Out of all the countries we visited on our trip around the world, Thailand was the one in which we spent the most time. 61 days, over two visits. It has since gone down on our list of places we want to return to someday, but when we first arrived, we were not impressed.
We had been traveling fairly quickly ever since Africa and by October we were both ready for a break. While we were still in Russia, we planned out the last three months of our trip. In order to conserve money – we had just officially gone over our travel budget – we wanted to find a place to sit down and rest for a while. I sent out a request on Facebook and Twitter and asked our friends and followers for their recommendations in Thailand.
We received a lot of good advice, but ultimately had a hard time taking advantage of it because we were set on a month-long rental. We checked Craigslist and various vacation rental websites, but the vast majority of listings were only available in the largest cities or most touristy areas. We debated traveling out to the remote islands until we found a place to our liking, but ultimately took the easy way out. We spent just a couple days in Bangkok, recuperating from our jet lag, before flying to Phuket and following up on some leads there.
The first place we stopped was in party central, Patong. I can’t even remember why we chose that town, because foam-party nightclubs, seedy massage parlors, and plentiful weed are not on our list of travel necessities. Nevertheless, Oksana found us a cheap hotel away from the beach, and we stayed there a week.
Prices were low, as October is still officially the off-season. And no wonder – it rained hard just about every day we were in Patong. That didn’t bother me especially much because I had just come down with my first cold since leaving home almost a year and a half before. For the next week, all I wanted to do was lie in bed and sleep. Easier to do during the day – night were miserable… at least until I visited the pharmacist, a real life anime character, who prescribed me some heavy sleeping pills.
Unfortunately, just as I was about to get over my cold, Oksana picked it up. Most of our month off was spent battling head and chest colds.
Eventually, we left the Starbucks and McDonald’s behind by moving just four kilometers down the island to Karon Beach. The oceanfront was prettier, the tourists more family oriented, and both of those things suited us just fine. For about $19 per night, we stayed in a huge hotel room, venturing out once a day to the pool or to place an order at the on-site restaurant. We caught up on some internet stuff, rested our travel-worn feet, and worked on our tans.
Prices went up on November 1st with the official start of the high season, but we didn’t mind. Our friends from Roam the Planet were due to arrive any day and, with our batteries recharged, we were ready to hit the road again.
Because of the record flooding that was going on in central Thailand during our stay, we didn’t get to see as much of the country as I’d hoped. Most of the things I noticed about Thailand came from the few places we did spend some time: Bangkok, Phuket, the Phi Phi islands, Chiang Mai, and Koh Mak.