A Travellerspoint blog

Chiang Rai

Day 428 – Tuesday 26th March

After another morning waking up here in paradise, I was fed a hearty breakfast from M’s lovely Mum. Then we headed off into town in his car (whose AC decided to break on a 43 degree day!) and after visiting a couple of his mates who own shops, we bought some fabric for M’s new shop and tried and failed to find me a hoody for the freezing cold nights here (left my bag in Chiang Mai). Got back to the shop and the car decided to blow up and it was steaming all over the shop, so we just poured water in any hole which looked empty and that seemed to help cool it down a bit. After that I sat eating ice cream (the product he sells) as he hung up the fabric decoratively at the front of the shop. Then I came back to his and sat reading all afternoon as he went to sort a couple errands. In the evening, one of the unlimited supply of cousins turned up at my door with food, perfect! Then I went to check out all the commotion downstairs at the restaurant and there were 3 Thai guys playing snooker in the little snooker hall attached to their house. Then I spent the next 3 hours playing (terribly) with these guys. Despite the obvious language barrier, we all had a really good laugh and all the family popped in to have a look at the white guy play pool.

Day 429 – Wednesday 27th March

Had a really early start this morning, and drove into town on his little Honda c70 which is a fucking awesome bike plus he’s swapped in a 125 engine which helps a lot. In town we picked up some paint and got some quotes for gates to keep his shop safe when it’s closed. Then we went and got the painting started which took much longer than expected and as usual it was unbearably hot, but ice cream always helps. So far the ‘shop’ is just a little hut type thing with an ice cream fridge, but M has big ideas for it and it seems like we’ll be busy working the next few days. Once the painting was done we drove up North to a new art gallery they’re about to open which amongst other things is showing one of M’s pieces. The place was still a building site and I’ll be surprised if it’s done by Saturday, but some of the paintings hanging up in the main room were really cool, M made some sort of metal sculpture which I don’t really understand. After meeting up with all the other artists and having a look around (at which point some creepy ass old man grabbed me and wouldn’t let go of me as he dragged me round the place) we headed over to the black temple. Having seen about a trillion temples I’m over the whole thing, but this one was a bit different and pretty nice. Plus it wasn’t actually a temple, just some rich artist who built a cool house on really nice grounds reminded me of some National Trust park in England, as it was just really peaceful and beautiful just walking around. When we got back to M’s, we sat and had a beer in the evening sun and then I had a nap for a good 2 hours. By the time I got up M had disappeared so I went down to check out what was happening and those guys from yesterday were back so I played a few games of snooker with them again. Everyone had disappeared and gone to bed by about 10, and I’d barely just woken up, so I sat and watched a movie before hitting the hay.

Day 430 – Thursday 28th March

Another morning waking up here; god I just love this place so much, beautiful countryside, really nice family, absolutely awesome house and good food how could I be any happier?? First off this morning we went to the shop where M’s brother had already got started on cutting down all the huge trees out front which were blocking the view of the shop from the road. He must’ve been hacking away nonstop for about 3 hours and he didn’t even break a sweat fucking incredible. While he did that, me and M went round the back of the shop to clear the whole garden as he wants to make a space where people can sit down and have coffee. The whole garden was a complete mess, the place has been deserted for about 10 years so you can imagine just how much stuff there was to clear and all we had were our hands and a machete pretty much. But still once we got stuck in the garden started to clear up pretty quickly, and if I say so myself we did a bloody good job and more than warranted ourselves a little sit down and ice cream. Forgot to mention; while I was clearing out some vines, I pulled a whole chunk away and there hiding in the middle of the nest was a little cocoon which as soon as I exposed it exploded into life and a brand new white butterfly came flying out into the world. Absolutely fucking epic sight! Eventually it just got too hot and we were forced to call it a day, felt really good to actually do something today and get a proper sweat going, looking forward to helping out in the days to come. Came back to M’s and spent the afternoon hanging on his terrace listening to music and regaining our strength. After dinner in the evening we popped into town for a little bit as he left his jacket in a bar the other day, but apart from that it was a fairly uneventful evening and we were both knackered.

