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Tracy's Journey

Thailand

THAILAND | Sunday, 22 May 2011 | Views [517]

Ok, so it’s getting much harder for me to keep up to date on these blogs. I have been traveling every two to three days and when I’m not traveling I am sightseeing or just plum utterly worn out that I can’t think straight.  Actually, I am getting use to traveling by bus & boat for 10 to 12 hours a day. During the actual day or night, it really doesn’t seem that bad. It usually hits me the next day. 

I keep forgetting to tell everyone the good news. I received a message from one of the social workers at CHSFS in Ethiopia where I volunteered that the little two-year old boy (Merituh) who I helped with walking has been matched with a family. I am so happy! 

So, I first went to Chiang Mai, which is in North Thailand. As soon as we crossed the Laos/Thailand border, you could immediately notice that Thailand is a more modernized country than Laos. Double highways everywhere with billboards, green exit signs, 7 Eleven gas stations with rest stop, Mc Donald’s, Starbucks. I felt like we drove back into the US. Chiang Mai is known for it’s trekking & elephant tours. Since, I am already a trained elephant mahout from Laos I decided to go white water rafting.  We drove for about 2 hours further north thru some beautiful mountain scenery and then arrived at the gushing river. Most of the rapids were class 4 & 5, which means you just get down in the middle of the boat and hold on for dear life! The guide tries & steers the boat as much as possible or just lets the current take us even if it means slamming into a big rock and then our boat fills with water. But we quickly move on and the raft self bales itself and we get a chance to get back up on the side and paddle. When we were on the calm part of the river, it was so peaceful listening to the birds and hearing the currents of the water flow. I kept seeing a really beautiful blue bird that kept flying from one side of the river to the other. The guide said it was a kingfisher.  It was an indigo blue color.  Also, as we were going down the river we would see people riding elephants along the side or crossing the river. It really made you feel like you were in the jungle!

On to Bangkok, which has something for everyone. It is a huge city and one would never run out of things to do. There are so many different areas to explore.  I stayed in the busy backpacker area on the famous Khao San Rd. The street was full of street vendors that sat up there spot right along both sides of the street, mainly only open to people on foot except for the occasional motorbike to whiz past you that you weren’t expecting. It was pretty easy to get around using the water taxis along the river and the skytrain (which was spotless). The BART system in San Fran could use a tip in cleanliness from them. One day, I decided that I had enough sun & heat and decided to check out one of their malls. It was something else! It was 5 stories high and huge. I felt like I was back in the US except for being surrounded by Asian people and being the minority.  There is a lot of money in Bangkok.  Another day I explored several temples. One was Wat Arun, which you will see in my pictures. There were four terraces each higher than the other depicting Buddha at the four most important stages of his life: birth, meditation, preaching his first sermon, and entering nirvana.  Another temple I visited was Wat Pho, which houses the largest reclining Buddha. The statue is over 7 feet tall, which portrays the Buddha entering nirvana. The Buddha has a beaming smile that is over 4 feet long and the bottoms of the feet are black with mother pearl drawings.  Then on to the Grand Palace where there was one ornate beautiful building after another. The royal temple houses one of the most important icons, the Emerald Buddha.  Next, I visited the floating market, which was about two hours away. We arrived in an area where we took a long tail motorized boat through some canals where there were houses and small shops set up along the canal. When we got to the floating market area, we switched to a smaller rowboat where we rowed amongst all the market boats. The area was full of people rowing their boats selling fruits, vegetables, stir-frys, soups, and many more things. Oh, I even remember seeing a boat, which looked, like a convenient store selling toilet paper and etc.  There were also many boats that were non-moving selling all kinds of souvenirs. I even saw one that was selling Gucci purses. It was all quite crazy and people were just constantly asking you to buy.  – And you just couldn’t walk away – the boat man was in charge and decided how long he would stay in front of a vendor trying to get you to buy something. Quite the experience!!

I actually liked Bangkok and could have stayed a little longer but I only have a 15-day visa (which you get when you cross by land rather than the 30-day visa you get when you fly in) and I still want to do some of the Islands. I know a lot of people say Bangkok is really busy and is a lot to take in but it was nothing like Vietnam! Here traffic actually drives in the lanes that are provided and obey the traffic signs. I think a big difference is that there are a lot more cars than motorbikes, which was the opposite in Vietnam. I was talking with another traveler and she mentioned that Bangkok is organized chaos compared to Vietnam just being totally uncontrolled chaos.  Next, I went to Ko Samui, which is one of the eastern Islands located in the Gulf of Thailand. The water was amazing. So many different colors, clear next to the beach, where you could look down in see your feet to a beautiful aqua blue that you can still see through to a deep blue further out. And I believe it was the warmest water I have ever been in. (Which really isn’t that refreshing because it is sooo hot outside – sometimes I would feel a current of cool water).  So had a few days of R&R on the beach getting sunburned before I moved on to Krabi, which is on the western side of Thailand (Andaman Sea). Here I took a 4 Island tour which was just amazing. We were able to visit 4 different beautiful beaches and snorkel a little bit. The snorkeling really wasn’t that great but we did get to swim with a big school of green & yellow fishes. There was one spot where there was a sandbar that connected three different islands. Next, I’ll be on my way to Malaysia.

 

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