For our honeymoon we decided to try something completely different travel wise – go east rather than west! Up until November 2015, our travels pretty much circulated around city breaks to Europe, or road trips across the USA. We had always had itchy feet for Asia but simply never got round to it due to our stacked out holiday diaries. (Every year we say we’ll save or we’ll go somewhere new, and every year we end up booked up for a new part of the States to visit – there are worse problems to have I suppose!)
Anyway, when we got married (in our typical travel fashion) we didn’t want presents, we asked for travel vouchers for our next big adventure – Thailand! Thanks to our very generous family and friends we managed to book a trip to Bangkok and Koh Samui without having to fork out anything.
Having not been to that side of the world before we really had no idea what to expect. I remember having intense paranoia about malaria, and being a little apprehensive about the jet lag, but other than that I was ready to see what Thailand had to offer. It certainly did not disappoint. So many amazing things happened on our trip that it’s hard to put it all into one single blog post, so for now, I’ll just settle for giving you five things I learnt when visiting Thailand for the first time:
1. Hotels work a little different – patience is a virtue
I remember this being a huge point for me when we first arrived. And I know, it sounds shallow and ridiculous, but I remember getting off our 13 hour flight, driving another hour to the hotel, and thinking “God I just NEED a shower”. However what I didn’t factor in was that we might need to wait a good few hours until our room was ready. Whenever we visit America, you show up to the hotel and they bend over backwards to make sure that you aren’t waiting around, and that you are comfy in your room as soon as possible. When we got to the reception in Bangkok we were told we would have to wait and the rooms were no where near ready. This wasn’t just us either, we turned around and the reception was full of people hauling their suitcases around, napping, waiting for their room to become available. From the first day in Thailand, I was taught to be patient.
2. Thailand is home to some of the kindest people
We had an absolutely AMAZING tour guide in Bangkok, who was quite possibly the nicest person we had ever met. Before we went to Thailand so many people told us that the people there are just so nice, but we didn’t believe it until we had a first hand experience of someone showing us around Bangkok for the day. Her tour guide skills were amazing, but she took the time to tell us how she was so pleased that she had met us, how kind we were, and how amazing she thought we were as a couple – we’re still Facebook friends now, and we still think about her whenever Thailand crops up in conversation. A couple of times she did also tell me that I reminded her of Barbie, which still makes me laugh. Meeting this woman taught me that anyone can simply do their job, but being kind and genuine will leave such a lasting impact.
3. Fat fingers mean there is no divorcing on your honeymoon
A slightly different lesson now. Everyone knows that Thailand is hot, hot, hot. And everyone knows that the humidity is insane. But no one quite prepared me for how insanely fat my fingers were going to get. Yes, my fingers, that were just getting used to housing a wedding ring. We joked that if we annoyed each other enough, and fancied a quickie divorce, we wouldn’t even be able to get the wedding rings off our swollen hands thanks to the heat.
4. The cheapest looking places are the best places
The cheap Thailand pricing – this was a perk, and also a slight detriment. Perk, the food was an absolute bargain. Con, the cocktails were an absolute bargain. Even our tour guide told us that a lot of Thai people just tend to buy their food out because it’s so cheap and convenient.
The nights we had the best meals, were the nights we chose to eat in the cheapest looking places. When we were out in Koh Samui one night, we decided to follow a sign down a small back alley way that simply said, ‘cheap Thai food’. There was no one at this restaurant, that was made up of about three plastic tables with ants crawling over them, accompanied by some cheap looking chairs. In fact, after we spotted the ants we were almost tempted to dash and find somewhere else. But we stayed, and were greeted with some of the best, and most authentic, Thai food of our trip. As the age old saying goes, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.
5. A whole new perspective on religion
We’re not exactly the most religious pair – in fact my husband is probably the epitome of atheism, but there was something incredibly refreshing about the approach to religion in Thailand. It felt calm, peaceful and relaxed and a far cry from some of the stuffy churches in the UK. It focuses on self improvement, achieving happiness and adapting to a constantly changing world – something that I found to be very appealing and poignant.