Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’

 

You may think that taking a year off to travel the world and leaving a huge gap in your resume would lessen your chance of getting hired by a kick-ass employer…and you would be dead wrong.   Ironically enough, my travels were the KEY to me landing my current gig – working for a company that sponsors visas for international university students.  The students come to the US to participate in cultural exchange work/internship programs and we help recruit them and find them jobs.  Sort of like what I did for my work abroad program in New Zealand over 10 years ago…damn, has it been that long?

Anyway, I LOVE this job.  Not only does it allow me to promote something I feel passionately about (cultural exchange, long term travel, etc.), but I get to travel too, both here in the states AND internationally.  I’m not making near as much money as I made as a property manager, but the trade off is that I actually like going to work every day.  At this point in my life, I’m willing to make less money to do a job that I enjoy and although I’ve had to adjust my lifestyle quite a bit, it’s soooooo worth it.

Surprisingly, after a few months at the new job, they decided to send me to Thailand for 5 days!  I basically accompanied one of our clients to an overseas job fair (hosted by one of our local partner agencies) where they interviewed and hired Thai students to come work for them.  I was super pumped to go back to Thailand, simply to eat the food.  Pad Thai, green curry, nutella pancakes, and fresh fruit shakes available at every corner?  Hell yeah!

Not surprisingly, this trip was very different from when Kelly and I were in Bangkok.  Instead of a shady guesthouse in the middle of the backpacker craziness that is Koh-San Road, I was put up in a posh hotel in a modern shopping area of the city.  Our Thai partner agencies wined and dined my client Stephanie and me in fancy restaurants and bars, although one of them did take us to Koh San for some yummy street food and drinks, just so she could see the madness of that particular part of town.  It was really weird being back there less than a year later – it was as chaotic as I remembered it.  The pad thai, green curry, nutella pancakes and fruit shakes were as delicious too.

Me, Stephanie, Pookie (one of our Thai partners...I wish my name was Pookie!) in a tuktuk on Koh San

 

We had a ‘cultural day’ amidst our job fairs where Stephanie and I were taken to see the Grand Palace…I had been there previously with Kelly, but it was no less impressive than when I saw it the first time.  We also did a long-boat ride on the river, which I had NOT done before, wandered around in a couple of swanky malls, did some shopping, and got a 2 hour Thai massage.  Thai massages are super intense and somewhat painful (you are pretty much getting your ass kicked by a tiny Thai woman), but you feel fantastic (albeit a little disoriented) afterwards.  Definitely get one if you have the chance.

Back at the Grand Palace

 

Me and 'O', who works with another Thai partner, on the boat!

On the boat ride

It was a short and exhausting trip…but I loved every minute of it.  I was also reminded that much like people, cities deserve a second chance too.  Kelly and I didn’t really care for Bangkok the first time around, but after experiencing a different side of the city and getting shown around by a few locals, I started to appreciate what Bangkok has to offer.  Oh and next time, I’m totally hitting up a ping-pong show.


Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Thailand Wrap Up

Thailand is a pretty kick-ass country.  The fact that it is sooooo touristy did rub Kelly and me the wrong way from time to time, but hey…places are touristy for a reason, right?  Overall, we had a great time and of course, hope to make it back one day.

The Landscape

You’ve seen the pictures.  Awesome beaches, jungle, and mountains.

The People
Thais are so friendly!   Although at times, they kill you with kindness while ripping you off.   We did appreciate the fact that women are a bit more respected here; we were never harassed (unlike in Costa Rica and South America) and actually felt quite safe everywhere we went.   You can get by without being able to speak Thai, although the language barrier was definitely more of an issue for us here.

A popular stop on the ‘backpacker trail’, we met tourists from EVERYWHERE, but mainly a lot of young Brits traveling overseas for their first time.   Also, a ton of Canadians…it was great to meet up with the two Jeff’s and hang with them and their fellow countrymen. 

