Take This Blog and LOVE It, Part 2

Greetings reader, it’s Seven here. If you’ve read my previous blogs you know about my “Take This Blog and Shove It” series wherein I destroyed badly-written hate-Thailand articles. That series is at its end, because I’ve realized that 1—there’s no way to stop poor writers from producing shitty blogs about the country I love, and 2—reading that tripe is depressing. So to replace that series and in an attempt to balance the scales, I’m going to offer some humble praise for blogs that correctly and accurately compliment The Land of Smiles. Part One went out as a trial article last month, and while it wasn’t as popular as any of the Shove It series, I think it’s a worthwhile effort to give credit where it’s due.

Something one notices right away when reading these love-Thailand blogs is the set of common items in each list. Every single one of them covers the BPCFW—beaches, people, cheap living, food, and weather. Everybody knows these five, and they never ever change. These writers reveal their real talent when they come up with something original to promote. Today’s offering is from a website called Culture Trip. They found 15 things to love, and the stuff they list is comparatively better than most. I’ll be skipping their BPCFW. Here are the other ones:

“The Islands.

Thailand’s islands need no introduction… (they) have a wonderfully laid-back feel and incredibly friendly locals. These features, coupled with the islands’ soft sand and clear seas, illustrate why they’re so popular.

As someone who lived on a Thai island for a year and spent much of my free time between 2010 and 2013 on Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Chang, and Koh Kood, I couldn’t agree more. And the millions of visitors per year prove it as well. Ignore when people say “Oh but it’s so polluted,” or “it’s overcrowded with tourists.” Every island has its trash and tourists. Every island also has its hidden coves, beaches, and holes in the wall. These are the gems worth seeking out. They make the rest of life worthwhile.

The Temples.

Temples are a big part of Thai culture, and there are plenty of jaw-dropping temples to be found wherever you visit. From the imposing white walls of Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai, to the historic ruins of Ayutthaya — not to mention the lavish Wat Phra Kaew, or the Grand Palace in Bangkok — if you love temples and culture, you’ll love Thailand.

This is one I often forget about. I take them for granted because they’re everywhere, but when I first arrived in country, I did marvel at the intricate, artistic design of the temples. Of the ones I’ve seen my favorite is Wat Kaew Korawaram in Krabi town. It’s white, and it’s gorgeous.

The Shopping.

Thailand’s major cities are well-equipped in the mall department, making the country the perfect place for those in need of some retail therapy. Malls carry all the usual designer labels, as well as some seriously cool Thai brands too, but they aren’t the only places to shop. Thailand’s night markets often feature a mix of high-quality handmade clothes as well as the regular tourist couture, and a lot of souvenirs. It might not be known as a fashion capital of the world, but it’s well on its way to being one.

Personal faves: MBK, Paragon, the Patpong Night Market, and the Thursday market in Bang Tao, Phuket. I got my entire wardrobe from there for under 300 baht once.

The Festivals.

Thai festivals are often like Western festivals on steroids. Sure, some can be a little more reserved like Loy Krathong, where people sail boats made from leaves and candles down rivers, but others can be like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The Nine Emperor Gods Festival sees people impaling their faces with swords, knives and needles, while the New Year celebration of Songkran is a huge water fight…

I gotta respectfully disagree. As someone who’s sick and tired of being doused with ice water while I’m walking to the store, I haven’t got anything good to say about Sonkran. It was fun the first couple of times. Now it’s just tedious. And every expat I know feels the same way.

 The Wildlife.

The elephant is the national symbol of Thailand and, while they are incredible creatures, they’re just one of many amazing animals to be found here. Tigers, bears, snakes, manta rays, gibbons and pangolins can all be found living freely in the various national parks of Thailand, making it a paradise for lovers of nature and exotic creatures.

When I lived in Krabi, a family of cobras would nest under my house every breeding season. It did add some excitement to my mornings, walking out the door to find a cobra sunning itself on my porch. And there’s a colony of monkeys that live in the trees near my work. Monitor lizards in the pond at Lumphini Park. It’s crazy.

