My Two Week Fling (with Thailand)
What did I think of Thailand while I there? I loved it. I love it even more looking back at it through the rosy shades that are hindsight. I forget that I was lonely at times, that things didn’t go as planned, or that stuff was a lot more expensive than is says in the budget travel guides. I mean, yeah we could get meals for 50 cents, and we did, but mostly we got meals that were at least $10.
Yeah, I know, not exactly breaking the bank, but you really have to stick to Thai food if you want to eat super cheap. It’s kinda hard when there’s Starbucks, MacDonalds and Pizza Hut on every corner! We don’t have those in my home town. Kununurra’s closest Maccas is over 400km away.
I guess the thing I love most about Thailand is that it’s totally foreign, but so easy to navigate and figure out what you’re supposed to be doing. It’s also surprisingly clean (I think), and most of the people (especially the women) are really lovely and want to help you out. For example, I went to a massage parlor just around the corner from my hostel at least once a day for about four days. On the last day, just before I was going to the islands for a week and a half, I accidentally left my necklace there. It was important to me as it was a going-away present from a good friend. Upon my return from the islands, I asked if they still had it, and it turns out they did. They had a whole drawer of stuff that people had forgotten and that were waiting to be picked up!
What I loved as well was that I met a whole bunch of people that I just had so much fun with while I was over there. I hung out with one chick from San Francisco for my 4 days in Bangkok, and got to know another group in Koh Tao during my open-water diving course. At the end of it we all got together at the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan and had an absolute blast. These are people from all walks of life, and it’s pretty much impossible not to find anyone you don’t have anything in common with. While I was there I hung out with ex-army careerists, people with doctorates in obscure micro bugs, teachers, musicians, students, long term and short term travelers alike.
What was my favourite place? Probably Koh Phangan, and not just because of the Full Moon Party. I’m not much of a party person these days. You’ll probably find me in bed asleep before 10pm on a normal night, and without doubt before 12am on ANY night. Kudos to those who party all night long, I can’t anymore – not that I think I ever partied for longer than 3pm, but I have been known to start early (like 6am), so don’t write me off completely! I just think that Koh Phangan was really beautiful, especially the view from the hilltop resort I was staying in. Also, it is a bigger island, especially when compared to Koh Tao. I didn’t really enjoy Koh Tao that much. Maybe it was all the focus on diving, or that it was kind of hard to meet people outside of your diving crew.
I thought for a while it might be the fact that the island was so small, but then I stayed on Beachcomber in Fiji for a week. If I can stay on an island that takes about 5 minutes to walk around and not feel claustrophobic, then I guess the size of the island has nothing to do with it. It might be the fact that I couldn’t walk 5 steps without running into someone. There was more privacy on our postage stamp island Beachcomber than on Koh Tao.
That being said, I wouldn’t trade my time in Koh Tao for anything. That’s where I first did SCUBA diving (one of my favourite things in the world) and saw some ridiculously amazing stuff underwater. It’s also where I first tried green pawpaw salad (another of my favourite things in the world). I would try and shove about three kilograms of that salad down my throat every night I was there. Oh, and the Tom Yum (possibly the most amazing food ever created) was ok. It was pretty awesome in Bangkok, but touristified on the islands. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a bit of ‘be careful, she’s a farang’ when it comes to my Tom Yum. I had an authentic Tom Yum in a local bar in Bangkok and on a spicy scale of 1-10 it was 15. I had about 5 spoons of it and had to admit defeat. But yeah, Bangkok had some pretty good meals!
So yeah, if you’re going to Thailand I can give you a few tips if you need them, but seriously – do some research and ask the girl at the front desk what you should do. They’ll get you a free map, circle all the important places – train station, nearest shop, cheapest bar, etc – and give you directions on how to get there. They’ll even advise you how to catch the local bus, and how much change to have ready.
Is Thailand a good place to go traveling for the first time? I have no idea, but what I do know is that you should be confident and get ready to explore. Don’t worry, it’s safe!
So, I was pretty slack about writing my travel diaries in Thailand, mainly because I was only there for 2 weeks, but I should have written some notes at least and then written them up fully once I got home. Here’s what I found when I picked up my old Ipad the other day.