The Costs
Thailand is cheap, but not nearly as cheap as we’d thought it would be.   After breaking our budget in New Zealand and Australia, everyone told us ‘oh, don’t worry…in Thailand, you will get by on $10-$15 a day’. These people obviously did not travel here during high season.

While street food is dirt cheap, accommodation was still pricey in our opinion – $10 per person, per night for a room in a guesthouse.  For the full moon party, we paid $45 a night.   Northern Thailand is a lot cheaper and we paid roughly $5 per person, per night for our accommodation.   Bus transport was reasonably priced, but the buses were pretty ghetto.

The Food
FANTASTIC.   Spicy curries, greasy fried noodles and rice, tangy soups, yummy pad thai, tasty meat skewers, fresh seafood, fruit shakes (our favorite was watermelon)…the list goes on and on and we cannot say enough about how wonderful and cheap the food is Thailand. 

 A lot of U.S. travel health warnings urge travelers to ‘avoid street food’ for sanitary reasons, which is hilarious.   It’s convenient, cheap, and DELICIOUS!!!   After Hong Kong, it is definitely one of our favorite food cultures.

Of course, there are still plenty of McDonald’s if you need your comfort food fix.

The Booze
Beer. Our choice was Chang because it was the cheapest and tasted good, but a lot of people preferred Singha or Tiger.

Buckets. Ugh.  Most people’s bucket of choice is vodka and Redbull, but there is no way Kelly and I could stomach that disgusting mixture.   We went with the plain vodka/soda route which wasn’t much better because the club soda SUCKS here.

Other Random Thoughts
-There are a lot of squat toilets in Thailand.  Western ones exist as well, but instead of pushing a handle to flush, you fill a bucket of water, dump it in the toilet, and repeat this process until the force of the water has pushed everything through the pipes. 

-The Thais don’t use toilet paper; they have a water sprayer next to the toilet that you use to clean yourself, which we actually got quite used to and sort of prefer.  We liked to call it the ‘bum gun’.

-Riding in a tuk-tuk is fun!

-If you come to Thailand and plan on visiting any of the temples, bring a scarf or sarong.  Upon entering a Wat, your shoulders and legs must be covered.  Also, don’t point your feet towards an image of Buddha or he will be pissed. 

-Now, onto Laos!

 
 

 

Read Full Post »

While in Chiang Mai, Kelly and I had two of our most memorable experiences of the trip thus far — a visit to Tiger Kingdom and Baan Chang Elephant Park.

Tiger Kingdom, located ten or so miles outside of the city, is a park where visitors pay to interact with tigers; the money collected pays for the park’s upkeep and tigers’ care.   After deciding which age group you would like to see, you are escorted to a holding pen, where two or three people at a time are allowed to enter (with the tiger’s handlers, of course) and you can then sit with, lay with and even PET the tigers.

How is this possible?  A lot of people insist that the tigers MUST be sedated in order for a strange human to get so close to such a deadly animal.   The park staff were quick to assure us that none of the tigers are sedated and that no chains are ever used to restrain them.  We learned that tigers are actually pretty lazy animals.  They sleep about eighteen hours a day and only hunt at dawn and dusk out of necessity.   Visiting hours at the park are between these feeding times and since the tigers are well fed and have no need to hunt, they mainly just lay around all day.   Surprisingly, they are pretty indifferent to the people around them that are scratching their bellies and stroking their coats.

Kelly and I sat with the young 3-5 month tigers and then spent some time with the adults. I’ll admit that it was a little scary to be sitting next to a 300+ pound carnivorous cat, but so cool to be that up close and personal with a FRICKEN TIGER. Everyone should be happy to know that no Siegfried and Roy mauling took place, although the thought did cross my mind.

3-5 Month Olds

 

The big guy...please don't rip our faces off.

Cuddlin'

 Kelly forked over the extra dough to play with the newborns while I snapped photos. The babies were much more playful and it was cute watching them pounce and nip all over Kelly. We left the park that day with huge smiles on our faces, in awe of our time spent with these incredible animals.

