From the Islands and to the jungles, I must say I gave no end in sight to how I went about my everyday life. I wish I could have recounted all of these experiences on a more weekly basis, but the lack of internet connection and confronting different outlet requirements, I was at a loss.
Instead of worrying about not making my blog posts, I decided to take a much different approach and simply put it on hold and LIVE.
What a month I had lived! At this moment, I will try to recount in order of city to city from where I have left off. I had covered Bangkok and all its hustle-and-bustle to the monsoon season that riddled Koh Tao. In this lengthy blog, I will tell you about the following cities/islands: Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, Chiang Mai and Pai. Enjoy!
Next Stop: Koh Phi Phi
Having this be my second visit here, I was returning to familiarity. An island known for its partying and the fact that it is so small there are no driving on the island, it was a relief to get away from haggling taxi prices when needing to get to another part of the city. My friend and I spent our time doing boat tours, returning to the beautiful sight of Maya Bay (AKA Leonardo DiCaprio Island). Instead of taking a large boat over like during my first trip, we took a tiny long-tail boat to Maya Bay. I sat in the little boat that was packed with tourists and we all laughed, slightly out of disbelief, some slightly out of fear of watching the boat hit each wave with such velocity, followed by waves spewing upwards to a height that surpassed the boat. When we finally arrived, we entered through the front opening of Maya Bay where an overpopulated beach was packed with tourists coming to witness the clear, blue waters and a bay engulfed by these heaping mountain tops. The sand was even heavenly, feeling like pillows beneath your feet. Next on the tour had been a few snorkel spots that were amazing. Emerald green waters surrounded the boat and we dove off the side equipped with snorkels to swim amongst some fearless fish, swimming amongst you without a freight. Unfortunately on this trip, I had tripped on the boat and sprained my toe (yes, my toe of all things), and had to hobble my way through the remainder of Koh Phi Phi.
My Top List of Koh Phi Phi:
-Island Tours (Maya Bay or James Bond Island). You can opt for half-day or full-day of island hopping and snorkeling, getting to swim in some of the most gorgeous waters I’ve ever been in. You even pay a visit to monkey beach,where you can take some selfies with monkeys. Be sure not to put anything down, or you will surely have that ‘something’ up in a tree being nibbled on by a monkey.
–Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint.
–Reggae Bar: Where tourists get a free bucket of alcohol to box one another; fun to watch!
–Fire Shows: at Stones Beach Bar. (As well as fire jump rope!) Thai people perform incredible fire shows and even invite some members of the crowd for a cigarette-lighting act.
-Nightlife: Stones, Slinky’s and other bars along the same beach front for a night partying! It’s a whole strip with people at each bar partying on the beach front, some even indulging in a night swim.
Now this was a new adventure for me coming to Krabi. Krabi had been on my list the first time I came to Thailand but I ran out of time from enjoying Koh Phi Phi one too many days. I arrived via ferry from Koh Phi Phi and from the ferry, I headed over to the famous hostel most backpackers head to while in Krabi: Slumber Party Hostel. They have two locations: one directly on the beach for 500 baht ($14 USD) or a twenty-minute walk away and not on the beach for 250 baht ($7 USD). I was a bit tired of staying far from anything after the Bangkok incident where I ended up booking a place one hour away from everything and so opted for the beach hostel. Honestly staying here was worth it. I met travelers who, one month later, I am still crossing paths with, and you have everything taken care of for you here. From free breakfast, to an island tour every other day, followed by nightly free vodka hours and pub crawls with the sister hostel, you will definitely be surrounded with options.Now onto the actual city, I absolutely LOVED Krabi! Though more overpriced than the rest of Thailand (food nearly being the same as American dinners), I loved this place. The sunsets were to die for, the island hopping, Tonsai Viewpoint, hot springs, the emerald pool and even quadding in the jungle, all made this time quite spectacular. From climbing a latter to get to a viewpoint to stopping a whole boat to hop in the ocean to take a wee, Krabi will hold a special place in my heart. Here are my top recommendations for Krabi:
My Top List of Krabi:
-Boat tour! This takes you to the famous Railay Beach where there is a penis cave. Locals come here to worship penises thought to grant fertility. Fancy on touching them? Once you touch a penis, the person will soon be expecting! Also, Tonsai Beach was AMAZING! Emerald waters all around.
-Hot Springs: Rent a tuktuk and split the price amongst others who are interested from your hostel.
-Emerald Pool: This was such a great place to go and many of those who I saw here were local Thai families enjoying this hidden gem. It is about an hour out and is worth the visit!
