A 22-day adventure by Simon
  • Day1

    London - Bangkok

    December 2, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Travelling time again and this time we’re off to Thailand for some well needed time off and some winter sunshine. Our flight isn’t until 21:35 so knowing that we are seasoned pros at packing now we left it until this morning.

    We got the mega bus to Heathrow Terminal 2 and checked in nice and early. We then decided on some home comforts for dinner in the form of pizza and burgers knowing that we’d be on rice and noodles now for the next 3 weeks.

    We had a wander around the terminal before boarding the flight.

    See you soon Thailand ✈️

    We landed in Bangkok around 4pm, very sleepy and in need of a good wash. We made it through passport control, collected our bags and hopped in a taxi sharpish. Forgetting every thing we read and had been told by friends we asked for the price which meant the meter stayed switched off and under a towel. Rookie move but we were just happy to be making our way to our hotel.

    All checked in we had a well needed shower and put on some nice fresh clothes. We finally felt human again. I wasn’t quite ready for a street made pad thai so we opted for a restaurant which had nice seating, air con and four walls. The food was delicious!
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    Tricia Little

    Great stuff, looks amazing. 😊💋

    12/7/18Reply
    Jackie Blake

    Fill you Boots Claire lol x

    12/10/18Reply
     
  • Day3

    Bangkok

    December 4, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ 🌙 31 °C

    Right next to our hotel is a cute little cafe called Cafe Passion where we grabbed breakfast before heading out to explore Bangkok. I dived straight into Thai cusine with some mango and sticky rice which is actually delicous (although very sweet) whilst Si decided to ease himself in gently with some eggs, bacon and sausage. Both were washed down with an amazing iced coffee (hopefully that will help the jet lag although we may have made a faux par as we probably aren't meant to have ice in our drinks).

    Our first stop for the day was The Grand Palace. To get there we jumped on the BTS Skytrain and then hopped on a boat along the river up to the palace. Depsite many a blog warning that the palace would be jam packed with tourists and some even suggesting to give it a miss, it really wasnt that busy. I dont know if its because its my first Thai temple but it was absolutely breathtaking. The colours, patterns and craftmanship in the architecture is truly incredible and I could have marvelled the palace all day long.

    Not far from the The Grand Palace is Wat Pho, home of the famous reclining Buddha. We got a bit lost on the way but stumbled across another big buddha. As we retraced our steps we stopped off to get something to eat. After persusing the many stalls of locals selling all kinds of delicacies we went for roti (I had banana and Simon had chicken) washed down with a very large juice (more ice opps!).

    Wat Pho provided yet more beautiful architecture and the reclining Buddha which is actually massive! I was definately not expecting him to be that big! Well worth a stop.

    To finish off we caught the ferry over to the other side of the river to visit Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) which provided more architecture to marvel. The upper levels were closed which was a shame as these would have provided amazing views over Bangkok. It has however been a 34° day today and having to cover both knees and shoulders when visiting the temples, we were both wearing far to much clothing and were insanely hot and sweaty! There was only one thing for it, to jump in a tuk tuk and head to Khao San Road for a much deserved Chang. Travelling by tuk tuk was a first by both of us and they are definately not for the faint hearted. I think we may have also got a particularly crazy driver as we overtook lots of other tuk tuks whilst driving on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic! We also had a very near close encounter with a bus! Slightly shaken we jumped out at Khao San Road and headed to the closest nicest looking place that sold beer. We lucked out on a really lovely spot that offered great people spotting views.

    After our beer we mooched along Khao San Road which wasnt nearly as hectic as we thought it would be (as long as you ignore the people trying to sell you a scorpian on a stick every 10m). Its actually a really cool spot. For dinner we headed to a vegetarian thai restaurant, May Kaidee's Vegetarian Restaurant, I had read about which was down one of the little side streets. The food was delicous and coming to only £7.50. A complete bargain!

    After dinner we decided to head back to out hotel for a much needed shower. Despite a taxi back to our hotel probably only costing £10 (which for a 30 minute journey is a complete steal) we decided to get the bus which cost approx 45p for both of this. This experience was not to dissimilar to the tuk tuk. We missed the first one as they don't really stop and instead you just have to run and jump on and hope that you both made it in time. The drivers drive like maniacs and really fast, the suspension is completely shot and they drive with the door open. In addition to that, there is only one stop button on the entire bus which is situated above said open door! I did think I was going to lose Simon out of the door at one point! For 45p though I guess you cant really complain!
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  • Day4

    Bridge on the River Kwai

    December 5, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 33 °C

    In all honesty, I knew very little about the significance of the bridge on the River Kwai and having never seen the movie I wasnt sure what to expect.

    The bridge is a couple of hours outside of Bangkok so it was a very early start with a 6:30am pickup from our hotel. In true Thai style our driver was late and then we proceeded to spend the next hour driving around the city collecting the rest of our tour group. We eventually arrived at Khao San Road (which is completely baron during the day) where we were ushered off, given a combination of stickers which were stuck to our tops and directed to another mini bus. This mini bus was quite a sight, with mirrors on the ceiling, lights, huge speakers and so much gold!! We lucked out again on our driver who managed to get pulled over by the police on route to the bridge which is pretty impressive as anything seems to go in Thailand!

    Eventually we arrived in a town called Kanchanaburi where we were given time to mooch around a museum and wander over the bridge. To give you a brief history lesson, the Death Railway as it is otherwise known due to the sheer number of lives lost during its construction, was built by the Japanese during the Second World War using the forced labour of prisoners of war, the majority of which were from the Commonwealth countries.

    After a very brief visit to the museum and a quick stroll over the bridge we hopped on the train for around a one and a half hour journey along some of the railway line. The views from the train were pretty amazing and some parts of the railway line were held up by very rickety looking wooden stilts! It was then time for lunch which was served on a floating bungalow (it sounds far more twee than it actually was).

    Our afternoon activity involved an hours pit stop at Sai Yok Noi Waterfall followed by a trip to the Kanchanaburi War Cemetary before heading back to Bangkok. The cemetary is located near the site of the former Kanburi prisoner of war base camp through which most prisoners passed on their way to other camps. The cemetary was created after the war by the Army Graves Service who transferred graves into it from camp burial grounds and solitary sites all along the southern half of the railway and from other sites in Thailand.

    It was a long day, not getting back to Bangkok until gone 7pm so we jumped in the shower and headed out to a nearby Italian restaurant (Simon is craving pizza already 🤣) for dinner.
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    Tricia Little

    Amazing footage, glad your both having a great time. 🤗💋🐾🐾

    12/8/18Reply
    Jackie Blake

    OMG what an adventure so far it looks amazing. I have seen the film , you must watch it !! . Sounds like anything goes with transport x

    12/10/18Reply
     
  • Day5

    Bangkok - Ao Nang

    December 6, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ 🌧 24 °C

    Having set yet another ridiculously early alarm due to our flight this morning we were up, packed and out in a taxi by 6.30am. We were flying to Krabi today so that we could stay a night on the sea front of Ao Nang before our trip to see elephants in Khao Sok National Park.

    Having landed in Krabi we made our way over to the meter taxi rank where 2 taxis flatly refused to use the meter and wanted to charge us far too much to get to Ao Nang. As this wasn’t our first rodeo we walked away and tried to find another option like a bus. Unfortunately without waiting over an hour for a bus which would mean having to still get a taxi the other end we had no option but to get the meter taxi with a fixed price. We are pretty sure he radioed to all his fellow taxi friends so no one else would pick us up too. We managed to haggle him down, much to his dislike, although we were still ripped off. When you stop and realise you are haggling over £2.50, sometimes it’s just easier to go with it.

    We eventually got to our hotel which didn’t have a room ready for us so we upgraded to a deluxe room for free. The deluxe room came with a sofa and balcony which at the time didn’t seam like much of an upgrade but we thanked them for it anyways. After a wash and changing into beach attire we headed out to find some lunch. After lunch we headed down to the beach for a sunbathe until we felt the rain starting to spit. Being true Brits we stayed there until all of a sudden it was torrential.

