This past November, Contiki took a group of vloggers and bloggers on the Ultimate Thai Adventure through Bangkok, Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Chiang Mai. Friendships were made, pad thai was devoured and all-around good times were had. Canadian YouTuber Andrew 'Gunnarolla' Gunadie shares his Contiki experience below, from his favourite foods to his big #NoRegrets moment.
Contiki First things first - what are your top 5, cannot-forget-to-pack travel essentials?
Gunnarolla 1- Moist towelettes. They're useful for wiping your hands and any other parts of your being that will inevitably need wiping.
2- My Dickies/Mahattan Portage bag. It looks like a giant fanny-pack but it's great because I can inconspicuously fit an SLR camera, extra lens and my moist towelettes!
3- Zip-up hoodie from The Lees Shop. It's got a giant hood so I can pull it over my head completely and sleep for those 500hr flights.
4- GoPro HERO. The GoPro is great for capturing moments in tight spaces. Much better than shoving a giant camera in everyone's face. It’s tiny, with a huge field of view! (That's what she said...?)
5- Contiki-branded buff/multifunction scarf. Many practical uses (covering your face) and stylish ones (hair accessory) - and it shows off your Contiki pride!
Contiki Now, on to the sweet Contiki Thai adventure you recently went on. What surprised you most about Thailand?
Gunnarolla I’ve been to different parts of Asia - Indonesia, China, Japan, Korea - but Thailand had a very different vibe. It didn't feel foreign to me. The people that we met were really friendly and relaxed. Maybe it’s the Buddhist influence, or the fact that they have a huge tourism industry, but even with a language barrier, everyone was always smiling and so welcoming. It just felt like ‘home’.
Contiki Thailand is famous for yummy eats. What was your best 'foodie' experience?
Gunnarolla We had a lot of great pad thai - it was super cheap! And watermelon shakes were a daily thing. I love mango with sticky rice, and it was pretty amazing to have it fresh, ON A BOAT, when we went to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market! And then there were the dishes we prepared in our Thai cooking class. Pretty sure we should have gotten awards for those (based on taste, not appearance...)
Contiki Yeah, we heard your spring rolls left much to be desired. Ha! Your videos show you having tons of fun - what was best part of the trip for you?
Gunnarolla It’s hard to pick just one part. From the temples to the night markets to even hanging as a group at the airport lounge - every part of this trip was so fun, largely because of the people we travelled with. I guess if I could relive one moment of the trip, it would be the last night we were all together. I was so sad that the trip was ending, but it was nice to get dressed up, reminisce on the incredible week we just had, and just let go. Great food and great conversations happened that night. So many laughs.
Contiki The trip took you to some pretty epic places in Thailand. What was your favourite spot?
Gunnarolla I really enjoyed our day cruising around Koh Tao. Koh Nang Yuan and Koh Tao have some of the best beaches I’ve ever been to - the water was so warm! And what a backdrop for our photos and videos. I also really loved shopping in Bangkok, on Khao San Road, and at this mall we discovered on our last day - it was called Terminal 21. Loved finding funky fashion, and practicing my bartering skills! "100 baht, last price!"
Contiki Agreed, shopping in Thailand is ah-may-zing. Did you pick up any cool souvenirs?
Gunnarolla I got a monkey carved from a coconut from a little stand in Koh Samui. It’s absolutely terrifying.
Contiki On every Contiki, each of our travellers will without a doubt have a #NoRegrets moment, where they just let go and live life to the absolute fullest. What was that moment for you?
Gunnarolla We had a half-day bike ride through Chiang Mai - I didn’t tell anyone, but I hadn’t ridden a bike in 10+ years. I thought about skipping out, but I figured it was an experience that I had to have. We cycled through the city, through a forest and rice fields, and basically on the highway. I managed pretty well in the end (although I couldn’t turn left without some fancy choreography). I survived! Absolutely no regrets.
Contiki Sounds like Thailand was a total adventure! After checking Thailand off your travel bucket list, what advice would you have for young travellers heading to this awesome country?
Gunnarolla You’re going to meet some awesome, like-minded people on this trip and while it’s important to get to know them and to make friends, I think you should also try to have at least one moment, maybe at the night market, or at the beach, where you’re just alone. Put the camera down. Take in all the sights, sounds, and smells, and reflect on how amazing it is that you are all alone, in a different country. You’ll realize that there are so many experiences that we all share, no matter where we are, that make the world that much smaller. Travel is an incredible, life-altering experience - one that not many people get to do in their lifetime. Savour it!