Day 431 – Friday 29th March

Got offered a 4 year old girl for marriage this morning, me and the woman agreed it was probably best if we wait 10 years, she insisted 5 would be enough at first, but if I wanted to wait 10 she would understand. Still not the youngest girl I’ve been offered for marriage! It was one of the more funny proposals though as she couldn’t speak English and she managed to explain herself pretty fluently with hand gestures, turns out to be another one of M’s endless supply of aunties. After that, me, M, Ohm (M’s brother), his girlfriend, and 3 of the younger cousins including that little girl headed off to a waterfall. When we got there we dropped all our stuff off at the side of one of the streams which was better for the kids as they could go swimming and me and M headed up to the waterfall proper. After a long and sweaty walk we finally made it up to it and it was ginormous, a whole 70 metres tall! Still not the biggest I’ve seen, Chisui in China was around 90 if I remember right and much bigger in other ways than this one. But this one you could swim in and that was very much needed and the freezing water felt so dam good. M took his customary pictures and we headed back down to get going. Soon after we’d got in the car that crazy aunt from earlier just turned up on the side of the road and flagged us down as she and a few other members of the family happened to be there having a barbeque beside a stream. Everywhere we go we seem to bump into one of his family members, it’s so funny, plus this one was serving fried chicken and cat fish as well as sticky rice which was a result. As James was supposed to be arriving today (actually a few days ago, but the guy is so unreliable) we had to get a move on as it was likely he would be getting into Chiang Rai soonish and we had no signal. So we said our goodbyes and drove back home, turns out James came up with Chris (English guy who I met at our guest house about a week ago) and Melanie (German girl who James is in love with, and who is far too young for him!) and he still hadn’t made it up to Mae Sai to do his visa run. By this time immigration should’ve been closed, but he got there past 7 and somehow managed to get himself stamped back into Thailand. When we got back to M’s in the evening, his mate had just turned up to have a little jam session and practice ready for the gig M will be playing at the art exhibition tomorrow. The mate was really good at the drums, and it was nice to hear M’s guitar have a bit of accompaniment. The 2 of them rocked, and the whole neighbourhood popped by to watch the little gig on his terrace. Really awesome evening and can’t wait for the gig proper tomorrow. After a few hours they’d had enough and so we headed into town to hook up with James and the gang and find out what is going on as I literally have no idea what these guys plans are and I’m supposed to be a part of them. Long story short James’ plan is to follow Melanie wherever she wants to go, and yes for no other reason than the guy I controlled by his dick. But Chris seems up for hanging out in Chiang Rai for a bit and getting off the map and meeting M’s family and shit. For a guy whose just started travelling, he’s well up for doing the proper stuff like eating local and staying local and avoiding tourist traps, he’s even up for visiting China which no new traveller ever wants to touch with a barge pole, so the 2 of us should get on alright if James does decide to fuck off with this girl in the near future. In town we went to the reggae bar where M did yet more live jamming, this time with a bigger and better supporting band, and Melanie decided to stay at the hostel as us 3 watched M do his thing, really good set plus he met a couple guys who are up for playing with him in the gig tomorrow. James left the bar pretty quickly as he couldn’t stand being away from the girl for more than 5 minutes, and me and Chris sat and had a beer before the place started to close and me and M headed home.

Day 432 – Saturday 30th March

Got a call from James in the morning and we made plans to go visit the white temple. So I had some breakfast and then stole M’s badass little Honda 70 and headed into town to meet up with them, the 2 love bids were acting all coy all morning and turns out they’d booked themselves on a bus back to Chiang Mai already having only seen this place for about an hour last night. Melanie’s reasoning for booking the ticket; I don’t like Chiang Rai, all you’ve fucking seen is the guest house how can you have an opinion on the place. Either way she clearly doesn’t want to be here and unsurprisingly James is getting on the bus with her despite the fact that he actually really likes this place! Don’t get me started! Anyway Chris hopped on the back of my bike and those 2 rented a bike and we drove off to the temple. The temple was another really cool one, not so much a temple as a piece of art really, plus all the sculptures in and around the temple were really interesting and bloody bizarre! There was a particular painting in the inside of the temple on the back wall which depicted the twin towers going down with an angry bird as the planes and the whole towers wrapped in a petrol pump with spider man and superman in the background as well as a load of other shit. No pictures were allowed inside the temple but we managed to sneak one and it didn’t really come out. The other things included a bunch of hands coming out the ground, some holding microphones, some holding dicks, a couple with their middle fingers up and many others. Plus all the coy fish ponds around, the whole piece was just a really beautiful work of art called a temple, and it was one of the more interesting temples I’ve seen for sure. But it was fucking boiling as usual and after a quick tour around we got back on the bikes and drove to the same waterfall I went to yesterday with M. Somehow it felt even more refreshing than yesterday! But James and Melanie were on a tight schedule so we had to leave and go to M’s to say farewell before their bus. As if the day hadn’t been cool enough already, when we got back to M’s 3 guys were there with him jamming out like crazy, all of them were fucking epic at their respective instruments plus they’d bought a load of extra speakers for the day so it was a proper old school gig in the middle of a rice field, too fucking good. Soon after James and Melanie had left, it started to rain and not just rain fucking shit it down, the heavens quite literally fell on us plus a hell of a load of hail. All I kept thinking was thank god I left Indo when I did, and how the hell did I survive these downpours for the whole month of December!! It seemed to go on and on and get worse and worse, but we were nice and cosy undercover in the snooker room, and the 3 new guys are all really safe so we had a good laugh just waiting around for it to stop. Once it did stop, it was already time for the gig at the art exhibition and so we loaded all the equipment into the back of M’s truck and me and Chris followed on my new favourite toy, my little Honda 70. The drive we took earlier to get to and from the waterfall was absolutely epic and there was no way I wasn’t driving it tonight as well even if it was freezing cold and still raining slightly. Stopped off on the way at the guys’ guest house where we met an Italian couple who decided to join the convoy on their little bike and come along for the show. Compared to the building site it was just 2 days ago the progress made was absolutely ridiculous, the building looked so nice and the exhibition inside was actually brilliant. I’ve never been to an art show before and actually liked so many paintings, and they’re all done by local non-professional artists plus there was free food and booze! The gig started soon after we arrived and was so good, all the guys agreed it wasn’t as good as the jam session earlier, but the atmosphere was completely different and all the people there really enjoyed it and yeah it was a fucking awesome place to be on a Saturday night. We all hung around a while after the show was over to have a few drinks before we got back on our convoy to M’s to drop off all the equipment before heading back out to a club around 1 in the morning. This club is the hang out spot for all the local uni students (young, beautiful girls) so we were not disappointed once we arrived and everyone got in the spirit pretty quickly and our little table of the only 8 foreigners in the place showed those guys how to party. Still it was a typically Asian club meaning there wasn’t much of a dance floor and rather than being a place to have fun it was a place to show off wealth, meaning one huge benefit which I’ve mentioned time and time again in China is FREE DRINKS! So me and Chris quickly separated from the group and milked those young rich bastards for all they’re worth, but seriously we met a group of really cool guys who were also really generous with their drinks and the 2 of us ended up having such an awesome night. Unfortunately we didn’t have too much luck with the ladies but still. Once the club closed I drove my ridiculously drunk passenger home, but having never drive in Chiang Rai before I didn’t have a clue where we were going and soon a helpful ladyboy noticed we were driving in circles and stopped to help out. But in Chris’ state he thought it was a woman looking for a good time so he hopped in his/her car, luckily I managed to pry him away and eventually he realised it was a ladyboy, but still he followed us all the way home at 5 in the morning, fucking creepy!! What a long and awesome day!

