Road Trip – Siam Summer

For those of you that get to talk to me from time to time, you have probably heard me complain about the troubles I have been having trying to purchase a car in Thailand. There is a lot of paperwork, and they seem to change the rules every time I reach that point where I can actually obtain the paperwork that they needed a week earlier. But I have finally caught up with the rules, and have now purchased a slightly used Ford Focus. I know it is not the most luxurious car, but it works for what I need it for, getting back and forth to work, and the occasional trip out of Bangkok. Considering I paid for it on Friday, and I don’t have to be back at work until August 10th, there is only one thing left to do, road trip.

I got up early this morning to take to the highways of Thailand and make my way down south to visit the fabled city of Phuket (pronounced Poo Ket (yes, I made the joke as well the first time I saw the name of this city)). I know that when you look at a map, Thailand does not look that big, but it stretches a lot further than you would imagine. A drive from Bangkok to Phuket, takes over twelve hours, and even though I could make it in one day, I decided to break the trip up into two.

As soon as I made it out of Bangkok, I noticed that the stress of driving in Thailand reduced dramatically, and it has been fun being out on the open road again. It is one of the things I miss the most about America. The ability to get into the car and drive aimlessly into the long stretches of road allows for endless tales to be told and adventures to be had. There is something romantic about seeing the landscape change from the typical things you see on a normal day to experiencing new climates, people, and places. The only problem with it is that the first day on the road does not have the great stories to tell that you would hope for on a road trip. It usually takes until you stay at various places that the stories start to unwind.

The typical parking lot found at rest stops in Thailand

I did visit many roadside rest stops. They are all over the place in Thailand, and it does not matter which one you stop at, they are all the same. You will find a 7-11, an Amazon coffee shop, and some type of American fast food chain, usually a KFC even though I have seen the occasional Subway. The fill-up is quick and they send you back on the road. They do have a building set off in the back corner dedicated to bathrooms, and it threw me off the first time I had to pee in stalls that were installed outside in the back of that building. But I got used to it, and it is a good use of space, plus it helps with the smell that they tend to generate.

The mustache lets me know that this bathroom is for me

They do try to distinguish the various stops with different statues you will find decorating the big slabs of concrete. Most of the time it is comic versions of children holding up signs, but every once in awhile, you come across something a little more creative. I enjoyed to Japanese cats outside the bathrooms the best. The one with the pink bow on the head indicated the women’s bathroom, and the one with the mustache was for the men.

It wasn’t the most exciting day being stuck in a car with the biggest form of entertainment being the rest stops I found along the way, but it is possibility for adventure that kept me excited and looking forward to the ticking kilometers I saw on my speedometer. I know that there will be exciting moments to share with you over the next couple of days, so I hope you join me as I share what the Phuket region of Thailand has to offer somebody with a car and hopefully you can get something out of the posts as well.

Until tomorrow.

A Little Road Trip – Siam Summer

Locals enjoying some fishing on a small beach in Pattaya, Thailand.

Summer has always been a time to travel a little and see friends, family and a little bit more of the world. Things are a little different this summer. People are stuck in their part of the world and because of that, the world has once again grown. We are not able to be the same small world community that we used to be by hopping on a plane and traveling to the various points in the world. We are now forced to explore the little corners of the world in which we live. Luckily, I have found myself in Thailand. First off, I have not explored much of this country and I am excited to see what it has to offer. Secondly, they have done a pretty good job of getting the Corona Virus situation under control and things are starting to open up again. The bars are still closed and the national parks start opening on the first of July, but the rest of the country has returned to back to a semblance of normal. Yes, there are more people wearing masks than normal, but it is a country that is trying hard to keep things under control so they can be prepared during the height of their tourist season and not let the economy slip anymore than it needs to.

The view from my hotel room at the Birds and Bees in Pattaya, Bangkok.

Considering it is summer and I have not traveled outside of Bangkok since the pandemic gridlocked the world, I thought this would be the perfect time to see more of this country I have found myself living in. There was only one thing that an American facing this situation can think of, road trip. There are many towns, islands and cities within driving range of the big city, and the roads are not hard to travel on as soon as you get out of the city center. Even though I do own a car, I thought it best to travel by hiring a driver this time out, and we made our way to the first city on our list, Pattaya.

The small beach on the edge of the Birds and Bees in Pattaya, Thailand

This city is one of the bigger tourist destinations because it is close to Bangkok, boasts some nice beaches, and has different levels of experiences depending on what you are looking for. We went thinking this would be a great place to meet up with other people we are traveling with, and get in some beach living before we make it to our final destination on this trip, Koh Samet. It would have been the first place we went to, but this island is a national park, and we had to wait until the first of next month before we could enjoy this spot.

The view of the Birds and Bees from the beach

Despite this, we were able to find a nice resort on the quiet side of town, Birds and Bees. It is a great hotel with comfortable villas looking out over a small beach with a pool and great restaurant attached to it. Our plans have not been anything more than hanging out at the pool while we are here, and enjoying some good food before moving on to our next destination, but it is nice to get out of the city and travel again. It reminds me why we made the jump overseas in the first place, and even though the first day was a little overcast, I have been able to unwind a bit and enjoy this summer. It just shows me that travel has changed for now, and if we are going to participate in this rewarding activity we need to think about learning more about our local terrain instead of exploring the various parts of the world. I’m sure that no matter where you are, there are those little corners that you have always meant to explore. Now is the perfect time to take advantage of it.