Songkran- water all around

When I first heard the word Songkran I thought it was a very strange name. My Thai friends explained that Songkran is the Thai New Year and is is celebrated by splashing water around. Sounds like fun doesn’t it? I thought at first it was a bit similar to the Polish ‘Wet Monday”. Later I realized it was nothing like that at all. Explain Wet MondayThe 13th of April was not a regular day in Samui.

Heavy rain woke me up in the morning. This is not the best weather for splashing water I thought. I realized this will be so much fun as soon as I left the house. Now the water gun I got at Nikki Beach for Easter didn’t seem so useless anymore. I went out to the street with all my friends in Lamai. Everyone was splashing water around: children, locals, tourists and people on scooters. I have never seen so many smiley faces since I arrived to Thailand. I felt the pleasant sensation of splashing water. People on the top of the truck threw cold water in my face. It was really great day so surreal and amazing.I will always remember sweet Thai children running around with water buckets. This is the image of the land of smiles I was waiting for to see since I arrived to Koh Samui.

 Songkran in Thailand

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Last Christmas I gave Thailand my heart

Is Christmas really time of joy and happiness? I didn’t notice it sitting in the kitchen for three days and cooking with my mum 12 traditional dishes for the Christmas table. Neither when I had to do some last minute Christmas shopping in a crowded shopping centre and listening for the hundred time George Michael. Of course Christmas has its good sites too like being with your family and sharing the Christmas wishes.

But last year when I was in Thailand away from this crazy Christmas spirit, those were actually one of the best Christmas I ever had. No stress, no rushing no cooking just me and couple of friends eating Pad Thai in the hotel in Bangkok, drinking wine and ending the evening on the Roof Bar drinking cocktails and listening to live piano music.  It was truly original of spending Christmas time and I really enjoyed it. Of course people in Thailand also celebrate Christmas, they buy gifts and they are with their families but I just didn’t notice this stressful time before Christmas as we have in Europe.

So from now on I decided that as much as I love my family and its great being around them during this time once every two years is totally enough.  Every other year I am going somewhere exotic where I have palms instead of Christmas trees and lots of sun.

Take My Breath Away at Khao Sok National Park kayaking between the mountains in Thailand

Khao Sok National Park in Surat Thani is the number one place in Thailand.

When I traveled to stunning Khao Sok a stones throw from my home in Koh Samui my Citizen.TV colleague Matus and I chose a rather extraordinary way of transport- motorbike.  Matus insisted on taking it and I have to admit, It was great fun.

Our adventure began just after Songkran, the Thai New Year. Songkran was epic fun. Gleeful local children ruthlessly splashed us with water. No worries.  We were pretty lucky. We got lost on the way, but police showed us the right direction. They were our private escort and protected us from the ferocious kids who in the end were not only splashing water but also paint!

The police wouldn’t even take our money, when we offered for their  great help. People on the mainland don’t speak English, compared with Thai islanders, yet they are super-sweet and helpful. We were so grateful.

Finally we arrived.  I looked up at the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world. I was in awe of the huge limestone mountains shooting straight up in the air. The deep valleys took my breath away.

I couldn’t wait to explore the lakes and exciting caves. My attention was especially drawn to Cheow Lan Lake, which is dammed by the Ratchaprapha dam built in 1982. We kayaked on the lake and slept in raft houses. It was fantastic being on the turquoise water.

Take my travel advice.

After kayaking and trekking we didn’t have time for bamboo rafting. I heard from many people it’s a great fun so don’t miss out.

 Don’t get ripped of by local guides. They will tell you there are no places in the raft houses, which is normally not the case. So be persistent and you will get to the other side as we did.

I highly recommend our accommodation Ploenprai House. It was 700baht per person with three meals included. The food was absolutely amazing. The staff was also very helpful and nice. It was only a little bit scary at night when the storm came and the whole house was shaking.

 If you go to Khao Sok take a motorbike. It is a truly unforgettable experience. And, take my advice and stay at least one, if not two nights, in the raft house. Three days at the park wasn’t enough. I wish I had four days.

There are places in the world where you go and you say its nice here I want to go back one day and Khao Sok is definitely this sort of place.

 

Surviving my last weekend in Thailand

Why this title? Those who know me are aware that I was not very lucky in Thailand, starting from monkey bites finishing with knife attack on a scooter and several hospital visits but I was quite ok for the last couple months, especially while travelling around Southeast Asia. I decided to spend my last weekend in Thailand in my favourite place on Koh Phangan- The Sanctuary. It is really a paradise. When I arrived I just chilled on the beach and decided to go on a water platform. It is quite nice there, so peaceful and you can chill in a hammock so I did.  Suddenly I heard noise of a jet ski. Four guys surrounded me on the platform going around, one of them asked If I want to jump on. I said sure why not, “it’s not every day you can go for a ride on a jet ski” I thought. But just the moment when I was getting closer to the jet  ski the other guy went around and hit the platform. The wood fall off making terrible noise, one of the pieces hit my ankle. The guys seeing it just took off and I stayed there quite in schock. Then two guys from the Sanctuary came to get me on a speedboat and chased the crazy Spaniards(as they turned out later). I was not really hurt just a little scratch but I think I can be very grateful nothing serious happened cause it could have ended really bad. When I got on the beach all the people were asking if I was ok and saying it looked like from  a James Bond movie.

