Now that we’ve fled across the border and by “fled” I mean “flown fairly comfortably albeit in an alarmingly small plane with ridiculous tropical comic art on it,” this seems appropriate.
Pros: Temples, Palace was cool. Easy access to street fruit.
Cons: Hot, overwhelming, constant fear of death by tuktuk. Constantly lied to by locals regarding cab prices, palace being closed. Kept accidentally walking through protest sites. Starbucks does not have Wi-Fi.
Chosen because: Easiest place to fly into and couldn’t just leave immediately.
Notable incidents: Pigeon lady. Being completely unable to sleep at a normal hour. Worst street pad thai. Durian. Unexpected Coronation Day Parade on our way to the train station where we also made our first backpacker friend (Czech).
Best for: Giant Buddhas.
Pros: Overnight train was comfortable, coffee shop had good Wi-Fi as we waited to flee the premises.
Cons: Hotel we planned to stay in failed mattress check.
Chosen because: Southernmost city you can go to before you start heading into dubious territory. Allegedly has nice night market though we never actually made it there.
Notable incidents: Somehow passed through twice without actually learning anything about the city.
Best for: Passing through?
Destination: Koh Muk
Pros: Adorable towel-stealing puppy army (sort of a pro). Lovely view from beachfront guesthouse.
Cons: Fairly abandoned in a disconcerting way. Did not actually see the Emerald Cave, which was mainly the reason we were there. No good local food.
Chosen because: Impulse, basically. Bus was leaving in five minutes and Emerald Cave sounded cool.
Notable incidents: Learned not to take the free pickup truck. French guy we met threw a praying mantis at David at dinner. Thought we had bedbugs, were assured by experienced Canadians that we did not.
Best for: Nice views. Isolation, if you want it.
Destination: Koh Lanta
Pros: Backpacker Disney. So cheap. Nice beach. Excellent sunsets. Almost exclusively a cat island. Curry Restaurant. Cheap point-and-eat foodcart breakfast.
Cons: Brief bedbug scare (escaped unscathed). Ants in rice. Mostly closing down for off season. Rocky waters offshore.
Chosen because: It sounded nice? Mostly whim. Beaches.
Notable incidents: Watching local soccer match with the owner of Curry Restaurant. Setting up shop in the tree fort at Backpacker Disney. Befriended first Australian. Escaped cows on the beach. Vicious sunburns.
Best for: Beach bumming. Pad thai.
Destination: Koh Phi Phi
Pros: Decent pad thai. Many cats. Decent boat tour, befriended Lithuanian couple on their honeymoon. Fire shows.
Cons: Bathroom roach motel. So loud. So many idiot cicadas. Beach dirty and low tide was so low as to be completely out. Fire shows.
Chosen because: The Australian we met on Koh Lanta said it was fun, beaches.
Notable incidents: Everyone on this entire island has apparently seen The Beach. Hostel stairs of death and chickens. So many fire shows, so many teenage girls in cutoffs drinking buckets. Purchased dirtbag fedora. Giant millipede versus broom death match.
Best for: The Fort Myers Beach experience of Asia.
Pros: So many towels. Gibbons. Free breakfast. Very cute hotel cat with sad scrunchy face. Actual blanket on hotel bed vs a tanket (towel-blanket). Sesame crackers.
Cons: Expensive, overly trendy, everything in Russian. Beach waves were too aggressive to spend any real time in the water. Isolated location in Surin Bay and transit prohibitively expensive to other parts of island.
Chosen because: Popular, gibbons.
Notable incidents: Almost getting stranded in the rain when the hotel in the middle of nowhere that we took the minibus to turned out to be closed for renovations.
Best for: Gibbons. Towels. Real blankets.
Destination: Khao Sok National Park
Pros: Beautiful Jurassic Park scenery. Significantly less litter.
Cons: Bugs, all the bugs. Unending minibus ride.
Chosen because: The Lithuanian couple from Koh Phi Phi said it was their favorite part of their trip.
Notable incidents: Jungle trek including cave that I spent the entire time in panicking. Met some other Americans and a British and Australian couple who had been working in Japan. Nearly fell off log into lake. Served giant whole fish for lunch on trek. Avoided leeches.
Best for: Humming the Jurassic Park theme song at all hours.
Destination: Koh Phangan
Pros: Lovely beachfront bungalow. Beach very nice.
Cons: Profusion of tiny stingy things in the water. Profusion of bros. Undercooked shrimp followed by dubious Red Bull and rum buckets ultimately leading to David’s food poisoning (we think). Party-focussed.
Chosen because: I was feeling sad about missing the Full Moon Party so we decided to try the Half Moon Party instead.
Notable incidents: Half Moon Party cost 600 baht and we spent the entire time hanging out with the same British couple and David drank two buckets. Dubious investment. Watched The Hobbit in a bungalow restaurant while eating surprisingly good mashed potatoes. Ripped open my toe on a rogue speed bump.
Best for: Day-glo if that’s what you’re into. Hobbits and cheese pie.
Destination: Koh Tao
Pros: Excellent people, cheap DIY snorkelling. Sairee Cottage barbecue. Ladyboy show.
Cons: Plans for diving had to be cancelled due to David’s septic food poisoning. Once hid in the bathroom because David found a roach in our bungalow. Beach at low tide basically just garbage tea.
Chosen because: Impulse. People said it was nice. Ultimately would have liked to get dive certified.
Notable incidents: Septic food poisoning and David had to spend the night in the clinic while I was fortunately adopted by cute Canadian veterinarians. All-you-can-eat pizza (not related to the food poisoning, shockingly). Actually found for-real bedbugs (we did not stay there don’t panic). Ladyboy show.
Best for: Late-night beach drinking. Allegedly diving.
Destination: Koh Samui
Pros: Our end of Chaweng Beach was very nice, fairly cheap clothing. Fairly easy to fly out of the outlet-mall-esque airport.
Cons: Overly built up and charmless. Constant harassment from bar taxis. Lost Swiss Army knife to airport security.
Chosen because: We are completists.
Notable incidents: Ang Thong Marine Park (pretty but ultimately disappointing after Khao Sok). Ninja Crepe. The 7500 baht/night Centara and their chair police and pigeons who pooped on David’s head. Everyone trying to sell David drugs. No one knows where the goddamn market or Mr. Crab is. Middle-aged sailors everywhere.
Best for: Beach chairs. Chang tanktops (Changtops).
Miscellanous overall impressions: Somewhat surly service people, beaches range from beautiful to filthy, constant scam-related paranoia, decently cheap accommodations and food but very expensive ferries, ate basically the same four vegetarian dishes at every meal but will still eat pad thai anyway. 3.5/5.
Onto Cambodia! Where I technically am now anyway as this post got significantly delayed due to internet and timing issues. We have noted a significant increase in soap, much to my surprise, and power outages, not surprising. And the world’s most aggressive tuktuk drivers.
2 thoughts on “Thailand recap”
Khao Sok seems to have much more than just bugs;
interesting place. I was at Krabi just 5/6 weeks ago, too bad I didn’t knew about Khao Sok.
Alas, if only we had seen any of them! We were not there for a terribly long time but sadly the closest we came to any other wildlife was hearing the gibbons singing in the trees. That and bats during the cave tour, which were pretty cool.