    It went off again and we made it down for another hour or so on the beach and in the sea, which was surprisingly warm, until then it down poured on and off all afternoon. We opted for beers and cards on the balcony!

    In the evening we found a lovely family run Thai restaurant for some yummy but ‘Thai hot’ cuisine.
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    Jackie Blake

    wow !! Looks like you have lovely weather. have a great time x

    12/10/18Reply
     
  • Day6

    Elephant Hills

    December 7, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ ☁️ 30 °C

    Today we are off on a 4 day adventure into the depths of Khao Sok National Park. Our transfer arrived right on time and handed us a bottle of water and an envelope containing our itinerary for the next 4 days as we boarded the mini bus. We are staying at a place called Elephant Hills which is around 2 hours from Ao Nang with a quick stop at a services where I had to naviagte my way around a Thai toilet. I obviously dont have the right technique as I definately peed on my foot!

    As we pulled up to Elephant Hills, a man opened up the large metal gates and we knew instantly that this was going to be a lovely place. After our briefing on the camp and the days activities with our guide for the day, Pond, we were given a padlock and directed to our luxury safari tent where we will be staying for the next 3 nights. It's absolutely amazing, with a huge bed and loads of cute wooden elephants everywhere, from the stool to the light switches and the walls of the bathroom.

    After dropping off our stuff we headed up to lunch which was Thai buffet style and absolutely delicious. You get so much choice and there is loads of it. As I am veggie / awkward they make me my own personal vegetarian options of all the dishes which is great! I am struggling a little bit with the spice though even though apparently it is foreigner hot and not Thai hot!

    After lunch we headed off to see the elephants which has been one of the things we have been most looking forward to on our trip to Thailand. The elephants were a short 15 minute drive away so we jumped into the safari truck and headed off. There are 12 elephants living at Elephant Hills all of which are retired from the logging trade after it was banned in 1989. Elephants need to eat a LOT of food a day which can be very expensive and following the ban, many unemployed elephants and their mahouts ended up begging on the streets. A mahout is the name given to the elephants keeper. The same man will look after the elephant throughout their lifetime so they grow old together.

    When we arrived Pond told us about the elephants and we got to stroke one of the elephants whose name was Shampoo. 3 of the elephants then took a bath in their big muddy pool so we sat and watched them have a muddy bath. It was then our turn to give them a hose down. Our elephant was very friendly and patiently stood there whilst we hosed her down and rubbed her trunk with coconut husk. She liked us to fill up her trunk with water which she would then drink. After around 15 minutes she got bored and wandered off. Elephants are such graceful creatures. You imagine that you would be able to hear them stomping around but they are so light on their feet (I am definately more heavy footed than they are).

    Next up, dinner time! For dinner, the elephants had an assortment of pineapple, banana and tamrind balls rolled in sea salt and seeds and wrapped in a banana leaf which we got to make ourselves. As soon as it was dinner time all of the elephants were there with their trunks stretched out trying to get a cheeky bite. To feed them you had to tuck the food behind the end of their trunk which they curled over for you. You had to be quick otherwise they would grab your hand as well. They really are strong!

    Saddly that was the end of our time with the elephants. I could have sat and watched them all day. Before we left, we got to sit up on a high platform and watch them mooch around and do there own thing.

    Our second activity of the afternoon was canoeing along the Khao Sok river. We didn't have to canoe though so we could just sit back, relax and enjoy the view which was pretty incredible. Along the way we saw a mangrove snake wrapped around the branch of a tree, a giant frog, lots of fish and some monkeys which was pretty cool.

    Back at the camp we had a couple of hours before dinner so we had a quick dip in the pool before jumping in the shower and getting ready for dinner. Before dinner we watched a documentary on elephants, followed by a Thai dancing performance by a local school. We then got to watch a Pad Thai cooking demonstration before tucking into dinner which was once again delicous.

