We arrived home last night after traveling between 12/21/12-12/31/12 to Bangkok.
Having made our flight reservation 6 months ago on Cathay Pacific, we arrived at the departure gate in LAX. Upon trying to have our ticket 'swiped', we were told the flight was full (gasp) and we were moved to business class. The 14-hour flight was WONDERFUL. Snuggled in a comforter, ate at any whim, drank GALLONS of water. Smitten. (LAX-HKK)
Connected in HKK to fly to BKK, but had to wait. The airport was chilly, so we were ready to be back on the plane. Burr.
Arrived in BKK on 12/23/12. Made our way to the immgration area where the BLOB was horrendous. Notice, I didn't say LINE. There wasn't a line. We were 40 people in distance from the start of the line, and 20 people across. Once we got to the cordoned-off area, other travelers removed the cords/lines, so it was a CLUSTER, for lack of a better word.
We found my friend at door number 3. Haven't seen her in 20 years. (nice to see her!)
She drove, thankfully. I didn't feel any concern or fear, as she knew the way, and the way of the traffic. Arriving at our hotel, The Amari Watergate, we were told our rooms were being cleaned. Two hours later, I asked to speak with the manager. I was told the airline crew stayed late, and the priceline hotel purchase apparently doesn't carry any clout, so we had to wait for my room. First impression: Amari sucks rocks. By the end, I found the hotel to be a safe sleeping place, but definitely didn't find it to be special.
My friend departed and we went to sleep. The manager called to apologize, however, we were awakened by the call, sooo not impressed. Next time, different hotel.
Our first day, we went to Ayutthaya. This was neat, however, the best part was the temple that held the carvings at the top. Mythic elephants, whom my friend said were similar to our unicorns. Loved this. Loved our Tuk Tuk driver too. He was great, over age 60, and my friend was so happy to give him baht because it demonstrated that he was at least trying to be employed, instead of sitting around. (her words)
The Tuk Tuk driver suggested a restaurant for lunch after my friend asked for a good place to eat for the 'farongs'. We went to a restaurant by the river. This is where we had the first of several 'Pad Thai' dishes. Safety in the known. I definitely didn't like the river prawn, but my DH loved it. Too fishy for my taste.
We drove back to BKK and slept like rocks.
The next day, we met my friend in the lobby and were swept back in to the traffic to go to Wat Arun and the neighborhood Wats. Walked around the wats with the masses. Found dog foot prints in the dried concrete that made me think Budda had dogs. Love this.
Went to the Wat Arun Neighborhood. Neat area. Love the back way of walk through the corridors. Found some black elephants (tiny) to bring to my co-workers. Enjoyed coconut drinks at the Wat Arun Residence, per our learning on Fodors.
It took 3 hours to drive from this area back to the hotel. Another part of the reason we slept like rocks, not just jet lag, but auto lag.
We made our was across several ridiculously busy intersections to have musceli and yogurt at the Grand Hyatt for breakfast daily. The lobby was decorated for Christmas. Lovely.
Now, I'm getting my days confused and mixed, as there were 10 days......but a shortened version follows.
One evening we got a massage near my friend's hotel. The following day we had a massage at the Four Seasons. Consecutive massages is where it is at! I am planning on including more massage in my weekly routine at home. So worth it. One was a Thai massage, the other was Balinese. Love the Balinese massage. We recommend the spa at the Four Seasons. Go if you can. The staff was great. I also had a bikini wax and eyebrow wax. I am sharing this ONLY because I had a funny experience with language. The wax staff member kept pointing my nether regions, saying 'Vas a lene'? 'Vas a lene'? Umm? What? I double checked with the front desk gal, to ask her what she was saying....Brazillian (wax). Ummm. No, not this visit. Thanks though!! (Bra zill ion vs Vas a lene) (sound it out) Funny!
We found the traffic to initially be horendous, however, we could see the rhythm in it. Go with the flow. There were smells that were so overwhelming, we were relieved to smell the incense. BKK is definitely experiential to the senses.
We were lucky enough to go camping with my friend's friends up north of BKK. They had a brother who is building a resort, one house at a time. Did I also mention the traffic? Going north, we took about 5 hours to go the distance that might take 1 hour in The US. The New Years Holiday in BKK is BIG, so everyone leaves to go home, All at the same time. We saw 4 people on mopeds, refrigerators in small pick ups. Lotsa traffic. Inches at a time, we finally got to our destination.
We camped in the yard of the house, and had fun. The group we went with polished off the new bottle of gin (I wasn't thrilled about this). My DH and I went to sleep in the tent, as the drinking and card-playing went on and on. I'm pretty sure they stopped around 4 am. Did I mention the Karaoke machine? It was on all night. Radio while camping all night, with yard all lit up.
The day after camping, we were given the personal tour of the countryside. This was my favorite day. I had a few days of BKK experience under my belt, so this was really a nice way to wrap up the time spent there. I've also adapted my eating habits. Whatever the difference is for food in BKK, I didn't have my reflux issues. Was it the food? weather? (lack of stress)? altitude? You can bet I'm changing my dietary habits. Relief was found inadvertently. Asian food grocery stores will be getting my business from now on.
We also went to a new shopping area calle Asiatique. Purchased several cloth purses for gifts and had a nice vegetarian meal.
We took a day to rent a van to go to a naional park where the sign read: do not feed the monkeys. Luckily, some people left their windows open, so we were able to see the monkeys delight in snacking on fruit. lol. We also went to a waterfall where we learned many elephants come to drink water, and fall over the edge. (poor babies) Many die, getting broken legs or getting stuck in the deep mud.
I gave our Fodors guidebook to a lady from South Africa at the hotel, so I am very general in our reporting. I am ready to go back to bed after sitting still enough to write this for you. I can't remember the name of the national park at this point.
Will I go back? Yes. Will I go to Phuket? Absolutely. DH on the other hand said, he might just stay home next time. BKK is one city that takes time to love, and sometimes isn't for everyone.
Our last night was spent at our friends' parents home. Gorgeous. We departed at 8:30 on Monday, extending our stay in 2012 12 hrs. Our connection in Hong Kong was so short, we ran from gate 4 to gate 64. Gold medal runners!! Good night. (nap is calling)
Happy New Year!
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We arrived home last night after traveling between 12/21/12-12/31/12 to Bangkok.