Thailand is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and it’s been on my bucket list for a while. So when the opportunity arose, and a friend asked if I’d join her in March I jumped at the chance!
We had no plans at all, other than booking the flight to Bangkok airport, and knowing that we wanted some plenty of island hopping and tanning time. After a few caramel lattes in Costa, we’d worked out a very rough itinerary based on reading blogs, and couldn’t wait to explore!
B A N G K O K
We arrived in Bangkok amongst the complete chaos. It was loud, busy, and filled with an overwhelming amount of smells, mainly from the street food carts that took over every pavement space possible. This was not our idea of a holiday! Luckily one of our only solid plans included a hotel for one night, and it turned out to be a peaceful escape! Hotel ad lib was a secluded paradise tucked away in a corner and couldn’t have felt any different from our surroundings. The staff were so friendly and welcoming, and it was by far my favourite hotel of the trip.
Thailand is well known for its cheap massages, and we couldn’t wait to indulge. Rows upon rows of shops offering a full body massage for as little as £5. We decided to experience luxury first, as even then you can get away with spending just £15, so visited Lavana spa for a body scrub and a firm Thai massage.
Note to self. A firm massage in Thailand will leave you feeling like you’ve broken every bone in your body, yet oddly satisfying. It was a beautiful spa, and considering the two treatments would cost around £100 in London, I was really impressed. We both left feeling refreshed and happy.
For our second massage experienc, we decided to visit one of the local shops and tried to find one that didn’t look quite so seedy. The difference between this and Lavana was felt immediately! The shop was dark and dingy, and they lead us upstairs into another room filled with single beds, with one curtain separating just one bed from the others. I tried to put all of that aside and focus on the massage I was going to receive, however I found it uncomfortable that there was a male being massaged on the bed next to me, and I was expected to go topless. My request to pull the curtain around me took about five tries to communicate, however we got there in the end!
As well as this, my masseuse would not stop chatting away to her friend, which ruined my peace, and left halfway through to go to the toilet! I hope she washed her hands!
The quality of the massage was also poor in comparison. I guess you get what you pay for then!
While out exploring Bangkok at night, we hailed a Tuk Tuk thinking that it wouldn’t be too far of a journey to our chosen restaurant, and realised too late that taking this along the motorway would cause you to become a source of entertainment for Thai locals. They really aren’t designed for that! It is the equivalent of peddling a bike down the M25. Not a great idea.
Bangkok is definitely an experience, and as a traveller I’d recommend it, as there is so much culture to observe. As there are relatively lower levels of tourism compared to the islands, I feel that you get a far more authentic experience of the country.
K A C H A N A B U R I
We left Bangkok after a day and travelled to Kachanaburi by car. It was the rural type of place that I had imagined Thailand to be and I loved it.
My desert safari experience in Dubai in 2014 left me feeling uncomfortable about riding animals. The camels in Dubai were bleeding from the chains being pulled tightly around their mouths and were forced to kneel and rise for people to climb up. It was obvious that they were in pain, and I found the experience quite upsetting.
Elephants world is a not for profit organisation focused on looking after old, sick and rescued elephants that have spent their lives suffering from tourist companies or working. Their motto is “we work for the elephants, instead of them working for us!”
Well, that was definitely true. We spent the day feeding, preparing individual baskets of food, washing, and cooking rice for the elderly elephants. It was exhausting but really fun. I had no idea that elephants eat that much. Each elephant came with their own personality and eating habits. Their individual food baskets contained fruit and veg specifically catered to their diets, and I tested this by giving an elephant a different piece of fruit, he casually threw it back at me. Nice. I guess not everyone likes bananas.
We were given facts about elephants throughout the day and learnt how much elephants suffer for tourists. It is painful for the elephants to ride them unless you are a small adult or a child. The correct riding position is the neck rather than back. There are so many tourist elephant riding companies in Thailand that force elephants to carry more than one adult on it’s back, as well as a riding chair which flattens their spine over time.
The day’s experience included an amazing Thai lunch and a taxi to and from our hotel. I really can tell that our money is being spent on the elephants, and I am happy that I contributed to their wellbeing while spending time up close and personal with them. The elephants are spoilt (one only eats bananas that are peeled down one side) and happy, and it made me happy watching them. 🙂
I S L A N D T I M E
From Kachanaburi we made a last minute decision to fly straight to Phuket rather than take an overnight sleeper train as we wanted more time on the islands. For the first day in Phuket, we stayed close to the airport and discovered that we were in a really quiet area, after realising there were no bars or restaurants open for us to visit. The plus side to this, however, meant that we had the beach to ourselves, and I spent the next morning swimming and working on my tan!
From Phuket, we moved on to Krabi and settled here for our second week and took day trips to different islands using their famous long tail boats. I’m not sure how these small rickety planks of wood keep afloat, and I was terrified the first time.
I may be smiling in this picture but we flailed through a storm reminding me of when Chuck Nelson lost his ball Wilson. I legitimately thought my time was up on earth. My friend was extremely amused that I was the only one sitting on board with a life jacket almost in tears. Three minutes later? You guessed it, she had hers on too!
We visited ten different beaches in total on our trip, and the best time to arrive was in the morning, before all of the tourists. My favourite island was Ko Poda (pictured). It felt surreal floating in the crystal clear waters surrounded by tropical fish!
Thailand is also home to a lot of monkeys, and we were warned not to leave clothes on our balconies or they may disappear overnight! I found it entertaining watching them, however, the staff were not amused and chased them off with slingshots!
We spent a few days a couple who have been travelling Australia and Asia for over 18 months and they have really inspired me to consider doing the same in the future. Thailand has been such an eye-opener to culture and natural beauty and has left me wanting to see more.
It was a truly amazing experience and I would recommend that you visit at least once in your lifetime! I missed out on visiting floating markets, temples and tigers this time, so I will definitely be making a trip back!
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Lizzy shares her lifestyle and opinions whilst travelling around the world.
Not only is she a young, career-focused professional, she’s a Starbucks and Zara enthusiast.
She’d like to settle down and have kids, but all in good time.