12.10.2012 - 31.10.2012
We are currently in Chiang Rai, in Northern Thailand, not far from the border with Burma/Myanmar. It's been nearly 3 weeks since we got to Thailand and our plans keep evolving/changing as we go along. So far, we've adapted to the end of rainy season and the incredible humidity, and are now enjoying the cooler climes of the north due to a slightly higher altitude.
We spent more days than we intended to in Bangkok dithering about what to do during our 6 months here. After going to and fro and encountering lots of obstacles, we've finally taken India off the itinerary. It was a hard decision as we've both really looked forward to visiting India, but in the current political climate, my Pakistani background made it too difficult. It's not all bad news though, as we've been making the most of Thailand while we're here. I took a day course at a May Kaidee vegetarian thai cooking school, which I thoroughly enjoyed, having made and tasted 10 different delicious thai dishes. Dave went off and spent the day cycling through the backstreets and outskirts of Bangkok with a local guide, and came back well informed about Thailand and its background.
We then headed over to the real life inspiration behind the film 'Bridge on the River Kwai' in Kanchanaburi. Stepping into the graveyard to see thousands of graves of the Allied POWs there was heartbreaking, especially when the headstones showed how young most of the dead were, as well as the messages from loved ones on there. It's a beautiful place, but still pretty much knee deep on the gringo trail. We're finding Thailand a lot more touristy than South America was, with short term holiday goer type of tourists too, rather than backpackers like us. It has its benefits in that we can get by speaking English in most places, but it also means it's pretty cheesy and fake most places we go.
Our trip to Sangkhlaburi by the Burmese border was a nice relief from the tourist trap. It's a lovely location of a quiet town surrounded by mountain scenery by a reservoir. There are a lot of NGOs based there due to the number of Burmese refugees, so the westerners you tend to meet there are more likely to be there due to aid work rather than just straight up tourism.
After a lovely day or so cycling around Ayutthaya, with a lot of visits to various temples, a few days of the same in Chiang Mai, which we enjoyed a lot more than Bangkok, we travelled by boat to Chiang Rai from a tiny little place called Tha Ton. Overall, we're enjoying Thailand, especially the food but are concerned that Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia may not offer enough contrast as we saw in the different countries in South America. So far, we're thinking we'll spend the next 3 months wandering around these places, but might opt for something completely different for our last few months. Africa is on the cards, as is China. As long as we carry on as we are financially, we might be able to do it, but we'll see how it goes.