While the garden of earthly delights that is Thailand used to be just a plane ride away, it is sadly out of reach for the immediate future. But the kids and I are hankering after the scent of temples filled with burning incense sticks and fragrant flower garlands. Oh, what we wouldn’t do for a whiff of pungent shrimp paste sizzling in a smoky wok, and the olfactory respite as fresh ginger, galangal and lemongrass hit same said wok.
In the silence of isolation, we’re even missing the beeping and honking of chaotic traffic and the cry of Thai market traders hawking everything from silk scarves to seafood on a stick.
We’re craving the bedazzlement of the glorious golds, reds and greens of the temples and the shimmering blues of the islands. And, of course, the smiles. How we miss Thailand’s smiles.
And while we know they’ll still be waiting for us when the time is right,
And while we know that these things and more will still be waiting for us in dazzling Thailand when the time is right to travel, there’s nothing stopping us from enjoying all the colour, culture and cuisine that incredible Thailand has to offer, virtually. Here are seven ways to see and experience Thailand from your Sofa.
1. Take a virtual tour
Keep the cabin fever at bay with a 3D Virtual Tour of 10 fascinating provincial destinations around Thailand, including Wat Si Chum, one of the largest and most mysterious temples on Ancient Sukhothai, the delightful ginger bread house that is the Khum Chao Luang Museum in Phrae, and Wat Bang Kung, an ancient temple in Samut Songkrahm Province, built in the Ayutthaya period.
Or experience the highlights of Thailand on an immersive adventure with Contiki. Grab a coconut water (or a Mai Tai) and snuggle up on the sofa for a tour across the country, embarking on a food safari in tastebud-tingling Chiang Mai and tackling the street food markets of Bangkok before exploring leafy Kanchanaburi and the turquoise pools of Erawan waterfalls.
2. Learn the lingo
Get ready for your next visit by learning the lingo. You can download Thai language apps including the excellent Thai by Nemo, or head to l-lingo.com for a week of free Thai reading, writing and speaking lessons.
3. Order in
Speaking of food… While not all Australians are dining out again yet, and not every restaurant is open with the restrictions still in place, there’s no shortage of great Thai food available to eat at home. For Sydneysiders, Thai Town (in Haymarket) has a fantastic range of regional culinary specialties from the spicy Khao Soi and fresh and fragrant green papaya salad, to the ever-popular Pad Thai, to sweet Thai desserts available for takeaways and home delivery.
4. Cook up a taste of Thailand
Better yet, why not whip up your own Thai feast at home. Most Aussie supermarkets stock all the ingredients you need for authentic cuisine, and with plenty of inspiration to be found as Thai chefs have taken to teaching their tricks online. Our favourite virtual lessons are with Aroi at Home with Chat Thai x Hug Thailand, and not only because Chat Thai is our favourite Thai in Sydney. We’ve learned to whip up restaurant quality Thai dishes including pad krapao gai (stir fried minced chicken), yum nuea yaang (grilled beef salad with chilli jam), fried snapper with green mango salad, pineapple fried rice with prawns and more. The lessons have been streaming live on the official Hug Thailand FB page for the past eight weeks, but you can still find all the recipes and videos online! You can also try our own easy recipes for Thai Red Duck Curry or Mhu Grob Padt Prik Khing.
5. Learn the basics of Thai dancing
Get immersed in Thai culture with a traditional Thai dancing session in your living room. Thai dance troupe, SiamSmile Group are introducing the elegant and expressive movements of Thai dance for kids online, with easy to follow instruction of a variety of Thai dances.
6. Master Muay Thai
Get fighting fit with Muay Thai! Thai boxing is the national sport and cultural martial art of Thailand, developed hundreds of years ago as a form of close-combat using the body as a weapon. Sydney’s own MuayThai Gym, PTJ – Photajaroen Muaythai Gym, is offering online training for those people who want to kick ISO’s butt!
7. Enjoy a spa sanctuary at home
While I’m sure like me, you’d like to actually be in Thailand being massaged by some skilful soul at at the sublime Chiva-Som Hua Hin, you can invite their wellness advisors, practitioners and experts into your home with some of Chiva-Som’s most popular sessions, including one-on-one yoga and meditation sessions, Natural Fertility Consultation and naturopathic consultations, now available via Zoom.
And if you’re still craving that massage, get your partner (or the kids) to master the art of Thai Massage via the online tutorials at Thai Massage Training.
8. Win a trip for later
The Tourism Authority of Thailand and Thai Airways International are both celebrating their 60th Anniversary and are offering the chance for Thailand fans to Win a Thailand Holiday Now and travel later. The prize includes a return flight from Sydney to Bangkok with Thai Airways International or a luxury stay with one of their hotel partners in Phuket, Samui, Krabi or Bangkok. Entries are open until Sunday 31st May 2020