Thailand 2022

Our Itinerary

16th JuneThursNewcastle to Sydney
17th JuneFriSydney to Bangkok
18th JuneSatBangkok
19th JuneSunBangkok to Lampang
20th JuneMonLampang to Chiang Mai
21st JuneTuesChiang Mai to Chiang Dao
22nd JuneWedChiang Dao to Thaton
23rd JuneThursThaton to Chiang Rai
24th JuneFriChiang Rai
25th JuneSatChiang Rai to Bangkok
26th JuneSunBangkok
27th JuneMonBangkok to Sydney

Thursday 16th June, 2022          

 Newcastle to Sydney

Mark is working today but it’s my day off which is lucky as I can do last-minute packing. Lauren drives us to Broadmeadow station at two o’clock to catch the 2.18 pm train before she picks the dollies up from school. We’re lucky to get the XPT train to Sydney’s Central Station – only $15 each – where we find the escalator to take us down to the light rail and then on to Wynyard. From here we walk to the old Grand Hotel, very cheap tonight at only $94. Even though we have a shared bathroom we have a very cute room – the hotel has been recently redecorated by the Merivale Group. 

On the top floor we have a drink in the Knot Bar then walk down to Circular Quay to see Vivid – it’s busily exciting down here and a clear still night. We wander through the Rocks then to the Bridge where all the buildings are lit up with coloured lights, projections and installations. Especially impressive is the Opera House with changing aboriginal art work every few minutes. 

Dinner is pork rolls and chips (horrible) from one of the many street stalls then we head back to the Grand Hotel after a couple of hours. More drinks at the very busy Knot Bar – good people watching – before an early night.

Friday 17th June, 2022          

 Sydney to Bangkok

Our alarm wakes us at 5:30 am then we catch an Uber ($36) to the International Airport because there are no trains running this early. At the check-in counter we show our Thai Pass and travel insurance, get bag labels and check them in. That over with, we have our usual McDonald’s which takes an hour to order because there’s so many people here. We hang out on comfy lounge chairs by the window to watch planes coming and going.

We’re very excited to be flying international for the first time in three years after being locked in with Covid although it’s still mandatory to wear masks, to be double vaxed and to carry the Thai Pass. We buy duty free Bacardi then Mark splurges on an underwater watch – Citizen for $450. 

We board on time at 9:15 am but then sit on the plane for forty five minutes waiting for connecting passages. The plane already looks full but eventually fifty more people board. This means every seat is taken so no luck with our usual spare seat in the middle this time. We watch movies – The House of Gucci, The Duke, Blind Ambition and After Love – have lunch, snacks and afternoon tea but it still feels a very loooong  flight although only the usual nine and a half hours. 

Finally at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport we don’t know what to expect as we’ve been told that it could take ages to get through. Some sites say that there is a rule that you have to stay in a hotel close to the airport until your Thai Pass is accepted but instead we show our Thai pass, go through immigration and we’re done within an hour. 

Outside is hot and steamy as usual which we always love. We catch a taxi to Banglamphu $36 and head straight to Villa Cha Cha where we’ve stayed before. It’s an atmospheric guesthouse right on Thanon Rambutri and only $24. Our room is pleasant, decorated Thai style with an aqua tiled bathroom and even a pool downstairs. We change straight into our thongs and summer clothes and head out into the street which is dark by now. 

As we expected, Covid has changed things. The streets are much quieter than they have ever been since we started coming here 25 years ago and only a few places are open along Thanon Rambutri compared to the string of cafes and bars on either side that are usually buzzing.

We walk down to Soi Rambutri and are thrilled to see that Pink is open. Pink is our favourite massage place in all of Bangkok, all the world actually. We have welcome-back cuddles from the girls and promise to come back after we have something to eat.  Dinner is in the laneway opposite Madam Masur’s – beers, margaritas, satay chicken, chicken wings and Tom Yum Goon. Heaven to be back in our beloved Bangkok. 

Back at Pink, we have foot and leg massages on laid-back chairs in the laneway with On and Bong. All the girls are happy as Pink only re-opened two weeks ago after closing because of Covid for the last two and a half years. We drink beers and margaritas then walk to the bar around the corner.  

This is packed with young Thai people – no Western tourists at all which was always the case before Covid. I have an Angel cocktail for Angie but it taste like shit – ha ha, Ange. Walking back to Thanon Rambutri, a guy is playing guitar and singing in a Bob Marley bar but we only have one drink then sit around the pool at Villa Cha Cha. After a swim we’re in bed by 10 o’clock. A great time already. 

Saturday 18th June, 2022          


At 6.30am I’m out looking to buy water and end up with fresh orange juice and fresh passionfruit juice squeezed right on the sidewalk. I notice that all the locals are wearing masks and I need to wear a mask as well before entering the 711 to buy water. I don’t have one on me but a kind lady outside selling Thai desserts hands me one – I give her 30 Baht.

Back in the room we both have showers and book an overnight train for tonight at the Villa Cha Cha desk. The girl is so sweet “thank you for coming back to Thailand”, she says. Like the girls from Pink, she’s only been working back here for a month after two and a half years of no work at all. While we’re here we also get her to book a room at Baan Boo Loo in Chiang Mai for the 20th.

Now we want to check out Khao San Road and walking around the corner opposite the temple we find it absolutely dead, literally a ghost town. We can’t stand to stay so find a small laneway instead and order prawn Pad Thai sitting at plastic tables on the footpath – our favourite thing to do in Thailand.

From here we pass Lackshimi House where we stayed last time when we were on our way to Myanmar in 2019. 

The humidity and heat are over the top as always so we make our way to the temple to sit in the cool prayer hall sitting in front of the big Buddha. In outer halls, monks are reciting lessons in Sanskrit and white robed nuns with shaven heads prepare food in the outdoor kitchen.

Later we climb the Drum Tower then walk through to Soi Rambutri via the back entrance of the temple. To cool down, we buy fresh lime sodas before having one-hour oil massages upstairs at Pink with On and Bong – fantastic basic atmosphere up here with little wonkey windows overlooking the soi and the temple. Next we both have pedicures then a manicure for me with Ni.

Even though it’s sweltering hot we decide to go for a walk through Banglamphu where we come across a street cart near the Fort – chicken drumsticks plus fresh orange and passionfruit juices once again.

Back at Villa Cha Cha we sit next to the pool but soon leave after listening to a pain-in-the-arse American arguing and swearing at a Thai girl and her friends – they’re all drunk. Upstairs we have a nanna nap in the air conditioning then up at 3:30pm for a swim.

Next we wander around to Pink for me to have my hair washed and blow dried (big mistake) while Mark buys T-shirts before both having lime sodas plus fresh fruit and papaya salad.

