A Travellerspoint blog

May 2009

Ko Samui!!

sunny 34 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

Got a up early on Thursday morning to catch our ferry off the island, which took 1hr 30 to reach Ko Samui. P1060076.jpgP1060082.jpgP1060098.jpg From there we got a short bus journey across the island to our hotel, which turned out to be a little beach hut right by the sea! It was so pretty and it made swimming in the sea easy! When we arrived the tide was out so we had to walk out to meet it, but that's how we spent the rest of the day! Coupled with reading on our little veranda, we were both very relaxed by the end of the day!

The next day we hired another scooter to go and explore the island, as there is more to do here than on Ko Tao. We drove all the way around the island in one big loop and saw various beaches and amazing vistas of nearby islands. P1060120.jpgP1060123.jpgP1060128.jpg P1060137.jpgWe got our moneys worth out of the scooter, which cost 6 quid for 24 hours use! We came back in the early evening to get our swimming attire and then rode out to one of the nicest beaches, which we had found earlier in the day. We swam for a bit and then had our dinner of sandwiches and crisps whilst the sunset - it was ace! Perfect end to a perfect day! P1060143.jpg

We are now waiting to go and get another ferry towards the mainland to a place called Surat Thani. We should arrive there about 9pm and then we have to wait for our train at 1am (but the trains are always late, so we could be waiting a while!). Then we get to Butterworth in Malaysia at around midday all being well. We are staying one night in Penang and then travelling all of the following day down to Singapore!

Hope everyone is well,
Missing you all lots,

Lots of Love,

Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 00:35 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Ko Tao!!

all seasons in one day 32 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

We got an evening train from Bangkok to Chumphon, which was pretty uneventful, apart from the fact that everyone had gone to bed by the time we got off the train! P1060046.jpgP1060049.jpg We stayed one short night in Chumphon, as we arrived at the hotel at about midnight and had to get up at 5am in order to get our hotel pick up which takes us to the boat! The boat left on time at 7am the next morning, and it took about 3 hours to get to Ko Tao. P1060051.jpgP1060057.jpgP1060063.jpg The weather wasnt too great when we arrived but it started to cheer up as the day progressed. We found an ace place to stay, the guy who runs it is really friendly and gives out free drinks and chocolates - hes a bit crazy sometimes though! Ko Tao is so beautiful, its a typical tropical island full of palm trees and white sandy beaches. We went down to the beach on our first day here and we only swam in the sea for about 10 mins before we both went pink - we realised later that it was about 38 degrees - far too hot! We aborted and went back to the room to cool off a while. That night the heavens opened and the storm continued all the way to the next morning. Since then it has been a bit overcast, but humid at the same time. Good for me as I still burn under a light bulb, but Chris is missing the sun.

We hired a scooter today to investigate the island fully, which is about as big as a postage stamp. The furthest distance we saw on a road sign was 4.5km...tiny! Unfortunatly most of the roads are not paved so there is only so far we can go without getting stuck in the sand! We went all the way to the south of the island and have decided to go back later on once the tide comes back in - Chris is dying to swim! P1060066.jpgP1060072.jpg

Another thing is that the tide is very low at the moment so opportunities for swimming in the sea are minimal, but we have invested in goggles and snorkel in the vain hope that it will get better. We are off to nearby Ko Samui tomorrow, which is a lot larger than Ko Tao, so we are hoping that the swimming will be better around there!

Hope you are all well,

Lots of Love
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 23:21 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Bangkok Part II

sunny 37 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

Today we went on a day trip to Ayutthaya, which is the old capital of Thailand, but is now an ancient crumbling city. We got the bus very very early this morning out of Bangkok and drove north for about an hour and a half. We went with the organised tour group today, only because Ayutthaya is spread over such a large area and it was far to hot to navigate around with tuk tuks - never mind expensive!

