So! I have been a bit useless at this blogging lark! I am going to try to get better!
The last few weeks here in Asia have been amazing and unbelieveably hectic! We arrived in Thailand on the 18th Jan after a mammoth 23 or so hour journey! We met a really nice South African girl called Brigid so we shared a taxi with her to find our hostels near the infamous Koh San Road. James and I found our hostel and I was impressed - very clean and thank god it had air con! We met up with Brigid and decided to have an early start the next day and go to the floating market at Damneon Sadauk. It was a long mini bus ride to the market but it was worth it. We hired a paddle boat and floated among the stalls. Most of the stalls were selling the same sort of items - most of which were of no interest to me! We arrived back into BK about 130 and made an attempt to find the reclining buddha - and failed because it got dark! I did manage to get some shopping in so my bag is Very full!
After walking around for ages we decided to get food and ended up in a restaurant off Koh San Rd - where the main waiter performed magic tricks! Was a fun evening fuelled by beer and buckets of whiskey and coke! We said our goodbyes to Brigid - the first of many goodbyes on this trip i feel! The next day we rode around in a tuk tuk (that was an experience in itself) and went to see the 45ft Buddha, Grand Palace and the Lucky Buddha. We got a cheap ride as a teacher helped us flag one down and he set the price for us - otherwise we would have been ripped off!
We then started our journey to the North of Thailand to a place called Chiang Mai. We boarded our overnight train at 6pm and it was a 12 hour express train to the city. It took a little over 12 hours...more 14 and it was a very uncomfortable journey! I wouldn't recommend seats unless you HAVE too..try get a sleeper!
Chiang Mai was a little different to what i expected and it was far more western than BK. We arrived on a saturday so after checking in we sorted our belongings and ventured to find the Saturday Night walking market. The roads were closed and the streets were lined with stall after stall of vendors selling their homemade items! The items were far better quality than in Koh San and much cheaper! I brought a few presents here to send home. I got the best pad thai off a small street stall at this market (still the best ive had!) We booked onto an elephant trek, waterfall visit, white water rafting and bamboo rafting trip for the next day from our new hostel - little bird.
We woke early to get ready for the trip. We had two lovely girls from Oz on our trip - Andrea and Thai; along with a group of Dutch boys. We started the day by visiting an Orchid farm - very pretty! We then went to visit a hill tribe - the long necks. It was a surreal experience because i couldnt help but feel that I wasnt experiencing real village life but a street set up merely for tourists. Yes- it was amazing to see the ladies with the long necks and it was interesting to view a different culture.
We then carried onto the elephant treking which was the part i was looking forward to most! It was an amazing experience but not one that I would repeat again with the same organisation. I seemed to have the only elephant that was chained by its foot and I dont think that the elephants were treated that well. It was amazing to get up so close to these beautiful animals but Thai, Andrea and myself all came away thinking that it was a shame that it seemed they werent being treated well! After lunch we headed on a 1 hr trek to a waterfall through the forest. This was fun and we all had a group pic taken in the water! The trek back seemed to be quicker and then it was straight into white water rafting and bamboo rafting! Having never rafted before it was fun but not as exciting as i imaginied! I hope to do more when i get to NZ. We arranged to meet the girls but unfortunately we couldnt find them as the sunday walking market was so busy!! It was a shame we didnt swap details as I have a lot of photos of them on their elephant!Me and James spent the night at the night walking market and then headed back to the hostel where we had a few beers with a nice californian couple!
The next day i booked myself onto a cooking course -Asia Scenic. It was such a good day! I was allowed to chose 6 items to cook so i picked; Pad Thai (obviously), Papaya Salad, Sticky Rice and Mango, Coconut milk soup (i wasnt a fan) and green curry paste and curry! We made all the items from scratch! I made my curry a tad too hot but it still tasted very good! I met a lovely girl called Jess and we spent the day talking about our travels. She had just spent 10 days at a meditation retreat and it sounded very interesting -although i'm not sure i could not talk for 10 days! After the cooking class we arranged to meet later in the evening to go for a banana pancake!
James was feeling ill so i went to meet Jess alone. The banana pancake was nice! Jess noticed a guy sitting on his own so invited him over - turns out he went to nottingham uni. Small world. We spent the night walking around the night bazzar and ended up having one drink in the famous Reggae bar!
The next day was time to say goodbye to Chiang Mai. I really enjoyed it here and would love to visit again! I had an epic journey from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang in Laos to make - 3 days and 2nights! We started by taking a mini bus to the white temple (amazing) and to the border at Chiang Kong. We spent the night here and this is where i met Lou and Loz - 2 fellow geography students, Finn and Steph, Juliette and a south African guy called Danny. I think james had a bit of a bromance with Danny!
The journey into Laos and what follows will be in my next blog..!