We get picked up from our hostel and head towards the tiger kingdom just north of Chiang Mai. On the way there we decide that we are going in to see the smallest tigers. Now a lot of you will probably think I’m chicken and too scared to go in to pet the fully grown tigers… You’re right! The thought process behind our decision was that we have only been travelling for 2 weeks out of 52… If a cub tries to eat us we can push it away, if a fully grown tiger decides it’s had enough… GAME OVER!! Regardless of how well trained the animals are they are still wild animals, we’ve all heard those horror stories and I don’t particularly want to be news in tomorrow’s paper so we stand by our decision. Anyway we head in a wait for our number to be called out to enter the enclosure. Inside we are quite lucky, it’s normally one cub per group but with it being quiet we have two! On top of that you also normally have to pay for a photographer but the handler said that he would take photos of us with our camera! We spend about 20-30 minutes inside with the tigers and then head around the park to see the other tigers.
As we walk around the enclosures we see tigers, white Siberian tigers and lions. I started to take pictures of the animals and something strange starts to happen… They start posing. OK, I’m not exaggerating considering these are the photos I took…
SEE!! Once my travels have finished I may well move into tiger and lion photography… Err it’s and up and coming photography market… I hope!!
Football and flea markets
That evening we are told by one of the workers at the hostel, Sam (probably not his real name but it’s what he told us), that there is a football match on between Chiang Mai and one of the teams from Bangkok… Sounds like a plan! The van leaves from the hostel at 6pm and a few friends we’ve made along the way through trekking also go to the game. Now if you’ve ever been to a football game you’d know how expensive the tickets are, not in Thailand, we payed just over £3.50 for transport to and from the stadium and our ticket!! The match itself was ok, Chiang Mai won 3-0 so it was all smiles from our end. The highlight of the event for me was the Mexican wave that I started, Yes little old me managed to get, with the help of Cassie and our travelling friends, a few thousand Thai football fans wave their hands in a certain direction simultaneously!!
We head over to the famous night market on Chang Klahn Road. The market itself stretches along about 2 miles with stalls on either sides of the road selling near enough anything you’d ever need. We spend a few hours browsing and end the night with a roti, a piece of Thai Street food heaven. A freshly made pancake filled with egg, cheese or banana topped with Nutella and condensed milk… I’m salivating just thinking about it again.
The Journey Begins…
The following morning we check out of our hostel, say bye to friends and spend a lazy day wandering Chiang Mai. We start our travels towards Koh Tao by taking another sleeper train to Bangkok. No major creepy crawly conundrums this time although a smaller cockroach was spotted!
We spend a day shopping in Bangkok before getting on another sleeper train to chumphon. Now I said in a previous post that and air con carriage is too cold in the night, I take it all back. We had the experience of a fan carriage and I can 100% categorically say I prefer air con. The windows have to be wide open in order for there to be decent ventilation but this just means more mosquitoes and more noise. Then the fan is the most pointless thing, you may as well buy one of those crappy little hand ones that run off 2 AA batteries. That would be more powerful and a hell of a lot quieter!
I am writing this part whilst we are on the train, in fan section. Cassie has bottom bunk and luckily got up to check her bed before she went to sleep. I say luckily because, with no exaggeration what so ever, there are 100s of bugs all over her bed. From spiders to god knows what and more coming from somewhere else! So now there’s two of us on the top bunk, sweating, on a bed not wide enough for one of us. Oh the joys of travelling on a budget!
Anyway, we get off the bus and there’s mass confusion across everyone heading to the ferry. Everyone has a transfer to the ferry booked but no one is there to transfer us. Everyone queues up at the ferry information desk and all get given a sticker and told “sit! 6 o clock”, I guess that’s the pick up time. The time comes round and three vehicles turn up, two big air conditioned coaches and a cattle van. Of course me and Cassie got priority and got on the air conditioned bus… NOT! That’s what I’d love to write instead, us, along with 30 other people are overloaded on to the little cattle van and taken to the ferry at speeds no sheep should ever experience.
On the ferry it’s a simple and relatively smooth journey. After 4 hours, most of them spent sleeping, we approach the island where the sun is beaming down and the water is crystal clear. So 48 hours and 1205 km later we have arrived!
On that note I’m off to the beach… Bye!