I just returned from a 5 night trip to Thailand. It was a whirlwind, and I got a little dizzy at the end, but it was pretty thrilling anyway.
Miu and I went together for our first foreign travel together. Since she was there and she’s never really worried about missing flights and stuff, my usual travel-nerves were tempered a little bit. I think we did a really good job, I hope I wasn’t too annoying, babbling about how much travel plans and scheduling make me nervous. She organized us a wonderful schedule which helped a lot; it was a day by day breakdown of where we would be when when with flight times and such included. I was in charge of keeping all our documents from getting lost.
It was great that we could meet up with our friends in Thailand, they were an invaluable help and great fun to spend time with. One of the greatest advantages to studying and working abroad is that you tend to meet other international people, and you can develop a rather large network of friends from all over the world. Facebook is a fantastic tool for that, and despite all the privacy issues and annoyances involved, I can’t imagine maintaining my network of friends without it.
My impressions of Thailand are as follows: dirty, cheap, pleasant, smelly, stratified, beautiful.
There was lots of filth. Everything was cheap. People we talked to were largely all quite pleasant. There was sort of an inescapable smell of refuse, probably related to the large amounts of filth. There was also a very obvious class stratification. The poor areas were very poor, the rich areas were VERY rich. Some of that may be catering to tourists with deep pockets too, but there was definitely some posh stuff. As I expected, if you can escape the nasty city streets filled with stray dogs and homeless people, there’s a lot of beauty which I think we only caught a few fleeting glimpses of. The islands around Phuket were breathtaking, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The old temples around Ayutaya had a certain holy mystique about them which demanded respect. And last of what we saw, a lot of the architecture in Bangkok was awe-inspiring.
At first glance, I couldn’t live in Thailand. I’d be open to having a second look though, and I get the feeling there are probably places in Thailand I didn’t visit that I could live in quite comfortably.
Oh, and I rode an elephant. They seemed pretty okay with it, though the Ankusa (Elephant Goad) the mahouts carried were more than a little menacing. I honestly don’t know if you can really complain about riding elephants if you’re okay with riding horses, camels, donkeys, and other animals of burden.
Things for you to Google:
Fruit: mangosteen, rambutan, longan, sapodilla
Google Maps and photos: James Bond Island, Ayutthaya
Flickr Album forthcoming. Check back again.