Aon and Lan, who joke they are "an intergaycial couple," are the duo behind the award-winning LGBTQ+ travel blog Deer Is Travelling. Based in Bangkok the couple writes about living in Thailand and traveling in the region. The cofounders of LGBTQ Travel Thailand, Aon and Lan have collaborated with many hotel chains (including Hilton, Pullman, SO Sofitel, and Amari) and their blog has been recongnized by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
In our exclusive interview below they tell Out Traveler what makes Thailand such a great hub for travel, what most tourists to the area miss, and the best things about traveling as a couple.
(Pictured: Phi Phi Islands, Thailand)
How did you meet?
We matched on Tinder and we were so busy, so we met for the first time a few months after that. But when we finally did, we had this click and our story started! We both didn’t plan to stay in Bangkok as Aon wanted to move to Canada to study and Lan was in Bangkok to learn Muay Thai for a year with the plans to travel more. But looks at us now!
(Picture: Koh Kood Island Thailand)
Why is your blog called Deer Is Travelling?
For our first big trip together we went to Japan for two weeks. And I asked Aon: “We spent so much money on this trip, should we do at least a couplegram out of it?” And we actually did! When we started looking for a name, we thought "deer" may work because in Thai it has a queer meaning, plus during that time we used to call each other "dear deer." Plus one of us has a deer horn tattoo on the chest, so we thought we’re just like a deer — four legs and horns. And since the deer is an animal that is strong and independent, brave, and mostly does not hurt other animals; we thought it fits perfectly!
(Pictured: Pullman Bangkok Hotel G in Bangkok, Thailand)
What advice do you give LGBTQ+ travelers coming to the region?
Thailand is famous for its beaches and temples. There are literally thousands of both here but normally only the beaches get well explored. We recommend everyone try to explore more mountains or cultural events. Thailand actually has over 40,000 temples but most tourists can name just a few. Let’s change that!
(Pictured: Temple Wat Arun in Bangkok Thailand)
Do you have a favorite destination in Thailand? Outside of Thailand?
We love that it’s always hard to choose anything particular about Thailand. For example. last year we went to local regions Loei and Mae Hong Song, it was absolutely stunning! Then we came to visit two hidden gem islands — Koh Kood and Koh Phi Phi. Although each was absolutely different, those four destinations are the ones that surprised us the most.
Outside of Thailand we definitely in love with Japan! We have been to the countryfour times but it’s never enough! We already planning to be back as soon as restriction ease. Also, we love the nature of Laos a lot!
(Pictured: Koh Kood Island Thailand)
What is the best thing about traveling as a couple?
There are so many things! Especially for two guys who are almost the same size! We always share our clothes and personal care items, so we have a double wardrobe during our travels! It also means more food. It’s safer and cheaper. It is awesome to spend birthdays and other big holidays together, even better to share moments like splashing around the sea in the golden hour. We can even think of more reasons! Renting a kayak to paddle out to some hidden sea cave? Driving anywhere? Each of us gets a chance to sleep, take pictures, check the map, reserve the next hotel. It’s truly amazing!
(Pictured: Koh Samed Island Thailand)
What makes Thailand such a great hub for traveling?
Thailand has it all! Culture, mountains, islands, crystal clear water, white sand beaches, kind people, food, and more! People in Thailand are very tolerant and we never had any problems with being a gay couple in Thailand. Maybe we just lucky but we couldn’t remember anything unfriendly that happened to us.
(Pictured: Loha Prasat Wat Ratchanatdaram Worawihan Temple Bangkok)
If you were setting up a culinary travel itinerary what restaurants or regions would be must-visits?
Thailand is a large country with diverse geography, which over the years has led to the development of regional differences in cuisine. There are currently four different cooking styles in Thailand.
Dishes in the north of Thailand are generally less spicy than in the rest of the country, with sticky rice traditionally mixed into small balls with the fingers. There is a strong influence from neighboring Burma and its popular dishes like Kaeng Hang Le, pork curry flavored with ginger, turmeric, and tamarind.
Food in the northeast is influenced by Laos, usually very spicy food served with glutinous rice. Although there are many meat dishes, historically in the villages meat was very small, and the source of protein was shrimp and freshwater fish. They are often fermented to increase shelf life.
The Central Region offers cuisine that is somewhere between north and south, with aromatic jasmine rice, a stickier variety, popular. The central area is home to royal cuisine, which makes it special. This type of cooking, which originated in the royal palace, involves more complex dishes prepared with more sophisticated methods.
Southern Thai cuisine is the most popular outside of Thailand and is the main tourist region of the country. Coconut milk is much more commonly used in southern cuisine as a substitute for ghee for frying. The dishes are rich in seafood, as well as cashews from local plantations and coconut pulp as a condiment.
Talking about Thai food is always hard since it made you hungry easy!
(Pictured Red Lotus Floating Market in Thailand)
Tell us about your biggest #TravelFail and how you recovered.
Once we stayed in Da Nang, Vietnam. In the morning we were blue since we had not had enough time to explore all we wanted but it was time to leave the city and be back in Bangkok. We went to check out from the hotel but the receptionist said our hotel check-out wasn’t until the next day! We checked our flight and it wasn’t until the next day as well! Somehow we miscounted and got an extra day in Vietnam, which made us so happy!
(Pictured: Pullman Bangkok Hotel Luang Prabang, Laos)
What are your top LGBTQ+ travel resources?
We started our blog for the reason that there are almost no LGBTQ+ friendly resources about Thailand. Plus, we always were looking for hidden gems places around Thailand but there is not much information either. At first, we were confused ourselves and later decided to make Deer is Traveling to show how it is to be a gay couple in Thailand but also show the beauty of Thailand that regular tourists often don't see.
(Pictured: Koh Kood Island Thailand)