Travel Journal

Judy's visit - Bangkok, Thailand, 3/27-3/30

(Monday 4 April 2011) by Joanne Chang
After 4 days in Chiang Mai we catch an early flight to Bangkok and stay for 3 nights. This is my 3rd visit to the craziest city in Southeast Asia, and I'm actually excited to return. Though my first visit was only 8 weeks ago, each time I arrive feeling different...with new experiences, ideas, approaches to life. We stay in an upscale hotel on Phra Athit, near the Khao San area -- a short jaunt from Mr. Yim's and May Kaidee's, my two favorite food joints. It's fun to introduce Judy to Bangkok. For the first time in our relationship, having worked at Google AND having been to Bangkok, I feel like big sister! She loves May Kaidee's and we go there twice, I take her to my foot massage place in Chinatown (it's serendipitous -- I get the same guy who did miracle work on my bad ankle and have another one of those green veggie drinks), we eat yummy street food (Chinatown, it's the best), and take the requisite stroll down Koh San Road. We do lots of new things, like the Chatuchak market (world's largest with 15,000 stalls) and the Grand Palace, which is incredible...I had no idea it would be so massive and beautiful. At the Palace we get a great free private tour from Noi who teaches us fun facts about happy lucky elephants, demon gods with 10 heads, and the real name for Bangkok consisting of 105 letters and 45 words. We ride both the underground subway and the BTS Sky Train, take a boat through the residential canals of Thonburi and to Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn), visit Jim Thompson's house (an American architect who revitalized the Thai silk industry then disappeared in Malaysia), and trudge down the exhaustive shopping district of Sukhumvit. We try to have a cocktail on top of the tallest building in Thailand (Baiyoke Sky Hotel), but the ticket to go up is ridiculous so instead we spike Mr. Yim's mango shakes with rum and chill out in our room. In Bangkok we have all the intentions of going out-out-out, but it never really nighttime a good meal and Chang beer is enough to call us to bed.

Our extended stay in Bangkok and Judy's motivation to see as much as possible gives me a richer experience than before and I'm grateful for it. Having this time with her is awesome, a rare opportunity for us to connect in a strange land and develop an increased undertanding and respect for each other. It's something we never have, nor may ever again get the chance to do. (I get kind of emotional thinking about it now.) When we leave Bangkok I'm a little sad to know I won't be coming back for a long time. Its familiarity during my Southeast Asia travels has grown on me, but all things end. I'm leaving Thailand for good now and moving on to new places.

On Day 8 we leave Bangkok and head to the Thailand-Cambodia border. With our wits about us, we step out of the taxi in Poipet and into an overwhelmingly large sprawling market where men with badges are instantly on us about our Cambodia visas. We've read the scam warnings so it's all good, no thank you we are fine. Save for a 100 bhat "on-arrival processing fee" pocketed by the visa guys, we (along with truckloads of pigs) step through the Kingdom of Cambodia gates with no problem, and grab a taxi to Siem Reap. Bye-bye Thailand! Sou s'day, Cambodia.


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