Thailand, Measure Me by My Smiles… A Prelude

After having explored Vietnam last year, I will now go back in time, to the days when prints were the only option to store my favourite memorable-images.  The country next in the ReachingDelphi coffee trail blog is Thailand. 

Sun Set in Krabi
I first travelled here when it was known as Siam.  Virtually, that is. I was introduced to two of the many great Kings of Siam at that time and, to what is known today as Thailand, through a black and white classic – The King and I. Does that movie sound vaguely familiar? No, then how about its remake - Anna and The King? Still no?  Do not despair. You can catch up with these on internet television network.

Fast forward a couple of years. It was in the late 90’s when I touched Thailand’s soil for the first time. The place,  Chiang Mai.  The warm-hearted welcome shown by the people of Chiang Mai and the majestic working elephants there got me hooked on to Thailand. I felt the presence of the great Siam in modern Thailand. Over the years, I continued my travels up north on short visits whenever possible and, each time to explore a different place in this country.
Thailand has a vibrant history and culture. Both are preserved and guarded well today. Luckily for us,  information on these are available readily on the internet, at no cost.

Doi_Suthep, Chiang Mai

There is plenty to see and experience in Thailand. And so Sawadika it will be for the next few weeks as I take you on a journey to a couple of the enchanting places. With so many exciting options here and, with every tourist-location in Thailand being steadfast in its tagline – Amazing Thailand - I must agree that it is not going to be easy to pick that ideal destination. We are lucky though that some of these places, just like a 3-in-one coffee mix, have multiple points of interests. There is a little something for everyone in your travel group.

And Sawadika back to you
To help you decide, here are a just a few of the many, many highlights by category as an appetiser. 

    Ancient wonders and civilisations
Just like some of the other countries in this region, Thailand’s early influence is from the culture and religions of India. Below are two of the few sites in Thailand designated as UNESCO World Heritage Historical Parks. Here you can see the wonders of the old world.
o    The ancient city of Ayutthaya
Let it go ....

o    The ancient city of Sukhothai.
Hidden tranquility 

According to Office of National Buddhism in Thailand, there are over 40,000 Buddhist temples in the country today.  Interestingly these temples are categorised by classes – royal, first, second and third.  Buddhism travelled into Thailand from India during the Ashoka of the Maurya Empire, around 250 BCE. Today, 94% of the population follow Buddhism.  Below are a few well-known temples.
o    Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), Bangkok

o    Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok

o    Wat_Phra_That_Doi_Suthep, Chiang Mai

o    Wat Mahathat, Sukhothai

o    Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Ayutthaya.

Though it is not mandatory, many Thai men do voluntary monkhood (to learn the way of the Darma) for a short period, at least once in their lifetime. Sometimes, you can see volunteer monks on duty at the temples. 
A visit to Thailand is not complete without seeing at least one of the many royal residences of the Chakri Dynasty. Here are a few to choose from :
o    The Grand Palace, Bangkok

o    Dusit Palace, Bangkok

o    Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, Ayutthaya.
The Grand Palace

Want to learn more about the Thai history, why not visit a museum? If my counting skill is correct, there are approximately over 120 different museums for you to select from.  Two of theses are:
o    Ancient Museum, Bangkok

o    Chiang Mai National Museum, Chiang Mai.
    Culinary Adventure and Explore Some Coffee
Remember to leave your diet plans at home. The combination of the many balancing ingredients (such as ginger, lemon grass, lemon leaves, nuts, coconut, chilli, etc.) with vegetable or meat/seafood is exotically delicious.   Seafood is a popular choice but, there are plenty of options for those allergic to shellfish and nuts or prefer going vegetarian. Most restaurants do serve a great vegetarian version of the traditional (non-vegetarian) dishes, so remember to request for this.  Thai cuisine also offers a variety of mouth-watering desserts that one cannot refuse.
Local food at its best

Want to explore more? How about going on a culinary journey tour or enrolling in cooking classes?  Or, you could do what I do - order something different each time from the menu or, try a local buffet at a restaurant/hotel. 
Coffee – Thailand is ranked third in highest coffee producing country in Asia. Most of Thailand’s coffee is crop is Robusta, grown in southern provinces of Thailand. Arabica coffee is grown in the highlands of the north. Doi Tung and Doi Chang are two of the more popular Thai brands produced. Coffee production is a relatively young industry and provides employment opportunities for those living in the mountainous regions.
Coffee in Hua Hin. 

    Hill Tribes and Villages
It is possible for tourists to visit hill villages and hill-tribes in the mountainous regions.  Baan Tong Luang Eco-agricultural Village is one of them. This village is a government-sponsored hill tribe cultural preservation centre that houses around several different hill tribes.
If you wish to stay longer to enjoy the mountain air and to experience the hill-tribes live-style,  you could opt for a home-stay tour with a host family at these villages. Book your home-stay tour with an approved tour agent before arriving at the village. 
Fruit and vegetable carving is notably popular in Thailand. The Thai’s have mastered this traditional skill. There are annual fruit and vegetable competitions where skilled craftsmen/women compete for the best-carved fruit/vegetable awards. So, do keep an eye out for these beautifully crafted edibles. Fascinated, why not enrol in a fruit carving school?
Another perfected skill is the teak wood carving.  Visitors will get a chance to see exquisite teak carvings at wood-carving factories by the highly specialised workers. Some of the favourite sculptures include furniture and handicrafts.  The finished products, depending on the quality,  are available at art galleries, furniture outlets, markets, bazaars and small retail outlets. Now, how many Thai elephants do I have?  Countless.
Some of them - mixed clan - Thai and Indian. 
These are real! 
Elephant camps – Elephants! You would realise by now; this is one of my favourite animals. Most elephant camps are in the northern region. These elephants were previously known as working elephants and worked at the logging sites. The Thai government banned logging in 1989.  The ban left these elephants and their mahouts unemployed. The Thai government stepped in and encouraged ways to incorporate elephants into the growing tourism industry. As a result of this initiative, elephant camps had been set up. Today, there are over 70 elephant camps in Thailand. Many of these camps are open for visitors. 

The Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre (Project) is in Phuket. The centre is a great place to learn about and get close to the playful gibbons. Here, one will also learn the importance of this conservation centre to the eco-system. Sadly, gibbons today are illegally captured and used as working pets. The centre helps us understand the importance of gibbons to the eco-system.
    Sports and Adventure
If you prefer to do something adventurous, you will not be left downhearted. Thailand has plenty to offer.
One of these adventurous trips for me was to be a 007 agent for a day, as I cruised along the water-ways Bond took in "The Man with the Golden Gun" in Phang-Nga. 
A 007-Adventure Tour
There are more of course, I have listed three below. I have yet to try these myself; perhaps we can do this together one of these days. 

Scuba-Diving and Free Diving
The rich Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand provide endless diving options.  All you need is to be ready. Perhaps while there, you will get a chance to be up-close and personal with the whale shark. I hear that they are friendly seasonal-visitors to these seas.  The desire to see a whale shark here in person was the very reason I ‘attempted’ to get my diving license many years ago, and I am still attempting this.
Rock climbing   
This is mostly in Central Thailand -  Railey and Tonsai in Krabi are two of the most well-known rock climbing sites. Rock climbing using climbing gears such as ropes and harness is the version that I know well. Those who wish for some adrenaline rush can opt for deep-water soloing. This version is a free form of rock climbing without the use of any climbing gear. Climbers climb up and then to get down – they leap down! Into the water! Send me a picture or video of yourself up there just before you take that leap. I’ll cheer you on from where ever I am.  😊
There are many treks and trails in mountainous regions. I would recommend you do this with a guide. Here are a few 'more known' routes.
o    from Chiang Mai  to Mae Hong So/Chiang Rai
o    In Khao Pom, Koh Samui
o    In Kanchanaburi.

Birds-eye view of the Island

    Beaches and sun, sun
Thailand has over 3000KM of coastline. The Andaman Sea is to the west, and The Gulf of Thailand is to the east of the country.  There are lots of water activities beach lovers can do like island-hopping, snorkelling, diving, sailing, surfing and yachting. Non water activities include counting stars and drinking coffee (or any drink) while reading a novel. 
Karon Beach, Phuket

•    Shopping
Visitors would be spoilt for shopping choices in Thailand. 
Street Markets – these are carnival-like markets that usually operate in the evenings until late at night.  Some of the popular ones are Bangkok(Chatuchak, Rot Fai), Chiang Mai (Chiang Mai Night Bazaar). Don’t forget to use your negotiating skills to get the best deals for t-shirts, souvenirs and local snacks.
Floating markets - I travelled for 2 hours from Bangkok city Centre for this unique experience. What I saw the day I visited wasn’t exactly like in the postcards of the floating markets, but you get a general idea on what it must have once been. Danone, Saduak and Amphawa are the popular ones near Bangkok. If you have better luck with the pictures, please share them with me. 
City malls – These are the places to pick up trendy wears and goods. There are plenty of malls in every town, so pick any, if you wish to get something here.
Shopping? A yacht? Did you have Delphi on mind then?

    SPAs and Wellness Packages
One of the things I look forward to in Thailand is the SPAs.  There are many types of SPAs. Generally, SPAs offer a range of wellness programs including massages and scrubs. There are different packages, quality and services to suit any budget range.
What I have tried and will recommend to you are the Thai and foot massages. I laughed a lot the first time I had a full body Thai Massage in Chiang Mai.  Was it Hilarious? No, no, it’s very much like Yoga stretching without you having to move your body. It was excellent. Try it and let me know your experience.
Getting prepared for a  relaxing Foot Reflexology

I mentioned there are different prices/services to suit your budget - Once I got a  ladyboy as my masseur. She had more massage-strength than what I could handle. Ironically, she was distraught with me when I kept wincing in pain. Hint, you get what you pay for. 
As I mentioned at the beginning, Thailand offers something for everyone. For those who wish to see culture and heritage at its height, this country is not shy to display the existence of these. Just like the  Yan and Yin in the colourful and seasonal Thai curries,  you will find a similar a mix of thrill, anxiety, soul, fun and peace – all in one package-deal almost anywhere in Thailand. Do share your experiences in Thailand the comments, I’d love to hear about them.

See you in another exciting place in Thailand next week. Stay tuned. Enjoy your coffee, or shall I say drink in this case. 💗💙💚💛💜💗


  1. you brought back some nice memories from my trips to Thailand, thank you.

    1. Stano, happy that this article brought nice memories. Which are your favourite picks?

  2. There is a vast choice of living options available for anyone wishing to settle, including a fantastic selection of houses for rent in Chiang Mai Chiang Mai's roads get quite busy, and getting caught up in the congestion can be a frustrating and exhausting experience