Now we head back to our room to pack, check out and catch a tuktuk to Hualampong Station. Hualampong will be closed next year when the horrible new Bang Sue Grand Station is supposed to be finished. This is to service the high speed trains which we never want to catch – much prefer the dear old rattlers.

Mark buys food upstairs on a mezzanine level overlooking all the action including my favourite – groups of monks. Before boarding we eat ham and cheese croissants and lovely blueberry smoothies. On the train at 7 o’clock, our bunks have already been made up. The carriage is nearly empty as no Western tourists again. We’re both in bed by 8 o’clock and have a great sleep after many stops as the train leaves Bangkok. The air conditioning is a bit cool at times but lots of blankets keep us cozy.

Sunday 19th June, 2022          

Bangkok to Lampang

I’m awake at 5:30 am and love watching the countryside go by in this soft early morning light. I wake Mark at 6 o’clock when we pack, ready to pull into Lampang Station fifteen minutes later. We’re the only ones getting off the train which goes straight through to Chiang Mai where most passengers will disembark.

In the carpark outside, we find a songthaew to take us to the Riverside Guesthouse where a friendly girl opens the gate and shows us two rooms – we take the cheaper one for only $40. We prefer it anyway as it’s upstairs overlooking the laneway with bougainvillea and pretty teak houses opposite. Two walls are lined with multi-coloured glass windows and all the furniture is teak as well. 

Downstairs for breakfast, Mark orders conchee then accidentally eats my omelette as well – I’m happy with fresh fruit and tea anyway.

Since it’s Sunday, and early anyway, nothing much will be open just yet so we decide to rest till 10 o’clock. Mark then organises for a horse and cart to meet us out in the laneway at 10:15. This way of getting around town with horse drawn carriages is one of the main reasons I wanted to come to Lampang as it’s unique to this little town in northern Thailand.

Our horse man is a sweetie with a big smile and we set off along the laneway in front of the Riverside guesthouse. We slowly clip clop our way to the first wat of the day, Wat Si Rong Mueang, a Shan teak temple built in 1900. A monk tells us that because it’s completely made of wood we’re not allowed to light candles or incense in case the whole thing goes up in smoke. Inside is very elaborate with a wide richly decorated verandah where we spent quite a while looking all the beautiful decorations.

Wat Si Rong Muang was actually built by Burmese immigrants at the start of the 20th century. They came to Lampang to work in the teak industry and brought with them their own ideas about temple construction – hence the Burmese Shan style.

On the way we’d passed more horse and carts. I think it’s cute that all the other horses are whinnying at our horse. The same thing happens when we enter the grounds of the next place. I say to Mark “look they’re saying hello to each other”. Mark says “no he’s a boy and our’s is a girl” just as I notice the other horse has a massive hard on – gross!!! Our girl must be on heat! 

Past the clock tower we pass more horses with more whinnying and more hard-ons – ha ha. 

Along lovely shaded laneways in the forestry area of Lampang, we pull into the leafy grounds of Baan Louis. Louis was the son of Anna Leonowen who was the British tutor to the children of King Rama IV and became famous as Anna through the musical and movie, The King and I.

As for Louis himself, he became heavily involved in a teak trade which this whole area is known for. In 1905 he founded his own company and so the construction started on Louis House as his own home – completely made of teak, what else?

Back in the cart we make our way along more shady laneways with traditional teak houses on both sides crossing small streams and the wider Rachadapisek Bridge. We visit another pretty wat then head back to the guesthouse. 

As we always like to do when we’re in Asia, we want to hire a motorbike to head out into the countryside by ourselves. Nothing is available at our guesthouse but we’re told there are a few places further along the road where we can hire one. We walk for miles but because it’s Sunday nothing is open so we give up and go back to the Riverside for lunch – club sandwiches and croissants for me and a Thai lunch for Mark. While we think about it, we ask the French lady owner to book a train for us for tomorrow morning to Chiang Mai plus a car to take us to the station as we’ll be leaving very early. We also ring Lauren and the dollies. They tell us that it’s freezing at home! 

Because we’re still a bit jet lagged and it’s sweltering by now we sleep till 3pm under the fan in our room. After cold showers we set out to look for a massage place we’ve heard about but it’s closed as well – Sunday again! 

An upside of it being Sunday though is that the Kad Kongta Night Market is on tonight. It only happens on Saturday and Sunday nights so we’re lucky to be here at the right time. We’re also lucky that the market is being held in the same street as ours. This is Walking Street which just means that it’s blocked off to traffic for the duration of the market. Stalls are already being set up on either side of the road. We stop to wander through a couple of interesting museums and art galleries then have lime sodas at Papa Gallery. Papa sees that I’m overly hot so he hurries over with a fan for each of us. He’s a tiny, trendy local man who makes the pottery himself. The gallery is super trendy as well and even the lime sodas are a work of art – crushed ice over slices of orange and lime and tiny edible flowers – I take photos!  

Really overheating by now, we walk back to the Riverside to sit in the air conditioning then sleep till 6.30pm before heading back up to Walking Street and the night market. 

The street itself is wonderful, lined with lovely century-old wooden shop-houses, a mix of Western, Burmese, Chinese and Thai styles. I’ve read that this was what Chiang Mai was once like. 

Just near the entrance to the market, we hear loud music coming from a wat down a short laneway on the left. Here, six ladies are dancing in ceremonial costume with beaming smiles. After one of the dances finish they call us over to have lots of photos while posing in funny shapes with our arms – so sweet!

By now the market is packed with locals, no Westerners at all. The market is very unique with most things locally made – no wooden frogs, if you know what I mean. 

We walk to the bridge at the end of the market where I buy pants and two tops – all very hilltribe. We both buy chicken drumsticks and Mark has pork skewers and spicy fishcakes. He can’t stop eating – there’s so much fabulous food here. I even buy a bug and eat it – a bucket list thing. Ewwww!! 

Now we go in search of ‘party’ street but seem to walk miles in the darkness until we eventually find a group of bars not far from our own guesthouse. The first bar we come across is very cute, all lined with teak and lots of silk Chinese lanterns hanging from the vaulted ceiling. We choose a cozy corner for drinks and then buy peanuts from a little boy who comes in off the street. The next bar is called the Riverside Bar with a deck overlooking the water. A band is playing behind a huge glass screen, to protect them from Covid we suppose. The first few songs are in Thai but because we’re the only people here and because we’re Westerners they actually play Country Roads, my favourite karaoke song. Thank god I haven’t had enough drinks to get up. I do sing along loudly though. 

The water is mirror calm on the river and the bridge is lit up with coloured lights – Lampang Vivid?? – while rows of fountains dance in front of us. The bar next door has more people but we don’t like the band so we head back to our guest house, falling into bed after a great day. 

