I appreciate it has been a while since our last blog update and I can probably guess what you're thinking; they don't care about the blog anymore, they've forgotten all about us. Well my friends, fear not. You see, internet cafes in certain parts of SE Asia are about as common as flushing toilets. We are currently in Siem Reap (Cambodia) and our guest house has free internet access (albeit slow and temperamental) so I thought I'd take this opportunity to update you with what's been going on during the past month or so.
So anyway, South East Asia. We flew into Bangkok a month ago following a crazy last few days in Australia. Having successfully dodged cyclone Yasi and all she had to offer, we flew to Bangkok the following day and amazingly our flight was on time as scheduled... despite the wind, rain the previous day.
We landed in Bangkok around midnight local time (about 5am Aus time) and having made our way to Rambuttri our mission to try and find a Guest House began. Rambuttri is a street that runs parallel with Khao San Road. Khao San is one of the most popular tourist streets in Bangkok with market stalls, bars, restaurants etc lining the street from start to finish. We must have been roaming the streets for about an hour before we finally checked into a room. It was a bit of a dump but care did we not; we cream crackered and in need of some serious sleep. We spent the next few days wandering around Bangkok. At first it can be a little overwhelming and intimidating; there are people everywhere trying to sell you everything from suits to ladyboys! But after a while you get used to it and can't help but fall in love with the place. Everything is going at 100mph and it is very loud and 'in your face'.
There are food carts everywhere selling local Thai dishes and the food and drink is ridiculously cheap; I'm talking 50p for a meal and about 60p for a large bottle of beer. We made friends with a Canadian couple on our first night out and we spent the next couple of days with them. Kyle and Bianca were a pleasant couple however our second night out with them turned rather sour after Kyle had his wallet stolen. Not a nice situation for anyone but Bianca took the brunt of it as Kyle lost it and proceeded to sob uncontrollably. Needless to say it made the atmosphere a little awkward so we decided to make tracks soon after.
We had an early start the next day as we were joining up with our 'Stray' bus group to travel through Northern Thailand and Laos. There were only 5 of us who met in Bangkok however another 6 people were to be joining us in Chang Mai. We started off with a 5hr train journey to Sukhothai. In our group there was me and Rach, a French guy called Fabian, an English girl called Julia and our enigmatic tour leader, Jeremy (more on him later). In Sukhothai we chilled out at our hostel in the afternoon, mainly because it had an exotic swimming pool in the garden. We went out for dinner and a few drinks that evening and got to know everyone. The following day we got up early to cycle around the ruins of the historical Sukhothai temple park.
Later that day we had another train journey to Chang Mai, this time it was soul destroying 8hr journey. The next day in Chang Mai was action packed and was probably one of our best days yet! In the morning we went to an elephant show which on the face of it sounded a little tedious but was actually really impressive. During the show the elephants were playing football, basketball and painting! Sounds crazy but all true. They would literally hold a football in their trunk, drop it to the floor and volley it as sweet as you like into the top corner. It was awesome! After that we stopped for lunch at a buffet restaurant and then made our way into the jungle for an elephant ride. As many of you will know, I'm not a big fan of four legged animals so I was a little apprehensive about what to expect. It turned out to be really good fun; sat on top of the elephant, we made our way up a steep hill through the jungle and then came back down... a really cool experience. As soon as the elephant ride finished, we quickly made our way to the river for white water rafting. The four of us were in the same boat and despite it not being the adrenaline fuelled experience you'll get in New Zealand or Oz, it was fun nonetheless. Once we'd made our way down the river, we were dropped off at a picturesque waterfall to finish the day off with a swim! We all went out for dinner and drinks that evening an ended up in a quaint little bar lit only by candle light. There were a couple of local guys playing the guitar and we finished the day off with a few cocktails!
The next we met the other people in our group... Tommy and Simon from Maidenhead, Hamish and Karly from Australia, Neil from Canada, Nikolaus from Germany and Zoe from Australia. We made our way up to the Thailand/Laos border and spent the night at a local disco! We got through loads of beer chang and found ourselves dancing around a May Pole with people from the local village! A very random night but it was good to meet the other people in our group. We had to be up early the following morning to cross the border into Laos.