Sunday, August 5, 2012

The one where mom and the girls visit: Thailand: Part 3

Landing in Bangkok was a bit nerve wrecking. First of all I freaked out mid-flight after I realized I was in a metal cylinder about 7-10 miles in the air going at 500 mph. Not sure why that hit me then after all the travelling I've done. It was also a bit of a bumpy flight. Turbulence and I go together like oil and water.
Obviously we landed safe and sound, got through Customs without any issues, except for a crazy woman who ran away from her handler/babysitter/warden and tried to grab a bag away from a guy in line next to us. He looked as terrified as we felt. It was probably the most exciting thing that happened on our trip. Well, aside from my sighting of a Haagen Daaz and subsequent purchase of a Dulce de Leche ice cream cup. More on that in a minute. Or thirty.
I changed money, bought a sim card, broke the sim card within the first 10 mins, fixed the sim card, patted myself on the shoulder for being able to fix my mistakes and then found a taxi service. We were tempted to use the subway system but it was also late at night and we were tired so we gave in and took a cab. I shouldn't be allowed to talk to people when I'm tired, as my family can attest to. I yelled at the cabbie in Bangkok who took us to our hotel because he refused to turn on his meter. He set the price at 400 baht and insisted on that. I insisted on getting out right there and then because I'd read and heard too much about cab drivers setting a price and swindling you. The woman at the front desk it shouldn't cost more than 300 baht to our hotel from the airport and she was part of the taxi service. He yelled and I yelled some more and finally he turned the meter on. The total fare, including airport/highway tolls, was 260 baht. That is a big ole' 'I told you so'. This is meant as advice to all readers and not as a big spotlight on my bad behavior. Stick up for what you believe in. If you feel that you're right, especially in a foreign country where the consequences mean you get ripped off or outright robbed, listen to your gut. Always. It's not a matter of being a foreigner and thinking you know better than the locals. It's a matter of staying safe. I can't emphasis that enough. I can't tell you how many times I've regretted not listening to my gut feeling about a situation.
Anyways, enough preaching. We decided to stay at the Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong. It was without a doubt the most amazing hotel I've ever stayed in and I've stayed in some pretty nice ones. What made the experience so special was the treatment we received. We showed up with no reservations and at first they weren't the warmest. I mean they were definitely nice but once they realized we were Marriott Rewards members their attitudes completely changed. It's nice to be a member. I felt like they went out of their way to be helpful. Okay, I'm sure they do for everyone: they found us places to eat, mapped out a way for us to get around town using the rail system, 
they offered us a special tea, (which I could drink all day every day), etc. That. Bed. It was ah.mah.zing. I can't even begin to explain how amazing it really was. Note: Stay there if you can! (Marriott, if you read this and want to reimburse me for advertising I would appreciate a free stay. Just a thought.)
We spent our first and only full day in Bangkok doing the touristy thing. Mom and the girls ate breakfast at McDonald's. We took a picture with Ronald McDonald in front of the restaurant. We found the subway/metro/train stop we were told to find. The Bangkok Mass Transit System known as BTS or the Skytrain is amazing. I know I really over use that word. I apologise. It's efficient, easy to use, clean. In a sense it's everything that Western train systems aren't. Especially New York City. I've heard that Singapore's is even better. We took the train from the Ratchadamri Station to the Saphan Taksin Station. Caught a river taxi up to the river from Central Pier to Tha Tien, where the King's Palace and a huge Wat, that I cannot remember the name of. Note to shopping addicts: The pier where you get off to see the Palace is rife with places to shop. Really, really cool places to shop. That's where mom bought her awesome (not amazing) slingshot...that she no longer has...because it was confiscated...because she could have used it as a weapon. ::sigh:: Long story.  So basically we skipped all the cultural stuff because I think we were kind of all cultured out from Cambodia and we shopped until we dropped. Or at least until we thought "we'll sink the boat if we buy anymore."
We headed back to the hotel after eating amazing Thai food. The girls used the really cool swimming pool while mom and I chilled in our awesome room. We passed out super early in preparation for our early departure for to Koh Lanta.

More to come when it's not 3:15am.

The one where mom and the girls visit: Cambodia: Part 2

Our second day in Siem Reap was spent touring the temples of Angkor Thom. Many of you may have heard of Angkor Wat or even remember it from Lara Croft, the first movie I think. Angkor Wat is probably the most famous of all the temples there and rightfully so. It's amazing! Our day started off with another free breakfast at the hotel. Mom and the girls were in heaven. Rice for breakfast! Okay, mostly mom.
Unfortunately Chrissy fell ill that day and had to stay at the hotel but I think mom, Selina, and I took enough pictures to make up for it. Try approximately 1200 pictures between mom and I alone. Ridiculous!
Included in the price of our trip was a tour guide at all of the places we visited and our tour guide for the temples was exceptional. An exceptional talker that is. Fortunately I didn't have to sit in the tuktuk with him. Mom and Selina sat with him while I sat by myself, like a queen, with my feet propped up on the other half of the tuktuk. It was pretty sweet. He knew what he was talking about but I know for a fact that mom knew more than he did and the only reason she kept asking him questions was so that he didn't feel like he had nothing to do. In fact when she asked him a question and he said the wrong answer I just wanted to yell out. (I should really learn to be patient.)
That day we saw Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm (the tree temple), the Elephant Terrace and my former favorite, Bayon. It's place as my favorite has since been usurped by Beng Mealea.
After our morning at the temples we went back to our hotel to find Chrissy all jolly from having made new friends. We fell napped, packed and then fell asleep. We woke up the next day for an early morning bus ride back to Pnomh Penh to catch our flight to Bangkok. It was a bit of a dodgy ride due to the fact that we were stopping as often as we were on our way to Siem Reap and I was terrified that we wouldn't get to the airport in time for our flight. I got so worked up I yelled at a few people who I'm pretty sure understood English but chose not to because I was so...well I'm not sure what word I should use that wouldn't display me in a terrible light, but would still let people realize that I was in the right. In any case, we got the Pnomh Penh in time. Naren picked us up and dropped us at the airport. The Pnomh Penh airport is pretty cute from the outside. Better than I expected it to be. The best part of the whole PP airport experience was that it had honest to God, real Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate. Yeah, they're all 'real' chocolate, but I now know better. The chocolate made in Birmingham, England is 'da best!'
The flight from Pnomh Penh to Bankok was only about an hour long. Read more about it in the next blog post. Why? Because I can be annoying like that. ;)

Google map with tentative travel plans for Fall 2012

View Travel plans 2012 in a larger map