Departing from Chiang Mai Airport (CNX)

Introduction:

Chiang Mai is the major doorway of northern Thailand and therefore plays a vital part promoting tourism in the region. It is located only 4 Km from the city centre. The airport has two terminals, one for domestic passengers and the other for international flights, they are interconnected. The airport handled over 9.4 million passengers in 2016, (including over 2 million of international ones). This is a similar number to for example Venice in Italy or Buenos Aires Ezeiza in Argentina.

As an important connecting point to Northern Thailand, you can imagine this airport handles many arrivals from Chinese tourist, which normally travel in large groups. For that reason, many passengers seem to complain about this airport because it is thought to be very crowdy.

 

My Experience:

 

My experience as a solo traveller was different though, I breezed comfortably through every step of the process, in and out, in an easy and speedy manner. I must say though, that I have learnt to master every step of the passenger’s airport process so that helps with my airport navigation experiences.

Although, being a rather small airport I found it to be just fine, very efficient on departures. When I arrived, I found enough signs pointing the ways to go.

I also found it spotless clean landside and airside. There is also a post office on site, stations to charge mobiles and tablets and a VIP Lounge called “Coral” which anyone can get access to for a fee of 1000 THB (£23) where passengers can spend up to 2.5 hours.


Food choices can improve though but just enough shall passengers wish to grab something to eat before flying. I found the airline and airport staff helpful not just as my personal experience but I saw that in my observations to other passengers.  On my departure, I spent less than 25 minutes from dropping my bag, security control, and to the departure hall.

My Chiang Mai airport rating: (1*-5*)

 

  • Airport Facilities                      ***
  • Friendliness of airport staff  *****
  • Signs                                           *****
  • Passport Control                      *****
  • Cleanliness                                *****

 

“Airports have seen more since hugs and kisses than wedding halls..”

CHIANG MAI: Trekking 2 Days 1 Night – Elephant Camp – Bamboo Rafting

One of the main activities that I wanted to do in Chiang Mai, was trekking. I booked a 3 Days 2 Nights but ended up doing only 2 Days 1 Night with a local agency called Panda tour, which was acceptable, but I don’t fully recommend it.

Day:1

When I booked this tour, which was a week ahead, the agency told me no one else had booked it. So, I was not expecting much company. However, when I was picked up at the hotel at 9 am I was nicely surprised when I saw the rest of traveller, a group of cool and fun people.

Firstly, we drove approximately 1.30 hrs to a market to buy water and snacks. It was an extremely hot day, over 38° Celsius, so I was literally melting away.  We drove towards Amphoe Mae district, and at around midday, we arrived at Baan Tunglaron Village where we had a basic but tasty noodles lunch. After that, the group was split for those visiting the Elephant camp (which included me). We then trek for a couple of hours through natural views and various vegetation until we arrived at the Elephant camp.

At arrival, we were welcomed by a couple of volunteers, who gave us information about the camp. They told us that these elephants were used and abused in the wood industry, so there were rescued and now this camp is now their retiring home. The camp has a no riding policy, which is the reason I chose this activity.

I researched and found a divided opinion about riding elephants. I knew I did not want to ride one, but I was not sure if this camp was good at looking after their retired elephants. I believe that there would be no riding at all but another thing that as long elephant is ridden without seat should be fine. I only saw they were being ridden by the manhut to translate them from their feeding place to their bathing place and apparently sometimes travellers ride them too. My fellow trekkers enjoyed bathing the elephants but I only observed since I thought the pond seemed very dirty. I was left with mixed feelings and don’t think I would do such visits again in the future.

After the camp, we then continued the trek and stop along the way in a bat cave.

 

 

I was boiling hot, this was a very challenging trek for me, not for its terrain level which was fine, but because of the crushing heat. I literally felt my body and head toasting. I don’t think I ever sweated so much in my life, it was super uncomfortable. The cave was interesting, although the place was foul-smelling, I guess from the bat excrement so I tried to hold my breath at times.

We then continue the walk for around three hours going to different types of terrain, jungle and natural views, despite the intense heat, I did appreciate the natural views and loved the many butterflies “dancing” along the way. At around 6 pm we arrive at a tiny village where we would spend the night. I am not sure of the name, because I asked our guide, and he hesitated before answering “Pradeang”, I checked in Google Maps and it seems to be a small village near Lahu Village.

