So Thailand. The original travel hub of Asia, the daring tropical adventure where one could backpack and adventure off the beaten track. Well now the track is beaten, large five-star resorts popping up to accommodate those who wanted the “Asian” adventure, but from the safety of their aircon, buffet breakfast and complimentary cocktails. This sadly gives a bad rep to us travellers who want the authentic experience and don't have pockets full of cash. Though this didn't stop us from experiencing the best.
Starting off in the mecca of Thailand, we stepped foot of the plane and straight into the buzzing, bustling city of Bangkok. This giant city of sweat, noise and absolute excitement has a special place in my heart and anticipation flaked my every move, waiting to see if the city was just as I remembered.
After a month of saving our money, our tight pockets made like a drunk girl and let loose. First on the shopping agenda, Chatuchak Weekend Market. My nine-year-old memory of pet squirrels and poodle puppies was disappointed, but my twenty-two-year-old desire for designer clothing and ‘rip-off’ trinkets, was very pleased. Besides the shops at Chatuchak, there were the food stalls. As the rain bucketed down, Matthew and I sat with the locals on our little, plastic chairs and ordered noodles with the only method a local store has, point at the picture, cover the word ‘chicken’, say ‘NO’ and hope in hell they understand.
Our frivolous spending didn’t stop there, the rest of our time was consumed at ‘the shopping mall to scare all shopping malls’, MBK and after that, the infamous Koh San Road. It was as dangerous as we were warned, and with six buckets down, three phad-thai meals and a chocolate pancake in hand, we stumbled home.
Though the big city life has shops, food and alcohol to offer, it also has culture and tradition merged in this weird weave of old and new. We explored the city further, visiting the local temples and taking the time to read about the beautiful city decoration and quirky old stores.
From city to sea, we were off again and ready to explore the eastern islands, Koh Tao, first on the list. Having been warned that the island was a favorite of many we ready for the friendly people, the beautiful ocean and the out of this world sunset. So did we fall absolutely sucked-in, get-on-your-knees, in love with the place? Absolutely.
Though the island is not really the ‘iconic’ Thailand adventure, it doesn’t really care. Koh Tao is its own adventure of cultural mixing, laidback, beach bum strolling. Inevitably, three days turned into nine, our early mornings filled with the deep, depths of the ocean, and our evenings around the pool bar chatting about that “really cool fish we saw” and how amazing the free peanuts were at the bar.
Becoming a part of the local divers was something new after travelling as the 'Two Twits' for so long. This gave the island a feeling of home and safety, you felt like the guides and divers became your friends, and needless to say, after nine days, it was a little hard to say goodbye.
BUT on we went, across Thailand to the Railay Beach, West Thailand. Though this little beach is attached to the mainland, rocky outcroppings make it impractical to travel to via road, thus on a little wooden boat (ft. the local drunk man who offered everyone a beer) we climbed.
Being separate from the mainland, Krabi gives off a small town, untouched feel. The 'no car, only scooter roads' are unpaved, the locals sell their handmade jewelry and everyone gives off a calm persona (which could be due to the many Bob Marley Bars, but who knows). After a rush of constant activity, Railay gave you time to relax and eat. Days spend in the sun, slurping down freshly made fruit juices, and evenings watching the beautiful sunset.
Refreshed and ready, we headed off to the party island of Phi Phi. This island is buzzing, literally, and not just from the constant musical beat, but the thousands of tattoo parlors that lie in wait for drunk people and bad decisions.
The island is full of awesome food, fun walks, and millions of young people who just want to have fun. As much as we love to party, mid stay we sought to escape to the local site of Koh Phi Phi Lee. Hiring a local guide and his son, of we went on a virtual ocean roller coaster. After begging to the sea gods to not devour our tiny boat, we finally made it into the shelter of the island and were amazed at what met us.
Crystal clear water, monkeys swimming?, millions of fish and Vikings on bamboo structures. It was a sight to see, our tour guide making sure we stayed away from the masses, as well as getting the best of the whole island.
Lastly, we stopped off at our last leg. I feel the best way to explain the town is with the road sign stating “drunken crossing”. Yes, Patong Beach, Phuket is known for its famous road, “Bangla Road,” and obviously we had to take advantage of the tooth-cracking, sweet drinks, the extravagant street shows and the local ‘ladies’ dress at their best. This was one way to end off our Thailand trip, but sure did we have fun spending days on the beach, and nights at the bar.
Thailand may have changed from the adventure it used to be, but this does not mean it is no longer an adventure. There is a lot to offer, more than just beers and bars, but a culture and people who are creative, exciting and downright fantastic cooks.
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Thailand in 1 Month:
Presented by The Stand-Up Lillies
Video | Music: Matthew Ellis
Video | Edit : Nicita Amy Botha
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