A Travellerspoint blog

Thailand

Last Days in Bangkok

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After four days, Bangkok was actually beginning to feel slightly more manageable. We are falling into some travel routines and feeling really comfortable with our hotel. We've taken more taxis in the last few days than we have in all our lives. Most taxi rides are around $3.

We started our Monday at Kidzania. We walked through three mega malls to finally find the place up on the top corner of Siam Paragon. Mall culture is really a thing here. DH had some time to himself in the malls and took a few pictures.

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Meanwhile, the kids and I had quite a day at Kidzania. Kidzania is an entire city set up and run by kids. They receive their own currency to spend at various stores and can earn money doing jobs around the town. The kids earned money as newscasters, fashion models, parcel delivery people, soccer players, and more jobs that I'm forgetting. They could spend their money getting nails done, bottling Coke, learning how to make sushi, rock climbing, etc... They loved it! We were there for hours and hours. Kidzania has several locations in various countries, but none in the US. I was impressed with the concept and found the employees friendly and helpful. It was well worth the somewhat steep admission fee.

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After our relaxing day indoors, I was able to ditch my family to meet up again with my friend Pen. What a great evening we had! We caught up for hours at a swanky place called Long Table where we had the most amazing view over Bangkok. We watched a menacing storm come in and compared our memories about college and all that has happened since. I feel so lucky that we were able to reconnect after so many years! DH and the kids had a relaxing night at the hotel and enjoyed that great street food that we discovered the day before.

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On our last full day in Bangkok, we set out to the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm. It's the second snake farm of its kind (after one in Brazil) and is quite a full-scale operation run by the Red Cross. They do some serious research here and have created a great experience. None of us are big fans of snakes but couldn't pass up the opportunity to actually see a venon milking demonstration. No kidding! We saw an enormous number of snakes from all over. It doesn't make me particularly eager about hiking in Thailand.

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I'm still in awe at the traffic in Bangkok! Check out how the motorcycles weave their way in and out of the cars to get to the front of every red light.

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I have a lot to learn about Buddhism. These mini altars are absolutely everywhere in Bangkok. There are two just outside our hotel. People hang flowers, leave food or small valuables, or burn incense to build merit or good will.

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After the snake farm, we headed to the Jim Thompson house to see some traditional Thai architecture and learn a bit about the silk trade. The 40 minute tour was interesting and the jungle-like gardens were lovely. I think I got more out of this attraction than the rest of my family. (Big yawn award from the kids.)

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On the way back to the hotel, we found yet another mall area with a local chain restaurant called MK. It was actually quite good and affordable. (Around $12 for what we thought was a pretty nice lunch.)

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After our usual afternoon break for swimming and regrouping, we took two boats to a trendy riverside market area called Asiatique. Naturally, it was way bigger than we expected. There were countless restaurant and shopping choices. I could have spent all day there! DD#2 and I rode the huge ferris wheel (much like Seattle's Great Wheel) at sunset. We found a random Thai place for dinner, did a little shopping, and took a taxi ride home.

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Random: Poor DD#1 has awful swelling from mosquito bites. The rest of us haven't even noticed mosquitos in Bangkok! We have had to buy two pair of lightweight pants for the poor kid and visit a local pharmacy for some itch relief. She's a trooper!

In the morning, we will pack, and head to the airport to take a short flight up north to Chiang Mai. From there, we will head another 90 minutes north to Chiang Dao. It should be a completely different experience from Bangkok. I can hardly wait!

Posted by familyineurope 19:23 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Bangkok - we made it!

Culture-shock, wide-eyed, friendly. Where to begin...

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We made it to Bangkok! We flew EVA Air from Seattle. I was nervous about the 12+ hour flight to Taipei, Taiwan. Luckily, we all managed to sleep and it really wasn't so bad. We had a 3+ hour layover in Taipei where we waited for Starbucks to open, had a snack, and walked through the pristine airport. Most gates had a theme. There was a Hello Kitty gate, nature-themed gates, and we waited in a cinema-themed gate. We were impressed with the Taipei airport.

