Bangkok

I arrived in Bangkok early in the morning and had a whirlwind two days with Chanida, the most energetic 70 year-old I’ve met! My old receptionist lived in Bangkok for a year while her kids were still young.  When I asked her for recommendations on where to go in Thailand she introduced me to her Thai sister, Chanida, who very kindly offered to show me around while I was in Bangkok.

Our first stop was to the river, where we got on one of their many ferries to take us into the city.

Our first stop was to the Wat Phra Kaew temple – the most visited and most important temple in Thailand.

From here we walked to the Grand Palace.  The country’s beloved king died almost 6 months ago, and they Thai people are still deeply in mourning.  They are posters of the king everywhere, and every day hundreds of Thai people line up to pay their respects to his body.  In one year from his death he will be cremated, and Chanida has said she will wear black until the year is up.  Many of the Thai people will do the same.  When he first passed away, people would be in line for 10 hours before they could see him, now it’s only a 1.5 hour wait, but that’s how many people still come to see him after all this time.

Visitors cannot go to him, but we are allowed a view of the front of the palace.

And then we made our way to the next temple, Wat Po, which is were the Thai massage began.

From here we crossed the river to see a few more temples.

Then we got back on the boat, and went all the way to the last stop in both directions.  We made our own little boat cruise, using the regular ferry.

There’s a night market called Asiatique that we decided to check out.  Chanida had done all the other things we had seen, but one of her friends recommended the market and she had never been, so it was an adventure for us both!

Chanida came by today to take me out for one last day (I had to leave for the airport around 7pm).

We got some nice traditional food for lunch, and then walked around Chinatown for over 5 hours.  It was nice to go with a local, because she knew where everything was (and also where to find air condition).  Her nephew has a store in one of the markets so we stopped by to say hello.

Finally we stopped for one last meal, and then I was off to the airport to get ready to leave Asia and fly to Italy.

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Koh Lanta: 4 Island Tour

For my 4 island tour off Koh Lanta I decided to give a speedboat a try, for something different.  This worked out in my favour, as it rained on and off today and we were much more protected in the speed boat than in a longtail boat.

Our first stop today was for some snorkelling at Koh Chuek.

Our next stop was pretty cool! We swam through the Emerald Cave at Koh Mook to get to a beautiful and secluded beach! We also had the perfect timing – we had some time at the beach before the huge crowds of people started coming in.  The cave itself is completely pitch dark except for the light at the entrance and exit which causes an emerald hint to the water.  So our guides had to go ahead and shine a light in the cave so we knew where to go.

I did get my first jellyfish sting here – but it was just a very very small one that didn’t hurt for too long.

Next up was Koh Kradan, where we also stopped for our picnic lunch. Very beautiful and very big! I had a nice sit on the beach where I read some Margaret Atwood – my perfect afternoon.

Our last stop was at Koh Ngai, which was my favourite snorkel spot in Thailand. For the first time in all my trips, we were the only boat at this location, which made such a difference (plus there were lots of fish)!

I got back to the resort just in time to watch the sunset over the beach, which was so magical.

Tomorrow my only plan is to take the ferry back to Krabi, and prepare for my early morning flight to Bangkok.  Hard to believe I only have a few more days in Thailand/Asia!

Koh Lanta

I knew in order to complete my full Thai experience, I’d have to log in some time on an island.  I had only heard great things about Koh Lanta, so choose that as my stop for two nights – and have zero regrets!

The ferry ride was long, at around 3 hours, but the distance was also nice as I got further and further away from the touristy towns. (I spent most of my ferry time sleeping, so you don’t get many pictures).

My wonderful resort, Lanta Sand Resort, picked me up from the pier, and I had a great afternoon relaxing by the beach and one of their many pools.

Krabi: 4 Island Tour

Today I got to see some very beautiful beaches on Thailand’s islands. I decided to do the tour on a traditional longtail boat, and it was a great experience!

Our first stop was to Phranang Cave – the cave is supposed to be the location of a princess spirit, but we weren’t actually allowed in because they turned the cave into a retail store.  But the beach itself was still very pretty.

Next up was Tup Island. During low tide you can actually walk across the sand to the next island, so that was a pretty cool feature!

We stopped by Chicken Island to do a little snorkeling (can you see the chicken in the island shape?).  No snorkeling is ever going to beat the Great Barrier Reef, but it was nice to cool off in the water.

Our last stop of the day was to Poda Island, where we had a lovely picnic on the beach, and lots of time to explore.