I don’t know for sure. As soon as we arrived it started raining like there is not end!

1Day (2)

After a very nice snooze, we all had dinner at this trek lodge. I must say that it was delicious and plentiful. Despite the many insects trying to steal our food, we managed to enjoy this very delicious meal.

Day:2

We started early morning with a very energetic breakfast and then continue to enjoy two hours of trekking, where we enjoy various vegetation, flying butterflies our way and even a snake.

We had a break to enjoy swimming and refreshing at a peaceful and quiet waterfall nearby, (which again the guide did not know the name). We then continue until we arrive for lunch at a nearby village. Again, this lunch was plentiful and delicious.

That was the end of trekking for us but not the last activity, after lunch, we were driven to the departure point dock and we enjoyed bamboo rafting for over one hour. This was a very lovely experience we could see the river and local houses, I also saw some people doing zip lining.

After that, we were driven back to Chiang Mai to our hotels. I manage to persuade the others to meet up for a mini post trekking drinks so we could say goodbye and enjoy a little bit of partying before our next destination.

 

Although our tour guide was very nice, funny and friendly, I found his tour guiding and knowledge extremely poor. He hardly knew anything about the area, or so it seemed, when I ask him questions about different topics such as village names, the name of animals, plants, he never knew the answer. This is not a complaint but merely an observation.

I was lucky to share this experience with nice like-minded travellers, which included people from Scotland, China, Germany and UK!.

 

Happy travels everyone and thank you for reading!

 

YOLO (You Only Live Once)

 

Love from Jenny 😊

DOI INTHANON – The highest point in Thailand – A must do! – Day Trip from Chiang Mai

Last May 17, I went on a day trip to the highest peak in Thailand, and along the way, I had the opportunity to check other interesting points that included the twin pagodas, a quick visit to Karen hill tribe community and two lovely waterfalls. The friendly ladies at the hotel desk in Chiang Mai assisted me to find this tour, the cost was 1140 bath (£25, COP96000 Approx.). The day started with an early hotel pick up where I joined other seven keen travellers. What a delightful day ahead!

First stop was around 50 Km South from Chiang Mai, and it took us just over an hour, this was to Amphoe Chom Thong District where we stopped at a small village where I witness the Karen tribe ladies weaving lovely clothes, including scarves, dresses among others.


This tribe began to move to Thailand around the 17th century and they are established mostly in the western part of Thailand, our guide told us that they are composed of two subgroups, the Skaw and the Pwo. It was a very quick stop and it was a very rainy and muggy day nonetheless I also managed to see some of the rice fields before heading to our next stop.

Our next stop was at the brownish Sirithan waterfalls, with a height of about 40 metres, I could hear the roar from the distance. This is one of the many waterfalls near Inthanon National Park and flows into the Mae Klang River. Quick but pretty view. Our tour guide told us that Doi Inthanon was named after the King Inthawichayanon, the last king of Chiang Mai, and who was keen to preserve the forest in the north of Thailand.

Just around midday, we reached Doi Inthanon Summit, also known as “the roof of Thailand”. The area is part of the Himalayan mountain range, with high humidity and an average temperature of 12 °C. This is the highest peak in Thailand with an altitude of 2565 metres – 8415 ft, (79 m lower than my city Bogota).


The day was very foggy and I had to use my raincoat the whole time but nevertheless, I enjoy to trail walk to the main attraction, the two chedis dedicated to the King and Queen anniversaries. The area covers also an exhibition hall which was built in honour of the Princess Maha Chakri anniversary and 2 metres – 80 inches height golden Buddha image

 

Phra Mahathat Naphamethanidon: this name means “magnificent stupa containing Buddha relics”. This pagoda is the one dedicated to the king, and it has a height of 60 meters. This pagoda was built in 1987 by the Royal Thai Air Force, to commemorate the 60th birthday of his Majesty King Rama 9, Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Phra Mahathat Naphapholphusiri: this name means “the power of the sky and the virtue of the land”. This pagoda is the one dedicated to the Queen, and it has a height of 55 meters, signifying that the Queen is five years younger than the king.

This pagoda was built in 1992, to honour her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s 60th birthday.

