Thailand – The Barefoot Nomad http://www.thebarefootnomad.com Travel. Tech. Family. Fun. Wed, 07 Feb 2018 20:25:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Making Memories Around The World With Locals http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/making-memories-around-the-world-with-locals/ http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/making-memories-around-the-world-with-locals/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=9364 Twelve years ago we took a trip that changed our lives.

We packed everything we thought we’d need in two backpacks and set out for a year across Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Before we left, I thought that we’d bring back lifelong memories of bustling cities, beautiful beaches and ancient temples.

And we did. However the memories that have lasted the longest, and had the deepest impact, are those where we connected most deeply with the local people, food and culture.

Paper umbrellas being made in Chiang Mai Thailand

Paper umbrellas being made in Chiang Mai, Thailand

What are some of the things I remember most from our first trip?

I remember watching, literally for hours, as local women in Chiang Mai, Thailand painstakingly made beautiful paper umbrellas, and chatting with them about their work and their lives as we sat. So many of our good memories are about the hidden gems we found by asking locals where to shop, swim and play. Like the quiet, hidden beach in busy Phuket, Thailand, where we snorkeled in the shallow waters as local kids played beside us.

A lot of my best memories are based around food as well, like wandering local street markets in Krabi, Thailand and being served homemade coffee from a grandma in her home in rural Sumatra, or snacking on traditional baby finger cookies at a wedding in the Philippines.

Street Market in Krabi Thailand The Barefoot Nomad

Street Market in Krabi Thailand

To be honest, though, it can be difficult to connect with locals on your own. Often, there’s a language barrier to overcome, and many travelers just don’t have the time needed to make a real connection.

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” Aldous Huxley

Travel Withlocals.com

I was intrigued when the folks at a new travel startup called Withlocals reached out to us.

What Withlocals does is a very a simple concept, and one that I think offers some wonderful experiences for travelers. Simply put, Withlocals connects travelers with local people and cultures through food as well as activities and tours with locals.

It’s a website that helps you experience the real local traditions and culture of the country you’re visiting, and gives locals a chance to earn a little money.

Withlocals offers experiences in Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Sri Lanka.

I spent a while browsing the site and found some fantastic choices for eating with locals, as well as some really interesting tours and activities.

Here’s a peek at some of the activities that caught my eye offered by Withlocals in Thailand and in Vietnam.

Secret Beaches Tour of Phuket

“Discover the untouched and hidden beaches of Phuket. Avoid throngs of tourists and dirty overrun areas. See the places only the locals know, not on any tourist maps. Small intimate beaches, or miles of sandy coastline, its up to you. 

Where there is food, drink or service available, you will be treated like a VIP as a guest of mine. I can speak Thai and have a long history of friendship and business relationships across the island.”

Secret Beaches Tour withlocals

Secret Beaches Tour of Phuket, Thailand. Photo courtesy WithLocals

Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market Food Tour

“The Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market is also called foodie paradise for local people. If you love food, then you should not miss this market.

Even though this market is quite small and more riverside eating areas than floating market however it offers more relaxed and local atmosphere compared to other floating markets.”

Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market Food Tour WithLocals

Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market Food Tour. Photo courtesy Withlocals

Tangy Thai Home Cooking

“Just one of our many main Thai home cooking dishes is a chicken specialty known as kai betong (named after the town of Betong on the Thai-Malaysian border) that consists of steamed chicken seasoned with soy sauce and then stir-fried with green vegetables. Milder flavor we offer a creamy coconut milk soup made with chicken called Tom kha kai.”

Cook Like a Local WithLocals

Cook Like a Local! Photo courtesy Withlocals

Cook Like a Local!

“Instead of simply sitting down and munching your food away, you are offered the opportunity of cooking your own real Thai dishes! All ingredients will be prepared in a professional manner – healthy and clean. You can learn by watching me cook, or you can help and get to know the basics of local food styles and ingredients.

Ps. This is not a cooking class, we will just simply cook a couple dishes together. Other dishes will be prepared in advance.”

Tangy Thai Home Cooking WithLocals

Tangy Thai Home Cooking. Photo courtesy Withlocals

Eat with Hanoian family

“Eating dinner with us and you’ll not only enjoy the Vietnamese fresh & Healthy foods but also explore more about history, lifestyle, economy, social issues… in Vietnam. I cook Veg and Non-veg.”

Eat with Hanoian family

Photo courtesy Withlocals

Have you ever spent time with locals when traveling abroad? Would you love to try some of the Withlocals experiences?

This post was written in collaboration with the great folks at Withlocals, but they didn’t tell us what to write, and definitely didn’t ask me to sit for half an hour drooling over the gorgeous photos of Thai food on their site.

