Thailand · 14 Days · 49 Moments · February 2019

Two Weeks in Thailand

25 February 2019

This evening while Sheridan was having her feet nibbled by fish and then massaged I went for a walk in behind the night bazaar area and discovered the Governor’s residence and a bridge lined with flowers over the Ping river.
Our final full day in Chiang Mai was a very quiet one. The morning was taken up with some swim and gym time and then we decided to get a Tuk Tuk to the City Park which was a lovely little Park in the North Western corner of the city walls. Our plan for a picnic lunch went astray however as the food vendors outside the park numbered 2 who spoke no English at all and we couldn’t really work out what they were selling with their bbq chicken. This is the first time. Usually it’s pretty easy as there are generally signs and or pictures showing what is available but not this time. So a quick walk in the park then off to find some lunch.

24 February 2019

Tonight we went to the Sunday Walking Street market which was one of the best and biggest street markets I’ve seen. Six blocks of Rachadamnoen Road are closed to traffic on a Sunday evening and it takes a good hour or so to get from one end to the other just looking at one side and some of the middle stalls. Then you have to walk back on the other side. Unlike some of the other Markets, this is a market for both tourists and Thais with something for everyone. Blind musicians were stationed down the middle every so often and there were other large sections crossing at some of the street intersections which we didn’t have time to see even though we spent four hours there. We managed to use up some of our baht as prices were very good.
The temple grounds were also large with many other buildings around the outside of the complex including Monk accommodation, Monk Chat spaces, a Buddhist university, administration buildings, a reclining Buddha and some lovely tropical plants and gardens. A very peaceful place to be at that time of the day, although by the time it we decided to leave the crowds had started to arrive.
The Great Stupa was an impressive structure rising 60 m and dominating the centre of the grounds. But it was originally much bigger. To quote from the website Renown “In the year 1545 disaster struck when a massive earthquake destroyed much of the chedi. The quake took off some 60 meters from the top of the chedi after which about 60 meters remained. In the 1990’s the chedi was partially restored.”
The Assembly Hall or Viham was also impressive. Although neither of us remembered to get any shots of the outside but the inside was even better.
This morning Sheridan and I beat the heat (early mornings are cool in Chiang Mai this time of year) and went to the Wat Chedi Luang which includes the city pillar and the Great Stupa. The City Pillar was out of bounds for women so I went in for some shots. Amazing paintings on the walls.

23 February 2019

Dinner was again at the Ploen Ruedee outdoor international food market. We love this place. This is the third time we have eaten there. Something different each time. Most of it is Asian/Middle Eastern but also some American as well as some interesting bars. Mine tonight was from “Bamboo Stick” and was worth a photo.
We also wandered down by the Ping River which is not Chiang Mai’s greatest asset. It looks rather polluted and neglected so we gave the possible river cruise a miss. Nothing like the River Kwai at Kanchanaburi which was much bigger and cleaner.
Today after another late start we caught a Tuk Tuk to the Worroros market which is one of the oldest markets in Chiang-Mai. It is definitely not a tourist market and there were very few of us there. This the old Chiang-Mai where you could buy just about anything you wanted in a maze of outdoor and indoor stalls which covered 3 floors of buildings on opposite sides of the road. We didn’t buy much but it was fascinating to see what was for sale.

22 February 2019

It is only a small sanctuary set up in 2016 but there is new building research and study centre being constructed. They hope to buy more land and rescue 5 more elephants in addition to the 5 they currently have. We also got to prepare our own Thai noodle soup.
Washing the elephants.
Mud bathing. First the elephants then us!
Elephant poo anyone?
It costs anywhere up to 5 million baht (about $250 000) to rescue an elephant and they eat up to 100kg of food a day so these sanctuaries are not cheap but it was money well spent. We had an amazing, once in a lifetime day. Here we are feeding the elephants.
After some research we decided to visit the Maerim Elephant Sanctuary. This is a place where elephants from logging and riding camps are rescued and get to spend the rest of their days because they wouldn’t survive in the wild. This is strictly a no riding camp and so after an impressive and entertaining information session we got to dress in the traditional blue mahout clothing (elephants can only see blue and yellow clearly) and walk with them carrying our sacks of bananas to the feeding area.
Early morning in Chiang-Mai, Elephant sanctuary transport and greetings from the elephants.

