One Night in Bangkok….

….. leads to 4. (hee heee.)

Ahh~ & who said backpacking had to be rough and tough? As I lie here on my lawn chair at the roof top pool on Khao San Road in Bangkok, Thailand– the sun is behind a hazy cloud and the smells from the pad tai and spring roll vendors are lofting in the air.

Today is Saturday the 15th– I am only able to recall the date so easily as yesterday was Theresa’s wedding day– and I was SO very fortunate to be able to speak with her on that crazy special day…. I can hardly imagine how fantastic it must have been and how beautiful she must have looked. I am absolutely giddy for every detail possible and pictures ARE A MUST! And once again, I can only shake my head in disbelief as I am certain the "Laminated-tastic Wyatts" were at it again. :)
This is our 3rd official day here in Bangkok…. I don’t necessarily know what to call the first day we arrived on the 12th…. that day is in a whole league of its own my friends!
But lets try to get this all in order, shall we? I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself….

On our last day in Cape Town on the 10th we decided there was just too much left to see and simply way too little time to figure out public transportation to do it so we went all out and rented a car for the day for 350 Rand… about $50– I know, big spenders, aren’t we?
It worked out brilliantly- we made our way to Cape Point… A 1 1/2 hour journey that led you through so many "green screen" views that you started to begin to think that this just all had to be a dream as there is no way on little part of the world could hold so much beauty. Impossible. From the lush green mountains to the crashing waves of the "whale spotted seat," it was intensely overwhelming. I can honestly say tears stung my eyes on a few occasions as I just couldn’t take enough of it in. We even stopped along the way to see penguins… yup, thats right… (Ray thought that would confuse the Jode tee hee) but they are a special breed only found in Africa. It was hysterical to watch them wobble through the sand and cool off in the ocean. Then we finally came to Cape Point- the place where the Indian and Atlantic meet.
From there I took my chance at the wheel (they drive on the opposite side of the street here) and off we went back towards Cape Town to pick up my camera– YAY– they were able to fix it… $90, but better then buying a new $300 camera! Phew… My third eye was back, once again… and oh how hard it was to be without it as I was forced to "comply" with all of Ray’s rules and reg. for his fancy smancy camera while mine was broken. (which is why mine most likely needed to be repaired, but never you mind that…) It was a wonderful last day in South Africa- this has been the hardest country to leave by far. From the amazing people we met along the way to the crazy stunts we pulled in the most "green screen-tastic" places- I truly do think we will come back here someday.

And with a heavy heart we moved on towards a 2 1/1 hour plane ride to Jo-berg- then a 3 hour "in the plane ON the ground delay" due to a sassy passenger as they had to talk him off the plane then trudge through zillion of bags before we could take off– THEN an 8 hour flight to Doha which led us to our last 7 hour leg of the amazing flight race to Bangkok. Zeeeee-oinks.
Okay-wow- lets see if I can even begin to try to describe this eratic first afternoon /evening of most likely one of our most favorite nights Ray and I may experience on this trip… I’m not sure who had the stronger hold– us around Bangkok, or Bangkok around us….
Never the less, I don’t think it was ready for the likes of the Wyatts! After finally finding our way to the…ahem… "hotel…."

****Okay, side note in order~ Yes, Ray wanted to make sure I eased into Asia as he knew exactly how NOT to start your travels through– And in a "prison like" room that has grates that are windows was not the most enticing way, especially after 20 hours on a plane. My goodness- ้้้ How I do LOVE this man….

