Thursday, December 6, 2012


So, instead of trying to tackle the traditional Thanksgiving dinner in my Playskool oven we decided to visit Thailand and have Pad Thai.  It may be my favorite Thanksgiving ever!  We started our one week tour in Bangkok, which is a relatively short 4 1/2 hour flight from Shanghai.  Our first day we walked through China town (insert irony here), and Little India.  The markets were a lot of fun to walk through and sold food, toys, clothing, and almost anything else you might need.  The temple in China town we stopped at was a simple one by Thai standards, but was still very beautiful and ornate to our very Western eyes.  With President Obama in Bangkok at the same time as us (seriously!) we had to rearrange our plans, so we ended up seeing Loha Prasat, the last known metal castle, which was beautiful to see and is actually a temple and not a castle.  Our second day in Bangkok we saw Wat Pho, Bangkok's oldest temple, where the kids learned how to pray to the Buddha and we all got a traditional Thai foot massage at the massage school on the temple grounds.  By then it was time for our private long tail boat ride on the river.  This was not a quiet leisurely boat ride, this is a busy river with many boats constantly passing by, but it was a great to see another side of the city.  Our last stop in Bangkok was the Grand Palace, the former residence of the royal family.  Although open to the public it still has palace guards and it still used for ceremonies and other important events.  The royal family now live in a modern (aka; air conditioned) home, well palace, since I doubt they have a cozy 4 bedroom, 3 bath house.
After saying good bye to Bangkok we took a one hour flight to Chaing Mai in northern Thailand.  Before we started exploring the city we had a few hours to relax at the hotel pool and have lunch, and aside from Charlie splitting his chin open on the pool ledge it was a great afternoon.  By late afternoon we were ready to start our trek (by van) up the mountain to see Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, where there is a huge gold pagoda that can be seen from the city below.  Inside the temple the kids added their names to a cloth that will be wrapped around the pagoda when it is finished.
Our second day was spent at the Chiang Dao Elephant camp, where we got to feed the elephants a breakfast of bananas, and watch them get a bath in the river.  Then it was off to elephant school where the elephants learn the tasks they need to be a helpful member of the family, but it isn't all work, they do art too!  Once school was out we had a beautiful hour long ride down the river on a bamboo raft, it was hot but so worth it!  River raft ride over we finally got to the highlight of the day, an hour long ride on an elephant through the jungle.  Sitting on a wood seat with a "seat belt" we wound through the gorgeous jungle and then up the river back to camp where we had a very yummy lunch waiting for us.
From the elephant camp we headed to Monkey school instead of visiting with a tribal village.  As much as I would have love to visit with the tribe it would have meant a two hour drive back to the hotel and the kids were already worn out form spending the day outdoors in the heat and humidity.  Our fabulous guide, Yo, recommended that we go to see the monkeys since it was on the way back to the hotel and was much more likely to interest the kids.  We watched the monkeys do all kinds of "tricks" and even got to feed them some snacks.  Charlie liked them as long as they kept their distance from him, but Lily had no problem posing with one for a picture.  Charlie did like the baby monkey and had no problem feeding him, he must have related to the little one!  After that amazing day we grabbed dinner at a local restaurant and then went to the night market.  Thailand comes alive at night!  All down the main street there are stalls one after another filled with all kind of crafts and clothing.  There were also several turn offs from the main street that were a lot like a large courtyards filled with stalls and restaurants.  We had such a good time walking around and picked up several great souvenirs.  Lily and I also visited a fish spa, for about $5 each we got to put our feet in water filled with little fish that eat away your dead skin and help to improve circulation in your feet.  It may sound gross but it was actually a lot of fun and really tickled.  The surprising part is that it was Lily's idea!  Just as we were finishing up at the market we saw some lady boys, something Thailand is famous for.  For a few bucks we had our picture taken with them, Charlie couldn't stop staring at them and Lily didn't seem to understand why boys would dress up that way, but excepted it in the way of a five year old.

Early the next morning we drove to the Sankampaeng hot springs where the water temps are in excess of 100C.  Yo, got us a couple of baskets of eggs to boil in the springs, turns out the kids both preferred the quail eggs.  Breakfast over, we headed to a private bath where we could take advantage of the springs medicinal properties.  With the temps being so high we used the "warm" faucet which was a very comfortable bath temp.  Once we had dried off and changed we continued on to the village where we would be spending the night.  We did make a quick stop at a local market to pick up ingredients for Pad Thai, our Thanksgiving dinner.  Our host was incredibly nice and let me help make dinner, although I think she enjoyed having someone to help with all the chopping!  After an amazing dinner Lucas, Lily and I all had a traditional Thai massage, it was incredibly relaxing, a wonderful treat and the perfect way to end the day.  The next day started at with the crow of a rooster at four am!  The only cool part was that you could hear all the roosters in the village echoing through the mountains.  We had a simple breakfast was fried eggs and toast, although, Charlie did try the meal worms that are part of a traditional Thai breakfast.  The truly amazing part is that he liked them, yuck!  Before we headed back to the airport for our flight back to Bangkok we visited the Mae Kampong waterfall.  While Lucas and I made the trek to the top of the falls Yo kept the kids busy making hats with banana leaves.

Our last stop on our tour was Hua Hin, a city on the Gulf of Thailand, and home of the royal family's summer palace.  We spent a relaxing morning swimming and collecting shells before leaving our slice of heaven in search of lunch.  Since the kids had been so good about eating the local cuisine we decided to treat them to pizza at an incredibly western style mall.  To get back to our hotel we took a local taxi or tuk tuk.  Most tuk tuks are pretty simple, we however ended up with one all tricked out, so instead of a quiet ride we bopped on down the road with the music blaring! The kids loved it.

Back in Bangkok we met up with Pat, a former colleague of Lucas's who now lives in Thailand.  Pat took us out for dinner and to a local market the next morning before we finally headed back, again, to the airport for our flight home.  We had such an amazing time and we are looking forward to our next trip in the spring...

1 comment:

  1. You'll always remember this Thanksgiving. What a great way to get through an American holiday while living in China!