I might be in love with Thailand

Wow wow wow Thailand! This is the first time I’ve ever been to Asia and I must say it’s gone above and beyond. It’s so different here and so much fun. It has a beautiful countryside, architecture, and fascinating culture. Even though most people don’t speak English they’re super nice and no one expects me to speak their language, which is a huge relief after Spain. 

My Southeast Asia tour starts here and goes to Laos and Cambodia then I’ll get a new tour guide and some of us will go on for 10 days in Vietnam. I’ve enjoyed the tour group atmosphere, but taking a tour definitely reduces my independence and my chances to get to know the cities in my own way. I took the tour because I was worried about being on my own in such a different place but my two days alone in Bangkok were a wild success so I think when I come back I won’t need a tour. 

I haven’t had much trouble abstaining from shopping on this trip so far, but clothes are crazy cheap here and it’s been taking a lot of self control to not buy everything I see. I did do a tiny bit of shopping though, couldn’t help myself. 

My name in Thai

Wednesday 4/19

I actually left Madrid on Tuesday (12 pm flight), but didn’t get to Bangkok until 8 this morning. I had one flight to Moscow then another to Bangkok an hour later with Aeroflot. The airline was very nice, but I wasn’t able to get any sleep. Gate1 picked me up at the airport and took me to the hotel which thankfully was ready for me. 

I settled in for a bit then took a taxi to May Kaidee’s vegetarian cooking school. My parents took this class in 2012 and my mom is still talking about it years later so I had high hopes. Unfortunately, May wasn’t there so a girl (who isn’t even a vegetarian) taught the class. It was still an enjoyable afternoon, but not exactly an event to write home about. 

After the class, I took a tuk-tuk back to the hotel and went to the pool for a bit. After 31 hours of being awake, I fell asleep at 8:30 on. 

Doing some Thai cooking
A tuk-tuk
 

Thursday 4/20

The other members of  my tour were getting in today, so I had another day to myself to explore Bangkok. 

I started at the Jim Thompson House. It was a pretty little place with a nice guided tour. I rested at the hotel for about then went to Khaosan Road, a tourist shopping street. I had a great time on Khaosan road. After an early dinner (for 30 baht!), I got a mani/pedi then a Thai massage. I also did a little shopping, as you do. 

A spirit house at Jim Thompson

Friday 4/21

Today was the first real day of the tour. There are 18 of us, out of a possible 36 for this tour. We have 7 couples (mostly retired), two men both alone, a retired woman alone, and me. One thing I love about group tours like this is all the time I get to talk to other travelers. These people especially have been everywhere. They’re constantly giving me tips on items to add to my bucket list and telling stories of their travels all over the world. 

We all met in the lobby and the bus took us to Wat Pho. Our guide for Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, Otto, gave us a tour of Wat Pho and then we split up before lunch. 

I crossed the canal to see Wat Arun, a truly lovely temple, then went backacross  and walked to the National Museum. I took a tuk-tuk back to the hotel and made it with plenty of time to shower before our welcome drink then group dinner at the hotel. 

Wat Pho reclining Buddha

Wat Arun

Saturday 4/22

This morning Otto took 7 of us on an optional tour of the Grand Palace and Wat Kae Paew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha). They were crowded and hot, but definitely a must see. We also saw all the Thai people lined up to pay their respects to the king who died in October. 

After the temple, the bus dropped Jean and me off at the subway station and we went to the Chatuchak Market, an outdoor market only open on the weekends. It was huge and neat to see, but the prices weren’t as good as Khaosan road so we mostly just got snacks. 

In the evening, I went on the optional tour to the Siam Niramet show with dinner. It was a huge production and really beautiful. During the little show between acts, I got picked to go on stage. I got picked via spotlight so I couldn’t say no, but I did get a scarf from it. I played a wooden instrument that you shake to play one note, but I don’t know what it was. Unfortunately, they didn’t allow pictures in the theater so the only record I have of it is my new souvenir scarf. 

People waiting to see the King’s coffin
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Sunday 4/23

It was HOT today. At 2 pm Otto checked the weather and it was 100 degrees and felt like 115. 

We left Bangkok this morning after breakfast heading to Ayutthaya. On the way, we stopped at Bang Pa-In Palace, the Royal Summer Palace. 

We had lunch at a restaurant outside of Ayutthaya then braved the heat to see two ruins of temples. The first was called Wat Chaiwathanaram and was modeled after Ankor Wat. The second was Wat Mahathat, where the famous Buddha head with a tree growing around it is. 

Bang Pa-In Palace temple

Wat Chaiwathanaram

Wat Chaiwathanaram

Wat Mahathat

Monday 4/24

Today we drove from Ayutthaya to Sukhothai, so a good bit of the day was spent in the bus. In Sukhothai, we visited three of the ruined temples, Wat Sa Si, Wat Si Sawai, and Wat Mahathat (which was the biggest and most likely the capital. It was a little shadier here than Ayutthaya yesterday, but still quite hot.

Wat Sa Si
Wat Si Sawai
Wat Mahathat

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