Chiang Mai Day 3 – Doi Inthanon National Park

Following on from our last post, we arranged a Doi Inthanon National Park tour via This website was at least 500B cheaper what we were quoted when going to travel agents in Chiang Mai.

We had an early start in the morning, the earliest since we landed in Bangkok (excluding our Night Bus arrival in Chiang Mai!). We were up and ready in the lobby for 08:00 for the minivan picking us up.

It took approx. 90 mins to get to the National Park, whilst in the minivan on the way there we got a brief history about the park by our very enthusiastic tour guide, Julie. We learnt that the mountain in Thailand used to be called Doi Luang, which is Thai for “Big Mountain”. It was then later changed to Doi Inthanon in memory of the last king of Northern Thailand.

We stopped at a 7 Eleven for breakfast on the way, I opted for wasabi peas, Craig opted for chicken rolls and a huge family bag of crisps.

We started the tour near the bottom of the park at Sirithan Waterfall. It was in a beautiful jungle setting, measuring approx 40m high; we couldn’t get very close to the waterfall so got a few photos in front of it, before we knew it we were back in the minivan to the next part of the tour.

We went to the White Karen Hill Tribe next. All of the houses in the tribe were made from bamboo (or teak if you were more well off). The houses were all elevated to prevent animals getting in whilst seeking shelter during the wet season.

We learnt that the women at the tribe wear white dresses when they are single and still have their virginity, so men know that they are available, once they marry, they wear a skirt and top as opposed to a dress, and can wear any colour they like, except red, as the men wear red when they go hunting.

The Karen Tribe are experts in training elephants, they even have a special language that they use with the elephants. The Karen tribe also have their own language altogether, and they don’t speak Thai. We were taken to the rice paddies at the outskirts of the tribe’s land, there was not much to see as it was dry season, they get more green during the wet season.

We were taken inside one of the homes where Karen women were making scarves.

The smaller scarves take 3 days to make and sell for 250B. They also do throws for beds which can take up to two months to make. Considering the majority of the scarves were only made using two colour fabrics, they were stunning to look at.

We then went outside to have an explore and I tried some of the tastiest and strongest homegrown Arabica coffee I’ve had in my life. I am a bit of a caffeine fiend, however having been off the coffee for a few weeks it instantly started causing havoc with my stomach!

After the Karen Village we went to Wachirathan Waterfall. This one was approx. 70m high, and it was stunning, Craig said it was on par with some of the waterfalls he had seen on his trip to Iceland. We were allowed to adventure on our own with this one, and spent a good 30-45 minutes walking around and getting some photographs.

We then had a Thai buffet lunch with the group we were touring with (approx 15 people, Thai, Latvian, Canadian, Spanish and French). We had omelettes, chicken and green beans in a spicy curry paste, tom yam soup, sautéed vegetables and of course, loads of sticky rice. It was so tasty, and the seconds and thirds were inevitable. I then purchased a necklace made out of watermelon seeds made by one of the locals, one of my favourite purchases to date.

We then went to the Royal Projects flower garden. The Karen Tribe used to make their money by selling and trading opium, however once opium became illegal in Thailand, the king and the government came up with a plan. Without opium, the tribe had no source of income so the king devised a plan, he gave the tribe various seeds for plants that could not grow in hot city conditions. He gave them seeds for coffee, various flowers and fruits such as strawberries, for these could only grow in cooler conditions, such as those in the mountains as it higher above sea level. This was named The Royal Project. The tribe could then grow legal produce and receive money from the government in return.

We witnessed where the Karen Tribe were growing their new produce and the gardens were stunning, we had a walk around and got more photos and went onto the next part of the tour.

We then went to the highest point in Thailand; 2,565m above sea level. We were told that it was going to be cooler at the top of the mountain, however when we got there it was 29 degrees C, meaning that Chiang Mai town was approximately 40 degrees that day!

We saw the King’s Stupa were his ashes were kept and we got a photo under the famous “Highest Point in Thailand” sign.

We then made our way to the final stop (and the one we had been looking forward to the most), the King and Queen Twin Pagodas.

The King and Queen Pagodas were built in 1987 and 1992 respectively, funny enough the same years me and Craig were born, so it’s easy to remember. The King’s pagoda is mostly brown and the Queen pagoda is a lilac purple.

