Saturday, January 9, 2010
Thai Christmas Part 1
Okay, I suck as a blogger. I put off blogging before Christmas because it was busy. Then, we didn't take our computer to Thailand (not necessarily my plan) so couldn't really blog while there, so here I sit trying to summarize 2 amazing weeks in the most exotic place we've ever been and update you on where we're at in life.....and realize that it's impossible. So, here's what I'll do. I'll divide the trip in three and also post a photo album, and then I'll update you on life.
Our trip started with a trip on the high speed rail.....no, back up a sec. We left on Sunday, Dec. 20. Because we were going to be away for Christmas, we decided to do the Christmas morning thing on the morning we left. So, the night before, while Isaac was at a youth banquet, the three of us sat on the couch watching a Christmas movie, when all of a sudden, the house started to shake. It was definitely the most powerful and longest earthquake we've ever experienced. Janice started to pray for safety and I jumped up and grabbed the bookshelf so stuff wouldn't fall off, instead of running for a door like the manual said. I was worried that our trip might be affected, depending where the epicenter was located. The quake lasted over a minute, but finally stopped and didn't affect our travel after all.
So, our trip started with a ride on the 300 km/h high speed rail to Taipei. From there we flew to Bangkok. We had one day to see Bangkok before we caught the night train to Chiang Mai. We were quite excited about Chiang Mai because some great friends from Abbotsford, the Lundbergs, are there for a year and we were going to spend Christmas with them.
Bangkok was interesting. Not a very clean city and lots of people trying to take advantage of you (of course everyone has a different opinion about this city but for us, it's not a place we need to go back to). We had one guy try to swindle us with his TukTuk buddy. We did see two cool temples (Wat Arun and Wot Po) and our first longtails (boats) and rode the water taxis up Chao Phraya (the main river). We also spend a couple hours in the morning back at the airport trying to track down our train tickets. That was a frustrating experience and probably didn't help to ingratiate us to the city. Our hotel was nice and we would be returning there two more times as we hubbed in Bangkok (just made that word up).
We dropped our luggage at the train station for "safe keeping," The train station was not quite what we expected and was really like what you see in those National Geographic films about backwoods India....very dirty and crowded. This is also where we first learned about paying to go into the washroom. Not much money (about 6 cents) but requiring a full time person to count your pennies (baht). The sign said the money was to pay for water and paper towels but it seems that it was something they were saving for in the future because it was non-existent when we were there. After seeing all we wanted, and with only 30 minutes of light but 5 hours till our train, we headed to the mall to try to catch a movie. We found a Tuk Tuk (awesome little 3 wheeled motorcycle taxis, a must if you visit) and made the crazy 20 minute ride. Once there, we found out only movie that seemed to fit our family, Avatar, was too long and we'd miss our train (turns out that was a good thing because Janice and I saw it last night and it would definitely not be a movie for Makena). We shopped around and checked out the cheap and crowded (in a good way) night market in a mall, and headed for the train station. We recovered our baggage (safely) and took a seat, only to be told that our train was ready for boarding. We had originally hoped for sleeper berths with doors, but this train didn't have them. In our car, the seats fold into beds and then they hang curtains. When we arrived, our beds were all made with fresh sheets, and, apart from the constant swaying and bumping which interfered with sleep in a major way, it was quite cozy. The longest part of the trip was from 7 am on. The scenery wasn't as spectacular as I'd heard so it was a very long 6 hour sit till we arrived in Chiang Mai. The toilet, a story in themselves, were metal squatties (on a bumpy train) with a big hole that emptied out onto the track. Interesting. Once in Chiang Mai, we negotiated a great deal on 2 Tuk Tuks and headed for Galare Guest house. What an amazing place (for $35 bux a night) and we totally fell in love with the city of Chiang Mai.
Okay, so this may be 4 or 5 parts, I'm tired. More later.