Our moms had only 3 weeks in Thailand, so it was a tough job for us to decide what they should see, eat, drink and do. It was a relief to finally pick them up from the Bangkok airport, for we could actually start doing something!
The first few days were dedicated to Bangkok. As any “decent” tourist, we visited the royal palace and the impressive emerald Buddha temple; took a run-down but cheap as peanuts bus with wooden floors and open windows for ventilation to Siam Square – the mecca of shopping malls. We even took a glass elevator to the top of the tallest building in Thailand, Bayoke Sky tower, to enjoy the sunset with great views of the metropolis bellow.
Next, it was time to wind down. We head off for the eastern part of the Bay of Thailand to Samet island. There, we’re met with waves of turquoise water, white sand beaches, wooden hut in a shade of palm trees, excellent Thai massage, fresh sea food served meters away from the ocean, music and fire shows. When that was enough, we spent the days idly walking around the coast, visiting one quiet beach after another.
With energy levels restored and minds completely disconnected from daily activities by good food, good massage and doing nothing that wasn’t enjoyable, we embark on a journey to northern Thailand (Chiang Mai being the last stop), by a 3rd class train (think wooden seats), of course. First stop – Lopburi, about 6 hours from Bangkok. This town is not only known for several 12th century temple ruins, but also for the hundreds of monkeys that have thoroughly installed themselves in most parts of the city. The hotels have signs warning not to open the window, for the monkeys won’t hesitate to come in for a scavenge. In Lopburi we also celebrate Zygis’s moms birthday!
Next stop on the south-north train line – Phitsanulok. Its a very relaxed town and was excellent place to break up the long journey to Chiang Mai. We spent the evening in a bar on the riverside and checking out the surprisingly busy night market. Next morning we’re back on the hard seats of a 3rd class carriage and after 7 hours of slow progress finally arrive in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai, to certain type of travelers, is the most famous destination in the whole of Thailand. Its an extremely laid-back city, known for its quiet alleys, magnificent (and abundant) temples, useful courses (Thai food cooking, Thai massage, Thai boxing), you name it. We visited some famous places on the outskirts of the city too. Notably the hot spring resort, where we enjoyed a swim in a supposedly healthy, but seriously stinky pool (think rotten eggs, but its actually just sulphur). To add to the excitement, our taxi broke down on the way back, so we hitchhiked to the next stop – an old arts and crafts village, famous for its umbrella making. Our moms also enjoyed the opportunity to buy some Thai silk too :) Next day, we rent two motorbikes and head for the nearby Doi Suthep mountain (1,685 meters). An excellent serpentine road leads up the mountain and we visit a couple of temples, waterfalls, Hmong minority village on the way too. The last few hundred meters we walk through a dense and humid jungle. This was also Gerda’s first day our on a motorbike, carrying a passenger too! :)
Next stop on the map – Lampang. This is a small and very friendly town, notable for its lack of tuk-tuks, which are replaced by elegant horse-drawn carriages decorated with flowers. Much nicer! We also found a really nice and unexpectedly comfortable wooden hotel (with a fast Internet connection too!) and tried some excellent food. Our main purpose for this stop was to visit the nearby elephant conservation centre. We spent most of the day there and it was excellent.
Lampang is the last stop in the north and we take a night train (2nd class this time, soft sitting seats) all the way to Bangkok. There are a couple of more attractions we want moms to see – the evening rush of the Kao San road (tourist central) and of course the famous transvestite (they’re affectionately called ladyboys here) cabaret!
Pictures will be up reasonably soon! :)