Our second travel break during the semester occurred from Nov. 15th to the 18th. We decided to get away on our own to Thailand. Our itinerary took us to Bangkok city for one night, and then to a beach front hotel in Phuket for two nights.
Bangkok is one interesting city. The first impression is very deceiving - it is very crowded with cars and scooters, it's hot and humid, and it looks primarily dirty and run down with some new clean elements spotted here and there. But the food and the people here are amazing. It is rare you come across anyone that is angry or yelling at anyone else, and the people are very polite and helpful to foreigners (our experience). Our itinerary was pretty relaxed: In Bangkok tour The Grand Palace and the Floating Market, and in Phuket... relax. We caught the water taxi (just like on the streets, you pay for boats to take you up/down the river) to the The Grand Palace. Very unique place, like a Disneyland for temples. n China, most temples derive their beauty from the architecture, sculpture, and the painting. Temples in Bangkok are also beautifully built, but then they are "bedazzled" with mirrors, glazed tiles, gold, and anything else that shines. There are a few monks around, but not many. If you go, make sure to have clothes that cover pretty much everything but your arms and head or you won't get in. We had to buy Stella some pants because her Capri pants where showing off too much calf. After a quick walk through the palace, we grabbed some fresh mango at a roadside stand (best we ever ate) then headed off to a Thai massage. It was hot, the metro (sky bus) was packed, we had to walk about 0.75 mi,. Upon arriving at the massage, we were miserable. But then the 1.5 hr massage. Ahhhhh... Just what we needed. So relaxing. Best ever. There is a reason the Thai people have massage places EVERYWHERE and may explain why the people are so calm and relaxed all the time. The next day we booked a tour to the Floating Market - you will never see anything like this. As you motor through canals you can buy item from people on shore or from people selling stuff in their boats as they float by you. What kinds of things? Anything! Food, drink, clothes, souvenirs, etc. We ate some interesting foods and enjoyed the beauty of the canals and the people, and we did a little shopping (haggling for a price is expected). Definitely a highlight of the trip. Then it was back to the airport for our flight to Phuket.
We arrived at night and woke in the morning to a beautiful view of the ocean through the pine trees surrounding the resort. Today was about relaxing which we did well. There was walking on the beach, swimming in the warm ocean water, massage by the hotel and finally a Thai dinner to cap off the night. Perfect day! Day 2 as a bit on the cloudy side, but still beautiful. We booked a boat tour of the Kai islands - tiny little spots of beauty planted in the Straits of Malacca. Back to the hotel and one final last minute massage for Stella then back to Shanghai. Great trip!
Oh and did I mention that in Thailand the exchange rate is about 35 bhat to one US dollar. A complete meal will only cost you about $8-10 per person ($1-2 if you eat from the street vendors), and a 1 hr massage on the beach of Phuket was about $10. Cheap vacation - oh yeah. You just have to get there!