So the last time I wrote we where in Suratthani where we thought we were just beginning a 28hour journey from Phuket up to Chiang Mai. Little did I know that thanks to the incredable efficiency of the Thai railway system our journey was going to be a mere 48hours long. Fantastic. Ill try to pick up where I left off.
So we started off today by getting picked up by Mr. Tony our taxi driver (although apparently he was friends with Obama and the equivalent of the mafia in Phuket) at 8.30am which was shockingly early but he took us for breakfast on the way to the bus station which was pretty good. Turned out he knew pretty much everybody in the shop aswell so maybe he was in the mafia after all.... So once there we got the bus from Phuket to Suratthani where we had to catch our overnight train from. We got to Suratthani around 2pm which gave us around 6hours to kill IN THE WORST PLACE IVE HAVE EVER BEEN IN MY LIFE! (I think I got that across). Generally people just go to Suratthani to catch a boat to the islands. We didnt know this, so we decided to check out the town. That was where we went wrong. Our first experience of the "town" was this cafe where we decided to get a drink. We should have guessed what was coming when on the floor by the enterence to the shop there was a big bowl filled with parts of a/many pig/s...we didnt stay for long. We decided to walk up the street to find a internet cafe (where I wrote my last blog from). On our way there we noticed that a disgusting smell was coming from the pavement - turns out the sewer runs directly under the pavements. Great. It also happens that the pavement is where the people have all their "food" stalls, no of which looked at all edible (which was confirmed when we saw the cockroaches running across it). Needless to say we couldnt wait to leave so we went to the trainstation, where the scankiest looking dog ive ever seen came to lye by us - resulting in everybody getting flee bites.
In summary DONT GO TO SURATTHANI
The only upside to the whole situation was that they didnt have any second class sleeper places left on the train so we had to go first class. It was pretty custy. I felt like a cramped Harry Potter.
Well our overnight train was supposed to arrive in Bangkok at 8am so that we could get our 10am connecting train to Chiang Mai: turns out the driver had other ideas and the train got in at 11am meaning that we had ot spend an entire day in Bangkok. Luckily the first class carrages were pretty nice so we actually got some sleep on the train. So we had a few hours to kill in Bangkok so we decided to see where the metro took us....and we ended up spending time with Obama, Britney Spears and Gandhi (to name a few) at Madame Tausaddes. After that we went around on the sky train, which was amazing, So thanks to the earlier train being late we had to spend another night aboard a train up to Chiang Mai.
So we FINALLY arrived in Chiang Mai at around 9am and just wanted to find somewhere to stay. Luckily we met this guy/girl at the station who took us to the best hotel we stayed in the whole time. The best mainly because it was 4quid a night and it had a swimming pool! So after some brekkie we decided to experience some culture and go to the _________ temple (I cant remember the name) but on the way we stopped at Tiger Kingdom. I loved the tigers. We spent around 15mins playing with the baby tigers. They were around 3-4months old and were pretty fiesty. After playing with those we went and saw the big tigers. These were only 18months old but they were proper massive but pretty lazy; they barely moved. It looked like they were drugged but apparently they feed them so much beforehand that they arent to bothered about eating anybody. So after that we headed upto the temple. Apparently you cant visit Chiang Mai without seeing the temple. It was pretty naff to be honest. If you like pointy buildings covered in gold leaf, surrounded by people waving insense waling in circles then i highly reccommend it. The view of the city from the top of the mountian and the staircase getting up there was more impressive to me.
After our first proper nights sleep in 2days, in a bed that wasnt moving, we decided to do something a little more active. We went to this place called The Flight of the Gibbon, which is basically this treetop zip-line park through the forests north of Chiang Mai. This was the first time in my trip to Thailand that I actually felt like they cared that i survived. The health and safety was actually pretty good. It was a really good day out. One of the zip-lines was apparently the longest in the world - 800meters long. It was pretty intense. The only problem was that no matter how much I tried I could not end up facing the right way! After all that excitement we decided to check out the famous Chiang Mai night bazar. Literally everything you could imagine was sold at this place. All of it "genuine replicas" of course.
This day me and Amy decided to broaden our culinary horizons and go to a Thai cooking school. We started off the day by going to the local food market and learing about all the ingredients. Who knew there is like 20 different types of rice? I literally remember nothing about the different ingredients that they sold there, except that there was alot of bugs arouond it. The highlight of the food market was when I looked at this tiny bucket that was filled with big fish and saw one escape and swim on the guttering down the side of the road. The stall owner finally noticed that this fish had escaped and was chasing it all down the road! After the market we headed back to the cooking school where we began to cook. Naturally thanks to watching copious Gordon Ramsey shows I was a instant pro (which I would be happy to show people for a small fee).
As this was our last day in Chiang Mai before heading back to Bangkok we just mooched around the city, exploring all the bits we had missed before. After all our experience of travelling around Thailand on the various methods of transport we decided to get the one we hadent tried yet; a coach to Bangkok. It was sposed to be cheaper and quicker than the overnight train, which it was, however the Thai "roads" are pretty much like an offroad track. Just as you begin to drift off to sleep you go over a hell of a lumpy bit of road and you smack you head against the window. Perfect.
We got into Bangkok at 5am and found the first place possible to get some real sleep. We didnt realise that the place absolutly reaked of stale piss until we woke up 6hours later. It probably didnt help that the room didnt have any windows. Once we got our act together we headed to the Bangkok weekend market (apparently the biggest in the world). It was intense. There was thousands of people there, with hundreds of stalls. The best thing about it was because everybody was pretty much selling the exact same the was you could name you own price for whatever you wanted to buy. Its amazing how many times they offer you their "best price" before you walk away. The general rule was you could get anything for around a 1/4 of the price they were asking for it. That evening we headed to Chinatown for dinner. IT WAS AMAZING. Between the 4 of us we ordered around 18plates of food (which came to about 30quid total!) which included a whole bbq duck, 9 oysters and loads of other tastey treats, some of which we had to cook ourselves at the table. I loved it.
This was our last full day in Thailand and by this point we were more excited about going to Australia than Thailand so we just explored the city a bit more and prepared for ou flight the next day.
So that was Thailand and I have to say it was an amazing month and I would definatly recommend everybody to go there. I loved it.
On to Sydney next....