What can I say about Thailand that hasn’t been said already? Well it’s just a wonderful country really, it’s a perfect blend of respect for the monarchy, a love of food, religion and family: all tied around concepts such as ‘sanuk’ which I’ve learnt loosely translates as a striving instinct to have fun in what you do; making an effort to gain pleasure in your daily life;
I must admit, on a the plane ride over to Bangkok, I was a little nervous; I’ve been many places on my own; but; as soon as I touched down, took in the tropical air and bantered briefly with my taxi-driver (Who’d heard of Swansea simply though watching the footy) It was beginning to feel like I’d never want to leave; later when I came across a group of monks praying in the evening then I realised that I’d definitely never want to leave.
So what did I do in Thailand? It seems like I’d wandered down every single soi by the end of it, taking in the street food; inhaling sticks of Moo Ping (grilled pork) and carrying the heavy burden of a young coconut each and every morning: I’d eaten things I’ve later had to google and things that I’ll never forget; without needing a guide; The highlight of the trip was a morning spent giving alms to the monks at the dangerously early time of 6am; Unfortunately for the monks,I was only willing to share half of my street food offerings.
Getting up early!
Along the way, you get a sense of the streets from the people and Thailand; I was basically a sunburnt, Muay Thai short wearing wreck; with long badly dyed hair; oh how I wish I’d cut it before I’d left; but hey ho; thai street vendors resemble pirates and there’s always a golden buddha everywhere you go, sometimes wrapped in plastic on a street corner.
Each and every temple has hooks on the top and it’s almost like they’ve been fished out by a Buddha or one of his many relations; Buddhism is the superhero religion; it’s a legion, rather than a singular force; and It’s something that’s endlessly fascinating to someone as fanatical as myself; who can turn away from a religion which features mermaids and dragons in the same mural?
Buddhism literally has everything; but what it doesn’t have is the fire and brimstone platitudes that can be found elsewhere; it’s temples alone just bring about a curious peacefulness, similar to the sort found in nature: Bangkok’s temples give you the feeling that you’d love to go back in time; just trade your whole life; in just to see the gleaming wats and elephants down in Banglamphu.
Ayutthaya was another escape in Thailand; a tour group none the less; but I slipped away; I wouldn’t say it was the highlight of my trip; but as i’ve always maintained; perhaps a temple has to be living space; rather than a stomping ground for tourists. In fact; I began to feel that I was correct in avoiding Siem Reap altogether.
Ignore all the warnings and stay in Banglamphu, I first stayed at the Bed Box Hostel in Khaosan, which was basically empty and Sourire at Rattanakosin and found them to be well suited for sightseeing, some like to stay in Sukhumvit; due to a skytrain; but you are only a boat ride away from the flower markets, a half hour walk away to Yaowarat and most importantly; surrounded by actually a few decent rooftop bars in beautiful; old town Banglamphu.
Granted; maybe as a couple you’d have a more romantic time not surrounded by half dead backpackers clutching Singha; but on the other hand; there’s plenty of ‘Deathpats’ who have been sucked into the seedier side and emerged mangled and confused on the other side.
Admittedly, now that the holidays have waned; it feels like a long time to go until I can explore again; though It’s good to come back with a fresh outlook on life; It’s now time to finally visit Disneyland; maybe even meander to Macau and try to get some Sanuk into my life!