Thailand

Thailand holds a special place in our hearts. The Land of Smiles was the first place we ever travelled to in Asia and the country that inspired us to quit our lives in London to travel the world indefinitely. Since then Thailand has become our Asian home and we’ve returned time and time again to explore the jungles and mountains in the north, sun-soaked southern islands and bustling cities. We’ve lived in Chiang Mai as digital nomads and travelled the country as backpackers. Here are our travel stories and experiences from Thailand.

It’s nearing the end of the year and like most people, Andrew and I have been reflecting on what we’ve achieved in 2013 and looking forward to what 2014 holds. This year was very special for us because we finally got out on the road and started travelling full-time; since leaving the UK in March we’ve had the most incredible, extreme ten months of our lives – it’s been tougher yet more rewarding than we ever imagined it would be. Here’s a look back at the places we’ve visited in 2013 and what we loved about them.
After our first six months of non-stop travel we were utterly exhausted and desperate to put down our backpacks, settle in one place and recover for a month. So, in typical travel blogger fashion we headed to Chiang Mai, Thailand in search of some peace, decent wifi and delicious food. There’s no shortage of places to live in Chiang Mai, but the search for our ideal apartment still turned out to be more difficult than we’d anticipated – here’s how we managed to find our perfect pad.
We had a bit of a hectic return to Thailand due to last minute flight changes followed by a frantic few weeks travelling up and down the country with friends and family who came out to visit us. Nevertheless, we had a great time with our travel companions and squeezed a lot into our visit – here’s how much it cost us to travel around Thailand for two months.
After leaving the idyllic beaches in Koh Phangan, we hopped over to neighbouring Koh Tao with my friend Jo for more sunshine and sandy beaches as well as a snorkelling trip that rivalled our experience on the Great Barrier Reef – here’s what we got up to.
For most people, the Thai island Koh Phangan conjures up images of full moon parties, buckets of alcoholic concoctions and beaches crammed with drunken backpackers occasionally attempting stupid feats such as jumping over ropes of fire while inebriated. However, when we visited this summer we found a quiet, clean and peaceful haven – in fact, Koh Phangan turned out to be my favourite Thai island to date, here’s why.
One of the most tranquil places we’ve visited in Thailand so far is Erawan National Park; the highlight of which is a beautiful seven-tiered waterfall in the middle of the forest. We made several visits to Erawan with family and friends over the summer and it was a firm favourite - here are some of our best snaps of the spectacular Erawan waterfalls.
One of the best things about travel is that you get to discover history in a way you never could sat at home reading a book. Visiting a place, exploring its museums and walking its streets helps you understand how past events have shaped the culture and lives of the people who live there; in particular I find that seeing firsthand places scarred by war or tragedy makes history real in a way that mere pictures and words never can. I’ll never forget, for example, walking the eerie, earthquake-destroyed streets of Christchurch in New Zealand,  exploring the ruins of Pompeii or reading the missing posters plastered around ground zero a few months after September 11th, when I was just 18 years old on a college trip.
As I sat on the balcony overlooking one of the bays on Koh Phi Phi, Thailand, I thought: this place is amazing; it’s paradise! Crystal clear waters bordered with soft and sandy beaches or incredible rock formations that look as if they have just appeared from hundreds of metres below sea level.
At the beginning of our trip we were looking forward to getting some volunteering experience on the road; something we'd had little time for during our hectic lives back in London. However, our first six months on the road flew by in a whirl of adventures and by the end of it we hadn’t managed any volunteering at all – the closest we’d come was to visit the BAWA animal shelter in Bali, Indonesia. Fortunately, the perfect volunteering opportunity arose during our trip to the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand where we learnt we could help out with their Dog Rescue Project.
We learned a lot about the plight of Thailand’s elephants and got up close to these amazing creatures during a trip to the Elephant Nature Park  - here's the story of our day there.

The Plight of Thailand’s Elephants

There’s a huge contradiction in the attitude towards elephants in Thailand; on one hand they’re revered as sacred animals that helped build the country and win wars but on the other, they’re beaten and abused in the worst ways. Historically, wild elephants were domesticated in Thailand for logging work, however, after this was banned in 1989 they became surplus to requirements and many were either abandoned in forests, sold over the border to Burma where logging is still legal or used instead to make money from tourists.