Off the Beaten Track
After a long flight, we finally landed in Bangkok airport. Our first stop was the fabulous Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort and Spa which is all one would expect from a five star resort- hygienic, beautiful
After a long flight, we finally landed in Bangkok airport. Our first stop was the fabulous Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort and Spa which is all one would expect from a five star resort- hygienic, beautiful and with excellent staffs. After checking in, we headed to a spa to have a traditional Thai massage for 90 minutes- heaven! The trip we were on was supposed to take us on Thai beaten track into Cambodia and back, letting us experience Thailand in a way many don’t experience- off-road. On the second day we headed out to Nakhon Nayok which is a province located in a high mountainous area. We were going to do some cliff climbing, which is exactly what it sounds like. There was a cliff, we had to climb it and then descend on a rope- pretty nerve wrecking activity for someone, like myself, with a fear of heights, but in the end it was manageable, with a special thanks going to the instructor who did a great job at making sure we knew what we were doing and did it properly.
We had lunch at a small restaurant which served gorgeous traditional food before we took off to do motorbike riding and, subsequently, rafting. Riding the bike gave me an opportunity to appreciate the beautiful nature, with its lush green forests and the lovely deer that I got to feed some grass, leaving me with a thought of how lucky Thai people are to have this gorgeous nature around them. Once we were done with riding motorcycles, we headed to Khuean Khun Dan Prakanchon to raft in the dam where the water was calm and shallow at first; however, as we went by, the water started to get rough and deep. Thankfully, we did not flip the raft and managed to come to the finish line first. Who would have thought that one could go rafting in Thailand? There were many locals having a picnic by the water, which definitely looked much more calming than the raft race we were involved in.
As we progressed on our off-road trip, we came across a city called Trat. First destination was a small restaurant which served traditional food with most if being seafood. Grabbing tongue shell was next on schedule and we boarded a small boat, passing by gigantic forests. After a 30-minute voyage, we arrived at the area which was fenced off and the water was shallow. The tongue shells were everywhere and within seconds we were in the water trying to grab a few of them. Yet another thing visitors can do in Thailand many don’t know of. For lunch we headed to a beautiful seaside restaurant where among much of food, rambutan was served. The name rambutan originates from Malay word for rambut- meaning ‘hair.’ There was a lady making hats out of straw. Her face reminded me of my grandmother, and I decided to help her make one together. She showed me the steps and after several bad tries, I managed to make a hat which was gifted to me in the end. I thanked her in the end.
Koh Chang was our next stop. I still remember the name of the restaurant called Salak Khok Seafood which is located in the middle of a fisherman village. I highly recommend if you want to taste high quality Thai food. The staff were friendly and the view from the restaurant was stunning with the ability to see the sea with anchored boats, as well as the botanic garden .
Once we crossed into Cambodia we were taken to the Borkor Hill Station in Kampot province. Borkor Hill Station is a collection of abandoned French buildings on the top of a hill with a stunning view of the whole city beneath your feet.
Next day we visited the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. According the guide, the Kings of Cambodia had occupied the area since 1860s. Visitors are not allowed to enter some buildings; however, overall it was one of the must-see places in Cambodia as it provides a glimpse into the culture and the history of the country.
Overall, Thailand is well-known for its cosmopolitan cities, white sand beaches and luxurious resorts, however there is so much more to this beautiful Land of Smiles. Going on an off-road trip proved that Thai are not only some of the world’s friendliest hosts, but also that they are a nation that has much more to offer when it comes to cultural as well as active sports tourism. The additional trip to Cambodia demonstrated us that there is a friendly connection between two states and that the tourists can easily explore both. Thailand is definitely the Land of Smiles, there is no doubt about the fact that visitors are guaranteed to enjoy their trip, however we do recommend to explore the other sides of Thailand while always respecting their culture and religious views.
By Sinan Derinoglu