The visit to these two pagodas as well and its surrounding gardens were the highlights of this excursion, I found the story behind them depth, profound and even romantic as it represents the royal couple.  They are located at the top of the mountain, and we easily reached them by separate stairs (although a lift is also available). Once inside the pagodas, we could view various shrines with Buddha images and stories that included the Buddha’s birth to his enlightenment.  Outside the pagodas, especially the Queen Pagoda, I walked around beautiful gardens which were very well maintained, although it was very rainy and cloudy I could still enjoy the magnificent views. We were allowed to spend nearly two hours there wandering around which was lovely.


Before heading back, we enjoyed a varied lunch which obviously included rice! Noodles, eggs as well as a variety of vegetables and fruits.

We also visited the Wachirathan Waterfall, which is the second major waterfall on the way up to Doi Inthanon National Park.


These powerful waters fall over 60 metres height. I went thought an easy walkway to experience the waterfall when I took a little footage to send to my family, which caused to get completely soaked!
They path is quite slippery to I had to walk very slowly to avoid falling as I normally do.

I definitely recommend this excursion for those visiting Chiang Mai, easily bookable to the many local operators in the city centre.

Safe travel everyone – and don’t forget to smile today and spread happiness.

Love from Jenny

🙂

CHIANG MAI: “The Rose of the North”. Land of beauty, temples and warm hospitality

Not sure how to start writing about Chiang Mai, I have been in this city for 10 days and I feels very homely, Thai people here are super welcoming and warm. In many ways is very like Colombia lowlands, like Girardot, at nearly the same elevation and weather. Full of motorbikes everywhere Chiang Mai is the city of good manners although many people don’t speak English they will still nod and smile, nod and smile, nod and smile… repeatedly, they are great at it.

Chiang Mai is a vibrant heaven for backpackers and trekkers, the city is full of travel agencies which can arrange from Elephant Sanctuary visits to 5-6 trekking hill tribe adventures.

Upon my arrival at Chiang Mai train station, I started to feel the dynamism of the city, the station is super clean and less crowdy than for example than Hua Lamphong Bangkok station. Good food and coffee places to sit down.

There is a tourist information desk and as usual lots of tuk-tuks, songthaews, and taxis ready to take passengers to their destinations. I took the first one that came along as I was desperate to get to the hotel, leave my bag and start walking around the city. Luckily, my hotel was walkable to the centre and I do love walking everywhere.

Chiang Mai “old city” is bordered by a defensive wall, which was built in the 19th century. The four corners still remain and are very useful as a reference when walking around the city. My “must do” list activities include temples visits, trekking and walk lots!! Here the highlights

 

Wat Phra Singh, which is the most admired temple in Chiang Mai, entry 20 bath, beautiful murals. The temple holds a significant Buddha statue: the Phra Buddha Sihing. A huge golden shiny pagoda, “supported” by elephants is also found at the back of the main shrine, the view of it is super wow. Great place for pictures.

Wat Chedi Luang, the compound comprises a historical pyramid, a big temple and then few smaller buildings. Women are not allowed to go inside some of them though, which was a shame because I could peek some stunning murals. Nevertheless, what I saw was very inspiring. The big temple is gorgeously decorated! Very peaceful atmosphere.

Wat Phan Tao: This temple built of timber, which was a different experience of a Thai temple. During my Sunday market visit, I discovered that the night market is along this street. Though small, there is something simplistic about its beauty. The wooden pathway at the side of the temple is superb.

Lanna Folk Museum: Entry 90 baht. I really liked visiting this museum. Very interesting collection of artefacts and costumes of Lanna people, from relics, dances, talisman, kitchen utensils, Lana Buddhist offerings etc. Interesting stories about the past and presence of the local community. From religion to superstition and clothes to language I absolutely loved the murals. Air conditioned so excellent to visit slowly and in detail. Right opposite of the famous three king’s monument.

Wat That Doi Suthep: Frequently referred to as “Doi Suthep” as this is the name of the mountain where it’s located. It is located 17 km far away from the city. It is a sacred site to many Thai people. For this visit, I decided to take on the popular songthaews, which are like shared taxis. I firstly walked to Chang Mai University from my hotel for 40 minutes, I could have taken a taxi, but I really wanted to walk it. From the University, there are many songthaews available. However, since the journey to the temple is 40 minutes they generally wait for at least ten people to carry out the journey, which cost is 80 baht round trip, (based on minimum ten people).

In my case, I had to wait for a while for people to arrive, once we had seven people confirmed we negotiated the price with the driver at 100 baht each. My negotiation skills are certainly improving here in Thailand! Everything needs to be bargained.