The Tolerance.

In Thailand, people of various faiths, backgrounds and sexual orientations live side by side in relative harmony. Muslims work and socialise among Buddhists, Christians walk around temples respectfully and transgender people are readily accepted all over the country. Of course, nothing is perfect, but when it comes to tolerance and inclusion, the West could certainly learn some lessons from Thailand.

This is easily one of the best things about Thailand. “You do you” is the unofficial motto of the people here. In the age of woke SJWs telling people what to eat, wear, think, and do, it’s really refreshing.

The Language.

The Thai language is a beautiful one, often poetic and melodic sounding, and not as harsh as some of its Southeast Asian neighbours’ tongues…while it may be difficult to pick up a few phrases, the locals will love it if you do…

I don’t know if I’d go as far as saying it’s a beautiful language—especially compared to, say, French—but it’s fun to speak and fairly easy to learn. And I do love using Thai to talk shit to Thais about nearby farang who can’t understand me.

The Nightlife in Bangkok.

Bangkok is a city like no other. A sprawling metropolis, Bangkok can be anything for anyone; it truly is what you make of it. From hanging with the hipsters drinking craft beer in Ekkamai to getting down and dirty with the buckets on Khao San Road, Bangkok’s nightlife is as rich and varied as the people who visit it. Friendships can be forged in an instant, and memories are created that will last forever.

Maybe I’m biased, but I couldn’t agree more. LA has an OK scene. London’s got its hot spots. Berlin is exciting. Paris is pretty good. Barcelona can be fun. But nothing compares to Bangkok. Except maybe Amsterdam, but that place is friggin expensive. If I’m honest, I restrict my “nightlife” to bars, red-light districts, and rooftop restaurants. I can’t abide hipsters, expats, or tourists. But I hear the clubs are fun.

The National Parks.

Sure, Thailand’s beaches are great, but its national parks? They’re…the perfect representation of Thailand’s rich and diverse natural features, and are perfect places to get lost for a few days. From trekking and kayaking, to simply relaxing in the peaceful tranquil surroundings, Thailand’s beautiful national parks are a welcome change from beach after beach, and captivate anyone who sets foot in them.

My favorite park is Nopparat Thara, just north of Ao Nang. It’s got everything—forest, jungle, rivers, mangroves, and beach. Just heavenly. But I wouldn’t recommend “getting lost for a few days.” You might get eaten by something.

The Full Moon Party.

Even if you feel your all-night partying days are long gone, it’s worth making an exception for the Full Moon Party, which is one of the most famous events in the country. What was once a small gathering of travelers has evolved into an event which sees thousands dance the night away on Koh Phangan’s Haad Rin Beach, complete with fire shows, great music and copious amounts of alcohol. A party on the beach in the middle of paradise? Count us in.

I went to a Full Moon Party my first year in country. One was enough. Wall-to-wall obnoxious Eurotrash and nouveau hippie douchebags on ecstasy make for shitty company.

The North.

While many flock to the south of Thailand to enjoy a spot of island hopping and beach breaks, the north of Thailand has just as much, if not more to offer. Situated in the mountainous highlands amidst rice terraces and ethnic minority groups, cities like Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai offer an authentic glimpse into what life is like for ordinary Thai people, as well as having great markets, a top coffee culture and a cooler climate — which, after getting sunburnt in the south, is a welcome relief.

I must confess, in 10 years living here I’ve never been to the North, even though everyone goes on and on about how great it is. I suppose I’ll get there one day, but I’m not in any hurry. As an avid beachbum and whoremonger, there’s not a lot to entice me to go there. I’m sure the scenery is incredible, but I can see it from the comfort of my couch with Google images.

What a fantastic list, right? Kudos to the folks over at Culture Trip. I honestly don’t know how people limit their lists to less than 30. Thailand is unequivocally the greatest country on Earth. Cheers to everyone who visits with an open mind and a positive attitude, and cheers to another week above ground in this incredible place. Peace!