Amazing Thailand!

Tripoto
6th Jun 2017

my moments with nature!

Photo of Amazing Thailand! by Anusha Nakshathra

#CoffeeWithTripoto

Going to Thailand was never an option for me because of mixed opinions from people about the place. Having repeatedly researched travelling to several south-east Asian countries, I concluded that Thailand was the best place to start with. I booked all my flight tickets nearly a month in advance to get the best rates. I scheduled a late night flight from Bangalore to Krabi with a stopover for 2 hours in Bangkok. I took one of the cheapest flights - by AirAsia - and quickly realized that it was probably the biggest mistake I could have made. Even though their tickets are cheap, keep an eye out. They do not include baggage costs. I'm pretty sure no one is going to travel to Thailand with just hand baggage (less than 7 kg). I ended paying nearly 5k more just to get my luggage from Bangalore to Thailand. To make things worse, the leg space in the flight was incredibly bad. Okay! Enough of the bad stuff. Let's start focusing on the nicer parts, shall we?

In Thailand, you need to spend mostly hard cash. You can swipe your card but you'll be taxed extra. You can even withdraw, but every withdrawal will charge you THB 200 which is like INR 400 for every withdrawal you make of any amount.

Also as an Indian, I ended up converting almost half of what I intended to spend in Thailand to THB in Bangalore itself. A word of advice, do as little as possible. Convert the remaining to USD in Bangalore. Then, in the Krabi Airport, the conversion loss was just about INR 10 for every 15000 or so. I didn't believe my friend when he warned me in Bangalore. He secretly hid a stash of about USD 300 which he later converted to THB when we were in Krabi which proved to be immensely beneficial.

Now, on to the travel stuff!

Day 1

Waiting for a jet plane to take my to Krabi!

Photo of Suvarnabhumi Airport Nong Prue Samut Prakan Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra

In the 2 hours of transit time in the Bangkok airport, I joined the queue to process my visa on arrival. The fee for visa is THB 1000 (Thailand Baht) which is INR 2000. I also recommend carrying at least 2 passport sized photos with you. You are required to stick it on the visa application. If you don't have it, you're going to have to break away from the long queue, head to the Thai speaking dudes who charge you THB 200 for 6 photos, and then rejoin the long queue at the same spot, if you are lucky. Remember, you'll be asking other Indians in the queue to hold your place if you step out.

I also made another mistake. Even though I planned on staying in the same locality in Krabi for about four days, I chose almost a different hotel/resort to stay in every night. While this may not sound like a bad idea, in a place like Krabi, it is logistically a nightmare. Every morning, you're forced to check out by 11-1130 with all your bags, find relevant transport, somehow communicate to the transport medium driver/rider the location of the next hotel/resort, get there, wait for 1 PM check-in, actually check-in, and then head out again to explore. And if it rains in the midst of all this, your entire day is screwed. We missed out on some day trips that would start at 8 AM and end by 4 PM simply because we had to check out from one place and check in at another. Hence, while planning out your trip, keep all this and the other formalities and legalities I mentioned earlier in mind.

After all the legality got out of the way, we headed to the transit gate and flew out to Krabi. The climate was beautiful, cool, and not too sunny. My first stay was at Poonsiri Resort about 20 km away from the main town.

One of those cottages was where I stayed.

Photo of Poonsiri Resort Ao Nang Krabi Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra

Krabi - being a place with less population - enables almost all places to be well known to the locals. A bus from the airport was heading towards Ao Nang, so we decided to hop on and head to the resort. About an hour later, my friend and I reached and checked into the resort. The place looked serene and the mountains loomed over us. The staff were super friendly and we had a quick check-in! A few hours of rest and cleanup and we were ready to head out and explore.

We decided to ask the resort staff if they could arrange a mode of transport. They instantly had someone drop us off to the town center to make it easy for us to get around. Since Thailand's timezone is ahead of Bangalore's, it was already starting to get dark.

My usual dosage of fries.

Photo of Amazing Thailand! by Anusha Nakshathra

It was a fun night for us to explore the town surrounded by yummy food, busy street-side stores, and shopping complexes. Getting around was not difficult because everything was on one main stretch of road. Furthermore, our resort gave us a number to call when we wanted to head back! Our whole stay and rides were made memorable by the staff who constantly helped us in teaching their customs, language and in fact, they knew some of the Bollywood stars and began singing songs in their cute Thai accent! ha-ha.

