Saturday, February 16, 2008

From Winter Springs to Bangkok

This certainly has been an eventful and fabulous Spring Festival vacation! The first three weeks were spent at home in Winter Springs, where I was able to visit with my family, gorge on all the foods I've missed so much over the last eight months, and catch up on civilized life in general (movies, music, the pets, etc). The time went by too quickly, and before I knew it I was back on my second 15-hour flight in just about 20 days! I spent a couple of nights recovering in Hong Kong, rode the ferry to Macau, and then flew to Bangkok to meet Scott, where he'd been staying for over a week before my arrival.

Bankok was a welcome change from the frigid weather in Hong Kong and Macau (temperatures in the 40s don't feel too great when all you've got packed are beach clothes). Scott was right there at the airport to meet me, and immediately took charge with his great tour guide and directional skills. If I had been on my own, I probably would have just looked at the city map upside down and wandered aimlessly around Bangkok... luckily for me, in ten days on his own in the city Scott had somehow become a Bangkok expert and was able to show me around town!

We stayed in a decent hostel just around the corner from the infamous Khao San Road, which is known as the "backpacker ghetto" because of all the cheap hostels and even cheaper bars, food stands and souvenir shops... not to mention the abundance of Eurotrash stumbling drunkenly through the streets, arrayed in every type of skimpy clothing imaginable. Most nights, we just grabbed an outdoor seat at a Khao San restaurant and let the excellent people watching serve as the evening's entertainment.

Over the course of a few days, we visited the Grand Palace and temple, Wat Pho (another temple with impressive views of the city), and the Jim Thompson house. Jim Thompson was an eccentric American who started a hugely profitable silk company and then transported seven ancient, traditional Thai-style homes from around Thailand to Bangkok. He randomly disappeared in Malaysia at age 60, but fortunately for us his former home is now open for tourists to wander though. It boasts a spectacular collection of Chinese and Thai decorations, art and furniture and proved a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon in Bangkok.

The two and a half days I spent in Bangkok were opportunity enough to see major tourist attractions. My favorite part of my stay there was the food: street stands sold delicious snacks, such as hummus and pita, fresh fruit and fruit juices, steaming hot noodles, fried corn, etc. The average meal with a drink cost about $3 and every dish I sampled was wonderful. Unfortuately, I'd been dreaming of turquoise water, white sand and hammocks for several months; for me, the real vacation began with the trip south to Phuket and its beautiful tropical beaches.

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