Just one full day here (2 nights) in the luxurious Siam@Siam hotel, a stylish, modern hotel which is located near the National Stadium – well away from the backpacker area of Khaosan Road. The hotel had an awesome infinity pool which we had to ourselves! And a rooftop restaurant and bar where the views were just magical.
We were lucky enough (without realising!) to be in Bangkok for the Songkran festival, which is known as the Thailand Water festival and is the starting of Thailand New Year. The streets were filled with laughter and cheering of people of all ages, each branding a water gun, super-soakers, buckets or anything that could be used to fill with water to soak everybody, including the unsuspecting tourists!! This festival runs for three days, and we never tired of watching (from a safe view point!) the crowds soaking whoever possible whether it be innocent bystanders, passing tuk-tuks, motorbikes, or buses. This was all of course received in good humour, (and a few screams!) and is believed to welcome a season of rainfall.
Whilst in Bangkok we explored the sites of the Grand Palace, the Big Budda, Golden Mountain, Khaosan Road by foot, taxi and tuk-tuk which was great fun and relatively easy.
Chill out time!! – this was the “honeymoon” part of our trip. From Bangkok we travelled about 5 hours by bus, followed by a short ferry ride to the island of Koh Chang to the Panviman Resort. Here we had a very cool temple style villa which lead onto a private pool from our balcony. There was a beautiful bar and restaurant on the beach and a spa. Most of all, Ian’s favourite, there was a waterfall into the bath!
Whilst in Koh Chang we did a two hour elephant trek at Ban Kwan Chang. There were a couple of other areas where you could go trekking on elephants but these were just by the road and the elephants did not look healthy or very well taken care of. Ban Kwan Chang is a further distance away and set in the jungle. The trek started with us bathing with the elephants and scrubbing their heads with a brush (which apparently they love!) it was really cool! We then rode on them for about an hour.
After a morning spent with the elephants we decided to hire a kayak, we paddled out to sea and then down along an estuary, where we went past the local fisherman huts, local seafood restaurants and guesthouses. This was really nice until we had to paddle out to sea against the swell, which for Danielle (who is pretty terrified of the ocean) felt like Tom Hanks in Castaway!
During our time on the island we also took the opportunity to hire a moped for the day (approx. A$10!) we had so much fun exploring the island although the roads were a bit scary at times with steep hills, windy tracks and crazy locals! We found a secluded waterfall with a cool pool below that we were fortunate enough to have to ourselves! We stopped to watch monkeys playing on the side of the road, took in some views and chilled out with a drink at a reggae bar.
I am sure in a few weeks time we will miss the luxury of our Koh Chang Resort, but at the moment we are excited for the back-packing ahead! Now into Cambodia!!
See next: Cambodia