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we got the train up to chiang rai, and stayed about 4 nights there.

to be honest, it's quite a boring town. Not much going on except a big (smelly) food market. One day we went up to the golden triangle - a point where another river meets the mekong and is the physical boundary between Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand. You can stand in thailand and see into both the neighbouring countries, and can see over Myanmar into China in the background. Its quite nice scenery, but its been ruined by some big tacky touristy attractions. Myself and a guy I met at the guesthouse in chiang rai were planning to rie motorbikes up there, but it was chucking down all day so thought it would be better to get the bus.

At the moment I'm in Lampang on my first stop on the way down south. It's the first time i've actually spent alone since landing in bangkok, and I'm enjoying having a bit of space for myself but also missing company. Lampang is also quite "off-the-beaten-trail" for foreigners, so I haven't met anyone. Apparently it got added to the lonely planet guide this year, so maybe next year there will be a bigger industry here. So far I met one american guy who opened a coffee shop in lampang after marrying a woman from the area who he met travelling, and I've seen one other white guy who looked about my age go past in the back of a horse-drawn cart (they have them up here instead of tuk-tuks). I also made friends with a thai lady who runs a cafe, after I went in to hide from the rain.

It's been raining pretty heavily for the past few days, and each downpour has lasted quite a long time, unlike the short showers i witnessed over the past few weeks. There are some very bad floods in areas of sukhothai and ayuthaya, and although the ruins that i wanted to visit are ok, I thought it would be better to miss them out just to be safest. A) I don't want to get caught in a flood, and B) even if i don't get caught in a flood, i dont want to get stuck in either of those places if the transport gets affected by other floods.

So I've booked a sleeper train back to bangkok. I'll spend a couple of nights there and hopefully meet some other travellers (there are SO MANY there!) who are also heading down to the islands. I think that's quite likely to be honest.

I'll head down to ko tao to do a scuba diving course (second cheapest place in the world to do them - only cost 200 pounds compared to 1000 everywhere else!) and decide where to go on to from there.

I've decided that I can go to sukhothai and ayuttaya in February, on my way back to bangkok. It will be drier then, and transport will be better. There will be more tourists, but I don't know if thats a good or bad thing. Prices will be higher, and the sights will be more congested, but there will be more people to meet and share rooms with in guesthouses, making it cheaper. at the moment in lampang, I've got a 3-person room to myself and am paying 250baht per night for it! thats what you get for going to an already quiet area in the low season for tourism - a big difference from sharing a 300baht room between four of us, which I did in chiang rai!

Posted by joe_leviente 02:11 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

back in chiang mai...

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my thai phone number is +66900939700

After a 15 hour journey with no sleep, I got to bangkok at 6am and had the entire day in front of me!

I decided to get out of bangkok as soon as possible. It was too noisy, smelly, and generally hectic. Roz came and met me on the second day, so I travelled with her for a couple of weeks, which was nice. I wanted to explore the north of thailand before going to the islands, because I've got the 60 day visa and i thought i might as well use it, rather than trying to fit all of the north at the end, with only 15 days to do it (because of the visa-exemption limit)

Got the sleeper train up to chiang mai, which was really cool. except for the fact that I didn't sleep a wink! The guy in the bunk opposite mine was a fat old polish ex-pat, who snored like an ox all night! The scenery was beautiful, the windows slid right open so practically the whole side of the carriage was open! the doors at the end of the carriage were wide open too so we it was going slowly you could lean out and take photos.

I met 5 ozzy guys on the train who were all safe as houses, and I ended up sharing a room with one of them in a guesthouse in chiang mai. Roz stayed with some welsh girls we met in a restaurant

There was a mudslide over the track just after lanpang, so we had to get off the train at lanpang and get a coach to chiang mai. we got on the train at 9pm, and arrived at 5pm the next day! Chiang mai was so much nicer than bangkok. In total I stayed there for about nine nights! good job i decided to do the north at the beginning, with more time! I love the north of thailand. Its cooler, slower, and nicer looking than what I saw of the south. We just chilled, played pool, went to some temples and markets and things. Me and roz went on a 3 day elephant trek - the first day was a 4 hour trek up a mountain through jungle, got to a hill tribe village in the evening where we drank cheap whisky with the guide, sang campfire songs, then slept on the floor in a bamboo hut. next day a 3 hour trek back down the other side of the mountain, via a waterfall and white water rafting. Then we got dropped off at baanchang elephant park, stayed the night and in the morning we fed the elephants, rode them bareback through the jungle, and washed them in a lake, which was really nice.

