Asia,  Merels week,  Personal travel stories,  Thailand

Backpacking in Asia – Week 2

I am currently solo traveling in southeast Asia. On my blog I am sharing my weekly experiences during my trip. This time I am writing all about my days in Kanchanaburi, visiting an ethical (hands-off) elephant sanctuary and Songkran in Bangkok.

Monday, April 8 – Travel day to Kanchanaburi 

Facetime with Cody.

Once again a travel day was scheduled. This time from Ayutthaya to Kanchanaburi. Through my guesthouse I had booked a minivan that picked me up at my hotel in the morning. On the way I mostly slept and looked out the window a bit. In Kanchanaburi I had lunch at a restaurant by the river. Afterwards, I spontaneously decided to walk into a massage salon for my first Thai massage, and I liked it. Furthermore, I figured out that what I wanted to do in Kanchanaburi and made phone calls to the home front.  

Tuesday, April 9 – Elephants at Somboon Lecagy Foundation

One of the activities on my wish list for Thailand was to visit an elephant sanctuary. But an animal-friendly sanctuary. Before I booked a tour, I did some research and ended up choosing for Somboon legacy Foudation. Soon I will share a full blog about Somboon Legacy and animal-friendly elephant sanctuaries. 

Somboon Legacy Foundation is a half-hour drive from the town of Kanchanaburi. For my visit to the elephants, I was picked up at my hotel by cab. Upon arrival, I found out that on that day I was the only one who had booked a tour, so I had plenty of time and space to ask lots of questions. I was shown around all day by Manouk (one of the Dutch founders) and Emma, a British volunteer working at Somboon for a month. I, of course, saw the elephants, helped drag banana trees (food for the elephants), cut fruit and made sticky rice. But I also got a tour of the museum and, above all, learned a lot about elephants and how they are treated here in Thailand.

Wednesday, April 10 – Day off

After my visit to the elephants, I had a bit of an off-day on Wednesday. I was tired and didn’t want to do anything, but also felt I had to go out. A kind of FOMO, because yes I am here now. There is so much to see in Kanchanaburi and actually I don’t want to miss too much of it. What if I never come back here again?

Still, I chose to take it easy for a day. I did my laundry, read a book by the pool and fiddled a bit on my computer. Eventually I went out the door to get something to eat somewhere and that made a positive impact. The rest of the afternoon I took it easy and also in the evening I chose a nice little restaurant for dinner. 

Thursday, April 11 – Erwan national park 

After my day of relaxation, another activity was scheduled for Thursday. A visit to Erawan national park; one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Thailand.  I went there by local bus, which was an experience in itself. There was rather little leg room and I only fitted diagonally on the benches. In addition, it is apparently normal for the bus driver to often stop along the way to, for example, deliver food to people or pick up a package. 

The Erawan national park is popular among both tourists and Thai people, so it was quite crowded. The waterfall consists of seven levels and the higher you get, the quieter it is. I walked up to level seven and of course looked at all the other levels as well. Along the way I came across a family of monkeys. At first I decided not to swim, but when I arrived at the highest point of the waterfall all sweaty, I jumped in anyway. A cooling dip, including big fish trying to nibble at my toes.

That evening I went out with two Dutch people I had met at the waterfall.

Friday, April 12 – Songkran in Bangkok

My days in Kanchanaburi were over and together with the two Dutch guys I traveled back to Bangkok. A Grab ride of about two and a half hours. That afternoon I called home (again 😉 ) and wrote some texts for Polarsteps. 

In the evening, we went out to celebrate Songkran. Songkran is the Thai New Year and actually the beginning of the rainy season. All of Thailand turns into one big water fight and I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much. Armed with a water pistol, I took to the streets with the two Dutch guys I had met earlier. We walked for hours through the streets of Bangkok and sprayed a lot of people wet. Of course we were victims ourselves and it’s a good thing my phone was in a waterproof case. I really had a very nice evening.

Saturday, April 13 – Siam festival in Bangkok  

Songkran lasts for three days (and even longer in some cities). So even on Saturday there was still a lot of partying in Bangkok. During the day I just walked the streets of Bangkok with a larger group of Dutch people. Again, armed with a water pistol, we stayed mainly on and around Khaosan Road. 

After an evening meal at McDonalds, I went to SIAM Songkran with a smaller group. A festival with world-famous DJs and especially lots of water. Totally different from the concerts I usually go to. 😉 It was a nice experience, and I had a good time. Although I would have preferred to see less water being sprayed into the audience.  

Sunday, April 14 – Traveling to Chiang Mai

After two days of Songkran in Bangkok, it was time to leave the city. I took a

Grab to the airport and flew to the north of Thailand: Chiang Mai. Songkran was still celebrated all over the city, so the Grab driver didn’t want to drop me off in the city center. So I had to walk the last stretch with all my stuff. Fortunately, the Songkran celebrants mainly targeted my legs and my backpack stayed dry. 

That evening, I stayed in my hotel room and went out the door alone to get something to eat. 

Missed my first weekly blog: read it here!