17 Wednesday August, 2011
Travelling to Asia is an exciting and exhilarating experience. It can be quite nerve-jangling at first, but once into the swing of things, it is impossible not to love it. I recently took 3 months out to explore the region and as soon as I touched down in Bangkok I knew that my expedition would turn into an adventure, full of new landscapes, people and cultures.
My friend and I swiftly tucked in to our first Thai green curry and immediately forgot Western cuisine – it was the most amazing thing I had ever tasted. And the food isn’t confined to restaurants: wherever you are in Thailand, and all over Asia, the streets are filled with food carts where locals dish up the tastiest meals at bargain prices. We spent many evenings eating delicious street food, occasionally splashing out at the top restaurants in the city.
Lunch on the go in Bangkok draws you into everything the city has to offer. Wander through the stunning Grand Palace complex and lose yourself for hours marvelling at the intricate mosaic work adorning the buildings. Some temples are more famous for what they hold within and this is very true for Wat Pho where you’ll find an enormous reclining Buddha – tricky to get the whole length of this wonder into a photograph, but a rewarding challenge! Wat Indrawiharn in Bangkok, with its 32 meter standing Buddha adorned in gold, is also well worth a look. Pop into the temple to get a blessing from the high monk – a wonderfully peaceful and humbling experience.
Temples, however, are not all that Thailand has to offer, as we soon discovered. There are, of course, some of Asia's most gorgeous beaches and I'm not ashamed to say I took full advantage of that! But my most special memories were further north, in Chiang Mai, where I acquired my love for elephants. The Mahouts were amazing and their love and admiration for these wonderful animals shone through – and boy, it was infectious! After spending a day with the elephants at a local camp in Chang Baan, feeding, trekking and bathing them, my friend had to practically drag me away from the camp. Even though this experience is not the cheapest, if there is one thing I would thoroughly recommend, it is this. Where else can you say you had a kiss from an elephant?!
Moving on from Thailand, my adventure continued through Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia… but I will save those for another blog ;)
Since joining Ampersand, one thing is abundantly clear: this team will provide you with the most extraordinary holiday. But to make it truly yours, you have to put in a little effort. Here are my top 3 tips for getting the most out of your holiday:
- Get to know the locals – they will help provide you with knowledge, advice and inspiration you can’t find in guide books. Also very important: eat where the locals eat!
- If in doubt, say yes. You never know what you could be turning down. Holidays are about experience and adventure – seize the opportunity!
- Take time out to learn about the destination you are travelling to. It may be simple like learning a few key phrases in the local language, but they will love it, and in turn, will exceed your expectations in the service and friendship they offer.