At 10am the alarm went off, and I woke up the sleepy birthday boy bringing him his cards and present, followed by a knock at the door half an hour later with a complimentary birthday cake I had requested. Safe to say he didn't stop smiling all morning. We then got ready and had planned to go visit the Grand Palace and all the temples, grabbing some breakfast from the bakery on the way.
Happily, we agreed to be taken to these and jumped on the boat. It was a long wooden boat with just the two of us and the guy controlling it, that took us off the pier and through the canal which closed off into a row of houses each side of the water. Some were magnificent brick buildings, others were wooden shacks resting on thin, eroded pieces of wood in the water.
It was a shock to us that people lived in houses like this, houses the size of a shed with big gaps in between the slacks allowing access to the torrential downpours. But then again it made us think how naive we are. Of course, people have to live like this if they have no money and that's exactly why we've come traveling, to see things like that and make us more aware, and also grateful.
As more time passed, we still hadn't been shown any of these things promised along the way, but still, we held out a little longer....and then eventually we were taken to a pier and our boat ride was over. A bit disheartened, but never mind, it took us back to near our hotel with a scenic route.
On the walk back to the hotel from the pier, we passed a park and I noticed something swimming quickly in the water, something the size of a baby crocodile. Excitedly I grabbed Dave and we followed it down the river until we saw some dry land and trees and discovered there were more, all at arm's length. They appeared to be some sort of lizard, and when we got home and googled it turns out they were a Water Monitor, the second biggest lizard after a Komodo dragon. (I said it looked the size of a baby crocodile. Wikipedia says they eat them)
When we got back to the hotel at 5:30pm, we realised we were starving as we hadn't eaten since breakfast so went to check out all the restaurants in the hotel.
None of them opened till 6 so we finally got to go enjoy a cocktail in the moon bar just as the sun was setting to enjoy the view, before going to the hotel's Japanese restaurant.
(I'm not a fan but it's Daves favourite, and you can't not give that to someone on their birthday. Plus I was too hungry to care) To my surprise, the food was phenomenal.
The both of us enjoyed it thoroughly and due to another bragging that it was Daves birthday, we once again got the staff singing and a free dessert. Followed by endless pots of tea...
After tea we went back to the room to get changed to go out for some drinks, however, Dave put the tv on whilst we got ready and we found ourselves an hour later cuddled up in bed watching Meet the Fockers - perfect. Eventually, we got dressed up and decided to have drinks in the hotel rather than be venturing out, however, all the bars are open top and were all closed again due to the rain, so we were sent down to the lobby bar.
The lobby bar was literally just a hotel lobby, with a portable bar stuck in the middle and people sitting around that had just arrived with piles of suitcases. However - it was still a bar, and having been out the night before, we were more than happy to have a cocktail and go chill out and watch another film. The only thing that mattered was that Dave had a good birthday and he loved every minute of it, all in all - successful day and night and we loved it.
Travels to Chiang Mai
After another late night, a lie in was needed before we slowly began to get ready and packed up again to move on. Our stay at Banyan tree had been amazing and we were sad to be leaving, but not too sad to be leaving Bangkok. We were done with it and wanted to see the proper rural and cultural parts of Thailand.
At 2pm we checked out and had 2 and a half hours to waste before our taxi to the train station. We thought about venturing out for our last piece of Bangkok but was strongly advised to stay at the hotel as the traffic getting back in time would be terrible and wouldn't recommend anywhere for us to go.
So we did what was best....we found the hotel buffet.
The buffet cost about £20 each but was going to be all our food for the day.
We also arrived in the last 25 minutes so piled our plates as high as we could, as well as ordering some meat to be cooked fresh on the grill in which arrived size and was colossal. (We took up 2 tables with our food and when they came to bring us more food they just laughed and we quietly asked them to place it on the next table. We actually nearly ate everything).
Time soon passed and we were in our taxi to the train station to get our overnight train.
An hour later we boarded our train and were pleasantly surprised to find it a lot nicer than the Chinese ones we had been on. Rather than filled with bunk beds everywhere meaning you could only sit up if you were on the bottom bunk, all along on the Thai one were big facing seats which later on folded out into a bed.
Due to experience with the China trains also (people walking past all the time bumping you) we booked into the top bunks, this was a mistake. The top bunks were above the seats that folded down, and even though there was nothing wrong with these, the bottom one appeared to be bigger and would fit the both of us on.
After a bit of bargaining, we upgraded to a bottom (cost us about £1.80) and we were both happy and ready to sleep....until we tried to sleep. We made a mistake sharing a bed as it was too hot and cramped and the pair of us barely slept all night.
It's now 7:38am and were both tired and waiting to get off the train in Chiang Mai.
First thoughts looking out the window it looks amazing, greenery everywhere, a lot bluer skies and a lot more rural. Can't wait to get there.