If you missed Part 1, you can read it HERE.
Today is the day Amm left for Vietnam, and the day we left BKK for Khao Yai. We woke up pretty early for a hearty breakfast at Centara Grand before heading off.
Began our 2.5 hours bus ride towards our destination. I’m okay with long bus rides. Remember how I took a 6 hour bus ride in Myanmar and enjoyed every minute of it. Love those rides that never seem to end. I feel like it gives me time to think and to listen to my favourite music endlessly, to escape time or even spend quality time reading books (always carry a book or two in hand when travelling).
We hired a private tour bus to drive about 20 of us around. We also had a personal tour guide following us throughout the trip. He’s super nice!! And explained that ‘Khao’ means ‘hill’ in Thai and ‘Yai’ means ‘big’, so it means ‘big hill’.
Upon reaching Khao Yai, this National park turned out to be super hot. Someone ah….told me it’ll be cold like 15 degrees and I even wore a thick long sleeved sweatshirt and brought a thick trench coat that day fml. Mum I was so pissed that it was 30 degrees instead of 15 degrees so pls don’t pass the wrong message again…………..
Anyway, the whole place of Khao Yai gave me so much Hobbit feels!! We didn’t check in to a hotel immediately, but instead visited a vineyard for wine tasting.
They showed us the grapes they planted and how it’s made into red or white wine. The sugar in grapes must be just right for the fermentation process to take place, because the amount of sugar actually determines the percentage of alcohol content in wine! Usually its 12.5%.
Went in and did wine tasting, it’s supposed to be my favourite part but there were a lot of food I cannot eat / drink during the trip because of my recovery and the medicine that I’m still taking. It sucks. I couldn’t touch alcohol because of my meds. Felt so different from the rest when all I could do was watch people around me sip the thing I loved most 😦
We went to this gift shop where they sell the wine, grape juice and make other products and foods that are manufactured. I bought this thousand island dressing! Can’t wait to try it hehe.
Lunch was great too. There was mushroom soup, blueberry tarts, fish but I only ate 1 out of the 3 dishes I’ve been served because of the diary content in the other dishes. So angry. In the end my mum tried the mushroom soup and said it turned out watery & lucky I didn’t try HAHHAA. They added coconut milk inside which I don’t really fancy so it’s okay.
Had really sad thoughts at lunch because of what happened the previous night, and also the frustration of being sick and not being able to enjoy the trip fully (food is very important to me) but I won’t dwell on it here k hehe.
After lunch, we went to this place called Primo Piazza which looks like a Parisian small town. It was the place I had googled previously. It’s as pretty as the place except that its very hot. We just took some pictures and left quickly but I could safely say some of my most beautiful pictures of the trip was taken there!
It really looks like Italy or some cafe in Rome or like the set of Taylor Swift’s MV Begin Again hahah.
Saw the lammas and alpacas! Didn’t know such breeds exist at first and thought they were lambs/goats (how dumb am I??) How lucky am I to see them first before knowing they actually exist hahaha because I have friends that are dying to tick “see an alpaca in real life” off their bucket list.
Yup and mum, my aunts & I fed them! The animals were all so eager upon seeing the food. They were all kept behind a fence but suddenly a ram ran out from nowhere and began chasing my mum. It was such a funny sight because my mum ran and she was so scared! (have a video footage of it, gonna compile vlog soon) Nobody knew how the ram got out though. But I’m pretty amused because my star sign’s Aries (the ram), it’s a pity I didn’t take a picture of it though.
Got up the bus when we’re done and all of us were so relieved having gotten away from the heat outside. After which our bus stopped at another area which is the supermarket and another piazza station which was in our itinerary. None of us wanted to go down. So we skipped that stop cos we were freaking tired and the weather was a bitch. Went to check it finally!
Checked in into hotel Botanica and that’s when I realised that I left my travel adaptor in Myanmar. Horror of horrors!!! I borrowed an adaptor from the check in counter in the end.
This hotel was so different from the rest. It’s very nature centred and has lush greenery everywhere. Definitely one of my favourites!
