I couldn’t find a more perfect setting to regale you with week two of our orient odyssey. Jen is curled up on a sunbed asleep and I am looking down a tropical beach as the sun sets, while drinking an ice cold beer.
It sounds like paradise in every sense of the word but as budget backpackers our route to this hedonism wasn’t the comfortable or relaxing experience your ‘suitcase tourist’ might have.
We landed in Bangkok at 10am on the morning of Friday 16thMarch and after we had gotten through customs and out of the air-con airport we were just in time to be greeted by Bangkok’s mid-day humid heat (38 degrees C). With severe jet lag, and all that it brings, the first thing we did once at the hotel was what any intrepid explorer and stiff upper lipped Englishman would do; we donned suncream and hit the hectic, overcrowded streets in search of exotic delicacies and great picture opportunities. In Bangkok both come in abundance.
|On the bounce through Bangkok in a Tuk Tuk|
I could spend this blog, and the next five, describing the sheer madness of Thailand’s capital; the people, the streets, the vast amount of food vendors found on every corner, the hawkers, the tuk tuks, the barefoot monks in their orange robes. One moment energy is draining from you, maybe due to the unbearable heat or an unreasonable taxi driver who won’t put on his metre so he can fleece you (albeit by a few pounds, bit still, it’s YOUR few pounds) the next you are revitalised by some tasty noodle soup you found which cost you 80p but left you feeling more satisfied than any roast dinner could.
There is no in between with Bangkok, you either love it or you hate it and for us it is definitely the former. One word of advice though is to question every price told to you or (as sad as it sounds) question anybody who stops you in the street to give you ‘friendly’ advice as this more than likely involves them sending you off in a tuk tuk to a far away temple with a stop at a travel agency on the way.
|My ‘temple’ pants hiding my pale legs|
After spending a night in Bangkok we left the city a day earlier than planned to get to the island of Koh Samui in South Thailand because the train information we acquired before leaving England was out of date. We took the sleeper train on the Saturday evening at 7:30pm from Hualamphong Station and our mammoth 16 hour trip to Koh Samui began.
|Hey now, where’s my bed?!|
If you plan to travel big trips in Thailand then the sleeper train should be your first choice although it is like trying to sleep through severe turbulence on a plane but at least you will have an actual bed.
|Jen comfy with her Kindle|
At Suratthani Station, 12 hours after departure, we were swiftly ushered onto transport number two, a coach, for 2 hours, which took us to the port at Don Sak. We then hopped onto a ferry for the final 1.5 hours.
When we arrived on Koh Samui we were drained of all bartering savvy-ness and headed straight to the nearest taxi to just take us to our beach bungalow and the start of a week of some serious R&R.
Maenam Beach is what you would call a tropical paradise as well as an animal lovers dream. Everywhere on the beach and streets are the most friendly of pet cats and dogs as well as stunning birds with their relaxing songs and bright colours. The owners of our bungalows have four dogs and four cats, one of which has spent the last few nights sleeping in between us.
|Yeah? And wha’?!|
Our resort, Moonhut Bungalows, is actually perfect. Set on a quiet turquoise beach, barely any hawkers, or tourists to be honest. The food is tasty and cheap. Our rooms are cleaned to a high standard. The staff are also a delight. We have hardly ventured out to the more busier beaches and when we have we just want to come back. This place is a real gem and has only cost us £10 a night.
|Moonhut Bungalows, Maenam Beach|
Many people stay on Koh samui for a few days and head over to Koh Phangan which is a 30 minute boat trip away. Koh Phangnan is well renowned as being a party island but with its selection of quiet beaches. After this, you can island hop to the much smaller Koh Tao where you can then take a boat back to the main land and pick up the train to Bangkok from Chumporn. Jen and I discussed this trip but for financial reasons we thought it best to go back to Bangkok the way we know.
We are leaving Koh Samui on Tuesday and heading back to Bangkok for a night. After that we intend to travel North to Chiang Mai, a city known for its trekking and homestay excursions into the rural jungles that surround it. We won’t be doing those things there (there are plenty of opportunities for that in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, for much cheaper, if we wish) but instead are using it as a stop off point before heading towards the Laos border. Thailand is an expensive country in comparison to its neighbours so the quicker we leave the better.
|My tan looks great in white|