>> Tuesday, June 23, 2009
And I like it just the way it is. I don't care about protests and riots (which really are nothing compared to Nepal), about being ripped off or hearing "Sawadee kaa" five million times a day, or even arguing with the taxi and tuk tuk drivers...
On Sunday night I had a very exciting catch up with my best friend back in Australia, and she asked why I haven't posted anything about travel destinations in a while...but little did she know that I had one in the works. The problem was, I just had no idea what angle to take Thailand on because I love every aspect of it.
So I will begin with this, I have been to Thailand four times, it is supposed to be six by the end of 2009, but will only be five due to my work trip falling through. Yeah yeah, brag on I hear you say, but each visit has been different and has contributed to this love that I feel.
My love affair started on my first visit, which was part of a College field trip where we spent some time studying the post 2004 tsunami affects on the Thai's. My friend and I took an extra two weeks to travel around the south before we met up with our group. We went from Bangkok to Surat Thani to Koh Samui to Krabi to Phi Phi to Phuket, then up the coast to Khao Lak to visit the tsunami ravaged area. Island after beach, after island and then more beach!
It rained alot, which made the water brown not crystal blue like the photos, but this didn't deter us. Not even jellyfish sting's stopped us from enjoying our time beach side. We took island tours, swam alot, snorkled, splashed in the small waves, scooted around and walked during low tide to out laying islands. This trip was where I fell in love with Thai food. Oh oodles of noodles! Because of this trip Thai food will always be numero uno on my list, and also because of this trip will I never order green bean chilly satay stuff again since it put my stomach in a bad place just before our kyaking tour to James Bond island. Think about it, boat trip and an already swaying stomach? I felt like I was on the magic tea cup ride at Disneyland while being on a rollercoaster. The whole day was a bit of a blur, but I am sure I clutched my stomach and a roll of toilet paper everywhere we went. But hey, don't be paranoid of sickness - to me this is the stuff that memories are made of!
The people were friendly, and more than helpful. You always seemed to get more than what you were paying for. A one hour Thai massage by the seaside for only $9? A plate of pad see ew noodles for only $2? Colourful lights for only $4? For someone that loves a good bargain, can you see why I began to love Thailand so much?
Visit's no. 2 & 3, some probably wouldn't count since they were stopovers, but I say: if they stamp it - you've visited it. They were both 2 day stays that basically just involved shopping. We visited MBK, Paragon, Siam Square, the Weekend Market and Khao San Road. We got haircuts (permanent hair straightening), bought jackets and tees, dvds and jewelery, and even another suitcase to bring it all home. Khao San Road, the backpackers mecca was crazy and I held onto my bag for its dear life. The amount of foreigners, ladyboys and beggars really sets a fast pace. This along with the Patpong markets are experiences that shouldn't be missed. Even if you just stand at the end of the street at take a peek in, just watch your valuables!
My honeymoon was spent on Koh Samui, which is visit no. 4. I wish we relaxed more, but no. We did a jungle safari and rode an elephant, we also rented a scooter and went around the island which was loads of fun, (maybe not for my new husband as I constantly whispered in his ear that he was going too fast!). We saw a giant Buddha, felt the wind in my hair, and touched the warm crystal blue water. It was a rushed trip, as we were on our way to Nepal, but I still got to eat my noodles, get my hair cut and check out some pretty souveniers in the market. If you go to Koh Samui, make sure you hire a scooter!
So I guess that is why I love Thailand. I love it because I can shop, and do it cheaply. I love it because I can live the lifestyle of the wealthy and have a massage on the beach and then get my nails done. I love it because I can be adventurous and go kyaking, elephant riding and snorkeling just a stones throw from my hotel. And, I love it because of the freedom I feel to do and be whatever I want...
If you haven't embarked on your big adventure around the world yet, and are a bit wary of experiencing new cultures, Thailand is where to start. Be exposed to something different that won't slap you in the face, and take a baby step into the exotic and visit Thailand - wow, that sounded nearly as good as the advertising campaign ;)
Check out my previous post on a gorgeous boutique hotel we stayed in which is close to the most important thing to do in Bangkok, shop. (okay, I admit. It's not just close to shopping, but to everything!)
I wish I took these photos, but I didn't *sigh*, they are from the very talented sfgirlbybay on flickr.