My first destination was Koh Lipe, Satun Province, Thailand. I made reservations for four nights, and stayed for 15. The turquoise waters and white sand beaches I was dreaming of? This place hit the spot.
A best friend of mine, Max, met me here for the latter third of my stay. Not a bad way to spend Christmas.
From Koh Lipe Max and I worked our way north. A few highlights from this stretch of the trip:
Railay Bay //
Everything here was beautiful, except for the palm-sized spider that lived in our bungalow for three days (we named him Alfred).
Koh Tao //
Met some wonderful people here, and got a chance to swim with some small black-tip reef sharks, which has been one of the more thrilling experiences of my trip. It’s a pretty exciting feeling swimming with these guys…definitely hooked and seeking an opportunity to do it again.
Prachuap Khiri Khan //
Home to these inquisitive monkeys and the best noodle soup I’ve encountered thus far.
Ubiquitous cheap and tasty eats, and the protests. Some people love this city, but personally, every time I’m here I find myself just waiting for the next destination.
Chiang Mai //
All in all, I spent a little over a month in Chiang Mai. It’s dirt-cheap, has a young student vibe, and has a charm to it that’s slightly reminiscent of Seattle. Despite the fact that it’s Thailand’s second largest city, I found it to be super relaxing. It’s also northern Thailand’s culinary capital and is home to the best food I’ve tried on my trip. ‘Nuff said.
Khao Soi is a Burmese influenced soup commonly served in the north of Thailand. It starts with a yellow curry and coconut milk broth, to which egg noodles, tender chicken, and crispy noodles are added. Served with fresh shallots and pickled cabbage. The breakfast of champions!
The Mae Hong Son Loop //
The Mae Hong Son Loop is considered to be one of the mecca motorcycle routes of Southeast Asia. It starts in Chiang Mai, and loops about 600 kilometers through rural northern Thailand, at some points coming within 30 kilometers of the Myanmar border. The scenery is beautiful and the road is empty…it’s a dream of a trip to take on a nice bike. Before I left for Asia, I tried to pay my bud Max the money I owed him for rent. He told me to instead keep it and spend it on something out here that I might not normally indulge in under my backpacker budget. I used that money to rent myself a proper dirtbike to do the loop on rather than just a scooter.
Altogether I spent about 10 days here. The best way I could describe this place is that it’s like summer camp for adults (draw your own conclusions) – tons of stuff to do and great vibes all around.
From northern Thailand I headed towards Surin, which is in Isan, the northeastern region of Thailand. There’s really not much going on in this part of the country, which can be a good and bad thing depending on what you’re after. It seemed to me that there was minimal western influence and intrusion into the culture. The friends I met here are what really made it for me though. Thai people are without a doubt some of the warmest, most generous, and most welcoming people I’ve encountered on my travels, and that was ever apparent to me in Surin.