After a few requests from my diehard fans (my parents and Alex’s parents) I thought it was time to man up and write a blog post instead of lounging around in a hammock drinking a strawberry smoothie which is just so tempting when you’re in a town as laid back as Pai.
Luckily I have been stuck in bed sick for two days and as I am getting a bit bored of lying staring at this view, I thought I would do a blog on our time in Thailand.
Hard to believe I could ever get bored of this, I know.
Alex is now sick too which has made it slightly more interesting as there is someone to chat to, and by that I mean I ask something like ‘do you think the cleaning lady will judge us for being in bed in the middle of the day?’ and she grunts in reply.
Aside from spending my time in a dark room underneath a duvet, the North of Thailand as been incredible. Whilst the South’s highlights included watching someone eating a live scorpion and an underwhelming full moon party, Thailand’s North is peaceful, beautiful and enticing.
Although I had a great time on the islands and in Bangkok, I was ready to start travelling again. We were in Bangkok for 5 nights which was roughly 4 nights too long. In Koh Tao where we were all so desperate to tan that we toasted. Luckily suncream was only £15 a bottle though so that’s a good. No worries Thailand it’s not like that could have got me 5 days accommodation in Vietnam.
Koh Phangan: a hospital stay for Katie and watching a blazing rope set tourists on fire for the rest of us.
Next it was Phi Phi where we visited Maya bay and Monkey beach (both beautiful). Here I had possibly the most hilarious moment of the whole trip, watching Alex and Ge try to kayak back to our tour boat after leaving their shoes on the beach. Let’s just say it took them a while.
The beautifully peaceful Maya Bay. Could just lie here and sunbathe all day it was so quiet.
Just kidding, this was Maya Bay
It was SO BUSY.
By some miracle, on the way back to the tour boat I managed to avoid the herd (Herd? Swarm? Pack?) of jellyfish which I swam through whilst everyone else seemed to get stung. You might think it’s luck, I like to think of it as karma.
Luckily though, the people who ran the tour obviously warned us of the jellyfish and other dangers, and didn’t just throw us off the boat shouting ‘1 HOUR COME BACK’ then force us to climb what I can only describe as the ‘rope ladder of death’ up a cliff and trek through a jungle before we finally dragged ourselves onto Maya Bay, sunburnt and exhausted ready to face the tourists who weren’t bothered about taking photos of Leonardo DiCaprio’s favourite beach but instead wanted to take photos of sunburnt dehydrated westerners.
Anyway despite the millions of tourists (I sometimes forget that I am also a tourist), Maya Bay and Monkey beach were just about perfect and I returned to the hostel about 3 shades darker.
I’m really starting to love Thailand, which is good because it feels like I’ve been here about 5 months (seriously get me to Laos ASAP). The way of life is right up my street. Food may take 2 hours to arrive but when it does it’s perfect. Everyone smiles. The only downside is the shit music that plays everywhere, and I don’t mean Thai music, I mean Justin Bieber. When you buy a ticket for any journey you just have to trust that you’ll end up there eventually even though for 99% of the journey you won’t know where you are, where your luggage is, when the next toilet will be or whether you will ever not be sweaty again.
On Thursday evening we left the amazing Phi Phi natural resort and flew up to Chiang Mai from Phuket.
Chiang Mai lacks the backpacker energy of Bangkok. There is no Khao San road equivalent (thank God). For me, it was a little piece of heaven.
We arrived at just the right time, Songkran, aka New Year. Where people throw buckets of water over you or spray you with a hose as you’re walking down the street and the only way you can avoid it is to just not go outside. If your taxi has to stop at traffic lights there is a 90% chance that someone will throw a bucket of water into it, but it’s always okay because it’s Songkran.
I did a cooking course which was one of the best days so far. It was run by a man called Sammy and his family on their organic rice farm. Anyone who knows me will know that I am definitely not a gifted cook, but I managed to make a green Thai curry, coconut soup, chicken with cashew nuts, spring rolls and mango sticky rice which for me is a pretty big achievement. Not just because I actually cooked and ate something without making myself sick, but also because I stuck at it for the whole day without getting bored. It helped that Sammy was absolutely hilarious and during our hour break I had possibly the best nap of my life right here…
Our last evening in Chiang Mai was a nightmare as we had to organise a bus to Pai for the next day. As it was Songkran the ladies at our hostel said they couldn’t book it for us and some people were even saying they weren’t running. I was a bit nervous after hearing horror stories about the bus to Pai, something like 700 turns on a steep mountain road in a minibus. So I did all I could think of to do in that situation and pretty much just accepted that I was going to be sick.
The next morning we decided to try one last time at getting our hostel to book a bus for us and for some reason they decided they could that morning. So they booked us a minibus for that afternoon.
In the morning Alex and I headed to the Wat Phra That temple and saw a great view of Chiang Mai and also got blessed by a monk. There is something extremely peaceful about getting blessed by a monk. I instantly felt clearer, less stressed and more myself, ready to face the bus ride nightmare’s are made of to Pai.
We got back to our hostel early so had some lunch in the little cafe there, Alex also got sprayed with a hose but it’s okay because it’s Songkran.
We got the bus station at 12.30 and our bus was due to leave at 1. I was popping anti nausea tablets like there was no tomorrow but I could still feel my pineapple smoothie gurgling around my otherwise empty tummy (I hadn’t really eaten due to my winding-journey-in-a-minibus phobia).
Once we got to the bus station, which turned out to just be a little office, we were hastily bundled onto a minibus and driven off within 30 seconds. It was just Alex and I! On our own, air conditioned minibus. And it cost us £3 each for a 4 hour journey. We couldn’t believe it. I needn’t have worried about being sick (although Alex said the journey was horrible) because being me, I slept the whole way and only woke up to drag myself out the bus to buy myself a smoothie when we stopped off half way there, then fell asleep for the next two hours. It was dreamy.
We arrived in Pai and ate a questionable omelette which tasted fine although thinking about it now as I lie surrounded by sick germs and Alex’s leftover birthday cake makes me feel a bit queasy.
Our first day involved probably more activity than most people do in an entire week in the sleepy town of Pai. We wandered round for a while and eventually found a man who would rent us two bikes for the day for 50 baht each (£1). He simple said ‘bring them back tomorrow’, gave us a map, and off we went. Of course my brakes didn’t work and Alex couldn’t change gear but you know, you can’t have everything.
Whilst Songkran is great it’s also the time of year where there are the most road accidents and whilst Alex and I were cycling along having ice cold buckets of water thrown on top of us from passing cars we could definitely see why. Equally though, when you’re cycling on the outskirts of a town as mountainous (I’m saying mountainous not hilly) as Pai, it’s actually quite nice knowing that the person you’re about to cycle past is probably going to spray you with their water gun.