I have just returned from a splendid eleven day holiday in the Thailand. Whether or not I deserved it at the time is neither here nor there, I certainly feel like I deserved it now. Which is what’s important, right?
So holidays, there a pain in the tender spots for those among us who plan on being productive on them. I’m always making a mess of things by bringing too many books to read and too many aspirations for writing a few hundred thousand words, or something like that… It’s not that I don’t enjoy not doing anything, but holidays for some reason really don’t bring out the best in me in terms of being productive. Miserably cold winters are much more suitable. In fact, I believe that misery (not abject, but mild doses of the extreme first world problem variety) brings out the best in ones creativity.
So, sitting in front of the pool for a week in a tropical climate is not going to encourage much creativit. Unless of course I’m some breed of alcoholic, homesick, depressed, opium addicted, recently dumped… which I’m not. Not yet anyway. Misery was not an issue on this holiday. This was good. Misery was something I was planning on avoiding for the most part anyway. I had a good think or two though, at least when there was no wireless signal, and that was nice.
My schedule went something like this:
Arrived in Bangkok on Monday night and transferred immediately to a flight to Chiang Mai. After three nights in Chiang Mai, we (i.e. myself and Herself) moved on to Pai for two nights, and then returned to Chiang Mai where we enjoyed the Saturday market. Immediately after that we bailed on a (tourist) bus overnight to Bangkok, so that we could connect with another (tourist) bus to Koh Chang, which is the second largest island in Thailand, and is located in the east of the country quite close to the Cambodian border. When we got here we spent five nights in a very scenic resort in an area called Bailan, which is in the south of the island just past Lonely Beach. On Friday morning we left Koh Chang and returned to Bangkok where our 2am flight to Seoul, via Shanghai, was waiting for us.
So without going into it too much, here are a few thoughts that I had while I was away. These aren’t written down in any particular order. Some of these meditations may not be entirely new as I’m sure I thought the same things when I spent almost two months in Thailand back in 2006.
- Thailand is a fascinating place.
- As a tourist, you don’t ever get to see the whole picture, despite believing you do, and I imagine the vast majority of Thailand is, generally speaking, much the same as the many other rural populations in highly populated Asian countries.
- ‘Tourist’ facilities, namely the travel companies that ferry you around, really are the scourge of any trip to Thailand.
- Anything titled ‘tourist —-‘ is a scam and you’ll probably get second rate facilities for twice the price, especially in terms of transport (I had no dealings with the Tourist Police and cannot vouch for their value for money factor)
- The people who are not directly involved in the tourist industry appeared to be much friendlier than those who were.
- I start missing the food in Chiang Mai as soon as I got in the songthaeau (or however you spell the bloody thing) to leave the town…
- What effect does tourism densely developed within close proximity to unique and fragile ecosystems, such as the diminishing coral reefs and mangroves?
- There are some really crap tourists.
- I really would like to take my own boat one of these days and really explore all the inlets and islands all down the coast.
- How should I really react when I find out that the majority of the resort employees where I am staying are Cambodian immigrants? Is it safe to say that this is the reason they don’t smile – not because they’re Cambodian, but because they’re immigrants who are paid poorly in a business fuelled by wealthy (by their standards) foreign tourists? The same can be said for Burmese people who staff the tourist industry on the west coast and southern islands.
- How should I react when some of these employees are young children, some under the age of fourteen and working long days, albeit not very hard?
- While a 640ml bottle of Beer Chang or Singha is roughly the same price as a 500cc glass of draft Cass in Korea, you have to appreciate how great value the beer is in Thailand.
- Why would you visit a country famous for its spicy food if you don’t like spicy food?
- There’s something really annoying about tourist trap towns that seem to cater for the backpacker crowd kind of tourist.
- The only distinction between a backpacker and a regular tourist is a rucksack (and often far too many clothes purchased at tourist markets).
- I really, really, really, really, really would love to take three or four months out from the world and go travelling around places I’ve never seen before again.
- Why did I go to Thailand when I knew I’d regret it as soon as I returned (financially of course)?
- Despite being thirty years-old, I still have not learned how to prevent myself from getting sunburnt so badly that I should really have gone to hospital.
- I’m not jealous of the western people who have set themselves up with bars or cafés in tourist havens.
- There really are a lot of German people in the world.
- I saw two Hyundai cars and no Kia cars in Thailand. With the exception of the odd Volkswagen and a stray Ford, practically every car that I saw Japanese made, and the vast majority were Toyotas and every scooter was a Honda.
- Samsung TVs are as popular in Thailand as they are in Korea.
- Incheon Airport is a really bland advertisement for Korean brands that you will never hear about again once you step onto the plane to leave the country. While every country promotes ‘its own’, Korea is a little overkill.
- I was psychologically ready to go back to work on Monday, February 19.
- I love the different bird sounds you hear.
- It’s time I started checking flight prices to places other than Thailand.
- A few days in Had Rin without Herself would have been some craic!
- I discovered to my own misfortune that Olleh’s data roaming is very expensive.
- It’s very hard to find a wide range of suitable aftershave balm to choose from in the duty free here in Asia.
- I really wish I saw more monkeys out in the wild, rather than the dishevelled looking character I saw crawling along some power cables.
- The ould health and safety is less of a concern in Thailand than in Korea.
- It was nice to get away from the arseholes that pass as motorists in Korea.
- God, the fruit in Thailand would make you piss your pants it tastes so good.
- There’s a reason the locals don’t walk around in the middle of the day.
- Herself prefers to be recognised as Thai than she does Chinese.
- I like Chiang Mai, and it’s definitely a place I could see myself living quite comfortably in.
- I heard three K-pop songs.