Ten days in Thailand

I always wondered why people return to Thailand over and over again. It’s been a week or so since our return and I am determined to fill the jar on my table for another trip. Thailand is a country which truly captivates you, it’s truly inexplicable.

Thailand is a country where you can blend in as a local or be as foreign as you like. This country is cosmopolitan and very international due to the high levels of global tourists and expats who live here yet has so much tradition and culture.

There are global food chains, international restaurants, Starbucks, and Hollywood movies yet remains authentic. A melting pot of diversity.

It’s just crazy, how excited one gets when we hear a fellow South African. Be it whilst shopping or in a tuk tuk. At both our hotels, Sunset Beach Resort in Patong and Eastin in Bangkok; we made new acquaintances from South Africa, and shared shopping tips and places of interest.

Worth a mention is our hotel in Patong Beach; outstanding service and definitely worth staying at. 

Hungry – No Problem, there is always someone selling food somewhere, even if its 2.30am. Need a tuk tuk to the main road; you can pick chose and refuse – from an ordinary one to a one blinged out, with loud music, “your very own disco tuk tuk”. 7 Elevens are on every road, just in case you need to buy anything. Thailand is just an easy place to holiday in.

Make no mistake, Thailand, is hot and humid. We went Mid-March to End March and that wasn’t summer yet. And it was hot!!!! You will not need a jacket, probably never wear jeans or a shirt.

Take the lightest of clothing and necessities. Don’t try and fight the heat, it will win, and before you decide to gulp down water to quench your thirst, I would suggest you stick to bottled water, as it’s the safest. Water in Thailand is not safe to consume. We even used the bottle water to brush our teeth (just a tip!)

What should I tell you about next?

Mmm, my favourite topic FOOD! (Truly a place for foodies!)

I enjoy cooking Thai food at home. From the Green to Red Curry or Angel Noodles with prawns or chicken. I can honestly say you don’t know what Thai food really is like until you’ve been to Thailand. Thai food in Thailand is leagues better than my home cooked ones or any restaurant I have eaten at.

I won’t say that I enjoyed all the food in Thailand, certain food I was dubious about. But the ones I loved were the banana pancakes at the food court off Bangla Road in Patong to the typical fruit shakes; from Pad Thai from a street vendor to Tom Yom soup (my favourite!). The seafood is heavenly and just so amazingly tasty. The food served by Phuket Parti Tours on our visit to James Bond Island was amazing. The vegetarian spread by the tour company to Coral Island was divine.

These flavours dance in your mouth. Let me warn you though, their food does have a spicy kick to it. So if you not a chilli lover be sure to tell them “mai pet” which means “not spicy”? You need to be clear with your instruction, spicy hot” or “spicy not” before they start whipping up your meal. Better yet, tell them no chilli at all, and then ask them to side up the chopped chilli for you. You can then regulate your own heat.

We had an amazing seafood meal at the Savoy Restaurant in Patong Beach. (on the beach road not far from Bangla Road).

There are also many Indian restaurants’ from Tandoor (on Rat-U-Thit Road) and Kohinoor (Rat-U-Thit Road, opp Patong Shopping Centre, it’s tucked away just on the side street). Definitely worth a visit.  In Bangkok, we had two dinners at Rasoi, which is not far from the Eastin Hotel, Makassan. For us to return, meant the food was great.

I loved sipping ice cold coconut water, to eating fresh tamarind but steered clear of roasted scorpions in Koh San Road in Bangkok. I love to try different food, but there’s a line to what I would try. No matter what time of day or night, you will never starve in Thailand, and if all of the above doesn’t keep you tummy happy, maybe the scorpions might.

I love the beach. I can sit on the sand and close my eyes, and be transported to tranquillity and serenity by just hearing the ocean. There is a perfect beach for everyone.

Surin Beach, Kamala Beach, Kata Beach, Karon Beach to the Coral Island, Maya or Raya Beach. Like food which is feast for one’s mouth, the beaches are feast for your eyes. From aqua to turquoise to crystal clear beaches with white sand.The waters are luke warm. The cleanest beaches I have ever seen.

Thai beaches are not only one of the most gorgeous beaches in the world, but also one of the most relaxing and peaceful. I used to joke, one day I will be lying under a palm tree on a beach with white sand and aqua water, drinking a coconut juice and reading a book. That’s the picture perfect holiday I wanted and guess what, it became a reality. For me the beaches where heavenly – Paradise Islands!

I have never snorkelled before. What’s the point of looking around under water while you floated on the surface breathing through a tube; I was actually scared more than anything else to be honest.

But thanks to my son, I snorkelled at Raya Island; he plopped a mask on my face and a snorkel in my mouth and dragged me out into the water, I am so thankful that I got to see the beauty beneath the water.

We did many firsts in Thailand. Kayaking to islands, through breath-taking limestone coves into mangrove forests. You have to walk in shallow water through a pitch dark cove to arrive at untouched, unspoilt lush hidden room.

You enter through a cave when the tide is very low, which takes you to the middle of the island only accessible by foot.  You cannot visit when the tide is high, as this area fills up with water. You get transported by kayaks to this area.

The scenery and lush almost jungle was just something which you only see others do on the travel channel. But we experienced it, and it was priceless. Diving was also spectacular you will be able to see underwater reefs with a number of colourful fish. Yes even if you cannot swim. A lifejacket is provided!!

Bangkok - is Shoppers Paradise!!! This is so true; like any cosmopolitan city e.g. New York Bangkok never sleeps. This city is Johannesburg x 10, lots of hustle bustle, great sight-seeing, from the sleeping Buddha to a cruise on the Chao Phraya River. 

You literally can shop til you drop, from MBK Mall to Platinum, to Siam Paragon. You can shop at Khao San Road, or Night markets or Floating Markets and if that’s not enough then maybe the 15000 stalls at Chatuchak Market, will leave you not wanting to shop back home for a few months.

If you tired of shopping then you can relax at one of many sky bars and lounges. The Lebua hotel boasts amazing views of the city from their Sky bar on the roof of the 63 floor building. It is one of the world's highest open air bars, overlooking Bangkok or visit the deep sea aquarium at Siam Paragon.

It’s easy to get lost in this vibrant city with its crazy traffic and maze of side streets. You can grab a tuk-tuk, taxi or the sky train really easily and cheaply from all over the city. Embrace the experience of Bangkok! One night in Bangkok and the worlds your oyster rings true, I spent 3 nights here.

Why would I return to Thailand?

Thailand has something for everyone, young and old, party goer to someone looking to simply chill out. It is a sun drenched country packed with colour, culture, wildlife and scenery. From the moment you arrive, you'll know why Thailand is called the 'Land of Smiles'. Most important for me, I felt safe.

Besides persistent offers for Tuk Tuks, Massages and Ping Pong Shows, I did not feel insecure. One just has to be vigilant of pick pockets etc. and like anywhere else, make sure you take your common sense with you whilst on the streets. Even though the flight to Bangkok from SA is long and tiring – all 11 hours of it, I assure you it’s worth it.

Thailand –is visited by more than 11 million people every year; and I know why many people keep coming back every holiday. Friendly and helpful people, always smiling and you never get tired of hearing “Sawadee Ka”.

Stunning beaches, tasty seafood, fantastic hospitality and rich tradition, diverse culture and history.

Check out Saffiya's blog or follow her on Twitter.

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