After 15+ hours in the air and 10+ hours sitting in airports, we finally made it to Bangkok, Thailand! We had booked a hotel called U Sukhumvit that I had read about on a blog I frequent called Alex in Wanderland, and it was everything we wanted. The hotel was beautiful, the room was huge, there was a rooftop pool/bar and a gym, they had delicious room service (which we ordered as soon as we arrived), the Wi-Fi was super fast, AND it was only about $60 a night (and that was a splurge... we could have found something way cheaper but we wanted to treat ourselves.)! Welcome to Southeast Asia!
So we got to Bangkok pretty late on Friday, October 30th and the next day allowed ourselves to sleep in a bit. We ordered breakfast in bed (this hotel was also awesome because if you missed the free breakfast buffet you could have it delivered to your room at any time of the day!) and then actually went to the gym. Dennis ran like 3 miles on a treadmill!
The rest of the day was spent relaxing by the pool before venturing out to find some cheap street food.
So, due to our many hours spent in transit I came down with a pretty bad cold which meant our time in Bangkok was mostly spent relaxing in our posh hotel, swimming, and planning the next leg of our adventure. We did do a little exploring, though, and below are our highlights:
THE CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET
The Chatuchak Weekend Market is this massive market that is held every Saturday and Sunday in Bangkok. There are tons and tons of stalls and you definitely have to sift through a bunch of crap, but there was also so much awesome stuff. I got 3 vintage-y dresses for $9 (total), an adorable pineapple tank top for $1.50, shorts for like $2 and pants for about the same. Dennis got a really cute sweater too for less than $10. This was the most amazing (and overwhelming) market I have ever been to, and if space wasn't an issue I could have bought an entire new wardrobe for like $100.
THE INTERCONTINENTAL SPA
Dennis surprised me by booking a spa day at this super fancy hotel, The Intercontinental (I think he was trying to make up for the night with the hyenas). During our camping in Botswana I had been complaining about my skin and that I was neglecting it, so he got us hour facials and hour massages! And cocktails on the rooftop before our treatment. It was glorious and so relaxing.
WAT PHO- TEMPLE OF THE RECLINING BUDDHA
We knew we couldn't go to Bangkok without seeing some temples, so we decided to spend a day temple hopping. Well, unfortunately, the famous Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) was under heavy construction, and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of Emerald Buddha) cost a little more than we wanted to pay, so we just ended up going to Wat Pho- the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, but it was pretty awesome. Wat Pho is one of the largest temple complexes in the city and literally has a giant reclining buddha that is about 46 meters long and 15 meters high. In addition to the massive buddha there a bunch of chedis, which are mound like structures used as places of meditation.
So our temple hopping turned into just one temple, but it was very hot and we were thirsty so we decided to call it a day and get some iced coffee.
I think I can speak for both of us when we say our favorite part of Bangkok was the food. We ate like kings (& queens!) and everything was soo cheap! There was a set of food stalls kind of near our hotel that we went to a few times. Curry fried rice, thai iced teas, mango with sticky rice (my fav!), noodles... everything was delish.
Oh, and of course we had to ride in a Tuk Tuk
While in Bangkok we had to make some decisions about the future of our trip. We obviously knew that the money wouldn't last forever but we were starting to realize it might run out sooner rather than later. That being said, we had to make some choices about where we wanted to go after Thailand. We knew we wanted to eventually go to New Zealand, but we originally thought we would explore more of SE Asia before making our way there. After crunching some numbers and exploring our options, we decided to skip the rest of Asia and just head to NZ after Thailand. We wanted to save the time and money to spend in New Zealand. BUT, we couldn't leave Thailand without completing our scuba certification, so before NZ we traveled south to...
So, some of you may know that Dennis had been dragging me to scuba classes this past winter and we could not leave Thailand without finishing our open water certification. We read that November in Phuket was the best time to scube dive, so we booked 9 days at the Beach Boutique House (for about $45 a night!) and hopped on an Adventure Time themed plane for the island!
We had a blast in Phuket, but the highlight was definitely scuba diving. We had done all the course work and pool sessions in NYC, but had to do 4 open water dives to complete our certification (2 off the beach, 2 off a boat). I was very nervous and apprehensive before our open water dives, but I am so glad we did it (don't tell Dennis I said that). We had an amazing instructor who made me feel very safe and confident (Phil through Phuket Scuba Club- they were great if you're ever down there!) and we had so much fun. We did our first two dives off the beach in Kata and it was incredible. The water was so warm, we saw so many beautiful fish, and I wasn't scared at all. When we got to the surface after our first dive, Phil told us we had gone down to 7 meters (about 23 feet) and that we were "brilliant." After our second dive that day he said that we did so great that he would let us bring our GoPros on our next two dives- something he doesn't often let people do when they're completing their open water certification. We felt amazing! Once we completed these first two dives we celebrated with coconut cocktails, an early dinner, and a movie and lots of snacks in bed (scuba diving in exhausting, it turns out).
Dives 3 and 4 were done the next day off of Racha Yai- an island about 90 minutes off the coast of Phuket. We took a boat with Phil and a bunch of other people (luckily we didn't puke this time!) and made our way to the island. We did two dives off the boat (with a great lunch in between) and it was amazing. We went down past 18 meters (that's over 60 feet below water!), swam through a sunken boat, sat on a sunken motorcycle, and saw so much wonderful sea life. It was such an amazing experience.
Other than scuba diving, our time in Phuket revolved around swimming in the pool at our hotel, running on the beach, snorkeling in the ocean, drinking yummy fruity cocktails, eating great food (theme of our whole trip I'm realizing), and relaxing. It was perfect.
Next stop, the North Island of New Zealand!