Where do I even begin?! The last 3 weeks have shown me sites that are comparable to nothing I’ve seen before. It has confirmed what I want out of life, what makes me happy and why I work my butt off in an office, the escape is so worth it.
Starting my travels in Thailand was the perfect beginning to what I hope will be a lifetime of adventures full of beautiful places and faces.
I can’t begin to fathom how many miles I covered exploring the amazing country in South East Asia and I wouldn’t have managed it without the amazing tour I started the trip with. The tour was run by TruTravels – an inspiring company managed by incredible people that know backpackers want to feel like they’re travelling with friends not being told where to go by someone with a microphone.
I HIGHLY recommend starting a trip with a tour, TruTravels have plenty of affordable choices from 7 days – 27 days. You will meet like-minded friends, get a taste of your dream destination and stay in some unbeatable locations that you may not have otherwise come across.
I booked the 8 day Thai experience tour and ended up sticking with the group for an extra 4 days on the end whilst they continued island hopping for the full 18 amazing days of sun, beaches and partying. I wish I could have extended my stay but duty called back here in the UK and I flew back after 15 crazy days of fun. The only part of the trip I didn’t love was saying goodbye to my incredible travel buddies, I’m sure it wont be long before we meet again.
No photo, video or blog post will ever do the gorgeous country any justice but I will give it my best shot, so here’s what I got up to.
Crazy Bangkok… Flying into the city’s busy airport after a 15 hour flight was a real wake up call, luckily I had a friendly face waiting for me on the other side. Luke, our tour leader for the next 8 days greeted me with a big hug and we jumped in a taxi to make our way to Mango Lagoon Place, our guest house for the next 2 nights just a few streets from the infamous Koh San Road.
Over the next few hours each traveler on tour arrived to the chaotic city and all 18 of us grouped together for a lovely Indian meal… wait what?! YES, we had an Indian on our first night but it was rather lush. We wrapped up the evening with some buckets full of cocktails on Koh San Road.
A view of Koh San’s craziness from Roof bar
Drunken Jenga is ALWAYS a good idea
What other way to kick off a Thai tour than visit some amazing temples in the capital. I was amazed by the intricate designs of each building, covered in delicately painted china or brightly coloured jewels.
We were lucky enough to catch one of the monks on duty and were each blessed with holy water and a string bracelet – which we are still wearing to this day. We caught a long tail boat from the temple of dawn to the famous reclining Buddha which was incredibly huge.
We were lucky enough to be in Bangkok during the weekend market which is the biggest in Asia at 8 miles long, there was an amazing bar in the center serving huge bowls of paella. After tucking into a traditional Thai meal we took to Koh San for some cocktails and a live music performance at a great bar called Roof.
Top tip: you have to cover your shoulders and knees when visiting the temples and in 35 degree heat and thick humidity that can sometimes feel a bit toasty. I recommend carrying a long dress or sarong in your day bag so you can whip it on when you need to and avoid wearing heavy trousers during all the walking.
It was time to leave the bustle of the city behind but not before indulging in a Thai massage. Some people don’t enjoy the feeling of toxins being pushed from their muscles with a Thai person’s elbow or foot but personally I found the massage so relaxing and by the sound of the clicks my back certainly appreciated it!
We made our way to the train station to board the 12 hour overnight sleeper train to Kaoh Sok National Park in Surat Thani. Although I was thoroughly impressed by the fold out bunk beds and clean pillow cases on the train, I probably only got about 30 minutes sleep. It is well worth experiencing the journey though but make sure you’re prepared with ear plugs.
Before only getting 30 minutes sleep…
We hopped off the train with all our backpacks in tow as the sun was rising at 6am. Despite the lack of sleep all I could think about was the lake, I’d been eyeing up the views on TruTravel’s Instagram and would’ve never discovered it if it weren’t for them because of the remote location.
Sunrise on the lake
After an hour taxi ride we arrived at the lake border and dropped off our big backpacks that wouldn’t be joining us whilst we stayed in the floating bungalows about 45 minutes away by boat. The engine of the boat was turned off by some towering rocks and Luke told us to jump in, it was 7.30am and as we stripped down we realised how hot it was on the lake already, it was like getting in a warm bath.
