Monday, December 14, 2009

It all started with one night in Bangkok....

Since I've been remiss in posting pictures from our most recent 3 country (Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam) trip, I'm going to do my best to get this post done as quickly as possible. Keep in mind, we have hundreds of photos (yes, we really do take A LOT of photos) so instead of boring you to bits, I'm just going to pick a few of my fave photos for the sake of this post. Here it goes!

Over the Thanksgiving break, Kev and I flew to Bangkok, Thailand to kick off our travels. We flew from Naha airport into Taipei, and then took a flight from Taipei to Bangkok. Unfortunately by the time we landed in Bangkok, it was well after 10pm so we didn't get to see much as our taxi drove us to our hotel (The Landmark). So on our first night of Bangkok, we crashed....

The next day, we got up early to take advantage of the delish breakfast provided to us by the hotel and took the train to visit some of the sites, including the Grand Palace, home to the Emerald Buddha and Wat Pho, site of the world's largest reclining Buddha.

Upon riding the train, we hopped onto a ferry. Then we saw it...the Grand Palace. Grand, doesn't really describe it.

The Grand Palace is grand and then some. It is also one of Bangkok's more popular tourist destinations, serving as the home of the Thai king for over 150 years. The current Thai king no longer lives here, but still, there are many gold gilded temples and pagodas, showing off the king's wealth and affluence.

With beautiful architecture and marvelous Thai statues, the Grand Palace complex actually houses several impressive buildings including the Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), which contains the small, albeit very famous Emerald Buddha that dates back to the 14th century. The Emerald Buddha is so revered by the Thai people, that photographs are not allowed. One interesting fact I learned while visiting the Emerald Buddha is that the robes that he wears change with the weather. He wears one robe during the summer, another in the winter, and even has a special robe for when it rains. Look closely at the pic below, perhaps you can make him out!

Since the Palace is still used for official ceremonies, there are Thai guards. Kevin noticed their weapons were unloaded though....Funny....

After the Grand Palace, we headed to Wat Pho, a Buddhist temple which is also home to the giant reclining Buddha and a Thai massage school. However, on our way to Wat Pho, we stopped at local Thai jeweler.

We saw these little gold piggies outside the store...

Then it was off to see the reclining Buddha.

While most visitors come to Wat Pho to see the Buddha, others come to get a Thai massage at the Thai massage school. Thai massage actually originated here and the massage school was the very first Thai massage school in Thailand. Eager to give it a go, both Kevin and I opted to get 30 minute Thai massages. Although a little painful (they use a lot of pressure and have you turn your body in odd, awkward positions), the massages were surprisingly cheap. It cost about $16 U.S. dollars for the two of us. Don't even ask what the conversion rate is between the Thai bhat and the U.S. dollar....

That night we ate at a great Thai restaurant recommended by one of our guidebooks--Baan Khanitha. Popular with Westerners and set in an old Thai house, I was a bit surprised at how spicy our food was. Kevin loved it, but for me, it was a bit too much even despite my efforts to keep everything "mild." Note to self: If a Thai person tells you something's not spicy, don't believe it....

The next day, we had made plans with a driver (Julie's Taxi Tours) to take a day trip out of the city. Our driver came to pick us up at our hotel and drove us about 2 hours outside of Bangkok to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Here, we boarded flat, wooden boats to take part of a daily market only open during the hours of 6am to 12pm.

Designed to resemble the canals in Venice, the canals of Damnoen Saduak are a bit narrow, congested with many boats and vendors selling everything from fruit, noodles, soup, hats, and other Thai souvenirs. Although chaotic, it was a lot of fun to see all the colorful, noisy, vendors trying to grab our attention.

I got a kick watching the old ladies paddle their way through the throng of boats and people.

After a few hours at the floating market, our driver took us to the Rose Garden. I wasn't sure what to make of the place, but the gardens were certainly beautiful. Contrary to its name, the garden did not have roses, instead they had orchids. Many different varieties and colors of orchids.

After a short walk in the garden, we ate lunch at a Thai buffet restaurant. I lucked out and was able to eat my very first fresh rambutan. Similar to lychees, rambutans can easily be found in SE Asia.

For those of you who know me well, may recall that I enjoy eating dried rambutan available at Trader Joe's. Although I like the dried variety, fresh rambutan is definitely much better! For a bit more information about rambutans, click here.

Once we finished lunch, we walked around a bit and later got the chance to see some Asian elephants before watching a Thai cultural show.

Bothered a bit by the elephants (I felt a bit sorry for them), we sat down to watch a Thai cultural show complete with traditional Thai dances. The show was entertaining, and gave Kevin and I the opportunity to see Thai traditional and cultural traditions.

This is the famous Thai "fingernail" dance.

With two full days in Bangkok, we got ready for the second leg of our trip: Cambodia!

Stay tuned for our adventures in Siem Reap, Cambodia visiting Angkor Wat!

More to come on that later.

Travel on!


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