My favourite - Hassan!

Photo of Ao Nang Krabi Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra

He is my absolute favourite of all the staff at Poonsiri whose humour left me with cramps in my stomach. After a night of eating out, we found a travel agent lady who had a good deal on the local sightseeing packages. We instantly signed up, told her where to pick us up and headed back, spent some time taking photos by the lake side, spoke for a while with this funny guy, and called it a day. It definitely wasn't my sleeping time, but we were tired and by sleeping early, I felt we could wake up early and find something more to do the next day.

Day 2

I woke up early the next morning, began to realize the mistake we had made by booking multiple places everyday and figured that if we went early to our next hotel, we could leave our bags and head to checking off our activity list.

Our next resort was Bliss Resort on Khlong Muong Beach. Our local travel guide with whom we'd signed up the previous night had sent a van to pick us up from Poonsiri. We told the staff at Poonsiri that we'd leave our bags in the waiting room, finish the tour, come back, and take it to out next destination. They were more than glad to help us out.

We hopped on to the van and headed out to the sightseeing locations.

We went on a tour to James Bond island and Phang Nga Bay. A speed boat took us out to the middle of the bay where we went kayaking under some caves and through some mangrove forests. As luck may have it, it started to rain heavily and I didn't have my camera bag with me. The proper first day on our trip and my camera was drenched in the rain no matter how much friend covered it with his body. We quickly paddled towards shelter and ended our kayaking.

Next, we headed to James Bond Island, the one where they shot the movie, "The Man With The Golden Gun", an old Roger Moore Bond flick, if anyone's interested. I'm more of a Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnan fan. It was teeming with people and I'm not really fond of crowded places. After a couple of photos, I was done with the place. They did have stalls selling accessories but they were priced high and I felt that I could buy the same stuff for half the rate at the local Krabi shopping market. And I did.

We had a pit stop at some local farmers land and learnt a bit about their farming, cuisine, and his life story as an example of life. Long story short: he is an old man who begged for food on the streets. Later, with a minimum wages job, he managed to live on his own, saving up what little he could. In due time, he started a small shop which sold Ramen and soups of different kinds all of which costs nothing more than THB 10. He believes that everyone who walks into his shop should be able to buy his food. His kindness and concern for society stood out listening to him talk became a huge part of our Thailand experience.

Floating village in Phang Nga

Photo of James Bond Island by Anusha Nakshathra

Canoeing through the caves.

Photo of James Bond Island by Anusha Nakshathra

James Bond Island!

Photo of James Bond Island by Anusha Nakshathra

After this, our tour was done. They brought us back and dropped us of at Poonsiri. We collected our bags, and Poonsiri dropped us off at Ao Nang.

We hopped off at the town centre, unfortunately hailed a tuk tuk and headed towards the resort. Nobody seemed to have heard of it and I remember while booking, the place had good reviews even though the photos didn't look great. It was also inexpensive.

When we finally reached, it was a single building structure. It looked quite plain from the outside. The host was extremely friendly and after a smooth check in, she led us to our room.

It felt like we were taken to paradise. Our room was literally outside the beach. A beach facing room, interiors nicely done, the cost per day was just THB 12oo including breakfast! Considering we were staying for 2 nights here, it was the best deal ever. I highly recommend this place. If your budget is higher, go ahead and get the private cottages they have.

Having conversation with nature just outside my room!

Photo of Bliss Resort Khlong Muang Nong Thale Krabi Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra

My mornings were beautiful during my stay in Bliss Resort.

Photo of Bliss Resort Khlong Muang Nong Thale Krabi Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra

Since we had arrived late, we had missed out on any possible day activities in the mainland. After eating some junk, we decided to explore the beach shacks across the beach, went for a dip in the ocean, and relaxed for the rest of the day. The roads in the vicinity were empty, well laid, and there was always a sense of calm even for a girl to walk alone on the road.

The sunset at Khlong Muong Beach!

