Friday, September 7, 2012

Visiting Thailand


Uncle Scott at The Dangerous Market.
I know that many of you have been waiting to hear about our trip to Thailand and Cambodia this summer.  Honestly, I've needed up until now to process exactly how I felt about it and to write about it in a way non-offensive way.  What I do know is that I was the one who planned our itinerary and dragged the family to the  various places knowing that we may encounter some unpleasant situations.  We'll, let's just say that it didn't disappoint....we got more than we bargained for.  Overall, I think that the trip was an eye-opener which isn't a bad thing no matter what age.  Here are some of the highlights of our Thai adventure:

Floating Market
  • We stayed in Siam Square which was pretty decent.  Easy to get taxis, tuk tuks, and our hotel was a block from the Sky Train.  
  • Beware of motorized vehicles (buses, taxis, POV's, tuk tuks, mopeds, motorcycles, etc)  when you are on foot because the Thai drive like maniacs.  I've never seen so much chaos with motorized vehicles in my life.  Tailgating and speeding are normal. For instance, our drive from Bangkok to the Cambodian border was one of the scariest experiences of my life.  
  • Browsing does not exist in Thailand.  We were hit up at the markets, on the beach, for massages, on the street...for everything.  Use your imagination.  The Thai's do not discriminate on age, gender, etc.  
  • Bargain at the markets, for tuk tuk, taxis, you name it.  We walked away from a Tuk Tuk driver who gave us a cheap price, but wanted to take us to a Tailor Shop en route to China Town.  There are a lot of scams in Thailand regarding gem shops and tailors.  I think we dodged a couple bullets.  
  • There are often times no seat belts in tour vans or taxis.  When we went on a day tour with our lovely tour guide "A" to the floating market outside of Bangkok, we were flying down the highway without seat belts on.  Such a strange feeling since the U.S. is so safety conscious.  
  • You can't wear leggings as pants (if you're a female) to visit the Grand Palace.  My tour guide rented a sarong/skirt for me from a street vendor.
  • There are an abundance of 7-11 stores in Thailand.  This was helpful when we needed to get some Baht out of the ATM.
  • The food vendors pretty much close up shop by 10pm.  So strange to see empty sidewalks, and so early.
  • I know that the Baht is cheaper than the yen, but I didn't think that we saved a lot of money in Thailand...especially with all the tipping we had to do with our drivers, tour guides, etc.
  • We found out after the fact that the area we stayed in was not the best.  I picked the location because of its proximity to the beach, shopping and restaurants.  This was not good investigation on my part.  If you ever visit this area....especially with a family, stay in North Pattaya, in Jomtien Beach area, or don't bother.  As much as the guide books say that this area is getting better for families, its not.  I'm not prudish, and am pretty open-minded, but this would be a place for a person without children, say in their 20's.
  • We couldn't relax on the beach because of all the people hitting us up for Jet-ski's, massage, food, etc.  It was pretty bothersome, but in reality, this is how the people make their income....from tourists.
  • If you don't stay in a secure hotel, or at a resort, be prepared to hear screaming, domestic violence and prostitutes outside your door at around 4:30-5:00am.  This happened to us two different hotels.  We came to the conclusion that this behavior is a strategy for the prostitutes to get more money before they leave.
  • We did go on a nice dive/snorkeling boat for the day.  The water wasn't clear like in Guam or Hawaii, but we did see some fish, I heard the lunch was good (I was seasick and spent the latter part of the trip laying down on the boat), and our Australian guide was great.
  • We rode on a Songthaew (a mini-truck taxi) which was pretty cool.  You still need to barter with the price before getting in the vehicle.
  • We had a great driver named Adisak that came from Bangkok to pick us up and return us to our hotel  in Bangkok.  It is very popular to hire a driver or a van in Thailand for a set price.


Although we had a few rough patches in Thailand, it still hasn't deterred us from wanting to see more of what the country has to offer.  Chaing Mai in Northern Thailand is supposed to be beautiful as well as Phuket and other islands nearby.  I am bound and determined for us to have another Thai vacation that includes some much needed R & R.  I'm hoping to combine it with a trip to Malaysia, but we'll see.

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