If you've just landed here reading this post, here's some context: I started this travel blog back in January with my skiing trip to France and I'm now 4 weeks into "The Trip of A Lifetime", traveling around South East Asia. Right now, I'm in Thailand and heading to Cambodia next!
So following on from my last post, this one brings you through my journey from Pattaya to authentic Thai villages and towns, like Korat and Phimai, experienced with a real Thai family from that area. Up to now, this has been the highlight of my trip; experiencing new foods and drinks, trying new cooking methods, seeing the Thai countryside and some of the spectacular temples and landmarks that make this country so special, all through using very little English. It's amazing how people understand each other when you strip out the language challenge.
From Islands to Inland.Just as I was getting used to the beach and island life, it was time to pack the bag and venture further inland to get a real taste of the Thai culture and the daily village life. My relative’s wife’s niece kindly picked us up around 10am, along with her husband and kids and we drove for maybe 6 hours into the heart of Thailand. With a few pitstops for fuel, food and photos along the way, we finally reached our first stop, Phimai. One of the places we stopped at was The Veron (Pics below).
We had pulled into a busy roadside BBQ styled restaurant where we all cooked our own food on some kind of cooking contraption, boiling and grilling our food to our liking. This was all very new to me and was fascinated by it, the for was nice too. The Thais sure know how to eat!
As we finished off, I turned around and saw a frog leaped across the floor and into the kitchen. I knew I had arrived.
As the night drew in, the hotel I was staying in was definitely calling. I was dropped at the Phimai Inn, checked in, got a bottle of beer and took a look around then headed off to bed (Phimai is about 50 minutes from the town of Korat).
The Thai Barista
I had a great sleep, besides listening to the lizard crawling around in the aircon unit. 9.30am came and it was time to leave. Another day with an authentic Thai family was beginning.
We drove for a few minutes before stopping for some food around Korat National Park. Thais love their food!
We had a look around here and got coconut cream, in a real coconut! It was delicious. We took some photos at a temple and beside a boxing legend statue and we fed the big crawfish.
We headed towards Korat, turned off the main road and made our way up a semi-dirt road to my host family’s village. Wow. Driving through the paddy fields, seeing the people out working in 35-degree heat to make ends meet was a real eye-opener into the way of life of many in the Thai countryside. We shortly arrived at my host family’s house. It wasn’t too dissimilar from a Western home I guess, just appeared to be a little messier out back and nearly every house in the area had a chicken or many poultry out the back.
I was shortly taken to the local “cafe” where I was nearly married off to the local barista girl. Not many farangs are seen around there so I guess I was kind of a big deal. A new white male in town!
Scooters, Slingshots and Whiskey
Also, what struck me was literally 10 year olds driving scooters around.
Some Thai families were out at the front of their houses eating and talking. What also struck me was that nobody seemed unhappy or stressed. I think we have a lot to learn in the West about happiness and being content with our lot. But maybe it’s just a total culture difference and that Westerners are happy in other ways…The fun began then back at the house, where builders were apparently carrying out some work next door. With virtually no English, they beckoned me over a few times to drink whiskey with them. I politely declined once or twice but then gave in. What the heck. They whacked out a beer bottle full of clear Thai whiskey and began to pour. “Drink” back they said. So I knocked it back and I must say it was one of the nicest whiskeys ever. “Ok ok another” they egged me on. Within 5 minutes we had all done three sizeable measures each. I then noticed one of the guys had something tucked into his jeans…a slingshot! He took it out, aimed it at a paint can a few metres away and took a shot. Missed but close. He then gave me a go, I missed but not as close as him. Was this a hunting tool or self defence weapon I had come across? God only knows.
I then thanked the guys and said my good byes, going back for some more food before leaving for the town of Korat, where I would be staying that night.
Korat (in Nakhon Ratchasima)
Sunday 10th February came and it was time to venture into the town of Korat. One of the first things I did after having a nice Thai breakfast was the Thai lotto. Imagine winning it! Then we proceeded to the central square and offered some gifts to the Buddha. I managed to get a photo with a Thai policeman. He asked me what I was doing in Thailand. I rang the gong then and took a few photos, with Spiderman and the golden monks. We went to the museum then where you can see some photos below of the starry sky ceiling and more.
After the Korat Museum, we went to the Korat Geopark where I got a geography and history lesson in petrified wood and rocks and learnt about the local land.
It was time to get in the car and start the long journey back to the airport in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK). We drove on and passed by strawberry farm and stopped for food maybe 2 hours in. After about 3 hours, I realised that a live chicken was in the front of the car under the driver’s legs! WTF. I think this is s good look tradition. The sun was starting to set and I was tired from an awesome two days of authentic Thai life, arriving into BKK at 10pm. I wasn’t flying until 6.20am the next morning so I didn’t get to sleep at all. So I was shattered. But my next destination was going to be somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for the past few years. Let’s see how that goes in my next blog post…