Trip to Thailand, February – March 2008.
Arriving in Bangkok for the first time is fantastic and eye opening, 34 degree heat, humidity and one of the biggest and maddest cities on earth. Bizarre street traders, even more bizarre food stalls selling anything that’s ever moved or not, sex, drugs and fake copies of anything can be purchased at ease at pretty much anytime of day. There is however a feeling its not as chaotic as it actually could be, (until you go to see the Thai boxing, think Mad Max but madder), probably because the Thais are by far the most chilled out and relaxed people I have ever met, their hospitality and friendliness goes far beyond anything I have come across on such a scale. The temples, wow, I do not have a religious bone in my body but the temples are special, hundreds to be explored all over the city and beyond; however The Reclining Buddha for me was the most visually stunning. Leaving Bangkok we head towards Krabi on the overnight bus and then on to Railey by long tail boat. Railey is the most beautiful place I have ever been. Golden sand, clear water with limestone cliffs rising from the depths and a very chilled out vibe rule here. Beautiful bars, monkeys on the beach, days out snorkelling and visiting deserted beaches in the middle of the ocean and some of the nicest smoke I have ever had, after 4 days of fun, leaving is very difficult I could have spent my whole holiday. However we where now heading for party central, Koh Phi Phi. My first impression of Phi Phi was that it’s a shanty town off its head; imagine Glastonbury Festival on a tropical paradise. When I leave a week later I still think it’s a shanty town off its head but I have had the most fun I have had in years. More upbeat than Railay, the beaches, both of which are unbelievable are rammed with the most beautiful people. Parties on the beach can be found every night, the music is not fantastic but the majority of people here are drunk on Thai whisky buckets, which have to be seen to be believed. Next off to Koh Samui, the largest of Thailand’s islands. Transport is needed to get around and when you hit the roads, the madness begins. Trucks, bikes, scooters, 4x4’s all heading towards you, overtaking you and undercutting you. The island is very tourist driven, Brits, Swedes, Italians, they all have their own resorts and this spoils the atmosphere a bit. Night sees a mass of go-go bars and massage parlours open and the lady boys hit the streets, great fun but ultimately, expensive and shallow, but whatever rocks your boat is cool, especially in Thailand. There is plenty to see and do on Samui, great waterfalls; magic gardens and a mass of wildlife are just a few tasters. I am glad I went but I do not think I would go back for a while, even though the food sampled was the best ever tasted and the people where the friendliest ever met. Back to Bangkok for a couple of days before home sees more temples, successful attempts to stay out of the red light district and a visit to the biggest market in the world, (8700 stalls), all make for a very exciting end to three of the best weeks I have ever had, so good in fact I am returning same time next year. If not before.
Photos at www.facebook.com/markbarker