Monday 20th June, 2022          

Lampang to Chiang Mai

Our alarm wakes us at 5:30 am before we meet our driver in the laneway fifteen minutes later. He charges 300 Baht because he had to get up so early – okay, fair enough. It’s an absolutely gorgeous morning, warm with a clear blue sky and quiet streets.

Outside the station is lovely. We sit at a local lady’s street cart in the shade and buy coffee and Chinese tea. I ask what she has to eat and she points to an egg. I think it might be hard boiled but I get a raw egg swimming in a cup of something hot and milky. She shows me how to add salt and pepper and soy – yuck, still can’t eat it. From another cart, Mark buys pork skewers which are much more edible. An old monk in orange robes is standing behind us holding his alms bowl but soon leaves when none of the stallholders give him anything to eat. They’ve probably already given heaps of food to other old dears. 

Later we walk over to the station, looking pretty with topiary trees and other plants. Again we’re the only people here. Lampang is definitely not on the tourist trail. 

The Bangkok to Chiang Mai train arrives at 6:40 am and we’re soon chugging through the open countryside. Today we have long padded bench seats facing each other and wide open windows. This is always our favourite thing about train travel in Thailand.

The trip to Chiang Mai will take about two hours passing rice paddies, banana trees, small villages, a big white Buddha on a distant hill and lots of small stations where ladies hop on selling roast chicken, sticky rice and water.

Passing through the Khintan Tunnel, we find Mark’s favourite railway station that we saw on our way back from Chiang Mai four years ago. Half an hour before we reach Chiang Mai we travel through the small town of Lamphun where we might stay on the way back to Bangkok in a week or so.

At 8.45 am we pull into Chiang Mai station and actually see a few young western backpackers get off the train – a good sign. 

A lady who introduces herself as Phun approaches us outside and jumps into the back of a songthaew with us. She tries to sell us tours but we tell her that we’ve been here many times before and have truly seen everything she wants to show us. 

We’re off to Baan Boo Loo, the guest house that we’d booked in Bangkok two days ago. We’d actually tried to book it online through but it said there weren’t any rooms left so we asked the girl at the desk to ring direct and supposedly they do have a room for us – will see! 

Leaving the station we head into the old city surrounded by a moat and even part of the old wall that originally surrounded it. Amongst the little laneways of the old city we finally pull up at Baan Boo Loo. We came across this gorgeous place four years ago on our way back from Laos but at that time they didn’t have any rooms at all so we always vowed to come back again one day.

The only thing is, I feel disoriented because there are two gates facing each other on either side of the laneway and I’m sure last time we entered through the opposite gate to the one which is now being opened for us by a young man in traditional dress.

Apparently this is the smaller part which is now being used because of Covid and less travellers. There’s no disappointment though as it’s just as wonderful as the side we’d seen before. I think I’d describe it as elegantly rustic and full of Thai character. My heart seriously soars. 

Inside the gate, the young man carries our bags – he can’t pull them because the ground is rough pebbles, no crappy cement here. He leads us upstairs to an open-sided pavilion where we meet the lovely female hostess called Lamai and, joy of joys, yes we do have a room! Under a vaulted beamed roof we sit at a long wooden table covered in a woven ethnic cloth surrounded by potted palms and flowers. The young man now brings us fresh juice, iced water, tea and coffee and watermelon while beautiful Thai music plays in the background. Next is chrysanthemum tea – oh my god I’m in heaven! Now we’re shown to our room by Lamai’s brother. “I am Gai” he says and we think “yes you are”! Little cutie!

Our room is downstairs next to a rocky pond filled with goldfish and inside we have wooden floors and ceiling, air conditioning, a huge stand-alone bath, a daybed, a king size bed, a fridge and the whole place dripping in Thai culture. The only downside is a mosquito zapper that keeps scaring the shit out of me so we turn it off. We have hill tribe jackets to wear so we do.

Now we’re ready to take on Chiang Mai so we head off through the alleyways and walk for about a kilometre till we come across a massage place called Calm. This is definitely calm and thankfully also cool because we’re sweltering by now. First we’re given cold tea before having our feet washed and changing into loose tops and pants. We both have an excellent massage for 350 Baht each which is about $14 – not so cheap here. Before leaving they give us green tea and an unusual Thai sweet – strangely it’s coloured grey and tastes smoky. 

Off now to Wororot Market in a tuktuk. Wororot is the most well-known and biggest market in northern Thailand. It’s huge and sells everything from local food to ceramics, flowers, embroidery and clothing. Besides this one part of the alleyway market is set up with Hmong and Chinese local products and we even come across a small Chinese temple. 

At each entrance a guard sits to take our temperature and make sure that we wear a mask before going inside. In the vast food hall we sit at a stall where I order fish balls in noodles and Mark orders something indescribable – what the hell is he eating now??!! We also buy an interesting cold blackberry drink. 

I’m looking for a straw hat but no luck although I do buy two necklaces. In the seafood section we watch live fish and tiny turtles swimming around in plastic buckets, pink eggs and very stinky dried fish. 

There’s a very weird toilet in here – I pay 4 Baht then pass through a hot pink roundabout gate in a cage. Once inside it’s squat toilets only – my first experience for this trip.

From here we catch a tuktuk to the bus station to ask about getting to Chiang Dao tomorrow. Apparently we just turn up in the morning and buy our tickets then.

For now we want to see the forest temple that Lauren and I had visited in 2010. Mark didn’t come that day because he’d been sick and stayed in the room. So, in the same tuktuk we drive twenty minutes out of town to Wat Umong where we jump out at the forest entrance. 

Wat Umong is a 700 year old Buddhist temple set within fifteen acres of woodland. Up and down pathways we pass the monastery then come across a large pond where we feed ducks, turtles and hideous catfish. Swarms of pigeons are trying to pinch the fish food and are scaring a group of squealing Thai tourists. Next we explore the ancient tunnels that run beneath the Chedi. The story goes that the tunnels were built to keep a crazy old monk occupied so he wouldn’t keep running away. Apparently true.  

Back in Chiang Mai, we look for Johns Place, our old favourite and a local institution. Sadly it’s gone – probably another victim of Covid. Instead we buy ice creams and drinks from the 711 then walk back to Baan Boo Loo. We hang out here till 6.30pm and have a cool bath together in our luxurious bathtub.

Walking back down to the main street we find a tuktuk to take us to the night market. This is a great disappointment – another victim of Covid.  All that’s left at the moment it’s just a few stalls in the street. I do find a straw hat though and we buy toy kittens on blankets for the dollies.

Ready for alcohol, we take a tuktuk back to the bar area that we discovered a few years ago with Frank from Holland who’d been on our longtail boat in northern Laos. 

