Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) (3)
about Kasma Loha-unchit's Thailand Trips
What types of hotel do you stay in?
We mostly stay in comfortable, clean medium-range hotels, inns and small Thai-style resorts that would be acceptable to a middle-class Thai. Hotels are locally owned and are Thai-style rather than American-style. All rooms have private baths. Except for hotels in cities and towns, many of the places we stay will be in beautiful natural areas.
The rooms may be somewhat different from what you are used to in western countries – they will not be as immaculate and sterile. Because Thailand is a tropical country, there may occasionally be mildew stains on a wall even though the room is clean. Many of the hotels or lodges do not have phones in the room and many lack fax machines in their offices. You may be unable to retrieve messages from your home answering machine in many locations. There may or may not be televisions in your room. If you are an extremely fastidious person or if it is important to you that people from your home be able to get in touch with you wherever you are, these trips probably are not suitable for you.
Because the focus of Kasma's trips is off-the-beaten-path, the idyllic island home where we'll stay for several days in the south (during the November/December 28-day Trip A) has accommodations that are rather rustic and close to nature (islands with tourist-class accommodations tend to be overcrowded with western tourists). The beach huts are small, but comfortable, furnished with two twin beds consisting of single mattresses on old rattan frames. Operated more like a guest house, towels and bedding may not be changed daily. Top sheets are not used, but instead, large terry-cloth towels are provided to be used as blankets. These huts do have their own private bathrooms, though there is no hot water: Thailand is tropical, so tap water is not really very cold and usually this does not present a problem. But because on this small island the water is pumped up from a well, it may be a little saline toward the middle of the dry season. You may guess from this description that our definition of idyllic has to do with being in a beautiful natural setting where you can experience nature rather than having hot water and air conditioning!
On the trip that goes only to southern Thailand we have stays on three islands – two of them protected national marine parks where the best accommodations are very rustic and basic and can be best described as one step up from camping; the other island is the one mentioned in the paragraph above. On one occasion we may need to tent-camp; although this has happened only once in the past, it is a possibility. We will stay one night in national park housing, where several trip members (usually four, possibly more depending on room availability) share dorm-style bungalows – in the past this has been four people in one room, sharing two bathroom. There will not be hot running water or air-conditioning on these islands and electricity is available only for set hours during the evening, night and/or morning.
Although the island accommodations are more basic and rustic, the islands themselves are very enchanting and idyllic, with dazzling beaches, gorgeous scenery whether above or underwater, lively coral gardens home to countless colorful fishes, and rainforest vegetation on dramatic limestone karsts or verdant hills supporting numerous species of birds (including endangered hornbills) and other wildlife. Some of the islands are very secluded and we almost practically have them to ourselves. But if it is important to you to stay in tourist-class hotels similar to those found in America in all your travels in Asia, Kasma's trips are definitely not for you.
I am traveling with my husband/wife. Will there be double beds available?
When possible you will be given a room with a double bed. There may be stops on the trip where this is not possible and you will be given two twin beds instead.
I have a bad back and am concerned that the beds will be too soft?
Thai beds are generally quite firm. So are the pillows!
Are all the rooms air conditioned?
There are a few places without air conditioning – particularly on the southern trip. Fans are usually available, although on the islands of the southern trip they may not be available at all times because the electrical power comes from a generator that is usually turned off after midnight.
What if I have a problem in the hotel, such as running out of toilet paper or drinking water?
You are encouraged to contact the hotel staff yourself to take care of the problem. All the places where we stay have someone on duty who can understand enough English to take care of such basic problems; sign language communicates just as well. Trip members are encouraged to relate with local people rather than stand aloof from them just because their primary language is different from yours.
What if I do not join up with a roommate?
The trip price is based on double occupancy. If possible, you will be matched with an appropriate person of the same sex. If no one is available for you to room with, payment for a single supplement will be necessary.
What if I wish to room by myself?
It may be possible to room by yourself by paying a single supplement. Because this is a small group and reservations need to be made in advance, purchasing a single supplement is not always possible.
What is the cost of a single supplement?
The cost for a single supplement is based on current room costs and is approximately $600 to $700 for the 19-day trip and $1,050 to $1,200 for the 28-day trips.
The bathrooms in all of our hotels are American style: that is, they have a "throne" you can sit on. While traveling we will also come across can be termed "squatters" – which should be self-explanatory. We occasionally are in a situation where the only bathroom available is not particularly clean – usually these are few and far between.
Be aware that many bathrooms in Thailand are "water rooms" – like some European bathrooms the shower is simply part of the room and showering will get the floor of the room wet.
What about baths and showers?
Most of the time you will have showers. The showers in Thailand usually feature hot water on demand only, from handheld shower heads. In many instances the temperature of the water will wax and wane as you shower. In some showers you will need to be careful to watch that the water does not get too hot. Some places will not have hot water at all. And on the southern Tour you may encounter bathrooms where you must take a Thai "splash" bath.
What amenities do the hotels offer?
Kasma doesn't choose hotels based on it offering certain amenities. Do not expect your hotel to have a hair dryer in the room, a swimming pool, etc.. Hotels are often picked because they are close to cultural activities (such as a bustling morning or evening market) or located near some other activity or place where you might get insight into the Thai character.