The Land of Smiles
As the adage goes, “Of all the books in the world, the best memories are found in between the pages of a passport.” Being lost in places you have never explored before with people you
As the adage goes, “Of all the books in the world, the best memories are found in between the pages of a passport.” Being lost in places you have never explored before with people you have met only for the first time will give you a strange feeling of escape and belongingness. In a trip to Thailand to explore the country’s textile industry, our sense of adventure and wanderlust was proven.
Yet before we embarked on our adventure to the textile towns, we had a taste of the capital, the buzzing city of Bangkok. At the Health Land Asoke-Sukhumvit Applied Thai Medicine Clinic, one of the country’s best massage and spa centre, we experienced the best welcome greeting: The signature Thai massage. This ‘lazy man’s yoga’ fuses yoga with various traditional medicine practices from all over the world, and indeed a must try!
Discovering the Thai culture and heritage, we felt we had immersed ourselves in a totally different world.
True to our mission, we did not move out of the capital without visiting the world-renowned Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles that serves an amazing retrospection on the country’s fashion history. Her Majesty the Queen Sirikit changed Thailand’s fashion game as she created the country’s national dress and brought a new light to the country’s own style. In fact, Her Majesty even partnered with Pierre Balmain in a few of her designs, which were also exhibited in the textile museum. Every fashion aficionado will surely admire every piece of Her Majesty’s creations, located in the museum aiming to preserve the beauty of Thailand’s textile arts for the country’s future generations.
From the museum, we headed to the Queen Sirikit Department of Sericulture where we learned how Thai silk is processed and how it helps local communities in the country.
The next day, we flew to the South, to Thailand’s second largest province, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and experienced a whole lot of different vibe compared to Bangkok. From the capital, this charming province is reached after one hour and ten minutes by plane, ten hours by bus or sixteen hours by train.
Sightseeing was easy while we rode the bus to our hotel. Despite the heat, we enjoyed the sights of temples, houses and other historical structures of the province.
At this underrated province, we found Wat Phra Mahathat, Thailand’s most famous temple. This temple is home of the most fascinating golden Buddha image in Thailand, as well as a number of vivid Buddha images. There is also a local museum where one can view relics of Thailand’s past as well as influences of nations that conquered the country in the olden days.
After filling ourselves with culture, we devoured local delicacies at Kopi Restaurant, a favourite among Thai celebrities for they offer the best Thai tea in the country. A must follow tip: Never leave Thailand without trying the famous Thai milk tea from Kopi, and hoarding local goods on bargain like woven bags, nielloware, silver jewellery and shadow puppet inspired souvenirs at the Kiriwong Handicraft District.
At this district, the local ladies showed us the essentials of the province’s handcraft technique, lipao fern weaving. This craft takes time to master – one small bracelet took us around thirty minutes to create.
Kiriwong prides itself in various handicrafts and food: herbs, tie-dyed cottons, wine, coconut shells, juice, mangosteen and durian. The district is a typical Far East Asian province where we would love to stay and swim, ride the retro-looking bicycle and sip freshly pressed juices in its awe-worthy beaches.
We began our official textile exploration the following day when we joined the local ladies in preparing naturally tie-dyed cotton. It is the highlight of our trip that paved the way for our experience in the basics of the rigid and creative process of producing tie-dye cotton fabric using pigments extracted from dried leaves and fruit peels. Each fabric is dyed three times to preserve its original colour from the usual wear and tear. Although synthetic dyes can be store-bought and used for most of today’s fabrics, tie-dye possesses a certain brilliant colour unmatched by artificial colours.
Nakhon Si Thammat is also home to the Karom Waterfall that seemed endless in its nineteen levels, of which the highest is 1300-400 metres above the ground. Members of the Royal family were its frequent visitors so we did not pass on the opportunity. With our bottled water, first aid kit, hiking gear and comfy sneakers, we went up to see what the stunning natural beauty had for us. Thankfully, it did not disappoint.
Beaming with remarkable memories, we went back to Bangkok and furthered our trip to the Arts of the Kingdom which is not only famous for its architecture but also for its display of the artistic masterpieces, artifacts and collections under the period of King Rama I to King Rama VI’s reigns. From exterior to interior structures, this structure should be on the must-visit list of any tourist visiting Bangkok.
Our last stop in this Thailand journey was the Siam Niramit, a destination perfect for theatre enthusiasts. It flaunts world-class performances and a 2,000-seat theatre that has set the Guinness Book of World Record’s World’s Highest Stage.
From the fast-paced life in the UAE, we fell in love with the slow and relaxing life of Thailand. In the end, in discovering the Thai culture and heritage, we felt we had immersed ourselves in a totally different world. To this, we promised to feed our wanderlust, meet amazing people along the way, for travelling is not a form of escaping the present life, but not letting the life escape.
by Sherry Tenorio