A Travellerspoint blog

Thailand

One last hurrah

Four months of travel can take it out of you. Hot crowded buses, strange food, time changes, staying up late, getting up early, hot guest houses, bug bites, etc., seem to wear you out, no matter how beautiful the sites are. Sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation. So we decided to fly back down to southern Thailand and spend a few days soaking up some sun and drinking tropical drinks. After a little bit of internet research, we discovered a sweet Sheraton that was just screaming to us to come visit. So we ended up in the small beach town of Khao Lak at Le Meridian Resort for 4 nights, which turned into 5 nights.

thai-map5.JPG

"As expected from a 5-star resort" we were greeted with refreshing lemongrass towels and tea upon arrival. The place was beautiful, all it was missing was a friendly little elephant to swim with in the afternoons, but you can't have it all.

DSC01487.JPG

DSC01486.JPG

DSC01483.JPG

DSC01476.JPG

DSC01477.JPG

Our days consisted of lounging on the beach, lounging in the pool, and lounging in our room when there were afternoon showers. Questions such as "Do you want to go to the big pool or the pool with the water jets?" or "Should we lay in the hammock under the palm tree or on the sundeck in the Andaman Sea?" became commonplace.

DSC01485.JPG

DSC01478.JPG

DSC01490.JPG

Every evening, we would enjoy a drink outside on the beach while watching a spectacularly colorful sunset.

DSC01479.JPG

DSC01489.JPG

DSC01492.JPG

DSC01481.JPG

DSC01482.JPG

This resort had all sorts of activities to keep you busy, if sitting in a beach chair reading a book wasn't enough to entertain you. So we took advantage of this and did some kayaking, windsurfing, beach volleyball, and hobiecatting.

DSC01488.JPG

DSC01491.JPG

It was a beautiful end to a wonderful trip. We knew that in a few short days we would be looking down on the Pacific Ocean on our way back to familiar lands. We were of course looking forward to going home to see family and friends, but while watching the sunset with the warm breezes sweeping off of the sea, it made it just a little bit harder to leave. There is no such thing as a vacation that doesn't end and we know how fortunate we are to have been able to extend it for this long. What we've learned and will take back home with us from this trip is going to be the best souvenir of all.

DSC01493.JPG

Until next time....

Posted by rebmamber 16:46 Archived in Thailand Comments (8)

Back to Thailand

As our journey is reaching its' end, it is appropriate that we complete the circle which we began and return to Thailand. In fact, we found ourselves in the very place where we entered this excursion: Chiang Mai. Upon returning to Thailand, we were surprised at how modern and clean everything was, which of course is in contrast to our first impression back in December.

thai-map4.JPG

Before spending another 5 days in Chiang Mai, we took a quick jaunt up to the north into the mountains of Northern Thailand that we had missed on the first go. We spent three nights in the cute little town of Pai, which is nestled in the valley. Despite the fact that the town is overrun with hippie-minded westerners and lacks much Thai culture, it was a very relaxing place with yoga lessons and live music everywhere. Imagine being halfway around the world listening to a wonderful acoustic version of "Blackbird", pretty cool.

DSC01521.JPG
Our adorable bungalow along the Pai River.

DSC01522.JPG
A massive gecko. We have been hearing these in the evenings for a while, but this is the first one we actually got to see. It's easy to know when you are hearing one, they basically call out their presence: "Gecko, Gecko, Gecko".

DSC01523.JPG
A preview of Songkran (Thai New Year) - more to come.

We returned to Chiang Mai in time to celebrate the Thai New Year, or Songkran. The main festivity of the week, other than receiving blessings for the new year, is to get every person in sight as wet as you can possibly make them. People of all ages hit the streets with buckets, hoses, and water guns to soak passersby. It is physically impossible to not get wet, but considering that it is the hottest month in Thailand (and it is really hot), you don't try very hard to avoid it. Chiang Mai is widely known as the best place in Thailand to experience this, so we bought some buckets and threw ourselves into the madness.

DSC01461.JPG

DSC01463.JPG
The main street around the old city.

DSC01470.JPG
Us before we were soaked. We were only spared because we had our camera out, once that was gone, there was no escape.

DSC01469.JPG
The moat around the city where people have an endless supply of water.

DSC01462.JPG

DSC01471.JPG
Justin getting more ammo.

DSC01474.JPG
Justin getting his first soaking of the day from a few novice monks.