Photo of Amazing Thailand! by Anusha Nakshathra

Dozing off was easy with the sound of the waves. Waking up is even more refreshing with the sound of the waves. Since we had no pending check out, I decided that it was time we did some activity. So, with all excitement we headed out, rented a bike from the resort itself and started riding towards Emerald pool, which is supposed to be a hot spring. Riding in Thailand is an experience that is completely different from riding in Bangkok. With traffic being a foreign word in Krabi, you can enjoy riding and driving in Krabi as long as you learn to follow the rules. And absolutely no honking. As much as I honk when I'm in Bangalore, I felt like I was committing a crime every time my thumb hovered over the horn button.

Day 3

We reached Emerald Pool, took a dip in the hot fast flowing natural waters for 10-15 minutes, couldn't handle the heat, and got out. It was definitely refreshing and it isn't something that you get to experience in every place you visit. It's amazing to see a natural resource this large spewing out hot water.

Photo of Emerald Pool Khlong Thom Nuea Krabi Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra

After we dried off, we headed back to the bike, and began our journey back to Ao Nang. At Ao Nang, we stopped at the local shopping stalls and bought cute tiaras and accessories. There were live bands playing in some of the artsy cafes and while they did play some English songs, I soon realized that they were singing Thai versions of them. As the clouds grew darker, we realized that it could rain and headed back to the resort. It was a musical end for the day and we passed out as soon as we reached our resort!

Day 4

Who doesn't like to stay in 5+ star resort? I wanted to stay like a princess and pamper myself a bit in a touch of luxury. That is when we headed to Vogue Resort and Spa. We checked out the next morning to head towards Vogue. It wasn't hard to find since it was one of the most brightly lit resorts on the main road of Ao Nang.

The staff at Bliss were nice enough to drop us off by car at the doorstep of the hotel. The entrance was grand and so was the lobby. While booking online, the cost was on a higher end. But, we soon felt it wasn't worth what we had paid. There was delayed check-in because they claimed that they had only temporarily charged my card and not really charged it while my bank statement showed different. By the time we sorted it out, I was wondering why it was harder to check in to a well established hotel when compared to a small family run place.

Once we sorted the check-in issue out, nobody helped us carry our bags to the room which was nearly three buildings and five floors away. This really disturbed our plan for the day, as we missed the ferry to Phuket. We were super disappointed with the fact that we had missed out on going to Phuket.

However, in this entire experience we realised one thing: the previous resort where we stayed ... with the place, the staff, the location, and the food; everything made us feel extremely comfortable whereas even staying in a star hotel, there was shitty hospitality, bad service, and the resort was crowded. Even when it was raining, they told us that the umbrellas in the stand were only for the staff and not for the guests to get to their rooms. After I promised them to return their umbrella once the rain stopped, they let us take it from the lobby to our room.

On the plus side, we enjoyed the massive bath tub in the middle of the room. The toilet had no door and to this day, I'm not sure why. I suppose it's to increase "intimacy". My friend had the hardest time using it since I wouldn't let him use it in peace by waiting out in the balcony. But, we learn to cherish small things in life and to find happiness in ordinary things than going behind luxury just because it backfires.

Our massive bath tub!

Photo of Vogue Resort & Spa Ao Nang 4203 Ao Nang Krabi Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra
Day 5

Our next day was our last second day in Krabi before our journey to Bangkok. I decided to do couple of things to wind up our stay in Krabi. Well, we woke up, didn't bother to waste a minute in the room as it was our last day. We quickly rushed out, rented a car, which was an SUV, absolutely automatic transmission, and cute looking. The deal was again good. You get good cars for THB 1000 per day. They will keep a copy of your passport and advance of THB 1000 more which is refunded when the car is returned.

See, the car is also smiling while i take a selfie!

Photo of Ao Nang Krabi Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra

Our original plan was to drive to Phuket. However, all the local suggested against it as it would take us too much time and it was too far. They also said that because of the rains, it wouldn't be worth the effort of going all the way there and coming back in a few hours.

So, we drove along the countryside where the lanes are perfectly maintained! The city and its people have a lot of patience and the city is beautifully maintained. Do not forget to keep a copy of the map or download an offline map on your phone if you are driving around because not everyone knows English and you tend to miss out on turns and roads. Very few sign boards are in English and the worst part is that the same destination is referred to in different names in different locations.

