Thailand

Arrived at Heathrow, very long que at check in so no time for celebratory gin and tonic. Boarded plane, had gin and tonic, slept for 9 hours.

Arrived in Bangkok and went to hotel; very modern, quiet, perfectly suited. Headed out for some food and drink down Khao San Road. Discovered that the drink ‘Gintonic’ (one word) may have little to do with gin or tonic, and can be freely interpreted as the bar sees fit. Hit or miss, but only took half the usual amount to get me suitably sloshed.

OMG the street food. Calamari, satay chicken skewers, and our first introduction to the wonder that is ‘mango sticky rice’. Strongly considering starting a mango sticky rice franchise.

Sunday. Hazy morning, set out on an expedition to find an authentic local breakfast. After 20 meters we sacked it in and went back for hotel breakfast. Had a nap, then woke up to thunderstorm. Thought thunderstorm had stopped so set off for lunch, but we were fools. Sheltered under a bus stop whilst someone poured a bucket on Bangkok. Made it to the corner or Khao San Road where we discovered the street was flooded. Had a mango smoothie in the cafe on the corner and waited for the flood to subside. Made it to a parlour across the road, and both got massages. There was a lot more punching involved than I had anticipated, and the masseuse had a surprisingly deep voice. Her firm, rough hands worked wonders though, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Went for food at a local spot along the road for dinner. In reply to the waiter’s question: ‘spicy or no spicy’, Freddie replied ‘medium spicy’. The waiter chuckled and mumbled something in Thai, which I believe can only be translated as ‘I’m gonna make you sweat white boy’. And sweat we did. Stopped at hotel for quick shower then returned to Khao San Road area and found some middle-aged ravers that I think have been lost in Bangkok since the 90s.

Monday. Went on a trek for another breakfast destination, discovered a suitably unauthentic expat hangout and had a mango smoothie. Went for lunch at cafe across the road from the hotel that had an upstairs gallery filled with incredibly average paintings of the Thai king, many in over-extravagant gold frames. Had a smashing Pad Thai. Found some dice at a street vendor, so the Yahtzee championship could commence.

Flew to Krabi, then got a minibus to the coast, a tuk-tuk to the end of a very long peer, then took a long-boat to the resort all under the cover of darkness. Felt like a SWAT team.

Tuesday. Woke in the morning to the most amazing view – our cabin was on stilts surrounded by trees (with plenty of monkeys) and a balcony overlooking Railay East bay. Absolutely incredible. Spent the day exploring the beaches, all had crystal clear waters. Jumped right in. Had a mango smoothie. Returned to hotel for tea on the balcony of our cabin, after tracking down some fresh milk (far easier said than done). Monkeys started having sex in the tree next to us, quite a show.

Had a rather splendid piece of BBQ snapper for dinner. Freddie not happy about the small rice portions.

Wednesday. Rented a canoe for the morning. Waves a bit choppy so it was a bit tough going, but luckily I brought out the gun show. Drifted back to the beach and went for a swim for the afternoon. Watched the incredible sunset whilst tucking into some more mango sticky rice.

Thursday. Storm day. Went out and had breakfast, then came back for a swim. Suddenly the place got very dark. The friendly pool attendant maintained it would just be a short shower. We however had checked the forecast and knew his claims to be misguided: storm was definitely coming. Literally rained the whole day, but frankly I love a good storm. Had a face off with a lizard on way up to toilet after lunch.

Friday. Headed off to find the allusive view point that was labeled on the hand drawn map of the resort. Found entrance to view point (a steep cliff with a very unconvincing rope hanging down from it), and were relieved to see a ‘view point closed’ sign next to it. Headed instead to the beach at the end of the bay, and what an absolute gem it was. Quieter than the other beaches without so many long-boats, and a lot less people. The people that were there though I think were all taking their profile photos for their Love Island 2019 applications. Hilarious muscle flexing and unashamed bum shots. Also discovered a very un-shy giant lizard, who, taking inspiration from the other characters on the beach, was more than happy to strike a pose, and kept on moving until he was sure I’d found his best angle.

Stopped for a massage on the way back. A far more gentle / enjoyable experience this time (less punching involved). Discovered there’s nothing more satisfying than a Thai massage on a mosquito bite, with a little bit of sand in the balm. It was almost worth having my legs savaged.

Despite a very big evening meal I felt a little short changed on the seafood front, so rather than a crepe for pudding I ordered a whole bowl of clams. An overflowing bowl turned up, and looking on in sheer admiration Freddie watched me polish off every single one. We’ll refer to this as event as the great Clamathon.

Saturday. Flew to Chiang Mai then got taxi to our next resort ‘Monoceros’. Resort was beautiful – trees and cabins and a lovely salt water pool. Flowers and lanterns everywhere. Hung out by the pool for the rest of day. Lots of reading and Yahtzee.