It took us 40 minutes to drive the mountain and I was started to feel a bit sick since I forgot to take my travel sickness pills. Once I arrived I started with the 306 steps staircase, which is bordered by mosaic serpents. There is also a market right before the start where people can buy various souvenirs and clothes. Toilet entrance 5 baht!

On the lower level, there are more than a few temples and the legendary white elephant statue. Continuing I saw a row of bells and after I came across a terrace where I enjoyed a spectacular view of Chiang Mai. Another fascinating part is on the upper level where I appreciated the impressive golden dome-shaped shrine, which was bordered by smaller sculptures of Buddha, super unique view!

Saturday and Sunday markets: I really enjoyed the walk around these two markets, especially since I was fortunate to be accompanied on this occasion by my new lovely friend Greg. The Saturday market runs outside the old walled city area from Wualai road, whereas the Sunday market runs inside the old walled city, from Tha Phae Gate.


We encountered an abundance of food offering, we enjoyed delicious “Nam”, pork sausages for a start. Also, various items of clothing, artisan and lots of other fascinating products and handicrafts made of various material, including wood, metals, ceramics. I really thought about my sister Adriana’s house, as there were plenty of lovely stuff that she would have loved.The market also offers massages services and along the way, there are traditional musicians. It seems that coming to these markets is way much better for unique and authentic items than those at the Night Bazaar.

Sunday market is more popular but both markets are full of tourist and Thai locals, gathered together to have fun while doing some proper bargaining! At some point, Greg purchased something and I again thought about mum and how lower she could have got the price with her superpower bargaining skills.

“Losing yourselves in new surroundings is the best way to find yourself”

 

Thanks for reading. Next Inthanon National Park

 

 

 

😊

Jenny

Train Lopburi – Phitsanulok Sites and onto Chiang Mai

The next city in which I decided to make a stop was Phitsanulok, although I read that most of the people that stop there is only to connect to Sukhothai, where there are some famous Angkor Wat style ruins, I did not want to deviate from the train route, so just stop there one day and meet the temples of the city.

First, I must mention that the purchase of train tickets within Thailand is quite easy, for the short sections, it is necessary to approach the train station ticket office, but for long journeys, it is recommended to book.  I found that it is quite easy to do it through the Website http://www.thairailwayticket.com, I only needed to register once and the booking process is quite fast and easy. I bought my ticket from Lopburi to Phitsanulok for 263 baht, berth style and from Phitsanulok to Chiang Mai for 690 baht also berth, through this page in a fast and efficient way, the confirmation is instantaneous and I was sent an electronic ticket.

The two routes were in “second class”, the seats become into the bed, train staff usually turns it into one at around 7:30 pm. On the first trip toPhitsanulok I did not need it to convert into a bed, but for the next journey, I did. The seats are comfortable enough, very spacious, and there are always food vendors throughout the journey so there is no need to buy food in advance.

Phitsanulok does not offer more places to meet, but I manage to visit the following three very interesting places, which I walked around easily without the need to take taxis or tuk-tuks.

Wat Phra Si Ratana Temple: Free entrance. The highlight was the gold-covered statue of buddha called Phra Phuttha Chinnarat, which some Thais considered one of the most beautiful buddha images in the country. I found the Buddha, at the entrance much more stunning though.

Wat Ratburana Temple: Also, free entrance, and very close to Wat Phra Si Ratana, this seems that attracts less visitors, what I found more attractive was his Chedi.

Sergeant Major Thawee Folk Museum: Located only ten minutes from Phisanulok train station. Entry 50 baht. It is very my favorite visit in Phitsanulok, this museum has a unique collection that various objects that tell the history and traditions of this region. Almost all of them have some registration in English.

The idea of this museum was born of Sgt. Maj. Thawee Buranaket, who had as his goal to collect all these objects to pass to his descendants and the community at large. One of the most interesting displays, a tricycle invented by the Thai born Captain Leaung Phonsophong, which they claimed, was the first one ever built. A must for anyone stopping in Phitsanulok.

Next stop Chiang Mai, In the search for some trekking.

Happy days

😊

Jenny

From Ayutthaya to Lopburi: The City of the Monkeys

Well, as I mentioned in the previous post, I’m heading north to Thailand, following the train route. Today I decided to make a stop in a small town called Lopburi. This small city, like all the cities in Thailand, has stunning temples to visit, but on this occasion, the motive of my visit was to see the monkey population, which seems to have been taken over one of them: Phra Prang Sam Yod, an 800 years old building.

