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Hello and welcome to our travel blog and we appreciate you dropping by! Our goal is simple – enjoy and experience life while we still have the health and energy to do so. Do that travel we’ve always wanted but didn’t get round to. Experience what traveling and living in other countries feels like. Revel in and enjoy the journey. Currently based in beachside Hua Hin on Thailand’s Gulf Coast, we are pursuing new passions. For Vivien, that’s learning Thai and helping others with English. For me, it’s writing and photography. For both of us it’s travel and being able to share our experiences with you here, and in publications that accept my writing. Enjoy reading! Michael & Vivien

It’s our second year living in Thailand and second Songkran (Thai New Year) so I started wondering what Songkran is all about.  It has become know as The World’s Biggest Water Party and now attracts thousands of people who visit Thailand specifically to take part – but it must be more than this. Having more or less, hidden behind closed doors last year –  heard so many negative stories about the behaviour of people on Songkran. This year I decided to take much more of an interest – and most importantly try to understand what this festival is for Thai people.

Here’s what I found out!

Songkran traditions are a long way from the images shown in the world’s newspapers every year – powder smeared tourists armed with water pistols and wide grins.

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Andaman Islands – our Cultural Insights

India’s the Andaman Islands and more specifically it’s capital, Port Blair provided us with several cultural insights – and isn’t that what travel is all about – seeing new, unexpected, or just real life experiences and events that provide insight to local people’s lives.

There were so many highlights and bonuses that we did not expect. Here is a selection of experiences that stuck with us!

And if you have not read about our Andaman Islands cruising story here.

Weddings

Our first cultural insight was accidental. Wandering the streets adjacent to Aberdeen Market one of our troop noticed stores that looked like they hired out catering equipment – massive pots 3 and 4 feet across and gas burners to sit underneath. On asking our driver he explained these are used in preparing the catering for weddings held at halls just up the street. After some encouragement, he took us to one such hall where, coincidently for us, a wedding was in progress.  Our troop tentatively entered the courtyard of the hall and found ourselves being welcomed and encouraged to enter to see what was happening. The males in our troop were ushered into the male eating area and plates of food thrust forward. People were happy to pose for photos and parents even offered their children, dressed in their finery, as subjects for more photos. What a colourful, happy, friendly and joyous place!

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Andaman Islands, India – a cruising adventure!

A few months back Vivien’s brother Andy and his partner Kelli asked if we wanted to join them for a cruising adventure – a trip to the Andaman Islands, India!   Quintessa, their 47-foot motor cruiser was to be our means of travel and around 5 other cruising yachts would also be making the trip from Thailand to the Andamans and back. The overall trip was to be around 5 weeks as India only issues a 4-week Tourist Visa, plus our cruising travel time to and from.

Facing this decision, my practical mind started throwing up silly “But what about …..?” questions.

Questions like “But will we get seasick – its 50+ hours at sea before we see land again?”; “But will we cope living in the relatively close quarters of a boat with Andy & Keli (and them with us) for such a long period of time?”; “But what will the Andaman Islands be like – it is part of India?” And then thankfully, the words of American writer Mark Twain came to mind and I knew we just had to say Yes!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”

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We took a road trip from our home in Hua Hin on Thailand Gulf Coast to Chiang Mai in the far north-west – some 900 km one way. Overall a 2000 km round trip! We had set aside 2 weeks for the trip with a week in Chiang Mai and the remainder exploring places along the way. Two ‘must visit’ places for us were Ayutthaya and Sukhothai. This Blog post focuses on Ayutthaya – one of the ancient cities of Thailand which we found fascinating!

You can read about our exploration of the ancient cities of Sukhothai here!

Now World Heritage sites, Ayutthaya and Sukhothai tell the story of the original Kingdom of Siam. And as we have made Thailand our home it seemed essential for our own cultural knowledge and understanding that we visit and explore these sites.

Ayutthaya

On our route north and only 80 km above Bangkok is the thriving town of Ayutthaya and within is the Historic City of Ayutthaya.

Founded in 1350, Ayutthaya was the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom.  It flourished from the 14th to the 18th centuries, during which time it grew to be one of the world’s largest and most cosmopolitan urban areas and a centre of global diplomacy and commerce.

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This blog post focuses on Sukhothai – one of Thailand’s ancient cities. We visited as part of a 2-week road trip from our home in Hua Hin on east coast Thailand to Chiang Mai in the far north-west.  Two ‘must visit’ places we decided on to break-up our trip were historical Ayutthaya & Sukhothai.

You can read about our time in the ancient city of Ayutthaya here!

Sukhothai

On our way north to Chiang Mai we spent a day exploring the preserved archaeological sites around Kamphaeng Phet and during the return leg, we spent 2 days exploring preserved sites in and around Sukhothai.

We feel that even if the history doesn’t interest you, Sukhothai’s ruins do not fail to impress.

Located 12 kilometres east of the historical park along the Yom River is the small capital city of modern Sukhothai province –  “New Sukhothai” as it’s commonly referred to. The much smaller “Old City” stretching east from the Sukhothai Historical Park and is where we stayed so we could be close to the Historical Park. Everything we needed was there including a fantastic “Sukhothai style” Khao Soi! 🙂

Opened to the public in 1988, the Historical Park contains 193 archaeological sites, including the remains of 26 monasteries, spread over 70 square kilometres altogether. While most of these consist of little more than a crumbling base or lopsided chedi, around a dozen key sites, rank Sukhothai among Southeast Asia’s top historical destinations.

The UNESCO World Heritage website helps to put some context around these historic towns.

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With visitors in tow, we visited what is said to be one of Thailand’s most beautiful and certainly most photographed caves. First impressions when we finally entered the enormous main chamber and saw the Kuha Karuhas (Royal) pavilion bathed in sunlight in the middle of Phraya Nakhon Cave – well worth the effort!

Our adventure started in Sam Roi Yot National Park, about a 45 minutes drive South of Hua Hin. We’d read that it’s best to be actually inside the cave around 10:00am as the pavilion and central chamber is swathed in sunlight from approximately 10:30 to 11:30am creating a magical view – so we’d set off early.

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