We heard from several people how great Pai (pronounced bye) is and how it’s worth the visit. We couldn’t agree more. From Chiang Mai the journey is uphill and full of meandering roads and sharp turns, 762 to be exact, our journey was ok but i think it really depends on the bus driver you get.
There is however one strange thing about Pai. We’ve seen it a few times on our travels and still can’t wrap our brains around it. It’s an influx of Westerners in an area which dominates the local population. In the case of Pai, the town is concentrated on just a few streets and once you’re outside of that parameter, the domination of Westerners seems to waver. We still cannot determine if this is absolutely awful, or if it’s ok. If we stayed anywhere longer than three days perhaps we’d learn the pros and cons about (predominately) young partying Western kids concentrated in this manner.
After the Gibbon Experience adventure in Laos, we decided to head straight for Thailand. There are frequent buses from Laos overland into Thailand and the land border crossing was really easy. The bus to Chiang Mai was supposed to take 6 hours, but we had yet another driver who drove like he stole the damn thing. We made it in 5 and beat the bus that left 30 mins before we did.
After the relaxing island, Thai beach experience, Team MussMart headed overland to Krabi. Krabi is a town situated on the West Coast of Southern Thailand, so from Koh Samui we had a few miles to cover. For £10 per person, we were able to get from the East Coast to the West Coast. The tour operator told us it would take 3-4hrs…
It can be hard choosing which island in Thailand to spend a few days relaxing on. I know, you’re feeling really bad for Team MussMart right now…we hear ya.
After Koh Tao we decided to venture to Koh Samui. It’s wasn’t too far away and the weather was looking better here than the islands of the Andaman Coast (the west side of Thailand). We took the cheapest, longest way to travel between the islands, which still only took about 4 hours. You always have to add on extra travel time in Thailand because no public transportation sticks to their posted times of departure. Ever!
After a very long and uncomfortable train journey from Hua Hin, we stayed one night in Chumphon before catching a ferry at 6am to the small island of Koh Tao. Trains are a great, cheap way of travelling in Thailand (we paid £1 each for a 4 hour journey) but they are notoriously late, so be careful if you have a tight transfer. Trains also but are a great way to see some of the countryside.
We stayed at Farang’s Bar in Chumphon. The rooms there are really basic with shared bathrooms…but they are cheap. The owner is an English expat named Ivor, who you will more than likely see sat at the bar. He’s lived in Thailand for sometime and was good to chat to for recommendation’s. He lived in Koh Tao for a few years so it was a lucky find.
We arrived to Hua Hin travelling by bus from Bangkok to Ban Pong, then we took the train from there to Hua Hin. All together this took a few hours and only cost us £5.50 total!!!! Not a chance you could dream of getting two people to or from London with that price. And the journey was comfortable to boot!
From Bangkok, only a couple of hours bus journey to the east is Kanchanaburi, a small town rich in WWII history. We reached our river raft guest house, which bobbled about in the river (not so cool after a few beers) and then hit the town to see what Kanchanaburi is all about. The main strip was full of expats, restaurants and bars. In these bars were always 2-4 Thai girls enticing the Western lads, mainly older gentlemen to come in. Its a bit bewildering and abhorrent.
Bangkok, a big, yet almost westernised city with Thai seasoning (street food, street vendors, ladyboys and temples) … We only spent 4 full days in Bangkok, with the aim to spend a bit more time at the end of our trip in Dec/Jan.
I don’t think we scratched the surface of the bizarre things to do, we heard stories about, chickens being shot across a restaurant, with a guy trying to catch them with a spike on his head, the ping pong shows, to the extent that they can suck up a bottle of coke and dispense it it a glass (sounds refreshing). Also the Thai girls themselves seem like an attraction for many western men. But so far what we did see was pretty cool.
Sitting in McDonald’s trying to kill some time before meeting up with my old pal Francois, I saw a magazine called ‘Creative Thailand’ awesome … I opened it and realised it was written in thai, but an advert on the back cover was advertising a design exhibition. As a graphic/web designer with a passion for design I had to go.