FAMILY, BIRTHDAY AND BANGKOK
Last weekend was my birthday weekend and due to the fact I work for a lovely company, have a lovely family and it was the King of Thailand’s 86th birthday, I got to spend it with my family in Bangkok. I haven’t seen them, except over Skype, for 7 months now so to be able to spend 5 whole days with them was amazing and lovely and the best birthday present ever.
I’m not a homey person at all; my brother got all of those genes. Our parents both travelled the world and for me it’s always been important. He likes travelling too but he’s a big believer in home comforts. My only request was that they bring me out some marmite, face wipes, Aussie shampoo and bug spray. (Does bug spray constitute a home comfort?) I like exploring and being away from home on big adventures, but I like knowing that home is always there and that my family are always there. No matter how far away you are from home and how much of a wonderful time you are having, you’ll always miss them so, so much. Well, I will anyway. I was so excited all week but then I got super sad because the troubles in Bangkok were getting worse and I was so worried they’d be caught up in it. I didn’t sleep at all for the few nights before I left. As it happened, the trouble in Bangkok was not at all how it was made out on the tele. I didn’t really see anything for the whole time I was there, except for the day I left. The yellow, pro-government supporters were marching down Sukhumvit Road in their thousands. But there were children and adults mixed up in the march so it seemed pretty tame. I know it got pretty bad a few days before I left and then it’s been quite bad since but we were lucky. I love Thailand and it makes me sad to think that there’s so much conflict.
Anyway, on Tuesday I was told at school that I could leave at lunchtime and I was so excited. So, bags packed, I left school and got on a van to Bangkok around 12.30. I fell sleep for the whooolllleee journey despite the notoriously bumpy nature of Thai van rides. I kept banging my head on the seatbelt adjuster and waking up to hear the van driver and the other passengers discussing me on numerous occasions, but this is something I have become relatively used to in the 7 months I’ve lived here, especially now I can vaguely understand what they are saying. I used to think that every time I heard ‘Farang’ they were being mean about me but mostly they were discussing the fact that I am a teacher from Kabin, on my way to Bangkok or Nonthaburi (they couldn’t decide) and when asked where I was heading I got some laughs for pronouncing Bangkok wrong, which I do every time. I know it’s Baaan-gkok, not Bang-kok, I just can’t say it.
Anyway, I arrived in Bangkok about 4ish and jumped straight on a motorcycle taxi to the hotel. Motorcycle taxis are by far my fave way to travel. In Bangkok, they’re a bit scarier than Kabin and I had to put shorts on so I could sit properly whereas in Kabin I always side saddle, but it’s fun. My dad was waiting outside the hotel and it was so, so, so, sooo nice to see him. It was like no time had passed, which made me happy and then we went up to my brother’s room to surprise him, which didn’t work out because I was too excited to speak quietly and he heard my coming from miles away.
I wanted to show them eeevvvveeerrrryyything I love about Thailand but I had to pace myself because they’d had a long journey and they were tired. However, in the 5 days we did all sorts of lovely things. We went on a canal/riverboat ride, which takes you around all of Bangkok’s canals. Bangkok used to be known (still is?) as the Venice of Asia. I’ve done this before but I love it. You have to barter a price though because they always try and rip you off. Originally they say 1500B per person, which is outrageous but we managed to get them down to 2000B for all 3 of us – Partly due to my Thai and partly due to my brother’s stubbornness. On the boat ride we got to see Wat Arun from the boat as well as see how people live alongside the canals in Bangkok, it is definitely worth it and if you pay for longer they’ll make stops at the floating market and at the Old Royal barge Museum.
We spent a day looking around the shopping malls, which are infamous in Bangkok. I love them. We also went to the cinema to see the Hunger Games. Ok, so normally you wouldn’t travel 8000miles to go to the cinema but I wanted to go for 2 reasons. Reason number 1 – me and my dad always go to the cinema together back home and we both love watching movies so I wanted to go with him because I’ve missed doing this. Reason number 2 – Bangkok cinema is AMAZING. You pay peanuts for an awesome cinema experience, with the comfiest seats and the tastiest popcorn. It’s so much fun. Hunger Games was pretty good too.
We went out the night before my birthday and ending up getting quite drunk. My dad went home about 1 and Daniel and I went to a Thai club with some girls we’d met. Thai clubs are the most fun, there’s always live music and lots of dancing. I am not such a fan of the hangover brought on by Thai whiskey but I can live with it. Afterwards we got a taxi home and ending up eating dinner at about 4 in the morning with our taxi driver, who was a hilarious 20 something Thai called Yut.
As it happens, turning 24 wasn’t as painful as I thought and I had a nice day. All I wanted was to spend it with family, because I’ve been in Thailand for my past 2 birthdays so it was nice to have a taste of home and family.
On the last day I had with them, we went to the biggest and best market in the whole of the world. Literally. It’s called Chatuchak Market and it’s just outside of Bangkok, near Mo Chit bus station. You have to get the MRT (underground Train) there but it’s SO worth it. There are meant to be like 15,000 market stalls selling anything you could ever want. There are vintage clothes stalls, vintage bags, shoes etc, as well as amazing art dealers, jewellery stalls, aahh it’s amazing. We spent all day there and I bought some Christmas presents then in the evening we went for an Indian Curry. This is for the sole reason that I don’t eat anything but Thai food usually and I really wanted an Indian. We ate authentic Thai the whole rest of the time so I don’t feel like I was damaging their Thai experience too much. Plus there’s lots of Indians and Chinese and different cultures in Bangkok, so if anything I feel that this added to their experience.
I had to leave for home on the Monday and they had flights booked to go up to Chiang Mai for a few days. Saying bye was sad but I’m seeing them for a day and a half this coming weekend so I’m not too sad. Plus, Chiang Mai is lovely so I think they’ll like it a lot. I have school so couldn’t go and I was so grateful to be given 3 days off work plus the King’s Birthday to spend with them I didn’t want to ask for anymore. I love Chiang Mai though, it’s so lovely and mountainous and peaceful. I think they’ll have fun.
Here are some pictures of the trip :)
(above) The Christmas tree in our hotel.
(below) My brother and his new Thai Girlfriend.
(above) my dad and I on the riverboat.
(Above) Wat Arun as seen from the boat. Daniel couldn’t pronounce Wat Arun so he called it by it’s other name ‘The Temple of Dawn’ the whole time… I don’t see how hard ‘Arun’ is to say but apparently it is.
(above) I met 1D in Siam Paragon shopping mall… I wish… and made Daniel take a picture.