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Chiang Mai, Thailand

The getaway from Koh Phangan was not that easy...

After a recovery day from the Full Moon Party, we were booked (I should say over-booked) on ferry to Koh Tao, a smaller island close by known for it's diving. Unfortunately we were turned away and had to spend one more night on Koh Phangan. The following day was much the same, but we showed up early and managed to secure a spot.

Koh Tao is a diving mecca with wall to wall dive resorts (some nice, some not so nice), and heaps of dive boats side-by-side near the jetty's. We had pre-booked at Black Tip Resort per suggestion and were met at the dock on arrival. (It sure is cool to have someone waiting for you with a sign!)

Black Tip was unfortunately 4km from town, isolating Jen from nightlife and shopping. The weather wasn't cooperating either, so swimming in the pool was out as well. For me, even though the dives I had booked were cancelled- I managed to talk the dive master into going out (just the two of us). We went out at 7am and had two pretty good dives of 60 minutes each. There really wasn't much reef to see, but the marine life was fantastic. We were chased around a few times by some large, very territorial triggerfish. The dive master (who goes by Boy) had warned me that this would happen and seemed convinced that it was just him that they were after. Funny, huh?

After just two nights on Koh Tao, we were prepared for a long day's travel to Bangkok. We took a taxi to the pier to meet a high-speed catamaran that was to transfer us to Chumphon, on the mainland. Just before we were allowed to board, a storm blew in quickly and with it...torrential downpour. Everyone was soaked just getting down the dock to the boat. Again, the boat seemed way overbooked and a few upset passengers were made to sit in the aisles or stand along the side. The passage was very nerve-racking as the overloaded/overcrowded cat listed from port to starboard in the heavy seas. Even 'I' was worried! Catamarans are usually quite stable! We did make it out ok, but there were many seasick backpackers that day. (and it was mayhem trying to get our bags from the bottom of the pile and onto the dock)

Once we reached Chumphon, our connection to Bangkok was aboard a comfortable new dbl-decker bus. We arrived in the BIG CITY tired from the day of travel, but relieved it was over and we were safe. Our stay in Bangkok was just for one night and we caught a quick flight to Chiang Mai (in Northern Thailand) the next day. The plan for Chiang Mai - relax and stay in one spot for 5 days, shop in the markets, get massage, and swim in the hotel pool. Wow! Did I just type HOTEL? Yes, we finally decided to splurge and get a real room. It was soooo nice to have a cozy bed, hot shower, cable t.v., a bellhop, and of course - the pool!

Many people recommended Chiang Mai to us- and rightfully so. What a great city! Jen and I shopped (together o.m.g.) at the night markets and the Sunday market. We tried the Thai massage and were delighted that it wasn't as painful as we thought it would be (if you don't mind being twisted into a pretzel). We were given the massages side-by-side so I got to see just how flexible Jen really is...didn't know she could bend like that!

At one point Jen pulled the "need-a-day-by-the-pool" card so I took the opportunity to get out for a tour to the Golden Triangle. The tour included a stop off at a really old Wat (13th century), a stop in a border town to Myanmar (Burma), views across the Mekong River to Laos and Myanmar, and visits to 2 Thai hill people villages.
When I returned to the hotel, Jen surprised me with the gift of a beautiful hammock and tickets for 2 to the Thai boxing match at 8pm. What a day! God, I Love this woman!!

After 5 days we were pretty "shopped out" and relaxed...ready to fly back to Bangkok to explore some more. We went back down to the "backpackers strip" (the infamous Th Khao San) where we had stayed previously, and found another quality budget guesthouse. I call this the "strip" because it is chocked full of backpackers from all over. One end of this curvy road is loaded with bars and nightlife, the other with guesthouses (many with their own restaurant), internet cafes, street vendors, and travel offices. It's really the optimal place to be if you're a backpacker in Bangkok. We managed to connect again with our friends Sarah and Kevin from England who we'd met on Gili T. After sharing some cocktails and a tower of Sing-Ha over dinner, we bid our farewells once again. These two are a wonderful couple and inspire us a great deal! "Dreaming of Gili T!"

From here were are heading into Cambodia to see Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, and Phnom Penh. More on this in our next blog...
Our thoughts and love go out to you all!

permalink written by  TwoSouls on May 5, 2008 from Chiang Mai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Thailand: You Want Massage Mista?
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I have been waiting to hear how you guys liked Chiang Mai!! glad to hear you enjoyed it. Chelsey and I did the same Golden triangle tour and looks like you were in the same building we were for the muay thai boxing. and Koh Tao! still want to go there, we've decided one month was definatly not long enough. After Railay beach, (it rained the whole time we were there) we travelled to Bangkok with food poisoning, on the night bus.. we`ve never been so sick. So our last couple days were hard, tried to get as much last minute shopping in as we could manage. We were on kohsan road aswell, hard to get decent amount of rest when you need it the most on that road..
It was so great to meet you guys and i hope you are both well! We`re home now, but wondering exactly why i came home, wishing i was still out travelling!!
take care,

Ps. if you are back in Bangkok, and want to treat yourselves and splurge, go to the Vertigo, roof top restaurant in the Banyan Tree Hotel. Its open air on the 59th floor. Gives you a different perspective of the city. Awesome service and food! expensive and high class, but was a cool experience.

permalink written by  Kelly Legal on May 8, 2008

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TwoSouls TwoSouls
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We are going to explore the unknown and there's no turning back now. Why explore? Here are a few reasons why we start on this journey...

- To breathe deeply, appreciate the moment and SLOW DOWN
- To let go of our fears
- To rebel… prove that we can live outside the system
- To challenge...

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