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Thailand: Ko Lanta and Trang

sunny
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On the morning of Friday 15th April we left Khao Lak heading to Ko Lanta. Our first leg of the journey was a cramped minibus where we got talking to a lovely retired British couple from London who had done a hell of a lot of travelling over their lives, especially around Thailand. We swapped stories and shared Britishisms (as you do) and they told us all about their very eccentric gay son and his husband.
Thankfully the cramped bus only lasted for 3 hours and we got off at Krabi to then change to a different (less cramped) minibus driven by an awfully cool Thai fella who's driving was as untamed as his long hair. On this second leg of the journey we had to get on two big, industrial, open-air car ferries to get to Ko Lanta island; which was an experience.

After another 2 hours we arrived at Ko Lanta where we were dropped right outside of our hostel; Lemonade Boutique. The hostel was really nice; our dorm room was quite unusual as it had 4 single beds along with hospital-style privacy curtains - we'd gotten used to bunks. Everything was in order and we plopped our bags down and hungrily threw ourselves in the next door to 'Salad House' restaurant, which proclaimed to be an organic health food establishment. We quickly found out that it was like every other Thai restaurant; massive menu, most things deep-fried and not many veggie options and overpriced. We ordered some basic rice and tofu dishes and quietly noted to each other that we wouldn't return.

Our tummies full, we went to check out our beach; Khlong Dao, which was only 100m behind our hostel. The beach looked amazing set against a pink sunset. It was quiet, with only a few murmurs of children playing and a slight breeze whistling through the tall trees. There were a a sprinkling of bars and restaurants set back from the white sand with some brightly coloured lanterns hanging from their decks.

Back at our hostel we heard a cat crying outside our door and naturally, being lesbians, we couldn't help but let it in for a cuddle. We named this cat Gryger as he looked like a grey tiger and he became a regular feature of our Ko Lanta trip. We cuddled with Gryger for a few hours until our dorm-mates turned up; a young guy from Amsterdam and a British girl. To Lauren's disdain these two liked to listen to crap pop music and talk loudly about clothes and diets and selfies and other young people things. It always amuses me to see Lauren angrily gurning in a corner like a bitter old woman who's confused, scared and annoyed by the modern world.
At 11pm they shut up, just in time to save Lauren from an aneurysm.

The next day we rented bicycles and rode to Ko Lanta Animal Welfare centre approx. 3km away. The centre has been going for about 5 years and is a non-for-profit organisation that treats and houses ill and/or stray cats and dogs in Ko Lanta, as well as doing mass sterilisation programmes and re-homing animals that aren't safe on the streets. The centre runs entirely on volunteers so we thought we'd get involved and take one of their dogs for a walk. We were given Lady, who had been adopted by a Dutch family and was just waiting for a flight-buddy. She was young and placid and looked a bit like a collie. We were given 45 minutes to wander around the nearby rubber-tree fields.
For the first 5 minutes everything was good, we wandered amongst the woods and kept an eye out for other dogs or anything more sinister like hungry dog-eating snakes. Soon though, Lady decided she'd had enough and just stopped still; refusing to walk any further. We had to coax and tug her for the remainder of the walk. At first we thought she might have seen or smelled something that scared her but it quickly became apparent that she just wasn't in the mood to move. To be fair to her it was incredibly hot outside, but we weren't very well equipped to deal with a pretty big dog playing dead. We managed to drag her to the road leading back to the centre and we were only 200m away when she lay down in the dirt. Luckily for us a Geordie guy who works at the centre was driving past and saw us struggling, after he had a go at energising Lady he picked her up and carried her to his van to take her 30 seconds up the road. After speaking to the girls at the centre they laughed and apologised and said that Lady could be, at times, a lazy so and so.

We got a tour of the facility and met some of the cute dogs and cats with often pretty horrific back stories. The centre really is an amazing place and if we'd have known about it sooner we would have signed up to volunteer for a month.

By now we were peckish and so biked up to a veggie restaurant called Kunda, run by a lovely Polish couple. We had an amazing smoothie and some zapiekanka (an open sandwich with cheese and other delicious toppings). While enjoying the outdoor hippie-haven garden we got talking to a British-Morocco girl called Issan who has been travelling for a number of years and had just adopted a gorgeous little dog called Teddy from the Animal Welfare centre we'd just been to. She was really lovely and praised us for the big step we'd taken to come away. She also told us about her experience working on elite yachts for the super-rich for years and how it had opened her eyes to how wasteful, cruel and vapid the industry is and how it had 'broken' her and a lot of her colleagues over the years.

We cycled back to our dorm and got a little burned by the afternoon sun and met one of our new roomies; Brad from Canada. He had long greasy hair and was wearing an Iron maiden T shirt. We chatted about music and Thailand and our respective travel experiences and plans; it was refreshing to meet a backpacker who wasn't conventionally 'sceney' or 'hip'.

That evening we cycled to Sala Dan market approx. 3km up the road from where we were staying. Lauren ingeniously put her torch on flashing mode and hung it from her front basket in order to reduce our chances of being run down (especially considering we had no helmets or high visibility items).
The market was pretty sprawling with loads of snide clothes on offer along with the usual souvenirs. On our way out of the market Lauren spotted a funky little vintage shop in the corner called Neems where we both bought some retro shorts from the bargain bin.

On the ride home we stopped at a street food market for dinner. While there we saw a big ginger cat roaming around getting strokes. Beckoning it over we soon noticed that it had a massive gaping wound on it's neck. We took a snap and later emailed it to the Animal Welfare centre we'd just visited who replied the following day to say they'd found the cat and were treating it. We like to think of ourselves as modest heroes.

We woke up very early the next day having not slept very well due to the direct hit of the AC unit. We toddled to the beach where there were no sunbeds so we used some towels we'd borrowed from the hostel. Neither of us cope very well with the proliferation of sand and so after a bit of swimming in the warm Andaman sea we pulled ourselves away to the shade of another hippie restaurant called Irie. It being low season, wherever we went felt almost empty which was both nice and sometimes a little isolating. It was interesting to see the local people packing away to head to their other off-season jobs. In keeping with the sleepy atmosphere we didn't do much else for the rest of the day besides eating our new found favourite things; chocolate bon-bon sweets from the 7/11.

