Hey all! Warning: This post is going to be long. We recently got back from our trip to Thailand and instead of posting a bunch of albums of low quality photos on Facebook, we decided to do a couple blog posts where we walk you through our trip, show you some photos, and perhaps even give you some advice and tips in case you want to visit Thailand someday! We were abroad for two weeks so this post will focus on everything we did week 1, and we will publish what we did week 2 separately.
Alright. So Thailand is fricken far away. I hope you like sitting, and listening to babies cry, and smelling other peoples smells. Getting there alone takes over 24 hours. Of straight travel. Unless you are us and you get stuck in Chicago for an extra day causing you to miss the whole first day of your trip. Things were going smoothly. Too smoothly some might say. We got through our first of three flights with no hiccups. We boarded our second flight from Chicago to Tokyo with no delays. We flew about 4 hours towards the West coast when all of a sudden the pilot comes over the speaker saying “Surprise! We are flying back to Chicago.” (He didn’t actually say surprise, but he might as well have) Long story short, there was an electrical issue making us unable to cross the ocean, and the weather was bad all along the coast so we couldn’t land where we were. Therefore, our only option was to go all the way back to Chicago for the night. To summarize: Time in flight-8 hours. Distance traveled- 0 miles. It was annoying, and stressful. But eventually we made it to Thailand which is all that matters.
On the first day we were supposed to go to the floating markets. You know. The markets on the water where people sell things from boats? We were super excited about it. HOWEVER. Our travel delay caused us to miss this. Sad face. We moped for a little bit but then we went to the Grand Palace instead and it was worth every second.
This place was amazing. Very touristy, but also very beautiful. Gold everywhere. It is definitely worth the visit. We have never seen so much sparkly detail in one place before. But really, there will be a cluster of strangers in the background or random heads popping out of the bottom of every single photo you take. WHY.
^^^ Case and point.
After the Grand Palace we boarded a longtail boat and cruised down the canal.
For dinner that night we went to a classical dance show where they served us rice and a bunch of other things. We honestly just ate the rice. Picky eaters. There was a lot of curry happening, and apparently we hate curry. (Spoiler alert: We ate enough rice during this trip to feed the entire U.S population and half of England). Rice for breakfast. Rice for lunch. Rice for dinner. I didn’t end up bringing my camera to this so there aren’t any pictures.
This day was spent traveling to Phitsanulok. We stopped at Ayutthaya, which is an ancient city. We love a good ruin, so this place was really cool to see.
P.S- dogs everywhere in Thailand.
Then we traveled to Wat Pa Lelai, which is a sacred temple dating back 800 years.
At the end of the day we all took rickshaw rides to a night market. A rickshaw is a bike with a seat in the back for passengers. So, basically someone with really strong legs peddled us around for a while. Which I’m sure was actually really hard work considering the 75 pounds of rice inside each of us. The whole experience was really fun, and also really really horrifying. Anyone that has ever been to Thailand before knows that traffic rules apparently don’t exist. There are no lanes, turn signals are scarce, and in the cities traffic is terrible. ALL. THE. TIME. Basically, our bus rides every day were stressful AF. But we didn’t die. So hooray.
At this night market I am just going to lay it out there. We ate bugs.
We made the picture small so you wouldn’t be too grossed out. I just tried a small silk worm. And Lauren ate some other small bug. (The smallest least bug looking one she could find). Wasn’t terrible. Wouldn’t eat it again.
Day 3:Sukhothai Historical park
So this day we went to a historical park where we got bicycles to ride around and explore the ruins. I can’t tell you the last time we rode bikes. However, it was nice to use our legs for something other than sitting on a bus or an airplane. After the park we went to lunch. Surprise. We ate more rice. There were also french fries though. You could tell us Americans had arrived because the fry tray on the buffet line emptied out before anything else. And they never refilled them 🙁
After lunch we got back on the bus for another hundred million years and made our way to Chiang Mai. Once we arrived we went to visit a monk who talked to us about Buddhism and allowed us to ask him questions. Our monk was so nice. So adorable. So happy! We wanted to take him home with us for consultation whenever we need guidance. In all honesty we thoroughly enjoyed our time with him. He talked about how important it is to be a good person, and to not let the negative things in life take away from all the good things.
To end the night off we all got to ride in Tuk Tuks. These are small, terrifying, vehicles that zip through the streets taking people where they need to go. They literally just drive wherever there is space. They are small and just squeeze into wherever they want to be. It was fun. And scary. The Tuk Tuks drove us to the night market where we got to try a bunch of different fruits. This is also the place where I believe the best pineapple in the entire world resides. Maybe I was just hungry, but I got some pineapple here and it was the best pineapple i’ve ever had in my life. Pineapples in America just don’t taste the same.
