Thailand Part 1

Trip Start Aug 21, 2007
Trip End Jun 2008

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Well, somehow 24 days has passed since we arrived in Thailand, and we haven't had a chance to update our ever-expanding travel blog, which by the end could probably be a full-length book due to me being so long-winded! 

We started our time in Thailand in Bangkok, the other city (besides NY) that never sleeps.  Ever.  Shops are open all through the night, both tourists and locals stay up late, and then get up early- there is always something to do, somewhere to eat, no matter what time of day or not. 

While in Bangkok, we got a much-needed dose of family, as my Uncle Den, Aunt Nelda, Uncle Neil, and Auntie Val were in Bangkok as part of there 3 week South East Asia adventure.  It was great to meet up with them, almost surreal to visit with them half way around the world.  We had some great meals, a few drinks, took a ride on a longboat down the river of Bangkok, and also road the monorail around the city.  Our second day with them was even better, as they kindly took us with them on a guided tour to the floating market outside of Bangkok, as well as Kanchanaburi, where we saw the River Kwai/Death Railway, and also visited the Tiger Temple.  We capped off this amazing day with a wonderful meal at an Italian restaurant close by to where we were staying. 

Next, we took a 16 hour bus ride to Krabi, which is located in Southern Thailand.  Krabi is surrounded by limestone cliffs, and odd lookings karsts that  stick out of the water, sometimes as high as 100 feet.  The surrounding islands were beautiful- we spent one day on Pranang Cave beach, and one day doing a snorkelling tour of 4 other close islands.  IT was while in Krabi that we discovered our two favourite foods here in Thailand- green papaya salad, and coconut shakes!  When we weren't at the beach, we just wandered the streets, trying various foods and observing the locals, who are always quite interesting to say the least.

A highlight of KRabi was visiting the Emerald Pool and hot waterfalls, of which we have uploaded some pics.  Some of the most beautiful places we have seen so far......

From Krabi, we boarded the bus once again, and thankfully this time the trip back to Bangkok was only about 12 hours.  Unfortunately, we arrived at 5:30 am, and were unable to check in to our hostel until 12.  Definitely not good when you don't get more than 10 minutes of sleep on the bus.  We were only back in Bankgok for one night, but this time we stayed near the infamous Khao San Road, which more than lives up to its reputation when you experience it in person. 

We next went to Kanchanaburi for 3 nights, which is about 2 hours west of Bangkok.  For some reason, we decided to walk the 1 km from the bus station to our guesthouse in the plus 30 heat.  Sadly, 1 kilometer turned into 4 or 5 kilometers, at which point I began carrying Bonnie's pack as well as my own.  Thankfully, God himself, in the form of a Swedish guy named Antoine, who now lives in Thailand, approached us and said: " You guys need a beer.  Wait here."  He went to get some beer and pizza, and then took us to his home, where we met his girlfriend Nenne, and there adorable daughter Boo Boo (her Thai nickname).  We proceeded to spend the next 3 days with them and plan on going back to Kanchanaburi in February to see them again.  That is the thing about travelling- people are always so generous and friendly.  With the Swedes, we went to Erawan falls- I know I keep saying this about everywhere, but Erawan falls is definitely the most beautiful place I have ever seen.  If you have an idea of paradise in your mind, Erawan Falls would probably surpass it.  It is 7 tiers of turquoise water, and you can swim in the freezing cold water.  Only one problem- the fish which nibble at your feet!  Ouch!  While in Kan., there were many celebrations and fireworks to remember the 120,000 soldiers and civilians who died building the River Kwai bridge and Death Railway during WW2.  We stayed on a really cool floating river house that had a view of the bridge. 

From Kanchanaburi, we travelled back to Bangkok, waited around all day, and then boarded the night train, a 16 hour ride to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.  I'm still qutie traumatized, but to make it a short story, shortly after falling asleep, I felt something move across my forehead, opened my eyes, and found a cochroach right on my eye.  I didn't sleep another minute the whole night, which meant that our first day in CM was a complete write off.  After sleeping most of the first day, we explored CM by foot and bicycle.  Awesome city, the friendliest local people we have met in Thailand, and just an all around laid back vibe, except for the massive, crowded night market.  The night market had so many amazing things to buy, but was so crowded that you could only walk about 1 meter every minute- this is the Asia that I always pictured, crowded, loud, exhausting.  Thankfully, most of the time it is nothing like that.

After three days in CM eating great food (what else is there in Thailand?), we went to the Elephant Nature Park, which I will write about in a separate blog.  Here, we got to spend time with these incredible creatures, as well as meet some great people.  We hung out with two Germans, Chris and Denise, and also four Americans, Jason, Briana, Rory, and Vanessa.  We also befriended our tour guide, a 23 year old Thai guy named Mammoth, who is probably one of the funniest and most genuinely nice people we have come across in our travels.  The people we have met during our travels continue to enrich our experiences in every country we go to; we feel very fortunate to meet so many great people from around the world. 

After we left the Elephant Nature Park, we joined up with our friends we had met there for dinner in CM, and had a great time just visiting, and enjoying each others company.  It was quite a mix to have a few Germans, Americans, Canadians, and a Thai, and it made for one of the most memorable nights so far. 

As the holiday season grows near, we would like to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone we love back home and to those we have met during our travels. 
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