The following morning we were chucked in the back of a pick-up and driven to Lanta old town pier for our '4 islands' boat trip. Our boat was a long tail and our group was 20 strong Europeans including two very cute, very well-behaved German children. The tour guides were rough round the edges and very funny but certainly not polished (we did pick the cheapest trip). We had an exhilarating 1 hour ride on the sea to get to the first 'islands' - Ko Chuek and Ko Ma where we snorkelled with the many cute and colourful fish. Here's some of what we saw;

The next mooring point was at Marakot cave (aka emerald cave) which we we swam underneath for 80m in pitch black with hundreds of other tourists. It's certainly something we've both never experienced before; it was a unique combination of unbridled terror coupled with childlike exhilaration. The sight upon exiting the cave was worth the panic as we gazed upon what could have been the Garden of Eden. There were a little too many tourists for our liking but we consoled ourselves in the fact that in high season we would have felt like caged chickens. One guy floated in wearing a trilby... now that's commitment to fashion.
After admiring the natural beauty of the bay we swam back to the boat and head to our last stop; Ko Ngai island. The island is incredibly beautiful and very secluded with only a few signs of ramshackled civilisation. We ate a delicious Thai lunch with Coca Cola included to Lauren's delight and spent the rest of our 1 hour slot snorkelling in the translucent turquoise water. We got particularly fixated on a little dotted white fish who appeared to be digging around and guarding a den most probably full of babies. I'm sure our two white arses bobbing up and down in shallow water served as interesting amusement for the Muslim natives of the island.

The breezy ride back to Ko Lanta in the back of the pick-up truck was wondrous after a day of skin-cooking. After a short recuperation we head out for a street food tea and then onto the Irish Embassy; an Irish pub up by the popular Long beach. If you know me at all you'll know that I wouldn't just spontaneously go to a pub unless there's a motive, and in this instance, the motivation was a quiz. We settled down to our table and eyed around for any other couples or loners that we may want to join our duo. Unfortunately after some careful judging we decided that everyone else looked too thick to be worthy of joining our team and so continued as a twosome.

We titled ourselves Fannypackers as homage to Lauren's love of a bum bag (and owing to us both possessing fannies) and got stuck in to the questions. In all fairness, the quiz was written and mastered by a British guy so anyone from Blightly had an unfair advantage. Like good ex-colonists we of course embraced this advantage and, despite our diminutive team size we managed to come 3rd! The teams in 2nd and 1st had 4 and 5 people in them and we definitely saw some unauthorised usage of phones too... I can only assume they were cheating Southern bastards. We even won an extra point for having a funny name. The only issue was that our prize was a 750 baht token for the nearby paint-balling centre. Neither of us fancied putting on heavy protective gear in the 40° heat nevermind shooting people so instead we were given two Sambuca shots - perhaps not a fair trade but they were free nonetheless and they washed down my earlier Guinness and black nicely.

The next day was our last and we decided to laze about, cuddle our best friend Gryger and do some planning. We unfortunately weren't sleeping very well because of the air-conditioning, so on our last night after our dorm-mates checked out we swapped beds to be further away from the unit. This helped a lot and we wish we'd done it sooner.
Ko Lanta turned out to be a heavenly home-from-home with plenty of opportunity for animal-loving; a place that fed our weary travelling souls.

Our last little detour before heading to Malaysia was the province of Trang in Southern Thailand. The journey was only 4hrs on a minibus and involved getting on 2 car ferries to first pass the Lat Bo Nae river and then the Andaman sea to mainland Thailand. We suspected that the minibus driver thought he was playing GTA as he seemed to speed up when approaching sharp bends and also enjoyed overtaking vehicles that were already overtaking someone else.
We were dropped at Trang bus station and for the first time during this whole trip we weren't mobbed by taxi and/or tuk tuk drivers touting for our custom. In fact we couldn't see any other tourists, any English information or any taxis or tuk tuks. We stood around for a while and eventually a tuk tuk or more accurately a songthaew arrived. We got on along with a few other Thai passengers and hoped the driver knew where our guesthouse was. Thankfully, he did.

One thing that immediately struck us about Trang was the tuk tuks; they weren't like any we'd seen before. They are essentially little 3-wheeler cars with a partially open 'truck' in the back.

We made it to Yamawa guesthouse and were greeted by a very sweet smiley lady who runs the place with her husband and children. After freshening up we got in an actual and headed to the retail park with plans to see a film at the cinema. We arrived early for the film and so had a peep in the supermarket where we marvelled at the unusual wares like mushroom juice and green tea yogurt as well as buying plenty of calorific snacks. At the cinema's box office we were told that all of the films are dubbed in Thai with no English subtitles. We felt rather hard done by considering in every other cinema English was kept at the speaking language. Where's my Western privilege I felt like shouting! We hung our heads and got a ride to the one of the local night markets for yet more food. The market was a hive of activity and we were the only whiteys around. Families were there buying their tea and sweet treats for their kids. Young girls were shimmying around looking at ridiculously tiny polyester dresses with lemons printed on them.
We got plenty of double-takes but even more smiles and waves which filled us both with glee. We walked back to Yamawa rather glad our film-expedition had failed and spent the evening eating our munchies in bed. Poor us.

The next day we walked around the town a little checking out the local businesses and layout of the streets. At one point an elderly lady stopped me to stroke my arm and give me a big smile. Who doesn't find bingo wings comforting!? We didn't do much else except go to the other night market where I managed to find a freshly put-together pot fruit and berries; what a revelation, I haven't had berries for a lifetime.

Trang was a welcome reprieve from the 'touristy' hotspots we'd been frequenting for a while and the perfect little precursor to our country-hop over to Malaysia.

Posted by advensha 06:22 Archived in Thailand Tagged beaches landscape beach thailand adventure beautiful cats ko_lanta sunny backpacking ferry travelling minibus trang andaman_sea Comments (0)

Thailand: Bangkok (again) and Khao Lak

sunny 38 °C
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Our mini-bus to Bangkok arrived a bit earlier than we'd been told so we had to throw the last bits in our backpacks and run out of the door. We were taken to a much larger coach that was pretty old but in good condition with sticky leather seats and a bit of a cheesy, sweaty whiff. As usual, a few plastic lawn chairs were put in the aisle for some poor but seemingly not bothered Thai passengers.
The journey to the Cambodian border Poi Pet took 4 hours and went quickly as we'd loaded up some American Horror Story episodes onto our Kindles. There were some rather nosy French girls that sat beside us at the back who whispered and nudged each other when they saw our fluffy armpits.