….we dropped our bags and ran straight for Khao San Road- a backpackers haven that oozes the energy of so many vibrant cultures into one-long-crazy bright lighted slice of heaven. Oh how you should have seen my face- a kid in a candy store… Picture the MN State Fair’s grandstand along Hennipen Ave. in Uptown, Minneapolis—- Throw in some "tuk tuks" (golf cart like transport) sprinkle a few carts of Thai selling their fabulous "street cuisines," a dash of "my friend, would you like," (well more like a splash- they are everywhere) and a pinch of "Kim’s Bar" (street bars that sell for half the price of rest. alcohol) and there you have it– a pot of nothing but trouble for the likes of us. We were working off of nothing but an hour or 2 of sleep- awake for 24 hours+ and used the energy of the street to keep us going… from one end to the other we bounced around sampling it flavors. (and with 34 Bat to $1.00, it made it pretty easy to do) After helping Mr. Kim bring in people to its "street bar," (oh yah, we were as bad as the sellers on the street– but we were having a darn fine time of trying) we decided to grab some dinner- (2 LARGE beers- 2 LARGE dinners- $7) We started walking back towards our htoel, but not before we decided to detour into a local bar and see how THEY did it…. (mind you this was just a tent over some chairs and tables along side a stream) To our shock they had a coin operated Karoke juke box… um, wow. They welcomed us in immediately (I don’t think any Westerners have EVER approached their "open air" bar) and danced and sang the night away with what I feel, some of Bangkoks most superb and animated people. Even Ray pulled out a few magic tricks– Spirits were high…. And it was an experience we will never forget. When they started trying to give their possesions to us because "we LIKE you" we decided to call it a night… I think we may have even woke up smiling the next morning~ had that been a dream?

On Thursday we walked around Bangkok until Ray ran out of sweat (okay, not likely-poor kid never stops) We were really able to get a pretty powerful sense of the culutre as we observed markets, Wats (buddah temples) and every so interesting people. (even the ones that tried to con us) After we felt we got our dose of the Thai lifestyle we ealked back towards our comfy hotel room and then headed off towards another night @ "Kim’s. Oh the people we met there- nearly impossible not to as the "plastic stools" were within centimeters apart from one another- we even met a guy from Japan that actually lived in Hastings, England for sometime– crazy!

Friday we experienced the Grand Palace which can only truly be described as pristene, sparkly, colorful, vast and JAM packed with shrines…. Although you must be appropriately dressed and my capris apparently didn’t cut it. But skirts above the knees did? Errr? No matter, I wore their long skirt…. and Ray claimed I looked like a "lady." Whatever that means…
Then off to China Town with its gleaming gold shops, towering neon signs in Chinese character and shopfronts spilling out into the sidewalk. It was certainly bustling- jampacked with both the useful AND useless items. Pretty cool indeed… even the shark tails and pigheads were surprisingly an awe effect! Because Ray and I walked everywhere we really were able to get such a deeper feel for how the Thai lived and grooved… and lord knows we need the exercise after all those Thai beers and nummmmy cuisine.
That night was suppose to be a chill one– but after being able to talk to Girl on her wedding day– this chicky was bouncing all over the show. Ray could hardly calm me down– well… whats new, really.
And that brings me to today– Saturday the 15th… at the rooftop pool… Last day to soak up any last itsy bitsy bit of Westernized culture before we leave to go North towards Khao Yai National Park. Although I must admit, as exhilerating this crazy city it– its also exhausting… and I am very ready to press on.

**Side note…. My first barter experience… oh my, now if this isn’t the one that goes down on the books- I can see it in print now….

Sympathetic Street Seller Gives Back Bahts as Stupid Tourist doesn’t Barter Hard Enough

"On Saturday evening around 5pm crazy Thailand time Khao San Road buzzed along with its normal vibrant intensity– Until the unheard of happened. And on Khao San, this may be a day that Thailand may never ever forget. It was the first time in history a street seller was seen giving BACK money as a barter for a "wrap-around skirt" went bad. Sources say when the street seller started at 280 Bhats the uncomfortable American nervously came back with the amount of 250- nearly cents off of her countries dollar. "SOLD!" The street seller was heard victoriously stating. As the British husband stood speechless- onlookers heard the American ask sheepishly if the skirt would usually go for lower. The street seller was then seen actually handing 10 Bhats back. Ki Ko Min, the street seller, was later quoted "I have never in my life had such an easy barter that I couldn’t live with myself for taking all her money. Long live the King." And so a shock to the nation of Thailand- Khao San Road will never ever be the same.

