Thailand . [part 1]

A COLD?
Yeah, we don’t really know how it’s possible, but we both have ‘a cold’. The meaning of that seems a bit silly, since it’s not cold at all in Thailand! 😛 Anyhow, we still have the symptoms of a constipated nose, a bit of fever and a lack of energy. Besides that we have nothing to complain about. We like Thailand a lot!

Personally, it took me some time to get enthusiastic, because Thailand is so much more touristic than in all the other places we’ve been to. And of course it’s nice when you’re able to decrypt the menu and can order some western dishes from time to time. But if you’re surrounded by only ‘farang’ (westerners) with tattoos and suitcases on wheels, and the few Thai left stare at you yawning behind the bar and won’t come to the table to serve you, I don’t really feel at ease to be honest. I’m talking about party paradise ‘Lonely Beach’ on the island Ko Chang, where we stayed for New Year’s Eve. Our hut was very cheap, that must be said. But the atmosphere had nothing to do with the Thai Thailand. I’m referring to my own impressions, because Wouter liked it much more than I did. So we agreed to disagree. Haha!

On New Year’s Eve I fled the noisy music that came from the beach and used to keep me awake each night until early in the morning. Together with 4 other tourists plus a guide I spent 2 days in the jungle climbing Ko Chang’s highest mountain. What a hike! It was very steep, exhausting and scary at some points. But it’s nice to have done and survived it and to be able to retell the story.

Oh yes, our really first night in Thailand (so before we went to Ko Chang) we spent the night on a pier and finally slept in the roof tent again. There were quite some people on the pier, but they didn’t seem too curious when we unpacked the tent. And one minute after we were done, a terribly heavy shower started and lasted certainly one hour. In no time everyone was gone and we remained alone on the pier. What a great camping place! And what nice to wake up in the morning by the sound of the waves and the fishing boats.

After Ko Chang we drove to Bangkok. A famous and infamous city of course. Before our arrival we had those ideas of a compete chaos, a dreadful traffic and a very tiring ambience. But what was the case? We just loved it! And that in many ways:

Traffic
As each big city on earth it’s busy, of course, and you have to be fit for ‘just a walk around a few blocks’. But the traffic was much better than expected. Thai drive fast but very well, look in the mirror, don’t drive against the traffic and respect ‘normal’ rules. That is, for example they check if there’s enough space before they exit a side road and get on the main road. That hasn’t been the case in many other Asian countries we’ve been to!

Safety
Walking in the streets as a woman at night – no problem! There were certainly criminal activities going on somewhere in town, but we weren’t bothered by any of them. Well, it needs to be said that it’s very safe everywhere in Southeast Asia (including China) – certainly compared to Mongolia and Central Asia, by the way.

Food
Thai food is world famous. And everywhere there are tourists, cooking courses are offered. We could resist the temptation of cooking until now, but we do like the eating. Even though the food’s not really nourishing, not even for ‘small eaters’ as we are. Personally I find the way Thai food is admired a bit exaggerated. After all it’s nearly always rice or noodles, chicken, pork or shrimps, fresh vegetables (haricots, carrots, cabbage, and green mango), and chilli, chilli, and once again chilli. But it certainly tastes excellent each time!
And what makes it so nice is that street food can be trusted without a problem. So you walk to one of these food stalls (in Bangkok you’ll seriously never have to walk more than 100m to reach one), look at all the jars and ingredients that are displayed, and point at the mix you’d like to eat. And don’t forget to mention ‘not spicy please’, if you don’t like spicy food as I do. 🙂 Costs: seldom more than € 2,- for two persons!

Public transport
We avoided taxis, tuk-tuks, and busses by principle. They’re too slow, expensive or crowded. Much more fun appeared to be the transport on water! Bangkok reminded us a bit of Venice (not that one of us has ever been there, but still) or Amsterdam. There are two kinds of waters. One is the large river that goes from north to south and that contains different boats at different speeds at different prices to carry passengers from A to B.
And there are the ‘khlong’, a kind of canals that leave to the right and left from that large river into the city. On one of these ‘khlong’ we used the ‘khlong taxi’ several times. Those boats will cross the city at 30km/h at some times. During the ride you pass by wooden houses that belong to the poorer people, but also parts with tropical plants that make you feel in the jungle, and later on the modern sky scrapers down town. But in fact you only see half of all this, because they pull up a plastic on the sides to prevent everyone from getting wet. We found these rides quite adventurous!

Lady boys
There are plenty of stories about how beautiful those Thai transvestites/transsexuals are and how difficult it is to see the difference between them and ordinary girls. That might be possible if you go to the red-light districts. But what astonished us was that there were so many not-so-pretty and quite-well-recognizable lady boys. And you wouldn’t only encounter them at bars, but basically on each thinkable spot. For example as a vendor in a small shop. Pity we don’t speak Thai, because I would have loved to know more about how they got to it and how they’re being treated by society.

Thai boxing
Forget all the bloody prejudges. This is fun! I was a bit sceptical in advance and didn’t like the competitions on TV. But once in the Raja stadium in the middle of the atmosphere I got totally convinced. And I was astonished about how sportive it all was. I’ve seen a little blood only once during the whole evening (and we stayed there from 18 – 23 ‘o clock!). Apart from that it was only gorgeous men, crazy background music and screaming spectators. Fantastic!

To make a long story short: Bangkok rules!





1 Comment

  • 1. charlotte  |  January 17, 2010 at 06:22

    well, I AM reading all the posts you put up, but as I am slowly “loosing” my Dutch, I just wanted to say that I am SERIOUSLY appreciating the decision to put in the third language (English) on the site 🙂 THANKS guys!!!
    Also, again, still…. seems like a wonderful trip you are doing and I am glad you are enjoying it!

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