We collected our bags off the coach and were given our 'tickets' for the next bus on the other side in Thailand. These tickets were red stickers adhered to our bosom.
We walked to the Cambodian border office and waited in a tiny, sticky prison-esque room for 45 minutes to get officially 'signed out' of the country. There were 6 queues but only 3 windows open. Everyone had to memorise the sequence of alternation from left person to right person and then back again. When we'd had everything stamped we stumbled outside and tried to figure out where the hell we went next. We were on a very big dual carriageway with a building site in the middle and there were no signs pointing to Thailand. We asked a security guard who gave us some vague hand gesture directions and eventually we got on the right track. The walk to Thailand's border office took 20 minutes, across congested roads, carrying all of our bags, in the boiling midday sun. By the time we arrived a the the office to join a slow-moving queue of over 100 people we were so exhausted and overheated that we didn't care. It took 2 hours to get through the border. Every 10 minutes we would kick our bags forward as the queue lazily moved on. To amuse ourselves during the 2 hours we people-watched; cute babies blabbering, spoiled-rotten toddlers having tantrums, shifty looking solo middle-aged men, a group of Canadian Jehovah's Witnesses, a French bulldog and a very loud and annoying body-builder girl from Leeds.

As we burst through the border to Thailand, relieved to be making progress once more, a man saw our red-sticker-laden boobies and escorted us to stand with a little group he'd put together. We were then piled into the back of a tuk-tuk along with 10 other people and everyone's suitcases. It was intimate to say the least. We were hauled off again 10 mins later for a lunch break where we had omelets and chatted to a very nice Dutch girl (didn't get her name) who had had some really horrible experiences involving being scammed and hospitalised.

Next we were squashed into an old minivan that had holes in the ceiling instead of air conditioning ducts, a partially detached bumper and nifty inbuilt kneecap crushing seating. We remained in a sweaty fetal position for 6 hours until we finally arrived in Bangkok at around 8:30pm. We did chat to the cute 18 year old American boy who was squashed up beside me (good job he was skinny) who caught us up with the presidential campaigns.

The one thing we'd forgotton about Bangkok is that it can be a ball ache to get a taxi that will a) know where you're going, b) actually drop you at the right place and c) put the journey on the proper meter instead of charging a made-up rip-off fixed fee. Tuk tuks aren't any better though; they're generally between 20-50% more expensive that taxis. After scrambling around in the dark for an ATM and being turned down by a few cabbies we finally found a guy who knew where we were going. He refused to put the fare on the meter but at this point we didn't care, we just wanted to put our bags down so we agreed on a price.

We eventually found out hostel after a bit of difficulty (we seem to always pick the hidden or unknown ones. We had a private room and although it was all exposed concrete (walls, floors, ceiling) we figured it might make it cooler and saw it as an intentional stylistic decision. Industrial-chic.
The area we were in was perfect; plenty of little bars and restaurants around but nice and chilled and all in easy walking distance. We chose a busy Thai restaurant and sat outside enjoying the metropolitan hum.
We spent the rest of our evening watching crap on our devices, excited that for the first time in a while we didn't have to set an alarm.

Naturally, we had a lie in and then a lazy morning walk to the infamous Khao San road - a short street in central Bangkok infested with backpackers and establishments designed to serve them. We booked our bus to Khao Lak and aimlessly wandered around; doing what we do best - silently judging everyone.
We then got in a cab (which again was like pulling teeth) and drove to the Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre (BACC). I have been craving some contemporary art for months now as we've only really seen little bits here and there. The BACC is a huge, light building with nine floors of art. We started at the top and worked our way down. We saw some truly amazing art from some incredibly talented Asian artists. There were actually some pieces with much more shocking subject-matters and images than I ever expected. There was of course some Royalist and traditional fare but generally everything from the paintings to the sculptures were as subversive, challenging and thought-provoking as you'd expect from contemporary art.

For lunch we stepped into the massive MBK mall opposite where we shamefully settled on Subway sandwiches. Weirdly, this particular Thai subway offered an omelet as an 'add on' to your sub; which we of course partook in. After listlessly meandering the artificially lit corridors, occasionally peering into shop windows we got bored and went back to the hostel.

We went back to MBK the following morning as we'd found a whole cluster of camera shops on floor 5 and as we had the whole day to burn before catching our coach at 6pm, we thought we'd try our luck with my kaput DSLR. In the end only one of the shops offered repairs (the official Canon shop) but I was told my camera would need to be sent to a manufacturing facility to be looked at and fixed, which, considering it was almost Thai New Year, would take 3 weeks. On top of this, because I don't have a warranty, it would cost me a small fortune. Ah well, worth a try.
With nothing left to do (and shopping not being our thing), we found ourselves in one of the many food courts. For whatever reason the mall was even busier than the previous day, and the food court was chockablock. Every table was full with locals, tourists, singles, couples and families; consuming with vigour. Lauren found a veggie stand and I decided to get some fried chicken from the little street food market outside.

We head back to our hostel to get our bags and walked 15 minutes to Khao San road. We had over an hour to burn so we opted for a cheap massage in one of the many parlours on offer. We had our own little private cushioned den and were a little surprised when Lauren's masseur turned out to be male. We followed the instructions to get top-naked and got sufficiently yanked and contorted. Although a little painful at times it was just what we needed after lugging our bags around.

Not long after we were collected by a man best described as the Thai Captain Jack Sparrow who walked us, and some other travellers to a little grass verge where coaches were lining up. We waited for the best part of an hour on the side of the road and were finally ushered onto our bus; which was nice enough. Luckily for us we had first dibs on the seats an chose the two next the top of the stairway so we didn't have anyone reclining onto our legs. The bus made two extra stops to collect the rest of the passengers and was full in no time.

The passengers were mostly groups of young backpackers but there was also a French family with two young girls. One girl who sounded German stumbled up the stairs holding a large bottle of beer in one hand and a bag full of beers in the other. She was with an American guy who was on his way to a similar level of inebriation. The bus attendant told them that the buses are often checked by the police and so they'd have to pack the unopened beers away and finish drinking to avoid being fined. The couple snorted in defiance at his request and carried on as before. It's fair to say I think most of the bus were hoping they'd just fall asleep. Unfortunately this didn't happen and the girl spent the first hour of the journey shouting, walking up and down the aisle and banging on windows. When we stopped at a petrol station to fill up, she climbed down the stairs, kicked the door and demanded to be let off to go to the toilet and have a cigarette. The attendant explained that this was not a rest stop and it was not safe for anyone to get off. The girl carried on as before until Lauren told her that we would probably be stopping soon for a proper break so she should go back and sit down until then. Weirdly she obliged and shut up for a short while, but, after another hour she started shouting about doing a shit in her seat. She then walked to the top end of the bus where there was some sort of direct channel down to the driver (like the old double deckers) and proceeded to verbally harass him for 20 mins, demanding that he stop so she could go to the toilet. I must say here that although I completely understand that we all have calls of nature to relieve, there was a perfectly functioning toilet ON THE BUS that everyone else had been using without issue.

