As a massive portion of you Real Gappers will already know, our very own Ben (Sales Manager) and Harriet (Travel Advisor) went on their own Thailand Experience trip back in March. As so many of you had been asking questions about one of our biggest trips over the last few weeks, we thought we’d ask them both to look back on their trip one month on and give you lot the insider goss...
Favourite activity? That’s a toughie! We both absolutely loved the scuba diving, which is an extra activity you can add on after your Thailand Experience ends (and we both thought we’d hate it- as we can be big scaredy cats!) as Koh Tao was absolutely gorgeous and it was the perfect place to do a dive. We’d both only dived once before- and on our ‘Introduction’, which lasted for the day, we had a dive in the morning and the afternoon. Afterwards, we just chilled on the dock of the boat and on the beach, bliss! We also loved Kanchanaburi as it wasn’t what we expected- having breakfast on the floating boat each morning and the Thai cooking lessons were so much fun.
Most surprising? We joined a group on the Thailand Experience which was 36 strong (which is the maximum number) and it was surprising how well the guys all got along. They had such a strong bond from day one and that was so lovely to see, especially as most of them were lone travellers who were nervous about travelling solo beforehand.
Must haves? We have a few, actually!
(Ben-) A rucksack with wheels, ha! I don’t personally get on with rucksacks as mine was so heavy, so when I go back to Thailand in November (I loved it so much that I’m going to go back again!) I’m going to take a soft bags with wheels so I’ll have the choice to wheel it around on flat ground if I can.
(Harriet-) To stock up on clothes in Bangkok! The shopping is so awesome there, everything’s dirt cheap so you can really stock up. It was also great to stock up on cheap clothes for our volunteering days- you really get your hands stuck in at the projects so it saves your ‘own’ clothes getting ruined!
It’s also worth noting that in religious places- ie, temples, you need to cover your shoulders in knees. We made the mistake of rocking up in a vest top/shorts, and so we had to ‘rent’ clothes from the mosque, which wasn’t the best I must admit!
The kids on our volunteering project also loved the stickers a couple of the volunteers bought in from home, so if you can fit any in your bag you’ll literally make their day!
Who’s suited to the Thailand Experience? Everybody! At first we both thought that it would generally suit loud, confident travellers- but on our group of the Thailand Exp there was a real mixture of characters and everybody loved it. If you’re a quieter character you can chill- and if you like to party, you can!
Full Moon verdict? It was so awesome! We knew it’d be one of the highlights before we went, and it was pretty much what we expected. It was pretty manic at times as it is really popular, but seeing as though each area of the beach played a different type of music you can party to what you like!
We were both really surprised with how good the nights out were in both Koh Tao and Bangkok though- we knew they’d be good, but they were both amazing! Thailand really is the best place to show you a good time!
Hardest part of your trip? There wasn’t really a part of the trip that was ‘hard’ as it were, but the volunteering definitely provides a completely different angle to the general ‘cultural’ experience you get in Thailand. We really had the chance to connect with the children, which meant it was often hard to say goodbye!
One final message?
DO IT! Baring in mind we’ve both been to Thailand before, we absolutely LOVED our time with the team out in Thailand and the 36 Real Gappers on the trip. It was so much fun- we’ve both got memories for life that we’ll never forget!
Both Ben and Harriet went on a part of the Thailand Experience, our diving Introduction in Koh Tao, and our individual ‘childcare volunteering’ project. If you’d like to read more about Thailand, head over to the Real Gap website for more!