Thailand, Part 1: Bangkok and Chiang Mai
Trip Start Jan 12, 2008
15Trip End May 10, 2008
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Seems as if Thailand and Christchurch have gotten the best of me. Since I've been back in New Zealand I have hardly touch my computer. So here's my little update on life and the two week vacation I took in September.
I'm back in Christchurch now, trying to make back the money I spent in Thailand. oops. well spent though. Seems like I can't get away from those Irish pubs. I'm now working at a different one from before, called Sullivans. For once in my life I'm not doing table service, no food orders, yay! Basically just working behind the bar which is good fun most of the time.
I'm also working 10 hours a week in exchange for rent for my roomate Kurt, (photographer) doing graphic design work and dropping off leaflets around town. The leaflet dropping has been a great way to see the city and since he's sending me to the more "well-to-do" neighborhoods, I'm getting to see some gorgeous houses. The houses here are a bit different than back home. All very original looking. Most don't have lawns, just gardens of bushes, flowering trees, and sprawling plants. Each house is surrounded by a fence unlike how ours are usually just separated by a driveway.
Okay well Christchurch is boring to me right now. I'm over it. (maybe you can tell with my quick, lack of writing about the above subject)....Just waiting to get to Australia in December! Although I do make time to do fun things here and there. Last week I tried surfing for the first time and then a couple days later went snow skiing up in the mountains. Will throw some pictures on here later about that.
Okay on to Thailand!!!!
First of all, it took me awhile to get there. My flight from Chicago to Narita Japan was delayed thus causing me to miss my flight from Japan to Bangkok. I was put up in a hotel at the airport in Narita because the next flight out wasn't until the next day. So that was an experience in itself. All alone in Japan, what do I do?! Well you watch some Japanese television and try to figure out the Japanese vending machines. I had a good rest and was off the next morning.
Touched down in Bangkok. It is a FAST-PACED outta-control city. People say you either love it or hate it. Well, I decided in the first 10 minutes of being their that I hated it. But then again, hate's a pretty strong word, maybe there's a small part of me that actually found it quite intriguing. But anyways, my first 20 minutes of Bangkok were spent in the backseat of a taxi with a non-english speaking driver, sliding around without the option of a seatbelt. The man, and well, everybody else on the 6-lane road were swerving in and out of the speeding traffic with no signal to warn. I actually know what a proper high-speed chase would be like thanks to Bangkok. All I could do was say my prayers and hope the guy got the address right. To add to the madness, motorbikes accounted for a third of the traffic and evidently it is completely normal to fit an entire family on one little moped. Helmet-less baby and all. No exaggerations people!
Well I ended up getting dropped off at the intended address. I was to be meeting Anca at Heidi and Matt's Apartment, an American couple (family of a friend) who offered to let us stay with them. I paid my taxi driver and then walked to the building he pointed at.
Yep, definitely NOT the right one. Let's get a visual for you:
So here I am, standing on the side of a packed, busy, slow moving, one way traffic road that looks like an alley with a neon orange backpack on my back...(mind you, this thing can easily hold a five-year-old, and that's about how heavy it was) and then a regular backpack hung on my front with my purse slung over my shoulder. The air was just thick with humidity and the temperature around 85 degrees. (felt like 100) I had to keep moving around just so I wouldn't tip over. What the hell am I supposed to do now? Go from building to building like this? Everyone is staring at the blonde American white girl right now and it's not funny. And then, believe it or not, like straight out of the movies, I realize I am 30 feet from a payphone. But not just any payphone-- this is a beat up, graffitied, broken-looking, FOREIGN phone.
And so before panic can settle in too much, I pack myself and my bags into the sauna room, grab whatever Thai change I had from the airport and start feeding it coins as if it's a slot machine. (I need to win big). On my second try, believe it or not, I got ahold of Heidi!
She sent Anca out to greet me and we had our big reunion right there in the chaos of Bangkok. :)
So moving on: We spent that night and the next day in Bangkok. We took the sky-train to get places, so saw a bit of the city that way. We got manicures and pedicures and went shopping at a MASSIVE mall where everything is cheap as chips. We bought our fruit breakfast at a market and ate a nasty lunch on the street from boiling kettles. For dinner we met up with Heidi and Matt and ate at a Lebanese restaurant.
Bangkok: seen it. done. don't want to go back.
We bought our tickets for Chiang Mai and flew out the next morning.
I've tried uploading photos from around Bangkok, but for some reason some of them became corrupted in the process.
So moving onto Chiang Mai, much more interesting anyways.
Chiang Mai is large, but not as modern as Bangkok. There is much more culture, it seems older, poorer. There are massive markets everywhere and not a shopping mall in site. A river runs through it and there are temples everywhere. We take a taxi to the center and walk around to find a backpackers hostel. We end up getting a room with two double beds for about $12 a night. Not luxury, but you won't find that here. It's homey and friendly, kind of clean, and all you need.
Our main mode of transportation for the next 4 days is "tuk tuks". Little motorized three-wheeled vehicles with room for 2 passengers. Same idea as a taxi, but much more fun! You're in the open air cruising along feeling, well, a bit like western royalty to say the least...
The first day we walked around the city a bit and found a great English Pub owned by an English man who married a Thai woman. They were both so friendly, we felt like we had a place we could call "home" for the time we were there. She cooked us amazing thai meals and we all exchanged jokes, laughs and stories. I think we ate there every day!
That night we went to the zoo to check out their "Night Safari", one of the three largest in the world. The park is massive and open, the animals are out in the open with each other, deer with the lions, giraffes with the alligators. We rode a tram through it and spotlights pointed out the animals.
In the main entrance workers were walking around with young elephants. We fed them bananas and petted them. Later on Anca and I ordered fruit at a stand and one of the elephants came straight up to me and tried to take it out of my hand! It's cool to be in a country where there are not as many restrictions on things. They're not as guarded as western cultures, you can't sue people here!
I'm getting a bit winded and this is getting quite long so I will continue in the near future!
Happy Halloween folks! Miss you!