Not sure if there’s a good translation for this Dutch word. It refers to the happiness you feel before you are about to do something fun, let’s call it antefun. It’s in your imagination but feels very real. I’ve had voorpret for almost a year now, in anticipation of our Thailand trip. Last year in July I wrote a post about the decision to go on a trip to Thailand in 2016. Just making the decision caused a surge of pleasure through my body…
I traveled to Thailand in 91, 96, and 97 and missed it ever since. I moved to the U.S. in 2000 and when my daughter arrived in 2003, the Thai memories were further pushed into the background. Then, as I was cleaning up some memorabilia and discovered the Thailand photo albums, the wish to visit again returned full force.
I had lots of doubts, I was afraid it would be too expensive for my daughter and me to make the trip. Could I take so much time (four weeks) off? Do I deserve this? Finally, I realized I first had to decide to go (pushing fears aside) and then see how things would unfold.
The moment I said to my daughter: “We are going to Thailand in 2016” the planning and voorpret or antefun started. I know that not everything I imagine will turn out that way. We’ll encounter some obstacles and other pleasant surprises. I keep an open mind, my itinerary is just for voorpret , guidance, and budget planning.
Since I visited before, planning this trip was rather easy. However, my trips were a very long time ago, and things changed a lot. After the movie ‘The Beach” (2000) there was a serious influx of (backpacking) tourists, and nowadays most young people with a little budget, travel to Thailand, before starting a career or family requires them to shift their focus.
My imagination is fueled by some very vivid and positive memories of this pearl of the East. Another factor that helps tremendously with planning and voorpret are consumer reviews like TripAdvisor and Youtube videos, both were not available in the early 90-ies. I can check Google earth and zoom in on a beach and check how shallow the water is, or where there’s a coral reef for snorkeling.
Back in 1991, during my first trip, we only had The Lonely Planet guide-which was pretty awesome- and that was it. I printed a map of Thailand and planned our tour. One thing we didn’t realize was the fact that it is tropical, something I’d never encountered before as a Dutch native. When we got off the plane, it felt like a warm, humid blanket covered us, and we immediately realized that we had to move less and much slower.
Very quickly we decided to skip half of our planned route, we didn’t want to be on trains and buses every day and have enough time to take in the beautiful landscape and at times intense cultural flavors. When I tell people about our upcoming trip they ask me about all the places we’re going to visit and if we’re also going to Vietnam or Singapore, since we’re so close.
No, we’re not. Just the city of Bangkok is worth at least a week, and we also want to incorporate ample quiet, lazy, beach time. I’m very lucky to be able to travel for 4 weeks, so I don’t have to rush from one place to the other and upon returning feeling so exhausted I need another vacation. If you would ask me for one tip I would say: take it easy and take your time.
Another tip: Do some homework and prepare! I can’t image to just book a ticket and perhaps hotel, pack my bag the day of departure, fly to another continent I never visited before, and just see what happens. The chances you’ll experience more stress and unwanted challenges on your way, are huge.
I started with tracking flights, even though this was too early, at least, I had an idea of how much the two airplane tickets would be. I found an article that stated that at 171 days prior to departure and no later than 90 days before departure, you could find the best price. In my case, that was mid-January, thanks to a tip from my cousin I found two tickets for $1740 via Google flights. This is extremely cheap (they still go for $1200-$1400 per ticket), and yes, it is not the most perfect flight, arriving late at night, but you have to be flexible to get such a price.
Once I had the tickets I changed gears and started a “mindmap” (see screenshot above), this free tool helps you keeping track of all the things that need to be done prior to the trip and the wish-list of places to visit and things to do. Immunizations, for example, some require being given weeks or months in advance to allow your body to build the immune system.
I knew I wanted to spend at least 2 weeks on a tropical beach on one of the many beautiful islands. Thailand has different weather regions, based on that I selected the island Koh Phangan because in July it’s dry (Phuket for example, is in the rainy season that month). This time, I wanted to visit two other places I had never been before, Ayutthaya and Khao Yai National park, both are located within a 100 km range from Bangkok.
Another advantage of planning (early) is that you can spread the expenses. Last summer I found great backpacks on sale, and immediately ordered them and took them off the shopping list. I’ve paid for several hotels and other accommodations I found with the help of TripAdvisor. At this point I’m reviewing travel insurance, I advise you to do some research as some things might already be covered under your current life and medical insurances. The only expenses left are food and a few taxi and train trips.
Most travel guides have a section about Thai culture and the general dos and don’ts. I’m no saint and probably stepped on a few Thai tails myself, but I highly recommend to inform yourself a little bit. For example, most people from the West (Europe and US) live at a much faster pace, be prepared for things to go much slower and don’t get annoyed by that.
Thai people are usually soft-voiced and rather avoid confrontation and arguments. If something is not OK, or the way you like it, just smile and gently ask for something else, don’t raise your voice, make a fuss, or point your finger, it’ll make things much more complicated. Don’t complain if you only get one toilet roll (while you only paid $12 a night for your beach bungalow?) just go buy another one yourself, or use water, just like the Thai do.
Other things are just common sense, put on a T-shirt or top when you go to a restaurant or visit a store. Dress appropriately when entering a temple (no bare shoulders or tiny shorts). When you make a little effort to blend in and welcome sanuk and sabai, you’re in for an unforgettable time and might even feel becoming part of the Thai family that runs your hotel or resort. For now, I’ll end with a video from Sunny, he’s very straightforward, but he has lived in Thailand for over 15 years and he knows…