Thailand: back on the tourist trail

By | Category: Travel destinations
temple in Bagkok

a Bangkok temple – busy with tourists as usual so it was hard to get a picture without them !

During the summer, the Tourism Authority of Thailand organised a trip to Bangkok for a few guests coming from the main countries which used to provide the greatest numbers of tourists. This one-week trip to Thailand was a great opportunity to show us how tourists are welcomed in the country after the last wave of political unrest.

On May 22d, after a few months of political troubles with many mass demonstrations mainly through the streets of Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, a military coup put an end to these violent events. A special council, the NCPO, National Council for Peace and Order, headed by General Prayuth Chan-ochan, took charge of the government the agreement of the King. A short period of martial law soon ended but it was sufficient stopped all social disorders. The NCPO has announced that it will give back the power to the people and to a civilian government after a short period of political reconstruction and reforms.

Bangkok street food stall

a street food stall in Bangkok

Even during the demonstrations, tourists were never in trouble. Most of the demonstrations and upheaval were away from the main tourist areas but during that time all international foreign offices advised travellers to say in the tourist areas and to avoid any political event and, obviously, any demonstration.

As we enter the main season for Brits to travel there what is the situation now?

When the huge Thai Airways Airbus A380 landed at Bangkok International Airport, I expected to see ‘uniforms’ inside or around the airport. But not even one, just the traditional customs officers. Despite the great number of passengers on board the A 380, around 500, we passed through the controls in less than a few minutes whih puts Heathrow and many other airports to shame. Then we got our luggage before going out of the air-conditioned building to realise that even at 7.00 am, the temperature was around 26°C with high humidity.

Boarding our comfortable (air-conditioned!) bus, we moved to our hotel, the 5 star Chatrium, a huge tower built directly on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. I was quite surprised to get there so easily in half an hour. Maybe a consequence of the events I thought, less traffic is around as Thais stay indoors. But I was totally wrong. It was just a piece of luck, because after that, each time we travelled through the city, we faced the usual big traffic jams for Bangkok is famous! Driving was as usual.

floating market

the floating markets haven’t disappeared since my last trip

Then, after a short hour to freshen up, we began our visits to the major tourist sites of the city. During two days or travelling around seeing the temples, Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), Wat Pho (Temple of Reclining Buddha with its 43 metres long statue), Wat Arun, (Temple of Dawn) life seemed much as I remembered it. We also took the time to quickly visit the Grand Palace, a huge complex,  which was the only place that I saw soldiers – the two sentries who traditionally guard the entry.

Wat Arum

Wat Arum in Bangok

Everywhere were crowds.  In the streets, pedestrians, as usual, walked quickly between street food sellers, trying to avoid cars, buses, tuk-tuks and moto-taxis (beware of these ones when it rains and the roads are wet!). In the temples nothing has changed, they still were like the tower of Babel, with the common colourful mass of tourists and numerous ticket inspectors very busy  assessing who could enter because, for example, the length of men’s trousers and whether the shoulders of women were sufficiently covered or not.

After that, we left Bangkok for a few days, heading south to Hua Hin and Cha Am, two well-known beach resorts with dozens of hotels from budget status to 5 star ones. On the way we stopped for one night in Ampawa, a little town with an authentic night floating market where we were able to taste delicious bites of Thai food prepared in front of us in beautiful small boats.

sea turtle in Koh Talu

conserving sea turtles in Koh Talu

We spent our last two days in Koh Talu, a charming remote island, 200 km south of Hua Hin where a simple and comfortable resort offers the opportunity to rest and also to learn about how the local community looks after sea turtles which are then freed into the open seas, and how they are planting young corals to replace and renew those that have died due to pollution, damage and the effects of man.

Returning home I was a bit sad to have to leave this “Amazing Thailand” which is said to be the fifth holiday destination in the world for Europeans. But what I was pleased about is that Thailand is as I remembered it, vibrant, welcoming, friendly and just waiting for you and I to visit it again.

For more information about Thailand, click here.

 

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