Monday, June 3, 2013

Thailand time

Chris and I both needed a short break from Mongolia, so we went to Thailand. I still had (and have) a broken foot, but everyone was so nice to us at the airports and hostels that we stayed at that the broken foot wasn't much of an issue.

We started off the trip by wrapping up my ugly cast in a scarf and getting wheelchair assistance at every airport, which was so nice.

When we arrived in China, we got really awesome and very high quality boarding passes to get us onto our next flight via Thai Airlines....

 Thai Airlines is a gorgeous airline and wow, was I amazed by how nice everyone was and how clean and colorful the plane was.

We got into Thailand late at night and went straight to bed. I was so tired that I felt sick!

The next morning I decided to take off my cast even though it had only been 24 days instead of 28.

I brought my crutches with me, so I used them as walking canes during the rest of the trip, which was a huge blessing. Building up that muscle wasn't easy!

 We went to a huge mall the first day and we found a tea-time sale at one of the little shops. Three tiers of delicious food + the tea of our choice. Yummy.

After that we went down the biggest tourist trap road in Thailand called Khaosan [cow-san] Road and enjoyed bucket drinks and people watched. Luckily, our hostel was right next to this road so there wasn't a long journey home after drinking :) 

 Our hostel had A/C (yay!) and it also had messages written all on the walls. Some, like this one, were really inspirational. Chris and I added to the messages on the wall, too.

After that, we were off to Koh Samet, a beautiful island just 5 hours away from Bangkok.

We took a "taxi" to get to our little beach oasis.

We found a beach bungalow and stayed there for 2 nights before going to a different beach for the final night. During the day we would relax and read, or listen to RadioLabs. Hiking around the island wasn't an option for me, but sitting under a shady tree definitely was.

On the third night we stayed on the main beach and we even had a little room with A/C! (the previous 2 nights were hot and sticky as our room didn't offer a/c...only a fan)

We wandered up and down the shore and bought crepes from the little stands.

During our walk, we bought rambutan from a little lady walking along the beach. Aren't they gorgeous? 

You twist them to break the skin. (I could never twist them hard enough, so Chris always had to open mine)

And then you enjoy!

Chris got dinner and we had company who was after his shrimp pad thai. 

We also got to watch a fireshow on the "big island". They were really awesome and we were lucky to have had front row seats! 

After 3 nights on Koh Samet, we traveled back to Bangkok for 2 more days. 

Chris and I really wanted to go to a floating market, but we didn't want to go to the super touristy floating market, and instead we found a different (and better) one that was closer and only had the 2 of us as foreigners. 

When we went to the floating market, we first got some delicious Thai Iced Tea before we started wandering around. 
Thai Iced Tea was my drink of choice. Little food shops are all lined up behind me, and oh my god, they were so delicious.

I overheat really quickly, so I got to try out a lot of different chilled drinks! This one was a brown sugar coconut drink.

Chris and I took a group boat tour around the floating market and we got to see how local Thai people live and I learned a lot of the history of this place in Bangkok and how it was used during World War II for refugees. 

There are a lot of happy ceramics in Thailand and I love it!

I was as happy as this little piggy.

After that exciting adventure we went back to Khaosan [cow-san] Road and we found a way to get to a Tiger Temple and do Elephant Baths for my last day in Thailand!

Chris and I had to wake up bright and early to go on the Tiger/Elephant tour. My flight didn't leave until midnight, but the tour started at 6 am and ended at 7 pm, so we had to be ready to go!

 While we were waiting for the tour group, I got to love up the hostel's dog.

THIS was the sight that greeted us when we got to the Elephant Sanctuary a few hours later. The elephants were hoping that we would buy bananas and feed them :)

Chris and I hopped on the elephant and away we went!

This is our face after getting on the elephant.

The trainer suddenly hopped off the elephant and then motioned to Chris to get down...get down to ride the elephant instead of staying on the seat!

I got to ride the elephant too, AND I got to feed it papayas!
I don't even know who is the most excited in this photo.
I was so shell-shocked and amazed. I was having the best time!

And then we got into the River Kwai. Instead of us bathing the elephant, the elephant totally bathed us.

After that, I didn't think the day would get any better. But it did. 
After a brief lunch, we got back in the car and went to the Tiger Temple.

When we went to the Tiger Temple just outside of Bangkok we were lucky enough to get 2 spots to play with baby tigers for nearly an hour. One cub tried to eat my dress, and the other one I got to give belly rubs to while he chewed on a hat.

I got bitten 2x by a baby tiger, and it was AWESOME.
And then we wandered around the Tiger Temple and got to hang out with other animals too. Adolescent tigers, adult tigers, and deer.

It was really hard to come back to Mongolia after such an amazing trip, but I did...and then I made the trek back to America. My Fulbright service is completely over and I'm very thankful for the experience. It was very enriching and inspirational, and, of course, very challenging at times. I feel like I've matured a lot and petty issues in my life don't really carry much weight anymore. I'm also more culturally aware and I feel like I have a deeper knowledge and appreciation of international politics and cultural issues. Thank you, Fulbright for this priceless opportunity. 

And just for reference: no no no, my traveling days are not over with and I haven't gotten over the "traveling bug" :) 

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