My trip to Thailand will always be significant to me as it was my first time travelling overseas by myself, add in the fact that I do not speak Thai and it was a little bit more than I bargained for but people were mostly friendly and helpful and I managed to see most of what I wanted to see and do.
Before the trip, I planned like a crazy person, saved scrupulously, and packed up my stuff ready to go once I got back. I had printscreens from google maps of everywhere I wanted to go and how to get there in order each day and was feeling pretty organised before I left. I was slightly nervous given that everyone kept telling me to ‘watch your drinks!’, ‘don’t lose a kidney!’ and ‘I’m gonna laugh if I see you on the news for drug smuggling’. While I had no plans to get rufeed, inadvertently ‘donate’ a kidney and smuggle drugs, I had seen plenty of movies like Taken, Bridget Jones’ Diary 2 and Schappel Corby from 10 years ago still rang alarm bells. Once I got to Thailand and started walking around however, I felt a lot more at home.
To do List for Anushka’s Trip to Thailand:
EAT and DRINK
8. Thai Food
2. Handbag for work
3. Casual walking shoes
4. Fake pearl earrings
5. Dresses for work
7. Cotton pants
8. Top for temples
10. Postcard for Sharnies wall
11. Get eyebrows done
13. Manicure and Pedicure
14. T shirts for Parents + Den
15. Something for Mama
Left home a little bit late because I had to wake up Jane, my landlady, and give her some stuff to pass one to my cousin Noella. But still had heaps of time at the airport but better to be early. On the plane I met a nice man who gave me lots of tips for Thailand like don’t eat salads unless they are prepared fresh, don’t change money at the hotel, and Chiang rai is cold, buy warm pants. Watched Jersey Boys, Maze Runner and Godzilla on the first flight.
Day 1 – Arrive in Bangkok
Erm wtf no TV on the second flight. Just listened to music and slept. Arrived in Bangkok and it was pretty warm but not muggy. Got Hotel wifi and vibered the parents to let them know I reached and then watched Pretty woman and went to sleep. Stupid people at the hotel took ages to find my booking and freaked me out.
Day 2 – Bangkok Old City
In the morning discovered that my global sim does not work as my stupid Phone provider Vaya told me that my phone is not network locked but apparently it is. Assholes. Guess that means I need to buy a Thai sim today. Took a cab to Pak Khlong Market and the fare was 63 baht – will so be taking the bus after this. Felt really bad as I only had 1000’s on me and the cab driver had to give me all his change right at the start of the day. Sorry!
Pak Khlong Talad, the flower market, was really interesting, there were lots of exotic flowers and garlands like you would see in India but there were also covered areas inside where it continued and they sold food and fish. There was an early womens Zumba group being lead where local Thai women were dancing to keep active. I then tried to walk to Sanam Luang but took ages to get directions. According to my map it was just a straight walk up along the river but either people didn’t understand what I was talking about or they didn’t want to help me. I found that older men were much nicer than young people who seemed annoyed that I couldn’t speak Thai. I walked along some random road until I got to a main road and to my relief found signposts in English for tourists with tourist maps on it of all the near by attractions. Managed to find my way on to Sanam Chai road and then walked up Wat Mahathat. Dating from the 1700s, the wihan and bot were both rebuilt between 1844 and 1851. The mondop has a cruciform roof, a feature rarely found in Bangkok
Had some fried chicken kebabs on the way and a soft drink after the Temple. Then went to the National Museum and Buddhaisawan Chapel and saw the Phra Buddha sing, one of the most venerated Buddha images in Thailand after the Emerald Buddha. Saw some amazing royal funeral chariots and gilded teak chariots and learnt more about the history of Thailand. Then I walked up Sanam Luang and went to the National Gallery on Chao Fa Road which was established in 1977. It concentrates on modern Thai and International Art. Was alright, not as great as I expected. Then walked up past Khao San Road, the famous backpacker district, to War Bowonniwet on 248 Phra Sumen Road. Hidden in quiet tree filled grounds, this temple is known for its Chinese influence.
