Travelling brings out abnormal within us. The day we decided to visit Thailand, I turned into a hyper mode. The destinations were chosen after much deliberation and several hours of searching for anything starting with TOP TEN on the world wide web. Finally, we decided on Bangkok and Ao Nang beach on Southern West coast of Krabi. So, with luggage large enough to fit a dead body and a camera big enough to swing the shoulder like Amitabh Bachchan, we started for our much awaited Holiday.
For a first time traveler, Thailand is a like a roller coaster ..it is the land of diverse nature in any form despite its growing reputation for offering many of the frills of the developed world at a fraction of the price. It renders smiles, beauty, craziness, sleaze and pure uninhibited fun. Rain forest, tropical islands, steamy cities, mountains, monsoons, coral reef, elephants; Thailand packs a lot. Exotic islands on the fringes of both the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand have everything to offer which attracts travelers from across the world.
Bangkok is not a city that opens itself up easily, and most people spend just a day or two here before heading off to the islands. Having said that, Bangkok is more than just temples. We reached there on Saturday, and the first place we went to was the “Chatuchak Market“or popularly known as the Weekend Market. The first thing that strikes you is the variety of merchandise and the heterogeneity of the place, be it in the crowd or the eating joints. You’ll find everything and anything from authentic designer clothes to their fake counterparts to paintings to backpacks to antiques. Siam Niramit is a world class stage show depicting Thailand’s historical and spiritual heritage. The performers, costumes and sets are incredible and mesmerizing. The show has high production values and exceptional choreography and special effects. Safari world is a zoo for the people who don’t like zoos. Everybody turned into kids with Elephants, Dolphins, Birds and Orangutan’s Thai kick boxing show. It is a must for people travelling with kids. We also took a Cruise at the Chao Phraya river, a relaxing and beautiful experience that we totally enjoyed after a long day at the Safari World.
The place that captured my heart was the ruins of the ancient city of Ayutthaya. Crumbling Buddhas and half destroyed yet beautiful towers give evidence of what a majestic kingdom it would have been once before it was destroyed by Burmese invasion in the 18th century. You fascinatingly walk among blackened brick and plaster ruins, all reminders of the grandiosity of this once prosperous city. Buddha head overgrown by fig tree in Wat Mahatat, Ayutthaya Historical Park is incredible. One look at it and you feel a sense of peace and achievement. And yes this Buddha head entwined within the roots of a tree is one of the most recognizable images from Thailand.
After three days in Bangkok, we reached Ao Nang beach, Krabi. It has a relaxed atmosphere with exotic palm lined beach surrounded by large limestone headlands . You get comfort of a small town as you can easily stroll across the market along with the beach with live music, bars and wonderful eateries all over. The sunset there was one of the best I have ever seen. They offer day long trips to nearby islands by speed boats and long tail boats. Phi Phi island, Bamboo island, Maya Bay etc with white sand beaches were a treat to the eyes For the first time in my life I swam in a lagoon. It was one hell of an adventure as I don’t know swimming too well. No wonder other people started spreading to the corners, they might be disturbed with my clangorous sounds of excitement . The water was clear and blue and the scenery breathtaking, making it even more memorable. We did snorkeling too. Sun tanned and lost in the wonderful memories, that evening all we could do was to have dinner at a lovely restaurant “Jeseao” on the beach.
Elephant trek takes you along a river running through the camp and into the forest at the foot of a mountain in Krabi. Its an amazing experience. Her name was Pearl and she was walking so graciously in the shallow river that it took away all the initial anxiety of sitting on an elephant. We took some 100 odd photos of our kids just bathing and brushing a cheerful, energetic and unbelievably cute 6 year old baby elephant. We also went to Huay Tho waterfalls, which is perfect to relax by taking a cool dip in the lush green tropical surroundings. We had an amazing time enjoying a slower pace of life with no phone calls and worldly admonition.
It’s not a holiday well spent till you have covered as many attractions as possible and come back to the hotel with a back-ache, leg-ache, headache and shoulder ache. I had heard a quote that “People don’t take trips, trips take people.” To vibrant and busy Bangkok to beautifully shaded sky at Ao Nang, everything wanted me to live this delightful holiday forever. The perfect company made it a lifelong memory. Although we took twice the clothes and half the money needed, it was one of the most enduring vacation of my life.