February 29, 2012

Leaving Bangkok for Chiang Mai

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 4:37 am

We had one more day in Bangkok hanging out with Nathan, which was awesome to see family in Thailand. We bought our train tickets in the morning for the overnight train to Chiang Mai, and then wandered around Chinatown since it was close by. We tried to follow a walking tour in the guidebook, but the streets are crazy so we just winged it and ate snack food from street stalls. It’s been surprisingly difficult to find vegetarian food in Bangkok, so we gave up on a full meal outdoors and went to a nice place with A/C in the mall that was listed in our guidebook. We gave Nathan the Bangkok transit tour by taking him on the underground metro, the river ferry and the skytrain all in a short period of time.

After saying goodbye to Nathan, we caught our train for the night. I was wary of overnight train travel with a baby, but it went great. It wasn’t too noisy, I got great sleep and Kim even slept pretty well considering she was sleeping with Geneveve in a pretty small bed.

We arrived in Chiang Mai in time for lunch. Chiang Mai is *much* easier to find vegetarian food in, there’s signs everywhere. It’s still a busy city, but nowhere near the level of Bangkok. The first afternoon we wandered around a little and book our tour to see the elephants the next day.

Today we saw the elephants, and it was amazing. We’re considering going back to do an overnight stay, but really don’t have hard set plans. The day of elephants has a lot to tell, so that will be a post of it’s own, and I have to go to get dinner soon.

February 26, 2012

First Few Days in Thailand

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 2:02 am

After a crazy long plane ride (20+ hours with a layover in San Francisco and Hong Kong), we arrived after midnight in Bangkok.  The plane ride was exhausting.  Geneveve slept pretty well, but it’s still much harder flying with a toddler that needs constant entertainment.  She did really well considering the length of the flight, but she had some moments that were rough.

With the sleep schedules completely thrown off we didn’t even sleep in that late.  Geneveve has been waking up around 6:30 every day, so we start early even though by the time we eat breakfast and get everything ready to head out it’s usually past 8 am.

On day one we took it easy and just walked around a little and went to the MBK mall to peruse the shopping and excellent vegetarian food court stall.  I was pretty jet lagged and it all seems like a blur.  The first night we met a friend of Kim’s from culinary school, Wariya, for dinner.  It was at a fancy hotel, not at all the kind of place we would normally eat, but good food nonetheless.

The next day Wariya took us around.  It’s always nice having a local to help navigate things.  We went to the giant palace where I had to rent pants to go over my shorts to be proper.  It was hot and crowded.  There’s a crazy little buddha statue in the middle of a room full of way too much gold decoration.  And lots of cool buildings.  Then we did the river tourist thing after lunch, which was refreshingly calm for this frantic city.

The afternoon activity of a Ukulele concert was probably the highlight of the day, in large part because Geneveve was a bit of a star.  People here *love* her.  They’re always waving to her, many try to touch her.  Geneveve was running around the concert crowd and dancing, and there’s probably more photos of her from that than there will be from our entire trip.  When Geneveve cries, people here stop and want to help, offering her food, toys, smiles and kind words.  It often helps, although when she’s really tired she just wants to be left alone.

Today we went to giant marketplace.  It’s a lot like other giant, crowded, market places in other parts of the world we’ve been in:  lots of people, hard to navigate, lots of crap, insane stuff for sale.  For Geneveve the best part was that the marketplace was next to a park with a playground.  She wore me out in the heat running up and down the slide.

I just had a Thai massage and it was the best massage I’ve ever had.  The little Thai woman really worked me to the point I was worried she might break me.  Most massages are far too light for me, but this one involved elbows and knees and arm bars so that sometimes I thought to myself if I was in this position in a fight, I’d be in huge trouble.  And it was for less than $10.  I’ll be doing that as much as possible for the rest of our trip.  Kim’s off getting one now, so we’ll see how she likes it.  I’m keeping Geneveve entertained playing the Muppet Manamana video on repeat so I can type this and it’s working pretty well.

Tomorrow we’re meeting Nathan before he flies out of Thailand, and then we’ll get out of Bangkok.  It’s a fascinating city, but it’s just a little too big and busy for us to stay much longer.  We’ll next head to Chang Mai in the north, probably for a week or so before we go down to the beaches to really relax.