21 February 2019

Thai dancers and food stalls at one of the night markets.
In the evening while searching for food we happened upon the Chiang Mai Pride parade along ChangKlan road. No where near as big as Tokyo pride but worth seeing. Nice festive atmosphere tonight.
After lunch we visited the Art in paradise gallery to view the 3D art and optical illusions. Unfortunately I had forgotten to charge my phone so by the time I had downloaded the special app that goes with the art, I was only able to take a few photos with it on low power mode before it died. I was very annoyed with myself!
We had a very slow start this morning as both Tessa and I were feeling poorly. Sheridan and I walked down to the river and also checked the 3D art museum for later in the day.

20 February 2019

More night market shots. Still only scratched the surface. Purchases have made mainly by Tessa.
There won’t be much to read today because I have come down with a head cold and finding it difficult to concentrate atm. Exploring Chiang Mai Old City without a map. Not recommended in the heat.
Early morning and late afternoon views from the Astra Condo Chiang Mai.

19 February 2019

A long travel day today so not much to say. Left Kanchanaburi at 8:30 am. Then a 2 and a half hour road trip to Bangkok airport. Some wait time then a flight to Chiang Mai. Everything went fairly smoothly though the flight was a bit late. It was a surprisingly large plane -Airbus A330 and it was full. We arrived on a Buddhist holiday so traffic at the airport was a little insane. We battled the crowds and waited our turn for a taxi to our apartment. After settling in and buying some supplies for our breakfasts we headed to the night market. We spent a couple of hours there but still didn’t see it all. Quite impressed with some of the crafts and clothing on first impression. Plenty more too see later. I had my first taste of Durian. Smells like a sewer but tastes a bit like spicy custard. Sheridan had her feet nibbled by some fish!

18 February 2019

Under the canopy it was significantly cooler than out in the open. We walked all the way to the seventh falls which were the prettiest but also with many swimmers and a bit too much posing for photos so we walked back to the fifth falls for our own swim and to have our feet nibbled by hungry fish. It takes a while to get used to that!
Erawan National Park was pretty special. There are seven sections of waterfalls within a two kilometre track. The first 3 are very easy walking and then the track gets rougher and steeper as you get to the last few. All sections have pools suitable for swimming which is allowed. Even early on a Monday there were plenty of people already swimming as we walked past.
Tessa decided not to come to Erawan National Park so a bit before 8 am we headed off with our driver in the back of the covered Ute - I think they’re called Song Thaews in Thailand. It was Ok for the one hour ride to Erawan. We got a good look at the countryside with some natural air conditioning.

17 February 2019

Tonight’s meal was an experience. We walked a short distance to another huge open air restaurant which we thought would be similar to our first night here but it was completely different. It was cook your own buffet Thai style. Set price for all you could eat but you had to cook it yourself. Each table had 2 charcoal burners . One for seafood and the other had a curved top for meats and an outside well with a broth for vegetables. I don’t really think we did it justice as our cooking skills were remedial. We had to be shown how to start by a friendly local at the table next door. But we had fun trying. There was an amazing selection of food to cook but we played it pretty safe with chicken and prawns and a little bit of white fish as well. Another type of “white fish” was taking a long time to cook so I tried it - it turned out to be pork fat! So we threw that out. Something else we tried Sheridan thought was pork but I swear it was rabbit or at least some kind of rodent!!
Then it was back to our boat man who was resting with his fishing rod when we arrived, for our trip back along the river.
The Wat Tham Khao Pun cave. The cave was fairly impressive wth stairs leading down to a main chamber then the path wound its way through smaller rooms and some very narrow natural doorways until eventually back up some more stairs and outside again.
We climbed the stairs from the pier to the shrine on the hill for some great views of the river. Then we lazily caught a tuk tuk to the cave entrance instead of the 5 minute walk (we didn’t know it was so close!)
We wanted a ride on the river so we chose one of the guys with a sign for boat rides and asked to go to the Wat Tham Khao Pun, which is a Buddhist temple cave about 4 km down river. There were many other longer trips but we wanted a shorter one today. It was on one of the covered long boats with the huge outboard motor and we certainly picked up some speed on the way. We passed many large house boats on the way being towed by long boats. Many of these seemed to be the party boats I had heard about-loud dance music blaring although probably a bit early for the party!
After breakfast we walked to the Bridge over the River Kwai. (Only 10 minutes from our hotel) We joined many other tourists and walked across the bridge. Not sure what happens when a train comes because it is mainly a rail bridge even though they have filled the gaps so it is easy to walk on.