    Back in our safari tent we tucked in for the night listening to the sounds of the jungle. We had forgotten how loud the jungle could be and were reminded of the caravan we stayed in in the Daintree in Australia. Surprisingly our tent is considerably more secure than the caravan was so I didnt have any concerns about any creepy crawlies getting in!
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    Jackie Blake

    Looks and sounds amazing love the elephants Claire . Don’t ingest the water you will be on the loo for a few days guys lol xx

    12/11/18Reply
     
  • Day7

    Day 2 - Elephant Hills

    December 8, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ 🌧 29 °C

    We woke up at 7am to the ‘gong gong gong’ (which announced meal times) and made our way slowly to breakfast. I thought we’d be the last there as had taken so long but turns out we were practically the first. The selection of food was vast with fresh eggs served however you wanted including as a little omelette, cheese, roti, cereals and of course rice and stir fried noodles if you fancied.

    After breakfast we met our new guide for the day Mr Tony and our fellow happy campers DD and Julie. We were soon off in the mini bus to our first stop which was a small market. We had a walk through the food until we hit the stinky meat and fish and did a swift 180. There wasn’t much else to see so we headed back to the van. At our second stop we boarded a speed boat and made our way down river, we then made our way slowly though the mangroves to try and see some wildlife but only managed to see a few butterflies. Making our way back up the river and past where we started we headed out towards the sea to join a bigger boat where we would stop for lunch. As we needed to wait for lunch to be cooked we decided to go kayaking in the mangroves to try and see some more wildlife. This time we managed two crabs and an egret.

    Having returned to the big boat we then waited for lunch to be finished off with some singing, jokes and a failed attempt by Mr Tony to get me and Blake to act out the scene from the Titanic where Jack and Rose stand at the end of the boat whilst he sang ‘my heart will go on’ and tried to film it. By this point I was hungry and didn’t want to be the latest viral tourist in Thailand so politely refused. Lunch was served and it was delicious as always (although maybe a bit spicy for Blake). We then had some free time before heading back to Elephant Hills.

    The evenings entertainment was another documentary, this time on the jungle followed by more children performing Thai dances and a chicken and pineapple curry cooking demonstration. We then tucked into another buffet feast!
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    Jackie Blake

    sounds good not sure about the singing or the re-enactment of the titanic lol x

    12/11/18Reply
     
  • Day8

    Day 3 - Elephant Hills - Cheow Larn Lake

    December 9, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ 🌧 26 °C

    We woke again to the three gongs and made our way to breakfast before we left for our day trip to the lake. We were particularly looking forward to this as the pictures looked incredible however we were a bit sad when we realised you don’t actually stay in the floating bungalows on the tour we booked.

    We all set out on a big open sided truck nicknamed the ‘Bone Shaker’ by DD and Julie to our first stop was another market in a village called Takhun. Much of the same hippy elephant trousers and dry bags for phones but we walked around all the same. Back on the truck our second stop was the very impressive Rajjaprabha Dam look out. Rajjaprabha Dam creates a man-made lake of 185sq km’s otherwise known as Cheow Larn Lake. Its purpose is electricity generation, irrigation, flood control, and fishing. To flood this large area 385 families were resettled and set up with rubber farms, land and money to help get them going. There were two viewpoints at the lookout, the first we went to was a great view of the lake. What we could see was only a very small fraction we found out later once on the lake. There are more than one hundred islands in the lake and it stretches over 60km from North to South. The other view point was of the dam and electric city.

    Next stop was the pier where we all hoped on a traditional long-tail boat for about an hours trip to Elephant Hill's very own Rainforest. Apart from getting pretty soaked every so often the views on the lake and the sheer size of it were incredible. Once at the floating camp we stocked up on a yummy Thai spread for lunch.

