Thailand – A story of our first exotic getaway

Are you planning a trip to Thailand? Our story may help you learn from our mistakes. Do you know the amazing feeling of “fulfillment” when you buy tickets to your first dream exotic country? Do you imagine a carefree holiday with a coconut in hand, great food, zero stress, shortly – vacation and chill .. This is exactly what we experienced, when planning our first exotic holiday two years ago. Together with our best friends, we dreamed of a December trip to Thailand to the island of Phuket.

However, the world is not always rosy and in this article, we would like to point out that traveling is the best investment you can make, but you need to be very careful. Traveling is about experiences and especially the ones that you learn from, and we must admit that this journey has taught us many hard lessons…. but we still have a lot of beautiful experiences from it and now we are laughing at it.

Shortly: What is the probability of being robbed of all your money and documents (except your passport, lucky us) on your first exotic journey? And being hit by a car and nearly have a fatal car accident (not our fault)? Let’s say that in both cases the probability (specifically in Asia) is quite high, but both happening during one vacation is quite a mess.

Airplane tickets, Accommodation, Vaccinations .. well just all the pre-vacation preparation

We traveled to Thailand at the beginning of December 2017. I guess we bought return tickets sometime in April from Turkish Airlines. We arranged accommodation through the portal agoda.com – super accommodation, for very reasonable money (Hotel Gemma Patong). The only problem we encountered was a change of management in the hotel – and an incomplete reservation. Fortunately, everything was resolved, we just had to move around the hotel a few times during our stay.

Airplane tickets: 512 €
Accommodation: 25 € for 14 nights (yes, we don’t believe it ourselves, but it was so!)
Expenses: 387 €

The initial cost for two weeks in Thailand was 537 € – that’s not bad, right?

So how did we end up with such an incredible price for accommodation? The original price per person for 14 nights was something around 81 . However, the agoda.com website had incorrect information that breakfast should be included in the price (+ some other info did not fit). And so, when we returned, we took the opportunity and “complained” about the accommodation – they returned something around 58 per person, hence the miraculous price.

Vaccination, which is optional but recommended in Thailand, must also be included in the cost. We had vaccinations against typhoid fever and jaundice (A and B). These are not the smallest amounts, but vaccination against jaundice will last you a lifetime and against typhoid fever for about 3 years. Oh and please, if you have a problem with mosquitoes like Míša (they can find her everywhere), don’t underestimate the repellent!

Another item is, of course, “Expenses”. Thailand is a very affordable country – (the highest cost of travel is airplane tickets) and we managed to live a “High end life” with 387 / person for two weeks (food, trips, souvenirs and entertainment).

Flight with Turkish Airlines and a brief visit of Istanbul

We really really really recommend Turkish airlines! Maybe it’s because, as low-costers and backpackers, we travel in most cases with low-cost companies and we always sort the search bar – lowest prices first … but this was really great!

We had a flight to Thailand with a transfer at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. The transfer took about 16 hours – an ideal opportunity to visit the city. Our friend Hanka a.k.a chief of our Thai expedition, read on the internet, that in these cases you are entitled to a hotel allocation. So we went to the counter of Turkish Airlines at the airport and after a while we found ourselves in the most luxurious hotel we have ever visited! The rooms were assigned to us around one in the morning and we cheerfully decorated the alarm clock at six so we could explore Istanbul.

We discovered in the morning that an alarm clock was not even needed … we were awakened by the mysterious sounds of mosques that I heard for the first time in my life. A common affair for regular visitors of Arab countries, an indescribably special feeling for us from another culture.

What did we manage to do?

For the few hours that we had in Istanbul, we used the Uber application to travel to the most famous monuments – the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. We´have been in the Blue Mosque (beautiful experience)! Girls had to borrow a decent robe otherwise they wouldn´t let them in! At the same time, we made a short stop at the adjacent Bazaar and time ran out. Our forehead was a little dewy from the internet connection – you need internet to call an Uber and we were looking hopelessly for Wifi. But in the end everything turned out well 🙂

Where the hell is my wallet?

Ataturk Airport is one giant of a chaos. Thousands of people, one check after another, pure madness. Security checks have always been one of our least popular parts of the holiday, everything is in such a hurry that you don’t have an overview of where your belongings are. And now imagine the script as from a catastrophic movie .. you sit on a plane, the door slowly closes and Radek says “Where’s my wallet?” and I said something like “Don’t stress, it will be somewhere …” The peak of adrenaline came when Radek went to ask the flight attendant not to close it and ran out in front of the plane .. I had already seen myself somewhere in Thailand abandoned on an extra bed with the others…

Unfortunately these things happen and we suspect that Radek’s wallet with all of his documents and money “disappeared” during the security check. Fortunately, at least he had his passport, but even so, it caused us inconvenience right at the beginning of the trip. We naively tried to write to the Turkish police and to the airport – without a single answer. And so… we at least made the flight more pleasant with an unlimited consumption of wine.

