We ended Thailand very much how we began it with a pleasant place to stay. It is often overlooked how where we spend the night influences our opinion of a town, city, or the whole country.
Deirdre didn’t like Bangkok the first time around, on our round the world trip, ten years ago, when we stayed in sweaty little boxes. Even then, they were an improvement on our first ever night in the city. We had arrived in Bangkok on Chinese New Year and the place was full. After the obligatory argument with a cheating airport taxi driver, who tried to convince us the price that persuaded us to choose him over his competition was for each person – because that’s how taxis work right? – we roamed the night with a couple of other homeless backpackers scooping up shoeless robbery victims until we got a bed the next day in a space so small we could barely close the door behind us.
We began this visit to Thailand with Lub d and are ending it in Hua Hin in a poolside room at the Evergreen Boutique Hotel. Deirdre can’t swim and though I love a pool I don’t always take advantage of it. But with this one as close to the bed as the bathroom I might just have a dip in between working on this article and getting JAB out. As I write there are two guys in the pool watching sports on the TV which must surely be the definition of living the dream.
In between Evergreen and Lub d we have slept in numerous beds and regardless of whether they were cheap or expensive, whether we paid for them with cash money or traded for advertising space, I can’t think of one that hasn’t had something to recommend it.
For our first few nights in Hua Hin we tried a homestay. Kings’s Home is the home of John, a Dutchman that has spent most of his life away from his home country. King’s Home had character both in the furnishings and in the owner who seemed to spend almost every minute of our time there in the garden pool. The varied knick knacks decorating the rooms made staying here like an overnight visit to a well-travelled uncle or grandparent.
Before Hua Hin we were in Kanchanaburi where the Bamboo House Guesthouse put us up for a few nights. Sadly our volunteer commitments meant we didn’t have much time in the room to enjoy the very comfortable bed or make use of the desk space and wifi to get some work done. The Jolly Frog was where we loafed about in this town and though the staff can be grumpy and the wifi is dreadful I have a soft spot for this cheapy cheapy option.
Bangkok we visited several times staying in various places around the city. On our last visit we rested our heads at Ban Sabai, where the marketing manager is keen to recruit volunteers to teach in local schools. Another volunteer gig can be had with At Home Sukhothai, where the owner is looking for someone to help in reception and the garden.
The place we had the most trouble finding accommodation was on the island of Koh Chang. Though we were there for nearly two weeks – our only island time in Thailand on this trip – we found it difficult to get settled as we were shuttled about the island trying to get our foot in the door of anywhere that wasn’t fully booked.
This wasn’t a problem in Chiang Mai where we spent four months, off and on, in the long stay option of View Doi Mansion. Here we paid £100 a month for a hotel room and got to know our local neighbourhood to the northwest of the central moat area. Like Bangkok we had a good start to Chiang Mai flopping down after a long train ride at the lovely De Lanna Hotel and benefiting from the kindness of Hun Lek and Louis at Villa Duang Champa.
We didn’t really do a great deal in Chiang Mai. This was our place for work and we had seen the sights ten years before but we packed a lot into two days when we went into the countryside to stay at Lisu Lodge and Khum Lanna. More about this soon.
Disclaimer: we didn’t stay at any of these places for free (aside from Villa Duang Champa) but we traded accommodation for advertising with some of the hotels and guest houses listed in this piece and feel this merits this disclaimer.