A Travellerspoint blog


Wat Phra Kaew

finally...some sights from bangkok

My first time in Thailand, I had literally one night in Bangkok.

This time I took at least a full day. Heeding the suggestion of the lovely Thai lady I met on the plane, I decided to go to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or Wat Phra Kaew, considered the most sacred temple in Thailand. With this significance comes measures to keep it that way. One must wear long pants and have his or her shoulders covered properly, a fact I learned the hard way. There are long skirts and uniform-looking shirts for rent.

It is indeed impressive...there are mosaics made of mirrored glass adorning most buildings, gold sparkling stupas (also known as chedis). There are guardians and Thai mythological statues scattered throughout. There is even a scaled model of Angkor Wat. Most importantly, there is the Emerald Buddha (actually made of jade). It has a long history, originating in Cambodia, given as a gift to a Thai king, robbed by Burmese invaders, resurfaced in Thailand and moved from Thai city to Thai city, seized by the King of Siam, returned to Thailand, and is still claimed by many Laotians to have its proper place in Vientiane. It's actually quite tiny (between 60 and 75cm, or 23-29in) and hard to see...

Less talk, more pictures...



And some pictures from around Bangkok....

Posted by lrbergen 16:18 Archived in Thailand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

The Real Reason I Went to Thailand...

ok, really! elephants!

My second day, I relived a childhood experience (which might not have happened...a 3-year-old's memory is shoddy at best) and booked a jungle trek. With an elephant! Exciting!


When we pulled up (there was a couple doing it as well), the size of the elephants alone was enough to make me gasp. No, really. I gasped. Then, once you get over that these things could crush you with one fell swoop, you start to realize how incredibly beautiful they are. I really can't describe it with words, so the rest of this two-part blog will be pictures. See for yourself.




















It was amazing, something I won't ever forget.

The rest of my island stay was spent hanging out with people I met, Chea May and Canaan from Germany and Inbar from Israel. The island is so beautiful and relaxed. I'm already starting to think about when I can go back. I left the day I flew back to Korea and saw some stuff on the way.

Waiting for the ferry.


The most beautiful Thai baby on the ferry. She was a very happy baby.


Skyscraper, Bangkok.

Hanging out ON the train tracks.

Kao San Road, THE backpacker hotspot.

Mounds and mounds of Pad Thai.

I love Thailand. I shall return.

Posted by lrbergen 07:02 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The Real Reason I Went to Thailand...


-17 °C

Ahem. As the title suggests, I went to Thailand for the elephants. This is partially true. I also went to get away from Korea, to go for a SCUBA, to meet people from around the world, see some beautiful beaches, and eat Thai food for authentic, believe-it-or-not prices. Since being in Korea, Thailand has been my ...own private Xanadu, if you will.

All in 5 days?

Mission accomplished.

(I love these maps!)

I arrived in Bangkok, where I literally stayed for the "One Night in Bangkok" that the pop group Murray Head sang about in the 80's. Let me....let me just share some of those lyrics with you (wow, we can all tell already that this is going to be a long one...)

"One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain't free
You'll find a god in every golden cloister
And if you're lucky then the god's a she
I can feel an angel sliding up to me

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me"

So yeah...pretty much. Just from one night, you can get the sense that ANYTHING is possible in Bangkok. Anything.

But I had other goals in mind, so I headed to Koh Chang, which is about 5 hours east, close to the Cambodian border. Well...5 hours by bus to Trat. Then about a 20 minute ride to the ferry. Then about a 30 minute ferry ride. Then another 20-30 minutes to the hotel. So really, about a day's worth of being herded like cattle. But I digress.

The name "Koh Chang" means "Elephant Island". It also has some pretty nice scuba. My first night, I stayed at the "Tree House Lodge," which was about as basic as you could get. Straw huts with a light, a bed and a mosquito net for 80 baht, or roughly $2.50. The bathrooms were shared, with squatter toilets and no running water. Freezing cold water, but a fantastic view overlooking the ocean.
There was also a really great restaurant, also looking over the ocean, with cheap, delicious Pad Thai (noodles) and Tom Yam (sour spicy soup).

My first full day, I went for a SCUBA at Koh Yak and another small island, uninhabited, but with great coral and marine life. That day, the water was particularly rough and the boat TOSSED, 45-degree angle to 45-degree angle, back and forth. I was unfortunately the only one to get violently seasick. It was a bummer, needless to say.
My first dive was a refresher course with the instructor, and it was nice. The second was a bit more nerve-racking because we had a really strong current to work with, and it was maybe my second time diving with more than one other person. Several times I kicked another girl with my fins because she was behind me and we couldn't see each other. I got really low on air really quickly for whatever reason so I had to use the other regulator on my dive master's BCD (there are two, for such an emergency). It was actually quite good because he was able to make me get closer to the coral and fish than I normally would have. And I saw a stingray. It was great.

It rained the night I stayed at the Tree House, with the waves crashing right outside my door and scaring the bejezus out of me, and the roof leaked all over my bed with me in it (and I normally don't complain about that sort of thing too much), so I quickly moved to Nature Beach, where I at least had a real roof over my head, for only 250 baht per night. It was well worth it for running water and real walls. They also had a good restaurant, with barbecue every night, and a fire twirler show. The beach was also pristine, just beautiful.

The sky looked like this every day.

This is my bathroom. It seems weird, but it looks like this during the day. Naturally.

One of my meals, fat Thai noodles with pork.

The sunsets looked like this every day.

From the restaurant.





To be continued (it's a two-parter!)....

What about the elephants? You were promised elephants!

Hold your horses! Or...elephants, in this case...

Posted by lrbergen 06:15 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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