My Trip to Thailand
Updated: Jul 25, 2018
Disclosure: this is a long, detailed post about my entire trip, so it's really for myself to look back on someday when my memory gets worse. But if you're interested in reading my novel, by all means!
Last February, Kathryn (The Reale Adventure) and I took our second international trip together to Thailand. From the tropical islands to temples, to crowded cities, a lot went down. Keep reading to hear about my whole trip and why I have a bittersweet impression of my time in Thailand.
1. The Travel
I took a total of 11 planes on this trip. My flight itinerary:
2/9 -2/11 LAX > Seoul > Singapore > Bangkok > Koh Samui (SOS)
2/13 Koh Samui > Bangkok > Krabi
2/15 Krabi > Chiang Mai
2/18 Chiang Mai > Bangkok
2/20 Bangkok > Singapore > Seoul > LAX
Luckily I'm really good at sleeping/watching movies on airplanes. However, I don't think I'll ever choose a flight with 4 layovers again...
2. The Islands
We began our trip on the island of Koh Samui and stayed at The Bandara Resort & Spa. One of the best things about the Thailand is how cheap it is compared to the US. This gorgeous resort was insanely cheap for having our own bungalow with a private pool (in addition to the main pool) and being right on the beach. The only downfall was the bed literally felt like we were sleeping on a rock, which wasn't expected at a 5-star resort but that's Thailand. Our first night in Thailand was spent sipping mojitos on the beach. Not a bad start!
A little oasis within the resort
The next day, we got massages and facials at our resort (treat yoself), explored the island, and took an evening ferry to Koh Phangan to attend the Full Moon Party. It's basically a giant rave on the beach during the full moon. The night consisted of neon body paint, drinking "buckets" of alcohol (literally, your drink is a small bucket with a straw), loud music, and a lot of drunk people from around the globe. Overall, it wasn't my cup of tea, but I did successfully do the fire jump rope without getting burnt! I wouldn't do it again, but I'm glad I can say I experienced and survived the night.
>>The best part was honestly the ferry ride home when people were going crazy and getting into fights about who got to get on which boat. There's no way to explain it other than I felt like we were getting on the Titanic life boats "women and children only!"
The next morning, we had a long travel day to get to Krabi. We had to take a layover in Bangkok which was unfortunate. We stayed at Pakasai Resort in Krabi and it felt like we were staying in a real Tarzan treehouse! Besides having the first few hours of our arrival spent with the staff spraying it down to get rid of ants, it was an overall good stay with a great breakfast buffet, rooftop infinity pool, and all the jungle feels. I'll never forget sitting on a bench outside my room at night to see monkeys jumping from tree to tree above my head.
Our full day on the islands was spent with a day trip from Krabi to Railay Beach. It was a quick boat ride over and the scenery was unreal! We spent the day laying on the beach, drinking out of coconuts, buying all the $1 juices in the village, and watching a group of monkeys casually hanging out on the roofs and trees. We then rented a kayak to explore a cave, take in all the beauty, and be one with nature. Not 5 minutes in, we crashed into another kayak and completely tipped over. It was the scariest moment ever as I thought all of our belongings (phone/camera) were at the bottom of the ocean. LUCKILY everything was in a waterproof bag attached to the kayak that saved everything.
3. Chiang Mai
It was finally time to leave paradise in the islands and travel to the Chiang Mai. After the longest 1-hour cab ride of my life (crazy driver + jerky road + hot/humid weather + major motion sickness). We landed in CM and decided to go to the airport Starbucks (because obviously). Up until this point, I had been really good about only drinking bottled water to avoid drinking contaminated water, but I figured Starbucks tap water would be filtered like in the States. I had them fill up my water bottle and I think this is where I went wrong because from here on, I was really ill (more on that later).
We got to our hostel in the city and it literally looked like the inside of a nail salon with 2 beds. But for $10/night you can't complain. We then spent the day exploring the city. Out on the main road, it was filled with people driving around on their vespas and tuk-tuks (their version of a taxi). We walked around all day passing several temples, monks, shops, and food stands. If you want to go into the temples, you need to make sure your shoulders and knees are covered. In the evening, we explored the Night Bazaar which is like a giant nigh farmers market with vendors selling cheap clothes, jewelry, art, etc. We found a giant food station that had cuisines from all around the world. We found it appropriate to have authentic Thai food where they prepared fresh pad-thai right in front of your eyes. I'm not the biggest fan of Thai food to be honest, but my pineapple fried rice was pretty tasty!
