Saturday, January 2, 2010

Off We Go Travel Expert Sara Leonard Discusses Thailand

Written by Loraine Alkire
Sara Leonard of Off We Go Travel in Redondo Beach, California has toured the world extensively. LA Hip Chic will be featuring her often with in depth interviews of her many experiences at home and abroad.

LaHipChic Forward: Thailand is a Kingdom located in Southeast Asia. King Bhumibol Adulyadej is head of this constitutional monarchy. He is the ninth king of the House of Chakri, and began his reign in 1946. The majority of the population is Thai. Almost all of its people practice Buddhism but the country does not prohibit people to practice any religion. ( The LaHipChic like religious freedom.)

This country is about the size of California with close to 64 million inhabitants. Putting that into perspective California has approximately 36 million inhabitants. This county is rich with heritage and century’s old traditions. It is a diverse and exotic place: from chic metropolitan, to beautiful country sides, humble farmers and merchants. And the inglorious under belly of poor versus rich, from the red light district to the great temples and dwellings of the royalty that oversees the whole of the country.

The National sport in Thailand is Muay Thai Boxing- And has become quite popular in the United States as well. But LAhipChic supposes there is nothing quite as amazing as seeing the real thing in Thailand- It seems OWGTravel would agree. Note: Don’t forget to enjoy the Beautiful Slideshow compliments of OWGTravel.

LaHipChic interview with Sara Leonard of Off We Go Travel

LaHipChic: What did you like best about touring Thailand?
OWGTravel: Its friendly people, superb architecture, stunning natural beauty and spicy cuisine.

LaHipChic: What Hotels did you stay at? Were the accommodations what you expected? How would you rate them with one to five stars?
OWGTravel: In Bangkok I stayed at the Le Bua Hotel. (All suites overlook the Chao Phraya River – 5 stars. In Chang Mai I stayed at the Yaang Come Village. There is amazing Thai architecture at this boutique hotel – 4 stars. In Phuket I stayed at Katathani Resort on the beach – 5 stars. And in the Similian Islands I stayed aboard the Mermaid II Live aboard – 5 stars

LaHipChic: What one place would you recommend a new visitor to Thailand see on their first trip?
OWGTravel: I would recommend spending about 2 weeks traveling this amazing country.
There are so many must see and dos in this country it could take all day to describe but here is the short list:

In Bangkok I highly recommend a visit to the following: The Grand Palace, The Emerald, and Golden and Reclining Buddha. You should definitely explore the ruins in Ayuttaya, visit the Floating Market (an amazing way to get to know the warm and friendly villagers) and time permitting, get a Thai massage, have cocktails on the suspended bar on top of trendy Le Bua Hotel and practice your bargaining skills at the night market. Oh yes, don’t forget to visit the Cobra show and attend one of the Thai boxing events.

Must see and do in Chiang Mai: Visit the sublime Doi Suthep Temple at sunset, ride an elephant at the elephant camp and glide on a bamboo raft down the Ping River. Visit the monkey center and enjoy the fun night market. If you are up for shopping, they have various markets such as: jade, paper umbrellas, silk, wood carvings and more.
Must see and do in Phuket: Take a day trip to the Phi Phi Islands, check out the area where “The Beach” with Leonard DiCaprio was filmed as well as the “Bond Island” where one of the Bond movies was filmed. And relax or spend the days at leisure diving, snorkeling, golfing, shopping, biking, hiking…etc

LaHipChic: What was the most unusual thing that happened during your stay?
OWGTravel:  Loy Krathong Festival is most impressive in Chiang Mai. As the full moon of the twelfth lunar month (usually in mid-November) lights up the night sky, throughout the Thai kingdom, hundreds of thousands of ornately-decorated krathong or traditional banana leaf floats are set adrift in rivers and waterways in a spell-binding ritual called "Loi Krathong" - the 'festival of lights". This is one of the Kingdom's oldest and best-preserved traditions. I was there to witness it and it was mesmerizing.
Sea Cave Canoe in Phuket

This exciting trip takes a full day journeying into the scenic world of the mysterious “Hong” (or rooms in Thai), by canoeing along the amazing landscape of Phang Nga Bay. You get to canoe through these fantastic caverns made of calcite dripping and being suspended for over millions of years. You will never forget the special feeling of silence and the darkened rooms.

LaHipChic: What were your most memorable meals and how does the real thing stack up to what you can get here in the states?
OWGTravel: I just loved their curry. It seems more spicy over there. I did notice that their Pad Thai noodle dish is sweeter there. I liked the food in Chiang Mai, spicier. No restaurant in the states can quite replicate their flavor.
LaHipChic: Would you go back there again? Would you stay longer next time?
OWGTravel: Yes, but I would visit other towns, beaches and cities.

LaHipchic: Thank you again Sara for such a wonderful, educational interview. Your slideshow was so impressive; we just didn’t know where to stop, so we kept going.

To learn more about this and other trips for 2010 contact:

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