I constantly preach that you should make up your own mind about experiences and places you visit. So why did I let other people’s impressions of Thailand sway me so much? For years now I have heard nothing but great things about Thailand – the food, the friendly people, the low cost, the easy life etc.. and for years now I have put off visiting this incredibly popular backpacking destination. So why did I have such little desire to visit such a seemingly amazing place? In short, for all those positive reasons that everyone wouldn’t shut up about.
Here are 3 reasons why I was skeptical about Thailand before visiting, and why I was proven wrong:
1) Skeptical about Thailand – It is Easy
Trust the system.
This now-famous phrase finally makes sense to me. While backpacking Vietnam in 2010 my travel partner Justin was constantly comparing getting around there versus Thailand. Frustrated with the confusing situations we were getting into, he said he missed the easy route in Thailand where he had just spent several weeks. He had just met up with us in Ho Chi Minh City and was being faced with finding his own way for the first time in a while. Entertaining stories of him and his wife being dropped off in the middle of nowhere and told to wait only to be picked up 10 minutes later, once all hope was lost, of course, were constantly referenced throughout our time in Vietnam. Justin had to learn to trust the system. He said that after a while you just accepted that tourists were being herded around like lost sheep.
Thailand was easy which sounded incredibly boring and unappealing to me.
Why I was wrong
Well, I wasn’t wrong about Thailand is easy. It really is. Still, there was something intriguing about letting go of my inhibitions and accepting whatever came my way. Plus, the idea of worry-free travel sounded pretty nice after cramming three-quarters of the world into the span of three weeks or so prior to landing in Bangkok. Maybe it is age or the dependency on modern technology that has undoubtedly made me soft when it comes to being adventurous and spontaneous. Maybe it is the fact that I love to plan and have a hard time letting go. Whatever the case, I was ready to trust the system.
Also. $3 massage. Am I right?
2) Skeptical about Thailand – Everyone has been to there
Back in the fall of 2011, I swear everyone I knew had recently been to or was on their way to Thailand. In the span of about three months, I had two different groups of friends pass through Vancouver and stay at my house before heading to Southeast Asia for six and 12 months respectively. Both quit their jobs and were off to travel extensively, something I like to think I had hand in, and both were planning on spending a lot of time in Thailand. Also, my brother had just passed through a couple of weeks earlier on his way back from vacation in Koh Samui and another friend had just booked a romantic getaway for the following month.
I was getting the impression that everyone has been to Thailand, and I hated that.
Wait. Hate is a strong word. Let’s just say the appeal of Thailand was lost on me because everyone else found it so appealing. I’m not somebody who likes to brag, talking about this blog beyond writing can be embarrassing for me, but I do have a guilty pleasure in having visited somewhere others haven’t.
“You’ve never been to the moon?!?” Gasp! “Oh, you must go. They make the most excellent scones there!”
Not quite to that extent, but you get the idea.
The first time I realized I was this way was in 2006. I was being adventurous by heading to Croatia, a country not far removed from years of messy conflicts. In my mind I was heading off the beaten path – so you can imagine my surprise when I landed in Dubrovnik to find hordes of tourists and hotels with no vacancies. I had veered off the road only to find it was manicured and paved…and I hated it.
So needless to say that everyone I know and their dog has been to Thailand has put this popular spot low on my travel priority list.
Why I was wrong
My travel list has become smaller and smaller and because I was constantly finding myself on the other side of the “you’ve never been?!?” conversation I started to open up to the idea of travelling in Thailand. I’m not sure if age played a factor in my sudden desire to visit the land of 1000 smiles but in the months before my around the world trip it quickly became the place I was most excited to visit. I mean, after all, the fact that everyone except me has been to Thailand should say something. It’s no secret really, Thailand is awesome.
3) Skeptical about Thailand – The food is Amazing
I’d be lying if I said Thai food wasn’t the main reason I was swayed to finally visit Thailand. I fell in love with Thai food years ago and began cooking it at home. Even though I hadn’t been to Thailand yet, I got to the point where I stopped ordering takeout or eating at a restaurant because I could make it better at home. In some sort of sick delusion, I began thinking that the Thai food I made would be better than what I would get in Thailand so it was best to not be disappointed.
Why I was wrong
Good God, I was wrong. The freshness and ingredients that are readily available in Thailand made all the difference. The fact that it was super cheap didn’t hurt. I will admit we had a few meals that were regrettable but that was only because we were eating in tourist trap areas at the time. We took an amazing cooking class in Chiang Mai that opened my eyes to what REAL Thai food was like and I am so thankful I experienced it first-hand.
Also, it was mango season when we visited. I have never tasted mango’s that fresh before. I probably ate my weight in mango sticky rice because of this.
Still Skeptical About Thailand?
For all the reasons I have put off travel to Thailand over the years, I was quickly able to dismiss once on Thai soil. I came to realize the things that made me sceptical about Thailand became the reasons I love it so much. The relatively worry-free travel, its popularity with backpackers, and the amazingly fresh food, my reasons for being skeptical about Thailand may have been warranted in my head at one point but have long been forgotten.
So go on. Make up your own mind about Thailand.