I had the opportunity to stay, largely for free, at the Marriot Vacation Club at Empire Place. I was able to do so thanks to my friend and former English teacher Shirl. When she asked if I was interested in going to Thailand, of course I said yes.
Thailand is much different from Japan. For starters, it smells a little funky. It’s not as clean, there are people cutting through traffic on scooters, cars almost hitting each other, and people selling food cooked in carts on the side of the road. That said, it’s also kind of wild and something about that is extremely attractive after living in Japan for a year, where rules are followed with no exception and police will get you if embarrassment doesn’t.
The condo we stayed at was beautiful. My room had 2 beds in it! I remember thinking how depressed I’d be in the next month, when I went back to my closet of an apartment and the likes of SE Asian hostels. The staff at the hotel was also incredibly helpful (although you could tell they were used to working with clients with money, because for our trip to see the elephants they booked us into a GIGANTIC van, for 2 people).
It was a touristy trip, but good for the first time in Thailand.
Robot building, from our balcony in the city.
“Tuk tuk”s are very popular forms of transportation here. It’s like a three-wheeled scooter.
Shark fins, for soup. Very sad.
We stumbled upon some night time landmarks.
And a very famous flower market. There were SO many flowers.
The city at night (from the balcony).
There’s a river running through Bangkok that serves as a sort of transport throughout the city. You can take a water taxi or a longboat like this.
The temples were amazing and colorful, with these colored-mirror mosaics that decorate the entire outside.
These temples were huge.
This building contains a weapons museum.
Across the river is the Temple of Dawn. The stairs are really steep.
The next day we rode up to see some elephants.
This was our baby.
To be honest, I didn’t enjoy the elephant ride so much. The worst thing is the elephant probably doesn’t want to carry you. The whole time the elephant had to be prodded and chided by his rider. It seemed inappropriate and forced. The elephant bathing, however, was amazing. Watching the elephants roll around and play in the water was awesome, and I think they enjoyed it a lot more.
We fed tigers. You can see more pictures here, in a separate post.
Then I got to do something I’ve wanted to try for awhile, which is dragonfruit! I’ve never seen dragonfruit in the US before that I can remember, but it’s this wonderful pink color and just looks really delicious.
When you open it, there is either a white or blood red pulpy, kiwi-textured center. It doesn’t have a strong flavor, but I love them.
In other random things: this is a coke can in Thai…
The following day, we went to Pattaya, which is kind of famous for expats and tourists. It has a few small islands where you can lay on the beach and rent scooters and jetskis and boats and all kinds of stuff like that. If you go there, expect to see (and hear) lots of that. We took a boat out to an island called Koh Larn.
We rented scooters when we got there. I think the guys tried to scam us. I ended up giving one of them my very cheap watch after he threatened to call the police, saying I scratched the motorbike. In Vietnam I had no problems, so just be careful.
You can rent these chairs for the day for about a dollar. It’s worth it if you want to stay on one beach.
I was happy to leave Pattaya, especially after how we were treated by the scooter people. I think that could have ended much worse than just giving them a $3 watch. The whole place is also full of tourists, so it’s not good if you really want to meet locals.
I really enjoyed Bangkok actually. It’s much more dichotomous than Japan, and there’s so much to see. There’s a lot of poverty, (you can see that), and the city isn’t always clean, but I never felt unsafe (minus the scooter dudes), and the monuments were actually very impressive.