Part I of travelling in Thailand (about Bangkok and Ayutthaya) is here.
Elephants are must-see in Thailand, aren’t they? Thai people adore elephants, so they put everywhere statues or drawings of elephants, called Chang in the local language (like the popular Chang beer). But how can one spend time with elephants responsibly? I chose to visit the Wildlife Friends Association of Thailand in Petchaburi. The centre does a wonderful job in rescuing mistreated pets and wild animals, provide medical attention and prepare them to be released back to the wild. Apart from elephants, there are a lot of other animals like gibbons, bears, a crocodile and cute beavers. There you can take a (either half- or full-day) tour around the centre, learn about the animals and their life there from volunteers, but most importantly feed and wash an elephant. The centre pays attention so that the visitors interact minimum time with the elephants; most of the time only observation is allowed. Together with the big animals, a lot of chickens roam around, who are conveniently eating whatever the monkeys drop to the ground.
Pattaya is a resort city by the sea, with Pattaya beach having a wide nightlife district and Jomtien beach having all the luxury residencies. The city is popular of having one of the largest red-light districts in the world, the Pattaya walking street. You can find various bars there, offering live music, sex shows, club dancing and a lot of drinking. The most popular attraction is Boyz town, aka the gay district. I was surprised by the amount of foreign visitors as well as with the variety of the shops; Japanese, Indian, Arabic, Russian, European, any kind of entertainment style was available. Apparently, people come to find love in this city, especially at the paved side walk next to the seashore. Despite its obscurity as a destination, Pattaya seemed to be popular for family trips as well. Apart from nightlife, there are some sightseeing spots, like the Sanctuary of Truth, where you can walk around the half-finished temple and see woodcarvers in action, and a floating market.
Ko Samed is a small island, just 45 minutes away from the mainland, in the case of the slow boat. Generally a weekend destination for young university students and a hot destination for Chinese tourists, it offers a tropical island alternative if you don’t have enough time to visit the main island resorts in the South. Ko Samed is a small island, were everything is walking distance. You can wake up late, lazily eat a big breakfast and casually stroll to the beach. The island has wonderful bungalow houses and the coastline is covered by juxtaposed restaurants, cafes and beach bars. A popular attraction of the island is the night fire shows at the sea side offered by the restaurants. Most of the island is located inside a nature protection zone and as a result an entrance fee is required. Additionally, the usage of plastic bags and packaging is banned inside that zone. There are around 10 beaches on the island, out of which my personal favourites are Ao Phao, Ao Tubtim and Ao Phai. The main beach of Sai Kaew is usually packed with tourists and it’s better to avoid it. The closer you get to the island’s southern tip, the less crowded the beaches become. Due to the lack of nets and other kind of markers, speed boats can come all the way next to where you are swimming to drop off or pick up travellers, so it’s better to choose less crowded beaches if you want to enjoy the water in peace. If you want to relax, drink smoothies, eat delicious seafood, enjoy fresh fruits and do absolutely nothing, Ko Samed is ideal for you.
After all those wonderful experiences, I returned to Bangkok, stayed one more night at the China town to enjoy duck with noodles, and took the flight back to Japan. It took me another week to recuperate from the trip, but it was worth it. All in all, Thailand is an easy introduction to travelling in Asia and that’s the reason why it is constantly one of the hottest tourist destinations worldwide. I will probably visit again in order to have the whole picture, this time to the islands in Phuket (even though Maya beach is not accessible any more).
Have you ever been to Thailand? What did impress you the most? Would you go again? Tell me in the comments below!
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