Needles to say, the driver got to the end of his tether and all of a sudden we came off a slip-road from the highway, mounted a curb and came to a jolting stop. The doors immediately opened and we heard the girl saying things like "whatever, I don't care, you should have stopped before, I have rights" etc. She got off the bus and started having a very slurry argument with the attendant. Her travelling companion was proclaiming that he didn't know what was going on or why she had been kicked off the bus, even though we'd heard him goading her to go and annoy the driver. He stood up and a load of beer bottles rolled from his feet down the length of the bus. He then pushed past the two little girls who were sleeping and woke them up. It was now half 10 and I'd had enough so I told him to collect up his bottles and join his friend outside; if anything to ensure she wasn't left on the streets of god knows where on her own in the middle of the night, drunk.
He did get off and we then all waited half an hour until their bags were found and unloaded. The rest of the bus saw this palaver as an opportunity for a fag break and so they piled off and lit up. The poor Thai workers just had despair written all over their faces.

As we waited for the smokers to finish up we watched the girl and her buddy walk over to a street which appeared to have a few business on it. The girl then stopped at a bit of grass, pulled her trousers down, squatted and took a shit. After a closer look we realised that she had done this in front of a police station. Luckily for her, it was closed.

We all got on our merry way again without the nuisances and, at approx. midnight, we had a 'proper' stop at a predictably expensive truck stop along with a load of other buses with weary westerners on them. We picked omelets and a packet of chocolate biscuits, not to relieve hunger but to just because we were awake and we could.
For the remainder of the journey we struggled to sleep. The sticky leather chairs didn't recline very far and a group of lads behind us had decided to play some sort of game that involved the loser getting a tattoo of Mr. Tumnus.
The low level itch of anxiety we both felt as a result of the maniacal driving (which probably felt worse because we were high up) didn't help deliver us to dreamland either.

We made it to Surat Thani at around 5:30am where we got off, collected our bags and sat for a while, playing with a cute Siamese kitten. We were put on a tuk tuk and taken to another bus station where we got on another coach heading to our destination; Khao Lak. When we booked our tickets we'd been told that we would arrive around 9am but this ETA was a little off as our latest bus attendant told us we would be getting in at 11:30.
We did have another break halfway through this second journey where we ate what we could, not fully sure what day it was and whether we needed food or not. At least on this bus we managed to fit in a few snoozes.

As asserted, we arrived at 11:30, ending our 18hr journey from Bangkok. A short taxi ride got us to Parisia guesthouse; a lovely place in a quiet little suburb where we had our own room and bathroom and a little balcony. Having had only a couple of hours of sleep in the last 30 hours we were both a little delirious, not to mention stinky, so we happily rushed to our room excited to sleep and wash. We quickly realised that the water supply was off, apparently to the whole area, so not only could we not shower, we couldn't flush the toilet either. Bloody marvellous.
We had a long well-deserved nap and decided to check out the nearby market to get some food (as the water was off we thought it safer to eat barbecued stuff from a stall as opposed to restaurant food). The market was charming, with as many locals as tourists and lots of fresh fruits, veggies and animal bits. We got some fried snacks and had a browse, secretly hoping that someone would spontaneously shower us with clean, soapy water. I even paid 10 baht to use a functioning toilet at a nearby café.
That night we went to sleep more tired and more dirty than we'd ever been in our adult lives. Character building you could say.

The next morning we awoke to find that the water was on! Hurrah! I jumped under the shower with such gay abandon it took me a good few minutes to notice that the water tasted like the sea. Yes, it was as salty as the beads of sweat consistently running down our backs. We sighed another sigh at this fact but hey, at least it was water. A bit of salt never hurt anyone! And, it might actually do us some good as we're probably low on essential salts anyway!

After cleansing we head out on a short walk to Bang Niang beach. At least it should have been a short walk, but for us two geniuses, it ended up being a 45 minute head-scratching, bicker-fest. We did find the beach, or at least we found the sea; large waves crashing on larger jagged rocks below the edges of resort hotels. "Where's the beach with the sand? The one where people go to sunbathe and swim?" we asked a few different passers-by. They all gave us different directions that got us even more confused.
We gave up eventually and sat down in a restaurant for lunch. The menu had no vegetarian options on it whatsoever so we asked the waitress if she could modify the dishes for us. She obliged and brought out the freshest, most delicious tofu meals we'd had in ages. Spirits restored we made one last ditch attempt to find the beach, and, obviously, we found it.

We found some free sunbeds and chilled for a while, having a little paddle in the very choppy Andaman sea. In typical Aisha and Lauren style we got bored of the sun quite quickly and went back to our little home to watch the film Impossible. For those of you that might not know, Khao Lak was the worst hit town of the 2004 boxing day tsunami and the film Impossible tells the true story of a Spanish family who survived it. We seem to have gotten into a habit of watching films related to our current surroundings; The Killing Fields while in Phnom Penh, Tomb Raider while in Siem Reap and now this.

That night we abandoned our normal 10pm bed time and head down to Moo Moo's cabaret bar to watch a performance. There we saw numerous gay anthems (Whitney, Liza, Madonna etc) mimed by some very beautiful, very dolled-up Thai performers. Some of the acts were better than others; it was obvious that some of the girls didn't know much English as they were miming gibberish but it only added to the fun.

The following day was Thai New Year, aka Songkran. After a lazy morning we put on our least favourite, quickest drying outfits and braved ourselves for a soaking. And oh boy did we get soaked. As soon as we stepped outside we were spotted by a group on the opposite side of the road who had water-guns, and that was the start of a long session of wet, wet wet. It was all good fun and we walked around with our eyes and mouths as shut as we could get them always anticipating the next attack. Every man and his dog were out; Thai and felangs were lapping it up. Even the police and their cars weren't safe and didn't stay dry for long. Some of the water was ice cold, some of it was warm and almost all of it was salty.

After an hour or so of walking around checking out the festivities, Lauren got a bit tired of the inadvertent wet T shirt competition and the last straw was her beloved spring rolls getting drowned by two English kids. After this atrocity, we went back to our room to dry off, getting one last sudden bowl of water thrown point-blank in our faces by an English lady. This made Lauren's blood boil and I had to try and talk her out of giving said lady a fist to the face in retaliation.

