After 2 weeks in Thailand we finally managed to publish our first blog.
It seems that time flies even faster when you’re travelling, who would have expected that? 😉
We were really happy to hop on the plane on April 16th, ready for our first great adventure. A 3hours flight took us from Brussels to Moskou, where we had our first stop. After a way too expensive burger and some fries, we got our second flight, straight to Bangkok!
And so, on the morning of the 17th of april, we set foot on non-European soil for the first time in our lives. Let the 1234 journey begin!
We took the skytrain from the airport to the city center of Bangkok and one thing became clear: Bangkok really is a BIG city. The moment we left the train was the first moment with no air-conditioning and we must say: the 38 degrees were pretty overwhelming!
We (Well, Maarten, to be honest) had the great idea to walk from the train station to our hotel, only 5 km. After 2 hours of sweating and struggling, we decided to take a TukTuk since we couldn’t find the hotel we booked for the first 3 nights. Once we arrived in our hotel, we immediately went to our rooftop pool for a good swim. Best feeling ever!
We spent our first 3,5 days in Bangkok and made a list of some tips and tricks:
– Visit Wat Pho, a beautiful temple for only 100 baht pp. It is 5 times cheaper than Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace and you don’t have to find your way through thousands of tourists.
– Thai people are really friendly, don’t hesitate to ask them for help, most of them have good intentions 😉
– Watch out for so-called scams: Thai people who speak fluently English and tell you that ‘no matter where you’re heading to’ is closed because it’s a holiday, but they can fix something for you the day after.
– If you want to travel cheap, never take a TukTuk, as they are more expensive than the taxi’s. Just don’t forget, when you take a taxi, to ask the driver to turn on his meter. A trip less than 10 kilometers won’t cost you more than 100 baht (3 euros).
– The local food is really delicious. Try out the street food (pad thai, fried rice, fruit shakes, coconut icecreams, pancake banana-nutella) instead of looking out for restaurants; it’s much cheaper and very tasteful.
After Bangkok, we wanted to head to the South of Thailand. We took a train to Hua Hin, a small but cosy town halfway. We made a walk on the beach and spent the night in Cha’am, a little town further up filled with grey old men and young Thai girls. The next day, we took another train that brought us to Chumphon. When we left the train station at 11pm, we had 8 more kilometers to overcome to our hotel. Since there was no taxi around, a bunch of 16 year old Thai boys decided to help us out with their scooters. After a short and slightly irresponsible trip, we made it to our hotel.
After a good night rest, we took the ferry to Koh Tao. We heard and read a lot about the great diving courses you could follow, so we decided to go for our ‘Open Water Diver’ diploma. It was the best choice ever!
Over 3 days, we had some theory classes, a class in a swimming pool and 4 dives in the big ocean. We were allowed to dive 18 meters deep and spotted some wonderful fish. Our diving class was taught by Mike, a Belgian tough guy, and we participated together with a young Dutch couple, Luuk and Dianne. They soon became friends, we had some great time together. Thanks guys!
We decided to stay some more time at Koh Tao because it really is a wonderful island. Beautiful both small and large beaches, lots of cool restaurants, friendly people, cheap but good food, etc. We even rent a scooter to make it to one of the viewpoints and had a good rest at one of the private beaches: Freedom Beach.
After 6 days at Koh Tao we left the island, feeling sad to leave this paradise on earth.
Off to Khao Sok, our next stop!
What did we know about Khao Sok before we arrived there? Not a lot, but Wikipedia helped us out. The national park of Khao Sok is 739 square kilometers big and contains a jungle that is older than the Amazone rain forest! It opened in 1980 and contains a huge lake, Cheow Lan.
We decided to do a 1 day-tour and a tour ourselves. The day tour started at 8.30 a.m; a minivan picked us up at our hotel and together with people from Poland, Germany, Spain, another couple from Belgium and our guide Ramos we drove around 1 hour to the boat-entrance of the park. We took place on a longtail boat and went on the lake. After 10 minutes it became clear why everyone told us we should visit this park: the view was absolutely stunning.
After 1 hour on the boat, we went for a short jungle trek of 30 minutes. Next to the beautiful nature, we were able to spot some lizzards and even a tarantula. We visited the famous but not that impressive Coral cave and when we were on our way back to the longtail, we got a first impression of forest rain. We were totally drashed when we arrived at our boat, who took us to a floating restaurant were we had a tasteful traditional Thai lunch. After a swim and a cart game, our tour was finished, so we went back to our hotel and went out for dinner. Although you don’t see a lot of animals in daylight near our hotel, what happens at night is mindblowing. Suddenly you see musquitos, geckos, pads, snakes everywhere. We got stinged several times, so we went early to bed to have a good rest before our second day at Khao Sok.
The next day, we did a tour ourselves and walked to the visitors’ entrance. We had heard a story about 2 young people who visited the park not so long ago and didn’t come back in the evening, so the park sent 100 people the next day to look for them. That was definitely the reason why you had to pass some checkpoints where you had to write your name and the time of arrival. We walked for 2 hours, saw 2 gigantic spiders and some lizzards. After a good swim in one of the small rivers, we decided to head back to the entrance to make sure we wouldn’t get lost. We were quite disappointed that we didn’t see a lot of animals, until suddenly Laura noticed some movement in the trees. What we saw then, was the best moment of our journey so far: a group of approximately 50 macaques monkeys crossing our path. For 30 minutes, we had a great time spotting the monkeys and taking some pictures.
We went to bed early, because at 6am a minivan came to pick us to take us to the airport, where we took a flight to Chaing Mai in the north, to start the second part of our the1234journey.
We’ll keep you posted!