As the old saying goes, “those who can’t do, watch other people do it on TV” and that’s why I’ve sat down on my Tuesday night to watch a bunch of other people go on a holiday I’d really like to be on right now. Yes, I am referring to Channel 9’s new(ish) show, imaginatively titled Travel Guides.
Before I get into recapping what turned out to be a show that included a phallic landmark, a drag show and two enemas, there’s something I need to admit. I was not expecting this to be the UK version of the show, and to be perfectly honest, I was not prepared for the accents. So I think I only caught about half of what was said. But here’s what I got.
Our intrepid guides through Thailand are:
The Brearleys – who are, I believe, the English equivalent of bogans. They seem nice though.
Reena, Keisha and Rhia – three girls with very impressive hair, who describe themselves as “handbag chicks, not backpacking chicks.”
The Boyles – this family are the worldly travellers of the series. I bet they eat all the weird stuff without question, and insist on wearing the traditional clothing of each country they visit.
The Chapman-Blackwells – a middle-age-ish couple, one of them’s grown daughter and her boyfriend. Fun-Chapman-Blackwell has been to Thailand before, his partner hates this whole thing and just wants to go back to soggy old England.
Linda and Pete – older couple. Pete’s been to Thailand 26 times and even speaks a bit of Thai. Linda’s a legend.
They’re heading to Koh Samui in Thailand, and here’s what they get up to on their trip:
Which is what the Chapman-Blackwells describe as “erm… rustic.”
Everyone seems awfully concerned that there’s no wardrobe and aren’t terribly impressed. I have to ask, do other people actually unpack their clothes when they go on holiday? Am I the only one who spends a week digging through my suitcase like an animal?
Traditional Thai breakfast doesn’t go over well – Riha, Reena and Keisha say, “I thought pad thai was a piece of bread… why would you have noodles for breakfast?”
But for dinner, they head to the night market. “I think people who don’t eat from street markets are really missing out,” the Boyles say, just as the Chapman-Blackwells head out to find a maccas instead.
Everyone agrees the temple is very pretty. Its free to walk up the steps to the top, so they all do, and are promptly disappointed. Reena and co were expecting something awesome but, “It was just a big buddha – I saw that from all the way down there.” At least it was free.
There’s a famous rock formation on the coastline, and I feel really culturally insensitive for thinking it’s vaguely… phallic. Until, that is, the Brearley’s read in their guide book that that’s precisely what it’s known for.
Linda, the legend, takes one of those photos holding her hand out in the air, like they do at the leaning tower of Pisa – except she’s standing in front of a giant rock knob.
I see why this is not on the Aussie version of this show – who would pay $6 for something you can see in the backyard every summer?
As an added bonus, there are scorpions, which the Chapman-Blackwells wisely (and quickly) decline to hold.
At 20 quid each, snorkelling is a bit on the expensive side, but they all pile into boats and head off to what Reena calls “the middle of the ocean.” She gets two feet from the boat and then turns around, because she’s concerned the jellyfish and sharks are going to bite her legs off. She then tells us how proud she is of herself for conquering this terrifying activity. You go girl.
Everyone is excited for the elephant riding – except the youngest Brearley, who is terrified and spends the entire time white knuckling the seat belt.
The ride is 12 quid for ½ an hour, which I think we can all agree is well worth it, especially since this is the only thing stick-in-the-mud-Chapman-Blackwell has enjoyed thus far.
“Its got to be done,” fun-Chapman-Blackwell tells us and he is absolutely right. The ladyboy show is free to watch as long as you’re buying drinks, and they do ABBA which makes it totally worth the cost of a couple of cheap cocktails.
Next stop is a detox spa, for the emerging market of health and wellness travellers. They do shots of kale, broccoli and celery juice (euw), meditate, do yoga and oh my god, there are enemas happening. They call it something else – one of the Boyle kids helpfully explains that his dad is “having his butt syringed” – but that’s what’s happening. On screen. I hope all the children watching at home are in bed by now.
The Chapman-Blackwell’s back right out of that one (“It’s just a home brew bucket and a pipe”), but Reena and the Boyle Dad go for it. Euw. It’s made worse by the fact that they’ve been drinking all that kale, so whatever comes out isn’t going to be pretty.
The whole experience is 125 quid, which seems outrageously expensive compared to everything else, and as Mama Brearley says, “Why would you want to do that on your holiday? Just, just no.”
Cost for a week long trip
According to the show, this trip would cost around 2,100 pounds per person. That’s about AU$3,493. This includes:
Flights: From Sydney, you’re looking at an average cost of about AU$593 for a return flight with Qantas. (It’s also about 12 hours FYI.)
Travel insurance: Now, I know you weren’t thinking of heading to Thailand without travel insurance, right? For a 25 year old traveller, a week’s worth of insurance will add about $23 for medical only, or $42.50 if you want the insurance equivalent of being wrapped in a giant roll of bubble wrap.
Accommodation: 8 pound per night, which is about AU$13. So for a 7 day, 6 night stay, that’s $78 to stay right on the beach. Not too bad at all.
Food: Assuming you’re willing to brave the local fare, you’re looking at AU$1-$3 per meal. Three meals a day for 7 days, is $21-$63.
Attractions: If you hit every attraction that the show did, you’re up for a spend of 163 pounds, or AU$271. Skip the detox spa and you’re back down to about AU$80.
Overall, the general consensus seems to be that everyone would give Thailand another try, but most of them would probably upgrade the trip – maybe spring for the deluxe $12 bungalow, next time.