ThaIntro are a company which offer a week long ‘introduction’ to Thailand. You are met at the airport by your group leader, then travel for a week from Bangkok to Koh Phangan with a group of other young travellers, doing all sorts of activities along the way. I first heard of the company in 2011 when I was planning my first ‘backpacker’ trip. I was travelling alone, and while flying alone doesn’t phase me at all, spending three and half weeks in Thailand did! My friends Oli and Jade who write for the amazing travel blog JourneyCount encouraged me to go it alone, but I didn’t quite have the confidence. When Jade told me about ThaIntro, I thought I’d give it a go! So, in July 2010, I got on a 12 and a half hour EvaAir flight to Bangkok.
Day 1: Welcome to Bangkok!
I stepped off the plane and it really hit me that I was half way across the world. I remember standing in the middle of Bangkok airport realising that I was completely alone, and feeling a huge sense of relief that someone would be there to meet me and make sure I didn’t get lost! I met my group leader, Mina, who was absolutely awesome. Along with a couple of girls from my group, we travelled to the hostel we would be staying at, the Wild Orchid Villa, by cab. The rest of the first day was spend meeting my group, some of which I’d already been talking to on the ThaIntro Facebook group before I came. That evening we had a meal and went out for a few drinks at an Irish Pub on the Koh San Road.
Day 2: Exploring Bangkok’s temples, river and nightlife
We went on cruise down the Chao Praya river in the morning. It was incredible to see Bangkok from the river, plus this was the day I discovered what a spirit house was. I’ll definitely be posting on these soon! As I took this trip in summer 2011, it was just after The Hangover II, set in Bangkok, had been released. We passed by a part of the river that had been in the film, and the whole group had a laugh with Hangover quotes and jokes.
In the afternoon, we visited two temples; Wat Arun and Wat Pho. Keep your eyes out for a post on Thai Temples soon with more photos and details. After our excursions, we had a bit of free time. I went with a few girls from my group to check out the MBK, a huge shopping mall with a crazy indoor market.
To celebrate our last evening in Bangkok, we went for an incredible meal. I tried Pad Thai for the first time and became absolutely addicted. The rest of the night descended into chaos as we hit the Koh San Road! We started the night at Gazebo, a cute upstairs shisha bar where there was a covers band playing. They covered a bunch of popular songs, including ‘Empire State of Mind‘ by Jay Z. Imagine a whole group of us singing ‘Now we’re in Bangkooooook!’… You can tell we were getting into the Koh San Road spirit!
After that, we ventured to The Club, a crazy place with a dancing stage hidden away behind an unassuming door and a neon sign. We stayed there a while, but when we had had enough of the music we decided to try Gazebo again. The covers band had sung their last song, but did Killing in the Name just for us! We spent the rest of the night in a room with flashing lights and a floor fan, dancing away to cheesy chart tunes. By the end of the night, I was so glad that I had such a great group to travel with.
Day 3: Bye bye Bangkok
We all woke feeling a little worse for wear, and had a very short trip to the Grand Palace. It was midday and boiling, and none of us could hack the heat for long. We went back to our hostel, and discovered that for 30 baht we could use the pool at their sister hostel, Villa Cha Cha, for the day. We lounged by the pool and recovered, because that evening we were leaving Bangkok on an overnight train to travel South. After a short wait and snack at the train station, we were whisked onto the train to begin our journey. The train itself was nothing like I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the beds and amazed at how quickly and efficiently the staff make them up!
I had a bad night’s sleep, purely because I was on a top bunk right next to a bright light. I’ll be sharing a post soon on surviving an overnight train, so here’s a spoiler: if you’re on a top bunk take an eye mask! Mine, unfortunately, was stuffed at the bottom of my backpack and completely unreachable without emptying the entire thing. Oops. But, once I woke to leave the train at a painful 6am, I wasn’t feeling grumpy, because on day 4 of my trip, we would be reaching paradise: the floating bungalows in Khao Sok National Park…
Keep an eye out for Part 2 of my week with ThaIntro, which will be here on North Leads To Home tomorrow! If you can’t wait until then you can read my guest post for JourneyCount on my memories of Thailand.