Oh, well… what can I say, did we love Thailand! Oh, yes. We experienced an amazing and culinary culture, lovely people, so they say it is the land of smiles and fabulous food and is all true!. But, as we seem to be very adventurous, we, again, ran into troubles!… keep reading…
We spent the first days in Bangkok, visited a few of the temples, Wat Arum, Wat Pho and the Royal palace. But how did we get to visit them? We used Tuk Tuks and contrary to some people telling you not to do it because of scams, we actually never got scammed. It was fun I have to say, as the Tuk Tuks are pretty small, my husband rode it sitting on the floor and hanging on for dear life! It was actually fun riding them in the busy Bangkok streets, with cycles riding on the wrong side of the street and the Tuk Tuk going thru red lights. But yes, believe me when I say it was fun regardless of how dangerous it was, have we actually gone mad?
The day before we left Bangkok, we went to the old capital of Siam, the old city of Ayutthaya with our superb guide Thip-Ahphorn. The history is actually quite interesting but horrific at the same time. By the 16th century it was one of the wealthiest cities in the east but by the 18th century it started losing control over its provinces and it went to war with the Burmese, 40,000 troops attacked the city, burned it to the ground, and the kingdom was ruined. The results of the burning is still visible today: the destruction of the Buddhas is actually horrific, they were decapitated. One of the decapitated Buddhas in the temple of Wat Mahathat landed at the base of a tree and nowadays is one of the most photographed features as it is very impressive how the tree grew around the face of the Buddha.
Now, what was super exciting during this visit was the fact that it coincided with the visit of the Royal Princess of Thailand and we were invited to sit and wait for her. There were people dressed in her royal colours. We were not allowed to take pictures, but we could feel how the Thai people adore their royals.
On our 5th day we based ourselves in a beautiful island in the middle of the Andaman sea. We were extremely lucky to avoid the crowds, have the beach for just ourselves and witnessed amazing sunrises, we visited hidden lagoons on a long tail boat and kayaked. It was relaxing, it was pure bliss.
But we needed a little bit of more excitement, so we moved hotels and went to the Krabi coast, from there we took the famous tour to the Phi Phi islands. Little did we know what was going to happen… the sea was choppy, it was bad… so bad the tour operator should have cancelled the tour. The tour was exactly the opposite of what we called an enjoyable day, it was crowded, the food was bad and contrary to our beliefs, we visited the famous Monkey island. I felt so sad for the poor monkeys being invaded by tourists, chasing them, leaving rubbish there. In return the monkeys were attacking the tourists and this comes at a cost… each tourist bitten there, must have the anti rabies vaccination. We were not attacked, but we witnessed what mass tourism can do to a natural place, it was horrific. If you read this, please do not go there if you have a love for nature, far better to just leave nature undisturbed. And yet, the worst was to come, like we have a sense for adventure and we love danger, lol, just joking!
After that we were supposed to navigate to Maya Bay but because the seas were too rough they took us to a lagoon for a swim where it was calmer, we spent about 45min there. After the lagoon, we started sailing back. The sea was rough and the waves were 2 to 3 meters high and nearly as big as the boat. Then suddenly we got struck by a giant wave much bigger than our boat. One of the waves destroyed the windshield of the boat and the roof started falling apart. Two people fell in the boat, one of them was my daughter and the force of the wave ripped one baby out of her mother’s arm. The fast action of the tourist sitting next to her saved the baby’s life by not allowing the baby to be flushed overboard. People lost shoes on the boat, the flooding destroyed my camera and I imagine it destroyed every piece of equipment everyone else had. My family and two other tourists who are all excellent swimmers, decided to put on the life-jackets because we were terrified. None of the crew members suggested to put on the life-jackets, not even to the people who could clearly not swim or even to save their children in case they went overboard, until I suggested that the others put them on. We continued the journey but the weather was so bad, we had to make an emergency stop at Chicken island, we were there for about 10-15 minutes. People were panicking, screaming and praying but the guide was laughing as if it was a normal thing to happen. I’m still trying to figure out if the guy acted this way as not to make the people panic even more. He certainly maintained composure but what was happening was not normal in any navigating conditions.
When we came back to the hotel, I realised what we had gone thru and the negligence of the tour operator, who put financial gain before people’s safety. For a starter, no one was warned that there were weather warnings. The warnings were so serious they had been published in a newspaper the day before the tour. The authorities warned all ships to proceed with caution, and small boats to stay ashore. Considering they still thought it was OK to go out and that there was not a policy of wearing life-jackets, we could have all died, and I’m not exaggerating. From this point, all the photos were made with my mobile phone which survived the ordeal
Next day, we decided to have a very quiet day by the pool, we were drained and I was super sad I lost my camera, yet extremely happy to be able to tell the story and we continued our adventure.
Two days after the last episode we went to the jungle in Khao Sok national park. We spent two days in a super environmentally friendly hotel which had tree houses and I was extremely happy to see that the monkeys there, were the ones chasing the humans and not the other way around. As a matter of fact, on the first day, we could not enter our treehouse as it was under attack by 8-10 monkeys. They were trying to get inside and I’m unsure what items they wanted to take as per specific instructions from the receptionist, we didn’t leave any food or toiletries outside. It was funny seeing the alpha monkey giving directions to the little ones, it was very clear who the boss was!
Next day we visited a sanctuary for elephants. They only keep three elephants who were rescued from horrific conditions, one of them had been made to work for tourists her entire life by doing handstands, how sad is that? Until her limbs went so bad, she cannot walk properly. There was another elephant which was the youngest one, that had been working carrying logs and was involved in a road accident. She spent years in rehabilitation and is still suffering a moderate amount of pain. But the good thing, is that these elephants are now receiving the care they need on a daily basis, they get to see a vet once a week. It was humbling to see the hard work they put into the elephants making them feel comfortable. These elephants cannot be released into the wild because they could not survive.
We finished our trip celebrating our 20 years wedding anniversary as well as the birthday of my daughter on the same day at the beautiful man made lake reserve of Khao Sok National Park , Cheow Lan Lake and we felt like we were living in the Pandora world from Avatar.
Now is your turn... Have you been to Thailand? What were your experiences like? I am curious and would love to know all about it!