Going all the way back to hiking Mount Batur in Bali, fellow travelers had told us about their wonderful experiences in Pai, a little town in the north of Thailand. As we continued to travel Southeast Asia and told others we would be going to Chiang Mai, continually we heard, “don’t miss Pai.”
When you’re on the road for so long, sometimes you just need a few days in a place that feels like home. So after two weeks in Cambodia and almost a month in Vietnam we decided to head back to Thailand, this time to the North of the country. We planned on spending about a week in Chiang Mai and three days in Pai before heading out to see the rest of the cities on our list. Immediately after arriving in Chiang Mai we felt like this place had the perfect vibe we needed to rest and recharge. In fact, over the next five days we lived like locals: I found a great Thai iced coffee stand I frequented many times, we went to the dentist, the doctor, Jeremy caught some NBA playoff games and we hung out with a couple of different traveler friends we’d met over the course of our trip.
After spending a fun couple of days exploring Ao Nang and Rali we were off to Koh Phi Phi. We knew Koh Phi Phi was a small island and known for its party scene along with the fact that this is where you could catch a long tail boat to go see Maya Bay, made famous by the movie, “The Beach” starring Leo DiCaprio. Upon reading other blogs in preparation, I was personally excited for what seemed a smaller scale Full Moon Party vibe. Shortly after departing the ferry we quickly realized this had great potential to be Full Moon Party-esque minus the staying up all night thing. Koh Phi Phi is much smaller than Koh Phangan but the place was filled with backpackers and the beach and island exists to entertain. The whole island is small enough that people just walk everywhere, no cars, and barely any motor bikes. It was another typical April scorcher so by the time we eventually found our guest house, we were dripping sweat. This is basically a new tradition of ours, where upon checking in at our new hotel, a mop is needed for the front desk after we finish with checking in. Read more
1:00pm- We discover that the driver we arranged to have pick us up for a discounted price straight to our next hotel for the full moon has sent someone else and he won’t honor the discount-after much bargaining we concede to just pay the price after he breaks out the “rates” board.
2:00pm- After a very bumpy ride essentially in the back of a pick-up truck with bench seats put in the back, we arrive at our “beach bungalows.” To say they are rustic is an understatement, the single sheet on the spring bed is covered in sand and what I can only deduce as lizard droppings. But indeed there is a view of the beach. You get what you pay for.
2:20pm- I sit down on the no flush toilet to pee and kindly ask Jeremy to pass me the toilet paper, and he lifts the trash can so I can have somewhere to put said toilet paper because our bungalow has no flush toilets; a very large spider a little smaller than the size of my palm scurries across the bathroom floor as I fly off the toilet with my pants still down. Jeremy asks me where the spider went and all I could repeat was the Little Miss Muffett rhyme while trying to get my hands to stop shaking. Welcome home for the next few nights…
After spending a good deal of time partying it up for my birthday and Songkran, I was really looking forward to a solid 5 days of chilling on the beach before Ko Phangan’s famous monthly Full Moon Party. After combing through blogs and gathering suggestions from friends we settled on spending 3 nights at the remote beach of Thong Nai Pan Noi on the northeast coast of Ko Phangan.
When we started planning the Thailand portion of our trip there were a few things I knew we didn’t want to miss and Songkran was one of them. Songkran is the Thai New Year and also the biggest water party in the world! This year it also happened to fall on my birthday, April 13th. In some parts of Thailand it’s celebrated for almost a week, which in theory seems awesome but after a day of just being soaking wet we were glad we chose to celebrate in Ko Samui where the water throwing lasted for just one day. The iconic pouring and throwing of water represents purification and the washing away of one’s sins and bad luck. It’s also a really good way to cool off in April, the hottest month of the year in Thailand.
Before we departed for our 6 month journey we were commonly asked what we were most excited for. Steph’s answer was always New Zealand and for me it was Thailand. Between hearing people’s stories of the different islands, the amazing food culture and the beautiful beaches, I was thrilled that we’d be spending over a month in Thailand when all was said and done. We departed Bali and had a short layover in Singapore. We had read that the Singapore airport is consistently ranked as one the best airports in the world so we wanted to take some time to explore during our couple of hours there. There were multiple gardens, hotel pools accessible from the terminal, a movie theater and more throughout the airport. Definitely not the worst place to be stuck if you miss your connection. Luckily though we did not miss our flight and we arrived to Bangkok later that evening. We were lucky that Steph’s mom had stayed in touch with a friend from college who has lived in Bangkok for over 15 years. Karen is a journalist and was gracious enough to let us stay with her for almost a week. It was an awesome apartment with a pool, near a food market and great A/C for those 100+ degree days.