Back on Maha Chai road, I walked past the Democracy monument designed by Silpa Birasi, an Italian Sculptor and went to Wat Rachanadda, a huge temple that pretty much exhausted me. Walked through the wat along the road and across the river to Wat Saket and the Golden Mount. Built by Rama I in the late 18th Century, it is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok. It was rebuilt to create the mythical Mount Meru seen today. The artificial hill is topped with a golden tower within the grounds. Could not find the Monks bowl village, will leave that for another trip. Walked along Bamrung Muang road to Wat Suthat and the Giang Swing. Banmrung Muang Road was one of Thailand’s first paved roads. Along the road are shops selling religious paraphernalia, monks robes and Buddha images.
Wat Suthat has the largest wihan in Bangkok. The cental Buddha is 26 feet high, one of the largest surviving Sukhothai Bronzes. The teak doors to the wihaan are carved in five delicate layers and stand 18 feet high. The cloister around the outside of the wihaan is lined with 156 golden Buddha images. The square in front of Wat Suthat used to feature the giant swing, the remains of a swing used for the Brahmin ceremony.
Then walked to Wat Rachabophit on Fuang Nakhon Road. It successfully blends east and west, construction began under King Chulalongkom, the boy prince in the movie The King and I. The whole complex is decorated with porcelain tiles, the focal point is the central Sri Lankan style chedi. It is an unusual layout for a Thai wat. Next I went to Wat Rachapradit on Saran Rom Road and then the Musuem of Siam which was a cool relief from the hot humid day. It had great interactive exhibits about Thai history and culture. Building designed by Milanese Mario Tamagno.
As I finished all my Day 1 plans by 3pm, then headed to MBK Mall where I relaxed and did a bit of shopping. Tried some random food, bought a scarf, T shirts for mum and Denver, a phone sim and money, pants for temples, a night, a backpack and got a footscrub and pedicure before getting dinner and heading back to the hotel.
Day 3 – Tiger Temple, River Kwai and Floating Market Tour
Got picked up in the morning and after a long drive, finally reached an elephant park in Damnoen Saduk where I paid 100 baht to get picked up by an elephant. Was sooo much fun, I’m really glad I did it as I didn’t get the opportunity to do it anywhere else on my trip. Made friends with Venly, a Chinese girl on the tour who was the same age as me, only about 10 days older. Then went to the floating markets where we went on a long tail boat ride together and saw the market vendors along the canals. Bought another T shirt for Denver and a shirt for my dad and a White stone elephant souvenir before continuing on with another bus group to lunch and then the JEATH War Museum. Had to use the first of many Asian style toilets. Note to self, keep toilet paper in your handbag!
The JEATH War Museum was pretty cool and I’m disappointed we didn’t have more time to look around there. We literally had 40 minutes to do the JEATH War Museum which was 40 baht entry and then the Bridge over the River Kwai which was built by Thai labourers and allied Prisoners of War in 1944. The JEATH War Musuem is housed in Wat Chai Chuphon which has amazing paintings and sculpture in itself. JEATH is an acronym for Japan, England, Australia and America, Thailand and Holland. After that drove on to the Tiger Temple which was what I was really looking forward to and walked through a big canyon and got to sit with lots of different tigers and get my photo taken. Also saw some peacocks, bears, water buffalo, tucans and pigs. After returning home I was exhausted and then went to the Patpong Night markets by Silom Station and got the MRT for the first time. I was really nervous and then found it was pretty easy and straight forward. Night markets were loud and busy with lots of people and stalls selling clothes, jewellery, food, and the illicit red light district with live shows and sex shops.
Spent about 80 bhat ($3!) on street food for dinner and 180 baht on a dress for walk, bought some earrings, a bracelet, and then got the train back home.
Day 4 – Lumpinee Park and Chinatown/ Downtown
Got up earlyish in the morning and after breakfast went to Lumpinee park and walked through the park seeing lots of joggers, people working out and people doing Tai Chi. Got out at Silom Road end and walked along Silom road towards Maha Uma Devi Temple. Tried to find the cathedral on Convent Road but I couldn’t see it so continued on to the Temple which is on the corner of Silom and Pan Roads. Tamils founded this colourful hindu temple in the 1860s. The main temple is topped by a gold plated copper dome above a 20 foot high façade depicting various hindu gods. Went to a market across the road where I spent 60 Baht on Jackfruit, dragonfruit and some weirdfruit that I don’t know what it was Then walked back from the Temple and took the BTS Sky Train from Chonsi Station to Silom Road and took an MRT home. Checked out of the hotel and took a train to Hua Lampong where my G Adventures Tour was to start from and left my bags at Centra Hotel.
