As my time in Thailand is coming to an end, I couldn’t be happier for the experiences I’ve had. Although the time has absolutely flown by, I have enjoyed ‘almost’ each and every moment. Maybe not the Thai toilets so much…but that’s a different story. The first couple weeks were so much fun, and I tried to live in the moment as much as possible, but I felt like I was constantly on the go and doing something, and didn’t have many opportunities to just stop and be still.Backpacking through South East Asian, or anywhere I’d imagine backpacking, is not always easy. It’s not a vacation. There are some really nice parts for sure, but it’s a trip to experience a different lifestyle and see other parts of the world and how others live. It’s self discovery, and it’s a chance to meet new people who share the same passion as you. There are times I question why I even made this decision, but as soon as I have a bad day, I try to breath, see the positive, and before I know it something so powerful and positive happens . I meet someone or something that opens my eyes to this beautiful world and the reason I’m traveling alone.
Taking a break from the usual..”this is what I did and where I went” post…here are a few things I’ve noticed during my month in Thailand.
Whoever thought coffee wasn’t big in Thailand was seriously mistaken. The coffee scene here is on point, with coffee offered at almost any restaurant, and coffee shops ranging from hole in the wall to trendy boutique shops every few feet. Offering everything from espresso, cappuccino, and macchiatos to iced coffee, thai iced coffee, and a range of teas and sometimes smoothies or juices. Honestly, the amount of coffee shops to choose from can be a bit overwhelming at times, but I know when I get home I will miss having so many options all the time.Especially in Chiang Mai, you can find some of the CUTEST places to sit down and get a coffee or smoothie. I still can’t get over how popular smoothies are here. And you better believe I found a place that does green smoothies.
Thailand is basically built on tourism. There are certain things they do totally backwards in Thailand, but catering to tourists in not one of them. It’s almost TOO easy to get around and see everything you could ever want to see. There are multiple tour companies in the main cities that offer complete day trip with lunch included. The vans come and pick up passengers in morning from their hotel or hostels, spend the day out, hustle everyone to lunch at the same restaurant- a set meal and better than anything we would get in the states, and then hustle you back home. At times you’ll see 10 or more tour vans from different companies on the same road caravanning together all going to same place. The only problem with this is that anything worth seeing is PACKED with tourists, like myself, and takes away from the “special” factor of seeing these temples and sacred places.
The 7-11’s here fascinate me. They are also in abundance in Thailand. Not every few feet like coffee shops, but most definitely every few blocks. And you can literally get anything you want from snacks and water to sandwhiches, personal hygiene products, and refreshing towels. Similar to the convenience stores we have at home, but these seem to offer so much more. There are about 50 yogurt options alone.
It does scare me a bit that there are “meat” sandwiches in the dry food section…There are three main beers in Thailand at almost every restaurant, convenience store, hostel, and street market. Chang, Singha, and Leo all in respective order of flavor and body with Leo being the most.Wine is usually out of a box and from South Africa, and most places offer the same brand with varying price depending on the restaurant. I’ve settled on the red wine at most places because I find it better than the white here and they usually serve it chilled which is perfect. Especially because it is a lighter red and chilled goes pretty well with spicy food.
I came across a promotion at Moon Pie in Chiang Mai from 5-6pm they offer a 2 for one deal on wine. 2 glass of red wine for 95 baht ($2.67 USD). You don’t have to twist my arm!That is even a great price for one glass of wine here. Usually you will find a glass of wine (and usually a small pour) for anywhere between 110 and 245 baht.I really do love ALL the food here in Thailand, but I every once in a while I just want something plain and simple that isn’t fruit. I want something that isn’t going to be sodium bomb, I want fresh vegetables with out oil and sauce, whole wheat bread instead of white, hearty grains instead of white rice, and huge salads filled with fresh vegetables. But these things are a bit hard to come by here so you just need to go with the flow and make the best healthier decisions for the time being.
It’s a bit easier in Chiang Mai, but then the healthier food options cost much more money so it’s a balance.
I will, however, miss the amount of options and places to get food around here. Street food vendors and stands, markets, and all the restaurants. In the major cities the streets are just lined with food carts and vendors – there is so very much to choose from. I’m not sure what half of it is but it’s usually pretty tasty, and that’s just not something we have in America.
Free wifi is very easy to come by here. It’s offered at pretty much every restaurant, coffee shop, hostel, hotel, fast station, and airport. Most places have the password posted on the menu, on the wall, on the napkin holder, or you can easily ask the server. Very rare did I find a place that didn’t have wifi. This is very convenient when you’re traveling with out an international SIM. Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel the need to connect to wifi so often because I feel it takes away from the trip a bit, and I end up not living in the moment.Thai people LOVE eggs. Scrambled, omelet, or fried for breakfast, egg omelet with rice, eggs in soups, salads, stir fried, quail eggs,..they love eggs!
I’ve also learned that you must get over your germophobia when traveling in Asia. Things are dirty, soap is rare, and you always have to take your shoes off when going in temples and even in most stores, hostels, and some restaurants. When I was in the Islands, I got used to not wearing shoes, and I went completely barefoot for about 3 straight days including bathrooms, which is EXTREMELY unlike me. But it is just sort of a thing that happens here. I try to use antibacterial wipes as much as possible, but sometimes you just have to let go. And forget about the germs. And I always wash my feet before bed. 😉Thailand has been amazing, I’ve done things I never thought I would do, I did things that scared me. I met so many beautiful people and visited so many beautiful places. I learned to try my best and see the positive in everything. But I’m not going to lie- It hasn’t been all glamorous. Thai toilets are the absolute worst. Downright disgusting at times. And even if there are western toilets-the plumbing is awful so you can’t throw your toilet paper, if there is even toilet paper, in the toilet. I’ve learned that carrying around baby wipes is the best thing to do. They help in those situations and just in general on a sweaty day to feel refreshed again.
The beds that are rock hard and pillows extremely thin. You get used to this after a while, but some nights I long for a big comfy bed again.
Even though it’s getting to be “winter” in Thailand it’s still around 95 degrees and the mosquitos are ruthless. Not just outside, but they are in the bathrooms, bedrooms, and always haunting me in my dreams. I basically live in DEET now after my experience in Koh Phangan with the mosquitos. If I don’t die from getting hit by a scooter, I’m probably going to die from DEET poisoning.
Its extremely difficult to change in a room full of males and females and changing in your bunk or in the steamy bathroom (only rom humidity and not from a hot shower, after the shower isn’t always fun.
And speaking of the showers…you win some and you lose some. Some showers have a dribble, some have a mist, and some are actually decent. Most showers are in the same small room as the toilet which usually always ends up with someone forgetting to put the toilet seat down or getting the toilet paper soaking wet, but this is the norm now. The showers are usually always cold (even if the hostel advertises Hot), but at this point you take whatever form of bathing you can get.So you just learn to roll with the punches, take a deep breath and remind yourself there is so much beauty in traveling. I’ve been in Chiang Mai for about a week now, and unfortunately I won’t make it to Pai because my visa runs out in 2 days. It has been wonderful here in Chiang Mai, and I’ve done so much, but I’m headed to Laos tomorrow, and I’ll have plenty of time on my 3 day trek to write about the Chiang Mai Night Market, Ladyboy Cabaret, Khantoke dinner, yoga, meditation, and temples. See you in Laos!