Thailand Part 3 – Phuket

Day 229: October 27, 2018

We arrived in Kuala Lampur on our flight from Sri Lanka then found our way to our gate. I scheduled my next couple of days to hopefully motivate myself. Our flight to Bangkok left at 12:25 pm. We both could not stay awake for this flight. We might have had an hour sleep on the previous flight.

We arrived in Bangkok and put together a package of souvenirs to send home. Then we went up to a food court to get some breakfast. Our flight to Phuket, Thailand left at 11:30 am and was 1.5 hours long.

We arrived and put more money on the SIM card we had bought previously. Then we hired a Grab car to take us to our Airbnb. It was about a 40 minute ride from the airport. We are in a nice condo with a pool and a gym. It will be a great place to relax.

Danny wasn’t feeling well, probably from the lack of sleep. He took a nap and I walked up the road to a grocery store. Half of it was filled with junk food. I found enough to be able to put together a meal and walked back.

I knocked on the apartment door and no answer. I pounded on the door and no answer. Eventually a door opened, a man looked out and he glared. He was about three doors down the hallway. I decided Danny was asleep and I better stop knocking. I sat down surrounded by grocery bags and sent Danny a FaceBook message of gifs expressing my feelings. I would have taken the key, but it powers the A/C and Danny was feeling overheated so I left it.

Forty minutes later I heard footsteps inside so I knocked quietly on the door. Danny slowly opened the door and sleepily looked out. He felt really bad.

Danny went back to sleep and I updated our expenses then started making supper. We watched some news then finally went to bed.

Day 230: October 28, 2018

I slept until 10:00 am this morning. I really needed the sleep and the bed was so comfortable. Danny was waiting with breakfast and tea for me. After, we went up to the gym and had a good workout.

Pumping iron in the hotel gym

We then walked up the street to a different grocery store than the one I had been to the previous day. This one had even less, but we found enough to make another meal. We stopped at a restaurant and ordered a vegetable stir fry and spring rolls for lunch. Back at the Airbnb, I finished updating our expenses and caught up on blogging. Danny went for a walk to check out the nearby beaches.

Canal coming in off the ocean

For supper, Danny made smokies, potatoes and salad. We watched some news then I FaceTimed Erin before we went to sleep.

Day 231: October 29, 2018

We woke up and had some yogurt for breakfast then watched some Netflix. Danny decided to head out for the day. He went to the Big Buddha statue and Wat Chalong by taxi. I was sad when Danny first left. It has been so long since we have actually been apart. It was nice to be able to do my own thing in my own time.

Big Buddha
Wat Chalong

I went to the gym for an hour then made myself a salad for lunch. I cleaned up the apartment a bit then went down to the lobby. The spa I had booked with picked me up and took me up the road. It was only a five minute drive, but I appreciated not having to walk in the heat. I had a very nice Thai massage that had lots of stretching. After, I had a pedicure. I felt very relaxed by the end. I got a ride back to the Airbnb and Danny was waiting outside the door. We were supposed to meet at 5:00 pm, but Danny didn’t have a watch so he was a bit early.

We shared about our days and it was nice to have different things to talk about. We decided to walk to a Canadian Thai bar in town called Nok and Jo’s. We followed a way that GoogleMaps said was quicker, but the road ended up being private. We had to completely back track and I started feeling very anxious. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m frustrated I got the directions wrong, walking on the road made me uncomfortable or the heat and humidity were getting to me. Thailand for some reason does not seem to suit me.

We arrived at the bar as the sun was going down. We had some drinks then a poutine for an appetizer. The gravy was a bit runny, there wasn’t much cheese and the cheese wasn’t curds, but it tasted all right. Then we had Thai food for our main meal.

Supper at Nok and Jo’s

We walked back to our Airbnb and started looking through our pictures from the very beginning of our trip. We only got about a third of the way then went to bed.

Day 232: October 30, 2018

I didn’t have a very good sleep. My throat hurt a bit when I first went to bed and then it didn’t go away. I woke up feeling quite sick.

Danny brought me breakfast in bed then went to the grocery store to pick up some items. He went for a workout after that while I watched Netflix.

Danny did some planning for the last couple of weeks of our trip then made pasta for supper. We watched Moana with our supper then went to bed.

Day 233: October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween!

I slept in again this morning as I still wasn’t feeling very well. Danny called his parents then made scrambled eggs for breakfast. We watched some Netflix and Danny went to get some groceries: water, apple juice and treats for Halloween.

We had some leftovers for lunch then Danny had a workout while I had a nap. Danny made pasta for supper. We decided to switch clothes so we felt like we had dressed up.

