Indeed Thailand has nothing to do with western cultures: food, lifestyle, habits, buildings, cars are very different than in the west. Thailand has nothing to do with European culture and I was very enthusiastic about visiting this wild and unknown country.
First impressions in Thailand
When the plane landed on Don Muang Airport in Bangkok I saw people playing golf just between 2 runways. This confirmed my view that I was in a exotic country. The Royal Thai Air Force owned the golf course that lies between runways.
I felt lost but safe at Don Muang airport, just to emphasize that it was too noisy and there were to many people offering a taxi (without taxi meter of course). Right now at the new Suvarnabhumi airport, and due a recent government crackdown on illegal taxi drivers, you won’t find any unlicensed pirate taxi. Bangkok dangerous? Bangkok and all Thailand is probably safer than the Ramblas of Barcelona, however there are dangerous places which should be avoided by tourists, especially the provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat in southern Thailand adjacent to the border with Malaysia.
After a 4 hours drive in a old fashioned bus full of garlands and with a smelly toilet, where I had to pour water into it in order to flush it (remember it happened in 2004, currently Thai buses are much better than in my country) there is Khorat aka Nakhon Ratchasima.
One of the four major cities of Isan
As a newbie I got a “warm” welcome” by my girlfriend’s family and I was “almost forced” to buy some courtesy gifts such as: a mobile phone, a drill for the girlfriend’s father and another for the brother in law, some gold for the mother and a mountain bike for the brother. Let’s say I am generous. Fortunately as I’ve experienced lately, most Thai people do not have such behavior and most Thais are great people.
Korat is a big city located in northeastern Thailand and the gateway to Isan. Although it’s nothing special, Korat has some interesting monuments and temples:
Thao Suranaree Monument – Korat is famous for the Suranaree statue, built in honor of of Lady Mo, also known as Ya Mo (Grandma Mo) who was the wife of the deputy governor of Nakhon Ratchasima. Lady Mo is credited as the leader who saved the city by harassing the forces who invaded Korat in 1826. Suranaree is a popular object of devotion and worship in Korat.
Korat Zoo – The zoo is located about 13 km south of the city on highway 304.
The stadium – His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday Anniversary, 5th December 2007 Sports Complex is a multi-use stadium in Korat, specially built for the 2007 Southeast Asian Games and the 80th birthday of King Bhumbol Adulyadej.
Temples – As any city in Thailand Nakhon Ratchasima has plenty of Buddhist temples or wat. The most know temples are: Wat Phimai a Khmer temple in the city of Phi Mai near Nakhon Ratchasima, Wat Pa Yap, Wat Pa Salawan, Phra Narai Maharaj etc. To highlight Wat Luang Phor Toh, a modern and very popular Buddhist temple in Sikhio town, which was in a early construction phase.
The Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base was used by the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. It is located some 8 km south of the city.
The Chumphon Gate – It is an old city gate built during the reign of King Narai the Great in 1656 by French engineers.
Korat is also famous for its Korat cats.
A gallery of blurry pictures taken using a old-fashioned camera in 2004 below this post.
Adventure in Thailand offers a different view from the traveler: sometimes wild, with wide-open beaches, blue waters and white sand, lakes, islands, high mountains, wildlife, temples, monuments and a hands-on experience of the real Thailand. Get to know the gentle people and the wonderful Land of Smiles.