Maybe because it’s cheap – but I think it’s more because it’s happy, that we keep going back to Thailand.
Everyone smilingly welcomes you. Given half-a-chance, Indians will talk about their life’s deepest secrets to strangers but we tend to put on the grimmest expressions when we are travelling. Please try to put on a smile and bow, when in Thailand. This is important to them so let’s do it.Thailand is getting increasingly conscious of its Buddhist heritage and considers it an insult to use ‘Buddha’ images/statues for decoration. So however gorgeous those Buddha t-shirts and key-chains look, respect the country’s sentiment and do not buy them.
Our holiday was in a small village by the sea, called Khao Lak, which was one of the worst-hit areas during the Tsunami. This is the lesser known neighbour of Phuket and we were happy to contribute to the tourism trade of a place like this. Every alternate day, the town sets up a market where they sell local produce – from fresh vegetables to handicrafts. I recommend that you buy your souvenirs here rather than in large, AC shops where ‘Thailand’ souvenirs, are really factory-produced in a different country. Bamboo, coir and cotton products are indigenous to the place – buy them.
When in Thailand, drink Chang Beer. Or maybe Singha. You do not want to increase your carbon-footprint by drinking imported beer, especially when they have such good local varieties. One of the reasons why we keep going back to this country is their food. While we haven’t yet developed a taste for grasshoppers or silkworms (soon, we hope), we cannot get enough of their curries and soups. The use of coconut milk and spices such as ginger (or galangal), tamarind and turmeric, make their food very similar to Kerala food. Eat local. Be Healthy.
Our resort planned a nature walk and showed us indigenous plants and birds on the property. We found that we shared a very similar ecological heritage – thanks to similar climate and that there was just 90 kms of sea, separating this village from our Andaman Islands. This is a Prinia feeding on fruits of a Tropical Palm. If you have children with you, do take time out to show them these. A child growing up knowing nature, is happy and healthy and grows up to be an eco-conscious citizen.
Finally, switch off the AC and open the doors. There is always a pretty view outside and the non-AC air makes you pretty. Remember, what’s good for the Earth, is good for you.
– Text and Images by Jayati Talapatra