We were taken around by our guide for the day, Mr Pok (who had a MASSIVE mole on his face with hair about 6" long coming out of it - sorry no photo), who explained the various ruined sites - including the largest bronze sitting Buddha in Thailand, P1050990.jpg various pagodas and temples and the ruined royal grounds. P1050936.jpgP1050964.jpgP1050981.jpg Amongst these is the famous Buddha head which is nestled within the roots of a tree. Basically as the ruins were on Cambodian soil, the Thai went in and destroyed their temples and toppled all the Buddha heads, which is a bit mean I must say! P1060009.jpgP1060010.jpg Anyway, the heads were scattered everywhere and one ended up in the roots of a nearby tree, which is where it now sits, whilst the tree grows around it! It looked totally ace, as though it had grown from the tree! At the last complex we saw there were lots of elephants as well (cue excitement), so we dawdled a bit watching them all plod around and unfortunately perform for the crowds. We were then taken for our lunch at at nearby restaurant (inclusive in the ticket), where we had rice and Thai curry with bananas!

After that we were taken to our last stop where we got a 'cable car' across the river to see another Wat, P1060035.jpgP1060027.jpg but this time it was in the shape of a little Roman Catholic Church - very odd to see monks worshiping in a church! The guy who had it built really liked the architecture of the Catholic Churches, so he had one built himself so he could worship Buddha! Why not? Either way its very small and cute, and we were glad we go to see it! After a quick drink we headed back to Bangkok, where we got stuck in traffic, but got back in one piece just after 5pm! All that for 10 pound each, not bad value for money!

We had noodles for dinner at a street stall for 60p again tonight - Chris wants me to mention it as he took a photo of the kind lady who fed us! Yummy noodles! P1060036.jpg

We leave Bangkok tomorrow on the train to Chumphon, where we are staying the night and getting a boat the day after to the island of Ko Tao!

Hope you are all well, missing you lots

Lots of Love
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 05:57 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Bangkok Part I

First 3 days in Bangkok....

all seasons in one day 34 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

We got an overnight train from Chiang Mai, which was pretty uneventful and late of course. I don’t understand why, but Thai trains never run on time, all other transport does, just their trains they can’t seem to manage! We went straight to the hotel and spent the first day sorting out our Chinese visa, which we managed successfully in the end (after we wasted a taxi journey across the city to the Chinese embassy, only to find that it was closed!). Anyway, we ended up paying a bit more and getting a travel agent to get it done in 2 days, and it came through last night – so we both officially have the right to enter China! The only issue is we could only get a single entry visa, so we will have to reapply for another one when we re-enter china from Hong Kong! Complicated, but its all coming together! We also managed to sort out our Cambodian visa online!

The second day we spent looking around the old sights of Bangkok! We started by going to Golden Mount, which is a mountain of earth now covered in white concrete and is a shrine to Buddha. P1050694.jpg The pile of earth was originally all of the excavated earth from the various Khlongs (canals) which cover Bangkok. P1050714.jpg The king at the time couldn’t decide what to do with all the soil, so he piled it up to make a fake mountain, but then realised he didn’t have enough so the next king covered it in plaster and made it into a place of worship! Clever thinking! We climbed that in the morning, but the city was quite hazy so the views were not as good as they could have been! P1050697.jpgP1050706.jpg

P1050722.jpgFrom there we walked down the main boulevard in Bangkok down to the Democracy monument, where we nearly died trying to cross the 7 lanes of traffic! It’s a funny looking monument in the middle of the roundabout; its Art Deco meets Star Wars! P1050725.jpg Either way it was ace to stand in the middle and watch all the traffic sailing past. P1050730.jpg Their roads look so colorful because all of the government taxis are all bright pink, blue, yellow, purple or green! From there we got one of the many brightly coloured taxis, which are cheaper than tuk tuks, to the Royal Palace. P1050733.jpg The king no longer lives in the palace, he moved down the road to some 5 star accommodations, but the palace remains open to the public. It cost us 7 quid each to go in, which is quite steep for Asia, but it was worth every Baht. I can’t even describe how amazing it was; even the camera struggled to capture it. It’s basically a smallish complex of buildings, all of which are amazingly decorated with gold and multicolored mosaic mirrors. P1050744.jpgP1050747.jpgP1050755.jpgP1050756.jpgP1050769.jpgP1050794.jpg It was breathtaking. Inside the complex is the building which houses the famous ‘Emerald Buddha’, which is like the ultimate thing for Buddhists. It has a long bloody history and has been in various hands, but now lives in Bangkok and is visited by thousands of people every year. It’s only small though 66cm (2ft), and sits high on a plinth so you can hardly see it at all. No photos are allowed, so Chris had to take a sneaky one from the door! P1050790.jpg

