Or Mexico or France or Bali or Greece, to name the last few places we've visited. Yes indeed, Thailand is different from the other countries on this list so, on this criteria alone, I can declare our trip a success.
But let me back up a bit. Paul and I choose a travel destination to satisfy a curiosity, like what's Greece like, or to do something we enjoy, like hike in the Alps. At the same time we know going in to manage, if not minimize, expectations, especially if it's the former, a new place, and that has served us well. So this is a long intro to saying that I've mixed feelings about Thailand. In this post I'll share some positives.
Our hotel, the Phra Singh Village, is one of the nicest I've stayed at. Beautiful buildings, gardens and pool, large comfortable rooms, conveniently located, and lots of amenities, like a gym and a couple of spas. Their delicious and ever-changing breakfast would rate as the best if only they could figure out desserts, but then I don't think this is a dessert country. France and Italy needn't worry when it comes to desserts.
Speaking of food, eating in Thailand is wonderful. Flavorful, fresh, vegetable-rich. Plus you can eat well for very little change (as long as you don't want wine). Nice.
The people are friendly. But I wouldn't place them at the top of my list of friendly people, up there with Mexico and Greece. There's something artificial in their friendliness, or maybe it's the way they express it, a smiling subservience that makes me feel uncomfortable.
The temples are curious and certainly photo-worthy. I'm also enjoying observing Buddhists in action, especially having just read Tim Ward's book What the Buddha Never Taught, on becoming a monk.
What else is positive? It feels safe here. There's not much cigarette smoke and not much dog poo. If you like a massage or strolling an open-air market there are more of these than you can shake a stick at.
Since we've more time in Thailand I hope I'll add some more to the positive column. In a future post, some annoyances.