Well, it's been over 9 months since our trip to Thailand, but... better late than never! It's actually kind of a miracle. The portable hard drive that we had kept all our pictures on had crashed and we thought all these pictures lost forever (or at least until we could get them recovered...). But - lo and behold, Risa found a random memory card in our electronics box and - BAM! It was the card from our camera during our Thailand trip! So, for your viewing entertainment... I give you Bangkok. And remember - one night in Bangkok will make a hard man humble, so view at your own risk. :)
In February of 2013 we were living in Vietnam. Well, the lunar new year (called "Tet" by the Vietnamese) is in February. During this time of celebration, most of the restaurants are closed, major shopping areas are closed, and basically everyone spends a whole week indoors with their families. It's a wonderful time of celebration, but also an inconvenience for foreigners like us - so, like many of the expats we knew, we traveled out of the country for Tet. Thailand was our destination.
This post will focus on Bangkok and I'll write a separate post soon for our trip to Kanchanaburi. So - let's start with "touch down". We grabbed a cab from the airport to our hotel. Like many taxi drivers in southeast Asia, he didn't speak a lot of English and he drove like an aspiring stunt-man for the next Speed movie. It was terrifying and exciting and we eventually made it to the hotel. The hotel was SUPPOSED to be right next to the airport, but it took a good 30 minutes in the cab... this made me think the driver was giving us the runaround, but... I was wrong, and that came back to bite us later. I'll explain at the end.
The next day the temple touring began. And then it lasted for the next... 3 days or so. It was overwhelming. It was awesome. It was exhausting. It was breathtaking. The temples are so colorful, shiny, sparkly, and elaborate that it kind of hurts your eyes at first - it's so amazing! Risa was very hesitant to take a Tuk-tuk for fear of being ripped off, etc., but after walking so far for 3 straight days she finally broke down and we had some very enjoyable tuk-tuk rides. They are crazy fun - kinda like big golf carts with 3 wheels that weave at insane speeds through one of the most crowded cities in the world. As for the temples, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves, but I will say this - it was the most astoundingly unique and amazing architecture I've yet laid eyes on. Pictures don't do it justice - there's no way to capture it.
We had heard that the Chatuchak market was pretty incredible, so we decided to head that way one morning. Well, we spent the WHOLE DAY there. When they say it's one of the biggest markets in the world, let me tell you - that actually means something. It was HUGE. Like - a square mile of densely packed sidewalk sales, but full of incredibly diverse and exotic things (though, not all was exotic...). It was AWESOME. Also, they had a whole "pet" section which was equal parts sad and amazing. They were selling pet squirrels, some with the cutest little outfits on... it made me laugh and cry at the same time. A strange sensation really. Note: if you go to Bangkok, avoid this market unless you have a minimum of $100 that you're willing to let fly out the window. There's just too much awesome stuff (not to mention, you'll get super hungry walking around all day and the milk-rice with mango is soooooooooo good).
We also managed to go to church while in Bangkok. We hadn't been to church in over 3 months on account of there being no ward where we lived in Da Nang, so it was super nice. We met a bunch of other travelers as well, including 2 American families that live in Shanghai. It was a great little English-speaking branch that usually has more visitors than stable members. Fun.
And now for food. We ate some pad thai, several varieties of Thai curry, sticky-rice with mango, and many other lovely concoctions, but the best thing by far was... wait for it... STREET-VENDOR ROTI!!! Yup. Manna from heaven. Especially because we had been trekking down a long empty street for nearly an hour and I got super low blood-sugar when we first discovered it. It was a god-send. The best way to describe it is a thin crepe-like bread fried in butter and filled with... stuff (eggs? syrup? cinnamon? whatever you asked for really). I'll never be satisfied with scones again. Well, maybe I will (I love scones).
Then we went to Kanchanaburi for a couple days, which will be featured in another post. But when we got BACK, it was time to go home. This is where things took a turn for the worst. We had reserved the hotel we did because it was close to the airport. Well, remember how it took the cab driver a strangely long time to get to our hotel? Weird, but we thought nothing of it and just took the train to the airport on the day of our departure. It was super quick - like 10 minutes max. And when we went to check in is when all the pieces fell into place. There are 2 AIRPORTS in Bangkok. Ooops. Our hotel was not next to the one that our plane was in. So... after much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, we had to buy another flight home (so much for a cheap vacation) and even ended up having to spend the night in HCMC on our way back to Da Nang. What a bust. All-in-all it was a great trip though, so I guess we have no reason to complain. It was the first flight I've ever missed - it had to happen sometime, right?
BTW - it's worth mentioning that we eventually found a good hotel in HCMC, but only after wandering around for almost an hour and having to turn down several less-amazing hotels full of hookers and hooker-customers. Yeah - it was kinda gross. That's south-east Asia for you.