I’m pretty sure every traveller has a small handful of countries that they constantly fantasize about visiting. There are a small handful of countries that every aspect of them appeals to you and you start a full on love affair with the country before even planning a trip in that direction. For me, Thailand is part of this group.
I started my love affair with Thailand when I about 10 years old. I’m not sure how it first came about. I want to say it spawned from when I first saw Brokedown Palace. How it started doesn’t matter, what does matter is that it did happened. After years and years of dreaming of gong to Thailand, I finally got the opportunity in early 2012. As soon as I found out I was going to Singapore to study for a semester, Thailand became the must-see place in the region. If I only could afford to visit one country in Southeast Asia, it was going to be Thailand. No questions asked. Within the 5 months I was living in Singapore I would end up in Thailand 3 separate times.
I can’t even begin to explain how giddy I was while sitting in the airport waiting to board the plane that was to take me to the country I had dreamed about for so long. The fact that I got the idea and planned the trip within the week was beside the point. The first trip to Thailand was to Krabi. We stayed around Railay Beach and didn’t make it out to Koh Phi Phi or any other island that is popular in the area since this was just a weekend trip and had to make it back to Singapore for class on Monday. But I got to experience some of the amazing things the area had to offer. I exhausted myself rock climbing, laid on a beautiful beach, ate amazing food, and climbed 1200+ steps to a temple. It was an incredible first impression of Thailand. I would be back in the country within a month.
My second trip to Thailand was for more than a weekend. My father came to visit me while living abroad. I showed him Singapore for the more than necessary 2 days and we grabbed a plane to Bangkok. I had always talked to my Dad about going to Thailand. It was near the top of his “To Travel” list as well. It only seemed appropriate to take a trip there together. We spent the next 5 days in and around Bangkok. I shopped at the markets, visited the temples, sped through Klongs, rode an elephant, floated down the river on a bamboo raft, took a train on the “Death Railway”, saw a Thai dance, and again ate some of the most amazing food just to name a few of the highlights. My Dad likes to get tattoos while abroad so getting a tattoo in Thailand was definitely on our list. I tend to get a new tattoo every 2 years and I was due for another as well. I was planning on getting a Dali elephant on my ribs but unfortunately the tattoo artist we talked to didn’t have time for both of us and since it meant so much more to my Dad to get a tattoo here, he got his and I passed. I would end up getting my nose pierced a few days after returning to Singapore instead. Overall, my second trip to Thailand was just as amazing as I expecting.
My third trip (and last as of this moment) to Thailand was actually my last journey in Southeast Asia. After hearing about the Full Moon Party that happens on Koh Phangan, I needed to check one out while I had the chance. So I took a plane to Bangkok from Ho Chi Minh City in the morning with a friend, booked a bus down to the island leaving that night, and waited for another friend to join us from Singapore. During this waiting time, I had one of the strangest realizations of my life. We went to a small restaurant near the train station for lunch and I ordered my favourite Thai dish, Cashew Chicken. As it was placed in front of me I thought, “Wow. What a perfect welcome home meal!” I have never lived in Thailand. I have never even spent more than 5 days in a row in Thailand. But I have a welcome home meal?! My love for this country is so great, I feel like it’s a home for me on no basis. Anyways, back to my third trip to Thailand. I arrived on Koh Phangan, thankfully seasick free, and enjoyed the typical Full Moon Party experience. The friends I went to Thailand with this time had to leave but I wanted to stay a few more days. So, I took a ferry over to Koh Samui to meet up with other friends for 2 more days of relaxing on the beach. I decided to spend a bit more money (about C$10) on a nice dinner of fresh BBQ king prawn for my last night in the country I’ve loved for so long.
That was it. My actualization of an 11 year love affair with Thailand was at an end. I left Koh Samui to catch a plane in Singapore to go home to Canada. Every single one of my trips to Thailand lived up to my expectations. I never got to Northern Thailand, which breaks my heart, but I know I will be back one day. My Thai love affair is not over… I don’t think it ever will be.