Day 433 – Sunday 31st March

Didn’t feel too bad this morning seemingly my tolerance to alcohol hasn’t really dropped despite having not really drunk in a good few months now. Chris felt a bit hung over though and got started on stories of a greasy McDonald’s breakfast which I could not get out of my head. So we jumped on the bike and drove to town where we were told there was one in central plaza, and after walking around the building and being convinced it was nowhere, the golden arches appeared and we were rewarded with a bloody good breakfast. Plus with most Asian McDonald’s they’re actually nice restaurants as they’re pretty expensive comparatively so it was a good place to sit and have a chill on a lazy Easter Sunday. When we left there we drove back to M’s and checked out a little house we can rent a bit down the road. If it was up to me I’d stay at M’s forever, but now there’s 2 of us and I’ve been taking his bed for a whole week now it’s probably about time I let him be. The place we’re looking at is perfect just a little detached hut with internet and big room and bathroom for only 40 quid a month (20 each). But we can’t move in till tomorrow so M’s got to stick up with us for another night. After that we went on a long drive in the mountains to find this really far off waterfall in the middle of the jungle, sorry if my blog is starting to sound like some ridiculous paradise found book. But anyway the drive was incredible, the walk to the waterfall was incredible, and then we randomly bumped into the Italian couple from last night, incredible! This place is so far off and would be impossible to find if you didn’t know the way and yet somehow here they were! We spent a couple hours hanging out there chatting and keeping cool in the water before having a coffee and parting ways when we heard the thunder rolling in. Luckily the rain didn’t come as bad as yesterday and so the muddy roads were fine on the way back. When we got back, we were all a bit tired so we hung around chatting at Ms place and listening to music sitting on the internet. I tried to book myself a flight from Bangkok to Singapore next month, as my flight home is from there, but the stress of having to plan it ahead and the realisation that had I just booked it from Bangkok originally it would’ve been way cheaper and easy made it impossible for me to book it and made me stressed so I just turned off that and skyped the family instead. Actually hadn’t spoken to Grandma and Granddad since this day last year when I’d just arrived in China, shows how useless I am with keeping in touch! All in all a really nice relaxing night and had a really good chat with Chris for about 3 hours about the state of the world we live in today which was a nice change from the usual travelling talk (which I never actually get bored of).

Day 434 – Monday 1st April

Spent the morning hanging out at M’s, with his mate who I’ve met a few times, just listening to music. After a while we made a plan to head off to a waterfall, am I starting to sound boring yet? Got lost on the way and ended up in the middle of some random hill tribe who didn’t speak any Thai. But once we did make it, it was even more spectacular than the rest purely because you could climb up the side of the cliff and jump off into the pool, boys will be boys. Plus there were loads of kids there playing which always gives a place a more fun vibe. Spent quite a while there swimming in the pool and sunbathing before getting some delicious food from the local women at the entrance. When we got back to M’s we started an ebay account for him as he’s trying to sell his paintings, of which he has hundreds, so we started to take pictures of them all and get him set up, the least we can do for all the help he’s given us. Then after another brilliant dinner we moved in to our new little house and rented a scooter from M’s Mum for only a tenner a week, fuck what a bloody good feeling!

Pictures are up in the gallery guys, enjoy!

Posted by travellingjoe 23:17 Archived in Thailand Comments (3)

Another week flies by in Chiang Mai

Day 420 – Monday 18th March

Merita is off to one of those meditation course things today (3 weeks in a temple not talking and meditating a lot) so me and James had some breakfast with her before we had to see her off. James rented a scooter and drove off into the sunset with her, and I just hung out at our place writing the blog for the rest of the evening. After dinner I dropped by Tamara’s, still no sign of James which is bizarre considering this temple is only like an hour away, turned out they got very lost and it took them over 3 hours to make it. So they were forced to stay the night there as me, Tamara, Pitac (formerly known as M, Thai guy) and Noi went out on the town. Turned out to be a proper good night, we saw 3 different bands doing live music at separate places and 2 of them ended up being fucking epic, after a few beers and some dancing we all parted ways just after 1 and I came back to my lonely hostel to call it a night.

