First timers to the land of smiles - Thailand!
Updated: Dec 28, 2018
For the first timers like us, the land of smiles meant a loads of overwhelming experiences bundled in a really short duration of time. We sneaked into the city of Bangkok in the wee hours and were dazzled by the sight of this too busy, too urbanized, too chaotic, too practical, too commercialized city.
Warm Sawasdeeka and a melodious singing accent of every local here amused us. The city of Bangkok has something exciting for everyone. The beautiful awestruck buildings in the Grand Palace premises and the jaw dropping beauty of the temple complexes like the Emerald Buddha, Wat Arun (temple of the dawn), Wat Pho (Temple of the reclining Buddha – the famous Samadhi posture of Lord Gautama Buddha) and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple that houses the largest Golden Buddha Statue till date) are a must visit for the curious first timers. Since our stay in Bangkok was short we explored the city’s tourist attractions by the hop-on hop-off boat ride through the river Chao Phraya. The river on both its edges are lined by massive multi-storied buildings, shopping malls and historic buildings in amazing designs each displaying the unique architectural skills of the city. It’s worth marveling the skyline of Bangkok for the giant skyscrapers densely lined up once the city is lit at dusk .
As most people have already heard, life starts in Bangkok after the sun goes down. It was fun just strolling up and down the streets of Bangkok as the night unfolded with loads of music, dance, food and drinks flowing insanely as if people all around the world have gathered here to lose their sanity. I am not a crazy party lover while I can very well be the party gazer in places like these.
We flew out of Bangkok and reached Phuket on a consecutive midnight. There was a day where we lazed around the Patong Beach, walked up and down the streets grabbing delicious food, juices, tropical fruits and rolled ice creams, indulged into small conversations with locals and foreigners and watched the sun set and the street turn into colorfully lit flea markets and the night life awaken.
There are many tours which one can take out of Phuket to explore the nearby islands. We took a full-day tour to the James Bond Island and this was the most memorable islands hopping kind of a tour of our entire trip. This tour started around 8:30 am in the morning and the whole day was spent cruising on a two-floor deck speed boat with a group of other travelers. This was a very picturesque sail in the Andaman Sea with a distant view of the mountain like cliffs formed out of limestone deposits. We hopped into tiny banana boats and explored canoeing around the limestone caves of Monkey Island, the enclosed lagoons and mangroves of the Hong Islands. After an on-board Thai lunch and fruits served by our hosts we were taken to the James Bond Island (Pha Nang Bay) famous for the movie shot here. We strolled around this island admiring the Needle cliff enclosed Island and having a conversation with the souvenir sellers who come from the nearby Island villages. More than the picturesque spots that we explored on this tour it was an awesome experience to meet so many people who became a family by the end of the tour. There were some solo wanderers, a bunch of college goers, few honeymooners, some oldies with the enthusiasm no less than a kid. The sail back was filled with chatters, music by our hosts, some dancing by the old couple and snacking on fruit platters. The perfect end to a beautiful day indeed!
The following day we took a short tour around Phuket taking a few shots of the breathtaking views around Phuket from the Karon View Point and a visit to the Wat Chalong temple which is one of the 29 major temples around Phuket which is frequented by Locals for offering prayers as well as foreigners exploring and admiring the architecture and learning Buddhism from the multiple statues of the Abbots. We then explore some local handicrafts stores, pearl museum and cashew nut factory outlets. These were part of the tour package but we ended up buying nothing.
We drove to Krabi from Phuket and this had to be the most picturesque roads driving past the giant limestone cliffs, occasional showers, dense green forests with a noticeable dip in the temperature as we neared our stay at Ao Nang.
After settling into our accommodation in Krabi, having explored the beautiful premises and stared at the endless cliff view from our room, the vibes of this place made us wander out quickly. A long lazed walk through the Ao Nang road finally led to the beach just in time.
Timings do matter, especially when its love at first sight. That sunset view by the beach with the perfect timing, perfect view, perfect partner to accompany will hold a really special place in my heart for the longest time ever.
