The girls had Spring Break mid-March so we made the decision to travel to Thailand. I made all of the arrangements, which takes effort during these pandemic times. Requirements are constantly changing (all over the world) so please, if you’re hoping to visit Thailand, check https://tp.consular.go.th/ for the latest information.
At the time we were planning our trip we had to apply for a Thai Pass which essentially was providing the following: Proof of having been vaccinated, proof of medical insurance, proof of a first and fifth night’s stay at an approved, government sanctioned hotel, a pre-departure PCR test, a PCR test upon arrival (and only after a negative result can you leave your hotel), and an ART on the fifth day of stay. When traveling via air the amount of paperwork needed for the airline to review can be overwhelming so I went and purchased a small, divided folder which was bursting at the seams by the time we were ready to travel. I also saw folks with three-ring binders and laminated documentation and those are my people. Hello, people.
Anyway, despite all of that hoop jumping we managed to make it to Bangkok with everyone intact and in good health (for now…foreshadowing!). We arrived in Bangkok around 10:00 pm and were ushered onto a van to transport us to our hotel. At the hotel, we were all administered a PCR test and sent to the room where we waited…and waited…and waited for roughly 18 hours before our results all came back negative and we were allowed to leave the room. This was painful and only made us all the more grateful that we managed to escape having to quarantine in Singapore for two weeks.
Having never been to Bangkok I had no clue about where to book a hotel but it turns out, I did a really good job (pats self on back). We stayed at the New Siam Palace Ville II which was located in a tiny alley, around the corner from more tiny alleys which were full of restaurants, shops, Thai massage parlors (which honestly, could have been seedy as hell but the whole city was seedy so who knows?), and plenty of souvenir shops to keep everyone happy. Marcus even ended up having two suits made in the 48 hours we were there which, though it sounds like they should fall apart the second they’re exposed to sunlight, are remarkably well-done.
Since our first full day in Bangkok was a waste, waiting for the PCR test results, it was the second day that
we were all I was looking forward to. I had hired a private car to tour us around because heaven knows I’m not driving us around and why put Marcus through that stress? Plus, having a stranger in the car helped keep the kids in-line. Anyway, Mr. Nut (short for Nuthapol and who, fun fact, was a monk for one week as all males in Thailand are required to serve as monks for a period of time) picked us up promptly at 7:00 am and turned out to be a most excellent non-tour guide/tour guide (technically he was just a driver as he explained to us later) who not only made sure we had such luxuries as Starbucks but also made sure he taught us about Thai culture. My biggest takeaway being how closely intwined the culture is with their Buddhist beliefs.
Our first stop with Mr. Nut was the Damnoen Floating Market. We loaded into a boat and were quickly rowed to a line of merchants. Within seconds, Marcus and I found a Chang beer in our hands and the girls had coconut drinks to sip on. Marcus happily taught the girls how to haggle for goods while I pretended not to understand because haggling makes me horribly uncomfortable even in a county where it is expected.
Our second stop was the Maeklong Railway Market which was a curious thing because I’m still not sure which came first, the railway or the market. This was the most busy place we were as it is one of Thailand’s largest fresh seafood markets and, judging by the smell as we walked through, I believe it. Pre-COVID there were apparently seven trains that would run through the market per day. However, at the current moment there are only three which means if you want to experience it you need to time it quite right. Luckily, we had Mr. Nut who made sure to keep us on schedule and we made it in time to walk through the market and experience the train coming through. Having a moving train within inches of your face is quite a thrill though I do feel for the merchants as they have to worry not only about their goods being run over but also tourists making poor decisions.
Ayutthaya was our last stop of the day which included three Wats (temples): Wat Mahathat, Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, and Wat Chaiwatthanaram. In the 18th century, Ayutthaya (which was the capital of Siam) was besieged by the Burmese and eventually fell, resulting in the ruins we see today (this is the most rudimentary explanation of what happened and the history is much more complicated and I hope you take advantage by clicking on the links above so you can learn more about Ayutthaya and each Wat). Anyway, it was at Wat Mahathat that Mr. Nut told me something quite profound which was, without Buddhism there is no Thailand. Hence, why he believes someone cut off the head of the Buddha and left it, growing, entwined with the roots of a Banyan tree. Others believe it was a thief who meant to abscond with it but left and never came back. Regardless, it certainly makes for a splendid and unique picture.
Our day finally ended back at the hotel around 6:30 pm with happy children (no small feat) and a new-found appreciation for Thailand. Our time in Thailand didn’t end here but I feel as if this post has gotten away from me and there is so much more to discuss: tuk-tuks, the Emerald Buddha, elephant sanctuaries, and COVID just to name a few. Plus, I have to tell you about the time Marcus really showed his “girl-dadness” when he compared Thailand to an Olivia book. In the meantime, while you wait with baited breath for my next post, please click on all of the links I supplied you with to get a more in-depth knowledge of Thailand.