Holiday Or Bust
In Australia when we say we go on holidays we mean a vacation. In other words we leave home for another place where we do things which we normally would not.
For some people it could mean a trip to another country, a different culture, a change of sceneries maybe a cruise on an ocean or a more specific activity such as diving, golf, bush walking just to mention a few. The possibilities are endless and there are many specialist tour companies catering for every whim.
Normally a vacation translates into a pleasurable activity which some people are willing to fork out big money for to fulfill their dreams. On the other hand some, like backpackers, do it on a shoestring budget and still have a whale of a time.
Before I further go into this essay, I wish to state that I used to be a holiday junkie in my earlier life and loved flying around to far away places. I was also into self driving and buses and trains and other modes of transport as long as they got me to my destination.
Since this site is all about Thailand and it takes only about 8 hours to fly there from Oz, I want to discuss vacations in Thailand. Eight hours for me used to be a cinch; many years ago when Thailand wasn't the flavour of the month you could fly over there for around 600 bucks in economy and the plane was only half full so you could stretch out and arrive well rested.
I was young and fit and looking to boogie and it was no problem. Coming home was a bit different though. I was bloody exhausted and needing to get home for a rest. However no rest for the wicked and it was back to work the next day. Small price to pay for lots of fun.
Move on a couple of decades or so and now married to a Thai wife with our ten year old son and myself retired and quite decrepit to boot. I mean it's a hard gig having a young wife and a kid who wants to kick the ball with his Dad. Sporting injuries are many and they hurt. Explain that to a ten year old. Come school holidays and I feel duty-bound to take them on vacation..
So in the last 5 years we had three vacations in Thailand. None of them were to my liking but hey, I make sacrifices for my family. However the last one was an unmitigated disaster.
I got this idea to go to Patong to see a friend who indicated he'll be vacationing there over Xmas / New year and leaving Heathrow on the 19th. So what do I do? I surprise my family booking a holiday there and Singapore on the way back for a three week stint. What was I thinking? We live at the best beach in Oz and it's summer here! When I informed my wife she at first refused. She wanted to see the Switzerland of the South Pacific, the South Island of NZ.
Too late dear, plans set in concrete, everything paid for and even invited another family from Chiang Mai to join us over there.
You plan and imagine and then things change which you couldn't control. My friend can't make it from England, he's snowed in and we're already there. Well, we almost didn't get there as we had a driver sent from the hotel to pick us up from the airport and he almost killed us. Good start, hey?
A warning about Patong…if you like to swim in a cesspool go there by all means. Paid 300 baht for 3 deckchairs to see dead fish in the water and more rubbish than on a local tip here. Want to get a tuktuk, 200 baht to go a short distance, I.e. minimum price. My buddy said that Thai food prices were 3 times of that in Chiang Mai. Being Xmas and New year the resorts charge 3800 baht / person for gala dinners which are compulsory. They throw in a free show which bores you to tears.
I don't know about you but the most important thing about hotel rooms as far as I'm concerned are the beds. In this particular 4 star(?) resort the king size beds were like sleeping on a concrete floor.
The extra bed for the kid was as ancient as me with spring poking out of it.
However the point I want to make with regard to my opening paras is that it seems crazy to go on holidays and end up suffering in circumstances way, way worse than your home comforts. I mean, we live in a nice house with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a swimming pool and a short walk to the beach and I end up roughing it for 19 days in one room not to my liking.
I pondered this while sitting around a deckchair at the resort pool (if I was able to secure one in time before a Russkie took them) and lamented 12 thousand bucks down the drain.
The fact that it was unseasonal weather and rained a lot only added to the frustration. The top attraction in Patong are a bunch of ladyboys. That tells you about it all. Here’s a great location on a potentially lovely bay and the Somchais ruined it. But I've only got myself to blame, nobody twisted my arm. Furthermore I don't even blame the locals, it's a toss up between the farangs who visit there and the locals who scam them. Some of those farangs make it real hard to be liked. They're demanding (especially the Russkies and Indians) and uncouth. If I was a local making a living there I'd be tempted too.
Altogether it's a bad mix but the Europeans who go there want to escape their harsh winters and get burned the colour of lobsters so they can go home and boast about their fortunes.
Me? I just wanted to come home and even tried to leave early but no flights available. I must have had a premonition as 2 days before we left my wife had an accident in the hotel due to their negligence and ended up in hospital requiring stitches. After that she couldn't walk so the rest of the vacation was even worse and Singapore was a waste of time. There were more health issues too for me and our son too, but I don't want to bore you.
So what's the lesson for me in all this? If I can't create an ambience similar to my home when I want to have a vacation it's better to stay home. (Actually one can but it'd cost an arm and a leg, in peak season maybe 15,000 baht a night). In Australia we also holidayed on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast several times but in spacious 2 bedroom serviced apartments on the beach in peak season for about Au$1,500 a week. Clean beaches, surf, good restaurants, nice drives into the Hinterland and no hassles. Now we're near the beach there's gonna be no more beach holidays for us in far away places, and definitely not in Thailand.
Look, it's not a hard and fast rule about what you do and I'm not saying that you, the reader, do as I do. I'm just confessing of my folly but for others it may be a place to go. It depends on your own circumstances and situation. Some of you might put up with it if you come from the Northern Hemisphere and freezing your arses off in minus degrees. You may live in a small flat and a hotel room maybe even bigger. Horses for courses.
But let me tell you something, the brochures always look 100% better.
For those from countries with freezing cold Winters, Thailand is a blessing. For those who want cheap and easy sex, Thailand is hard to beat. For those who want to experience Asia where things are relatively easy, or a place that can be done on the cheap, Thailand works. But if you want Western quality, visit a Western country.
Do visit the south island of NZ – it is wonderful!