-Tiger Temple: 1226 steps to the top. We went from the emerald pool and had not read about Tiger Temple but our taxi driver suggested it and we said why not? We entered the Tiger Temple and were amazed at the large number of monkeys climbing all over Buddha and other religious statues at the bottom of the temple. Then came the journey to the top: A journey I was not prepared for. We climbed 1,226 steps to the top, stopping, sweating, debating on turning back, dreading the next step, using the poles to help pull us at times until we got to the top to an AMAZING VIEW of the jungle all around and a huge golden statue of Buddha (a surprisingly a dog where I wondered if he ever climbed down ).
-Quadding: We took advantage of Thai prices and rented quads for $50 for one hour. It was great: rain pouring down, nothing but muddy tracks and dips and trees to whizz through and splash everything in sight with tons of mud and speed! Definitely worth the visit!
Nightlife: Slumber Paty took care of night time festivities, between partying at the hostel at 8 pm followed by bar-hopping at 11pm on every other night.
Next Destination: Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is a city that is very different than Southern Thailand. Prices for food is usually $1 and stay can be found for $4 for a decent hostel. I stayed at Thappae Backpackers Hostel because it is pretty central. It’s a 5-minute walk from the old city where all the temples are, a 15-minute walk from the Night Bazaar, 20-minute walk from nightlife and a 5-minute walk from the famous sunday market. I had gone during the Lantern festival and so this experience of an overcrowded Chiang Mai was different than my previous experience. Other than the overcrowdedness, Chiang Mai is inexpensive, filled with the most kind people I’ve met in Thailand where tuktuk drivers at most rip you off for 50 cents and holds the best food and best Universities in all of Thailand. With the two combined trips, I give you my list of how to live up Chiang Mai.
My Top list of Chiang Mai :
–Elephant Sanctuary: Thailand has tons of places to see and ride elephants, but elephant riding is one of the most depressing businesses in this country. Elephants are beaten and underfed and overworked to carry tourists on their back ALL DAY LONG. Small Fact: you do hurt an elephant when riding them. Though they are large creatures, their backs are weak and not meant to carry anything. And even when you think this isn’t true about inhumane treatment, visit any elephant riding business and you are sure to see men holding long, sharp metal ax-like weapons to beat the elephants with for as little as stopping to eat while a tourist is riding on i. You will see the elephants with blood-dripping gashes on them, scars all over their body and very little supply of food-far less than what is needed to feed these large creatures. Let’s not forget aboutbthe chains they use in between rides. So to get a real, beautiful experience, visit the elephant sanctuary. You do not ride these rescued creatures. You get to feed them tons of sugar canes and fruits, and bathe them in the river watching them squirt you with water out of enjoyment.You get to see happy, healthy, amazing elephants! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
–Cooking Class: Thai food is very tasteful. Taking a cooking class, you get a trip to the market to see what goes in your dishes, you get to cook and (hopefully not catch fire) the food you often order around town, laughing and endulging in the 3-course (or5) meal you just cooked. Also, you get a cook book to take home with you!
–Zipline: Ziplining in Thailand is a MUST. You get so many different platforms that have you swinging all throughout the Thai Jungles. There are different tours you can sign up for that include bridges and drops and evening cycling in the trees. I signed up with Skyline Adventures and theirs was awesome. The finale: A 900 meter long zipline around sunset. This was a must-have experience. You are literally ziplining for two full minutes, watching the sun descend, flying above the canopy of trees, stretched for miles in every direction. Just you zipping through that warm, Thailand breeze.
-Grand Canyon: I looked at pictures and didn’t see what the rage was all about. One hot Chiang Mai day, a group of us decided enough was enough and headed for a day of cooling down. I arrived and was immediately awestruck. The place was paradise. A canyon carved out to form water-filled holes. And the jump. That jump has me craving to go back this very minute. I’m the type where I jump off small bridges with ease growing up, with the thrill of the fall has me not hesitating. At age 25, and a better understanding of my mortality, I felt distant from my once-brave self.But I stood there looking at the platform where people lined up to jump 30 feet into the pool of green water. I got in line. Closed my eyes. Thought about turning back. Then heard the words”you’re next”, then “okay, you can go”. Next thing, my eyes are squeezed shut and I’m running. Running until there was no ground left below me, just air. My legs still continued to kick furiously to somehow lessen the shock of being airborn or possibly hoping ground would reform below me so I can continue running. Then, cool water and a shocked and overexcited Roxanne coming up for air with her sense of pride and accomplishment back in tact.
-Night Bazaar: The night bazzar is huge and goes on for so long with anything from fake yeezy’s to fake ray bans available for purchase. Pick up the classic “Same Sam but Different” shirt then head to the food court located (ironically) between two pink lit -up stores called “The Pink Pussy”. Here, there is a wide array of food and live music and performances played. Perfect for in-between the adventure and the party.
Temple-Hopping: There are so many buddhist temples, or Wats, in Chiang Mai. Take a day to explore all the different ones around the city.
NightLife: Zoe in Yellow is the place to go, where it is surrounded by bars all around that area to dance all night and bar hop. The first time I came to this place I swore my friend said “yellow bus” was its name. After a fun night out there, I left to the islands for a brief getaway and every traveler that asked where to go at night in Chiang Mai, I said “Go to the Yellow Bus!”. Upon returning and telling my friend of what I suggested, she goes, “What’s Yellow Bus? You mean Zoe in Yellow?” I almost died laughing, having suggested to over a dozen people who surely went looking for “Yellow Bus” when they got to Chiang Mai.
Aside from that, the THC Bar is a rooftop bar that is awesome. You sit upon cushions recounting your travels amongst other travelers. Just be warned, drinks are overpriced and are not strong here.
Next and Final Stop- PAI:
I could go on and on about Pai. When I first came to Thailand, everyone said there was nothing to do in Pai, just a place in the jungle to party. Me having a thirst for adventure I didn’t place Pai on my first list. My second time, however, I chose to go to see what every traveler so happily flocks to on their journey of Northern Thailand to. A place deemed as the “San Francisco of Thailand”. I went on the 3-hour bus ride unaware that this bus would turn 762 times through the mountains to get to Pai. By the end of the ride, I was more than queezy, but the queeziness dwindled away once I laid eyes upon Pai. We were dropped off at 8pm on the night market strip, where tons of stores were all dressed to perfection and utter cuteness. I walked down that strip in a frenzy to drop my bag off and begin exploring. Pai was cute and small and filled with ALL TRAVELERS. It was like a place in Thailand, away from Thailand where only travelers existed and the cheapest place at that. I can see the San Francisco vibe pumping, with each store a place you want to explore with unique goods and a character in its own. You buy Thai tea out of bamboo cups for $1 and refills are 30 cents. Healthy foods littered the place and signs encouraging you to drink kombucha and do yoga were at many shops. But unlike the ‘nothing-to-do-Pai” I was told about, there was literally quite alot to do here. So here is Pai’s list!
My Top List of Pai:
–Rent a Scooter: Seriously. It will save you so much money than doing a tour for 1,000 baht. There are two main roads and on either of those roads falls all the attractions you want to visit. I would map where I wanted with my google map app when I had wifi and then use it to scooter to the point of interest. The furthest attraction was about 30 minutes away.
Pai Canyon: Wow.Come during sunset to watch, but come a little before to explore. The canyon goes on for quite some time, and those who are looking for an adventure can climb up and down its slippery sides. I even accomplished this in a maxi skirt and flip flops, though appropriate wear would have made it less of a challenge.
HotSprings : There are plenty of hotsprings around Pai. after getting my dose in Krabi, however, I did not put this on my list. It is still a major things travelers do here!
–Pam Bok Waterfall: This was awesome. You cross a bridge and climb down to an amazing waterfall with a watering hole that is deep enough for a small cliff jump. I loved swimming here, with cliffs engulfing the waterfall to give it a more ‘hidden’ feel to it.
–Mo Paeng Waterfall: A waterfall in which travelers come to slide down the rock slide! Pretty cool. Just remember to go at an angle and push up once you hit the shallow water. I made the mistake of sliding feet-down thinking its depths surpassed my height ( it did not, and I got a knarly gash on my foot with a pretty decent bum-bruise to match).
-Bamboo Bridge: Visit this before Pambok Falls, as they are only minutes away from eachother. Here is an open field with a bamboo bridge that stretches for quite some time. Take a walk and admire Pai’s green beauty.
Lod Cave: Realizing the amount of splurging I did in the beginning, I decided to skip paying 700 baht ($20) to go here (even by scooter). For travelers who are lucky, take a trip to see these caves!
–NightLife: Everyone in town heads to the Don’t Cry Bar. It’s all glowing with awesome murals, an area to get painted for 40 baht and sangsome buckets for 250.
Well, there you have my condensed adventure from little snippets of my adventure to all my recommendations. Safe Travels everyone and hope you find this useful!