I can't believe it has already been two weeks since I arrived in Bangkok and since I'm leaving tomorrow to go on a three-day adventure on the Mekong to eventually reach Lao, I think it's now time to write up my time here in Thailand. It's way to hot outside right now anyways, so I rather stay in the air-conditioned hostel to write this and go out again later.
Ok so I basically did Thailand in only three major stops: Bangkok, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai. Let's start with Bangkok.
If you have been following my blog the last weeks you might know that I was never really a fan of Bangkok. The city is loud and dirty and the taxi-drivers are terrible. But that might be because I was feeling rather sick when I arrived in Bangkok from Vietnam and then it's of course just so different than Vietnam. There I spend a lot of time in smaller towns and even the big ones like Hanoi and Saigon a small in comparison.
So yea Bangkok also has it's nice sides. The food is really good and there are some nice temples, oh and the nightlife is supposed to be quite nice. Unfortunately I didn't really experience anything of the latter since as I said I was feeling rather sick the whole time. Just a tip for when you want to see the temples: You can reach them all with public transportation. Some you can reach with the skytrain and others with the public ferry on the river, you really don't need to take a taxi or TukTuk, which is really nice since it's really annoying to always have to argue with the drivers and get scammed in the end anyways. Oh yea don't ever take a TukTuk in Bangkok, they are all horrible.
I also went on a long boat trip down the river and into the canals of Bangkok. It's quite interesting but also rather expensive with 1000 Thai Baht for a 2 hour trip, so you really need to figure out for yourself if you want to do it. It's not really a must-do.
To relax after Bangkok I went to Koh Samui. I took a flight to Surat Thani (mainly because I was lazy and didn't want to spend a day in a bus) and then spent a night there before taking a ferry over to Koh Samui the next day. So Koh Samui...well the big cities are really quite touristic and just full of bars and cheap shops but I stayed in the far south of the island. Down there it was really really quiet, just a beach, some hotels and a couple of local restaurants. Really nice and relaxing.
But since I can't do relaxing, I also spent a day on the back of truck to explore the whole island and it really has a lot to offer. There are mountains and a jungle and monkeys and elephants. Let's start with the mountains, they are really nice and the views once you are on top are quite awesome. Just hold on to yourself when you are driving off-road on the back of an old army-truck. The jungle is beautiful as well, especially the magic garden which is an area full with Buddha statues. But the monkeys and elephants are just sad. They are treated really badly and the shows they do with them are just cruel. I would have never went in this tour if I knew what they did to the animals. Oh and another think to look out for in the tour: Try not to be in the Russian group of 10 people were no one speaks any English.
After a couple of days of relaxing and swimming on the beach it was once again time for action. I went all the way up north to Chiang Mai. Well first I took a pick-up to the terminal then a boat to Surat Thani then spent another night there and then a flight to Bangkok and a couple of hours later another flight to Chiang Mai. In the end it was probably the same time as taking a bus up there but planes are just way more relaxing.
Chiang Mai is a great city. It's just as easy as that. Of course it's small, you can do all the major sights in one day, but there is just so much to do around the city. So the first day I did all the sights. In the morning I got a pick-up taxi to go up the mountain to Doi Suthep. A big temple outside the city which is not only really beautiful to look at itself but you also have a great view on the town. For just 50 Baht for the taxi it's definitely a must-do thing if you're in town. Afterwards I went into old-town where you can just walk around and get food and explore some more great temples such as Wat Chiang Man or Wat Phra Sing. After sunset you can head over to the night-markets to go shopping, eat some more or just go into one of the countless bars in the area for a Chang.
But I was talking about action. On the next day I left the city and went for a 2-day hiking trip in the surrounding mountains. Really exhausting to hike on narrow steep trails in this kind of humid heat but soooo worth it. The views of the nature are spectacular, you'll meet a lot of locals living the simple life outside the city and once you arrive in camp in the evening and have your first Chang you really feel like you accomplished something. Second day was also hiking but this time to a great waterfall where you can go swimming or even jump into the water from the cliffs. Great fun, just try not to hit any rocks. The rest of the day was spent bathing elephants and finally taking a bamboo raft down the river into the sunset. I must say I was just so tired once I got back but really happy.
So but this is it for Thailand. I spent one more day in Chiang Mai before heading on for the next adventure. I'm going to spend the next 3 (yes THREE) days to get to Luang Prabang in Lao. Well 1 day to get to the border where I wait over night for the visa and then I board a slow boat taking me down the Mekong for two days to get to the city. It's going to be awesome!
Final words on Thailand? Yes it's more touristic than Vietnam but for a good reason since it's really beautiful and the people that don't drive a taxi a really really nice and of course since it is so full with tourists it's very easy to travel around.