Holiday Postcards: Five weeks in Thailand

One afternoon in Southampton in the Summer of 2008 - a hazy, sunny afternoon spent outside a bar drinking cold ciders in the sunshine.  An offhand comment from a friend who was planning a trip to Thailand in the January of the following year with another friend. "You should come," she said, waiting for a likely no.  "I might, you know," I said.  I couldn't think of a reason why not.  I had savings, a generous holiday entitlement and a passport that needed some more stamps.

And so it was that on the 13th January, 2009, we landed in Bangkok.  On the first day of my travel diary I wrote "A long taxi journey allowed us the opportunity for a first glimpse at the capital - scooters everywhere (no helmets), erratic driving, rickety huts giving way to high rise hotels, hundreds of taxis, car dealers, street vendors, dusty roads and dilapidated buildings."

street food thailand
street vendors
thailand temples
finding tranquillity in temples
eating at night markets in thailand
eating in night markets
A few days later, after taking in more of the city I wrote "It is rich with smells, predominantly, honestly, a sort of sewage-y smell, punctuated with garlic, thai spices, exhaust fumes, and the smell of a hot climate - a dusty, humid, aridness. Everyone here seems to be waiting for something - street vendors, taxi drivers, girls outside massage parlours, barmen in empty bars.  They are waiting for custom but there is a sense of patience and acceptance inherent in all of them that gives Bangkok a relaxed atmosphere despite the hubbub."

Over several days we visited breathtaking palaces, bustling night markets, caught tuk-tuks, filled our bellies with street food, photographed countless neon signs and got taxis all over the city.  We visited temples and ruins in Ayutthaya before catching a night train to Chiang Mai.  From Chiang Mai we trekked through a jungle and stayed in a hut in the village of a hill-tribe as well as going trekking on elephants.

elephant trekking thailand
stray dog thailand
the dog we adopted on our trek -  'little man'
We spent two more weeks travelling around - catching countless night trains (with seats that turn into bunks - 12-14 hour journeys with our noses pressed to windows taking in the landscapes, then waking in the morning to breakfasts brought on trays), walked along the bridge on the River Kwai, stayed on a hotel on a boat, visited a waterfall where monkeys stole another member of the group's cigarettes and camera and visited a temple filled with tigers.  We went bamboo rafting down a river, a trip that nearly ended in disaster, and visited a floating market - the smell of roasting seafood and huge woks of rice permeating the scene of boats bobbing gently on the canal.

tiger temple thailand
tiger temple
floating market thailand
damnoen saduak floating market
spring rolls from damnoen saduak floating market
After all of our furious exploring and seemingly endless train and bus journeys, the second half of our holiday was dedicated to relaxation.  We travelled down to Krabi and visited 'James Bond Island' - visiting a temple that was home to hundreds of monkeys and then taking a boat trip around four islands; cruising on iridescent, azure water, snorkeling coral reefs and exploring island paradises.  On one we found our own little corner of heaven - sea for miles, a deserted beach - total serenity.

island paradise ao nang thailand
matt and nicole in our slice of heaven
clear water and longboats thailand
One night we stayed on Maya Beach where The Beach was filmed.  We slept in sleeping bags on the beach and played guitar with the local tour guides as the sun went down.  We slept under the stars and woke in the middle of the night to dip our toes in the sea and run our fingers through the glowing phosphorescence that looks like tiny, bright, green lights in the darkness. (Breathtaking).

maya beach sunset
sunset from maya beach
maya beach thailand
longboats at ao nang thailand
sunset and longboats - ao nang
After visiting several more islands - Ko Phi Phi, Koh Samui and many more, we returned home at the end of February.  It truly was the trip of a lifetime and even now, reading my travel diary brings back those irreplaceable memories of an adventure without comparison; living out of a backpack, immersing yourself in a different culture, eating new and indescribably delicious foods, feeling the heat on your skin for weeks at a time, pushing toes into the sand, swimming in the sea (in a thunderstorm!) and every day feeling the anticipation of what the next would bring.  It galvanised my love for travelling as much as it cemented my love for home. In the final page of my travel diary I wrote "Being away from home has made me realise that I enjoy the simple comforts in life - clean washing, hot showers, a comfortable bed, a good night's sleep, good friends, hearty meals and alone time."  Of course, as I tucked into a bag of hot, salty fish and chips on my first night home, cocooned myself in my duck down duvet and watched reruns of good old British sitcoms, I might also have been planning my next adventure....

This post has been my entry to the Travel Supermarket Holiday Postcards competition.  I really hope you've enjoyed my memories of Thailand and a smattering of the hundreds of photos I took whilst I was away! I had an amazing time - if you're planning a trip to Thailand do let me know and I can tell you more about the places we visited.

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  1. Looks like an amazing trip! I look forward to doing something like this myself :-) very inspiring!


  2. Beautiful photos. Thailand is one of my favourite places to visit. They have such a happiness and welcoming attitude that is totally infectious and I would recommend anyone to explore there. :) xx


  3. Gorgeous photos! I love Thailand, I end up going every year because I can't stand the thought of missing out on it haha xx

    D Is For...

  4. Went to Thailand last year and absolutely LOVED it! Such an amazing and special place
    We could never travel enough!
    Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures

  5. Wow Rosie just wow this looks utterly captivating. Thailand is on my very long list of places to visit - i'm still yet to get out of Europe!

  6. So so beautiful. Thailand is on my bucket list for sure.
    Great photos, thanks for sharing
    M x

  7. The tiger! The tiger! Oh my god! You touched the tiger! That is soooo cool!

  8. Beautiful photos, and even more beautiful writing! My sister has just yesterday gone to Sri Lanka for a month and a bit and I think she was probably relieved to stop hearing me nag her to take a notebook to document it hahah. I would love to see a tiger that close, though it's a bit of a shame they have to be chained and drugged up so much.. that sounded a lot more RSPCA than I meant it to uh oh xx

    1. Aww I know, you're right though it was really sad to see it all chained up - when we booked the experience we didn't know anything about the bad press the place has got, we were told it was a conservation centre and that the tigers are really well looked after and eventually released into the wild. I don't know whether that's true or whether it's true that they're drugged, we were told that they were docile because it was the hottest part of the day and they'd just eaten. It does pay to research things you might be doing and places you might be visiting though as I'm not sure if we'd still have gone if we read the allegations against it prior to going xxx

  9. God I love trips like that. Looks perfect.

  10. We were in Thailand at the same time!
    I was travelling in Southeast Asia from November 2008 to March 2009. It was unforgettable experience and I went back again in 2010. I am so desperate to get back there aagain.

  11. That beach looks incredible!

  12. Ohh I did similar things in 2011 and now I just want to be back! Beautifully written Rosie :)

    Rosie x

  13. What fantastic photos, Rosie! I really regret not investing in a decent camera before my trip to India 6 years ago- my photos of the trip are nowhere near as vivid as my memories! xx

  14. Oh wow this brings back so many memories of when I went. Me and the hubster travelled Thailand for our honeymoon and it was just AMAZING. Fab photos :) x

  15. This is best part time activity for a person who is spending days Thailand. Beaches are also good for this.


Thank you in advance for your lovely comments, they mean the world to me! If you have a question or want to get in touch, tweet me at @rosieoutlook.