Our Halloween costumes

There was a party at the bar next to our Airbnb, but I just wasn’t feeling up to it. Instead we cuddled in bed and watched The Shining. We aren’t really scary movie people, but it felt appropriate. After we watched some Halloween specials of The Simpsons before bed.

Day 234: November 1, 2018

I slept in again as I was still not feeling very well. We walked up the road to a restaurant for breakfast then bought some more water at the grocery store. Afterwards. Danny went down to the beach while I caught up on blogging.

Bang Tao beach

For supper, we went back up the road to a pizza place. The pizza was amazing so we ordered a second one. Sadly, the second one is never as good.

Back at the Airbnb we finished going through our pictures of the trip. It was nice to look back at all the places we’ve been. We’ve had so many once in a lifetime experiences on this trip. There are some places we have enjoyed more than others, but everywhere has expanded who we are. Our relationship as a couple has evolved as well. There have been many, many battles, but also a lot of love, caring and understanding.

Day 235: November 2, 2018

I was up fairly early as I couldn’t sleep. We had breakfast then finished packing our bags. We chose to fly to Bangkok a day early so that we wouldn’t have to sleep in the airport to make it to our next early morning flight.

Around 11:30 am we got a Grab car to the Phuket International Airport. We had lunch there then boarded our flight to Bangkok. If you haven’t been following the news, Thai Lion Air recently had a plane crash soon after take off. This was our airline to and from Phuket. I think we were both fairly nervous on the flight and very thankful when we landed safely.

We took the free shuttle bus from Don Mueang Airport to Suvarnabhumi Airport (both in Bangkok) which took over an hour. We then took a Grab car to our hotel which was only 10 minutes away.

We checked in to our very basic hotel then had a very average Pad Thai at the hotel restaurant. We wanted to go to bed right away at 8:00 pm knowing we had to be up early for our 3:00 am shuttle to the airport. Neither of us were tired so we ended up talking way too late.

Phuket was a better experience for me than Chiang Mai and Bangkok. The streets were a bit quieter and less overwhelming. Getting sick probably didn’t help my impression of Thailand though.

Next we are flying out to Bhutan, a Himalayan country between India and China. The country was closed off from the outside world until the 1950s so we are interested to get a taste of their preserved culture.

M

Thailand Part 2 – Bangkok

Day 213: October 11, 2018

We were up early and caught a ride to the airport for our flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. From the Bangkok airport we took a Grab car to our Airbnb. It took a long time to get around the airport area. Our Airbnb was not as clean or as big as the place in Chiang Mai, but we had kind of expected that.

We chilled at the condo for a bit then took a Grab car to Rajadammern Boxing Stadium to see a Muay Thai match. We could have taken transit, but it would have taken three times as long and the cost of a Grab car is not that bad. We had pre-bought third class tickets online. The seats were behind a fence, but we sat in a spot with a clear view. The other side got very crowded where all the betting was happening.

The crowd was relatively quiet until the fourth match which obviously had more money riding on it. I was worried that I would be a bit disgusted by the fighting because posters we had seen showed blood and gore. I didn’t see that at this match. The fighting seemed more strategic than just pummeling each other. Muay Thai uses an eight point system: fists, elbows, knees and shins.

Muay Thai match

After seven fights, we decided to head out because I was getting tired. We walked up the street a bit to get away from the crowd and catch a ride back to our Airbnb.

We ended up walking passed some government buildings including the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. There were dozens of people camped on the street there with police around.

We walked up further and I went to put a request into Grab. I couldn’t pick a good spot for us to be picked up. I couldn’t remember the name of our condo. I was hot and sweaty and honestly a bit frightened walking this random street in Bangkok. I just became completely overwhelmed. It’s often forgotten how all the little things can just add up. I gave Danny the phone and walked away for a couple of minutes to calm myself down.

Once I had taken a couple of deep breaths, we walked across the street to a lit up temple that Danny wanted to see. A bit further up near a food market, I put in our location and we waited for our Grab. When we got back to the condo I felt so exhausted I just wanted to sleep.

Day 214: October 12, 2018

I woke up early and FaceTimed Jacklyn then called my parents. After Danny called his parents as well.

I booked us a massage up the street at 3:00 pm. It was at a place called Perception where the masseuses are blind. My masseuse did a really good job finding my tight spots.

On the way back to the Airbnb we went to the Unicorn Cafe where everything was unicorn themed. It was painted rainbow colours inside and there were tons of plush unicorns. We shared a unicorn hot chocolate and waffles with ice cream, all rainbow coloured and topped with cones to look like horns. It definitely brought up my mood.

