I was in Thailand exactly after 15 years. While standing in the Visa on Arrival queue I was flipping through pages of my passport and realized in 1999 I had traveled to Thailand exactly on the same dates 21-27th July – weird coincidence. That was when I still working in the corporate world for a flamboyant American company that took us around the city and on cruises over a weekend. This time, I was on a trip on the Invitation of Tourism Authority of Thailand. Kanchanaburi, Tiger Temple, Bridge of River Kwai, Hua Hin, and some classic Bangkok were on the itinerary this time. So here are some near first impressions from the trip:
Thailand Travel First Impressions
1. Thailand is absolutely safe for tourists and travelers. Though there is a drop in the number of tourists, the sheer numbers at the attractions and on Bangkok streets were enough to give me confidence that tourists are well taken care of in the country, no matter what their personal struggles may be.
2. I liked the fact that they link tourism to not only the economy but to the happiness of their people and their visitors – as they have their tourism campaign around Thailand Happiness and as their Naval Chief mentioned in his press conference.
3. Shopping in Thailand can be addictive. As someone who hardly shops except for small souvenirs like Fridge magnets, I shopped quite a bit and I do blame it on the environment that presents so many options to you that you get sucked in. Whether you regret or enjoy it later is a different matter.
4. Thailand follows the dress code and expects its visitors to follow the same when they visit any place that is connected with the King or the Monks. For women, this means no sleeveless, no shorts / torn jeans and for men, it means no shorts and no torn jeans. This is the way they show respect to the king and the religious leaders. As someone who believes in the continuity of the cultures, I respect this code. I only wish they communicate it to visitors in advance, so that they come well prepared and not have to pay for the same at the venue.
Color & Day
5. Each day of the week is associated with a color, and the day you are born, that is your lucky color, makes me an Orange person – a color I do like. King was born on Monday so you always see his portrait surrounded by yellow color, and Queen’s in blue as she was born on Friday.
a. Monday – Yellow
b. Tuesday – Pink
c. Wednesday – Green
d. Thursday – Orange
e. Friday – Blue
f. Saturday – Purple
g. Sunday – Red
6. You can see the portrait of King and Queen in most public places and also in shops that sell them. Of course, the portrait is from their younger days as they are now 87 and 82 respectively. We were told that birthdays of King and Queen are a national holiday.
7. Colorful Tuk Tuks and Jeepanis are the highlights of local transport across Thailand. Bike Taxis are available in Bangkok, though my fellow travelers’ experience said they could be pricier than the taxis that can be found anywhere and can be identified by their bright colors like Shocking Pink, Bright Blue, and Sparkling Red. The way taxis and bikes were driven, I never felt out of India.
8. The bus that took us around had massage chairs – that means we could get a short and gentle massage while we traveled from one place to another. I found it very interesting, though I am not sure how effective it would be.
9. There were no international banks I could see anywhere, all the banks were local. Last time around, I remember having many global banking brands here.
10. Seven Eleven and Tesco-Lotus are signs that you can see on all highways. Lotus I believe is the local partner of retail giant Tesco.
11. Elephant and Lotus are key iconographic elements and can be seen in all kinds of places – and I was told elephant is seen as the vehicle of Indra.
Now, it’s time to sit and write the detailed posts on the destinations I visited.
Recommend you to read following Thailand Tourist attractions.