To my dearest friends, family and fellow culture cravers,
Earlier this week, after almost a year apart, I was reunited with my family in Bangkok, Thailand!
Not only was I ecstatic to catch up with my fam after so long but I was also very excited to return to Thailand and re-explore a country I travelled to on my first backpacking trip in 2011.
As the rents were after a couple of weeks of stress-free exploration, they opted for a trip booked through Kuoni, which would enable us to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time.
We started in the manic capital of Bangkok, headed up to the luscious rolling hills of Chiang Mai and then journeyed to the South to sample Thailand’s iconic beaches on Koh Lanta.
On our first day in Bangkok we decided to kick-start our trip with exploring some of the city’s many temples.
Throughout Thailand, there’s a bedazzling Buddhist temple on every street corner so, choosing which ones to prioritise was hard. In the end, we opted for the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
Due to the King’s recent death, the Grand Palace was crowded with Thai citizens in mourning. Thousands of people were dressed in black encircling the palace walls whilst they patiently awaited their chance to pay their respects to their late King’s remains. Whilst others served free food from stalls on the outskirts of the palace in memory of his reign.
It was very touching to see just how many people were still gathering so many months after his death and how important it was for them to say their thanks and goodbyes.
The next day we decided to put on our history hats and go on a tour of the river Kwai.
During WWII, soldiers who were fighting the Japanese were made prisoners of war and forced to build a train track from Thailand to Myanmar (the bridge on the river Kwai being a part of this track). Consequently, a lot of them lost their lives.
We went to the Kwai museum where we learnt a lot of the history behind the fateful time the soldiers spent building the track as well as, the reasons behind building it. Before taking a trip on the train through beautiful scenic countryside and enjoying a delicious Thai lunch overlooking the river.
The next day it was time to venture up North to Chiang Mai.
On our first evening we delved head first into the vibrant hustle and bustle of Chiang Mai’s night market. A kaleidoscopic mix of lights, colourful artwork, Aladdin pants and Thailand’s iconic wooden frogs, it had every souvenir under the sun.
After a browse around the abundance of stores, we wandered a few minutes further down the road and discovered what I described to my parents as an ‘upmarket’ street food market.
Glinting fairy lights were draped over trees, rustic old crates were used as tables, fluffy hay bales were scattered throughout the area as chairs and a band filled the market with some great music. All of this was encompassed by food stalls serving everything from traditional pad Thai and curries to fresh fish and burgers.
It was heaven.
Our final full day in Chiang Mai was spent at a wonderful elephant sanctuary (which I will write more about in a separate post). As my sister is absolutely obsessed with elephants, this was one of the main reason why we chose to include Chiang Mai in our itinerary.
After a lot of research into different sanctuaries and their ethical values, we opted to go with Into The Wild Elephant Camp (unfortunately the Elephant Nature Park, which is so well-known for its brilliant care of its elephants was fully booked).
We spent the day trekking through the luscious jungle, feeding and washing the elephants and admiring them as they frolicked around and went about their day-to-day lives. They were free to roam as they pleased and seemed very very happy.
This week we’re in Koh Lanta in the South of Thailand relaxing at our B E A utiful hotel – Twin Lotus Resort and Spa – in the lead up to Christmas (and celebrating 1 year of travel)!!
And we also have the very exciting addition of my best friend, Fran (the one I lived with in Auckland) joining us for Christmas!!
Happy Festivities everyone! Until next week…