Where did I leave off? Driving into Chiang Mai from the border right? So Thailand Part 1
Chiang Mai is Thailand's second major city after Bangkok. It is much smaller and more laidback than Bangkok, giving a totally different atmosphere. We found an amazing, cheap hostel in the old part of the city (where most of the tourist attractions are) for a few nights. I was really lucky to have a friend of a friend living in Chiang Mai, and she met up with us on our very first night and showed us some cool nightlife spots. The next day we rented some bikes and biked around the city despite very threatening rain clouds, which did eventually let loose a torrential downpour. The next day, my local friend showed us the "hip" neighbourhood of the city, full of cafes and Western restaurants. She then drove us out to a really cool waterfall that we were able to climb up. There was nearly nobody there and we had a really nice time. We then went to a quiet, forest temple that we also wouldn't have known of otherwise. It was a great day! We felt super VIP driving around with our personal tour guide. The next day we took a neat (but expensive!) tour up the mountain to see Doi Suthep, probably the most famous temple in Chiang Mai. We drove to the top of the mountain in a truck, then biked down, stopping at a tribe village (tourist trap), Doi Suthep, a fancy, shiny, very busy temple, and one more temple, and a waterfall. Pretty pretty cool. Josh flew to Ko Samui the next day, and I just hung out with my friend, checking out some places that Western tourists don't really know about (although Chinese tourists do apparently haha). That night, I took the overnight train to Bangkok. This was a waaaaaay pleasanter experience than you'd imagine, and I actually slept pretty well! And when I woke up, I was in
|biking down the mountain|
When I arrived in Bangkok, I caught a cab straight to the Myanmar Embassy to apply for my visa. It was a Friday, and I was leaving on Monday, so I needed to get my visa taken care of ASAP. So the rest of that morning was just waiting in line forever. I finally got to my hostel around noon, checked in, laid down for like an hour, and went back to the embassy to get my passport. Day 1, Bangkok haha. That night, I was super hoping to go out and enjoy the nightlife, but my hostel was pretty quiet and nobody was picking up what I was putting down. :( WOMP WOMP. The next day I took the subway up to a HUGE weekend market...maybe the biggest market in all of Asia? It was pretty cool, but I had seen A LOT of markets by that point with a lot of similar stuff. This market did have some cool stuff made by local artists, so I bought a pair of cool dinosaur earrings and was happy. That night, I went out with some Irish girls that I had randomly happened to meet in the food court in the mall near my hostel. They were on a visa run from Vietnam, where they teach English, but one of them had lived in Bangkok previously, so she knew all the cool spots to party. I met up with them and had a really fun night out on the town. One disappointment was that the curfew is still in effect in Bangkok, so we ran out of time to go see one of the GoGo shows. SO I need to go back to Bangkok to do that someday! The next day, woke up, went to the train station to buy my ticket to Ko Phangan. From the train station, I walked over to China town to check it out. As soon as I got there I realized how dumb of an idea that was considering how soon I would be in actual China. So I just kept walking in the general direction of Khao San Road. This took me through lots of random neighbourhoods and invited lots of puzzled looks from locals being like "this girl is soooo lost" haha. Eventually I found some of the attractions from the old town, checked them out, kept walking, and finally, like 2 or 3 hours later, arrived at Khao San Road. First thing I did was foot massage!! Very needed. Then I grabbed some dinner, and walked around the notorious street before things got too crazy, just to be able to say I was there and checked it out. I grabbed a bus back towards my hostel, walked around some more, got home and passed out. The next day was my last day, so I stashed my bags at the train station and went to see the Grand Palace. I got there, only to discover that it was ACTUALLY closed hahaha (there is a famous scam where tuk tuk drivers will tell you that the palace is closed and charge you a crazy amount to drive you somewhere else). So I went to the neighbouring Wat Pho to see the huge reclining Buddha and bumped into a friendly girl I'd met at my hostel! We decided to do our best to figure out how to see the Emerald Buddha inside the Grand Palace. We walked all the way around the Grand Palace wall and finally found a horde of Chinese tourists coming in and out of one of the doorways. BINGO!!! Eventually, I had to go get on another overnight train. Will definitely have to go back to Bangkok one of these days! What a cool city!
Ko Phangan, an island off the East Coast of Thailand, is home to the infamous full moon party. Which is why I was going there, although my expectations were pretty low. After the overnight train, woke up and got on a bus, which drove us to a boat, which took us to the island, where we took a tuk tuk. I had realized on the train that I didn't know the name of the hostel I had booked, and had no way to check without wifi. I met a guy on the train who knew the name of his hostel but not how to get there. When he said the name "Jaya" I was like "THAT'S THE NAME OF MY HOSTEL!", and I knew what to tell the tuk tuk driver to get there. Alone we were doomed to fail but together we were unstoppable hahaha. After so much traveling I was pretty exhausted, so we just went down to the beach for a few drinks (there was some crazy jungle party going on that I totally skipped because there's scary shit in the jungle). The next day we tried to have a nice beach day and got rained on, so went back to the hostel and got ready for the big party. The hostel transformed into a sea of neon shirts and body paint. When we were ready we headed to the beach. It was soooo packed! So much music and dancing! Nobody knows for sure how we spent the next few hours, but eventually the sun was rising, and when it really started to get hot we decided it was time to go home. The next day I didn't really get out of bed, except to eat a pizza around 5pm. The next day we left pretty early in the morning to go tooo
We stayed in Phuket because we both had flights from there a couple days apart. Because we had both heard the Phuket was maybe the worst place in the entire country, I found a guesthouse at a quieter beach near the airport, which ended up being pretty nice. We had one really nice beach day, and Josh left the following morning. I had to find a cheaper room, but decided to splurge on a beachfront motel (15$!) for the next couple nights, where I pictured myself waking up, going to the beach, repeat. But, just in time, I discovered via facebook that a couple friends of mine were in Phuket, although about an hour away. These friends had been living in Australia for a year after leaving Korea, so I really wanted to see them. I caught a bus to Patong, the sex tourism capital of SE Asia, which I had intentionally been avoiding, to meet up with my pals for a nice beach day (although it rained) and a catch up. It was so nice!! Worth it even though I ended up missing the bus and had to pay a guy too much money to drive my home on his motorbike in the rain for like an hour hahahaah. STILL WORTH IT! The next day I woke up, went for one last swim, packed up and headed to the airport. Due to some poor planning and budget airline inflexibility, I had to fly back to Chiang Mai, and then fly from there to Hong Kong. The whole journey was pretty smooth, arrived in Hong Kong, and moved back into my friend's living room.
Thailand was a lot of fun, but it was so impossible to escape the young gap year kids with the obsession with getting drunk and being super disrespectful of local cultures. A few times on the trip I felt super super old and uptight because of things that were happening haha. I might be too old for the backpacker scene!!
Anyway, I got this done right before heading into China, because I'm pretty sure the Blogger website is blocked there! See you in November!!