A like…Ayutthaya, an anciently rich and very prosperous city. Today you can find many old vestiges, amongst which the very famous statue head in the tree. That was for me, the place where I learnt to trust random people. This really sweet girl came up to me and proposed to take me around for the day. After insisting I had no money to give and her telling me she was happy to practice her English, I went along… and to this day, I still have her on Facebook. She had even made a funny cute photo montage of us (very Asian style).
B like… Drinking Bukets on Khao San road, in Bangkok, for more or less 200 Baht on Saturday night! Although Buddha would not agree… Anyway, it will prepare you for the craziness of a free Thai Boxing game, on Sunday afternoons, at the Channel 7 boxing stadium. Going there, I was so overwhelmed by everything going on, that I spent more time observing the crowd yelling out their bets, than watching the actual boxing.
C like…Cooking classes where you can learn some Thai specialties, like their famous and amazing Curries, red, green, yellow or massaman. You can take courses all over the country, whether it’s for a day or a week, choice is pretty large. I did it at the Basil cookery school, in Chiang Mai and it was so much fun and really delicious (I still make my own Pad thai!). However, none of their famous Chang beer with the meal.
D like…Diving! It’s probably one of the top 5 activities to do in Thailand. You have some really beautiful spots and some very cheap places to dive (unfortunately, one doesn’t usually go with the other…). Koh Tao is very famous for its cheap diving, the island has around 70 diving schools. For me it was such a great discovery! I started only because it was cheap and thought it would be cool to have some sort of diving diploma, it can always be useful. I enjoyed it so much that I did my Open Water and my advanced course (2 first diving levels) and it’s been so far one of my favourite experiences.
E like…Elephants! One of the greatest creatures on this planet. Smart, funny, emotional, elephants are incredible creatures and Thailand is a place you can see them close up. Chiang Mai is the most famous for that, but you can see them all over the country, as long as you go in an elephant friendly place. Never go Elephant trekking, or go see them play football or paint, it’s so bad for them. Favour places where you don’t ride them, but spend quality time with them, like in Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai or ElephantsWorld in Kanchanaburi.
F like… the most famous beach party in the world, the Full Moon party!! We went there with veeeery low expectations, because of all the terrible stories we had heard. You’re going to get robbed, drugged, get in a fight they said. We actually had an amazing night and made the most of the FireShOw along the beach, like the good Farang (white person/foreigner) that we are.
G like... the Grand palace of Bangkok, beautiful but often overcrowded, is the current dynastic seat of the Chakri house. Indeed, the royal family of the Kingdom of Thailand, per the country’s full name, with at it’s head the King Maha Vajiralongkorn, is highly important and respected. Anyone convicted of insulting the king, queen, heir, regent or even their pets, can faces up to 15 years in prison…
H like… the life saver Ham&Cheese tosty at 7/11 you’ll buy at 4am because you drunk way too much Hong Tong…!
I like… all the amazing Islands (koh in thai) you can visit. Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Koh Chang, Koh Samet, Koh Kut, Koh Lipe… There probably is an island for each day of the year and they all have their own specialities, whether it’s diving, snorkelling, partying, visiting, volunteering or just to get some peace and quiet.
J like… aaaaaaaaaallll the fresh Juices or delicious shakes you soak up every day. When it gets that hot, a big watermelon freshly cut and mixed, full of ice, just feels like the best thing ever!
K like… the famous Bridge of the river Kwai, in Kanchanaburi. It’s nice and full of history, and there is a film based out of it, but nooot really sure why it’s such an attraction… on the other hand, the Erawan waterfalls are pretty sweet.
L like… when your friends get pulled into a Lady boy cabaret show, to get transformed and do the show. Soooo funny!! It’s scary how sometimes you just can’t tell… The interesting thing is that, it’s kind of accepted but not really… Katoys, Lady boys in Thai, are the waiters in the restaurants, the hostesses in the hotels, the cashiers in the shops… which we don’t have the habit of else where. But the most interesting stays the cabaret shows!
M like… obviously like Massage! Thailand is worldwide known for its large variety of massages… Thai massage, oil massage, beach massage, Happy ending massage…
N like… the extraordinarily generous Nature. I remember the first time I went to Thailand, on the way out of Bangkok, I was just amazed by the richness, the density and the variety of it; it felt so great. The animals, the islands, the jungles, the jungles on the islands… Thai Nature is always a magnificent spectacle.
O like... the Safran Orange of the Monks robes. Buddhism being such an important part of the Thai culture, it is really interesting to observe Buddhist Offering rituals or ceremonies, like the very early morning alms, where you will see monks walking around and people usually offering food.
P like…Ping Pong show on Patong street in Phuket or better said, one of the worst things in Thailand. I’m not usually very emotional, but after 5 min, I was so grossed out by everyone finding it so funny, that I left the show and cried for 15 min, asking myself what physical and psychological state one must be in to do that.
Q like… the Quantity of BS boys, Thai or Burmese, will give you just to get a smile out of you… They know what they want and they’ve learnt how to get it! And you’ll realize you’ve fallen for it, when you’ve already fallen for it…!
R like… All the Rice you are going to eat at every meal. Rice soup for breakfast, fried rice for lunch and Mango sticky rice, the absolute best, for desert.
S like… driving your Scooter like crazy, cause that’s the cheapest way to get around. Avoiding to take it onSongkran (the Buddhist new year, one of the most important Buddhist celebrations), cause you would get soaking wet by people throwing buckets of water at you. At the end of the day, it would be pretty much same same anyway, since you’d be wet from the heat and humidity.
T like…Tattoo and the thousands of places you can get one. You can get a machine tattoo, but the speciality in Thailand is to get a bamboo tattoo. If you take it even further, you can get a sak yant bambootattoo, which is a protective tattoo given by monks in specific temples.
U like... Up to you! One of their favourite expressions in English, along with « same same but different ». After a taxi ride in Kanchanaburi, the driver gave me his card. It listed all the places he could take you to: the waterfalls, the bridge, the temple and… Up to you. I found it pretty funny.
V like…Volunteering because it is, most of the time, so enriching. I volunteered in an Elephant sanctuary, but you have all possible kinds of places (schools, monasteries, animal care centres, etc.). You can get to live with locals, learn about the culture and get the experience of a lifetime. For sure you’ll end up by falling for it somehow…
W like…Wat, Wat Pho, Wat Rong Khun, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Arun, Wat Mahatha and the list has about 40,000 other beautiful Buddhist temples. Take your shoes off, your hat, your sunglasses, cover your shoulders, your legs and enjoy the gems of history.
X like…Xingxung xan maixun kunxun… that’s how the National Anthem will sound to you. The Thai National Anthem is played every day at 8am and 6pm. It is played on every TV, radio station, school, most public places, like government buildings, parks, metro via loud speakers. Try to find yourself at 8am in a bus station and suddenly see everything and everyone stop whatever they are doing to sing to the music and look at you with big black eyes because you have no idea what is happening. As a westerner, it is important to behave humbly and politely and respect local customs and traditions.
Y like... Yoga retreats or meditation retreats or yoga and meditation retreats, which you have all over the country. From the 3h monk chat & meditation, to the 1 week Yoga course on a beautiful island, to the 10 day spiritual (and silent) exile in a Buddhist temple.
Z like… when you’re going to feel like in a Zoo in Bangkok, with all the people, the cars, the noise, the dirt, the smells, the food, Zig-zaging through the Chatuchak market on Sunday and that’s all the charm of this crazy city!