How time flies when you have fun meeting up with friends and just eating a lot. For example, I have decreed that Wednesdays is now Egg tarts Wednesday and Friday is now Dim Sum Friday. Actually its in part because when you stay in place for a while and you’re not working, you need something to break up the week and we miss routine. (Chris is continuing his running and I’ve taken up Aikido in Penang!)
So this is a bit of a catch up about Thailand – we’ve been here about 3 times since February through to April:
- From Laos to Nong Khai in Thailand
- Khao Yai National Park in Thailand
- Bangkok visit 1
- When we came back from Cambodia- Bangkok visit 2 *
- To go see our friend Q – Bangkok visit 3
*Between 4 & 5 we went to Penang.
We crossed over the border to stay in Nong Khai. A nice little quiet place by the border. It’s pretty interesting actually, the Isaan culture exists here (north east Thailand) and is different from the rest of Thailand due to influences from bordering countries and they speak Isaan in addition to Thai. Apparently according to wiki and a Thai person I spoke to, the people of north east Thailand are friendly. Well we did find a really nice fruit seller who kept picking us the best mangoes to eat (I have no idea to choose them but he took one look at them and picked me different ones – in contrast some fruit seller in Bangkok couldn’t care less which ones I picked). I miss him.
We cycled to see the giant Buddha Park – lots of giant buddhas designed by this guy who made them previously on the Laos side of the border but got booted out of Laos.
It’s pretty impressive and a bit freaky. A lot of these were up to 25m high.
The entrance to the circle of life. Warning: Please take off your shoes before you walk in.
Nagas – the guardian Mekong serpent.
We spent 4 or 5 nice days there and moved on to our next part of the trip.
We passed through Bangkok (this visit doesn’t count) to get to Khao Yai National Park and got scammed a few quid by unscrupulous bus people at the Mo Chit Bus Terminal. It happened very fast, people ushering us quickly and bus tickets swapped for new bus tickets, but in the grand scheme of things it was just a few quid plus an uncomfortable bus ride, haha.
Khao Yai National Park
We came here for a wildlife trek and it was amazing!
We put a lot of thought (and research) in how we wanted to see elephants as quite a few so called sanctuaries just use elephants in order to make money, or subject elephants to humans riding them (they’re really not built to carry humans) and in those cases, the elephants have been subjected to horrific and painful training so humans can ride them. There are some genuine sanctuaries but we decided the best way was to see them in the wild and from afar. As tourists, it’s important to think about the impact of your actions and this is something we’ve realised more than ever with the elephants.
Here’s Chris in his sexy leech socks.
Gibbons in the wild – they have no tails you know. We saw a venomous green pit viper, which can kill you in 3 hours (this was pretty cool and a highlight) and we were super lucky enough to see wild elephants twice!
The first time was pretty awesome, we had just finished our lunch at this tourist stop and I came out of the toilet shaking my hands dry and saw the guide over with the rest of the group and Chris, when I suddenly heard the guide shout ELEPHANT, RUN! (As in, if you want to see elephants, run after him). We all looked at each other and then sprinted after the guide into the jungle for about 5-10 minutes. We stopped when we caught up with the guide and he motioned to us to be quiet – we could hear sounds of branches being tramped/broken by something big in the distance….
After another 10-15 minutes of the guide creeping slowly towards the sound and us following as quietly as we could (whilst stepping on ALL the dry branches) we saw the elephant. He was amazing. I have no picture though, it’ll just be a cool memory. But I do have a picture of an elephant herd at a salt lick, we watched them for a bit before they retreated back into the jungle.
Back to Bangkok
We spent a few days here and came across a dog show, I had a massage at Spa Yuko (seriously Yuko-san is amazing, you get Japanese green tea and fresh mango after and the 1 hr full body massage is only 250 baht= £5) and we also went to a market.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that we went to a free concert in the park by the Bangkok Symphony orchestra. The best was when they ended with the Star Wars theme tune!
