Briefly back in Bangkok with new perceptions

After being amazed by this chaotic city, yet undecided if I like it at the same time, a pitstop back in the city after our visit to Chiang Mai did actually change my mind. We stayed in a completely different area of Bangkok and saw something else other than the sheer craziness of Khoasan Road, and of course the traffic! 

We stayed in a hostel called Yoo Yen Pen Sook (great name) in the north of the city, near Morchit bus station and a great weekend market. The area had so much more of a true local feel with swathes of antique and bric-a-brac shops and stalls lining the streets. 

Chatuchuk weekend market was really near the hostel but in fact we stumbled across it whilst just exploring the area, typical! It’s a maze of market stalls and shops selling clothes, shoes, jewellery, gifts, you name it, as well as fresh fruit and drink for refreshments. There was a great atmosphere as Thais and tourists browsed and bartered. At this point though we were super hungry as we’d been up early for our flight from Chiang Mai so we made a beeline towards the first place we saw! Spicy Thai red curry and rice for a bargain 50 baht (just over £1). It was delicious but my poor mouth was on fire and my lips were tingling there was so much chilli! Obviously my chilli tolerance leaves much to be desired. 

After spending some time perusing the wares of this huge indoor/outdoor market we headed back to the hostel to refresh, shower and plan our next couple of days. 

In an attempt to find somewhere to eat dinner, we walked beyond the market we’d been to earlier which was now closed and noticed lots of people walking in the opposite direction to us. We thought this was strange as it felt as if an event had finished. We kept going, eventually coming across a busy vintage(?) market with live music, lots of interesting stalls and places to eat. In the upper corner on a platform above the rest of the market was a restaurant full of locals so we decided to take the plunge too. It was so much fun as you grilled everything at the table yourselves and as were clearly weren’t locals the staff automatically gave us cutlery instead of chopsticks!

We had a big bucket of coke between us too and for dessert you could make your own pancakes and top it with as much chocolate sauce and sprinkles or smarties as you could. I felt like a ten year old having all the ice cream toppings at a Pizza Hut 🙈 the fact we had giant marshmallows with chocolate sauce and got it all over our faces only furthered this! We had such an enjoyable evening and all in all left with a changed impression of Bangkok! 


Elephants and more in Chiang Mai

I cannot recommend visiting this fabulous city in Northern Thailand enough. Everyone we came across in Bangkok were enthusiastic about Chiang Mai and it hasn’t disappointed at all! We flew up from Bangkok which was fairly cheap and only took an hour (saving ourselves a 9 hour bus ride).

One of the main reasons we chose to visit Chiang Mai was to see some elephants whilst being responsible tourists, a major bucket list activity for all of us – especially Rhianna! I would recommend the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary to anyone in a heartbeat as it was such an incredible day. The whole experience was so much fun and it was amazing to be around such majestic and elegant animals. Fun fact: elephants don’t have stomachs in their digestive systems so continually eat for around 20 hours a day! That’s a heck of a lot of food. For 2400 baht (around £55) we got picked up from the city centre and driven around an hour and a half south to the sanctuary. We were able to meet the elephants, feed them bananas, stroke them (the texture of their skin is tough but nothing like I expected)  walk with them, watch them play in the river, then after lunch wash them and cover them in mud too! Here are some pictures:

After such an incredible day we headed back to Chiang Mai in the same pick up/jeep which gave us a stunning view of the jungle as we winded back down the hillside towards the city. We stumbled across a street food market which I deemed the Thai ‘Dinerama’ (street food place in London). We ate huge spring rolls, bao buns and ice cream rolls ups -yum! There were market stalls, great live music, twinkly lights and a great atmosphere. There was also a cocktail bus so we just had to sample its wares!

 After dinner we walked round the corner to the night market and immediately heard more live music. Someone at the elephant sanctuary had recommended the Boy Blues bar here, nestled in the skies of the market. We followed the sound and there it was, a tiny bar filled with people lapping up the bluesy band. The music was great here and we stayed until just before closing to enjoy as much as we could.

Today we ventured out of the city again to the temple at Doi Suthep. This had beautiful views of the city as well as the temple being so beautiful too. There was so much gold and intricate detailing, and though there were many steps to climb to the top, it was definitely worth it.

All in all Chiang Mai gets a massive thumbs up from me 👍 Tomorrow we’re heading back to Bangkok to then catch a bus to Cambodia. 

