July 28, 2014
All you Heart Desires in Thailand
After my recent post Travel Plan and how I use 3 lists to build the skeleton of a travel plan. I have been asked by a number of people to publish my suggestions of what my lists for Thailand would look like.
List One & Two: What-ever you have set your heart on doing
Listed here are some of my suggestions, this is not meant to be a definitive list of the hundreds of local events that are held throughout the year all around the kingdom but simply my list of things I have had the pleasure of seeing or and doing.
Thailand has some of the best waters in the world to learn to dive, you can learn to dive all around the coast line of the Kingdom, and there are hundreds of diving centres to choose from. Do ensure you check out the certification of a centre from the relevant diving organisation.
Visit the Islands
If you find yourself in the Gulf of Thailand and in the Andaman Sea, you will find you are never far away from one of the 1,430 islands of Thailand most are uninhabited but many are accessible by boat. If in deed the island is habited do look to find the normal public ferry service as hiring a private boat will be far more expensive. In Thai, the names of islands are usually preceded with the word Ko or Koh. For those of you who just want to lay back on your own island for a few hours and soak up the sun, this is a must.
Celebrate the festival in Pattaya. The Thai New year is celebrated in April each year officially from the 13th to the 15th but in Pattaya the celebrations start prior to this date and can last for 8-10 days. While the Thai New year is supposedly the occasion when Thai’s return home to celebrate with their family elders, for those in Pattaya it is a crazy time where water becomes the leveller of all, from the rich to the poor from the old to the young and where even the police are open targets for a soaking. There is no escaping the water during this time and it can go on from dawn to dusk, if you are not prepared to get wet ‘Stay Away’ if you want to join in always remember to put your money, telephone and anything else you want to keep dry in a water proof bag or simply roll everything into a plastic shopping bag. Be prepared to be both amazed and absolutely soaked in this hilarious one off mad celebration.
Celebrate this festival in Chiang Mai as while the rest of the kingdom celebrates this festival no one does it for longer or better than Chiang Mai there are activities at various venues throughout the city such boat races on the Mae Ping River, Yipeng lantern procession and contest, Beauty contest, and Krathong parades and contests. This is one of the most moving, colourful and tranquil festivals in the Kingdom, while its origins are somewhat vague (The original festival was thought to be it used for worshipping the foot-print of Buddha at Nammathanati River beach in Thakkhinabodh district, India)
The delightful Loy Krathong Festival, is celebrated nation-wide each year on the full moon night in November. The float or Krathong is made of banana-leaf and is filled with incense sticks, flowers, a lighted candle and small coins, once completed and the candles and incense are alight it is floated into the sea or on the river, while the sky is awash with hot air lanterns, it is then when Thai people will as ask for good luck in the future and forgiveness Pra Mae Khongkha.
Stroke a Tiger
There are a number of tiger zoos in the kingdom and most will allow you to sit close enough with a fully grown tiger and stroke it. Not for those of a timid persuasion as these animals are up to 300 kilos of pure killing machine
Elephants are still revered in Thailand and while they are not used for manual work as they once were, the opportunity is there to ride and with luck swim and bath these gentle giants. This is one experience that will stay with you a life time.
List Three (Every Day List)
Listed here are my list of things you can do almost every day and everywhere while in this great country
The combination of sweet, sour, hot and salty flavours is what makes Thai cuisine so distinct, and the benefits of eating here in Thailand is the manner that the food is served, do not expect your chosen dishes to come in a set order, Thai’s do not have starters and food is served as it is cooked, for Thai’s the eating of food is a very sociable occasion and they like to spend time dinning and are not overly concerned that the food will go cold. Never be afraid to ask for the food to be cooked more or less spicy.
There is a lot of miscomprehension on street food and the suggestion that they all unsafe is not true, what can be true is that the offering may be made from cheaper cuts of meat or fish, with chicken feet being used as the meat flavouring in many chicken dishes. A good rule of thumb is that, food cooked in front of you and fruit freshly peeled before your eyes is more likely to be safe to eat.
Try a tasty bug
It may seem strange and sickly to think of eating bugs (and no they do not taste of chicken) but hey they have more protein pound for pound than beef and at least you can tell your friends you tried them.
Why not try a delicious grasshopper or a mouth-watering cockroach if that does not get your taste buds going what about nibbling on a few succulent ants or grubs, if you still have the craving for more try a wholesome deep fried Scorpion or Frog, yummy.
Try the fruit
Thailand grows a vast array of fruit from the small and delicate flavoured Star fruit (Ma-phuang) to the monster size and smelly Durian (Tu-rian) fruit. For a few baht you can assault your taste buds from the sweet Lychee (Linchi) to the sharper Rose Apple (Chom-poo). Why not plan to attend one of the many regional fruit festivals in Thailand or join in on our hostel fruit and bug tasting nights.
The Kingdom is full of massage parlours from small shops to those that ply their trade in the open air in a park or on the beach. There are a number of different massages to choose from and varying levels of strength (aka ‘pain’), from a head and shoulder to a simple foot message and all other bodily parts in between. A word of warning, you should point out to the masseur before they start, what level of pain you would like, the safest (less pain-full) massages are the head and foot options, what-ever your pain threshold, you cannot walk away from this experience ‘not knowing you have had a massage’ I have heard it said that a Thai Massage is tantamount to paying someone to beat the hell out of you.
While these taxis can only be found in parts of Thailand, I have added them here as most people enter or leave Thailand via Bangkok and so most will have the chance to take a ride (always ask the driver the fare before climbing in the Tuk Tuk and try not to get one near major tourist destinations as you will be charged as a tourist). For those faint of heart or of a nervous disposition then this may not be for you, but if you do the resulting adrenalin rush in taking this form of transport in this hectic 100 mile per hour city makes it worth the time and effort even if it’s only once.
As with my comments on Tuk Tuk’s and most visitors using Bangkok as an entry/exit point into/out of Thailand, I have added this section here, there are at least 10 Floating markets in and around the city the most visited by tourists is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Ratchaburi Province. Here you will find most vendors are selling fruit and vegetables. This is a must for those who want to take a magical picture or two
Shopping from the street vendors or while sitting on the beach
Do remember that while the vendors are only trying to earn a living they are not registered with the likes of Armani, Rolex or Ray ban and therefore, of course what they are offering is fake goods, the best you will get is in the case of a watch a 200 metre guarantee, i.e. the watch may well not work once the vendor has gone 200 metres from you. On a serious note, beware as some countries border controls may confiscate fake goods from you once you try to enter their country.
Thailand is a Buddhist nation and the religion is followed by 95% of its population that said there are churches, synagogues and mosques to visit all over the country, along with the estimated 40,717 Buddhist temples. (Thai ‘Wat’)
The Wat Phra Kaew –Temple of the Emerald Buddha is the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand and is located in Phra Nakhon District, the historic centre of Bangkok, within the precincts of the Grand Palace.
Thailand’s own martial art form that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. There are daily shows all around Thailand, do remember that these guys have to ‘fight’ 2-4 times per day, so while you may find the spiritual opening ceremonies and prayer interesting, these events are almost always staged. To get the real feel of the sport, why not catch a real professional bout there are many happening throughout the year and all over Thailand. More
How-ever you plan your trip don’t forget that things will change they always do see my post
Planning=Stress and do not get too stuck on following a rigid plan