After a tiresome journey from Koh Tao to Bangkok, Matt, Ian and I wanted nothing more than to find a nice, comfy bed each to crash out in. After a taxi ride to Khaosan Road, we found just this. For 2.50pounds each a night, we got our own bed and air-con. Unfortunately this room had its fair share of bugs, and no windows, but apart from that it was perfect. Khaosan Road is the travellers' hub in Bangkok. The street is lined with market stalls, neon lights and above all, ladyboys. We decided to stay here until we got bored, but it turned out this would take far too long, so we drew the line at 8 days.
As a blonde-haired, flip-flop wearing tourist, I (along with Ian) was assumed to be Swedish. When the tuk-tuk drivers found out we were in fact English, and finished hassling us, they all said "Lubbly Jubbly mate!" in very Asian accents, thinking this would make us more inclined to travel with them. After reminding them that English people don't really say that anymore, the next one began to hassle us!
As this was the road dedicated to travelers, I bumped into several people I had met along the way; the girls I stayed in a house with in Byron Bay, Australia, 2 girls I Bungee Jumped with in NZ and Dave Ennion, who we did Malaysia with and saw at the Full Moon Party.
Needless to say, Bangkok is a party city, so we went out a few times during our time here. Alcohol was again sold in bucket-and-spade-style buckets, and we experienced a drink called "M-150". This is the Thai people's Red Bull but it contains amphetamines. We didn't realize this until later in the week, but it definitely explained a lot!
After sorting out our Laos Visa applications and visiting various temples, we had suits made. We had this done at a Government run tailors in the more Thai part of Bangkok. The finished articles are, as New Zealanders would say "Sweet As".
Another amusing thing about Khaosan Road is that you can buy fake degrees, drivers licenses, student cards, press passes and so on…for 3.20pounds.
On Monday 5th May we moved 2 hours train ride north, to the site of an ancient city ruins, in Ayutthaya. The lads rented bikes and cycled to and around the ruins, but I had managed to pick up a rather nasty tummy bug in Bangkok, and so tried my best to stay air-conditioned and hydrated all day…before our 14 hour train ride on wooden seats (3rd class) overnight to Chiang-Mai.
With another day spent resting up in Chiang-Mai (after an uncomfortable night on the train), I decided to go ahead and do the 2 day jungle trek. By now I was feeling much better, having starved the bug out for 3.5days, but still a little weak and not 100% sure. However, it was unforgettable.
We began with an 90min truck ride out to the jungle, and then the trekking began…on elephants. We rode through the jungle for a little over an hour. These beasts were gentle giants and very intelligent too, moving branches from the track with their trunks, so as to clear the way. We then spent a further 2 hours trekking after lunch, moving on through the jungle with our guide and the rest of our 7 person group. We swam in a waterfall that afternoon too, an activity that was very much enjoyed all round.
That night we made it on foot to the hill tribes we would be spending the night with. Dinner was snake-egg soup…interesting!
After a surprisingly good night's sleep, we carried on with a 4 hour walk through the jungle, and another swim at a different waterfall. We jumped off some rocks into the pool, from 8 metres up, which was terrific fun.
After lunch we went bamboo rafting, in some rapids. These rafts are long and thin, wide enough for one person, and long enough for 4. Us three boys, and our guide, did most of it standing up, and repeatedly falling in and tipping over made it all the more enjoyable. After this we returned to Chiang-Mai, and relaxed in preparation for the trip into Laos over the next three days.
The trip began with a 5 hour minibus ride to the border, a night here, then 7 hours on a slow boat along the Mekong River, which was very cramped and uncomfortable. We had another night in a small town off the bank of the river, and then 9 hours on a slightly larger and slightly more comfortable slow boat to Luang Prabang, the main city in Laos. The views from our boat on the third day showed Laos to be a beautiful, scenic country, and one I could tell I would very much enjoy.