It was time to say goodbye to Ayutthaya our home base for a few days. We were only one hour away from Bangkok, but prices in Ayutthaya were a lot cheaper than in Bangkok. We explored North Thailand and were returning to Bangkok to meet my highschool friend Patty and her boyfriend Mark. I was very excited!
We took the train to Bangkok, and then a taxi to our hostel. but the taxi driver dropped us off at a near by mall, because he didn’t really know the hostel location. So we had to drag our bags around town until we found it. We stayed at Lub-D Hostel near National Stadium. The Hostel and it’s location were great; check out my review on tripadvisor.
After checking in and freshening up, we went to pick up Patty and Mark at the Airport link station. Patty told me that they were arriving at a certain time, but they didn’t show up until 2 hours later. I was really worried and even called the hostel to check online if the airplane had arrived. Once Patty arrived, she confessed that she gave me the wrong arrival time. I was too happy to see her to get upset.
We decided to go for dinner and my first idea was… of course Hard Rock Cafe Bangkok, located walking distance from our hostel. Mark was so nice… he treated us to dinner!
Our destination this day was Lopburi, a short 45 min train ride from Ayutthaya. Lopburi was a second capital. We heard Lopburi was a great place to see monkeys. Thailand is mainly buddhist, and in this religion they think animals could be the reincarnation of a relative; therefore, they don’t harm animals; they even feed them and care for them. As soon as we arrived, we saw some monkeys walking on the power lines around the city.
Our first stop was Phra Narai Ratchaniwet Palace, a former royal palace. Some parts of the palace are ruins now, including the elephants’ pens; other areas are exhibition spaces. My favorite part was the garden and the flowers I found in it.
After the Palace visit, we walked around and spotted a monkey carrying a baby monkey… they were so cute. Later we went to Prang Sam Yot, Lopburi’s most photographed temple. The Khmer-Lopburi style temple was originally built as a Hindu temple, but later turned into a Buddhist temple. Nowadays, the temple has been taken over by monkeys. At the entrance there is a sign that reads “Beware of monkeys snatching your purse”. After buying my entrance fee the employee gave me a wooden stick to keep the monkeys away in case of emergency. We tried to keep our distance, but the baby monkeys are so cute I had to take pictures closely.
I wanted to go back to Ayutthaya early to be able to visit the floating market. The train was delayed 2 hours, so we decided to take a bus, which turned into an adventure itself. First we hired a tricycle to take us to the bus station. Unfortunately, after waiting for 30 minutes, we realized that the bus wasn’t going to leave for a while. We asked the locals and they told us to take a minibus, but had to hire a tuk-tuk to get there. After an hour, the minibus dropped us off on the side of the highway close to Ayutthaya and we had to take another tuk-tuk to our hotel. We spent a lot of money and time, but we made it in time and we were able to go to the floating market in the afternoon.
It was time to leave Chiang Mai for our next destination. Even though we were a little burned out on Temples, I convinced Ryan to see another one: Wat Phra that Doi Suthep, located in the mountains about one hour away from Chiang Mai. We had to wake up early and hire a Songthaew (pick-up truck with covered bed with seats); we avoided renting a motorbike whenever we could.
Once we arrived to Wat Phra that Doi Suthep, we took the tram up to the temple, because the guidebook said it was a “strenuous staircase”. Later, when we were leaving, we realized the staircase wasn’t that bad; we could have climbed it easily. we wasted 40 baht ($1.30) hahaha.
As soon as we arrived to the top platform, we were surprised by a free Thai dancing performance by a girls dancing school. I love cultural dances… so I really enjoyed it. Their outfits were so beautiful and they danced so gracefully, it was a delight to watch. The younger girls bent backwards all the way to the floor and put their heads between their legs; the older ones also bent but only picked up a paper bill with their mouths. Ryan had to force me to stop watching the performance to keep me on schedule.
The temple was busy with shoeless locals making offerings and tourists snapping pictures; everybody must remove their shoes before entering a buddhist temple. The gold Chedi was the main attraction and buddhists were walking around it while “praying”. I also spotted a big group of monks taking pictures around the temple, so I took one of them too.
After visiting the temple and admiring the views from Chiang Mai, we headed back to the guesthouse to check out. We wanted to have lunch and to catch our bus to Sukhothai at 3pm.
