We’ve made it to Thailand! If you’re just joining us here at PDB, please forgive the quick travel diversion from the usual decor-related posts… Kevin and I have really enjoyed sharing a bit of our 3 1/2 week adventure with you and we have just one more stop before heading home. And so here we are in Thailand!
I’ve broken Thailand into two quick posts — Bangkok and Chiang Mai — because they are SO different and there was so much to do and see in this beautiful and unique culture and land.
From exploring the craziest street markets to tasting a rather different culinary cuisine…
We have attempted to indulge in as much Thai as possible in just one short week. Kevin was a bit more courageous than I and enjoyed more street food than he could possibly handle. He has a stomach for the unusual, to say the least, and by a huge answer to prayer had no ‘alternate side effects’ to derail our plans, *wink wink*.
Above and beyond the stunning temples, one of my favorite Bangkok adventures included a chartered tour (see boat that somewhat resembles a gondola below) of Bangkok’s side rivers. By chartered I mean we found a fellow with a long-tail boat and asked him kindly (with Thai $) to take us for a spin. Since the big city is situated around a large thoroughfare known as Chao Phraya, much of transportation relies on river boats, water taxis and the like. It’s a good thing to – because the streets of Bangkok are so ladled down with cars and tuk tuks that getting from point A to B can take hours.
This short cruise allowed us to take in the whole of Bangkok in a very different light, down the ‘back alleys’ if you will, where we stepped off of the busy roads and into the quite of the neighborhoods.
Another method of transportation is the tuk-tuk (not for the faint of heart). These little motorcycle/cart zooms in and out, up and down, through and against all forms of traffic, pedestrians and other road hazards. They’re illegal in most countries, but frankly to see any bit of Bangkok on a schedule, they are most mandatory. There were moments when we feared for our lives.
Wat Pho must be one of the most famous temples in Bangkok; it houses a stunning gold reclining Buddha that is at least 50 yards long and three stories high and is said to be the birth place of Thai massage.
While wandering through some of the most beautiful ‘chedis’ and shrines of the land, one particular tradition has really resonated – Thais very much honor their faith through regular personal offerings. Thais bring flower upon soon-to-bloom flower as a special thank you or good-will gesture to their most revered shrines (see baskets below), they light incense and candles in honor of prayers or relatives, they rub gold leaf flakes on a gleaming Buddha (thereby helping to preserve and keep up the shrine as well as touch and honor their statue) and they decorate their sanctuary with strands of yellow marigolds. It is a pious honor to watch such thoughtful gestures being carried through.
Note: it’s easy to be an annoying tourist in the religious temples of the locals, it’s even harder to be considerate of their place of worship (there’s a requirement to cover up your knees and take off your shoes, it’s crowded and uncomfortable, and of course the flash of your camera is a bit distracting). In the end, it’s truly an undeserved privilege to visit among kneeling worshipers and orange-clad monks to experience these beautiful places.
The last night we were in Bangkok we indulged in one not-so-reverent authentic Thai experience: a Muay Thai kickboxing match at the local stadium. It was us and hundreds of shouting men yelling for their opponent, betting, and handing money down the lines when it came time to pay up. The hubby loved it — as a former kickboxer with a black belt (from a previous life, it feels like) I appreciated the skill and charisma.
We spent just two short days in Bangkok – but our most enriching experience was certainly Chiang Mai in the north. Soon to post on elephant baths, hill tribe villages, crawling through caves and Thai massage (ahh…).
Thanks for checking in on our adventure… take care!