It feels like just yesterday I was sitting in the middle of the Indian Ocean in a diaper floating around….
Okay, but seriously, it’s the coolest thing and I don’t know why more Americans are not familiar with this.
So what this is, is very simple. You take a regular life jacket and put your feet in the “suggested” arm holes, bring it up to your waist and snap it in. (Looks like a diaper) You jump in the water and can just float around…with a beer in your hand of course;)
With that being said, Thailand was absolutely amazing, gorgeous, and very educational.
Once again, you may ask, Why did you go to Thailand?
It’s simple. To be culturally challenged. And trust me I succeeded.
From the language, to the food, to the religion, to culture, and so much more, I was challenged but most importantly, I was learning and experiencing something new.
Thailand is cheap and very easy to get around and gives you plenty of options. We spent 16 days in Thailand. It all depends what you want to see and how you want to do it and to be honest, you just have to buckle down and pick a few places you want to see and go from there. My friend Lesley and I decided to just backpack it and do as much as we can.
So we started in Bangkok, went up North to Chiang Mai, down South to Phuket, then to Phuket Town, over to Koh Phi Phi Island, a boat tour of some of the other Islands, over to Au Nang, a Longboat to Raleigh Beach, then back to Bangkok.
Yes, it was a lot of traveling and go, go, go but it was worth the following:
KT’S THAILAND HIGHLIGHTS
- THE TEMPLES (Bangkok)-
We paid to take a tour of the Temples in Bangkok and many of you may say that this is a waste but to be honest, it might have been the best money that I spent in Bangkok. She took us to the most visited, beautiful, and educational temples, she spoke English, and was able to drive us versus us having to find them on our own, and most of all she was able to tell us the stories, the history, and the facts about their religion. It was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had when I knelt in front of Buddha in one of the most beautiful man made Temples I have ever seen…
- CHATUCHAK MARKET (Bangkok)
This by far was one of the most overwhelming markets I have ever seen or been too let alone mall or shops in the entire world! This market is 35 acres with 8000 stalls separated into 27 sections! The largest market in Thailand! I can’t express into words even that we were there for almost 6 hours and probably didn’t even see ¼ of it!
- ELEPHANT NATURE PARK (Chiang Mai)
This park is a beautiful and moving experience as it is a sanctuary and rescue center for elephants. I was able to feed, touch, and get to know many of the elephants on a personal level and hear each of their stories dealing anywhere from neglect, to physical abuse, to none other than their amazing stories of how they overcame their obstacles. This park also has a dog rescue center where they took in as many dogs as they could after the Tsunami hit to help find the owners, feed, and bathe them back to life…
- TIGER KINGDOM (Chiang Mai)
Honestly, when can you really say that you got to pet, lay on, and play with a Tiger!? Sure, many say that they are drugged or not normal which is probably true to a certain degree or at times they may have too. I mean, yes, I was being a tourist with the Tigers and wanted my picture taken and all that fun stuff…but I definitely would prefer not to get eaten or hurt! But really, I pet a REAL tiger in Thailand…how awesome is that!?
- ZABB E LEE THAI COOKING SCHOOL (Chiang Mai)
Eating Thai food is one thing and to be honest a whole different blog post but making Thai is truly a cultural experience. This cooking class was just fantastic. We first picked out what 6 courses we wanted to make out of the choices she gave us so I picked; Spring Rolls, Chicken Pad Thai, Kao Soi, Kao Soi Curry, Coconut Soup, and Mango Sticky Rice. She then took us to the local market to explain the difference between the ingredients and how to properly pick them. We got back and straight into the kitchen making everything from scratch but better yet, eating everything! No joke, best Pad Thai that I had in Thailand and best part…I made it!:)
- BANGALA ROAD (Phuket-not FUCK IT! Pu-Ket)
Now, if you have ever been to Bourbon Street….times that by 5….Thai Style. It is truly an…experience. From lady boys (aka Transgenders), to strip clubs, to bars, and better yet to the ever famous especially on this road…”Ping Pong” shows. Yes, I saw a “Ping Pong” show, Yes, you probably have no idea what it is…but I do not necessarily want to go into detail with what all I saw in the 2 ½ hour show….however, feel free to use your imagination or better yet look it up online…but I do suggest while looking online that no one is around…all I can say is they can do stuff I’ve never even thought of or seen before in the USA! A true… “Freak Show”!
- BOBS BOOZE CRUISE (Koh Phi Phi Island to surrounding Islands)
Although I don’t seem to remember this cruise due to many reasons of the unknown or maybe it was the booze, it truly was an amazing and fun experience! It’s a 6 hour cruise the Maya Beach (where The Beach was filmed), Monkey Beach (where you literally feed real, wild monkeys), Loh Samah Bay, Wang Long Nook, and Pi-Le Bay. We were able to snorkel, sit in diapers (as stated above), and most of all drink as much as we wanted…! It was an awesome way to see the true beautiful landmarks in the Indian Ocean!