Loi Kron Road is the touristy, girly bar area with strings of bars and cafes on both sides of the narrow road. It seems innocent enough on the outside and we just want a drink anyway. In one bar we buy chicken wings and spring rolls while Mark has a beer. One of the girls working here is making everyone laugh by mimicking a guy who’d been drunk earlier. As usual a creepy pervert is lurking around the girls and lots more are walking past – all ugly old bald expats.

Crossing to the tiny bar opposite, we chat with three ladies and ‘woohoo’ they sell Bacardi – although I’ve brought my own as usual. Country music is playing and when Alan Jackson’s “Remember When” comes on it makes me sad. I actually get very drunk stumbling all over the place Mark tells me later – not a great look for an almost 70 year granny. Oh well! Wobble to bed but can’t sleep. 

Tuesday 21st June, 2022           

Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao

This morning where off to Chiang Dao which is the exciting part of our trip because it’s somewhere we’ve never been before and part of the loop we plan to do which will bring us back to Chiang Mai in a week’s time. That’s the rough plan anyway.

At 6:30 we’re up to shower, pack and head upstairs for breakfast in Baan Boo Loo’s stunning dining area. How do I describe this place? It’s really something special. Overhung with trees, vines and plants we feel like we’re in our own treehouse. Everything is made of wood or other natural materials – you won’t find any plastic here!  Hot breakfast food is offered in a row of clay pots displayed on a long antique carved cupboard. Ceramic jars of all shapes and sizes hold dried purple and white flowers while vignettes of Thai carvings, alms bowls, bronze and brass wear fill the space with atmosphere. To top it off, all the crockery is celadron, that wonderful pale green that’s always been my favourite ceramic. 

Breakfast is warm croissants, chrysanthemum tea, coffee, watermelon and fresh pineapple. Gai rings for a tuktuk driver to pick us up in the laneway. It’s a beautiful morning once again with the sun shining through the trees overhanging the gate. A quick drive to the bus station and we soon have our tickets on the Chiang Mai to Thaton bus which will drop us off in Chiang Dao on the way.

The bus leaves at 8 o’clock on the dot with everyone wearing masks – we even have monks up the back and I sneak photos. The best thing about these old buses to out-of-the-way places is that there’s no air conditioning so, once again, we have open windows. We pass lots of small towns until the last forty minutes or so where it’s just open rice paddies and mountains ahead. It’s great to be out of the city. 

At 10 o’clock we arrive in Chiang Dao which is basically just one long street with businesses and shops on either side – nothing too appealing here but we knew that all the gorgeous stuff is just out of town. What we have lucked on, is that it’s the Tuesday Morning Market so getting off the bus we store our bags and then walk up to the market.

It’s busy as all local markets are and we stalk some hill tribe ladies in traditional dress.  We hope to see more hill tribes further north. I buy a singlet top but there’s nothing much else I’m interested in. Mark again buys something indescribable to eat – balls of something on a stick which he burps up for the rest of the day. 

Back at the bus station, the sweet guy on the desk rings Nest Guesthouse for us – this gets good reviews on but there’s no answer – “you have no booking?”,  he says – “no, but we’ll just go there anyway” – he’s confused! 

While we wait, Mark buys a steamed bun while I buy a watermelon ice block and keep myself occupied by checking out an old monk who seems to be lost. Soon a tiny smiling man arrives and introduces himself as Ton. He’s very proud of his bright yellow songthaew. Throwing all our gear into the back we bounce along rough tracks for a few kilometres. Even on this short distance Ton stops four times to jump out and run around the back to ask us a question – do we want to stay here, do we want to go there? – so sweet!

Soon we turn onto a paved road for a few kilometres then onto another small road leading into the jungle. Unfortunately we find that Nest is now only open on weekends because of Covid so Ton suggests we try Marlee’s Nature Bungalows and we’re so glad he did. It’s set in a peaceful tropical garden at the base of Doi Chang Dao, Thailand’s third highest mountain.

It’s a family run business with Marlee herself coming out to greet us with open arms and a beaming smile. We never cease to be amazed by how friendly and genuine Thai people are.

Marlee give us a tour of the gardens on the way to show us two bungalows. We choose the 1000 Baht (AUD$40 a night) the biggest one – it’s upstairs with a balcony all-round and lovely views of the thick jungle beneath. She proudly shows us all the colourful plants she’s grown as well as lots of orchids, “my husband” she says. 

We’ve already arranged with Ton to spend the rest of the afternoon with him visiting all the local sites so we leave straight away.

First is Chiang Dao Cave only a few hundred metres from Marlee’s along a dirt track. The complex also includes Wat Chiang Dao (not a lot of imagination naming things around here) plus a pavilion and other outer buildings. At the entrance near a pretty pond, we feed the temple catfish then pay 55 Baht each to visit the cave because this is a national park. Masks must be worn, so the skeleton at the entrance tells us – a skeleton we suppose to scare the Covid pants off everyone! The cave is large and impressive with Buddha statues plus stalagmites and stalactites. Back outside behind the new wat we find the ruins of earlier temples almost swallowed up by the jungle vegetation. 

The rain has started but it’s fun riding in the back of the songthaew with the tropical rain pouring down around us. Later Ton stops for lunch on the main road – a tuna salad for me and Tom Yum for Mark. The heat and humidity is over the top so we have two soda waters each plus a strawberry shake and a pineapple shake. 

From here it’s a forty minute drive to Srisungwan Waterfalls. The rain has stopped by now so we make our way through the forest down to the first waterfall. I wear a sarong to cover my swimmers then we both make our way to the bottom of the falls before following Ton down to level four for another swim.

Heading fifteen minutes back towards Chiang Dao, we stop at Pong Arne Hot Springs situated in a pretty park. The natural hot springs are super hot so we don’t stay in too long and follow it up with a cold shower – once more we’re the only ones here. Covid is really affecting this area badly.

Now we’re not sure what else is on the agenda but Ton wants to keep taking us to more and more places. He points to a temple on the top of a hill. At first we say no but he talks us into it. Actually it’s really worth it with a Burmese paya and golden rock just like the huge one we saw in Myanmar last year. The views are spectacular as we can see the whole surrounding countryside plus Doi Chiang Dao far into the distance. 

Before winding our way back down the mountain, Ton talks Mark into sitting in the front cabin with him – I think he wants someone to talk to – I’d rather stay in the back – I hate air conditioning. In the first town we come to, Ton pulls over to chat with some friends then because it’s so hot we buy drinks and ice creams for us all. Just when we think we’re on our way back home he turns off the road again to stop at King Nerasuan Stupa in Mueang Ngai village. The stupa was built by the villagers to honour the King’s victory over the Burmese in 1604. Okay, we get that but what’s with all the roosters? Some say that it’s because he won Ayutthaya’s freedom from the Prince of Burma in a single cockfight but in Thailand the rooster also symbolises wealth and good fortune so we don’t know. Anyway there’s roosters everywhere – thousands of big ones, little ones and giant ones. 

