Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Thailand


Last October Sibs and I had a long weekend away in Auckland.  The anticipation and the travelling was almost as good as the time away. It was wonderful, and we made a little promise that we would try and organise another get away to spend time together.

Like a lot of things - I knew that it would be easier said than done!

Life gets so busy and packed with weekend activities and school work  and time just rolls on. So when an opportunity came to travel to Thailand recently I grabbed it and we packed our bags, set the alarm for a silly time and caught an early morning flight to Bangkok via Sydney.




  I can tell I've been living in Australia as it's funny how a 9 hour flight to Thailand felt like a short haul!

Our first sight of Bangkok was rather a blur... To say that they drive rather fast would be an understatement! The city whizzed by and we were weaving through lanes of motorway traffic avoiding trucks and cars with amazing precision. Sibs was a little subdued and I tried not to think too much about the speedometer creeping up to 160 km per hour!

Wat Arun, Bangkok
Anyhow, we made it to our first destination and were given a lovely welcome by family. It was all very exciting catching up with cousins and it was made even more special as my uncle and aunt were visiting from Wales too.

At the end of our first day, after a quick dip in the pool, Sibs and I dodged the mosquitoes (no-body told me there were mozzies in Thailand - and they were aggressive ones too!) and made our way to our own little cottage at the bottom of the garden.  So lucky and grateful for a comfy bed and air con.

Floating markets

Having our very own tour guides for the first few days was a real treat. We learnt about some Thai customs and expectations and how to pronounce the basic greetings.

On one hand this was an 'out of comfort zone' travel experience to be undertaking with an eleven year old. Sibs has been fortunate enough to cross the oceans a few times in her lifetime but her exposure to the world has been mainly Europe, Australia and New Zealand. This was going to expose her to different people, different culture and open her eyes to another world. At times it was slightly confronting, but we had emptied the shelves of our local library of Thailand books and had some expectations. Although I don't think anything could have prepared us for the sight of a road side dentist!


The Sanctuary of Truth

The heat in Thailand was rather surprising. I should be used to warm hazy days by now, but at times this was quite energy sapping. It didn't stop us doing anything although we needed to make sure that we were keeping hydrated and seeking shade whenever we could. There was bottled water available everywhere and in some of the larger tourist areas there was even free water with your entry ticket.

Wat Pho - The Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
Dropping coins in the 108 monk bowls.


The Emerald Buddha

 There were obvious crowds of tourists all seeking similar experiences but we managed to find some quieter, more contemplative moments during the trip. My family were wonderful in looking after us and we were also so fortunate to have a driver during the time we spent with them.



During the second part of the trip in Bangkok, rather than booking organised tours, we caught a train, a boat and a tuk tuk and (most of the time) it was all hassle free. We did experience the 'helpful' local who seeing us studying a map at the train station tried to tell us that one of the temples we were planning to visit was closed for the morning. He then just happened to have his friend waiting near by to whisk us to another temple for a 'very cheap price'! Thank you Lonely Planet Guide for warning me about that one.


I have to admit to having some reservations about staying in the city of Bangkok in the lead up to the holiday. I was reading various reports in the media about the anti government protesters and the disruption that this was creating. Even though I researched hotels, I didn't book any accommodation until a couple of days before.  I took advice from various sources and made an informed decision and apart from a quiet convoy and march that we viewed on one morning it was all calm.

Well as calm as a city with thousands and thousands of people can be....




Thailand was a colourful place with shrines and places of worship on street corners. Most people seemed happy with their lives, however humble we may have deemed it to be.

Sibs was fascinated by the street sellers who would be earning a living any way they could. One little old man proudly displayed a collection of rusty safety pins and paper clips amongst other scraps of metal on his patch of pavement. It was a reminder of how blessed we are...



We stayed in the hotel after dark and made sure that we chatted to the concierge each day to keep updated. The staff were very well informed and looked after us so well. It was a bit of luxury to return to after a day in the heat and a lovely place to relax. Sibs would catch up on a bit of homework at the same time that there just happened to be a happy hour for cocktails!

Sampling some Thai cuisine

We took hundreds of photos and have fabulous memories of a great trip. It was joyous to experience it with Sibs. She embraced the adventure, accepted the unexpected and hopefully learnt a bit too.
She is still young enough to be mesmerised with the moment and I hope this has ignited a little wonderment that the world is an amazing place.



Grand Palace


Arriving and leaving Thailand.
Two weeks away and she grew up!

Now where to next....?

1 Comments and thoughts:

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