Thailand – so much more than beaches
Just recently back from holidays, Tara recounts her whirlwind trip and discovery of the hidden gems of Thailand.
As I landed back on Australian soil and came crashing back to reality, I took some time to reflect on the trip that was. When I told people I was going to Thailand, the reaction was usually: “oooooh beach holiday!” And indeed Thailand is known for its beaches, but in my three weeks there I found so much more.
Of course I went on island tours, did some kayaking, snorkelling, and visited national parks; the natural beauty of Thailand is truly spectacular. But I found an even deeper beauty in the Thai culture.
Besides the friendly locals; with their broken English and amusing expressions, the incredibly tasty and inexpensive food, and the aggressive driving style, the element of Thai culture that drew me in the most was their art and architecture – especially in religious contexts.
I was taken by the sheer volume of temples (or wats) everywhere in Thailand. There were fewer in the islands, like Phuket and Koh Samui, but even then they were integral to the city landscapes. Temples and Buddha monuments stood high on mountain tops and smaller temples lined the streets (especially in the north of Thailand).
What struck me the most about the temples was the use of bright colours, shiny metals, and the fine detail in paintings and sculptures. Along with these elements and their attention to symmetry, Thai temples manage to combine all my favourite things in one!
I think the religious presence was most moving in Chiang Mai, where there are over 200 temples. I did a tour of all the major temples in the Old City, which were populated mostly by tourists. But when I travelled to the top of Doi Suthep, which is a sacred site at the top of a mountain overlooking Chiang Mai, the atmosphere was completely different. Wat Phrathat has a very rich history and a beautiful legend behind it. It was an extremely fitting place to finish my travels.
I would highly recommend travelling to Thailand if you ever have the chance, and explore a little further than the beaches.
And if anyone has any tips as to how I can combat my severe food depression and lack of 40 degree weather, they would be greatly appreciated!