You know you want one

Chiang Mai is also a great place to have an ‘elephant experience’, something that I really wanted to do. Most travelers achieve this on a two or three day trek to the hill-tribe villages, in which an hour or so elephant ride through the jungle is included.

Unfortunately, most of the trekking companies have you ride in a wooden ‘chair’ strapped to the elephants back and the trip culminates with a ‘show’ where the elephant paints pictures for its audience. We wanted no part of this scene and really wanted our money to go to an organization that was concerned with the well-being of the elephants and not the exploitation of them.

After doing some research, we settled on a day visit to Baan Chang Elephant Park. Owned and operated by a Thai family, the park is home to twelve elephants (two babies!) and provides a safe and healthy environment for the animals to live long happy lives, without having to perform in shows or act as beasts of burden. The park does not believe in separating babies from their mothers or using chairs for riding. Visitors fees help pay not only for the upkeep of the park and food/care for the elephants, but also goes towards the purchase or rescue of other exploited elephants.

Upon arrival at the park, we immediately changed into our stylish mahout clothes.  A mahout is basically a trainer that is assigned to an elephant for life, thus developing a very close relationship with the animal. We made friends with the elephants by feeding them bushels of bananas and sugar cane. You can place the treat right into their mouth or hold it out for them to scoop in with their trunk.   It was so much fun and Kelly and I even got a kiss from one of them!

Elephant kisses. My face in this picture says it all.

So cute

We were then taught how to get on and off the elephants neck and several mahout commands for riding (bareback, of course)…how to turn left, turn right, stop, go, etc.

Kelly learning her mahout commands

After lunch, we were assigned an elephant and began our two hour ride through the jungle. Kelly and I were thrilled to be riding Mamoo, as she was a mother elephant whose baby walked with us the whole way. The ride itself was a little uncomfortable, but still pretty amazing.

Jungle Ride!

Once out of the jungle, the elephants were led into a large pool (with us still on top), where we were given brushes to bathe our elephants. We spent some time scrubbing Mamoo, getting sprayed with water from her trunk, and laughing at Mamoo’s baby splash and swim all around us. This was definitely our favorite part of the day!

When bath time was over, everyone took showers, said goodbye to the elephants, and were shuttled back to our respective guesthouses. It was a fantastic day and such an amazing experience to be able to spend time with the elephants.  It’s easy to see why people dedicate their lives to making a healthy home for these lovable animals.

Me, Mamoo, and baby

Read Full Post »

Located in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is known as the cultural city of the country and amongst other activities, is a popular destination to undertake a trek to hill-tribe villages.   After all of the island hopping, Kelly and I settled down for a whole week here and really fell in love with the place. Despite the noise, traffic and smoggy air (due to all of the ‘slash and burning’ that goes on to cultivate the mountain slopes), the city has an extremely laid back atmosphere. The ‘Old City’ is surrounded by a moat and a brick wall (crumbling in some areas) that once served as a defense against attackers and is full of narrow cobblestone alleyways lined with cafes and restaurants.

The wall around the city center

Our first day in town, Kelly and I immediately signed up for a Thai cooking course.   There are dozens to choose from, but we settled on Thai Farm Cooking School, a class taught outside of the city on an organic farm.   They picked us up from our guesthouse early the following morning and stopped off at a local outdoor market where we were given the rundown of the key ingredients for Thai cooking and allowed some time to wander amongst the endless food stalls.

Upon arrival, we were given a tour of the farm, including an explanation of the produce that is grown there, before being shown to our cooking stations. In no time we were pounding mortars and pestles to make our own chili paste from scratch…it’s actually quite a workout! Every person chose five dishes to make…Kelly and I decided on green and red chicken curry, tom yam and tom ka soups, pad thai, chicken with basil, chicken with cashew nuts, and sticky rice with mango.

