As I get ready to embark on another adventure, it feels like an appropriate time to reflect some past travels. Also, since I haven’t posted in a while, I have a lot to talk about…
Last year I traveled to Asia for the first time (Yay! A new continent!). And, I have to admit, I never really had much desire to travel there, err, we’ll say it wasn’t high on my list. I would have made my way there eventually… But, the reason I went sooner rather than later is because my brother was getting married! No, not a destination wedding, but to a born and raised, beautiful Thai girl!
Days 1-3: Bangkok
Where we stayed:
This hotel is located within the Elephant Tower (yes, it resembles an elephant). It’s located on the Northeast side of the city so, not where you want to stay if you’re wanting to do a lot close to city center, but it was a great hotel for the price. It’s also really close to the Chatuchak Market, which we didn’t have time to visit, unfortunately. The staff at the hotel didn’t speak much English, but they were very helpful when we were able to communicate what we needed.
What we did:
Another first – a traditional Thai, Buddhist wedding! What an experience to travel from the Southern U-S of A to Northern Bangkok for something that would slim to none happen here. There were monks chanting, and traditional Thai music and dancers. So incredible, even though it was 7 a.m. and already 100 degrees… YIKES.
We ate delicious Thai food afterward, and that evening, took a dinner cruise along the river through the city. Again, great, but hot. Oh, so hot.
Since I met my sister-in-law, she had always told me about her “monkey town” she grew up in. So, of course, it was on my list of things to do while we were in Thailand. My brother drove us about 2 hours north of Bangkok to the little town of Lop Buri.
Driving into the center to see the temple ruins where the monkeys are was like stepping into the Jungle Book. They were everywhere! We fed them bananas and a few of them decided to get up-close and personal. These were some pretty hilarious encounters as we all reacted differently. My strategy was to stand as still as possible as one little guy latched onto my leg… twice!
Days 4-8: Phuket & Koh Phi Phi
This is where we did most of our adventurous things. Some of it, I may not totally recommend (as far as animal interactions go), but I did a lot of research to find places where they had good reviews and no history of mistreating any animals. Use your own, and good, judgement.
Where we stayed:
This was probably my favorite hotel the entire trip. It’s a bit hard to find as myself and taxi driver had to get out of the car and walk around a bit before we found it tucked back in a market. That aside, the staff was super friendly and helpful. The room was spacious enough for two people. It’s right across the street from the beach and along one of the main streets with restaurants, bars, spas, and markets.
I would say this resort was just okay. Koh Phi Phi is absolutely stunning with amazing views from anywhere on the bay, but this hotel was sub-par to what I was expecting. We paid (splurged) about $70 USD for a bungalow for one night that was huge and had a nice front porch, but I didn’t feel like I was getting my money’s worth and it was quite a walk from the pier. The pool area was great though!
Our last night in Phuket, we decided to switch it up and spend the night at Kata Beach instead of going back to Patong. It’s quieter than Patong for sure, but there were still a lot of people out on the beach at sunset (OMG THE SUNSETS) and parasailing from the beach. The hotel was in a good location. We had a room right by the pool and it was probably the largest room we had the whole time we were there.
What we did:
This is one of those things I’m semi-hesitant to write about. Sure, I got some cool pictures, and yes, the baby tigers are super cute, but there’s something about seeing these beautiful creatures locked up in small areas that got to me a bit. I guess, it’s not much different than the zoo, but something felt a little different here. Anyway, if this is on your list of things to do in Thailand, go in the morning. We went towards the end of the day and you could tell the cubs were kind of over it.
Again, the animal lover in me hesitates here, but the adventure lover in me can’t help but share this special experience. I mean, you get to hug an elephant!! These are some of my favorite animals (university affiliation aside), so this was an incredible moment for me to get so close! The tour guides and elephant handlers at Siam Safari were great and friendly, and you can tell they really love their elephants. We did a 30 minute trek which was just enough for me considering I was sliding off the seat from sweating so much (gross). We were taken along a path with incredible views and even got to hear one of the elephants blow his trunk!
I can honestly say that this is something else I would not do again, but the next time I find myself in Thailand, I will be going to an elephant sanctuary. Here, they are rescued and cared for, and you can help bathe and feed them! Hooray for good animal experiences!
Phuket is hands-down one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited, and one of the best days of this trip involved us taking a boat out into the middle of the sea and kayaking through caves in Hong Island. They pick you up from your hotel, feed you lunch on the boat, and then have a guide paddle you through the caves and around the lagoons. In some cases, the tide did not go down enough so we had to lie down in the canoe to get through the cave! Pretty incredible. We saw wild monkeys and plankton light up in the night waters. This experience was absolutely priceless.
Day 8: Back to Bangkok
We spent our last night in Bangkok in an area of the city called Sukhumvit which I read a lot about as a hot spot in the city. For $40 USD per night, the hotel we stayed at was as to be expected for the price, but the location was great.
That night, we met a couple friends from the States for dinner that happened to be in the city the same time we were. I would highly, highly recommend getting dinner at Vertigo Grill and Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel. We got there after dark, but the view and ambiance was still incredible. Be prepared to spend some $$$ here.
I can honestly say that Thailand may be my favorite place I’ve traveled in the 14 countries I’ve been to so far. The food was amazing, the people are so kind, and you will leave with memories to last a lifetime.
I heart Thailand.