]]>
http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/making-memories-around-the-world-with-locals/feed/ 8
Taking the Midnight Ferry to Ko Samui http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/asia/taking-the-midnight-ferry-to-ko-samui/ http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/asia/taking-the-midnight-ferry-to-ko-samui/#comments Tue, 15 Oct 2013 17:00:33 +0000 http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=7379 This post is part of our flashback series taken from emails and letters to family and friends during our tour of Asia and Australia in 2003. This post is pre-kids and was towards the beginning of our first great adventure together. 

Thailand: Ao Nang, Krabi to Ko Samui

After a great few months hopping around southern Thailand, monsoon season was quickly approaching. Micki and I decided that it was time to leave the Andaman Sea and check out the warm and sunny eastern islands in Thailand. The three major islands on the east are the touristy Ko Samui, full moon rave party Ko Pha Ngan and the divers mecca of Ko Tao.

We decided to forego the early bus and a quick ferry and opted to try a night ferry to the island of Ko Samui instead. On the whole, the night ferry was going to take longer, but since we would be traveling at night we thought we’d get an extra day and a free night’s accommodation out of the deal. Well, we definitely got both of those and a few other surprises as well. Hint: one of those surprises involves a goat.

Charles and Micki in Ko Samui

Charles and Micki in Ko Samui, circa 2003

From what we read, the night ferry went a little slower than the other so that’s where we thought all our time would be wasted. As you can probably guess, I could probably fill a few pages talking about how that journey went but for the sake of brevity, I’ll just give you some of the highlights.

It all started the moment we left our hostel…

As was the norm, our journey in South-East Asia started with us getting picked up at our hostel and brought to the bus station. Usually, there is a short wait at the station before taking off. We knew the moment that we reached that first station that this was going to be a memorable trip. After our ten minute ride to the local bus station they announced that we were over an hour and a half early and needed to wait. Next came a very dusty, hot and decrepit three hour bus ride followed by, you guessed it, an hour and a half of more waiting.

As it pushed closer to midnight, we realized we were the only people left at the station.

Everyone else from our group was on their way north to Bangkok or south down to Malaysia. Since it was so late and there was just the two of us, they didn’t even bother starting up a bus.

It turns out we were driven the last leg of the trip in the box of a beat up old truck with a bunch of plastic chairs that they felt needed to be dropped off first. This was all explained to us with wild gestures and lots of nodding since we had no idea what the driver was saying and he obviously didn’t speak a word of English.

I will say that blindly driving down the back streets of a dark, small town close to midnight in a foreign country and pulling into an even darker yard wasn’t exactly the best feeling in the world.

Once we realized they only wanted to drop off the chairs, the truck pulled out and we finally arrived at the ferry. As was our luck that day, we discovered that we had to wait another few hours yet again before the ferry left from Suratthani for the island of Ko Samui.

As bad as all that waiting was, it paled in comparison to realizing that the two goats that were tied to the boat were waiting their turn to board.

Yes, it was definitely a memorable journey. Anyway, after seeing the cargo that was being loaded, we were thrilled when we realized that everyone on board had a 2×6 foot-sleeping mat and an old pillow to call their own. As sad as that sounds, you can probably imagine our discontent when, after playing cards for over two hours, we realized that we hadn’t even left the shore yet.

Ko Samui Ferry

Sleeping on a Thai ferry. Photo courtesy Gosandra travels round the world

I would like to end the story on that note but since I tend to always share the more positive and unusual aspects of our trip today I feel the need to describe the less pleasant and more mundane side as well. With that in mind, I could tell you all about the long night aboard suffocating on diesel fuel fumes or maybe the big cockroaches and wacked out moths that lunged at us continuously.

Of course, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t also mention our backpacker neighbors who looked as grubby as they smelled and who continually invaded our 2×6 space. On the whole, interesting wouldn’t even begin to describe it but, as I always say, any story worth mentioning is an adventure worth living.

Looking back now, the funniest part of the whole incident is that we actually arrived in Ko Samui earlier than we had anticipated. Though that may sound great, in retrospect, unexpectedly arriving in a small foreign town at 5:00 in the morning and trying to find transportation is not a big bonus.

So, was Ko Samui worth all the hassle? In a word, no but it did have a few things going for it but that’s another post entirely…

]]>
http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/asia/taking-the-midnight-ferry-to-ko-samui/feed/ 26
Travel Photo: Bells at Wat Pharathat Doi Suthep Temple, Chiang Mai, Thailand http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-photos/bells-at-wat-pharathat-doi-suthep-temple-chiang-mai-thailand/ http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-photos/bells-at-wat-pharathat-doi-suthep-temple-chiang-mai-thailand/#comments Fri, 25 May 2012 19:11:29 +0000 http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=1992 Chiang Mai's Buddhist temples are some of the oldest in Thailand. Open to the public, they're great examples of Thai architecture, and a wonderful way to see true Thai culture and history.

