Travel: Thailand

In October last year (2017) we took a three-week trip to Thailand. We wanted to explore various parts of the country and decided to spend 2 of the weeks adventuring, and save the last week for relaxation time.

Our first stop was Bangkok where we spent a few days visiting temples, museums, and marvelling at the tremendous amount of traffic. Unfortunately the Grand Palace was closed during that time as part of preparations for the King’s funeral. We took a day to visit the historical city of Ayutthaya as well, which is definitely something we’d recommend to everyone. 

After the bustle of Bangkok we escaped by bus to the much quieter Kanchanaburi. Once there we rented a scooter and took a trip for the day to Erawan National Park where we walked and photographed all seven waterfalls. We tried to swim, but found the large fish nipping at your feet and body to be a little too unsettling. On the way back we got caught in the rain with nothing but flimsy one-use rain jackets to protect us from the downpour. We were grateful to get back safely, and even more grateful to have an amazing family-run restaurant right outside our accommodation where we promptly ordered and finished 2 full meals each. 

The next day in Kanchanaburi we found ourselves on a dirt road on our way to a Giant Rain Tree. After hugging the tree we sat down to enjoy a coke in the blazing heat, observing the colourful chickens in the area. Next we visited some temples in the hills. Little did we know that we would need to hike up quite a few stairs in air so humid it was starting to feel liquid. We were, however, rewarded for our efforts with stunning views of the countryside.

Our next stop was Chiang Mai in the Northern parts of Thailand. We once again rented a scooter and set out to visit a Hmong village inside the Doi Suthep Poi National park where we found a lively market, a strange assortment of rusted objects in the local “museum”, and a genuine certified barista. This outing had some extra adventure at the start in the form of a roadblock on the road leading into the park. The funny thing about this roadblock (and a few others like it we noticed after) was that only people on scooters were being stopped. Everyone stopped was asked for their license, after which they were promptly ushered into a line where they were asked to pay a “spot fine”, which was deposited into a backpack.We were then also given a piece of paper legitimizing the fine, and told that it would be ok to ride around for three days - just present the paper if stopped again.

During the rest of our stay in Chiang Mai we visited a silk factory, where we got to see silk weaving in action, a traditional umbrella making factory, where we saw how a traditional umbrella is made from start to finish, and we also enjoyed walking through the silent ruins of Wiang Kum Kam.

We’d had enough of cross-country buses at this point, and felt it well worth the extra cost to get a plane ticket from Chiang Mai to Phuket. In Phuket we stayed in a lovely villa overlooking the pool and within walking distance of Kata and Karon beach. Things slowed down here, and we enjoyed getting up a little later, heading to the beach for an hour or two, and lazing about a little in the afternoons before heading out for a late afternoon stroll on the beach again. We particularly enjoyed getting fresh fruit almost every day from one of the local vendors. One excursion that we absolutely loved was an afternoon/night time sea canoe adventure in the nearby Ao Phang-nga National Park, where we were able to see and swim with bioluminescent plankton. Drifting through sea caves and exiting from the depths into an untouched world left us in awe.

To celebrate six months together, we went to a lovely restaurant at a resort overlooking Patong beach. It was after a lovely dinner, once we were back at our serene accommodation, that Gerrit proposed and we got engaged (Vanessa’s response was “Yes! Hells yes! Of course!”). It should come as no surprise that Thailand will always be a special place for us.