i met up with one of the guys from the trek, and got a coach up to pai. Pai is the coolest place I have ever been (so far!)! 3 hour drive up the mountain, and then pai is a tiny little town in a valley up in the mountains. We rented scooters and explored the countryside for a few days, and explored all the reggae bars for a few nights, before coming back to chiang mai to get a train on to chiang rai.

So at the moment, I'm sitting in an internet cafe with 4 girls i met in pai. It's raining outside and we had to wait from 12.30 untill 4.15 for the bus (halfway there now!) I'm gonna spend a few nights in chiang rai and explore the city for a while. After that I'll make my way down to the islands slowly, stopping off at various points en-route. I could go all the way there on an 18-odd hour bus journey, but there's plenty to see in between and i've got plenty of time! also, doing it this way means i can get the local buses for a fraction of the cost of the tourist buses - they're much less comfortable but by splitting the journey into a series of 3/4 hour journeys will make it bearable!

I'm definately going to stop at sukhothai and ayuthaya on the way down, and anywhere else that sounds good!

Posted by joe_leviente 00:44 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

just before I go

all the preparation's done, I've got all the random stuff I need, just to see my mates and family one last time before I leave!

Captain's log. Stardate friday 19th August 2011. Lunch time.

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilisations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.


As most of you know already, I'm about to embark on a long journey!

Having spent the past 19 years of my life in full time education, I have now graduated from uni and am taking advantage of this opportunity to travel the world a bit before I get tied down by having a career and family etc. (A.K.A. growing up). I've been dreaming of this trip since I was in sixth form, and have been saving up for the past 5-odd years.

Leaving on tuesday 23rd August, I start out by flying to Bangkok (stopping off in Mumbai). From here I'm spending six months travelling around South East Asia on a very long, and well deserved, holiday! I'm trying not to plan the trip too much, as the whole point of doing it is to be able to take each day as it comes. However, at the moment I've got a brieft idea of the route I'd like to take. I'll spend a few days in Bangkok, before going down to the islands and beaches of Thailand. After spending some time island hopping, I'd like to go down through Malaysia. After Malaysia, I've got a couple of options, and I'll just do whatever I feel like doing at the time:

- I could go back up Malaysia on a different route to the southwards one I took, before going back through Thailand, and spending up to a month in Cambodia, then a month travelling through Vietnam, before going through Laos and then seeing the North of Thailand.

- I could go down through Singapore, and explore a bit of Indonesia, then fly on to the Phillipines and then Vietnam.

But to be honest, anything could happen at any point along the way and completely change my plans anyway...

I may also make the most of my 60-day Thai visa and see a bit of northern Thailand at the beginning, before making my way down to the islands...

After those six months, on the 23rd February, I am flying on to the Gold Coast in Australia, where I will arrive penniless with a 12 month working holiday visa. At this point, I'll need to find some sort of work to keep me going! I plan to travel and work around Australia for anything up to two years, before doing the same in New Zealand (which I am looking forward to the most, and will be the peak of my trip!).

You may have noticed that unless something goes wrong and I have to come back in a hurry, I'll be gone for a long time! So I've set up this blog to keep you all up to date with my travels, but also so that you can all keep in touch with me! I'll be adding blog entries and photo albums along the way, and you should all be able to comment on them so make sure you do!

I'll hopefully be aquiring local sim cards to put into my phone along the way, and will be posting my current number on here in a new blog entry - just in case any of you miss me so much you want to call and hear my voice (Mum).

Also, I'll be updating my "travel map" on this page along the way, so you can see where I've been and where I'm going next.

So, wish me luck!

I love you all and will miss everyone back home, so stay in touch!!! You should all have my e-mail address and/or my facebook page, and I have no doubts that I'll be able to find an internet cafe almost everywhere I go.


Posted by joe_leviente 06:00 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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