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We took a 777 to Bangkok which was another 3.5 hour flight. Meal service was fine and the flights were uneventful. Just what you want on a flight.

At the Bangkok airport, we got some baht and ordered a taxi into the city. The taxi ride was amazing! I don't know what I expected but the motorcycles weaving between cars, the aggressive taxi driving in the shoulder and in between lanes wasn't it. Wow! I think I could ride in a taxi all day and be entertained. (That all changed the next day when we learned about Bangkok traffic.)

Our hotel is down some narrow twisty roads (sois). Isanook Residence is perfect for us! We have 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 3 AC units, a kitchen (unnecessary except for storing beer and water in the fridge), and living room. The included breakfast has been great. We splurged on this place and are still paying about $100 per night.

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We walked down to the nearby 7-Eleven (they are everywhere in Bangkok) where we stocked up on water, snacks, and beer. We could quickly understand why Bangkok is known as the birthplace of street food. It is everywhere. You can't walk a block without someone selling something.

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The hotel offers a free tuk tuk or minivan to various places in the city. We took advantage and were dropped off at the MBK Center - a massive mall. It was pouring down rain at this point. After wandering a while, we crossed over to a fancier mall called Siam Paragon. I had read about the huge modern food court. We pre-paid for a card and each picked out something for dinner. I think my seafood soup was the best of all.

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After dinner, we finally found a taxi to take us back to our hotel in terrible traffic. Even a long taxi ride is around $3 including tip. This all seemed like enough for our first partial day in Bangkok. Definitely time to sleep. Zzzzzzz.

First Full Day in Bangkok

We woke up fairly early and enjoyed the breakfast buffet on the rooftop of our hotel. Lots of yummy choices including Dim Sum, which the girls loved. We took a taxi to Golden Mount - a wat (temple) on the top of a man-made hill. It was fun ringing various bells and gongs on the way up the 300+ stairs to get to the top.

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I haven't mentioned much about the heat. It is extremely hot as we expected. I feel like we came prepared with sunhats, sunscreen, cooling towels, and lightweight clothes. We've all had our moments but we seem to be handling it better than I expected.

After Golden Mount, we took a tuk-tuk to a few other wats. One had the tallest Buddha in Bangkok, the lucky Buddha, and the marble Buddha. That's a lot of Buddhas. The tuk-tuk ride was exciting! I won't go into details, but despite reading about the tourist scams in Bangkok, we fell right into one of the infamous tuk-tuk scams. After being dropped at a tailor to buy a suit (no, we didn't buy a suit!) we realized what was going on and ditched the tuk-tuk.

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We were on our feet for quite a while and finally found the amulet market that the kids had heard about. They wanted to buy amulets for their friends. We were getting cranky by this point and finally found a quiet air-conditioned coffee shop for refreshing smoothies. The kids were were good sports through most of this eventful morning.

We found ourselves in Chinatown near lunch time. The street food scene was incredible! We had our sights set on Indian food for lunch. Yum! After lunch, we found ourselves a taxi and headed back to the hotel for a much-needed swim.

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We were so fortunate to be invited to dinner with my old college friend Pen and her mother. They selected an incredible Thai restaurant in the Sukhumvit neighborhood. We took the subway and skytrain to get there. There were so many people and lines! We were very late but it was so wonderful to reconnect after 20 years. Pen looked exactly the same and we enjoyed a long and delicious meal. Some of the best Thai food ever! I am planning to meet up with Pen once more before leaving Bangkok.

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What a first day! We were exhausted by the end of it all.

Day Two - Chatuchuk Market

We got a later start today and decided to brave the huge Chatuchuk Market. It was a nearly 30 minute subway ride away. At least the subway in Bangkok is relatively new and air-conditioned. We had a great time wandering the huge market buying shoes and other nifty goodies to take home. One highlight was the coconut ice cream that everyone seemed to be eating. Yum! We found another mall nearby (malls are everywhere!) where we found another food court with limitless choices. DH and the kids had sushi and I had papaya salad. We spent about $7 on lunch.

