The Thailand Experience is legendary around these parts, and when the lovely Ollie, a guy who works for our sister company JCA wanted to jump on board, it was an offer we couldn't refuse. Last month he headed out on an adventure of a lifetime, so when he got back (and admittedly, was a little depressed to be sitting back at a desk rather than on the beach) - we thought we'd ask him how he got on.
#myrealexperience: Thailand Experience
Why do you choose do go on the Thailand Experience?
I’ve always wanted to travel to South East Asia, given how different the culture, scenery, and way of life is to anywhere I have ever been before, and having finished Uni (and finally having the money to go somewhere exciting) I started looking through the various trips on Real Gap’s website. With my job I was limited to 4 weeks holiday, and therefore for me the Thailand Experience was perfect (28 days). Having looked through the itinerary, I loved how you got to see all aspects of Thailand; from the hustle and bustle in Bangkok, to trekking through the jungle and spending time in a village leaders house, and then finishing off with a week to explore the islands of Koh Phangan/Koh Samui, including the full moon party!
It had the perfect mix of everything I wanted to do, with just enough time in every place to see and do everything.
What was your favourite thing about Thailand? The people, scenery, food etc?
Bangkok is an amazing city, and a great place to start the trip, and seeing the sights whether it be on a bike, boat, or in a tuk-tuk made the first few days a great way to meet the group! However without a doubt my favourite place on the trip was Sangkhlaburi. It’s a tiny little town in the jungle, near the Burmese border, and you won’t see another westerner for days on end. The scenery across the trip is incredible, but being able to trek (and Zip Wire) across the jungle with local guides is something that I would never have been able to do without the group and perhaps my favourite memory from the trip. The optional extra activities that you are offered are incredibly cheap when compared to anything you could do at home, and this means you are able to do pretty much everything offered to you. As a group we did everything we were offered, from day trips to Elephant sanctuaries to a ladyboy show in Bangkok, and we enjoyed them all, so definitely be sure to say yes to everything.
The food and people again cannot be faulted! Thai food is incredibly cheap, I don’t think a Thai meal ever cost me more than £2 throughout the trip, and what’s more even if you do fancy western food your guide will be more than happy to help the group find somewhere suitable. It also helped that you can get a beer for £1 almost anywhere, which definitely increased Thailand’s appeal. Your guide also does a great job in organising everything for the group, and knows exactly where to go in every place you visit, which is a massive help! Watching the sunset from my hammock, with a drink, with this view for the last 9 days was also a fairly good way to end the trip too, I guess!
Chilling here was a dream!
What was your group like?
We had a group of 19, and a real mix of people which is always a good thing. The group ranged in age from 18 – 24, with the majority of people being solo travellers (like myself) whether it be whilst on summer holidays from Uni/College, following graduation, or simply taking some time off from work. As you’d expect it took a few days for everyone to get to know each other, but your tour guide does a great job in making sure you do everything together. Wherever we went out to eat/drink each night we did it as a group, which really helps in making sure everyone gets on. It was really good in the sense that we didn’t split off into groups, and we have already sorted a date to all meet up again.
How did you find travelling solo?
Great! Due to the length of my trip, and all of my friends either being skint or in boring jobs, I decided just to go on my own. As above, everyone in our group was amazing, and your trip will also coincide with similar groups so you’ll meet loads of people. It also means you’ll try even harder to go out and socialise with everyone!
What was your travel highlight?
Zip wiring (which although an added extra was well worth it)!
You do a total of 5 lines across the jungle, mostly around 200m above ground from the top of one valley to another. Going way above the tree line the views are incredible, with the longest being almost 1km in length and taking you over a huge lake along the way! Being petrified of heights it was something I was pretty chuffed to complete.
Any hints and tips for future Thailand Experiencers?
Just go for it. Take lots of deet, do every activity, talk to everyone, and don’t stress about WIFI.
Don’t worry about travelling alone, or who’s in your group, or anything like that. It’s the best trip I’ve ever done, and I’m already looking into doing another Real Gap trip with two friends next summer.
Want to find out more about the Thailand Experience? Check this out!