Sunday. Lounged around the pool all day. Had some tea on the balcony after smuggling the milk jug from breakfast. Freddie went for a long run, I thought that sounded like far too much hard work.

Monday. Rented a scooter for the day. Despite its 125cc capacities and rather apologetic horn, as far as we were concerned we were James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. Cruising with the wind whistling through our poorly fitting 90s helmets that screamed tourist louder than my bleach blond hair. Visited Tard Mork waterfall – photos make the 5 minute hike look far more enduring than it actually was.

The scooter chugged it’s way up to the view point at Doi Chan for a coffee, then we free-wheeled down to Mae Sa; a collection of 10 waterfalls. Once you’ve seen one waterfall you’ve seen them all, but we trekked up to the 10th one just to make sure. Particular highlight was the enormous frog I found at waterfall 7. Forgot to bring Freddie’s swimming shorts so had to go for a lonesome swim.

Went for an explore down an empty side road and ended up at 5 star resort, with a sign promising ‘coffee and cake’. Had a mango smoothie. Cruised around the grounds for a bit on the scooter and used their facilities; best toilet of the holiday so far. Discovered that I’ve really begun to judge a place by their toilets. Found some sheep that looked quite photogenic.

Back to Monceros for a jump in the pool, then tea on the balcony with the morning’s pilfered milk. Pad Thai for dinner, then a few games of Yahtzee. Slight debate as to the overall score which forced a complete recalculation, resulting in my lead being reduced from 4 games to 2. We agreed to closer monitoring of the score from then on.

Tuesday. Taxi to Chiang Mai. Despite giving the driver an address of our hotel in Thai language, a phone number, a local map and a Google map with the location marked he still struggled to find it. Even What3Words maybe flawed by a complete lack of spacial awareness. Lovely modern hotel. Owner had a mild obsession with the Union Jack (sheets and cushions everywhere), but has never been to Britain, and has no plans to ever go.

Chiang Mai lunch – stumbled upon an over priced tourist trap that was delightfully breezy and provided some beautiful respite to the city chaos. Had a mango smoothie.

For dinner, we walked up and down the street food market sampling all the variety of food they had to offer. Particular highlights were the sushi, chicken skewers, and pork sausage. Freddie was in heaven.

Wednesday. BEST DAY EVER. Day trip to Mae Rim elephant sanctuary. Went for breakfast at a local artisan bakery as stomachs were feeling a bit delicate after last night’s culinary explorations. Got picked up by the tour company, and were joined by two hung over Germans and an American. We discussed travelling, tuition fees, and the royal wedding.

Arrived at the Elephant camp. Changed into weird baggy denim clothes, which weirdly suited Freddie. Filled our pockets and bags with bananas and sugar cane chunks, then headed into the enclosure to feed them. OMG it was amazing. The elephants were hilarious, and explored our pockets for the bananas. The trunks!! So playful and friendly. I could have done it for hours. After they’d eaten everything we went and chopped down some more sugar cane and carried it back to the truck. A lot more manual labour than I’d been expecting.

Prepared our own noodle soup lunch which was quite delicious, then set off on a walk with the elephants. Went and played with the elephants in a mud bath, and scrubbed them with hunks of mud. They were spraying mud everywhere with their trunks, so we all got covered. Laughed and laughed at the baby elephant climbing up the bank then sliding back down again.

Walked with the elephants back down a stream, then got to a second mud pool back at the camp. Got even muddier. Couldn’t believe how much we got to play with them, scrubbing their trunks, and behind their ears. Moved over to the water pool and cleaned them all off. Baby elephant kept hiding under the water, then reappearing and making everyone jump. Headed back to camp to rinse off in pool, and got changed. Tea and biscuits, then headed back to Chiang Mai about 4pm.

Found a quiet / cheap cocktail bar to celebrate an amazing day. Explored the street food market again – had crispy pork and chicken with rice. Possibly best meal of the trip. Had a few more cocktails, and finished the night with a coconut balls pudding (new discovery) and another portion of mango sticky rice, which was best portion of the holiday so far. Could not have had a better day!

Thursday. Lazy morning lie in, then headed over to the bakery again. Polished off two pastries each. Mooched over to the other end of town for a massage at Lila’s; an ex-convict rehabilitation centre-turned spa. Both got full Thai massages: really relaxing, and not in the slightest bit painful. Absolutely no punching involved.

Headed back to same area in the evening to check out some elephant sculptures I’d spotted in a small art gallery. I was in love with a pair of green elephants, Freddie not convinced. We agreed to have some dinner first, Freddie hoping I would change my mind. Stubbornness kicks in and we return to the gallery after some food. We find a compromise: if I get rid of my ugly Dubai camel I can get the elephants. Fair deal, so the elephants are acquired.

Friday. Fly home. What an amazing trip!

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