” Respond to every call that excites your spirit” ~ Rumi
2016 was a rollercoaster year for me. There was excitement of meeting new people, joy of discovering new places, I was finally following my passion…and then there was heartbreak. Major heartbreak.
But this story isn’t about that. It’s about picking up the pieces and getting your life back on track. And a shout-out to all the lovely people who’ve stood by me like a rock. So when my sister-from-another-mister asked me whether I’d like to go on a holiday, there was no way I was going to say a no. Skyscanner suggested Thailand to be the most feasible option and off we were to this beautiful country.
We had 5 days at hand and decided to cover Krabi, Phuket, and Bangkok. Each of the three, very unique, in what they had to offer.
A rather bumpy (but cheap) Thai LionAir flight from Don Muang airport took us to Krabi. And a shuttle from Krabi airport dropped us off to our hostel at Ao Nang, and thus began the HoliYAY. Ao Nang is a beach town and a pretty happening place to be at.We stayed at the Slumber Party Hostel and Bar, which was your no-frills but clean accommodation,located at just a 5 minute walk from the beach. There are plenty of 7 Eleven stores around from where you can buy local beers for about 30 Baht (~ INR 60) and chill at the beach. The area also has plenty of restaurants around where you can head for a nice meal when you’re hungry. Post sunset, head to one of Ao Nang’s live music cafes and you can enjoy some traditional Thai music interspersed with their renditions of English chartbusters over Singha and Chang beers, and woodfired pizzas or Thai curry. And if you’re tired after an entire day’s stroll around the island, head to one of the foot massage shops located right on the streets for cheap-but-oh-so-good foot massages for 200 baht.
Phi Phi is a 2 hour ferry ride away from Ao Nang and a return ticket for 600 baht can be purchased from one of the curio shops that double up as travel agents. The ferry ride across the Andaman sea is breathtakingly beautiful as you are treated to 50 shades of blue. Once on the island, you can pamper yourself with some island shopping, street food, shakes and what not! We opted for a snorkelling session at Maya bay. Sun, our instructor, also the captain of the long tail boat as well as part time travel deal vendor, was extremely patient as we struggled to get used to our snorkelling equipment. But once that hurdle was sorted, seeing marine life up close and personal was an experience I’ll never forget.
We took a 3 hour bus to Phuket from Ao Nang that dropped us at Central Festival in Phuket. Bad idea- as where we really wanted to go was Old Town and the lack of availability of public transport and sweltering heat of Phuket makes it nearly impossible to walk around the city. We somehow managed to reach Rang Hill Residences- our abode, which is located at a convenient distance from Old Town.
Post sunset, however, the weather is much more bearable. We strolled about the quaint Old Town, came across some beautiful cafes and graffiti. We also we to the Phuket Trickeye museum, quite an interesting concept with 3D art imitating real life. Then we went pub hopping- the way locals do- with live Thai music and chilled beer.
Bangkok is a bustling metropolis which is evident right from the time you land at the airport and make your way into the city. The Bangkok Sky train system is the best way of getting around the city, though Uber and city taxis are quite useful too. Tuktuks might be a ripoff but must be experienced because they are unique to Thailand.
We stayed at a hostel at Sukhumvit which is located at walking distance from Phrom Pong station. Most grand malls of Bangkok are built around train stations with entrances extending from the skywalks itself- smart business move, I say. The one not to be missed is Terminal 21 located at Asoke station and every floor of which has a unique city specific architecture. So, on the ground floor you find yourself in Istanbul but by the time you reach the 5th floor, you’re in San Francisco!
We visited the Grand Palace and The Temple of Emerald Buddha. The best and fastest way to reach is taking a long tail boat on the Chao Phraya river. Once there, the sheer grandeur and the gold leaves you in awe. There’s also a post office in the precinct, where I sent postcards to India from.
Another thing that is unique to Thailand is the lady boy show, wherein men, believe it or not, dress up and look(!) like beautiful women in cabaret. We saw the Mambo cabaret show, wherein the performers danced to the tunes of English and Thai chartbusters and Sheila ki jawani! It is advisable to book tickets online or through agents rather than on the spot for better deals. Also, a word of caution- you might get bedazzled by the charm of the ladyboys but every picture with them costs 50 baht- a tourist trap which a lot of people fall prey to.
The nightlife of Bangkok is quite nice as well. Being the cosmopolitan city that it is, there’s plenty to eat, drink and make merry. Probably the best way to move on and have a good time.
We spent a total of 5 days in Thailand. A longer trip might have given us more time to chill but the break was refreshing none the less and much needed! I understood that it is really important to do things that make you happy, it is important to find your passion and do what you love. For me it is travel and I realised what a great healer it can prove to be!
Carry flip-flops and loads and loads (and loads) of sunscreen
Pack comfortable cotton clothing because I cannot stress enough on how hot it is. But certain places like temples and the Grand Palace require you to be covered from neck down to toe, so make sure that’s taken care of.
Bargain like it’s your birthright.
Almost every food preparation is done in fish oil, so if you’re allergic, make sure you ask a dozen questions.
McDonalds will offer you free wifi for 45 minutes if you purchase an ice cream for 24 baht.
The people of Thailand are very friendly, they’ll make you feel at home. 🙂