Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Thailand: meh

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Thailand was the only country we visited that disappointed us.  There were a number of factors contributing to that.  Numerous people had raved about how inexpensive Thailand is, but after visiting Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, it seemed outrageously expensive—it was no Australia, but we certainly wouldn’t call it cheap!  It was also very Westernized, which was a strong contrast to the countries we’d just come from.  It felt a bit like the Thailand exhibit at the "International Pavillion" of an American theme park.  And it was relentlessly hot, muggy and buggy.  We’d been in other places as hot (though not as buggy) and enjoyed them, but Thailand just didn’t seem to offer much to offset being completely sweat drenched 10 minutes after stepping outdoors. 
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For perspective, we still want to return to Bolivia, even after our escape from there, but we have no interest in returning to Thailand.  Unfortunately, we’d already committed to spending three weeks there, thinking it would be an inexpensive place to relax and slow down before diving into 6 weeks of fast-paced travel in Madagascar, Egypt and Jordan. 
It wasn’t a complete loss; we did enjoy Chiang Mai, we had some great food, and we had some fantastic snorkeling off Koh Tao, but every time someone asks us if there’s anywhere we would not recommend going, we both say “Thailand” simultaneously, without hesitation.   Visiting there last, in South-East Asia, was probably a mistake—it really suffered in comparison, in much the way that test-driving a mini van would feel after having driven three exotic sports cars.   The number of pictures we took reflects our enthusiasm pretty accurately.  We took as many pictures in Laos in 5 days, as we took in Thailand in 15.
We don’t want to bash Thailand mercilessly; if you loved it, we’re not saying you shouldn’t have.  On the other hand, if you enjoyed Thailand, and haven’t been elsewhere in Asia, you are in for a treat!  We’ll stop badmouthing (excepting an occasional, snarky picture subtitle), and just wrap up with some of the pretty things we saw when we weren’t trying to re-apply bug repellent over a slurry of sweat and sun screen.
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Cold beer?  Drink fast—it’ll be warmer than you in about two minutes.
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