May 3, 2012
I have so much to say about Thailand, I have no idea where to start.
There are some thing I wanted to say… you’ll have to bear with me on this post, my thoughts might be a little jumbled and maybe not make sense to you at times.
I could start with superficial things… like the black forest ice creams I ate a lot… WHY do we not get these!?
We spent six weeks travelling around, and to be fair we didn’t get very far! We mostly hung out on islands and beaches and chilled out enjoying our honeymoon.
There is so much to love about the country, but I didn’t love it right away. That might sound ridiculous to those of you who do love it. My Husband has been to Thailand multiple times, he absolutely adores it there, all over, and the food is the kind of food he would eat every day if he had his way.
I wasn’t so sure. I take more time to work things out in my head, how I feel and how to deal with the things that are so different to the life as I know it.
I guess the poverty is what I am talking about. Being a tourist in Thailand is hard for me.
You arrive and compared to most people there you have so much. I have been to places like this before so it wasn’t new, but before it was different I wasn’t a tourist and the biggest thing in Asia that I found really difficult is how the super rich and super poor live side by side. I cried on more than one occasion.
This is the debate I had with my Husband all the time… you could say England, for example, has it right. You could say that is it better when you are walking around, for example London or Bristol that you generally don’t see homeless people. You literally see a handful day to day here. You change London to a small town or village and you see it even less.
What you do not see are the people who are living in poverty, whether they have a home or not. We are much more segregated. We don’t live side by side, we do not eat at the same places, we do not shop in the same places or generally work in the same places.
You could say this is better. In Thailand, for example, there are brand new five star hotels right next to temporary homes made from corrugated iron and whatever materials to hand. You can walk out of a mall of stores like Chanel and Louis Vuitton and there will be beggars with missing limbs, child beggars and market stalls selling fake copies of the bags you just saw in the store. You can drive around Bangkok in your brand new car and eat street food at a certain place next to everyone else because they do the best Pad Thai around. There is more mixing, this is normal.
I am putting this in a clumsy way, I hope you get my meaning.
It’s right there in your face.
Is that a bad thing? In England charity is a whole industry (chuggers anyone?), in Thailand it is just something people do. They are a very religious people and as part of that they look after people.
Problems are so much worse, don’t get me wrong I am not saying it is bad here compared to there, I know that we have a healthcare system for all and a benefit system and help for people and they do not. I am more talking about the attitude, that take it as that is the way life is and get on with theirs. If you watch a homeless person here in Bristol ask for money most people (me included) walk on by. In Thailand most people give something. It is a responsibility, and it gives them good karma.
The other thing I found interesting was the lassiez faire way of life. For example health and safety. It just doesn’t exist in Thailand.
We went to hot pools to swim and there was the most rickety wooden walkway that made me laugh, nails sticking out everywhere. But we were able to explore all around the pools. We looked at the mineral build up and where the stream came from. You can bet if those pools were here, or compare it to attractions here… we would not have been allowed anywhere near. Your safety is your responsibility. It was refreshing.
I imagine this is what life used to be like everywhere when most governments were lassiez faire.
I did grow to adore Thailand as well, it took me time and Bangkok was the place that took the longest. Without the beautiful beaches and mountains and sunsets I did struggle but it is an amazing place and the people make it so. A cliché maybe but so true. You are always welcomed and people smile as a general rule instead of scowling.
People are SO polite they won’t tell you no (which can be annoying… for example a taxi driver would rather drive around for an hour ringing friends than tell you he doesn’t know where th Royal Palace is, or maybe what you meant) and so warm.
They want you to love Thailand so much. I really did, and we hardly saw any of it so I definitely will need to go back one day.
I am simplifying massively, these are just my thoughts and I wanted to record them.
Another thing I learnt, I can drink tonic without gin, and it keeps the mosquitos away.
What are your thoughts?
Have you been to Thailand? Do you stay in your tourist areas, feeling comfortable, or do you challenge yourself? Do you ever get upset by it?
May 1, 2012
So we have hit our last stop in Thailand… Bangkok.
We arrived via the huge train station comparable to British stations in it grandness, very different in terms of the sheer number of homeless in and around the station. Heartbreaking how many of them were children.
We jumped straight on to the sky train and found our hotel which was funnily enough a few streets away from Soi Cowboy, one of the main strips of bars with bar girls hustling outside. Very strange.
