Why was Thailand one of our favorite adventures ever? Well, I think these highlights pretty much sum it up:
1. Buddhist temples. And Buddhist monks. And lots of them. Everywhere.
2. The people really ARE the friendliest and happiest we’ve ever seen
3. We rode an elephant. Through a river. In a rainforest. While being serenaded by a local who couldn’t speak English. Don’t believe us? Watch the video…
4. We channeled our inner Indiana Jones by exploring the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya and climbing down narrow stairways into deep, dark tombs that were literally in the process of being excavated
5. We were stuck on the River Kwai on a boat in the middle of a Thai monsoon… and lived to tell about it
6. We literally stayed in a hut in the middle of the jungle for a few days. And even though one of us came down with flu symptoms, it was still the journey of a lifetime
7. We sailed down a river through the rainforest on a tiny floating raft, which we even helped steer at one point:
8. We tried fresh, local foods like durian (it really wasn’t stinky, and it tasted amazing), mangosteen (the “mother of all fruit”), Pad Thai J’ai and coconut sugar. We still haven’t found anything back home in the United States that tastes that good!
9. We walked through trails, across bridges, and rode on trains that were all used by soldiers during WWII
10. We went swimming in a pool at the top of a skyscraper with a stunning view of downtown Bangkok
11. We stayed at a hotel on the same street in Bangkok where several scenes from The Hangover II were filmed
12. The Cabbages and Condoms restaurant. Seriously, Google it. You won’t find anything like that back home, that’s for sure!
13. Elephants… and riding elephants… and feeding elephants… and BABY ELEPHANTS!!!!
During the nearly two weeks we spent in Southeast Asia, we had a chance to see the stunning metropolitan city of Bangkok, the ancient ruins of temples in Ayutthaya, the Chao Praya and River Kwai, Kanchanaburi, and Taiwan (where we had connecting flights to and from the United States). We learned how to order vegetarian food in Thai, and rode on local transportation ranging from a “tuk-tuk” to an elephant. We even made some (hopefully lifelong) new friends while we were there.
We had a wonderful local tour guide named Tajma, who spoke English and was a key part of our successful first trip to Asia. She showed us around both the tourist spots and the local “dives” throughout Thailand, helped us to avoid accidentally eating dog or rat meat and showed us how to order vegetarian food in Thai. Most importantly, she helped me find medicine (fast-acting, super-strong, non-FDA-regulated Thai medicine) when I fell terribly ill halfway through my trip. I probably would have had to reschedule my flight home without Tajma’s help, because I really was feverish, nauseated and probably too sick to fly at that point. Luckily, the drugs kicked in and 24 hours later, I was good to go!