The following day was an adventurous one. We were collected by our driver-come-tour-guide Run early in the morning and taken to Khao Sok national park, approx. 60km inland from Khao Lak. We had paid a lot more than we wanted to for a day trip to the park as we opted not to do an elephant ride. Because 99% of visitors choose to do the ride this meant we had to have our own private tour to avoid it. We didn't dwell on the cost too much as we were just glad not to be a part of the elephant tourism trade.
Run told us about his life; we learned that he'd spent most of his early adulthood playing electric guitar in a band and gigging around Thailand for just enough money to get by. He told us that he had given up his music career in order to support his wife and 3 children and to ensure he was around to see them. He talked about the fact that he hadn't picked up a guitar in 8 years and that he doesn't know if he ever will again.

When we arrived at the park Run proved himself to be a very knowledgeable guide. He knew the Thai, English and sometimes the latin words for every plant, tree and animal we saw on our 3 hour trek through the jungle. We saw hundreds of glorious bamboo trees (which there are over 1000 different species of) and various lizards (mostly skinks). We also heard many birds as well as some gibbons. Run told us about the thousands of animals that live in the jungle including snakes, spiders, monkeys, elephants, tigers and even some remaining farming people.

We trekked to a small waterfall and lake where we swung on some U shaped bamboo hanging from the trees and listened to nature at its best. We didn't struggle on the hike as much as we thought we would. It was incredibly hot and humid (our cameras kept steaming up) but the trees provided some shade (albeit blocking any sign of a breeze too). Perhaps we've gotten fitter during our trip.

We'd certainly worked up an appetite walking 4km in the jungle so Run took us to a restaurant owned by ex-Olympic boxer Worapoj Petchkoom. We ate our mammoth vegetarian lunch and even go to hold some of Petchkoom's winning medals. Upon Googling him later, we discovered that Petchkoom had been banned from boxing for a short period for posing in a spread for a gay magazine. This obviously made us love him even more and we were gutted we didn't get to meet him.

After lunch we head back to the park to go canoeing on the river. To get to the river we walked through a large cave where some monks were performing some sort of prayer for Thai new year. They very kindly blessed us as we walked through; perhaps sensing our crap canoeing abilities.
As we approached the river we saw that we were the only visitors and that there was one inflatable 'canoe' (more like a dinghy). We then realised that we had our very own oarsman - wahey! Relieved at the fact we wouldn't be rowing ourselves around in a circle for 2 hours we happily hopped into the 'canoe' and watched as the plethora of fishes hung around waiting for us to throw 'em some food.

It soon became apparent that the river was incredibly shallow. In parts so shallow that we could have gotten out of the boat and walked ourselves through the river with water barely covering our ankles. This meant that our poor young rower had to periodically climb out and push us over the riverbed. At least we got a bit of a gluteus massage.

Other than the occasional bum scrape the voyage was incredibly peaceful and scenic. All we could see was clear water, fish, trees, birds and the monolithic limestone rock formations all around us. There were also a few local village people bathing and playing in the river, some with their pet dogs.
At one point, we came across a troop of bamboo rafts being transported to storage at the end of the season;

After almost 2 hours on the water, with reddened shoulders and sore coccyxes we got back in Run's lovely cold minivan and returned to our guesthouse. Like two kids who'd been at the fair all day we were all tuckered out.

Back in Khao Lak town we had a bit of a rubbish tea at a local restaurant called Joe's Kitchen and called it a night. We hoped that we'd be able to recuperate the following day on our bus to the island of Ko Lanta.

Posted by advensha 07:06 Archived in Thailand Tagged monkeys wildlife nature bus trekking cambodia thailand jungle bangkok tour lizard hot border backpacking national_park travelling canoeing sweaty queue humid khao_san_road nightmare khao_lak khao_sok bamboo_raft poi_pet hang_tep_bus kicked_off_bus drink_tourists Comments (0)

Thailand: Chiang Mai

sunny
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After the 2 days of character-building in Ayutthaya we were happy to be on our way. We (excuse the pun) wolfed down some food at a café opposite the train station and after a bit of sweaty waiting around we were on our sleeper train; car 11, the 'lady' car.

We had booked two uppers (top bunks) opposite each other. As the train had started in Bangkok, the car was already pretty full and most people had got in their bunks and shut their curtains. While we were still figuring out where to stuff our bags a smiley gentleman asked if we wanted to order dinner and breakfast. Even though we had only just eaten we got carried away with the idea of being served a hot meal on a sleeper train and said yes to both. Shortly after we were served with our rather large meals (served on a nearby cubby-hole table) that neither of us could finish.

The train was very clean and well organised and the bunks were fairly roomy and comfortable. There were curtains for privacy, your own personal reading light and two weird seatbelts at both ends of the bed that we think were supposed to prevent you from rolling off. The toilets too were clean and well-equipped and without sounding too misandrist we think this might have been due to coach being women only.

The only struggle we had was actually getting into our beds. There were very narrow metal ladders at one end that were built into the side of the 'cabins' and for someone as ungainly and inelegant as I, ascending to my chamber while the train was in motion was not easy. In the end we came up with a better technique which involved using the ladders on both sides (one leg on each) and then diving in at the most opportune moment. Picture a fat starfish trying to walk up a drain.

We both managed to get some shut eye; thankfully the train wasn't very wobbly and there weren't any obvious noise pollutants. We were woken at 6am for breakfast which, like dinner the night before, was a pretty hearty meal. Lauren particularly enjoyed the teeny tiny orange juices that were included. Soon after our unnecessary feeding we rubbed the sleep from our eyes, packed up our belongings and squirmed our way through the narrow train doors onto the platform at Chiang Mai.

Faced with the familiar barrage of taxi touts we selected the only female we could see and were chucked in the back of a large open mini-van come tuk tuk with a load of other passengers. We were the last to be dropped off and, not one to miss an opportunity the taxi tout lady tried in vain to sell us some tours to the various animal sights that blight the region. All sorts of wildlife activities can be enjoyed in Chiang Mai; from the well-known elephant riding to stroking tigers to playing with monkeys. Needless to say we weren't sold on the idea.

We arrived at our hostel, as usual, early in the morning. After waiting on the front terrace for a while the host, Fern, came to our aid and told us check-in was at 1pm but we could leave our bags behind her desk. After watching us essentially use her patio as a changing room come bathroom come wardrobe, Fern offered us a room upgrade for only £4 - a room that was double the size, with an en suite bathroom, an actual bed instead of foam mattresses on the floor AND that was ready now. We gladly accepted the offer only for her to then wash all of our laundry (3 weeks worth), dry and fold it and give it back to us a few hours later. Needless to say we were the happiest little lesbians in Thailand.

