A fellow drifter recently asked, “VJ. Tnoely. What’s your favorite place so far?” I usually have to hold my breath in crucial indecisiveness between New Zealand- Bali, Indonesia- and Bora Bora. Each of them have a special gravitational pull at my heart. Beaches, serenity, mountains, waterfalls. All natural wonders illustrating God’s creative powers on an epic scale. I must say, however, the award goes to… “dun dun nun naaa:” Thailand.
Overview: I would describe Thailand in two words: Asian Bohemia. Hippy’s Paradise. Okay, that’s four. I’m not sure if it’s the $3 thai green curries, the elephant trunk massages, the oozing bohemian vibrations, or the pristine blue lagoons but there is so much to experience in Thailand. It’s where backpackers wake up to outdoor street markets for fresh fruits and vegetables and sit down to observe a procession of buddhist monks. Where fluorescent turquoise and green beaches glisten under the sun next to the mango and sticky rice stand. Off the coast of Thailand float hundreds of uninhabited islands in the Gulf of Siam and the Andaman Sea that are only a boat ride away.
Bangkok: Fun fun fun, there’s so much to do in Bangkok! Thailand is known for their temples’ beautiful gold architecture and artistic style. Spend a day just visiting all of the temples because you must see The Grand Palace and Wat Pho where you can find the Reclining Buddha. Ride in a tuk tuk (a 3-three wheeled motor cart) between destinations and also visit Wat Saket and Wat Phra Kaeo The Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha.
Backpackers and travelers migrate to the infamous Khao San Road for noodles, cheap shopping (because everything is cheap in Asia), all day drinks, and late night debauchery. Grab a river ferry and get off at piers along the way to walk through local areas, markets, schools and neighborhoods without the disruption of other foreigners. This way you can experience Thai life during the day then regroup with other Western travelers at Khao San or Patpong District at night for a Ping Pong Show if you dare… warning: it really isn’t what you think it is.
*Note: Just two days after I left Bangkok in March, there was an outbreak of political riots in the streets and travelers were advised to stay away. Today, however, the situation has become a lot more stable and tourism has resumed. As we mentioned before, do research these conditions before planning.
Phuket: In Phuket,I discovered the most exotic fruits and vegetables displayed in multi-colored rows: jack fruits, dragon fruits, dorians, thai mangos, green mangos, palm sugar, kalanga, pineapples, coconuts, cabbage, lemon grass and other indigenous Thai produce. I carried the food we bought in the market and learned how to make spring rolls, hand-made coconut milk, Thai green curry, and deep fried fish with hand-made sweet and sour sauce. The procedure to cooking Thai food is so foreign from the Western world. They don’t use any ginger and absolutely no curry powder. Instead, the Thai people use a green chili paste, palm sugar, kaffir lime leaves, and fish sauce. At the end, I was given a certificate for completing Thai cooking class. I then inhaled my hand-made meal with a side of Tom Yom soup, cashew chicken, pad Thai noodles, and mango with sticky rice for desert. It. Was. Magic.
From Phuket, hire a speed boat to take you to the islands of majestic blue lagoons at Kho Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh, as seen in The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio. Dive in for a swim and snorkel to shore. Definately one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Ko Samui: I’m not sure if I’ve used the term magic enough to describe Thailand, but once again, beach bungalow in Ko Samui = Magic.
In 1971 two tourists arrived on Thailand’s third largest island via a coconut boat from Bangkok and stumbled upon paradise: white sand beaches with palms blowing in the wind and clear green seas sparkling in the sunlight, against a picture-perfect background of lush green hills and brown roads interspersed with rough wooden structures. Samui has polished its reputation as a hippy island paradise. It has become as popular as Phuket, and at times as trendy. If it’s nightlife you’re after, the full moon parties held at Ko Pha-Ngan are legendary, while snorkelling and nature enthusiasts will enjoy Ko Tao.” (Lonely Planet)
The local currency is Bhat and 35 Bhat is equivalent to $1. The best time to travel to Thailand is between February and late June for amazing weather. If there is any place in this world I want to revisit again and again with the option to live, it is Thailand. Go, and you’ll see why:) -tnoely