We left the old section of the Palace and walked around into the new part, which was an interesting mix of French and Thai-style architecture. P1050805.jpgP1050811.jpg Really odd, the buildings were pastel coloured, with Thai style roofs on them, with some fantastic gardens outside the main doors as well! After that we left the Royal Palace complex and walked a little bit further down the road to Wat Pho (po), which was not only another intricately designed wat (temple), but also housed the largest image of Buddha in Thailand. He was 15 metres high and 46 metres long!!! It was amazing; we want to know where the largest one in the world is now! P1050817.jpgP1050829.jpg

After that we got a boat down the river to Wat Arun, which is another Wat, but a different style to the others. We didn’t realise but you can climb Wat Arun so you get a fantastic view of Bangkok. Little did we know the steps going up were actually the steepest ever built, so much so that I got slightly scared on the way down and we had to go down backwards! Luckily there was a handrail, but I have never been more terrified in my life! P1050842.jpgP1050849.jpg Then we got the boat back across the river and then changed and got another one all the way back up to where we were staying. P1050861.jpg We went back to the hotel to cool off for a bit before we went out in the evening on another boat back down the river to Chinatown! P1050872.jpgP1050874.jpgP1050881.jpgUnfortunately as it was the third Wednesday of the month (clearly something to celebrate in china), it meant that a lot of the shops were closed. We walked around for a bit and had the obligatory bowl of noodles for dinner followed by horse chestnuts (1 pound for 0.5kg!). We headed back after that deciding that we will go back another night when the markets are all back on! We are going back tonight infact so watch this space!

Yesterday we spent the day exploring the new shiny side of Bangkok. We got a boat all the way down the river, where we changed and got the sky train across downtown Bangkok. P1050889.jpg As its still in its infancy, it still has some teething problems, but the Sky train was pretty amazing. It cost us 60p to travel across the new part of the city you get amazing views and equally amazing air con for that as well! P1050899.jpg We got off when we arrived in the shopping district and ended up strolling into one of their many many shopping malls. Boy do they put ours to shame; all the major international designers were there – Versace, Gucci, Prada, and Dior. Chris and I walked around for a bit soaking up the air con and staring at all the pretty things for sale. In true British style we couldn’t leave without buying something, so we had an ice cream sundae each! Haha!

After that we got another taxi to the tallest tower in Bangkok, Baiyoke Tower II, which you can climb to the 77th floor and get an amazing view of the city. P1050905.jpg We thought the 4 pound entry was a bit steep (haha), but we forked out regardless as the views were supposed to be amazing. We managed to get there when the sky was clear as well so we got amazing views over modern Bangkok, it’s a blend of old and new, but they seem to have done it well so far. People say that in 10 years time it will be similar to Tokyo in style, we can see that, it looks very modern already! P1050913.jpgP1050914.jpgP1050916.jpgP1050917.jpgP1050925.jpg We stayed up there for a while and discovered that our ticket allowed us one free drink each as well, so we got another lift to the 84th floor and thought we were just going to get a bottle of water or a coke, but no! They said we could have anything on the menu, so we went the whole hog and ordered cocktails!haha!

After that we went shopping only quickly as we needed swimwear as we are going to spend the next few days on a beach. P1050931.jpg Once we got that sorted, we got the sky train followed by a boat all the way up river back to Banglamphu – the district tourists stay in. The heavens opened on the way back so we ended up buying an emergency umbrella and sheltering for a while! The weather is quite tropical here, we had amazing views in the afternoon from Baiyoke Tower, and then we ended up swimming back to the hotel only a few hours later! P1050868.jpg We had dinner on Kao San road – bowl of noodles for 80p, followed by a Starbucks for pudding! P1050884.jpg Bangkok is ace, we both really enjoy it! It’s such a shame that people only come here to get drunk, there is so much to see in this one city, 5 days is not enough!

Tomorrow we plan to go to Ayutthaya, which is an ancient city outside of Bangkok! Hope you are all well, sorry this one is so long – theres a lot to cover in this city!

