After a visit to Cambodia, we were jet-setting it through the last week in Thailand. First stop: Chiang Mai! This was a highlight of my entire trip because it was the elephant riding experience that I was looking forward to having in SE Asia. The excursion included a bamboo raft ride, a visit to a waterfall, an elephant trek, and a white water rafting ride! Talk about being on an adrenaline rush the entire day! Northern Thailand’s temperature was a little cooler than the other places I was able to visit on this trip, which was a nice reprieve from the hot heat of rainy season. That night we were all able to have dinner together, and that would be that last time that AB Thailand would be together on this trip since 2 were leaving to head back to the US the next day, and 3 of us were going to travel around to see more of Thailand.
The next day before getting on a plane we decided to see another temple, Doi Suthep, situated on a high point over Chiang Mai…it was so elevated that we were in the clouds and couldn’t see anything below us. It was an amazing experience, and we even had a chance to stop at a viewpoint and check out the panoramic views of the city. Then we were on a race with time to catch our flight back to BKK. Once we were at the airport to send the 2 on their way…we hired a taxi to take us to our second stop: Ayothaya. It’s the former capital city of Siam and there are ruins everywhere amongst the more modern buildings. The ancient temples are stunning and they had their own awe inspiring views, somewhat similar to the temples in Cambodia. We decided to check out the floating market in the morning then see the ancient temples by bike riding through the city. Then we ended the day with a boat ride around the island to see 3 temples that sit on the other side of the river bank…a beautiful trip around Ayothaya. We had a great dinner on our last night there before we were going to leave for BKK.
We decided to do some final shopping on our last few days in Thailand…so after we arrived in Bangkok and checked into our hotel…it was time to visit MBK Center-7 floors of shopping goodness! It was pouring rain that night but we still decided to visit a night market for more shopping. Ruth and I decided to try fried grasshoppers…not bad, but we definitely had to grab a drink and a yummy pork and rice dish to finish the night. The next day was our last stop: a day trip to Kanchanaburi.
Kanchanaburi is much known for the Bridge over the River Kwai, which we did make a visit to see…but the main reason was to visit a temple just outside the city limits commonly referred to as Tiger Temple. It’s become a tiger refuge and a huge tourist spot, and there is a lot of controversy around the temple practices, but for me it was a worthwhile and educational experience. The temple grounds are big and the set-up for the tigers is nice. They have the tigers on leashes when tourists are around which is only for 3 hours in the day. They allowed us to pet the tigers and take pictures with tigers (I’ll post a picture later.) We were able to walk with the tigers and see them interact. These tigers are beautiful creatures and this was definitely a once in a lifetime experience! I think it was a great way to spend our last full day in Thailand.
Once we were back in Bangkok, we had worked up an appetite and decided to grab dinner before meeting my cousin. This was an ordeal on it’s own! But once we found the place that they chose for dinner, it was worth every wrong turn and missed direction. The food was authentic Thai cuisine and it included a show with dancing and singing! Afterwards my cousin and his friend took me and his friend’s friends out to party. We went to the State Tower which has 360 views of Bangkok, then to the RCA district which is a street filled with dance clubs that rival some of the best New York and Los Angeles clubs (but were much cheaper!) And as if staying out on my last night in Bangkok til 2 AM wasn’t enough…they took me to another club that stays open until the sun comes up! I couldn’t hang that long, but 430 AM was pretty good for a gal in her 30s! 🙂 My cousin and all my new friends showed me how fun Bangkok can be and it was a great way to finish my stay in SE Asia.
On my last day I decided to venture out to JJ market, the largest weekend market conceivable…you would need all weekend to see the whole thing! I was able to pick up some last minute gifts and another fruit shake. Also found a stand selling mango and sticky rice, so I picked some up for me and the girls. As I took the skytrain back to the hotel, I saw the various Bangkok buildings fly by…and I was so grateful to have seen so much of this city, country, and region. I reflected on every experience, interaction, and photo I was able to capture in my time here…and I realized how much I had learned and how much I have grown from my time in SE Asia.
I didn’t want it to end! And as I packed up my luggage and headed to the airport…I could only think of the generosity of the people that made this experience so memorable and life-changing for me…and I will be forever indebted to each and every one of you who have made me a better person. The past 26 days have opened my eyes to see the world with a different lens…to enjoy every moment with each person I am able to interact with…to live my life to the fullest! Thank you! Xie xie! Aakoon! Kob Khun Ka!