The next day is where I knew something was wrong. We planned to spend the day exploring the city more or taking a day excursion outside of CM or visiting the tiger kingdom, but my body had a mind of it's own. To spare you the details, lets just say I had a bad case of food poisoning where I literally could not risk leaving my room. Luckily, Kath is a strong, independent women who don't need no me to have a fun day exploring. I had a fun day shaking in my bed with a fever, several trips to the bathroom, and a complete loss of appetite. I pretty much slept all day to avoid the misery, and hoping I would get better asap for the 2nd half of the trip (this was day 5 out of 10).
The following day was a day we were both looking forward to the most: the day we got to spend at the elephant sanctuary! I was still not feeling 100%, but I couldn't miss out on this experience. I'd wear a diaper if I had to. However, I think my excitement was a nice distraction from my misery so I ended up having a great time! Read all about it here.
On the way back home, we rode in a car (air conditioned) with one of the group leaders. We mentioned how we were bummed about missing out on the Tiger Kingdom the day before, and our guide (Chalie) was an angel and went out of her way to take us on the way back! As a fellow crazy cat lady, it was a dream of mine to pet a large cat without getting malled. There were options to visit small, medium, large, and extra large tigers - we chose a package that included small and large. The tigers were raised in captivity and were not drugged. Petting the small tigers was comforting and they were adorable. The big tigers were a bit more frightening, but I was oddly comfortable. We were able to lay on them, pet them, play with their tails, etc. We just could not pet their heads or else we may lose a hand. It was a dream come true and I made it out alive! The rest of the evening I convinced myself I was over my food poisoning and enjoyed our last evening in Chiang Mai.
The next morning, we got ready to head to Bangkok, our final destination. I still did not have an appetite and was afraid to eat/drink anything. For the short plane ride to Bangkok, I got water bottles and saltine crackers. One of the nice things about the Asian airlines we took is that they feed you even if the flight is under an hour, but I didn't want any food as I was already feeling nauseous. I couldn't wait to get off the plane, and grabbed a barf bag from the seat on my way out JUST in case. And thank the universe I did... We took a tram from the plane to the airport and it was jam packed. I told Kathryn I wasn't feeling good but she kept reassuring me we were almost there. It was probably a 3 minute drive but it felt like eternity as I was trying to hold everything in. I couldn't hold it in any longer and I filled my barf bag with whatever food/crackers I had in my system. I've never puked in public like this before so I knew it wasn't good. Kathryn took my huge backpack luggage along with hers (beast mode) and we sprinted to the bathroom. I got sick again and I wish I could have gone home right then and there. The next 24 hours were probably the most miserable ones of my life as I stayed inside my hotel room with no desire to leave. Bangkok is hot, humid, dirty, crowded, smelly, and smoggy. Definitely my least favorite destination. Luckily Kathryn had a friend in Bangkok to explore with, and they even went to the Pharmacy to get me meds. I took 8 pills every 6 hours, and had no clue what they were - but I was desperate. Even drinking water to take the pills was hard for me to do without wanting to die.
Fast forward to the next day, and I felt a whole lot better (thank you mystery meds). I was well enough to get out of bed and join the girls to the JJ Market. We spent the day walking around the heat, shopping for cheap souvenirs, adoring the cats and dogs up for adoption, and eventually, going to a rooftop bar to enjoy the city views. The floating market was the only thing we had left on our Bangkok list, but we were both so ready to leave we didn't mind skipping it.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about my particular trip to Thailand. I got some of the most breathtaking pictures of the islands and temples, enjoyed playing with the elephants and tigers, and spent very little money overall with how cheap it is. However, being so miserably sick for over half of the trip honestly ruined it for me. I have not touched Thai food since and have no desire to go back. If I hadn't gotten sick, my opinion might be different, but for now I think I'll stick to exploring new countries.
>>> In conclusion: If you go to Thailand...
1. Spending $350 on vaccines before the trip did not prevent me from getting extremely ill. Save your money but be smart.
2. Do NOT drink tap water. Only drink out of water bottles (and brush your teeth with it too).
3. Expect the beds to be uncomfortable. If a 5-star resort feels like a rock bed, that says a lot.
4. Bring a shawl or appropriate clothes to visit the temples in. Kathryn had a tough time covering up with knees and chest in her outfit.
5. Mystery Thai meds work wonders
6. Spend more time in the islands so you can take multiple day excursions to different places. We would have loved to do Koh Phi Phi and Phuket if we had more time.
7. Do your research if you're visiting an elephant sanctuary to make sure you're choosing a non-cruel place - as a lot of them care more about the tourism than the animals :( Couldn't recommend this place more!
Kop khun kha,