Thailand Summer 2013 (How Many Buddhas!)
V and I spent about three weeks in Thailand in July 2013, as our graduation trip. It was a really good balance of culture and party, which Thailand naturally has, and we definitely managed to take advantage of it in a good way. We broke the trip up into three sections – Part 1: North (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Golden Triangle), Part 2: Bangkok and Ayutthaya, Part 3: South/Party (Phuket).
Thailand is great if you’re visiting as a tourist, no matter your age because the tourism industry is pretty well established and there is a standard that is similar amongst all of the touring agencies. We used Chaing Mai to Travel for Part 1 – but they seem to have disappeared. In Bangkok, in Nana, there is a travel agency which I had used multiple times while my parents stayed there, so I just went there to book our Bangkok ones and paid cash while booking. For Phuket, we used phukethotdeals.com. For Part 1 and 3, we booked online and paid when they picked us up.
1. Terminal 21
Malls are extremely important and versatile, especially in hot places like Thailand. Instead of parks and outdoor spaces, the air-conditioned mall is basically the playground. So a lot of thought and planning and creativity goes into a mall.
Terminal 21 is an amazing example of this. It’s got everything a mall should have – well-known shops, food courts, toilets, restaurants…and THE bonus: Each floor is a different city.
After you enter through the entrance (security check), you’re in Rome. Rome has all the luxury brands and brand name boutiques, it’s decorated with marble and sculptures of Roman mythological figures, well-known paintings, it even has street and piazza signs!
Using the escalators (decorated with boarding gate numbers, so I guess the escalator = airplane), you can go down to the Caribbean, or up to Paris. You can see Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, and there are Thai designer’s boutiques and beauty shops lining The Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
Then up to Tokyo with the ladies’ boutiques. Fly up to London with iconic red telephone boxes, double decker busses, the tube! Fly to Istanbul next which is decorated with Istanbul style lamps and mini-shops of shoes, bags, jewellery and lots of gifts stuff (Idk I think it’s really cute and romantic and a really good date idea, this floor, teehee, hint hint?).
San Francisco spans two floors – there’s the city floor, there’s even a huge Golden Gate Bridge and a San Francisco Tram! And then there’s the Pier 21 floor, which actually fells like Fisherman’s Wharf up there.
How genius?! And just imagine how much fun planning all these things and getting them put together must have been!
Also, the bathroom attendants and security guards on each floor also have their own unique uniforms based on the city!
(+ free wifi. My uncle had just moved houses and his wifi wasn’t up and running the first day so it was a great excuse to be at T21 the entire day. The photo was taken in Paris toilets)
2. Reunion – rooftop bars – The Long Table
Basically across Sukhumvit from Terminal 21 is The Long Table, which has been a regular place for reunions for myself.
A picture from a previous visit that summer:
3. Elephants up north (Mae Taeng Area)
We were picked up at 7:30 by a jeepney and taken to a flower garden/butterfly sanctuary as our first stop.
Then off to an Elephant Village where we fed, bathed and rode elephants for a few hours. V was so excited, this was apparently the entire reason she came to Thailand (jokes, she loves me).
Everyone else who was on the trip were young, newly-married couples on their honeymoon, or their first year anniversary trip, so V and I really felt the love towards each other in a new way (the way her bf used to think we loved each other teehee).
After the Elephant Village we went on a trek up to a waterfall where we chilled and saw this cute monkey-shopkeeper.
After that we white-water rafted.
Then the last part of the day tour was to go see the Akha Hill Tribe.
3. Golden Triangle
Where three countries meet. Opium trade in the past. Optional boat trip to Lao country.
4. Chiang Rai – Wat Rong Khun (White Temple)
5. Chiang Mai
We went to Wat Phar Singh, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Chiang Man and Wat Suan Dok in our half day City and Temples Tour. Since V and I were the only people on the tour, our tour guide also took us to a flower market and an indoor market where we got to buy more of our favourite broad beans and try some of his favourite foods. (Perks of going during the rainy season).
6. JJ Market (Chatuchak)
We needed to buy a Buddha for V’s mum, and we found the perfect one here. My mum has bought and completed sets for her dish collection, and fancy Thai table lamps from here.
7. Red Wagons
8. Tuk tuk
This has always been very tourist, but each floor is a different type of thing – 5th floor, I believe, is electronics. It’s where we go to get new covers for our phones and get them to put the screen protectors on for us.