For lunch we found a sweet if not trendy veggie café called Imm Aim where we lapped up a number of whole-food dishes and where I also bought some funky homemade woven thread earrings. On our way to the old town of Chiang Mai we stumbled across an amazing 70s second-hand clothes shop where I very selflessly restrained myself and only bought one dress. I then proceeded to buy my third pair of sunglasses (yes I lost my second pair).

One of the things we needed to tick off our list was booking our journey from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang in Laos. We'd done our research and knew that the trip would involve a minibus through Chiang Rai to the border, a night's stay in the border town of Chang Khong, then a boat along the Mekong for 2 days with a night's stay in Pak Beng. We got a number of quotes from travel agents for the standard, basic journey that most budget backpackers book; approx. £35 each (not including the night in Pak Beng). Being good little travellers we wanted to look into the boat company that all the travel agents were using (Aya) and sleep on the decision. To cut a long story short, after reading some awful reviews and blogs and weighing up our options we decided to 'splurge' and book a more luxury journey with a company called Smile River Cruises. For the 3 days it cost £160 each and this included a few meals, a night in Chang Khong and Pak Beng, a private chauffeur to the border that stopped at 3 sights along the way, visits to two local hill-tribe villages and the Pak Ou caves and, most importantly, included a private river-boat with proper seats and toilets and room to move around and appreciate the views.
Decision made, we felt like we'd mildly betrayed our fellow backpackers and our own imposed budget but we were excited to get the VIP experience.

That evening we checked out the Sunday walking market where, feeling newly skint we resisted buying any knick-knacks. Lauren did however find some room for 2 spring rolls an 3 samosas for her dinner. I wasn't feeling too great (slippery slope from this point) so I just had a a rather massive corn on the cob for tea.

We were up early the next day to ensure we could get booked in at Chiang Mai Women's Correctional Institution for our foot massage. We managed to get an appointment for early afternoon so to burn some time we had breakfast at an upmarket veggie hotel we'd almost stayed at (but was too expensive).

Our foot massages were very good and we both felt positive about giving our money to a space that provides an opportunity for incarcerated women to learn a skill they can then use when thy 'get out'. I spoke to one of the officers at the centre and she said (under her breath) that around 80% of the prisoners working as massage therapists were jailed as a result of drug crimes. Consider this quote from Thai Customs website; "Violators of laws related to illicit drugs, e.g., having and holding for use, or being a producer, seller, or transporter are subject to the death sentence". Yeah, it's pretty serious stuff. Although we were certainly glad the prisoners at the centre clearly weren't dead, I couldn't help but wonder whether these young, polite and intelligent women had had their lives completely fucked for the sake of a spliff, or some cocaine or, maybe even for covering for someone else. Things like this make me appreciate the UK.

That evening we walked to the Maya shopping centre; a massive fancy mall with five floors of shopping and eating adventures to be had. We ventured to the cinema floor where we saw Joy with Jennifer Lawrence in the leading role. Unfortunately the film was a load of crap, but the BBQ/caramel popcorn was amazing. Much like Myanmar, there was a short video before the film started where the audience showed their allegiance to the country and it's King. We were shown photos of the King through the years (with all of his dogs in weird poses) as well happy New Year cards. We, like the rest of the theatre, stood up to show our respect. No way I'm going to end up giving tourists massages.

The following day we thought we should probably check out some of the temples on offer; so we did. We saw a few interesting temples, one of which housed a crystal and a marble Buddha - both over 2000 years old. After walking for a few hours the heat (and period cramp in my case) got the better of us and we retired to a place called Catta-café, which, aptly so, is a café with lots of cats in it. We enjoyed a cat fur covered brownie and some cat fur covered drinks while stroking and playing with some very cute cats.

For dinner we found a Japanese veggie place called Greendays (like my favourite café on Lark Lane in Liverpool) on the other side of town. We travelled by tuk tuk and as we approached it was immediately obvious that this area (which we think is just essentially the centre) is very Westernised. It actually felt like a slightly scaled down version of Bangkok. There were strips of bars and pubs with English names and Ping Pong shows and tat shops although it definitely had a classier more metropolitan edge. The Western clientèle appeared to be older white men as opposed to 20-something boys and girls out for a good time.

The food was lovely and once again we ordered way too much and for pudding we got pedicures on one of the strips. We were a little disappointed that a dry skin scrape and scrub wasn't included but we didn't complain. At least we got to people-watch and get a feel for the disdain the Thai girls working there felt at their shitty jobs.

Back at the guesthouse we Skyped my Mum and I tended to my ever-worsening stomach bug (trips to the toilet were involved). As the sickness took it's hold, we both thanked the lord we had booked a fancier trip down the Mekong...

Posted by advensha 01:23 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand chiang_mai travelling north_thailand pedicure cat_cafe tummy_bug upset_stomach Comments (1)

Thailand: Ayutthaya

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The local train from Hua Lamphong in Bangkok to Thailand's old capital Ayutthaya took 3 hours and cost a princely 60p for the two of us. The ride was clammy to say the least. Out bare skin adhered itself to any nearby surface; the old leather upholstery, the metal window frame or worst of all, someone else's skin. A few of the fans in the car weren't working and so, in true Wizard of Oz style, we melted.

By the time we arrived at Ayutthaya we'd just about managed to coagulate again and, overheated and laden with heavy bags we tried to find the bicycle tour office we'd found earlier in the day that was supposed to be only a few hundred yards up from the station.

We reached the blue-dot on our Google map and there was no office to be found, so, royally pissed off, we walked back to the station and commandeered a tuk tuk to take us to our hotel; Ayothaya Riverside House.

Now by this point we'd walked past one dog on our journey to the elusive bike tour office which had sprang up and aggressively barked at us. In no position (and with no inclination) to either assert dominance or run away, we crossed the busy road to the other side hoping the traffic would put it off coming for us. Which it seemed to.

Arriving at our hotel we were dishevelled to say the least, but relieved to be checking in. The hotel had accurately named itself; it was indeed on the riverside, built of teak wood in a traditional Thai style with lots of interesting antique bits an bobs lying around. It became apparent very quickly that the hotel manager; Ya, was an undoubted muso. There were guitars propped up, a sound system and microphone and soon enough the dulcet tones of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Bob Marley and ACDC.

Our room was small and dark (owing to the wooden structure and 'hut' like quality) but it was clean and quaint and comfortable. The toilet was shared and the nearest shower was on an open deck; private but with no roof with fruits from the above tree knocking you on the head every so often.