We found a pub near our hotel where we waited for our friend to take somewhere better… but they did have cider. My husband was very happy about this. They also had a Sun. You can always find an English pub huh!
Bangkok is like no city I have ever been too, huge, chaotic, filthy and spotless at the same time.
That wave building was our first hotel. Sky scrapers right next to tiny houses and even temporary huts.
We were staying right next to a sky train station, so so handy. It doesn’t go everywhere in the city, they also have an underground train, but it was handy for a couple of districts where we hung out.
After staying in the hotel for a couple of nights we moved to a hostel, which was actually really good. We decided to save some cash since we were going to be out a lot. It had the best location, like I said next to the sky train but also on one of the best known street food Soi’s.
All the food we ate here was pretty amazing.
Every night the street was packed with vendors and every seat taken, we saw the biggest BMW’s and Mercedes’ pulling up full of young glamorous Thai’s as well as workers heading home to eat here, a real mix of people.
Now my Husband is working for himself, and started last year there were days here and there where he had to do some work. One of those times happened on a gorgeous day in the city, I took myself off to the biggest malls and found the Mandarin Oriental restaurant where I treated myself to a cappuccino and some amazing scones.
Not very Thailand, but very Bangkok. Check out my reading material.
We went to lots of amazing bars for cocktails…
We went to Bed Supperclub… this guy was playing. Shame.
We visited Ko San Road purely because this is where the backpackers stay, and where my Husband stayed the first time he visited Thailand. It was fun to visit, and everything is definitely cheaper here so if you’re on a budget it’s probably the place to stay, eat and drink. It might not be the best for a honeymoon though so I am glad we stayed elsewhere.
One thing you gotta do in Bangkok? Rooftop bars.
This is the best, you arrive through a lift and come out of that dome before descending the stairs to the restaurant and bar.
There are staff greeting you the whole way. Get dressed up (so glad I brought my heels at this point) and go for cocktails… I would say though I have heard that the food isn’t great and it really is so expensive so just have cocktails and eat elsewhere.
Expect to pay around £10 a drink.
The views are worth it.
You are right by the river.
We were lucky enough to visit on a full moon, it was a festival atmosphere that night. Amazing.
One more tip, it’s quite windy and can get chilling so take something to wrap up in when you get up there.
So after this instead of spending £100 on a mediocre dinner here we went to dinner in Chinatown and spend £20 and ate a feast.
Another amazing day was spending time as a tourist and visiting all the temples and the Royal Palace.
We got a sky train to the river then jumped on a boat, a great way to see the city is to use as many different forms of transport as possible; the sky train as you get a higher view, the boats, taxis and tuk tuk to explore the side streets and see what you won’t any other way.
The temples are insane, so much gold.
They made my jaw drop, I was in silence for pretty much the whole day.
You should always be respectful when visiting the temples and you are advised to cover up. Many people don’t which shocked me. The Thai’s are very religious so please take care not to offend. I wore long trousers and a tee but took a huge scarf with me to wrap around me whenever we entered a temple. This will not cut it in the temple though so make sure you read the rules, they are very strict.
So glad I did, people were praying and making offerings and I would have been so embarrassed.
This Buddha was the best. Is it enormous. Again jaw dropping and silence.
Another sight I loved about the city was that you see smiling monks just going about their day everywhere.
As a female they are not supposed to sit near you on transport and there is always seats reserved for them at the front boats and trains.
You gotta love the pink taxis; the national colour.
We were also lucky enough to visit on the Kings birthday, the Thais adore their royal family and you must never say anything offensive about them to a Thai, they would be more than upset.
The birthday was a huge celebration and there were pretty lights on the roads surrounding the palace.
Then we jumped back on a boat and watched an amazing sunset as we headed back.
Then the full moon lit up the sky. A beautiful sight.
On our last night we met up with our friend Jack and a big group of his ex-pat friends and went to an amazing riverside bar drinking bubbles and the most beautiful cocktails I have had in Thailand.
A fond memory, watching the sun go down and dreaming of moving to the city to join them.
I could live like that I tell you!
I didn’t fall immediately in love with Bangkok but it really grew on me and writing this I do miss it, we were there for a short time with a base and I really feel like I saw its best and worst parts.
