Thailand is one of my favorite countries in the world for many reasons. Besides the delicious cuisine, friendly people, interesting culture, this country has some really awesome places to vacation. Over the years, Jason and I have visited numerous islands and beaches throughout the country. In this video, I highlight 9 key places to visit in Thailand! Every place is characterized by its unique atmosphere and activities. Whether you are into rock climbing, scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, or just relaxing on a beautiful beach, Thailand has something for everyone!
One of the main reasons why I love traveling is to learn and experience different cultures. I am simply fascinated by how different cultures view the world through their own unique lens. For example, the notion of beauty usually varies throughout cultures. For the Long Neck Karen people, the ideal of beauty is an elongated neck.
Traditionally, from an early age of 2 to 5, young girls will begin wearing brass rings around their necks. Every 5 years, more rings are added. The weight of the rings pushes the collar bone down and compresses the rib cage making the neck appear longer. It is believed that women with long necks are more beautiful and thus likely to attract husbands.
The Long Neck Karen, who are also known as the Padaung, belong to a sub-group of the Karen people. Although their home is Myanmar, many have left their villages in hopes of finding a better life in Thailand.
For over a decade, I have wanted to meet the Long Necks. I had been extremely intrigued by their culture after watching a documentary about them on National Geographic. This dream came true recently, when Jason and I decided to visit the Long Neck Karen village near Chiang Mai, Thailand. Watch this video to follow our journey into the Long Neck Karen village. It was a truly memorable experience!
I had always had a keen desire to travel since I was a teenager. I was curious to know what lay beyond this small circle which I had called my world. I would wonder, what life was like in other countries. I wanted to experience different cultures, meet interesting people, try unique foods, and see the incredible places the world had to offer.
But, I was only a teenager without any money. I told myself that after I completed my undergraduate degree, I would travel the world. However, the next thing I knew I was enrolled in graduate school. It was the next step, right? At least that’s what I thought at the time. I promised myself that some way or another, I had to travel after I completed my graduate work. By the time I graduated with my Masters degree, I had a huge debt to pay the university and of course no job or money! How was I supposed to travel?
I know it will sound ridiculous, considering I had debts and no money, but I ended up getting a loan from the bank just so I could travel. You see, my desire to travel was so strong that getting into more debt was not a problem for me. I just needed to travel. Luckily Jason, my boyfriend at the time, also had a strong urge to travel. And so, together we began our journey into an unknown world–the world of travel.
For our very first trip, Jason and I grabbed our new backpacks and flew to London, England. We ended up spending the next 4 weeks, traveling through France, Italy and Greece.
The trip was incredible! It was more than we ever imagined. We were both in love with traveling.
But sadly, we were back to our ordinary lives again. We continued to work odd jobs to make money for the next two years.
However, my urge to travel never left me. It continued to grow stronger with time. I eventually began applying to jobs in the travel industry just so I could travel. After working as a travel agent, I became a flight attendant. I had the opportunity to visit England and Scotland a few times as a flight attendant. But overall, I remained very unsatisfied.
I was beginning to feel very bored with my life. Really bored. I had heard tales from other lucky travelers about their wonderful travel experiences. I heard a lot of stories about Thailand. Travelers’ eyes would light up as they told me about this exotic country.
For hours sometimes, I would just daydream about traveling to Thailand. Just the mere thought of visiting this country would put a smile on my face. Even though I had heard about traveling in other countries too, it was Thailand that fascinated me. I knew deep down, I had to go there. Why? It didn’t really matter. What mattered was, how? How would I ever get across the world to Thailand? Even after two years, we still had debts and hardly any money saved up for traveling. This dream seemed so absurd to think about, but yet I knew I would make it somehow. How though? That question haunted me for months…
Until finally, Jason and I got that call in May, 2006. We were finally being offered to work as English teachers abroad. Within 2 weeks, we had quit our jobs, packed up our lives in Canada, and were on a plane to a foreign country called South Korea. This whole adventure ignited a spark that would change our lives forever. Little did I know at that time, but South Korea would be our golden ticket to the world of traveling and happiness. Within 2 months of being in South Korea, we had our first vacation. And, you may have guessed it. We were on a flight to Thailand!
