I am writing this at 4am as we sit in the airport terminal waiting for our flight out of Thailand – bound for Hong Kong and then final stop in China. We had a great 3 weeks here in Thailand – some ups and some downs but overall we enjoyed ourselves.
We both had high expectations for this great city that looks so fun and exciting in the movies; but the reality was not that positive. We knew that it was hot season in Thailand, so we expected the heat, but what we didn’t expect were the various smells that are sitting in the air in Bangkok (like garbage), and the immense pollution and smog, which on a 40 degree day can feel like much more. The traffic is also more chaotic than any other city I have visited in the world. It literally could take an hour to go a few kilometers. We also had high expectations for the food in Thailand, since back home it is one of our favourite types of cuisine. Unfourtunatly, Bangkok disappointed us in this area as well. We spent 6 nights in Bangkok, and were wishing after the first 2 days that we were leaving. We filled our time with various tours, and sightseeing, but I am afraid it just wasn’t enough to leave a good impression on us. The small highlight of this location was our tour to a floating market, where we rented a small boat with other tourists, and floated around (you guessed it) a floating market. It was a fun experience overall. Yes, the Thai people are very nice overall, and there are beautiful temples to see, but if we had a chance to do it over again, we would skip Bangkok.
This was the highlight of our time in Thailand overall – and it almost didn’t happen. We were scheduled on a flight from Bangkok to Krabi (our 3rd stop), where we thought we would spend 3 weeks, but after learning about the ridiculous prices for food and other things there, we decided that we did not want to stay there for 3 weeks, so we added Chiang Mai to our trip and gave up our flight to Krabi. It was worth every extra penny.
It was our original plan to remain in Chiang Mai, and settle for a few months, however, due to finances, we were not able to do this, but we still wanted to see what all the hype was about. We spent 5 nights in Chiang Mai, and could have easily spent a couple more. We hired a driver on our first day to take us around to various temples – which were some of the most beautiful that we have seen on our journey through Asia.
That evening we decided to check out Chiang Mai’s famous night market. This night market was the best market we had been to anywhere in the world. It was huge! The amount of booths stretched for what seemed like forever. There was tons of food, lots of vendors selling hand crafted items, and clothing; and the most unique thing we saw was an outdoor massage station. There must have been a hundred chairs lined up down this alley, and most of them filled with tourists getting foot massages, back massages, etc. We couldn’t miss the opportunity, so we treated ourselves to a foot massage.
The second day we attended an all-day cooking class, where Trevor learned to cook Thai food, and I just ate what the instructor cooked (I only paid to be a visitor, so it worked out well!) The Thai food we made better than the food we had in Bangkok – and overall in Chiang Mai, the food was delicious, and totally redeemed Thai food for us.
That evening, Trevor got to fulfill one of his goals, which was to attend a Muay Thai boxing fight. We found a stadium (there are a few), and watched about 6 fights before heading home. You could tell the fights were setup more for tourists because the first fight involved 2 boys who couldn’t have been over the age of 8-10, and 2 other fights involved females. The “real” fights were at the end of the evening.
On the third day, we attended a mediation workshop run by monks. We had originally thought we might want to spend the entire 2 days (it was an overnight retreat), but after much discussion, we decided to only do the first day – mainly because we are both fairly new to meditation, and we felt that days of practice would be too intense. We drove out into the country about 45 minutes to the meditation centre, where we learned about Buddhism, and various meditation techniques. It was set up very well for beginners, as we only had to meditate for 10 minutes at a time. The monk taught us sitting meditation, standing meditation, and walking meditation (oh and eating meditation). My personal favourite was the walking meditation, because it was the only meditation I could do without my mind racing to other thoughts. Trevor preferred the sitting meditation because he says that he finds it easier to clear his head by sitting in one place. We had to practice being silent as well, which became slightly awkward at dinner time! When it came time for us to leave in the evening, a lightning storm hit, and the entire place went dark – no lights, no electricity, etc. The monk said to the people staying that it might be hot in the rooms tonight (they were already hot even with a fan, so we couldn’t imagine how hot it would be without). We were quite happy to hop in our taxi and head back to Chiang Mai to sleep in our air conditioned room!
The highlight for us in Asia came in Chiang Mai when on the following day we attended Elephant Nature Park. I wrote about this in my last blog in great detail if you would like to go back and read it. We both felt very privileged to support this cause, and we had a wonderful day with the Elephants. We would like to spread the word on the violence that these elephants go through for the sake of tourist pleasure.
Our last stop in Thailand was Krabi. Krabi is the most popular destination next to Phuket for catching boats and ferries to the beautiful Thai islands. If you have seen the movie “The Beach”, then you know exactly what I am talking about. We booked 2 tours at the airport when we arrived – one for the famous islands, and another for some lesser known islands.
We got lucky on our first day because we didn’t get rain, and we were able to go on the one tour. Unfortunately, when the day came for the trip to the famous islands – a storm hit in the morning (it is monsoon season), and our trip was cancelled. I was devastated. Seeing these islands from the movie was the main reason we came to Krabi. We had to come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t going to happen. We only stayed for 3 days, and this trip was booked on our last day – no chance to reschedule. It poured most of the day off and on, so we had to stay inside. We made the best of it by watching movies and getting massages. It was ok. We also had to be up at 2:30am to catch our 5:30am flight to Hong Kong, so it was a long day for sure, but it is over now.
As I finish this blog, it is now 10:30am in Hong Kong and we are at the airport once again waiting for another flight – a 5 hour layover – before our final stop in Beijing China to end our trip. At the end of the day, we would recommend Chiang Mai, not Bangkok, and only go to the islands when it is not monsoon season!! You will be disappointed! That’s all for now!