 

Mmmmmm

It was a great day and the food was fantastic…we went home with our bellies full (yes, you eat the food that you make) and doggy-bags in tow, along with a recipe book of all the yummy dishes we had made.   Kelly and I are super excited to cook authentic Thai food for our friends and family when we get back home!

Look what we made!

The next afternoon and evening was dedicated to the Sunday Walking Street Market, a market that blows all the other markets we‘ve seen away. Rachadamnoen Road, one of the main streets in the Old City, is closed off to traffic and the entire street is lined with row after row of vendor booths that sell clothing, jewelry, home décor, paintings, and other local crafts.   Singers, dancers, and other musicians perform in the middle of the road and tucked inside the temple yards are food stalls packed with diners feasting on pork dumplings, fried noodles and rice, meat skewers, and fresh fruit smoothies.   Kelly and I had another fine, cheap street food meal as we tried to navigate the shops that sprawled in every direction, but finally had to give up around 9 p.m.   After four hours, we probably only saw half the market…it is that huge.

Stalls at the Sunday market

The following day, Jeff K. from Canada arrived and the three of us took a taxi up to the Doi Suthep, one of the local Buddhist temples.   The temple was pretty, but unfortunately, was under construction…the big stupa was covered with tarps and scaffolding!

Wat Doi Suthep

 That evening, we all ticked another Thailand ‘must-see’ off of our list and attended a Muy Thai Boxing Fight.   Picturing a boxing match from the States, we thought we would be sitting in a crowded arena with hundreds of other fans, but were surprised when we arrived at a courtyard full of bars and were escorted to a small ring surrounded by benches and tables…much more up close and personal than we expected!

Muy Thai!

There were five rounds of boxing, the first couple between young Thai boys and teenagers, followed by a match between two Thai women boxers (awesome!), and then two international fighters against a local Thai.  These fighters don’t mess around and the sport looks absolutely exhausting.   After our fill of punches and kicks, syrupy-sweet cocktails and shirtless dancing lady-boys, we called it a night.

Read Full Post »

Since Kim and I were in the area, we decided to hit up the notorious Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, an island off the east coast of Thailand.   It’s one of those things you just have to see.   Because of the influx of tourists to the area, around this time each month  the price of everything doubles or triples and it can be very hard to find a room.   And even if you do, they require you to stay at least 5-10 nights!   Reluctantly, we booked 5 nights well in advance at Coral Bungalows on the west side of the island.   We weren’t too happy about spending that long on a party island, however, we would be meeting up with the Jeff’s once again and have a few extra days to relax.  We had heard that Coral was known for it’s party hardy atmosphere and huge, all night pool parties — not to mention the billion signs on the drive there advirtising the “Biggest, Craziest Pool Party in the World 700, 500, 200 meters Ahead!!   Kim wasn’t too pumped about this but to our surprise, our room was gigantic with super power A/C, private balcony, and far enough from all the action to turn in early if needed.   It was fantastic! The pool, restaruant and bar were right on the beach and sold everything from gatorade (gotta get in those electrolites) to toilet paper…they made it very easy not to leave this place.   

Beach view from Coral

 
We spent the days leading up to the FMP walking around town, shopping, and hanging with the Jeff’s and our new friends Chelsea, Chris and Katie.  We thought about heading to the beach on the east side for some tanning and swimming, but once we caught a glipmse of it, we quickly changed our minds.   The scenery itself, the cliffs, the color of the water, the blue sky was all wonderful, but the beach itself was pretty gross.  Trash everywhere!!  People don’t just party on the beach the night of a full moon, it happens just about every night here.   The sand is filled with straws (from all the buckets being consumed), wrappers, paper, broken glass…it’s horrible.  And we know that the water is just a big urinal when the sun goes down.  So, needless to say, we didn’t do much actual beach time in Koh Phangan. 
One day while Jeff and I hung by the pool, Kim did a day trip to Ang Thong National Park to visit some of the surrounding islands.  Despite the nausea-inducing boat ride, the scenery was gorgeous:
 