We woke up early and packed our bags. We knew we were leaving to Yangshuo but we had not made any reservation. We ordered breakfast at our hostel and while waiting for the food we were able to reserve a Bamboo Raft trip to Yangshuo. In less than an hour we were going to be picked up for the tour. We arranged to leave one of the suitcases in Guilin at the hostel storage and only took with us.
We had not figured out how to catch our flight out of Beijing. We really didn’t have time to get by train all the way to Beijing if we wanted to spend time in Shanghai. Changing my flight to leave from Shanghai was going to cost a minimum of $125 + Ticket price difference. So I decided to look online for airfares from Shanghai to Beijing. I thought if I could find a ticket cheaper than $125, we were better off than changing the entire itinerary. I was very happy to find a ticket for $115. While I was filling out the information to pay for the tickets online, our tour arrived to pick us up. I got nervous, but managed to pay with the credit card quickly.
Our journey started with the bus packed with tourists, after they picked us up, they stopped at 2 other hostels to get more people. Some people had to sit on the bus floor! After a 30-minutes ride, the bus dropped us off at the Dock, where we started our bamboo raft trip.
This was a priceless experience. It was like looking at one of those chinese paintings showing rivers with foggy mountains…but better! The raft moved slowly making it easier to enjoy the amazing scenery around us. I couldn’t believe I was spending my birthday cruising between the karst formations in Guilin. We really enjoyed this relaxing 2hr trip. We even saw the scenery shown in the 20 yuen note, located between Xingping and Yangshuo.
After the breathtaking ride, we were dropped off at a dock, where a motor bike picked us up and took us for about 30 minutes to another location, where we boarded a final bus to Yangshuo. The bus tried to charge us, even though the tour included all fees. Luckily for us, one of the guys in our raft spoke chinese and he translated for us.
Most of my friends were very excited, when they heard the news about the trip. However; some of you, (you know, who you are, ha-ha) ask me WHY? and that really caught me of guard… I’m thinking WHY NOT???
So I decide to share with you some reasons WHY to do this trip.
- See the world through your own eyes.
- Try authentic foods you would never try otherwise.
- Learn other cultures and languages.
- Experience freedom, no schedules, flexible plans.
- Drive on the other side of the road, that can be fun!
- Explore amazing architecture and sights.
- Discover things you didn’t know you liked.
- Make friends all over the world.
- Do something that most people will never do, but wish they did.
- Appreciate what you have, when you come back.
- Annoy your friends by yelling: ” I was there” when watching a movie.
- Tell great stories to your kids about your travels.
¿Por qué? …
La mayoría de mis amigos estaban muy contentos, cuando oyeron la noticia sobre el viaje. Sin embargo, algunos de ustedes, (tu sabes, quién eres, ja, ja) me preguntaron POR QUÉ? y yo realmente me sorprendí … yo estaba pensando ¿POR QUÉ NO???
Así que decidí compartir con ustedes algunas razones por las cuales hacer este viaje.
- Vé el mundo a través de tus propios ojos
- Prueba alimentos auténticos que nunca probarías de otra manera.
- Aprende de otras culturas e idiomas.
- Experimenta la libertad, sin horarios, y con planes flexibles.
- Maneja en el otro lado de la carretera, que puede ser divertido!
- Explora increíble arquitectura y lugares de interés.
- Discubre cosas que no sabías que te gustaban.
- Haz amigos de todo el mundo.
- Haz algo que la mayoría de la gente nunca va a hacer, pero desearían haberlo hecho.
- Aprecia lo que tienes, cuando vuelvas.
- Molesta a tus amigos gritando: “Yo estuve allí” cuando vean una película.
- Cuentale grandes historias a tus hijos sobre tus viajes
Many of you have asked Ryan and I to share our 4-month trip with you, this will be the way we share it; through a photo Journal. I’m not a writer, nor am I a photographer, and remember english is my second language, so please don’t pay attention to spelling or grammar and just enjoy the pictures!
Muchos de ustedes nos pidieron a Ryan y a mí que compartiéramos nuestro viaje de 4 meses con ustedes. Esta es la manera en que lo haremos: en un diario de fotos. Yo no soy escritora, ni tampoco fotógrafa, así que por favor no prestes atención a la ortografía o gramática y disfruta de las fotos!