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Monday, April 30, 2012

Thailand Travel- a personal view

First impressions of Thailand travel
My first impressions of arriving in Phuket Thailand are a bit hazy as I spent most of my time on Phi Phi Island. Still, I spent a fun night in Patong savouring the possibilities of real food after 4 weeks in the mountains of Nepal. I had been given some Thailand travel time by my then boss at Out There Trekking company, guiding a group of trekkers near the Annapurna's range.

After Nepal, Thailand struck me as a place well used to receiving westerners to it's shores and yet distinctively original. I could sense a proud people, sure of who they were and yet gracious in receiving people to their land. What also hit me like a sledge hammer were the smiles. The nick name of the land of smiles is no joke as you are greeted politely with a smile wherever you travel. The new hot surroundings and the smiling world around me was liberating so I felt free but there was more to come.

Thailand Travel-a Thai Smile

One of the reasons I love to travel is my love of new and interesting tastes in the food I eat. Having spent time in the Indian subcontinent and a year in Japan I was well used to being surprised by new food, but the sheer variety of dishes in Thailand just swept me away. Later on I tried to work it out. If you are in the tropics with many growing conditions, virtually every type of animal, vegetable, fruit and grain can grow.  Add to this the seas being full of every type of marine life and you have the recipe for some great food.  Thai people are nothing without their love of food so now I find it no surprise that the list of different food types is seemingly endless. When I first arrived I couldn't seem to find one day or meal where they same food was on offer. It was simply spectacular.

Thailand Travel-Phat Thai

Thailand Travel-Tiger prawn

Thailand hotels were a mixed bag. When I first arrived I was on a budget and some of the beach bungalows are very simple indeed but now am able to stay at better places with more stars to their credit. Once you can pay a little more and stay in 3 star or better accommodation, the Thailand hotels and resorts are great value and easily beat the European equivalent. See some Phuket hotels and Phi Phi Hotels as examples.

Continual impressions Thai culture, Thai customs.
Having lived in Thailand for 17 years I can say there are many levels to the country that are not always noticeable from a 2 or 3 week trip to Thailand. I often say this to friends who visit Thailand, but compared to the European cultures, the Thai middle classes live in 3 different centuries at the same time.

The Thais  live in the 21st century with gadgetry and are as comfortable with the resrt of the world with mobiles, ipads, iphones, computers and the like, so appear to the world to be completely modern. However their sense of propriety between themselves has a similarity to the Victorian 19th Century mores. This combined with the fiercely defencive Thai sense of Face makes for a whole minefield of interaction between the westerner and them.

Finally I can only say that business is conducted on medieval lines. Might, power and monoploy are the holy grail of business. For those of you who are confuesd by this statement and the large  amount of redlight districts in Thailand, see how it all fits in with this blog on Thai nudity.

Greatest loves in Thailand travel.
I have already mentioned the Thai Smile and my love of Thai food. Island hopping is one of my favouite past times. The ability to upsticks amd move over to a new place, a new beach or coral reef has the explorer in me fascinated. I spent 6 years centerd on Phi Phi Thailand and loved the way I could continually explore all 20 km of snorkeling reef or take hikes in the mountains near the view point of the vertical cliffs of Phi Phi Don. From Phi Phi I spent time on Koh Lanta, Phrang Nga and Railay Beach and Koh Yao Noi as well as many of the islands of Phang Nga Bay. One of my favourite tours of the entire tyime was the kayak tour in the caves in Phang Nga at night. We came out of the cave into the central laggoon on a stary night which was interuppted by the flasshes f lightning over 100 miles away. It's a scene I will never forget.

Thailand Travel-Phi Phi Island

Thailand Travel-Phang Nga Bay

Thailand Travel-snorkeling

I love the fine hotels and spas, taking a Thai massage, riverside restaurants, Thai markets, the rural village coffee shops but most of all I love the mountain country of southern Thailand. Walking or running (when I was fit?) you can visit a Thailand where time has stood still for a long time. A place where life is brought down to it's simplest components and their is a calm about nature. The mouyntains are  in control and you just need to go with it. A simplicity and beauty far from the madding crowd.

Thailand Travel- Do Mai Waterfall

Thailand Travel-Big Buddha in Kata Phuket

There is more to write on these subjects but this will do for the moment.

Thailand Travel-Mango

Thailand Travel-buffalo

Thailand Travel-Singha Beer

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