Sunday 9/16- I have to admit, I didn’t sleep very well that last night in Bangkok– comfy bed or not, I knew some hard core travelling was about to begin. This "organized freak of nature" knew some rules were about to be shattered in her oh so "better to be safe then sorry"planned out little world. BUT I also knew that this was going to be darn good for me….
Then, why was this all so CRAZY scary?
Ray guided me through the bus terminal as I nervously let out a shrill laugh- It took as little as 10 minutes to sort out where to go (shocking) and get our ticket to Pak Chong. That would eventually take us to the area of The Khaoyai National Park. It was said to be one of the largest intact Monsoon forests in Mainland Asia. And, I have to sorta’ kinda’ admit- the BIGGEST driving force without a DOUBT was that it was home to THAT waterfall from the film THE BEACH. I felt the "celeb-crave" of Sarah Antosh roar inside of me and knew that this was a MUST. If even for SARAH’S sake… okay, that was an excuse… FOR MY SAKE. :)
3 hours later the panic arose inside of me again as we had no idea of where we would be staying– conditions, etc.— But that was answered within seconds as hotel hagglers rushed up to us "Westerners" and immediately started shoving brochures and deals our way. Even Ray had to tell them "one moment" while we got our barrings. We started to try to listen to them as they shouted over eachother– we decided on the Khaoyai Garden Lodge– they offered a guided tour into the park as well as pretty sufficient cabin style lodging. For roughly $100.00 Ray and I were able to stay for 2 nights and get a full day tour to the park with lunch and snacks included. Pricey for Asia- but we heard good things and wanted to do this right. Not a bad place at all- restaurant, lovely pool with waterfall, very botanical-esque and our room although completely stuffy- could have been MUCH MUCH worse.
That night we listened to music on our little deck in anticipation for our day tour the next day. The rain was softly falling but there was a coolness to the air. It felt good to get back to nature after the insanity of Bangkok.

9/17- Lions and Tigers and Bears– OH MY! Okay- maybe more like… MONKEYS and ELEPHANTS and BLOOD SUCKING LEECHES OH MY! Rain season brings them out in HOARDS– and these aren’t those thick flat leeches from MN, but those little skinny critters that bite into you and suck out the blood and then drop off of you before you even see the little tiny pool of blood on the ground from your FOOT– and you don’t even feel the bite. BIZARRE! OH but it was a wonderful day… We went hiking through WET evergreen forests (holy hanna did the rain start falling) and saw Gibbons (monkeys)– then had lunch just in time for it to clear up. Then headed to THE waterfall (from the film) which unfortunately we couldn’t swim in as the rain waters were making it literally GUSH from the seams… But wow, it was INCREDIBLE! (refer to picture on blog)– then hiked to MORE waterfalls and on our way back through the jungle-tastic’ park we saw LIVE ELEPHANTS…. I guess it must be rare to see because our guide kept shouting "oooooh we SO LUCKYYYYY!" It was hysterical…..
There is so much to tell about this FANTASTIC day including the wonderful "Brit 3 muskateers…." but oh my goodness people…. THESE MOSQUITOES are killing me right now as I type this blog— I must have acquired about a ZILLION new bites as I sacrifice myself for my typing… :) Please see the pictures up– it will explain the ENTIRE experience….

Just want to say a BIG Happy Birthday to my Uncle Sandi– Maddy and Liz (be-lated, Ray says sorry!)…. and hope you had a wonderful Anniversary Grams and Gramps!

Congrats to Tucker who got his business up and running….

And to Ray’s dad and Anita– a big hello to one of our biggest subscribers. 😉 Thanks for the emails…. keep them coming!

… and mum and dad, hope your trip to Seattle was amazing… can’t wait to hear all about it and I will call as soon as I can!!!!

Keep those comments coming…. I see some slackin’ people! :)

Tomorrow we leave for the very South East of Thailand to gain access to the border of Cambodia…. not sure of the technology of Cambodia, so until we can get to a computer– this will be it for sometime.

Take care of all of you…. we miss you!
Alyssa and Ray

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