When we arrived the scene just took our breath away. It was a beautiful clear day and when we got to the viewpoint at the King’s Pagoda we could see for miles, I felt like I was up in the clouds. We visited both Pagodas, got some amazing pictures and had a wander around the flower garden next to the Queen Pagoda. The photos we got looked like something off The Lord of the Rings, with the surrounding areas of the flower garden reminding us of Hobbiton.

We slept all the way home from the park, we arrived back at the apartment about 17:30, a great day and money well spent. The whole day was everything we had hoped for and possibly more. We would recommend a Doi Inthanon tour to anyone who is visiting Chiang Mai, it really is a thing of beauty.

Next post, which will be the day after. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary!

Craig and Rach x

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YouTube Video – Bangkok – The Wanderlusters UK

Bangkok is an amazing place. There is plenty to do and plenty to see. We visited the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, Golden Buddha, Jim Thompson House, Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre, tasted street food and much more in the space of two action packed days!

We took a lot of photos and recorded a lot of videos. On our bus journey from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai, I decided to edit some of the footage. Here is some of our GoPro footage from Bangkok. This is just a glimpse of what Bangkok has to offer.  

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Chiang Mai – Days 1 and 2

We arrived in Chiang Mai at 06:00 after an 8 hour and 30 minute bus ride from Ayutthaya. For anybody that is travelling from central Thailand to Chiang Mai, we recommend the sleeper bus. You can go V.I.P for a bit extra and this gives you full reclining seats which is more comfortable for sleeping. You also get a meal, a drink when you first get on the bus and a coffee in the morning before arrival.

Sira Boutique Hotel - Chiang Mai

We got a Tuk Tuk from Chiang Mai Arcade bus station to our hotel (It seems that every time we get a Tuk Tuk transfer, the standard fee is always 150B). Our hotel was very central. We stayed in the Sira Boutique Hotel. We arrived at the hotel at 07:15, however our check in wasn’t until 14:00. The hotel let us leave our big bags in the lobby and we went exploring.

We had a short walk to many of the temples that Chiang Mai had to offer which made a lovely change from getting an Uber everywhere in Bangkok. It also seemed a lot cooler in Chiang Mai compared to Bangkok and Ayutthaya. This is probably because Chiang Mai is a province in mountainous northern Thailand. It was still very hot though.

We visited a good few temples in the space of 90 minutes. These included: Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Chiang Man, Wat Phan Tao. Our highlight of by a mile was our visit to Wat Phra Singh. We explored the main hall at the entrance to Wat Phra Singh and then decided to explore the grounds further. As we approached a Stupa at the back of the grounds, we witnessed monks chanting. It was the most magical and special experience to witness. We were both awe struck. Another case of being in the right place at the right time.

 We got back to the hotel at about 12:00. Rach fell asleep while I updated our social media pages. Once 14:00 came, we went straight to our room, emptied our backpacks and started throwing clothes away to make our packs lighter again. Rachel’s Gran kindly donated her hand luggage case that she used for her trip to New York, however it got damaged in transit and we could no longer use it and keep our belongings secure. This meant condensing our bags further.

We grabbed some lunch at a restaurant called Pad Thai Retchadamnoen. We got chicken and ginger, Thai red curry, Tom Yung Kung, chicken rolls, spring rolls and plenty of water to hydrate us. Rach discovered that she isn’t a fan of red curry over here, due to northern Thailand adding an aniseed flavour to their dishes. I discovered that I don’t like lemongrass, I think that is why Rach orders Tom Yung Kung soup so that she doesn’t have to share!

We then went on a hunt for a bar. We found a cool bar called The Secret Cafe. I tried a few local ales and Rach ordered a bottle of wine. Our most expensive food/drink purchase to date. Wine in Thailand is not cheap. Lesson learned. We did some social media work, uploaded some photos, due to the WiFi being very good and then went for some more food. I got my usual Chicken Pad Thai and Rach opted for the same.

On our walk back to the hotel, we heard music coming from down the road. It turns out that just a few doors up from our hotel, there is a really cool jazz bar. The bar is called The North Gate Jazz Co-Op. If you like jazz music, I’d recommend checking it out in Chiang Mai. The music was excellent and the place was very lively. People poured out of the bar and onto the main road to watch and listen to the band.

