“One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble..” I just can’t get that song out of my head! We finally arrived in Asia! It’s a destination I’ve been anxiously anticipating but with no idea what it would be like. I just knew it would be very different from home.
The people here are very kind and respectful and the city is much cleaner than I thought it would be. EVERY street is lined with carts selling every food Thailand has to offer. Men push carts with squid hanging from them while women grill up skewered pork or fried bananas. The streets are full of tuk-tuks and pink taxis and scooters weaving through the lanes. Bangkok is a modern city filled with skyscrapers but it’s fun to see shrines or temples around almost every corner reminding you this isn’t just any big city.
We arrived later in the evening after 30 hours of travel. Our first experience on the highways of Bangkok was crammed in the back of a taxi buried under my own luggage. The traffic even at 8pm was literally jam packed. There are so many cars in fact that the Thai people create their own lanes! They all just make their way as a heard down the highways and what should have been a 45 minute trip took us two hours. By the time we arrived at our hotel it was 10pm and we were exhausted and starving. Luckily everything stays open late and the streets felt very safe to walk around at night. It didn’t take us long to find a delicious little restaurant with cold beer and spicy food…just what we needed!
The first part of our week in Bangkok we needed to take care of a little “business”. We had to source a dermatologist for Charlotte, catch up on a little schooling and pay a visit to the immigration department to extend our visa. The latter was fascinating! We arrived just as they were closing down for lunch so we needed to wait an hour to get a number to wait on line. Fine…we planned on this taking all day. Michael spent most of the hour waiting on line so we’d be first to get our number. Well…Thai people don’t do lines (as I later learned in public rest rooms). It’s like the freeway, you just all move as a herd. So the doors open and it’s a stampede! A group of Thai monks (yes, monks! Even they cut the line) shoves its way through, I almost broke the back of an Indian grandmother trying to cram through a doorway. It was a mad house! In the end, we left two hours later with visas in hand and a story I’m sure we’ll be retelling for years to come.
One of the highlights of our stay was the Thai cooking class we took. The class began with a trip through the “wet market”. I don’t know why they call it that but the ground was quite wet so maybe?? At one point I thought water was dripping down my leg only to realize it was juice from the table stacked 3 feet high with raw chicken I was standing by…eeewe! The market was incredibly interesting and it was wonderful to have a guide to help us navigate all the foods we’d never seen before. There were live frogs and eels and fish as well as buckets of spices and heaps of veggies.
Once we had our supplies it was off to the class to learn to prepare a four course Thai meal. YUM! It was awesome to see Trevor manning a giant wok and char squeezing a fresh coconut for milk. The food was great and I found a new favorite Thai dish…sticky rice with mango!
The following day we took a walking tour of Bangkok with a local guide named Arrty. He led us through China town, famous temples, local neighborhoods, and taught us so much about the city he grew up in. We passed by the Grand Palace where thousands of people from all over Thailand dressed in black had made their way to Bangkok to pay respects to their late king. We were witnessing history in the making as never before and likely never again will a king be so loved and missed by his people. In honor of his legacy local business and people were offering free food or free rides around the palace area. They’ll continue coming by the thousands for 100 days of mourning.
Our last day here we spent on a tour of Amphawa, a town about an hour outside the city. Here there’s no hustle and bustle of the city, just jungle and waterways and a village that opens the doors of their homes to sell their goods to mostly Thai tourists on the weekends. The houses are built on stilts lining the many man made canals. We visited a coconut sugar farm and a floating market. We got to have lunch at a famous old noodle house visited by many Thai celebrities and take a long boat ride around the town. The best part of the boat ride was our stop at a carved teek temple where the head monk (who didn’t speak English) managed to show us dirty pictures in the carvings!! Hilarious!
All in all this was a great start to our 4 month tour through Asia. We’re looking forward to seeing more, learning more and getting to know the culture better as we continue on our trek.