Beaches & Coffee Houses
30.01.2013 - 03.03.2013 35 °C
I'm not sure how gripping this entry will be for you as this month I have relaxed........ ... on beaches & in coffee houses and i have enjoyed every moment.
I flew into Chiang Rai (via Bangkok) coming in to land in heavy rain. I am not a fan of turbulence, but then who is? On the plane we were sat next to a lady who was the head nurse in a hosptial in Chiang Rai, she had been in Bangkok at a conference with another colleague and they were returning home. Her husband was picking her up and she offered us a lift into Chiang Rai. Her husband turned out to be the Chief of Police..! They were extremely kind and once they realised we hadn't booked anywhere to stay (and it was 9pm) they took us around trying different places until we found a vacancy, even though we tried to insist that they didn't need to as it was going out of their way, our atempts were brushed aside and firmly ignored. They found us a lovely little guest house to stay in. I enjoyed realxing in Chiang Rai. Chiang Rai has nice coffee houses and bakerys so it really was not a chore to stay a few days here with a travelling buddy and relax with coffee & books.
I then headed to Chiang Mai where I explored new corners of the city that I previously hadn't seen. Again I found some great coffee houses, as well as fruit museli yoghurt, lemon shakes & Pad Thai at the Somphet market, YU-UM! There was also a flower festival with amazing floats made from flowers and a great walking street market on sunday, which was packed with travellers and vendors it reminded me of sardines! I stayed in the North / East corner of the old city which is a quiet area with little market and quiet soi's. I spent about a week here with a side trip to Pai in the middle and Chiang Mai was my home for a little bit. I can see why so many travellers end up living here. It really is a lovely Asian city.
Pai is in the mountains a 4 hour drive from Chiang Mai up windy roads, a good tip is to NOT EAT as the windy roads are nauseating then add in the crazy Thai mini-van drivers and the air-con... I was a little bit green. However, the mountains surrounding Pai are beautiful and it is well worth a visit. Pai is a place to visit when you want to relax and do yoga.... I took a yoga class here with amazing views of the mountains and river. Pai has a night market, which is usual in Asia, however the street vendors used VW vans to sell their wares from. It was the cutest night market I have seen since Luang Prabang (Laos).
I then decided to pick up the pace and explore again so i headed for Sukhothai and cycled around old temples and ruins taking in some amazing Buddahs and Buddha hands! From here i travelled to Lopburi, the city of Monkeys and happened to arrive on a festival! Lopburi were celebrating King Narai, and after being interviewed by local school children on my thoughts of their fesitval (so cute, school projects!) I watched the opening parade which involved the majority of the town as they dressed up and paraded into old palace grounds with elephants and horses. The grounds had been beautifully decked out with lights and lanterns, there were food areas, singing, music and shows. I watched the show depicting King Narai and Lopburi's history, it was colourful and well performed and i enjoyed it even though my Thai is sparse!
I caught the train to Ayutthaya, a short journey of 2 hours. Ayutthaya is an old capital had as such has ruins and temples to see. I cycled round the city and ruins for a couple of days taking in temples, the floating market, and enjoying the last night of Chinese new year celebrations with music, shows, street food.
I then took the night bus and journeyed south to the islands and beaches. They are beautiful. I think the best waters were on Koh Phangan and Koh Lanta. They were the cleanest and Koh Phangan was the most fun as we wave jumped.
I went to Ao Nang, Railay Beach, Koh Lanta and Koh Phangan.
I caught a few days rain however I was in an adorable hostel who had lime ice cream (seriously the best flavour ever and it tasted just like OPAL FRUITS), a marathon film night watching new releases whilst curled on comfy floor cushions and I learnt a Thai card game ... a gambling card game ... however somehow we did not play for money which was maybe not my most cunning of plans as I kept winning! The rain could not keep us out of the water and I had my daily swim. The islands are as beautiful as the postcards and even better the people were lovely and friendly and I had some great travelling companions. I really enjoyed my month in Thailand and it was a great way to finish my Asian adventure next stop Australia ... !