Last year I reunited with a old friend and was reassured that she was still awesome and had the same desire for adventure as I did (even MORE than I did 🌎). As we started to create a new friendship we starting talking about what we had planned for trips in the future. Then we seriously talked about doing a trip together! We went to Thailand! To think if we never reunited, who would fuel my travel bug? Would I even had gone to Thailand? Life’s better with great people around you! I cherish our new friendship and wouldn't have done this trip with anyone else.
This was my first official backpacking trip! So I kinda just jumped in two feet first! And it was the best experience! I couldn't believe the amount of other travellers from all over the world! I would totally do it again and plan to in the future. Here is a little overview of the places we travelled to in Thailand!
This was out first destination. We landed in Bangkok after a 14hr trip to Shanghai from Toronto, a 4hr layover, and another 5hr flight to Bangkok. We stayed at a hostel south of the city and travelled North from there. Many temples and roads with meat, souvenirs, and thai restaurants. I didn't expect the heat wave Bangkok slapped us in the face with. Without visiting Asia before I thought this was how hot the entire country was, boy was I wrong. It was so hot that once you walked out you were already dripped in sweat from the weather. But it was a sight to see. The temples that cover the city is something like the Catholic Churches covering Rome. But there was nothing like seeing The Grand Palace. There was so much to see that it was almost overwhelming; the detail, the gold trims, the Budda. Overall Bangkok was an eye-opener to a new culture. I wouldn't say I would go back anytime soon, for it's a busy city with lots of traffic and many people, but it's definitely worth seeing.
FAVOURITE ATTRACTION: The Floating Market
DON'T MISS: The Grand Palace
Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Both very two different islands on the East Coast of Thailand. Many will know these islands as holding the Full Moon Party. Samui is larger and has more to do. Though Phangan is very much the ISLAND, it's almost like a time warp back to the 80s, when I use to watch documentaries about filmmakers going where no white man has gone before and documenting the way of life of the locals. We opted out of the Full Moon Party, only because we wanted to stay within our budget and do more with our time in Thailand. But we did have a beach party experience which was very super exciting; fire throwers, dancers on the roofs, dancing in the sand. I can only imagine how big and crazy the Full Moon Party must get. The island was my favourite location, I mean it's paradise, who wouldn't?! The fun thing about the islands is the motorbiking around, it's the only way to see the islands, everyone books one, and the streets are filled with locals and tourists cruising around. It's really "the island living" if you ask me.
One call out I do want to make was the hostel/resort we stayed at. It was called Us Hostel on Koh Samui. They have renovated shipping containers into air conditioned rooms. It was super clean, big, and great staff. We were very impressed and even went back instead of experiencing another place we had already booked.
FAVOURITE ATTRACTION: Paradise Falls
DON'T MISS: The Crystal Water Beach and their smoothies!
This city had a bit of everything. But for future travellers, there isn't a lot to do IN the city but rather, SO much to do on day trips outside the city. We went to a temple on the highest point in Chiang Mai, the Dragon Stairs and another temple at night, an elephant/water rafting/trekking excursion, and explored the town of Pai.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple & Wat Chedi Liam Temple
The temple at night was so beautiful, it was the first time the entire trip where I felt I was truly walking on holy ground. There were bells hung up all over the temple grounds which made the atmosphere. We got to see the monks in a temple having a service with whoever wanted to join (magic moment!). This was the one tour we signed up for, it was part of the package our hostel offered us, and it was magical. Seriously! There weren't many people and it was quiet on top of that hill. Plus you got to oversee the city of Chiang Mai for the top.
Elephant feeding, water rafting & trekking
This was something we messed up on; the elephant excursion. We got kinda pushed into signing up with a travel guide while there that apparently was giving us a "deal." Long story short, I am not about endorsing RIDING the elephants. I have no business being on an elephant, that is not what they are meant to do in this world. Knowing about many sanctuaries in Thailand I thought that was what we were doing. When we got in the van to travel there our guide mentioned the riding. Thankfully we were able to feed the elephants as the rest of the group rode them. Other than that I was pleased with how they were kept and taken care of, based on as much as I could see. The rafting part was very peaceful and nice as the boat guide brought us through the river.... and a special surprise happened! We got to pull up next to an elephant bath!! Be sure to watch my highlight video.
King and Queen Pagoda (Napha Metaneedol and Napha PholPhumisiri) of Doi Inthanon
These towers were amazing! They are located on the highest hill in Chiang Mai. Amazing structures that overlook all of Chiang Mai in honour of the King and Queen of the city. We explored cinnamon trees, coffee bean fields, flower fields, strawberries fields, and waterfalls on our trekking trip. It was great and I loved it! The towers were built for and by the royals of Chiang Mai, the King and the Queen.
FAVOURITE ATTRACTION: Elephant Excursion
DON'T MISS: The Dragon Stairs and Temple (do it at night where there is less people and a more magical feeling)
What a quaint town. Up in the mountains you take a whinding ride for a couple hours to a beach town not by a beach. At least that's how I would describe this town. This was a great time for us to relax and take in the Thailand heat we wouldn't have when we returned home in Canada. We had great explorations filled with visiting a Canyon at sunset, motorbiking through the hills, poolside at their local pool, sleeping in a tiki hut at night, dancing in the streets, and meeting an elephant named Soy.
Unlike our last encounter with elephants, organized and RIDING (a big no no!), we drove by this place that had a cardboard sign saying "No Riding", I thought, if we had time left we should stop by and visit the two elephants we could see. We went by later that day and met the nicest man that was all about caring, learning, and educating others on the importance of animal care. He knew everything about his ladies. One was 45 years old and the other 50 years old. He adopted them after their workings days up in the jungle pulling logs. One never bared children and the other had 2 babies in her lifetime.
He taught us when their ears flap or their tale swaps they are happy and content. That there was a way to tell how old they were by the colours on their skin and the shapes of their heads. And the one thing I am so happy he told us was unlike a horse, an elephants back arches upward making it NOT okay to ride on, that it damages their spine. BUT beyond that knowledge, he continued to say that right on their neck, behind their ears, is a very strong part that can hold the waist of a human body to ride. That it was safe their. I thought this to be so interesting and refreshing when I see other elephants carrying riders in this fashion.
He taught me everything I know about elephants that day, and not once asked us for cent of our money. He simply asked us to volunteer our time to join them for their bath later that day. Which we did! It was the most amazing experience I took away from this entire trip. An animal lover myself and wildlife photographer (well not yet, but one day!), I couldn't help but hang onto everything Yui taught us and rephrase here, in this post, for all to know.
Overall, GO TO THAILAND! There wasn't ever a moment I felt unsafe or strange. There are many travellers on the same mission you are. Hostels are like hotels there, every place we stayed was great and helpful to help us with our tourist activities for the day.
And a HUGE thank you to Miss Kayla! You have become such a great friend to me and I couldn't image living in the city without you now. You always ignite a fun and adventurous side in me, the side that says "I can do anything!" Thank you for being you and always looking at life with such positivity and wonder. It's truly beautiful to see the world through your perspective. I hope to gain more of that view as I plan my new adventures. Stay tuned for more posts coming your way from Thailand!