Thai Airways to Bangkok (about 10 hours, assisted by strong tail wind) then on to Chiang Rai. One hour transfer to Anantara Golden Triangle Resort, overlooking Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. Hotel just west of Chiang Saen, the ancient Lanna capital. At dusk, observed thousands of white egret roosting in the water meadows below us. Very atmospheric views down to the Ruak river as it joins the Mekong.
|Golden Buddha, Chiang Saen|
Visited northern Thai tribes people around Chiang Rai – Hmong, Padong, Akha, longneck Karen and Shan women mainly, all selling assorted handicrafts. Very touristy!
|Long Neck Karen tribeswoman|
|Northern Thai tribeswoman|
|Wat Thaton, near Chiang Rai|
Finally, on busier roads, we reached Chiang Mai and enjoyed the minimalist surroundings of The Chedi, situated on the banks of the Mae Ping river. Visited the famous Night Bazaar nearby…loads of fake tat for sale.
An early start for the drive up to see Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a splendid temple with gleaming copper plated stupa situated high on a hill overlooking Chiang Mai.
|Copper plated stupa at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, near Chiang Mai|
|Reclining Buddha at Wat Phoi, Bangkok|
|Wat Pho, Bangkok|
Return to Wat Pho for more pictures, then a short walk alongside the Grand Palace perimeter to visit the huge temple complex within the walls, including the revered Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Phra Kaew. A fantastic collection of the most ornate and stunning architecture but extremely difficult to photograph due to a profusion of perspectives! Time only permitted a quick external viewing of the splendid Grand Palace building, beautifully kept in manicured gardens.
|Wat Phra Kaew, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok|
|Grand Palace, Bangkok|
Up sharp to get the early morning light at the red sandstone temple complex at Banteay Srei. Well presented and many intricate carvings. Passed an Exodus group-sponsored well in one of the villages just south of Bataey Srei.
|Banteay Srei, Cambodia|
|Ta Phrom, Cambodia|
After lunch we visited the Bayon, my personal favourite temple, comprising 37 towers, most sporting four carved faces, plus bas relief on the lower walls.
A short hotel break, then back to Angkor Wat for sunset from a nearby hill temple.
|Sunrise at Angkor Wat|
|Early morning at Angkor Wat|
|Stumpy at Angkor Wat|
Day 9 to Day 14
Visits to Ao Nang, and the islands of Ko Hong, Pakbia and Lading. Snorkelling and photography.
|Ko Phi Phi Leh|
|Maya Bay ('The Beach')|
|Hat Pha Nang|
Visit to Railay and Hat Phra Nang by long tail boat from Ao Nang. Beaches, caves and good rock-climbing.
Rainforest trip to the Emerald Pools and the Tiger Temple complex near Krabi.
|Tiger Temple, near Krabi|
|Swamp forest near Krabi, Thailand|
Fond farewell to Kevin, now off to Myanmar, China, Tibet, Nepal and northern India on the next leg of his journey, before our long flight home from Bangkok.