Thailand is an interesting, exotic country. When I lived in the United States, I was never a big fan of Thai cuisine, because it was never really Thai food. However, authentic Thai food is excellent. I just cannot seem to get enough. Then every restaurant prepares Thai food differently. After two weeks, I never had the same Thai dish twice. Although many Thai dishes contain rice, noodles, eggs, and crushed nuts, the chefs added different meats, vegetables, and seasonings. Every dish had a distinctive flavor and taste to it.
Bangkok has a large number of street vendors, who sell freshly squeezed juices. I was drinking fresh orange juice for 20 bahts (approx. $0.67). The vendors also sell coconut, pomegranate, carrot, and other juices. Many street vendors also sell a variety of foods, but I stayed away from them. I was worried about food poisoning, because the food may have been stored outside in the heat all day long.
Although Bangkok is a large city, I never felt threatened. The city is fairly safe, even to walk around at the night time.
Bangkok and Thailand had some major annoyances, which were:
You always negotiate the price. You can never buy anything without asking the price. The Thai people always start with high prices that can be negotiated lower.
Some of the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers would not do what I asked. Tuk-tuks are motorized carts used to drive tourists and cargo around the city. The drivers, especially the tuk-tuks, try to throw in tour packages. One taxi driver said he had to go to the bathroom, and he wanted me to come into the Gem Store with him to look around as he went to the bathroom. Taxi and tuk-tuk drivers earn commission for brining customers to them.
Street peddlers would follow me down the street, determined to sell me their wares and trinkets. They would not take no for an answer.
Bangkok is just too large. People are everywhere, and the city seemed chaotic. Then those damn motorcycle drivers would drive their motorcycles all over, even on the sidewalks. It seemed I was always walking around or avoiding a motorcycle. (This chaotic driving, especially with motorcycles was a much bigger problem in the much smaller city, Patong City, Phuket).
- The area of the country spans 198,115 square miles, making Thailand the 51 largest country in the world.
- The currency is the Baht. Images of the king are displayed on all the denominations.
- The capital is Bangkok, and it is the largest city.
- In 2011, the population was estimated at 66.7 million people, making Thailand the 19th populous nation.
- Thailand is a major exporter of rice, textiles, footwear, and electronics.
- Thailand is a major tourist destination, especially for single or divorce males from the United States, Europe, and Australia.
- Approximately 95% of the population practice Buddhism.
Dan Nok is a sleazy, little town next to the Thailand-Malaysian border. Sexually repressed male tourists from Malaysia visit this tiny town with one main street with 10 cross streets. Restaurants, hotels, massage parlors, karaoke bars, and night clubs fill this little town as scantily dressed women patrol the streets, searching for tourists with cash. Dan Nok attracts the fair skinned ladies from Chiang Mai who would do almost anything for a little cash.
As I studied the town's skyline from my hotel balcony, I was quite surprised to see developers building more hotels and adding to this tiny town.
Hat Yai is the third largest city in Thailand and is about an hour drive from the Malaysian border. Although Western tourists rarely visit this city, most tourists arrive from Singapore and Malaysia. They ride night buses from the large cities of Malaysia. They come to Hat Yai for shopping and night market, where vendors sell clothes, food, and nick knacks along the city streets and alleys.
The downtown area around Lee Gardens Hotel is nice with several Western restaurants and a Starbucks. Once a tourist walks away from the downtown area, some neighborhoods can be run down. Nevertheless, Southern Thailand is experiencing a construction boom, and I saw new construction and renovation throughout the city.
The Hat Yai nightlife is quite tame when compared to Patong City and Bangkok. The mayor chased the sleaze out Hat Yai, and the sleaze settled in Dan Nok, closer to their Malaysian male customers.
Phuket Province is an island located southwest Thailand. The island also has a city named Phuket. However, when tourists think of Phuket, they think of only one thing, Patong City. Patong City is a major tourist designation and is located on the western side of the island.
Patong City has several attractions, including Patong Beach, which is rated in the top best five in the world. The inviting greenish-blue waters beckon the swimmer. The white fine beach sand feels like one is walking across silk.
A main entrance to Patong Beach is Ganga Street. During the day, the street would be rated PG. Many shops, cafes, and restaurants entice the tourists to try Thai cuisine or buy Thai trinkets. During the nighttime, "Oh my!" At night, there is definitely no shortage of scantily dressed Thai women, nor Western men chasing after them. The night life of Bangkok is quite tame when compared to Patong City.
Phuket Province is also good for the families with children. Many places to see and visit, as some of these photographs will attest.
Songkhla is a picturesque little town about 40 minute drive north of Hat Yai. Town is so clean and organized; I felt as if I were no longer in Thailand.
The town lies on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Thailand, and beautiful beaches surround the town. Thais and Malaysian tourists stay out of the sun and picnic under the trees on the beaches edges. Literally, tourists who love swimming can have the whole beach to themselves.
The Thais kept this town free from the Western corporations and the sleaze tourists can find in other Thai cities. McDonalds, Starbucks, or dubious massage parlours do not litter the landscape. Instead, Buddhist temples, universities, colleges, and schools, and government buildings fill the town.