June 22, 2014
Flash Packing in Thailand
This is my final post re my travels as a ‘Flash Packer’ if you have read my previous posts you will note that I had mulling over the dilemma of whether I should hang up my backpack, the real question I posed is are hostels today providing poor accommodation or had I finally got to a stage where I could not do without my creature comforts. To help me come to a decision on this matter I decided to travel as a Flash Packer for a few weeks in Thailand.
I had left Koh Chang with a broad smile on my face and a treasure bank of memories of an island that still retains (at least in the south of this mountainous paradise) its innocence and yet still has so much to offer in the way of adventures, if you combine all this with the quality of accommodation offered by Asia BackPackers and their detached ‘Flash Packers’ bungalows, set as they are within the virgin forest and mountains, with the promise of the beaches a few minutes’ walk away, you can see why I was leaving with such fond memories.
The last stop on my travels was to be in Udon Thani, Issan in north east Thailand, the hostel is another fantastic venue owned and managed by Asia BackPackers and as with their other hostels in Pattaya and Koh Chang they offer both dormitories and ‘Flash Packer’ accommodation.
This was my first trip to this part of Thailand, I have in the past followed the well-worn backpacker trail to Chang Mai and then onto Burma (sorry Myanmar) and was looking forward to seeing Issan and its claim to be ‘The Gateway to Laos and Vietnam’ To get to my last destination I decided to travel to Bangkok and then take the overnight express sleeper to Udon Thani (also known as simply Udon) it is a scheduled 9.25 hour journey but as usual in Asia things like this take a little bit longer than the time tables might suggest. Nevertheless, it suited me as it was cheaper than a flight and saved on a nights accommodation costs, the sleeper is quite comfortable and pleasant, with the added advantage that you feel as you are exploring and not simply on a holiday, this is emphasized when the light allows, you get to glimpse some of the country side as you chug along past rural Thailand.
Udon is the fourth largest city in Thailand and on first impressions looks and feels the same as any other city in this very large country, yet on further investigation it has its own heart and soul, while it cannot claim to have the abundance of touristy attractions of its bigger counterparts, it equally does not suffer from the masses of tourists and is far more laid back than the likes of Chang Mai and Phuket. From its advantage point it really is perfectly placed to use as a base to travel this some-what untouched part of the ‘Land of Smiles’ and then onto Laos and Vietnam. I really enjoyed my stay in Udon, there is more than enough to do and see in and around this ‘Gateway’ to make the journey worth-while.
As with the other hostels that I have stayed with that are owned by Asia BackPackers, this one is well managed with friendly staff who go out of their way to help you find what is worth seeing in around the location, there are a choice of dormitories, rooms and apartments to cater for all budgets and in my case I could choose what level of creature comforts I wanted.
After this trip I can hand on heart state that it was both me and thankfully hostels that have changed, I realize I need my luxuries and these can be found in hostels as demonstrated by Asia BackPackers. Call them ‘Flash Packers’ should you wish, I would class them as a further option all hostels should try to offer, as I like so many other backpackers want to continue to stay in hostels as they offer the best chance to meet other likeminded adventurers, to make new friends, meet old ones, swap stories and to immerse your-self in the local culture.
“Long live Hostels and welcome to Flash Packing”