Missing you all lots,
Lots of Love
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 00:06 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Chiang Mai!!

sunny 32 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

We spent the first 2 days in Chiang Mai just catching up on ourselves really - sleeping, washing etc. As we are here for 4 days we didnt really feel the need to rush out and see everything straight away - much more relaxed! Plus it rained constantly for the first 2 days, therefore rendering sightseeing pretty pointless! We went sightseeing yesterday afternoon, after it had stopped raining and walked around the town, which is surrounded by a moat! Apart from the town itself, which is the second largest in Thailand, there are various Wats (temples) to see, which are scattered across the city. P1050652.jpgP1050653.jpgP1050656.jpgP1050663.jpgP1050665.jpg We were very impressed with the Wats and walked around for a while! After that it started to get a bit too hot, so we headed back to the hotel to cool off for a bit!P1050671.jpgP1050678.jpgP1050680.jpg

In the evening we walked to the famous night market, which spans the entire length of the main road, on both sides! It was amazing, we walked around for quite a while, but managed to resist buying everything as we cannot carry it! I bought some new sunglasses though, as mine currently lie at the bottom of the Mekong! Also I got rather excited when I discovered that Starbucks has reached Chiang Mai, so we kind of splurged a little bit (dont judge me, I havent had one in 3 and a half months), and then we accidentially stumbled into Subway and continued the western theme. We shant do it again! We have been good today and have reverted back to the local dish of noodles for 60p! hurray!

We have the rest of today in Chiang Mai and then we are off on an overnight train to Bangkok, which is where we will be for 5 days! Hope everyone is well, missing you all lots!

Lots of Love
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 00:59 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai!

all seasons in one day 33 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

Firstly - we have had our first virtually full day of rain in 3 and a half months....hurray! You have no idea how much you miss rain, its a pain in the bum when your in the UK though! We had a great time in Luang Prabang, and left early yesterday morning on the fastest most dangerous speedboat in the world. It does say in the guidebook that the speedboats on offer are really dangerous and tend to flip over at the smallest things, but its either a 7 hour white knuckle ride in a speedboat or spend two whole days on the slowest (and safest) boat in the world, with a stop in the middle of nowhere! We decided to risk it! We were both terrified, we nearly got out just before it left - but decided we can both swim so its ok! We had to sit crossed legged in the smallest space ever for the first 4 hours, right at the back of the boat so we couldnt hear a thing! We put ipods in after a while, and we introduced Motown to the Mekong! P1050626.jpgP1050627.jpg

We stopped in the middle of nowhere for lunch, and swapped positions so we were at the front of the boat - more splashy but more leg room! We were in the blistering sun as well, but we managed not to get too burnt - chris burnt his knee for example! This was interspersed with random rain showers as well, so we spent half the time covering our bags up and getting soaked and the rest covering ourselves up so we didnt get burnt! P1050632.jpgP1050636.jpgP1050641.jpgP1050645.jpg We got to the border at 4.30pm, and it closed at 5pm - cutting it slightly fine. We managed to rush over the Laos border and get another short boat across the border where we had to get another visa sorted for thailand. Stressful journey and we were both glad that its all over now. We managed to cut a day out the schedule, but i dont think we will be doing it again in a hurry!

We stayed for one night in Chiang Khong, which is just on the Thai border, then we set off this morning on a 7 hour coach south to Chiang Mai, which is where we will be for the next four days!

Hope you are all well,

Lots of Love
Chris and Alex xx

Posted by chrisalex 06:04 Archived in Laos Tagged boating Comments (1)

Luang Prabang!!

sunny 38 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

Hello all!

We got an 8 hour AC coach from Vientiane on 9th, which was really ace - a much better standard than Indian buses (sorry varun!). We chilled out in our hotel for the rest of the afternoon, which is just up from the banks of the Mekong! On the first day we walked around Luang Prabang and went to see the various famous Wats (temples) which cover this small town. P1050537.jpgP1050541.jpgP1050543.jpgP1050558.jpgP1050563.jpg It has retained its french colonialism so well that in the heat of the day you feel like you could be walking around a little french town. P1050536.jpg Its very pretty and very well preserved. It was far too hot, so we managed to get as much done as we could before it got too hot - we didnt really succeed as both of us ended up getting burnt! P1050527.jpg

Yesterday, we didnt really do much, just caught up with ourselves and stuff. In the evening we climbed Phu Si, which is a small hill which overlooks the whole town. Lots of steps to get to the top, but it was well worth it as the views of the valley and the Mekong were amazing! P1050572.jpgP1050574.jpgP1050578.jpgP1050582.jpgP1050584.jpg We manage to eat quite cheaply here as there is a night market everyday which sells all kinds of foods - from noodles to baguettes to dead insects - needless to say we have not yet tried the latter!

Today we went to see Kuang Si waterfalls, which were absolutely stunning! P1050617.jpg We had to get a rickshaw out of town early this morning, but it was well worth it! We swam for about an hour in the bluest pool we have ever seen at the base of the waterfall, the water was freezing so it was nice and refreshing! P1050605.jpgP1050621.jpg We are off to Huay Xai on a speed boat tomorrow, which takes 6 to 7 hours! It takes us up the Mekong to the Thai border, which is where we shall re-enter Thailand!

Hope everyone is well,
Lots of Love
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 05:32 Archived in Laos Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Vientiane!

sunny 36 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

Greetings from Laos people! Third country in three days! We cant keep up with ourselves anymore! We got our first Thai train overnight from Bangkok to Nong Khai, which is the town nearest the border to Laos. The train was much nicer than the indian ones (sorry varun), really clean and we got a little matress as well! The Thai are slightly too organised sometimes, as we had a man on board who made the beds when he wanted and promptly kicked us out at 6.30am the next morning. Brits cant cope being told what to do at the best of times, but its best to just agree when it comes to the Thai!

Once we arrived at Nong Khai we got a rickshaw to the border and waited a long time whilst forms were filled in and visas were granted. From there we got a minibus to the capital, Vientiane! We have been here for the past 3 nights now, and I must say we are pleasently surprised with Laos so far. Granted it is the capital, but its a lot more developed than we thought it would be - the roads are good and the city is clean! We were both expecting an extension of Bangkok, but its more a cross between french boulevards and small american towns with lots of open crossroads. We both really like it and have spent most of the time walking around! We hired a scooter today to view all the sights Vientiane has to offer, including Pha That Luang, Wat Si Saket and Patuxai (temples and an Arc de Triomphe lookalikey). P1050469.jpgP1050473.jpgP1050483.jpgP1050486.jpgP1050489.jpgP1050492.jpgP1050496.jpgP1050504.jpgP1050507.jpgP1050510.jpg The money is funny is Laos, as its completly worthless - one pound is equal to about 13,000 kip at the moment, so we keep getting confused with all the zeros! We are really enjoying Laos so far, and we are off to Luang Prabang next for a few days, so we will write again then!

Lots of Love

Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 06:56 Archived in Laos Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Mumbai, Calcutta and Bangkok!

sunny 37 °C
View Asia 2009 on chrisalex's travel map.

hello again!

sorry its been a while since we last wrote, we get caught up in mumbai life everytime we go there! We had an amazing time in mumbai, we went shopping and generally just chilled out with varun and his family, it was really well timed and we enjoyed it a lot! P1050246.jpgP1050380.jpgP1050402.jpgP1050409.jpgP1050414.jpgP1050423.jpg On the last day, Ben and Dave (friends from uni for those of you that dont know) arrived on our last day for their own 2 week holiday! P1050462.jpg It was great to see them, we wish we could have spent longer in mumbai with them but our flights have been booked for a long time! P1050461.jpg

We spent one sad night in Calcutta, and then got our flight this morning to Bangkok! The flight was actaully 30 mins early (Thai effeciency), so we got to the hotel earlier then planned! So far first impressions are that Bangkok is very modern and full of white people. We have had a quick look around, but as we are coming back to Bangkok we dont want to get too stuck in! We are off to Laos tomorrow for about a week and then we are coming back down into Thailand for a proper exploration! P1050467.jpg

Other than that there is not much to report, apart from that we are both well and missing you all lots!

Lots of Love

Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 07:40 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

(Entries 1 - 9 of 9) Page [1]