Photo of Amazing Thailand! by Anusha Nakshathra
Photo of Amazing Thailand! by Anusha Nakshathra
Photo of Amazing Thailand! by Anusha Nakshathra
Day 6

We had an early morning flight and landed in Bangkok! What a city, fast life, just like any metropolitan city! The city is contemporary set with tall buildings to the monastery and palace. The city has touch of both. We went straight to our hotel which was near Suvarnabhumi International Airport since our return flight to Bangalore would be extremely early in the morning. Taxis maintain a base fare and it adds a few THB up for every km. We had three days in Bangkok and we planned it meticulously.

We did the typical tourist thingy in Bangkok which included going to all the tourist places such as Grand Palace, Wat Arun, China Town, Thanon Plaeng Naam - street food market. In the evening, we took long tail boat for the sunset and discovered some crazy food!

During this entire trip, I was unable to adapt to their food on any level because I am not really a fan of meat. Any food we bought had fish oil in it and it was mostly beef, pork, insects, octopus, squid, and seafood of all kinds! Yes, vegetarians, it's really hard to find food for you! All the best.

The usual MCD and KFC have completely different menus which I thought would save me but that was an utter flop! I love KFC and even KFC burgers and chicken were topped with fish powder of some kind which gave off a very seafood flavour. Definitely not for me!

Photo of Bangkok Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra
Photo of Bangkok Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra

I'm only posing. I couldn't eat more than a few spoons.

Photo of Bangkok Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra

Burger King stayed the same! But, I found a branch only at the airport.

Photo of Bangkok Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra

Visiting any country abroad needs a lot of research and based on what you find, we need to plan if we wish to not miss out on the best things. We had planned to be in Bangkok on a weekend just to go shop at Chatuchak Market. It was my absolute favourite part of the entire trip!

Everything was so cheap and nice! The clothes, shops, the displays were so cute, the fragrances, candles, handmade soaps, the lights ... ahhh! How I wish I could go back there!

Day 7

The cute shop displays!

Photo of Chatuchak Bangkok Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra
Photo of Chatuchak Bangkok Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra

These are handmade soaps.

Photo of Chatuchak Bangkok Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra
Photo of Chatuchak Bangkok Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra
Photo of Chatuchak Bangkok Thailand by Anusha Nakshathra
Day 8

The next day, we headed to Siam centre by Metro since we wanted to see penguins, something we have never seen in our country. As a young girl I always dreamt of going to an aquarium which was enclosed in a dome, sharks swimming above me and yes, my dream came true! Thanks to my friend, the entry price is over rated but I felt it was worth it. He paid, anyway!

Photo of Sea Life Bangkok Bangkok Siam by Anusha Nakshathra
Photo of Sea Life Bangkok Bangkok Siam by Anusha Nakshathra
Day 9

On the last day in Bangkok, we woke up late since we had a night flight to catch and we had to pack. We had to figure out how to shift all our shopping from hand baggage to our main baggage without exceeding the weight restrictions. I had carried an extra travel bag with me with nothing in it for just this reason. After I'd filled it up with the items we'd bought, I filled up a new Thai handbag I had just purchased with the rest of the accessories and we were set.

We spent some time in the room and decided to catch the train and head to MBK mall to check out (buy) some electronics and do some last bit of shopping. They had a lot of great stuff but I didn't particularly need or want anything so I ended up not buying anything. We spotted a spa and got the world famous Thai massage, pampered myself a little, and finally checked-in to the airport late at night! Our flight was at 2 AM. Worst return flight timings. This time, we were flying back with Indigo.

To summarise, here are a few tips to keep in mind before going to Thailand!

1) Keep your passport with you all the time.

2) Vegetarians, please pack some ready to cook/eat food because even Ramen, chips everything has some non-veg ingredient in them. I ended up buying this seemingly vegetarian ready-to-eat noodles and later found chunks of beef floating in it. I literally cried out of disappointment.

3) Do not lose any tickets that you pick up, like - boat ride, bus, or bills for bike rentals. You need to pay all over again if they ever ask for it again and you don't have it.

4) If you are going to any temples please wear full clothes that cover your body. Applies to both boys and girls! While Thai people don't normally say anything if you show off your legs or skin, it's frowned upon and they take it as a sign of disrespect.

5) People going from India, I would suggest you to carry less Thai currency from here and exchange directly in the airport only after you reach as they do not deduct any extra amount for each currency. Also, convert USD to Thai, not INR. It may not even be accepted here. Plus, you get more THB for USD. More money, more shopping!