I took the train from Ayutthaya, for which I paid 15 baht, pretty good price for a one-hour trip in third class. (Lunch at Ayutthaya station restaurant cost me 270 baht though!)

My idea was to just stop an hour or two to make this visit and then continue north to the city of Phitsanulok. I was crossing my fingers because I was not sure whether Lopburi station had luggage storage service, and I had no intention of dragging around my bag around those mischievous monkeys.

To my relief, as soon as I arrived I found a small office offering luggage storage service, they charged me 15 baht per piece, and so I left joyously in the search of the monkeys.

After eight minutes’ walk and there I was, Phra Prang Sam Yod temple, with its massive population of monkeys. They were everywhere, I paid the entrance fee of 50 baht and I went straight to observe them and “play” with them.

It did not take long for several of these little ones to get up in my bag, my head, pulling my hair and trying to munch on my shoulders. It was hilarious. Local people, as well as tourists, feed them corn, vegetables, drinks and all sorts of snack during the day, so they are quite spoiled and constantly on the lookout for food.

One of them tried to steal my hat!


There is even an especial festival for the monkeys, in November each year, since they are now considered a symbol of the area and of good luck.

Phra Prang Sam Yod temple consist of three holy prangs, decorated various mythological creatures, the central prang is the tallest. Well, the monkeys are literally all over the surroundings of these building, ground, walls, roof, stairs, all the shops nearby…… you name it, except the inside of the temple.

I noticed some tourists entering the temple so I followed them to suit. This is, however, something I do not recommend anyone to do, there is nothing to see apart from dark rooms and smelly walls, I was also “lucky” to have seen a huge rat! so I ran out at once. So, stay outside with the monkeys, trust me.

I spent approximately one hour and a half with the cheerful primates and observing the lovely building. I then had a stroll around the rest of the town and then return to the station.

Next stop would be Phitsanulok,

Happy thoughts and happy travels everyone!

😊

Jenny

AYUTTHAYA:  A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991.

I was very keen to cover as many sites from the Ayutthaya Historical Park as I could. My lovely hotel, Silp-Pa, was close to it all. The first day I walked around the “inside the islands” ruins.

One of the things that I immediately noticed upon my arrival in Ayutthaya, is that hardly anyone speaks a word of English. This was proved very challenging at some points since communication was completely based on gestures.

I relied on various things for my daily walk: lonely planet advice, my YouTube previous research, the maps that the hotel provided and obviously my google maps app. I then left for my four hours walk.

The Ayutthaya Historical Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. This was the strong motive for me to visit this city. Ayutthaya was built at the confluence of three rivers (Mae Nam, Chao Phraya, and Pa-Sak), it is essentially an island which helped as a barrier from invasion. At the same time, it was a central point for trade from 1350 to 1767, when the Burmese invaded them.

Inside the Island Sites:

 

  • Wat Mahathat: Entry 50 bath, this is one of the most famous ones, it holds a sandstone Buddha head entangled in within a bodhi tree roots. It is also called the “the Temple of the Great Relic” and was one of the greatest temples in the Ayutthaya Kingdom. There I a central prang like most temples ruin. I took me around 50 minutes to walk around and enjoy the site. Next;
  • Wat Ratchaburana: It took me 9 minutes from Mahathat to this ruin. Entry 50 bath, something about this temple is the detailed carving of lotus. I climbed inside the prang and visited the crypt (not recommended for those afraid of heights)
  • Wat Thammikarat: It took me 25 minutes from Ratchaburana to this ruin. Entry 50 bath. This one was not on my list initially, I arrived there only by chance. It is one of the lesser visited ruins but I treasured it the most. Nowadays, it is, in fact, a working temple. When I entered the chapel, I was greeted by a monk, I was shocked by it because I was under the understanding that they could not interact with women; it felt truly special! he invited me near his post, he did some sort of chant on me, and then he put a bracelet on my wrist.  It was really nice, it felt so peaceful. The most outstanding ruins here was a chedi, surrounded by lion’s statues. I noticed numerous rooster statues as well, which has some sort of story about a cook fight between Burmese and Ayutthaya royals.

