This is our bar not yours…Chiang Rai

Up early in the morning to head by bus to Chiang Rai “the old city” Thailand.

Where did I stay?

Wangcome Hotel

Accommodations: Very fancy hotel where I didn’t get much sleep because…well alcohol.

Our tour made a surprise pit stop at the Wat Rong Khun (White Temple). This stunning and unique temple is made to represent ascending from hell to heaven. It is truly a spectacle. The architecture, details and figurines all make you feel like you’re in a cartoon or fairy tale. Truly a must see in Northern Thailand.

Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 12.00.01 PM

Once we reached Chiang Rai we headed further into the mountains to visit the Akah and Yao Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand. While the tour was very informative and interesting I did not enjoy being there. I felt like it was a zoo for humans. Everything seemed very staged and forced. I am glad the tribes can support themselves by selling and showing off to tourists but the dances and the souvenirs didn’t really seem authentic to me. I did however enjoy the hike through the jungle to get to the tribes. I loved seeing the countryside with all the water buffalo, chickens and fauna.

Cost:

  • $25
  • 1962683_10152735720845813_8022274236687469365_n 6262_10152735720910813_3658193155718832684_n

10518710_10152725623270813_3099025716573680133_n After visiting the Hill Tribes we ventured into the night markets to sample local cuisine. I ordered a Hot Pot. Basically a create your own soup. They bring broth to your table in a clay pot with a heated stone underneath. You add what you want from a plate of selections and you have your own feast. It was very good and very hot! I also sampled some other local delicacies like crickets and worms!

Later we rushed back to the hotel to change for our themed party! The nights theme was “Shit Shirt”. I took a crappy Jack Daniels shirt bought in the market, tore it up and used red sharpey to make it look blood. Other people had tacky shirts, crappy shirts and just plain bad shirts. It was all in good fun. I don’t think many pictures were taken because there was a lot of drinking…but here’s one:

1901123_10152735719115813_606833988707091884_nWe had the tiny TINY bar all to ourselves so I was able to play DJ! We rocked out all night, had lots of cocktails and had a blast. I woke up in the morning not knowing what happened to that Jack Daniels shirt…

Meeting Monks in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Thailand

Where did I stay?

The Empress Hotel 

Accommodations: 5 star luxury hotel with amazing pool and free sauna. The free breakfast here was to die for.

Day 1:

We took a bus ride up a windy mountain road to the stunning temple WatPhra. We traversed hundreds of steps to get to the breath-taking mountain temple which overlooked the city of Chiang Mai. The temple is filled with hundreds of chiming bells, lotus flowers, buddhas and shrines. We received a blessing from a Buddhist Monk, had our fortunes told and learned which Buddha, animal and color was ours. I am a purple snake and have a protector Buddha.

I thought a lot about the passing of my mother at the temple. I bought her a bell, Lotus flower and candle. Then as the monks instructed I walked three times around the temple. I made a wish and prayed for her spirit. Then offered my Lotus flower and bell with her name written on it and lite my candle. It was very emotional and I cried. I don’t think anyone knew because I was wearing sunglasses. For me it was a very spiritual and impressive place. My mother had always loved Learning about and experiencing other cultures and religions. At that temple I could feel her there with me. Her bell hangs in the temple in Thailand now and whenever a passerby rings it they will send love her way.

Afterwards we had free time before meeting up again at night. So some of the girls and I decided to get Thai massages. We dressed in cotton outfits and laid down for a seriously painful group massages. At one point when my masseuse had my legs pulled behind my head my pants ripped. All of the masseuses busted out in laughter. It was pretty embarrassing but also hilarious so I don’t blame them for laughing.

Later I opted to take part in a traditional Thai cooking class.  We learned about Thai food and culture with a hilarious and informative local chef. Using his “same same but different” shopping method we learned how to buy key ingredients at Chiang Mai’s market. He taught us really simple cooking techniques and I actually learned a ton. All of the food we made was delicious and I can’t wait to try the recipes at home.

After the class we met up we our Tour Manager who brought me and some of my more open-minded tour mates to Ansuarn Market for a cabaret shows featuring lots of, um, ladies in sequins and short skirts. We got in free and got a free drink ticket. I paid two Lady Boy Drag Queens to harrass some of the boys in our group. Two of them even went on stage and danced! It was a great way to break barriers with some of my new friends and everyone was a little closer to each other afterwards. ;P

Cost: 

  • Thai Cooking Class $30
  • 1 Hour Thai Massage $15
  • Temple Offerings $3
  • Cabaret show: Free

Overnight Train to Northern Thailand

Last night we headed from Bangkok to Chiang Mai via an overnight train. The ride was amazing. Contiki had a private car. The long journey gave us a chance to play some games and get to know each other more. At night our tables and chairs turned into the most comfortable beds! Laura and I played rock, paper, scissors and I won the bottom bunk with the window.

