The month we spent in Thailand whizzed by. It started off with a sickly start in Bangkok which only gave us one day of sight-seeing by the time we had recovered. Needing somewhere quiet to go to finish getting our strength back we hopped on a train south to Bang Saphan. Here we did very little, a very unusual activity for us!
Once we were feeling ready we booked our ferry ticket to Koh Tao and jumped in a mini bus south to Chumphorn to catch the ferry. Once in Koh Tao we learnt how to scuba dive. This turned out to be something we both enjoyed so much we ended up staying nearly 2 weeks. We filled our days with scuba diving and then spent the evenings admiring the beautiful sunsets and socialising with others from the dive school.
By this point we had one week left on our visa. Our original plan was to only spend 4 nights in Koh Tao before heading to the west coast and island hoping our way south down to Malaysia. Then we would have headed back north into Thailand for a couple of weeks in the north of the country before crossing into Laos. We no longer had time to hop our way south slowly and we were both kind of “beached out” by this point. So instead we headed north to Chiang Mai.
The journey from Koh Tao was an epic 30 hours using the ferry back to Chumphorn, a surprisingly comfortable cabin in first class back up to Bangkok on the sleeper train and then another 12 hour train ride from there to Chiang Mai. The real bonus treat though was at Chumphorn when we had a few hours to spare before the sleeper train. It was the 5th December which is the Thai king’s birthday. We got to watch the local parade in honour of the occasion which was a great way to kill the time before our train and a nice surprise too. It’s simple things like this that we happen to stumble on that put a silly grin on my face and make me glad we are doing this trip.
In Chiang Mai we soaked up the laid back atmosphere, explored the night market, learnt how to cook Thai food, visited the elephants, had the most brutal Thai massage yet, admired the many temples and went up the tallest mountain in Thailand.
Now we had to leave Thailand, unfortunately our indulgent two weeks in Koh Tao meant we didn’t get to explore much more of the north of Thailand. Chiang Mai has given me the taste for Northern Thailand so I think we will be back at some point in the future.
We took what seemed to be a suspiciously cheap package deal including our food and accommodation, a visit to Chiang Rai to see the famous white temple and transportation from our guesthouse in Chiang Mai to Luang Nam Tha in Laos. All for £20 each! This was to take two days with our last night in Thailand being in the border town of Chiang Khong. From here we could see Laos across the Mekong river, beckoning to us for our next lots of adventures! The next day was a fairly painless hop over the new friendship bridge into Laos leaving Thailand behind us.