- BAMBOO TATTOO (Koh Phi Phi)
So, as I was walking, kind of hungover I guess you could say from the previous day’s Booze Cruise, we are walking along side the beach full of shops when I see a Tattoo Place…I stop and look at some of the artwork and think it is truly beautiful. Of course, they have a man that comes out and speaks English about the history and culture of the tattoo and explains how it is all done with a shaved bamboo stick and ink….and that I can go swimming and get in the Sun almost immediately after. He had me hooked after that. I decided that I had some time and why not get a Bamboo tattoo almost right on the beach in Thailand! This honestly, was one of my most moving experiences in Thailand….to see, to feel, and to have the culture with me at all times will by far be a memory that I will always now be able to remember… written in Thai on my arm is “Strong Courage & Success”…
- LONGBOAT RIDE (Ao Nang to West Raleigh Beach)
As we sat in Ao Nang on the beach, it was beautiful but not as pretty as I had hope and the entire time we kept watching these beautiful longboats take people to other beaches. We decided, why not? Let’s go on this longtail boat and experience another beautiful beach. These boats are common to Asia which transport tourists using a common automotive engine powered and maneuvered by a man. It was a bit scary but fun experience but quick and easy to get to the next island!
- KOH SAN ROAD (Bangkok)
This is pretty much how we ended our trip….ironically nicknamed “Backpacker Ghetto”. It’s basically a street that sells handcrafts, paintings, clothes, unlicensed DVD’s, fake ID’s, and much more! During the late evening, the streets turn into bars and music is played with street vendors selling barbequed insects, exotic snacks, and the ever so famous ping pong shows!
As you can see, we did some amazing things in the 16 days we were there which technically ended up being 13 due to travel there and back. If I could go back which I plan on, I will definitely spend more time there. There is truly so much to see and do and experience!
LASTLY…I would like to end by sharing my RANDOM FUN FACTS:
*DRIVING is INSANE- Scooters are everywhere, there are no speed limits, no true lanes,
and no turn signals….and did I mention the scooters are everywhere carrying as many people, as many things, and oh ya…EVERYWHERE!
*TRASHCANS- Good luck finding one! Honestly, they are no where to be found…its beyond strange but it is even stranger because there isn’t a ton of trash on the roads or anywhere as a matter of fact for trash cans being almost non existent…
*TOILET PAPER- I went to Thailand thinking that I was going to go to
the bathroom in these little holes in the ground and not have any toilet paper but honestly, we only experienced that ONLY once…(See the picture next to this…yes, I got my squat in that day!) however there were quite a few times bathrooms did not have toilet paper. So, make sure you ALWAYS have tissues with you…AND never put the toilet paper down the toilet…their septic system is a disaster and you can be fined for that…seriously!
*BIDET’S- Ya, I know strange. No fancy restrooms or toilet paper but don’t worry you can wash your butt with their bidet’s that were in almost every restroom! No dirty butts in Thailand!
*SEWAGE-So their butts may not stink but their cities sure stink. ESPECIALLY Bangkok. Take one of the worst smelling cities in the states that you have ever been too…and times that by at least 5…It’s awful…(Needless to say, Bangkok you were fun but I don’t think I will be back visiting you…the other cities were tolerable and more beautiful)
*NAPKINS- Or should I say more like the cheapest toilet paper you can buy in the USA! They are extremely so paper thin that when you used them to clean up yourself or maybe blow your nose, you got even messier than when you started.
*BILLBOARDS-Absolutely huge! Takes years to build…yes that’s how big!
*THE COUNTRY THAT NEVER SLEEPS- Seriously, they say Vegas is the city that never sleeps but honestly, Thailand is the COUNTRY that never sleeps. There is always something going on…street food, street markets, and people always up working! We got lost coming home one night and didn’t get in until like 2 am and we were on a side street where they were just setting up for a night food market where the locals come in and buy their goods for the next day for their street food and restaurants….it was an amazing site to see that truly shocked me as it made me realize how much Thai people work and how much they truly live life to the fullest…
To END up this extremely long blog that I tried my hardest to cut down for you and try to make fairly interesting….I want to share one last thing…
As I sat on the Beach one day…eating my fresh pineapple…trying not to burn in their extremely hot sun…I thought to myself how lucky I was to be able to go, experience, and be in Thailand. However, I did that on my own. My parents or elders didn’t pay for me, my parents or elders didn’t tell me to go, I wanted to go. I worked hard, I researched, and I made it happen. And to me, that’s a huge accomplishment. And thank you Lesley for being my amazing travel buddy and taking the time to plan out much of what we did! (I can’t wait for the next time!)
Traveling is great. Traveling is fun. And once you go, you get the bug to go more and more. But trust me when I say it’s not easy to leave your house, your friends, your family, and your loved ones. But it’s important to see, experience and just go… I know it takes time and money to do these things but if you set your mind to it, be smart, and save, you can go wherever your little heart desires….
Thailand you made me think, see, experience, learn, and live again….until next time…or the next adventure…..
PS- A Thai Food Blog coming next….Trust me….this one will get interesting…..
“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.”- Buddha