Monday, March 01, 2010

Let the Journey Begin.....

Please forgive me as I will be very detailed in these posts. This was one of our funnest and most adventurous trips. We want to remember the little things. So if it's too much for you, enjoy the pics, there will be plenty :)

We left a day early giving us an extra day in Bangkok. Our longest flight, Portland to Tokyo, was wide open. As we were settling in our seats, Joe mentioned to me that the lady behind us looked sick. Understatement of the century. The flight attendants went and checked on her, making sure she was ok, asking if water or anything would help. "Will she be able to fly? Do you have a doctors note to be flying?" So we took off. We had our breakfast and I quickly went to bed as I had just gotten off a 14 hour shift. I would occasionally wake up to reposition and would take a peak at her. All of a sudden it dawned on me, this lady is going home to die. She looked like a palliative care patient I once took care of. With about 4 hours left of our 11 hour flight I was awakened by a lot of voices behind us. I looked back and the flight attendants were there and I heard them say "You're family can come up and be with her, one at a time." I looked at the woman and knew she had passed. She was very young. Her husband had been with her, and her sisters and other family members were in coach. They took turns being with her, massaging her legs and feet. No one else seemed to notice, but the atmosphere was somber and awkward. As we landed in Tokyo, the pilot announced that there was a passenger who needed medical attention and for everyone to remain seated until further notice. About 20 people came on board, the medical team in hazmat suits and everyone in masks. It was a mini investigation. They took photos, obtained eye witness accounts of what she looked like when she boarded etc. They finally brought a collapsible stretcher and took her wrapped in a blanket. They had to lift her above everyone's heads. It was a very weird experience.

Being in Tokyo was surreal. Never in our imagination did we think we would EVER go to Asia. We made it on the Bangkok flight and ended up getting to our hotel at 2:30 am. Our first day there, we slept in, walked around getting a feel for the city and culture. We spent part of the day around the Chao Phraya River planning our next 2 days.

Bangkok was very hot and HUMID. We had to pack hand towels from the hotel and wipe down constantly as we were just dripping (why we look amazing in all our Bangkok photos). We would freeze our waters and they would be melted in 1 hour. We never planned on eating street food in Asia, but we had to walk past a busy block of street food everyday and it just made me sick. No insects or anything, but they kept their meet and eggs out in that hot climate, there weren't sinks, just buckets of water where they rinsed the cooking dishes and eating dishes (yup, same bucket). And we will never forget the smell of dried seafood. T-NASTY.

The 6 of us shared a Marriott Apartment. It was roomy and beautiful. What I loved about the hotels in Thailand were that they all had amazing pools overlooking the city. It's such a green oasis. Tranquility overlooking the hustle and bustle. We had killer views, but especially in the bathroom! I loved waking up and getting ready to that view! The group shot is taken from the pool deck.

This was the first time we realized we were in Thailand. Our first day, it felt like we were in a big city like New York, but this made it real. And this is my favorite drink! Yacute. I grew up drinking this, and still buy it all the time at Wally, but I was amazed to find it in Thailand! And they even had 1 liter bottles of it!

Wat Pho

Our second day was spent at Wat Pho and the Grand Palace. Wat Pho is home to the famous Reclining Buddha. It is the largest and oldest temple in Bangkok. The Reclining Buddha was incredible! All of the Buddha's in Thailand are covered with gold leaf but this Buddha's feet was amazing! The soles have 108 characteristics of the true Buddha made with Mother of Pearl. It was beautiful. Mother of Pearl is also used on many doors entering the temples, just as it is used here.

Wat Pho holds over 1,000 Buddha images, but these 2 were our other favorites.

The grounds of Wat Pho. It was so fun to explore.

The Wat's were so different during the night than the day. They were beautiful and colorful during the day, but they were electrifying at night! This is Wat Pho, same structures, different angles. BeAuTiFuL.

The Grand Palace

Thailand's most sacred site. It is a complex of several impressive buildings and temples. A lot of it is closed off to the public (used in coronations and ceremonies) so there were few buildings we could actually enter. But it was a splendid sight to see. The buildings here are made of colored glass tiles, porcelain, and gold leaf. I love the intricate details and all the colors.

Wat Phra Kaew, the temple of the Emerald Buddha. It was small, but it was beautiful. It is actually carved in Jade and dates back to the 14th century. The robes of the Buddha are changed with the seasons by the King of Thailand, and as hot as it was, we were there during winter. We could only get pictures from the outside, so it's not very good. We sat in the temple and our tour guide taught us a little bit about the temple and religion. The walls surrounding the temple have paintings of the life of Buddha. We learned that as you kneel to Buddha, you bow 3 times. The first is acknowledging Buddha, the second acknowledging the teachings of Buddha, and third following the ways of Buddha. And yes, while sitting there, I pointed my feet to Buddha. Oops!

Loved the architecture!
Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall

Wat Arun

Our last day in Bangkok, we ran around the city on tuk-tuk's trying to see everything we wanted to even though nothing was near each other. This place was very serene. It was originally built as the entrance into the city and has served several different purposes since.

Wat Arun aka the temple of the dawn. It was amazing. It's covered in old Chinese porcelain from ancient ships. When the Emerald Buddha was recaptured from Laos, it was housed here until the late 1700's when it was moved to it's current location. This is our best picture of a monk, and Joe got it by accident. I love it! The city of Bangkok isn't as dirty as we thought it would be, but they are constantly cleaning the grounds of all the temples. They are all very well kept.

Wat Arun has 3 different tiers, but we could only climb to the first. Well, I climbed half, I couldn't make it the rest of the way. It was a vertical climb. Joe went to the top of the first tier and got some good photos of the view. If only this Wat was open later, it would have some amazing night views of the Grand Palace and Wat Pho as it is only across the river.

Yet another stunning night shot. It's amazing how different it is, both equally as beautiful.

Stay tuned for Chiang Mai................