#TheBoyz in Thailand
Hard to believe it's already been a year since I moved to The Land of Smiles! Ever since I made the trek over to Thailand, the culture and environments here continually broadens my perception of the world. Keep in mind that I haven't solely spent my time in southeast Asia over the last 12 months; I've ventured back to the States here and there for holidays and family gatherings. I'll tell you this, the greatest change I've been able to take back my life in America has been a strong sense of patience - the roads in the greater Philadelphia really test that sometimes...
After sharing my experiences with friends and family back home, I was elated to find out that three of my closest buds decided to make a trip out to see Thailand for themselves. It's one thing to say you want to/will make it out to another part of the world, but actually booking the ticket makes it REAL.
Bangkok (9/28 - 9/30)
After heading back to Chiang Mai to re-settle myself at the end of September, I made my way back down to Bangkok to greet my friends after their day of travel. We posted up in an AirBnB, within the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok, for three nights. This was an easy choice as Sukhumvit is dense with restaurants, bars, shops, and the like; plenty of places to fill your day as a tourist.
We decided to take the first day at a leisurely pace, allowing everyone to recoup from the jet-lag. After introducing the group to the local food, and a true Thai massage, I think it was well-established that the coming days would be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. As a group, we were pumped to see a culture, first-hand, which is vastly different from what we're used to in the States.
On our last day in Bangkok, we headed towards the river to see the Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun. I first saw these areas on my first trip to BKK, earlier this year, but still, the unique architecture and style of the Thai monuments and temples continues to put me in awe.
Krabi (10/01 - 10/03)
Prior to this trip, my only time spent in southern Thailand had been in Phuket. Having heard only good things about Krabi, I was looking forward to checking out another southern Thai gem.
We set our sights on Ao Nang beach, for our 3-day visit, with our accommodation booked at Peace Laguna Resort & Spa. Walking in for the first time, there was no denying we would be comfortable here. We learned that this resort was one of the first set up in Ao Nang and, because of that, it has a prime spot right next to one of Krabi's signature karst hills. Plus, it's only a 2 minute walk to the beach!
Similar to our time in BKK, we decided to wing the first full day in Krabi. We ended up taking a long-tail boat over to Railay Beach as it's not accessible by roads.
After a bit of time on the beach, we had to duck into a local eatery to avoid the torrential downpour, which soon followed. Afterwards, we walked off into the mainland off the beach. To our surprise, we came face-to-face with a group of monkeys who looked at us with perplexity just as we did them. After another hour or so of roaming the local areas, it was time to head back to Ao Nang.
On Tuesday, we had a full day in store for us. We woke up early to catch a ride to a marina where we'd be taking a boat tour out to the Phi Phi Islands. Our tour ended up being relatively small in numbers (with just 7 other people), in addition to the guide, two translators, and two boat crew.
On our initial ride out, we were a bit disappointed as the weather was making for choppy water which restricted snorkeling for a bit. However, we made our way to Phi Leh Lagoon and the weather cooperated! Within the lagoon, numerous other tour boats dropped anchor and people took to the water swimming around. I can only imagine how many people pack into that spot during peak season and just let loose.
We did a bit of snorkeling just outside of the lagoon and then headed off to the other side of Ko Phi Phi Le. We pulled into Maya bay, which is famous for being used in the movie The Beach. Without a doubt, we could have easily spent the day relaxing there. The panoramic view, bright blue water, and sheer amount of beach space are hard to not appreciate.
After some lunch, we did one last snorkeling session, witnessing numerous amounts of different fish along a reef. We even saw a tiger fish!
We made our way back to Ao Nang to finish the tour. But our group we weren't done just yet! The four of us jumped into a longtail boat for a private trip out to the ocean to take in the sunset followed by a short time with the bioluminescent plankton (unfortunately, we didn't get to see them quite as well as the pictures). Seriously, if you ever have the opportunity, take a boat out into the ocean off of Ao Nang Beach and bask in the sunset. Couldn't have asked for a better way to close out our adventures in Krabi.
Chiang Mai (10/04 - 10/06)
On Wednesday, we had an early rise to catch our flight up north to Chiang Mai. After some chill time in my apartment, we grabbed some extra shut-eye and met back up at Rock Me Burger - a Hard Rock-esque gourmet burger place. Without a doubt, having that western-styled food made us all feel a lot heavier as we'd really just been sticking to Asian cuisine up to this point.
The next day, we had another full day planned - this time with the tour group, Add Excited ATV. We took a ride up north to the Mae Rim area for an ATV ride. That trip took us up and around a few mountains which gave us some spectacular views of the surrounding area. After lunch, we got to spend some time with....elephants! We fed them bananas and sugar cane and helped them cool off with a bath in the river. The younger elephant was hilarious to watch in the water - just like a little kid in the pool! Such a memorable experience spending time with large creatures we normally only see in zoos and circus shows. I would highly recommend donating your time to elephant reservations instead of elephant rides (which are disrespectful to both the animals and the local culture). It's clear that the elephants cared for in these reservations live comfortable, happy lives filled with love and care.
After we got back into Chiang Mai proper, we showered down and met up for dinner/drinks at Maya mall, taking in the scene on the rooftop. Afterwards, we headed out to a local gym for a Muay Thai fight. This event brought in several international fighters, including one from the USA (he won).
The final day of the trip, we ventured around local temples, markets, and restaurants - which, to me, are primary attractions of Chiang Mai. We capped off the trip with some drinks/pool at Zoe in Yellow and Living Room bar.
Again, I was really looking forward to spending time with my American friends, venturing around Thailand. We made some great memories and learned a lot about the local culture, leaving everyone thirsty for more.
In all, I think that visiting Bangkok, Krabi, and Chiang Mai provided us with a diverse, but encapsulating, experience within Thailand. There's something for everybody here and I was so glad I could share it with some close buds.