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Which sites are on your Thailand must see list?
February 2006 TravelPod Newsletter
Previous Newsletters

Luc, aka ”Lucky”
I usually cover “TP insider” topics in the TravelPod Newsletter, but lately I’ve been thinking about the goldmine of real travel inspiration that we all share here and I decided it’s time for a change. With this issue we launch a new kind of newsletter with a new centerpiece feature called BEING THERE. It’s all about a hot travel destination - a real TravelPodder favourite. We have combed – the blogs and posts, photos and videos – to come up with a handful of the colour and wonder of our selected destination. This month, we focus on Thailand and even if you won’t be getting away any time soon, reading about it can be the next best thing to being there.
This issue also introduces the a semi-regular TravelPod member profile feature called
YOUR WORDS. This feature is simple and, I think, simply powerful. It’s an opportunity to share your unique response to the big question: “Why’d you do it?” The prolific Steve James is in the spotlight this time. Will you be next?

Thailand is the most popular travel destination in Southeast Asia. Majestic mountains watch over breathtaking beaches. Ancient temples inspire rejuvenating contemplation. World-renowned hospitality encourages lingering over long dinners of bracing Thai cuisine. From the exhilarating beats of the Bangkok nightclubs to the tranquility of the floating villages along the Mekong River, the Kingdom beckons travelers of every stripe.
While annual climate patterns vary from North to South, July to December is typically monsoon season in Thailand. November through early February offers dry, cool weather. Warmth and plenty of sunshine are a near-certainty from mid-February through June. Many travelers report that February to March is the best time to experience Thailand.

Thailand Basics
Population - About 65 Million
Languages - Thai, English
Currency - 1 baht (THB) = 100 satangs
Capital and Largest City - Bangkok

Thailand By TravelPodders
It will come as no surprise that Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for TravelPodders with more than 1,000 travelogue posts and more than 22,000 photos of this tropical paradise. It is never easy, but we have chosen four blogs that had us checking the Thai Airways schedule, and four photos that made us want to stuff the backpack and just be there.

TravelPod Posts From Thailand
andyb on Kanchanaburi province
stevejames on Thai Tom Tours
worldismycanvas on Chiang Mai province
outofessex on Himself All Over Thailand
More Thailand Travelogues

Thailand Photos From TravelPod

Clockwise from upper-left
Sanphet Prasat Palace, Ayutthay
Garudas, Wat Phra Kaew
Hot Peppers at the Floating Market
The face of a tree
More Thailand Photos

Thailand Video From TravelPod
Not sure we’d want to be the goalkeeper in this game…
More Thailand Video

Thailand Trivia
• Thailand, which means "Land of the Free", is the only country in Southeast Asia that has never been colonized by a European power.
• The citizens of Thailand are the most voracious TV watchers in the world averaging 22.4 viewing hours every week.
• 2006 marks the 60th Anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej's Accession to the Throne of Kingdom of Thailand.
• The world's tallest Buddhist monument in the world stands 127 meters tall in Nakhon Pathom province.
• Kanchanaburi province is the site if the Bridge On The River Kwai, immortalized in the 1957 David Lean film based on Pierre Boule’s book "Le pont de la rivière Kwai"

TravelPod-Recommended Links For Thailand
Tourism Thailand
About Bangkok
Thailand Tourism Directory
CIA Thailand FactBook
• Know of another good source of information on Thailand? Drop in to the Southeast Asia TravelPodium and share it.

Considering Thailand?
Tempting, right? Are you ready to check for flights to Thailand?
Is there someone you would just love to take with you?
Share the inspiration of BEING THERE: THAILAND with family, friends and fellow travelers.

TravelPodder Steve James was one of the winners of the recent TravelPod Post-To-Win Contest. We grabbed the chance to ask him some pretty specific questions and we were wowed by the candid, truly uplifting answers.

Steve James, 27, Bristol (UK)

What were your life goals and aspirations before you started traveling?
Well, I always wanted to be an astronaut, but discovering NASA had a height limit of 5' 11" was a bit of a disappointment for a teenager who'd already reached the lofty heights of 6' 3"... So I kept my aspirations very much on the ground, riding the conveyor belt of a typical British middle-class life: school, higher education, university degree, professional career in IT….

