June 6th to June 28th, 2002

I decided to take some time off between living in Bermuda and moving back to Toronto in June 2002. Dropped my moving boxes off at my condo in Toronto and headed to Bangkok to visit a friend of mine who lives there. It was a very long flight, stopping over in Vancouver and Hong Kong before landing in Bangkok about 20 hours later.

Downtown Bagkok
D o w n t o w nB a n g k o k

The weather was brutally hot when I got there as it was for the rest of my time in Thailand. I managed to get a taxi easily enough from the airport, but because of the language barrier and the fact that the driver could not read my map, I was not able to find my destination. I found myself in the middle of Bangkok, alone, and lost. I eventually was able to contact my friend and found my way to his place. It was an exciting and a little scary start to my adventure.

My friend Mike and I hung out for a few days. He had a great 3-story place near the centre of the city. We went shopping, (bought some custom made suits and shirts) took a boat ride on the river system, showed me around the bars downtown and even ate fried bugs from a street vendor on our stumble back to his place.

Mike and Girlfriend in Bangkok
M i k ei nB a n g k o k
Bangkok River
B a n g k o kWa t e r w a y
Bangkok TempleBangkok Temple
B a n g k o kW a t s

My last day in Bangkok, I decided to take a walk through China town. This area was full of Chinese and Indian markets in constant gridlock. I had to withstand constant human contact and sometimes-unpleasant signs and smell of fresh markets. This was 'real' day-to-day Bangkok! The narrow alleys were full of shops selling everything you could ever want at bargain prices. I later read that some of these shops had been in continuous operation for over 200 years! My phrase book here came in very handy as most of the shopkeepers spoke very little English.

After a few days in Bangkok, It was time to see more of the country. I decided to go north to Chiang-Mai. I heard this city was a keystone to any journey to Thailand, so I woke up early one morning and took a 12-hour train north. The ride was very comfortable, air conditioned, with food included for about 480Baht (CAD$17).

I passed the time with other travelers and locals on the car studying from a phrase book. Thai was impossible for me to read, but I managed to learn how to speak enough to get around. Also many Thais know some English, which helped a lot.

Thailand Map

North of Bangkok
N o r t h b o u n d

Arrived in Chiang Mai late in the evening. Got a ride to a guesthouse that was recommended to me by someone I met on the train. Orchid Guesthouse…a simple place with rooms with hot shower and a fan (no A/C) for 150Baht/day (CAD$5.50). Settled in and went out for some Pad Thai from a street vendor across the street for 20Baht (CAD.70). Hung on in town that night and where I met some nice girls…I had a great time!

C h i a n g - M a i

After exploring Chiang Mai for a couple of days, I headed to the mountains with 2 other tourists and a guide for a 3-day trek which would involve hiking, elephant trekking, and rafting on a bamboo raft down the river. (1600Baht/CAD$58) The first day started early in the morning with a 2 hour ride in a jeep south of Chiang Mai to the start of our hike. Had a hard uphill trek for 2 or 3 hours to the elephant camp where we stayed overnight.

Elephant Camp
E l e p h a n tC a m p
Elephant Trek
E l e p h a n tT r e k

Elephant Camp
E l e p h a n tC a m p

Had a lunch and rested while a rain shower passed. Hiked the rest of the day to another village…a bigger one with a population of about 600.

This was a place with a few bamboo huts in the middle of nowhere with no power and no running water except for the nearby creek. The next morning we started the day by riding elephants through the mountains for a couple of hours and hiking to the next village.
Thai Village Children
V i l l a g eC h r i l d e n
Thai Village Children
Mountain Village
M o u n t a i nV i l l a g e

Rice Fields
R i c eF i e l d s

Finally a well deserved shower! It was still a pretty rough place with no hot water and basic wooden houses. Relaxed that night and met some of the local children who sang songs for us. In the morning we hiked for a couple of hours through rice fields to a river where we met another guide who steered us downriver on a bamboo raft. This led us to the end of our trek to where the jeep was waiting for us for the long ride back to Chiang Mai.

Bamboo Rafting
R af t i n g

I was exhausted after the hard trek of the last 3 days so I decided to check into a more luxurious guesthouse with a pool and air conditioning. After checking a few out, I settled for the Lai-Thai Guest House for 490Baht. (CAD$18). This was a really nice room with the walls and furniture made of bamboo.

Chiang Mai was a really nice city with friendly people so I decided to hang out for a few more days. I took a Thai cooking class, rented a bicycle to check out the city, and hung out with tourists and locals.

The full moon party on Koh Pha-Ngan was coming up (http://www.thaisite.com/fullmoonparty). I was planning my trip to be in the area for this all night party where thousands of backpackers from all over the world converge. Ravers have been gathering for this monthly party for over 10 years. This month it was on Monday June 24th. It was already the 19th so I decided it was time to fly south and hang out on the beach for a couple of days before heading to the party.

I landed in Phukett (pronounced 'Poo-GET') an island off southern Thailand's west coast. Stayed in Phukett city the first night then headed to the touristy beach coast the next morning. I had a great time there for a couple of days. Rented a motorcycle and traveled around the various beaches, met some nice people, and partied a lot.

Phi Phi Le Phi Phi Le
P h i - P h iL eI s l a n d

While on Phukett, I decided to take a day trip to the Phi-Phi group of islands. This included snorkelling, great food and touring around by boat including a stop at Phi-Phi Le Island, the place where the movie "The Beach' was filmed.

The next day was June 22nd, just 2 days before the full moon party. I needed to get to Ko Pha-Ngan to make sure I could find a place to stay. I made my way back to Phukett where I took a long bus ride to Surat Thani. For most people, this city is only a stop on the way to nearby islands so the bus stations and piers were very busy. I booked passage on a ferry to Ko Samui (Ko or Koh is the Thai word for Island), which was about 35km off shore. Feeling exhausted from all of the traveling that day, I decided to stay on Ko Samui overnight and take a ferry to my final destination of Ko Pha-Ngan in the morning.

Upon arriving on Ko Pha-Ngan, (http://www.kohphangan.com) I got together with a few travelers and shared a taxi to a resort on the west side of the island. Long Beach Resort (http://www.longbeach.20m.com) was a nice place with individual huts on the beach for 300Baht (CAD$11). The food was good and I met some great people. I rented a motorbike and toured around the island, explored the main town Thong Sala, and waterfalls at the centre of the island. Finally, it was the party night. Took a nap then shared a taxi to the other side of the island to Haad Rin Beach. The first sign of our arrival to the party is the vibration of the bass beat of the music. The estimates were 8,000 people there. Fireworks, spotlights, freaks, drunks, drugs…and of course a beautiful full moon in the clear sky. We celebrated the night - Thai Style! Ko Pha-Ngan

Ko Pha-Ngan Resort
K oP h a - N g a nR e s o r t
Woke up late with a hangover after just a few hours sleep. Made it just in time to the pier to catch the ferry and bus back to Phuket. I was meeting up with a sweet girl I met there earlier in the week. I hung out with her at her house at Karon Beach for a couple of days. We had a great time…I was sad to leave her behind.

Dinner in Phuket
D i n n e ri nP h uk e t

My journey was coming to and end. I flew back to Bangkok where I did a little more shopping and hug out with Mike for one more night. The next morning, I made my way to the Bangkok airport bound for Beijing, China. It would be one more week before I would be back in Toronto to begin a new chapter to my life.

My trip to Thailand was unforgettable. I saw some great places, met some nice people and had amazing adventures. It was also so inexpensive in Thailand that there was almost nothing I couldn't do. I just wish I could have stayed longer. I'll be back!