Thailand, Part 1

Y’all. I still can’t put into words my experience in Thailand. It was truly the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I have a lot to share, so I’ll probably break it into a few posts for ya. Thought I’d start with a recap of my travels and give you my itinerary:

I flew into Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. And boy was it the definition of culture shock. This was my first time in Asia and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. There were motorbikes everywhere, just swarms of them and cross walks weren’t really a thing; that was an experience. I found people cooking soup in pots on every street corner; you just grab a bowl and take a seat on a little step stool and enjoy lunch among the crowds passing you by on the sidewalk. People came out of office buildings in suits to eat lunch crouched on the ground. Crazy. I was only in Vietnam for 24 hours (long story – it was cheaper to fly in there and I figured why not see another country) but I managed to see a lot of the highlights of Ho Chi Minh. I went to the War Remnants Museum (Vietnam War), which was definitely a one-sided view of the war, but I think so important to see. One of my favorite places was a huge covered market with stalls selling everything from spices to hand-crafted goods to counterfeit Nike leggings. And of course I ate some pho (traditional Vietnamese noodle soup.)

Pho in Ho Chi Minh

From Ho Chi Minh I flew to Phuket, an island in Thailand. I spent two days basically lounging on the some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. I explored Kata and Karon Beach, on the south of the island. I hate even posting pictures, because they do no justice. The water was crystal blue with jungle leading up to it. The water was pretty calm so I floated and just soaked up the sun. There was also amazing street food lining the beaches – banana pancakes were my favorite. It was like a crepe filled with fresh mango and topped with sweetened condensed milk.

My favorite banana pancakes

After a few relaxing beach days, I met a tour group in Phuket to sail through some of the islands in the Strait of Malacca. The tour group was through Intrepid, which I would definitely recommend. There were ten of us plus the crew on a catamaran. My group was really cool; a mix of Australians and Europeans (I was the only American.) We swam every day, snorkeled, kayaked and explored the islands. 

Sunrise on the catamaran. I slept on the deck every night and it was actually really comfy!

My favorite part was going onto uninhabited islands. One was full of bats. I know that sounds gross, but it was so cool! There were mangrove trees everywhere with bats in the trees and flying around. We went to another island that we had to walk through coral to get to (I fell a couple times; still using Neosporin.) But once we got inside, I felt like I was on the set of Jurassic Park. The tide was all the way down, so it was just this huge expanse of sand surrounded by giant limestone cliffs. I think I spent my entire trip looking up with a dumb look on my face, mouth open just in awe of the beauty of it all.

After rock climbing on Railay Beach

I could have lived the rest of my life on that catamaran and been content, but unfortunately had to get off. We landed in Ko Phi Phi and I stayed there for the night. I essentially had to hike to get to my hotel (there were no cars on the island – which was actually nice, no complaints!) It was worth the hike; I stayed on Long Beach in a little hut overlooking the water with a hammock on the porch. Paradise.

View from my hotel on Phi Phi

From Ko Phi Phi I took a ferry to Krabi and then flew to Bangkok. I finished out my trip with three days in Bangkok exploring temples, night markets and lots of street food. I’ll share another post soon more in-depth about my time in Bangkok.

We had the most amazing authentic Thai food on the boat.

I can honestly say that I did not have one negative experience on my trip. I found the Thai people to be overwhelmingly kind, gracious and welcoming. Everyone I encountered was so friendly and just genuinely happy! From the taxi driver in Krabi who when learning it was my birthday, pulled open his glove compartment and handed me a key chain saying “Happy birthday! Now you’ll always remember your cab driver in Krabi!” To the tour guide at the Grand Palace in Bangkok who was so honored to share the history of his country, I met so many kind people. I learned about a Thai saying, sanuk, that loosely means to have a good time, to enjoy yourself or to find pleasure and joy in something. It’s kind of a way of life for the Thai people and something I hope will linger with me long after this trip.

The view from my hotel room in Phuket

I could go on, but will finish by saying that if you have the chance to visit Thailand, please go! I’ve already connected with several people on Instagram who are planning trips and am happy to share any tips or recommendations that I can. Stay tuned for more Thailand and travel content; and let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like to know about my trip!

Kata Beach in Phuket

Biscuits & blessings,

Leels

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