What was your motivation for hitting the road?
The aforementioned conveyor belt. It slowly dawned on me that I was stuck in a rut, albeit a comfortable one, and I had to escape before it was too late. I was working nine-to-five in my one-horse hometown of 26 years, was very much single and had nothing on the horizon looking to change that status any time soon. A good friend of mine from London had been travelling, and every time we met up he was full of tales that had me completely captivated. So one day I stunned my employers to silence by handing in my resignation, scooped up my savings and bought my "Golden Ticket" for a year-long Round the World trip.

How did you feel when you stepped off the first plane?
I can recall the feeling vividly, even one year on, and every time I cast my mind back to it, it makes me grin inanely. I had only slept three hours in the previous two days before my flight, but when I stepped onto Japanese soil I was hit by a huge wave of energy and excitement, fuelled by adrenaline, and wide-eyed with the mind-boggling newness of everything I was seeing in Tokyo: the unfamiliar language on the signs, the neon lights, the noise, and of course people absolutely everywhere! The buzz reverberated for weeks.

What is your favourite travel memory?
It's so tough to narrow it down to just one! I think I'd have to go for climbing Mount Kinabalu on Borneo with an ex-work colleague of mine who'd flown out to meet me - although at the time, enjoyable was way down the list of choice words I'd have used to describe the climb. Most would be unprintable here! Let's just say I found it very hard-going, being someone whose idea of strenuous exercise is performing a three-point turn in a car without power steering, and the effects of altitude sickness were not fun, but it was all so worth it to see the sun rise whilst standing at 13,500 feet on a rocky peak protruding from a sea of clouds stretching from horizon to horizon...

How about your worst travel experience?
Contracting an "unidentified bacterial infection" in Laos from the water in the River Mekong. Ugh! I'd never felt so ill in my entire life. I was convinced an organism was incubating inside my body, feeding off my lifeforce. Luckily the sickness was shortlived, as antibiotics cleared it up within a few days, but sadly it cut short my time in beautiful Laos, as I fled back to Bangkok to recuperate - and to be near a decent hospital, just in case.

Who is your most memorable character out there?
Too many! The most memorable people tended to be those who were several pieces short of the whole jigsaw, and I think I met more than my fair share of those! One person that sticks out in particular was the female proprietor of a Chinatown dive bar in San Francisco - a wonderfully colourful personality. She bantered non-stop with the regulars, ruled the jukebox selections with an iron fist via a master switch behind the bar, told hilariously bad jokes with a strong Taiwanese accent and performed blindingly obvious magic tricks. She had me in stitches!

How did you feel when you stepped off the last plane?
I felt a sense of completeness. In my final weeks I'd managed to come to terms with the fact my travelling time was coming to an end, so I'd mentally prepared myself for the potential shock of returning home and had tried to focus on the things I was looking forward to, such as seeing my family and friends, eating a home-cooked Sunday roast and sleeping in a warm, comfy bed without seven other people snoring nearby! It actually felt good to be back, although as I took the same old local bus to my one-horse town that I'd taken countless times back in what I now refer to as my "previous life", it honestly did feel as if the last year had just been a dream.

With reference to those life goals and aspirations above, where are you now?
To me it feels as if a veil has been lifted from in front of my eyes; suddenly I'm thinking about the possibilities of working internationally. Perhaps I'll return to Germany, this time to work. Or perhaps I'll move to Japan to teach English for a year. Who knows? The feeling of having such a wealth of opportunities is intensely liberating. And even if I do decide to stay in the UK, suddenly the sole driving force of earning money is to build up the travel fund for the next big trip... whoever said going Round the World was only a once-in-a-lifetime experience, anyway?

Ready to answer the same questions in Your Words? We’re ready to read them and we’ll be choosing the best to show-off in future installments of Your Words.

PASS IT ON! Know someone that could use a little travel inspiration?
Share this newsletter with family, friends and fellow travelers.

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