Thought I'd write a bit more this time...
So on Thursday, we woke up early and headed over to Bangkok's domestic airport for our flight to Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. Heading out of the city to the airport was heaven, as after landing in chilled out Chiang Mai (which I'll come to in a sec), we realised that 2 days in Bangkok was definitely enough for us.
It was good to have visited and to get a feel for one of the most hectic cities in the world, but the traffic was twenty times worse than in London (count yourself lucky Londoners). At one point our taxi creeped half a mile in about 45 minutes! Plus... now I know I'll sound very girly and not a traveller at all.. but the smells... woah!! The worst was walking past people's street food stalls where they were roasting rat looking type things and then walking past peoples homes that were all open with their old mangy dogs lying around near the kerb..blurgh. So yep, I went around Bangkok with my nose pinched most of the time! Haha. But our hotel (Lamphu Treehouse Hotel) was gorgeous, and after a day or two trekking around the city was so nice to come back to our chilled roof top bar and pool in the evenings and their Pad Thai was soo tasty!
A couple more Bangkok pics:
Afternoon snack; Chicken satay, spring rolls and green tea!
Bangkok street food - we had squid :-)
Our journey to Chiang Mai was brilliant! Here's how it went:
9.20am - arrived at Bangkok domestic airport to check in for our 11am flight
9.25am - check in desk say that there's 2 spaces on the 9.40am flight, they've just put us on that to save us waiting for our 11am flight
9.40am - we're sat on the plane and get into the air
10.40am - landed in Chiang Mai!!
how cool is that? Can't see Easyjet or Ryan Air doing that somehow?!
So... we arrive at our luxurious honeymoon hotel for 2 nights, the Aruntara Boutique Hotel in Chiang Mai. One word: WOW!!! The feel of the hotel was very zen like and mega relaxed. The decor was incredible with so many lovely touches, staff/service were amazing and food was such good quality, here's some pics:
me at the end there! trying to turn a brown colour.... hmm def need a few more weeks yet
We spent the afternoon reading by the pool... with not another soul in sight... and then tea and cakes by our loungers, heaven!!
Then a long soak in the tub and headed into town for some dinner and a look around the night bazaar. We even found a bar that cools its customers by drizzling a light mist over them whilst they're having a drink!
Dinner by the river
Oh and I left my wedding and engagement ring at home, so that I didn't lose them and Mart found a little silver stall and bought me a new wedding ring to wear whilst we're away, only 20pounds, so doesn't matter too much if I lose it.
As we didn't have to get up the next night we thought we'd head out for a few drinks, get drunk, have a dance and have a lie in the next day... but after a bit of wandering, all the bars and clubs were empty and we couldn't spot any travellers around. We had a look online later and realised that it's low season here at the minute so things aren't as busy as they will be in a few weeks time.. oh well.. there'll be plenty more nights out.
On Friday we hired a driver who drove us up to the temple that sits at the top of the mountain that shadows the city of Chiang Mai "Wat Prathat Doi Suthep" : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Phrathat_Doi_Suthep The views over the city were incredible and we'd managed to get a really clear day too.
We saw these two little girls dressed up on the steps leading up to the temple, Mart grabbed a picture and the second the shutter went off on the camera they were out of their pose and saying "money, money, money"... I think we need to get used to things like that!
We headed back to the hotel for a swim and it started chucking it down.. our first rain storm in South East Asia... WOAH! It was soo heavy and SO loud, but was lovely swimming whilst the warm rain came down.
That evening we had our first Skype Video call with my parents from our room on our little netbook. It was brilliant!! Plus my sister, Clare, who's 8 months pregnant, was there and so was fab chatting with her when she's so close to the big day! If anyone wants to add us to Skype, here's our ID's (oh and we're currently 6 hours ahead):
Almost every room we've been in so far offers free wifi in our rooms, so it's been fantastic to check our emails every evening, do some research on where we're going next
and book hotel rooms - very handy!
