Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thailand I (July 17 - July 26)

We arrived to Bangkok from Kathmandu by plane on July 17th in the afternoon. The flight was with Thai airlines and was unexpectedly comfortable. The weird thing was that the the huge plane was almost empty :)

Bangkok was a completely different place compared to what we have seen so far in India and Nepal. It is completely modern, with all facilities, shops and conveniences available in the western world. We have spent there just one day, since we should be flying to Delhi (and home) from Bangkok, so because of visas and time it makes more sense to do sightseeing there before our departure to India. Actually, I am very much looking forward to the next visit, because the temples really did look amazing and the city has a very chilled-out atmosphere. Our guest house was probably a popular place of the sex tourists in Bangkok, since we heard some funny noises from the nearby rooms both nights we have slept there. Not wanting to miss out on some fun, we have decided to buy one*) as well.

We left Bangkok on Saturday and headed to Ayuthaya, one of the most important historical places in Thailand, and its former capital. The city itself was not particularly exciting (and neither was our loud guest house loaded with some party-type Brits), but some of the ruins were fairly impressive.

On our way to Sukhothai, probably the most important historical site in Thailand (yes, Ayuthaya was one of the most important :)...) we stopped at Phitsanulok, quite a ghost town, at least at night. Having experienced some minor problems finding a guest house and a place to get food, we went to bed and had a good night sleep.

Sukhothai, located in a large and well-groomed park full of lakes, trees and historical monuments, was an inspiring place. We have hired a bike and spent the whole day driving around and enjoying ourselves. We even won the fight with our first coconut, that fell from a tree and managed to peel it, crack it and eat it :)

Our next stop was Chiang Mai, the trekking town. We did some sightseeing in the afternoon and decided to go for a trek for next 2 days. It was in the nearby Doi Inthanol National Park and although it was rather a touristic trek (so incomparable with our Nepal experience), it was a lot of fun. We did some elephant riding, bamboo rafting, slept in straw cottages in a local tribe village, learned a new funny Thai card game in the evening etc.

Tomorrow (Friday July 25th) we are heading through Chiang Rai and Chiang Saen to a place called Sop Ruak, which is the (in)famous Golden Triangle, the place where borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet - famous for drug, weapons and white flesh smuggling not only in the past. We should be crossing the Lao border at Chiang Khong/Huay Xai tomorrow in the afternoon and continuing our trip further.

As already mentioned, we are coming back to Thailand in about a month, spending some time around Bangkok and then crushing on some of the southern Thai islands (Phuket, Ko Phi-Phi, Ko Samet...) for last week of our trip to chill out there.

On behalf of the fatal crew :)

*) set of earplugs

Bangkok at night

Three pagodas, Ayuthaya

Wat Mahathat, Sukhothai

Elephant riding and bamboo rafting, near Chiang Mai

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