On the day before New Year's, there is a huge parade through the streets where people come to splash water on statues of Buddha (as well as each other and anyone else walking in or watching the parade).

DSC01464.JPG

DSC01466.JPG

DSC01465.JPG

DSC01468.JPG

DSC01472.JPG

DSC01473.JPG
The monks giving blessings to the parade and passersby - water guns deserve blessings, too!

It was so nice to return to Chiang Mai and to feel not-so-foreign in a foreign city. Songkran in Chiang Mai may not have the reputation of Mardis Gras or the running of the bulls, but it was a wild time and highly recommended on things to do in your life (if you get the opportunity).

Posted by rebmamber 05:23 Archived in Thailand Comments (5)

Leaving Thailand

...for now

karondinner.JPG

thai-map3.JPG

We left the islands on a 12-hour overnight bus journey back to Bangkok. It was a very interesting evening to say the least. It is nice to save a night's accommodation, but you really never get much sleep, nor do you get to see any of the countryside. Also, the bus drops you off at 5:30 in the morning in downtown Bangkok, which is an adventure in itself. Having nowhere to go, we hired a tuk-tuk to drop us off at Wat Arun, a temple along the river, where we were able to see the sunrise.

Back in Bangkok, we were lucky to stay with Jup, Pum and Patty, the Thai family we have befriended thanks to Eric & Ying. The first night we were with them, they took us out to a German restaurant. We initially thought it was funny to be visiting a German restaurant in Thailand, but we stopped laughing when we realized they had dark beer on tap. Any of you who have been over this way will understand that the beer in Thailand is horrible, unless you like flavorless lagers (Brian). An interesting thing that we finally learned that night is that Thai servers will keep filling your beer unless you tell them not to, hide your glass, and run out the door.

germanbeer.JPG

bierhaus.JPG

The next day Jup, Pum, & Patty all took the day off and we headed out to Ayuthaya, the old capital of Thailand. We saw the ancient ruins that were abandoned in the 1700's when the Burmese attacked the capital city and burned everything that could burn and did their best to destroy everything else. They even cut the heads off all the Buddha statues, which boggled our minds, as the Burmese are Buddhists themselves. We also visited several wonderful temples and, of course, ate well.

treeface.JPG
A wonderful Buddha face being taken over by a banyan tree.

ayutaya.JPG

group at ruins.JPG

giantbuddha.JPG
To get the scale, notice the person in his hand.

king.JPG
One of the ubiquitous portraits of Thailand's king, Bhumibol Adulyadej.

tigerfish.JPG
The lunch spot was along the Chao Praya River, where we were greatly entertained by spitting Tiger fish. Notice the piece of shrimp on the right is airborne.

ponddinner.JPG
Our final dinner.

From our experiences; Thailand is an assault on your senses. You are bombarded with smells, sights, and sounds everywhere you turn. The streets hit you with good (food) and bad (open sewers) smells; the temples smack you with incense, quietness, and colors; the beaches meet you with salty air, hot sunshine, and crystal clear water; the people greet you with kind words and leave you with a wonderful respect for their culture.

Thanks for the compliments on all the photos. I (Amber) must admit however, that Justin has taken a good share of these as I am usually off fiddling with my SLR - so he deserves at least half of the credit! Here is another one of his "award-winning" shots of a Thai "school bus".

schoolbus.JPG

Posted by rebmamber 00:59 Archived in Thailand Comments (10)

Koh Phi Phi

sunny

krabi1.JPG

After a few days of being spoiled at the Sheraton, we headed to the Phi Phi Islands. Phi Phi Don Island is in the Andaman Sea, about 2 hours from Krabi by ferry, and consists of actually two rock formations connected by a small sand bar.

phiphi2.JPG

phiphidon.JPG

phiphistreet.JPG

Prior to the tsunami last year, the sand bar was very built up; now, there are only a few structures remaining and a lot of recovering palm trees. Approximately 2,000 people lost their lives on this small island last year when the tsunami hit, but the island is working feverishly to recover and great "progress" is being made. The memorials on the island and the stories of lost lives and unbelievable survivals were quite humbling. Here are a few photos of some tsunami-affected areas - those of you who have been here may recognize these places.

pier.JPG
Due to the reconstruction, there is work being done all over the island. This is the pier where all the construction materials arrive.

barber.JPG
A barbershop, with mirror and chair still in tact.

tents.JPG
This was the main tourist beach. Before, there were shops and hotels, but until it is rebuilt, the beach has tents for rent.

