They’re falling like ten pins these borders, we’re crossing countries in a flash but in the hasty flight that is our south east Asian whirlwind travel gems are not lost to the void of a swirling tempest. On a recurring theme of ‘more than what you thought’ we leave Thailand and with it comes the much anticipated BitJealous top 10. I know you’ve all been screen refresh insomniacs just waiting for it, so grab a cup of tea and a bikkie, sit back and feel the endorphins rush like a junkie freshly fallen off the wagon.
Filter on “Top 5/10” to see more of our favourites listed by country we’ve been to.
10 – Chiang Mai train: Chiang Mai to Bangkok
Maybe it’s the lush Thai countryside, Maybe it’s the excitement of getting to Bangkok or possibly just having an overnight train where we’re not locked in a 1950’s racism capsule with two elderly Afrikaaner barnacles. Finally the train trip we wanted and it was all the cute, slightly dorky, highly romantic and childlike excitement that we could ever want from this grand old means of transport. Choo choo.
9 – Bangkok Ferry: Bangkok
Oddly enough, another means of transport that lives beyond its intention. In a city where transport is poor to the point of making you reluctant to go outside, the lazy boat slipping up the river as the mega-tropolis of Bangkok fades by is the tonic for the frustrated. When people visit Sydney I often say to just get a ferry around the harbour. Similarly in Bangkok, jump on a local boat up the river to catch some of the best sights of the city.
8 – Chiang Mai Coffee: Chiang Mai
Surprises come in two wrappings, good and otherwise. After bracing ourselves a month ago for a long stretch of bad coffee; or should I say, good tea, we arrived in Chiang Mai. Led by Overstand, a cafe with great food as well we tasted the delights at Ponganes and Ristr8to just to get us through what could be a lean few months ahead. Or is more of that good wrapping ahead of us?
7 – Tawan Bar: Bangkok
There’s no way to say it, no palatable way to put this into words, Bangkok has a global reputation for wild sexuality and in Tawan bar we had a front row seat to the gutter of Bangkok. Somewhere in the heady throb of racy Bangkok surely exists the sleaze, the drugs, the defeated humanity; but on our night out we saw just a place where sex isn’t a dirty word leaving us educated rather than squeamish. Maybe it’s because they have lots of spicy food but Bangkok has moved on from early last century, it’s grown up.
6 – Asia Scenic Cooking School: Chiang Mai
This might be a regular feature, cooking class in Chiang Mai set us into the taste world that is Thailand and hooked us that little bit further. Apparently in Thailand we don’t call it spicy food, we call it sexy food; no surprises, the hotter the food you eat the sexier you are. The food voyage was always going to be a big part of Thailand and at Asia Scenic we went from voyeurs to super sexy participants.
5 – Women’s prison massage: Chiang Mai
The rub with a difference. Thai massage is a no holds barred experience at the best of times and our masseurs, pardon the pun, took no prisoners; they are the prisoners. What a tip of the hat to Thai culture and progressive thought. Right in the middle of a city, just like any other massage parlour, criminality isn’t entrenched to inevitable recidivism, the inmates use their hands to give back to the world they are soon again to be part of and in doing so make a massage far more than it otherwise might have been.
4 – Wat Pho: Bangkok
Wat Pho, yes it’s another temple and of course that means it’s a big impressive thing that we wouldn’t see anywhere else. Impressive but just another temple. Except for housing the largest reclining gold buddha in the world which happens to be gold foiled. Where other temples impress they also retain a sense of humility; not Wat Pho. It’s massive, awe inspiring, endless and grand; far more than a tourist poke around.
3 – Vertigo: Bangkok
It’s not every day that Charlie turns 42; or 21, with such flawless complexion we can’t tell nowadays. As the special occasion dictates, a grand food adventure is required: I present to you Vertigo restaurant in Bangkok. Perched on the rooftop of a 60 floor hotel, Vertigo oversees Bangkok like royalty overseeing its domain granting us the princely view for our favourite royalty. This is not the type of dinner one forgets even if Charlie has forgotten what being 21 felt like.
2 – Ayuthaya: Ayuthaya
From a dinner we won’t forget to a great civilisation that many have forgotten; but shouldn’t. Ayutthaya was the grand island capital of modern day Thailand and stands today as a grand relic to take the breath away. I for one know so much more about many of histories great civilisations that stood for far less time and are far further from my own home. How is Ayuthaya so unknown outside of this surprise packet of a country?
1 – Muay Thai: Chiang Mai and Bangkok
A national sport? A brutal killing method? A touchstone to history? Cultural expression? A lifetime commitment? Muay Thai ticks all the boxes as it becomes far more than just boxing. Little can I imagine, let alone witness with my own eyes a display encompassing all of the above questions while sweet young faces turn to possessed killing machines and right back again in the passing of a set of ropes into the ring. Simple excitement crowns an awe inspiring view into fortitude, character and courage I feel I will never possess. Not an experience, it’s an inspiration, an education, an ambition.