The next day we got up and went to Doi Suthep. We were going to get an Uber but a local Tuk Tuk driver said he would take us for 300B cheaper. It is worth checking both Uber and the local Tuk Tuk drivers before making a decision. Once we were dropped off we were given an hour to see everything in Doi Suthep. We climbed 306 steps to the top. The staircase itself was fantastic but the Temple at the top was mind blowing. There was so much gold and such extravagant beauty all around.

We signed our names on some gold fabric that was going to be wrapped around the Temple. Essentially, we would become part of the temple. People at Doi Suthep also buy bells at the bottom which are then signed and eventually melted to guild the temple. 

As we only had an hour, we rushed back to the Tuk Tuk and unfortunately had to miss some of the markets, which was a shame and a reason to return one day. 

We arrived back in Chiang Mai and went into a cafe called Into the Woods. We ate, hydrated ourselves again and began to plan our next two days in Chiang Mai. We tried a couple of local travel agents to check the prices of a tour of Doi Inthanon National Park. The travel agents were quoting 1300-1500B for the day (each) but Rach found it online for 950B each. We were both looking forward to seeing Doi Inthanon National Park and were very happy to get this booked. 

We then decided to grab a Tuk Tuk to Chiang Mai Zoo. We saw so many weird and wonderful animals. I took the opportunity to use my telescopic lens on the animals and get some cool shots. We heard a lion roar for the first time, which sent shivers down the spine and we got up close and personal with an elephant. 

As we were walking around the zoo, a storm came out of nowhere. Before we knew it, we were soaked to the skin and running for shelter. We found cover under a tree that had about 3 large leaves. They worked well as an umbrella as we waited for the storm to pass. 

We got back to the hotel and decided to go for a wander to find somewhere new to eat. We stumbled upon the famous Talat Prato Chiang Mai Night Market. There were street food vendors all the way down the road. The street food was the best we’ve had so far. We knew that we would be back. 

Our next two days were to consist of Doi Inthanon National Park on the Wednesday and then the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary on the Thursday. Blog posts to follow. 

Craig and Rach 

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We stayed up late writing our last blog post in Bangkok. The plan was to do the post, get a solid nights sleep and leave for Ayutthaya in the morning. The plan went a little too well. I woke up, checked my watch and asked Rach “What time do we check out”?, to which i received a sleepy yet panicked “NOW”! We were due to check out at 11am. We woke up at 11am. 

We jumped out of bed, luckily we had packed the night before and grabbed our bags. We got an Uber while we still had WiFi and headed straight for the Mo Chit Bus Station where we were going to get a bus to Ayutthaya. We left the apartment with haste. We didn’t have time for breakfast or a shower and we had to miss the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok because we had all of our luggage with us and it was too hot, too heavy and too big to carry around one of the biggest markets in the World.

The Uber took 30 minutes or so. We got to the bus station and were presented with 4 stories with 20+ booths per storey. Each booth was a bus going to a different location. At first it looked a bit daunting. We asked at the information desk and they said to go to “Number 18, on the ground floor”. We scuttled into the elevator and made our way to booth 18. 

Bangkok Mo Chit Bus Station

As soon as we got to the booth, we were told that the bus was leaving now and to follow the driver. We grabbed our bags and followed the driver into a full mini van. We had no space and it was very hot but it was very cheap! There was no waiting around but Rach was sat next to a fat frenchman who was soaked to the skin with sweat and smelt like her feet on a bad day (her words, not mine). Luckily, we were in Ayutthaya before we knew it. 

The Sixty Hotel - Ayutthaya

We jumped into a cab straight from the bus and arrived at the hotel within a few minutes. Our hotel was in a brilliant location. The Wat Mahathat ruins were directly opposite our hotel. We stayed in Hotel Sixty. The room was a lot more basic than what we had in Bangkok but the location much better. We went straight out after checking in, ate food at a restaurant two doors down and visited Wat Mahathat. 

Wat Mahathat

The ruins were amazing. I felt like Jean Claude Van Damme in the movie Kickboxer, one of my childhood favourites. We walked until our feet were sore. At one point we were walking down a path looking for an ATM machine, when out of the bushes in front of us appeared a big lizard which we both believed was a Komodo Dragon. It was so big that it held up the traffic as it crossed the road into the public park. It turns out it was an Asian water monitor. Nothing to be too afraid of but they do kill dogs…

We saw many other ruins and a beautiful sunset. We were then looking at the map to get our bearings when we were approached by a friendly, camp Chinese man named “Ken”. I didn’t get a photo of Ken but if you have seen the movie ‘The Hangover’, he looked and sounded just like Chow. 