March 29, 2012
This was my Birthday hotel… and it was not open yet. We didn’t realise when we booked this, but luckily found out before we arrived so it wasn’t a nasty surprise and ended up being really nice as we were their first customers and we were on our honeymoon we were treated like real VIP’s.
Everyone else staying at the hotel over this weekend were family or friends and guests of the owner, we were all guinea pigs.
The best thing? We got the best room in the place.
This was my tub… the first thing you see when you walk in.
Our lovely sink area. With tons of towels and slippers.
And robes, you know how much I like a good robe in a hotel room.
That led into the main room…
Our huge bed with the obligatory swan towels (love that).
The rooms here have a great big seating area by huge windows that led outside.
I spent my birthday taking a bath, swimming in the pool and generally being very lazy.
Yes. Outside is your little terrace which leads into a little plunge pool for when it gets too hot, which then leads into the main pool. So cool.
Room service all the way! Like I said we were some of the only guests and although sometimes it’s nice to be fussed over sometimes it’s annoying so we ordered in and hung out in our room.
My Mai Tai came in a pineapple, love that. It was also super strong!
The pool had these crazy big stone heads everywhere, and little platforms for climbing and sunbathing. It’s going to a great pool for kids to have adventures in.
They also have a very cute little play area and fake beach for smaller children. It’s definitely a resort for families.
On my birthday night the owners threw a big dinner for local importants and their guests. It was amazing, this big fish baked in salt was my favourite thing.
The one hundred different types of squid my husbands favourite thing.
Tons of pretty fruit plates.
Cakes, and custard hearts.
Not knowing that this was about to arrive for me, the whole party sang me happy birthday which was so lovely (and of course I went bright pink) celebrating your birthday so far away from home is sometimes tough but this made up for it.
And we ate a few pretty breakfasts here too, another huge hotel buffet with everything you could want.
So I can highly recommend Rawai Palm Beach for a couple of days R&R or for a family holiday, great if you love sitting in the sunshine drinking cocktails and dipping in and out of the pool. There is a small strip of restaurants nearby and if you have transport there are a few nice spots around to check out, but don’t go here for lively nightlife it’s not for that.
March 19, 2012
I think much of this love came from the horrendous journey we had to get there, and our rubbish ‘hotel’ the night before.
This was pure luxury.
Our room was so calm, all natural colours and materials.
Our bed… I named this the cloud. It was like sleeping on a fluffy cloud, so soft.
One of the reception areas. That is where I collapsed when we arrived at 11pm after the typical Thailand bus break down journey.
Another airy reception area with fun chairs.
They had a huge DVD library. I found this. Amazing.
Our terrace, shaded by a big tree overlooking the pool. Heaven.
I loved this nook.
I actually loved the vanity area. So much room for all my stuff. I properly unpacked here. Also we had a room on the end of the row, and so it was huge! So much bigger so if you do take my recommendation and go here request a room on the end, upstairs.
Lovely green gardens.
The hotel pool area…
Whenever I was lazing by the pool, the hotel kept bring free drinks and fruit. It was sweltering so I was grateful every time.
And the second hotel pool overlooking the sea.
The breakfasts here were amazing. A huge buffet of all kinds of everything.
And an army of chefs to make your hearts desire, from the cutest little pastries to eggs every which way.
Every day I tried to have something new. Mostly bircher muesli, fruit and pastries…
And they had all kinds of jams, passionfruit was the best.
Green juice anyone? Mango jam was also a winner. So need to make some.
This was our last day, I filled up big time for a long journey, eggs and everything else. Pink juice is so pretty.
Love Putahracsa, highly recommend it. The staff were the best, so helpful. There is a strange thing that the hotel is split into two by a road so half (the main pool and normal rooms) is on one side and the private villa rooms and the beach and beach side pool are on the other. It really didn’t bother me as each side had a restaurant (although I think breakfast is only on the main side) and a pool.
Amazing few days in Hua Hin, a lot of this due to an amazing cloud!
March 16, 2012
Friday friday friday!! So happy you are here!
A little look back at our visit to Hua Hin in Thailand today, it was our ‘honeymoon spot’ in that we treated ourselves to a posh resort in a resort kinda town to just chill out for a few days after jetting about the islands before we went to Bangkok.
Getting there was our worst journey yet… we had the classic Thailand breakdown after deciding to take a bus.
