After an extremely wonderful wedding on October 5th, Steve and I headed off to Thailand for two weeks. We treated ourselves to business class tickets, and boy was that worth it. The seats were extra comfortable with lots of controls; they went to a nearly flat position for sleeping. Our travel time to Thailand was about 21 hours and the trip back was 24 hours (with an 8 hour layover in Seoul). Aside from great chairs, we also got five course meals, and the food was delicious! All the hostesses looked the same – young cute Asian women with their hair in a bun.
2 days in Bangkok
We didn’t like Bangkok very much. Its busy, dirty and full of car exhaust. So we spent most of the two days in our hotel room adjusting to the time difference (off by 14 hours) and just resting. I managed to catch a cold on the flight, so I wasn’t feeling up to site seeing anyway.
4 days in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai was so much nicer than Bangkok. We both felt like we could easily breath the air without choking or shortening the length of our lives. The people were overly hospitable. One man stopped us and talked to us for a while. He gave us a whole afternoon’s worth of activities. He told us to rent a tuk-tuk driver for 50 baht an hour (about $1.44). He told the driver where to take us for lunch, then suggested a bunch of shops to check out.
The shops included a tailor, umbrella making shop, leather shop (not interested in that one), and jewelry store. At the tailor we decided to have a suit and five shirts made for Steve and two dresses for me. One of the dresses is a red Asian dress, which I’ve always wanted. Everything was so cheap, so it was hard not to buy things; and its why we couldn’t resist the tailor.
Lunch was finally a true Thai restaurant. Until this point every suggestion lead us to restaurants full of tourists. We weren’t interested in that, we wanted the real deal. This place was full of flavor and really cheap, located on a lake.
While we were in Chiang Mai we took one day out to do some elephant training at the Elephant Conservation Center. We learned how to be mahouts (elephant handlers). Steve ended up with the fat male elephant who loved to eat (I often heard Steve yelling “Bai! Bai!”, which means “go forward”) and I got the slow female elephant. We were never alone with the elephants, their mahouts were always present to make sure things went well.
The day began with learning how to get on and off, how to go and stop and how to steer – all with words and our feet. After we were steering fairly well we took the elephants through the forest to the other end of the center where we watched an elephant show. Following the show we bathed the elephants, which consisted of going in the water and telling them to “lay down”.
The first time I mounted my elephant I was pretty nervous, but it wasn’t that bad. As I sat on top the mahout would hand me a few pieces of sugar cane. She would reach her trunk back and ask for the treats. i could feel her hot breath sniffing for more. She moved so slowly and deliberately, and she had a very bristly head.
We also had the chance to feed a baby elephant and her mom. She was so cute and nimbly. She kept trying to escape over the pen. And she was so strong, you really don’t want to let her wrap her trunk around your wrist – bad idea, lesson learned!
5 days in Koh Samui
The best part of the trip, save the elephants, was sitting on the beach and doing absolutely nothing. Our cabana was in the front row, right on the beach. We were about 30 feet from the water, the Gulf of Thailand.
We lounged around and read books or played cards all day. For the first four nights we would hang out with our cabana neighbors, Monika and Tim. They were from Trier, Germany. We would sit on their porch drinking Singha, getting to know one another and exchanging cultural knowledge. We had a blast laughing and talking.
One of the nights we went to dinner we ended up at a Pad Thai place. We sat down and they just served us noodles, no choices. The bill for the four of us was 180 baht, $5.18!
One of the striking things about Thailand is all the stray or wild dogs. Our resort had a chow mix that they seemed to be taking care of, but she had not tags and obviously hadn’t been to a vet. We named her Lanna. She had three puppies that were also running around, playing and yelping.
My only small complaints about the resort would be the hard bed and showering in brackish water, though the shower was outdoors, which was awesome.
1 more day in Bangkok
Our original plan was two last days in Bangkok, but since we didn’t like it, we exchanged that extra day for Koh Samui. So our last day was a bit odd. We flew there in the morning, checked into our hotel, then had to check out that same night at 11pm to fly home. Strange, but it was nice to shower in regular water before we left.
Our journey home was long; a 6 hour flight to Seoul, an 8 hour layover, then 10 hours back to San Francisco. The layover wasn’t that bad though. Because we had business class tickets we had access to a very nice lounge. It had massage chairs, food, drinks, TV, magazines. Couldn’t complain too much. If you get the chance to fly business, I highly recommend it.
All in all it was a great honeymoon 🙂