Ayutthaya Sunset

After our incidents in Bangkok we were wary of any friendly strangers but it turns out Ken was just a nice guy that was trying to improve his English, which was already excellent. Ken showed us where the night market was and then walked us back to our apartment before giving us a very flamboyant goodbye which included vigorous jazz hands.

We quickly got changed and went to the night market. The night market in Ayutthaya was much more laid back to what we had experienced in Bangkok. In fact, Ayutthaya as a whole, is so much more relaxed than Bangkok. There were no Tuk Tuk drivers trying to scam us, no vendors were pestering us at the market, even after we walked up and down it 4 times.

Ayutthaya Night Market

We grabbed some street food. Rachel’s street food tasted very strong of lemon grass and had more bones than chicken in and the spice nearly blew her face off but I really enjoyed my food. I played it safe with some chicken and rice again. 

Street Food Ayutthaya

We had a good nights sleep. It was the most we had slept since landing in Thailand and nearly missed checkout again. We were only staying in Ayutthaya for one night. 

We both felt a bit deflated in the morning as we felt a bit rushed to check out. We also needed cash and internet. We split up for the first time since arrival. One person needed to look after the bags while the other found an ATM. I left Rach at the restaurant near our hotel. She used the WiFi to find transport for an overnight bus to Chiang Mai and I went in search for a cash machine. On my return, we grabbed some food in the restaurant and the mood dipped a little. We both fell in love with Ayutthaya and felt like it had a lot more to offer us but we had all of our luggage and didn’t quite know what to do. 

We decided between us that it would be best to get to the Ayutthaya bus station to sort out the transport for the overnight bus. We were literally walking to a Tuk Tuk rank so we could get to the bus station with our bags, when we stumbled upon a travel agent who sorted our overnight bus to Chiang Mai, our transport to the bus station, held our bags for us and gave us bicycles and a lock for the day.

Ayutthaya Bikes

The bikes were 40B each, which is about 75p to rent for an entire day! We paid for a VIP bus, which had more room and reclining chairs so we could sleep. It also included food, drinks and a toilet. The overnight bus from Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai was an 8 hour journey and set us back £18 each. Very good value for money.

Ayutthaya Bicycles

The next thing we knew, we were riding bicycles around Ayutthaya, with the biggest smiles on our faces. We recommend hiring bicycles in Ayutthaya. It is the best way to get around to see the sights. You may think that cycling in heat is hard work but I found it easier than walking. At least there was a slight breeze as you cycled. We ate in some amazing places, saw some more amazing ruins, one of which was Wat Ratchaburana. This was a famous ruin where you climb down some steep steps into an ancient crypt which contains ancient murals. It’s worth checking out if you are there. 

Wat Ratchaburana

We also rode our bicycles past some elephants, which was absolutely amazing and one of the most surreal experiences of both our lives. There we were, on our bicycles in Ayutthaya, ancient ruins at one side and elephants on the other. They were so close that you could literally touch them. 

Ayutthaya Elephants

We rode around for hours, we saw all of the sights that we wanted to see. We initially set off on our bikes at about 2pm. We got back to the travel agent for 7pm and handed our bikes back. The taxi to the bus station wasn’t due until 8pm so went over the road and grabbed some food and another smoothie. I’m making it a thing to try a smoothie everywhere I go in Thailand. The fruit over here is so fresh and the smoothies are so tasty and refreshing. I even got Rach to try one and she enjoyed it!

The taxi came, we had a short journey to the bus station and had to wait an hour and a half for our 10pm bus. The bus station was pretty chilled. We both took out our journals and done a bit of writing. We also played some cards to pass the time. Rach then realised that she had the bike lock tied around her waist and the key around her wrist. We had no way to get it back to the travel agent. We felt awful but we left it at the bus station so somebody probably bagged themselves a free bike lock the following day. 

The bus arrived pretty much bang on 10pm. Our experience of the public transport in Thailand thus far, is that it is very efficient. Everything just works. 

