Ever wondered what a holiday in Thailand would be like when it’s not a package deal? Our roving reporter *Sandra recently visited the south east Asian country and shares her hilarious diary notes of two weeks in Thailand.
Get the lowdown from this diary of a Black woman, on holiday for two weeks in Thailand.
We (travelling with a friend) landed at our first stop, Heathrow T4! After checking in, getting through security and excitedly waiting for my boarding gate to be announced. It was finally time to take off, Thailand here I come (and Abu Dhabi for a four-hour layover!)
24 hours later and we finally arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok). We took what should have been a 35-minute private transfer to The Mandarin Hotel Bangkok, Rama IV Road. But thanks to the non-stop traffic in Bangkok (which never lets up no matter the time of day!) it took over an hour!
Check-in wasn’t until 2pm so we decided to spend a few hours in Chamchurri Square Mall (directly opposite the hotel) It was a huge food mall; with plenty of places to eat.
Later in the evening, I really started to feel like I was in Thailand as we took a tuk-tuk to G’s Restaurant Si Lom Rd, Patpong. I discovered that this was in one of Bangkok’s ever so famous red-light districts. The food was great at G’s; I enjoyed a Massaman curry (the first of many on this trip) and signature Mai Tai (cocktail’o clock = holiday mode activated!)
While exploring the delights of Si Lom Rd my friend and I were constantly approached by street sellers and people soliciting customers. Finally, curiosity got the best of us and we entered a very seedy and private adult bar. Once inside we were given (and took!) a free, cheap, local alcoholic beverage included in our entry fee of 300thb just before the ‘show’ began!
A young Thai woman appeared on the stage and removed her bikini bottoms. She then handed me a balloon and instructed me to raise it above my head.
Next she fired a dart directly from her vagina; with accuracy and precision as she popped the balloon first time. It was bizarre but she was definitely skilled!
Next, she asked for our names to which we gave fake names; Sandra and Mike Lowery! She inserted a marker pen in her vagina and wrote our names and a lovely greeting on a white piece of paper. A lovely gesture, but no, I didn’t take the paper, it wasn’t quite the type of souvenir I had in mind!
In spite of her and the other performers ‘expertise’ the show was an uncomfortable watch especially as the Thai women are constantly hounding you for tips whether ‘performing’ or not.
“We were provided with ping pong paddles and I surprised myself when I began to get quite competitive as I returned her serve…”
Other tricks included the never-ending string of flowers (think clown and never-ending handkerchief from the sleeve), cigarette smoking (she smoked three cigs at once) and the infamous ping pong show! We were provided with ping pong paddles and I surprised myself when I began to get quite competitive as I returned her serve (I highly doubt I will ever play a ping pong game like it again, it was definitely a once in a lifetime travel experience)!
Several tricks later and we left the venue as we realised there was a small commotion with the only other tourists in the bar. After leaving we found out they had ordered six drinks in total but didn’t agree on a price before ordering (they do not advertise prices for a reason)!
The three tourists in the bar were held to ransom (it was like a scene from a movie) until one of them was frog marched to a nearby ATM machine to withdraw 7,000thb approx. £200.
Lesson learned; do not open a ‘tab’ in a Thailand bar without understanding the price of your drink, especially if you are in the red light district.
We travelled to Lumphini Park which is described as Bangkok’s Central Park. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to see as they were preparing for what seemed to be a huge event/carnival. However, we made the best of it and enjoyed the lovely scenery and wildlife.
Later in the day, we visited MBK Mall; a shopaholic’s dream with several floors of established and recognised designer shops and food courts.
In the evening we went to the famous Khao San Rd where we enjoyed some of Thailand’s famous street food. I tucked into a pad thai for the equivalent of £3.50, which was by far my most affordable meal.
We spent the rest of the night at an open/outside bar; Rocco Bar. They played Hip Hop and R&B all night; a great night with Mai Tais (partayyyy!!!) on tap.
We woke up to a 7am call time for a full day of sightseeing. We began our jam-packed day by taking a trip to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Often considered the most famous floating market (for tourists;) traders here use small wooden boats to sell their produce, goods and souvenirs.
The market is built on a maze of canals and is over an hour’s transfer out of Bangkok (but it’s well worth the journey).
Next was the Grand Palace Tour; this is undoubtedly the most famous landmark in Bangkok. Built-in 1782CE and home to the Thai King for 150 years, the grandeur and opulence is absolutely breath-taking.
After a full day of culture, we arrived at our hotel in the late afternoon ready for a much-needed three-hour traditional Thai foot and full body massage!
A word of caution, while there are massage places all over Thailand; if it looks dodgy or seedy it probably is (trust your gut)! There are several stories and places you need to be aware of and avoid! However finer establishments will always cater to a higher standard with no funny business. My three-hour experience at the Mandarin Hotel Spa only set me back £45; most definitely worth it and a great massage.