At night, we would meet up with everyone at Coral and then head to the beach.  The nights leading up to the FMP are just as good, if not better than the actual party.  It’s crazy!  The beach is lined with “bucket bars” competing for your business, yelling and dancing, waving various patriotic flags to attract certain tourists, offering gifts with purchase, etc.  Chris and Katie had been living in the area a month, so we stuck with them and got “the hookup” at their favorite place.   This was also during the final days of the Olympic Games and Canada was playing the U.S. in the championship hockey game at 3am.   Since we were with ALL Canadians, and they are FREAKS about hockey, Kim and I had to tag along to represent:)   We didn’t quite make it to the end of the game, but heard we put up a good fight in overtime.  The Canadians were quite happy with the outcome (and quite drunk walking home at 7:30am).

Buckets at Coral with the Jeffs

Bucket bar stalls along the beach

Partaking

 
The night of the Full Moon Party, we all went to an authentic Thai BBQ at this quaint little restaurant, Bull Of the Moon.  Chris and Katie ate there just about every night for the last month.   The owner was quite generous and provided us with a great experience.   Basically, they place this metal bowl with sort of dome in the middle with slits over a pot of burning coals.   He fills the outer area with broth to cook noodles and vegetables and then gave us a plate of raw shrimp, squid, pork, beef and chicken to grill ourselves with chopsticks.   Good fun, but super hot!   We would have enjoyed this activity much more in the winter:) 

Traditional Thai BBQ

 Then it was back to Coral to get painted up for the party.  It’s pretty much against the law to not cover yourself in neon paint for this event.  Plus, it’s just fun to paint stupid stuff all over each other!  We had a great time drinking and dancing the night away.  It was very interesting as well to see all the random people passed out all over the beach, falling off stages and spranging something, carrying their barefoot buddy off the beach with cut up feet, and the list goes on.   I’m sorry, but that shit was out of control! Good times though!

Gettin' painted up!

Chelsea, Kim, Chris, and Jeff getting crazy

Katie and Jeff actin' like fools

The beach looks exactly how you feel at the end of the night

We of course spent the next day recovering and getting ready to head back up north.   We had a short stop back in Bangkok before we took a long bus ride from hell up to Chiang Mai.  I will say though, we had so much fun in the Islands!!   It’s gorgeous here and everyone should see this place.  Southern Thailand, you will be missed.

Read Full Post »

After all the craziness in Bangkok and Phuket, Kim and I were looking forward to taking it down a few notches and relaxing on some of the small islands of the Krabi province. First stop was Phi Phi Island.  With some advice from fellow travelers, for the first time on this trip we arrived with no reservations for accommodation, as we were told that the island was quite small and we could easily find a place to stay just walking around a bit.  This was a big step for Kim, the planner!   But we found a home for the next 5 days without a problem.   It even had a TV with an awesome movie channel. Pretty Woman, Before Sunset, The Last Unicorn….it was so nice to lay around and watch TV before bed, something we hadn’t done since Buenos Aires.

One of the Ko Phi Phi Beaches

 

 We spent our week wandering around the tiny center, chowing down on delicious Thai food, and sunbathing on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  The island has two beaches — one side is mainly a pier where the ferries, longtail boats and private watercraft come in and out of the island and the other is the main beach where most people hang out.   Both sides are lined with cute little restaurants, bars, and shops.   We hiked up to the view point via the Tsunami evacuation route that gives a perfect overlook of both sides of the island.   A photo of Phi Phi just four hours after the tsunami hit is posted up on a tree…it’s crazy to see the difference between that photo and what it looks like today.

