S: Thailand 2011
FC: Thailand 2011
1: “Travel is like love, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.” — Pico Iyer
2: We arrived in Bangkok late and checked into the Shangri-La. The hotel is on the Chao Phraya river and is beautiful. We had a balcony room with a great view of the River and city. The restaurants were great and we could catch a river taxi right outside the hotel.
4: Transportation was easy in Bangkok. We traveled by Tuk Tuks, colorful taxis, Skytrains, and subways and our favorite mode of travel were the river taxis and ferries. We were able to jump off and on at destinations along the River. The clash of ancient temples, modern buildings, beautiful Imperial summer homes and ramshackle apartment houses along the riverfront was amazing, We also traveled with some interesting locals.
8: We wanted to immerse ourselves in the local culture as well as see the famous temples and sites. We spent some time visiting local markets and neighborhood temples. Foods were quite interesting, with lots of dried fish, insects and fruits and veggies we had never seen before.
12: After climbing 318 circular steps, we finally arrived at Wat Saket, the "Golden Mount", a Buddhist temple built by King Rama the third in 1850. From the top we could see the rooftops all around Bangkok, once the city of Siam.
14: The Shangri-La provided several day trip options and we chose to visit the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya and also see the Kings Summer Palace with a return cruise down the Chao Phraya River. Ayutthaya was .once the capitol of the Thai Kingdom and one of the worlds largest and most sophisticated cities until destroyed by the Burmese in 1756. Today the ruins span several miles and are a Unesco World Heritage Site.
16: Ayutthaya | Ayutthaya was amazing. We could have spent several days here exploring all the ruins. Many of the Buddha's were headless. We learned that it was because of several wars and treasure hunters who sold them on the clack market.
20: BONDI BEACH | Bang Pa In The Summer Palace-Ayutthaya
21: Bang Pa In was the summer home of the Kings of Siam, including King Mongkut who hired Anna Lenowen to educate his children. Anna's memoirs of her experiences became the books, plays and movies "Anna and the King"
24: Wat Arun-"Temple of the Sun"Bankok This temple was right on the River and one of the oldest temples still being used in the city.
26: WAT PHO | Wat Pho is home to the Largest Golden Buddha and numerous active temples with thousands of beautiful Buddhas. TheWat is also famous for it's massage school, where all the masseurs are blind. | Wat Pho
30: The Sky Bar-Lebua Tower Bangkok The Sky Bar was amazing. 70 stories high, on the rooftop of the Lebua Hotel, the view was awesome. It was windy and cool. A band was playing soft music on a platform that overlooked the restaurant and bar, creating an ethereal feel. To get to the restaurant we had to walk down a staircase that felt that you could literally blow off the rooftop out into the City below. It was one of the outings we enjoyed most while in Bangkok.
32: Chatachuk Market Bangkok We heard that Chatachuk Market was the best place to shop for souveniers. The market had over 1000 food and merchandise vendors. We didn't even make it down one full row. We picked up a lot of interesting gifts, but perhaps the best find at the market was the homemade coconut ice cream, served in a coconut shell.
34: We departed for Koh Chang Island from the Trat Airport, near the Thailand/Cambodian border. The outdoor airport was so pretty! They served tropical fruits and beverages outside and we sat around in the cool breeze waiting for our tram. What a refreshing change from normal busy airports!
36: Koh Chang We ferried over to Koh Chang Island not knowing quite what to expect. We had been told we would be in the jungle with wild monkeys and tame elephants, waterfalls and beautiful beaches. Everything we heard was true. We loved Koh Chang and hopefully can visit again someday.
38: We were surprised that our resort was so beautiful. It had a couple of restaurants and two Spa's....one at the pool. The beaches in Thailand were so different than any beaches we have ever been to. The water was warm and there were so many sea shells. The tourists were mainly European so we never understood what anyone was saying. Wh have never been so relaxed....walking the beach, sipping on Pina Colada's or local Thai beer and eating a lot of really good seafood.
40: The resorts all along the beach were really cool. Some were very nice and others were tree houses that guests had to lug their suitcases down the beach to get to. There were lots of open air bars and restaurants along the beachfront and we roamed up and down the beach every day, experimenting with different dishes. Best of all were hour long massages for about $7 American dollars. We had so many massages our entire body was sore when we left. Thai massages are much different...they twist you up like a pretzel and stretch you till you think they might pull a limb off......
44: At night the beaches really came alive. Resorts all along the beach would set up beach seating, tubs of fresh seafood and grills. As it got later in the evening, resorts pulled out bean bag chairs and Huka pipes and tourists lounged on the beach amongst the trees strung with floating jelly fish lights. Most of the resorts had live musicians. Groups of "Fire Twirlers" entertained the crowds for tips. They were really good and some of them really young. Surprisingly, it was all quiet by around 10:00 every night.
46: While on Koh Chang Island we went to Khlong Phlu Waterfall. It was a short walk through the "Jungle" to the waterfall. Being from Arkansas, it didn't seem too much of a jungle. We had a good time hiking and upon leaving realized that our jeep driver had left us behind. We found a street food vendor making the best fruit pastries we have ever eaten and finally made it back to the hotel....was a really fun day.
48: We also decided to "Swim with Elephants". That was really an adventure! Mainly because of the scary looking river we rode the elephants into. The elephants were trained to roll over in the water, knocking everyone off into the murky salty water. The guides thought this was incredibly funny, but all I could think about was jungle water snakes!
50: We could see a little Island from our Hotel and decided to go snorkeling there one afternoon. Jason got some great pictures with our underwater camera. The Island was really pretty and looked like it could have been in a Castaway movie.
54: Our craziest experience in Thailand was the "Songkran Festival", apparently Thailand's favorite holiday. Little did we know that the festival involved throwing water on each other non-stop for several days. We literally could not leave the hotel without people everywhere lined up and down the streets dousing us with water hoses, water guns or buckets of ice cold water. We finally gave up on trying to stay dry and wore our bathing suits everywhere.
56: We had so much fun in Bangkok that we changed our flights and stayed an extra weekend. We spent our last day in Bangkok at the Grand Palace, the largest, newest and most luxurious of the King's Palaces. Thailand was wonderful, truly a mix of modern and old, calm and crazy. We can't wait to go back again some day......