The below, is from a trip we took in November 2019.
It’s early 2000’s, stinky dark movie theater, old school projector and squeaky seats. On screen, a young backpacker immersed in loud scary streets in a strange country. Looks warm and humid, not sure what to think of it yet. The movie continues, I get more into it, a picture of an island fills the screen. Palm trees, white sand, tanned people… wait, is that a huge weed plantation? I have to go there someday.
A movie based on Alex Garland’s best seller novel, about a backpacker’s journey to find the perfect Beach. Played by a small headed younger version of Leo Dicaprio. Definitely not Oscar material, but if you ask any traveler Gen Yer’. It is the movie that inspired many people like me, to get out there and see the world.
Its been 20 years since then. I moved to the US, got some decent education and a job. Air-traveling became mainstream and now the dream didn’t seem that far anymore. Convinced my wife and decided to head over to Thailand. And it was hands down the best time of my life.
After landing, we spent few days in Bangkok to visit cultural sites, and learn about the history of Thailand. Which has gone from ancient wars, hostile take-overs, military coups to a kingdom. After that, we headed up north to Chiang Mai/Rai to enjoy the culinary capital of Thailand.
For the second leg, we headed down to the white sand turquoise water party infested paradise of the south of Thailand. A total of 3 weeks. Full itinerary blog posts coming soon and map down below.
After 20 hours, 3 connecting flights, many beers, and a quick shower at the Centurion Lounge Hong Kong we get there. It is a long trip and it can get a bit heavy, but trust me, plenty of alcohol helps. Please bring entertainment, movies, books and after COVID, perhaps a comfortable mask?
We are OneWorld Alliance members. So we flew Premium Economy with American Airlines to Hong Kong and the rest with Cathay Pacific. It is a bit more expensive, but totally worth it specially thinking in how many miles you can get for it.
We landed mid day in Bangkok, a bit hangover, exhausted and stinky. It is freaking hot, humid, polluted and loud. Overwhelming? Absolutely, I’ve never been to Asia, so I am excited to see it, but also very skeptic. It is that mixed feeling of excitement, self-doubt, fear and happiness that comes all at the same time as soon as you get off the plane.
The reason? The great unknown. Unlike when you travel around the western hemisphere where you know what to expect. Here everything is very different, the people, the language and the smells. The good news, this weird feeling will quickly vanish in the next few days.
Did I mentioned that is fucking hot? We got to Bangkok in November, it is the shoulder season and perhaps our favorite time if we go back, prices are still fairly low and the weather is good, you do not want to be there during the rainy season, nor the high season surrounded by a million drunk dumb loud tourists trashing the place.
The Plan? We have one, and we carefully picked it using our Lonely Planet guide, and this trip we used it A LOT. With these guides you can pretty much build your own schedule and have all the information handy whenever we need it. I would highly recommend to stick to the paper version. As you might find yourself pulling it out of your backpack every time you sit down. The guides provide a good mix of historic and cultural background, must visit places, great local restaurants and hotels. Do your self a favor and get one.
What to bring?
We brought way to much shit. It’s hot, so you need just tshirts and shorts. You will not wear anything besides that and can get away with a 50L bag loaded with light summer stuff. Perhaps 1 or 2 nice collar shirts and a pair of jeans you can use for a special occasion. Need more? just go to the local laundry mats and get them washed and ironed for a few dollars. I recall wearing jeans few times in the entire trip and all at fancy restaurants, like the Sirocco at the Lebua Hotel, the Marriot JW Tsu Japanese Restaurant, and when we got invited to a VIP reception at the Le Meridien in Phuket. I will tell you all about it later. Do not bother to buy mosquito repellent in the US, just buy the local citron one, it’s effective and smells way better.
The land of a thousand smiles
It takes roughly 2 days get over the jet lag, the heat, the noise and the humidity. So although as we will come to learn later, if big loud city is not what you are looking for, please do not judge Thailand based on Bangkok. It just only gets better from here. The delicious food and the kindest people, absolutely stole my heart forever, and by far after spending 3 weeks there, was not enough.
It is my all time favorite place, where I go back everyday in my head when I need some peace and calm, which nowadays is quite often. The place I cannot wait to go back to, where you are always welcome with a smile and a kind gesture, my happy place, Thailand.
Come check the upcoming posts to learn how you can make your first time in Thailand, absolutely amazing.
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Love – the monkey.