Sunday, 13 July 2014

One Night in Bangkok

How on earth did we end up in Thailand already? It was to be our last country on our yearlong tour, and suddenly we were there.  I use the term loosely because in actual fact we visited 28 countries and spent a year travelling before we made our way to Thailand, but still it seemed sudden.   It was rather unbelievable having only a single digit number of days left before we started heading towards home.  We had a lot of ground to cover, places to go, people to meet, and lots of shopping to do.  Perhaps if we jam packed our days with outings, we could prolong the end.  In reflection that was wishful thinking and our time in Thailand flew by in a heartbeat.
On the bus checking out the city.
The fastest way to get downtown was by boat on the Chaopraya River
Cool tuk-tuks, although we never actually had a ride in one!
The Asiatique Night Market
Temple Arun "Temple of Dawn"
We need to get a couple of these signs for the cottage!  Too funny!
We booked into a beautiful Air BNB for our adventures in Bangkok.  In the middle of the city we felt like we were in the jungle.  The greenery was beautiful, the sounds of nature so soothing and our hosts exceptional.  Raewyn and Charlie spoiled us and made us feel so comfortable.  Our favourite moments were spent on the deck, feasting on fruit, listening to the sound of the wind chimes, cooling off in the pool and watching a very large and unwelcome lizard roam around the property, “pinching” fish from Charlie’s ponds.  We even treated ourselves to some traditional Thai cuisine, home cooked by Charlie’s sister and delivered right to our door. 
Mmm mango!
It is a rough life!
A little piece of heaven in the garden!
We had the pleasure of meeting an amazing travelling family, the Crawfords and were able to host them
at the Air BNB.  We had such a great afternoon and evening together!
We enjoyed a wonderful meal with Raewyn and Charlie on our final day in Thailand.
Charlie BBQ'd, something we hadn't enjoyed in quite some time! 
Raewyn volunteers her time at a children’s orphanage and we emptied out our suitcases of medications, shoes and clothing that we could leave behind with her.  The number of children entering orphanages in Thailand had continued to rise and there was certainly a need for volunteers like Raewyn.  We too would have liked to have volunteered; however, due to an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease, even Raewyn was not able to go in to work.

 Charlie and Raewyn also took us on a tour to the Damnoen Saduak, floating market and the River Kwai – it was amazing.  Like most of my overly romantic conceptions of places I would visit this year, the floating market was no exception.  I had seen photos of beautiful people in colourful boats selling anything from fruits and veggies to souvenirs.  I was excited to finally get to see it, particularly after passing on the floating village in Cambodia.  I was not disappointed, and Mark captured some beautiful photos of our adventure.  Mark loved seeing the River Kwai and visiting the museum there.  The highlight for Charlie and Raewyn, was a stop at the war cemetery on the way home, where Mark played the bagpipes.  Charlie absolutely loves “Braveheart” and the bagpipes and Mark found it a pleasure to play for him and Raewyn.
Heading out to the market.
The market wasn't too busy today.
So fun!
Transactions on the water.
Tour boats and vendors made their way through the canals.
If you wanted anything you just pulled up along side the vendor and started negotiating.
cool eh!?
I just loved the colour and atmosphere.

Mark and his girls at the River Kwai.

The bridge was so beautiful and peaceful today, yet the toll it took to build the
railway was horrific.
'Playing' our respects at the War Cemetery.
Auntie Marilyn had arranged for us to visit Saint Gabriel’s School, where she had worked years back, to meet Atithai and Brother Philip.  We were treated to a private tour of Brother Philip’s butterfly museum, which housed thousands and thousands of butterflies and other insects from Thailand, which he had collected throughout his life.   It was incredible; we saw butterflies and insects, which had been named after Brother Philip, and we even got to see a case of the most expensive butterflies in the world.  The selling price for one of these rare species was 100 000.00 baht, approximately $3000.00 each.  It was an hounour to meet Brother Philip and my insect unit at school just got a whole lot more interesting! 