The rooms have a dining area, balcony, bedroom, living room and a huge bathroom. The balcony overlooks the mountainous regions and it feels surreal to live and eat on a highland. We sleep overlooking the trees and wake up to birds chirping it was really nature at it’s best….
We chilled till 6.30pm exploring our rooms.
Went for dinner at this cosy place not far away from the hotel. I remembered feeling quite cold then a little uncomfortable. After dinner, we went back to the hotel and chill for the rest of the night. The hotel’s really awesome—has a pool, bar, gym and even a library lounge. Went there at night and I would have expected to stay a little longer that’s why I brought my whole travel diary up to write. The moment I got back with my diary in hand everybody left……. -___- and it was Dad & I left. By pure serendipity, I played Christmas music through dad’s speakers and it was just a really good night.
Kept in contact with Amm a bit throughout the day. She’s going to Vietnam alone!!! This girl asked if I believe her. I said yes of course why not hahaha. She’s always been an independent girl, even told me that she’s trying couchsurfing for the first time! She prefers to travel in small groups (like 4-5 people) and I kind of agree with that. Big groups are really more time consuming and troublesome because we have to care about accommodating everyone’s needs. The smaller the tour group, the more free & easy it is. I GET TO MAKE MORE DECISIONS like where to eat & go etc. But the good thing about travelling with your family is that you’ll never have to worry about money or living in dingy lodgings. Rem how Celia & I booked a last minute airbnb in Hong Kong at a super low price for one night. We spent hours finding that apartment. That night was adventurous but scary. HAHA.
Day 3—CHRISTMAS EVE MORNING
Christmas eve was the most fun & happiest day in Khao yai but also the day where I’m the most ill. (just warn u first I’ll delve into the details later)
Also helped mum tie braids before the day started.
Started off the day at Botanica, having breakfast buffet style. It was delicious as usual—with so many choices to pamper us! Bread, porridge, rice, milk, cornflakes, salad, scrambled eggs, bacon…everything you could think of.
Look at my face. I want to sleep.
Normally I wouldn’t ever give cornflakes a miss because it’s my all time favourite: but I did. No milk allowed in my diet. Only ate a little as I wasn’t feeling well. Went to the toilet a few times argh.
After breakfast we went on a tour at the farm! We were led into this room where we sat on rows of chairs and in the middle of the stage area stood a cow. Saying this is going to make me look really bad but I saw cows for the first time in my life. I forgot if I have seen cows in the farm in Perth, Australia..
Anyway, I was expecting them to milk the cow or at least, some sort of action but instead, we were shown some video of a calf coming out of its mother’s womb and how its mother licked it clean LOL. The cow stood on the stage doing nothing. It was very big though.
We were led into this factory where we’re able to milk cows. I honestly wanted to try but it’s a bit embarrassing when you’re overly eager and no one wants to. My cousin even said, “Why would you wanna touch some cow’s nipples” 😂😒 I totally salute my dad for stepping forward to volunteer hahaha. He’s always the kind of guy that will participate actively HAHA maybe I got the genes from him. That’s the fun in travelling isn’t it?
Success! He did it before so he succeeded first try haha. Pretty cool because you have to apply pressure in a certain way or something. I think if I went I’ll probably really embarrass myself. Usually they attach pumps to the cow cos using machine is definitely way faster than manual labour. It made me a little sad because I remembered how Celia told me that cows can only produce milk enough for its baby calf, and by creating the demand for it…we’re actually robbing milk away from the baby calves. Treating cows like milking machines is not the way to go man…
Then we got to this place where we can see all the bottles of milk being packaged. There’s machines for fermentation, pasteurization, etc.
They distributed free milk ice cream which I didn’t get to eat because of my stomach again 😦 Felt so left out yet again. Why does all my favourite food have to contain milk. So I made a super daring decision.
By Day 4 I couldn’t take it so I ditched my medicine completely.
