My love affair with Thailand began in February 2002. It was my first travelling expedition further afield than Europe and for longer than a week. I spent two months lazing around the southern islands – sunbathing by day and partying the night away. That trip opened my eyes to the wider world, and ignited a desire to go exploring it.
I went back to Thailand for a ten holiday in Bangkok and Koh Chang in the summer of 2003, and came home feeling like I had left a part of my soul on the aptly named Lonely Beach. New Year’s Day 2004 was spent on an aeroplane heading out there again. I’d been made redundant from work by that point, and rather than do something sensible (like buy a flat) I’d decided to have an adventure with my payout.
After a month in Thailand, I headed over to Cambodia, and a few weeks later met my husband in beach bar called Eden. As the start of relationships go, it was pretty fairytale like. We lived and breathed each other for six incredible weeks, after which we parted company. He was Australia bound, I was going home to the UK after being away for seven months.
It was quickly apparent that we couldn’t bear to be apart, and less than two weeks after arriving home, I was on a plane heading down under. We stayed in Aus for a while, went back to Cambodia for a bit, came home for a few months, then went back to Cambodia where we lived for a year. Each time we travelled, we passed through Bangkok, and it became a second home to us.
We usually stayed around the backpackers haven of Khao San Road – which was chock full of the sort of grimy guest houses that Alex Garland depicted in his cult novel The Beach. Always a perfect mixture of grubby and gorgeous; tantalising mischief just waiting to be had. There are many ‘if these walls could talk’ stories from those days, but it wouldn’t be appropriate to share them.
After all, what goes on tour, stays on tour!