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Two Weeks in Thailand

February 3, 2012

Thailand is a place of contradictions.  It was  one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, but also one of the craziest, mixed-up and disgusting.  Maybe its the ups and downs, and ever-changing contradictions that always had me intrigued by this place, and then left me wanting more once I left.  Though rife with tourists, and maybe spoiled a bit  due to it, this was probably  inevitable as soon as the world discovered all that Thailand has to offer.  Two weeks really isn’t much time in comparison to all there is to see there.  The remote north is drastically different from the white sand beaches and limestone cliffs of the south.   After most trips, I am quickly thinking about which country to visit next.  But there is something about Thailand, and all that is left to discover there, that has made me already start thinking about the things I want to do if or when I return.

In the two weeks I had I visited a few different places.    I’ll briefly touch on some of the places.

Bangkok

A big chaotic city wasn’t originally on my top list of places to visit right after leaving Seoul.  But only after  a few days in Bangkok I realized there was much more to explore.  A place  people seem love or hate,  there is still something for everyone.  Beautiful palaces, temples, shopping…mixed up with sex shops, strip clubs and sinful streets.

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is up in the northern area of Thailand.  We had an amazing 4 days roaming around the city and taking different excursions.  There is so much to do in this area and anyone would be entertained.  The city center is surrounded by a moat and old city walls.  The charming center is full of cooking schools, cafes, bars, temples and restaurants.  A very pleasant city with a small town feel.   Around the outskirts of the city we visited a tiger sanctuary, rode elephants and visited a temple up in the surrounding hills by motorbike.  Due to the people we met, the hostel we stayed at, and the friendly city vibe, this was probably one of my most pleasant visits to a new city.

Phuket

Crowded, chaotic and popular with the sex industry, I was confused on why I was encountering so many families vacationing here.   Maybe some resorts and beaches are nice, but with so many other amazing islands to visit around Thailand this area didn’t seem like the place to be.  We spent two nights here, mostly as stop-overs on the way to other places.  One night we went out to experience the nightlife, and now my mind is tainted with awful images of things I never thought possible…. well, that’s Thailand.  Table tennis and beer pong will never be the same.

Koh Phi Phi

Arriving to Koh Phi Phi is arriving to a slice of paradise.  Limestone cliffs tower above the island.  Beautiful long-tail boats float in the crystal clear waters.  Sadly, this paradise has been a bit tainted from commercialism and tourism.  More trash than one would like to see can sometimes be spotted on the popular Tonsai Beach.  Also, the town is full of people wanting to sell you clothes and western style food.  Still, Koh Phi Phi and its surrounding beaches were beautiful.  A hike to the viewpoint shows the beautiful twisted shape of the island and the limestone cliffs surrounding.  Koh Phi Phi Don is the inhabited island, while the other island, Koh Phi Phi Ley, is a protected national park and not inhabited.  (This island rose to fame for the setting of the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio).  I had the amazing chance to camp on this island when all the day tour groups were gone.  For one night I  experienced complete paradise and woke up to the sun rising over the cliffs.  At night we swam in the swallow waters and experienced the bio-luminescent plankton light up in an electric blue color with every movement of our bodies.  Floating in the water the bright stars were a backdrop to the dark cliffs that surrounded the bay.   I couldn’t imagine a better way to enjoy this tropical wonderland.

Koh Lanta

Paradise has a cost, and after some time staying in Tonsai on Koh Phi Phi Don we decided to head to a calmer, cheaper and more laid back island.  On Koh Lanta our only intentions were to lay on the beach and swim in the ocean.  We ate and had drinks by the pool and werent bothered with much else.  Koh Lanta would be a great place to rent a motorbike and drive around, but by the end of our trip we were just looking for the perfect place to do nothing.

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