Boats lined up at the pier

Ko Phi Phi from viewpoint

Another day, we decided to do the “Seven Islands Tour” that was recommended by a friend we met on the ferry.   It was one of the best tours we have done on this trip.   Captain Dang (and his awesome sunglasses) took us on his long boat to an amazing lagoon with translucent water, surrounded by limestone cliffs, where we took turns jumping off the boat and did some swimming.   Then off to Maya Bay where they filmed the movie, The Beach, for lunch where we were able to work on our tan.   After lunch, we headed over to Monkey Beach to feed the monkeys and do some snorkeling.   For our last stop, we took a long ride to Bamboo Beach.   Kim laid around while I collected coral and sea shells for my friends’ kids back at home.   Because of the way Phi Phi Island itself is shaped, you can’t see the sunset from either coast. However, on the way home from our tour, Captain Dang stopped us right in the middle of the ocean to watch the sunset.   It was such an incredible day.

On the boat

Me swimming at Maya Bay

Kim and Captain Dang

Bamboo Beach

 

Sunset

 That night, we hung out with some Colombian girls we had met on the beach and their Spanish friends. Of course I loved the chance to use my Spanish all night. It’s been so long since South America! We had some of our first buckets—yes, they drink out of huge buckets in Thailand, and made our way to a Thai boxing bar. They were offering a FREE bucket to any girl that would get in the ring and “fight”. I was so close to gearing up and getting’ in there and then Kim reminded me how getting hit back may not be as much fun as getting to hit someone-which I’ve always kind of wanted to do:) She was probably right and it was probably for the best that I didn’t get in there in my current state. HA! But that sure would have been a good story… 

Kim and I both really loved Phi Phi.  There are a ton of tourists on this island, which is why some travelers claim to dislike it, but it’s definitely worth seeing in our opinion.   However, we did want check out one of the even smaller islands of Krabi.

I’m sure I have said this a lot over the past few months but Railay (or Rai Leh) was one of my favorite places we have been on this trip so far.   Ah!   It just keeps getting better!   This island is reknowned for it’s rock-climbing trails and has two sides of beaches as well.   On the west end, there is a fantastic beach and all the resorts, a hot spot for honeymooners.  Take a short walk over to the east side for the backpacker friendly accommodation and cheap restaurants and bars (obviously this is where we stayed).   The beach on this side is all mangroves and not suitable for swimming, but just head south about 10 minutes and a trail will lead you to the picturesque Tham Phra Nang Beach, perfect for laying out, taking a dip or getting a dirt-cheap foot massage right on the beach, which I totally took advantage of. Best $4 I’ve ever spent!

 

Tham Phra Nang Beach

Rock Climbers

We spent 3 days here relaxing on the beach, watching the rock climbers do their thing and hanging out at what might be my favorite bar in the world – Skunk Bar 2.   Great staff, great drinks, great music (most of the time) and a SUPER laid back atmosphere.   Every night we got our butts kicked in Jenga and Connect Four.   I don’t know what it is about the Thai’s, but they know their games…it’s like winning strategies are ingrained in their heads as a toddler or something.   Never bet money on Connect Four in Thailand. They will annihilate you!

 

Kim and Pat, our bartender. As you can see, he has a tough job.

The Universal Language of Jenga

One night we were having drinks and playing Jenga with the staff when all of a sudden, two men with plastic badges around their necks came into the bar.   Everyone got quiet, the music was turned off and it was obvious that there was something quite serious going down.   I looked around and everyone was putting out their “left-handed cigarettes” (that they purchased at the bar) and trying to act cool.   Of course all the conversation was in Thai, so none of us knew what was going on.   The two men went behind the bar and started going through…all their CD’s??   Yeah, they were some kind of pirated music police!!   They took all the copied CD’s they could find, had some words with the owner and left.   What?!!   The bartender, Pat, explained what had just happened and then assured everyone they had copies of the copies that were just taken and there would be tunes back on in no time.  It was hilarious!  Smoke all you want, drink all you want, but don’t get caught with pirated music in Railay!

After our chill days in this wonderful place, it was time to get ready for the madness that we knew was coming.   After an entire day of traveling by long boat, mini-bus, public bus, and ferry to the east coast, we would arrive in Koh Phangan for the infamous Full Moon Party….

