Since I have the travel bug, and thinking of where to go next, here’s a long overdue recap of the time we spent in Thailand in April!
After exploring Japan for a week, we hopped on a plane from Tokyo to Bangkok, and then straight to Chiang Mai (Northern Thailand). We spent three days in Chiang Mai exploring temples, hanging out with elephants, and eating some delicious (and very, very spicy) food 🙂 There was a cool food court in the center of town that we visited the first night…I think we spent about $2 for some delicious Pad Thai with tofu.
And of course we had to dive into the local beer 🙂
Hotels are super cheap in Thailand; we spent about $30 per night and stayed in a really cute, new boutique hotel in the center of town.
We spent the entire next day at Patara Elephant Farm, which takes in abused and/or abandoned elephants and rehabilitates them. We were “elephant trainers for a day”, and got to feed our elephant, bathe them, swim with them, and ride them for a short while at the end. The baby elephants were the cutest! They were really playful, and loved to tackle you with kisses 🙂
After a short ride through the jungle, we stopped near a waterfall where the guides had set up a beautiful lunch for us (I loved all of the exotic fruits there)!
The next day, we went to a couple different temples with a private guide who was a monk for many years (he told us he spent three years alone in a cave practicing meditation)! We were able to give an offering to these young monks, who would in return say a blessing for us. Each morning, they walk up a mountain to their temple (and receive gifts along the way). Some of the monks were as young as 10!
When we got to the top of the mountain, I was taken aback because everything was so….GOLD. The architecture and style were the total opposite of Japan!
Our guide took us to one of the oldest monks at the temple for a special blessing. It was fascinating to hear about all of the history there! I didn’t know that Thai monks aren’t necessarily monks for life; sometimes parents will just send their teenage sons for a couple of weeks if they are acting up 🙂
After so much walking in Japan, I was more than ready for a massage in Chiang Mai. There are massage parlors on every street, and one hour will set you back about $4. That was the first time I had a Thai massage and it was heaven. I think we got three or four while we were there 🙂
On our final day in Chiang Mai, we took a Thai cooking class. We went to the market first, so the teacher could explain the different ingredients. I stocked up on a ton of Thai curry paste ( I should have bought way more)! After we came back to the kitchen, we got to choose three dishes to make (each). I loved it and felt like I was on Chopped 🙂
We had Papaya Salad, Green Curry with Tofu, Khao Soi, and Mango Coconut Sticky Rice. It was all so healthy, so spicy, and delicious!
Phuket (and the islands)
After Chiang Mai, we took an hour flight to Phuket! The Thai New Year was just starting when we got there (Songkran), so there was a lot of partying and a lot of water fights. Everyone has super-soakers in the street (or buckets of water), and it’s one big water fight/celebration. I obviously don’t have any pictures since I didn’t want my phone to drown, but here’s one from Google to give you an idea…
When we got to the end of the street and were on the beach, there was a concert where the fire department had shown up and brought their fire hose for maximum water spray 🙂
We also took a day trip to the Phi Phi islands (where The Beach was filmed). It was picture perfect, with warm water, cliffs jutting out of the water, and the whitest sand I’ve ever seen.
We stayed at a gorgeous resort on Koh Yai Yai, with unreal views!
A lot of time was spent on the beach, staring at that beautiful horizon…
and sipping on Pina Colada’s!
If you ask me how Bangkok was, I’ll most likely tell you that it.was.hot. I would probably skip this city in the future and spend more time in the islands! However- we got to see some amazing sites and ate some delicious food!
We took a water taxi to visit the Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha).
A stop for some coconut water was necessary (after 2 weeks without a razor, Christopher was starting to resemble Jesus) 🙂
And mango for me (always)
I spent some time on the rooftop cabanas at our hotel, soaking up the last day of our vacation
After two days in Bangkok, we jumped on a 6 hour plane ride back to Toyko, and then a 12 hour flight back to Chicago. Christopher ordered us two HUGE beers during our layover, which ensured a loooong nap on the plane 🙂
Now to decide where to go next…!