We sat on the tram which goes around the whole of the farm area and saw so many beautiful picturesque landscapes along the way!!! Arrived at this cowboy area where we get to see a cowboy riding a horse skilfully, galloping and all. After that, he exited and came back with a whip. The whip made a terrible sound when it hits the sand, like as if someone is being spanked. An audience held a flower stalk in his mouth & the cowboy can whip the flower off its stalk & not hurt the audience member at all. Such precision!
Then came this activity when we came to ride some ranch car thing which I think its a tractor?? It looks something like those vehicles in Jurassic Park/ whatever action movies, when people often rode out in the wilderness to hunt for dinosaurs or some dangerous creature?? My Hollywood adventure movies fantasy has finally came true. It’s legit driving with an accelerator, brake, steering wheel and manual control!! I don’t have a license so driving in the wilderness with a vehicle all to myself is a big deal. I was unconfident but just went ahead anyway because how many first times do you have in life right.
I was driving halfway when Isabel suddenly came rushing and driving mad fast in her scooter behind us!! She overtook us but almost crashed into us looool. Another funny incident was when my mum and I saw someone tailing closely behind us and both of us thought it was the personnel monitoring us in case we drove off borders. As he approached closer, it turns out it was Uncle Edwin driving his tractor LOL!
It was through this fun activity that actually made me realise and confirm my love for driving. I think I might just love driving as much as Ellen D. does (she always talks about driving in her talk show). Maybe it was the feeling of wind rushing through my hair, feeling of liberation and freedom or maybe it was just the feeling of control, that you have the vehicle to yourself and is absolutely free to drive anywhere you please; or maybe it was the leading and being responsible for your passengers, ensuring they are safe and happy throughout the ride.
The pretty view while I’m driving. After that I sent my driving video to LK and he said I’m fast & furious hahah. I replied saying I like to drive fast. But safe. HAHAHA. To be honest it took me a while to get the hang of it but after that it’s pretty fun & stimulating!!! Maybe it’s in my character all along. I have no idea, I always found the idea of driving people home more appealing than to be driven home.
Lunch was at this lovely place called The chocolate factory. At first in the morning when i heard “Chocolate Factory” I thought we were going to a legit choco factory so I was puzzled when we went on a farm tour instead. Little did I know that the Chocolate Factory was the name of the restaurant! I had pork ribs because there’s nothing else I could order in the menu. Nothing else I could eat that was not too spicy / without prawns / without black pepper or anything too strong on my stomach. Mum had Australian beef!
It was a delicious lunch and there was no warm water so I drank icy cold water. I hate restaurants that have no warm water seriously why do they assume that people like cold stuff. There may be younger children/elderly who needs warm water. I downed it regardless. It was very uncomfortable because warm water always helps with my digestion I feel. But it’s okay, I didn’t need to wait long before the price I had to pay for drinking that came.
ON THE ROAD
On the long bus ride towards our next destination the road was exceedingly bumpy and I felt very dizzy. I could feel my stomach churning and felt very bloated. It was so painful and started getting more and more uncomfortable to the point I slept off my pain to stop feeling it. When I woke up, I still couldn’t quite lay my hands on what was wrong but the answer soon came to me when the bus came to a halt and I vomited. Continued vomiting for a good 15 minutes and got off the bus to continue some more.
Thank goodness I asked for a plastic bag immediately after I felt nauseous because the next thing I know I was puking into it. I felt like there was air in my stomach or something. My mum handed me 2 herbal sweets but I couldn’t bring to put them inside my mouth cos I felt so horrible. I think I puked off all my lunch. Uncle Edwin & my tour guide stayed back to look after me. I think I must have felt sick for an hour or so 😦
We arrived at this garden which I skipped this activity. They all suggested I stay behind because this activity has some boat rocking or what that might cause more drowsiness but idk. Mum and I continued to walk around the garden nearby and I so regretted I left my phone on the bus charging, because this place was so beautiful and otherworldly!! No photo or video were really captured here but I can say that the flower patches stretches on and on and on, like for eternity, and there were pink and yellow flowers and amazing vines nothing like this world.
Thank God I got these pics from my dad’s camera.
MY TOUR GUIDE
My tour guide was superb. Let me talk a little about him.
