"Same same," is a common saying among the Thai people. They use it when trying to give an example of how something they are saying or selling is similar to what you're use to wherever you come from. There is a "Same Same" bar in Koh Phangan (where the full moon parties are) and the saying has even been made into a T-shirt, which is exclusively worn by the douchiest of douchey tourists. The rest of their wardrobes are made up of neon "Full Moon Party" tank tops, which show off their tribal arm band tattoos and my personal favorite, a shirt that boasts, "Fuck Loud and Make Noise." - I hate them.
The thing about the "Same Same" saying is that it's completely ridiculous, but in a different way than the idiots wearing the T-shirt. There is nothing "Same Same" about Thailand as it compares to the States. The good things about this country are incredibly better than America and the bad things are shockingly worse. For example: You can get any medication you need for any ailment from a pharmacist without an appointment or exam. If you know you have a UTI, you can walk in and get meds. If you don't know what you have, you can go to a clinic and for basically nothing, they will diagnose you and give you medication for less than the cost of a cup of coffee in the states. No insurance. No bullshit. You're back at the beach in 20 minutes. Also not "Same Same" is the bathroom situation. Toilet paper is simply not a thing in most parts of Thailand. If you're lucky, there will be a 6 year old selling packets of Kleenex outside in the more touristy areas. Another luxury lost on the Thai people... Flushing. There is a toilet, sans seat of course. But no handle. Instead, a barrel of water and a pot that you fill and pour into the toilet to force it to flush. The joys of traveling...
There's a lot of talk about how cheap everything is here and how you can easily find meals for a couple bucks and lodging for not much more. I've been traveling the world for almost 8 months now and I'm very aware of my budget and spending and let me possibly be the first to tell you, Thailand isn't that cheap. Sure, you can get a chicken skewer and some fried rice or noodles at a street side stand for $1. But if you want to eat at an actual restaurant, where someone takes your order and there MIGHT be a toilet that doesn't flush, you're going to pay about $10-$15 for a meal. If you want to stay far away from the beach in a clean-ish room with somewhat working air conditioning, you can do so for $30 a night. But if you are interested in an actual hotel that's subject to a star rating and health code rules, you're out about $50. I will write a more in depth breakdown of how to do Thailand on the cheap once my trip here ends but those are just some highlights so far.
I've been here for almost a month and I don't head to Australia until February 15th. I started my trip in Koh Samui for Christmas with some friends I met in Mozambique and then continued on to Bangkok where I was joined by my besty and even more friends from home. We rang in the New Year at a rooftop nightclub and watched fireworks go off in all corners of a city none of us had ever visited. It was an incredible way to kick off this next year of traveling.
From Bangkok, we continued on to Koh Phangan and despite promising myself I wouldn't, we ended up at a Full Moon Party. But since we're closer to 30 than 20, we got there early to avoid the crowds, walked down the beach ONE time, spent the rest of the night perched high above the riff raff on a mountain overlooking the debauchery and were home and in bed by 2am. Success.
This trip has taught me a lot about what I can and can't handle. And while I still love to go out and drink and party, I can't do it every night, nor do I want to. But passing up on the opportunity to experience something that happens once a month, like the full moon party just because I think I'm over it, or "too old for that shit" is a bad habit to develop. I hated the things about it that I knew I would hate, like grown ass men walking not quite far enough toward the water to piss in the sand and then drunk girls falling onto said sand. But I'm still glad that I went because now I can tell anyone over 25 that it's just not worth it - from experience and judge those who try to convince me otherwise. Enjoy your stupid T-shirt.
I have so much more to say about this weird and magical place and I will post again once my island tour is complete. I just flew back to Bangkok (my 47th flight in 8 months) where I'll meet more friends from home and then head to Phuket. I love Bangkok but nothing makes me feel more at ease than being on an island so even though I just got back to the big city, I'm eager to be back at the beach with a fresh coconut in hand.
But Thailand might not be my only stop in Asia... A quick search on skyscanner revealed that it's super cheap and easy to get to Malaysia from here. I'm talking a $40 flight! So now I'm considering a stop in Kuala Lumpur and maybe even a quick hop over to Singapore before I head down under. Before I came to Thailand I had zero interest in even going to either of those places, but now that I'm here, it seems stupid not to branch out and explore more of this area.