Sharmi on the Trot

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Archive for the tag “Thailand tourism”

5 Ways to enjoy a Pattaya getaway

When friends heard I was planning a trip to Thailand, firstly they all warned me about the protests. But knowing me, they realised I would never listen. Secondly, most of them told me to head to one of the islands instead of going to Pattaya. One said ‘it’s horrible’ while the other ‘it’s so crowded’. Well yes, considering it has beaches and is a tourist friendly area closest to Bangkok, do you expect to not find tourists?

Pretty pretty water at the Pattaya Pier

Pretty pretty water at the Pattaya Pier

I spent three days in Pattaya and let me tell you, I enjoyed myself crazy. I like to party but I enjoy my peace more. I would prefer to laze around on the beach, swim till I’m tired to move my arms and then drink coconut water all day long. If you’re looking for a good beach holiday, follow my tips and head to Pattaya. You won’t be disappointed.

Stay on Jomtein beach, away from South Pattaya
It’s only about 10 minutes away but the difference is astounding. On one hand you have tourists spilling out of bars with loud music blaring and on the other, less people and almost-empty streets. Sure there are tourists and if you walk up to the Night Market there will be music and a young crowd but overall the place is peaceful. I stayed in a little guesthouse about two minutes away from the beach. Let me tell you, the rooms are fantastic, clean and spacious.

Water near the pier. Jomtien beach is just a tuktuk/taxi ride away!

Water near the pier. Jomtien beach is just a tuktuk/taxi ride away!

Early morning swims
Set your alarm for about 6am. Wake up, slip into your bikini/trunks and head straight for the water. It’s absolutely divine. You’ll have the whole beach to yourself, so swim to your heart’s content or sunbathe in the morning rays. For the non-swimmers, take one of the beach chairs or spread the towel on the sand and read, listen to music or sleep. No one will disturb you.

Private beach? No just empty!

Private beach? No just empty!

Waiting to jump in! Sans the camera of course!

Waiting to jump in! Sans the camera of course!

Visit Koh Larn
The nearest island near Pattaya has six beaches. I headed to Samae which is on the other side of the pier thanks to tuk tuks plying regularly. Called the Coral Islands, one can try adventure sports or just simply laze around drinking coconut water or a beer or two. The journey into the pale blue waters will be rocky so be careful but once inside, the sea is warm. Eat fresh seafood after a tiring swim and sleep. There’s nothing better than a lazy getaway.

Taking the ferry to Ko Larn

Taking the ferry to Koh Larn

That's my idea for a relaxing, lazy beach day! At Samae beach

That’s my idea for a relaxing, lazy beach day! At Samae beach

Yup all that after a swim!

Yup all that after a swim!

Gorge on street food
Thailand has great food. In Pattaya, instead of heading to a restaurant or pub, why don’t you try the scrumptious delights the street vendors or roadside eateries have to offer? From Thai green curry to squid to fiery hot Tom Yum soup, there’s something for everyone. Try plenty of fruits which are sold almost at every nook and corner and for dessert, have a freshly-made crisp crepe smeared with Nutella!

That's chicken Thai green curry

That’s chicken Thai green curry

Squid with sticky rice anyone?

Squid with sticky rice anyone?

Hot hot Tom Yum soup from a roadside eatery

Hot hot Tom Yum soup from a roadside eatery

Delicious deep fried goodness! Took me forever to decide which ones to try!

Delicious deep fried goodness! Took me forever to decide which ones to try!

Don’t leave without a foot massage
After long tiring days of walking on the sand, lazing in the sun and eating like its Christmas, why don’t you end the relaxed getaway with a foot massage? About an hour long and costing 150-200 Baht, its so so relaxing that I often dozed off! With oils and magic hands, hot stones and scrubs, the foot massage sessions are worth every baht!

There are flowers everywhere! Take out some time to smell them!

There are flowers everywhere! Take out some time to smell them!

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Stumbling upon the Royal Cemetery in Bangkok

Bangkok is only about two hours away from Pattaya. Take the highways, drive fast and you’re there even earlier. I had chosen to stay near Jomtien beach, away from the hustle and bustle of South Pattaya. After all, when you’re in Thailand for three days, a stopover really before you head to Cambodia, you really want to dive into the pristine blue sea and swim away all tensions.

The temple entrance

The temple entrance

But, I did decide to head to Bangkok for a day just to see what the city was about. Ever since I swayed to ‘Shall we dance’ from The King and I, the name Siam conjured up images of Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr dancing away to their hearts content. But that was as a child when Hollywood had captured my heart. I’ve always been eager to go to Thailand, not because I love the cuisine, but also to discover the beautiful places.

If I’m honest, the first impression of Bangkok really didn’t set my heart on fire like I had hoped it would. I did the touristy stuff – visiting the Royal Palace, the Emerald Buddha, Golden Buddha… but it was an unexpected discovery which made my day. It was hot and humid and I did feel dehydrated. But just the fact that I walked into the Royal Mausoleum on the one day in the year when it’s open to the public according to the Lunar calendar (without any prior knowledge) made me smile. This is what travelling is about isn’t it?

So peaceful

So peaceful

Gothic architecture in Thailand

Gothic architecture in Thailand

Not a must-see attraction, the Wat Ratchabopit, or Royal Cemetery, is peaceful and quiet, away from the hustle and bustle cities are associated with. Located just a few minutes away from the Royal Palace, the peace welcomes you. The memorials dedicated to Thai royalty are so varied. From Gothic to Indian to Thai, the architecture of the different memorials seem to have been inspired from many styles. When I walked around the memorials, I was alone. No tourists, no cameras, just me. There is no entrance fee but you do get asked ‘how did you find out about this place?’ And you say, ‘by chance’ with a smile.

The main temple inside was shut for the public till 2pm because of prayers. Apparently there were a lot of visitors early morning because the Royal couple had come to offer prayers to the ancestors.

Inside the temple complex

Inside the temple complex

Now let me tell you something. Everything yellow you see in the complex is gold. Yes, it’s not coloured in gold paint to impress tourists.

The gold shining in the sun

The gold shining in the sun

Once you enter the main temple, you’re left amazed at the art work because everything is done by hand. The doors have inlaid work in pearls, gold statues of Buddhas in different postures are found around the temple. Go inside and the red carpet is so lush. It’s so quiet there that one can spend hours just sitting and gazing. See the monks talking to youngsters as they try to imbibe their words of wisdom.

It’s always wonderful to discover something new and to stumble upon something so beautiful by chance, brings me great joy.

Details on the walls, all by hand

Details on the walls, all by hand

The ceiling inside

The ceiling inside

Words of wisdom

Words of wisdom

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