100 reasons, in no particular order . . .
1. I kinda think that Thailand is the perfect travel destination. It's a real crowd-pleaser: inexpensive, safe; beautiful, historic. There's an abundance of shopping and adventure; there are mountains, beaches, rain forests; small villages, big cities; elephants, monkeys; massages, monks; and loads of good food. It is an achingly beautiful country with an extensive history, a rich culture, and kind citizens. Not enough? I've got 99 more reasons -- hopefully enough to give you that little extra nudge to get you going!
2. Beach huts.
Yes, that really is ocean just beyond the porch. What could be better than a beach hut with a hammock? How about a beach hut for $15 USD per night? Or, if you split the cost with your travel buddy, how about a whopping $7.50?
photo by pilliebee
3. A serene, mystical sense of transcending time.
Looking the bodyless Buddha at Wat Mahathat in Ayuthaya just seemed to have that affect on me. Eclipsing Sukothai, Ayuthaya became the star of the Thai kingdom. Its glory lasted for 400 years until the Burmese attacked in the 1700s. Somehow, even after all of the pillaging and plundering that flattened most of the city, this Buddha was left standing--only to be slowly strangled by a nearby tree. It was a bit eerie. I was also affected by the way my mind swirled with the past 700 years of history in front of me. I can only imagine the many lives and emotions and dramas that must have played out on these cobbles, under these branches, and in front of this stone-eyed Buddha.
4. Staring into kind, old elephant eyes.
No tricks. No rides. Just being close to these giant beasts was enough. Despite the horrible abuse and ugliness they've suffered at the hands of humans, their eyes really did seem full of quiet benevolence. Here's a bit more about their individual stories and all that these elephants have been through.
According to wikipedia, 95% of Thailand's population is Buddhist. It was humbling to visit so many places of worship and to stand close to those expressing their devotion.
photo by pilliebee
6. The chance to spend time with one of your best friends.
I like when dearest of friends become dearest of travel buddies. I think traveling gives you an opportunity to get to know folks in new and different ways; it's also pretty wonderful to have so many memories to share. This was my 2nd trip with my good friend, Jill. (We've traveled a bit more by now; read about our other adventures together here, here, here, and here.)
photo by pilliebee
7. Good food.
There's just so much good food it makes choosing really hard. Seriously -- narrowing things down to your one dish is almost as painful as being too full after you've finally made your decision.
Ever been up in the canopy of a rain forest? Didn't think so. Reason #8.
9. One street--Khao San Road.
After one walk down the 'strip', Jill and I didn't really want or need to visit this sketchy street again. The place must be a beacon for all tourists in Bangkok because by the time we boarded the plane for Abu Dhabi, we'd somehow visited at least 3 times. The very best thing about KSR (yes, even better than the cheap, knock off goods) was people watching. In fact, I kind of got obsessed. There was just some indescribable, almost across-the-board-quality that all of these travelers seemed to emanate. For lack of a better word, Jill and I started referring to this common factor as 'the look'. (Yes, I might even admit that when I started taking pictures, it turned from people watching into people stalking.)
Since words completely fail when trying to convey 'the look' maybe these pictures will help:
Do you see it?
Doing our darnedest to demonstrate 'the look' as we taxi from our hostel to this infamous street:
10. Great public transport.
Gettin' around. Easy enough.