Yep, bugs. No I did not try any. Tbh, I think one of the worst things I have seen so far were grilled bats on a stick in Cambodia.
Life has been rough for Doraemon.
We came back after we left Cambodia as Meret and Fynn were due to fly back home in a few days. We had some fun time, shopping and getting massages! It was sad when they left and we made our way to Penang.
Giant lucky cat from Japan. There’s an old story that a waving cat on the road saved a man from coming to harm.
This t-shirt is so cool! Except there were none in my size..
Visiting our friend Q
Q is one of our friends we know back from uni badminton & board games & general eating of good food. He went back home to Thailand a few years ago and we thought great, now we’re travelling we can go see him except this is the same year he chose to go study a Masters in the UK….
Luckily he came back during the Easter hol! So we flew to Bangkok and hung out, ate a lot of good food and played card games. Don’t play bluff/cheat with him, he is such a bad cheat.
Q took us to the nice part of Pattaya! (The not so nice part involves lady boy shows and ping pong shows…)
Q also fed us a lot of tasty stuff, seriously best Thai food yet. Here’s mummy Q serving us rice.
During this period, I also found my true calling in life – at an arcade place at MBK shopping mall. I discovered I am amazing at this game (see picture below), you play with an opponent and hit the buttons whenever they light up (the catch is that you lose a point everytime you hit the wrong button).
I scored 330 points vs 60 points from Chris (he was on 100 at one point but started mashing buttons instead when he saw I was double points ahead, hahaha). I scored the same again vs 200ish points from Q (and Chris – they cheated)
I’m seriously tempted to put this on my CV as an incredible skill.
Q eventually left us all alone to face Songkran..the Thai New Year and there’s a lot of water throwing/shooting going on…I ran and ducked behind a passing car to get to the massage place. The things I do to get my massage at my favourite place (the kids below were going for it on every passerby, even people on scooters are not let off).
Instead of having a miserly last 2 days in Bangkok (it’s okay but not our favourite place), we decided to have a nice 2 days and spend some money. Whoop! Coco curry house (one of our facourite Japanese chains) for dinner! Chris was so excited! Rice, curry sauce with breaded pork cutlet and aubergine.
However, the last day of Bangkok wasn’t as good as the day before (massage and Japanese curry) we made a couple of bad decisions.
We decided to do some culture sight seeing: travel on a river boat and saw a giant reclining Buddha at Wat Pho.
It was probably not the best time to go visit the Wats at Songkran as a lot of Thais were at temples to make merit/wash away bad luck (Thais were buying small perfume bottles and pouring the contents on small Buddhas or queuing up to get hit on the head with a brush dipped in water by a monk).
It was super busy and we decided to go find this cake cafe nearby and get a break from the crowds and heat.
What a bad idea. We didn’t realise the cafe was on the infamous Khaosan street (backpacker’s street) and there was of course a massive water fight going on. We got drenched a couple of times, which was okay – it’s just certain people who take it too far and keep water gunning you. If I had a weapon of choice, it would be Boris’ water cannons that he purchased from Germany, that’ll show them the true meaning of a water fight.
The guy below on his bike had a proper little system set up so he could shoot water at people from 2 water guns mounted on his bike! He was getting a water refill.
We made it out alive (I actually walked alongside an old lady and used her as a shield – no one was going to throw water on a frail old lady, hahahaha) and hid in this ice cream place for some lunch and rest. Chris tried honey toast – quite famous in Bangkok.
Well we only have 1 visit left to Bangkok (and of course, a last visit back to my favourite massage place) before we fly to Japan via a few days in Taipei, which is only a few weeks away. Seems crazy how our time in Penang has flown – we will have been here for 6 weeks in total by the time we leave!
I’ll make sure to do a post on the wonderful place of Penang.
Oh and before I forget, if you need some help with translations then Dr Chuck can help you. That guy looks like a professional!