If you are not going to feel sand between your toes, surely there is no point in going to Thailand?
A question many of my friends have asked since I returned. Nope, I didn’t lie on a sunbed, I didn’t go snorkelling, I didn’t island hop. But I did spend eight nights in Thailand, and the beautiful beaches people rave about are still a mystery to me. A mystery they shall remain. All the time I have such wonderful memories of the jungle, the lakes, the luscious green colour, the rather spicy but colourful cuisine and such warm smiles.
There is so much more to Thailand than the beaches.
My adventure began in Bangkok, weirdly the only place I was bitten by a mosquito! After a trip to a flower market and along one of the many canals, it was all aboard the overnight train to Surat Thani, an hour from Khao Sok National Park. My trip was always intended to experience alternative Thailand, and I definitely did that. Trekking through the jungle, playing spot the monkey, skipping across the rocks over the river and kayaking along the meandering river created such beautiful moments and photo opportunities. Our accommodation was a combination of a community lodge, a floating raft house and a homestay. It would be fair to say this would not be for everyone, but to really immerse yourself into the local community, I would not have wanted to be anywhere else. If you can’t learn to shower like a local what is the point?!
We travelled along the river in Khlong Noi, which is part of a local community project to keep it clean. This means that the boat builders, a shrimp farmer and those manually stripping coconuts which we passed, are all able to make a living. Before this, people would have long days travelling to work in a factory. The community spirit was very strong around the river and we even enjoyed watching the local children on the back of their Vespas, all hurrying off to play football. The local fireflies made sure we did not miss out on any evening entertainment and were there to put on a great show for us.