I already wrote that we had a tough time getting to Thailand, it was a long trip and the layover in Wuhan was weird and scary.
Wuhan was not like I expected whatsoever. We first disembarked from the plane directly to a bus and then went to the main airport terminal. The first thing that we had to do was go through Chinese immigration. That was scary! I was really sweaty and nervous despite knowing that we were a straight forward 72 hour transit visa exemption. My passport was moist! They looked at our papers for a while then waved us through. I do have a Chinese stamp on my passport now, kind of cool.
We went down a medium sized hallway to a waiting area with some benches. It was tiny! In fact there were only two small shops, a bathroom, and an information desk. The attendant at the information desk spoke some English but we think that there was a communication error because she told us to wait until half an hour before boarding. That seems like it would cut it way to close so we decided not to do that. There was a screen with the information for our flight and it had a time under STA or something like that. We waited until that time, maybe 45 minutes, then tried to check in. I’m glad that we did! There was no problem checking in and in fact the check in counter apparently closed 45 minutes before takeoff! If we had waited half an hour we would have been stuck in Wuhan for who knows how long. That would have been a nightmare.
The SO and I passed through the security checkpoint really easily but his brother was randomly selected for a major search. They went through everything in his bag and examined his doubled edged safety razor, which didn’t have a razor blade so it was okay to bring as a carry on.
It was much more relaxing to wait a the gate after checking in. It honestly went by pretty fast for me.
We had to take another bus to the airplane. As we neared the plane I noticed that there were three guys looking at the port side engine. They didn’t seem to be fixing anything but were checking things out, pointing and talking a lot. It made me kind of nervous going in, but it wasn’t enough to stop me.
The flight to Bangkok was uneventful. We were feed another meal that I was way too stuffed to eat. They seriously feed you on China Southern. Maybe it’s a hospitality thing? I tried to sleep but I couldn’t get into a comfortable position. The guys both nodded off at some point and slept most of the way there.
I think that the pilot missed the landing on the first attempt. As we were descending the plane started to go up unexpectedly. We drifted around the city for a while then finally made a hard landing well after the ten minutes they said it would take. Oh well, we were safe which is the important part!
After getting into the airport we all withdrew some baht from an ATM and were able to get sim cards for all of our cellphones. I was a little worried that mine was carrier locked to Verizon, but I’ve had no issues whatsoever. It’s only $30 USD to get a plan with 12gb data for the month so we all decided on that. I wish I had gotten a little more money but it seems like there are ATMs everywhere, at least in Bangkok.
Then we went outside and got a ticket for a taxi. We had been dreading dealing with drivers that refuse to use the meter but we had no problem. The ticket from the machine gave us a number which corresponded with a taxi that was waiting in that numbered space. My boyfriend’s brother asked him to use the meter and it wasn’t an issue at all.
Off we went to the hostel! That poor driver, we all had the stink of sitting in your clothes on an uncomfortable plane for hours. It was maybe a thirty minute drive.
In Bangkok traffic is on the left side of the road, which is quite disorienting! Especially when you are so tired. I had to tell myself that the fast lane was on the right and the exits were all on the left. Still, it was so weird to watch it happen.
Not long after we checked into our hotel and picked up some water bottles from 7-11. The bed was a bit hard so it took a while to get into a comfortable position. I had read that Thai beds are quite a bit harder than we are used to in the US, but reading about it and experiencing it are different things.
The next morning I was raring to go! Even though I hadn’t slept on the plane I felt energized and was able to get up early after a little sleep.
Eating Thai food in Thailand is amazing! It’s really cheap to get breakfast especially and there is food everywhere. It was only 35 baht for each of us, which is just over a dollar. We also got some sodas which were a measly ten baht. I honestly have no idea what the name of the restaurant we first ate at but they served a spicy curry soup with a whole bunch of toppings that you could add. One of them was this mysterious shredded vegetable which we found out later was a banana flower. It was really good in the shredded form, kind of crunchy and watery like a beansprout. When we were served a big piece of it my SO’s brother said it kind of dries out your mouth. I wonder what they do to make it crunchy/watery and not mouth drying?
After our amazing breakfast we decided to go to the Grand Palace and the shrine of the Emerald Buddha. It was kind of expensive for Thailand but it was an awesome place to see. It’s very interesting to see these temples decked out in shiny copper and tons of color, completely different from the austerity that religion is (supposed) to display in Western culture. We had bad timing so we missed the guided English tour by a half hour and it was over an hour until the next one so we just checked out the place at our own pace. It was nice to be able to linger over what was interesting and make our way through the complex.
I keep meaning to read up more on the wikipedia page about it but there’s been so much to do! My SO’s brother told me the the Emerald Buddha was found covered in plaster at some point, so they didn’t know that it was made out of Jade until they took it off!
There were also these cool murals everywhere depicting these ancient stories. As a westerner I had no idea what the stories were but it was really interesting art style and it was nice to take a break from the sun. The murals were around the edges of the complex along the wall, which thankfully had a roof to provide some shade.
Thailand is hot and sunny but not as bad as I expected. This is the cool season mind, so it can definitely be worse! I’m glad we decided to come when we did.
After the Grand Palace we decided to get some lunch. I’m not sure of the name of the restaurant but it was a nice air conditioned place along the main road through town, which I think is Sao Ching Cho. My boyfriend and I split the Tom Yum Kung with prawns soup and got a fried Chilean Sea bass. It was so delicious. My boyfriend’s brother got the Panang curry. It was really flavorful, but a little too sweet for me. With the bass there was even this funky fish broth dipping sauce/salad that made it really good. I was dipping the fish in it, but my boyfriend and his brother thought it was some kind of salad. I still think that it was some sort of sauce but we didn’t ask anyone so who knows?