After that I went to Wat Trimitr the temple of the Golden Buddha and then walked along Yaowarat Road and charoen Krung Road in Chinatown before getting a Tuk Tuk to some random pier by the river where they tried to convince me into doing a Long tail boat cruise. I then walked along Charoen Krung road and saw the General post office, Haroon Mosque, the French Embassy, The China House, Shangrila Hotel, Oriental Hotel, and continued walking until I got back to Silom road. On the way bought chicken kebabs, mango, dessert at a mall, and got a foot massage which was amazing.
Arrived back at Centra hotel on time to meet my tour guide and the other people on the tour. We went through the itinerary and the other people were all lovely and so was Phil, our guide. Got an MRT to Silom Road where we went to Patpong Night markets as a group and had dinner at a restaurant.
Day 5 – Wat Pho and bus to Sukhothai
In the morning got a public bus to Wat Pho which is the city’s oldest temple dating back to the 17th century. It is famed for its school of massage. In 1832, Rama III built the chapel of the reclining Buddha. The feet of the Buddha have stricking intricate mother of pearl images on the soles of the feet. Got some coins to drop into the 108 metal pots along the wall symbolising the 108 lives of Buddha before he reached Nirvana. Scenes from the Ramakein are carved into the outer base and inner doors. Also saw some school kids marching in the grounds, stone statutes around the wat which are from the ship used to transport it over which were used to balance the ship.
After that we went on a long tail boat ride along the river and saw Wat Arun, some famous buildings, the fish by the temple, and then headed back to the hotel to check out before we began the long 6 hour bus ride to Sukhothai. Had a late dinner at Sukhothai and then crashed.
Day 6 – Sukhothai Historical Park
Went to a local market in the morning and saw different types of food and vegetables, then to a temple and fed the fish in the holy water. Catfish climbing on top of each other and sloshing about with open mouths waiting for food.
I hadn’t ridden a bike in ages so I was really nervous. Was pretty shaky to begin with but then I got better. I think its just starting off that’s hard for me and sharp corners, fell off at one point. The bicyle tour was really fun, its good I bought a backpack because I could just put that on and ride quite easily. We went to a few different sites around Sukhothai, before having lunch, heading back to the bike shop and taking our bikes to the Historical park which was beautiful. I tried crocodile for lunch which actually tasted just like chicken haha. The country scenery, trees surrounded by water, canals with green moss floating on them, all reminded me of pictures in a national geographic magazine and it feels so amazing that I’m witnessing this first hand. I could just imagine a tiger bathing in the water quite easily.
After the tour headed back to the hotel, washed my hair and then went down to the pool and sat for a while, called my grandma Had dinner at the restaurant across the road and slept early.
Day 7 – Lampang
Checked out and got the public bus to Lampang which was 4 hours away. Was a really quiet town, just walked around the city in the afternoon and then relaxed at the hotel. In the evening we walked through the town center to a restaurant and had dinner by the water.
Day 8 – Drive to Chiang Rai
The next day we checked out and got into our own van and drove to the Elephant conservation Center which is one of the best elephant training camps in Northern Thailand. About 100 elephants there in total. Saw an elephant who had stepped on a landmine near the border and her leg was cut up, Couldn’t walk for ages but now she can walk although its still red and raw. Then fed some baby elephants and watched it playing soccer with a trainer. And saw an elephant show where the elephants moved logs, bowed, painted pictures. There were a few European girls there doing the Mahut Training course and it was adorable watching them splashing around with the elephants while they were bathing them in the river.
Stopped at the White Temple on the way to Chiang Rai where I had to borrow a sarong. The White Temple was built in the last 20 years by a modern thinker. It looked like white icing or lace it was beautiful. Inside, instead of the usual thai paintings were scenes from modern day life depicting batman, freddy kruger, angry birds, minions, superman, 9/11, etc, and showing how Thai people will go from this world and its descent into hell, to learning about the teachings of Buddha and fly in Chariots to Nirvana. Bought a silver heart chain and wrote my wishes on it which I tied to one of the trees there.
Arrived in Chiang Rai in the evening and went to the night bazaar where I tried water bugs and bamboo worms. Was not that bad tasting! Had Pad Thai wrapped in egg for dinner and then headed back to the hotel.
