I first fell in love with Thailand about twenty years ago (yes I am OLD !) when I took my second ever ‘solo’ trip to, unchartered territories for me. Solo in the sense that I left the UK on my own and returned on my own, but actually I joined a group of like minded travellers in Bangkok for a two week overland adventure. I had signed up for a trip with Intrepid Travel which puts together travel packages which are suitable for solo travellers, couples or small groups all of whom love travelling.
We started in the busy and bustling Khao San Road in Bangkok aka backpacker street and, after crossing all of the major temples off of the list and a hasty river trip, headed down the East Coast of Thailand taking in Ko Pha-Ngan, Surat Thani, Ko Tao and Ko Samui along the way. This was an adventure trip, our Australian guide spoke fluent Thai and with few travel arrangements in place, we travelled by Longtail boat, local bus, overnight sleeper train, Songthaew and speed boats. We slept in guest houses, in floating raft houses, in homestays and once in a hammock on the beach with the highlight being a ramshackle hut right on the beachfront costing less than 5 USD a night but with a beachside hammock where we relaxed and drank copious amounts of chilled Thai beer whilst reminiscing about the trip.
We dined on street food, ate at local restaurants, ate some dodgy packed meals on the overnight train, and even ate sushi barracuda which we had caught on a line dangling from our boat as well as big fat juicy crabs which we had traded for beer with a local fisherman boat. For entertainment, we saw Thai Boxing matches without understanding the rules, I still don’t understand them to this day .. we chatted with the locals over a beer, we went to see water buffalo fighting, three hours of prep for about three minutes of action ! and did the full moon party too – the saying “What happens at Full Moon Party, Stays at the Full Moon Party” springs to mind – but I will say we had non stop fun !
This trip was a real adventure for me, we had never flown abroad when we were kids, always spending our holidays on a wet campsite somewhere in England or Wales, we thought we were posh and “had made it” when we moved upwards and into a caravan for a few holidays – still we didn’t manage to evade the oh so lovely British summer rain – but despite that we had some great holidays and whilst the photos are few and far between, I remember some fantastic times !
Anyway, my love affair with Thailand and for more independent travel started with my first few trips with Intrepid and Travelbag when I ventured to Thailand and did the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Since discovering travel and adventure holidays with these more independent holiday companies, I have never booked a packaged holiday always choosing to do my research and make my own plans. Sadly I don’t have any photos of the trips mentioned above, as my camera (a film camera, yes I told you it was a long time ago) was damaged when it got waterlogged on a boat trip, and the printed photos of my trip in the Atlas Mountains is long gone, lost on one of my many house moves. Instead my trips are engrained in my memory in vivid hues and even thinking about these trips now makes me smile.
Since my first trip to Thailand, I’ve returned many times, sometimes with a nice healthy budget allowing for a luxury trip, sometimes with a backpacker budget and a more wholesome trip and also on a few adventures. Each time I find or visit somewhere new, sometimes a beach retreat, sometimes somewhere a bit busier, but each time, another part of me falls in love with Thailand again as I realise this is the country that never stops surprising me, there’s always something new to find and explore – and so the long lasting love affair continues.
A retrospective post full of happy memories.