Of course I could not have a peaceful last weekend in Thailand otherwise I would not be Ewelina. At least Koh Phangan will remember me and I will be known as “the girl from the platform”as people were calling me for the rest of the weekend.  Even though this accident happened, this place will always  be my favorite spot in Thailand.

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A Magical Place – The Sanctuary in Koh Phangnan

I was looking for some peace and quiet over the weekend to be alone

I heard that The Sanctuary is the place to be. It is one a secluded beach on notorious Koh Phagnan island in the Southern Gulf of Thailand. We arrived by boat, and payed our 200baht, which is average price.

The place is isolated and beautiful. We were given the option to stay in a dorm (200baht per night) or our very own bungalow. No reservations are permitted so we had to bet on your luck to find a free bed.

The Sanctuary features yoga, a spa and free meditation. My favorite meditations involve dancing and singing. I did one yoga class which was really good and “transformational breathing” where they teach you how to breath, which helps you reduce stress.

I went on this journey solo, but quickly met amazing people with tons of positive energy. The weirdest thing about The Sanctuary is that we were meditating and doing yoga during the day, and during the night we partied like rock stars at the famous Eden and Guy’s Bar.

These famous parties start at sunrise.

I went to sleep at midnight and woke up at five in the morning to have the energy to endure this wild ride; to see the sunset and go to the party. It is a strange way to start the day, and a totally unique experience.

I had an incredible experience at Eden Bar. The atmosphere there is so positive and the music so amazing you just don’t want to leave this place.

I didn’t want to go back to Samui after three days at The Sanctuary. I will definitely go back. I am looking forward to experiencing new things like dance therapy, movie nights on the beach. The Sanctuary can not be missed!

Eden in the background

Eden in the background

Bamboo-best restaurant ever

Bamboo-best restaurant ever

view on Sanctuary

view on Sanctuary

Guy's Bar

Guy’s Bar

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Morning meditation

Morning meditation

Before sunrise

Before sunrise

Eden

Eden

Chiang Mai- in the heart of northern Thailand

I was waiting a long time for my Christmas holidays and I can finally travel around Thailand. I have 11 days so it’s not a lot of time but I decided to discover north of the country and go to Chiang Mai. As people describe it, it is a Mekka for artists, writers, film- makers, poets. It’s the second big city in Thailand and there are 20.000 expatriates living there. The nature is incredible and it is so much different from the south of Thailand. You can discover jungle, waterfalls, lakes and mountains. This part of Thailand is also much cheaper than the south and people are nicer and really smile all the time. It is not so touristic as the islands so they appreciate tourists much more. Me and my friend Aurelie decided to do two days trekking trip in the jungle. We were trekking for two days and slept in the small hut made from bamboo trees in the middle of a jungle. In the morning we took a shower with the elephants and bathed them. It was truly incredible experience that I will never forget. On the second day we did rafting in a river and bamboo rafting. This was really fun bit a bit scary after our guide told us: “ Don’t worry there are no crocodiles here, only snakes” what a relief! At the end of the two days we were really exhausted but If we had more time we would do 3days trip.

Definitely a must seen in Chiang Mai it’s a beautiful temple on the hill of the city-Suthep. Don’t get rip off by the taxi drivers, go with the red taxi to the zoo and from there take another one to the top of the mountain. They will wait for you and on your way back you can stop by the waterfall.

The Chiang Mai night-life has many bars, discotheques, live music venues located along Loi Kroh Road. You can meet lot of people from all over the world.
This city is also known for many festivals. The most famous one is in November- Loi Krathong. Every year thousands of people collect floating banana-leaf containers decorated with flowers and candles onto the waterways of the city to worship the Goddess of Water. Another one- Flower Festival takes place during the first weekend of February. I would recommend to stay in Chiang Mai at least one week or two. But I warn you once you get here you never want to leave this place.


 

Jungle Club- hidden paradise

Rainy season has arrived to Koh Samui. Today for the first time since a week there was sunshine so I decided to take advantage of the day and do some exploring. I took my scooter and going from Lamai to Chaweng I stopped by the sign Jungle Club. It was not easy to get to the top but it paid off when I arrived and saw the stunning view and big swimming pool. Around the pool there were many small bungalows where you can stay overnight. You can have lunch or dinner there. It is not so expensive as I expected. The waiters were lovely. One of them served us drinks with a parrot on his shoulder. You can spend the whole day there. I first had a deep in the pool and read my book until my friends arrived and we had late lunch with magnificent view on Koh Samui.  This place is never full cause it’s very well hidden in the jungle and the sign by the road is not very visible. So if you are looking to spend couple relaxing days or just a quiet afternoon with a cocktail this is the place where you should be. It must be also nice in the evenings but I wouldn’t recommend going down that road on a scooter during the night. I hope there are many more hidden places like Jungle Club in Koh Samui waiting to be explored.
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waiter with the lovely parrot

waiter with the lovely parrot

amazing pool

amazing pool

time to relax

time to relax

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lunch time

lunch time