#1: His English is really good even though on the first day he apologised in advance if he says anything wrongly.
#2: He allowed me to charge my phone on the bus EVERYDAY until I thought I was being an annoying prick with my phone dying so often.
#3: When he knows my pattern he will always initiate to charge it for me everyday. If not, twice per day. I don’t even have to ask.
#4: He goes beyond measure and his job scope to ensure our comfort and safety.
#5: When I was sick and puked on the bus, he stayed with me throughout, and even got me some medicated oil to relieve my nausea. Even though some of my relatives were there by me but he didn’t just walk away. Thankful!!
#6: He allowed my dad to sing on the bus. Yes. With a mic. We have heard of carpool karaoke but have we heard of buspool karaoke!? Yet my tour guide acceded to my dad’s many requests everyday, connect the cables, got the mic for him, and went to YouTube to search karaoke version of songs (my dad is not very tech-savvy). And it’s not like my dad sings very well (it’s just noise pollution tbh) but my tour guide’s patience with him is really superb.
MIDWINTER RESTAURANT—X’MAS EVE DINNER
Dinner was at Midwinter restaurant, the dinner setting was so magical. Dinner inside a castle with European architecture is something I definitely wouldn’t dream of! It really looks like one of those buildings from Prague or maybe old Rome. It was Christmas Eve and the air was slightly chilly. After puking earlier today I don’t feel too well and we had to wait a long time to get in the restaurant because it was full house for holiday season.
Finally entered and the view waiting for us was this open area that we could have dinner in candlelight under the stars. The whole place looked like this small town with fireflies. A performance was going on and a band was playing in the stage at the front. All the warm lights shone and it reminds me of those fantasy movies where people use torches instead of lights. I can tell everyone enjoyed it so much!
As music of the performance rang in the distance, we sat eating piping hot, delicious food in the cold December air. My mum and aunts were looking up and searching for the stars. I told her that if she cupped her hands around her eyes to block out the surrounding light, the stars would appear to be more obvious. I looked up and saw them more clearly for myself. God’s creation is beautiful. It reminds me what’s truly the reason for the Christmas season. He is the reason. I saw 3 stars in a row shining brightly.
Immediately I recalled a week ago at Pyay, Aunty Mag told me that it’s the Orion. Today I looked up and saw the Orion again. I find it amazing how I’m at 2 different parts of the world in such a short time, and yet I see those very stars that shine brightly as always.
I ordered Beef Bolognese, the classic. I changed the type of pasta to Angel hair and it’s heavenly! It’s really thin and the texture is really smooth. The minced beef was really good too but I couldn’t finish it due to the screaming pain in my stomach. That’s when I had a feeling that I’m probably down with stomach flu.
The weather had gotten colder now and Day 3 was one of the days packed with the best food but I didn’t get to enjoy most of it. Was really salty (me I mean, not the food LOL) I was pissed that I couldn’t even touch wine or cold beverages or milk or cheese or spicy foods or any other food that contains dairy products (eg. mushroom soup, ice cream, pasta with cream sauce with contains milk, etc), which is at least 50% of whatever food the team is eating at the moment. All these are my favourite foods/drinks…why 😦
Our tour guide & driver was supposed to get their dinner themselves elsewhere but in this cold weather and desolate town where could they go?? The restaurant was in the middle of nowhere to be honest. The next eating place might as well be a handful of a distance away and it’s super inconvenient. My uncle treated our tour guide to a meal at Midwinter Restaurant where we were dining, I thought it was very generous and considerate! I don’t know why but it makes me less worried knowing that their meals are cared for and they are not out roaming somewhere.
This trip was one of my luxurious trips this year but I felt I could have enjoyed it better if not for my stomach flu. Food matters. Health matters. People matters. You could have the most extravagant stuff and stay in the most comfortable lodging but if they people you’re travelling with hurt and annoy you, you wouldn’t be the most happy during the trip. Likewise, you could have the most humble lodgings and stay with the one you love and yet be very joyful. Super thankful that I have my family around with me throughout the trip 🙂
Part 3 is now out HERE.