Sunday, April 22, 2012

bangkok or bust

I'm finally in Thailand via a lot of waiting. I was sitting at the mall when a teacher from one of the school in Alangalang told me to take my time because the flights were delayed. I had no idea how delayed!
My 1:40 flight didn't leave until 3:40, but I was lucky. We took off right behind the 11:55 flight. It of course made me anxious for no reason. It was standing room only, and people for the 4:05 flight were waiting also (the planes just go back and forth, so their plane was the 11:55 flight). Luckily I knew someone there who let me sit with them. She was a teacher at the high school and ha worked with my site mate. She was there along with most of Alangalang. The Lingganay Dancers are performing at nationals on Saturday.
I got to Manila about 4:45 and then had to wait some more. This time I was all alone. I had some pizza. I wet through security. I had some noodles. I found a convenience store and had snacks an watched a movie with the staff. I took the rest of my snacks to the gate. I was told the plane was delayed. I watched some basketball. I was told to move to another gate (they moved lots of flights). Then I got on the plane and waited.
And here I am! I went through customs, and security and or my bags and went looking for my friend. She lived with my family about 12 years ago and I've not seen her since. We found each other ok and met her sister. We are staying at their house in Bangkok.
I'm here!

wat are you looking at?

Yesterday was amazing. My friend took me to see some of the temples in Bangkok.
First we went to a Hindu shrine. She showed me how to do what you do at one. We lit a candle and incense. Then went to all the four sides and asked for something, left incense and flowers.
After that we went to where the wats are. We took the train and then a boat. I had my first in Thailand Thai Tea. Which is my favorite. Then I had my first noodles. Which is my favorite, but I have a feeling it will all be my favorite.
We tried to go to the palace, but it was closed for the cremation of a princess.
So, on to Wat Pho. Um... Wow! Wat Pho is one of the temples with a huge leaning Buddha (I think the guy said 3rd largest). It was amazing, check back with me in 6 months for pictures! Then we had coconut ice-cream (Philippines, we need this) and buko juice. Then we had battered and fried jackfruit. Then we went and had Wat Pho foot massages, which I guess is a big deal. I wasn't brave enough for a Thai massage.
From there we crossed the river to the Temple of the Dawn (I can't recall it's Thai name). This is the Wat that is most associated with the Thai skyline. It was amazing. We were able to climb up and look out. Very calm place.
From here we went to the mall, mainly for the aircon. Felt like home. We met her sister and her boy friend and went to a sea food restaurant. We had a fried fish, Thai fried rice with prawns, a really spicy soup, noodles with prawns, squid curry and some sort of shellfish on ice. It was enough for 6 and we had to do a doggy bag, which I guess isn't that common here. I think my favorite was either the curry or the noodles.
Then home where I slept like a champ.
Favorite part of day: the feeling of smallness (maybe) when I first walked in and saw the leaning Buddha.

witness the wetness

On Friday I met one of J's friends and we went on a little road trip. Her friend has a friend who's family is opening q resort next month. Guessed who got to stay there? We did! It was an amazing suite along the river ( I'm not sure the name of the river, but it's what happens where the rivers Kwei merge).
On the way to the resort we stopped for amazing food. Again they ordered for 6 people: Thai fried rice, prawns, river snapper, and crab curry.
In the town where this all was (if you are dying to know names of these places email me, I have them but I can't reach right now) is a floating market. A floating market that has boats that do firefly tours. We wandered the market, ate random things J bought for me to try, had foot massages, and then went on the tour. It was nice.
The next day we woke up and they had an amazing breakfast spread for us, even though we were the only ones there. Then we went to a Wat in the trees that has a real name. Then back to the city.
We kind of chilled for awhile, then strapped on water guns and headed for the heart of the city. There were millions if people all ages just having fun. Some water was warm, some water was a little hotter, and some people straight up put ice water in their water pistols.
After, soaking wet, we went to the mall to eat. We went to the food hall and I had duck and noodles and shivered through the aircon.
Favorite part: For sure the crab curry.

markets and malls, oh my!

Sunday we went to Jatujak Market, or the JJ Market, or the weekend market. The venue was huge and crowded, and I'm told that maybe 10% of the stalls were open. We looked around and I bought some great stuff.
Then we had Thai Tea. This time it came with a fancy stirring show. A man poured the tea back and forth between to pitchers while spinning and dancing. I was impressed and it tasted extra frothy good.
For dinner we went to a sticky rice place near J's house. We had sticky rice, spicy pork salad, spicy raw prawns, spicy raw crabs, spicy soup, and really good grilled pork shoulder. Not as much food, but I'm still full.
Yesterday we were going to go on a road trip, but decided we'll go today because of traffic. So we tried to see the palace again. We were able to get into the Wat to see the Jade Buddha but the palace is closed on Mondays. Then we went and looked at the main plaza. It was still being used for the Princess's cremation so I was able to learn some more about the culture.
Then we went to Pad Thai. It was so good, a little sweet but fixed that with some chili flakes. It came wrapped up in the egg like a present. I finished and then had another.
Back to the mall! We met up with J's boyfriend and her sister and her boyfriend and wandered the mall and ended up seeing a movie, when in hot humid Asia this is what you do.
After the movie we went to a local favorite for dinner. We had rice soup, spicy soup, duck tongue, some sort of greens, some sort of fish, an egg dish, and sweet snails. So much food.
Favorite part: having so much down time to just hang out with J.

chang chang chang

One of the only things that I felt I HAD to do in Thailand was see elephants. From a very young age I've loved them. Now I'm just straight up obsessed.
We woke up and went to the old capital. I got to see the ruins from atop an elephant. I'm fancy. J was afraid so I went alone. I loved it. Later I fed them. What a cool experience.
Riding elephants is tough work so we went to eat. We had huge river prawns (like the size of my hands, they were not impressed because it use to be you could get bigger) that were grilled, some fish, rice, and  of course spicy soup. Just enough this time.
Then we went around looking and finally finding an arts a d crafts center. I was able to watch the women who weave the queen's silk. Beautiful works.
Then we returned back and went to a Japanese curry place for dinner.
Favorite part: the elephant (Chang in Thai) of course!

when in thailand

For our last day J had us signed up for a spa day. We had a slow start. Got on the train and headed toward the area. We had a lunch of noodles and curry. Perfect. Then walked over to the spa.
It was a tough decision but I opted to go with the Thai massage. I'm not big on massages and I've heard stories of Thai massage. But when in Thailand....
It was indeed intense. She didn't speak English, other than are you ok and I'm sorry. It felt like she was moving my muscles around to get to my bones. I was on my stomach and she said I'm sorry before she even touched me and then she was standing on me. Oh ouch. After I felt fine, almost good. Without speaking to her she figured out my problem areas and worked them.
Later J took me to meet some of her best friends and we had sushi and a delicious dessert. It was so nice to see her with her friends she's known most her life. The teasing and all that. It was nice to experience. Then we we went home and I packed up and leaved.
I missed Thailand before I was even out if the airport. It is amazing and everyone should go. Seriously.