Thailand: from busy metropolis to quiet oasis

Thailand was one of our few mini/honey moons. It was a welcomed break after having a wedding for relatives abroad which we felt obliged to do as a dutiful son and daughter in law.

We were afraid Thailand would be too crowded and touristy so it was a pleasant surprise that we enjoyed it more than expected.

Top row: various shots on Long Beach. Middle left: beachside dining at Thai Cat. Middle right: curry from Uncle O. Bottom row: Snorkelling day trip; note the queue of people waiting to board other boats near the end of the day.

For our beach getaway, we picked Ko Lanta, a small island near Krabi which takes about 3 hours to get to in the car and via a car ferry. It’s a bit of a journey compared to other more accessible beaches but that is probably why the island wasn’t too crowded. In fact, there weren’t many tourists at all even though we went in early December.

We stayed near Long beach which was known for shallow waters and being family friendly. Whilst the beaches weren’t the most clear or turquoise we’ve ever seen, there is nothing more relaxing than swimming in the sea, beachside dining, followed by a massage on the beach and drifting to sleep listening to the sound of waves. The restaurants were fairly empty and we enjoyed dining at Thai Cat so much that we went there twice.

We booked a day trip on one of the more luxurious boats to take us out for snorkelling. The boat stopped about three times where guests can jump off and snorkel. Twice, the boat was quite far out from shore and the water was quite deep and a bit rough. We could see some tiny fish but nothing extraordinary. Certainly not compared to the last time I was in Phuket more than 15 years ago.

The last stop was at a remote beach where all the tour boats seem to stop so there is a bit of a crowd. The water has been sectioned off so there was only a limited area where we could snorkel. Sadly, the closer we were to the shore, the more coral bleaching we saw. Although we’ve watched the documentary “Chasing Coral” and understand what has been happening to coral reefs around the world, this was the first time that we saw it close up. The impact of climate change has never been more visible.

Top left: breakfast at Marriott Queen’s Park. Top right: fruit stall at Chatuchak market. Bottom left: durian stall at Or Tor Kor fruit market. Bottom right: beautiful book store in an upscale shopping mall.

We also stopped at Bangkok for a couple days. The city has a great combination of luxury and affordable hedonistic pleasures. We splurged to stay at Marriott Queen’s Park after a quick Google suggested that the hotel has one of the best buffet breakfasts in Bangkok. It did indeed live up to expectations. We were spoiled with choice – the buffet had everything including an egg station, waffle station, fresh juice station, fruit station, Indian food, dim sum, continental food, roasted meat. Though that didn’t stop some of us from consuming the cheap eats such as congee.

We did the usual touristy things in Bangkok. Chatuchak market was impressively massive; apparently it’s the biggest in Asia. We only spent a few hours there as it was extremely hot but we were happy with our purchase of an elephant painting from a local artist which now sits nicely in our new home. After visting Chatuchak market, we headed to Or Tor Kor fruit market nearby where we bought many packets of dried mango as souvenirs.

We enjoyed the combination of beaches, Thai food and affordable luxuries so much that we joke about moving there. But until then, we will certainly be back!