Unicorn Cafe

We walked back to the Airbnb on the narrow streets with barely any sidewalk. We changed into our swimsuits and went down to the outdoor pool. The cool water was refreshing after sweating all day in the humidity. We swam for a bit then returned to our room. Danny made pasta for supper and we watched Frozen. Who doesn’t love happy endings?

Day 214: October 13, 2018

We slept in, had breakfast then took a Grab car to Taling Chan Floating Market which was supposed to be less busy and less touristy than other floating markets. We were dropped off and I was immediately overwhelmed. The heat, the humidity and the noise were all too much.

Taling Chan Floating Market

We bought tickets for a boat ride. It took us to Wat Chao Am where we were able to get out and look around. There were tons of roosters there. Some people bought bread to feed the fish which swarmed and jumped all over each other. It was incredible how many fish there were.

Fish outside Wat Chao Am

We returned to the floating market, found somewhere to sit and ordered some food. People cooked it at the sides of a large dock with short tables in the centre that you sat cross legged in front. We had huge prawns and papaya salad that was crazy spicy.

Prawns and papaya salad

I got a Thai tea to cool down then we got a Grab car to take us to Wat Arun. We were dropped off right as it started raining. It got harder so we stopped walking and sat on a bench under an overhang. A kitty visited with us, but only let us pet him a little bit. The rain got heavier so we went and sat in a window sill where the kitty had moved. He was happy we were there because he hid behind us while we got splashed on. He cuddled right in.

Kitty huddled behind Danny

The rain became a full down pour with thunder and lightning. We were stuck sitting in the window sill for about half an hour thinking it was going to get better. Finally it let up and the sun came out. We entered the temple and it was quite the site. We were able to walk part of the way up.

Wat Arun is a Buddhist temple which was originally built in the 17th century. The prang (towers) are decorated with seashells and porcelain.

Wat Arun

We walked out to the river for a look then decided to get a Grab car back to the Airbnb. There were more temples to see and the palace as well, but I was done with Bangkok.

We stopped at DHL on the way back to see how much it would be to send a package back to Canada, but their prices were insane. We decided to wait and see the cost of sending it by regular mail.

Back in our Airbnb we snacked then I watched Netflix while Danny went for a run. He returned and wanted to book some things, but we hadn’t decided yet if we were going to keep Myanmar or cut it. The political situation is a bit scary and Danny had been saying how we needed more time in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. I felt like we hadn’t made a decision on things yet, but Danny was feeling frustrated because he wanted to get things done.

We went for supper perturbed with one another. I’ve been feeling very anxious almost our whole time in Thailand. I think it is a combination of a bunch of different things.

We returned to the Airbnb and I sat on the couch waiting to talk, but Danny asked if I wanted him to leave for a bit so I could talk to my mom. I felt like he was brushing me off and didn’t want to deal with it. He thought I was upset with him and just needed someone to talk to. I went into the bedroom and bawled. I didn’t know what was wrong.

Was the lack of alone time getting to me? I felt like going home, but was that just because I was so uncomfortable? Will it even get better if we go home? I was the one that didn’t want to even think about going home a couple of months ago. I was ready to travel forever. Am I scared of what happens when its over so I just want to be back, make the decisions and at least know what is going to happen, where we will be living and all of that? Can my planning mind not handle that much unknown? Eventually I fell asleep, but it was not very restful.

Day 215: October 14, 2018

I woke up early, had a shower, got breakfast ready and FaceTimed Caitlin. Danny and I finished packing then walked up the street to the post office. I thought it was Monday, but it was Sunday so the post office was still closed. We caught a Grab car to the airport and right inside the door was a post office. We stuck our stuff in a box and it weighed seven pounds. It was mostly my winter clothes and our fancy clothes. We chose to send it the slowest way possible which will take three months, but then it only cost $40 CAD vs. $200 CAD.

We checked in to our flight, dropped our bags and got some sushi for lunch followed by Dairy Queen blizzards. Danny asked if he could use the i-Pad to book things. He explained that he had re-worked the schedule to remove Myanmar which he thought resolved the problem. I said he couldn’t have the i-Pad, but not to book things. He got very tense and I could tell he was upset. I kept waiting for him to say something, but instead he took his bag and walked away. Fifteen minutes before boarding Danny returned. He had spoken to his mom who helped him talk it out. He understood that he might have been pushing too hard to book things when I had indicated that I wanted to go home.

We boarded the flight which was only an hour to Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. We went to our gate for our flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka to talk some more, but it was noisy so we had to walk up to a different spot. An airport isn’t the best place to have a serious conversation. We talked some more, but I feel like there’s still more to be said. We start a tour of Sri Lanka tomorrow so I don’t know if we will get more free time to chat and I don’t know what more needs to be said.

