Hello fans! Long time no speak and wow a lot has happened. So 2 and half weeks ago, we arrived in Bangkok to a very misleading ‘boutique hotel’ 10 minute drive away from the airport so that we were close to pick up Mummy the following morning. We decided to go into Bangkok centre to find some lunch, do a bit of exploring and find a doctor to sort Cici’s blocked ear. The shopping centre, Siam Square, was quiet (our first experience of the results of Coronavirus and lack of Chinese tourists) but we found some lunch and took in the atmosphere. After stuffing our faces with sushi and frozen yoghurt we set off to find a clinic of some sort for Cici’s ear. Our closest one was “Police Hospital”. As we got closer we realised we were in the heart of the police department – “here we have the interrogation centre and to our right we have the criminal records library!”. Following google maps ever hopeful 2 DETECTIVES came to our rescue and boy were they attentive. We got escorted to two A&E departments with them asking in Thai what we should do. Eventually after 45 mins of walking around we were put in a taxi to go to the international hospital – the taxi driver couldn’t believe these two policemen helped us!
We got to the hospital and our doors were opened for us, we had our own guide that spoke English that came with us to every desk we needed and we were seen immediately by an ENT specialist who sucked everything out while Gee and I were filming this procedure completely absorbed by the microscope camera livestream. With now 3 pairs of fully functioning ears we got some dinner and headed back to the hotel.
Mummy arrives and our tour of Bangkok began with our guide Patrick who was a very camp but informative. We visited the reclining Buddha, the Royal Palace and the temple of Dawn all in 34 degrees and probably 85% humidity. It was quite the shock for us three as we were not used to packing so much in a day! We then got onto our overnight train to Chiang Mai with a passed out Pippa by 7pm and pot noodles for our dinner.
We arrived early morning to a taxi that was taking us to Pai up in the hills due north-west of Chiang Mai near the Myanmar border. With 762 turns up and down the mountainous terrain, we made it for lunch with the help of travel sickness pills (Pips used quite a few on this trip!). Pai was very chill and laidback with lots of veggie cafes and hippy-dippy backpackers – Mummy felt rather mature compared to the surrounding demographic! We spent a day by the pool, ate lots of avocado due to it being in-season and went to an actual restaurant where we were wined and dined for dinner. It was also lovely in the evenings as it was cooler up in the north which suited us three sweaty betties. The next day we had an awesome tour of the area visiting the White Buddha, the Bamboo Bridge over paddy fields, going to a viewpoint, visiting our driver’s mother and eating all his herbs in his garden, eating his mother’s packed lunch for us consisting of rice, jackfruit stew and spicy greens, hot springs (I burnt my toes after misreading a sign that said, “DO NOT put your feet in this area”… ?) and finally Pai Canyon where we all got vertigo at some point, especially Mummy who had to go half way down again.
On Monday we headed back down to Chiang Mai to a very nice hotel for one night called Sugarcane where we chilled by the pool and ate room service as I wasn’t feeling particularly well and as we knew we had a packed few days coming up.
Then on Tuesday, Emma, Cici’s mum, flew in from Koh Samui after a week’s retreat, and met her at our next hotel which was amazing. Eyeing up the pool we were sadly taken away to explore the Old City within Chiang Mai to visit some temples and get some well-deserved lunch after a few hours walking in the midday sun and sweating buckets. We headed back to the hotel to have a lie down, swim in the pool, oogle an Asian wedding that was happening that was very different with all the photos of the bride and groom already taken on a different day and displayed on a long table and lots of photos being taken, and a well deserved G and T for Emma! At 6pm we met our lovely guide, Nud, who took us to see monks chanting in a temple and teaching us about Buddhism in Thailand as well as me making a friend with a very sweet dog (thank you Rabies jab for protecting me ?). We then went to the street food market and had some yummy noodles and Pad Thai and to finish off some mango sticky rice *here are Cici and Gee’s reactions ?
