First Stop, Bangkok
It was time. We finally arrived in Bangkok after our 23 hour journey. We treated ourselves to a hotel for the first two nights to recover from our jetlag, which we certainly needed. We stayed at the Lamphu Tree Hotel, which was a perfect. They had a great breakfast (that Shawn wasn't allergic to).
On day one, we hopped in our first of many Tuk Tuks, which is a three-wheeled taxi. The driver lead us to many Temples and we were very impressed by the bright colors and ornate designs. We then were taken to a "Thai Factory," which is where you can get a made to order silk suit for less than $150. This was exciting to see, but we definitely aren't in the market for suits at this time.
After we jumped back in the Tuk Tuk, our driver wanted to take us to another Thai Factory. We said "No, no. We aren't interested in buying a suit right now." The driver responded with "I'll just drop you off, I need to get gas." This man had been driving us around for the past two hours and was charging us 40 TBH ($1.25), so we agreed to browse the next factory.
After our excursion we realized Tuk Tuk drivers get gas from the factories and receive commission for any suits bought from their passengers. Day one, we realized we fell in the tourist trap. However, we had a great day and productively fought our jet lag. Unfortunatley, we weren't as strong once you returned to our hotel and fell asleep by 4pm.
On our second day, Monday afternoon, we met up with our friend Noah, who my lovely family friend Joanne connected us with. He was our main contact in the U.S. and answered all of our questions before we arrived. It was nice seeing a friendly face welcoming us to Thailand. Noah so kindly set up our phones with a Thai plan called True Mobile. We were happy to have data that quickly.
We met him in Chomchuri Square, which is a shopping mall that became our home base in Bangkok. Shawn and I both have never loved shopping in malls in the United States, but in Thailand, it seems to have become one of our favorite places. We had so much fun trying all the frozen drinks. Shawn loves his fruit smoothies and I enjoyed trying Matcha everything. One of my frozen Matcha drinks had cake on top of it instead of whipped cream! We also tried Matcha and charcoal ice cream. We were surprised by the charcoal, especially being the black color it was, but it was delicious! We went back the next day and had more.
We explored Lumpini Park with Noah, which was our first park in Thailand! Noah left us to explore and we were greeted by this wonderful man. He started by asking us where we were from and began listing all the states and capitals in the U.S. He continued listing them for the next three minutes and we were very entertained. He then started saying words in ten different languages. He said he was fluent in 50 languages and has been to 150 countries. He showed us his little notebook, which had the names and cities of everyone he's ever met. We happily signed our names and thanked him for inspiring us. We even saw him in passing the next day. We already felt at home and quite the act to follow.
After our park excursion, a kind lady approached us and asked us where we were from. She told us to go to a restaurant that had authentic Thai food, hailed us a Tuk Tuk, bargained with the driver for a cheaper price and sent us on our way. I had my first authentic Pad Thai and Shawn had the first chicken fried rice of his life (no fish sauce, he survived!) Long story short, talk to strangers in Thailand, talk to them all (sorry Mom).
The next day we checked out of our hotel and into our first hostel in Thailand. We stayed at Nappark, which was a great experience. In our room, we had two people from the same states we're from. Shawn even had a mutual friend with one of them. It truly is crazy how small the world is. That night it was the first of many torrentially downpouring nights, which left everyone to stay in the hostel. It was a great bonding evening and we were able to meet some amazing people.
We had to check into a different hostel the next night called Once Again Hostel, which we were very happy with due to the comfortable beds and individual curtains per bunk. That day we then discovered The Red Cross Snake Farm. I unfortunately, pointed out the sign to Shawn who then was so excited and made us go. We were able to see snakes from all around the world. I enjoyed seeing Shawn in his happy place as I followed behind trying to not get the snakes attention from outside the glass.
Shawn found out that there was a snake show and made us stay around for another hour to wait for it. We were amazed as the trainers handled poisonous snakes at ease. One trainer even got bit by one without venom, but didn't even flinch! After the show, we were allowed to hold a Burmese Python. At this moment I regretted the name of our blog. Shawn made me #growforthand hold a Burmese python. It wasn't as bad as I thought...but I'm not doing it again.
After our snake adventure, we went for our first Thai massage. We received an hour oil massage and an hour foot massage. Afterwards, Shawn was so relaxed that he said he fell asleep. I. however, was aware of every second of that massage. It was the equivalent of the hardest yoga class I've ever gone to! That woman stretched me in ways I didn't even know were possible. I felt amazing afterwards, but it was quite the experience.
The next day we went to Terminal 21, which is the largest mall in Thailand, to finally meet our friend Chat. I started speaking with her after she posted on the Backpacking Thailand group on Facebook saying she was from Thailand living in Bangkok and happy to answer anyone's questions. She was nice enough to write out Shawn's allergies in Thai. She suggested we go to the food court in Terminal 21 where they have authentic Thai food for unbelievably low prices.
We spent the rest of the day walking the mall with her and learned some Thai words. Chat is the best and we're so happy to have her as a great friend. If only she would move to Chiang Mai. Chat if you're reading this - this is your sign to move!
That same day my friends from home were arriving in Bangkok. They met us at the food court and we continued to enjoy the cheap food. Over the course of that entire day, all our food cost $15, which was 6 meals, 3 smoothies, water and many desserts. To say the least, we left that mall very fulfilled.
The next day, which was Thursday, we attempted to go to the Grand Palace. While we were walking down the street a local stopped us and asked us where we were going. In any other country, you might find this threatening and quickly walk away while clutching onto your belongings. However, in Thailand this is different. We told this woman we were headed to the Grand Palace and she said "No, no, no, not now!" She said "It's too busy now, go on a long tail boat first." She then put us in a Tuk Tuk, negotiated the price and sent us on our way. People in Thailand are incredible.
We rode a longtail boat on the river and were able to visit more temples. We arrived too late to go to the Grand Palace, but we went to Wat Pho instead. I was pleasantly surprised by Wat Pho. It was exciting to see the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. I was amazed by the intricate designs in the pyramids. It was such a pleasant experience and I would highly reccomend everyone visiting Bangkok to go see it. It was a quarter of the price of the Grand Palace. We know we'll make it to the Grand Palace on another trip to Bangkok.
That evening we headed to the infamous Khao San Road to experience the liquor buckets and street food. We drank our overpriced, watered down mojitos while Shawn made us eat bugs. We bought cricket, silk worm, a scorpion and a grasshopper. If it were up to me, we would have not eaten these bugs, but once again he used our blog title against us "#growforthand eat bugs." They were just crunchy, fried and burnt. The worst one was the silk worm, which was my choice because it was small, but it was actually not crunchy, which made it worse.
This leads us to Friday, our last day in Bangkok. I ate pad thai at the famous Thip Samai. The only option they had on their menu was shrimp pad thai, so poor Shawn had to watch as I devoured mine and added more peanuts to it. He ate scallions at this meal. He's a great sport.
Our overall impressions of Bangkok were that it was too crowded, there was crazy driving, and many strong smells. We knew we couldn't live there, but we enjoyed our six days in Bangkok. Our next stop was Chiang Mai, the city we wanted to live in. Stay tuned for the next post!