I’m Becca, a third-year music student, and I’m taking on the role of the Mandarin Editor this year.
People are sometimes surprised that I can speak and understand the language, but I grew up in Singapore, so I thought it made more sense to learn Mandarin over French! One of the things I loved about living in Singapore was that it was a central hub of Southeast Asia, so I was lucky enough to be able to hop on a plane and explore many other countries. One country that I’ve found myself frequently drawn to is Thailand – each time I return I have a completely different, yet equally fun, experience. My favourite trip there involved visiting two locations – Phuket and Khao Lak. It was my first time travelling with friends and planning out a trip myself, which definitely made things more spontaneous and unpredictable!
For the first couple of days, we stayed in Phuket and volunteered at Soi Dog Foundation, a centre that rescues street dogs and provides vaccination services, medical treatment, shelter, and eventually adoption. We learnt a lot about the horrifying dog meat trade, which the sanctuary has helped to stop. I hadn’t always been entirely comfortable around big dogs, but spending a few days there walking and socialising with them turned me into a big dog lover!
We then made our way up to Khao Lak, which has some really stunning beaches and waterfalls. I tried surfing for the first time and, despite having been pretty terrified of the ocean for much of my life, I had an amazing time. The surf was pretty small when we went in May, so I would recommend going during Autumn if you want some bigger waves. Another thing is that we went in the wet season, which not only meant that there was a lot of rain, but also we came to discover that that was when Thailand’s mang mao insects (basically flying termites) took flight. One night, we made the mistake of leaving one of our lights on in the accommodation, and hundreds of them squeezed through the little gap underneath our door, swarming round our room. There were definitely a few screams and flip-flops involved! It looked a bit like a battle scene in the morning, with wings covering the floor. I would probably recommend travelling there some time after May/June if you want to avoid the wet weather and the mang mao invasion!
In Khao Lak, we also did a Thai cooking class at Pakinnaka, which involved tasting food at a local market in the hidden town of Takuapa, followed by some very messy spring roll making (I’m not particularly gifted in the culinary department). We also cooked a Thai cashew chicken dish, which is one of my favourite meals to date. In general, local restaurants in Thailand serve incredible food for very cheap prices. Thailand is a beautiful country and if you haven’t had the chance to visit yet, I would definitely add it to your list! If you’re looking for a more action-packed adventure holiday, I would also recommend travelling to Chiang Mai.