As I am in the middle of my final exams, I thought I would save myself a little time and hand over the reins for today’s Memory Lane Monday! I have spoken about my blogging friend Kiki, from North Leads to Home, before on Journeycount and not only does she have a passion for all things interior design and homely, she also loves to travel. Here is her account of her first ever big travel experience…

In the summer of 2011, I had my first backpacking experience in Thailand. I’d had wanderlust for a long time, and as a teenager I’d travelled to stay with my cousin who lived in the South of France. There was something magical and free about hitching rides in the summer sun and going to local fetes and sleeping wherever we could. The thought of travelling abroad, to somewhere as far away as Thailand, (an 11 hour flight and 6 hour time difference,) was absolutely terrifying to me, but I did it anyway. The best things are the things that scare you at first!

I decided to spend my first week with a travel company called ThaIntro, who I would really recommend. I was met at the airport by my group leader, and travelled to Bangkok, Kao Sok National Park and Koh Phangan with my group of about 18 people, making friends and spending every day doing amazing activities. It was great for me as an inexperienced, lone traveller, and I met the two girls I travelled on with in my group, while catching up with many other of my fellow travellers on the way.

I thought I’d share my five favourite memories from my trip to Thailand. As with any trip, there were some incredible moments, and some horrendous one too. I have no regrets at all about my trip, or spending all of my savings on it but due to an unexpected trip to hospital, I couldn’t visit everywhere I wanted to and ended up going to the typical ‘backpacker’ destinations, but wow, it was such an experience!

  1. Kao Sok National Park Floating Bungalows
Kao Sok National Park bungalows

Kao Sok National Park bungalows

Relaxing by the lake

Relaxing by the lake

Kao Sok National Park is breathtaking. The blue sky backdrops the rock-ridged skyline. I could have stayed there forever. The bungalows are basic; made of reeds with holes for windows, and each contained two double beds. It really was paradise. We spent the day relaxing in the lake, and the night eating the amazing cooking provided. Overnight there was a monsoon and when we left by boat the next morning the whole place was covered in surreal mist.

Misty morning in Kao Sok

Misty morning in Kao SokBangkok Nightlife

2. Bangkok Nightlife

'The Club' , a crazy place!

‘The Club’ , a crazy place!

My only night out in Bangkok was absolutely insane. We started off with a meal at an amazing restaurant and I tried Pad Thai for the first time. From then on I became absolutely hooked. We had more than a few cocktails and somehow some of us ended up in a Ping Pong club… something that I would not recommend and I’m glad the alcohol blacked out most of the memories! After that, we moved on to a bar called Gazebo, where a fantastic Thai band covers popular songs. ‘Now we’re in Newww Yoooork’ (replace New York with our whole ThaIntro group singing/shouting ‘Bangkok’ and you can imagine where the night was headed…) We spent a while in ‘The Club’, a crazy place hosting a stage overflowing with people and serving fishbowl cocktails, one of which ended up smashed over a fellow group-members head. If you ever visit Bangkok, keep you eye our for flying fish-bowls! We headed back to Gazebo in time to catch the end of the cover band, which played an extra last song just for us  – ‘Killing In The Name’. Drunk and happy, we moved into Gazebo’s ‘club’ room, a small space with flashing lights and a glorious electric fan, which we danced in front of all night.

Electric fans: a must in hot clubs!

Electric fans: a must in hot clubs!

3. Elephant riding

Having a little drink!

Having a little drink!

Elephant riding is terrifying. It’s really fun, but it’s impossible to look graceful while astride a misbehaving baby elephant. We rode our elephants on a small trail along the side of a jungle in Koh Phangan. At the end, our baby elephant stopped to drink and sprayed us all with water, giving a little elephant trumpet! It really was a joyful moment.

4.Wat Pho– Chiang Mai Temple

Sunburnt but happy!

Sunburnt but happy!

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I’m not particularly religious, but I love the calmness of Buddhist temples. Their design is so intricate, and I enjoyed spending time in them throughout my stay. When I visited Wat Phra Thart Doi Suthep in Chaing Mai, it was the only temple I visited alone. I rushed to get there as it was shutting soon, but I managed to make it in. I discovered things though other visitors offering to explain them to me, making this experience even more special. I was blessed by a monk and given a white string bracelet for luck and good health. This temple is situated on top of a hilltop, and the views from the top are spectacular and well worth a visit.

5. Koh Phangan life

Sunrise at the Full Moon party

Sunrise at the Full Moon party

I stayed in Koh Phangan for a week and a half, and we ended up making a kind of home there for a small amount of time. We befriended a local tattoo artist, Wut, and hung out in his shop. We went to Full Moon, and other beach parties, and met so many new people, both local to the island and backpackers like us. Myself and one of the girls I was travelling with in ended up in A&E and the kindness of the people we had met, including the local travel agent Som (my hero!) was really overwhelming. I look back on my time in Koh Phangan really fondly, and I’m so excited to be going back this summer!

KiKi

PS! Don’t forget to check out my blog North Leads To Home, which features posts on interiors, home inspiration and everything that makes a house lovely.

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