Tourist Thailand

Peace Corps Volunteers see a side to Thailand that few non-Thais see. Thailand is known to the western world for its beautiful beaches, the somewhat risqué Bangkok nightlife, and the mountain views in Chiang Mai. Most of my posts are not about those things because that’s not what my life is usually like here. This next series of posts, ‘Tourist Thailand,’ however, will be about just that. This set of blogs will be more useful to the average visitor to Thailand because that’s what I got to be for a little while. It was marvelous.

I blended well enough with the other foreigners and could get boatloads of western food for once, but I could use my particular set of Thai skills to be set apart (and reap the benefits) when I so chose. Again, it was marvelous. Thais who are farang-weary love a Thai speaking one, even if it was the simplest of things I said.  So this is my official ‘try to learn a little of the local language’ bit and you’ll find your travel experience improving. In Thailand, I would guarantee it.

So here’s looking ahead so you can expect what’s coming and the things I’ll be covering:
Khao Yai
Chiang Rai
Chiang Mai

A cultural and general things I think are valuable to know will also be attached somewhere in the series.  The first half will also have Saturday videos to accompany them.

And if you think I let my Mom off easy and just let her be a tourist, think again.

Yeah, she's badass

Yeah, she’s badass

Where I’ll Be and Travel Updates

Get ready Thailand, Momma Coop is taking wings from the U.S. for a visit! I’ll be leaving site to pick her up and have a three-week circular route planned for us. After that I’ll be taking another week’s vacation to prepare for the final Thai language test by hanging out at my old site in central Thailand before the close of service conference!! Craziness! I’ve prepared some things so that posts will still be appearing on here through November, but if I don’t respond to comments right away, this is why. I’m extremely excited to go to Northern Thailand (if you couldn’t tell) and to hang out with my Mom for the first time in 22 months! I’m hoping to take lots of videos and some on-site vlogs, so be on the lookout for those when I get back in early December.

I have one more prerecorded video after this and then we go into, shall we say, reruns. More like other videos I like, but you get the picture.

Let’s Check Out Paradise

Finally, the recap video of the fantastical Koh Chang! Such a short time there, I wish we had scheduled a few more days. Koh Chang has it all with plenty of restaurants, shops, and natural attractions to keep you busy or taking a load off beach side. It’s a nice alternative if you don’t have time to go down to famed beaches of the south (fewer people too!). I’m hoping to go back and take in a yoga weekend and a trek into the jungle. Here is a small piece of my experience.

Photos from Koh Chang

As promised, here are some of my pictures from Koh Chang. It really is a stunning island paradise.

We went cosmic bowling in Surin. It was kind of like we were real people.

We couldn’t really figure out what this shop was in Janthaburi, but it was quite terrifying.

This is Jeff’s ‘our bus is two hours late, I’m hot, sticky and I hate traveling in Thailand’ face. I saw this expression a lot this trip.

Dogs on the island were a lot more farangish than regular Thai dogs. Look at this pathetic lug.

The line of bungalows at Hat Sai Inn, a good bargain at 500 baht a night for AC, satellite TV, free wifi, a short walk to the beach and very clean.

Walking down the street… oh hey monkey hanging from the electrical lines. That’s normal.

All that uncomfortable travel was worth this view.

But maybe not so much for views like this… whoever told this guy his color was green was definitely greng-jaing the Buddha out of him.

Suddenly it makes a lot a of sense why these trees are called buttress roots.

A jaw-dropping view-point at the top of one of the mountains on Koh Chang. Doesn’t do it justice.

One of the beach creatures.

Not a bad backdrop.

Americans have garden gnomes. Thai people have fat rabbit women singing opera. Or is she just raising the roof?

The awesome Klong Phrao waterfall in the background of this eye-catching flower (and bee)

I like one because not only do you get the crab, but a peek at the mountain behind it too.

It was hard to leave this behind.

I’ve been a little sick from these weird pus-filled bug bites this past week. I’ll be back on the blogging train soon!

It’s Like Christmas in July!

I’ve had a countdown. The thought of it kept me going through multiple English camps and teacher trainings. Pure, pure beauty. Vacation here I come!

Going to the beach in Thailand is like walking into a screen saver. My first beach trip, my eyes could hardly believe what they were seeing. These are the images most people tend to come up with when they hear Thailand, rather than the rice fields, water buffalos, and rabid dogs chasing you down that is my real home. Here’s the rundown of where I’m going/why there won’t be more in-depth posts for a few weeks.

Friday 7/6: Make my way to Surin. Though it’s a mere 200ish kms, it’ll likely take me a good portion of the day with all the three different vehicles taking me. Jeff has promised me a beer and a burger upon my arrival.
Saturday 7/7: Make our way to Trat or Chantaburi. It’s not supposed to be a very long ride (threeish hours), but that depends on what kind of mood Thailand is in.
Sunday-Tuesday 7/8-10: Beach Bunnies. We’ve discussed the need for margaritas and pizza while watching some waves. I’m hoping for some more snorkeling.
Wednesday 7/11: Make our way to the sweaty ball sack that is Bangkok and meet up with some other Volunteers.
Thursday 7/12: The first activity for the fiftieth anniversary of Peace Corps Thailand… an open house at the American Ambassador’s house. Um, what?
Friday 7/13: The big shebang, I get to see the one of the Thai princesses AND was chosen to be part of the group that takes a picture with her. Given that all photographs of royalty are strictly monitored, I feel like I’m in a little piece of history. No big deal. All returned PCVs that served in Thailand are invited to attend as well and I’m both excited and nervous to do a little networking with them.
Saturday-Wednesday 7/14-18: Visit my old site and friends in Uthai Thani. They’ve been asking me for months to come for a long visit, so I decided since I would already be in Bangkok for the 50th celebrations, I should make the trip. My mind is comparing it to the summer visits I would make to my Aunt and Uncle’s house in the ‘country’ (at least compared to Pittsburgh) where there wasn’t a whole lot to do, but you get a lot of reading and sleeping done. Perfect end to a vacation if you ask me.

Tuesday Travel Photo

The English camp marathon is finished. The weekend is in sight. After that is a mere four days until vacation to the beach. That glimmer of sunshiny goodness is helping me pull through. While I’m not in Koh Chang yet, my thoughts are turned to other prime beach locations like Costa Rica (at Jeff’s suggestion). After the past four days, a little bungalow on the beach is exactly where I want to be this moment.