Well it’s been an eventful few weeks. I got here in a rush after receiving an offer of a job in Krabi only to arrive and be told I had been placed in Hat Yai So that was fun! Deciding to decline moving to the land of bombs and earthquakes I returned to Bangkok to hunt for work. I’ve been so lucky with contacts here that within a day I had a job interview and less than 24 hours after that was offered work at one of Bangkoks most prestigious schools, St Josephs, an all girls convent school near Lumpini Park. I start on the 14th May after a week of intensive training…so yay! That’s that sorted!
I had a few fun filled days in Bangkok with Kaley and George. There was ladies night at a rooftop bar (unlimited free gin: free hangover included!), lots of time chilling by the condo’s pool working on my tan and generally enjoying catching up with friends. I took a ride in a Tuk Tuk, ate pad thai, tried mango sticky rice and started to get to grips with the language. A good first few days!
On Monday the fun went up a notch or two with a trip to the famous Khoa San road. This place is a one of a kind tourist trap that’s just so hard to describe. It’s a bustling street of stalls selling all sorts of clothes and memorabilia, interspersed with bars and clubs while street sellers offer pad thai, funky hats and annoying wooden frogs all around. You’ve seen The Beach right? The road with the snake blood…that was there! Not that I have ever been offered this delicacy but the last time I was there I ended up having a fish pedicure at 2am! This time there were sangsom buckets, hanging out of tuktuks, almost being charged 600baht to see some very seedy seeming ping pong show and dancing the night away with drunken friends. Welcome to Thailand folks!
The next day I had to go back to the office to sort my visa, then met the guys for lunch and a spot of shopping back on Khoa San before catching the night bus to Chiang Mai. I’ve caught an overnight train before now but this was my first bus experience and seriously, go for the train! Yes the bus is cheaper, 350baht rather than 700/1000 but on the train you get a bed and if you’re using this instead of accommodation then that’s priceless. I loved the night train, the seats turn into lower bunks and the upper bunks are folded down from the ceiling making it feel like something straight out of Harry Potter! Whereas the bus, while it did have seats which reclined quite a bit, also played some crappy movie at top volume for the first leg of the tour and then turned the lights off at 8. Aaaaanyway, moving on! The bus got to Chiang Mai for around 7am and having hardly slept on the journey it was time to make the most of the VIP guest house Kaley recommended and get some shut eye!
Chiang Mai has a very different vibe to Bangkok. A big red brick wall separates the old city from the new and the river has fountains and elephant statues all the way along it. The bits I have seen have a small town feel even though this is the largest city in the North of Thailand. It was nice to explore, have a delicious raspberry shake (I swear this country does fruit shakes like no other I have visited, yum!) and as dusk approached take a red bus to Doi Suthep, a hillside temple. Apparently around 6pm is the best time to visit this place as the monks perform a ceremony and blessings, sounds good to me! The songteaw wouldn’t go all the way to the top of the mountain, but the 10 minute walk was actually quite refreshing and cool, a nice change in hot season!
Once you reach the top of the hill there are 300 steps to climb to reach the temple. Temples here are so ornate and just gorgeously peaceful. Doi Suthep is no exception, golden spires stretching into the sky and beautifully detailed hand painted scenes adorning the walls. It just feels special. For 10 baht you could buy a flower, incense and candles to aid you in following the tradition of the temple. First you kneel and light your candles, placing them in the holders provided. Then light the incense using the candles and walk round the temple three times with that and your flower. There are prayers to take with you as you walk, but sadly they were all in Thai and I just ain’t that good yet!
After this the monks came out to pray and chant to the statues of Buddah. I learned there are 7 Buddahs, one for each week he was in the jungle representing the different positions he prayed in. The day of the week you were born on dictates the Buddah you will best relate to and so pray to. I think. I was kind of piggybacking onto someone else’s tour at this point, but it’s made me want to learn more about the religion.
A songteaw with some English boys spending a few months Thai boxing later and it was time for a nice refreshing Singha beer or two and dancing at Zoe in Yellow. Good start!
The following day held a visit to Bantang Waterfall, a place not many ferrang (that’s foreigners to you) know about but many Thai people love to visit with a picnic to enjoy after spending time in the natural mineral waters. You begin by climbing down some concrete steps (they’re made to look like wood) and immersing yourself in the falls at the bottom, then climb 1,500 metres to the top. The water is made up of so many rich minerals that over the years the rocks have made a sort of natural staircase. The water was the perfect temperature too, I didn’t want to reach the top! There was a terrifying moment where the guy in front of me lost his footing and slipped, getting caught in the flow of the falls and thank goodness stopping just before a huge drop. I can’t explain how scary it is to see someone fall like that, knowing how far you’ve climbed and so how far they could fall. Luckily he got off with just a few scratches and, most importantly (to him) didn’t break the camera he was holding. Good effort dude!
After visiting the source of the falls and lighting an incense stick at the temple there to appease the spirits protecting the water it was time for lunch. Check out this for a view to have your dinner by…
Beautiful huh? It felt like it was all too soon to head back to the city but actually it turned out to be perfect timing as the heavens opened within 10 minutes of arriving back. There was thunder, lighting and WOW rain! I forgot what downpours can be like here. Imagine a days worth of British rain but in the space of an hour…intense! I hopped on a songtaow (I explained they’re like buses right?) back to the old city…hanging out of the back of a covered pick up in the rain is hilarious fun! Sadly (I’m serious) the people inside made room for me after a minute or two and I felt too polite to say no so took a seat. Outside was far more fun!!
Then the last two days, well I think they’ve been the best I have ever EVER had. I’ve been at Baanchang Elephant Park, the trip of a lifetime, just wow. But sadly for you guys I have 7% battery left and this blog is already long enough so…that’s another story!
Till next time 🙂 xx