Well our six-week trip of a lifetime around Southeast Asia has commenced and we are here to report that it’s been amazing so far.
Our first stop after Surabaya was Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where my friend Jessica lives. We dropped our big bags off at her place, did a few loads of laundry, ate some fantastic meals and packed our little travel backpacks before heading off to Thailand.
Our first stop in Thailand was Ao Nang Beach in the Krabi province of southern Thailand. Ao Nang isn’t the most scenic place, but from there you can catch boats to some lovely places. We spent our two full days there boating over to Railay beach, which is one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand (and, therefore, the world).
After three nights in Ao Nang, we flew to Chiang Mai. I loved Chiang Mai. It’s a small city and you can walk to almost everything. There’s also a lot to do. Weeks before, we had pre-booked a trip to the Elephant Nature Park (separate post on that coming), and the Siam Rice cooking school. Both were fantastic experiences.
Our trip to Siam Rice started with a trip to the market to see the kinds of ingredients we’d be working with. Real Thais shop at the market, but it still seemed pretty nice and touristy compared to our local market in Indonesia! At the cooking school, Will and I were able to cook completely different dishes. When you first get there you look through all the options and decide what you want to make. Then the staff gets going to prepare all your ingredients. We made soup, noodles, salads, curry paste, curry, appetizers and desserts! And we ate it all too. Barely. We were absolutely stuffed! So much fun.
We also had fun walking around Chiang Mai and eating at food stalls. Our guest house owner gave us his personal map of recommended places. One of them was a food stall where a lady wearing a cowboy hat serves up slow roasted leg of pork and rice. Our first night in town, we went looking for her, found her, got in line, ordered two and sat down. Soon we had two plates of delicious food in front of us as well as tin cups full of ice to pour water over.
In addition, our friends Zach and Clay of The Bitten Word food blog had recommended we look for Mrs. Pa’s fruit shake stand. We went in search of Mrs. Pa and again were successful. You wouldn’t think that one fruit shake could be that much better than another (or, life changing), but man, that woman knows what she’s doing! She recommended pineapple, mango and passion fruit. YES.
After Chiang Mai, we flew to Bangkok. We stayed in the area near the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, which is where most of the cultural sites are. Our first night in town, we found ourselves eating dinner at a nice restaurant on the river with a view of Wat Arun (wat means temple) lit up across from us. After dinner we went walking around to explore the area. We found ourselves walking past the entrance to Wat Pho, and the security guard motioned for us to go in and walk around, even though it was closed. I felt like I had wandered into a jewelry box as the temples glittered around us. Other than some temple cats on their nocturnal prowl we were the only people there.
The next day, we needed to visit the Embassy of Myanmar to apply for tourist visas for our visit there in mid-July. That took most of the morning and we were ready for lunch. We found a food barn of sorts with food stalls where Thai professionals eat lunch. Then, since it was the middle of the day and we didn’t feeling like walking around, we decided to go to Siam Square and see a movie at one of the big malls. We bought tickets to see Maleficent, and stood along with everyone else when, before the movie, they played a song and slideshow in honor of the Thai King!
The rest of our time in Bangkok involved sightseeing and eating. We enjoyed Bangkok, but four nights was enough for us and we were excited to move on to the next stop: Siem Reap, Cambodia and the temples of Angkor!