The next morning we headed out to our Thai Cookery Course that I booked for Mart as a surprise, such a good day. We chose Thai Farm Cookery school. They picked us up from our hotel and then we drove to a local market where Max, our teacher for the day, taught us about Thai ingredients and how they are made. Something we spotted which made me want to vomit were pink eggs!! They are eggs that are rotten and have amonia injected into them - apparently they're really popular.. blurgh!
This is how Thai people sell a lot of their food on the street and in markets.. little bags tied at the top
After the market visit, we headed out to the farm where Max tooks us on a tour of their garden, explaining what they grow and pointing out some ingredients that we haven't seen before, such as Thai eggplant - like little tiny peas!
Then we got on with the cooking! Max was a brilliant teacher to the 6 of us that were on the course and he talked us through the following dishes:
- Thai Green Curry
- Tom Yam Soup
- Papaya Salad
- Chicken & Cashew Nut stir fry
- and Pad Thai noodles ... (my favourite thai dish too!)
after we'd finished we all sat down and dug into our HUGE lunch.. was soo lovely! So yeah... if you're at ours for dinner..I'll ask Martin to get his pinny on for you! hehe.
Oh and we met a couple of Aussie ladies who live only an hour from Martin's sister in Australia, so were giving us tips on how to cope with the Queensland heat over Christmas. We met another girl, Kerry who had been travelling for 4 years and is about to head back to her home town near Cardiff in a few weeks.. she said it was time to get a proper job and stop bumming around the world! haha.
So after our MAMMOTH feast we didn't need to go out to dinner, we just switched from our luxurious hotel to the CHEAPER Banliah hotel. I don't think I took the downgrading too well and was a bit grumpy, but we've been roughing it for a few days now and I've accepted that we were just a bit spoilt for a few days and now it's time for the real travelling to begin - bring on the cockraoches! .. not really! Oh, we did go out for a few beers that night and tried to spot ladyboys.. I think I got a couple right.
Oh and just a little insert for you Dij - spotted this in a 7 Eleven shop near our hotel... sweetcorn yoghurt!!!!!!! BLURRRGH! and instead of a burger with a bread bun on the outside, they have ones with sticky rice on the outside! haha.
will keep an eye out for some more random stuff!
Another early start for us yesterday, when we were picked up and taken to the Elephant Nature Park (http://www.elephantnaturepark.org/). About an hour and a halfs drive into the mountain/jungle area and we arrived at the park.
It's a sanctuary for elephants that have been rescued. Some because they were orphaned and some who had been injured (one stood on a landmine and another was blinded by their previous owner) but most of them were rescued from the tourist trade where they are used to beg on the streets of Bangkok and Chiang Mai by their owners, living out of rubbish dumps and by freeways during the day and then forced into the markets in the evening to make their owners money.
The park allows volunteers to come along for a week or a day to help feed and bathe the elephants so you're able to get really close - it was fantastic!
Oh and there were even 2 baby elephants and one of the adult elephants was preganant and you could see the baby moving around!
Yes... and I know I need to work on my tan! Blimey I look like a milk bottle in these pictures. Also... girls.. please ignore the sandals I have on! You know the story!
Last night we had sushi for dinner and then headed to the HUGE Sunday Chiang Mai market - at this point I have to say a huge thank you to Martin for following me around for about 2 hours whilst I stopped every 3 minutes to look at some jewellery, some clothes or a bag!! Was such a good market though and saw so many presents I could have got for everyone.. but no room in my rucksack.. sorry! Keeley.. I even spotted some leopard print for you!
Lots of Japanese inspired stuff
Today we travelled 3 hours on a bus upto Chiang Rai (where we've just been caught in a massive downpour with thunder and lightening going on around us!) and tomorrow we're heading to Chiang Kong (3 hour bus) ready for our crossing into Laos on Weds. We'll take a slow boat down the Mekong River on Weds for around 7 hours, stay overnight at some godforsaken place called Pak Beng (seriously, it sounds like a right dive! but it's the only place to stay on your way down) then another 7 hours on the boat the next day to Luang Prabang where we'll stay for a couple of nights and hopefully visit some awesome caves and waterfalls that we've been reading about!
We're absolutely loving it so far and have finally got over the jetlag too!
Will write again soon :-)
Ems and Mart