I’m finally home in Boston, MA and it has taken me a while to write this last post of my backpacking trip. It’s almost like I don’t want to admit that it’s over, but I also want to share my closing experiences with you all.
The last two weeks of our trip we left Bali and flew back over to Bangkok, Thailand where we met Enzo’s mom. Her dream for a while was to come to Thailand, and so that’s where we spent the next two weeks showing her places we’ve been, but also discovering new ones.
Enzo and I attempted to make a schedule for the next two weeks of what places we were going to visit and within what time frame, but not everything worked out as planned. Originally, we were going to stay in Bangkok for only a couple of days to let Yolanda adjust to the time difference, then we were going to fly into Yangoon, Myanmar where we would travel each day by train and bus from the south to the north of Myanmar and ultimately see Bagan. Then, we planned to fly back to Bangkok where we would have a connecting flight to Chiang Mai and stay for about two nights. After Chiang Mai, we were going to fly to Phuket, but not stay there because we’ve only heard about how touristy it is so, we would then take a bus to Krabi and see the beautiful limestone canyons and spend time at the beaches. After Krabi, Yolanda was going to fly home from Phuket and Enzo and I were going to fly back to Bangkok to take a cheaper flight back home the next night. Well… now that I told you everything we had planned, let me tell you what actually happened.
After we picked up Yolanda from the airport, we ended up having a fairly early night so she could get some rest. The next morning Enzo was feeling worse than ever. Not only did I give him my head cold that I got from not being use to AC, he also had an extremely bad stomach ache and didn’t even want to get out of bed, but he did anyway because it was his mom’s first full day in Bangkok!
First thing first, we needed to get our visas for Myanmar because we were leaving in a few days. We avoided the embassy when we saw what looked like an extremely over packed wharehouse where people were waiting just to get their pictures taken. Luckily, as we turned the other way we spotted a building that offered full service visas with a picture included. We popped in, got our photos taken, handed over our passports and they settled the entire process of filling out the application and getting the visas approved and placed into our passports for next day pick-up. We had to pay about $50 each for the entire process, but it was well worth it.
After we settled the necessary business, we took a ferry over to Chinatown. These streets were packed with vendors selling flowers, clothes, food and pretty much any other thing imaginable. It can feel a little more chaotic that even just being in the center on Bangkok, but that’s all part of the experience.
After wearing ourselves out, we got some Korean bbq at a place nearby. After dinner we went back to our hotel while Enzo rested in hope to feel better for the next day, and Yolanda and I booked all of our hotels and flights for Myanmar.
The next morning, Enzo really couldn’t get out of bed, but he insisted that Yolanda and I walk around and explore the city. Yolanda and I wondered around Siam Square while Enzo rested. We checked in on Enzo to see if he wanted to come pick up the visas with us, but he still wanted to stay and rest. We went back out to get our visas and then explored the area around the Embassy. We went into a cute fabric and rug shop where Yolanda picked out a beautiful dining table runner and the owner’s little girl tried to sell me some scarves.
We then walked to a little hostel/cafe and got some ice cream and wifi so that I could order an Uber back to our hotel. We got back and Enzo was still asleep. He hadn’t eaten anything all day and we were getting worried so we made him come and get some noodles with us at a nearby shop.
He was acting more like himself while he was eating the delicious bowl of goodness, but then all of a sudden a flash of pain came overhim. We immediately left to walk him back to the hotel room and figure out what was wrong. That night we took Enzo to the hospital.
The next day we had our flight to Myanmar, but the doctors insisted he stay the night at the hospital to find out what was going on. After basically arguing with Enzo that nothing else, but his health mattered to us, he stayed overnight at the hospital and I layed on the couch that was in his hospital room while Yolanda went back to the hotel to try to get us another night there and deal with our trip to Myanmar. The next day Enzo was feeling almost back to normal after getting hooked up to an IV and taking antibiotics for what they called was a digestive infection. Enzo immediately knew what must have caused it… Warning, do not use the sink water to heat up and make tea, but if you do, make sure that the water has boiled for a long time before you pour it into your cup and drink it. The water in South East Asia is not safe what so ever. Long story short, Enzo recovered, but we had to cancel our trip to Myanmar and stay in Bangkok until our flight to Chian Mai.
Enzo was feeling terrible because he wasn’t able to spend the time with his mom that he’d hoped for and couldn’t stop mentioning how we couldn’t go to Myanmar because he was hospitalized. Being hospitalized in Bangkok is ideal; whereas, if we were in Myanmar they would have left Enzo there to fend for himself. So, I say we made a good decision to stay in Bangkok. He was able to leave the hospital that afternoon and I booked us an Airbnb for the next few nights we had in the city.
