Thailand. I haven’t seen much of the country yet and I actually only ever set foot on Thai land, because it was a cheaper way to get to Cambodia. Nevertheless, I spent way longer in Bangkok than I planned, partly because of my travel mate, partly because I didn’t have a proper realisation of time, partly because I needed to sleep off my jetlag and partly because there are just very many things to do. More about that on the Bangkok page.
As you can see here and as I mentioned at the start, I haven’t seen very much of Thailand. I landed in Bangkok, spent a few days there, took a train to the Cambodian border, came back the same way and then spent a day in Ko Samet and another few in Bangkok before leaving South-East Asia from Bangkok again.
There is no need to tell me that I missed all the beauty of the country. Having not planned to spend any time in Thailand I am quite happy that I got to see at least something, such as beautiful temples, friendly locals, peaceful meditation and delicious street food. Most of it in Bangkok.
Not having been able to see much else, this left me with a rather long bucket list as can be found down the page. For everything in Thailand that I did manage to see, check out the subpages!
I realise that this is also on my Cambodia bucket list and will probably be on many more. I also realise that I cannot just go around the world volunteering everywhere, but I can at least try to make the world a better place. I found a trustworthy and recommended elephant sanctuary up in Northern Thailand, Elephant Nature Park, that helps to treat abused and neglected elephants. I agree that this sort of volunteering are partly for your own experience of ethical interaction with such majestic animals, but the work and money you invest is used to rescue more elephants from the curel tourist industry, so you are actually doing good at the same time and will see the newly rescued elephants starting to look better during your stay. This is something different than the orphanage that was on my bucket list in Cambodia, so I guess the experiences will be a lot different.
I enjoy diving. Nevertheless I have not yet gotten any further then obtaining only my open water certicificate. Diving in the Netherlands is just cold, blurry and harder to organise. Diving around the Islands in the South of Thailand should be amazingly beautiful and you can just go out on a boat trip for a few days and rent al the gear there.
3. Full moon party
Ok. I feel a bit guilty for wanting this, but if I’m going to be island hopping in order to dive I might as well do this while I’m still young. The notorious full moon parties in Thailand are crazy places to go for young backpackers looking to get full on partying. It is another experience though.
4. Sak Yant
I’m not sure about this one, but I find it intereseting, so I thought it would be worth a mention anyway. Wat Bang Phra is a temple about 50km west of Bangkok. It is not just another temple, but host to the annual Sak Yant Tattoo Festival. At the moment, I do not have any tattoos and I have long been considering getting one, but then I want something with a special meaning and I never fully got myself set on anything.
A Sak Yant is a sacred buddhism tattoo that is said to be magical, because a monk blew power into it. Wat Bang Phra is not only home to the Sak Yant Tattoo festival, but also hosts daily tattoo sessions, done by monks. The monk chooses one of the sacred designs for you, whichever he thinks is the best fit and also chooses the location (this is mostly on the back for first timers). I think the idea and spiritualism behind this tattoos is really cool, but on the other hand you need to follow five Buddhist perceptions in order to keep the tattoo powerful and I think that indeed you should if you choose to wear a religious tattoo. The rules are to restrain from killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct and intoxication. Now the first three are not so hard to restrain from (except for the occasional mosquito you smash on your wall), and I am not sure if casual sex would be considered “misconduct” for Buddhists, but intoxication is a hard one. I mean, I enjoy having a few beers too many now and again and I think many people with me.
All in all, I’m not expecting to be in Thailand again any time soon, so I have all the time to make my mind up about this. No matter what, the tattoos are inspirational and mythical and I believe that the wearer should respect its meaning.
On my South-East Asia trip, I did not get around to enough of this unfortunately. I would have loved to do a multiple-day trek through one of the beautiful national parks. No way I’m going to miss out on this one next time I’ll be in the area!
6. Meditation Retreat
In Wat Mahathat in Bangkok, I got a sneak preview into meditation and would like to get further into this by doing a 10- or 14-day meditation retreat. I like to learn (: