After spending a week exploring Koh Samui, it was time to leave Thailand, as my 30-day exemption had run out. If you are in the south and you are looking for a great place to go on a visa run, Penang is an easy choice, as its combination of culture, drool-worthy cuisine, and historic attractions make the island the best visa run destination for those hanging out in Southern Thailand.
Thanks to my super-long break from blogging, the pictures that I have taken from my Asian and Latin American travels have been collecting dust on my hard drive.
However, now that I have gotten the hang of running the day-to-day aspects of my business, I am finally making a commitment to get back to documenting my never-ending pursuit of excitement!
Although the trip in this post occurred over three years ago, it makes sense to go back in time given how long I have been ignoring this site.
Going on a solo vacation can be an exhilarating experience. You have full control of your own schedule, meaning you can move from one place to another at your own pace. While it’s not as scary when hopping from one state to another, it can be much scarier to jet to a different country on your own, such as the Philippines. Known for its sunny beaches and welcoming locals, it’s one of the best places to go on a budget.
As my time in Northern Thailand is winding its way to a close, I’d figure I’d share more pics to show you what the mountains up in this part of the country are like. The highlands up here are (believe it or not) the furthest of the foothills that radiate out hundreds of kilometres from the main ranges of the Himalayas. They don’t reach up high enough to get snow in the winter time, but they do provide a bit of novelty for the Thai population nonetheless, as the coldest nighttime lows in December/January get nippy enough to cause frost to form!
Passed over by many travellers and tourists that have already seen the ancient Thai ruins at the more conveniently situated site in Ayutthaya, the remains of the medieval period capital of Siam in Sukhothai can come as a complete surprise to people with no idea what to expect.
In many respects, the ruins in Sukhothai are in better shape and are far more accessible to visitors.
Upon arriving in the Old Town via songthaew from the New Town (20 baht as of 2010, which was when the above picture was taken), guests can rent bicycles for 50 baht/day.
It’s easy to breeze past all of North Central Thailand if you don’t have an interest in ruins/temples. Between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, there are a few cities that have ruins that will interest the archaeology buffs among us, but for those looking for highlights in other areas, inquiries into the area comes up pretty thin.
The King of Thailand is one of the world’s most revered monarchs. Ask any Thai, and the vast majority will espouse how the King has led the country from being an agrarian nation at the conclusion of World War II, to a modern and well-regarded state where people’s quality of life has vastly improved. Everywhere you go in the country, you’ll see giant portraits of King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit. Small framed photos of the King can be spotted in shops, guesthouses, and homes. Despite the fact that Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, which means that the King has no real political power, politicians often call on him for advice, and nobody dares to disrepect him when he voices an opinion, one way or the other. Indeed, it is a crime to insult the King in Thailand.
For many first time explorers in Thailand, sights like the one depicted above may come as a surprise. Denoting symbolism that has no direct comparison with Western culture, it definitely contributes one of many additions to the “WTF” file when exploring this exotic country.
If you want to know however, the chicken statues displayed here are at the shrine to the former Thai King Naresuan in Ayutthaya Thailand. When he was a prisoner in Burma back in the 1500’s he had nobody to talk to, save a bunch of roaming chickens. Having his Castaway moment, Naresuan anthropomorphized them into feathery friends, got through his ordeal alive, and later immortalized them in statue form.
Bangkok, like many cities across Asia, tend to be a sprawling concrete jungle, teeming with traffic and people, but with precious little in the way of green space.
Which is precisely what makes places like Lumphini Park in Bangkok so special. An oasis of grass and greenery in the midst of soaring skyscrapers and concrete shophouses that dominate this megalopolis of 14 million people, it is a welcome relief for all who happen upon it. Joggers, Tai Chi enthusiasts, and office workers seeking a temporary escape from the office all frequent this space of relative calm, finding solace in the hectic lives that they lead.
With my latest (unplanned) trip to Thailand well underway, one of the first places I’m going to make a point of visiting is Koh Chang, the second largest island in the country. However, it largely remains off the tourist grid because it isn’t in the south of the country, where the tourism heavyweights of Phuket, Samui, and Phangan reside.