The next day we took a bus to Ayutthaya where we paid a tuktuk driver to take us to 5 historical sites because we only had until 6:30 pm until our bus left to go back to where we were staying. He took us to mostly temples like Wat Mahathat.
That same night when we got back from our bus ride, we went to a night market called, Chatuchak Market to show Yolanda how amazing the Thai street food is and just to go out for a drink. We took the train over to the market and it was packed of people selling clothes and other goods. It is known to be the largest night market in Thailand. We walked for hours around the market in the streets and through little alleyways. Everything is extremely cheap there so most travelers come to this market for gifts for themselves and for others back home. We then stopped for some food inside the market and had an amazing dish of chicken and rice.
After we filled up on some good food, we walked over to another night market that was surprisingly close called, Jatujak Green (JJ Green). The three of us immediately felt the change in vibe between the two markets and wanted to stay at JJ Green. It was more lively, full of bars with live music, food cooking everywhere you turned, little stands full of amazing vintage clothes, accessories and knickknacks. We walked around for a while and then sat at one of the bars for a drink and to listen to live music. It was exactly the kind of atmosphere we wanted Yolanda to experience because this was how we remembered Bangkok.
The next morning we had our flight to Chiang Mai, but we had one more thing on our list to show Yolanda and that was one of the floating markets. With all of our luggage on our backs or in our hands, we took a taxi early in the morning to Talingchan Floating Market.
We had to arrive at 9:15 am to buy the ticket for the long tail boat ride and then board by 9:30 am. The whole tour was about 3 hours and we stopped at two “floating markets.” They weren’t what we expected, beause at this market you have to get off of the boat and walk around a market instead of other boats floating up to you with people selling things. It cost us 99 Thai Baht per ticket and it is extremely important to know that they only do this specific tour once a day and the whole market closes by 3:00 pm.
After the tour, we got on our flight to Chiang Mai. We only had one full day there and so our taxi driver from the night before who drove us from the airport to our hotel promised to take us anywhere we wanted for 600 Thai Baht total the next day. In the morning we went to go visit some elephants where Yolanda and I had a full tour where we could feed and bathe them. It was such an amazing experience for me because I adore elephants and I have heard awful things about the way that these places treat them in order to train them. These animals are so enormous and intelligent, I needed to see them in person and if I could treat them with the respect they deserve and feed them and show them love, then I was going to do that.
After we spent time with two elephants, we had our driver take us to an Orchid Garden. There were rows of beautiful flowers and then a beautiful butterfly garden we walked through in the middle of it all. It was smaller than I expected, and definitely a tourist attraction, but I still loved seeing the different flowers.
Next, Enzo asked for our driver to take us somewhere that isn’t touristy and where he would normally take his children on his day off. He proceeded to tell us about Long Neck Village and going to see the monkeys, snakes and tigers perform… No… this was literally the most touristy places he could ever tell us to go to. Finally, we realized that as sad as it sounds, this was all that Chiang Mai was known for. People go there to ride elephants, watch a monkey show and take pictures at temples. We asked him to just drop us off at a temple and we were going to end our ride with him because that was not the experience we wanted to have there.
All of a sudden I had this overwhelming feeling like my stomach was about to burst and I asked him to pull over and I ran out to the nearest bathroom. Lets just say I was in that bathroom for far too long. As soon as I could stand without getting sick or having to use the toilet, I asked Yolanda and Enzo to get me back to the hotel as soon as possible. For the rest of the day and night I was stuck in the bathroom with severe food poisoning and all I could do was drink water so that it wouldn’t hurt so bad when I threw up (I’m thinking it was the mango and sticky rice I had the day before). So, Yolanda was obviously having the time of her life at this point having just taken care of Enzo and now she was stuck in the hotel taking care of me! So much for a vacation.
That morning, I still couldn’t eat, but at least I was no longer getting sick because we had a flight to Phuket and then a bus ride over to Krabi. It really wasn’t until I got home back to the states that I could eat normally again and not have a sense of nausea every time I saw or smelled food.
Luckily, Krabi was our destination of relaxation that we had hoped for. We ended up at a beautiful villa and our first day there we spent on the beach just relaxing. That night, we made our way over to a night market called, Chao Fah that was super authentic with amazing street food and also a fire spinner performing in the back.
The weather was very gloomy, but it added to the serenity.
We wanted to just rent out kayaks on our own, but it was pretty much impossible to do so without a tour guide. Fortunately, this was one tour that we found enjoyable and as the guide paddled to shore, Enzo, Yolanda and I stayed back on the water for a bit longer just sitting listening to the silence and gazing at the limestone protrusions and the endless horizon. It was a perfect ending to the storm of what was our trip.
To my readers: Don’t let this story stop you from going to any of these places either, your experience could be a totally different one!
My next post will be about how Study Abroad is completely different from backpacking! Keep an eye out my friends.
~ M + H