Thailand – it’s not a goodbye, it’s a see you later

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Hello everybody,

Here comes the long awaited last post from our Asia trip… yeeees, one gets lazy when back home 😉

The last two weeks route covers around 1100 km starting in Krabi (point A), following 20km and 40min by boat to Railay (point B), next 2 hours by boat to Ko Phi Phi (point C), then about 900km and 20 hours by boat, bus and train to Ayutthaya (point D) and finishing in Bangkok (point E) after 90km and 2 hours train ride.

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As I mentioned in my last post JJ and Miriam joined me in Krabi and we headed together to Railay. I have to say that after two weeks of lone traveling I was very happy to have some friends with me again!

RAILAY

Krabi’s fairytale limestone crags come to a dramatic climax at Railay, the ultimate jungle gym for rock-climbing fanatics. This quiet slice of paradise fills in the sandy gaps between each craggy flourish, and although it’s just around the bend from chaotic tourist hustle in Ao Nang, the atmosphere here is much more laid back.

There are 4 beaches around Railay:

Hat Rai Leh East – doesn’t really have a beach but has more and cheaper accommodation and bars/restaurants options
Hat Rai Leh West – nice white sand beach with a few hotels and bars, gets very quiet at night
Hat Phra Nang – probably the nicest of all beaches but with just one expensive resort
Hat Ton Sai – the beach isn’t spectacular but has many good climbs

Either way, no matter where you decide to stay you can easily walk to all the beaches. We stayed in Railay 3 nights, which was just enough to explore the whole area, get some proper suntan, have a crazy night with one Spanish couple from Valencia and visit a very ‘happy’ reggae bar on the east side. Great time!

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KO PHI PHI

From Railay we took a fast boat to the island of Phi Phi Don. It was a very nice ride through the turquoise waters and many small islands of the Andaman sea and after 2 hours we arrived to the so called ‘tourist village’. As you can imagine tourist village was full of tourists and souvenir shops and therefore we immediately decided not to stay there but head to a bit further (30min jungle walk) Long Beach.

There’re many amazing (and obviously pricey) bungalows on the Long Beach but if you manage to get to the end of it you’ll find Phi Phi hill resort with simple bungalows at decent price, great food and amazing view from the terrace! That’s were we stayed, definitely recommendable! That’s also where we met Joshua, a totally crazy (and that’s why we love him :)) israeli guy that joined us for the next few days on the island.

Ko Phi Phi is another of these paradise places perfect for enjoying the sun, the beach and the sea, sipping Changs (best Thai beer), watching amazing sunsets, enjoying great local food, taking massages and simply relaxing.

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But if you want something more, Phi Phi has it too!

I think the most typical excursion is to take a private long tail boat and visit the nearby Ko Phi Phi Leh, the smaller one of the two Phi Phi islands where many scenes from the famous Leonardo di Caprio movie ‘The Beach’ were filmed.
The island indeed is breathtaking but unfortunately gets pretty crowded with visitors, the earlier you get there the better chances you have to find a piece of it to yourself. Again,we got lucky! Found a small beach right inside the famous Maya Bay and had it just for the 4 of us! Hard to believe everybody else preferred to crowd up on the other beach just because it appeared in the movie having this pearl just next to it. Better for us though 🙂

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Another activity worth recommending is a short 20 minutes (from the tourist village) hike to the View Point. As usual you get to climb some pretty steep stairs but when on top you’re rewarded with postcard-worthy views of the twin bays and karst formation of Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh off in the distance.

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If you want more (and obviously we did!) you can continue another 30-40 minutes through the jungle and you’ll reach Ranteen Beach. Another white sand beach of Phi Phi, practically empty when we got there (guess not too many people were up for a hike with more than 35C ;).

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AYUTTHAYA

After 5 amazing days on Ko Phi Phi we started another very long journey north to Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya was once one of the most dazzling and lively cities of Asia with more than 400 glittering temples standing proudly all around it. Today the temple ruins offer just a hint of its former beauty and majesty, still can easily keep you entertained for 2 days.

The temples are divided in two groups: ‘on the island’ and ‘off the island’, all can be visited on a bicycle. There’re plenty of places that rent bikes and they cost only around 1EUR for the whole day. We took ours just in front of our hotel and headed first to see the ‘off the island temples’. Our plan was to have a leisurely ride but after 1 hour we realized we took a completely wrong way and were already heading direction Bangkok… well let’s just say a bit of exercise is never bad and after another hour and some 30 extra kilometers we finally got to see the temples! Next morning we studied the map a bit better 😉 and took off to visit the ‘on the island temples’. All in all I have to say Ayutthaya turned out to be quite an amazing and spiritual place, definitely worth a visit.

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BANGKOK

After visiting Ayutthaya we took a 2 hours train back to our last stop, Bangkok.
Since I was already in Bangkok a few times and Miriam and JJ visited big part of it before we met in Krabi this time we mostly decided to enjoy the city, shopping, river cruising, crazy tuk tuk rides, wild nightlife of Kao San road, ping pong show, great view from Lebua hotel rooftop bar (where many scenes from Hangover in Bangkok movie was made), thai food, some Changs, massages and more…

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The only excursion we did was the one to floating market and train market.

Damnoen Saduak Floating market

Even though transactions are more concerned with tourists rather than locals these days, the floating market boats are still piled high with tropical fruit and vegetables, fresh, ready-to-drink coconut juice and local food cooked from floating kitchens located right on the boat. To enjoy the atmosphere in its fullest take one of the boat tours that will take you through the canals. Just remember to bargain hard, there’s a whole system of taxi drivers and boat owners that will try to rip you off (after I guess 1 hour of fighting we finally managed to get the price we wanted, our taxi driver didn’t talk to us for the rest of the day though :))

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Maeklong Train Market

Yes, you guessed it, it’s a market located directly on the train tracks!!! Passenger trains pass through this risky market 8 times a day for almost 30 years recently making it a popular tourist attraction and definitely a 100% asian experience. Good thing is that unlike the floating market, this one still remains local, selling everything from food to clothes and no souvenirs (I wonder for how much longer…). Ok, enough talking, you have to see it to believe it… 🙂

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(movie borrowed from Greg Shand, my phone battery died when I tried to make my own ;))

Now, to sum up some facts and figures:

– 4 amazing weeks
– 8 hotels
– budget: 700EUR
–  around 2700km and almost 60 hours of traveling
– Thailand’s name in the Thai language is Prathet Thai, which means “Land of the Free.”
– it is the only country in Southeast Asia that was never colonized by a European nation
– has one of the best food in Asia
– not the whole country is buddhist, southern part is muslim
– Tiger Woods is the son of an American father and a Thai mother
– more than 26 millions of tourists visited Thailand only in 2013

And traditionally +/-

TOP 5

1. Ko Phi Phi with Miriam, JJ and Joshua
2. Ko Lanta
3. Crazy Bangkok Nights
4. Thai food
5. Temples of Ayutthaya and Sukothai

NEGATIVE 5

1. Tourist scams (you need to be really careful since they’re very common here, guess that’s the bad side of a well developed tourism)
2. Too many tourists (although I was one of them ;))
3. Long hours of land traveling
4. Prices on the islands get really high during the high season
5. Can’t really think of anything else… 😉

And this is where Thai and Asia trip ends… but since I don’t like saying goodbyes, I’ll better say ‘See you later, Asia’. I’m sure we’ll be back soon! 🙂

Love,

Maja and Andrej (back together in Madrid :))

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