Day 421 – Tuesday 19th March

Started off the day pretty brightly with a trip down memory lane in the form of ‘The Jungle Book’ which is a great film that everyone should watch again. After a bit more lounging around my place, I went out to get some food and go meet up with Tamara and M, but they turned out to be in the middle of an argument or something so I sat outside waiting. Next thing I know, the doors closed and they’re having it off, I guess they forgot about me, rude bastards! So I went back home, Tamara did pop round a bit later and we hung out at mine for the rest of the afternoon. Turns out they did end up having an argument and he ran off back to Chiang Mai, bit of a bummer as he’d invited us all to go stay with him at his house in Chiang Rai and the turn of events might change that opportunity. James randomly turned up in the evening having spent the whole day hanging out with Merita before her course started this evening. The 3 of us then went out for some very highly regarded fried chicken, which was fucking delicious, and then came back and separated for an early night.

Day 422 – Wednesday 20th March

Spent the morning hanging out in Noi’s café today, which her French boyfriend set her up with and which is not getting any business whatsoever. Anyway yeah, we all hung out there, me and James went off on a little errand run while we still had the bike; went to a tasty veggie restaurant for takeaway, then went to get money out the ATM as James’ card is broke and then we ran out of petrol. Despite me telling him it wasn’t the best place to leave it, James lazily left it on the side of the red and white painted road, on a zebra crossing! Safe to say it didn’t turn out well, but that’s a different story for tomorrow. After ditching the bike, we all had lunch together and hung out chatting for the rest of the afternoon. Once again, the 3 of us (Tamara and James) went out for dinner, and once again we didn’t bother going out and dumped Tamara at her place then came back to work on our top secret website designing. And the only truly nutritious meal for a programmer is McDonalds, so at 1am we stole some bicycles and went there randomly bumping into Tamara on the way. Turns out she’s too cool for us and was out on the lash! She jumped on the back of James’ bike on our late night maccy d’s convoy. Loving our little family here, despite people leaving we still are getting on really well, and the last 10 days or so in Chiang Mai have flown by.

Day 423 – Thursday 21st March

Another morning spent at Noi’s little café, given the current ridiculous heat (up to 40 degrees and still smoggy as hell) anywhere with some shade and music is a great place to hang during the day. Then everything turned to shit when we went to get some petrol for the bike and drive it back home. It wasn’t there! And James’ passport is down as deposit for it with only a week left on the visa. As we didn’t check on the bike until late, the police weren’t open, but having already done this before James is pretty confident it’s been towed rather than nicked. We’ll have to find out tomorrow, still James is far too blaze in my opinion. Nothing more we could do but come back to our place and hang out with this new (fucking annoying) American guy who’s come to Thailand for some dental work, as it worked out cheaper to have a 3 week holiday and pay for it over here rather than pay in the US. And people complain that the UK taxes are too high, at least we get free healthcare! But he couldn’t stop banging on about how the surgery went and the current concoction of painkillers he was on and how cool he was to be drinking vodka (sigh!). We got stuck with him and ended up taking him round to Tamara’s where the recently illusive Candis was hanging outside her from for the first time in ages. Luckily her US connection with him kept him busy and we all had a good laugh. Carried the night on back at our place where we were joined by yet 2 more newcomers, a 6 foot something blonde Danish girl with legs up to her eyes, Corina, and a guy from Newcastle, Chris. I think that’s the main reason why I am enjoying Chiang Mai, the constant supply of like-minded same language speaking people means time just flies in conversation. Although the complete white domination in Chiang Mai is bloody disconcerting and I’m planning on getting out of here and to Chiang Rai. Hopefully it actually feels like I’m in Thailand up there.

Day 424 – Friday 22nd March

By the time I was up, Tamara was already round being proactive and dragging James off to the police station to try and sort this little dilemma of his. I spied that Chris was reading the Doors of Perception, writing by Aldous Huxley (fucking genius) about how he defines a mescaline trip. It’s also what ‘The Doors’ based their name on and I’ve been wanting to read it for a while. Chris and Corina were off being busy so I sat reading that as well as the sequel, Heaven and Hell, both very short books, and both a fucking nightmare to wrap your head around. Well Heaven and Hell certainly was a mind fuck, but Doors of Perception was still completely understandable and brilliant while still being a complete scramble. Plus I haven’t read a book since Koh Chang, and it’s always nice to have some alone time, so a very good start to the day. James made it back from the police station with bad news; they hadn’t picked it up, meaning to all intents and purposes it’s been nicked. Whether or not that means the owner caught a glimpse and decided to steal it himself and charge James we will never know. Either way, the owner came up with a quote of around 450 quid which is insane money out here for a second hand bike, but when they’ve got your passport they’ve got you well and truly by the bollocks. As James doesn’t have to get a visa until Thursday, he’s got a few days to wait for the bike to turn up before he’ll have to cough up, fingers crossed. We hung out with all the people staying at our place this afternoon, including a new German girl on top of the Danish and the 2 other English speaking guys. Luckily the American was on a bus to Bangkok by 7 so he won’t be pissing me off anytime soon. Me, Noi and Frederica (Italian chick who’s been MIA for the past 10 days as she works) decided to go to the cinema and check out the new Tarantino movie, Django. Personally I thought it was a really bad film, the concept is alright, but the whole gangster joke and just the way it’s made in general really turned me off. Haven’t seen a Tarantino movie that I like in ages, I feel that he’s just gone past the threshold of genius and insane in the last few years. By the time we got back it was pretty late and after escorting Noi home everyone was in bed. Chris stayed up a little bit chatting with me about travelling and shit as he’s only been away a few weeks and wants some advice, all I could do was force-feed him things I loved about China. In the end he seemed pretty keen on the idea, everyone is after I speak to them (as I’m obsessed with the place and not enough people go!) so China could be full of people I know by now.

