Last year, my childhood friend, Melissa, and I decided to take our first giant leap out of the States, and landed in the irresistible country of Italy. This year, we decided to go a little more outdoorsy and made the long trek to Thailand! For almost two weeks we roamed to Bangkok, Khao Sok National Park, Koh Samui, and Koh Tao. If I told you everything about my trip, we would have to grab a coffee, so I'll just highlight my favorites..
2. The Weekend Market was a blast. Test your haggling skills here, and you won't be disappointed! Melissa and I knocked out all of our souvenir and gift shopping here. We were very happy campers.
3. Tuk-tuks are one of the most practical and common modes of Thai transportation in Bangkok. WARNING: If you have a heart condition, you may have a heart attack! It was a thrill in itself, and we loved negotiating the price of the rides.
4. If you need a good massage, your prayers have been answered. For $15, you can get a glorious 1 hour massage.. I am one chick who loves a bargain! Our first massage was a traditional Thai massage, which at times became very painful. For our second round, we went with an oil massage at a nice spa called Urban Retreat. We found this type of massage to be a much more pleasant experience!
5. Thai iced coffee is made to perfection.
Khao Sok National Park
2. As if we weren't sweating enough, we got some good exercise at the National Park. There are only waterfalls in the rainy season, so we didn't get to see any, but it was a nice nature hike through the sky-high bamboo.
1. One of the best days on the entire trip was when a small group of us went to Ang Thong National Marine Park. It was an all-day tour that took a boat out to the surrounding islands of Koh Samui. It felt incredible to finally reach the beaches. As soon as we arrived, we ran straight into the turquoise water.
2. The scenery is way too mezmorizing to not go kayaking. I had been canoeing before, but this was my first time on a kayak, and it is a great sport. If we weren't pressed for time, I would have loved to chill in one for hours. We paddled from one island to another where the boat picked us up to head back to the mainland. To cap the day off, we were allowed to jump off the second story of the boat. I would never say 'no' to that!
3. Our guide took us to a beach side dinner one night, which was very touristy of us. Our table was literally right next to the water, and the outdoor decorative lighting made the atmosphere perfect.
4. One thing I really wanted to do was to go on an elephant ride. Elephants have extremely tough skin, and very straggly course hair, so to touch is very rough. Elephants also have a love for bananas, so we fed them a potassium-filled breakfast! Our elephant driver decided at one point to get off the elephant and let us ride in his place. It was pretty exciting, but terrifying at the same time.
1. We were in Koh Tao for Songkran, or Thai New Year, which they take VERY seriously. Since April is their hottest month of the year, Thailand celebrates with an enormous water fight. The whole beach was drunk and soaked all day. Adults and children were armed with water guns and buckets, and giant barrels were filled with water at every street corner. The more you expressed that you didn't want to get wet, the more drenched you got, so you just had to let go, accept it, and join in on the fun! Koh Tao has a water restriction, so it only lasted for one day, but in Bangkok it lasts for the whole weekend, and some northern parts even extend it for an entire week.
2. A group of us got a taxi boat to take us over to the nearby island, Nangyuan, so we could go scuba diving. For the day, we rented a mask and snorkel for less than $6 US, which was great so we didn't have to buy them. We saw so many cool things! Sea cucumbers covered the floor, so we were really nervous about stepping on them. Floating in shallow water I didn't expect to see a lot, but there were interesting looking fish everywhere! I named one the 80's fish because its colors were bright blue, pink, and yellow, just like from 'Saved By the Bell.' I also couldn't get over the size of the fish.. they were just HUGE!
3. Scuba diving got me antsy for my first dive! At Scuba Junction we got to go on two dives for only $60 US. It took about 4 hours, and they were really great. We took a boat out to Nangyuan, and went through all the basics, and 'just-in-case' emergency procedures in shallow water until everyone was comfortable. Most of the instructors moved to the island just to dive and become an instructor here. It was such a neat experience! I would like to find myself in a place to dive again in the future.
I'm a planner, but when I'm in an unfamiliar place, it's so much easier to go with the flow. It makes me at ease and patient.. a couple of traits that I struggle with at home. Thai people live such a simple life, and you realize how spoiled we are and all the things we take for granted. It's amazing to introduce your eyes to the way other people in the world live and thrive. I strongly encourage you to explore. A new friend on our tour told me that sometimes you have to take risks because life is more beautiful.. you see more. I plan on seeing A LOT more!