Bangkok, Buckets, Sleeper Trains and Chang Mai – Asia So Far!
I’ve been majorly slack on my blog posting schedule since landing back in Asia. A couple of things are the issue! Firstly I still have a backlog from my time in Ecuador and Peru (so expect these to filter through shortly) and secondly I’ve been so caught up in Asia backpacking bubble I haven’t really sat down to get any work done!
So what the hell have I been up too in Asia so far?
Hola – City of Squalor!
Quoting the hangover – my first stop was the chaos of Bangkok. I spent some time here on my last Thailand trip so I was going over old ground. My travel buddy Matt on the other hand is a backpacking virgin.
Having never visited London before our flight out he was now submerged in the drunken debauchery of the Thai capital…and a few buckets in he was loving it!
To be honest we skipped past the tourist side of things like the Grand Palace, Floating Markets etc and let our hair down on Koh San for a couple of nights.
Needless to say it got loose!
As a fellow country bumpkin the constant barrage of ping pong shows, cheap suits and daily “Changovers” wore thin on Matt pretty quick so we bailed after two nights.
We boarded a night train destined for Chang Mai (possibly my favourite spot other than Koh Tao) a night of air con and no alcohol promised to allow us to detox. For me this proved very true and I KO’d for pretty much the entire trip – waking up in the depths of the jungle shortly before our arrival.
Matt on the other hand didn’t sleep a wink! And what was only meant to be about 12 hours turned into 19 hours – Asia time is almost on par with South American time!
I think it goes without saying that he arrived pretty groggy, irritated and sleep deprived – which wasn’t at all helped by the fact we stepped off the train into 43 degree heat that hit us like a brick wall.
The Soothing Beats of Reggae
Chang Mai however has the ultimate allure for the budding backpacker – heaps of amazing veggie restaurants, jazz bars and reggae night clubs.
What could rejuvenate you more after a long trek up north?
We decided to follow the tracks of the Anna Chang Mai Pub Crawl (a list of local bars and clubs passed on from a fellow backpacker…called Anna!) and headed straight back to my favourite bar – the North Gate Jazz Co-Op.
This places oozes the bohemian vibe of northern Thailand, with jazz jam sessions and visiting bands from across the globe. Chilling with a Chang amongst the Thai locals it set the tone for our time in this area and we quickly passed on the word to our fellow backpackers.
As the cold beer flowed and our mood lightened it was inevitable a big night out was going to be in order – and the Roots Rock Reggae Bar is the only place to take it!
Negotiating the Go Go bars and drones of sleazy sex tourists we got to the backpacker bars and the rumbling sound of reggae greeted us with open arms.
The RRRB is an amazing venue for an evening – small enough to meet people yet with a big enough dance area to throw some shapes around.
Warming up with some Marley and Alboroise the live band picked up the pace with some Cat Empire and Reel Big Fish to get the bucket fuelled masses moving.
The rest of the night merged into a dub step, drum and bass sweat pit with beer flowing, bucket sculling, and all round good times.
A fitting welcome back to Asia if I do say so myself!
A Side of Culture
But of course you can’t simply come to the land of a thousand smiles and drink away your time – although I’m sure many a Gap-Yah student will beg to differ.
Thailand is full of culture and you can’t throw a stone without hitting a temple!
Chang Mai’s crown jewel is Doi Suthep temple – around a 40min drive from the city.
It sits on top of the surrounding mountain – giving it superb panoramic views across the city and the beautiful countryside it’s nestled within.
The golden tones of Buddahs, ornanate rooftops and epic architecture are even more amazing if you time your visit for sunset, when the whole place lights up and the monks start their evening chants.
The perfect place to get a culture fix, bust out your photography skills and get a real feel for the religion that dominates the landscape and way of life here.
I’ve well and truly landed in Asia and can’t wait to see how the next few months of travel pan out…