Thailand 2009: Figures, lessons learned, and things I couldn’t do

18,090 words.

That’s how much I wrote about my 10 days in Thailand. I don’t know how much of it you read but I had a lot to write about.

Editing nearly 400 photos out of 1,100 taken wasn’t easy but having gone through them all, I’m very happy with the picture quality the Canon 7D is capable of producing.

How much did I spend?

Excluding the camera equipment expenses, close to Rs. 55,000 (approx. $1,200).

Flights: return ticket to Bangkok (Rs. 15k ) + flight from Chiang Mai to Phuket (Rs. 9k) +  flight from Phuket to Bangkok (Rs.2,500) — the last two were not planned… but I had no choice but to take them.

Rs. 55k for 10 days might seem like a lot to some experienced backpackers – or – expensive to those who are used to traveling by package tours but had my tripod not broken or had I not taken those two flights, I could have done it for around Rs. 40,000. It’s okay, I now know where to stay and how much to spend on just about everything. Lesson learned.

Credit card bill: Canon 7D + 16GB CF card + Canon 10-22 lens + Hoya filter + camera bag + flight tickets + domain purchases + website hosting fees = Rs. 1.61 lakhs ($3,450). Yikes.

Number of T-shirts: 13

Other lessons learned:

Thai baht is a strong currency

– best to fly from Chiang Mai to Phuket (and not try for a bus)

– realized how damaging salt water can be to camera lenses (and just about every other material)

Things I couldn’t do:

– try out timelapse photography

– join a Thai cooking class (wanted to know the marination for Thai barbecue chicken and the recipes for some Thai curries)

– rent a Yamaha Fino Mio

In my Chiang Mai post, I talked about looking around for a specific bike… and this was it!

Yamaha Fino Mio
These were the colours I went around looking for

I fell in love with these bikes the moment I saw them on Bangkok’s streets. On day 1, I dreamt of renting one and driving along the coast when I head down to South Thailand. I guess it’s something I have to keep for next time.

Places I planned on seeing but still couldn’t:

– Phang Nga Bay

– climb the 1200 steps up to Tiger Cave Temple ( Wat Tham Suea)

– Floating market

Things I want to do next time:

– attend the Full-Moon party and stay at Koh Tao

– capture/photograph the drive to Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai

– visit Trang and some other new place

– take the train and see the country side

– be in Chiang Mai for the lantern festival

– explore Old Bangkok and the Chinatown

– be better equipped  to take HD videos

– avoid mishaps by being more careful

– make the vacation a month-long one 🙂

Besides not being able to do the trip as per plan, another factor that hampered my vacation was the lack of sleep or just how tired I would be with all the rushing around. Will take it a lot more easy the next time around.

Closing thoughts on Thailand:

Thailand’s global reputation isn’t a good one. Let’s just be honest about it. From its night life to people claiming it to be one of the most dangerous destinations in Asia, most descriptions about safety in Thailand when doing my research painted a not-so-rosy picture. I even watched every episode of this British show called Big Trouble in Thailand (on YouTube) which highlights the kind of problems one can expect in Thailand. A bit over-dramatized but a lot of the scams are often genuine. (Worth a watch as a travel advisory)

So did I feel scared traveling all alone in Thailand? No.

In fact, I felt very safe. Safer than I feel traveling in India! (Yes, even for women.) I’m not saying nothing bad will ever happen. I’m just saying, if you do your research, take precautions and avoid shitty places with shitty people — you’re good.

And the people… most Thais are extremely nice people! Of course, being a tourist, you may end up getting ripped off occasionally but tell me one place you’ve visited where that hasn’t happened. There are many poor (or lets just say lower income) folks in Thailand, just as there are in India, but understand that they’re trying to make a living too.

Another thing I realized (& one that bothers me) is how much we overpay for just about everything in India. I mean in Thailand, the infrastructure is much better, fuel prices are more or less the same, even the long distance buses are better there — and yet, you get more for your money in tourist Thailand than in India. I hate that! After visiting South Thailand, I’ve decided that I’ll never spend too much money in Goa — India’s much revered coastal destination. The price of good (safe) food, the beautiful beaches, and the way you are treated is far superior in Thailand than in tourist hot spots such as Goa or Pondicherry.

And Thailand’s governance isn’t any better than India. Political scandals are a daily affair and corruption is rampant. Like Bangalore, even they have squabbles over the older smaller airport being allowed to stay open for domestic carriers as supposed to forcing them to use the newer, bigger international airport. So trust me, things aren’t that different — but you’re still going to enjoy the quality of life you get with more or less the money you spend here for the same.

So my word to anyone going to Thailand —  there’s a lot more to the place than you think, and it won’t cost you a bomb to enjoy it. And please, respect the people there. They’re not all low-lifes.

Until my next Thailand trip.

P.S: I didn’t end up going to Goa for Sunburn (Dec 25th to 27th 2009) after I got back on Dec 22nd night. Mostly because :

– I was tired

– I had lots to write and photos to edit

– I didn’t feel like spending anymore money

– What I spent in 5 days in Thailand, I would have had to shell out in 3 days in Goa during peak season

Other posts in this series:

Getting ready for my trip

The day I left for Thailand

Day 1 – Suvarnabhumi, Pantip Plaza, Fotofile & MBK

Day 2 – Bridge over the River Kwai and Tiger Temple (Wat Pa Luangta Bua) in Kanchanaburi

Taking the bus to Chiang Mai from Bangkok

Day 3 – Maesa elephant camp, ‘long-neck’ tribe village near Chiang Mai

Day 3 (Part 2) – Chiang Mai Night Market

Day 4 – Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai… and back in town

Day 5 – Leaving Chiang Mai for Phuket

Day 5 (Part 2) – One night in Phuket

Day 6 – Leaving Phuket for Ao Nang by bus (via Phang Nga)

Day 7 – Touring Koh Phi Phi (Maya Bay, Monkey Island & Bamboo Island)

Day 7 (Part 2) – Exploring Railay, Krabi

Day 8 – Flying from Phuket to Bangkok

Day 8 (Part 2) – Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok

Day 9 – MBK, Siam Paragon… and ‘little Arabia’?

Day 10 – Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha

Day 10 – Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and finally leaving Thailand

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  • Reena


    hey great stuff Mithun! now i want to go to Thailand as well!

  • Mithun Divakaran


    Thanks Reena!

  • varsha


    lovely blog Mithun!
    I wd love to read a guide post for someone who wants to do Thailand on budget.Where shd we stay(we are women);itinerary,and modes of travel.
    I promise that taht wd become you star post!

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Well, I am going back to Thailand in a few weeks for a festival which I want to photograph. Obviously I will be doing it on a budget now that I know better, so come back in December to see the photos — or follow me on Facebook by clicking on ‘Like’ on the FB widget on the right hand side of the site.

  • Mikel


    Hi Mithun,
    very good guide for thailand . Wonderful Pictures and good stories. Many Places and things you talk about , I have seen too. Same idea’s. Next week i go again . Chinag Mai , Isaan, Phuket … I like to be there ver y much. Thank for your very good discriptions.

  • eden


    very nice:)

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