After weeks of insane and fun-filled weeks traveling through various cities, I'm finally able to blog a little bit! Things have been supremely delayed since I haven't had my computer up until recently, and I just started work as a real person this month. Looking back at all these photos, I honestly cannot believe how blessed and fortunate I am to be able to visit so many phenomenal places.So, rewind back to the month of May, and we start with Thailand, the first leg of our South East Asia excursions!
Originally we had booked a 10-day tour through G Adventures, but we wanted a few days to ourselves in Bangkok to explore and get over our jet lag. Thanks to our friend, Trisha's, recommendations, we stayed at D&D Inn in the heart of Khao San Road, the main backpacking area with food stalls, bars, clothing that looked like it was from Urban Outfitters but cost a fraction of the price, and so much more. It was insane to see how the street itself transformed from day to night: storefronts would turn into bars trying to out-blast their neighbors with Top 40 hits.
Unfortunately, our first day was off to a little bit of a rough start. We fell into multiple scams pretty early on. Long story short, there is a massive scamming network in Bangkok - so large that it's possible for them to have hundreds of people on the streets telling foreigners the exact same lies ("Why are you going to that temple? It doesn't open until 3pm!") and able to coordinate the scam with others without even talking about it! However, even though we definitely overpaid for many many things, we were able to go on a river boat tour and see a lot of the temples from the water. It was amazing to also see so many houses built on stilts - it was definitely a stark contrast from certain wealthier areas in the city.
One of the things on my "list" was to try as much food as possible. Our boat tour dropped us off at a local open market with endless amounts of fresh fruit like rambutan (the spiky red fruit) and my new favorite fruit, mangosteen (the purple plum like fruit):
Finally, we were able to go to Wat Pho, a large temple complex and home to the enormous Reclining Buddha. Believe it or not, we ran into 3 of our freshman hallmates: Eric, Sam, and Bobby! Turns out everybody from our graduating class had the same idea as us and decided to travel South East Asia after gradution too hahah. We all joked that this was the new "backpacking through Europe." What amazed me was how one temple complex could still have so many different designs and styles. All of the following photos are from one place!
When we were originally planning our trip, we wanted to be on the same tour group with Jeremy, Katie, and Sophie, but there wasn't enough room. They picked a trip that was two days earlier than ours, but since we were starting and ending in the same locations, we had some overlap! Jeremy took on the ultimate role of "Travel Dad" and guided us from place to place with map & tour book in hand hahah:
Our third day, we decided to go with Bangkok Day Tours' Extraordinary Elephant Day Trip, and it was honestly one of the best decisions we made the entire trip. Even though the elephants were about 4 hours away, our personal tour made stops along the way which was a great way to break it up. We first went to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market - it was clearly set up for tourists hahah, but it was still a great experience and really cool visually! Then we stopped for an amazing brunch of authentic Thai food right next to The Bridge on the River Kwai. I seriously ate unlimited amounts of mangosteen - I just couldn't stop! The insides are kind of fleshy like a tangerine, but it's tart, tangy, and sweet all at the same time. Seriously delicious!
After that, it was off to the elephants! Not only did we have a chance to ride them on land, but after a guided ride, we each got our own elephant to ride bareback into the river! The elephants were seriously fiesty and loved to play. They bucked us off multiple times, and the trainers would have us climb on their trunks or stand on their heads. At first I was terrified of hurting them, until I realized they actually couldn't feel me at all and I'm probably 1/20th of their weight! And then? We got to have an actual waterfight. Using elephant trunks. It was amazing.
It was seriously one of the most amazing experiences of my life - I don't think I'll ever forget it. On our last and final day in Bangkok, we visited the Grand Palace on what was probably the hottest day of our lives. On top of that, there's a dress code at many of the temples & government sites - that meant putting on long sleeves and long dresses!
Last but not least, we got to see Wat Arun! We decided not to climb it since we had to go meet our tour group that night, but it was still such an impressive construction feat. I seriously can't believe the architecture on these buildings. That's it for now on Thailand! Next up (whenever I get around to it): Cambodia!