Thailand. If your idea of a vacation is sweeping white-sand beaches, hammocks swinging lazy between palm trees, limestone carts and beautiful sunsets, think no more. Thailand is for you. When I came here, I wanted to discover something more than the beach booming and the cheep sex. I arrived at the capital Bangkok with my friend Diana from Australia. After spending two days in Bangkok, we decided to head to the world known Phuket. Until then I was rather disappointed since everything was way too touristic and the sex tourism is everywhere even if you’re not looking for it. Not the best introduction to a new place. We both agreed that we had to get out. Ko Pipi was our destination, possibly the most beautiful place you will ever see. Pipi is a small island where you can almost watch the sunset and the moonrise with just a turn of the head. This is where the movie “The Beach” was filmed. So everyone that comes to Thailand wants to see it. The crowds definitely take away some of its charm but it’s still a must-see because of its beauty. We spent three days there before another friend, Nikos, joined us from Greece. Together we explored some islands further down in the Andaman Sea. Ko Lanta was the name of the next island we hopped on. Here the crowds are fewer and the beaches are beautiful. We stayed at one of the beach bungalows and enjoyed our time there. Our plan was to get a little bit of everything from Thailand. We visited the party Mecca of Ko Pha-Ngan, inside the Gulf of Thailand and the diving capital of Ko Tao, both great places where you have the chance to get away from the crowds and be by yourself. In Tao we managed to stay literally on the beach, so close to it that we got out of bed and had our morning dip to wake us up.
After all those islands we needed to have some taste of the north and the mainland of Thailand. We headed to Chang Mai, a big city in the tourist track, yet with some color. We went to Pai further north, a small city with superb surroundings and plenty of nature to be discovered. A small community of foreigners has made their homes there. After a few days of fun, Diana had to leave so we dropped her off at the nearest airport and we headed to Chang Rai in order to trek the Golden Triangle and see the tribes that live there. It was a great experience going down the river on an elephant and getting to know some of the tribe leaders that shared their problems with us. A couple of days and you realize that, even in a tourist paradise like this, things don’t come easy.
About six years later, Nikos, Dimitris, another friend of mine, and I came back to Thailand and visited a few more places like Ko Chang. It’s a huge island that still keeps some of its gems away from the huge tourist industry, waiting for people like us to discover them, people who don’t need a tour or a group to see a place.
Thailand is definitely an easy introduction to the tropics and an all-in-one kind of place that anyone can visit.