Asia. For a long time I wanted to visit it. It was like a dream in the distance. For some reason I preferred Thailand. Probably because I heard from other people that it’s ‘a good start to explore asia’. As the years passed, my heart began to melt for other Asian countries though. And then, suddenly, we found some very cheap tickets online towards Bangkok. We booked right away without hesitation. And then suddenly we were flying to Thailand. We began dancing around the kitchen table, dreaming about pad thai, sunshine and red curries. (Yes, we really danced in the kitchen. After some way too enthusiastic jumping around).
Two months later, we left cold Belgium and after a long flight and a good night sleep we discovered what Bangkok had to offer us. I did expect Bangkok to be crowded, but it was so much more than just crowded. Bangkok offered us heat, continuous tuk-tuk drivers asking us where we would go in the touristic parts. It offered us long walks to the fancy Siam-area and afterwards a culture-shock in busy Chinatown. It was finding food on every corner of a street. And embracing smell of mango sticky rice, followed by the smell of fish or a thai curry. I loved it. Every single bit of it. In the beginning we stayed at the Rambuttri Area and found ourselves really lucky with our little oasis of piece and quiet. We highly recommend ‘Lamphu House’ for it’s silence within busy Bangkok. It’s in the touristic area but for this visit it was good enough.
When in Bangkok, we also visited the evening market in Chatuchak ‘JJ Green Market’. It’s a big market with less tourists. Part of it is a cheap flea market, the other part seemed a bit more expensive. You can eat delicious food and spend your time in a bar to get some drinks if you’re up for it. We only saw locals, so we were pretty happy about that.
Although JJ Green Market was great, we preferred the Chatuchak weekend market. We took the bus and visited it early in the morning (we had a non-airconditioned bus, so we didn’t had to pay, but in the afternoon it becomes bloody hot). From the Rambuttri area the bus ride was probably one hour or so. Depends on the traffic in Bangkok, which can be quite horrible.
Chatuchak market offered us, well, almost everything. It’s a huge market so it has different entries and you can get lost easily. It reminded me a bit of the souks in Marrakesh. Next to clothing, wood, backpacks, furniture and soap it also has an animal-area. We found it quite absurd to walk trough; small puppies, scorpions, frogs, a thousand fish in every color you ever wanted, snakes and squirrels. If you’re looking for something, you can probably get it at Chatuchak weekend market, but from an ethical perspective it’s negotiable if it’s okay to buy an animal here.
After Bangkok we took the night bus to Krabi. We stayed in Ao Nang for a couple of days before heading to Koh Lanta.
Ao Nang was quite crowded at the popular beaches, but when you rent a motorbike and manage your way to Nopparat Thara Beach, you won’t regret: it’s very quiet. We stayed with the nicest family in Ao Nang in a really nice wooden shed. If you ever find yourself searching for a nice place with the most friendly people, we recommend Lake Side Bungalow. During our stay we took a long tail to Railay Beach and rented a kayak, which was very nice (though the sea was a bit stormy when we decided to do this. We got soaking wet, but managed to stay in the boat. So we celebrated with a mango smoothie and spicy thai basil and rice. You can always find an excuse to eat Thai food).
We took small trips to the Phi Phi Islands and the four islands. We stayed on Koh Lanta for two days and rented a motorbike to get around on the island. There’s not much to see, but that’s the reason why it’s not touristic or very crowded. We did find an amazing little market in the evening though.
After Koh Lanta we found our way to Khao Sok. We heard such good things about it, but were a bit disappointed. Prices at Khao Sok are very high. We really wanted to see Cheow Lan Lake but had no time to stay for one night in the jungle. Khao Sok offers a lot of tours. Sure you can get into the jungle on your own: you hike for 3km’s until you reach a point where you have to pay and take a guide. We didn’t like the idea, but we researched and found out there was another, less touristic entry on the other side of Khao Sok. We could get there by motorbike, but it’s a pretty long ride. So in the morning someone from the hotel took us by jeep. It was a one hour (very cold) drive and we got there at sunrise. We then bargained for a cheap long tail and had one to ourselves. I guess the place gets crowded around noon, but in the morning we had the whole lake to ourselves and there was no boat around except ours.
After that we headed to Koh Tao (and saw some really cool pink dolphins playing around while waiting on the ferry!). We never booked any nights in advance on our trip except this one. It’s so small so the prices are a bit higher and we were worried we couldn’t get a last minute place to stay. We were in doubt the whole journey whether or not we should cancel it because of the terrible weather (everything was flooded), but went anyway. The sea was very stormy and we truly believe Koh Tao has lots of beautiful places to offer, but since it was raining we only stayed for one night. We kinda felt like a prisoner on the island. It’s small, but it’s hard to rent a motorbike because the roads are terrible and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll have an accident somewhere.
After Koh Tao we headed back to Bangkok. When we got on the plane back to Belgium we were in 7th heaven when we found out it was almost empty. We slept like babies and we arrived in Belgium on the 24t of december, right on time for celebrating christmas with our families (and sleeping our jetlag off while missing Thai food. No doubt.)