I woke up before the sun and was able to see the sunrise over the beautiful Thai countryside. It was very euphoric as I listened to my ipod and watched the hills roll by. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world.

Bangkok Day 2

Woke up bright and early to beat the crowds at the Thai Grand Palace.

I didn't take this photo...but this is the Grand Palace!

I didn’t take this photo…but this is the Grand Palace!

The Palace is beautiful. So much gold, color and jewels everywhere. Simply breath-taking. Our local guide taught us about the history of the palace and temple. She was very informative and entertaining. She called our group “Sticky Rice”. 10710920_10152721240720813_2234950761692228353_n

10712919_10152721239735813_3414102572448861670_nTips: 

  • Get there early to beat the crowds and the mid-day heat
  • You must cover your legs and arms
  • Get a local guide

Unfortunately for my it got really hot really fast. Our “Temple Wear” covered us head to toe and the heat was reflected by the gold and white buildings. So after about an hour of the tour people couldn’t stand and were pretty over the tour. I would’ve liked to have learned more, but it was unbearably hot. So we all voted to move onto another site. 10603678_10152721237130813_1665119826259440717_n

Our next stop was a river tour of the city. Bangkok is known as the Venice of Asia. It was neat seeing the city from the canals. It was also very cool being on the water. I got excited because we passed a temple and fed cat fish at a place that was on The Amazing Race!

Afterwards we had some free time before we had to check out of our hot1920580_10152721247290813_5067742835101362070_nel and head to the train station. I decided to hit the pool up and cool off. I got the pool all to myself. The refreshing pool was exactly what I needed after our exhausting morning. I ordered some delisous food and fresh coconut water and read my kindle. Later people showed up to join me, but for a little bit it was nice to be alone.

We met with our Tour Manager Lee at 4PM and headed to the train station for our over night train ride to Northern Thailand.

Someday I want to come back to Thailand. There’s no way you can experience such a massive city in just two days.

What happens in Bangkok…goes on your blog

First official day of the Contiki Big Indochina Adventure tour kicks off in Bangkok Thailand.

Where did I stay?

Viengtai Hotel

Accommodations: Better than expected. Great sized rooms, clean pool and friendly staff.

Location: We were in a very tourist oriented area. All the restaurants and bars had english menus. So it wasn’t to authentic. But it was a good place to learn the ropes of Asia. Lots of shopping and bars in walking distance.

Day 0:

The night before I met up with some other early birds from the tour and we went out to a bar down the road. Got to know some of the people and I can tell it’s going to be a good group.

Day 1:

My Australian roommate Laura and I woke up and headed to an open air cafe for an amazing breakfast. I had banana french toast and watermelon juice. We didn’t know our hotel provided free breakfast. Whoops. Afterwards we met with the early birds and we decided to venture into the old town and go to the Bangkok zoo. Since it wasn’t to hot and we were all very eager we decided to walk. It was a very long walk. We probably should have hired a tuk tuk. But eventually we made it. By the time we got to the zoo we were all exhausted. The humidity and heat quickly took its toll on all of us. We explored the extremely crowded zoo for a bit and I saw many animals I’d never seen before. Some of us even got to feed giraffes. The zoo was crowded and a bit unnerving because on top of crowds mopeds and cars could drive through the zoo.

After the zoo Laura, my new friend Sam and I decided to head back to the hotel for some R&R. I wanted to catch some rays and chill poolside. I ordered a Singapore Sling and Pad Thai and had a great minuet long dip in the pool until it started down pouring.

Laura, Sam and I then decided to hit up the shops and bars. So we went exploring in the pouring rain. We found this awesome little place called Hippie Bar. Cocktails were buy one, get one free. So I had two very strong drinks. We hung out, listened to vinyl and played with the bar cat. Then we realized we should head back to the hotel so we’d have time to shower before our mandatory Contiki meeting.

While walking bar to our hotel we stumbled (litteraly…we were drunk) upon the street bar in front of Burger King. They had loud music and cheap drinks and it was only 5PM. So we stopped and took part in their buy two get one free deal. Sam had a fish bowl, Laura and I had one and a half drinks each. We promised to come back later that night.

Then we hurried back to the hotel (dirty and wet) for the meeting. We made it just in time and pretty toasted.

During the meeting it was pretty hard to concentrated because I was inebriated, but we learned the Contiki ropes, rules and regulations.

Afterwards we cleaned up and then met the our group of 30 fellow travelers for a family dinner. I ordered something very gross and left pretty hungry. What ever I got had squid in it and I was not a fan. We went back to the Burger King bar and brought some of our new friends.

We managed to get back home somehow.