Friday, January 13, 2017

The flight to Thailand was not as bad as I was imagining. We flew southwest to Phoenix then to San Francisco. The flight was delayed an hour in Salt Lake. We weren't supposed to change planes in Phoenix, but we couldn't fly out for an hour due to air traffic control issues in San Fran, so they let us off the plane. Getting to San Fran seemed like it took way too long, and we were restless on those flights and dreading the next 14 hour flight. We got through ticketing and security with no lines. We spent the time until boarding standing, walking and stretching.
When we booked our flights we decided to fly on Cathay Pacific because it was one of the only airlines that flew from the US late at night and got into Bangkok early in the morning so we could have an extra day there. We upgraded to premium economy seats just to sit in the exit row and have more legroom. Our seats were amazing! They were oversized and over padded with a foot rest. The first hour of the flight flew by. Then they served a delicious meal, I took my Ambien and got comfortable. I crashed out for 6 hours not even moving! After that I snoozed off and on for 3 hours. Cole slept off and on all night. 3 hours before we landed we freshened up, read, watched movies then ate an ok breakfast. Then it was time to land in Hong Kong. The airport was so big. They have separate arrival and departure gates. We had to go through a long metal detector line then go to the upper levels to all the departure gates. The next plant was switched to a smaller plane with no premium economy, so we got upgraded to business class. It was a little nicer than our long haul premium econ. The breakfast made me nauseous for the rest of the flight. We got a line pass for customs which was so nice as the line was really long. When we got to baggage our bag was already up. We got a SIM card for Cole's phone then went to an ATM then found a taxi. The guy had the meter covered and told us it would be 450 thb. I thought that was just an estimate and forgot what I read about taxi scams. He were stuck in traffic forever and my nausea started to come back. He took us to the wrong Marriott, so we had to give him turn by turn directions, and he still passes right by it. When we got there we argued with him to uncover the meter. It said 250. He didn't want to discount anything for going to the wrong place. We only paid for the meter plus tolls and the airport fee.
Our hotel was beautiful! The front desk girl took us to our room and showed us around. We got upgraded to a corner suite on the 35th floor. It had a large living room with dining area, a small bathroom, a large bedroom with sitting area and huge master bath. The large tub was in the shower. The whole room had large windows everywhere. There were no tall building near us and the height started to make me dizzy like I was on a cruise ship. We went up to the executive lounge for some tea and advice on seeing the city. We went on the sky train to a main road with lots of massage places and tailors. We found a non scary place for massage. By that time I was nauseous. We did an hour massage. They washed our feet then took us up two flights of stairs to a couple's room. My massage was wonderful! She kneaded out my knots and stretched me out. Cole said his was pretty good. Then we went to some tailors. We found the perfect one and picked out materials for 2 custom suits and 3 shirts. After the tailor we rode the train back to our hotel for dinner in the lounge. They had a crepe station and yummy foods and dips. We went to the top of the hotel to the 3 story outdoor lounge. It had the most amazing views with glass walls all around it! Cole stayed up there while I went to the room to shower and go to bed. By 7:30pm I couldn't keep my eyes open, but I made it to 9 before I went crashed out. Cole went to bed an hour later.
The next day I woke up at 5am and was wide awake. I read for an hour until Cole woke up then we went to the lounge for breakfast. They had so much to eat. Cereals, pastries, noodles, omelet station, sandwiches, bacon and sausages. We stuffed ourselves then took the train to the MBK a huge 7 story mall. We got there right as they were opening, and we watched the thousand shop keepers setting up their booths. We walked the whole thing then had lunch in their food court. The only thing we bought was nail polish.
We went back to the tailor shop but the suits weren't ready, so we got an hour foot massage then went back to the hotel. I took a power nap. We ate fajitas in the lounge then went back to the tailor for the first fitting. We took the train to the river then hopped on a ferry to Asiatique the outdoor market. It was really modern and hip with lots of trendy shopping, restaurants, live shows and a ferris wheel. We stopped in the red light district, but it wasn't that cool. Amsterdam's was so much better. We had to stop by the tailor on the way back for a fitting for the shirts then we went back to the hotel to take pictures of the bar on the roof.
