Somehow we had to visit Thailand, we did not know exactly why. We had that feeling about something attracting us there and during the past months we got way too many signs from the Universe that pointed to Thailand.
Maybe it was just our imagination, however we decided to listen them and we are glad we made that choice. In fact, you might not need to understand the reason of everything in your life, just do it.
We have been just in some places in the southern Thailand, skipping crowded locations like Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket. Probably we may come back again to visit the Northern part of it, who knows. We are open to all the possibilities the world may offer to us.
For sure, initially we had not liked Thailand. We had a bad impression of it when we arrived in Krabi from Singapore. We were not used to all the people calling us to ride this, go there, buy that and in general everyone were "kindly inviting" us to their businesses.
Less than half of the people can speak or understand English properly, and this language barrier is not easy to face, initially. Also the prices of fruits were more than we expected, as many times sellers do not put the price label at all. So you do not know which is the real price and they are able to change it accordingly to the person they have in front.
Most of the times, tourist = infinite cash dispenser, and we do not look like locals for sure! Especially, this applies to transport where you can pay double or triple the normal price, without even knowing it.
In general, this is the aspect of Thailand we liked less. We prefer equality, even if we recognize that this is their way of earning money and they know tourists are an excellent source of it. The reason might be the difference in cost of life and wages, between Western countries and South East Asia.
As Thailand is much cheaper than those countries, people coming from there are capable of paying much more than a local Thai. That's the way it works, so we adapted. Sooner or later, you get to know the real price and a brief negotiation will be enough to pay the correct fair.
Koh Phangan, a different Thailand
Once we managed to deal with these first impressions, we started to appreciate Thailand, probably because we moved to Koh Phangan. A very attractive place for foreigners as there are many of them here. They either just visit the place or start their own business (restaurants, shops, etc.)
You can feel a good energy around, meet open minded people and find a strong community of yoga, veganism and spiritual stuff which we really appreciate. There, we felt like we want to live in a place like Koh Phangan. Because of Nature, simple life, climate, fruits and people, all this resonated with what we are looking for.
The only main con we found in 10 days so far was the presence of all those different parties in some areas of the island. The most famous is the Full Moon Party, that every month brings 10-30k visitors on Haad Rin beach. Hopefully these parties do not affect too much the life all over the place. We have not been there during the big party, so we are just supposing.
A courageous choice
In the beginning of our travels, we wanted to visit just non touristic places in order to experience the real life and culture of a country. Not the wisest choice we could have ever made, but at least we have truly seen the real Thai lifestyle. Even if at the beginning we have been in a place like Koh Phangan, which is quite touristic, later on we decided to experience other type of locations, like the province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phattalung and Songkhla.
The main concern was about the language barrier, as Thai alphabet is totally different and not easily translated using smartphones. In addition, as soon as you move away from main destinations, famous cities or places, the use of English by local people will drop dramatically until reaching almost 0!
Thanks to our Couchsurfing friends we managed to deal also with this situation. Kob khun kap Sherwin! Thank to your precious lessons, our life in Thailand was much easier! It also facilitated us discovering many good aspects about Thai people, especially towards the end of our journey there.
They do not care what is your religion, your ideals or your lifestyle. You can feel that freedom of being who you are and do whatever you want (of course without interfering with others' freedom). They do not impose their vision and ideas to you. This is what represents Thailand, at least in our minds. We felt in love with this "no rules world", where people manage to live peacefully all together anyway. Do not get us wrong, it is not an anarchy! Many aspects are strictly regulated by law and respected.
A pleasant discovery
If at the beginning we thought that they only take advantage of tourists, later on we realized that many locals like to help, to be gentle, to make gifts to everyone. Some of them are also so curious about other cultures that they try to speak with foreigners as much as they can. Unfortunately, usually they know just basic English and hence can't communicate properly.
Things can turn unexpected
The most intense moment when we felt total gratitude, kindness and love to people happened on one of our last days in Thailand, in Hat Yai. We have just bought some coconuts from our usual wet market, and decided to sit down where we saw an empty area, somehow nearby the sellers. From an external point of view it could mean nothing, but sometimes even common situations may bring unexpected results.
Two white people, sitting on the ground and eating coconut meat with bare hands, in total simplicity, may not be the usual thing locals are used to observe. Somehow, they perceived our openness and tranquility, that they started a conversation to us (but we could not understand anything) and at a certain point they offered us more free coconuts, bananas, a bottle of water and some jackfruit! We felt so thankful to everyone and it was a pity not being able to communicate with them.
Luckily, the next day we engaged our Couchsurfer friend to be the official translator, and it turned out much more funnier! Thank you Egemen for this experience!
Will we come back?
Eventually, we have been a bit sad leaving Thailand, wondering if we could ever experience such a freedom feeling back again. It is surprising how the first impressions may be different from a deeper observation.
In this moment, seems that the world is calling us to come back to Koh Phangan, and probably it will happen very soon!
Don't forget to check out our quick and easy pocket-guide of Thailand, to make your journey even smoother! Just click here: Travel in Thailand: a quick and easy guide.