  • Wat Phra Si Sanphet: It took me around 15 minutes to walk from Thammikarat to this ruin. This one used to be a large temple, which once contained a 16 meters high Buddha covered in gold. Well, like the Spanish with the Incas; Burmese conquerors set fire on it to melt it down in 1767. The temple still holds three distinctive comprehensive engraved

 

Next Day: Off Island Sites:

Next day I was more tied up with time since I was travelling to Lop Buri in the afternoon, so I hired a tuk-tuk for two hours, at 200 baht per hours to take me to these three sites and then drop me at the train station

  • Wat Lokaya Sutha: “the temple of the Earth”. Free of charge: The most impressive view for me, was the 42 meters Reclined Buddha statue, which is opposite some ruins. The Buddha was dressed up with a bright orange cloth. Ruins: Apart from the central tower seems still is a good condition, only the bases of few buildings remain.

  • Wat Chaiwatthanaram: Entry 50 bath. Very impressive ruin, the central podium is surrounded by eight towers.

 

  • Wat Phanan Choeng: My last visit before leaving Ayutthaya. This active Buddhist Temple’s most noteworthy attraction is its 19m Golden Buddha surrounded by 84000 smalls Buddha images. The view of this giant status left me speechless, truly wonderful.

That was the end of my stay in Ayutthaya. Apart from feeling a bit lost for not being able to communicate with the local people, (due to my lack of Thai language skills), I still felt that this visit was well worth it.

Next stop Lop Buri, for some monkey business.

Happiness cannot be travelled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude …” Denis Waitley


Jenny 😊

 

 

Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak from Bangkok (South) – Then trip Bangkok to Ayutthaya (North)

Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak  

The next activity I wanted to do near Bangkok, was visiting a Floating Market. In my Lonely planet guide I found an option for the Damnoek Sudoak, however, there were mixed reviews online some appalling reviews, some actually very encouraging. I took my time wondering whether to go or not. In the end, the result of this overthinking was: I missed the opportunity to take it the last day I had in Bangkok, (because it must be booked at least two days in advance).

As I was not about to give up, I decided to stay one more day to do this activity. The option was to go independently, from the bus terminal, or an arranged tour with a travel agency. My contact of Couchsurfing advised me the second, because the market is quite far, more than 90 kilometers from Bangkok so it could be too tiring and longer to wait for public transport. And so, I did purchase through my Viator App, cost £27.20. Six hours half day tour. The local operator is Tour East (T.E.T.) Ltd.

The tour starts really early because the market closes at noon. I was picked up at 6:20 am at my hotel, and after being transferred to a central point, our group left Bangkok around 7 am. We travelled southwest, on an air condition coach for over one and half hours. Our guide, whose name I could not pronounce neither write, told us stories about Thai traditions and how the young generation is now moving to the big city for a “better” future and how Thai traditions can be lost in a near future. He mentions that this type of markets, although very touristy may disappear in the future. Along the way, we had a 30-minutes stop at a small Orchid and Coconut Farm and souvenir market.

When we arrived at Damnoen Saduak, we were transferred to a long-tailed speedboat for a ride through an area of low-lying land, surrounded by stilt houses, this took us approximately fifteen minutes. I can still hear the loud roar of that speedboat engine!

We then arrived at the market, where I found myself among busy stalls selling the same products than the ones I had seen at the Chatuchak weekend market, as well as many food vendors and restaurants.

It was 10 am, and our guide suggested us to take a small boat ride around the canals (for additional 100bath for 30 minutes) there and then as it gets very busy after 11 am.

I obviously followed his advice and joined one of the rides. At the market, I did notice that all the vendors are local, meaning that market is very important for their economy. The majority of visitors, like me, were foreigners, but I could also see a good number of Thais. The stalls offer a variety of products; from fruits, drinks, food, raw vegetables, spices, clothing, souvenirs, handicrafts, you name it!

During this visit, I could witness the real “art of bargaining” if you show the slight interest in an item or dare to ask the price to one of the stall vendors, then the chances of you buying such item are 98% guaranteed!  Thai vendors can be extremely good at persuading you. One of my fellow boat riders ended up buying a wooden craft elephant, for 400 bath, which she only bought owed to the persistence of the vendor (discounted from 1200 bath initial cost) after a ten minutes bargaining “heated war”! which was really entertaining for me to look at. The boat ride through the canals was definitely the highlighted of the whole trip, I really did enjoy it.