(Read about our first trip to Thailand.)
Since then, we have been to Thailand 7 times and traveled to about 30 countries!! Dreams can come true, you only need to believe and then find a way!
On my way to Thailand for the very first time in my life!
While in Canada, Jason surprised me with this Thailand guidebook. He gave it to me as a reminder that one day we would travel to Thailand. Smart, man!
Relaxing at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand.
Once Jason and I started living abroad, Thailand was the first country we visited during our vacation period. I had always had a deep desire to travel to Thailand. I had heard Thailand was amazing and so exotic with beautiful beaches. It sounded like paradise. During our initial visit to Thailand we stayed in Bangkok for a few days, and then took a one hour flight to Ko Samui.
Ko Samui was our first real beach experience and it was wonderful. The sand was soft and the water was great for swimming.
It was at Ko Samui, we did jet skiing for the first time! Driving the jet ski in the deep waters away from the shore, was thrilling. I must admit however, the ride was also very bumpy and a bit scary for me. But, I survived our very first water sports adventure in Thailand!
In the evening, tables were set up on the beach for dinner. Having a candlelit dinner and hearing the sounds of the ocean, on a warm summer evening was so romantic and relaxing.
For me, Thailand was and continues to be a slice of paradise! It definitely is one my favorite countries in the world.
Getting ready to cook Thai food in Thailand for the first time!
Both Jason and I love eating Thai food. So, while we were in Bangkok, Thailand, we figured why not take a cooking course and learn to make a few of our favorite Thai dishes for ourselves.
Early in the morning, we met up with our friendly cooking instructor and headed off to the vegetable market. We were shown how to carefully select all the fresh vegetables and ingredients for our dishes. We had decided to make Green Thai curry with chicken, Pad Thai with chicken, papaya salad, and sticky mango rice.
These are some of the most basic ingredients in most Thai dishes: lemongrass, galangal and chilies. I recall how much patience and hard work it took to crush and grind all the ingredients with a pestle, to make the green curry paste in particular. At the end, all the effort was worthwhile. The Green Curry dish tasted fresh and delicious!
We were also on a mission to cook delicious Pad Thai with chicken!
Once the noodles were mixed with the chives, bean sprouts, chopped tofu, chicken, and shrimp paste, they were set aside in the wok. An egg was cracked, and then mixed with the noodles!
My Pad Thai chicken dish turned out to be fairly yummy! We ended up spending about 3 hours cooking all our dishes and then enjoying them until our bellies were just too full! This was a fun and definitely rewarding experience for us. If you are interested in learning how to cook Thai food while in Bangkok, I would highly recommend “Lemongrass Cooking” with Carole.
Traveling isn’t only about visiting the most wonderful sites in the world or meeting new people, it is also about trying new things for yourself. The story I am about to tell you today, begins in Jerusalem, Israel. About 3 months into our one-year World Trip, I met this very nice Canadian girl, who convinced me of the value and convenience of having braided hair while traveling. Not having to style your hair everyday because it would already be neat and tidy sounded very pleasing to me. I had made up my mind, and at the first opportunity I would braid my hair.
About 5 months later, while I was in Thailand, the opportunity arose. I spent the next 2 hours, sitting at Khao san road, a famous tourist street in central Bangkok, getting my hair braided. I was extremely excited, since this was the first time in my life I would be getting braids.
In Indonesia in particular, for some reason the locals really loved my braids. I was very surprised by all the compliments.
Believe it or not, I kept the braids for almost 2 months! When our World Trip ended in Malaysia, I decided it was time to take out the braids. Over the weeks, the braids had gotten pretty tangled and I hate to admit it but my hair had become very dry too. The nightmare was about to begin. I remember sitting in my room in Kuala Lumpur trying very hard to undo my braids. But, it was a disaster, my hair was so tangled at the back. I really did not want to cut my hair short, so despite my frustration, I was determined to untangle those ugly knots. It took the whole day with Jason’s help to finally untangle my hair.
The next day, I headed to the hairdresser inside the Petronas Twin Towers, and got a nice haircut. I felt refreshed. What did I learn? As much as braids can be convenient during traveling, the price you have to pay afterwards is just so high.