Day 425 – Saturday 23rd March

Last night I spoke to M about when was a good time to go up and visit, but as he was off early this morning for a whole day scooter festival I’ve put off going till tomorrow, I’m actually pretty excited to leave here. Had well and truly enough of only seeing farang (Thai for tourist) everywhere, plus M is a cool guy as well as a painter and guitarist meaning he’s sure to have a cool pad to stay. Still no results with the bike today and as usual James is disconcertingly upbeat and blaze about a potentially huge fine at a time when he doesn’t own a bank card! I hung out with the German girl (none of us remember her name), and Noi and James all afternoon. I need to take some pictures of this guest house, it’s really higgildy piggildy and a maze to get around but there are so many cool little nooks and crannies with comfy places to sit. Which makes it far too easy to get stuck here! Chris and Corina left for a trekking trip this morning, so it was just us left and other than a cheeky drop by visit from Tamara we spent the whole day and night together. Did some washing, got some takeaway food and we all hung out on the sofas watching a movie, nice chilled night in. Good time to leave Chiang Mai for a few days.

Day 426 – Sunday 24th March

Got up at 10 this morning, not a nice feeling hearing the alarm again, and after a bit of procrastinating I made it out of bed and picked up all my dry washing and packed. Got James out of bed around 12 to drop the bag off in his room and then went to get some lunch/breakfast. Bumped into Tamara on the way back, surprising given she’d told us she was off to some meditation farm retreat this morning, turns out they were full and she’s stuck here. I hung around a little bit with the 2 of them and then got on my way to the bus station just after 1. I waved down about 10 pickup truck taxis in a row, I’m sure it looked very comical with all of them turning me down as they couldn’t be fucked taking me all the way to the bus station on a Sunday for a reasonable price. Eventually one guy did agree and I got myself on the next bus leaving at 3. It took about 3 hours to get to Chiang Rai, in which time I slept a bit and listened to music enjoying all the countryside scenery flying by. Feels so nice to be out of the city! Really good to see M again waiting for me at the bus station, despite a few too many mentions of asking how Tamara is getting on and if she’s fooling around with other guys we had a really good night. His house turns out to be absolutely epic, his family own this giant chuck of land with pretty much the whole extended family living in their own little houses dotted about all over the place. The little place M built is like something out of Italy, with a veranda on top of floating stairs, leading in to his open bedroom then downstairs his art studio and his music set up with drums, mics and guitars. Plus he’s got speakers all over the place and he lives in the middle of the countryside meaning the music can be blasted out. Have a sneaky feeling I might get stuck here a bit longer than expected. Plus the family owns a little restaurant and snooker room so everything is quite literally on the doorstep. After catching up a bit and me jazzing my pants about how awesome his house is, we headed out for some food and went to a bar to meet a couple of his mates. Ended up spending the night chatting to this clueless French bird and a couple other crazy French people, and playing pool in this little reggae bar. Came back to his place and had some food and listened to music chatting for a couple hours before going to bed. Really nice night, absolutely loving the vibe of Chiang Rai (even if it is freezing at night), just looking forward to seeing more of the countryside and some of the famous temples dotted around the place here.

Day 427 – Monday 25th March

Thought I’d just update this on the day of as its already night and I doubt anything too major will happen between now and the time I go to bed. Anyway, got up bright and early this morning and had some breakfast then I played snooker with myself as he caught up with his Mum and Brother. Around 1 we headed off to Burma to do yet another bloody visa run, not before strapping an ice cream cooler on to the back of the car and driving it round to his uncle’s place, somehow without the car tipping backwards or the cooler falling off. As it’s a hot day today they felt that the uncle might get some business if it’s left at his place nearer to the main road. Once we ditched the cooler, we went round the city trying to find a bank which would exchange me baht for dollars (as you need $10 to get in to Burma) but none of the banks wanted to do it which was bloody annoying. Eventually I found one guy who would change it for me and we hit the road up North to ‘The Golden Triangle’ which is where Thailand, Laos and Burma all meet and is historically renowned for being the home of opium. Filled up the car with gas (not gasoline, gas) which is super common in Thailand, yet another thing we seem to be behind on! The drive took about an hour, and all the immigration business took about half an hour and then we were back on the road to Chiang Rai. Usual story on the Burma side, lots of people desperately clawing at you to buy something for them, all these border towns are so alike. When we got back we hung out on his balcony and had a jam session (just like the Beatles), I’m actually alright at the drums, well a couple of beats I learnt ages ago. But still it was enough and we had a good laugh. Turned in to a right hippy since coming up North, playing instrument, fire juggling and hula hooping, next I’ll have dreads. Also hung out with one of his mate from the bar last night, who’s a proper nut job but really friendly. Then we had dinner and now I’m just hanging out listening to all the wildlife on his terrace as the moon shines brightly above. Life is good, as usual!

Photos to come on next entry guys, I know I haven't taken any in a while.