We managed to call the bike tour office and book on for the following day. We were told that the office is where we walked to but that it's not signposted at all and so everybody struggles to locate it. For fuck's sake.

By now it was early evening we were ravenous, so we had a quick look online and saw that there were plenty of restaurants in walking distance. I must say that we'd heard a few negative stories about Ayutthaya's stray dog situation but, always keen to judge for ourselves, we tried not to let any preconceptions sway us.

After only a few minutes and less than a hundred yards, the ubiquitous presence of canines (seemingly stray or 'soi' as they're known in Thailand) became very apparent. The first few we encountered were on their own and although they didn't outwardly intimidate us they were markedly less placid than their Indian or Myanmarese counterparts. Our anxiety heightened with every step as we looked down our desired route and saw dog after dog after dog. The route we'd mapped sent us into a large open courtyard with what looked like restaurants backing onto it. We started walking through the yard and saw a dog in the distance. We then saw a woman walking towards us from the other side. She stepped past the dog without issue which lifted us a little, but as soon as we approached further (still more than 50 yards away), the dog stood up and started loudly barking and growling at us.

Now if you haven't gathered already, Lauren and I are neither confident nor very familiar with dogs. In fact we're both a little phobic. I am especially fearful as I was attacked as a toddler. Our pre-existing angst certainly didn't help in this situation, as we all know, dogs can smell/sense fear.

As soon as said dog starting edging towards us, with head up high and hackles engaged, we hurriedly turned around and walked back the way we came. In this moment I was in full panic and, having completely lost my appetite urged Lauren to agree to go back to the guesthouse. She (still desperately hungry) compromised by suggesting we walk to the nearby 7/11 and at least get some snacks. Getting to the shop involved crossing a large highway but at least we knew the dogs wouldn't follow us into a line of traffic. Lauren got her snacks and tried and failed to cajole me into buying some food for myself.

Unfortunately on our way back, more dogs had appeared, and although not barking, they started approaching us. already highly anxious I began hysterically crying and power-walked back to the highway where in my panic attacked wisdom I thought death by lorry-flattening was far more appealing than a dog bite. Lauren kept it together but was also shitting a brick. I managed to flag us a tuk tuk and, as I was in no position to speak, Lauren told the driver to take us back to Riverside House. The driver understandably snickered at our request informing us that the hotel was "a 2 minute walk away". We reiterated our request and he very kindly obliged. In the back of the open tuk tuk I sat, semi-fetally, sobbing, keeping one eye on each dog we passed. Back safe and sound after probably only a 20 minute excursion, I spent the rest of the evening regretting our trip to Ayutthaya and longing for home.

Thankfully by morning we both felt fine. Excited for our bike tour and relieved we'd arranged for the same tuk tuk driver to collect us at the porch the night before, we pushed the previous day's silliness to the back of our minds.

This time round we found the biking office and met our tour guide Sao; a 26 year old women from Eastern Thailand who looked about 15. We were the only two on the 'Colours of Ayutthaya' tour which meant I could annoy Sao all day long with question after question. The tour spanned 30km in blistering heat through a large portion of Ayutthaya - rural, suburban and urban. We were shown villages, rivers and the famous ruins. We also rode through an elephant park (what used to be the royal elephant park we were told) where we saw plenty of white faces aback depressed animals and park workers using sticks with large metal spikes on the end to ensure obedience. We were saddened and angered by what we saw and din't want any part of it. On our way out we disapprovingly shook our heads at our fellow tourists laughing and joking, taking selfies; oblivious to the new mother elephant furiously rocking back and forth beside them.

The rest of the tour though was very interesting and challenging and it was nice really getting to know Sao. Alongside plenty of birds, we did encounter dogs during the ride, and yes, they were also aggressive. One particular pack chased us, snapping at our feet. This is when Lauren and I transformed into roadrunner and 'meep meeped' so fast on our two wheels that we could have left burn marks on the tarmac.

Our legs and heads sore and flexed we returned to our guesthouse to shower and chill out for a few hours before we head back to the train station to board our sleeper-train to Chiang Mai. For the next few hours we sat in hammocks, me writing and Lauren reading yet another book (she really puts me to shame). On the direction of Ya, we also got familiar with the hundreds of fish out in the river; I put my feet in as directed and behind me, Lauren took some fish food and threw it at my feet, making the fish collide, jump and nip at my appendages. This reduced me to a giggling teenager and washed away the dog-worries. At least there were some harmless animals in this town that don't want to give me rabies, I thought.

But then I was bit by a massive bastard fucking ant and I hated everything again. Only kidding. But I did still hate the dogs.

I don't think the dog-woes have plagued our memory of Ayutthaya. They probably would have had we not gone on the bike tour as the likely alternative would have been us hauled up in the guesthouse counting down the hours until we could leave.
if you're reading as a potential or soon-to-be traveller, please don't be put off by our experience. The ancient ruins of Ayutthaya are really worth seeing and who knows whether what happened to us is common or not. I suspect anyone with even a fraction more familiarity, rationality and common sense when it comes to dogs would be just fine.

I can't deny that we were glad to be moving on from Ayutthaya, but we also felt a little accomplished that we'd faced it; perhaps not quite head-on, but bum-on at the very least!

Posted by advensha 04:37 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand ayutthaya travelling backpackers scared rabies stray_dogs 711 riverside_house old_capital ayutthaya_biking bicycle_tour real_thailand Comments (0)

Thailand: Bangkok

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I'm sure you'll be enthralled to hear that our journey from India to Thailand was full of interesting if not mildly distressing goings-on. Our first flight was from Goa to Mumbai, and as we waited in the queue for our hold baggage to be scanned before checking-in, we noticed a bit of a commotion. The queue stopped dead and a number of airport security staff had appeared at the other side of scanner. After a bit of scrambling for a viewpoint Lauren noticed an Indian man at the front of the queue lifting a revolver out of his bag, followed by a magazine and some bullets. He then pulled out a load of paperwork.

We weren't sure whether to be scared or amused but eventually we all got moving again and later saw the same man on our plane. Evidently the Goan security officials were satisfied he wasn't going to cause a scene with his fully-functional deadly weapon.

Our second fight was Mumbai to Bangkok, and as we were waiting in the long queue at immigration (very poorly organised), a little boy in front of us (approx. 3 years old) started pissing on a lady's suitcase. After a few seconds of public urination the boy began crying and his grandmother shouted and grabbed him away to the corner. The lady didn't seem too concerned with there being piss on her bag - she just smiled and carried on.

