When we started our journey, we didn’t plan on traveling to Thailand. In fact, we bought a ticket to Australia as an exit plan since we needed to leave New Zealand after 3 months. One of the benefits to not having a solid plan for this trip is being able to adapt and add new locations to the itinerary. After we found out a friend would be in Thailand – it seemed like the stars aligned and pointed us towards the lovely country. It also helped that flights from Australia were only 10 hours as opposed to the 30 hour flights from the US.
Our flight out of Australia was much easier than our flight into Australia. No problems with visas – no extra luggage fees. The only problem – we had to sit on the plane for an extra hour or so due to some extra weight in the cargo. A long flight later – we arrived in Bangkok.
We rented an apartment off AirBNB. The owners are a very nice couple who gave us directions to give to the cab drivers (complete with Thai directions and an estimated amount of the ride). Seeing the address, the taxi driver asked how we found his neighborhood. It’s not known for being a big tourist location.
The hot air hit us as soon as we stepped off the plane. We thought Australia was warm with its 85 degree weather. It was 9:30pm and still 90 degrees. The owners greeted us with some treats and showed us around the apartment – including the community pool (we took advantage of it every day we were there). The first night, we slept well.
The next day, we did some work before meeting Toy and her friend Too for dinner. This is where they taught us our first lesson:
The food in Thailand is amazing.
The next day, we met Toy and Too for a trip to Ayutthaya – the remains of the old city about an hour outside of Bangkok (traffic permitting). Ayutthaya was a beautiful city with over one million residents before it was invaded by the Burmese and burned to the ground in 1767.
After driving past tall buildings and the old Thai Airways building, the streets became single lanes lined by trees and older houses. Just before we reached the old city, we saw brightly colored temples and people riding elephants. Arriving at our destination, we took in the temple where we spotted some monks talking on phones – not something I’d seen before. We walked around the temple before venturing over to explore the ruins..
Amongst the ruins, people have seen a woman dressed in traditional costume. It is important when in Ayutthaya not to take things from the ruins. Not even flowers, leaves, sticks, or rocks. If you do, the spirit of the woman will come to you in your dreams and haunt you. We did not take any chances.
The next day, we took the Sky train or BTS to Siam station where we then caught a ride on a long boat to Chinatown where we met Ling. Ling was kind enough to show us around busy Chinatown. We then took our first tuk tuk to the Grand Palace.
On our way back from Chinatown- we accidentally got off on the wrong boat stop. People near the docks helped us out immediately. At the BTS station, the national anthem came on and everyone stopped in their places. We felt like we were in a giant game of Red Light, Green Light. No one said anything and we quickly stopped when we realized no one was moving.
We took the sky train to the airport the next day. We studied the map making sure we were going the right way (even though Toy gave us excellent directions). A Thai officer came over to make sure we were alright and got directions for us even though we knew where we were going. We weren’t sure how we would do, considering we speak no Thai. But many people in Thailand speak English and we were surprised at how many signs were in English. With a little help from some friends and strangers, it was pretty easy to get around.
For only having a few days in Bangkok – we saw some amazing things. Thanks to Toy, Too, and Ling for being incredible guides and showing us the beautiful sites in Bangkok. In our down time, we managed to get some work done and enjoyed the pool at our apartment complex. Beautiful pink flowers floated down into the pool from trees growing above it – all footsteps from the booming, always moving big city.
Before we knew it, we were off to Chiang Mai – smiling as we boarded Thai Smiles for the short flight. Bangkok was just the beginning of our many adventures in Thailand.