I’ve loved every single one of my trips to the Far East. My time at the Communication’s University in China was as frustrating as it was fascinating. Because of this, I grew-up a little. Aside from the language barrier and some emotional battling, I fell in love with the many pockets of history embedded in the local everyday life of the Chinese people.
My trip to Malaysia and the island of Langkawi was one I can’t quite describe accurately. It’s probably because I went through a really traumatic experience there, that I never truly confronted nor digested fully. A story I will maybe share one day in an attempt to write for the first time about my trip to this side of the Far East. I mean, Langkawi is by far the most perfect tropical island I’ve ever been to (besides Mombasa, but I could be biased). Its liveliest beach is always bustling, and the views and local landscape are nothing short of magical. Arguably though, this trip was one of the best, most nonchalant times of my life that I can recall.
Photographed at the <3 of Phuket, Patong.
Moving on, Japan and Vietnam are definitely on my bucket-list as I crave to explore Asia more extensively, but today’s post is about my most recent trip to the East – my time at the islands of Phuket and Koh Phi Phi in the beautiful land of smiles, Thailand 🙂
Thailand is a traveler’s dream. Well for starters and especially for a foodie like me, the food is full of wonderful and tantalizing flavours. Think lemongrass, ginger and mango. Fish sauce, crunchy nuts, and coconut. If you’re lucky like me, you might even get a Thai nickname after your favourite thing to eat at breakfast. From “Noy na” (sugar apple), to “Miss long hai dragon fruit”, many people I met could have sworn I was Thai or at-least “pad-thai”. Some of the others thought I was from neighbouring Burma and Singapore! But never Africa!
Secondly, for the avid explorer, the surrounding islands of the Andaman sea are easily accessible from here.
James Bond Island & surrounding Maya Bay
Longtail boats on Phi Phi island
Also, the people are friendly and welcoming, and you can travel the country comfortably yet extensively, without breaking the bank.
Well, that’s if;
a) you know how to barter your way into paying the best prize and
b) you can tactfully evade some of the endless calls convincing you why you need to spend your hard earned cash.
Totally convinced that I needed to pay 200 Baht to feed Elephants en route to the Big Buddha Temple!
From Henna tattoos on the beach, to food on a stick. I mean literally every third store you stumble across is selling some kind of jewellery, artefact or clothing. A few days into our stay, I started to believe a claim I read prior to taking this trip – “be warned, you could end up feeling like a walking ATM machine sometimes”. But having said that and because it’s all done with smiles and some tactful local banter, you’re hardly ever offended.
We visited during the rainy season, but I don’t think the beauty of Thailand was underplayed in any way. In-fact, we could still enjoy warm weather and blue skies, and the flora and fauna were luscious and green. I also quite liked that there were less people visiting at this time, which meant greatly reduced prices and fewer crowds!
My time at Koh Phi Phi Island
What I knew about Thailand before I visited was that it’s abounding with history, temples and flowers. Also that it has a distinct smell, which I discovered later is somewhat a mix between fuel, incense and the lingering pungent smell of burning fire and day-old food. Whilst I did find immense beauty in the history, temples and flowers, my love for this place was grasped from elsewhere. Beyond where temples and landscape meet the deep blue waters of the Andaman sea.
Perhaps also beyond bungalows and water crystal pools, Tiger temples and the gypsy life. My love for this place was grasped by the calmness of the people I encountered. A calmness in their sense of routine and daily life. A calmness probably amplified by the daily encounter of numerous temples and shrines across the island, where people from all walks of life stop to pay their respects. And on an abundant day, a bottle of red Fanta is a favourite offering.
I must say though, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to take a photograph with a Tiger at the Tiger kingdom in Phuket, for reasons I’ll explain just now. I’ve always wanted to encounter a Tiger up close and personal as by virtue of Chinese astrology, I’m born in the year of the Tiger (find yours out here) and hence the Tiger is considered to be my spirit animal/totem. No surprise then, that I’ve always been really drawn to these majestic creatures. Anyway, the reason I chose not to go inside for a snap with the Thai Tiger’s (I did however, observe from the cafe outside) is because I was made to believe that they’re heavily sedated so that tourists can pay extra, to be within closer proximity for better photographs. I did leave the Kingdom wondering if it’s really possible to tame wild tigers, keep them confined in environments crowded with strangers petting and caressing these beautiful, innately wild beasts! Perhaps my stance on this may change some day, but at that stage I played the onlooker and was quite happy with my decision and a photograph I can’t really glorify.
Words cannot describe the beauty in every corner of the places I visited during my trip. One thing I must mention. Massages, massages, massages. Beware where you get them done. I was tricked into being massaged by a lady boy, which I didn’t really mind, but I just wish the parlour was honest about their true intentions. They do this to try solicit more money, but I suppose they’re only trying to make a living. At the end of the day, we do travel for the ‘happy endings’, but it would be nice if we get to choose which ones 😉
The lanterns of Bangla road.
Now more than ever, do I realize that I cannot simply be content with a sedentary life. I will always be haunted by thoughts of Thailand’s many legends and waterfalls. The beautiful sunsets and the people that I shared this trip with. The one’s who made sure I wore my own smile in the land of smiles. Obviously my boyfriend is one of them. He asked me to marry him right on Patong beach and I was totally taken by surprise…
I will certainly miss the long yet safe walks one can take here in Thailand, just as the sun starts to dip. You know, one wouldn’t even dream of doing that in South Africa for example. I will also miss the flux of energy one feels as one walks from Soi to Soi, connecting seamlessly to surrounding towns.
I will forever be haunted by the sights and sounds of the East – which by the way, also happens to be where the sun rises! 🙂
Khob Khun Kha Thailand, I’m grateful for an exhilarating experience x