We just spent a couple weeks in Thailand as frequent readers of this blog will know from the various posts I did while we were there. For those interested in photos, there is a whole Thailand set up on Flickr.
We spent most of the past week at Railay Beach in Krabi without internet access which was much needed. So blogging was light other than what I had pre-posted.
We are on the flight home and enjoying wireless broadband at 30,000 feet again. What a wonderful world we live in.
Anyway, I thought I'd post my parting thoughts on Thailand for those interested in visiting this wonderful country someday.
It takes a while to get there. Basically a day in the air if you are going from the east coast of the US. But its worth every minute of it.
Thailand is a land of peaceful people who love life and seem to enjoy it as much as any place I've been to. It is also a kingdom where the royal family is revered. Democracy was introduced in the 1930s and the king and parliament share the governing power now. And it is a country rich in buddhist religion and culture.
Interestingly, modern Thailand was able to avoid the colonization that almost every other country in southeast asia went through. It's a testament to the kings of the Chakri dynsasty, in particular Rama 4 and Rama 5, that they were able to pull that off. It seems that the Thai people are like the Swiss in many ways, they have been able to negotiate a peaceful way through many difficult periods in history.
We spent pretty much equal amounts of time in Bangkok, the north (Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai), and the south (Krabi). That's what I'd recommend to anyone with enough time to do justice to all three parts of the country. We loved Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Krabi. We hear that Phuket is great too so you might want to check that out instead of or in addition to Krabi.
This time of year is the best time to go. It is winter, the rainy season is over, and its cool enough to walk around Bangkok and not be dripping in sweat. It's warm enough to sunbathe on the beaches in the south. However, it is cool in the north.
For me, the three things that stick in my mind about Thailand are the beauty of the land, the lovely people, and the food.
Bangkok is not beatiful, in fact its kind of ugly, but the rest of the country is absolutely spectacular. Particularly the mountains in the north and the beaches and cliffs of the south.
The Thai people are incredibly nice, always aiming to please, and seem to take great pleasure in helping tourists enjoy their country. We found that most Thai people understand enough english that we were able to get whatever we needed; a taxi ride somewhere in Bangkok, ordering food at a food stand, or directions to the nearest ATM machine.
But the most amazing thing about Thailand is the food. Thai food done right, and the cost of the meal has absolutely no relevance to the quality of the food, is simply amazing. Everyone comments on how spicy it is and that is true. But to me, it is the flavors they get, the mixes of sweet, sour, salt, spice in one dish that is incredible. Thai food takes from India, China, and other parts of the world to create something uniquely its own. We had some meals in Thailand that can compete with the best meals we have had anywhere in the world. The food is that good.
Finally, I'd like to credit two resources that were incredibly valuable to us. First, we booked our trip through a company called Absolute Asia. They are a high end operation so they are not for everyone, but they did a great job for us. Everything worked perfectly.
Second, we found these cool pocket guides in our hotel in Bangkok called Luxe City Guides. We picked up one for Bangkok and one for Chiang Mai. They are incredible. We found many of the best places to eat and shop from them. They have pocket guides for most of the major cities in Asia. If you are going to Asia, get a Luxe guide before you go and start booking restaurants, hotels, and lots more.
So its with mixed feelings that I leave Thailand. I will be back for sure. If you love travel and food, you must go.