To celebrate our five year anniversary, and a break between jobs for Jill, we took a trip to Thailand, which may prove to be the most incredible trip of our lifetime. If you’ve ever considered travelling to Thailand, do yourself a favor and stop thinking about it. Just book it. You will not regret it! Outside of one unfortunate night where we both got food poisoning at the same time, everything about this trip was absolutely magical. The sights and culture of Bangkok and Chiangmai were amazing. The beaches at Railay are the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I only wish my photos could do it justice. Somehow you can’t quite capture the feeling of swimming in the shade of cliff walls that tower hundreds of feet above your head in 90 degree water on camera, though I gave it my best effort with my little travel camera.
We started our trip with a couple days in Bangkok and got to see where some friends of ours had been living and working for the last ten years. We also had the opportunity to meet up for rooftop drinks with an old Lincoln friend who happened to be travelling the same time as us. Small world! We stayed at a nice little guest house in Chinatown that was a short walk or tuk tuk ride away from many great temples and markets. You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced a midnight ride in a tuk tuk through the streets of Bangkok. Traffic is utter chaos, but somehow manages to feel safer than stateside driving, where people pay more attention to their phone than the road ahead of them. I searched high and low in Chinatown for a 100 year egg to eat on Easter, but no such luck. I also passed on my opportunity to try scorpion on Kao Shan Road because my stomach was a little unsettled that night. Guess that just means we’re going to have to make a repeat trip in a few years.
After a couple of days of exploring Bangkok, we flew down to Krabi to get in our beach fix. This was arguably my favorite part of the trip (outside of our stint with food poisoning.) Railay Beach and Phra Nang Beach were breathtaking! Since we were staying right there, we were able to get to the beach first thing in the morning before all of the other traffic from the day trips started rolling in. It’s pretty amazing getting to experience such a beautiful place in relative privacy. While we were laid-up in bed recovering, for a moment it sounded like our hotel room was under attack. I went outside to investigate and discovered a dozen or so monkeys scavenging in the trees above our hut and some perched right on our roof.
From Krabi, we flew up to Chiangmai. There are supposedly over 200 temples in Chiangmai, so there was plenty of exploring to be done, and much of it is walkable. We were still a little wary about our food choices after we got sick, so we didn’t get to explore the food here as much as we would have normally. I did get to try some durian for the first time, and it’s not nearly as vile as some people make it out to be. It probably helped that I had mine in frozen form.
Our first of a couple day trips from Chiangmai was to the Baan Chang Elephant park. It was magical, to say the least. Being up close and feeding, bathing, and interacting with them is something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. This is a must-do if you ever find yourself in Thailand, but take care to choose a park that is humane and treats their elephants well. This park rescues its animals from abusive or otherwise poor living conditions gives them a better life.
The following day, we had another day trip to a Thai cooking class on a farm outside of the city. They picked us up from our hotel first thing in the morning and took us to a nearby market to show us various ingredients typical to Thai cooking. From there, it was off to the farm to start cooking. Across the board this was my favorite food I had on the trip. I’ve made a few of these dishes already at home, since we’ve been home. Aroy mak mak! (very, very delicious)
After Chaingmai, it was back to Bangkok for one more night before our 28 hour trek home. We stayed at Lebua, where they filmed parts of The Hangover 2. The bars and restaurants on the 64th floor are the main attractions here, and were the only expensive parts of the trip. Otherwise, Thailand is ridiculously affordable. You can expect to pay a quarter to a third of what you’d expect to pay for anything in the states. We had one more day of exploring Bangkok before having to head to the airport, so we made the rounds through Chinatown again, and hit up Wat Arun, which we skipped the first time around after getting stuck in a major rainstorm while temple hopping a week and a half earlier.
Well, that’s it. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for powering through this post. I can’t recommend Thailand enough! If you’re an international traveler, it’s an absolute must. The culture and beauty are second to none. I’ve been home for about a week and a half and I’m ready to go back.