Day 9 – Mae Sai and Golden Triangle
In the morning checked out and drove to the Karen hill tribe village which was 400 baht entry, where we walked in the wet clay in the rain, up to a local hill tribe. The women and girls wear gold rings around their necks and huge earrings that make their earlobes get really long. Met an 87 year old woman who had ears down to her shoulders almost. Was lucky that I bought a rain poncho yesterday as it was raining hard. Bought a Karen wood carving and a scarf. Then went to a local market where we had lunch by the border or Thailand and Burma. There was a bridge you could cross into Burma which had flags along half Thailand and half Burma. Bought a bracelet and sunnies at the market before going to the Golden Triangle. Took photos at the Mekhong River, where Laos, Burma and Thailand meet. The area was known for selling opium and the land was fought over for its fertile soil to grow opium back in the day. Went to an opium museum were we learnt more about the production of opium. Then went to the hotel in Mae Sai where I got a traditional Thai massage before dinner. Like what the hell, I thought massages were meant to feel good! The lady got under me, bent me backwards over her knees and cracked my back. It hurt so much but also felt good, I had bruises that lasted for a while.
Day 10 – Chiang Mai
Went to a random place where we picked up food for lunch, it was a restaurant called Cabbages and condoms. Which is a movement to give local tribes access to condoms by exchanging vegetables like cabbages. This helped in educating them about sex and disease and preventing pregnancies. Bought some fried banana chips, and tapioca rolls
Then drove on to the Doi Suthep Temple which is on a thickly forested mountain. Walked up to the top where we had an amazing view of Doi Suthep. I also did this thing where you shake a box of sticks and whichever stick falls out first has a number which relates to your future. I did not like the future that was given to me. Bought some mango which was really hard and annoyed me. Then went to the hotel in Chiang Mai where I ditched my bags and went to the Saturday market near our hotel. It was really vibrant and I bought colourful shorts, earrings, dream catcher, and some fried insects. Met a lovely Spanish couple while I was buying the insects and they took photos of me eating waterbugs, crickets and grasshoppers. Offered the girl one of my bugs which she then threw up and watching her I had to spit it out as well.
Then went to dinner at the market where I bought a scarf and some blue peacock print thai pants. Also went to a Lady boy show after dinner which was amazing. The guys dance so beautifully and do their make up, you’d never guess they were actually guys. Some of them have boob jobs which look really authentic. Others don’t. Fave performances were One man Woman, Don’t Cry for me Argentina, and Lady Marmalade.
Day 11 – Chiang Mai
Walked around by myself to lots of temples in Chiang Mai, also went to three museums and learnt about local history, went to another night market that started early in the evening and got a foot massage. Ran into the Spanish couple at the night markets again which was cute. In the evening went to a Kantoke dance performance with traditional northern Thailand food and then went to the night markets again after dinner. Seem to always attract really persistent stall owners who keep yelling prices at me even when I’ve walked 20 meters away haha. Saw a grown man laughing and shrieking as he got a fish massage. Someone as ticklish as me haha.
Day 12 – Chiang Mai and overnight train to Bangkok
Spent the morning walking up to the Thai Pae gate where I bought some pjs, rose apples, shoes at Warowat market, lunch and take away dinner. Went to the flower market by the river and walked around Warowat market. Was a bit annoyed when I realised when I got back to Australia that the shoes that I bought were different sizes, eg. My left shoe is a size 38 and right is a size 37. Oh well. Then got an oil massage for the first time which was awkward as I was fully naked but felt really good although it hurt a lot. Still got bruises! Then went to the train station where we boarded our overnight train to Bangkok. Train was a lot posher than the long distance indian trains. Got some cool snacks for the way and finally got some milk. Been feeling so milk deprived in Thailand. They don’t seem to understand that I just want milk, and I don’t drink coffee or tea. Train ride was really fun and I slept okay. Did my hanging upside down thing off the bunks in the train. Oh and apparently Pumpkin in Thai is F**k hahahhaha
Day 13 – Thon Buri, Bangkok
Arrived in Bangkok early in the morning and said goodbye to the rest of the tour group and went to my hotel in Lumpinee Park. Left my bags there and tried to go to Wat arun using public buses but got really confused so I took a BTS to Saphon Thanon or something and then took a ferry up the river and another one across the river to Wat Arun. It was a steep climb to the top of the chedi which is decorated by thousands of porcelain plates. Then walked up to the royal barge museum, just past siriraj hospital. Was a bit of a disappointment. And then got lost completely on the buses, took me three hours to get back to my hotel. Met a really nice man who was at a stall who told me which bus to get, still got lost, but he was really nice and shook my hand firmly. I like how in Thailand, men don’t leer and watch you like in India. They are really polite, look you in the eye, smile if you smile, and show respect.
