We have been home for a week now, so we thought it was time to do a final blog post on our time away.
They say there is nothing like being away to make you appreciate home, well we found that to be partly true. We missed our family and friends (but mostly Holly :p), Aussie food, road rules, and clean air, but coming home was definitely like coming back to reality. It is actually starting to feel a bit like it was all a dream.
We loved Thailand, pretty much everything about the place was fascinating. The people, for the most part, were friendly and helpful. Pretty much everyone spoke at least a little English and did their best to make us welcome. We learnt how to say hello (sawadee ka*) and thank you (kob khun ka*), but even that wasn't necessary, just polite. Simply putting your hands together and bowing your head is enough of a greeting or thank you. I don’t think I once felt unsafe (even when we were lost, the driver was just silly) except for the taxi on Samui, but I think we might have been imagining it. They also genuinely seem to love their king, and he seems like he is a pretty good leader. We were told that he spent his own money to improve infrastructure in Bangkok in a major way by building a new highway. There are pictures of him everywhere as well as other members of the royal family. At first we thought it was strange having all of these pictures of him around but having no one talk about him, then we found out he is very ill and it actually upsets a lot of the people to talk about him.
We had some awesome experiences, the highlights of which were the tigers and elephants in Chiang Mai, eating corn on the beach in Koh Samui, learning to love Koh Samui under the guidance of Pot Pot with Sarah and Jana, the crazy game of football golf, the party tuk tuks on Phuket, the canoeing through the caves near James Bond island, everything Koh Phi Phi (expect maybe falling out of the boat), the ruins at Ayutthaya, the moving experience that is visiting the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, and of course doing all of these things with my favourite person.
The food was interesting, there was a lot more “European” food available than I expected, but it was never quite right. The most amazing food experience we had was on our tour with Pot Pot, at Bang Por Seafood. We had a few different plates to share between the four of us, and it is safe to say (in my opinion) that the garlic and pepper prawns was the best food I had while over there. We also experienced some terrible food but I won’t go in to that.
A major thing that left an impression on me was how the Thai treat animals. The stray dogs and cats everywhere was hard for me to deal with, even though I feel in love with a couple of them. But it was the exploitation for the sake of showing tourists a good time that upset me the most. I don’t think I will ever be able to forget the elephant on Samui that was chained up and “performing” for food, or the monkeys chained to trees by their necks in Chiang Mai. I just want to be very clear that there are places there that do put the animals welfare first, the Elephant Conversation Centre is a clear example as well as organisations such as the Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation on Koh Samui (www.samuidog.org).
We had fun everywhere we went but I just wanted to do a short summary of each city.
Chiang Mai didn't have any Australian tourists that we met, we were told it was mostly European and Japanese tourists. I fell in love with cute tiger cubs and Matt was cautious of the adult tigers. We got to feed bananas to elephants and watched them paint some very impressive artworks. We encountered some very sad monkeys and had our feet nibbled by fish. We learnt to bargain in the night markets and found that it is a good idea to have a proper look at the quality of the goods you are buying. Temples temples temples.
Next was the beach/party island of Koh Samui. There were more Aussies here and it was good to have a drunken conversation with no language barrier to think about. Eating corn on the beach, making friends with stray dogs, and football golf which I'm amazed hasn't made it's way to Australia yet. We were shown some cool things by the local Pot Pot, who just wanted us to love Samui but the thing that sticks out in my mind about that day wasn't what we saw/did but how fun Pot Pot made it. Seriously if you go to Koh Samui get a tour from Mr Samui.
Then on to Phuket. I personally hated Phuket. Ok maybe not hated, but I really didn't like it. Matt liked it and thinks that I should give it another chance. Phuket was dirtier and more touristy than any place I have ever been. There were way to many bogans there and the people selling things in the markets were far too in your face. I was extremely disappointed in the Banana Walk. In one of the brochures the Banana Walk looked like the funnest shopping centre ever - there were pictures of people dressed as bananas. We didn't encounter a single banana person and I felt ripped off. The tours that got away from Phuket and out into the nearby islands were good though.
Koh Phi Phi was paradise. There are no other words to describe it. The island is beautiful and had a lot to offer. It was the most expensive place, but it was worth it. Even when we went around in a long boat to the main part of the island it was still pretty clean. There are no cars and very few scooters so most people just wander around. Staying at Zeavola was like having a holiday within our holiday. I would go back there in a second if I could, the 9 hour plane trip followed by 1 hour car ride followed by 1 hour boat ride would be worth it.
Finally it was on to Bangkok. We didn't have enough time in Bangkok. We only got to see about half of what we wanted to see and we spent our only two full days out of the city so I'd really like to go back and see what we missed.
Anyway, here are some of our favourite photos from our trip.
Our elephant painting
Matt doing one of his favourite things - in golf form
Party tuk tuk
The Beach beach - Hollywood magic closed the gap for the movie
Post massage relaxation
I love my husband
*ka is the feminie while krap is the masculine.
We had an amazing honeymoon and it was a great way for us to start our married life together. We have had a lot of people tell us they have enjoyed reading our blog, so thank you for reading it. We appreciate all of the people who have taken the time to read about our adventure.
- Kristen and Matt