It was supposed to be a 4-5 hour journey at most, I think we ended up taking the whole day, into the night.
When a bus breaks down in Thailand they don’t send a replacement, you just have to wait while they fix in. After a few false starts our driver gave up and called for help.
Luckily were by a little roadside place so I tried to not get grumpy by drinking fanta and reading my book while we waited… and waited, and waited.
Finally the next bus was about to drive past us and they arranged for it to stop and pick us up. Amazing. We even got a seat.
We arrived at our hotel at about eleven o clock after being dumped way outside of Hua Hin. Luckily my Husband is amazing and found us a taxi even in a deserted spot in the middle of no-where.
Hua Hin is very touristy, it is where Thai’s holiday as well as foreigners. The Royal Family even have homes here.
On our first night here we visited an amazing night market… I drank beer (!) and we wandered around stalls eating bits of everything.
I didn’t eat any bugs though… I am never going to be able to eat bugs. I could barely look at them to take this photograph.
This was where I spent most of my time while we were here. It was ridiculously hot here, we had two pool areas and this one was away from the sea with little or no breeze.
Amazing though, my tan got real good after our time here. I have never been so tanned in all my life… fully spf’d up I must add, I am at least a 30 spf girl, higher on my face.
One evening when shopping we found a wine bar, that turned out to be a bar from a vineyard just an hour from Hua Hin, so I got to enjoy some beautiful wine and cheese here, and more at the Vineyard as they have buses take you from their bar.
Thailand has this great sushi chain as well, it is something around £5 for all you can eat sushi and soup you make yourself at your table by chosing a base and dropping different things in from the conveyor belt. It’s great too, so busy that everything is fresh and it’s being replaced all the time.
We also got a chance to go the vineyard in Hua Hin, owned by a son of the Red Bull tycoon. It was amazing. More on that on Full as an Egg very soon.
Lots of ice cream parlours in Hua Hin, love that. This is coconut and chocolate.
Lots of places for drinks too. Lots!
This was the road we left on to go to the station, decorated for the Kings Birthday which was happening while we were in Bangkok, beautiful lanterns all the way up the main entrance to the town.
We booked a first class seat which as far as we could tell just meant we got a cup of cola and a weird fruit pastry thing. but the train was so much better than the bus, beautiful countryside and no breakdowns.
Hua Hin is great, very touristy and lots of huge resorts, it can also get sleazy if you hit the wrong street after dark but we had a wonderful hotel which I’ll share more of soon that none of that mattered we just enjoyed that and the amazing markets and the vineyard. I can see why it the Bangkok weekend away spot, a two-hour train or 3 hour drive and you’re by the sea in the sun.
Probably not everyone’s cup of tea, you cannot swim in the sea here, and the beach disappeared when the tide is in but great for a few days of luxury bliss. Fond memories for me for sure.
March 13, 2012
After leaving Koh Lak we had been in Thailand for almost 4 weeks and had to get a visa extension.
Our original plan was to travel around Asia a little more but we got stuck in Thailand, as so many do.
So we read a fairly easy and cost-effective way to do this was to go to Ranong and do a little mini trip to Myanmar – Burma.
We were a little worried about doing so, not because of our own safety but because of the moral implications of giving money to the government there, you can read more about the situation here, but in the end we had little choice as this was the closet and cheapest option.
We decided to stay in Ranong, which is where the boats go from for just one night as when we were looking for accommodation I found nothing but very tired hotels and the cheapest backpacker accommodation ever.
We chose the latter and regretted it finding an amazing hotel with a rooftop pool for £20 a night after we arrived. Always the way.
This is where we spent the late afternoon…
And the early evening… watching the sun go down.
It was such an amazing sunset I literally took over 100 photographs.
I’ll spare you though and show you only a few.
I think I should sell this photo to the hotel for their publicity!
This is the b, where we should have stayed, it is brand new so I didn’t see it on the internet. We paid a few pounds for fluffy towels and access to the pool for the day.
It was the saviour after a rough day and a real Thai town without much to do.
After walking around in the day and eating rubbish food in a market (I think the only bad food we ate) we felt a little flat about the town, but it did come alive that night and there were a few more eating and drinking options than we saw in the day.
We drank many cheap cocktails at a bar on the main street.
