Am officially excited. Just hours to go before we take off for a month in Thailand. I’ve never been to that part of the world. I’ve gotten as far as India, and while I’d planned a trip to Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia back in 2001 and previously in 1994, it never happened. I have no idea what to expect as my research has been sadly limited and my Thai expectations are low. Sensibly, I think, we’ve cut back the list of countries we wanted to see to just one and figure if we’re to do it justice without killing ourselves in the process, we’d need a month to do it.
About this time last year, I happened across a series of books by Timothy Hallinan featuring Poke Rafferty, a travel writer living in Bangkok. I thoroughly enjoyed the series and am really looking forward to seeing the city. I’m not sure what to expect, except for thousands of rucksack-laden gap-year students who are doing SE Asia. I’m curious about the Lady Boys and the bars that seem to offer just about anything a man might care to indulge in. And I definitely want to see the night markets. I’m expecting crowded streets, lots of great street food, and some scary moments when I think I’m lost as every neon sign begins to look just like another.
While I’m sure the city has its temples, I might reserve that particular experience until we go somewhere a little more remote. We’re going to take the train northwards to the Golden Triangle of Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand. Perhaps a skip over the border might be on the cards but plans to visit Myanmar came to nowt when I couldn’t reconcile being in any way complicit with what’s going on with the Rohingya. I know, I know. It’s murky waters. Few countries can pass the red face test and claim a sterling soul – but some are just a tad too far left of any human right. We’re stopping off somewhere beginning with an A to see a city on an island that has loads of temples – I can get my fill of them there. Then we’re planning on three days in Chiang Mai before bussing to Chiang Rai for a week to stay with an old Aussie mate from my Alaskan days. Am looking forward to G&Ts by the pool and lots of catch-ups peppered with lots of local knowledge. From there we head towards the River Kwai, to see the famous bridge, visit some cemeteries, and follow the path of the Death Train that ran between the Thai and Burmese borders. I think himself said we’re staying on a raft. He said it quickly, so I could be wrong. But am sure that’s what I heard. I think river and I think mozzies. But sure it’s all about the experience. A good slice of the 10kg I’m taking with me is given over to insect repellant and while I know a battle will rage (Mozzies vs Mary), am hoping that mozzie nets are just part of the furniture – everywhere. And I really hope Thailand doesn’t have lots of creepy crawlies.
After that nod to history, our respects duly paid, it’s beach time. Am not quite sure what island we’re going to or where it is but I have a vague notion it is off the coast of Phuket. I asked for quiet. My plan is to do some writing, reading, swimming, and sunning. I want to sample some of the local bevvies and gorge myself on fresh fish. Himself has plans to kayak and sail and hike and bike. Sure we’ll have lots to talk about of an evening 🙂 I have visions though of Thai beaches being overrun by tourists and am hoping that we’ll be far enough off the well-beaten track to avoid most of the masses.
Then it’s back to Bangkok for a couple of more days before heading home. We’re stopping off in Doha on the way back for a few days to catch up with H&N. And then back to November in Hungary – my absolute favourite month of the year.
I didn’t think I had it in me to travel for so long with just 10 kg. My backpack has fit into a duffle so I can check it on the way over and on the way back. The duffle then collapses into a pouch and will hang from my backpack. While I’m sure I definitely won’t fit the demographics of your average backpacker, I’m confident that I’ll be able to hold my own.
What I’m most looking forward to is the newness – the un-Europeanness, un-Americanness – that I hope I’ll find in SE Asia. I’m looking for something different. And while I’ve no intention of eating deep-fried spiders, I might even venture a little further than my usual Pad Thai. I’m a little disappointed we won’t get to the Killing Fields in Cambodia but hey – there’ always next year.
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Kòp Kun mâak