Pictures wont ever explain how beautiful the lake was, surrounded by jungle and mountains, the lush green water went on forever and ever and when we arrived at our floating bungalows I couldn’t believe that we would be waking up to views that amazing. I already never wanted to leave.
We were free to do whatever activities we wanted and after slathering up with sunscreen me and some of the girls jumped in kyaks and headed out to explore the lake around us. The sun was getting more intense by the hour and we hopped in the water for a cool down after getting back from an hour of rowing. There was a huge log tied into place outside the bungalows that kept us entertained for the afternoon, just try and stay balanced with 18 of your friends climbing all over it!
Tucking into food, thai rum and watersports in the most gorgeous place I’ve ever been was a day I will never forget. We stayed on the water for as long as possible, chilling on inflatable rings and watching the sun disappear behind the hills. Unfortunately I was enjoying myself far too much to notice how sunburnt I was and I spent the rest of the night covered in ice packs and aftersun.
The electricity was turned off at 11pm and the lake turned silent whilst we caught up on sleep from the train ride to paradise in our floating lake bungalows.
Waking up on the lake was incredible, the sun beams creeping over the hills was so beautiful, I would have enjoyed it so much more if it weren’t for sun stroke. I’ve never had it before and my burns were swollen and sore. Lack of sleep and severe dehydration took over and I was unconscious for most of the 7 hour journey to Koh Phangan – the party island on the Gulf of Thailand was our next destination.
Bottle Beach, Koh Phangan
Luckily the TruTravels team and everyone on tour nursed me back to health with plenty of electrolytes and water and I started to feel better when we arrived at Bottle Beach, a gorgeous place on the North of the island, far from the Full Moon Party that was taking place about 45 minutes away.
We had our very own fire show and let go lanterns around our bonfire on the dreamy island beach, far from the chaos of Bangkok where we started.
The epic fire shows put on by the Thai locals at beach parties every night!
Waking up to the sound of waves outside your door and walking out onto silky sand was another amazing wake up call that I wouldn’t have experienced if it weren’t for the TruTravels tour of a lifetime. Island life was certainly one i could get used to and after tucking into a huge breakfast we went for a dip in the lush warm ocean. We made the most of our last hours on the beach and lay in the sun (shade for me – still nursing my burns).
Hiding out in the shade and covering up wasn’t fun
Just down the beach was a picture perfect beach swing where we had a mini photo shoot – attempting to look as glamorous as I could despite the burns. The boat picked us up at 2pm and we waved goodbye to the beautiful shores of our island paradise to whip round the coast to the south of Koh Phangan called Haad Rin.
Looking like a lobster with my burns!
We checked into our gorgeous new homes for the night and headed to ‘Backyard’ for the full moon after party.which we were warned was the closest thing to a zombie apocalypse due to all the party goers that had been downing drinks and drugs all night, there were some pretty impressive dance moves going on that’s for sure.
The weather in Thailand is nearing the hottest time of the year which means there are a few storms around. Fortunately they are quite beautiful and easy to embrace, saying that, the storm that hit the island during our stay was pretty intense and our boat trip was cancelled because of the choppy sea.
When the skies finally cleared we went to Slip N Fly, otherwise known as Slip N Die. You may have seen a few YouTube videos of people flying in the air off a massive waterslide holding a GoPro and doing impressive tricks and flips. It took me around an hour to work up the courage to climb the stairs and try and land the right way up in the pool. Except for the brief loss of my bikini top I would say my landing was somewhat elegant!
Slip N Fly, Koh Phangan
Later we were treated to a farewell dinner to say goodbye to our amazing tour leader Luke and the travelers that were booked onto the first 8 days only. We ate all the Thai food we could manage and finished the night at another epic beach party accompanied by plenty of cocktails.
Beach parties are the best kind of party
We begrudgingly rolled out of bed through our hangovers and said a sad goodbye to 8 of our travel family as they flew home or headed to their next adventures in the islands. The we jumped on a boat and sailed our way to…
OH the suspense! To keep you on your toes (and because this is quickly becoming the longest blog post of all time) I’m keeping week 2 a secret until next time.
I hope you enjoyed keeping up with my Thai adventures so far, I can’t wait to tell you the rest so stay tuned for the next installment coming to a blog near you…
Have you been to Asia or Thailand? Where is your next adventure taking you?