Thursday, May 19, 2011

Watch out for the "friendly" locals...

Monday May 16 - Tuesday May 17 - Chiang Mai

Yet another two days of Brandon setting the alarm incorrectly and waking us up early.  Lindsay has taken over alarm duty.

On Tuesday we flew from Bangkok to Chiang Mai via Bangkok Air, the local discount airlines.  U.S. airlines need to take note.  Their discount airlines have airport lounges and serve amazing snacks on all flights, even on our 1 hour flight.

Once we arrived in Chiang Mai we went straight to site seeing.  First stop, the Old City which includes many old Buddhist temples.  It look Lindsay longer than most to figure out the appropriate way to sit in the temples, but she finally figured it out.  Before leaving the hotel they told us to beware of "friendly" locals around the temples.  It did not take long before we meant one of the "friendly" locals who almost conned us into tours.  Luckily Brandon was on his A game and figured out his tricky ways.

For dinner the hotel recommend Ruen Tamarind at the Tamarind Village hotel.  We enjoyed Tamarind short ribs.  We finished the dinner off with some delicious Asian Delight ice cream (made with coconut milk).

For our second day in Chiang Mai we hired a tour guide.  After exploring the Old City on our own, we realized that in order to gain any cultural knowledge, we needed local help.  Our hotel arrange Pegung to show us the city for the day.

We began our adventure at the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep.  This temple is on the nearby mountain and offers great views of Chiang Mai. Today was a Buddhist holiday where the locals walk the 8 miles to the base of the temple.  An additional 360 steps are required to reach the temple's entrance. 

There are many hill villages that surround Chiang Mai.  After the temple we decided to explore.  One of the tribes we visited was the "Longneck Tribe". Females born on Wednesday are required to wear gold rings around their neck (stretches neck).  The tribe believes they are prone to attack by local animals and the gold rings protect their necks.   The women have extensive bruises on their shoulders due to the weight of the rings.  Lindsay tried on half of the rings and could feel the pressure on her shoulders.

Finally, we strolled through the manufacturing district to see some local specialties including silk, jewelry, and wood carving.  

Just another day at the zoo...

Sunday May 15th - Bangkok

Three hours of sleep, should have been four and a half but we (Brandon) set the alarm incorrectly. Lindsay made us work out anyway. After a filling breakfast in the club lounge at the Renaissance, we headed downstairs to start our day. We pleasantly found our tour guide Kung (wearing a playboy bunny polo)waiting for us in the lobby.

After a brief intro , the driver pulled around and we were on our way to the train and floating markets.

Train markets: Local market based on a set of train tracks that transport locals throughout the area. Market items (spices, meat, fish, veg, fruits,etc.) were abundant. Items were laid directly on the train tracks. We were able to get a view of some fresh catches including shark and king crab. Every two hours the train passes through and the locals move their market items off the track briefly, replacing items when the train passes. We purchased nine eels that we would later release in the canal to bring good balance to our professional careers.

Floating markets:  After the train market we ventured to the floating market.  We rented a boat and a driver to paddle us through the small, winding canals.  This local market sold everything from food to  souvenirs.  Many locals drifted in their boats while preparing recipes (i.e., mango and sticky rice). 

Tiger temple:  Now this is where the fun began.  The Tiger Temple was built in 1994 and houses around 100 tigers plus many other random animals.  As we arrived at the temple, Kung preceded to tell us a story about how one of her clients was bit by a tiger.  This made us feel very comfortable.  When you arrive you are given an opportunity to take pictures with tigers ranging from 5 months (small) to full male adult tigers (450 lbs).  After the photo shoot you can walk the 450 lb tigers by a dogs leash, completely safe! 

Elephant bath: Given it was such a hot day, we decided to take a bath with "Full Moon," an Asian elephant.   As an introduction we gave her a few treats (bananas).  She carried us down to the local river, sprayed us with water and threw us around by her trunk. 

Thai cuisine:  Lucky for us, our Kung took us to an excellent local restaurant where we tasted some excellent green curry pork and pad thai.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

28 hour of travel begins...

We have decided for our fourth anniversary to take a trip to southeast Asia. Due to the time difference, I did not realize we would be traveling for 28 hours before the fun begins. We left Chicago at 7:00 am on Friday May 13th and do not arrive in Bangkok until 11 pm on Saturday May 15th. We are currently in Tokyo waiting for our final leg to Bangkok. The picture is Brandon making the most out of our layover. Only a 6.5 hour flight stands between us and some very needed showers.

Welcome to the Crawley blog!

I am not much of a writer but decided that it would be nice to keep some history about our travels. During past trips I brought journeys in hope to track our every move. Given I might have one entry, you could say I failed miserably. Hopefully this blog will be a more successful endeavor.