I’m melting by now so I agree to sit in the front with Mark and Ton. Ton hasn’t drawn breath for hours and even now while he’s driving he’s reading out the doctor’s notes about his appointment in Chiang Mai tomorrow. 

We say “let’s get back to Marlee’s” – over it by now. “You want to go top of mountain?” Ton asks hopefully making one last ditch effort to keep going. “Nooo!” 

Then not far from Marlee’s we see an elephant camp and ask if we can go tomorrow. Ton says he’ll organise something for the morning before we catch the bus to Thaton. This will be fantastic as we thought we’d miss out on elephant riding this trip. 

We spend the afternoon resting in our room under the fan – no aircon here – listening to the rain falling on our roof. It stops about 6.30pm so we set off to find a restaurant somewhere near here that Marlee has recommended. She doesn’t have enough guests at the moment to make it worth her while to cook. She gives us directions to Jin’s place which is about a ten minute walk through the forest.

With it being just on dark this is all very lovely except for a bunch of scary barking dogs that chase us down the road – hate dogs! There’s nothing else around here just forest and a couple of odd places like Marlee’s, Jin’s and a bar not far away. 

Jin’s is run by Jin and her western husband John. They’re both in a flap with seven customers! Ha ha. Jin is in the kitchen trying to cook three pizzas and pops out every now and again wearing a white coat and a tall white chef’s hat while John is stressing and sweating like a pig – Fawlty Towers eat your heart out. Despite the long menu John tells us we can only have pizza then later on announces that we can have ravioli – whatever, just give us something! This is hilarious then becomes even funnier as more people turn up in cars. There’s nowhere else to eat around here. John turns them away. Meanwhile we chat with a friendly Pommy guy with his Thai girlfriend who can’t believe the circus around us either.

Of course I’ve brought along my Bacardi but they don’t have Coke – surprise, surprise – so I end up having a wine. I only have a couple of sips and give the rest to Mark. If the service and food are a disaster, the atmosphere isn’t. Jin’s sits at the bottom of a tree covered cliff face and we’re sitting in the garden under the stars on this hot still night.

After dinner we walk down the road to a place called Cave Bar. And guess what – they have Bacardi and Coke! A pretty Thai girl is serving and we spent an hour talking to her and to Robert and Elizabeth from Seattle. We have so much in common it’s a shame we’re moving on in the morning.

With a busy day tomorrow we head home walking back through the pitch dark forest. Mark finds a huge stick to fight off the dogs. I’m almost wetting my pants laughing, with the horrible dogs still following and barking like maniacs.

As we pass Jin’s we find her out the front directing traffic in her cook’s hat – there’s only one car and no traffic on the road anyway – so funny – you had to be there. Back at Marlee’s we sit on our verandah for more drinks that we don’t need.  More pants wetting as Mark does a nudie run through the bushes below – ha ha. A fantastic day!  

Wednesday 22nd June, 2022          

Chiang Dao to Thaton

Waking again at 7:30am to another perfect day we can hear birds singing and those funny insects that sound like little chainsaws. Humid already, Mark has a dip in the pool but I’m busy getting ready. Breakfast is in the timber-lined dining area which is open on all sides and decorated with a Buddha statue and fountain. We’re the only guests. 

Marlee comes out to talk to us. She brings her home-made bread and mango jam, scrambled eggs, orange juice plus tea and coffee. Marlee is married to Kurt from Switzerland and has one son studying in New Zealand. They haven’t seen him for three years because of Covid. 

She gives us the local gossip. Poor Ton is sick because of stress because he hasn’t any money due to Covid. He’s not married and lives by himself and yet he’s always laughing and smiling – brave little man. On a funnier side she then tells us that Jin “angry when many customers” then “she very stress – go south for two months but still angry”. Hard not to laugh! 

Marlee is such a sweetheart and we become Facebook friends. We’ve already packed so Ton picks us up at 8:30. We give a warm goodbye to Marlee and Kurt before being waved off. The elephant camp is only fifteen minutes away. At the moment they only have two girls, Boona and Hona, and we meet their mahouts and another man who seems to be the camp owner. To reach the basket on the elephant’s back we climb a ladder to a wooden platform. As we set off the heat is unbearable with zero shade. But here comes Ton running after us with an umbrella, yelling out “hot sun, hot sun!”

I don’t know what we’d have done without it. Boona plods along with us on her back for about forty minutes passing cultivated fields, village houses and ponds with a standing Buddha and a  golden paya in the distance and Doi Chiang Dao rising up behind. Boona picks grass to eat on the way and reaches back with her trunk to take the little bananas that we give her. As we return to Ton’s songthaew, we see Hona throwing dirt all over herself. After photos taken with both of them and feeding them more bananas, we’re ready to leave for the bus station.

But typically, Ton drives us straight to the standing Buddha – there’s always a side track – before dropping us at the Chiang Dao. Goodbye little Ton, we hope you’re not too unwell and hope business picks up for you soon. We pay him well.

At the bus station we talk to the same friendly guy that we met yesterday. He tells us that there’s a bus to Thaton at 12 o’clock but we can catch the 11am bus to Fang then get a songthaew to Thaton from there. This will save us hanging around here for an hour plus give us a bit of time to check out Fang.

In the meantime, Mark walks back up to the market to buy pineapple (no burpy balls on sticks please, darling) while I lie on a bench with my head on our pillow bag and watch monks walking past – I’m more than happy. 

The Chiang Mai / Fang bus arrives right on time at 11 am. We manage to get a window seat each, open windows of course, and again we pass through small towns over winding mountain roads loving the green, green vegetation, temples and schools until we arrive at Fang one and a half hours later.

Here, excited motorcycle taxi drivers are ready to whisk us away to the market on the other side of town. We jump on the back of a bike each while the drivers balance our big packs across their knees. Dangerous? Hell yes, but great fun! We haven’t done this motorcycle taxi thing for years and we love passing each other through town.

The minute we pull into the market these funny guys thrown our packs straight into the back of a waiting songthaew which takes off almost before we can get our bums inside. So much for having time to check out Fang! Ha ha.

We have three local ladies in the back with us. They all have mountains of bags filled with things that they’ve obviously picked up from the market. We smile and wave but because we all have to wear masks it’s a bit hard to make friends. At least there’s not the usual waiting around when we have to be full to bursting before we can leave. Wrong! 