Atithai, Brother Philip and his assistant showing us some expensive butterflies!
This work of art was created with butterfly wings!
Signing the guest book afar enjoying some mango with Brother Philip.
We couldn't help but take a photo of this office at Saint Gabiel's - it is a different world of education here!

Atithai and his wife Patsy were also a pleasure to meet and we enjoyed a delicious Thai meal at the Ancient House, together.  Patsy wanted to ensure we tried some traditional Thai dishes and one of our favourites was Thai salad, or what we called ‘poppers’.  It consisted of folding a leaf into a cone and filling it with fish, ginger, nuts, shallots, lime, and a sweet palm sugar sauce – the flavour was divine and it was quite fun assembling them and popping them into our mouths.  We enjoyed them so much we ended up ordering them again during our final Thai dinner out.
This is what the poppers looked like - so yummy!

Enjoying a last feast of Thai food!

The crazy part was this beautiful meal along the river cost us less than thirty dollars!
Besides Brother Philip, Atithai and Patsy, Auntie Marilyn had arranged for us to meet her ‘Thai daughter”, Ms. Oum, before we headed home as well.  Ms. Oum, and a couple of her colleagues and friends, Nick and Oui, treated us to a trip to Ayutthaya for the day.  We stopped for an amazing lunch of crab, shrimp, calamari and lots of other Thai treats at a fish market.  Although we had mainly eaten vegetarian while in Asia, we were quite thankful that we embraced the ‘sea (river) food’, it was so tasty.  The fish was rubbed in salt and barbequed to create a mild, mouth-watering flavour, the shrimp were gigantic, and ‘fresh’ was an understatement.  After stuffing ourselves, we headed back to the car to continue our tour when a very friendly baby elephant grabbed my arm – I was shocked!  It is not everyday that you are walking along, deep in conversation, and look up to see an elephant in your path.  Although it surprised me, it was kind of neat to feel the strong trunk wrapped around my wrist.  It was an amazing day and a pleasure to meet Ms. Oum, Nick and Oui.
Preparing the salted fish for the grill
What a great day spent with new friends!
Another feast fit for kings... or queens!
Now this was a surprise!
Making a wish as we add gold to the seven Buddhas
Another stunning temple
My superhero at the toy museum!
On the way home we stopped off for a treat - They are best described as candy floss filled crepes - so delicious!
The people we met in Thailand were beautiful in so many ways.  We felt so fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet so many new friends and spend time with them.  Each one of them went out of their way to share their beautiful country with us. Thank you to each one of you!  I have said many times during this adventure that the people we have met have had such an impact on our lives.  So often, it is not the places we have visited that hold a special place in our hearts, but the people we have met along the way. 
Beautiful people! No, not us... Atithai and In!
We are so fortunate to have friends like these!
We fit in some shopping at the world’s largest market and bargained away for some great deals.  The Chatuchak Market covers more than 35 acres with more than 8000 market stalls.  It is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Bangkok with a typical weekend bringing in more than 200 000 shoppers.  I do enjoy a good shopping trip, but this was insane!  You name it, you could find it here, at least once.  We quickly learned if you liked it, you had better buy it, because there was no way we would be making our way back to that same stall again later!  Even Mark and Meg, the non-shoppers, enjoyed their time at Chatuchak.
Money can buy you anything in Thailand - so crazy!
Grandma, this photo is for you!  The seamstress is busy working away in the heat on the sidewalk!
Hot chills anyone?
Or how about some shoes?
Fish was plentiful.
Old Siam Mall, silk fabric - check!
We couldn't resist taking photos of the food in Thailand, not only was it delicious but pretty too!
We certainly ended our world tour on a high in Bangkok.  Despite trying to prolong the end, it inevitably came, and to my surprise, I was okay with it.  Although I absolutely loved Thailand and will be back again, I found myself looking forward to starting the journey home, it was time, but why rush off when you can fit in one last pampering session?
Our last day of pampering!
We are going to miss this I think!


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