This is actually a reminiscent post about my first trip to Thailand a few years back , so I’m kind of cheating here but 1) I didn’t have a blog website back then and 2) I’m not away at the moment so have to reminisce about something! So back to the beginning- in between university studies, I took my first big trip away and spent five weeks travelling around Thailand with a friend. From then on I was hooked- I had definitely caught the travel bug!
Since this trip, Thailand has always held a special place in my heart being my first proper adventure, to a country with completely different culture to anything I was used to. At this stage I been to the US and Europe but Thailand was such an eye opener! I flew there on my own with the intention of meeting up with my friend Tavie at Bangkok airport. I remember feeling crazy panic when she wasn’t there in Arrivals to meet me as planned- in a country so far from home on my own, where I couldn’t read the symbols and had no idea where we were staying, and was using just a little brick phone for contact!
I found my friend and we headed together back to the guestroom she had booked us in Khao San Road, using the Sky Train and then a Tuk Tuk. Khao San Road is a whole different world. I can always remember the heat, the smells, the traffic, the craziness and buzz all hit you in one go, when you get first out of the taxi. It was such an exciting feeling, and probably the thing that inspires me each time I book a new trip. Before that trip, I had never really tried much Thai food, the only Asian food I had come into contact with was Indian/ Chinese takeaways back at home, which are never as good as the real deal. Then that first night we had an amazing Pad Thai for less than £1, and sat on the street with 50p bottles of beer and soaked up the atmosphere. The next day we visited Wat Phra Kaew temple and the Grand Palace, both very impressive buildings. It was my first experience of incredible heat and to make it worse, you had to have your shoulders and knees covered up to walk round the temples so we had to hire sarongs to cover our legs- I think I caught heatstroke (not helped by a hangover). In the afternoon, once cooled off we went shopping in Khao San Road, which sells just about everything you could possibly dream of.
The following day, we caught a night bus to Chiang Mai- my first of many! We were heading there for a jungle trek, which was to begin the following day. The first day we visited Tiger Temple which I’m not proud of and wouldn’t do again (we were young and naive). We were told they weren’t drugged, just docile and nocturnal and that’s how you could get into their pens and stroke them. That afternoon, we had a meeting about the following day’s jungle trek and in the evening walked to the huge night market, which was just incredible and provided everything, ever. En route, there was a massive tropical downpour, the first time I has ever experienced such heavy rain. We bought some ponchos which had cringey fake Gucci/ D&G logos haha. It was still raining the following day when we headed to the jungle for our trek. We walked via two big waterfalls and ate an adorable lunch of egg-fried rice wrapped in banana leaves to keep it warm. The tribal village where we were to stay for the night was obviously accustomed to these kinds of tours, and had a big grass/wooden hut with mattress and mosquito nets. We did some more trekking the next day and then bamboo rafting down a river, which was fun.
We took another night bus down to Bangkok, and in the morning took a bus to Kanchanaburi. On arrival we walked down to visit the Bridge over the River Kwai and bought some exotic fruit and corn on the cob. The second day, and the main reason for us being there, was a sanctuary for elephants which was hands down one of the best days I’ve ever had. We got picked up by a the Elephants World cab. Firstly we fed the elephants, nine and a baby. It was amazing to be so close to them! After feeding we went to the river to watch them drink. We made and fed the older elephants sticky rice because as they get older their teeth fall out. We peeled some corn for them and at the end of the day went swimming with them. On leaving, I genuinely felt emotional.
That evening we got a taxi to the station and then the night train from Ban Pong down to Surat Thani. It was a super creepy station, pitch black and noone about apart from a weird man and a dog. We took our seats on the train and halfway through the journey I got the worst food poisoning. I could not stop being sick/ having the runs and the toilet was a hole in the ground over the tracks. Genuinely up there with the worst nights of my life. When we arrived I lay on the floor of Surat Thani station cos I couldn’t get up. We still had to get a taxi, bus and a boat. By the time we got on the boat, I had finally stopped being ill! After such an ordeal, we decided to go to the more chilled part of the island Maenam, and spent a day relaxing on the most beautiful beach. Feeling much better, the day after we headed over to the more buzzing part Chaweng, and stayed in some gorgeous wooden bungalows on the beach. We spent the next couple of evenings going clubbing, going to a ladyboy show and lastly found a huge pre-full moon party on the beach in Samui which was really fun.
Koh Pha Ngan
We had booked a little place in Haad Rin, on the hillside set in the jungle, just outside the main bit of town and overlooking the most gorgeous beach. Over the road was this most magical looking reggae bar which we absolutely loved. Each day we went down to the beach and each evening, we just chilled in the wooden bar before going out with a nice group of friends. The first night we went to a jungle rave and then the night after we went to the Full Moon party. The Full Moon Party in particular was SO much fun- it was just amazing.
Krabi and Railay
We took the night bus from Kho Pha Ngan to Surat Thani, and then a three hour bus to Krabi. It wasn’t a very touristy place. We went on a boat to mini national park where we were taken to some caves where loads of prehistoric bones had been found. The next morning, we caught a boat to Railay after lots of harrassment from various boat-owners trying to get our custom. We walked around for ages, looking for a cheap accommodation and finally found a hut for like £1 each. After some exploring, we went swimming in the sea (which was deep for a change) and then found a reggae bar. Railay was really nice, very chilled. We went out that night and got given a free bucket for being the only people on the dancefloor. That night, walking home I saw real fireflies for the first time!
Koh Phi Phi
The next morning again we got a boat to Phi Phi. It was a small island, there are no cars or proper roads. On one of the days we went on a snorkelling trip where the first stop was Maya Bay where ‘The Beach’ was filmed. However it was crazy busy with tons of boats and tourists. We also visited a Blue Lagoon which had the most amazing turquoise water, and two more snorkelling points- it was really lovely. The night life on Phi Phi was really good- we watched a lot of fire shows and then went out to some really fun bars.
At this stage my friend went home, and I decided to extend my trip by a week and spend a week volunteering with the elephants in Kanchanaburi, which I shall describe in my next post!