The bus journey was great. Better than either of us had expected. The seats were large and very spacious. The food was good. I had a few cases of sleep paralysis and many vivid dreams but I had a solid sleep nonetheless and the 8 hour journey seemed to go over quicker than our initial flights to get to Thailand. 

We arrived in Chiang Mai in very good time, we arrived about 6.30 am. We felt refreshed and ready to see what Chiang Mai had to offer. 

Luck seems to be on our side.

Craig and Rach x

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Bangkok. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Where do we begin?! 

It feels like we have been in Bangkok for weeks. We have squeezed so much into just 2 days. As we mentioned in our last post, we had decided to have an early start to do some sight seeing and we did just that. 

We realised where we needed to be was at the other side of town and decided to get there by train. We had a short walk to the BTS / Sky Train. As somebody who is an anxiety / panic disorder sufferer, crowded places aren’t my thing and although we were packed in like sardines, it was efficient, easy and really cheap!

We got off at the stop closest to where we needed to be and visited the Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre. It was a cool building with some interesting exhibits. 

We then realised that we were close to Jim Thompson’s House, so we popped in and it was amazing. We learned a lot about Thai history and the history of Jim Thompson house. This jungly compound is the former home of the eponymous American silk entrepreneur and art collector. in 1967 Thompson suddenly disappeared whilst going out for an afternoon stroll in Malaysia.

Whilst on our tour of the house we learnt a lot about Thai culture. We learnt about spirit houses; they are built to protect houses, however they cannot be built within the shadow of the house they are protecting, as this is bad luck. People bring offerings of flowers or food to the spirit house every morning so that the spirits grant them good luck and good fortune.

We also learnt that the thresholds in Thai doorways are higher to stop evil spirits entering. Thais believe that spirits travel in straight lines. If you sit or stand on the raised threshold, it brings bad luck. When walking through Thai doorways, make sure you step over the high threshold and not on it.

We were then involved in a Tuk Tuk scam. It turns out there is an elaborate scam that a lot of tourists are unaware of in Bangkok. The Tuk Tuk driver asked where we were going and said he would take us there. We obliged and got in the Tuk Tuk, unaware of the scam.We were supposed to go to Chinatown but the driver told us it didn’t open for another hour and he would drive us around for an hour until it opened and show us some other sites. We were then taken to an unknown area where the driver stopped. He told us that we needed to go into various shops so that he could get free gasoline for his Tuk Tuk. We had to go to each shop for 10-15 minutes and then when we were in the shop we were instantly hassled and they tried to sell us tailored suits, fake jewellery and fake gems. The Tuk Tuk driver gets rewarded for taking tourists there and it is all part of the scam It showed us the dark side of Bangkok. I was getting very suspicious. Rach had read about the scam in the Thailand Lonely Planet book and soon realised this was the scam.

We then confronted the driver and, eventually he took us to Chinatown for 200 B. This scam, or similar scams happen all over Bangkok. A similar thing happened  in Chinatown, where a guy dressed as security, said that chinatown was closed. If any stranger approaches you, being very helpful, with very good English, tells you that certain places are closed until certain times and that he can offer you a deal to see other sites that seems too good to be true. It probably is. Even if they speak very good English and have a cap on that says security, ignore them and say that you are not interested. For any transportation across Bangkok, we would recommend using official taxi companies such as Uber and also recommend using public transport. 

We then visited Wat Traimit. It has a 3 meter tall, 5.5 tonne, solid gold, Buddha image, which is the biggest solid gold Buddha image in the world. It was beautiful.

We got some food in Chinatown, where I found the perfect Pad Thai! It satisfied all of my taste buds. After our experience with Tuk Tuks , we decided to use the restaurant’s WiFi and get an Uber to Wat Pho.

If the Tuk Tuk experience was the Dark Side of Bangkok, then What Pho was part of the Light Side. It is stunning. Everywhere we looked, we could just see beauty. The architecture was amazing. What Pho is a Buddha temple complex, so you can imagine we were grateful of our little lesson about the thresholds atthe Jim Thompson House, otherwise knowing us, we would have ended up tripping over them or sitting on them!

There is no fewer than 400 guilded Buddha images at Wat Pho. The architecture on the Temples and surrounding buildings is mind blowing. The famous reclining Buddha resides here, which is gilded gold with mother of pearl inlay on it’s feet. The detail everywhere is exquisite. 