peanuts.JPG

The first day we went out to Phi Phi Ley Island on a snorkeling tour. Phi Phi Ley is protected from development and was made famous by good old Leonardo and the movie "The Beach", which was filmed at Maya Bay. Amber's quest to visit the set of every Leonardo Dicaprio movie is going well.

mayabay.JPG
This is the beach where "The Beach" was filmed.

phileybay.JPG

bambooisland.JPG

monkeybeach.JPG

The snorkeling was pretty amazing around Phi Phi Ley, with schools of colorful parrot fish swimming by, beautiful coral formations, and we even got a great look at a Moray Eel. The bad part was that there was a ridiculous amount of boats in some of the areas and we feared being chopped to chum a few times.

The town of Phi Phi Don was actually quite nice and we spent the second day on the island just strolling around and hitting the beach now and then. There is also quite a bit of nightlife on the island which kept us entertained as well.

justincat.JPG
Amber's not the only one who picks up stray cats in the street!

fireduo.JPG

thaiboxing.JPG
We caught a "traditional" Thai boxing match, but it was more like WWF since everything seemed pretty staged.

licked.JPG

beatles.JPG
Notice the mural behind the band.

Posted by rebmamber 05:13 Archived in Thailand Comments (7)

A Backpacker's Life?

Sheraton Krabi Resort

sunny 31 °C

As we were feeling tired of the "hustle and bustle" of the backpacking life, we decided to live it up and stay a few nights at the Sheraton Krabi Resort (plus we got a screaming good deal - thanks Papa Jenks!). Let me tell you, if you ever go to the Thailand beaches, take a Jenks family member, because this resort and beach were NICE! (By the way, Amber says that she is always available if anyone is interested!)

We entered the lobby with our backpacks, smelly and looking like we needed a shower. They greeted us with cold lemongrass tea and chilled lemongrass towels, the service that we expect when we return home. The grounds and buildings were very beautiful, and we knew we were going to be spoiled here.

sheratonlobby.JPG

sheratonroom.JPG

Our first night we relaxed in the "infinity" pool for a while, watched the sunset on the beach, then watched "The Gladiator" on the big screen set up under the Australian Pine trees and the stars.

sheratonpool.JPG

poolatnight.JPG

The next day we pretty much just hung around the resort. Our main highlight of the second day was our afternoon swim with "Ra-Ra", the Sheraton's baby elephant! They bring Ra-Ra out to the beach for a swim at 3 pm and you can join in, feed her, ride her, whatever. Yes, I (Justin) was bucked off Ra-Ra in under 8 seconds, but you'll have to wait to see the video!). Ra-Ra has a pretty good life from what we saw; she even had a trainer that would carry her poo out of the water with his bare hands, now that's love. After Ra-Ra has an accident in the water, everyone just shakes their heads, puts their hands on their waists and says, "Oh Ra-Ra". In fact, Ra-Ra can pretty much do whatever she wants. It was very interesting to see how the baby elephant would play almost like it was a very large puppy, splashing about, diving under the water, and enjoying the people around her.

rara.JPG

amberrara2.JPG

amberrara1.JPG

justinrara1.JPG

rara2.JPG

After swimming with Ra-Ra, I was so inspired that I joined some local guys for a game of "soccer" on the beach. They actually called me over as I jogged by them, probably thinking that I was a lousy western soccer player. But, I showed them a few things and even got called on a foul (unjustified). Sorry that there are no pictures of me tearing up the beach, Amber was not with me.

The following day we hired a long-tail boat to take us and a kayak to Hong Island, which was beautiful, of course. We kayaked around the island, fed some "wildlife", and relaxed on the beach.

boattohong.JPG

xhong.JPG

hongisland.JPG

usonhong.JPG

monitor.JPG
A monitor lizard on the island.

justinfish.JPG

On our last night, we watched the sunset and then spoiled ourselves (again) to a nice dinner at the Sheraton's restaurant overlooking the beach - although, with 50% off discount on food, how can you pass it up!

krabisunset.JPG

xdinner.JPG

xmeal.JPG

Thank you for all the wonderful comments, especially the one about my (Justin's) abs. You too can have abs like me if you follow my simple plan! Just send me 4 payments of $9.99 and you will receive my MONEY BACK guaranteed ROCK hard ab plan...

Posted by rebmamber 23:56 Archived in Thailand Comments (8)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 12) Page [1] 2 3 » Next