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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chiang Mai Day 1

After we got into Chiang Mai in the morning, we got a tuk tuk and headed to our hotel, Galare Guesthouse. Our hotel was nice, but a little older. It was a relaxing place with its own restaurant. Even though we got there way early, we were able to check in to our room. We went & showered and decided to go check out the town for a while on our first day. Our hotel was about a 20 minute walk from the old center of town.

During our walk, we came upon a couple wats. One of them was spectacularly horrible! DK & I dubbed it "Grandma's Wat" after her grandmother. It seemed like it was the leftovers after Thailand had a garage sale. There were awkward statues everywhere, including Donald Duck, a giraffe, and a lion. The inside of these wats was not very exciting. Another Buddha, which, sadly, was becoming unimpressive & common place. At the next wat we came to, there were chickens & a rooster roaming around. This is normal in a Buddhist temple, but not ok with DK. She is terrified of chickens. Luckily, with my guidance, she stayed safe.

After all of that excitement, we went further downtown & wandered around. There was another Boots pharmacy, our new favorite after Bangkok. We had lunch, also delicious! Next, we checked out some little stores & I bought some Thailand pants. They are hideous & I won't wear them in public again, but they worked great for my circumstances. After our tour of the old part of the city downtown, we headed back to our hotel for a rest. We had cooking class that night & wanted to be on the top of our game!

We had a van pick us up for cooking class. Every single person in our group was part of a couple, including honeymooners from Australia & belated honeymooners from the US. So, we tried to make the best of it as sisters. Our instructor was great; she was very excited & enthusiastic. Plus, she is a great cook! We did a tour of a market, to learn how to choose the best ingredients. Then, after a tour of their little garden, we finally got to start cooking. I made Pad Thai first, I figured that since it is such an iconic dish, I should know how to cook it. DK made some sort of soup. We split up the dishes so we would learn as much as possible. Everything we made was delicious! We did a main dish, a soup, a curry, & a curry paste. There are pictures on the photo site (we promise to caption soon) and we got a souvenir cookbook. So once I am home, I can cook Thai food for you!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Final Day in Bangkok

For our last day in Bangkok we decided to do some shopping. Our train left around 6:00 that evening, so we had the whole day to shop and wander around. We had heard some amazing things about food courts in Bangkok, so we decided to add that to our day. We went to Siam Paragon, a really great mall relatively close to our hotel. It was apparently terrifying mascot day at the mall, but we were able to avoid that pretty easily. We started downstairs at the food court. It was bigger than any I have ever seen before. There were different sections for different types of food. The biggest was obviously Thai food, but there was also Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Western. We ended up with pad thai & it was delicious! After lunch, we wandered around looking at everything there was. We decided we would check out more food after we did a little shopping. The mall was pretty huge & had all sorts of stores. We gawked at all of the fancy jewelry stores and peeped at the fancy clothing stores. There was a section of the mall devoted to cars, which I loved! After we finished shopping, I got a belt at Zara, we went back down to the food court. Then we saw the best surprise possible- Auntie Anne's! Bangkok definitely has more American goodies than Nanjing. Our pretzels were totally delicious! It's pretty sad we won't have any more for 6 months! After our mall trip, we headed back to the hotel. We got our stuff & went back to the train station to go to Chiang Mai. We had an overnight train, which was a new experience for me. DK & I both has top bunks, which the train people put down around 7. Our night was pretty low key, we just read and chatted with each other. Unfortunately, the people on both sets of seats next to us were completely obnoxious! One couple was French and the other family was German. They were loud & drunk and kept making fun of the train attendants for their English. It was super annoying! I wanted to poke them in their eyeballs! Eventually, with the help of my iPod & headphones, I was able to fall asleep. I didn't get much sleep, our train got into Chiang Mai around 6 & they came to put up the beds around 4:30. All in all, my first overnight train was successful, if not annoying.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Temples, temples, and more temples

This is an old post that my ipod wouldn't upload:

Yesterday and today were more temples. Yesterday we stopped in Chinatown for lunch it was in a crazy market selling eveything possible. Then saw Temple of Dawn (wiki article here!). The stairs to climb to the different levels were really steep but it was a great view. DK was in a dress so she didn't go all the way up. After that we went to another market then over to the famous Khao San road. We took a tuk tuk there which was neat. We walked the road and then stopped for beers at an outdoor bar. After taking in the sites and looking at all of the foreigners we headed to dinner. We ate at Cabbages and Condoms. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was even better. Google it, it's a really neat place! They actually are part of some great things in the Thai community. Today we did a day trip to Ayutthaya. It is the ancient capital north of Bangkok. It was destroyed by the Burmese and is now mostly ruins. (Check out the Wikipedia article for more info here!)We took a train and did this all ourselves, even though everyone says to book a tour. There were only 3rd class, open seats available on the train, but we survived the ride. We found food at a market near where we got off the ferry after the train. Then we started wandering around to find our first temple. 15 minutes of walking later, we hadn't found anything. So we took a tuk tuk up on his offer & he drove us past some ruins to the first temple. It was pretty neat, another big Buddha. Right next to it was the old Palace. We climbed around in the ruins for a while. It must have been amazing when it was standing in the past, but now it is only the foundation and some chedis. After that, we got another tuk tuk that took us to 2 more temples. They were smaller and less popular, but still nice. Once we were done with this, it was raining a bit, so we headed back to the train station. Our train was at 4:30. There was some sort of delay and the train didn't get to the station until after 5:30. When we got back into Bangkok, we headed to Nana Plaza area for dinner. We ended up at a Mexican restaurant named "Sunrise Tacos." Since China is so far from Mexico & there aren't a lot of foreigners in Nanjing, the Mexican food there is pretty terrible. We were hoping for the best in Bangkok & were pleasantly surprised. They had unlimited salsa (our favorite!) and good food. I had tacos & DK had enchiladas. We made sure to enjoy every bite since we won't get more Mexican food until we come home this summer. After dinner we headed back to the hotel because we were pretty tired. Now we are planning our day for tomorrow.