The next day we headed to Myanmar. It was simple enough, we arranged with a taxi the previous day to pick us up early, and take us to the border, there he hooked us up with a boat which took us out of Thailand and to a port in Myanmar. Both the Thai and Myamar officials seem to be more than used to people popping out and in again.
One tip! Wear modest clothing, I wore shorts and a vest and for my photograph when re-entering Thailand was told to put a t-shirt on. Only one official seemed to care but it’s not worth the risk.
It was a beautiful day for a journey, and since we were on simple fishing boats with a few others (1 tourist and 2 Burmese who work in Thailand) we were very glad it was.
We even got some glimpses of some golden Buddhas in Myanmar.
I wouldn’t recommend Ranong if you are taking a holiday but as part of our long trip in Thailand it was one of the more interesting places we visited, especially because of our little trip to Myanmar.
You literally land on a small island, that is Burmese but not the mainland, and the general tourist cannot even enter the mainland this way. You are not even allowed to go beyond 3 miles from the border on your 48 hour visa they give you when you arrive.
We had to go straight back and it was a shame we couldn’t stay and look around a little, but we learnt a lot about the way these countries sit together on this day. It was very interesting and I know very little about the situation there so intend to find out more now I am home.
March 9, 2012
To cheer myself up on this very grey Bristol day I am going to tell you about Koh Lak.
Take a look at this…
This was the main street, we hired a moped for our time here and spent lots of time zipping up to the main strip of restaurants from our hotel.
We stayed in a little guesthouse kind of hotel, that shared a pool with the next door hotel, it was a proper sun trap and a place I spent a few hot mornings sheltering from the sun and diving in the cool water wherever I couldn’t take it anymore.
Generally this was after eating a mound of French toast at breakfast… I needed a lie down after eating this. So good.
We are on mainland Thailand so found a little bit of jungle and had a walk to explore.
I finally got to get on a tuk tuk here as well, and I have to say I prefer the moped!
It was fun but I felt like the guys bike was going to detach from us at any moment.
We ate at the most typical Thai looking restaurant ever…
And ate delicious Thai curries.
And the best part was that we went to the Similan Islands on a snorkeling trip.
You start the day at the dive shop, with coffee and doughnuts and The Times, little shouts of home like this were great this far into the trip.
I have mentioned before I get seasick, I am never normally sick but the Similans are an hour away by speed boat so I was pretty ill this time.
This is me after we arrived on the large dive boat… where we spent the day. It wasn’t too bad but I never felt great on the boat.
This is why it was all worth while.
We spent an hour snorkeling in the above bay, and after my experience on Phi Phi I was confident and enjoyed every minute of it and saw tons of fish and an octopous! Amazing, amazing.
Then we boarded the dive boat again (which stays at the Similans during the dive season and people do live-a-boards, meaning they stay here for a few nights) and had lunch, a huge buffet of amazing Thai dishes plus tons of fresh fruit and biscuits which were the saviour to my seasickness that day.
Then we went on the desk and put our feet up for a snooze before our second swim.
An amazing day, highly recommend getting to the Similans, they are a protected national park too so very unspoilt which can be rare in Thailand.
Colourful fishing boats great us when we arrive back on dry land.
My husband spotted this gem (?) for sale. Luckily I get sea sick so we couldn’t even think of buying it.
I should also mention that while we were staying here there was a bikers convention. There were Harley’s everywhere much to my Husbands delight, who is obsessed with motorbikes.
There were also bikers everywhere which was strange, hanging in the pool with 10 bikers and their girls was quite funny to say the least… the things I heard!
And the main reason I think you should visit Koh Lak and why it is so under-rated… the beach.
Pretty perfect huh?
We spent most days here at least for a little while, there is an amazing spot right at the end of all the restaurants where we ate some amazing fish and had this view.
And then after eating a ton of food we hit the sun loungers where I had this view…
And massage huts all behind where I had the best massage for £6.
My girl literally had a queue of people build up while I was having my massage, well-known even with tourists.
And I have to mention the sky here, we had one afternoon where these clouds appeared from no-where and we hot-footed it back to the hotel.
It was still blazing sunshine in the other direction but the storms come quick here.
I loved Koh Lak, there is a main strip with a ton of restaurant and dive schools and lots of little guesthouses and hostels as well as amazing resorts right on the beach where I believe you get so much more for your money than you would somewhere much more well-known like Phuket.
And that beach… I am dreaming of it today.