We started our journey around South East Asia in Bangkok. We arrived in the morning time after an overnight flight direct from Helsinki, Finland.
When we arrived at the airport it was interesting to immediately see the difference in the place compared to where we had come from, everything from the immediate change in culture to the smells and sights of somewhere completely new that we have never seen before. We managed to speak to our hotel and ask roughly how much a taxi usually would cost to avoid getting ripped off by the usual drivers that love the opportunity to make a little bonus on a couple of tourists fresh off the plane.
After a rapid drive, giving us our first taste of the driving style in Asia, we arrived at the Well Hotel in Bangkok. After a little wait in the hotel reception, one of the workers, called Oh, informed us that we could have one of the rooms that were then available, and to our delight it was a wonderful en suite with a nice big deep bath.
We spent the next few days exploring bangkok, hunting for nice places to eat and seeing some of the local monuments and temples, under the helpful guidance of Oh. One of the highlights of bangkok was visiting one of the famous night markets which was an experience to see…although we didn’t actually buy anything!
When we arrived in the train station to head to chiang mai it was crowded with people, all waiting to catch their train. We sat down on the floor and got comfy, we had a good few hours wait until our train was due to be ready.
A little girl, and what I assumed was her mum or perhaps her Nan, had come and sat next to us and were also waiting for their train. I couldn’t help notice the little girl was holding back tears and when I looked up I could see big tears rolling down her cheeks. I made it my aim to try and cheer her up, even just a little before we got on the train.
I said hello and she smiled, there was a big language barrier and I did not have a new sim card for Thailand, so I couldn’t access the internet and go on google translate to chat to her. So I got my travel notepad and pen out and did some little sketches for her, to tell a little story of where I was going and what time. This seemed to cheer her up. I gave her the notepad and she drew sketches back and told me where she was heading to. We drew drawings of flowers and people, she was a good little drawer. I showed her videos of my dog at home and she showed me pictures of her cow, it was interesting to see a glimpse into her life.
I found out she knew how to play noughts and crosses, so we played lots and lots of that. It was so lovely getting to meet little Som and she definitely brightened up my day. After a few hours it was time to board our sleeper train so we waved goodbye to our new friend.
We got the sleeper train from bangkok up to Chiang Mai it was a long journey to say the least. We were so pleasantly surprised by the journey and how nice it was. The carriages where clean and when the beds got pulled out we were given fresh pillows and blankets, we had a really good trip. Our train was number 9, which I think is one of the newer ones, which might be the reason for it looking and feeling so new and clean, so if you are booking a sleeper train this is the one to look out for.
Our highlight of our trip to chaing Mai was seeing the elephants. We spent so many hours researching a company to go with to see the elephants trying to make sure that treated them with the love and respect they deserve. It’s so hard because a lot of places claim they are lovely, but when you look into it a little further, the animals are not treated well at all.
We ended up booking Bamboo Elephant family, which seemed to really care about the elephants. They came and picked us up from chaing Mai and we drove about an hour north up into the jungle to the elephants.
Seeing the elephants was incredible, they are so massive and we felt so small next to them. They are such amazing animals, we spent the day making food for them, feeding them and going for a walk in the jungle along side them. It was an incredible experience to be in the jungle with the elephants, we didn’t want the day to end. It was a dream come true to be next to them and a privilege to be able to be in the company of such gentle giants. My favourite elephant was a elderly one they called grandma, she was a bit calmer to be around and walked at a slower pace.
If you are up north in Thailand we could recommend spending a day with the elephants, it’s such an incredible experience. Just do a lot of research before hand so your money isn’t going to a group of people who mistreat the elephants.
Chiang Mai has lots of night markets selling everything you could possibly need. We were travelling with our two heavy bags but it would be possible to come to Thailand with nothing and get everything you need while your over here.
Our favourite places to eat in Chiang Mai were Vegan Heaven and Cat house…however there are so many places to choose from in chaing Mai, you simply won’t run out of options.
The old quarter in Chiang Mai is a really beautiful place to wonder around, there are so many coffee shops and restaurants and so many beautiful temples, it’s a really special place.
Richard got his hair cut while we were in chaing Mai’s old quarter, the barbers were excellent ...... they gave him what they called ‘Thai style hair’ it looked great, he also got a head and shoulder massage, such a great barbers!