Then we were pretty beat from walking all day so we took a nap back at the hostel. I think we went to the 7-11 for some beers and got some Pad Thai from across the street. Sadly the restaurant we were hoping to go to, which has excellent Pad Thai, was closed because it was a Monday. There was another restaurant nearby that also served Pad Thai which we went to instead. It took forever but it was all part of the experience. I also found a fly in mine back at the hostel, which was gross but I figured was going to happen eventually with street food. I felt fine the next day, so I think that I’m alright.
That was all on Monday!
Yesterday, which was Tuesday, we decided to take it pretty easy. My boyfriend got badly sunburned on his feet and all cut up by his sandals, while I had a lot of blisters from walking around in my sandals.
For breakfast we went to this place along the same road as our other breakfast place. It’s directly east from the hostel, down the road until you hit the big government building there, turn right then walk two blocks. We all ended up getting different things, I got the spicy duck curry, while my boyfriend got the fish curry, and his brother got this pork sausage curry. We also got this tasty herbal drink. I wish I remembered the name of it but I’ve already forgotten. It had this really interesting aftertaste, not a bad one but flavorful. It was green and they brewed it hot then poured it over ice.
After breakfast we walked through Khao San Road. It was totally dead but there were still a lot of hawkers trying to get us to the Grand Palace. My SO and his brother ended up getting these really thin pants that we’ve seen all over Thailand. They are apparently super comfortable. They have pictures of elephants on them a lot of the time.
At the edge of Khao San Road we went into a pharmacy and I got some motion sickness medicine. We planned to hire a longboat and take a tour of the canals next and I did not want to get sick on the boat!
Then it was a short walk to the river for that start of our leisurely boat ride. There were a lot of hawkers trying to sell boat rides but I think we managed to get the one that was mentioned in my SO’s brother’s guidebook. They had the same stops and prices, and we even managed to get a discount of 300 baht. Score!
Riding in the boat was so cool, we got to see people’s houses who were both rich and poor along the river. There were some awesome mansions and some ramshackle buildings halfway collapsed. I know in the US a lot of the structures that people were living in would have been completely condemned. There were also a lot of temples and and even what looked like little children that were buddhist monks. People were really friendly along the banks and would often stop to wave at us. It was really like a roadway, and we even noticed mailboxes along the water.
We also noticed that many of the houses had a little shrine outside. They are actually beautifully decorated though I did not know their function at the time. Now that I have had the chance to google it I know that they are Spirit Houses. Spirit Houses honor the Spirit that lives in a place and keep the spirits from causing trouble to human beings.
After twenty-thirty minutes we stopped at Wat Pho. That is the temple of the reclining Buddha. When you enter the building that it is housed in, you first walk along the front side of the Buddha. It was huge! We were maybe the size of one of it’s fingers. It takes up most of the building. We took some pictures there near the head but they didn’t come out all that well. More towards the feet there is a better vantage point and I was able to get a decent one of my bf and his brother. The boyfriend looks a little angry! He didn’t really feel that way but said that it was because he didn’t want his picture taken.
Unfortunately the Buddha’s feet, which are inlaid with intricate designs in mother-of-pearl, were being worked on and out of view. Bummer.
All along the front we were wondering about this noise that seemed to be coming from the other side. I sounded like the dropping of coins. Luckily we were allowed to go along the other side of the Buddha and found out what the noise was. On that side you could buy a bowl of 100 coins and put one each in a long row of bowls. It’s supposed to be good luck. We didn’t end up doing it but now I wonder if I should have.
I was honestly feeling a little sick at that point so we ended up leaving a bit early. I think it was putting too much spice in my food. In actuality the Thai food we’ve been getting hasn’t been terribly spicy! I think it’s just a Western thing to think that Thai food is unbearably hot.
After that we decided to get some lunch. We came across a Chinese food place and got some flavorful chicken dish, shumai, and fried rice. Thai Chinese food! The shumai were called something strange in English on the menu, like pork and shrimp with flour. I guess flour means dumplings? They were really good, I think they had a ton of garlic in them. Especially with the spicy soy sauce they served it with. The fried rice was interesting too, they used vegetables I’m not used to seeing and minced them pretty small. It was tasty and interesting. The chicken was kind of disappointing but I liked the Chinese broccoli that it was served with.
After lunch we hung out in my boyfriend and I’s room and planned out what to do over the next few days. Then we all took big naps.
That night we went out the Khao San Road again. Funny story, it just so happens to be Wan Ok Phansa. It’s sort of the end of the Buddhist version of lent. There are quite a few rules but one of the main ones is that you are not allowed to sell or buy alcohol during Wan Ok Phansa. My SO’s brother found that out talking to one of the other backpacker’s in the dorm. Later on I even saw that the people at the 7-11 wouldn’t sell alcohol to some tourists. I love being in the know!
Eventually we made our way to Khao San Road. We weren’t sure what we were going to find because of the alcohol restriction but decided to check it out. Right at the corner of Khao San Road there is a Burger King and we just so happened to have to go to the bathroom, so we all went to a Burger King in Thailand! It’s amazing, it looks just like in the US! I have no interest in eating American fast food in Thailand though, so we soon out of there and towards backpacker central.
I think that I will stop part 1 there. I started writing about our night in Khao San but I want to give it more detail. I guess I got a little tired when I was writing this last night and left out a lot. I’m going to start working on it now and hopefully get it out by tonight. I’m planning to catch up to the current time asap so I don’t start leaving things out or forgetting little details.