    Lunch over we had some free time to chill at the camp. We decided to take a kayak out to explore the lake in our own time and a little closer to the edge where we hoped to see some monkeys and other animals. Unfortunately the first couple to see monkeys got a bit too close and scared them off so we only saw the back of one retreating deeper into the trees. It was nice paddling around the edge of the lake for an hour or so though. We were also allowed to go for a swim off the end of the bar so once we were done feeding some HUGE fish from the back of the bar we took a quick dip in the gorgeous and surprisingly warm emerald water.

    All done for the day we hoped back in the long-tail boat. This time it was my turn to get wet, sitting close to the side and soaking I got. So much so it looked like I had an accident when I got back on dry land. Back on the Bone Shaker we headed back to camp. For the evening we were done with documentaries and school kids dancing so we chilled until the cooking demo which today was a Papaya Salad and dinner.
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  • Day9

    Day 4 - Elephant Hills

    December 10, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ 🌧 27 °C

    With our bamboo sticks and safari shirts (which we got for free for booking online - lucky us!) we were ready for our morning trek through the jungle with Ant. There was meant to be 10 of us but due to various aches, pains and lack of appropriate footwear only 5 of us set off into the jungle.

    Before we could start we had a very quick trip across the river in a canoe. As we walked throught the jungle, trying to avoid getting wet feet in the jungle stream, Ant pointed out various jungle flora and fauna including jungle palm with its dreadlock like fruits, rubber trees in which the locals were collecting rubber and bamboo. The walk was a little tricky in places, having to clamber over sharp rocks and steep inclines. The 3 older ladies in our group found it a little difficult but we were happy to mooch along at the back.

    Lunch today would be served jungle style so after around an hour and a half we stopped at a bamboo hut where a man was preparing our lunch over an open fire. On the fire was some pork and tofu and mushrooms for me (being the only veggie and after he went to the trouble to cook it over a fire I had to eat some mushrooms which wasn't pleasant). They then set about making a coconut chicken curry and a delicious dip for the pork and tofu and showed us how to make it. To start with the man showed us how they traditionally make coconut milk by scraping out the inside of the coconut, adding water and squeezing out the pulp before putting in through a sieve. This would form the basis of the curry. This was then added to a pan with tumeric, thai ginger, chilli (always lots of chilli), kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and garlic and brought to the boil over the fire before adding in the chicken. Lunch was serviced out of coconut bowls which was really nice! After lunch it was a short 20 minute walk back to camp.

    It was then back to our tent for a shower (we were ridiculously sweaty) and pack our bags as our jungle adventure is sadly over. After checking out we were taken back to Ao Nang in the mini bus for another night at the iRest before heading to Koh Lanta in the morning.

    We arrived back in Ao Nang around 5pm so grabbed a couple of Changs to enjoy on the balcony whilst playing Monopoly cards. For dinner we consulted Trip Advisor and decided upon a Thai restaurant called KoDam Kitchen which was around a 20 minute walk from our hotel. It was a little off the main street down a very long and dark side road so not something you would have easily stumbled across just walking around. Despite that it was really busy but they managed to squeeze us in. For starter we shared some roti and peanut sauce, very closey followed by a whole red talapia and pineapple fried rice. Now the name should have given it away really but it really was a whole fish, head, flippers and all. I saw it and thought no way was Simon going to eat that but fair play to the boy he gave it a good go! My pineapple fried rice came in a hollowed out pineapple which looked very impressive, all of which was delicious!
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  • Day10

    Ao Nang - Koh Lanta

    December 11, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ ☁️ 30 °C

    Today we would be heading over to Koh Lanta island but not before heading to Lion and Shark for breakfast. I was a bit hesitant at first but I soon fell in love with this place. After climbing a ladder to get into this almost tree house feeling cafe we both ordered a smoothie bowl. I’m not quite sure what’s happened to me but this mango and passion fruit smoothie bowl topped with fruit was a breakfast game changer!! Suitable fed we went back to finish packing and check out. We had to make our way to the pier to catch a ferry so managed to squeeze us, 2 enormous suitcases and rucksacks onto a tuktuk which definitely scraped the floor a lot when hitting bumps and taking corners. We got to the boat nice and early so got a nice spot by a window before heading off on our 2ish hour trip to the island. Once on Koh Lanta we were then squeezed onto the back of a pickup with seats to get to our hotel.