We used the free WiFi at Wat Pho and got an Uber back to the apartment. We ended up in one of Bangkok’s famous traffic jams and it took us over an hour to get back to the apartment, however we were pleasantly surprised that the fare was only £6 (300B).

We then went out for some food and went to a recommended restaurant called Sit and Wonder. I played it safe and really enjoyed my meal, Rach was a bit more adventurous (her soup smelt like air freshener) and didn’t enjoy her meal as much. She opted for street food on the way back to the apartment; it was 15x cheaper and 15x tastier than what she had just eaten at the restaurant. Thai street food is amazing!

Now on to today!

The hottest day we have experienced so far; 37°C!! We got an Uber straight to Wat Phra Kaew and The Grand Palace. The Uber had to drop us off around the corner from the complex as vehicles aren’t allowed past a certain point. I was then approached by a ‘security guard’ who said I wouldn’t be able to get into the temple as I was wearing shorts and I needed to purchase some long pants.

He then advised that the Grand Palace was closed and wouldn’t reopen until 2pm, he then suggested alternative places for us to visit, including a market for some pants. He pulled out a map, recommended Wat Pho and Wat Arun, stated the costs of each and how easy they were to get to from where we were. He then said that we could have a Tuk Tuk for the next hour to take us for food and other temples and we would be back for the Grand Palace reopening. We didn’t even have time to refuse and were basically pushed into a Tuk Tuk. We travelled a few meters down the road and insisted that we wanted to be out, the Tuk Tuk driver snatched the map from us and we got out the Tuk Tuk. We then walked towards the Grand Palace and surprise surprise, it wasn’t closed; all of a sudden we saw flocks of people, going in and out of the complex. 

Wat Phra Kaew and The Grand Palace come as a pair, so you get a dual ticket to see both for 500B per person. The ‘Security Guard’ was right about the long pants, so I purchased some cool hippy elephant pants from a stall outside the complex.

Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is a vast fairytale compound. It was an amazing sight to see. The grounds were consecrated in 1782, and is today Bangkok’s biggest tourist attraction and a pilgrimage destination for devour Buddhists and nationalists. There are more than 100 buildings representing over 200 years of royal history and architecture. We were both blown away by the architecture and the beauty of the buildings. It is something we will both remember for a long time.

We then went on a hunt for food. We were stopped by a older man on a bicycle who could tell we were a bit lost as we didn’t know where to eat! He was very approachable but we were instantly hesitant as we didn’t want to fall for another scam; turns out he was just a good samaritan and we had some really tasty noodles from a street food vendor.

We then found a trendy bar where I had the best, most refreshing, tastiest smoothie I have ever had. Rach had a coffee (in this heat?!!) and we chilled for 10 minutes then got an Uber back to the apartment. Another hour, another horrible traffic jam and another reasonable £6 later and we were back at the apartment.

We decided to pay the rooftop pool a visit, and we were not disappointed. The sun was just setting as we got up and we made the most of it by running back to the apartment and getting our tripod, mobile phones, GoPro and cameras to get as many photos as possible. It was absolutely breathtaking.

We had more street food for tea, consisting of BBQ pork, normal chicken, fried chicken, rice, spring rolls, noodles, and pork skewers, with loads of different sauces (BBQ, soy and garlic, sweet chilli) all bursting with flavour, it cost £4.30 for the full lot, and we ate like kings! What a way to spend a final night in Bangkok.

We have definitely brought too many clothes, we are already starting to leave stuff behind to make it easier to transport everything! Now we are all packed up and ready for our trip to Ayuthaya tomorrow. No rest for the wicked!

Craig and Rach x




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Hello from the Other Side!

Hello or should we say S̄wạs̄dī from Bangkok!

Where do we begin?! We started our journey on the 18th April. Our families drove us down to Manchester from Newcastle. Rachel and her parents set off early to meet up with her brother Sean and his girlfriend, Amy in Manchester.  

I set off not long after, after having a terrible nights sleep. I don’t know if it was my terrible diet leading up to our trip, a stomach bug or maybe nerves, even though I didn’t think I had any. I woke up, said goodbye to my Nanna and other family members and then I packed, double checked, triple checked and then rang Rachel to check again before setting off. 

Rach and her family went to an Italian restaurant on the outskirts of Manchester near the airport, called Cocos, while me and my family went to a place called The Tatton Arms, also near the airport. 

