Archives for posts with tag: Thailand

I have been debating how I wanted to write this post. Do I talk about the things I’m doing now that I’m in Laos, or talk about the things that I’ve been up to the last week in Thailand?

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I think what’s making it so difficult is that while there were points that were really fun and amazing in Thailand, overall I don’t like it as much as I love Laos. On top of that, my less than stellar “trekking” experience in Chiang Mai has left a sour taste in my mouth. I hate the idea of spending an entire post complaining about my experience (I actually wrote one before this but deleted it because it was just too much), so I will just say a few things:

The tourism board in Thailand should NOT offer this particular trek during the low season. The waterfall was non-existent and my white-water rafting on the second day consisted of us pulling our raft off of rocks more than we were rafting. If they want to offer this tour during the dry season, they should make it known when you buy the ticket that the river is low and the waterfall is small. Really small. Also, the “authentic” village we stopped at didn’t treat their elephants well. So that didn’t make me feel like my money was going to the right place at all. Which leads me to the final conclusion that I paid too much money and did not get what I was expecting out of the trip

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At least Chiang Mai wasn’t as chaotic as Bangkok and I managed to find a little bit of peace and beauty again before leaving the country. It took me a few days to get used to moving around by myself and working up the courage to talk to random people and ask to join them if they were going to the same temples I was going to. In the end, I met up with a few people that have been great to travel with and the best part is that they’re my age (so I can stop hanging out with all the 18 and 19 year old kids on their gap year). I love the temples in Chiang Mai. A lot of them don’t get very much attention, so most of the time, you could gaze up at them in complete solitude and take in all the details. I found myself being really drawn to the scales of the serpents guarding the doors.

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A lot of the temples hosted monk chats, which was a designated time that you could sit down with one or two (or in our case, 8) monks and talk to them about anything you want. It’s supposed to help them learn English and of course help you understand more about their lifestyle and Buddhism. I thought they were so interesting to talk to. I was mostly expecting them to be very stoic with their answers, but I found them to be very forthcoming. They talked about everything from their day to day activities, how they don’t like homework, the fact that they have fears and worries and feelings of doubt. But even so, they said it all with a smile on their face, as if they knew that even with all that, they are able to find joy and happiness within themselves. We joined them for an introductory course into meditation. It was really challenging to quiet your mind and stay seated for 15 minutes. I can’t imagine how they do it for hours on end.

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I decided to take the slow boat on the Mekong River to get to Luang Prabang, Laos. But that required yet another minivan journey up through Chiang Rai and on to the border town Chiang Khong. We stopped for a brief 20 minute break at the white temple, Wat Rong Khun, in Chiang Rai.

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By far the weirdest Buddhist temple I have every seen. Outside, there were disembodied hands (one had a wristband on it that said John Lennon) and demon heads, while inside the temple there was an even stranger mural. While there were paintings of Buddha there were also cameos of Spiderman, Batman, the twin towers with a plane crashing into it, Neo from the Matrix, and angry birds to name a few. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the mural, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

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The slow boat ride was absolutely amazing, but I’ll save that for tomorrow’s post.

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Well, the time for beach bumming is over and it’s back to the big ol’ city where tuk-tuk drivers are relentless, the smells of street food fill the air, and the heat can’t be quenched anymore by dipping into the ocean.

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I’ve never been one for big cities. Never really liked the feeling of pushing my way through crowded streets, being harassed by street vendors, or feeling like the buildings were closing in all around me. But, once you get out of the touristy streets and away from the hawkers, it’s easy to see why so many people love this city.

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Old traditions and temples mingle with the new buildings and skyscrapers, while traffic looms below. Even the floating markets still retain some old world charm despite being overrun by tourists and high-speed long tail boats.

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It kind of makes you wonder where you are in the first place. Of course, when you stare straight up into the face of a 15m tall reclining Buddha, the reality of being in Bangkok is hard to avoid.

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In all honesty, I had no idea what I wanted to do in Thailand. All I knew is that I really love Thai food. And the more that I think about it, the more I realize that I plan most of my trips around food.

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I have never been able to recreate Thai food at home. So I guess the only real goal I had for this trip was to learn how to make Thai food. Lucky for me, there is a plethora of cooking classes available here. Our chef was amazing with her instruction and lessons in Thai ingredients. We started with a trip to the market where we learned all about the key ingredients in Thai food.

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The difference between boring ginger and Thai galangal ginger. What Kafir lime does, what a tamarind looks like and how to make fresh coconut milk.

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And not to toot my own horn, but damn if that wasn’t the best pad thai that I had since arriving in Thailand. Haha, ok, maybe it wasn’t the best, but there was something really satisfying in making it ourselves. No, but seriously, it was the best.

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As much fun as Bangkok has been, it’s about time for me to move on. Tomorrow I head up to Northern Thailand to see what’s to do up there. From here one out, I’m going solo. Rob is safely back stateside enjoying the comforts of home, and while I’m a little envious that he gets to change his clothes, I’m looking forward to continuing this journey for a while longer. In the meantime, I want you all to enjoy a big juicy burger for me and love your tap water.

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These last five days have been a complete whirlwind consisting of a trip to the hospital, bus rides, plane rides, quick connections in Delhi with even slower security, taxi rides, tuk-tuk rides amidst a full out water-war, a train ride, a ferry ride and finally relief on the beaches of Ko Tao. I think I have finally caught up to all the crazy, but really when I think about it, I can’t think about it, if you know what I mean.

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The night of my last post, Rob caught a bad case of food poisoning. After staying up for most the night, thinking it was just a small thing that might pass, we decided that we needed to get to the hospital since he wasn’t capable of keeping even water down. It was 3:30 in the morning and no one was out. We had to wake the staff at the hostel we were staying at and he managed to hail some random passerby and convince them to take us to the hospital for 400 rupees. When we got there, no one was awake. I woke the nurse, the pharmacist, the lab technician and the accounts payable person. The nurse sent me to the pharmacy to pick up the syringes, the IV bag, and all the medication. It was perhaps the strangest thing ever. I was running samples to the lab and results back to the nurse. I suppose it was something to do besides sit there and worry. In the end, Rob heroically (Rob’s words, not mine) pulled through barely scathed, but out about $40. Yup, that was the total bill. And I think I may even be over-estimating that.

We were exhausted on our bus ride to Kathmandu to make our flight out the next morning (where I was frisked about 6 times before boarding the plane). The flight was nothing to write home about, but the security at our connection in Delhi was a nightmare. It resulted in us running to our gate, which proved futile because the plane was delayed coming in. Sigh.

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Once we made it to Bangkok, it was pouring rain, and it was Thai New Years. Which essentially means that everyone was out with white paint and water guns. I can’t think of anything I didn’t want more in my life. We escaped the insanity the first night, but the party raged on to the next day. As we were taking a tuk-tuk around the city, we got full blast of water. We arrived at our destination completely soaked. My camera was a little more wet than I would have liked and my brand new dumb phone that I just purchased that morning broke. Yet we persevered, bought some snacks, and boarded a night train to Chumphon. The early morning ferry to Ko Tao signaled the end of our travels (for now) and I have currently planted myself on the beach and am demanding to have coconuts delivered to me hourly.

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