We had a long layover in Kuala Lampur then boarded our flight to Colombo. We arrived and went through customs, picked up our bags and found our transfer driver. He took us to our hotel about half an hour away in Negombo. We took our bags to our room and I realized I had forgotten my purse in the car. Luckily, my passport and phone were still in my hand so there was nothing to critical inside. The hotel helped find the company that arranged the car, but they were already closed. We sat by the pool and met some of the people on our tour then went to bed.

We are hoping that the change of pace with a tour will help refresh us after the rough week we’ve had. We hope that Sri Lanka will give us a new perspective on our travels.

M

Thailand Part 1 – Chiang Mai

Day 208: October 6, 2018

We arrived by plane to Guangzhou, China quite late and had to walk to the international terminal. There, we looked around for somewhere to sleep. All of the seats had arm rests making it impossible to lay down. We found some lounging chairs and tried sleeping there. Danny ended up on the floor. I stayed on the chair, but didn’t sleep long as the cleaning ladies came around with mops. Eventually we decided to move to a hallway behind some stores and just lay on the ground. It ended up being more comfortable and we got a couple of hours sleep.

For breakfast we had Egg McMuffins then boarded our 2.5 hour flight to Chiang Mai, Thailand. We arrived in customs and couldn’t remember if we needed a visa. We figured if we couldn’t recall we likely didn’t. We got through customs easily although the line was long.

On the other side we purchased a SIM card and Danny exchanged our Chinese yuan for Thai baht. He also tried changing some of our remaining bills. He brought out a Mongolian bill and asked if he could exchange it. The lady shook her head no. Then he brought out an Egyptian bill and the lady shook her head no and smiled. Then he brought out a Georgian bill and the lady shook her head no and smiled some more. If only we had remembered to try to change the money in Beijing we might have gotten something for them.

We used the Grab app (similar to Uber) to get a ride to our Airbnb. It was a nice, new apartment with everything we need. Up the street we found a grocery store. Someone on our North Korea tour had told us that Thai people go out to eat and rarely cook at home. The grocery store had limited items and we paid only a little less than what we would pay in Canada. The grocery store seemed set up for foreigners whereas locals would buy from the markets.

Back at the Airbnb Danny made pasta for supper and I called my parents before we went to bed.

Day 209: October 7, 2018

Danny called his parents in the morning while I caught up on my journaling. We decided to go check out the gym in our Airbnb and had a good workout. We had leftover pasta for lunch and booked some things for the next couple of months.

Around 6:00 pm we headed to the Tha Phae Gate. We passed a Buddhist temple on the way that looked beautiful all lit up. Inside the Tha Phae Gate was the Sunday market. It was packed with people!

We found a food area and got some chicken pad Thai and spring rolls. I had a Thai iced tea which was amazing. We walked to another food area and had shrimp gyoza and a Nutella banana pancake for dessert.

Banana pancake at the Sunday night market

We walked up a bit further in the massive crowd then decided to head out. Then back to our Airbnb and got ready for bed.

Day 210: October 8, 2018

We slept in a bit this morning, had breakfast then went to the gym. After we went to the rooftop pool for a swim then lounged around reading our books for a bit. Danny made taco salad for supper and I finished up three loads of laundry. It was a nice relaxing day.

Day 211: October 9, 2018

I woke up a bit early and FaceTimed Kaleen. Danny and I had breakfast then went for a walk to see some temples around town.

We started at Wat Si Don Chai which we had passed numerous times on our walks. Then we visited Wat Upakhut. Both were fairly small, but along our walk anyways. Next was Wat Buppharam which was a bit larger and more interesting. It was established in 1497, but most buildings inside were from the late 1800s.

Wat Buppharam

We continued our walk to a massage parlour, Lila Thai, which employs ex-inmates. Our feet were washed and we were given a face cloth which we really needed because we were already sweating like crazy. We changed into some Thai pants and a t-shirt then went into a room similar to a physio place.

Danny had a head, shoulder and back massage and I had a Thai body massage. It was different than any other massage I’ve had. The lady sat up on the table with me and moved my legs into positions similar to yoga poses. Both of us felt really good afterwards.

We had lunch at a place just up the street then continued our temple visits with Wat Umong Mahathera Chan. Next was Wat Chedi Luang which was a nice surprise. There was a building called Inthakhin Pillar Uihara which said women were prohibited to enter because they “menstruate which is believed to humiliate and ruin the sanctity of the city pillar”. While I am very for respecting other cultures, there are certain things I have trouble handling…

Inthakhin Pillar Uihara

Next to it was Wat Chedi Luang constructed in the 14th and 15th centuries. During that time, it was 82 m tall. The upper 30 m fell down due to an earthquake in 1545. The structure was very interesting and reminded me a bit of the pyramids in Egypt.

