The Thaime of My Life
The DOs and DON'Ts of travelling through Thailand
By Bridget Cook.
Thailand is one of my favourite places I have ever been to. Fun, stupidly beautiful, with a carefree, untamed air that is so very intoxicating. Despite being overrun by tourists, it is still alive with culture and natural beauty.
I started my Thailand adventure in Phuket. It was easy to get to from Bangkok airport, and was certainly an experience. Phuket offers the seedy side of Thailand – sex clubs, prostitutes and ladyboys galore.
My friends and I decided to get into the full swing of the place and one night went to a ping pong show. If you don’t know what a ping pong show is, I’m not going to tell you. And I’m certainly not going to tell you what I saw. By the end of our time in Phuket even my male friends had had enough of the ‘female’ attention.
Our second stop was Koh Samui, which is a far quieter island, with little nightlife and fewer English tourists. You would probably run out of things to do here if you were to stay for a particularly extended period of time. But still a must-see; it provided a perfect chilled-out and gorgeous break from the other parts of Thailand that I saw.
Next we went on to Kho Phi Phi. It was the most beautiful place I have ever been to in my life. Ever. And a short boat ride away there are many more wonders. We saw monkeys on the aptly named Monkey Island. We went snorkelling and saw tiger sharks. And, my favourite part – we visited Maya Bay, a nearby tiny island. You have to swim to it and then climb a rope up a rock, go over a bridge and through a little forested area. It all adds to the magic. Breathtaking is not the word! Clear waters, white soft sand, surrounded by cliffs covered in tropical trees and plants.
Our final stop was Koh Phangan. Koh Phangan was yet another beautiful island; its beauty unfortunately overshadowed by the endless beach parties, pool parties, jungle parties, and of course, the infamous Full Moon Party. Again though, definitely something to tick off the list. Armed with our buckets of Sang Som (the local spirit – a nifty 80% proof) we hit the Full Moon Party hard and weren’t disappointed.
Koh Phangan also played host to the most memorable part of the whole trip: riding elephants through a jungle. It really was as magical as it sounds.
Thailand is an amazing country – a million miles away from the UK not only in terms of physical distance. I can’t wait to visit again someday.
DOs and DON’Ts
A brief guide of some ‘don’ts’ and a lot of ‘dos’ for young people visiting the land of the Thais!
- DON’T get frisky in public places. My friend was getting a little down and dirty on a beach in Phuket and ended up being handcuffed – no, not by her handsome horizontal dancing partner – but by the police who threatened to take her to jail. We’ve all heard the horror stories. We’ve all seen Bridget Jones 2. Thai jails are not fun.
- DO try a lychee flavoured iced lolly. You don’t believe it can really taste like lychees, do you? In fact, you’re not even sure you know what a lychee tastes like, are you? You will be when you try one.
- DON’T accept an offer for ice. It’s a hot day, you’re sweaty, thirsty, perhaps a little hungover. Actually, yes, some ice would be lovely! NO. Unless you are sure it’s actually the frozen water friend we are familiar with. Ice is also slang for crystal meth, and often if you are offered ‘ice’ in a seemingly unusual situation, this is what they are talking about. I once thought some coke and ice sounded just delightful. I don’t think I need elaborate
- DO drink Sang Som! The local spirit, is 80% proof, so is not to be taken lightly. However, you certainly won’t get a better deal in terms of alcohol percentage for money; it is most often sold with a mixer and ice (actual ice, this time) and a classy bucket to mix it all in/drink out of. If you’re really posh you can use a straw. Enjoy!! But...
- ...DON’T drink four buckets in one night. This happened to my friend. He was very drunk.
- DON’T tread on Thai money. Not sure why you would, but don’t. It has the Thai King’s head on it and stepping on pictures of his royal mug is illegal. Probably stepping on his actual face is also frowned upon, though you probably won’t find yourself in a position to do so.
DO have a ride on a motorbike. Just once. To somewhere nearby. And don’t tell your mum. There are taxi motorbikes all over Thailand, who are more than happy to oblige in giving you a lift (in fact will often stop and hound you even when you don’t need one).
It’s true the driving in Thailand is slightly more, er... colourful? Than in England, and far from insisting you wear a helmet, the Thais will probably laugh at you should you choose to do so. So like I said, somewhere quiet and nearby... It is definitely one to tick off the list, though.
- DO try to fit in with the locals. While most Thais in shops, restaurants and banks will speak very limited English, they will really appreciate any effort you make to speak Thai, especially given that (from what I could gather) very few foreigners try. A simple ‘kap koon krup’ (to a man)/‘kap koon ka’ (to a woman) meaning ‘thank you’ in Thai always goes down well.