Verfasst von: rbontour | Januar 7, 2011

Thailand – Visiting An Old Friend

For us, Thailand almost feels like an old friend. It seems to be a place where you can always go back to. It’s simple to get from A to B, there’s a good infrastructure, it’s safe and, not to forget, it’s also very beautiful. Backpacking in Thailand has become extremely simple. Most likely it’s no longer enough of a challenge for those, who seek remoteness and off-the-beaten-track adventures when exploring a far away country. A lot has changed since we both toured through Thailand in 2003 (and Brigitte was back one more time in 2006).

Today, travelers are pampered like kindergarteners; all you might possibly need on your journey is never far out of reach. It’s convenient and very relaxing to spend time here. And that’s one reason why we decided to go for a longer period of time. Firstly, we wanted to escape the rainy weather in Malaysia. Secondly, we wanted to feel bit homey and cozy over Christmas and New Year’s Eve by staying in places for more than 1 night. Believe it or not, but every now and then it feels pleasant not to sleep in a different place day after day. It’s good to unpack your luggage and place your clothes in a decent wardrobe while getting rid of some funny smells in your backpack (lol). And thirdly, we needed a place with good infrastructure or, let’s say, readily available internet connection so we could start planning our upcoming months in Asia, and especially our trip to Myanmar/Burma on January 8 – a country, which certainly is not as easy to visit as Thailand. Preparation in this case is a good thing, because we want to travel respectfully, wisely and safe. (BTW, our family and some of our friends asked us, why we decided to enter a country that still has a military dictatorship, denying merely all democratic rights to the people. There are many reasons, but we will talk about this another time on our blog.)

Christmas & Lucky Balloons
We were able to enjoy a very unique, warm, sunny and ‘lucky’ Christmas Eve on the sandy beaches of Kao Lak. For sure we missed our families, but fortunately there is Skype and video conferencing!

After we have seen Malaysia’s crazy holiday decorations we were sure that it would be the same in Southern Thailand. Our expectations proved to be correct. Thai people love to party! It’s primarily a Buddhist country, but we heard that no matter if it is Halloween, New Year’s Eve, Christmas or Easter – Thais decorate, celebrate and enjoy another religion’s or country’s festivities as much as we do. According to a local we spoke to, the reason for this is that the Buddhist belief teaches them to open their souls and their hearts to people from other religions (and most likely, we think, it’s also a good thing for the commercial sector, the nation’s economy and the visiting tourists).

It was really quite nice to sit in a beach restaurant on Christmas Eve, your feet in the sand and some sparkling holiday decorations around you. We had a fantastic dinner with fresh seafood and chicken prepared on a BBQ grill. The best part came around 10 PM, when we ignited a “lucky” paper balloon with all other guests in the restaurant. Many other hotels, bars and restaurants did the same thing. This is, as they say, a Thai tradition and it was such a beautiful and romantic sight to see hundreds of those balloons rising into the sky above the sea, IF you forget about the environmental aspect that you literally send flaming paper into the air, which then falls down into the ocean… Anyways, all around us were families, friends and many couples like us, standing by the shore, watching their luck rising higher and higher. Little cheezy, huh? 🙂

Becoming Thai Chefs
As Thai is our favorite food, it was a MUST for us to spend a day taking a cooking course on Koh Lanta. A Thai chef taught us a lot about the typical ingredients and the many herbs that are used. We cooked 5 dishes including our favorite Pad Thai, Tom Yum Soup, Red and Green Curries as well as Spicy Glass Noodle Salad. Everything is cooked in such a healthy way. The dishes contain hardly any fat and for salad dressings they don’t even use vinegar and oil, although it tastes very sour, like vinegar. Dressings are made with lime juice and fish sauce. Gosh, it tastes wonderful – a true delicacy! We were also surprised that everything is cooked so short – after the veggies were cut, it took approx. 3 minutes to prepare Tom Yum Soup with Seafood and 5 minutes for Pad Thai. So it’s as easy as preparing fast food (without the grease). We can’t wait to get home and start practicing our Thai cooking skills in order to invite family/friends for some culinary highlight dinners a la Robert & Brigitte.

Snorkeling and Beaching
Besides a lot of planning, observing the country’s changes and cooking Thai food, we didn’t push ourselves to do lots of sightseeing as we have already been to the most popular places, such as Koh Samui, Koh Tao or Koh Phi Phi (film location “The Beach”). However, we went on two wonderful snorkeling day trips in the Similian Islands with a lovely white sandy beach bumming time on Tachai Island. We would have liked to go diving there, but as a 2-tank dive was even more expensive than on Fiji (yes, Thailand got expensive!!) we decided to go snorkeling instead. It’s also a pleasurable thing to do; the waters are still astonishingly clear, the fish are plenty and while sitting on your chartered longtailboat you can soak up the sun and marvel at the beauty that surrounds you.

Unfortunately we also observed some “sad” things during our time in Kao Lak and Koh Lanta – we noticed how continuously increasing tourism changed Thailand in the last 10 years. Well, but this shall be our next story…

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