After the boat ride, we were given one hour to walk around the rest of the market. I enjoyed some noodles “brunch” at one of the many food stalls and sat down with two nice English ladies who were doing the tour with me. The “brunch” cost me 200 bath including the Thai local beer, Singha. However, after we finished eating, we were hastily escorted out of the area, not to say, “kicked out”, as they were hurriedly in the search for new costumers, we laughed and left the area.

This was a truthfully especial trip, which I would encourage anyone to do it ( anyone who is not afraid of fellow tourists). All the bad reviews I read online are probably from people who want to be “travellers” without beings  “tourists”, when in reality that is totally impossible. The “real” travellers will embrace what it comes on their way, and that includes being “tourists”.
But the time I returned to Bangkok, it was 2 pm, so I was then ready then to leave to the next city: Ayutthaya:

 

Ayutthaya is a historic city, 80 kilometers north of Bangkok. It was founded in 1350, and it was the capital of Siam (Thailand former name) until 1767. The Ayutthaya Historical Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.

There are quite a few options to arrive in Ayutthaya from Bangkok, they all depend on how comfortable or cheap one wants to travel. My idea was travelling by train, but I read online that trains were very slow and often delayed. It looks like there is also a minivan service departing from Victoria Monument that is cheaper and quicker than buses or trains.

In the end, I followed my instinct and decided on the train, since I was not in a hurry after all. I head off to Hua Lamphong Bangkok Train Station. I walked to the counter names “for foreigners”, the train ticket to Ayutthaya in second class cost me 15 bath (£1.50, COP5500), which included seat allocation.


The train left perfectly on time, 3:30 pm, the journey took 1hr 40 minutes, no delays, comfortable seats, and several train vendors shall I had wanted to buy some water or snacks along the way. Absolutely no problems whatsoever or complaints from my side. A memorable journey in my head this was.

Upon arrival at Ayutthaya rail station, I realised I was still not sure which hotel to stay, so I had two options, one which I discovered in the Lonely Travel guide and the other one I found in my hotels.com app. I decided on the second one. I promptly grabbed a tuk-tuk and left. Luckily, they were rooms available, (this hotel has only 9 rooms).  I did the right choice since this is a wonderful little hotel, served by her native Thai owner. If you ever go to Ayutthaya, consider staying there, this hotel is run in the way that real hospitality is meant, its name is Silp-pa, and it is a 15-minute walk to the sites.

That was my day! Thanks again for reading!

 

“Explore, live, discover”

 

Love from Jenny 😊

BANGKOK: City of Temples – The Grand Palace – Wat Pho – Wat Arun..my experience

1. The Grand Palace and The Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaew):

 

Chedi:  Bell shaped structure or monument housing sacred relics associated with the Buddha

Prang:  A tower-like spire, usually richly carved

This spectacular monument and temple is the utmost sacred Buddhist place of worship in Thailand. The Emerald Buddha It is also the former residence of the Thai Monarch and is today the “must visit” attraction in Bangkok.

I read the whole process and getting in and out in my lonely planet guide as well as many sites online. I booked my hotel in the area (Rattanakosin) and was also very careful to respect the strict dress code, long sleeve and down the knee trouser or skirt.

On leaving the hotel, it took me about 15 minutes to walk to the main entrance, I had to return for my passport because it was necessary to show it at one of the security layers before arriving near the entrance. Arriving at the entrance, as I expected, there were large numbers of people, particularly massive groups who meticulously followed their tour guides (same way I do when I take a tour).  The cost to get in was 500 bath (£12, COP42000), which was what I expected. I also decided to rent an audio guide for additional 200 bath (£4.70, COP17000), though I was warned that it is only valid for an hour and a half, after that I would be charge again another 200 bath. I had to leave my passport to guarantee my return.

I was given a map to follow and that’s how I started the tour: The Hermit Doctor was my first view, then the gallery around the temple, which holds 178 of murals! I must say they were superb to look at. I then followed through various buildings covered in gold mosaic relics of Buddha.

The whole complex is absolutely magnificent. It was a very hot day, and this is something that usually bothers me, but that day I was so distracted by these marvels, that it did not seem to bother me much. There was also a model of Angkor Wat (so looking forward to seeing the real one soon!). I also walked through the two chedis, which are both surrounded by numerous mythical creatures.