We only drive a few hundred metres and stop again in the middle of town. Two more ladies finally turn up then we only wait another half an hour before eventually setting off. We’re kept amused on the half hour trip by one of the ladies who never stops talking at the top of her voice even though we can’t understand a word she says. 

In Thaton we’re dropped off in the main street but really have no idea where we are or where to stay. The first thing we need is a toilet and something to eat so we find a nice little cafe run by a friendly lady called Joy. She only has one tooth. After using the squat toilets, we order chicken with fried noodles and lime sodas. Joy is a good cook and speaks good English as well. Luckily she has Wi-Fi so we use it to look up and decide to stay in a resort tonight. Very unlike us but there doesn’t seem to be anywhere very interesting around here otherwise.

Joy says “I ring hotel – you pack – you buy water”. Ha ha, she’s very bossy. Soon a truck arrives to take us to the Maekok River Village Resort where we can get a bungalow for only 1500 Baht or AUD$60. It’s on the opposite side of the Kok River so we cross the Thaton Bridge, prettily overlooked by a hill covered in palms and golden temples. We find the resort set in flowering gardens and trees with an arched bridge spanning a small pond. Our bungalow is five star with a verandah that walks straight out to the pond and the pool beside us. Mark goes for a walk to check out the grounds then we both have a swim.

We’ve been told that we’re the only ones here again. The resort has just reopened after a couple years of Covid shut down and they’re hoping that once the Thailand Pass finishes in the next few weeks that tourists will start to turn up – so many places doing it tough. It’s a problem even in these big resorts because they hire local people like the young girl on the desk who said that she had to go back to her village and work in the fields and has only just got her job back. 

At 3:30pm a massage lady from the village comes to our room who we’d organised from the front desk. Mark has a one hour Thai massage and I have a head and shoulders. All good but never really love having massages in our rooms – no atmosphere.

Our original plan was to head further north to Mae Salong and then do a loop to Chiang Mai stopping at Chang Rai on the way. But if we do this we’ll miss out on the four hour boat trip from Thaton direct to Chang Rai and, reading up on Mae Salong, I’m not sure if it’s worth the extra two days of travelling. At the check-in desk we’re told that there is no public boat tomorrow to Chiang Rai but we can hire a longtail for ourselves for 2200 Baht or AUD$90 so we’ll take it. We’re a huge fan of these river trips in Asia.

Back in the room we ring Lauren and then the dollies who are staying with Josh tonight so Lauren can go to work tomorrow. After a rest we get dressed in our posh clothes – I’m wearing my new $7 hilltribe top (very posh!!) and head over to the restaurant built over another big pond. Because we’re the only ones here we can have whatever table we want and sit overlooking the water where hungry fish are waiting below. I order a tuna salad while Mark has chicken soup and some spicy Thai dish. There are beers available for him but no Coke for me so I just settle with soda water and decide to have a no drinking night – my liver needs a rest anyway! The food is good which we eat while watching a bright pink sunset across the river – very romantic! 

Because I can’t drink and there’s nothing else to do anyway we head back to the room at 8:30. Mark has a few beers in bed then we both sleep well with air conditioning for a change. 

Thursday 23rd June, 2022          

Thaton to Chiang Rai

By 7.30am we’ve packed, showered and having breakfast back in the restaurant. This is the usual tea, coffee, juice, watermelon, pineapple, toast with home-made orange and mango jam and scrambled eggs – we feed the fish our leftovers. 

We follow a couple of the staff who take our bags on trolleys down to the river. Our captain is Tun (not Ton like our little mate from yesterday). We’re the only ones in our longtail and leave at 8:30am – hot under a cloudy sky but it looks like it’ll fine up soon. At this early hour it’s even a little bit cool on the river as we get moving.

Apparently, the public ferry isn’t running at the moment because it’s the dry season from May to July and the river levels are too low – no problem, though, for a longtail boat. Like the wonderful river trips we did in northern Laos a few years ago, this is another experience of a lifetime. 

We fly past haystacks, pagodas on a hill, sandmining, fisherman in the shallows and stands of bamboo growing all over the hills. The bamboo looks so pretty from this distance – soft and feathery. The sun has come out by now so colours are more vibrant – blue skies and brilliant green vegetation. 

As we round each bend, mountains appear ahead while we navigate the many rapids and slow down as the river narrows in places. Tiny huts appear on steep hills, small villages and towns, bamboo rafts pulled up onto the banks and banana trees. 

We’re surprised when Tun eventually pulls into the riverbank. He points to an overgrown dirt track leading uphill. We guess that this where we’ll hide in the bushes for a weewee stop. 

But, wow, we’ve walked  into a real bucket list surprise that’s come completely out of the blue. We’re actually in a hill tribe village – a real hill tribe village with no tourists at all! There’s not many villagers around, just a few little boys and a lady hanging embroidered fabrics on a line to fence off her garden. The timber homes are all weathered grey and built on stilts with corrugated roofs and dogs scratching around underneath as well as chickens and little baby chicks. Three little kids come giggling up to us, one proudly producing a baby bird that he’s cradling in his hands.  Mark takes a video and plays it back to them – great excitement! On a real high, we head back down the path to the river. 

Tun starts the boat up again and we’re soon on our way passing more fishermen, water buffalo and cows grazing by the river bank.

After an hour we stop again. Now we’ll change boats with another man who’ll take us from here to Chang Rai. We wave goodbye to Tun who again points to a village sitting above the riverbank – not a hill tribe village this time but a small place with a few cafes and shops and, best of all, there are elephants! We don’t have time for a ride this morning so we just buy bags of fruit and bamboo for 25 Baht and go round to feed each one. There’s about six of them here in grassy enclosures fenced off with bamboo. It’s a lovely setting but we’re starting to wonder about this elephant riding thing and whether it’s the right thing to do – probably not but they ARE fucking huge so does it really matter if someone sits on their back for half an hour? At least they’re getting looked after – that’s my story anyway. 

Just as we’re about to leave and head back down to the water, we stop to buy a drink at a little open-air shop. On the wall we see pictures of longneck women so I ask the owner who shows us some huts about 20 m away. An old lady wearing brass neck rings comes towards us and for 300Baht she takes us inside the tall fence that surrounds the village. Inside is a circle of bamboo and thatched huts where longneck women are weaving in their traditional way on their verandahs. Apparently they moved these villages a few years ago from down near Chiang Mai to up here in the less populated north. We can’t get away without having photos taken with fake brass rings around my neck which I’m not too happy about – it feels wrong but maybe this is how they make money to live – complicated because I know the dangers of putting our Western opinions on other cultures. It’s nice to sit with the girls though and I make up for the neck ring thing by buying brass rings (finger), bracelets, a scarf and a fridge magnet. 