After getting so lost I just went back to the hotel and rested, had a shower and watched some crap TV. Its funny all the thai channels are in colour and English channels are in black and white! And then went to silom Night markets for dinner and shopping. Ran into two ladies from my G tour at the markets which was cool. Only spent 114 baht on meals the whole day, which was really good. Also got a thai tea ice cream which was yummy.
Day 14 – Grand Palace and Dusit
Tried to go by public bus to Grand palace but got really lost. Was feeling a bit sick as I threw up in the morning trying to eat rich thai food so early. So I decided to treat myself and took a Tuk tuk to the Grand palace which was a 100 baht. Such a cheater, I hate cab drivers and tuk tuk drivers. Got a free tour of the Grand palace and the temple of the Emerald Buddhain English and then went to the Royal Coin museum before getting the free bus to the Vimanmek Mansion. Another really nice guy on the bus who told me where to get off and made sure I was okay. Went to the support Museum, Textile museum, and saw King Rama V statue.
Even though I was wearing long pants and was fully covered apparently women have to wear skirts so I had to buy a sarong for 50 baht which was really annoying. Museum was really well done though and there was an audio guide for the whole museum. Time went really fast and I ran out of time to actually see Vinamnek Mansion which closed at 4pm so I decided to go to get a bus to Siam Square. Some police men watching me cross the road and laughing at my many attempts, gave me directions about which bus to take but as the Thai festival was starting the roads were all blocked so ended up walking. Got a cab halfway with a random English lady called Jill who was really nice and we split the fare, and then walked the rest of the way together to the BTS and got a sky train to Siam square. Since I hadn’t eaten lunch was really hungry and had an early dinner at 6, before walking around the malls and Siam square where I bought too tops for work, two cardigans and got a haircut. I find it really cute how shop ladies dress you and do up the buttons on your top and lift it over your head like you’re a child. Makes me miss being dressed by someone else lol.
Hated my haircut at first but I think it’s starting to grow on me. Got the train back home and crashed
Day 15 – Dusit and Chatuchak Park
Got a BTS to Si Ayutta Road in the morning and went to Suan Pakkad palace which is a teak wood museum, saw a lot on thai history and amazing gardens. Then walked about 2km to King Rama statue and went to the Vimanmek Mansion and King Bhumibol’s Photographic museum. Sadly no photography allowed, Vimanmek Mansion is a beautiful building, I love the wooden shutters at the windows, very European. Wat Benchamabopit was really cool as well. It’s a marble temple with a traditional Thai Roof. Also walked past Chitralada Palace, the residence of the king and queen. Then took a bus to the victory monument from Ratchawithi road, actually got the right bus for the first time. And bought some lunch there for 35 baht from the street, and took another bus to Silom Road. Saw the Erawan Shrine as a went past and it was so small I’m glad I didn’t stop there. Got the train back to the hotel and rested for a while and had lunch. Then took the MRT train to Chatuchak park and walked around. Saw some squirrels and tried to take photos of them but it was too hard. Met a nice man at the park who was running and we got the train back together. Decided to spend my last night at the Thai Festival at Lumpinee park where I had some squid, fresh orange juice and saw heard some Thai pop songs at a concert, Thai theatrical plays with lady boys, and walked home through the park. It’s a lot safer than I would ever feel in Melbourne or in Albert Park in Auckland.
Day 16 – Goodbye Thailand
Packed my bags and left early for the airport. Was fun being in Thailand but looking forward to going back home Met a guy at the airport who lives in Sydney but is going to do a masters project in the Philippines. Met a really nice Pilipino lady called Vergi on the plane and she told me about working in Brunei and how there is no tax and free education and hospitals. I think I should move to Burma haha. It’s amazing how I’ve met all these random people in different places and had conversations about them and I know something about their life and they know something about mine and now with facebook we can connect with each other so easily and the world is so so small. I’m so glad I did this trip to Thailand, it was an eye opener for me and has made me so much more confident about travelling alone. Already planning my next trip!