Our friend Patrick Chesneau tackles in this column a subject that concerns all visitors: How to discover Thailand? Leaving unexpectedly? Meeting the challenges of the unknown? Attempt the “unexpected”? Permanent improvisation? Or, conversely, should we favor finicky preparation, a sort of overly meticulous planning? Leave nothing to chance? Anticipating everything down to the smallest detail? A question of primary importance if we place it opposite a very widespread phenomenon since Google, Facebook, Instagram, Line or Tik Tok and co. are an integral part of our lives suspended from a rain of daily clicks.

By Patrick Chesneau

Most of the candidates for the discovery of new horizons nowadays seem seriously devoid of an essential commodity, the spirit of initiative. Resourcefulness is almost foreign to them. These, like helpless teenagers, openly express a request for assistantship. Not help, advice, recommendations, good tricks and uncut pipes. So many perfectly normal requests. No… their requirement is to be downright nurtured, not to say mothered, at each stage of the future action plan that they cannot define by themselves. Incapable of any autonomy. The so-called social networks then serve as a crutch. Enough not to limp like a drunken penguin?

This is the kind of question that flourishes on the net. A spontaneous outbreak literally invading the world web. Silly style guaranteed. Here, an excerpt from an anthology: “I am in Bangkok and I would like to go to the islands to the south. How do I get there and which islands to do first? “.

The detailed response to such a request for radio guidance is more delicate than it seems. Playing the game is actually like engaging in a proxy piloting exercise. Let’s see all the same, just to be nice. How to get to the south???? Wow… daunting question…….Let’s agree that there is enough to get lost in conjecture. After hours of research and careful consideration, a clue seems to emerge. With a congenital defect that is not to exclude the unenviable prospect of being spoiled for choice. Let’s dare a first clue.

Direction South

To go south, first of all, you have to go due south….Pai thalee. Heading for the sea. If desired, the aspiring explorer (much more aspiring at the moment) can hit the road (it’s up to him to see what type of vehicle suits him best, rot tua or rot thuu, coaches or vans?). Or hop on an SRT (State Railway of Thailand) sleeper train from the brand new giant Bang Sue station to Surat Thani or Krabi with a stop at Prachuap Khiri Khan, Hua Hin or Chumphon. Our digital Savorgnan de Brazza can also prefer the plane from Suvarnabhumi Airport or Don Mueang if the attendance of the clouds excites him at the highest point (Thai Airways, Air Asia, Bangkok Airways, Lion Air or Nok Air will provide for his wishes of spiritual elevation). Thailand on the wing. Let’s temporarily leave aside a peregrination in elephant mode because here is the opportunity to reaffirm it. Rides on the back of pachyderms should be definitely banned. This seriously harms their physiological health. That said, our Livingstone of digital times could advantageously, if he has the sea legs, borrow several boats. Navigation punctuated by swimming sections. Better to have prior authorization from the head of the sharks. Go to a pharmacy stamped “shark loan” (shark = shark in English but here, it’s pawnshops with Thai sauce). With all the usual precautions, knowing that sinister pawnbrokers dabble in these rather gloomy places, but almost.

Which islands to choose?

Another question: “which islands to do? ” he is blandly asked. This is where the multiple choice really begins. A real oriental puzzle for Farang catechumen. There are hundreds of jewels perched on the crest of the waves in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand or in the indigo blue folds of the Andaman Sea. It is necessary to identify them, list them, and in a first movement, map them mentally. List, sort, choose. Throw yourself headlong into a miraculous catch. What sample of paradise to catch up in its nets? Exhilarating preparations but long-term work. If these are islands surrounded by water with immaculate sandy beaches around the circumference, this complicates approach maneuvers because it is imperative to go there at high tide. Easier to moor. Nothing to laugh about if you want to answer seriously. Inevitable task: to select one who is willing to be walked on. Clearly, who agrees to be trampled during the excursion and hiking phase. While being wary of the beaten track which can, at any time, file a complaint for tourist mistreatment. It can therefore be any island, at random, on the condition that it looks like two drops of salt water to its congeners, that is to say all the others. This similarity of the shores may seem reassuring since it provides holders of ultra thin budgets with the advantageous impression of having surveyed them all at once. Saving resources and saving time. Beware, however, of certain islands which are said to have a profile that is difficult to define. How to go around it without being overwhelmed by the boring impression of going around in circles? As a friendly approach, surrounding them with a thousand precautions is an essential prerequisite. Show many respects. This behavioral climate is synonymous with respect. Languidly courting their generally shallow lagoon is a recommended driving primer. Top priority: ensure a high ratio of coconut palms. Common core but more or less academic palms. This obliges the compulsive machine-gunner to deploy a talent worthy of a gourmet at the time of location. Because such a setting is essential for any slew of selfies and rows of videos with a narcissistic purpose. Know how to unearth, in this profusion of caskets, an enchanted vegetable raft. The one who will learn to combine all the expressions of idleness. Beauty as a hyphen to these negligently disparate shavings of grace. Admittedly, their resemblance is striking, at the same time as these wonders of nature are each endowed with an original personality. The exact reasons for this abundance of atmospheres and microclimates escape the ordinary understanding of first-time visitors. Without this having the slightest consequence in their Dionysian relationship to the surrounding biotope. It should be noted that some stars, singled out by tourist guides, believe they are more enticing than others, like a dessert on a holiday menu. These are the floating islands. Dangerous to locate. Sometimes they drift from their original location on a map.

Diversity or uniqueness?

So who takes precedence in the big picture? Diversity or uniqueness? Tough comparison. Should we attempt a generalization or dispense with it? It is in the deep nature of circumspect travelers to advance on eggshells. On the other hand, the without embarrassment clumsy, they are on conquered ground wherever they go. Whatever the circumstances, they trample shamelessly and deteriorate with vengeful metatarsal blows. Any feedback will therefore be appreciated at its fair value as the former kingdom of Siam abounds in nuggets offered by a prolific geology. As for the intrepid backpacker who does not shrink from any question, however naive or clumsy she may have been, there is no doubt that he is now better equipped to meet the innumerable challenges of his tribulations.

Patrick Chesneau