Down at the river we change boats, another longtail and meet our new captain called Mr Zaw. The trip takes only forty minutes to Chang Rai when we pull into a pretty bank overhung with trees which is much nicer than a wharf which we’d expected. We carry our bags up the bank, well Mark does anyway, and ask a man hanging around for a lift into town. We haven’t booked anywhere so he just drives us to the backpacker area in Jetyod Road where we hang out in a rustic restaurant to have lunch.

We chat with the owner and her grandkids then I have chicken soup with warm bread and Mark has a papaya salad and we both have soda waters. We really like this backpacker area with lots of cafes and bars lining Jetyod Street.

Now it’s time to look for somewhere to stay so we walk down towards the temple to look at a few guesthouses but most of them are fan-only and the temperature has soared so we book into the air conditioned Orchid House for only 400 Baht AUD $16. After an afternoon rest we find a little massage place nearby but it’s the worst massage ever as we pay for an hour but only get 30 minutes. The girls are bored stiff and just seem to want to get back on their phones. I have a shower but Mark isn’t even offered one – he tells them how pathetic this place is and chucks them 500baht instead of the 600 they want – they’re lucky to get that! 

On dark we walk to the night market. There aren’t many stalls as we’ve come to expect during these Covid times. Mark does manage to buy a silk shirt for 300Baht – he looks gorgeous, of course. 

Back around in Jetyod Street we drink at O’Kane’s Irish Bar ordering a bacon and cheese baguette before walking down to the Clocktower which is all lit up at night with changing coloured lights. More drinks at the Cat Bar – cat decorations everywhere – where we play Connect Four and drink too much (I guess that’s me). We even have a singer and, guess what, he sings Country Roads with me serenading along – last drinks at O’Kane’s.

A wonderful adventurous day. 

Friday 24th June, 2022          

Chiang Rai

The plan today was to move on but we really like Chang Rai so we’ve decided to stay here another day and night and fly back to Bangkok tomorrow. 

Opposite the laneway to Orchid House laneway we have breakfast at Aw’s Place. She seems to be the same cook from O’Kane’s last night which means we get the same fabulous bacon and cheese baguette plus pineapple shakes and passionfruit shakes. 

After breakfast we hire a motorbike from a place down near the big wat and decide to look for the famous White Temple. From the map we picked up at Orchid, we’re sure we can find it but later realise that the map isn’t to scale. We become lost for two hours driving through open countryside, down little back alleyways, past rice paddies, tiny villages and even flying through the grounds of a big temple. Eventually we’re running low on petrol and give up – it’s been a great experience anyway.

Even though we’ve decided to stay in Chang Rai another night, of course we’re going to change guesthouses so we ride the bike back to check out of Orchid House and move into Baan Jaru just around the corner. The young man on the desk is super helpful and tells us that he can book a flight for us this afternoon. He also gives us the right directions to the White Temple which we’ll visit after lunch.

For this he recommends an expensive restaurant just a few streets away. I have chicken wings and Mark has drumsticks in a spicy curry – good people watching.

It seems that the White Temple is a lot further than we thought and because my bum is sore after this morning’s bike ride we decide to get a taxi out there. The first thing we see as we near the temple is tacky souvenir shops, cafes, fast food restaurants and lots of Thai tourists but then the temple itself comes into view. Wow this is amazing. We’ve seen pictures before but to see it in real life is next level. The strange thing is it’s not a true temple at all but a privately owned art exhibit. The artist who created it has a very very long name so I won’t go there. He built it out of white plaster (white to represent the spirit and the purity of Buddha) then inlaid it with thousands of glass mirrors which are now sparkling in the sun.

We wander inside the temple and around the grounds where we find an art gallery, an ordinance hall, a meditation hall and monks’ quarters – the whole place is dedicated to Buddhist teachings. Most unusual of all, is the over-the-top gold toilet building which is supposedly the fanciest in the world – gold to represent the body (or is it botty – toilet, get it?). We have to give it a go!

Afterwards we grab cold drinks before getting back in the taxi to arrive home about 4 o’clock. Here our guy on the desk books our flight to Bangkok in the morning – easy!

From our guesthouse we walk around to Monmueng Massage. And what a difference to the crappy place we went to yesterday. We usually prefer the really basic places but it’s nice to have something luxurious for a change. After soaking our feet in warm tubs of floating flowers and sliced lemons the young massage girls scrub our feet with salt and rub them with more lemons. Now they lead us into the back section – dark and moody with black walls and brass accents – so exotic for our one hour head, shoulders and neck massages. And unbelievably the same price as yesterday.

At Baan Jaru we both have cold showers then Mark walks over to O’Kane’s while I stop at a funny little hairdresser for a thirty minute hair wash and blow dry. For 100Baht I have my head shampooed and massaged for almost an hour – no kidding! I’ve been in here so long it’s dark by the time I leave and all the bars I pass walking up to O’Kane‘s are pumping with music and coloured lights. There are still a lot of places along here that aren’t open so we can imagine how much more lively it must have been before Covid hit – hopefully it’ll get back to what it once was one day. 

At O’Kane’s we order pizzas and drinks have a long chat with Bill, an expat from England. All these bars are full of expats – actually they’re the only Western people we’ve come across nearly the whole time we’ve been in Thailand.

Next we stop at the Peace Bar which is super cool but they don’t have any Coke zero so we find another tiny place for more drinks and then drinks back on our balcony. Go to bed!!

Saturday 25th June, 2022          

Chiang Rai to Bangkok

So this morning we’re flying back to Bangkok. The alarm has been set for 6 o’clock, we pack and have breakfast in the dining room and catch a taxi to the airport. We’re flying Lion Air and take off on time at 9 am arriving at Don Muang Airport fifty minutes later. Don Muang was once Bangkok’s international airport but for the last ten years or so it’s been domestic only since they built the massive Suvarnabhumi. Instead of a taxi, we catch a bus into the city and get dropped off at Khao San Road and head straight back to Villa Cha Cha – we even get our old room back. 

Breakfast/ lunch is at Madam Masur’s and we find that Khao San Road is much livelier today – what a difference a week has made!

We’ve decided to have a lazy day and have lunch in the street near Villa Cha Cha. On dark we head around to Pink for foot massages and have lots of photos taken with the girls. We’ve become close to them over the years. 

Dinner is back at Madam Masur’s which has become our favourite place around here this trip. To celebrate being back in Bangkok, I have margaritas and Mark has more beers. A young woman selling souvenirs from a tray around her neck comes over for a chat. Her name is Wat and we buy bracelets and have lots of fun – “where from?” – Australia – “ah g’day mate” she says, “the dingo’s got my baby” in a full-on Aussie accent – ha ha. 

