It amazes me that it took me 47 years to finally get around to visiting Thailand when I’ve been told for years by so many people that it is absolutely made for me. The weather, the beaches, the chilled-out atmosphere, and of course the fruit, all point to it being my perfect destination.
So, very excited was I to be finally headed East to The Land of Smiles.
Rawfood on a long-haul plane trip
Our journey to Bangkok was from Edinburgh (via Doha), on Qatar airlines. I prepared for the long journey by making green juice and freezing it in 100ml bottles – that way I managed to get 500ml of juice onboard with me as part of my cabin allowance. Not much, but it definitely helped! I sipped it bit by bit as it defrosted, so it stayed pretty fresh. Ahhh, how I miss the days when you could take big flasks of juice onto the plane with no questions asked… seems like the dim distant past now..
I also took a big bag of tangerines onboard with me. I think tangerines are perfect airplane food as they are nice and juicy to keep me hydrated, they’re convenient to pop in my cabin bag, and they’re easy to peel. Plus some nice vitamin C into the bargain to give my immune system a boost – they tick all the boxes.
Top marks to Qatar
I was pleasantly surprised by Qatar’s wide choice of dietary preferences, which included a variety of different vegetarian platters. I went with the fruit platter and it was great – nice fresh ripe fruit including melon, berries and exotic fruit to get me in the mood for my holidays. I was glad I’d brought extra fruit though, because those airline fruit platters are never quite enough to satisfy the average raw vegan 😉
Juice break at Doha
We had a layover at Doha airport for a couple of hours and I was very glad to re-hydrate at Red Mango juice bar. It’s so cool that airports are offering such great healthy options these days, I feel pretty spoilt with all the lovely juice and smoothie options.
After a welcome stretch it was onto the last leg of the journey, from Doha to Bangkok. It took 6 hours to get from Edinburgh to Doha, and a further 6 to Bangkok, but the stop halfway through really helped break up the journey.
Bangkok Inn a Day
We got to Bangkok and checked in at our first port of call: the cute and quirky Inn A Day Hotel at Bangkok Riverside. Each room in this gorgeous boutique hotel has its own theme, based on a certain time of day. We stayed in the 3pm Tailor’s room, mostly for its stunning views of the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun) across the Chao Phraya River.
This is a family-run hotel, and the staff are really lovely, they can’t do enough for you. It was in an excellent location for sight-seeing, right on the riverside in the old town, next to Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and the Grand Palace, and not far from lively areas such as Khao San Road.
It also happened to be just along the road from the fab little Make Me Mango café – can you guess what they specialise in? 😉
On the streets
It was also close-by some street food vendors who were selling mangos, jackfruit and pineapples, so I soon got my first taste of Thai fruits – heavenly. Fresh coconut juice was in plentiful supply everywhere we went, and I also got some pomegranate juice which was sweet and delicious.
Thai street food – a few tips
One thing that was a shame about the street food was the amount of plastic that was used. Plastic bottles.. plastic bags.. plastic straws (always two straws in each drink as well, which I can never understand, as after all I only have one mouth), it was sad to see so much waste. For this reason I tended to stick to fresh coconuts (which come in their own compostable container of course!) and whole fruits rather than juice and smoothies.
Another good reason to stick to whole fruits was that you can never be sure of the quality of the juices – especially in the more touristy areas. I often noticed that the juice sometimes tasted like diluted cordial rather than fresh juice (although it was sold at the same prices!), and it often had sugar or syrup added.
Along the river
I’d initially been a bit apprehensive about visiting Bangkok. My partner had been keen to spend a few days there as he wanted to do a bit of sight-seeing, but I’d been put off by stories of heavily polluted air and chaotic dangerous neighbourhoods etc, so if I’d had my way I would have opted to get on the first plane straight out to the islands.
I’m really glad I didn’t though because Bangkok was a wonderfully unique experience, and I felt totally safe the whole time I was there. We got an all-day pass for the river boat so we could hop on and off and visit all the different neighbourhoods along the riverside. It was the perfect way to spend a day in Bangkok and take in lots of places, and it provided a nice respite from the heavy Bangkok traffic.