After we had lunch, our two families met up at the Tatton Arms for a drink and then we headed to the airport to say our goodbyes. There were tears, hugs, more tears, more hugs and lots of well wishes. We’ve both been fortunate to have such supportive families during the lead up to our adventure. 

I found saying goodbye quite easy because I thought of it more as a “See you soon”, although I will miss my family, this adventure is something that I, or should I say we have to do. Rach found it a bit more difficult to say her goodbyes as this is the first time that she has been away from her family; but here she is, sat with me in our beautiful apartment in Bangkok!

Checking in at Manchester Airport was very quick. The security took quite some time. We had quite a few electronic items that had to be separated and I took too many liquids, which also had to be separated. Rookie mistake. My advice to anybody travelling is to take as little liquid items as possible and just buy them out there or just put them in your main cargo.

We also had a minor incident after walking through security and waiting for our separated belongings; when we both looked at each other and said “what did you do with the main hand luggage?”. Turns out we both thought the other had it, and it was almost declared as a suspicious/abandoned bag! It felt like we had been sat down 5 minutes and then had to board the plane. 

The whole process, apart from our minor incident at security was painless and the Etihad flight was brilliant. The take off was very smooth, the staff were very accommodating, the in-flight entertainment was really good, even the food was good!

We flew from Manchester > Abu Dhabi. The flight lasted approx. 7 hours and 15 minutes. We took off at 8pm and must have only got an hours sleep on that flight. We watched LaLa Land (not worth the hype) and then attempted to watch Star Wars: Rogue One. The rest of the time was spent listening to relaxing music, nature sounds and trying to get into a comfortable sleeping position, which we both failed miserably at. We ended up staying up to watch the sunrise before touching down in Abu Dhabi. We landed at approx 06:45 Abu Dhabi time. 

We had a smooth landing in Abu Dhabi, which has a pretty cool airport. The toilet, however was not so cool. My first experience of this type of toilet – The Squatty Potty.

As I mentioned earlier, I was a bit under the weather due to an upset stomach but Immodium works wonders! After popping a few of those, we boarded our flight from Abu Dhabi > Bangkok and we both fell asleep before we had even took off. 

Abu Dhabi Airport

It was another smooth take off. The flight lasted approx 6 hours 45 mins. I managed to get a solid couple of hours sleep and woke up feeling much better. Rach watched a movie called Fences and then another movie called Moana. I decided to watch Inside Out when I woke up which I thoroughly enjoyed! It deserved more credit than it received. I actually got emotional watching it! It’s a great movie that teaches kids about mental health issues in a very entertaining and clever way. For the remainder of the flight I was playing Street Fighter 2 and Rach assisted me with a crossword. 

After passing through some beautiful white fluffy clouds, we had another smooth landing. We landed at 19:30.


Bangkok airport was pretty straight forward. It was really efficient. We got our arrival and departure visa forms on our flight, so we had filled these in prior to landing at the airport which saved some time. 

We spent a few minutes looking for the correct baggage collection point but then as soon as we found it, we saw our bags, there was no waiting around. Before we knew it, we were out of the airport and in an Uber on the way to our Air BnB apartment. 

The apartment looks just like it did on the photographs. A very swanky and modern studio apartment with a mezzanine level and a skyline view. 


We found a 7 Eleven near by, got some water and food for the night, as we were tired from all of the travelling and here we are! We’ve planned to have an early start tomorrow and then we are going to venture into the city centre to see what Bangkok has to offer. 

This is just the start of our journey. 

Craig and Rach x






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A Quick Guide – How to choose the best travel camera?

Choosing a camera can be very frustrating. I can vouch for this. I spent hours, days, maybe even weeks researching different cameras and trying to find the perfect one for our travels. This article is a combination of my own thoughts and experiences and information pulled from other sources. The sources can be found at the bottom of  the post. I may add or change things to this post so be sure to keep checking for updates and as always, please feel free to leave feedback or ask questions.

Image result for travel photography

Choosing the best camera for travel photography is different from choosing a professional camera for things like wedding photography and portrait photography, or even just everyday use at home. With so many camera options on the market, it can be a little intimidating when you start your new camera search.

First of all, there are several types of travel cameras on the market (Point and Shoot, Advanced Compact Cameras, DSLR, Mirrorless) and each one has its own list of benefits. First, and most importantly, you should consider what is most important to you – size, weight, price, ease of use, etc.