Our last day in Bangkok we hired a driver for the day. He took us to the temple of the reclining Buddha which was our favorite, the temple with the only golden Buddha in the world and the Grand Palace. It was so hot and exhausting.
He dropped us off at the river, and we took a boat and walked forever to the temple of the dawn where we climbed to the top. When we got back to the car we drove around town and saw the marble temple, Chinatown's giant swing, the palace where the king and queen live and some monuments. He dropped us off at our hotel. I took a nap until dinner time in the lounge. We went back to the tailor for a final fitting then came back to the hotel to pack. The suits were delivered right as we were getting into bed.
We woke up and had a delicious breakfast in the lounge, packed and were picked up by our driver from yesterday. I had our times mixed up with the flight to Phuket, so we were at the airport 2 1/2 hours early. We flew on Nok Air. All the planes are painted like birds, and the flight attendants wore bright yellow and had bright yellow rolling bags. The flight was only an hour to Chiang Mai. We took a taxi to the hotel. He dropped us off at the wrong hotel. Luckily it was a chain and had a shuttle. We got to our real hotel and booked our tours for the next day.
The hotel was so cute.
We took a taxi to a busy shopping street and had yummy Thai food. I tried the traditional northern Thai dish called Khao Soi, noodles in curry with fried noodles on top. Very spicy! It was our first time ordering our favorites in Thailand also, drunken noodles and Tom Kah.
We walked to a trendy gelato place. I had the most delicious banana Oreo and Cole had caramel nut. We walked past a spa and decided their specials looked too good to pass up. Cole got a 2 hour massage, and I got a cucumber body wrap, a 90 minute massage and 30 minute facial. We were both in a room with this cool shower. One end of the floor was rocks and had a tree growing out of it with orchids on it. We walked back to our hotel and got ready for our day with the elephants.
We were picked up early in a nice SUV and drove through the country up into the mountains. We saw lots of rice fields. Our driver was a very nice Thai man who told us a lot about the culture. We parked our car and rode in the back of a pickup with a couple from Paris to the Blue Elephant Camp. It was right on a river surrounded by the most picturesque jungle.
We changed into Mahout outfits. Then our elephants came out to meet us. We learned the commands and each rode around the entrance practicing them. Then Cole & I got onto a female elephant named Kahmoon. I rode on her neck, and Cole ride on her back. We rode through the river into the jungle. Kahmoon would stop for snacks along the way a snap large branches off of trees like they were twigs and eat them. The jungle was unbelievably beautiful. We had blue skies with white fluffy clouds and rays of sunshine coming through the trees which is rare in August. It was so amazing!
We rode for 45 minutes then went into the river on the elephants. The elephants love the water! As soon as we got in the laid down to soak. We washed them with buckets and brushes while they rolled around in the water. Then we fed Kahmoon bananas and changed into dry clothes and had a snack. We visited the 2 year old male elephant and fed him bananas. Then we rode in the truck back to our car.
We took a windy rode to the zipline. It has 31 lines through the jungle and over a beautiful river with giant boulders. We were the only people there, we didn't have to wait in lines. This was Cole's first time ziplining. He was crazy and went upside down on a lot of the lines. We had a lot of fun even though it was so hot. When we got back to the entrance they had yummy fruits and crackers waiting for us.
Then we drove to the Tiger Kingdom. We had lunch then got to go in the cage with the big cats. Then we went into the cage with the baby tigers. They were so cute and playful!
After Tiger Kingdom our driver took us to a famous gem store. We walked through the work rooms watching people make the jewelry. Then we went into a huge room with cases and cases of jewelry! Our driver took us back to our hotel to change. Then he dropped us off at the Sunday Night Market. We got there at 5, and it wasn't very busy. We walked through the streets for 4 hours looking at almost every booth. It got busier at 7 and the streets were hard to navigate. At 6 the national anthem started playing and every Thai person stopped what they were doing and faced the same way and just stood until the song was over. We got some street food and lots of souvenirs. My favorite things were a pair of elephant print pants and an amethyst ring. We took a Tuk Tuk for the first time back to our hotel. It was really fun.