Wat Chedi Luang

After the temple we decided to head back to our Airbnb. On the way, a guy on the street started talking to us. Our immediate response was to walk away thinking he was trying to sell us something. He ended up just being a tourist from Australia waiting for his wife and looking to chat. He told us there was going to be a parade that night of boys becoming monks. Then he discussed how his wife was there to pick out fabric for her clothing store. We probably could have chatted for a bit more, but we had to get home to get ready for our cooking class.

The company we booked our cooking class through picked us up at our Airbnb and took us to a local market to check out Thai spices and vegetables. We then went to the kitchen. We were able to chose a stir fry, a soup and a curry to make. For stir fries, Danny made gai pad med mamuang (stir fried chicken with cashews) and I made pad Thai (Thai style fried noodles).

Ingredients and finished products (pad Thai on the left and gai pad med mamuang on the right)

For soups, Danny made tom som (sour and spicy soup) and I made tom yum kung (hot and sour prawn soup). They were all soooo delicious. The food had so much flavour. We ate those then made Thai tea which is Ceylon tea with star anise and cinnamon. You mix the hot tea with condensed milk and some regular milk then drink it over ice.

Tom yum kung soup on the left and gang keow wan kai on the right

While we drank our tea we made gang keow wan kai (green curry). We had to mash all the ingredients up by hand for 10 minutes. We ate it with rice and were so full by the end. We received a ride back to our Airbnb and went to sleep.

Day 212: October 10, 2018

We woke up early, had breakfast then walked to the Elephant Nature Park office which was about 20 minutes away. We arrived, but then had to wait an hour for the van to pick us up. Everyone else on our tour was already inside. It was a 1.5 hour drive to the location of our Elephant Wellness tour.

The location of our program used to be used for riding elephants, but they now have a program overseen by the Elephant Nature Park which looks to treat the animals more humanely.

On the drive we were shown a documentary about how elephants are broken for riding and doing tricks. It was awful to watch. We rode elephants on our trip to Nepal a couple of years before, but never looked further into their treatment. Most elephant places in Chiang Mai advertise, “No Riding,” but on our drive we still passed some tourists riding elephants.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=bfGZpaXEZvE&feature=youtu.be#dialog

We were transferred from the van to the back of a truck which drove us the rest of the way. There were three elephants waiting with each of their mahouts (trainers).

Elephants that we took care of for the day

An elephant costs 2.3 million baht ($92,000 CAD) to buy. The program we were with buys the elephants to stop the riding and supports families to help them take care of the elephants.

The elephants main food sources are grass and leaves, but we prepared them a treat. We separated bananas, cut sugar cane and then fed it to the elephants. They ate the bananas super quickly and would ask for four or more in their trunks at once. The sugar cane took them much longer to chew.

Danny feeding the elephant a banana

Next we took the elephants for a walk. We walked up a hill and there was a muddy spot where the elephants scratched themselves against the hillside. We walked back down and were fed lunch.

Walking with the elephants

Bath time was next! We were given clothes to change into. Nearby was a small pond that the elephants entered first. We followed with buckets and a tree bark which is naturally soapy. The elephants rolled over and we rubbed them down. They seemed to enjoy it. When they were done they stood up and walked out.

Bath time

In the wild, elephants live to be 65-70 years old. In captivity they live to be 80-90 years old because they can be fed softer food when they no longer have teeth.

Back at camp we prepared balls of rice, tamarind and bananas that are typically fed to older elephants. The elephants we visited were between 30-50 years old so they didn’t have to eat the softer food, but it was a nice treat for them. We put the balls right into their mouths and you could feel their strong tongues.

Elephant’s tongue

We changed back into our clothes and fed the elephants some more bananas and sugar cane then said our goodbyes. The van returned us to our Airbnb in Chiang Mai.

Danny and I chilled until 6:00 pm when we met Craig who we had met on our trip to North Korea. He was also in Chiang Mai for a couple of days and staying in the same condo. He had some friends that lived in town and we went to their restaurant for supper. It was a vegan restaurant and the food was so tasty.

We ate and chatted then took the long way back to the condo through a market then over two bridges. We returned to the condo and said our goodbyes before bed.

Chiang Mai was a nice town that was easy to walk around. It was very touristy, but we were glad for the quaintness. There was lots to do nearby, but sadly we didn’t have quite enough time to relax and see everything. Tomorrow we catch a flight on to Bangkok.

M