Posted by travellingjoe 08:07 Archived in Thailand Comments (2)

Up North to Chiang Mai

Day 413 – Monday 11th March

Already covered most of this day in my last entry, but just to recap; after an early wake up in Ranong I headed off on an uneventful visa run to Burma giving me yet another 2 weeks in Thailand, so I’ll be here till the 25th, at least. After my visa run, I spent a few hours wasting time in Ranong, went to a couple cafes, spent some time on the internet and then made my way to the bus station just after 4. There I picked myself up a ticket on the 8pm bus to Bangkok, which happens to go on to the North bus station after the usual Southern one. This means that I can keep my options open, at this point I was still unsure if I was going to spend a few days in Bangkok or jump straight on another 12 hour bus up to Chiang Mai where James (guy from Lombok back in September) is hanging out, plus it’s a city I quite like and its close to one of my favourite places, Pai. Once I picked up my ticket I still had a few hours to waste some more time in a café on the internet before I got on the bus at 8.

Day 414 – Tuesday 12th March

The bus made it in to the Southern bus terminal this morning around 5ish, after a very boring bus journey in which I managed very little sleep. Due to the fact that there were only 3 of us left on the bus who wanted to carry on to the North bus terminal, the driver just decided to save himself the effort and buy us each a ticket on a minibus. Due to the usual lunatic driving antics of Bangkok’s transport service we made it to the terminal pretty quickly, and not one hour I was off the bus in Bangkok I’d picked myself up a ticket on a 7am bus to Chiang Mai. The bus trip was actually quite nice, I always seem to take transport overnight, but going in the day is a much more interesting ride. I managed a bit of sleep and a lot of listening to music by the time we made it to Chiang Mai, where James came and picked me up. Spent arguably my best 3 weeks in Indo with him and Laurie back in Lombok in September, so it was fucking awesome seeing him again, and unsurprisingly he had loads of crazy stories to catch me up on. And after a lot of chatting and a shower, we went out to meet up with a few of his mates and get some dinner. I wasn’t really feeling up for going out, so after our late dinner, me and James came back to the guest house to spend a couple of hours chilling out before going to bed. Feels really good to be here in Chiang Mai, the area I’m staying in is really nice, and the guest house is also pretty special, definitely worth leaving Koh Chang for. Plus there’s unlimited electricity, hot water and wifi, how could I not be happy?

Day 415 – Wednesday 13th March

Had a well-deserved lie in this morning on my unusually soft bed which felt incredible. James came round after I got up to go get some breakfast round the corner, yet another great aspect of being in a city, great food! Since I left James back in October, he’s spent about 4 months living in Chiang Mai, so unsurprisingly this morning he was telling me about his plan to rent a shop with 3 rooms above it with a couple of other girls he hangs out with. The idea is to set up a sort of drop in café with internet and bike rental and such, very common in this area, but I guess you can never have too many, plus the price of the rent works out less than a month in a guest house so you can’t really lose. Plus the 2 girls are really nice, one is called Noi (which means small in Thai, and she really is) and the other Tamara, a Spanish gypsie. After breakfast, James and Tamara went off to a park, and as they only had one bike I stuck back and spent some more time leeching the internet and downloading as much as I could think of, and I had a nap. We all went out for dinner in the evening, but as everyone has to wake up early tomorrow for work and James for visa run, no one was in the mood to go out, so we called it a night pretty early. I decided to stay up until 5 to watch the whole of the Arsenal game, don’t really know if it was worth it, but always nice to be able to watch some football.

Day 416 – Thursday 14th March

After my late night yesterday I didn’t make it out of bed until the afternoon, by which time James had gone meaning I was completely lost in Chiang Mai. Having stayed here for almost a week last year, I should have some clue, but we spent no time in the old city and the place is a maze of tiny streets which I’ve only seen so far from the back of James’ bike. So I decided to just go on a walk and get lost and see what I find, and despite the searing heat it was actually really nice to just have a long walk around a city. You never know what you might find, saw tons of temples, a couple monuments, a park, a university, museums and eventually somewhere good to eat. I also stepped in drying cement for the first time in my life, so my footprint is now somewhere in Chiang Mai! All in all including the long lunch I was gone a good 3 hours, it felt very proactive given my usual lazy state. The drive up to the Burma border is about 4-5 hours each way, so James didn’t make it back until pretty late, meaning we had to skip dinner to get to a jazz bar in time for an hour or so of live music with the whole gang. It was a really fun night, and the first time I’ve had more than just a couple drinks in ages, don’t know if I’ve mentioned the fact that I’ve pretty much given up drinking for almost 6 months now. Not to say I’m ‘off the wagon’ now or anything, just alcohol is pretty expensive in Indo and on Koh Chang as well, nice to have the opportunity to go out with a cool group of people and get a few drinks.

