The Buddhist Temples in Thailand are actually called “Wat” stemming from a Hindu word for enclosure. They are like sacral fortifications with monks living and praying in it. Many of them can be visited when showing respect and covering shoulders and legs. Sometimes you even get to know some monks and can have a talk with them, they are friendly and actually have a good sense of humour.
Thailand for sure is the most accessible country to travel to in South East Asia. It is very safe, has a pretty good infrastructure with many low cost airlines and you can discover it on a budget easily, without sharing your bed with cockroaches. Also it can be visited best during the winter time on the Northern hemisphere when generally there is a dry season in most of Thailand and the conditions for travelling and enjoying the beaches are very favourable.
At the same time Thailand is also a country with a long history and a lot of culture, being an independent Buddhist kingdom which has never been colonised by the Europeans (sharing this honour with Japan by the way, not the only similarity between these countries). When obeying some strict rules like respecting the king, who can be seen everywhere on pictures, you can pretty much roam freely in Thailand and the people are pretty open minded. Being transgender for example is not a big issue over here, the sight of so called ladyboys is pretty common. Thais are very friendly to tourists and of course some will see an opportunity to sell you something, but you are not a walking dollar bill like in other parts of Asia and Africa. Unfortunately still the level of fluency in English is not very high among Thais, especially the older ones, but it changes and some kind of communication is always in reach, may it be with a little bit of imagination or the help of google translate .
When flying from Bangkok to Southern Thailand you notice some changes immediately after leaving the airplane. The Thai capital is not exactly known for cool temperatures, but soon you learn the difference between hot and tropical hot. It is not the temperature itself though but the high humidity that makes the largest difference. Some of our electrical equipment actually could not cope with these conditions and I got some droplets of water in the back camera of my iPhone. Not because I went swimming with the device but solely coming from the extreme humidity.
Also there are tropical rain showers awaiting you, these are definitely different than rain in Europe. Of course it depends on the season; there are two basically, the raining season and the dry season. Although coming into the dry season it can occasionally rain as well. Mostly it happens in the evening when the high humidity rises up and discharges in the atmosphere, thus creating heavy (but fairly quick) rain showers and thunderstorms. Under these conditions the nature is very different then in tempered climate zones, but more diverse then you would think. Of course there is the jungle and exotic animals (picture 6), but also beautiful lagoons and even pine trees. Of course the endless blue sea dominates everything in Southern Thailand and the coast is fascinating itself with rough rock formations and bizarre little islands (pictures 1, 2, 5, 7). Also the tide is surprisingly strong, at some places uncovering the sea floor for many hours during the day (picture 3) and showingcasing a rich biotope of many different kinds of crabs and crustacean.