Friday, August 19, 2011

A Trip to Thailand That's a Blast to the Senses

I was sitting here trying to write about our summer trip to Thailand in a blog post and the task was just too overwhelming. I don't know where to start or end. I filled an entire travel journal with notes and stories about the trip. There is just too much too say about what we did and saw there. So I will just highlight a few things.

The people are so warm and beautiful and accommodating and wonderful. They really want you to enjoy your time in Thailand and they are so genuine.

Koh Phangan, Thailand is so laid back. It is slow paced and it really gets to you. You notice yourself slowing down over the course of a week and being content with just doing nothing except staring at the ocean and listening to the sounds of the island and not really thinking about anything. After a few days you really start to think about how you can't possibly leave and go back to your other life that you left behind.

The food is incredible. I ate some delicious red curry with huge chunks of homemade tofu and fresh vegetables. Pad thai from our hotel restaurant on the beach, from a roadside restaurant on the island, and from a street stall in Bangkok. In all settings pad thai is unbelievable. I enjoyed it the most in Bangkok where I was able to watch it prepared in front of me and then ate it with wooden chopsticks as I watched the busy streets of Bangkok from the sidewalk.
Pad thai in Bangkok

Bangkok is everything that you would expect it to be. It is loud, overwhelming, busy, and beautiful. The temples and shrines throughout the city are decorated with gold and shine brightly in the hot sun.
Busy streets of Bangkok

Thailand is extremely hot. It is the hottest place I have ever been.

I got to see the sun rise on a 5 am ferry leaving the island of Koh Phangan. It was beautiful, but also sad because I really didn't want to leave the island. I couldn't remember the last time, if ever, I had watched the sun rise.

I saw a 46m reclining Buddha at Wat Pho and it was truly amazing. The temple grounds of Wat Pho were ornate, golden, glistening, shiny, peaceful, and calm. It was a really nice way to spend an afternoon in Bangkok; it was a peaceful escape.
Wat Pho

The markets in Bangkok are overwhelming. They are crowded and hot and loud. You want to eat and buy everything. It is a sensory overload. You just walk through like a zombie staring and trying to take it all in. It is a really awesome experience even if you don't buy or eat anything.

The best thing I had from a market in Bangkok was a banana pancake. It cost something ridiculous like 50 cents and was a beautiful process to watch. A man with a small push cart cut two bananas in the blink of an eye and rolled a thin piece of dough into a circle. He put the dough in oil and then put the banana slices inside. He carefully folded the dough around the banana slices and formed what looked like an envelope. He put a small dab of orange butter on the hot plate, flipped the pancake, and then put the pancake on a paper plate and drizzled a creamy sauce over the top and handed it to me with two large wooden toothpicks. And all of this happened in less than a minute.
Insert mental picture and video as the process happened so quickly and was too amazing to even think about the camera. And I think we ate it in less than a minute because it was so incredibly delicious.

Scooters are everywhere and they are so fun to ride and drive. We rented a scooter on the island of Koh Phangan and rode around. The gas stations are small wooden shacks that resemble lemonade stands from movies or cartoons. You buy gas in an empty liquor bottle for about 50 cents. Usually a kind Thai woman funnels the gasoline into your scooter for you.
gas station and scooter

We got a flat tire on our scooter the second day. It was good fortune that we did because there was an elephant park about 50 feet away and we rested there while someone came to give us a new scooter. We were able to feed elephants and play with a baby monkey the whole time.

Also our flat tire led us to a different less hilly road and we found a great lunch stop at a roadside restaurant. Dirt floor. Man with no shirt cooking and taking our order. We had one of our most delicious meals of red curry and pad thai. Despite all health code rules and standards or reservations that you may have you should always trust a man with no shirt on to take your order and serve you an amazing meal in a restaurant with a dirt floor.
The restaurant

I got to ride a bus through the countryside of Thailand in Surat Thani. I saw things that I never thought I would see like people living in small huts by the water, floating villages, bulls on the road, people washing things in a river. I sat with my face glued to the window like a child as these unbelievable scenes passed before my eyes.
Insert mental pictures here. I was too engaged to even look for my camera.

We ate at a roadside restaurant on the island that advertised BBQ. We were meandering through town on a hot afternoon and decided that was where we would eat lunch. There was a sweet Thai grandmother that took our order on a paper that we wrote because the menu said she didn't speak English. It took a really long time for her to make us a delicious pork BBQ in a very rudimentary kitchen in a dirt floor restaurant. She was so pleased to sit at a nearby table and watch us happily eat the BBQ.
Pork BBQ

The trip to Thailand was really life changing for me and I know that may be trite, but it really was. It was somewhere I have wanted to go for a long time and somewhere that I thought that I would never get the chance to go. It made me realize how big and amazing the world really is. It also made me realize that there is such thing as paradise. I think I found it here.

1 comment:

  1. amazing stories and pictures. thank you -- i can almost hear and see and smell and taste Thailand myself...
    mmmmm..... <3