Street food, The Grand Palace and three potential cases of heat exhaustion

So we arrived fresh off the plane ready to explore Bangkok, but DEFINITELY not ready for the heat. It was a mere 35c in the shade and with it being pretty cold back in Blighty it’s safe to say it was a bit of a shock to the system. Amen for air con! 

On the plus side we had our first taste of Thai street food on our it’s night which was heavenly 👌 Pad Thai which they cook in front of you was incredible, as was this fried shrimp we all enjoyed 🍤🍜

Yummy fried shrimp

After dinner we meandered through the shopping centre to cool off (shocker, it’s the same as a shopping centre anywhere else) and visited the very busy Chinatown which was also filled with so much yummy looking street food we were sad we already ate. Getting to Chinatown was our first tuk tuk ride and it didn’t disappoint! There are seemingly no rules or lanes, yet everyone appears to know what they’re doing, zipping in and out between cars and motorbikes, the traffic is like nothing I’ve ever seen! You can tell that pollution is an issue here because the air is so thick and the fumes so strong, especially when you’re flying along in an open tuk tuk. My clothes even smell of fumes (ew).

Busy Chinatown
After our first afternoon in Bangkok we were all tired and jet lagged so an early night was needed! After a night’s rest in our cosy hostel we were ready to explore further afield as we decided to visit the Grand Palace, arguably the jewel in Bangkok’s crown and the no. 1 tourist destination. We grabbed a delicious smoothie from the hostel for brekkie and headed out into the heat.
To get to the Palace from where we were staying we walked to Pratunam pier and got a busy barge boat to the end of the river which was cool. There was a bit of a walk to the Palace in the blazing heat and the sun came out just for this leg of the journey, ramping up the difficulty. But we made it there and strolled into the Palace so it was all good right? Well… It would have been if we’d realised we needed our passports to get in 🙈 

So back to the hostel we went in a tuk tuk and had major deja vu repeating the same boat journey all the way back again. What idiots ey?

But it was totally worth it when we got inside the palace grounds. The amount of gold and shimmering mosaics was just so impressive. So much grandeur glinting in the midday sun with tourists swarming round to take photos. Here’s one this tourist took:

Grand Palace complex – Photos don’t do this justice
Unfortunately for these three Brits eventually the stifling heat was getting to us and with faces getting redder and redder we headed in search of refreshments and air con. We stumbled across a cafe called Favour which was perfect for this and had a bite to eat and iced tea – I went adventurous and had matcha green tea! They even sold clothes too, so cute.
Favour Cafe, Bangkok
From here we chilled out and did some travel planning for the next few days as we’re heading to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand tomorrow. 

Whilst we we in the area we thought we better visit Bangkok’s famous Khaosan Road, essentially a tourist strip with market stalls, street food, bars, and people trying to sell you those lasers you see anywhere you go on holiday! It was a vibrant hectic jumble and the atmosphere was awesome. We soaked it all in from a bar with a bucket of sex on the beach (classy ladies) and perused the market stalls 

Khaosan road bar

And that brings us to our first two days in Thailand! Thanks for reading folks! 💕

Watch Rhianna’s vlog of our adventures here:

Hurray we’ve arrived in Bangkok!

After seventeen-ish hours of travelling, two planes, little sleep and my first experience of taxi driving in south east Asia (this was a little traumatic but we made it safe and sound) we’ve arrived in Bangkok 🙌

We’re staying in the cutest place called Good Day hostel in the centre of the city. It’s small but feels so bright and homely – anything with bunting and kitch floral cushions gets my seal of approval! Plus it even has a coffee shop attached.

Now to get over the jet lag and figure out where to go first. I think the plan is to see what the night market has to offer.

A little introduction

Hey there, as this is my first blog (as well as my first huge adventure outside Europe sans family) I thought I’d write a little intro to start us off.

I’m Sarah, born and bred in Cardiff and a recent English graduate trying to figure out what to do next in life, so naturally I’m packing my bags and jetting off to the other side of the world with my friends Rhianna and Katie. Let’s call it my post-uni crisis/gap year.

This humble blog is intended to be a documentation of my travels for curious friends and family, as well as something for me to look back on in the future. My intentions are to keep this updated as often as possible so I’ll try my best to stick at it.

Starting in Thailand, the plan is to travel through Cambodia and up the Vietnamese coast, before flying to Sydney and making our way up the East coast to Cairns, then hopping over to New Zealand and exploring both North and South islands.

Right now I’m off to start packing!