This weekend I checked an item off my bucket list. Just in time for Valentine’s day, I made a getaway to a romantic spot up in Northern Thailand: The Red Lotus Sea. Online reviews rave about the endless sea of pink casting the perfect backdrop for a marriage proposal. So naturally, me and some gals decided we needed to go see it for ourselves. I wasn’t expecting much, but let me tell you—WOW!—I was wrong.
I’ll backup. Experiencing this beauty has been on my bucket list for a while now, ever since seeing it on Pinterest before I came to Thailand. However, the peak season (early-December to late-February) was almost over and I had yet to make the trek because there were no direct buses to Udon Thani (the town it is located in) from Surin. So, when Becky, an English teacher who I was introduced to through Melissa, mentioned that there was a direct bus from her town, I jumped at the idea and we made plans to go.
No matter how many trips I take around this country, I am perpetually surprised with how well things work out. I arrived at the bus station at 7:30 and hopped on the 8am bus; 4 hours into my journey, I met up with the 2 girls I was taking the trip with, transferred buses, and we traveled the final 4 hours together.
We arrived at our hostel a man short, as Melissa (who was planning on coming with us) had gotten sick. Our host assured us that this was no problem; instead of the two double-rooms we had reserved, she could get us situated in a triple-room for the same price, no problem. I’m telling you: things work out in Thailand. I have to give credit to Becky for booking this awesome hostel. From the pictures, it was not something that I would typically book; however, the staff was incredibly accommodating, the beds were so cozy, and the room was huge. We went out Saturday night for dinner and came home to find that our host had left some tea outside our door. We sat in our room, drinking jasmine tea from the most adorable tea set and watching Thai music videos; we fell asleep to the Karate Kid. I forgot what a luxury it is to have a TV—to not pick what you’re watching, but rather fall to the mercy of the TV gods and enjoy whatever they bless you with, in our case a young Jaden Smith navigating culture shock in an Asian country (relatable).
**Update: since this post was originally written, Thai Chaba Backpackers has unfortunately closed. However, there are quite a few cute, reasonably priced options on Airbnb. Use this link to get $40 off your first stay on AirBnb (enough to cover a large portion of your few day trip)!**
Sunday morning came time for the main event, our reason for making the trip up to Udon Thani: The Red Lotus Sea. Now like I said, I wasn’t expecting much. Pictures online were awesome, but pictures online are often deceiving. What we had read told us to get there early, as the lotuses on the lake are open from around 6am to noon: this is the time to go. On top of having a stellar hostel, our host also offered private transportation and assistance hiring a boat. Did I mention that things work out in Thailand?
We took off at 7am, cruising down country backroads past brightly painted pink and blue and orange houses as the sun was rising. It reminded me of Oregon, driving through Estacada in late spring—except with a lot more chickens and street dogs wandering about, and the occasional man walking his cow down the road as a steady stream of motorbikes sped by. Other than that, nearly identical to Oregon.
By 8:05 we were on the water. Our boat set out for a short while, passing the occasional lone lotus: is this it? we wondered aloud, a little weary. We turned a corner and—BAM—the lotuses stretched before us endlessly, creating the illusion of a pink lake. The phrase “as far as the eye can see” was invented for places like the Red Lotus Sea, where the pink flowers spread before you forever, beyond the horizon. I was startled by the beauty, initially taking pictures but soon realizing the scene was something that photos simply could not capture. After a while, we put our phones away and sat, soaking in the peace and the stillness and the utter unreal beauty surrounding us in our little boat.
We spent about an hour an a half cruising around the lake, our driver stopping the boat periodically for photo-ops. We sat and soaked in the stillness. While there were quite a few other visitors in boats around us, it was not overwhelmingly filled with tourists like other beaches and towns I have been to in Thailand. Overall, I would highly recommend.
Originally published on February 14, 2018 on CIEE Teach In Thailand.