Bangkok ⇨ Ko Phangan ⇨ Ko Tao ⇨ Bangkok ⇨ Pai ⇨ Chiang Mai
Thailand was different. The plan was to have a neat one-month vacation with great food and zero stress, but I ended up being ill most of the time. First mysterious fever with cough, then ear infection, which produced one of the most intense pain I have ever experienced and finally a biking accident with a lot of scratches. One month in Thailand and 80% of the time was spent being sick with two kinds of antibiotics, a variety of painkillers and a myriad of ear drops.
Fortunately the destinations we picked were chill enough to spend time being sick comfortably. Haad Yuan was magical as always. The common theme of this season was an invasion of Full Moon bucketheads in neon colored t-shirts. Half of the beach is already lost to full mooners and who knows where this development will lead further. The plan to build a dividing wall across the beach was hatched, which received enthusiastic support from regulars, but nothing ever materialised. Maybe next season then.
Ko Tao has not changed at all from the last time. It seems Sairee beach had reached its full potential for fitting in more resorts and restaurants and the end product is enjoyable despite its touristic nature. I could not go diving because of the ear infection, but did not feel sad about it, which finally convinced me that scuba diving was not my cup of tea. Oh well, there are a myriad of other things to enjoy in this life.
Pai has considerably changed since the last time three years ago. New resorts have been built and more are on the way. Now Pai is dominated by rowdy American teenagers and even more Chinese tourists. I had a horrible vision what if in the near future it will become a boutique destination with excellent shopping and eating options aimed at catering Chinese tourists en masse. In the end the most important thing that matters to local businesses is who brings the most money. In the contest of poor white hippies and wealthy upper middle class from China, the winner is clear. Thankfully for now the chilled out lovely atmosphere is still there. People are friendly and easy-going, food is great and live music is somewhere every night. What else could you wish? Pai could be fully enjoyed only for one day, after which we spent the rest of the time recovering from the biking accident in the 40°C heat. Not an ideal way to spend a holiday or treat wounds by any means, but what you can do…
Thailand has never been that rough, as if it was sending a message: you are not welcomed this time. Coincidentally a lot of time was spent in discussions about the real nature of Thai friendliness. Whether “the land of thousand smiles” is authentic in its smiles or whether it is just a cultural mask that stems from the fear to lose one’s face. Anyhow Thailand is still my favourite destination in South East Asia. No bad feelings.