Having a space for 2-weeks vacation, I decided to explore Thailand. You know, what could be better to drive around the country with different culture and special nature? Especially when your hometown is dying under the freeze.
Thailand was my first experience in South-East Asia. My first goal in this trip was a general acquaintance with this region. Also such goals must be mixed with islands and beaches LOL. Though I think this trip was not so necessary for my present case, I love this time.
2 weeks is not really enough for such a huge destination as the Thailand is. So, I had a minimal scope, visiting Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Phi Phi and Ko Samui. Here is my route on the map.
The difference of colours explains the way of reaching destinations. I tried everything: airplanes, trains, buses, ferries, speed boats.
So, let’s get started from 10 things I’ve got from Thailand.
I already realized that people are the main treasure of every place. And Thailand is not an exception. Ok, most of the Thailand 🙂
It was so interesting to observe the life of locals. Their customs, their attitude to farangs, their mindset. I’m still not so sure about how is it different with other nations of South-East Asia. But if we talk about europeans and americans – it is.
I learned a lot from their manners about dealing with other people. Got funny watching them bearing plastic bags for cold drink cups to keep it cold. Felt surprised that lottery tickets are so popular in Thailand. Been happy watching personal smiles from strangers on the streets.
Thailand is so touristy! It was a bad idea to look for a culture in the south crowded by backpackers and seniors. Also you’ll have extra costs and special attention of locals
($$$) because of touristic status. There are lots of reasons why is it happened and most of them are good. It depends on what do you want.
Maybe you don’t give a damn about local customs and you just want to take a Thai massage course or scuba diving. And, yeah, Full Moon Party. I still can’t keep calm about that. Make sure you’ll spend most of the time in north/center if you want to explore the real Thailand.
No English. Almost no English with locals. I see three reasons in that. The first one is Thailand is a big population (about 68 million people). People don’t have many reasons to learn the language from different family, not matter how easy it is. Because there is so much information in the native one.
The second one is a huge gap between Thai and English. I guess how difficult it is to switch from the TOTALLY DIFFERENT alphabet and letters. The third one is probably history. Thailand was never occupied in the world history. So, there wasn’t real interaction with English people or anybody nearby.
Though I felt myself more comfortable in Thailand with no English than in India. Sometimes you don’t need to speak the same way with man. It works like a magic! We all know what we need and it helps!
Although I’ve been in Delhi and Mumbai, I’ve never felt the Asian megapolis atmosphere so much like in Bangkok. I love the Bangkok. If I’ll be asked to call top 3 towns I’ve been, Bangkok will be at that list.
It feels like a relaxed Tokyo. At the downtown you’ll see tons of skyscrapers and crazy traffic. But come a bit out and you’ll get into really slow life! It’s not a surprise to watch the people sleeping at work. Not a big deal to wait for a bus for 30-40 minutes. And that’s cool!
I’ve heard a lot about the digital nomads, but haven’t been at places they gather. I’ve done that first time in Chiang Mai. It was a big interest to speak with the the westerns coming to the town to get rid of busy life and terrible climate. Now you realize that you can live anywhere you want and doing the job you love.
I’m still at the choice betweein settling down in one town and continuous travels around the world. Now I know where I’ll go first being a nomad.
Cultural difference North-south
I’ve heard a lot about the difference between North and South Italy. So, I used to feel a bit similar things in Thailand.
Though there is no place for hatred, there might be a bit of misunderstanding during your visit. In the North people have white skin, narrow eyes, buddhism and slow Thai accent. In the South most of the people have a black skin, wider eyes, islam with halal food and fast Thai. North is more relaxed, South is more charged.
To tell the truth, I like the North more 🙂
At the Thai time I’ve got the first experience with motorbikes. Ok, scooter is not a real motorbike, but let me feel cool haha.
You’ll see lots of horrible stories about naive and died farangs on the Thai roads. But there is not so huge probability that you’ll go the same way if you have a mind and serenity in it. Being a bit scary, I learned how to ride the scooter in 30-40 minutes (not a big deal, I know), I just … took a ride!
And it was amazing! Even with €1 for a liter of gasoline (wazzap, Ko Samui!) you feel the real freedom and the spirit of adventures! On the fourth day I started to drive with two passengers on the back. And even this one was pretty good! The lesson I learned is everything is fine if you won’t be scared and focus on the deal.
Actually I would visit Asia every winter just to take a scooter and have a ride.
Also I’ve got one more “first experience” in Thailand – staying on the island. I thought it sounds interesting to live in the area surrounded by sea or the ocean from all edges.
Aaaand, yeah, it really is. This is a cool adventure to come to the island by water vehicles and drive around beaches. Though things are going to be expensive because of transportation costs.
2 weeks spent with the ice coffee cup at 7-Eleven made me confused. You don’t feel much energy, power and heartbeat as you usually do with the coffee. Moreover, it falls you asleep!
I still think that sometimes locals messing the terms “caffeine” and “clonidine” 🙂
Thai cuisine is amazing! Everybody can enjoy the Pad Thai, veggie rice cakes, rice noodle and so on. You can find the soy milk in every corner for 10-15 baht which is crazy cheap for soy milk!
Also Thai street food culture is cool and nice. You will see plenty of things you didn’t try yet in every corner. Tropic fruits like pineapple, mango and papaya are available in every town. So, if you’re a foodie guy, don’t even think about – go to the Thailand and grab as much as your stomach can!
I felt again the greatness of spontaneity in your trip. You don’t really need to visit all sights to catch up with the area you travel in. Just say “yes” always for everything and let the magic go!
That way I’ve got amazing night in Chiang Mai with local folks. That way I’ve met two backpackers in Samui the first time and we’ve spent 3 days together. I’m going to practice such things again making the life as interesting as it might be!
Also I’d like to leave 4 tips for Thai trip. They might help you to enjoy it more than usual 🙂
1. Save the weekend days for night markets. Lots of them in Thailand are “Sunday night markets”, so they’re open mostly on Sundays and Saturdays. That’s really cool for visiting, but impossible when you’re in the town for a couple of weekdays. Also there might be markets closed on Monday/Tuesday, but open in the other days. That was my fault when I tried to visit Chatuchak Market on Monday and Khlong Lat Mayom on Tuesday.
2. Grab a “Grab” in Bangkok. Under the “Grab” I mean the mototaxi service. It helps you a bit if you’re solo traveller and can’t share the taxi cost with anyone. And, moreover, you’ll explore the Bangkok being open on the road! I did that at night paying about €3 for 35 minutes drive and it was worth it twice! The bad thing that my English is so inarticulate that I can’t explain how this drive actually was, but let me try. Wonderful! Magnificient! Marvellous!
3. Go to the Taling Ngam Beach in Ko Samui to watch the sunset. This beach is placed on the ideal side for the sunset and not crowded by tourists. I think when you’ll come there even at the sunset, it will be almost empty. You can take such pictures like you watch in the postcards.
4. Fly from Surat Thani instead of Ko Samui. It’s 4 times cheaper even with the airport transfer costs! There might be few reasons why the pricing difference is so big. But it’s a fact that flights from Ko Samui are crazy expensive and flights from Surat Thani are crazy cheap.
Also I used to visit Bahrain for few hours during my transfer from Bangkok to Moscow. But that story is so short that there is nothing much to write 🙂