After a look into Thailand’s sex industry in Pattaya and navigating the paradise that is Koh Samui, a last-minute trip to Chiang Mai due to a fantastic deal showed me how travelling with local friends can make for lots of drama under the sun.
Even with my nit-noi (little) Thai language skills, it didn’t take long to realize we were heading for a spiritually bumpy ride as the taxi took us to our rural retreat.
It turned out that there was no love lost between our taxi driver and the owner of the resort we were visiting. Mr Taxi Driver felt the resort owner, who had married a wealthy farang, had become a snob.
I got the feeling he’d merrily told many of his Thai passengers that Ms Snob’s resort was near a crematorium, knowing they would be freaked out and worry about restless spirits.
His crematorium proclamation prompted the clutching of Buddha amulets, just as farang might brandish a crucifix or clutch their pearls.
For me, the resort was divine: organic and vegan; swimming; and a reminder of a childhood spent in the country.
Plus the local snacks such as crickets or grasshoppers fried with garlic will always be one my favorite. In many more remote parts of northern Thailand lots of elderly folk raise and sell insects to make a living.
But for my friends it was such a tortured time that we left early, although one of my Thai friends, let’s call her Ms S, did manage to gain some solace from one of the resort’s security guards. I imagine his presence in her bed helped her sleep better.
The gay and lesbian scene is laidback, but a bit hard to find, so if you want to venture out at night, choose where you stay carefully because transport can be a challenge.
The attitude to sexuality in northern Thailand is far more laidback and accepting of gender fluidity than other parts of the country.
Trans people work in shops, restaurants, banks – making me wonder if there’s a myth of acceptance when it comes to the country’s treatment of katoey.
In other parts of the country, many katoey tend to work in the sex industry. In northern Thailand they tend to be a part of everyday life.
Don’t miss: The Night Bazaar
Don’t bother: With restaurants; the street food is amazing
Budget: Lotus Hotel
Luxury: Rachamankha Hotel