Month 12: Travel Summary and Statistics

Month 12 was all about hitting the pause button. After eleven months on the road it was time to completely unpack our bags, get to know somewhere a bit better, and dare we say it, establish a bit of routine and normality.

We chose Chiang Mai for a number of reasons. It has a large expat community, it’s relatively inexpensive (compared with the rest of Thailand), it has great street food, and there is world-class rock climbing to be found nearby.

We found ourselves an apartment with a poorly equipped kitchenette and spent the first three weeks of the month in the same way as we spent the last of September: eating our way around the street food of Chiang Mai.

Kanom Krok, Coconut and rice dumplings, flavoured with sweetcorn, spring onion or pumpkin

Highly addictive Kanom Krok – coconut dumplings with sweetcorn, pumpkin or spring onions

Khao Soi, found across Chiang Mai

More delicious Khao Soi

Mango Sticky Rice

Heavenly mango sticky rice

The famous Cow Girl laab

Khao kha moo – stewed pork leg with rice and a soft boiled egg and pickled mustard greens (pad gat dong) on the side

Pad Thai, the dish of Thailand

But we cooked for ourselves too. We found one supermarket had ‘real’ bread and cheese – it had been a long time!Real bread Real cheese

It was time for us to get fit again. We joined a yoga class and stretched like we hadn’t since our time at the ashram in Rishikesh. Then we visited the local climbing wall and were shocked how puny we had become. We met some great people there who fast became friends and went outdoor climbing with them at Crazy Horse Buttress.Our friend on lead at Crazy HorseChris's first lead climb at Crazy Horse.Eliza on top rope at Crazy HorseCrazy Horse Buttress

And to jam nights at the North Gate Jazz Cooperative.At jazzTuesday night jam night was rockingOwner of North Gate Jazz Club performing on his sax

We went for good pizzaAuthentic Italian pizza at Street Pizza

And surprisingly fantastic (and cheap) sushi.Matsu sushi, Chiang Mai Salmon sashimi, fresh tuna, tuna sushi rolls and beancurd.

We took a cooking class to learn Northern Thai dishes, in particular our beloved Khao Soi.Us during the cooking classChiang Mai cooking class meal

Perused the heaving night markets and took a break from them at the Silver Temple.Saturday night walking market, Chiang Mai

Silver Temple, Chiang Mai
Silver Temple interior

We took a walk up to peaceful Wat Pha Lat, guided by strips of orange monk robes.The way to Wat Pha LatWat Pha Lat

And indulged in many cups of coffee at Ristr8to on trendy Nimanhaemin Road.Satan Latte at Restor8to

The time flew by and before we knew it, it was time to pack our bags again and head down south. We headed to Khanom in search of the rare pink dolphin. We did see them but as they were quite juvenile, they had yet to develop much pink pigment.Pink dolphin tail (Video Still)

It was a mixed experience. It was wonderful to see the dolphins. We had chosen an environmental conscious company to go with who kept a distance from these marine mammals but unfortunately many of the boatmen were less considerate of these wonderful animals.  They would drive their boats as close as possible to give their passengers a better look and throw fish to attract them in, causing undue stress and affecting their natural habits. In the last four years the population has dropped by over 50 percent.

There was an amazing cave network that stretched 100 metres underground.Khao Wang Thong caves, Khanom


Then we headed to a natural fish spa had had our feet nibbled. It tickled so much we had difficulty keeping our feet in the water! Everyone found our reactions hilarious.

After all that: it was time to meet up with our friend Kristin. Us and Kristin, Bangkok 2016

We’ve bumped into Kristin four times during our trip accidentally. This time we decided to do it on purpose. As we’re all rock climbers we met on the beautiful island of Koh Yao Noi for some hot rock action. But the weather had other ideas and we had to beat a hasty retreat from the lingering monsoon rains.Wet days in Koh Yao Noi

Instead we took a the boat to climber’s paradise of Tonsai and Railay for a week of scaling incredible rock faces overlooking golden sands and turquoise seas.Tonsai Bay from Fire Wall areaChris on a 7a crux Tonsai BeachEliza pushing her grade climbing Dum's Kitchen

And that’s how we celebrated one year of travel: climbing… almost oblivious to the day, yet alone the date almost cut off from the world as wifi in the area was extremely limited.

Stats of the month

Countries visited: Thailand

Places visited: 5

Chiang Mai, Khanom, Koh Yao Noi, Tonsai, Railay

Money spent: £24.15 / $29.81 per person, per day

Distance travelled: 2,385 km / 1482 m

Meal of the month: Authentic Southern Thai

Fining some genuine Southern Thai food was a bit of a challenge in the areas we visited. But we got lucky when we found The 14 Khanom. From the outside it appears to be a bike rental shop. Contact them in advance with your preferences and they will head to the market for the freshest ingredients and cook up a storm. We enjoyed a tamarind leaf soup with the softest most delicious squid we’ve every had; incredible slipper lobster fried with whole peppercorns and garlic, and a wonderful Thai seafood salad with fragrant herbs. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.The meal at The 14, Khanom

Next Steps:

We’ll be heading to buzzing Bangkok for a few days. After that we’re going to Kanchanaburi to visit the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai and to learn about the prisoners of war who worked on the Thailand-Burma railway. Then we’re making a flying visit to Vietnam to meet Eliza’s brother and girlfriend. We’ll be revisiting one of our favourite towns: Hoi An and sampling yet more hawker food on the streets of Ho Chi Ming City. And then, after one year and 21 days, we will finally be leaving Asia and heading to New Zealand!!

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1 Comment

  • comment-avatar
    Cheryl 13 December 2016 (08:21)

    When is the next instalment coming?