Monday, January 3, 2011

Thailand: Back when I was a kid...

When I first started traveling, a decade and a half ago, you would always here people talk about how a place use to be, or how it had changed so much and become so touristy. They lamented the once cheap and plentiful local food had been replaced by dishes catered to tourists tastes at triple the price and the once homey accommodations had been replaced by resorts and those styled for hipster backpackers. They even lamented the type of traveler they had to share their holidays with, adventurous backpackers had been replaced, or at least engulfed by package tourists, or the Lonely Planet crowd. Sentences started something like, "Man, when I was here ten years ago..."

Well now I'm getting older and it's my turn to lament the missing travel destination that I had once known. Thailand, at least what I have seen thus far, is just a shadow of what it once was. In many ways it is a much 'nicer' destination, but that grit and novelty that had been here on my first visit about a decade ago is very much gone. The simple thatched bungalows that once lined the beaches and the sands once full of young backpackers has been replaced by resorts and middle aged package tourists. The simplicity that made, in my oppinion, an almost perfect beach get away is just very hard to find here now.

Although my experience in Cambodia was somewhat mixed, I kind of wish I had looked more into vacationing on some of their coastal beaches or islands, as I'm starting to think that all of old Thailand migrated to Cambodia. In fact as I sit here writing this now I'm at some overly trendy espresso bar, surrounded by people on dive trips that are sipping lattes and talking about how cheap it is here. While some of the prices aren't much higher then they were before in baht, it feels more expensive to me because the US dollar has taken such a dive over the last decade. Food prices aren't bad when you can find local stuff, but most of that has been cramped out in favor of these western style BBQ places and bars that cater exclusively to western tastes.

So to be honest I kind of miss the Thailand of my youth, though I'm sure it's still out there somewhere...I'm just not certain where to look.

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