I went to Thailand in 2008 with three friends. I was just going to write that it was my first trip to a different continent but it wasn’t. It wasn’t a first trip outside Europe without parents as well, but it was first self organised trip to different continent (although we organised it together) and first time in Asia. Big thing, is what I mean to say.
We were flying from Dublin through Amsterdam to Bangkok. And had an outline of what we wanted to see. Now, who are we? A group of four people: a couple (J. and M.) my friends from Uni at that time living in Dublin (not anymore), A. (J’s friend from work) and me.
The outline (plan) when we were leaving Ireland was:
- Sightsee Bangkok
- Flight to Chiang Mai
- Renting a car to get back to Bangkok
- Night bus/train/flight south to Phuket or Ko Samui or Ko Phi Phi
- Back to Bangkok to catch the flight back home
and it worked out almost like this. We did not hop the islands we stayed at Ko Lanta and took a night bus there. On the right you can see our first week of sightseeing: Bangkok – Chiang Mai – Hot – Li – Mae Ping National Park – Tak – Sukhothai – Ayutthaya – Kanchanaburi – Bangkok
I will start this time with a little information on Thailand.
Thailand in Thai means the country of free men. Thais still remain proud of the fact that their country was never occupied by foreign powers. It was once called the Kingdom of Siam. What is special about Thailand? Beaches? The temples? I guess both but morely the hospitality of people and delicious food. There is even more than this. Each part of the country is different, jungle and mountains in the north, beaches and islands in the south. Everywhere plenty of beautiful, historic buildings and adventures. You will hear of some of mine!
Facts & numbers (selected):
- the narrowest part of Thailand is near Prachuap Khiri Khan, where the Gulf of Thailand and the border of Myanmar (Burma) are only 13 km apart,
- Bangkok has been the capital of Thailand since 1782 since King Rama I, it occupies around 6500 sq km,
- Topographically the country can be divided into 5 regions: Central dominated by Maenam basin (you can see the houses on piles here), Northern with limestone mountain ranges (this means caves), South-Eastern a gradual transition with evergreen tropical forests and granite mountains (good fishing on the coast line), North-Eastern a red sandstone plateau (Thailand’s poor house), Western with mountain peaks exceeding 2000 m (Khao Sam Roi Yot – mountains with 300 peaks), Southern (the trunk of an elephant, as Thailand outline resembles the head of one).
- Three seasons of differing rainfall: the summer monsoon – rain (May – October), winter monsoon – dry except eastern coast of Malay Peninsula (November to February) and the rest of the year – high temperatures and thunderstorms; take into consideration El Nino years as well
- Goverment recognises 6 hill tribes: Hmong (Meo) 58 000, Lahu 40 000, Yao 30 000, Akha 24 000, Lisu 18 000, Karen 246 000 they have common believes (animism) and ancestor worship
- Akha, Lisu & Lahu live north from Chiang Mai up to “Golden Triangle” and produce opium
- The king is the head of the state, has a personal veto and right of “royal decree”, he has a tremendous reputation among Thais so be aware you are not to ofend him or say anything bad or insulting, no criticism of king is ever utter even behind closed doors
- Pictures of the king are displayed even in the tiniest huts, he is everywhere
- A significant proportion of visitora to Thailand are “sex tourists”, while prostitution is practised openly throughout the country ( tolerated and partly regulated), sex with a prostitute under the age of 18 is strictly prohibited,
- It is common to see children and adults with a thread of wool tied around their wrists, this is to bind the khwan (spirit) to the body and keeping health and happiness within the body, you should wait until the thread falls off on its own, never tear it off yourself
- Once in a lifetime every free Siamese must spend three months in a monastery
- good spirits are adopted into families whereas the bad find a home in spirit houses (saan phra phum) where they are appeased with daily offerings
- the first Siamese twins known to western medicine were born in 1811 in Mae Klong (about 60km from Bangkok)
There are not many pictures this time but I will make it up to you in posts to come :)