Matt and I have both been aching for Thailand since we left in June 2013. Since leaving, we’ve dreamed of the next time we would be back. We’ve imagined what it would be like to visit our favorite beaches, favorite restaurants, and favorite street vendors (and sincerely hoped they would still be there)!
I wasn’t at all surprised that arriving in Bangkok felt like coming home. Kind of like when we were kids and we would spend a week, or even a weekend, away from home. As we drove past Plainville School my heart would be pounding, anticipating the view of Rice Lake, the long windy hill into the village, our gravel drive-way leading up to Lilac Lodge and all the changes Nana and Grandpa had made in the house. Pulling onto Sukhumvit in stop-and-go traffic felt remarkably similar.
Our two week itinerary was extremely slow paced and gave use plenty of time to do all of the things we love without rushing or having to wake up early (sleep is very important for teachers on vacation!). We wandered Bangkok in search of craft beer (which doesn’t exist in Doha), visited some of our favorite shops and Chatuchak Market, ran some errands (things that are more affordable in Thailand compared to Qatar – like glasses, contact lenses and gluten-free cooking supplies), shopped for art, relaxed on the beach, got massages (sometimes more than one a day), went to yoga, logged a few dives, rented a motorbike and ate so much delicious food.
Bangkok (3 nights):
We spent our first night in BKK with a friend from ISB having dinner, drinks and catching up on Soi 8. The next morning she headed home to Canada for the holidays, but kindly offered her apartment as our home-base. It was perfect and filled with Mexican art because she used to live in Monterrey! It was so cozy, central and exactly what we needed to kick start our slow-paced vacation.
We went to Cabbages and Condoms for lunch (which is always yummy and entertaining), rode the BTS, spent an afternoon at Chatachuk weekend market shopping for spices, essential oils and art, ate an amazing Indian dinner at Charcoal Tandoor Grill on Soi 11 (highly recommended) and discovered CRAFT on Soi 23. It was a bit pricey, but considering Matt’s love for beer, we parked our butts here all night long.
Koh Lipe (4 nights):
A bit off the beaten path compared to some of Thailand’s most popular beaches, Koh Lipe is by far the most beautiful island I’ve been to in Thailand and definitely worth the trek to get there. The entire island is walkable, the beaches are incredible, the food was amazing, drinks from Happy Vibe Bar and Cast Away Resort went down smoothly everyday and I found an adorable yoga studio called Kierita’s Yoga next to our hotel with Ashtanga Yoga classes every morning. We only stayed for 4 nights, but could have easily parked ourselves on Sunset Beach for weeks.
Koh Lanta (5 nights):
I don’t know how I never made it to Koh Lanta when I was living in Thailand. Do I ever regret it! It was wonderful. Much larger and more developed than some of the other islands, which means it was completely different than Koh Lipe, but it had so much to offer.
We stayed at a lovely guest house called Cozy Guesthouse, which is run by a friendly Swedish couple and their Thai staff. The room was comfortable and spacious, the service was great and the breakfast and lunch options were delicious. Within walking distance we found Pra Ae Beach, Dive and Relax (one of the top rate dive shops on the island), and a variety of restaurant options. On the days we weren’t diving, we rented a motorbike and used it to tour around the island. I used the bike to drive myself to morning yoga classes at Oasis Yoga. We visited with old friends from Thailand, spent Christmas Day and had dinner with colleagues from Doha, and soaked up some sunshine before heading back to the city.
Bangkok (3 nights):
Back in Bangkok and our friend had other guests at her place so we stayed at a hotel on Soi 21 (next to Terminal 21). While I can’t recommend the hotel, the location was great – close to the BTS, CRAFT (yes, we went back), and lots of street food options. We visited China Town and Pak Klong Talad (wholesale flower market) then walked to Koh San road for people watching, shopping fisherman style pants and cheap drinks. One evening we met up with some friends from Doha for dinner. They recommended a place called El Mercado, which was unreal. It was hands-down one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten at. I’m still dreaming about the cheese platter, sausage spread and red wine. Matt got a suit made for our upcoming vow-renewal ceremony at Jesse & Son and I went to Villa Market to stock up on gluten-free baking and cooking supplies. On our last evening, we went to H&M to buy something to wear, freshened up in the mall bathroom and headed up to the Red Sky Rooftop Bar.
We said good bye to Bangkok with a glass of wine and beautiful sunset over the city. What a perfect way to end our vacation! Until next time, Thailand! See you soon!