The first and most overwhelming thing I noticed about Thailand was the smell, pungent is the only way I can describe it. Mostly meat and fish being cooked in street-carts, roadsides and make-shift barbecues squeezed in between gaps in shop fronts. The second thing that hit me was the intense heat and humidity, India was hot but it was a dry heat, you didn’t feel wet with sweat when you stayed outside the way you did with Thailand.
Bangkok itself was a hit and miss city, having been there ten years ago, I knew it wasn’t somewhere we would want to linger but didn’t want to miss it entirely – now I wish I had. We made our way to the Royal Palace and Reclining Buddha one day and Ethan threw a tantrum not wanting to walk around in the heat. I can’t say I blamed him, internally I was throwing tantrums too. He was fine when we got the Buddha, enjoying running around and trying to find the Buddha’s feet but he didn’t want to go to the Palace and we were happy to indulge him this request.
Needing more things to do, we agreed to going to see a floating market around an hour outside of the city. It was an absolute waste of time, I expected to see beautiful boats filled with vendors, instead there were ok boats filled with tourists and only parts of the canal that were accessible to foot pedestrians. The rest of the market was a standard tourist trap selling tat that replicated across the stands. The only redeeming factor of the tour was the inclusive speed boat trip along the part of the canal that went past villages and small temples.
The rest of our time in the city was spent at a nearby mall named Terminal 21, themed as an airport, each floor represented a different country. The London floor with it’s really bad Transport for London plagiarism’s was obviously Ethan’s favourite.
Finally after four slow days it was time to leave the city to catch a ferry to an island off the coast of Pattaya named Kph Larn. I had read great things about this island – white sands, blue sea – so had high hopes. The only nervousness was around the accommodation, the highest class of hotel was a 3-star and I had booked us the best based on TripAdvisor reviews but it did look dicey in the photos….
Unfortunately, it wasn’t great, the beds were HARD and the bathroom was uninviting with a broken shower head. There were mosquitos flying around, the air con didn’t reach the bed area so it was stifling hot at night and to top it off, there were only four vegetarian options on the menu and two of those were starters! The prospect of spending eight nights here was daunting. None of us slept that first night, and Lee and I agreed that we would see what breakfast was like before trying to find elsewhere to stay perhaps on the mainland.
Breakfast was a farce, fly ridden fruits, congealed butter in a jar(!) and dish after dish of meat options. So, decision made, I went back to the room to find somewhere else to stay while Lee and Ethan had a beach day.
The very next morning, we got a ferry back to the mainland and headed to an apartment which appeared closer to the beach than it actually was. But after booking two other places both of which were cancelled, we were grateful to have somewhere to stay. The apartment was lovely and spacious, we had TWO bedrooms!! Whoop, we would get some sleep!!
We had a great pace of life in Pattaya, heading out in the mornings and back to the pool in the afternoons, eating home cooked food in the evenings – Lee is a great cook but hasn’t had much time for it at home so it was a real treat for us to have him back behind the stove.
Ethan and I had a couple of days to ourselves while Lee completed his advanced diving course and I used the time to take him out, we headed to a Chocolate Factory – more a restaurant and show room with a chocolate store which had really yummy chocolate – and the beach.
The final and greatest highlight of Thailand was going to the Jungle Elephant Sanctuary, a place that rescues abused elephants and looks after them. The half day visit hadn’t us feeding the elephants bananas – a strange and overwhelming feeling, you either give it to their trunks which are incredibly powerful and agile or put it directly into their mouths where they grab it with their thick muscular tongue.
We also walked the elephants and it takes a minute to accept that you are walking with these huge beasts that could effortlessly crush you under one foot.
Following a really delicious lunch (best Thai food I’d had) we were able to bathe the elephants in a mud pool followed by a swim with them in a fresh watering hole.
Anyone that knows me knows that I can be a bit of a princess but I was determined to get into the mud with them – bad move! It was GROSS! The mud was thick, cold and had hard sharp pieces underneath so it was like walking on coral. I lasted all of five minutes and four of those was trying to pull myself back out of the mud Lol!
Ethan spent less time than me in the mud but loved the watering hole, he was the last one out and that was not from choice.
These were memories we would keep for a lifetime.
Next stop on our adventure is Cambodia.