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We even saw some traditional Thai dancers after lunch.

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The market was hot and tiring. I could have spent the entire day there but I could tell everyone else was ready for a break. We took the same subway back for a little afternoon relaxation. DH fell asleep while the girls swam and I worked on this blog. While at the pool, a woman actually recognized me. She asked if I shopped at Trader Joe's back home. No kidding! Once she said that, I recognized her as one of the friendly checkers at our local TJs. The world is huge and the world is small. Go figure.

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All of a sudden, it is 6:30pm and we have lost the drive to do much of anything. The rooftop restaurant is looking appealing! We had an easy dinner at the hotel restaurant and called it a night. Bring on more of Bangkok tomorrow!

Posted by familyineurope 07:39 Archived in Thailand Comments (9)

Family in Europe goes to Thailand!

We leave in a month for a month! First trip to Asia.

Countdown to big trip begins.

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Our family of four is excited for our next adventure to a new continent. Our kids have grown (ages 9 & 11) and have many travel opinions of their own. We picked Thailand for many reasons.

  • It's known as "The Land of Smiles".
  • The food is amazing!
  • We have researched a broad range activities ranging from historical and religious sites to zip-lining and waterparks.
  • Once we take the ridiculously long flight there, it will be affordable. Even the massages. Yes!
  • Thailand seems to have a good tourist infrastructure that is calling us!
  • Quite simply, Thailand has been on my list for years.

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So what are we going to do there?

Here's a quick glimpse at our itinerary:

Days 1-7 - Bangkok. Explore the city's many wats, markets, neighborhoods, a couple of museums, and a few recommended kid-friendly attractions. I have two friends who live in Bangkok so I hope to reconnect.

Days 7-10 -Chiang Dao. We will fly to Chiang Mai and make our way an hour north to the small village of Chiang Mai. There we will escape the city and have a totally different experience staying in our own bungalow near one of Thailand's largest mountains.

Days 10-16 - Chiang Mai. I am most excited for this part of the trip! While in Chiang Mai, we will spend a day at Elephant Nature Park, zip-lining amongst the gibbons, and taking a all-day cooking course, and staying within the old city. I have read many great things about the vibe of this town!

Days 16-19 - Sukhothai. We will take a bus 6-7 hours south to this small historic town to see the ruins of old Thailand.

Days 19-21 - Ayuthaya. Again, we will bus or train another 5-6 hours to another historic town not far from Bangkok. We are staying at an inn surrounded by a moat!

Days 21-27 - Hua Hin. We will travel another 3-4 hours south to this beach town where we will take a vacation from our vacation.

Days 27-28 - Bangkok. One last hurrah in Bangkok before flying home.

It has been particularly fun researching hotels, guest houses and airbnb options for this trip. The prices are so affordable compared to our trips to Europe. I am excited to stay in two bedroom apartments where we will have room to spread out. We are not luxury travelers and have selected accommodations that fall between $50-100 USD per night. All places have AC, private bathrooms, wifi, and most have swimming pools.

My biggest worries about this trip:

  • The heat. Hands down, this worries me the most. We are from Oregon and needless to say, Thailand's sticky, hot, and humid temperatures will be shocking. I hope we adjust to this with minimal whining.
  • Staying healthy. We visited a local travel doctor where we made sure we were up to date with vaccines. I still worry about mosquitos, tummy bugs, mean feral dogs, and staying hydrated. I am packing more healthcare supplies than usual.
  • As always, I worry about my family having fun. We are travelling at a fairly slow pace on this trip with long stays in several locations. I just hope we find activities for everyone. After a busy school year, I most look forward to whisking my family away where we can have quality time together.

Stay tuned as we bring the blog back to life and go on another adventure. We are very excited!
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Posted by familyineurope 20:21 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

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