My trip to Thailand last year (Oct 2015) has been one of my favorite trips so far. One of the many reasons I loved Thailand so much is that so much of it is still untouched. Thailand has a raw beauty and culture that unfortunately is getting harder and harder to find in the world these days.
The tourism industry has reached to the larger cities in this region of the world and Thailand, along with other countries in SE Asia, are quickly becoming easier to reach and more open to tourists, but of course this means that the culture and lifestyle is becoming tainted with western culture. I am very happy that I was able to explore many untouched and authentic places while on this trip. However, I would not recommend Thailand as a place for beginner travelers, there is a fine line between tourist districts and poverty and drug stricken regions. Here’s a video of the trip composed by Libby, music by our fave – Nahko and Medicine for the People “Budding Trees”:
So why Thailand?
One of my best friends and fellow world-traveler, Libby, was living in Thailand for ten months while teaching English at an orphanage in the southern town of Bongsok, located about two hours north of Phuket and very close to the town of Khao lak. Bongsok and Khao lak, as some of you might know, are among the towns most devastated by the tsunami of 2004. The suffering and rebuilding efforts of this area are still very evident, many children were left without home or family, it was amazing to get to see Libby interact with these young children and nurture and learn from them throughout her time in Thailand.
Two days after settling into my new apartment in Spain with Evan, I took off for three weeks of trekking around Thailand with Libby. Getting there was quite difficult. It took me three days of traveling to reach the northern city of Chiang Mai to meet up with Libby. As a daughter of an airline pilot, I have been blessed with travel benefits, but sometimes this means that you get stranded in cities with no options of getting out. On my way to the other side of the world, I got stranded in Frankfurt and Hong Kong for more than 24 hours each. I am happy to say that Thailand was well worth the travel.
Chiang Mai: (Pronounced – Chang My)
Libby and I spent a few days in Chiang Mai. We stayed at the Green Tiger Hostel in the center of town. By day, we rented bikes to explore the city and ventured a few hours outside of the town to summit the tallest point in Thailand. By night, we sat on the hostels rooftop terrace and swapped travel stories from the last year.
Elephant Nature Park:
On our last day in Chiang Mai we spent the day at a rescue center and sanctuary for elephants called Elephant Nature Park. It is my most sincere recommendation to anyone traveling to Thailand to make this place part of your trip. The Elephant Nature Park changed my life and further opened my eyes to the world of cruelty and abuse that the world is inflicted on these kind and beautiful souls. All of the elephants living at the sanctuary have been rescued from extreme torture and awful living conditions. Many of these beauties were forced to work hard labor for the logging industry of Thailand for more than 80 years. Others were kept at elephant breeding centers or circus or street preforms and suffered from blindness, broken backs, PTSD and more. These elephants now are given a chance to live a happy life, it is forbidden to ride an elephant here or use any type of shackles or herding prods (this is still the norm for many elephants kept in captivity in Thailand).
- The Grand Canyon
- Elephant Nature Park
- Yoga studio ~ Yoga Kuukan
- Green Tiger Hostel
Pai: (pronounced – By)
Leaving from Chiang Mai, Libby and I boarded a bus and started a three hour, 300-turn, journey over a mountain to the small town of Pai. Pai has a beautiful peacefulness to it. It is a small hippy village, the locals are friendly and love to interact with the tourists, there is a nightly street market were you can buy dinner for $1 USD, listen to live music, buy street crafts or jewelry and there are several outdoor bars and restaurants to enjoy. We were staying at Spicy Pai hostel and made friends on the first night with people from all over the world. This magical little town, surrounded by mountains and waterfalls has the ability to seduce you to stay there forever.
Libby and I had planned to stay in Pai for three nights and ended up staying for a whole week before we had to tear ourselves away and start on a new adventure to Southern Thailand. Tip for Pai, rent a moped! For 6 USD a day you can rent a motor bike, without a bike you wont be able to see the sights unless you hire a taxi to chauffeur you around – just be careful, injuries from motor bike wipeouts are very common and not very fun.
- Pai Canyon
- Container Bar
- Witching Well Restaurant
- Pam bok & Mo Paeng waterfalls
- Sunset Bar – known for their shroom shakes
- Art in Chai café
- Fat Cat Restaurant
- Earth Tone café ~ for their amazing smoothies
- Spici Pai Hostel
- Be My Guest Hostel
- The White Buddha
- The Land Split ~ Farmers market lunch
Exploring Pai Canyon
Hanging out at Container Cafe
Food straight from the garden at the LandSplit:
all food is free with the option to leave a donation
The White Buddha: amazing viewpoint for sunsets
Bongsok/Khao lak (Pronounced Bong-sock/Cow Lock):
Goodbye Mountains, and Hello Ocean! Lib and I arrived to Phuket by plane and took a 2-hour bus to her home village of Bongsok. I was surprised by how rural and desolate this part of Thailand was but it was made up for with the gorgeous stretches of white sand beaches. I spent my days on the back of her moped going from one beach town to another, perusing the nightly street market, and I even got my first massage on the beach near her home. After a few amazing days in southern Thailand it was time for me to return to my newly found life in Spain. Until next time, Thailand!
Buddhist shrines can be found at almost every home or business
Stretching it out after a long day of travel on White Sand Beach, Khao Lak
This Buddha now protects the city of BongSak after the devastating earthquake of 2004
Goodbye for now, happy traveling!