Thailand

Thailand holds a special place in our hearts. The Land of Smiles was the first place we ever travelled to in Asia and the country that inspired us to quit our lives in London to travel the world indefinitely. Since then Thailand has become our Asian home and we’ve returned time and time again to explore the jungles and mountains in the north, sun-soaked southern islands and bustling cities. We’ve lived in Chiang Mai as digital nomads and travelled the country as backpackers. Here are our travel stories and experiences from Thailand.

It’s too late to run or hide, all I can do is gasp as yet another pail of icy water slaps my body.  I hear some accompanying whoops and look up to see my Thai attackers perched on a truck that’s now speeding away down the road. I can just make out the neon water pistols they’re armed with and the barrel of water laced with ice that they’re scooping from with buckets. It’s Songkran 2014 in Chiang Mai, Thailand and nowhere is safe.
Travelling, by its very nature, can be extremely disorientating and leave you longing for the familiarity of home. I’ve been the first to admit that living our lives in a constant stream of new places this past year has resulted in some powerful bouts of homesickness. However, what I haven’t mentioned yet is that somehow we’ve unexpectedly managed to carve a sort of home-on-the-road for ourselves here in Thailand.
One of the things we can’t quite get used to in Asia is the corruption which forms an ordinary part of everyday life here. From knock-off goods to rigged taxi meters and other tourist scams, travelling is a whole different ball game here compared to in regulation-crazy Europe. While we’re now resigned to the fact that we’ll be charged tourist prices everywhere we go, we’ve found that making overland border crossings in South-East Asia presents some of the most frustrating examples of corruption.
Causally throwing a banana chip into my mouth I leaned out of the stationary tuk-tuk and craned my neck up towards the cave above, waiting for the million-strong swarm of bats to flood out of its entrance into the gathering dusk. A boy of about eight or nine, bare-foot and messy-haired, wandered past our vehicle and I smiled as our eyes met. My banana chips captured his attention and for a moment I began to stretch my arm out to offer him some before remembering: we’re not supposed to give things to kids, especially not here in Cambodia where child-begging is such a problem.
After four years we finally made it back to the country that started it all off for us: Thailand. In August 2009 we spent a month backpacking around the country – it was what got us hooked on travelling. This time around we stayed for three months; the longest we’ve spent in one country since beginning our trip. Not only that but we managed to persuade some of our friends and family to come for a visit too!
For me, first impressions really count and I often know within minutes of arriving in a new place whether I’m going to love or hate it. Take Melbourne for instance, Sagada or Luang Prabang - I fell for them all instantly, whereas I had an immediate and profound dislike for Jakarta. Usually it’s hard to shake my initial feelings about a place so after a wobbly start I was surprised to find that Chiang Rai in Thailand really grew on me.
After a month of work in our beloved Chiang Mai apartment it was time to say goodbye and head south to one of the largest of the Thai islands; Koh Samui, for a holiday with my parents. My mum and dad had spent a few days experiencing hectic Thai cities, now it was time for some rest and relaxation in the sun – here’s what we got up to on our Koh Samui holiday.
After six months of travel from New Zealand to Thailand we were ready for a bit of a rest and needed time to catch up on work and the blog. Although it has become a bit of a backpacker cliché, we decided that Chiang Mai, Thailand, was the perfect place to settle down for a month and rest up. After finding a great apartment, we settled into a comfortable routine and found living in Chiang Mai to be pretty affordable – here’s how much it cost us for one month.
While we relished the chance to stop moving for a month and settle down in our Chiang Mai apartment, a couple of weeks into our stay we were starting to get itchy feet again. So, we decided it was time to get back on the road and take an overnight trip to a much-hyped destination: the hippy mountain town of Pai to eat, relax and explore the northern Thai scenery.
It’s nearing the end of the year and like most people, Andrew and I have been reflecting on what we’ve achieved in 2013 and looking forward to what 2014 holds. This year was very special for us because we finally got out on the road and started travelling full-time; since leaving the UK in March we’ve had the most incredible, extreme ten months of our lives – it’s been tougher yet more rewarding than we ever imagined it would be. Here’s a look back at the places we’ve visited in 2013 and what we loved about them.