From here we wander to the top of Soi Rambutri and watch break dancers in the street. Unbelievably Khao San Road is crazy tonight with loud doof doof music which seems to be what these crowds of young Thai people love – it’s unbearable! To escape the noise we find a quiet table opposite Sawadee House in the laneway. Mark buys dried squid from a guy who cooks it over hot coals on his cart. 

There’s so many more people around tonight compared to only last week. A weird white guy is annoying everyone with a puppet – he’s wearing a rainbow wig – good to see the freaks are back!  An early night.

Sunday 26th June, 2022          


Today we’re going to get off our arses and do some sightseeing. So at 9am we take a tuktuk to the Grand Palace which we haven’t visited since our very first visit to Thailand in 1997 when we were with the Intrepid group. At the busy entrance we pay 500 Baht or $20 each and I have to buy a T-shirt as well as my jacket is supposedly see-through – very strict dress rules here. First we stop at a cafe for Mark to have a coffee then visit the most sacred place inside the palace, Wat Phra Kaew, to see the Emerald Buddha. This is Thailand’s most revered religious icon – but it’s tiny (only 66cm high) compared to most huge Buddha statues in every other temple. Over the centuries it’s done the rounds all over Asia from India to Cambodia to Sri Lanka to Laos to different places in Thailand to finally end up here for the last two hundred years. Outside we both light candles for Angie and incense for Lauren, Abi and Elkie.  

It’s stinking hot so we try to find shade wherever we can. Just before leaving the Grand Palace we’re lucky to come across the changing of the guard, all very serious and looking immaculate in snowy white uniforms. 

Now another tuktuk ride to the 16th century Buddhist temple of Wat Po, a favourite that we’ve been visiting since that first time here in 1997 as well. As usual we get the tuktuk driver who wants to try and scam us – “Wat Po closed. I show you better”. Like a gem shop, perhaps?? We’ve been through this shit before so we dump him and find another driver. 

At Wat Po we head straight for the atmospheric Wat Po Massage School where we’ve been countless times and today we have a wonderful half-hour foot reflexology. This school is extra special as it’s known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. 

Later, wandering amongst the many pavilions we find a man doing a traditional dance to an audience of school kids, lots of monks and, of course, we must visit our old friend, the forty-six metre long Reclining Buddha. 

Back at Villa Cha Cha I look up other places to stay and find a wonderful place called Praya Palazzo. It’s on the opposite side of the river in Thonburi so we walk down to Pier Phra Ahtit where a private barge from the hotel will come to pick us up. This feels like luxury but it only costs $130 for the night – couldn’t get a shitty motel room in Australia for that. 

Praya Palazzo is a lovely old Italian-style mansion built in 1923 and is the only heritage hotel along the river. Painted a classic ochre colour, we can see it sitting majestic on the opposite bank of the Chao Praya River. As usual the river is busy with all sorts of watercraft – ferries going up and down, smaller ferries moving back and forth between Bangkok and Thonburi and the inevitable longtails.  We always find it exciting to be out on this busy river but different today on our cute little boat built to match the heritage style of the hotel. 

Pulling up at the small private Praya Palazza wharf, we’re helped ashore with our backpacks and greeted by a man in a maroon uniform – very formal. We follow him past the swimming pool then up a curved staircase to the first floor where he shows us our room. This leads off a wide airy veranda with arches overlooking the gardens and the river beyond. Our room is like the rest of the hotel, heritage and tastefully decorated with dark timber furniture and creaky wooden floors. 

After unpacking, we wander down to check out the hotel and to look for the dining room. This is another wow moment as we enter another world – a mix of Chinese, Thai and tropical colonial which is always my favourite mix of architecture and design. A dining area has smaller intimate rooms leading off and all painted a deep rich Chinese red with antique crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, timber floors and all the furniture a carved ebony with velvet upholstery in rich jewel colours. Instead of sitting in the dining room we choose to sit in one of the alcoves on a purple velvet chaise lounge. 

We order three classic Thai dishes but I don’t love any of them – I am the worst “foodie” in the world – so Mark can have it all. The presentation though is absolutely beautiful and I’m happy taking photos. I also love the old sepia photographs all along the entry walls showing early images of the building which was built as a family home (they had ten children!) then later a private school for girls. 

We’ve decided that we’ll go back over to Banglamphu today to get some food that I actually like and have our usual massages and do a bit of shopping.  Before that, though, we have a swim in the pool which faces the river with gardens of bougainvillea and frangipanis on the other three sides. 

The deal with the hotel barge is that they give us a mobile phone to call them whenever we want to come back. There’s no other way to get to the hotel at all except by boat. Love this!  So crossing the Chao Praya once more, we jump off at the Phra Ahtit pier and head straight for the laneways of Banglamphu. 

Mark wants to watch the State of Origin so we head up to the top of Soi Rambutri to look for a restaurant with a television. To get there we walk through the temple to that hypnotic sound of chanting monks. Mark finds a place to watch the game but I couldn’t care less so I cross to a little beauty parlour opposite for a facial for 400 Baht.  Later we buy chicken skewers in Tanee Road then head back down to Pink for foot massages while I have a long talk to Phin, the owner. She tells me that she’s had an Australian boyfriend for years who has taken her to lots of places all over Asia but she thinks he’s found somebody else as hasn’t come back since Covid finished. “I want him come back because I love him” – poor darling. We decide now to head back over to Praya Palazza so Mark rings them to send the barge back over to pick us up. Stopping at the 711 on the way to the wharf, we buy coke, beer and soda water. 

Crossing is so much fun as it’s starting to rain and we’re surrounded by the lights of the city and all the river craft. 

At the hotel we set ourselves up for drinks under an umbrella next to the pool and have a lovely night on our own watching the dinner boats slide past with bands playing on the top decks. Oh and there are huuuuge snails like the ones we saw in the Four Thousand Islands in 2013.

A lovely ending to our last full day in Thailand. 

Monday 27th June, 2022          

Bangkok to Sydney

This morning we sleep in till 8 o’clock then head downstairs for breakfast – eggs benedict, baked beans, tomatoes, hash browns, fruit and yoghurt. We take the hotel boat across the river and then walk down to the Mahatat Market – this is another old favourite where we always end up buying wonderful things that are heaps cheaper than the touristy shops. I buy a necklace then we bargain for two big ceramic ginger jars before tuktuking back to the pier and ring for the boat to pick us up once again. After showers and packing, we cross back one last to Banglamphu then catch a taxi to the airport.

The plane is late taking off at 7pm but no problem, we’re going home to our gorgeous girls after another wonderful trip in beautiful Thailand. 


About virginiascott

I'm an interior decorator, travel writer and blogger
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