No matter how much other travelers see it as a tourist trap, Thailand is still one of my favorite countries. It has been seven months since I went home to the Philippines from living in Thailand for four months, and it always makes me nostalgic whenever I think back of the time I spent there.
The Incomparable Thai Food
What’s a visit to Thailand without appreciating its food? As a backpacker and budget traveler, I stuck to street food, and those are certainly the best in the world.
Three dishes stand out in my mind: som tam (papaya salad) which I usually ordered with grilled chicken, khao soy (chicken curry with dry egg noodles), and pad see ew (fried noodles). I took Thai cooking classes in Sangkhlaburi, but it really isn’t the same!
The Thais’ Rich Culture
If there’s one thing that Thais are very proud of, it’s that they have preserved their culture and have never been under foreign rule.
Most travelers to Thailand see only the Grand Palace in Bangkok, or perhaps the ones in Ayutthaya.
If I were to go back, I would definitely visit Sukhothai again, the Kingdom’s first capital. Some of its structures are in ruins, but there’s no mistaking the grandeur of this ancient city.
If you’re just traveling to Bangkok for a few days, visiting parks might not be in your itinerary. Having lived there, though, I appreciated all the more these pockets of fresh air in Bangkok, especially Lumpini Park.
Lumpini—named after the birthplace of Buddha in Nepal—is a 57-hectare park with all sorts of activities. There are outdoors sports (e.g., running, biking, gym equipment), community exercises every day (Zumba from 4pm to 6pm), and a huge lake where you can go boating or just chill around in. As a bonus, a lot of monitor lizards patrol the banks for prey!
Mostly, though, I just went to Lumpini to play with the street cats there; the well-fed tabbies are not aloof and they usually let me cuddle and kiss them. Whenever I missed my cats back home, I would just go to Lumpini Park and my homesickness would disappear.
Aside from the parks, Bangkok has Bang Krachao, too, the so-called green lung of the city where you can go biking amidst the verdant trees and vegetation made all the more amazing by its location: only the Chao Phraya River separates it from the concrete jungle that is Bangkok.
Excellent Internet Connection
Thailand has one of the best internet connections in Asia. Wherever I stayed, there was always a good connection. I remember being very surprised when I was in Thong Pa Phum when the hostel’s Wifi didn’t work; it just wasn’t usual.
I was still able to work, though, because the town itself had free Wifi. All I needed to do was sign in and I could access the internet for free.
Much as I love the Philippines, the very slow internet connection here (among many other things) make me long to stay in other countries. Hopefully someday, our population, transportation, and connectivity problems will be solved!
The Strong International Community
Sure, it can be very tiring to keep on being asked “Where are you from? How long have you been traveling? Where are you going next?” The fact is, however, I enjoyed the strong international community in Thailand, specifically in Bangkok.
In the four months I’d stayed in the country, I always stayed in hostels, except once, when I was in a homestay in Sangkhlaburi (post to be published soon!).
I have met quite a lot of people who have left an impression on me; Chad from Canada who loved the Philippines and came to visit twice, Ania from the US who impressed me with her vivacity, Lukas from Germany who took really nice wildlife photography, and many others whose friendships, no matter how brief and fleeting, managed to enrich my life.
Someday, somehow, I’ll be back in Thailand!
Have you been to Thailand? Do you miss it?