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A round the world trip in more than 80 days.

Why this blog ?

Our aim : travel and discover the world during 353 days and through some fifhteen countries. We are hoping that this blog will allow us to share the experience with our family and friends thanks to the posts and photos that we will be publishing and also thanks to their comments.

Currently ...

now. For the moment, we are gently readapting from nomadic to sedentary life.


Thailand : among Red-bull tank tops et red shirts

The trip goes on or should I say, as some of you did remind us, is getting closer to its end ? I am writing these lines while waiting for the night train that will take us away from Thailand and towards northern Malaysia. After “Incredible India”, “Amazing Thailand” also showed us different faces that we enjoyed unevenly.

The country is quite famous for its scuba diving spots and heavenly islands. It is true that we liked the few days we spent diving Koh Tao, an island off the East Coast, where nice corals, big groupers and small schools of barracudas made our days. As a bonus, the warm temperature of the water, compared to which the Mediterranean feels like the North Pole, made the experience more enjoyable. But according to the “experts”, diving is even greater on the West coast so we might come back to jump in the Andaman sea in the future.

Another highlight of our stay in Thailand was the trek we did from Pai, a small village in the northern part of the country. We hiked during 3 days in a mountainous area close to the Burmese border, under a burning sun and sleeping in home-stays in the villages we crossed. In this part of the country, people do not speak Thai but a handful of dialects, Animism replaces Buddhism and the electricity is not always available. During the Monsoon, you will be rewarded by being surrounded by green rice fields. In our case, we walked in a burnt land closer to a “lunar” landscape because, every year, farmers will burn their fields to get them ready for the new planting season. The flames go sometimes beyond the plantations and grind the forest. At night, the hills surrounding the villages are blazing with fires, which is a quite an impressive view specially when the flames are only a kilometer away from the house hosting you. When we asked the locals if it could be dangerous, they reassured us said saying : “Yes, fire, but don't worry ! No problem !”. So we did like them and went to bed for a good night of rest.

If you are looking for temples, old or new or restored, Thailand has what your are looking for : you will never be far from one. The only thing that outnumbers them is the picture of the king, that is nearly on every corner. In our case, after visiting a few temples we reached an overdose and preferred to crawl around the hawker food stalls where you can enjoy, at any time, day or night, some cashew nut curry or a nice mango-sticky rice. Willing to learn more about the exquisite Thai cuisine, we took a cooking class where a ladyboy taught us how to make some dishes. We were surprised to see that the fish sauce is part of every recipe, even the ones that are sweet. Thanks to this course, we hope that next time that we go to an Asian supermarket in Paris, we will feel less stupid while looking at all this weird products on the shelf.

Regarding the political problems that Thailand is going through, they have not really impacted our trip, even if the night before our arrival a nasty hide and seek game between the police and the protesters resulted in twenty deaths. The red shirt movement seemed quite pacifist and was concentrated in a neighborhood where upscale malls, which as a result had been closed for weeks, are located. We even walked in the red-shirt camp to notice a peaceful atmosphere, making it look like a fair where ice-cream stalls are replaced by hawkers selling crispy chicken rice (yummmy !).

That said, they day we arrived in Bangkok we had nevertheless to face an urban guerrilla with heavily equipped squads that was spread across town. They soaked with buckets of water all what was moving : pedestrians, cars, police, bus passengers and even red shirts convoys that were happy to return the favor. It was quite funny to watch, after securing our passports and the camera. It is thanks to the celebration of Thai New Year (Songkran) that we have been able to witness this uncommon face of a city known for its traffic jams and hustle and bustle. But during that week the town was sleepy, as the inhabitants had run away for a week of vacation resulting in a lot of shops closed and an air quite safe to breath.

Thailand's dark side is the mass tourism and the hordes of westerners wearing Red-Bull tank tops and a reddish tan. Since we were there on the low season, I cannot imagine how cramped it must be on July and August. The markets which are supposed to be a touristic attraction are full of counterfeit goods and the local handicraft have been replaced by fake Bling-Bling Rolex watches and imitated Polo shirts. In some places the local people are outnumbered by foreigners and it is not pleasant if you are looking for some genuineness .

It is true that Thailand still offers a change of scenery for cheap in a safe, clean and organized environment, miles away of what we have experienced in India. Thai people are quite nice and good at listening at “farangs” (foreigners) and answering their needs. But in Koh Tao or Pai, we were wandering if we were still in Thailand and not have been teleported to Ibiza.

In our case, we felt trapped in the « gringo trail » and the contact with Thai people remained superficial. So, overall, even if it was pleasant to spend 3 weeks in Thailand, the publicized charm of this country did not act on us.


1 Comment

  1. JM said...

    Pas mal.... en effet, c'est bien la Thailande! Eh bien, Karim, tu y seras arrive a ecrire ton article ;) Bonne continuation!

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