Because there is nothing you can do about it… 🙂

First impressions of Thailand

It’s been two years, but we remember it as if it was yesterday. The first thing that happened to us when we left the airport was a huge temperature slap! Especially when we flew from Prague in December, where is about minus 15 degrees Celsius. We exchanged money at the airport – another mistake, a very bad rate (but one learns from these mistakes ..) and got a transfer to the city of Patong, where we had our accommodation.

And now to the first feelings – I will probably look like the biggest mumble in the world, but the first feelings for each of us were really horrible. We were on the road for about two days, of which we slept a total of about 5 hours… we arrived at the accommodation early in the morning and the receptionist classically informed us that the rooms will be ready at two. When fatigue, stress, hunger, heat and culture shock come together – it’s not great and the first feelings from Thailand were simply terrifying (Patong seemed to us like a terrible stinking hole: -D).

Thailand itself has such a specific “stench,” which fortunately you get used to very quickly. We took a few hours of nap and immediately the world was magnificent and fragrant once more and Thailand thrilled us.

Why Phuket and Patong?

Thailand is a relatively large country and we chose the largest island for our first visit – Phuket. We also chose the bustling Patong resort, which many people swear at, for a simple reason. Since this was our first long trip, we didn’t want to play the castaways or the discoverers and we just wanted to have everything relatively close to us.

Patong is not beautiful in itself, but it is a great starting point for most trips. There are several street food markets in Patong and you will simply find everything you need here. Patong Beach is not amazing at all and was quite dirty, so we went to more distant beaches by tuk-tuk (local form of a taxi). We arrarranged most trips with local travel agencies – you need to pay attention to prices. Pretty much all Europeans in Thailand are considered as “Wealthy Russians“ and they set the price relatively high. You will always find a much cheaper alternative, or just bargain the price, do not fall for their tourist traps.

We are preparing a separate articles about our trips:
1. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
2. Phi Phi Islands (+ then still open Maya Bay)
3. Phang- Nga Bay (+ James Bond Island)
4. Phuket town
5. Big Buddha
6. Wat Chalong

Thailand really has a lot to offer and it was definitely not our last visit :-).

Thailand Maya Bay

Buddhism and temples

More than 90% of the population is Buddhist. Throughout Thailand you will find many beautifully decorated temples, Buddha statues and altars. The scent of incense sticks emerges all around these monuments and you will be captivated by the amazing atmosphere. However, it is important to follow at least a few basic rules:

  • Don’t turn your back on the Buddha
  • Take off your shoes before entering the temple
  • Women should have their shoulders and knees covered in these places of religion
  • Follow the rules regarding photography
  • Don’t point at anyone, especially not with your feet
Thailand

Street food

One of the best things about Thailand was food. We felt like Alice in Wonderland, especially from those prices, and from those fruits … To this day, I remember my first meal at the hotel’s restaurant – Chicken Pad Thai, emphasizing the words “not spicy please!” several times. … AAAAnnnd still my mouth almost burned, but it was great.

As for the fruit, you can get a “plastic pint” (goodbye ecology) of fruit at the markets for very low prices – mango, papaya, dragon fruit … even the bananas taste different. We also had a fruit smoothie at food markets for 50 cents and we probably didn’t have a better smootie in our lives. Everywhere on the street you could also buy a fresh coconut for about 70 cents.

Tuk-tuk a.k.a. taxi in Thailand

One of the ideal means of transport is a “tuk-tuk” – it’s something like a motorbike that rides on three wheels and easily transfers you from point A to point B. Up to 6 people fit inside (but we almost didn’t go up the hill). If you don’t like adrenaline (Thailand can be a mess with all those drivers) and loud music – this is not a transport for you :-D. But we enjoyed it very much 🙂 And watch out for prices! A pre-agreed price t is needed, because even Tuk-tuk drivers can rip you of.


Scooters? Not again next time

Scooter – the most popular and at the same time the most dangerous way of transportation. We were quite worried about renting a scooter from the beginning and everyone talked us out of it. Renting a scooter was probably the biggest stupid thing we could do, especially when transportation in Thailand is really cheap. The first of many obstacles was driving on the left side. Thais love to honk, they honk for no reason, we guess for pleasure or perhaps to frighten the tourists.