The next morning we packed up and our driver from the day before took us to the airport. We didn't have seats by each other but the flight wasn't full, so we moved to the back in a row by ourselves. We took a taxi from the Phuket airport to our hotel. They offered us a cold towel and juice when we checked in.
We walked around the resort and had lunch at the deli.
Then we went swimming and watched the sunset from the infinity pool. We ate dinner at the tempanyaki place at the hotel. Sadly it wasn't very good, and it was expensive.
The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel. The buffet was huge, and the food was delicious! We got upgraded to an ocean view room, but it wasn't ready yet, so we packed and laid around for two hours. The new room was on the top floor with a balcony looking out onto the pools and ocean. We unpacked and did laundry. It started to rain off and on after breakfast, and when we got done unpacking it rained hard and steadily for hours. We had a bite to eat at the deli then went to a Thai leaf origami class.
We learned to make fish, flowers and bowls. By the end of the class it had stopped raining. I had research to do for tours, so I went to the gym while I looked. Cole had a tummy ache and went to the room. After my workout it had stopped raining so we went to the pool. We were the only ones in it. We couldn't see the sunset because it was so cloudy. As we were getting out it started to rain lightly. While we were getting ready for dinner it started to pour.
We ate at our hotels seafood restaurant outside on the beach. It alternated between light rain and pouring. I had signed up for water aerobics, but it was cancelled due to chance of rain. It didn't start raining until after our breakfast the next day. We took the shuttle to the Turtle Village shops. It was pouring so hard. When we got back we took a class on Thai massage. After the class we did a time share presentation. By the time we were done it had stopped raining. We got an hour massage under a hut on the beach. The waves and breeze were perfect. Then we swam in the pool then soaked in the fitness center's hot tub. We ordered room service from a local Thai restaurant that was really good.
We woke up early to eat breakfast before being driven to a pier. We went on a speed boat tour of Phang Nga Bay with a group of 18 other people. There were thousands of islands made of rock that shot up out of the water with trees all over them.
We saw caves that the Sea Gypsies currently live in.
First we went to a private beach surrounded on 3 sides by tall cliffs. We swam and fed the fish bananas and fried chicken. Other boats started pulling in as we were getting ready to leave, and as they all got there it started to rain. Next we went to James Bond Island.
It was pouring rain, so we didn't get good pictures of it.
We went to Koh Panyi Village. It is a whole town built on stilts over the water against an island. We toured the village then had a delicious lunch. It stopped raining during lunch.
We went back to James Bond Island for better pictures. Then we stopped at an area with lots of islands in a circle.
We got into canoes with a guide to go through the little caves to lagoons.
It was a beautiful relaxing ride. As we were getting on the boat it started to rain.
While we were waiting for low tide for the next activity, they let us jump off the boat. The boat driver took some awesome pictures of Cole jumping off.
We docked at another beach and walked in hip deep water through a cave to a dry lagoon completely circled by cliffs.
There were old Mangrove trees that were very cool. There was also a boulder shaped like a dolphin. We hiked back to the boat just as it started to pour. When we got back to the pier it had stopped raining. Our driver took us back to the hotel, and we immediately went down to the beach for a 1 hour massage. After our massages, we walked along the beach trying to catch crabs. We only caught one. We went to the fitness center to soak in the hot tub then ordered room service and watched tv. The next day we slept in and had another yummy breakfast. It was sunny with blue skies. We were picked up at 11am to go to the Phi Phi Islands, the whole reason we came to Phuket.
We had lunch at the pier then took a speed boat to a small and beautiful island to change boats.
The ride to Phi Phi was long and bumpy. They told us there is only a 40 percent chance the government lets boats into the bay during rainy season. I was really nervous we wouldn't be able to go to the place we braved the rains in Phuket for. When we got there we saw other boats in the bay and were able to go in.