Day 417 – Friday 15th March

Luckily no one was feeling too hung-over this morning, and so I got a breakfast call from James at a reasonable time and we went out to get some smoothies. And these weren’t just any smoothies, the woman who owns the place tries the craziest combinations with every fruit you could think of, and they’re so bloody delicious and filling. As per usual it was very hot today, so after a little snack we were forced to come back to the safety of our guest house where we hung out with this new Russian guy for a couple of hours. Went round to the girl’s place in the evening to all have dinner together, but due to indecision on where we should go, we had to order in meaning pizza hut! Then our little gang just hung out on the balcony for the rest of the night, the girls are all really nice and super fun, plus there are always a couple new people to meet milling about. I’m definitely enjoying having a social aspect back in my life again, plus I actually met a guy who gave me a potential business opportunity, I can’t really say too more. But if anyone has any experience in making websites, your expertise would be very much appreciated as me and James are in the midst of setting something up. I’m not being hush hush on purpose, just can’t really be arsed explaining. After a few hours hanging out there, chatting on and on about what options with have with this new money making idea, we all went our separate ways, and I had a nice convo on Skype with the family for the first time in ages. Then we went out for an early morning McDonald’s, just so hard to avoid eating Western food when it’s so good!

Day 418 – Saturday 16th March

Had a new arrival to the gang this morning, Merita, fresh from a whistle-stop 2 week tour in Laos, she’s back in Chiang Mai. So everyone knew her from when she was here before, I got to know he over breakfast with James, another really nice girl who’s from Kosovo, very interesting. The 3 of us went to our usual hang out at Tamara’s guest house, where I spent the afternoon being taught how to do poi, fire juggling! It’s actually a hell of a lot harder than it looks to spin the balls round in the cool way, but I eventually got it and it’s pretty therapeutic, plus there’s so much more to learn and I’m very tempted to get addicted to it. I also learnt how to do the hula hoop thing, I’ve turned in to a right hippy seemingly! So after a free loving afternoon, I went off to go watch the City game, can’t emphasize enough how fucking nice it is to watch football, especially when all the results went so well today. After dinner, we all met up again, currently the group is changing; not only have we got this new Merita, but the cute Thai girl Noi has gone to some meditation thing and she’s been replaced by Tamara’s current Thai boyfriend ‘M’ and we still have Candis, girl from San Diego. As usual we just spent the evening all hanging out knocking back a few beers and shooting the shit.

Day 419 – Sunday 17th March

Had a pretty rushed breakfast this morning as we had this brilliant plan to drive out to a waterfall as it’s just so god dam hot! Unfortunately trying to organise all 6 of us to leave promptly was impossible, but we did all eventually get going and we piled in to the back of M’s truck. The walk up to the waterfall was pretty horrendous, due to it being a Sunday it was pretty busy and so we had to keep going up another level on the mountain to find a more quiet pool to hang by. In the end we arrived at a really nice spot where I jumped straight in, so refreshing! Spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out up there playing cards and listening to music, it was a really good idea to go. Writing about it now just seems so ridiculous; ‘oh we were hot so we just went to a waterfall in the jungle at the top of a mountain’ life is good. We made it back to Chiang Mai around sunset and had some dinner together, then me and James hung out at our place for a bit and went round to theirs a bit later. Usual evening of chilling out on the terrace, had a good chat with M, who’s headed back up to Chiang Rai (his home) sometime this week and so we might all take a road trip up North and check out the area. We were all a bit tired and in no mood for getting involved in the sloppy St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, so we called it a night a bit earlier than usual. Came back home and James was locked out of his room, so after an hour of trying to get in through the window, then breaking a key in the lock, eventually pulling it out and then trying a succession of about 100 keys, he eventually made it in and I went off to bed.

Posted by travellingjoe 02:55 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Bye bye Koh Chang

Day 399 – Monday 25th February – Day 412 – Sunday 10th March

Once I made it back from my visa run, I spent a bit of time in the port catching up on the internet and writing the blog and things, before meeting up with Ter again to tell him I want to go back instead of going to Bangkok. So we hopped on his bike, picked up some supplies, and my bag from the bus station, and then got back on a boat to Koh Chang. At the time I was worrying if I’d made a mistake, but once I got back to the island and got all the confused looks from people who expected me gone, I was very happy with my decision. I decided to mix things up a bit and move to a new bungalow. This bungalow is a bit further away from the beach and more in the jungle meaning it feels really cut off and nice and quiet, perfect. Unfortunately due to the fact that no one really stays here, the place was full of ants, and brushing my bed became a regular occurrence, as did waking up in the middle of the night with loads of ants on me, and having to hang up all my clothes outside to stop them from getting covered. Still, despite the ants, the bungalow was really nice and I quickly got settled in to my new home.

My last 2 weeks have been very much the same as usual, I spend all day reading in my hammock, then spend a couple of hours playing volleyball, then some dinner and a couple of hours chilling out watching a movie. The only real difference in the past 2 weeks compared with before has been the water shortage. At first there was literally none left and people were being turned away but after the full moon and the crazy tides, we magically had some more water. I guess the tides pushed the natural water underground and filled up the tank, still don’t really understand how. But, we got no rain and inevitably the water ran dry. And then it completely ran out and we all had to leave! So come Friday, we had a party with everyone left in the place and in the morning everyone had moved out and Ter had decided that he too would be leaving and closing up shop on Sunday. This was a huge bummer for me as I didn’t need to leave until Monday, and it meant a 6am wake up on Sunday so that they could clear out my room and finish closing stuff up. So I spent all of Sunday just bumbling around not really knowing what to do next, my family of the last 8 weeks just disappeared, just sat around feeling all depressed that I had to leave before jumping on the 2pm boat to Ranong. I’m really going to miss this place, it’s got something special about it, going to miss Jen’s great cooking, their huge library of books, the super cheap bungalow, and the daily workout of volleyball (which I am now an absolute pro at).

