Esha, Veronica, Colin and I left NYC late on Saturday, December 15 and landed in Bangkok 24 hours later.
- Walked around to eat, I remember being kind of nervous and pointing at some stuff in the buffet. I made a couple wrong selections on this first attempt.
- Went to TEP Bar that night — a great bar in an alleyway. They play traditional Thai music. It wasn’t exactly comfortable, or fun, but a cool experience.
- Took a boat tour up the river to some temples. The highlight was stopping at another boat with an older lady selling coconuts. I am pretty sure she was related to the driver somehow. She asked, “beer for the driver?” Yes, of course.
- Spent the rest of the day touring various temples and the Grand Palace. The temples are like a big craft project where they have hot-glued some decoration to every available surface.
- Went to a bar (some tables, a cooler, and a pretty rustic cooking setup in the alley) along the riverfront. The proprietor was whistling Christmas music, and picking at his bare feet in between serving us beers. I enjoyed it.
- Flew to Chang Mai in the morning. I was expecting it to be a chilled out hippie paradise, instead it was more like a smaller Bangkok.
- Walked around, went to one restaurant and realized it was the wrong one (there’s two Anchons), then went to the real one. Lots of good veggie curries on a 2nd floor. I love a 2nd floor restuarant.
- Then ate some more some other place. We had lots of recs on account of Laura living there for a while.
- Got a massage that night. I didn’t find it all that good. Mine was 20 min, whereas Esha’s was over an hour. I walked around alone for a while and realized I looked like a creepy white guy, and was getting solicited by sex-workers. So I found one place to sit and wait instead.
- Assume we saw lots of temples every day from here on out.
- Futzed about in town: mango sticky rice, mediocre $3 beard trim, Esha got threaded, went to a market to eat from Cowboy Hat Lady’s cart, had a big multi-fish dinner in the back of another restaurant.
- A guy drove us 3 hours up the mountains to Pai. Everyone was nervous about getting car sick, but it was fine.
- Rented scooters. Everyone was nervous about dying on the scooters, so we left them at the huts and an old guy drove us around instead. Prob for the best because we would have been scooting for hours along dusty roads.
- Went to a waterfall where a lot of teens were hanging out, then to town, went to a canyon at sunset, more markets in town again, went to 7-11, had beers at the huts while sorta sitting in this natural hot tub thing behind Veronika’s hut.
- The huts were on this nice plot of land with great views, and a farm next door — meant to be very peaceful. In the morning there was a 5k scheduled for like 7am. so we were woken to the national anthem and megaphone screaming. It was both annoying and comical.
- Went to the hot spring that day, one of the best experiences of the entire trip. Quiet, foggy, magical hot water flowing over our bodies.
- That afternoon, the old guy drove us back down the mountain to Chang Mai airport and we flew south to Krabi.
- We went to Railay beach, which was nice.
- Walked around to really chill bar on the bayside. My favorite thing to do on vacay is spend a whole afternoon at a bar. I suppose it’s also my fave thing when not on vacay.
Day 7 (xmas eve)
- We took a ferry over to an island called Ao Nang. It was nice, we sat on the medium-crowded beach all afternoon. I found some beers in the little village.
- Asked for a rec for dinner and this lady said someone would pick us up at our hotel at 7:00. We got in the back of this truck and he drove us for like 20 min to a restaurant on a little canal. It was breezy, large, and not many people there. An elderly couple on a stage singing Beetles covers. Turns out this place is where Thais on vacation go. We ordered tons of food and beers and it was all great, and like $60 for all 4 of us.
- The truck had been waiting for us the whole time, and took us back to the hotel. I was confused and fascinated by this. He didn’t want any money. I later learned that he works for the restaurant.
Day 8 (xmas)
- Couldn’t really tell it was Christmas when at the beach in Thailand. I felt bad about it for maybe 2 minutes when looking at this sad little tree setup in the hotel.
- This day we had booked some tour to James Bond island. The bus never picked us up, so the lady drove us in her car to catch up with the bus. This was the only time we got to talk to a local. She explained how her parents live in a village of and work on the rubber plantation, and she looks forward to going to the village for New Year’s. I got the sense that is like the only big event of the year, and only time people do anything. I asked what was so fun about it, and she said eating.
- The tour was OK, but also annoying because it was like 30 other tourists. The gals thought the tour guide was hot.
- Went back to the same restaurant again (I was eager to ride in the truck again) and sat at the same table, and ordered a little more food than the night before.
- This day we sprung for our own boat. Overall, it was the best day. This teenager was driving us around to all the little islands where we’d get out and swim a bit, then move on. We were pretty much all alone swimming in beautiful locales.
- Hong Island beach was really amazing, since it costs a few bucks to get in, a lot less people were there. Eventually we were like, “enough islands!” and headed back.
- That night, even though we weren’t sick of Thai food, I thought we should venture out. Went to a place called Burger Bung for burgers, and it was terrible.
- A van drove us 3 hours up to a Khao Sok, a national park with a giant man-made reservoir. I suspect it’s one of those stories where they razed a bunch of villages to make it. We got on a little boat and headed to Plern Prai Raft House. A floating cabin thing where we stayed for a night. This quiet tour guide guy took us along a hike and showed us a spider. Then we went into a cave and we could touch whatever we wanted and shine flashlights on bats — which seemed wrong. All in all very serene setting.
- They serve you delicious fried fish, curry, and rice on the floating restaurant. I wondered what the employee’s lives must be like living on a series of floating buildings. They seemed to be getting nice and drunk come early evening.
- We did more swimming and rowing around the next morning, and flew back to Bangkok.
- Went to the Jim Thompson House Museum. He was a CIA guy that traded silks as a cover and disappeared mysteriously. They say a tiger ate him. Cool house.
- Then to some malls to buy silks, it was fun when we found some cool stuff. Esha bought a few yards. We ate our final Thai meals, packed up and left the next day. The mall is where we saw the most locals.
- We discovered that, in Thailand, all their food is generally fresh and flavorful. But we do have some Thai in NYC that is on par. Now we know.
Great trip in a beautiful land, realizing we did a lot of shuffling about which isn’t my preferred vacay, but it made sense here because we will likely never return.