On Monday, November 17th, we embark on a trip to Bangkok, Thailand. Check back regularly for travel pics and posts.
Monday November 17, 2014
ORD-ICN Seoul South Korea
Two words. Yoga pants.
I'll never fly in anything again except yoga pants. Akin to pajamas but not quite the "I give up" look that people who actually wear pajamas in public scream as they push shopping carts in spongebob jammie pants at Walmart.
I mean, I not nearly as fashionable as Martha Stewart - yes, THE Martha Stewart on OUR flight - but with the pants and my pashmina I bought in San Diego earlier this year, I pulled it off.
The check-in desk was nice enough to give us three seats instead of two since it wasn't a full flight and we were near the exit door so we could disembark to our connection - which had a measly 45 minutes of layover time. I'm hoping it'll be enough time to hit the candy store to replenish our goody bag.
As I write this, we still have 4 and a half hours left on the first leg of our trip. It was about that long ago that I thought to myself, well, we'd be in Vegas or Cali by now...this is gonna be a long flight. With so many miles behind us, the next couple should go fast...I hope.
We have been reading but did take a movie break halfway thru the flight - Hunger Games - so much better the second time and so much darker. Makes me want to read the book again but I have so many books with me and it'll be another ten hours before we touch down in Bangkok.
Two more words. Complimentary slippers.
Onto leg two - Seoul to Bangkok.
More to come...
Tuesday November 18, 2014
Officially been up 24 hours.
Our connection to Bangkok started with a 30 minute layover after we went thru security. Barely enough time to soak in the airport.
The second flight was only 5 and a half hours but it was still long. Watched Begin Again which is a lovely movie (and probably lovelier without the language edits). Meant to mention our first flight we were given three seats and got to stretch out, the second flight not so much. We call that taking the helicopter!
Right about now I wonder what Martha Stewart is doing. LOL
When we land, we are getting our cash exchanged and heading straight to the hotel where I'll make my family calls and to the hell to sleep.
Part 2 a we've arrived at our hotel.
It's the shit. And by "the shit" I mean it's so good if we didn't leave we'd be just fine. But we will leave tomorrow, to hook up with hubby's dad aka Mad Dog.
Wednesday November 19, 2014
Let it be known that the W hotel in Bangkok has THE most comfortable beds. I may have to smuggle one home. Today we met up with hubby's dad and went to Terminal 21 - an eight level shopping mall similar to Water Tower Place but with better stores and much more of them. The most fun was at Pink Pvssy. That's not a spelling error. It had lots of fun inexpensive gifts like scarves, wallets, jewelry and tacky magnets. It was great! We had lunch at Tony Roma's and then walked through Soi Cowboy.
Soi Cowboy was the location used in the Hangover 2 movie. Going during the day, in the heat of the afternoon, our senses - particularly our sense of smell - was attacked by street vendors and the desparation of the twenty-something customers sitting in the outdoor bars. The short street is well known for being a red light district and at night girls dance on the bars in bikinis. We did not go back at night for obvious reasons.
We had a late meal at the hotel and turned in early as tomorrow we have a private tour scheduled.
Thursday November 20, 2014
Today we had a private tour of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Our first stop was Wat Tramit. A Wat is a temple and this particular one housed the world's largest solid gold Buddha. When we arrived at the temple, we were approached by many people offering to sell umbrellas (for the sun), pins with the king's face on it and there were men with cameras snapping our picture as we tried to make our way to the steps.
On the fourth floor, as is customary, we removed our shoes and took the stairs up into the temple. Stepping over the threshold, (another respectful tradition) the site of this ten foot tall golden Buddha was overwhelming. Since one of the purposes of this trip was to see real statues of Buddha, I was rendered speechless and overcome with such emotion that all I could do was stand at the base of the alter with my mouth hanging open. I was mesmerized. I suddenly felt a connection to the people who worshipped this god. I questioned my own loss of faith. I wondered if they had an "enlightenment" I was too selfish and ignorant to understand. I wished I had something like this in my life but knew my nature wouldn't allow me to believe in anything other than scientific proof. All this ran through my mind in mere moments. I seriously almost lost my shit.
Then I saw the monk in the robe with the cell phone and snapped out of it.
We then headed to Wat Pho. The 150 foot reclining Buddha was breathtaking. The feet are crafted in shimmering mother of pearl. The grounds house around 100 chedi, or religious monuments, that are decorated with porcelain mosaic.
Our final stop was Wat Phra Kaeo and the Grand Palace.
Wat Phra Kaeo is home to the Emerald Buddha and the amazing Phra Si Rattana Chedi. It stands in the upper terrace and is built of golden tiles. This Buddha is the most sacred image in the kingdom, it stands just 26 inches tall, and is dressed based on the season, of which there are only three--spring, rainy, and winter. The buildings are mesmerizing in royal palace area of Wat Phra Kaeo. There are offerings made outside the temples of food and flowers. Incense burns and holy water is offered to all for good luck while other-worldly creatures stand guard and flank the walls of the many buildings. The detail of each building is mind-blowing.
Friday November 21, 2014 - Tuesday November 25, 2014
This is where it all gets fuzzy because A. a lot of time has passed since our trip and B. the rest of the trip was spent in colossal football field-sized malls. I'm not kidding. The malls in Bangkok make our shopping centers look tiny. Seven to eight floors per mall and each floor has twenty to thirty stores. From the typical Thai shopping center MBK (short for Mahboonkrong) to the high end Siam Paragon, we walked and walked and walked in a retail haze. Our trip to the Chatuchak market was by far the most mind blowing. Touted as one of the world's largest outdoor markets, the stalls at the Chatuchak over 27 acres and can have over 200,000 visitors on any given weekend. Slim walkways separates row after endless row of booths selling clothing, books, furniture, ceramics, souvenirs, handbags and...puppies!
The lovely part of our hotel was being so close to the skytrain. The last few days of our trip we would walk the half block to the train, head to National Stadium which was about four stops away, and hit the malls. Admittedly, we were not fond of the food in Bangkok, so finding the Hard Rock Cafe was like finding gold. The staff actually started recognizing us after our second trip there. Our first night heading to the Hard Rock, we were walking along the street when we came upon a small cart. Now, there are cats and dogs roaming the streets so it didn't phase me by day four to see a small furry creature sitting in this cart, munching away at whatever food someone had left out for it. Until we realized it was not a cute little doggie or kittie, it was...a rat! And a big ass rat at that. We saw it, it saw us. We jumped, it jumped and scurried away. Yikes.
I think we've had our fill of malls (and rodents of unusual size!) for a while. We spent our last days lounging by the pool before heading to the airport for our first flight - five hours to Seoul. The plane seemed cramped and we tried to sleep. At the Seoul airport, we took a nap for a few hours because we had a long layover then watched a movie. The 13 hour flight back to Chicago didn't seem that long. In the air, time is different. It's just a number on the screen above the map that tracks where the plane is as it travels over the globe. After 88 degree days, 40 degrees in Chicago was quite refreshing. A small dusting of snow on the ground welcomed us home along with two puppies that couldn't wait to see us.
Bangkok was the trip of a lifetime and we were so lucky to have the opportunity to go. Bucket list item checked.