The next day we drove to Chiang Rai, 3 hours north-east of Chiang Mai, close to the Golden Triangle, after having the most amazing breakfast buffet which is three girls went crazy with! We stopped on our way at the White Temple. This was a very different experience as the temple is only 15 years old and had murals on the wall of what temptation looks like, including little paintings of modern things like Ben 10, Hello Kitty, and the Twin Towers. This has been my favourite temple so far.
We got to our next hotel which was huge but empty due to the lack of Chinese and tourists and chilled by the pool for the afternoon. We then had a tour in the evening of Chiang Rai and more street food.
The next day we had a tour of a hill tribe north of Chaing Rai where we trekked up to a stunning waterfall which was very cold but refreshing after the walk up (Mummy got there in the end..) and then we had the most incredible lunch prepared for us by the hill tribe. Everything was cooked over a fire with banana-leaf steamed rice and bamboo cooked curry and egg. It was the best Thai food we had! They also made us cups out of bamboo that we could take home with us which was very sweet. I also made another four-legged friend!
We went out for our last dinner as a 5 to a nice looking restaurant but very VERY questionable food… oh well you can’t have it all!
On the Friday we parted ways as Cici and Emma went to Antara Resort for a very luxurious 3 days in the Golden Triangle where you can see Laos and Myanmar from their room balcony in Thailand. Meanwhile, Mummy organised a little day trip for us. We saw Long-neck hill tribe which I didn’t particularly enjoy as it was purely made to exploit tourists and use their questionable traditions to get money. This included a little girl plastered with make-up and wearing the gold rings around her neck (a new ring is put on a girl for every year of their life up until a certain age which overtime elongates their next but also means that they would break their neck if they were removed as the neck doesn’t have enough vertebrae to support the head). We then went to the Golden Triangle viewpoint to see Laos and Myanmar for ourselves.
This was followed by a visit to the Opium Museum where we learnt about the trade over recent centuries and the wars that occurred.
We then went to a “market” at the Myanmar border which was just full of tat and a grumpy Daisy who was hungry for a some lunch and to get to the pool asap!
Finally, we arrived to Katilya Resort where we were staying for 3 days of luxury. Due to the Coronavirus spread, tourists were far and few and we got upgraded to the most spacious, huge suite that included a fully decked out kitchen, two huge bathrooms with baths and showers, TVs and balconies with their own sun lounger on each. Gee was very VERY happy to have her own room and bathroom with a super-king bed as well as all of us enjoying our own space.
We spent the rest of the day and the following day sitting by the pool, ordering pizza and drinks, and just chilling out.
On our last full day with Mummy we had the most special day (and Gee’s favourite day of our whole trip so far) at an elephant sanctuary called Elephants Steps, run by the daughter of a french ex-gangster, and her Karen (local tribe) husband. We arrived to a dozen dogs, two very fat rescued pigs, and three indian elephants, Gypsy, Melanie and Menoon, chilling in the garden. Mummy burst into tears at the sight of them (we all know how much Pips loves her elephants!!) at just how happy and relaxed they were with human company. We did all our admin and then changed into Karen clothes to properly immerse ourselves into the experience. We fed them sugarcane, maize and bananas while dogs were running around and a little boy called Nolan sitting at the feet of the ellies. Sophie and her husband regularly visit the local villages and noticed that Nolan’s mother was nowhere to be found so they decided to take him home and look after him there. He was the sweetest, happiest little boy and as we were leaving to go for a walk with the elephants, the family of three were off to the seaside as Nolan had never seen the sea before!
We went for a very slow pace trek through the jungle with the elephants, their mahouts (a kinder version of a controller – without them the elephants wouldn’t behave and would be nervy of us) and our english translator. We had photos, found out about how the elephants live – they go back into the jungle at night on their own accord and come back to the farm for food and attention – and ended with an amazing lunch prepared by the family. We were so touched by the ethics behind the experience and how happy everyone was, humans and animals alike.
We enjoyed our final evening of paid for wine, food and western menu, before packing our bags and driving to the airport at 7am the next day to get our flights to Bali!