The shades in the sky and its reflection in the ocean blended together from yellow to orange to crimson red until the sun had melted and slowly vanished in the ripples of the water turning the sky into beautiful shades of blue until completely dark. Watching the beauty unfold just blanked all my thoughts as though this was all I had been longing on this journey. There was a lot happening by the beach but the ocean had mesmerized us by its romantic view. We sat there for a few hours with fewer words and no thoughts allowing the soul to seek the happiness it had been longing for.
Following day in Krabi, we took the four islands tour to explore the nearby islands. We visited the following Islands -
Phra Nang Cave Beach - We strolled through the touristy bustling beach which had some lovely restaurants as though hanging from the cliffs, a small cave temple where the locals worship the phallus with incense sticks and offerings to protect the fishermen and their boats in the ocean, some rock climbing activities for the enthusiastic travellers and the view of a hole in the cliff for the curious explorers.
Tup island - This offered some breathtaking views of the clear blue Indian Ocean letting us see through the ocean bed. The beautiful little fishes were floating to the shores. Here we could easily cross between two islands by foot as the low tide and sandy beach connecting the two islands made it easily accessible.
Poda Island - This island is known for its beautiful beach surrounding from all sides. We soaked in the water here for some time and had a local lunch served by the boat operators.
Chicken Island - This is famous for the mountain cliff structure in the shape of a chicken and a great snorkeling spot.
For the last day of our stay in Krabi, we chose to take a tour of the beautiful island. We visited the 'hot water spring' which seemed like a bunch of stone bathtubs cascaded together, descending from a slope in the forest stream. We soaked in this warm bath for a few mins and it was a very relaxing and therapeutic experience because of the warmth it offers. Then we took a trail walk through the rain-forests to check the naturally formed Emerald Pool and the Blue pool named after their colours. The walk to the blue pool through the dense trees and bushes was a unique experience. The humidity because of the heat of the blue pool (around 56 deg Cel) was making us sweat all through the walk while there were continuous drizzles but it was worth the view especially when you are told you are lucky to view it now as its closed most of the time because of heavy rains. The Emerald pool is the cooler one and we could swim in it while the fishes tickled our feet. The natural colors of both these pools are enchanting and worth admiring.
Lastly for that day, we visited the Tiger Cave Temple which is on a mountain top after a climb of 1260 steps and rather strenuous because of the uneven sized steps. But after we reached up and gulped in the fresh air, the view that the place offered was mind blowing. We could get a 360 deg view of entire Krabi from that height which showed the villages, dense coconut palm forests, beaches and mountain ranges clustered together at a distance.
Of all experiences, the one thing we never missed in Krabi, was our evening walk at the Ao Nang Beach even tough it was sometimes a post dinner walk. That was definitely special! Just being around the sea refreshes you so much. The sounds of the gushing waves washes out all heavy thoughts and feelings from your soul.
Streets and Markets around Thailand -
Every town or district in Thailand will be known for some special local markets or weekend markets. Never the less, even the touristy localities have a lot to explore.
We explored the eateries in most of the locations we stayed. There are stretches of shops/markets where you can shop for souvenirs, cotton clothes, handicrafts. We loved exploring some cafes with live music and some artists painting beautiful canvases which made me stop and admire.
The warmly lit lane along the Ao Nang Beach in Krabi gave really dreamy feels.
Streets around Bangkok (Sukhumvit) and Phuket (Patong Beach Road) are ideal for partying through the night.
Thailand is abandance in fresh fruits which we made sure we had ample during our breakfasts. So we indulged a lot in fruits, juices, coconut water, fruit based ice creams. We also tried some Thai food like the Thai curry with rice, Pad Thai, fried rice (go-to dinner option), Thai pancakes, coconut ice creams served in the coconut shell.
Thailand being a very famous South east Asian destination is touristy but has many unique experiences to offer. Every corner of the country has something special and unique to explore.
Someday we would want to return to Thailand for exploring the northern parts of the country as it has definitely left our curious souls hungry for more.