Koh Lanta is a little island near Krabi, it’s away from all the hussle and bussle of Krabi Main land and you can really feel like you have escaped. We spent two weeks In Koh Lanta and really started to feel settled by the end of it. There are beautiful beaches there, the beach we were staying next to was quiet a lot of the time and we spent a lot of the time there reading our books or in the water looking at the fish as it was so clear…plus the odd game of Frisbee.
We booked to go on a snorkelling trip using a tour provider and it was so fantastic for sure one of the biggest highlights of our time in Thailand. We snorkelled around Koh Roc island, which has a beach made of beautiful white soft sand, and also Koh Ha island. Koh Ha is a tiny little uninhabited place which seems so tranquil and barely touched by mankind. It was so amazing to be swimming next to the fish and see them al,l they are such graceful beautiful creatures, all different bright colours, it’s absolutely amazing. The tour stopped of for lunch at Koh Roc beach. Which was the most idilic beach we have ever seen. The water was so clear and the sand was so soft and white. It was busy though due to all the tourists from the smirking trips all arriving at the same time to have lunch. However it was spotless and no rubbish littered anywhere, thanks to the park rangers there keeping a close eye on any disrespectful tourists.
It was such an amazing experience, if you have the chance to go then don’t hesitate and book on a trip, it’s worth the money. We left in the morning at around 8.30 and arrived back around 3 in the afternoon, so it was a full day activity.
Koh Lanta has a animal sanctuary called Lanta Animal Welfare. We heard about it and wanted to help them, as they are doing such a fantastic job at taking care of abandoned cats and dogs. We volunteered on a few days walking the dogs, we walked Yak, Sanchez, Snooky and Squeak. Such lovely dogs that wood would love to be rehomed. We wish we could of taken them all with us.
The best food places we found on Koh Lanta - Not far from the animal sanctuary there is a fantastic vegan restaurant called Yang Garden that does the most incredible Italian food which is rare to find on the island. I had the vegetable facatia and then some pancakes. They where honestly the most incredible pancakes, layered up with banana and homemade Nutella, it was pure heaven.
Next to where we were staying there is a little restaurant called potato, open til mid afternoon time . All the food is made from scratch, the menu has a small selection to choose from but the food is great and feels healthy. It’s mainly falafel and hummus and home made bread. It’s run by a lovely husband and wife team who were always so welcoming and chatty to us. I would also go there in the morning and order some fresh made bread to have jam on toast for breakfast.
Our favourite place for dinner was a restaurant called the garden, they did the most incredible Thai food, our favourite was the Massaman curry. I had never tried one until going there and it was incredible. The staff are all so lovely and they are great if you have any dietary needs. The prices are really reasonable for the food you get too, it’s a fantastic spot to eat and we went there most evenings for food.
We spent the last few days of our time in Thailand on Krabi main land. We got Day trips to Railay beach a couple of times. To get to this secluded beach we had to get a long tail boat from the main Ao Nang beach to Railay beach, which took around 5 minutes. Railay beach is beautiful, it has plenty of places for you to get food and drinks from. It’s a lot more touristy than Koh Lanta so the beach was a lot busier. While on Railay beach we saw monkeys for the first time since being in Thailand. It was so incredible to see them up close and in the wild, but also a bit intimidating as we have heard some stories of them trying to rob peoples bags and cameras… little cheeky things.
It was my birthday while we were in Thailand, so as my birthday gift we stayed in Centra by Centara hotel. It was incredible, the staff were the most welcoming and lovely people. When we arrived they told us our room would be ready in 10 minutes so we waited in the lobby, they then came over with a birthday cake with candles and all started singing happy birthday to me! It was so so lovely.
I couldn’t recommend this hotel more, for most of our travelling trip we have been staying in pretty basic places, so it was so nice to be there for my birthday. The hotel was spotlessly clean and our bedroom had a lovely balcony overlooking the pool area. This hotel is the one to go for if you are staying in Ao Nang and you want to treat yourself. The staff really can’t do enough for you, they are all incredibly friendly.
All in all we really enjoyed our time in Thailand, we have experienced so much and seen things that we feel very privileged to witness. here are some more pictures of our time in this beautiful part of the world.