Some time back, a whole lot of us went to Thailand. And understandably, it raised a lot of eyebrows within our immediate social circles. Since it was an official tour, our parents were afraid that we’d mix business with pleasure. J Even today, we get questions with a wink, “So how was it?”, which we reciprocate with an equally suggestive wink, “Not bad at all!” J
Someone once said, ”Go to Heaven for the view and to Hell, for the company”. We clearly did not have a purpose for the trip but I must say, we got what we were looking for J . Thailand, in my opinion, is perfect for a holiday: It’s beautiful, very cost effective, very safe, with friendly people and for the shopaholic, Thailand offers some really mean bargains. Also, Bangalore is well connected to Thailand - there’s a daily 1230 AM flight to and a 1130 PM flight back from Bangkok- so you can leave after dinner and be back before breakfast J .Visa is on arrival, which is a fairly simple process, and it’s very easy going about in Bangkok via bus, taxi and the metro (superlike!). Our trip consisted of two days in Bangkok and two days in Pattaya and the highlights were the beach, shopping and the night life.
Now I’m a beach person - I simply love the beach. There’s nothing that gives me more pleasure than to sit on an easy chair, kick up my naked feet on a stool and laze around by reading a book looking at the sun setting into the sea. Never in my life had I seen the ocean so blue set against the sun shining so bright and the sand running so smoothly between my toes. The sun covers you in a cozy warmth and you can feel the warm waves caress your feet as you lie by the shore. And add a cold chilled beer to tickle your taste buds and it is an experience that is nothing short of heaven. Also for the adventure seeker, there are various options like para gliding, speed boating and underwater walks (see pic). And there is an inexplicable thrill of walking by the beach; as I walked by the waves, my mind was filled with various random thoughts about me, my life and many other grandiose thoughts. It was so soothing and relaxing and all you see around are people who are just happy and having fun: children building sand castles, couples holding hands, friends having fun: no wonder this place is known as ‘the land of the smiles’ . J
On bargain shopping in Thailand, consider that the Thai currency, the baht, is comparable to the Indian rupee in purchasing power (1 Bhat = 1.5 Indian rupee, the last time I checked). Most of the bargains can be found in the night markets or the streets of Bangkok; however if you don’t want to walk around a lot, you could find a lot of stuff at the huge shopping mall called MBK. The beauty of MBK is that you have everything under one roof though is slightly over priced. In our case, since we all had a heavy late lunch, we all decided to take a long walk and we all walked away from the MBK mall, with no particular destination in mind, guided towards all the lights and sounds and on the way, we found many street shops that we realized were put up only in the evenings; it was here that we got some amazing bargains on cotton clothes, souvenirs and knick knacks. We just kept walking and whenever we got tired, we’d take the sky train and go the opposite direction and then start walking again in some other random direction. Finally when we were sufficiently lost, sufficiently tired and had sufficiently shopped , we took a cab back to our hotel. Thailand is known for jewels and rare stones, but make sure you buy it from the authorized jewelers. Also recommended for the buying list is clothes. And some heavy duty bargaining. You have got to bargain here big time! An interesting suggestion which a successful shopaholic passed on to me was to always smile when bargaining with the shopkeepers; it almost always works in reducing the prices!!
Thailand is known for its night life (Ya baby ya!!! J). You have pubs and bars that are open till the wee hours of the morning. In fact, the day starts in the evening there. In Pattaya, the night life is centered around a mile long stretch called the Walking Street. Vehicles are banned here and all you do here is, well, just walk J . On this little stretch of road, you have hotels, shops, bars, pubs but what really makes it truly amazing is that, in this street, you see people from all over the world – Indians, Europeans, Americans, Japanese, Arabs…you name it, they’re there. My friends and I used to play this game where we tried to guess which country people were by observing their mannerisms. What makes things even more interesting is also that there are a lot of women who entice you into buying them a drink at the nearby bar. A lady dragged my friend to the nearby bar and he had to buy her drinks, but it’s all done so playfully that it’s all in good fun and humor. The thai food is delicious though I’m a big fan of the American cheeseburger and cold beer. The people are very warm and friendly and you are almost always usually welcomed with their greeting known as “Sawadee”, the thai equivalent of the Namaste. Almost everyone speaks English so we had no problems in communication. We had a ball of a night and reached back to our hotel room at 5 in the morning.
They say that no one realizes how beautiful a trip was until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow. On reaching home, our minds, hearts and souls were filled with the sights, sounds and smells of that marvelous beach city, Thailand. The purpose of our trip was nothing and we were more than happy with it.
The trip to Bangkok was 'terrible' as even after we've left the place, the place hasn't left us...memories of that amazing place still lingers and haunts us even today. I stand testimony to how great that place is: I have been going to Thailand every October for the last three years now. Amazing Thailand.
Waiting for October.
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