Incredible Sunset on Railay

Read Full Post »

Thailand…Whoa.

Most travellers we have met say the same thing about Bangkok….you either love it or you hate it.  After spending four or five days there, I can safely say that we are…undecided.

We were visiting Thailand smack-dab in the middle of  the tourist high season, so we expected there to be a lot of backpackers around, but were shocked at how many travelers we saw.  Our guesthouse was located in the infamous Koh San Road area, a street that is lined with backpacker guest houses, travel agencies, bars, clubs, t-shirt booths, and food carts. Other than the tuk-tuk drivers and food cart vendors, there were no Thai people in sight…just tourists.  I had heard that the ‘real’ Bangkok was more modern and filled with nice malls and shops, but after Hong Kong, Kelly and I had no desire to wander around another shopping complex.  

Koh San Road

Our first full day, we sorted out our bus tickets to get out of Bangkok and spent time exploring the Royal Palace and Wat Pho, home of the world’s biggest reclining Buddha statue.  The palace and temples were absolutely breathtaking, but the heat forced us to head back to our guesthouse soon afterwards for some A/C.

The Grand Palace

 

Reclining Buddha

The next couple of days were spent wandering around ‘The Old City’, looking at temples and strolling through street markets.  From our observations, Bangkok is noisy, polluted, smelly, and fairy difficult to navigate…the street signs are very confusing here, and although close to a lot of tourist sights, our part of town was pretty isolated from the main modes of public transport.  Needless to say, we were ready to get out of the city.

We did love one thing about Bangkok…the food, of course!  There are tons of street food vendors selling delicious pad-thai, barbecue meat sticks, fried rice, fresh fruit and other fried goodies for ridiculously cheap.  One night for dinner we scarfed down all of the above for the insane price of $3 TOTAL.

Meat Sticks!

We just couldn't bring ourselves to eat one

In all fairness, Kelly and I only saw a smidgen of the city, so we can’t really pass judgment.  We will say that it has not been our favorite place and leave it at that.

After the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, we were looking forward to boarding a bus twelve hours south to Phuket, one of Thailand’s popular beach destinations.  Our plan was to check out the craziness of Patong Beach for a couple of days and then do some island hopping on the Andaman coast. 

Not surprisingly, Phuket turned out to not really be our cup of tea either.  Patong Beach was pretty, but super packed with endless rows of lounge chairs, umbrellas, and a few old topless ladies.  At night we checked out the party street, Bangla Road, which is like an even tackier sixth street in Austin.  We saw our fair share of lady-boys and had about 30 different Thai guys approach us and ask if we wanted to see a ping-pong show.  For those of you that don’t know what that is, google ‘ping-pong show Thailand’.  Tempting, but…no.  There is also a lot of prostitution in Phuket and I can’t tell you how many older men in their sixties we saw with very young Thai women…pretty disgusting.  We were glad to only be spending a couple of days here. 

Patong Beach

At Sunset

Other than lying on the beach, we took a day tour out to Ko Tapu, otherwise known as James Bond Island…it’s where parts of ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’ were filmed.  The island itself was lovely, but the amount of souvenir stalls covering the entire beach and  the boatloads of tourists really turned us off of the whole thing.  I realize that Kelly and I are tourists as well…I guess I just didn’t expect for there to be so many of us in one place at one time!  

This one's for you, Sarah H. - James Bond Island

Based on our experiences in Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand was not living up to the beautiful, relaxing paradise we had envisioned.  On top of that, Kelly and I were starting to feel a little travel fatigue.  I know it’s hard to believe, but living out of a backpack every day, constantly figuring out how to get from Point A to Point B, finding a place to sleep, a place to eat…these simple tasks become quite tedious and can start to wear you down after awhile.   Poor us, right?

Hopefully our time on the island of  Ko Phi Phi would get us back on track…

Read Full Post »