Land of the Buddha

 

Where: Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand

When: 28/12/2015 – 05/01/2016

In my travels, I’ve covered most of Europe, and a fair bit of North America, Australia, and the Middle East. But Africa, South America, and definitely Asia have all been long neglected. Hopefully, no more.

What really attracts me to these areas now is particular differences in culture that emerge in countries far removed from the West. The particular ways to say hello and goodbye, conceptually-different religions, and just crazy developmental histories are utterly fascinating, and I really hope I can move beyond my comfort zone and start making a point of travelling and immersing myself in these countries.

But enough romanticism – on to Thailand.

Bangkok is crowded – more noticeably so than any other city I’ve visited (outside of China probably). Many times you’re so crowded it is impossible to even lift your arms (or put them down, if you were caught with them up). This makes the heat and humidity even more noticeable (it was bad, even in the dead of winter). But it was great! I loved the temples, with their radically different styling, and the millions of Buddha statues everywhere. I loved the chaotic souq-style night markets. I loved the convergence of old – like over two-thousand year old – buildings right next to high rise ultra-modern condos and hotels.

What really struck me is how nice everyone seemed to be to each other. It goes beyond just helping strangers out. People just seemed to accept that other people were also going about their lives. When driving, it was a complete mess – but nobody was really honking or yelling at others. They just flowed naturally together. It was very calming somehow.

After Bangkok, I went ‘camping’ (hahaha not really), with some elephants! I got to get right up close to them, many of whom were rescues from plantations or zoos, and feed and bathe them. They seemed very comfortable around humans, probably because of their easy lifestyle. What was coolest was seeing how they used their trunk – they are very dexterous, and have a little ‘finger’ on their trunk that they can use to pick up pineapples and whatnot and put them in their mouths.

Finally, on to Phuket! This resort town crazy – as expected. It is a popular Australian getaway, after all. I’d like to go back at some point and really experience the nightlife there – they had some bumpin clubs right on the beach. As it was, I didn’t really relax much at the resort, at the beach life is not my favourite. Instead, I went ziplining and paramotoring (imagine a cross between a motorcycle and a parachute, and attach a big fan to the back), which were both more my speed, and let me get out and about.

Truly, this was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. The only bad part was the 30.5 hour return trip home (door-to-door, including buses and layover)!

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