There were eight prangs which represent eight Buddhist precepts. The best viewpoint and photo spot of these buildings is right in front of the Royal Chapel of the Emerald Buddha. I then enter the Royal Chapel, for which I had to remove my shoes. In front of me, I encountered a truly detailed crafted shrine surrounded by murals ad with a small Emerald Buddha statue. This statue is made of Jade and only measures only 66 centimeters; still, it is the most revered Buddha image in Thailand. It was pretty special to be there and see it all in person. I then wandered around, well aware my one and half hour had already run out, I checked other statues and building, that I could not describe here all, there were so many! But the whole experience was well worth the visit, I would recommend it to anyone coming to Bangkok, it is a must.  I recommend at least three hours to be able to walk slowly without hurry, although at this time of the year the temperatures are about 35C Celsius, so a hat and plenty of water are also advised.

When I returned my audio guide, I was not charged in the end the extra time. As I left I found plenty or restaurants to have lunch and also plenty of street vendors, I choose the latter. One last thing! In Bangkok, I discovered that one has to be for sudden changes of weather! Few moments after I left the palace, I went for a little walk around the area, when suddenly the biggest downpour of all times occurred! I try to hurry up to the hotel, but the time I walked all the way, I was completely soaked wet

One last thing! In Bangkok, I discovered that one has to be for sudden changes of weather! Few moments after I left the palace, I went for a little walk around the area, when suddenly the biggest downpour of all times occurred! I try to hurry up to the hotel, but the time I walked all the way, I was completely soaked wet!

2. Next Day: Wat Pho: (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

Entry cost 100bath, (£2.40, COP8500). This temple is much less crowded than the Grand Palace, and still an amazing visit. It is most famous for being the home of the city’s largest reclining buddha, which is over 46 meters long and 16 meters high. I was truly stunned to see such big structure in front of me. Due to some maintenance of the feet, some of it was covered, but still pretty spectacular.

This temple is also famous for holding the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand. I took my time to wander around and appreciate the wonders of this breath-taking structure.  I spent approximately two hours there, which I considered a good time to wander around. managed to take pretty good shots. Absolutely a recommended visit as well, and very close the Grand Palace.

3. Wat Arun: (Temple of Dawn)

This one, I was so looking forward to visiting. I had seen some videos on youtube, so and I was really looking forward to the climb.

This temple is also a very short distance of the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. The way to do it is to arrive at Tien Pier and cross by ferry, the crossing cost only 4 bath! I think that is the cheapest thing I have ever paid for in my life! The pier is full of food and souvenirs vendors, so I took advantage to buy me a raincoat for only 50 bath. The boat was actually quite full of both foreigners as well as local people. The crossing takes only a few minutes since is right opposite the pier.

Entry cost 50bath, (£1.20, COP4250). This is another incredible temple for an exceptional entry price. Once I arrived I found the steep stairway on the side of the prang, this is the want I had seen in the video, but unfortunately, it was close for renovations, so I was not able to climb it: ☹.

The temple’s massive main prang, with over 80 meters of height and their other four smaller prangs, makes the temple easily identifiable from the distance.

The Wat Arun, commonly known as “the Temple of Dawn”, is one the highest grade of the Royal Temples, and consequently one of Thailand’s most revered temples too.

4. Erawan Shrine:

Once I finished my visit to Wat Arun, my last visit of the day was Erawan Shrine, I had read about it in my lonely planet guide, so I added to my list of the day.

From Wat Arun, I took a Chao Phraya Express Boat to Shri Phraya for 15 bath and from there I took a taxi-meter for another 70 bath (I was quite tired at that point). My Google maps app was again helpful on finding my way geographically, yet again, it does not feature at all the boat services within Bangkok.

Once I sat down nicely on a bench, I started my usual reading time to learn more about my visit. This is a famous Hindu Shrine, and it houses a statue of Phra Phrom, the Hindu God Brahma. Thailand’s main religion is Buddhism (90%), but Hinduism is also practiced by a minority. At the time of my visit (around 3 pm), there were several worshippers. According to my readings, this shrine was built to eliminate the bad karma that had caused laying foundations of a hotel in a “wrong date”.

This one is free, and it is located in the financial district, which was new to me (I was stating in Rattanakosin district, the other side of the city), next to the shrine is the Grand Hyatt Erawan hotel, which is gigantic.

It is a nice visit, but only go if you are near the area or Hindu. Not really that impressive under my point of view.

Thanks for reading and have all super happy weekend!

😊 Jenny