Bal's Trip Round the World in 96 Days
Sawadee-kaaa to you all, Well I have to start by kicking myself for not coming to Thailand sooner it really is such an amazing place. Where to start with what I've seen and done of the past couple of weeks there's so much so I'll try to break it down as much as I can. This leg of the journey involved travelling with a tour group with a company called Intrepid (this is for those who like adventure holidays) and I have to say it was some adventure. Began the trip in Bangkok staying for just one night, arrived late and stressed out after a really long flight from New Zealand via Hong Kong. Not a great start but that paled into insignificance when I met the group and tour leader Nutty, yes his name really is Nutty and I have to say he was pretty crazy - good crazy though. The group was a mix of Aussies, Brits, Kiwis, Americans, a Canadian and a German. Most of us were pretty young apart from one guy who sadly didn't fit it though the trip at all. At this point I could go into minute detail on what exactly we did and where we went so to save you that experience just now, here's the short version. Started in Bangkok with a longtail boat trip through the Klongs (canals) then onto a stunning temple called Wat Po. Then took our favourite form of transport a songthaew (open bus) to a place called Kanchanaburi to the infamous 'Bridge on the river Kwai'. Went to see the war memorials and paid our respects at the Jeath War Museum, I hadn't realised that about 16,000 westerners were held in the camps there but another 100,000 Indians, Burmese, Chinese etc were also given the same treatment of hard labour, torture and starvation. Moving on from there we took another songthaew to Ayuthaya which was once the capital of Siam. Travelling on a converted rice barge we travelled down the river for 2 days stopping at local factories, playing with children and taking strolls through quiet backwater villages. Next we visited a number of temples in Ayuthaya which was also once the site of a great battle on elephants with the Burmese. That evening ended with a traditional Thai massage, as a few of us had gone along for a massage we were all put into one room, fully clothed I'll add, this was an absolute scream. I've never been pushed and pulled in so many ways before. The boys enjoyed it too. We then headed off to a Buddhist temple devoted to Tigers and they had about 20 or so tigers that had been raised in captivity, all were donated by the public. The tigers had been trained so well that they opened their doors for a couple of hours a day to pet the tigers, only a couple of the tigers were chained up the rest were quite happy to sit there and be stroked. So I thought I'd give it a go and I have to say it was pretty scarry especially where my tiger decided to start growling - I nearly poo'd my pants at that moment! All was fine, he was just getting a bit agitated. then it was off to see the tiger cubs which were amazing not sure why they wouldn't allow me to take one home? Next was the train to Chiang Mai, this was something else. The train was a sleeper and had a dining carriage which doubled up as it's very own party carriage, natually we took full advantage of the opportunity, the photos are testament to this. This was also the place where the team name was born - Nutty's Durka Durka Durka's! However as only those who's watched Team America found it funny it didn't last long. In Chiang Mai we headed off to an Elephant reserve then it was time for some serious fun bamboo rafting. This was a blast. I mentioned earlier that Nutty was a bit crazy to say the least so he and Steve decided to have a bit of a laugh and ambush 3 of the rafts and pelt us with water. Nothing was dry after they finished. This day ended with the first of many shopping sessions in the night market - aaaahhhh heaven! A visit to a Thai cookery school was in order the next day, this started with a trip to the market to start. This was time very well spent. It was then time for the 3 day trek to the hill tribes. The first day was pretty knackering as it was 90% uphill but it wasn't as bad as it could have been as I had a porter - yes I know that's the cheats way of doing it but I had hurt my knee on the glacier in NZ the week before! This was a superb trip that included for some, showing with chickens as a highlight. The people were beautiful and fascinating. Their rice whiskey also went down extremely well, to the point where Dave even found himself talking to the cows after several of those. After the trek it was time to go to the Golden Triangle where Thailand meets Burma (Myanmar) and Laos (pronounced Lao). We stayed in both places long enough to get our passports stamped and for the guys to try the local beer, BeerLao is apparently really good. And so the end of the trip was upon us and we had our farewell meal. We had an amazing time with Nutty and all got on like a house on fire. Some great friends were made on the trip and some superb experiences had. As a big thank you to Nutty we made up an album of our best moments (you will see I've added just a small sample of mine to this site), and a poem was written by Sue and Steve. Thank you Nutty.