6) "Loth rakha noi, dai mai krap". THIS SENTENCE WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE! Trust me.

7) Key to not get lost in the city/country that you are not familiar with is to simply be polite to the locals and they'll do anything to help you. As much as they do not speak English, they always try to help as long as you are nice and respectful.

8) Say NO to Tuk-Tuk rides. They charge a bomb - sometimes more than taxis - and please do not ask them for any directions. They'll follow you and pester you by saying that they would drop you to the place. In Bangkok, they would take you on an alternate route to purposely show you some antique shopping areas to promote certain stores. They have tie ups with certain stores and charge less if you purchase something from those stores. It's just easier to rely on cabs and the huge network trains they have.

9) Traditional Thai massage will actually hurt a little. They press it hard, so do not get scared. It's all worth it in the end.

10) Wear clothes according to what your plans are for the day. If you are the type to worry about what you eat, please ask them before you order. Even though I specify veg, it always smells of fish and has at least egg and seaweed. Learn basic Thai phrases, it'll be of great help. Thai people do not like loud people, so always be polite and kind. While we headed towards Poonsiri from the Krabi Airport, it was mostly a quiet ride where our minibus was filled with soft speaking Singaporeans, Thai people, Americans, and us. While we spoke and interacted gently and politely like any normal human beings, the bus stopped to pick up a few more Indians at one point.

A bunch of guys from Delhi got on and after 5 minutes, I didn't know where to hide my face because of how embarrassing they were as representatives of India in another country. They were annoyingly loud, rude, laughing, and poking fun at the Thai people and their language. Our local languages would sound just as funny to Thai people, but you don't see them making fun about it openly, do you? Please be mindful of saying such things in public space. The American and Singaporean couple just smiled at us awkwardly as the guys continued on, and that was the end of our rapport thanks to those idiots.

11) Do not even think of disrespecting their king! Do not disrespect him on coins, notes, and even the smallest of pictures. Apparently, he's done a lot for them and recently passed away.

12) What to buy: clothes, essential oils (because in India the same ones are exported and are over-expensive), and lights! Electronics, if you need something. Watch out for duplicates.

> The mistakes I made:

1) If you are in Bangkok do not stay in a hotel away from the city. It is really difficult to getting around due to the lack of connectivity.

2) Changing resorts everyday: it'll take half of your day in doing so. You will not have much time to do the other things.

3) Converting cash into Thai currency in India because you end up losing a lot in the exchange. Do convert some amount, but as little as possible. Just to cover any immediate purchases either on the flight or the moment you get off.

4) Having a huge plan to cover almost all of the places in 9-10 days which is physically NOT possible. When you say, you're going Thailand, you're going to an entire country, not a city. Can you cover the best of India in 10 days and be satisfied?

5) Not visiting Ayutthaya and Damnoen Tiger Zoo. I absolutely missed out on these. North Thailand.

Aaaand that's it! Hope this blog helps you in at least some small way because I have literally written down every single aspect of what happened! On my way back from the Bangalore airport to my place, I stopped at a local restaurant, ate chicken biryani, and headed home. That was the concluding moment for my trip. Namma ooru biryani!

3 Comment(s)
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Well written!! I appreciate your efforts in helping people. loved those tips! I've experienced similar situations many times like you did in the bus.
Mon 10 09 17, 14:40 · Reply (1) · Report
thanks so much
Thu 05 31 18, 03:23 · Report
loved your article.informative and helpful.it would be great if you could share the total expenses/budget
Tue 10 03 17, 02:08 · Reply (1) · Report
Thank you so much for your feedback! Per head, since I booked my flight tickets two months in advance, the entire trip costed close to a lakh because I did a bit of shopping and it was not meant to be a budget travel. I also lost money in shifting from hotel to hotel, like I mentioned in the post as well. Roughly, on average, it should come to 65-70k per head for a comfortable trip for a week.
Tue 10 03 17, 10:12 · Report
Very well written. Planning a visit soon with my wife & son..Will fall back for advice. I liked the Tips & mistakes you made details. Thanks
Thu 09 28 17, 04:37 · Reply (2) · Report
Do we need an international driving licence to drive in Thailand?
Fri 03 02 18, 04:36 · Report
thanks so much! Please feel free to get back to me for any help!
Thu 09 28 17, 09:41 · Report