South-East-Asia Part 1; Exploring Thailand

With exams over, I've finally found time to edit the mass amount of footage I accumulated over my trip in South-East Asia, earlier this year. Though this may only be Part 1 (of who knows how many), it's a start, and even if it's for no one but myself, I think it's worth doing.

A few things about my trip, as shown in the video (I figured this would be a good way to talk about my experiences overseas in these countries, because the video acts as a good accompanying medium).


AirAsia was the flight company we decided to go with because of its cheap flights. Sure, you may give up some luxury (even with my short stature I found the leg-room limiting) and end up smuggling snacks on-board to consume because food costs money, but for a Uni student on a strict budget, you've got to do what you've got to do.

None-the-less, there's nothing that quite matches that feeling when you finally touch down at your destination. That wave of realisation that 'I'm finally here!'. This trip had been ages in the making; months, and months (the idea first started over six months prior) and it always feels like such a big deal when you land in the place that you've been working so hard to get to.

Airplane shot!
I think there's something inherently exciting about airports, and despite the four-hour stop-over in Malaysia (with much consumption of Macca's), the insistent security checks (that allegedly found a strange piece of metal embedded in my thigh??) and mass-consumption of copious volumes of water before boarding, I still find myself jittery with enthusiasm every time I step on and off a plane.

Accommodation Risks

Sometimes I think back to the decisions and choices we made in South-East Asia and I'm baffled at how we even survived or made it through alive. Of course, I'm exaggerating, but my point stands that it takes a lot of faith to trust a cheap accommodation offer in a country that you know nothing about. Most of the time, our empty wallets were lured to 'less-luxurious' accommodation sites, which meant we always crossed our fingers every time we entered one. Half the time was spent wondering where on Earth the place actually was, how to stay safe, and how to even use the facilities.

With the first place, which was perhaps the biggest struggle, we stayed at D's corner. With our stubbornness and stinginess, we refused to pay an extra $1.50AUD for air-con, and instead stuck with our $8/night rooms with a single fan. Yes, in sweltering temperatures of forty degrees. Wise? Perhaps not. An experience? I guess so.

Given mattresses, some with linings, some without, which we promptly slept on in sweltering heat because we were so utterly exhausted from Day 1
Even so, the very nature of the accommodation was something that we were not accustomed to. 'Thailand', you think of wonderful and luxurious hotels, with pools and marble-covered floors. We stayed, essentially, in the back-housing built on top of a street-store, secured by iron-grated doors with simple padlocks. In saying so, the housekeepers were exceedingly kind, friendly, and generally kept to their own business. It felt more like a home-stay than anything in particular, and I feel like even calling it a 'hostel' would be a stretch, but it was an experience I came to love and enjoy and a part of me still misses the cheap-shoe-string aspect of the quaint little corner that we called 'home' for a few days.


Despite not yet having any cheap mobile-data plan to utilise, we were starving, and so decided to head out in search for an elusive restaurant 'somewhere near here' with nothing but a screenshot of the map on our phones. Being a generation accustomed to 'Google maps' and the internet, it was a struggle to wander out with an odd but exciting sense of helplessness among us. Not only did this prove difficult at one point when we literally had no idea where we were or how to get back home, but navigating the streets of any developing-Asian country is another accomplishment on its own.

With cars zooming in front and behind us, it took a while for us to realise exactly how to cross the streets of Thailand without being hit by the billions of motorcycles buzzin by. Although it took every single thread of self-control to resist running, the key was to force yourself to walk calmly and at a set pace, so that the drivers could 'estimate where you would be and thus swerve around you'.

Yes, he is not looking at the road.

Fears and Scamming

As all nervous tourists do, we put extensive research into the nature of tourism in Thailand. Most of what we read told us it was a lovely and beautiful country -- a wonderful place to visit on holiday to explore. We ought to expect a great time overseas, as long as we're careful. People willing to go to great lengths to get your money (borderline 'scamming' us) were almost around every corner, asking us if we'd like to catch a very cheap tuk-tuk ride to some elusive, beautiful location, or trying to pressure us into catching a boat right now before we missed the opportunity. It left us with this huge sense of caution and second-guessing, making it difficult to trust a lot of people. 

Part of the reason why purchasing a SIM was so difficult; sure, there were hundreds of people selling them on the street. One claiming '600 Baht' was the cheapest you could get (but once you turn the corner, there's another for 400 Baht, and double the value of credit! Or so they say...). 

Altogether, it was exhausting dealing with all this on a day-in-day-out basis.


Language barriers were a big hit. Although most of the population knew some basic English (thus we were able to engage in simple communication, such as purchasing items, etc.) occasionally we'd come across a few who knew no English at all, which proved difficult.

Most menus had English translations. Don't get me started on this one time when we literally ordered by luck-of-the-draw.
At one point we found ourselves having to order in Mandarin because one of the restaurants we chose only spoke Thai... and Mandarin. 

There was also a slight misunderstanding when we had been pronouncing 'Ped' incorrectly (which is supposed to translate to 'spicy', but our English-ladden-tongues managed to say the word 'pussy' instead. Many awkward moments ensued).

Though, regardless, we spent a deal of time learning the new language, which I found was an essential component to immersing yourself in the culture. Though I was an absolute rookie, the intention was there, and I found it somewhat fun and challenging to cram learn phrases in Thai.

Food Markets, and Food

New appreciation for Thai food ensued after spending one night at the Street Markets. It was bustling with activity, and the smells, sounds, and sights were something to marvel at. Everything was so cheap, as well!