16 February 2019

After some relaxing pool time we tuk tuked to the 2 night markets in Kanchanburi. The first one was a Saturday night “local” market and was very impressive. Nice relaxed atmosphere-no one hassling for a sale. Tessa bought several items of clothing and we grabbed some local snacks on a stick. The second market was an every night market which was ok but had a bit of a sameness about some of the stalls. But still relaxed with food as cheap as chips. The only downside was we had to sit on a raised piece of footpath to eat our tea.
We caught one of the local Tuk Tuks (motorbike with a covered sidecar with seats for 3) back to the hotel.
Spent a leisurely morning breakfasting in the gardens then talking to the friendly hotel staff about some of the sights to see around Kanchanburi. Booked a driver to take us to the Erawan National Park on Monday and our airport transfer on Tuesday. We decided to leave the elephant sanctuary for Chiang Mai. So we walked into downtown Kanchanaburi and spent a couple of hours in the Death Railway museum finding out about how the Japanese built the Thai-Burma railway and the terrible conditions in the camps. It was quite a sobering experience.

15 February 2019

Just ignore the flight moment below. I stuffed the date up and now I can’t get rid of it!
After a quick swim we walked to the Kwai river bridge but it was getting dark quickly so we decided on some authentic Thai open air food. 3 meals, 2 beers and a soft drink for $20!
Arriving at Kanchanburi station we hopped on an open backed minibus to our hotel, a small family run affair with lovely gardens and a small pool.
The train took about 2 and half hours (30 minutes to slowly find its way out of Bangkok) then passing and stopping at many small towns and finally passing through fairly flat countryside of mixed farmland but quite interesting to sit back and watch it all go slowly by.
After checkout this morning we ordered a taxi to Thonburi station to catch the 1:55 train to Kanchanburi. The hotel staff couldn’t understand why we wanted to catch the train instead of a minibus which most tourists obviously use to get there. We tried to explain that we wanted an experience. The station is on borrowed time with the railway system being upgraded soon. The train was third class at best. Windows open, no aircon, vendors hopping on at some of the stations on the way offering snacks and drinks, but at least the seats were padded!

14 February 2019

Tessa arrived this morning about 45 minutes later than we were expecting her (Bangkok traffic) but still in time for breakfast. It was great to see her again. We took her shopping after breakfast and a short rest to get some “hot weather” stuff for the rest of the trip. Tomorrow we head off to Kanchanburi on a local train. Should be an experience!
Bangkok traffic has a bit of reputation which is probably deserved but it seems like a walk in the park compared with Cairo. Here traffic is much more orderly and drivers observe the lane markings. Lane markings are irrelevant in Cairo so vehicles and animals fill up every bit of space on the roads. Also the cars are newer and cleaner in Bangkok.

13 February 2019

After an impressive breakfast at our hotel we got the hotel shuttle to Sukhumvit road. (Lazy since it’s probably a 5 min walk). Then made our way via Robinson’s department store to Terminal 21 one of the big shopping malls in Bangkok. Spent most of the day exploring and made a few purchases. Sheridan found some magnified goggles for swimming!
Relaxing by the hotel pool after a hard day’s shopping.
Sukhumvit road area near Terminal 21.
Early morning smog and sunrise over a steamy Sukhumvit area in Bangkok.

12 February 2019

We felt a bit like a kite as we flew out of Devonport this morning in our little Dash 8 battling a North Westerly that had howled all night. It was an interesting take off and landing. Our Thai Airways flight was much smoother and on time. We touched down in Bangkok without feeling rushed about making it to the meeting point wth the driver we had pre booked. That all went smoothly as well and an hour later we were settling in to our hotel. Too tired to do anything more tonight.