Can we just take a second and acknowledge how silly it sounds to say “island hopping in southern Thailand”… like I’m some kind of James Bond character or something? Sure, switching islands just means you have to jump on a ferry between the many gorgeous little land nuggets that Thailand has stored up in its southern region. And sure, Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan islands are well-known island retreat destinations most tourists stop by. I’m not doing anything too outrageous or exorbitant… am I? Either way, I feel like the islands are spoiling me to the core.
With the affordable exchange rate between the US dollar and Thai Baht, living like James Bond isn’t too out of the ordinary here. A Thai massage (on the beach!) essentially costs $3, a Mai Thai (on the beach!) will set you back $3, a night in a bungalow (on the beach!) will make you cough up $30. Woah, woah! I know, big spender over here! You guys get it. South East Asia is cheap if you do it right. And so far, I think we’re covering that end pretty darn well.
Oh and did I mention that we’re here during monsoon season? Yeah, I know. Monsoon season. Casual. Totally casual. We may not have the painfully brilliant Thailand sun striking our backs every day, casting its light on the clear, clear ocean waters and blazing into colorful sunsets, but we have the haziest, moodiest light you could ask for. I’m not complaining at all. Monsoon season, you can stick around in my book.
Southern Thailand, compared to our experiences in Chiang Mai (more on that gem of a city soon friends!), is very different. European-Thai fusion restaurants are in abundance here, most people who even live on the islands aren’t from the area, ex-pats are rare but tourists aren’t, partying is definitely more of a thing… it’s just different. And a little less genuine, if I’m being honest.
But the area’s natural beauty certainly makes up for its tourist-y ways. The most gorgeous and lush rainforest hills line every end of the islands, the sand is scattered with purple and blue seashells, the waters are (of course) clear and warm. Friendly stray dogs will join you on a morning walk on the shoreline, stopping only if you decide to order yourself a seaside drink at a bungalow. It’s a dream and a half to look at really, especially for this Pennsylvania girl. I’ve never experienced a tropical island before earlier this week, and I’m loving it fully right now.
I’ll be honest, working on the blog here can sometimes be a challenge. Island life is “mad chill” and resisting another Chang in the mid afternoon is difficult when you’re dreaming up future posts! But what can you, dear reader, look forward to reading here in the next few weeks? Well, lots of collaborative work on a bunch of other travel blogs (I’m taking over Atlas Addict’s Instagram account as of today… go check it out!), a thorough guide to Chiang Mai, some posts on my experience pushing myself into new and exciting things, like scuba diving (!?!?) and more. So much goodness, people! And I can’t wait to share it!