After saying goodbye to Hue, we hopped on a quick (but still terrifying for me) flight to Bangkok, Thailand.
Landing in Thailand was something I’ve been anticipating our whole World Trip / life because this is where my Grandmother (i.e. Grammy) is from, and where she met my Grandfather (Papa) during the Vietnam war. It felt so exciting to land in a country where I still have relatives and that I’ve heard about my entire life.
The second we arrived in Bangkok we realized just how much we had underestimated the size of this city – compared to Hanoi, Bangkok felt as if we had transported back to New York City or Los Angeles (and it has the same amount of traffic!). We also realized that the cab drivers there don’t necessarily speak any English or understand where a lot of things are – our AirBnB host actually let us know this but we did not receive her warning until AFTER we had gotten in a cab and pulled over on the highway to argue with our driver because he was lost…
Another fun fact? Thailand drivers drive on the other side of the road and there are NO speed limits – eek!
After our (kind of) comical cab ride, we finally arrived in our AirBnB that overlooked the city and had a rooftop pool! We swam and had our first taste of Thai food at a nearby restaurant – Thai food = so spicy, and SO good. Plus it reminded me of my Grammy’s cooking and helped curb my homesickness :).
The next day we went to The Grand Palace, Wat Pho and The Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The temples and architecture were all INSANE, but a word of warning – if you’re not completely covered up (including ankles and shoulders) you will be made to buy a $3 skirt or shirt from one of the nearby vendors **like me**. That night we had a blast visiting with my cousin Charlie (whom I haven’t seen since I was 10 years old!) and his 2 friends – he took us to a night market where we rode the Asiatique Ferris Wheel and shopped for souvenirs.
Day 3 Charlie (and his friend Jay) decided we should visit the town of Ban Pong where my Grammy is from and where her family still lives and works in Thailand and then head off to seem some sites. This was one of the best days of our World Trip. Not only did I get to visit with our cousin Narawut and meet my Grammy’s sister that I’ve heard so much about but never met, but Charlie and Jaye fed us amazing food (um, coconut ice cream with stick rice…yes please) and also drove us all around Thailand – giving us a private tour of this beautiful country.
We stopped at the River Kwai where we had lunch and learned all about the sad history Bridge Over the River Kwai and then Charlie took us to Muang Sing National Park – an enchanting park filled with ancient ruins and gardens. After exploring the park for a few hours we headed back to Bon Pang where we were taken to a truly authentic night market (one my Grammy had gone to as a child) and Steve ate the spiciest food he’s ever had in his entire life! That evening we even got to sleep over my Great-Aunt’s house and spend even more time with family – it was a really amazing day :).
Day 4 we woke up in Bon Pang and were taken to one of the original Floating Water Markets. Charlie, Jay, Steve and I hopped in a tiny boat at 7:30 AM and floated along the river; we looked at shops, bought some delicious vegetarian food and even spotted a swimming monitor lizard (pygmy marmosets and some pythons could also be found in this market!).
We then had lunch and drove to Ayutthaya – the original capital of the Kingdom of Siam (before Bangkok). The old capital is filled with ancient ruins, stray dogs, temples and Buddha statues that are slowwwllyyy being grown over by tree roots. It’s incredible and if you are in Bangkok for any amount of time, a day-trip to this city is a definite must.
Post-Ayutthaya we were taken back to Bangkok and we said goodbye to Jay and Charlie. We want to give so many special shout-outs to Charlie, Jay, Narawut and Thoy for their incredible, incredibly hospitality and for welcoming us into the homes. Extra shout out to Charlie for taking off work and taking us around Thailand – we will never forget our time here!
Once we got to our AirBnB we realized it was only 5 PM, but we were too exhausted to leave so…we broke down and ordered a Dominoes Pizza (more on this decision will be posted in a Weekly Crust post). I can confidently say as a self-described pizza and food-snob, this was a new low for us as travelers. Never underestimate the power of jet lag = 48 hours of non-stop activity – it can make you do c r a z y things ;).
Day 5 was our first rest day. It was bound to happen some time during this trip – we had been going non-stop for 9 weeks and were finally burnt out. We spent the whole day watching The Bucket List Family videos (do it now – I’m obsessed), swimming, playing ping-pong *I’m still the champion* and editing photos. We did finally manage to venture out around dusk to grab dinner and take a stroll down Soi Cowboy road to see the neon lights…although I must say unless you’re a total creep, I wouldn’t spend any actual time hanging out here. It’s quite seedy and doesn’t offer a lot (any?) culture.
On our final day we woke up early and took the standard 45-60 minute Uber ride to go 4 miles (this is the life you should get used to if you visit Bangkok) to see Wat Arun Temple. We explored the temple and surrounding area and then, once the sun tried to give us our daily heat-induced stroke, we took a .50 cent / 1 minute boat ride across the river to do some more sightseeing. That night we packed up and went to sleep early dreaming of temples, Pad Thai and Mango rice … next stop – The Phi Phi Islands!
River Kwai and Muang Sing:
Night + Water Market:
Final Days in Bangkok: