Thailand - Is paradise sweet?

Thailand – Is paradise sweet?

Fried chicken, Pad Thai, exotic fruits are some of many tastes and smells of Thailand. It’s a country many people return to multiple times, many want to move to and many did settle down in. It has incredible geography, a fine – growing economy and booming tourism industry. I have visited it too and I came back with a question ringing in my mind I will try to find an answer to. Is paradise sweet?

My itinerary

I’ve spent typical holidays in Thailand. It was 12 days following beaten tracks, both more and less frequented by all kinds of tourists. I’ve landed in Bangkok then I’ve taken a train to Surat Thani. From there I’ve reached Khao Sok where I’ve spent a night on Ratchaprapha lake and trekked one of the not many paths in the jungle. Later on I’ve moved to Krabi and visited a few islands and beaches. Finally, I’ve returned to Bangkok where I spent the last day and flew back home. I’ve managed the trip with TraviTrip.

Examining and analyzing - Khao Sok
Examining and analyzing – Khao Sok

Dry facts

Thailand is beautiful. It’s a fact that cannot be undermined. If you think otherwise, then you haven’t been there. It’s located in South-East Asia, inhabited by over 69 million people and it was visited by over 34 million tourists last year. Majority of the people are Buddhist with noticeable Muslim and Christian minorities.

Thailand is a constitutional monarchy under military junta. Pictures of the king are omnipresent and criticism is banned.

The country is located north from equator. It’s warm throughout the year with monsoon and dry seasons. It borders with Laos, Birma, Cambodia and Malaysia and it has interesting geography. Thailand has access to two seas. It hosts many different mountain ranges and rock formations. There are over 1000 islands within Thai borders.

Bangkok sights by Maciej Zawieja
Bangkok sights by Maciej Zawieja
Superhero by Maciej Zawieja
Superhero by Maciej Zawieja

Been there, seen it, any thought?

Thailand is beautiful. I repeat my own sentence again. Yet, it’s worth saying it over and over. The beauty of this country comes from its location, climate and people. A huge part of its land is covered with tropical and rain forests. The landscape is exotic as for a European (so much different than Ireland). The cost line is rich and complicated. There are numerous rock formation just next to the seashores, multiple islands and river deltas.

I’ve heard south and north of the country are different. The difference comes form the sea being on the south and from the amount of tourists who visit the this part. Just like myself and my wife.

Thai landscape by Maciej Zawieja
Thai landscape by Maciej Zawieja

The world is small in the 21st century

Tourists are omnipresent. Even the lesser visited areas are being impacted. Thai economy is mining the influx of tourists as it would be a golden vein. The prices are no longer that low as seen at old blog posts, but the scams are still valid.

A slaphappy gal. Let’s call her Jane – has to keep her watchdog turned on. The same attraction can cost double or even triple depending which booth asking at. The taxi ride might be whatever it costs in her home country, whatever she’s willing to pay.

Being one of the 34 millions visitors can be burdensome. But with the beauty around it’s easy to forget this fact from time to time. The jungle is greener than green color is itself. The islands made up of avatar-like lime rocks are out of this world. Food is delicious and the choice is overwhelming. The people are – generally – nice.

Night train to Surat Thani by Maciej Zawieja
Night train to Surat Thani by Maciej Zawieja

Getting there

The most adventurous and unforgettable was the first few days of the trip. One night spent in the plane was followed by another one spent in a train. Next a jeep ride and finally 30 minutes walk got us to our little pretty bamboo hut. We’ve spent one night in a real bed and the next one on a – not too comfortable – matters set up inside a floating bamboo hut. We’ve been in Khao Sok National Park with its lovely artificial lake.

Bamboo huts and selfie culture by Maciej Zawieja
Bamboo huts and selfie culture by Maciej Zawieja

Khao Sok – Avatar kind of Matrix

We took an overnight lake trip. I wanted to go there for a peculiar reason. Ratchaprapha is a man-made lake created by flooding a large chunk of an ancient jungle. This move was disastrous at the environmental point of view. Plenty of fish species have died, the water was contaminated for years and many villagers have been relocated.

Cheow Lan Lake by Maciej Zawieja
Cheow Lan Lake by Maciej Zawieja

However, nature has coped with the problem. The lake water cleared out and the jungle is thriving around. For me it was a chance to get in the middle of a rain forest without too much effort. I hoped it to be a great thing to do. I have took a – rather – expensive tour option to explore the lake.

Khao Sok by Maciej Zawieja
Khao Sok by Maciej Zawieja
Floating huts by Maciej Zawieja
Floating huts by Maciej Zawieja

Tours ( ༎ຶ ۝ ༎ຶ )

I’m not a fan of tours and I’ve ended up disappointed again. I was supposed to have enough time to kayak around on my own to observe jungle life – I had not. I was suppose to have been on a great safari lead by our guide – I was, however, a safari on a boat with a super noisy engine just could not be very successful. Maybe if it would last for half a day rather than half an hour we’d spot sometime more interesting. We’ve seen a couple of monkeys, a lizard, wild boar and a chicken. Three out of these four animals can be found within meters of my family home.

I should have paid double and go with a private boat. I promise it to myself, the next time there will be a choice the price won’t matter as long as I can physically pay it.

