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Madison, WI, USA
Last updated 10/2/2012
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Country Recap: Thailand

Way back when we were planning our trip, we knew that we wanted to spend a lot of time in Thailand. It’s known as one of the best spots in the world for independent travel. Our experiences certainly met, maybe even exceeded, our expectations. This was a difficult country to recap, not only because we spent so long here, but because we had such a great time.

Top three experiences?


  1. Scuba diving in the Andaman Sea.
  2. Celebrating New Year’s on the beach in Koh Lipe.
  3. Seeing the ruins in Ayutthaya.


  1. Diving in the Andaman Sea.
  2. Ayutthaya. Walking around in these ruins, we got the sense of how impressive this city used to be, and how a mere 400 years can change things so profoundly.
  3. Ko Mook, especially the Emerald Cave. Plus, with the surprise snorkel trip we got out of the ferry ride, it was a great day.

Bottom three experiences?


  1. Ko Phi Phi. It was almost impossible to find a place to stay and the town was just filled with obnoxious teenagers.
  2. Dealing with transportation in Bangkok. The metro and skytrain are nice, but they don’t go to the main tourist areas. Boats are useful, but obviously they’re limited to the waterways. The buses are hard to figure out and all vehicles get stuck in traffic. Motorbike taxis can dodge the cars, but are dangerous. And walking, even if it is the fastest way, is very unpleasant with the broken sidewalks, traffic, heat, and car fumes.
  3. The cheesiness of Pai.


  1. Ko Phi Phi. Okay, the area around the village was beautiful, but the atmosphere itself sucked, and even if we did go to The Beach beach, it would have been overrun with hungover Australians in Chang singlets.
  2. Getting our Chinese visas. We waited in line outside the consulate for two hours, inside another hour, then five days to pick it up.
  3. Being sick in Chiang Mai. Not fun at all.

Best meal?

Nikki: Thai food is incredible! I really can’t pick out one particular meal, but I guess if I have to, I’ll say the pad thai in the night market in Ayutthaya.

Brad: Too difficult to decide! The food was amazing, whether from a roadside cart, a shopping mall food court, or a restaurant. I’d have to say the chicken and rice dish I had at the Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok. The rice and the chicken were both unbelievably good for some reason.

Worst meal?

Nikki: Not many bad meals. Had a pretty bad fried rice dish, but I can’t remember exactly where that was.

Brad: Although the mall food courts here are generally very good, I did choose a let-down in Bangkok for lunch one day: cold, tasteless curry. Worse was that Nikki’s lunch looked really good.

Favorite person we met?

Nikki: This is also almost impossible to answer, because we’ve met so many great people. I’m going to say May, because she was so kind and interesting and she gave us a free ride to Khao Sok.

Brad: Tough question. I’ll say May from the dive boat, who offered to drive us up to Khao Sok. We learned a lot about Thailand from her.

Worst disaster?

Nikki: No major problems, thankfully. When we first landed in Chiang Mai, our hotel told us they didn’t have a room for us, even though we had made a booking. We were really mad, but then they called the cab driver about fifteen minutes later and said they actually did have a room for us.

Brad: Being sick in Chiang Mai. It started as just a very clogged up nose traveling to Chiang Mai, but the day after I had a fever and the chills, and spent most of the day sleeping. We did go out briefly, and it was a complete disaster. I started feeling tired, and when we started heading back, my sandal strap broke, so I walked back several blocks with one foot bare. But then I didn’t watch where I was stepping with that foot, and landed right in a big pile of dog crap! That was one of the worst days of the trip so far. Fortunately I felt much better the next day.

Favorite place we stayed?

Nikki: The Jolly Frog in Kanchanaburi. Cheap, clean, great people, and a nice lawn by the river.

Brad: The 7 Century guest house in Chiang Mai. It was just a simple room, but it was very cheap and in a great location.

Worst place we stayed?

Nikki: The rafthouse in Khao Sok. Beautiful views, but I don’t enjoy swarms of mosquitos and bathing out of a bucket.

Brad: Ko Phi Phi. We almost didn’t have a room at all, until Sven, a Belgian, told us about a room for three. We overpaid for the dingy, small, and dirty room, and it was loud all night long. The worst part was Sven’s backpack. He was hardly in the room, but his backpack was emitting the most horrid stench imaginable. We had to keep the room’s door open to get the smell out.

Best thing we didn’t blog about?

Nikki: Seeing the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok. It was very cool, though much smaller than I thought it would be.

Brad: Phang Nga Bay. Cruising around in the mangrove swamp and between sheer rock cliffs was great.

Weirdest thing?

Nikki: While we were eating dinner in Trang, a man with an elephant walked in. You could pay him money to take a picture with the elephant or to feed it. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure what’s more weird: an elephant just wandering in or the fact that I didn’t even mention it in my post about Trang. Man, am I getting jaded.

Brad: The longtail boats. They look like homemade mechanical monstrosities, and yet it’s the standard for getting around on the water in Thailand. The propeller is teen feet behind the boat and swinging through the air half of the time. I imagined bringing one of these to Lake Mendota, but it probably would be illegal because it’s too loud and dangerous.

Statistics for Thailand

  • Days in the country: 47
  • Days in Bangkok: 11
  • Places we stayed: 18
  • Rainy days: 2
  • Blog posts: 9
  • UNESCO World Heritage sites visited: 1
  • Photos taken: 1167
  • Photos uploaded to SmugMug: 354, 30% of all photos taken
  • Geocaches found: 3
  • Scuba dives: 13
  • Islands visited: 6
  • Hours on bus, train, or ferry: 55
  • Plane flights: 1
  • Pairs of sandals Brad broke: 2
  • Pairs of sunglasses Nikki broke: 2

Statistics for the Trip

  • Countries visited: 6
  • Days on the road: 166
  • Places we stayed: 79
  • Rainy days: 30
  • UNESCO World Heritage sites visited: 9
  • Photos taken: 6009
  • Photos uploaded to SmugMug: 1353, 23% of all photos taken
  • Geocaches found: 6
  • Scuba dives: 27
  • Hours on bus, train, or ferry: 171
  • Plane flights: 8
  • Countries we’ve eaten McDonald’s in: 6 (100%)

4 comments to Country Recap: Thailand

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