When I made it to Ranong, I was still completely lost as to what I should do next. First things first, my visa runs out on Monday and I couldn’t decide whether or not to just do it on Sunday and jump on a bus to Bangkok or spend the night in Ranong and do it all the next day. In the end I decided to stay and check myself in to a hotel, haven’t spent a night on the mainland in so long, it’s such a weird feeling to be back. Most importantly there’s an abundance of internet, so once I was checked in and showered I sat in a café for a good 3 hours catching up on things and downloading lots more TV and movies. After some dinner I went back to my room and watched Argo, the Oscar sensation, which was pretty good if not a tad overrated and too patriotic.

Then this morning I got up nice and early and went and got myself a new visa meaning at least 2 more weeks in Thailand, and now once again I’m sitting in an internet café passing the time before getting an overnight bus to Bangkok later. My plan now is to head all the way up North to Chiang mai, where James (met in Indonesia) is hanging out, so I’ll go catch up with him and most probably make my way up to Pai, one of my favourite places in Thailand. Hopefully this means a lot more interesting days ahead and therefore a more interesting blog.

Posted by travellingjoe 01:36 Archived in Thailand Comments (2)

Visa Runs.

Day 385 – Monday 11th February – Day 398 – Sunday 24th February

Yet again, a rather uneventful blog update for you guys, can’t apologize as I am enjoying life too much. When I left you, I was on my way to Ranong for the day in order to get myself a new visa, so after a lot of hassle from the millions of people trying to sell you a seat on their boat, plus a lot of pissing about with passports and checkpoints, I did manage to get myself a visa in the end and I now have another 15 days to stay in Thailand. I’m grateful that it’s just a morning’s work to sort out a new visa and it doesn’t cost much, but compared to Koh Chang, all the hustle and bustle of the little port towns on either side of the border was not something I enjoyed. To clear all that up, you leave mainland Thailand for an island officially in Burmese waters, get stamped either side and then you’re free. All in all it cost me about a tenner to sort it, which in visa terms is actually pretty cheap, so I was quite happy. When I got back to the pier after the visa run, I sat and spent some time on the internet, got a bit of food and then headed back home.

On the first Wednesday, my little Spanish chica decided to sail off in to the wind bound for Koh Tao, which was a bit sad as it left me without any companions. Still keeping up the façade I don’t speak French in order to avoid falling into their smelly group. The day after she left was the big Valentine’s bash, something Ter has been banging on about for weeks as his team were competing in the football competition. Unfortunately he got knocked out straight away and due to my lack of motivation, I never actually made it to the village school to check out what was happening.

As per usual I’ve been reading like a complete book worm, and after being in Koh Chang for 6 weeks now, I’ve read around 25 books. If I had to pin one as my favourite, it would have to be American Psycho, I encourage everyone to read that book, it’s bloody brilliant. As I mentioned I’ve been here for 6 weeks, which may sound like a long time, but I put the question to anyone; If you could stay on a beautiful, quiet, cheap island and have some serious alone/meditation time where you can just sit around reading all day, would you really not do it for 6 weeks? Long story short I’m very happy here and in no rush to leave despite having paid my bill (a tab for all my food and accommodation) which wasn’t too fun.

One major piece of news that’s happened in the last 2 weeks is the development of me making my way home! Mum had messaged me a couple times about potentially organizing some sort of holiday in the Philippines around April May. But after thinking it over a bit she decided that maybe it would be wiser to just book me a flight home, then everyone can have the pleasure of seeing me! So sometime in May I will be getting on a flight home, and I can’t bloody wait! As much as I love travelling (hate that verb defining my life now) I miss so many things about home and I just want to go back for a few months, make a bit of money then head off to South America in September and try my luck with some Latin babes. So my plan was to go to Ranong on Monday, get another extension of my visa then go to Bangkok and get an Indian visa so I can spend my last 2 months in Asia visiting the North of India which I so regret missing last time.

So here I’m sitting, having sorted my visa once again, and presumably on my way to getting a bus North to Bangkok. Wrong! On my visa run I met a really nice Canadian woman with kids (won’t go in to side story) who mentioned the difficulty she had getting an Indian visa in Bangkok having to wait 3 weeks, same story for her husband. Now this is not the first time I’ve heard this, or read it on the internet; and visas being the most frustrating part of my life (I’m sure I’ve banged on about it enough by now!) I decided there and then to just go back to Koh Chang for a bit. Ok, so it sounds like the lazy way out, but I have excuses; if the visa does take 3 weeks, I’ll be charged an arm and a leg overstay, the visa is 6 months long and 50 quid and only have 2 months to see India, I’ve been travelling a while now and I want no more passport grief, nor do I want to spend lots of money on last minute flights. And having read a book last night about bad omens and such and how you hold follow your heart, and the fact that I never speak except to this one woman who tells me just before I go to Bangkok how much of a nightmare it is, was enough to just pick my bag back up from the bus station and go back to where I belong.

So there it is, it’s all happened so fast so I don’t have a definite game plan, but maybe Laos and Cambodia, who knows?? Either way Koh Chang is getting no rain and our resort is out of water, so I’ll have to be leaving soon enough anyway. Either way important news is I’ll be coming home in May, get excited people!

Posted by travellingjoe 21:59 Archived in Thailand Comments (2)

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