The cliffs were so tall and beautiful. There weren't too many people there.
We swam for 45 minutes and just admired the amazing surroundings.
It was probably the most beautiful place I've ever been to.
The boat took us around Phi Phi Ley Island.
We went into Pileh Cove with it's green waters.
It was so sunny and nice.
We saw the old Viking caves and some ancient cave paintings.
We went to Phi Phi Don Island and stopped at a tiny little cove and beach called Monkey Beach. They wouldn't let us out of the boat, so we watched the monkeys from the bow. They were so cute and little. Someone started tossing food to them, and they would actually eye it and catch it with both hands. Someone threw a small banana, and a big monkey caught it and stuffed the whole thing in his mouth. I wish we could have stayed and swam and watched the monkeys. The cove was really cool.
We went past the twin bays then to a spot off shore to snorkel.
There were so many fish, and they were not scared at all. Cole took a banana, and the fish started attacking it. When it was gone they all left except one who bit him on the nipple. I laughed so hard until I got bit in the leg. Next we went to bamboo island as the sun was setting. We floated in the water for 45 minutes then headed back to the pier. We were so lucky to have such beautiful weather that day. It took a long time to get back to the hotel. When we did we showered and ordered room service. The next morning I went to the water aerobics class at the hotel. It was really funny! The instructor was a small Thai guy who did a lot of 80s moves to club music. The class was supposed to be 50 minutes, but he finished after 20. I laid on a lawn chair while Cole worked out. Then we called a guy named Ben whose number we got from a couple we met at the massage hut. He picked us up at 1 and took us to the south of the island. I told him I wanted to find a big jar of these Thai cookies and candies I had had on tours. He took us to the perfect place, Makro, like Costco. I got two huge jars of cookies and a huge bag of candy and some candy bars. He helped us find them in the store and carry them to the car. He took us to his favorite Thai restaurant in Phuket City.
It was so cool! It was multi level and had a roof, no walls and fish tanks and plants everywhere like a tree house. Instead of our usual Thai dishes, Ben ordered us his favorites.
We got oysters, and they were the biggest I have ever seen! Ben mixed up the sauce for us. They were so good. All our food was so good too! We had massaman curry with huge prawns, spicy papaya salad with fried pork and a coconut crab soup.
Next he took us up the hill to see Big Buddah. We took the stairs up to his feet and saw monkeys all over in the trees and on the steps. The view was amazing. We could see 360 degrees around the island. On the way down the hill we saw lots of elephant camps. Ben took us to Patong Beach for a massage. Cole got a 1 hour Thai massage and I got a 4 hand massage. I've always wanted one. Then he dropped us off at Bangla Road. We walked through the nice and big Jungceylon shopping center then walked around Bangla Road and saw a show. We met up with Ben a couple hours later and went back to the hotel.
It was 11:30pm when we got back, so we hurried and showered, packed and ordered room service. The next morning we woke up early and took a taxi to the airport. Before we left we still had a voucher from the time share presentation. I hurried and bought a dress at the gift shop. We flew to Singapore. It took a while to get a metro pass because we wanted the tourist pass and they didn't have any. We had to get a one way, but they only accepted MasterCard, so we had to go to the ATM first.
We finally got to our hotel in the middle of the shopping district. That night we went to the Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo. It was really cool. I started to have stomach pains and felt really weak while we were there. We had to ride the bus for 30 minutes to get to the metro. It was the longest ride ever! I was so sick and had to stand the whole time. When the bus stopped I ran to the bathroom and barely made it before I threw up. That night I had the worst body aches and chills. I couldn't sleep, and Cole started to get it too.
The next day was our last and only day in Singapore, so we bucked up and rode a tour bus around the city.
It was the cleanest/nicest city I have ever seen.
China town was so cute. We walked around Little India and Siam Square. That night we just stayed at the hotel and packed our bags to come home. We got to fly first class to Hong Kong. I was feeling better, but Cole wasn't.