Nothing conjures up more exotic images than the mention of Thailand with its distinctive landscapes, unusual temples, and unique food.
From the air Thailand enchants with its many tiny islands, verdant green droplets, strung across the aquamarine sea. Although similar in some ways to our own local limestone geology, Thailand appears very different. Instead of sinkholes, much of the soft limestone has eroded away leaving giant karst outcroppings jutting skyward. On land these hills appear stark and dramatic against the jungle sky. In the ocean, these islands, called “Ko,” spring up out of the sea. Favored by rock climbers, these islands are home to the small bird whose nests are used in bird’s nest soup.
July through October is the rainy season, when prices are cheaper and more negotiable. Don’t assume their rainy season is like ours however, where a daily shower develops and then clears. Instead it is possible to have torrential rain for several hours or several consecutive days, then not even a raindrop for weeks. Only you can decide if it is worth the savings.
Beautiful beaches abound, and roads wind their way up the hilly terrain and away from the beach. Transportation between beaches is typically by local long-tail boats. Distinctive, these boats are adorned with a ribbon, and powered by a pivoting car engine, with open headers and a long straight shaft sporting a propeller. Expect the driver to wait until his boat is full before leaving, no matter how long that takes. Powering through the glass clear water, the boat ride is an experience itself. For longer trips to famous Ko Phi Phi, or Phuket, opt for a traditional powerboat, to reduce the transportation time.
Where else would you ride an elephant? Giant and lumbering, these gentle creatures still transport Thai royalty for ceremonies. Steered only with a stick, a trek through the jungle makes a great excursion. When you complete your journey your elephant waits patiently for his reward for a trip well done.
Synonymous with Thailand is massage on the beach. Whole markets have nothing but vendors offering massage. Relax to waves crashing, gulls crying, gentle ocean breezes, and the gentle strokes of your professional masseuse.
On a quiet roadside scooters appear. Next, tables fold down from the scooters, and grills, and woks sizzle. Soon locals are lined up, and the aroma of exotic food fills the air. For only a few US dollars, sample the local cuisine. Spicy peppers, coconut, noodles, and rice are a mainstay; skewers of meats; roasted corn on the cob; banana nutella pancakes; and fruits unknown. Then just as suddenly, they pack up and go home.
Wedding cake shaped temples, spires reaching skyward, some blinding white, with pointed roofs, and trim like flames pointing everywhere. Giant golden Buddha’s sit serenely gazing on, while crouching tigers, and hissing serpents guard the temple doors. Climb the 1237 steps to the top of the Tiger Cave Temple and marvel at the landscape, so flat with scattered hills.
Everywhere you turn in Thailand, there is something new and exotic to discover.