As I went through security at Mumbai (there are always separate enclosed booths for men and women), one of the security women looked at me and started laughing her head off and telling her colleagues something in Hindi about me. She then let me in on the joke telling me that I looked just like the Hindu God Krishna. Said God has blue skin, plays a golden piccolo and is a man. I must have a godly presence about me.

Considering it was now the early hours of the morning and we hadn't slept a wink, we had started to feel like we were in a weird dream. And to substantiate this feeling there was even more craziness. On our second flight to Bangkok, as we were making our descent, a man a few rows up and to the right of us started having a fit. Naturally the flight attendants had to unbuckle themselves and run over to help him. Worryingly, the staff were very obviously freaking out (not great practice) and they didn't seem to be properly first-aid trained either as as they started throwing water on the guy, slapping him on the head, shaking his arms and shouting at him. Now I'm no expert, but I do know that you shouldn't really 'interrupt' a fit, you should just remove any nearby danger, put the person in the recovery position if possible (not possible in this instance) and keep an eye on them to ensure they don't choke or bite down on their tongue. After what felt like a long time (but in reality probably only 2 minutes), the man did come round, to everyone's relief.

Lauren had never seen a fit before and witnessing it while in a state of exhaustion (and being a nervous flyer anyway) made her quite emotional. It also isn't very reassuring when flight attendants are panicking.

Thankful that we arrived in one piece (just about), we got our bags and walked to the Skytrain (BTS) station. I had written down detailed instructions on how to get to our hostel and was confident we would make it with no problems. We got to the correct train stop without any issues, but on the walk from the station to the hostel we got lost. While carrying 20 kilos each. Tired, hungry, emotional and in the capital city of a new country we just wanted to curl up on the pavement and spontaneously combust (which could have been possible in the heat and humidity).

After 20 minutes of walking and stopping and asking and walking and stopping and checking and swearing, Lauren resigned to switching her roaming internet on in order for us to sat-nav ourselves to the bastard fucking bastard hostel. It turns out we had been on the right road but at the wrong end. We made it eventually and what mended our broken spirits was Lil being there in reception to welcome us.

Unfortunately we were far too early to check-in, so we did our best to freshen up in the hostel's downstairs loo, met Becky, Kate and Crimmy and toddled off to breakfast. The food was pretty shit and pretty expensive compared to India, but we were so dazed that it didn't matter. We had some beers and caught up on each other's lives and travels - it was so nice to see some familiar faces. Half way through breakfast Lauren had to go and nap in Lil's dorm room.
After a couple of hours we said goodbye to Becky, Kate and Crimmy and after a short rest, Lil, Lauren and two of Lil's friends went over to China Town. We'd actually arrived on Chinese New Year (year of the monkey) and so there was apparently a lot of fun to be had. There was meant to be a parade through the streets but after a lot of waiting (and eating) it never materialised which left us all a little deflated. We did however see the Thai princess being driven through the crowds (yay... ahem).

We went back to our neck of the woods and Lauren and I tried to stay awake as long as we could; we had street Pad Thai for dinner and walked through a chorus of touts selling 'Ping Pong shows'. By 9pm we threw in the towel and went to bed for what was to be the deepest sleep of our lives.

The next morning, feeling much more human (although still not 100% - could you imagine how shit we'd be if we had young kids!?), Lauren, Lil, Crimmy and I went for breakfast in a place called Bistro 95. There we got randomly acquainted with a Belgian guy called Erick Maloir who was not shy in telling us that he was an executive pastry chef that has travelled around the world, worked for royals and celebrities and now lives in Thailand with his Thai wife and little baby. Clearly enamoured by us travelling white-faced youngsters, he paid for our beers, which was nice.

Lil left soon after to catch her flight back to the UK after 5 weeks in Thailand. Lauren and I reluctantly got back on the BTS to go to Hua Lamphong station to buy our sleeper train tickets from Ayutthaya Chiang Mai in advance (they sell out quickly). We tried a few bits of street food along the way but generally everything is very meaty, which put both of us off and amazingly, despite almost a month in India, it was only now that my belly was starting to feel a little bubbly. Still not caught up on our sleep we went to bed early; I myself was pretty devastated that I hadn't managed to eat any pancakes (my fav food) on Shrove Tuesday for the first time in my life. Woe was me.

The following day we got on one of the Bangkok river boats for a little cruise around the city. We were headed to the Siriraj Hospital Forensic Museum and somehow managed to get on the standard public boat instead of the swish, friendly, English-guided 'tourist boat' that we'd paid for. The boat was cramped, incredibly hot and we had no clue whatsoever which stop was which as we were too low down to see the signs when we stopped at each pier. On top of that there was an angry Thai lady pushing everyone up to the front of the boat. After a few unknown stops we took a wild guess and got off; at the wrong place of course. We waited a while for the next bus which thankfully was the sexy tourist boat. This boat was roomy, air conditioned and had a lovely camp guide giving us historical facts and information about the stops and nearby sights. By this point we were more than happy to be wrapped up in VIP cotton wool.

We made it to the museum and spent a good hour shuffling around all of the truly mental exhibits. I won't ruin it for you all as I'd urge you to visit but put it this way I don't think I'll ever see so many dead babies, murder and suicide injuries and anal prolapses ever again.

All of the gruesome death had really built up our appetites and in an effort to placate my persisting absence-of-pancakes-bad-mood, we found a French crêperie downtown called Breizh where we indulged in some flour, egg and milk deliciousness.

To balance out the food pleasure we had just experienced we then decided to punish ourselves with a Thai massage. Weirdly for this massage they didn't want us naked, instead they gave us some over-starched pyjamas to put on. Our nice masseurs then clambered all over us in an attempt to crunch the Western privilege right out of our over-fed, over-indulged carcasses. And they did pretty good job. Our backs had been feeling pretty fragile from all the bag-carrying and walking and we left the parlour feeling as light as feathers. The hand job went down well too.

For dinner we found a lovely little Japanese vegan restaurant called Bonita Social Club that was round the corner from our hostel. We got chatting to an older couple who were on holiday. Weirdly enough the guy was from Bootle an even though he's a woolyback I still enjoyed conversing with him. His wife was from the Isle of Wight but they both now lived in Southport for some bizarre reason.

The meal was wonderful and it was especially nice for Lauren to be able to pick anything from the menu. After pestering the resident cats for a while we called it a night and got ourselves prepared for the next venture to Myanmar.

Posted by advensha 05:03 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand bangkok backpacking travelling exhausted gun_on_plane fit_on_plane lost_in_bangkok losing_the_will_to_live Comments (2)

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