Me being Asain!
I honestly don't believe there are words to describe this past weekend that I spent in Bangkok
, but I will try really hard to find them!
On Thursday, Katie, Margaret, Christine, Kevin and I took a 2 hour plane ride to Bangkok, which is the capital of Thailand. The currency used is called Bhat. 1 US dollar is about 35 Bhat. It always seemed like I was spending so much money because a meal would cost about 100 Bhat...but really that is about 3 American dollars! Thailand is run by a king, who's picture is literally EVEYWHERE! He has billboards, skyscrapers, videos on the SkyTrain, and t-shirts! The main mode of transportation was the SkyTrian which was really awesome because when we rode on it we got to see the city since it is in the "sky.
Staircase to the SkyTrain
" It was very hot and humid...more so than Singapore because the air didn't really move in the city. Thai food is absolutely AMAZING! It is definitely my favorite so far. I really like this dish called pad thai...it has Thai noodles (which are like thick flattened spaghetti noodles), bean sprouts, some kind of Thai sauce, and peanuts sprinkled on it! Thailand has no middle class. We would see malls with Dulce&Cabbana, Rolex, Burberry, Coach, ect. then walk out onto the street into complete poverty. The city was VERY dirty (especially compared to Singapore) and there were stray animals all around, most of them near death. The people were so skinny that you could see their bones. There were also alot of "lady men" and fortune tellers with their faces covered in makeup.
A cool piece of art on the wall at Noodi, the first place we went to eat...Thai people really like their noodles!
Massage parlors were on every corner (just like nail places in America)! I was disappointed in the amount of American influence in the city. There were 3 Starbucks within walking distance of our hostel and KFC, Baskin Robin's and Dunkin' Donuts everywhere. On the SkyTrain, they played American music videos (in English) and many of the advertisements and signs were also in English. Though this made it easy for us, it was really sad at the same time.
When we arrived, we had to take a taxi to our hostel called "Big Johns". It was run by an Australian and he was a very nice and helpful guy. Before we got there, he emailed us what to say to the Taxi driver in Thai to get us to the hostel. Thai looks like scribbly Chinese characters, so he had to write out the sounds in English.
What can I say...I'm an amazing picture taker!
Kevin started reading it to the Taxi driver who responded by speaking to him in Thai! None of us knew what he was saying, and he caught on when we all started laughing! Remarkably, we made it! Three other guys from our trip were staying at the same hostel and had arrived earlier. They took us to a restaurant they found called "noodi" which had very good Thai food!
The next morning, we went to see the Grand Palace! We took the SkyTrain to the river and then a boat to the palace. The Grand Palace was built in the 1700s when Bangkok was made the capital of Thailand. The King still lives there today! It was absolutely GEORGIOUS! There was a huge Buddhist temple in the center, and it was surrounded by several other buildings.
Katie, Christine and I on the boat!
We were able to go inside the temple and I have never seen anything more detailed in my whole life! It was about a 2-story high golden shrine to a little Buddha sitting on top. They change his outfit for each season! There were little jewels all over it and the walls were painted with different scenes. I don't really understand how such a poor country can have such a beautiful golden palace.
That evening, when we went back to our hostel before dinner, we met a guy named James Jacob from England. He was 19 years old and backpacking around Thailand all by himself! When we first met him, he said that he was from Texas! haha...I told him I knew he was lying. He was an amazing BSer-he tried to convince Katie and I that he was a sochronized swimmer! We invited him to dinner with us, and he proved to be quite a character! I asked him to do an American accent, and he went on for about five min in the deepest southern accent about gettin' his shotgun to shoot the aliens.
Close up of the detail in the Grand Palace
It was hillarious! He said that when most people imitate Americans they use a southern accent because it is the easiest. He told us that he thought the Queen was an amazing woman and even said "God save the Queen!" The dinner was Thai seafood...you know it had to be good if I liked it! ;-)
The next day, we hired an English speaking guide, named Joey, for 60 American dollars to take us on a tour to Kanchanaburi
. He picked us up at 6:30 in the morning and drove us around in a van. First, we went to a floating market! It was on a river and we just hoped in a boat and were rowed around. I bought a beautiful handmade vase! You had to bargin with the people.
Awesome picture of a merchant at the floating market!
..we all got some really great deals! They would type in a calculator how much they wanted, and you would type back in what you wanted to pay. My vase was supposed to be 700 Bhat, but I got it for 250! We spent about an hour there, then we went to a place where they hand carved wood to make furniture and artwork to hang in your home. It was incredible the detail the people put into it. Mostly it was carvings of the jungle or elephants. Joey then took us for lunch (which was included in our 60 dollars)!
Next we went to the Bridge over the River Kwai!!! They had a small museum saying how it was built by Japanese prisoners of war during WWII and was bombed by the Allies. The Japanese made the people work night and day and though bombings and many died.
The bridge was used to move Japanese supplies. The scenery was breathtaking. It was so hard to imagine that there could be so much suffering in such a beautiful place.
After that...we road on ELEPHANTS for about an hour though a jungle and INTO the River Kwai!!! It was so amazing! Katie and I shared an elephant! We had a guide sitting on its neck and we were on a chair-like contraption on its back. It was really wobbly, but so much fun! The whole time I was just thinking how I couldn't believe I was on an elephant in the middle of the jungle in Thailand next to Katie Buckler, and my parents had no idea I was doing that! haha. We went though a small village where people were literally living in grass huts.
There were little kids running around, most barely wearing anything. I thought that it was sad at first, but they all seemed very content and even happy. It only proves how little you need in life to be happy.
As soon as we got off the elephants, Joey took us BAMBOO RAFTING down the River Kwai! There were only a few small rapids, so we ended up swimming most of the way. It was absolutely amazing! The water was very clean and I can't even describe how gorgeous it was! Unfortunately, there are no pictures of this because no one wanted to ruin their camera. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity!
We got back to the hostel around 8:30 that night, and after such an incredible day, we were all really worn out.
The Bridge over the River Kwai
Big John suggested a massage place for us to try, so we went and got hour long Thai massages for only 200 bhat-less than 6 US dollars! It was the best massage I have ever had! They put all five of us in the same room together and we were on mattresses on the ground. They would contort your body in all kinds of strange positions, and swing your around, but it felt really good! At one time, I looked up and Katie's lady was walking on her back and Christine was being pulled up by her arms from behind! I'm pretty sure that my lady walked on my feet! In the beginning, we couldn't stop laughing, but after we calmed down, it was amazing.
I have to say, that was quite possibly the best day of my life.
The next morning we went to the largest weekend market in the world.
Katie and I on an Elephant!
They had everything there from clothes and jewelry to food and pets! It was crazy! Katie and I decided that we obviously needed some "king" shirts...so we bought two for 100 bhat! I also found some really pretty earrings for only 20 bhat! Thats less than a dollar! We saw the pets and it was really sad because they were all jammed into really tiny cages. There were probably about a hundred puppies...all incredibly cute, but with no room to move. Sadly, we couldn't spend much time there because we had to catch our flight home.
It was such an amazing trip! It really changed the way I see things and I can't even describe how I felt afterwards. I've always loved traveling...but now I really want to see the entire world!