OH, this is also the place where we ate this strange thing on a stick. We were hungry so we just got one from a vendor we walked by. It is actually pork but it tasted exactly like barbecue chicken. It was so good. We both went back and got like 2 more. So good. Street food can sometimes be risky, especially when travelling abroad, but we didn’t die. So, that’s good.
This day we all piled in the back of trucks where we were carted up a long, never-ending winding rode. We went up into the hills to the Doi Suthep Temple. This journey is not for the motion sick prone. EVENTUALLY, we got to the top and got a pretty great view of the whole city.
This place was also covered in stray dogs. We made sure to find each and every one so we could say hello.
Ok, here’s some pictures of the actual temple. And all of the tourists that never get out of the way.
This stuff is Thai iced tea. It is everywhere over there. It tastes nothing like American iced tea. We have no idea what it is or what’s in it, but its delicious and you should try one.
After the temple we went on to visit a Jade factory, a silverware factory (jewelry, not like forks and spoons), an umbrella factory and a silk factory. The umbrella factory was our favorite.
After an already long day, we ended the night with an authentic Muay Thai fight. Neither of us are particularly excited by the idea of watching 2 men beat the crap out of each other, but when in Thailand, you do as the Thai people do.
Elephant day! Today was elephant day! This was one of the main reasons we decided to book this trip, and honestly it was worth every penny. Elephants hold a special place in both of our hearts and being able to experience them so closely was life changing. We got to prepare their food, feed them, ride them, and get into the water and bathe them. There are a lot of places abroad that give elephant experiences and claim to be rescue centers, but a lot of them are not kind to the elephants, and use the elephants simply as a way to make a profit with tourists. At this sanctuary, however, it was clear that they really care about the animals and want to make sure that they are healthy and have a good life. If you are interested in Thailand, definitely check this place out. It was one of the best days of our lives.
We didn’t even care that we could barely walk the next day. Riding an elephant is a leg workout. Seriously. The sanctuary is called the Ran-Tong Save & Rescue Elephant Center.
If the elephants weren’t enough of a crowd pleaser, this place also had a bunch of puppies just running around. They were all puppies. No grown dogs in sight. It was a pleasant and amazing surprise.
For lunch we went to an Orchid farm. Because apparently those exist.
Finally, we went to the Akha Hill Tribe.
Things we learned week 1:
Bring toilet paper– A lot of bathrooms in Thailand don’t come with toilet paper. I ended up bringing some of my own and it saved us multiple times!
Bug Spray- Mosquitos in Thailand are no joke, especially at night. Make sure if you are planning a visit that you bring a strong one. Some of the bug bites we got were so big that I think they qualified as a separate person.
Use ATM’s– Thailand is mostly a cash country. Street vendors especially will only accept cash. So make sure you either exchange money at the airport before you arrive, or utilize ATM’s to get out the money you will need. ATM’s will charge you 200 baht as a service charge. This is about $6, so we recommend taking out large increments. HOWEVER, you have to withdraw in 1000 baht increments. This means the machine is going to give you nothing but 1000 baht bills. That is great and all, except most street vendors do not have change to give you if you want to buy something with a bill that large. (Also, it kind of makes you look like a douche when you barter with vendors to get something for the cheapest price possible, and then you hand them 1000. Just saying) We ended up going to 7/11 a lot to buy candy in order to get smaller bills.
Stuff is so cheap (AKA- BUY ALL THE THINGS!)- We heard from many people that Thailand is inexpensive. They were not kidding. $1 equals about 35 Thai baht. Once you get past the expensive plane ticket, the rest is very affordable. You can get a decent meal for around $5 and if you hunt around you can even find food for around $2. This is the same for souvenirs. It is easy to get caught up in the low prices and end up just buying everything. For example. You might find some cute little change purses for 10 baht each. Roughly $0.28. So you buy 10 of them.For no reason other than the fact that they were 28 cents…That’s a true story.
No cheese- Seriously. No cheese in Thailand. Anywhere. You might find a small slab of cheese on a very very overdone hamburger, but that is as close to a dairy product as you are going to get. You will begin to miss cheese more than you ever thought you could. Even if you don’t really care for cheese, you will want it. But really, where da cheese at?
Beware of seafood on the street- There are night markets pretty much everywhere in Thailand. They are filled with all sorts of food that you can buy. We would just advise that you think twice before eating any seafood from the street vendors. Mostly just because these vendors sit outside for hours with raw food sitting out waiting to be cooked. It is usually sitting on ice, but it is still very hot in Thailand at all times. Trusting the seafood could be a bad idea. OR, it could be fine and delicious and you wouldn’t die. Personally, we were very afraid of food poisoning, so we chose not to risk it.
That is all for now! We will post about week 2 shortly!