    Chaw Ka Cher came with a recommendation from the Wilton-Kruger's and it was a great shout. The staff literally can't do enough for you and the room, bar area and pool etc. looked awesome and immaculate. Feeling pretty hungry we ate lunch here before unpacking and trashing our bedroom as we always do.

    There was a beach across the road, aptly named Beautiful Beach about a 5 - 10 minute walk away so we thought we’d spend the rest of the day there reading, swimming and sunbathing before grabbing a beer at a rickety beach hut and watching the sunset over the sea.

    Needing a change from Thai cuisine I found a highly recommended Greek restaurant called El Greco back at the top of the island. Our hotel rang our pickup truck taxi and off we went with illumonious blue and purple flashing lights. It was like a silent disco only without the headphones and music. The food was super yummy. I had a chicken souvlaki wrap and Blake had what looked like giant spring rolls but filled with spinach and feta cheese.
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    Tricia Little

    Looks amazing, not to sure about the outside en-suite lol. 🤗💋

    12/14/18Reply
     
  • Day11

    Koh Lanta

    December 12, 2018 in Thailand ⋅ ☁️ 30 °C

    After a great nights sleep (no jungle noises and excellent air con) we woke to the sun streaming in the through the curtains. If you prefer not to be woken up in this way, you can actually request extra curtians! Our backpacking days are well and truly behind us! I am holidaying with Sergeant Major though so we dont have time for lie ins 😂

    Breakfast is included here so we headed up to the resturant where we got to choose what we wanted from a menu and they cook it freshly for us. The waiters are very sweet although one looks very much like Rowan Atkinson in Blackadder as Simon rightly pointed out.

    Apparently the best way to explore the island is by scooter so after breakfast we spoke to reception about hiring one for the day. Turns out the hotel have a selection of bikes that you can pick from so we settled for a yamaha qbix. I was a bit nervous when they said the bike didnt come with insurance and we had sign to say we would pay £1,000 if the bike was stolen. It didn't mention anything about damage to the bike though and the odds of it getting stolen when everyone on the island owns one were slim. At only £7.50 a day to hire it what could go wrong!

    I didnt feel comfortable driving and Simon is a terrible back seat driver at the best of times so I happily left him in charge of the wheel (or handlebars) but imposed a very strict speed limit. After Si had a quick wizz around to get to grips with the bike before I hopped on the back we headed towards Old Town on the East side of the island. It was a lot more touristy than I was expecting with lots of souvenir shops but we did manage to pick up a couple of magnets. It kind of reminded me of an old town from a old western movie crossed with a Cornish seaside town selling tourist tat.

    For lunch we stopped at a restaurant right on the water called Caoutchouc. It was a cute little place run by a sweet French man who also lived there as we could see into his bedroom. It was a very simple receipe of either a wrap, salad or spaghetti so Si went for the chicken wrap and I opted for a feta salad, both of which were quite tasty.

    After lunch we headed back over to the other side of the island to check out the many beaches lining the West Coast and stopped when we found a nice looking beach for a bit of a lie down and dip in the sea. This was very short lived as it turned out to be ridicuously windy and within minutes of getting out of the water we were covered head to toe in sand! It was very similar to when we were on the beach in Byron Bay with Maddy. We therefore jumped back on the bike in search of a less windy beach which turned out was like looking for the holy grail. After another pitstop on another windy beach I was ready to go back to the hotel and lie on a sunlounger next to the pool!

    For dinner we headed to a vegetarian restaurant I found with amazing reviews and only a 5 minute walk from the hotel. It was so scrummy even Si enjoyed it. For starter we shared a mixed Thai appetizer which consisted of spring rolls, samosas and grilled tofu with some scrummy dips! Then for main we shared pineapple fried rice and massaman curry. Feeling very full we headed back to the hotel for some cocktails in the hotel bar.
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