Nevertheless, the lake did not disappoint. It is stunning! The limestone formations are standing glorious guarding the jungle. The nights are dark like almost nowhere I have been before. Millions of stars and galaxies are flickering above the head of the smallest create in the universe – me.

Superman working at Khao Sok by Maciej Zawieja
Superman working at Khao Sok by Maciej Zawieja
Lizard of Khao Sok by Maciej Zawieja
Lizard of Khao Sok by Maciej Zawieja

Thai Heart of Darkness

Khao Sok has two main attractions to offer. The second one is the jungle itself. There are a few paths lead through the park. They go nowhere far or deep into the jungle but it’s enough to experience its habitat. Well kinda. Even though the place is advertised as a less known location it’s still flooded with tourists. This path is frequented by people a lot and cannot be a great example of what jungle life really is like.

Fearless monkeys, butterflies filtering water, a dead snake and lots of bamboos was the experience I have brought out of our little hike. Also a small probe with Thai soil to my collection.

I could stay in Khao Sok longer, I could go back home or I could continue. Didn’t matter, my desires were more or less completed – no more and no less than expected.

Light in darkness by Maciej Zawieja
Light in darkness by Maciej Zawieja
'Yep I fell' by Deniz
‘Yep I fell’ by Deniz

Bodies on sand and Koh Poda

Ao Nang is one of these places I wish I wouldn’t get to know. Same applies to Railey. Both of them have an excellent location with sandy beaches and limestone mountains around. Besides that these places are like a typical European summer hot spot operated by Asian immigrants. It’s a perfect place for those western people who want to feel like at home at every edge of the universe.

Railway reality by Maciej Zawieja
Railey reality by Maciej Zawieja

The islands around are a little gateway to some sort of heaven. First, Deniz took me to Koh Poda. It’s a majestic little island with a big rock, sandy beaches and a small forest providing some shade. It’s a quieter place with way less tourists around and a high price tag. I doubt local people are willing to pay the price to get here. The only locals on the island are park renegers, shop operators and boat drivers (?).

Koh Poda offered us a peaceful rest day out of the cultural disorder provided at the continent. The sun has sucked our juices and a long swim in warm sea waters has salted our pretzel-like bodies.

Long tail boat on Koh Poda by Maciej Zawieja
Long tail boat on Koh Poda by Maciej Zawieja

Koh Hong (Kong)

The other day Deniz took me to Koh Hong. It’s probably the most beautiful island I have ever seen in my life. I wish it would be desolated and forsaken… but we know this won’t ever happen. The island has a little bay with a wonderful lagoon, huge lime stone hills separating the main beach from a lagoon, colorful fishes swimming at the shores, over a meter long lizards and a short but pretty jungle path for a 10 minutes walk. I’m glad I could have been there. Yes, there are plenty of boats, tourists and Asian tourists, but we are over 7 billion people on this planet and places like that are few, so I enjoyed it like a baby chasing a dog.

Ko Hong by Maciej Zawieja
Ko Hong by Maciej Zawieja
 Mangrove forest by Maciej Zawieja
Mangrove forest by Maciej Zawieja

Long Tail jet engines

Have you seen these lovely long-tail boats which take tourists all around Southern Thailand? They’re pretty on the photos. Aren’t they? Have you noticed that enormous dark machine at the other end of each? That’s the engine. Imagine you’re in the middle of a kilometer long tunnel. There is a monster truck race going through it. Each of the monster trucks is at its top speed and on each of them there is a guy cutting metal pipes with metal cutter. That’s the music these boats serve to passengers. I do like many kinds of music, but I’m not a fan of this particular type.

Well, each paradise has a hell set up nearby… sometimes it’s a laud engine, sometimes it’s a cave full of wooden penises.

Penis cave
 Krabi town by Maciej Zawieja
Krabi town by Maciej Zawieja

The capital

I have had roughly 1.5 day to explore Bangkok. I can’t say much about the city. Its buses are old, but cheap and neat. People are delightful and understanding. The cars are way better than I would have imagined. The smog is in the lungs and the buildings are high. It’s lively and interesting. It has contrasts. The rivers and canals are everything but clean, however public transportation is flawless. Some people are wearing well and riding newest cars while others sleep on streets. The temples are glamour and stylish, but many other buildings are gray and boring. We could continue with this long. It’s an interesting city.

Some heavens are bitter than sweet.

Bangkok by Maciej Zawieja
Bangkok by Maciej Zawieja
Bangkok buses by Maciej Zawieja
Bangkok buses by Maciej Zawieja

Final thoughts

I’ve been lucky to be in a few places already. I’ve seen only a little part of Thailand but I loved it. All the nature, fauna and flora. I loved the limestone mountains, the fruits and islands. I loved Khao Sok with its lake. It’s a kind of a paradise.

However, paradises on Earth are sweet and bitter. A stunning lake was created by a sacrifice of ancient jungle. Contemplation on wonderful beaches is interrupted by noisy crowds and noisier boats. Another city is full of contrasts and inequality.

Thailand is a great experience for a traveler and a perfect holiday destination for a tourist. Whoever you are, you’ll find there the right fruit for your mind and TraviTrip will help you on the way.

Dragon fruit by Maciej Zawieja
Dragon fruit by Maciej Zawieja
Thai sunset by Maciej Zawieja
Thai sunset by Maciej Zawieja

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