That evening I had the most delicious mango smoothie (fact: every mango smoothie in Thailand is the most delicious), and readied myself for tomorrow’s three hour ferry ride to Koh Lanta.

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Krabi

I left my hostel in Chiang Mai at 4am this morning (so early) and made it to Krabi in Southern Thailand at the reasonable hour of 9am. After a laundry run, and a very nice smoothie I was ready to explore town … except there wasn’t very much to actually see in town. Most of the activities are day trips to the nearby islands, but I was doing that tomorrow so wanted to stay a little more local today.

I found a cheap boat ride to some nearby caves, so decided to check that out.

Back on the mainland, I decided to walk along the water in the other direction.

I did find a nice looking garden, but it was so hot out that I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing in my very nice hostel.

Chiang Mai

I really like Chiang Mai! My first stop in Thailand, there’s something about this city that just feels right. A lot of what I did here over the last 3 days was not picture-appropriate, such as walking in markets and getting massages.  So I’m putting all my days into one post!

I arrived in the afternoon, on the last day of Songkran.  Songkran is their New Year’s Festival in which the country partakes in a 3-day massive waterfight.  I didn’t arrive in time to get my own watergun but I was soaked many times over on my outing that evening.

My hostel offered free rides to the weekend night market, so I decided to check out the Saturday one.  I met a really nice Dutch girl on the ride down, and we ended up spending the next few days together.

The market was amazing! I got some amazing food, and just wondered at all the beautiful things that I couldn’t fit in my bag to bring home.  I realized at the end I took zero pictures, so here’s a few things that caught me eye. Mom, don’t we have those bears?

The next day I walked around the old city to see some of their temples.

From here I went to the three kings monument and met my new friend Odelia.

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We got an amazing hour long foot massage (so good!) and then decided we needed more rest so found a great cafe and hung out there for over 2 hours.  We were sitting beside a little waterfall, they had giant koi fish, and great live music.  Plus the food and drinks were delicious!

From there we split – Odelia heading back to the hostel, and myself going to see more temples.

In the evening I went to the Sunday Night Market and bought way too many things.  My perfectly packed bag is now stuffed to the rim.  Oh well, only 7 weeks to lug it all around!

Yesterday I spent the day with elephants (BEST. DAY. EVER), and today I returned to my temple going ways.

An iconic temple in Chiang Mai, the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple is located on top of a hill.  While you can drive most of the way up, you still have to climb 309 steps.  Very fun. It was very foggy for my entire visit, so I couldn’t see the great views of the city.  But that also meant the temple wasn’t so crowded, so that was nice.

From here I headed back down the hill and got a Thai Massage – so good! I also checked out the folklife museum, and walked around the city before getting dinner by the water and walking around the weekday night market.  Though I didn’t buy anything material, I did get a very fancy ice cream!

The perfect end to a perfect few days.

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

Today was THE BEST DAY.  The fact that there are elephants in Thailand is well-known. The temples are decorated with them, carvings and textiles fill the markets and they take up such a big cultural presence everywhere.  There are many excursions to see elephants, and most happen out of Chiang Mai.

I knew I wanted to see them, but I wanted to do so in an ethical manner – so no riding. And I needed the company I choose to also treat them well.  So I picked Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, and had the absolute best day.

Upon arrival, they let you feed the elephants banans and sugar cane, while also supplying them with lots and lots of corn husks.  Their skin is a bit like sand-paper and I was definitely flinching each time a trunk came near me. There were ten elephants (including one baby!) and 40 of us, but if never felt crowded.

From there we had a bit of lunch, and then they provided some traditional clothes for us to wear for our next interactions with the elephants. I was trying to get a selfie with the lil’ guy, but he is super playful and pushed me over – very strong even at a young age.  The worst part is that I didn’t even get the photo!

From here, it was time to cool down with a relaxing mud bath.  We rubbed mud into their back to help with the itch as they can’t scratch their backs.

And then it was time for a rinse!

All the while that we are in the water with them, they are pooing like crazy.  Thankfully they just eat veggies, so it is just a little wheat ball.  But still, these guys just eat, pee and poo all day, and only sleep 3-4 hours a night.  The staff here live here so there are always around these elephants to make sure they are well.

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And then we had time for one last hang and feed before we had to leave.

It was an amazing day, that’s going to stay with me for years to come.

They had a photographer on site as well, so here’s some more better quality photos: