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No Worries 'Mas o Menos' 2 years on the road, travelling South East Asia, China, South & Central America and who knows where after that... Photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dojo77/collections/

So long (in) Thailand

THAILAND | Wednesday, 17 June 2009 | Views [1478] | Comments [1]

Bangkok

We returned to our ‘second home’ Bangkok and our favourite guesthouse to pick up some of the clothes and other belongings that we had left behind. We decided to use our time to inundate you all with blogs from our time in Burma!!! as well as catching up on some of the latest films and sorting out our plans for our onward journey

Sukhothai

We decided to catch the train and head north to Sukhothai. We had already done the Lopburi to Phitsanoluk part of the journey so we knew what was in store for us. We arrived early, in time to see everyone stand for the kings anthem at 8am sharp.

 

Quickly we had a decision to make, would we pay $9 each for the Express A/C train that was 4 hours quicker or would we pay $1.50 each for 3rd class? We chose the latter and although the journey was a little long for the comfort at least there were no drunken soldiers this time!

Sukhothai preceded Ayuthaya as the first capital of Thailand. Like Ayuthaya it is filled with ruins from yester year. The ruins in Sukhothai are better preserved and in many ways that made them less impressive than those in Ayuthaya. We hired bikes to cycle around and got an impression for the ruins without seeing them all.

 

Mae Sot

Next we headed to Mae Sot, which is a hot bed of illegal activities, including drug, gem and Burmese people smuggling. We didn’t get to see any of these activities first hand as we both fell ill for three days. However, while eating out we did meet restaurant staff who were recognisable as being Burmese, so we were able to thank them for the service in their native tongue which seemed to shock and surprise them.

It was in Mae Sot that Jo decided to go home for a break and to catch up with her family. I decided to stay in Thailand and travel around on my own for a while.

Chiang Mai

We had already decided that our next stop was going to be Chiang Mai and as the major tourist destination in Northern Thailand it would be a good place for Jo to catch a plane to Bangkok to get back to the UK. So after a couple of days having Mexican food for the first time in 5 months and visiting some of the biggest second hand book stores in South East Asia, it is here that our journeys diverge and the next part of the blog is about my time alone.

Pai

As a lone traveller I decided to head to Pai which is known for its trekking and had been recommended by fellow travellers. It’s not the correct season to be trekking but apparently there is still plenty to do. The guide book says the ’hippy trail’ is alive a well in Pai. As I wasn’t sure what this meant I thought I should investigate. It wasn’t quite what I expected, by hippy they obviously mean feral tourists and drunken yobs. The town in itself is quite nice, small enough to traverse on foot but I found all the shops too tourist driven which was not surprising considering the tourists out numbered the locals significantly, most restaurants served western food with a small section of Thai dishes with only a couple of usual food stalls.

My food experiences in Pai were not great, I should have stuck to the food stalls. One evening I decided to have a burger, on the menu under the relevant heading was a ‘vegetables burger’ .As with many translations some things can go astray so I assumed I would be getting a vegetable burger. However, when it arrived it was clear that there was nothing wrong with the translation at that it was a burger bun full of vegetables and not a patty of any sort!

 

On another evening I had to leave a restaurant after a drunk man decided to come and chat to me and try and be my friend. I left the restaurant and walked around the block hoping that he would disappear only to return to find him asleep on the table and the restaurant staff rounding up help to try to get him to leave. The next morning around 9 am I saw him sitting outside the local store already starting his next days drinking session.

The accommodation was the best thing about Pai. My accommodation was very basic, but for $3 I got my own hut with an ensuite toilet and shower.

I shared my room with a gaggle of geckos who did a wonderful job of keeping the insect numbers down. My ensuite bathroom was outside which lead to some interesting scenarios. I now had an excuse to leave the toilet seat up, as otherwise the sun would bake it during the day and in the evening I would get a shower every time I went outside regardless of whether the shower was on or not. Pai has power cuts, almost as frequently as in Burma, the difference being that they are not as well prepared for them and didn’t have generators. So the shower wouldn’t work to cool you down during the day when it was hot and when the electricity came back on in the evening there was no need for a shower anyway as it was raining in the bathroom anyway.

All that said, I loved my little hut, the view was stunning

and the rickety bridge across the river was an adventure every time I ventured to or from the hut, there was even a section that you could see had collapsed previously making the journey all the more exciting.

 

Chiang Rai

From Pai I headed to Chiang Rai the gateway to the ’Golden Triangle’. However, it sounds like a nice little tourist trap and where lots of people go to buy opium pipes and other drug paraphernalia, so I decided to stay in Chiang Rai. There isn’t much to see or do in Chiang Rai in the way of tourist activities, and that was fine by me. I found myself a good little second hand book store and a guesthouse with free wifi. What Chiang Rai does have is a fantastic night bazaar where I ate a variety of Thai foods every evening.

The only other thing to mention about Chiang Rai is the small matter of causing an accident. One evening when crossing the road I smiled back at some Thai school girls on their moped as they passed and the driver must have taken her eyes off the road as the next thing there was a bang and the sound of smashing plastic. The traffic in front had stopped at an intersection and the bike had careered into the back of another moped. Luckily nobody was hurt and a few brake lights and number plates were all that were damaged.

Soon it was time to be heading back to Chiang Mai to meet up with Jo. The bus journey was uneventful but followed a similar pattern to the bus journeys elsewhere in Northern Thailand, where the bus also doubles up as a mail van. People arrive not wanting to travel themselves but wanting to send a parcel to the destination town or for extra money somewhere along the way. The bus will then drop the parcel at the bus station and then someone will come at pick it up at the other end, which seems like a good alternative to using the post system. Alternative is not the correct word as the main customer of this service in Northern Thailand is...you’ve guessed it, the Post Office! Each bus stops at the post office and collects lots of parcels and then drops them off at the other end.

Chiang Mai

I arrived back in Chiang Mai and after doing some research online before I left I had decided to stay somewhere new. I hired a tuk tuk at the bus station but after arriving in the town centre he claimed not to know where the road was or to have heard of the guesthouse. After much searching we ended up back at the guesthouse we had stayed at previously. I’m still not sure if it was a scam to get commission from the the guesthouse and was none too pleased. After a refreshing shower I decided to go and look for the guesthouse that I had wanted to stay in, I found it on the road opposite and about 100 yards away from the guesthouse I had just checked into, so arranged to check in the next day.

I picked up my book and headed out to find a beer. Mainly because it’s the cheapest and tastes ok I chose Chang. I think I’ve mentioned before that Chang is labelled as 6.4% but that’s the least it will be and it can be anything up to 15%. I like to think of drinking it as a bit like Russian Roulette, sometimes you’ll have two 620ml bottles and be fine other times you’ll have some motor skill problems. I had 4 but my skills remained sufficient to get me back to my guesthouse.

The next day I went to meet Jo at the airport and we are back upto the full quota of two travellers.

Chiang Khong

From Chiang Mai we headed to the border town of Chiang Khong which is a well oiled border crossing between Thailand and Laos. We spent our last day in Thailand relaxing on our balcony watching the Mekong going by looking at our next destination

After 3 months in Thailand we are now looking forward to the experiences that Laos has to offer.

Thailand Summary and costs:

Highlights:

Favourite Island - Ko Lipe (Both)
Favourite Place -  Bangkok (Jo), Kanchanaburi(Ryan)
Favourite Attraction - The Beach, Maya Bay (Jo), Hell Fire Pass (Ryan)
Favourite Activity - Snorkelling (Jo), Diving (Ryan)
Food - Phad Thai Gai (Jo), Panaeng Curry (Ryan)
Beer - Archa (Jo), Leo (Ryan)

Low Lights:

Diving (Jo)
Ubon Ratchanthani (Ryan)
Bed bugs Bangkok (Both)

For those of you thinking of possibly traveling to the region:  Averages in USD

Accommodation - $5-10 (Mainland) $15-22 (Islands)
Main meal  - $1-3 (Mainland) $3-6 (Islands) 
620ml Beer - $2-3(Mainland) $3-5 (Islands)
330ml Soft Drink - $50c - $1 (Mainland) $1 - $1.50 (Islands)
1l Bottle of water - $15c (Mainland) $30c (Islands)
Transport - Bus $1 p/hour , Boat $15-20

Until next time, take care

Ryan & Jo

Photos - http://www.flickr.com/photos/dojo77/sets/72157618900596162/

Tags: bangkok, chiang khong, chiang mai, chiang rai, mae sot, pai, sukhothai

Comments

1

Hey ryanandjo,

We liked your blog and decided to feature it this week so that others could enjoy it too!

Happy travels!

World Nomads

  World Nomads Jun 22, 2009 12:47 PM

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