Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mai Thai Paradise: Overview

I made it back to Seoul, safe and sound and in one piece.
2 weeks of bliss have come and gone.
Now back to the grind of daily life in Seoul.

However, before I let my memories of Thailand slip away into oblivion, I might as well chronicle the adventure for all of you to enjoy as well. I'm going to do this is a series of posts so as not to bore/make you go blind by trying to fit the entire 2 weeks into one post. To start things off, here are the Top 10 ideas/lessons/thoughts that I took away from my time in Thailand.

10. The country of Thailand is absolutely gorgeous! Mountains, rain forests, beaches - it pretty much has it all.

9. Thailand loves their king! Bhumibol Adulyadej (a.k.a. Rama IX) has been emperor of Thailand since 1946! He is the longest-serving current head of state in the world and helped with Thailand's transition to democracy. It's no wonder the people of Thailand absolutely love and adore him! His picture is literally everywhere in the country. On huge banners lining the streets. On the overpasses. Calendars. Keychains. Postcards. You name it - his face is bound to be there!

8. Driving in Bangkok is mad! Between the tuk tuks, taxis, motorbikes, cars, cargo trucks, and other modes of transportation that people are brave enough to use, it's an absolute mad house! Throw in the fact that traffic signals and normal driving courtesy are mainly ignored and you have the recipe for one crazy time on the roadways!

7. Everyone drives on the left hand side of the road, similar to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and England. That took getting used to!

6. Public transportation can be a huge headache and hassle. It was super difficult to try and find a taxi that would use their meter, despite the fact that each taxi was equipped with one. Here in Seoul, you always pay by the meter and never negotiate a price. Thailand is a totally different ballgame. It gets frustrating and old real quick!

5. Scams, scams, scams! I will devote an entire post to this, but scams are everywhere you look, especially in Bangkok. More on this in the upcoming days.

4. Thai food is absolutely amazing! Pad thai is by far one of God's many gifts to mankind! Not only is it super cheap, it's also super delicious! When trying to find a place to eat, we would immediately look at how much the pad thai cost and then go from there.

3. Thailand has some of the most beautiful beaches and water that I have ever seen. The islands in the Gulf of Thailand (Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao) all offered awesome opportunities to lay out, catch some rays, and do some amazing snorkeling.

2. Thailand is definitely still a developing country. Despite all that the emperor has done for his country over the past 50+ years, there is still a long way to go. Clumps of shanties line the roads on the outskirts of Bangkok and other major cities. Some children are forced to sell goods on the streets and beaches. The water is not safe to drink. There are plumbing issues. Despite all the beauty that the country has to offer, that alone cannot cover up the problems that they are facing still today.

1. Muay Thai is the spot of choice! Muay Thai is a form of kick boxing that is the national spot of Thailand. Some children start training when they are as young as 5 years old! It's the equivalent of tee-ball or pee-wee soccer leagues, except substitute the balls and bats for gloves and a boxing ring. The passion and enthusiasm that the Thai people show for this sport was absolutely amazing!

There's a little preview into my trip through part of SE Asia. Stay tuned for future installments!!