Doi Suthep can be seen from almost anywhere in Chiang Mai, clinging to the mountainside close to the summit of Doi Suthep hill. Doi Suthep temple was built under King Geu Na in the late 14th century.

It's believed that striking the bells will bring good luck.

Legend holds that the temple's site was chosen by a sacred white elephant charging through the forest. King Geu Na ordered the temple built where the ...

]]>
Doi Suthep Temple, Chiang Mai

Bells at Doi Suthep Temple, Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai’s Buddhist temples are some of the oldest in Thailand. Open to the public, they’re great examples of Thai architecture, and a wonderful way to see true Thai culture and history.

Doi Suthep can be seen from almost anywhere in Chiang Mai, clinging to the mountainside close to the summit of Doi Suthep hill. Doi Suthep temple was built under King Geu Na in the late 14th century.

It’s believed that striking the bells will bring good luck.

Legend holds that the temple’s site was chosen by a sacred white elephant charging through the forest. King Geu Na ordered the temple built where the elephant trumpeted its last breath, and fell to the ground near the summit of Doi Suthep hill.

The walk to the top of the temple is about 306 steps up a steep serpent (Naga) staircase, or by cable car for about $1. The outside plaza holds several buildings and a great lookout point over Chiang Mai. The temple is a 15 km drive from Chiang Mai.

Thai Temple Etiquette: While not required at most Thai temples, it’s considered respectful to cover your arms and legs. Pointing is considered rude, and it’s polite to remove your shoes and hat. Sit with your feet underneath your body, facing the door, don’t point them to the front of the temple. Remember, you’re in a place that Thais consider sacred and holy, so be respectful.

Travel Tip: To get to Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, take the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. We took a private sleeper car for about $20/person, with a private toilet. Just don’t drop anything down the loo by accident. Ours had no bottom, and opened directly onto the tracks rushing below.

 

]]>
http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-photos/bells-at-wat-pharathat-doi-suthep-temple-chiang-mai-thailand/feed/ 4
Travel Photo: Farang Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-photos/travel-photo-farang-beach-koh-mook-thailand/ http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-photos/travel-photo-farang-beach-koh-mook-thailand/#comments Fri, 20 Apr 2012 21:31:27 +0000 http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=1690 Koh Mook, a small island paradise in the South West of Thailand in the Andaman Sea is a place of quiet tranquility. Due to it's small size and lack of almost anything, this is the perfect place to get away from it all. There are a few small resorts on the island however the place remains fairly low key even in the high season.

Besides for spending your days lounging in the 28°C ocean and stretching out on the glistening white sand, you'll probably find yourself enjoying a beer or two as your days slowly blend into each other. The biggest excitement of the day is watching the few longtail boats drop off and escort away the guests of the island since that's the only way to get there. Occasionally you'll see a sailboat tied up off the tip of the bay and the occasional diving boat might drive by in the distance.

In the morning there are usually a few...

]]>
Farang Beach on Koh Mook in Southern Thailand

Farang Beach at sunset on the island of Koh Mook, Thailand

 

Koh Mook, a small island paradise in the South West of Thailand in the Andaman Sea is a place of quiet tranquility. Due to it’s small size and lack of almost anything, this is the perfect place to get away from it all. There are a few small resorts on the island however the place remains fairly low key even in the high season.

Besides for spending your days lounging in the 28°C ocean and stretching out on the glistening white sand, you’ll probably find yourself enjoying a beer or two as your days slowly blend into each other. The biggest excitement of the day is watching the few longtail boats drop off and escort away the guests of the island since that’s the only way to get there. Occasionally you’ll see a sailboat tied up off the tip of the bay and the occasional diving boat might drive by in the distance.

In the morning there are usually a few longtails taking visitors out to the beautiful Emerald Caves and providing both snorkelling and fishing opportunities. There are actually a few good snorkelling spots right off Farang Beach in the bay.

Here’s a travel tip: If you’re planning on heading down here, then Trang is the place to leave from. Make sure you stock up on a few extra goodies while you’re in the province capital. There isn’t a real grocery store on the island and you’ll end up paying inflated island prices for all your snacks. If you’re planning on taking a tour out to Emerald Cave or one of the other local sights as we did, then see if you can share a longtail ride with someone. The captains generally charge by the boat rather than by the person so make sure you get a sizeable group together first.

 

]]>
http://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-photos/travel-photo-farang-beach-koh-mook-thailand/feed/ 1