Wednesday, March 18, 2015

First Day of Thailand 2015!

Typical Holiday Posting Warning: Picture Heavy Post AHEAD!

We embarked on an epic family trip...Thailand with the kids for three weeks. It was a long, long journey to get there. I won't bore you with the details, but it was three planes, four countries and many hours. The kids were fantastic (with only a few minor blips, but that should be expected in ANY 24 hour period, let alone a travel intensive one). 

We arrived in Bangkok exhausted. It was after 1:00 in the morning, so it was straight to our hotel, the IBIS Riverside. We didn't know what to expect, but the hotel was perfect. We woke up after a great night's sleep, ready for a great breakfast buffet and a swim in the gorgeous pool.

We landed on our feet.

Ready to take on Thailand
We had a swim, breakfast and then a little rest before heading out for the rest of the day. Although, I have to admit that it was hard to leave our little Bangkok oasis to venture out into the city.

There was a shuttle from the hotel to the nearest Bangkok SkyTrain station, which we need to take to get to the main train station, so we could buy our overnight train tickets to Chiang Mai.

It was our first taste of the many alternative forms of Thai transportation. The kids (okay, all of us) were instantly hooked on the open air (and speedy) tuk tuk style trucks and motorcycles.

Hilariously, when we bought our tickets for the underground, they made Lukey go stand next to the measuring sign for evaluating children's fares. They don't go by age, but height. You can see below that Lukey was a quite a long way from qualifying for kid eight years old.

We finally got to the train station after some very, very hot transfers between train and metro. It was HOT. We booked our tickets (the train trip will be another post altogether. I am not sure we knew at that point what we were getting ourselves into) and headed outside to hit up one of the billion 7-11s all over Thailand. Cold drinks were guzzled.

We ran into a very friendly guy on the street, who helped us into two tuk tuks and directed us to a good area for walking around.

We ended up close the the Chinatown area of the city and the next thing we knew, we were on our own long tailed boat touring the river and canals.

It was an eye-opening and full sensory experience for the kids.

The river portion was interesting, but we really got to glimpse the true Bangkok once we turned off onto the side canals.

The boats were hilarious. They are powered by giant motors with a rotor at the end of a long prop shaft. They are noisy and fast.

Lining the canals are dwellings that look like they have been constructed by sticking together whatever could be found floating by on the water.

They are marvels of human ingenuity. They are also a little sad.

This place uses the massive palm tree as a base.

In contrast to all the poverty and haphazard construction of homes, we floated past about a dozen wats (thai buddhist temples) on the canals. They are opulent and immaculate.

This reclining Buddha was massive.

It's clear that any extra people have in their lives, they devote to the maintenance of the temples. There are offerings all over, no doubt left by many who have little to spare.

We were surprised to see no rats along the way, but we did spot this gigantic lizard swimming.

And we stopped at one point to feed fish...good luck, apparently. A woman on the dock above us, lowered down bags of fresh bread in a basket on a string. We took the bread and deposited 40 baht into the basket. 

Feeding the fish caused an outright frenzy.

They were swimming over top of one another to get the food.

One might guess at some exaggeration in the boast of 100,000 fish there...but I think I believe it. 

We came back to the setting sun on the west side of the river. It was interesting to see the reactions of the kids. I don't know how much they took in of the poverty and struggle we saw.

All along the canal, people waved to us in the boat. They must see hundreds of people each day being escorted through their neighbourhood. They may wonder where we come from or what our homes are like...or maybe they don't. But they never failed a friendly wave. It would be interesting to know how much or what of this experience resonates with our lucky Vancouver children.

We came of the boat just in time to see this rousing game of...I don't know what. A wicker ball about the size of a European handball is kicked over the net, a bit like hacky sack.

Then we were off in our same tuk tuks, racing through the city at breakneck speed. Finny didn't like it. The rest of us did.

A long tuk tuk ride was 20 baht...about 80 cents.

We got dropped off somewhere random instead of where we thought we were going, so I guess you get what you pay for...

We ran into a couple from Vancouver Island on the street and asked them for a recommendation of where to eat...we were fading fast and needed some food before heading home for another much needed rest.

We ended up at a chinese restaurant that was alright, but nothing too special. We were all feeling a little bit like how Finny looks in this picture:

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