Coming from a Western country, when a hotel says "Continental breakfast" you know what to expect: maybe eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, yogurt, bread, jam, and cereal.
This is what "Continental Breakfast" looks like in Thailand. A little different but pretty good.
We decided to go to Koh Samet, a beach that is about 3.5 hours by bus from Bangkok. Thailand is known for its beaches and islands--particularly around Phuket and Karbi. (As seen on Seans season of the bachelor) I had already been to Phuket and it was much much cheaper for us to go somewhere closer rather than fly to Karbi.
The bus was pretty comfortable and air conditioned (and about $10 for a round trip)
The resort that we stayed at had a ferry service to the island
After the short ferry ride, we drove about 5 minutes through the "town" to our resort which was right on the beach
Fabulous beach resort!
The view from the bar/dining area
Sunset on the beach
Walking around town
Some "medicine" wine or tea?
The next day we did an island tour in a speed boat which was really nice because my mom wanted to snorkel and the other beach was so crowded (I think it was a Saturday or Sunday)
The beaches weren't as clean and beautiful as in Southern Thailand but it was still very beautiful and relaxing. On our boat we met a lot of poeple--none were from America. They laughed at me when I told them about the Superbowl and went on talking about Football (Soccer).
A guy on the boat found this snorkeling and felt the need to bring it on the boat--its extremely sharp!
Dinner--back to the oily stir-fried dishes
At night on the beach there were fire shows. There were a lot of bars and places to drink but not much socializing or dancing
The next day we just layed out on the beach all day. One of my friends from Shenzhen was in Koh Samet too so she layed out with us and then we had a nice dinner at the resort's restaurant.
I went with the Western food
Our time in Koh Samet went by wayyyy to quickly!
Next to Europeans, there were SOOOO many Chinese people on vacation for CNY. It interests me what they do when they come to the beach because in Chinese culture, being tan is seen as a bad thing; the whiter your skin the "higher class" you are (for this reason I have to be really careful when buying lotion or facial moisturizer because many are "whitening")
Ferry ride back to the bus
After a 3.5 hour bus ride, and a longgggg taxi ride we made it back to Bangkok. This time we stayed in a more "back packer" young person area which is near most of the tourist sights but kind of far away from the airports/metro/skytrain
We dropped out stuff of at our hotel and then found this Indian restaurant to eat at.
My mom had never had indian before so we ordered a sampler tray of chicken curry,
It came with freshly baked Naan bread, chicken curry, either a pear or piece of fried bread in syrup (the dessert of the day) Dal (lentils or chickpeas--there are many varieties I'm not sure which one we had), Raita (which is a yogurt dip, it was similar to the cucumber yogurt that is on Gyros), and then stewed vegetables (i don't know what this dish is called) and finally rice with vegetables and spices.
Overall it was good--different-but a little too spicy for me. They put different dipping sauces on our table--mint, a mango chutney, pickled mango and one more i can't remember.
Overall it was good and interesting to try everything. My favorite Indian dishes are chicken curry and a spinach dish with cottage cheese (sounds gross and it looks like green mush but its very savory and not too spicy)
The next morning we got up really early to go see the Temples or Watts of Thailand
There were street vendors everywhere. Popular breakfast: grilled bananas
We took a Tuk-Tuk to the first place--you realllllly have to bargain with these guys! They all work together and try to scam you.
First stop: Grand Palace. Scam #1--the driver dropped us off at a side entrance and told us it was closed for CNY. So we went to a pier on the river to go to a different Wat. At first they told us it would be a hugggge amount of baht to see this Wat as part of a tour. Finally we asked how much the boat at the station was--only 4 baht (which is 16 cents)
We crossed the river and found our way to the first Wat
The first Buddha of many! Once again because of Chinese New Years many people were getting blessings and making offerings to Buddha
We had to go through some back roads to get to the next Wat
All around Thailand there are pictures of the King
The Wats have strict rules about coming into a place of worship and your appearance. Once again it was so hot and humid but we had to wear pants and cover our shoulders
Wat Arun (The temple of Dawn) the motto is peacefulness--here people pray for a peaceful life. This temple contains the ashes of King Rama II
It was very ornate and different from the other Wats--there was no gold instead little pieces of China
A view of Bangkok from the top
Many highways or roads are lined with pictures of the King
Onto Wat Pho! The motto of Wat Pho is for success and fulfillness. It is known for the four pagodas that are surrounded by a white wall in "Sino-Thai" style (and of couse for the giant reclining Buddha!)
This Buddha was HUGE
The coolest part was getting to the end and seeing her feet
There are places to give offerings to Buddha everywhere. This is a money tree
And of course so many Buddhas
There was a school on a field trip. The uniforms were very different from China (which sometimes look like sweat pants) instead they wear a blouse and dress pants or long skirts.
Next up--The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (which is regarded as the most sacred temple in Thailand)
The dress code was especially strict here. They turned down a lot of people at the gate for leggings or sweat-soaked white shirts
There were soooooo many chinese tourist groups
Wat Phra Kaew was amazingly beautiful. So much gold decoration and detailing. The walls were all painted with beautiful scenes
Here is a woman retouching a painting
There is so much going on at this Wat that it is hard to get a picture that truly justifies the beauty of the place. I don't really feel like these pictures show what we were seeing.
Some Chinese influence
Sri Lankan influence
This is the building where the famous Emerald Buddha is--unfortunately there was a private ceremony so we did not get to see it
There is a mini model of Angkor Watt which used to be occupied by the Siamese people before it was colonized by France
This was my favorite structure--I love the purple!
This pastel "railing" seemed out of place and very preppy
There was a gate that did not let us enter--I believe this is where the King and Queen live
This is a building that holds the Kings' ashes and where ceremonies with the King take place
The landscaping and architecture is unbelievable.
After being kicked out at closing, we went into the Textile Muesum (which didn't allow photos) but was reallllllllly cool to see. Basically it showed the dresses and fashions of the Queen. In the 60's she did a tour all over Europe and America so it documented the preparation of the dresses and looks that she would wear--which has had a lasting impact on women's fashion in Thailand. The 7 looks that she wore are now iconic and remain a part of Thailand's fashion today. All made from Thailand silk
(the following day we flew out on Thai Airway and all of the flight attendants were wearing traditional Thai dress--so beautiful!)
Back to Koh San Road (where we stayed)
We did some shopping, mom got a foot massage, and of course some Pad Thai (which is amazing!)
The next morning we flew out realllllly early. We took a private mini bus to the airport for only 120 Baht each (which is about $5) the bus driver drove like a crazy person. It was 5 AM so there weren't many other cars on the road, but we would go over minor bumps on the highway and get air. We got to the airport really early and just hung out until our flight back to Hong Kong.
If you are ever traveling in Thailand I would recommend flying with Thai Air. The flight was amazing-they pride themselves on the food, which was a complete western breakfast with a personal TV set--very comfortable.
There are SO many things to do in Bangkok. It is definitely an international city and is a little crazy because there are so few Americans there--a lot of other Asians and Europeans. A few South Americans too.
I would love to travel back to Bangkok for a few days and then head up North to Chang Mai which is a lot more peaceful with beautiful scenery (I have heard)
But for now-back to Hong Kong!