that they did not look like they were particularly well treated. That night was spent in a hill tribe village, where the children (I think grudgingly) sang to us around the camp fire. Then we sang back to them, they did not look impressed, I however really enjoyed 'If you're happy and you know it'. The next day everyone left us as they were only on the two day. We were given the choice of continuing on to the jungle camp with just the guide, or tag onto another two day group and stay in the village. Where's the fun in that? Off we trekked. More up hill, a lttle down hill and finally a conversation with our shy guide we arrived at the camp. It was VERY cool. It was right next to a waterfall where they had bamboo lengths coming from the top to make a shower. Our guide Boyd was lovely once he got used to us. We later found out that he often ends up bringing just one couple here and its really boring as they just eat their soup and go to bed and don't really get into it. Well of course, we were quite different. Firstly after we went bamboo shoot hunting, we played poker and drank Thai moonshine (rice wine) and managed to buy ourselves a whole pig from the village which was prepared in front of us and bbqed on the camp fire. It was amazing. I thought I would be disgusted to watch it butchered but it was fine. Very precise and clean and feel a lot better about eating meat now that I've seen it. Plus it tasted great. It was only a piglet, just enough for 4 people. I say just enough, Dave says he was sweating pork the next day. A slow start the next day and we trekked down from the hills and to the river where we bamboo rafted, which was quite cool. After a small bus ride, we were back in the comfortable surroundings of Chiang Mai.
Next stop Laos. To Be Continued ............