A holiday isn’t really a holiday without some time spent lounging by the hotel pool and that’s exactly what we did until we were picked up later in the afternoon. To be taken to the airport for our domestic flight to Phuket.
Just over an hour after take-off, we arrived in Phuket Airport then proceeded to The Yama Hotel Phuket; Patak Soi.
We were still in relaxation mode, so it was another the day at the hotel resort, where we lounged by the pool and took full advantage of the fully inclusive food and drinks menu.
Come nightfall, we took a 15 min cab ride to Bangla Rd, Patong Beach. This really is the place you need to be at for a night in Phuket. Drinking, bars and clubs for everyone. Needless to say, I scouted all the R&B and hip-hop venues. Until I finally found my haunt Sugar Club; 800thb entry and free (selected) drinks all night (win-win). The music was good and current; the club also had hip-hop dancers on stage three at a time. Surprisingly they were actually good and there was quite a variety with changes every 20 minutes. Illusionz is another great venue but Sugar was my favourite.
“Another day spent in the resort. More Sun, more food, more Mai Tais!”
Another day spent in the resort. More Sun, more food, more Mai Tais!
In the evening we ended up in Karon, a nearby resort town. After a heavy night in Bangla Rd, I thought it’d be too premature to go back two nights in a row. Karon was not like Bangla road. I found a quiet outside/open bar and played pool with some tourists from South London. We got chatting and I discovered they were at the beginning of their seven-month travelling vacation, alright for some!
We went to Kata Beach and enjoyed a massage on the beach after taking in some sun and sea.
Tonight was a full moon, something Thai folk celebrate with iconic Full Moon Parties. People from all corners of the Earth congregate to celebrate with an all-night club party on a beach somewhere. This had been recommended to me previously by friends but what I didn’t realise was that this Paradise Beach was a mere eight-hour drive away from our hotel! I decided to pass on this and opted for more humble celebrations from the hotel.
Yama Hotel provided a special full moon dinner buffet for Loy Krathong. A Siamese annual event where people all over the country gather around rivers, lakes or canals to pay respect to the water goddess and make wishes for the coming years by releasing the Krathong (lotus-shaped baskets decorated with flowers and candles). After dinner we lit the baskets and made some wishes, why not? It wasn’t the wild all-night club I’d been told about, but I enjoyed partaking in some Thai culture!
We headed back to Bangla Rd and Sugar Club! Another great night spent.
Bangla Boxing Stadium boasts the biggest stadium for Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) in Phuket. I saw nine tournaments; great fights, all exciting and aggressive. I sat front row and literally had to wipe sweat (from the fighters) off me as it sprayed in the air and landed on my lap; great but gross.
You know how when you watch Fast and Furious you want to drive really quickly (but don’t of course) well after watching Muay Thai I wanted to literally kick some ass. I loved it!
It was another day spent by the pool in the resort for me whilst my friend went to the Elephant Sanctuary.
A whole day spent in the hotel room. Needed a break from the heat (so there is such a thing as too much sun, who knew)!
I headed back to Kata beach and enjoyed another massage on the beach. I thought the massages were excellent, if you couldn’t already tell. More sun and fresh coconut water.
We had plans to visit the Old Town at night, but we had to change plans because of the monsoon-like showers and torrential rain that bucketed down over Phuket. I fancied a quiet night in any way.
We booked the city tour of Phuket. At our first stop, we were taken to Kata Viewpoint where there were breath-taking views to say the least, followed by Big Buddha (a must-see for tourists in Phuket). Next, we went to Chalong Temple followed by shorter visits to a honey farm and cashew nut factory.
All of this was great, but the best part of the tour was saved until the end. The dolphin show was wonderful fun to watch and the seal put up a pretty great show too.
It was another early start as we were picked up and travelled to the famous Phi Phi Island. We travelled in style via a jet cruiser and passed beautiful scenes including Maya Bay (which is now unfortunately closed until further notice). I’m not the type to snorkel but I did enjoy a dip in the inviting sea.
This day tour stopped on Viking Island where we enjoyed a lunch buffet. More sun, sea and taking in the beautiful scenery before we headed back on the jet cruiser.
For my final night in Thailand, I decided to get some fresh ink! A mandala tattoo for a holiday I will never forget. A much better souvenir than the price of paper I turned down from the Thai lady in the bar!
We enjoyed a lazy morning and afternoon spent in the resort before being picked up mid-afternoon for an evening flight back home. Seventeen hours later, we touched down at Heathrow.
It was definitely a holiday to remember!
*Name changed to protect the guilty!
Image credits: Melanmagazine