Walking distance to Siam Shopping Malls and Jim Thompson’s House, and Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre.
9. Jim Thompson’s House
Jim Thompson was born in Delaware in 1906. He was a practicing architect in NYC until 1940, when he decided to volunteer for service in the Army as there was an escalation of the war in Europe. His work and travels led him to Thailand by the end of the war and before getting discharged, he had fallen in love with Thailand and its people and began to seriously contemplate settling down and going to business in Thailand. He foresaw a promising future for the country and wanted to be part of this process.
Thompson successfully rebuilt the Thai silk industry and generated international demand for Thai silk.
Jim Thompson’s house, enveloped by beautifully landscaped gardens is a tribute to traditional Thai houses. The enchanting aspects of life along the khlong or the waterways, fascinated him – wooden houses in the cool shade of trees lining the river banks, their branches arching over across the khlong, the daily traffic-boats plying up and down the waterways selling their wares.
Traditional Thai houses, like temples, have steep roofs arching upwards towards the sky. Both the walls are inclined towards the centre creating the illusion of height and also, hot air rises, so the height of the roof keeps the house cool. A great number of windows and doors are carefully aligned to facilitate an uninterrupted flow and aid the circulation of air. In the hot and humid tropical climate, the airy, open quality of a Thai house and the broad overhangs of its roofs protects the interiors from both sun and rain.
The Thai house was built with the ease of assembly and disassembly in mind. The entire house is built in light, pre-fabricated sections with each section forming a wall – each wall is fitted together and hung on the superstructure (a frame of wooden pillars) without nails. In olden days, the fact that the house could be taken down and re-assembled with relative ease was well suited to the indigenous way of life – when families decided to move, as they frequently did, the house would be taken dow, stacked on a raft and floated down the nearest khlong to a new location.
Jim Thompson also realised that old houses lasted a very long time – he assembled his own house using old houses.
– info from http://www.jimthompsonhouse.com/
Father’s favourite mode of transport in Bangkok. No getting stuck in traffic, airy and cool breeze – can be a bit smelly though…There is a khlong stop very close to Jim Thompson’s house (and the front of the house you’d see is actually facing the khlong because that was the “main road” when the house was built).
Next stop on the khlong boats is the terminus where we had to change, and that is also where Platinum and Prathunam Market are.
When we first came to Bangkok in 2008, we were told by locals about Platinum and there were hardly any non-Thai people, or people who weren’t in a garments selling business who knew about it. Since then, it has become a lot more “known” by tourists and locals alike, and there has even been a whole new building added on.
The great thing about being in a group of four girls, as in my family, is that when you buy 3 or more things in a shop, you get the wholesale price!
Was founded in 1350. Second capital after Sukothai of the Kingdom of Siam. Ayutthaya historical partk is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The full name of Ayutthaya is Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya is named after the city of Ayodhya in India, the birtplace of Rama in the Ramayana (Thai: Ramakien); phra is a Thai royal and noble title; nakhon designates an important capital city (from Sanskrit: Nagar); the Thai honorific sri or si is from the Indian term of veneration Sri.
The reason I wanted to put that in here is to show the similarities between Thai and Indian culture/history/language. These are things that my parents and other elder family members automatically picked up on, the words in Thai which obviously had common roots to words they know (the difficult encyclopedia type words in Bangla and Hindi).
13. Bang Pa-in – The Summer Palace
There were a lot of cool buildings and a lot of cool pictures we took (which I have to find). The one I posted on instagram was this:
Because it reminded us of The Little Mermaid 2 – Eric and Ariel’s castle, and the place that Melody swam under…:D
14. Floating Market
We did another Half Day City & Sightseeing tour in Phuket, so that we could visit all of the different beaches and view points. Because we did two tours (this one and the Phi Phi Islands speedboat tour), we got free airport transfer.
Karon Viewpoint – one of the most photographed places in Phuket
Phuket Big Buddha
Cashew Nut factory
And there was a surprise in between Rawai Beach and Phuket Big Buddha: We got to see how rubber is collected from trees and made into tyres + a demonstration of the spices used to make Thai Red Curry
16. Phi Phi Islands
+ Maya Bay, Loh Samah Bay, Monkey Beach + lunch + Koh Khai Nok with beach time and swimming, snorkeling
17. Krung Thep Maha Nakhon – Grand Palace and Temple & City Tour