Spending my Birthday in the Land of Smiles – Thailand

28 09 2012

Item’s I have learned today (Ok, I apparently lied in my last entry.. I kinda sorta need to bring this  back for the tales of SE Asia)

-The freeway is apparently considered a restroom for cab drivers. No joke, I saw at least 3 in Bangkok in my first few hours on the side of the road…relieving themselves.

-The shoulder of the freeway becomes a lane in traffic… or should I just say is a lane.

– tuk tuk = don’t really know how to explain it… here’s a pic

Our VIP tut tut

Our VIP tuk tuk

-Health and Safety in Thailand pretty much just doesn’t exist… period.  Seatbelts? Life Jackets? Not so much.

we wear our sunglasses inside

we wear our sunglasses inside

I left New Zealand (after saying goodbye to the fam… one of my “siblings” Michelle is pictured above)  arrived in Bangkok on my birthday (August 6th.. it’s still strange for me to write the month in front of the day as I have had two years of doing the opposite).  As I have difficulties sleeping on planes, I rang it in passing out in the airport followed by my hostel. SUPER EXCITING.

Let me back up a bit.  I decided to have a last 6 week adventure before my return to the real world aka Seattle.

Rudy and I in Singapore

Rudy and I in Singapore

I arrived in Singapore on August 5th. I went out to dinner with a friend that I originally met at the very start of my travels in Australia, Rudy. I literally met him on day 1 in Melbourne, so it was kind of full circle to see him at the end of this particular adventure.  That being said… I neglected to tell him it was birthday, went to the airport, passed out and landed bright and early in BKK at 7am (I’m a great friend.. I know).

Taking in the sights

Taking in the sights

My first day in Bangkok I was excited, but nervous.  Here I was doing this six week adventure on my own. Yes, I had moved to two different countries (well technically three if you include England), but there is a TOTAL difference between moving somewhere and going on holiday.  I was taking a vacation alone… by myself… all on my lonesome.  I don’t even like going to bars/movies by myself, and I was planning on taking on SE Asia?? Plus it was my birthday.

So I woke up, went downstairs, and immediately starting introducing myself to people… lol. I’m not kidding. I am not necessarily the worlds most out going person, but when I need to, I can step outside of my comfort zone. I ended up meeting a really cool girl named Thais from Brazil, and Michelle from England.  We went out to dinner and then called it a night.  Not a very exciting birthday I realize, but I did spend it in two different countries… thank you very much!

Golden Palace

Grand Palace

Next day it was up nice early to tour the various temples in Bangkok. I went to the grand palace and the temple of the Emerald Buddah, which I can honestly say out of 6 weeks in SE Asia ended up being my favorite temple (outside of Angkor Wat).  Thais and I ended up getting there just in time for an English speaking tour guide.   Our tour guide was a prime example as to why Thailand is known as the land of smiles.  She was amazing, filling us in on bits and pieces of Thai history (like the fact that the King changes the Emerald Buddah’s clothing for each one of the three seasons) while having such a warm and friendly presence. I fell in love, even if she happened be a 60 year old Thai woman.. technical details 🙂

The day was finished by taking a river cruise.  We ended up spending around 500 baht for our “own personal tour”  Considering it was just Thais and I, we had no need for a romantic little rendez-vous on the river.  It also didn’t help that we soon learned of the public ferries that run for about 10 baht… ahfjaskfas.   Hey, we will just chalk it up to beginners NON-luck.   At least when I got ripped off I wasn’t dragged to some random jewelry store by a tuk tuk driver, forced to buy something (yes.. that does actually happen). I got a sunset “cruise” (and by cruise, I mean ancient wooden boat I was worried would crash and break…. literally every time we went over a wave).. but hey it was fun!

My very last day in Bangkok was spent going to the floating markets. I met a girl from Canada at reception the day before.  Our conversation went like this:

Me – “what’s that?” (she was looking through a tour book.. and this was the first time I had ever seen her/spoken to her EVER)

Girl – “Oh, it’s the floating markets, something that Thailand is well known for”

Me – “huh.. are you going to go?”

Girl – “I was thinking about going tomorrow morning”

Me – “I just might join you”

Girl – “Let me guess.. you’re travelling alone?”

And there you have it.  The pretty typical Maria invite herself/attempt to make friends over the next 6 weeks story.  The next day I woke up nice and early to meet Monica (formerly known as girl) to go on our floating market adventure.  After the romantic boat cruise from the night before, I neglected to get a paddle boat at the market but felt like I got just about the same experience.

Floating Market in Thailand

Floating Market in Thailand

It is kind of crazy to see people cooking and serving drinks while in paddle boats. I was told that they can be quite aggressive salesman while on the water too!  I could see it happening though, you don’t really have any where you can go when your stuck in a boat, especially in traffic jam. It would be hard to constantly fend off the “hey lady.. you want some scarves?? Buy something from me!”  or the ever present “Discount for you… discount for YOU!!” followed by “how much you want?”

I did manage to pick up a hand bag for my mother as well as have coffee at Madame Paew.  I absolutely loved this place, because not only did the Madame Paew have pictures of herself plastered all over the place, she was also the cashier.  And her pictures would read something like “Madame and a Movie Star!!” Lol.. apparently she was WAY more important than said movie star.  Pfft who needs a name when you are pictured next to Madame Paew.

After returning to Bangkok that evening, it was off to pack and prepare for my overnight bus and boat over to Phi Phi Island where I would be spending my next few days.

More to come 🙂


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