At street food markets that were right outside our accommodation! So many smells and sounds and sights. I loved every bit of it.

One thing I loved an immense amount was the food in Thailand. Not only was it cheap, it was also decent and there was such a huge variety of food that often suited my palate (no spicy food though, thanks). Despite half the words on the menu not making sense to me at all, we soon accustomed to Thai food and began to take our tongues on an exotic adventure of tastes and flavours.

Too many food stuffs, not enough stomach room...

Although, a note should be made that caution needed to be taken in regards to the source and state of food that we bought. With fear of gastroenteritis or extreme stomach-bugs threatening us, we payed extra-close attention to only consuming foods we deemed safe.

Surprisingly, this worked! For the most part. At about the 2.5 week mark we all got sick, which I believe was due to various bugs. The suspect wasn't food, but rather, ice-cubes that were blended into our fruit shakes (which were absolutely resistible at $1USD each). As careful as we were, it was unavoidable.

Islands and Mountains

Some of the most beautiful scenes I've ever laid eyes on. Being able to sit in a little inflatable boat and explore these untouched bits of nature with such vast views surrounding you in all directions was something I could never emulate in a photo or video. There's something quite breathtaking when you're floating in a vast sea, surrounded by giant, tall rock structures looming over you; feeling so small but also so amazed at the expanse of the world around you.

Then, exploring caves like I've never explored before; that inner-adventurer-kid came out of hiding as we saw amazing, glistening limestone structures hanging off the walls (they literally sparkled!). As it led into a beautiful alcove, I could hardly believe what I was seeing.

The little area was only accessible during low-tide; during high-tide, the cave is entirely submerged and this place is blocked off. The low-tide period lasts about two hours, early in the morning, which meant we had to rise at 6am but it was 100% worth the early-wake-up-call. As a result, all the roots of the trees rose high-up into the air (which would later be submerged), and created these amazing views and sights that I never even new existed.

Photocreds to AT
The structures around me are all roots from the mangrove trees, branching high up above ground to match the levels during high-tide.

Also, although we all received a face-blast of wind sitting at the front of a speed-boat, it was perhaps worth the beautiful view of seeing the ocean slip under us as we sped along.

Floating Markets

Of the floating markets in Thailand, we were taken to one of the most long-lasting (and we're told, the last 'genuine' floating market run entirely by fishermen and those who live on the floating markets) set of markets there were. All sitting on poles, elevated above the calm ocean below.

They even had a floating soccer field, which all the kids from various local villages would collect together every weekend to play. Incredible, huh? Evey thing was literally elevated up on these sticks above water (they needed to be high-enough to accommodate for high-tide).

Getting a peek into the lives of these fishermen and families that survive and live entirely within these floating villages was incredible. Everything is transported by boat, and they sleep in houses located behind their shop-fronts, often in just a single room with open windows (to let the cool breeze in). Entire families lived and thrived on these islands, and if that wasn't a radical shift in perspective then I don't know what is. It hit me in that moment that these people lived such vastly different and alternative lives to mine, and yet we could come together and communicate, laugh, and share (mostly as I bought their little tidbits and bargained with them in broken-English).

Also check the amazing little fish-farms they have. At around 2:18 in the video you can see this huge fish pop up from the murky water as we place a small piece of chicken on the surface for it to eat. That's not something you see every day, is it?!


I love marine life and this was one of the most incredible things of this one-day-island tour in Thailand. The fish were so abundant, and it was teeming with life. Although the water may have been a little bit murky and the life less explosive as the Great Barrier Reef, it was still incredible to dive down and see real-life clownfish swimming about, and sea urchins dotting the floor.

Not much I can say; I think it's shown in the video well enough, but it was most definitely so incredibly fun to be swimming among these fish, darting all around you.

Also, followed later by beaches and trying a fresh coconut, straight from the tree! Actually, one of the cabin members actually climbed the tree and cut one off fresh, which we promptly cut open to drink (kind of sour, but not something you get to do every day!)

Cabin crew cutting a fresh-coconut for us to drink

What I learned in the first few days of the trip

A great deal of independence was thrust upon me. I had to learn how to be safe and manage myself in an entirely different country -- something unlike anything I'd been exposed to before. With not a clue of the language, how we would get about, how anything worked, really, we had to somehow navigate our way through and make it back in one piece. Preferably with all our valuables still in our pockets and with some cash left in our wallets.

There was always a fine line between trusting someone and just jumping in, and being cautious. How much was too cautious? And where is the line of 'recklessness' crossed? Getting picked up on the first day we were literally told some guy with a van was going to pick us up. No idea who they were, or which one they were going to be (of the many vans picking up tourists on that early 7am morning).

We learned to say 'no' very directly and bluntly. No I do not want a tuk-tuk ride to Patong Beach, let me say that again, I do not want a tuk-tuk ride, thank you. It was hard to push myself into this role and have to enforce myself so sternly, but it was either that or we would get pushed around by someone else.

I also learned how radically different life is just a few hours away from home. How these lives that people live can be so incredibly unique, vast, and interesting, and yet we live at the same time-period of human civilisation. It really makes you think, huh?


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Hello! I'm a student from Australia. I like photography, am aspiring to be a Doctor, have fallen in love with many things that life has to offer, and hope to see more of it. I've been blogging for a while and over the years what it means to me has changed. Currently still trying to figure that out, but here I am in a weird hybridisation of photography, film, blogging, and the confusion of a young adult, you'll find me here writing about my experiences and life. Or whatever tickles my fancy. Whether that's entertaining or not is yours to decide. Stay hydrated, kids.