Mobile Phone Cameras (Point & Shoot)

A lot of mobile phones these days come with great cameras. I use a Samsung Galaxy S7 and the camera on it is fantastic. It even has a professional mode built in. The results are outstanding for a phone camera. It’s very quick and easy to use, it fits in your pocket and there is some brilliant software you can download to edit your photos. However, I think it is a good idea to have a dedicated camera as well as your mobile phone. Your mobile phone is your mobile phone after all and you need it for other things as well as photographs.

Compact Digital Cameras (Point & Shoot)

If your main concern is price, weight, and purchasing a travel camera that is easy to use, then you will want to look at purchasing a Compact Digital Camera. This type of camera won’t weigh down your luggage and it will easily fit in a small backpack or purse.

Compact Digital Cameras are perfect if you don’t want to be hassled with too many controls and you want the least expensive option. Nowadays, you can still find a Point and Shoot camera that takes great photos.

That’s not to say you should pick just any Point and Shoot because they are not all created equal.

Advanced Compact Digital Cameras (High-End Compact)

Advanced Compact Digital Cameras are similar to Point and Shoot cameras, but they come with a few more bells and whistles. They are the high end of compact cameras with built-in lenses.

Advanced Compact Cameras are similar in size to the above mentioned ones and they offer full manual mode in addition to auto mode. (Note: Both of the cameras listed in the above section offer manual mode as well.) They also usually have the ability to capture photos in RAW format — which is important if you plan to make any edits to your photos once you upload them to your computer.

These cameras tend to be slightly more expensive than the regular compact cameras, but less expensive than DSLR or mirrorless cameras.

Mirrorless Cameras

This is what I ended up going for. If image quality, size, and weight is the most important factor, you will want to look at purchasing a mirrorless camera. What is a mirrorless camera, you ask? Unlike a Digital SLR, this type of camera does not have a mirror reflex optical viewfinder — hence, the name mirrorless. This type of camera is perfect for people who still want an interchangeable lens without the weight of a DSLR.

Another plus for mirrorless is the electronic viewfinders because you can view the real-time effect of aperture and ISO adjustments, unlike a DSLR. If you want to take some of the guesswork out of your photography, then mirrorless is the way to go.

Digital SLR Cameras

Mirrorless cameras have come a long way and many photographers have decided to ditch their bulky DSLR cameras for this lighter option.

DSLR cameras are better suited for sports, wildlife, and other types of action photography. If these types of photography don’t interest you, then you will probably be fine with a mirrorless. I often travel to photograph wildlife and I need a capable zoom lens, which is why I hesitated about switching completely to mirrorless.

However, there are a few zoom lens options out there for mirrorless cameras, just not as many.

Choosing a DSLR means you will have more lens options, faster focus (although mirrorless is following close behind), and a slightly longer battery life. People believe that eventually DSLR cameras will become obsolete, but we are still a little way off from mirrorless replacing traditional DSLR cameras entirely.

Underwater Travel Photography

You can’t go wrong with a GoPro or Xiaomi yi. These cameras are built and designed for extreme situations. They are perfect for capturing underwater action or in situation where using a regular camera is simply to inconvenient or too risky. They come with many attachments such as chest harnesses, head straps, selfie sticks and much more.

What do I use?

My main camera is my Olympus OMD EM10 MK2 which is a mirrorless camera. I chose this due to the size and weight. I am an amateur photographer and still have a lot to learn but this camera just looked and felt right for me. It has a lot of power packed into a small body. It also has the classic, vintage / retro look that Olympus is famous for and I fell in love with it. I got the camera with both a 14-42mm + 40-150mm Lens.

I also use my Samsung Galaxy S7 for point and click photography. The Samsung Galaxy S7 is not only a great phone but the camera on it is incredible for a phone camera.

As mentioned earlier in the post it comes with a Professional mode and the results are better than a lot of cameras that I have tried and tested. I often get asked what camera I use and when I tell them I actually shot them on my mobile phone, they get a shock. It is thin and lightweight and can easily fit my pocket.

I use a Go Pro Hero 4 and a Xiamoi Yi for my action shots. The GoPro Is renowned for it’s durability under extreme circumstances and the Xiamoi Yi is the Chinese, cheaper alternative which comes with very good quality and is very good value.




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