We visited the beautiful Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) and spent some time people-watching in Chinatown. If I went back I’d love to take an evening cruise too, we heard the live bands from our balcony as the boats sailed past at night and it all looked a lot of fun.
For our first night in Bangkok we had dinner at the Bitter Deck restaurant which was right next door to our hotel (how lazy of us!). We chose it because it had a beautiful outdoor seating area, and we just couldn’t get enough of that spectacular view of the temple across the river. I had fresh coconut water for starters, organic salad for main course, and tropical fruit for desert.
Out to the beach
For the next part of our trip, out of the many choices we had, we decided to opt for Koh Lanta, a quiet island in the Krabi Province on the Andaman coast. We stayed in a little bungalow right on Khlong Dao Beach, which was pure heaven!
I had been a bit worried that I’d be eaten alive by big Thai mosquitoes, but I’m happy to report that I seemed to escape most of them! My next blog will hopefully be about my natural mosquito repelling strategies.
Our favourite restaurant on the beachfront had to be Bambies. It had an extensive menu of healthy smoothies and salads, and some excellent chill-out areas. I could happily spend all day lazing about here.
I also loved the Old House restaurant in the old town. It was run by really wonderful people and the prices were really good value. I got a lovely raw vegan salad with sunflower sprouts and a cool refreshing watermelon juice. Perfect.
Down the road at Long Beach, Irie Bar and restaurant provided a cool friendly vibe with fab live bands, vegan options (including a vegan chocolate desert), and a good choice of juices and smoothies. The staff here were really great, very funny, they gave the impression they were best friends with every customer.
Unfortunately not all restaurants were as good as Bambies. We visited the Rock Bar because it looked really cool, it had kind of a rustic Flintstones vibe with hammocks to chill on and gaze across the sea. But if you go, go for the views and not the food or the service! I ordered a pineapple juice and got juice that was obviously straight out of a carton – despite the menu stating clearly that the juices were freshly made. The service was slow and food wasn’t great either.
We went a second time, thinking it might have been a one-off, but it was even worse! The service was non-existent, and when I finally managed to order another ‘fresh’ carrot juice, what I actually got was a carrot smoothie which was loaded with added sugar – it was so sweet it was literally undrinkable! (Why is it so many restaurants don’t know the difference between a juice and a smoothie? It always perplexes me!)
I’m sure most people would love the place though, as it was the perfect chill-out spot, and let’s face it, not everybody is so fussy as I am when it comes to food 😉
The cheapest way to eat in Thailand is simply to visit the local markets and buy fresh produce. I couldn’t get enough of the delicious honey mangos while I was there. There is a huge difference in prices between the outdoor markets and the tourist-frequented supermarkets.
Over on the mainland
After a few days we headed back to the mainland to stay in Ao Nang. It was more lively here than Koh Lanta, with lots of bars and restaurants and some great live music. As luck would have it, we were staying right across from the excellent Café 8.98 which had a wide selection of healthy options, including the vegan superfood salad and my favourite, the cacao almond shake.
A bird’s eye view of Bangkok
For our last day we headed back to Bangkok to finish our trip in style at the Banyan Tree hotel with its rooftop ‘Vertigo’ bar overlooking the city. Our room was on one of the highest floors so we had amazing views of our own.
If you ever stay at the Banyan Tree, definitely use their hotel pool, as not only does it have cracking views of the city, but a nice man comes along every so often giving out free mango smoothies – how nice!
On our last night in Thailand we had dinner at the Mango Tree restaurant, which was lovely. It was right in the hustle and bustle of the city, but still felt very peaceful inside. They had great vegan salad options, fresh juice, traditional live music, and excellent service.
Time to leave
I was really sad to leave the sunshine and the beaches, and I wish I’d had more time to spend in Bangkok, as it really felt as though we’d only scratched the surface. But I was cheered up by the lovely fresh fruit selection at Bangkok airport! I’ve never seen an airport with such good produce before. I armed myself with plenty of orange juice to stay hydrated for the flight back.
Hope to see you again soon, Thailand!
Lisa Murphy is a counsellor, hypnotherapist and coach who specialises in stress, anxiety, and healthy eating. For more details of Lisa's therapies and courses please visit www.CherryTherapies.com