It became “fatal” for us on the first day in the afternoon. Coincidentally, it was the least suitable day for an accident. We were heading to Promthep Cape. The craziest thing is that the trip on the scooter seemed pretty cool, the traffic outside the city was not that heavy and it was quite pleasing. The problem occurred somewhere near Karon Beach, where the number of cars and motorcycles increased quite a bit. Fortunately, we drove slowly (max 25 km / h) and then big black car started to stuff between us and another motorbike (yes, I’m a girl, I recognize cars by color) and the driver somehow didn’t calculate the space and he shoved us with his car mirror.

So what happened next? The scooter folded on its side like a domino and we braked with my right leg and shoulder – nothing pleasant. Not having a helmet (please wear a helmet) would make the accident a lot more serious and who knows? Maybe we would even die since we collapsed on the road into a normal traffic and the car behind us had to step on the brake pedal quite heavily. Of course, the driver of the car didn’t stop – we naively think he didn’t notice.

We rented scooters for a whole week, but after this experience none of us wanted to ride anymore. Fortunately, we arranged the rent at the hotel where we borrowed them and the money was returned to us. So how did our scooter turn out? Apart from the chopped light and a few scratches, pretty well – we paid something around 40 euros for its damage.

Our accident happened right next to the Hilton hotel, where Radek and the others went for “help”. You would probably expect a little professionalism from such a luxury hotel, but unfortunately we didn’t get it. They had to go to the reception at least three times in order for anyone to bother to call the police (because of the insurance company). The policeman arrived after about an hour .. The police station was about a 15-minute drive away.

It was our first “event” of this type abroad and we didn’t know what to do … and we also didn’t want to just let it be. The police interrogation was not twice as fruitful because no one (in fact no one) understood us. We identified the culprit as a “big black car”. A moment later, the police arrived with a large WHITE car that had a black stain from a wreck. The driver was a pretty nice French guy, who was shocked because he didn’t do anything. The police absolutely did not anoint themselves with him and tried to force him to confess so that they would simply have the culprit (even if he did nothing).

Paper for the insurance company was also a chapter in itself. The policeman took an A4 lined notebook, in which there were notes from another case … he wrote something in Thai under them and forced us to sign it. He made a “copy” of the notes mentioned above and crossed them out. Their duty was to call us an ambulance (you don’t want that). A young boy (about 16 years old) got out of the ambulance with his briefcase. He opened something that looked and smelled like thinner and spilled it on my leg. I almost passed out in pain and the policeman who was standing above us, laughed at my fair 😀


Thai hospital

In fact, we weren’t even thinking about going to the Thai hospital, but the burns from the road burned us like crazy and didn’t look beautiful either. So the next day we decided that we’d better go there. We probably unknowingly chose the worst hospital (now I’ve learned in retrospect that there are more) and it was a heck of an experience. Since then, I have (in most cases) stopped cursing at our Czech healthcare system. No one in the hospital really gave any care and no one understood us. Medicines for infection were important to us (in Thailand it is quite dirty and very dusty). We both got antibiotics that would put the horses down – I slept for two days. In addition, we received painkillers, which we Googled and came up with an interesting finding – in America they are considered as drugs and are banned 🙂

My mother reported the insured event for us at the insurance company, because only that call would cost us a fortune from Thailand. We paid all the costs of the treatment ourselves and kept the receipts. In total, about two treatments, including medications, was about 120 euros, pretty pricey.. Due to the fact that it was just a matter of pouring a blow of disinfection and subsequent covering of the wound (they charged something around 25 euros for a “big” cluster). Fortunately, after proving the receipts, the insurance company paid us all the costs.

One of the main reasons of our trip

In order not to end the article completely negatively, because Thailand is a really beautiful country and we really enjoyed the holiday despite all this, We would like to highlight one of the main reasons why we actually went on this journey. A few months before the trip, a friend told us that if we really buy the airplane tickets, he would take one of life’s biggest steps – an engagement. The engagement had to be postponed for a few days (because of the card accident), but it turned out beautifully :-))

We would like to thank our whole great group, who stood behind us throughout our Thai inconveniences and took care of us 🙂 We hope that the article did not scare you too much and that you will visit Thailand. We think that these situations should be written about as well, and not just about the nice things. One never knows to whom such an article will help .. and just the feeling that you really are not alone in it 🙂

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And what about you ? Do you have any similar experience?
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Last Updated on March 13, 2021 by Míša & Radek

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