(You'll notice that there are many more photos from the first few days of my trip than the last several. Later in the trip, I shot much more with the film camera I'd purchased for the trip, a Nikon N80.)
Earlier this year, after finishing the college tour with peta2, I flew to Thailand to travel with my brother, Luke, who had just finished up teaching over there. I took a Lyft to LAX on the morning of May 21, and landed in Bangkok- after a layover in Tokyo- late on May 22.
When I walked outside of Suvarnabhumi Airport, I was shocked at how hot and humid it was despite being almost midnight and totally dark out. The weather was around 90-95 degrees for most of our trip (which is apparently quite cool in comparison to when my parents and sister visited- it was 110-115!). We took a cab to our hotel in Chinatown, Shanghai Mansion, and I barely had time to take it in before passing out from exhaustion.
The next morning, we woke up early to begin sightseeing, but before that stopped for coffee (which was delicious and very strong- the way I like it- I wasn't a fan of the instant coffee that's also popular in Thailand) and breakfast. I tried som tum, which is a spicy papaya salad- it was delicious!
Our first tourist stop of the day was Wat Traimit, the Golden Buddha Temple. We spent some time after that exploring Chinatown- I've been to Chinatown in New York and Philadelphia more times than I can count, but wow... this was something else!
I had no idea if it would be easy to eat vegan in Thailand; I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of vegan food stalls as well as how easy it was to get other places to leave out ingredients to "veganize" a normal pad thai. The best food we ate was definitely street food.
One of the coolest things we did on the first day was visit the Jim Thompson House. Jim Thompson was an American businessman and architect who amassed a collection of Thai art and historical objects. The Jim Thompson House is right in the middle of the city but the grounds are basically a "jungle"- it was so cool to walk around.
We did more sightseeing the next day, including visiting the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, the famous Reclining Buddha statue.
After Bangkok, we headed to Kanchanaburi, which was about a two hour bus ride west. We stayed at a hotel that was right on the River Kwai (Khwae Noi River or Khwae Sai Yok). In Kanchanaburi, Luke and I did a lot of historical and educational activities; on the first day, we rode bikes to the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre and visited the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery across the street. Afterwards, we rode our bikes along the river back to our hotel and later walked to see the actual Bridge over the River Kwai (which loosely inspired the 1957 film, The Bridge on the River Kwai).
The following day, Luke and I rented a motorbike (he drove, I rode on the back) and headed to Erawan National Park. At Erawan, there are seven tiers of waterfalls- Luke went all the way to the top but I only made it about halfway. It was still really beautiful, though! That night, we had dinner at our hotel, looking out on the river at sunset. It was a nice, low-key way to end the day.
The next day, we headed to the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum and then walked along the Pass itself. Seeing where so many laborers had suffered was incredibly harrowing.
After Kanchanaburi, we took a bus back to Bangkok and an overnight bus down to Khao Sok, a national park in Surat Thani in the southern part of Thailand. When we arrived at Khao Sok it was cold and raining- not exactly the best day to explore nature. We stayed at the Khao Sok Riverside Cottages- individual cottages connected by a walkway right in the middle of the jungle, along the Sok River. It definitely felt like we were a million miles away from home.
Inside Khao Sok is the manmade Cheow Lan Lake. We took a boat tour of the lake, hiked over an island, explored caves in another island, had lunch on the water, and jumped off the boardwalk into the water.
From Khao Sok, it was back to Surat Thani to take a ferry to the island of Koh Samui. After several busy days of sightseeing, it was nice to just relax at the beach for a few days.
Unfortunately, we did get some rain while we were in Koh Samui, but when it cleared up, we headed to Fisherman's Village to explore and grab dinner at Greenlight Cafe (which was a nice change).
From Koh Samui, we took a quick flight back to Bangkok for one last day of sightseeing. Luke and I grabbed a late breakfast at Ethos, right off Khao San Road, and then took a riverboat tour on Chao Phraya River. We got off the boat and explored Little India, which was also really cool.
Our trip around Thailand was the first time that Luke and I had gotten to really spend time together as adults. It was absolutely beautiful and I'm so grateful I had this experience- I never would've thought I'd go to Thailand!