Ayutthaya

The Ayutthaya historical park was another stop on our day trip away from Bangkok.  Ayutthaya was a city founded in 1350 and was the second capital of Siam.  It was one of the world’s largest capitals by the 1700’s but it too was destroyed by the Burmese army in 1767.  The ruins that remain are truly stunning.  Hubby and I are used to seeing castle ruins in Germany but this was a completely different style of architecture and very interesting for us to see.

Still rockin’ the “happy new year” look!

Look closely, we’re on the stairs 🙂

Buddha in the tree.

When the Burmese army went through the area destroying everything, they would chop off the heads of the Buddha statues.  This Buddha wasn’t found until the 1950’s.  No one is sure how it became entwined in the tree’s roots.  One theory is that the roots grew around it while the area was in ruins and unattended.  There are several rules posted at each of these sacred sites.  One of those asks that people not place their heads in the place of a missing Buddha head on a statue, it’s considered very disrespectful.

Even though the day was sweltering, it was great to get out and see these different places.  They are so different than anything else I have seen.  Apparently these kind of temples and ruins are easy to find through out southeast Asia, probably similar to how castle ruins are found all over Europe.  It really added another dimension to our trip and I think it was well worth it to go out and do this day tour.

Day Trip Around Bangkok

After several relaxing days on Koh Mook, we went back to Bangkok for a few more days before our trip came to an end. One night we went out to an elegant and unique restaurant, the Medici Kitchen & Bar at Hotel Muse.  The interesting part about this place besides the high quality, delicious Italian food was the intermittent opera performances right in the dining room.  Every so often a professional opera performer would come out and sing a piece of music.  The performances built as the evening went on, and the final performance we saw was performed by a quartet of singers and was absolutely show stopping.  It was dinner and a show in one.  It was really fun to be in such an intimate setting with such powerhouse singers.  I’ve never seen an opera but these vocalists made me want to.

Not a great picture, but you can see one of the singers performing behind our table.

After dinner we took the elevator up to the top of the hotel to enjoy some drinks with a view.

 The next morning we had a big day trip planned.  We hired a private van to take us around to several different spots.  The first spot was Ba Pa-in Palace.  In several of the palaces in and around Bangkok, women are not permitted to wear shorts or tank tops.  If you show up in inappropriate attire, they will happily rent you a sarong so you can enter the grounds without being offensive.  They were actually really pretty!  This palace was originally created in the early 1600’s but was destroyed by Burmese raids in 1767.  The palace was rebuilt and restored by a couple different kings in the late 1800’s.

Matching Thai sarongs!

After a stop in the gift shop, and some fresh fruit slushies, we were all wished a happy Thai New Year with swipes of white powder on our faces.  Feeling refreshed and laughing about our new facial decorations, we were ready to get back in the van and move to the next stop.

Snorkeling in Thailand

When planning our trip for Thailand, Hubby had one major piece of input.  He wanted to snorkel.  I think it’s safe to say he got his fill on it.  We were able to do a little snorkeling at the end of our Emerald Cave visit and we hired our same boat to take us to some prime snorkeling spots the next day too.  The snorkeling was fabulous!  Lots of fish, bright colors, and some interesting creatures.  We got to see a puffer fish, star fish, sea urchins, an eel, giant clams, and countless tropical fish.  One particular kind of fish was a bit aggressive and even bit M and drew blood!  They would guard the beginnings of the coral and you had to swim fast to get past them without getting attacked.

Everyone had a good time floating around and looking at the fish.  I was an apprehensive snorkeler up until just a couple years ago.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s really relaxing!  This is by far the best snorkeling I have done.  I’ve only done it a handful of places but Thailand was incredible.  Next on my list is to snorkel somewhere with sea turtles!

Bye Bye resort, we’re going snorkeling!
Life on the boat.
First snorkel spot.

These blue, pink, and yellow fish were so pretty!

No sunburns for this little guy!

“Snorkel god”

Emerald Cave

The second morning of our stay on Koh Mook, we arranged a boat to take us out to the Emerald Cave (as seen on Sean Lowe’s season of The Bachelor).  As soon as we got on the boat we strapped little lady into her life jacket, and put her on T’s lap.  Not 5 minutes after the boat started she was fast asleep.  Great that she got a little snooze in but then we had to wake her up once we got there which made her a little grumpy.  The boat ride was full of beautiful blue water and striking rock islands jutting up from the ocean.

Once you get to the cave everyone puts on their life jackets and starts to swim in.  The cave is dark at first, but you can still see what’s ahead of you.  Maybe halfway through, it goes pitch black, you can’t see anything but fleeting glimpses of your guide’s flashlight.  We were holding onto each other and bumping into one another to make our way through.  Eventually you see a literal light at the end of the tunnel and it’s a big relief!  So, how did we do this with a baby?  With a lot of help and having the guys take turns holding her up while they swam with one arm.  Not an easy feat, and a little unnerving in the dark.  I think I kept repeating, “are you OK, where are you, do you need help, is she OK?”  I probably wouldn’t have wanted her to do this normally but I knew my friend had brought her little guy through and that made me feel like we could do it too.

When you finally make it inside the cave, you are in this little hole surrounded by a jungle.  It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.  I’m not sure how The Bachelor pulled off getting it completely private.  Maybe they paid off the other boats so no one else would go in?  It was magical, but would’ve been even better if we were the only ones in there.

Getting close to the cave.
Getting ready to swim through!
Inside, the black area is the cave you swim in and out of.

Blurry picture, but happy baby.
The locals loved her.

At the end of our cave experience we had a little bit of an incident.  As we were all swimming back to the boat, K got stung by a jellyfish!  She was OK but in pain for a while.  None of us saw the jellyfish in the water until we were already on the boat.  Luckily neither of the little ones got stung, I’m pretty sure that would’ve made us mommas lose it.  It was a big brownish orangey one about the size of a volleyball.  So if you visit here, be on the lookout!  Thanks J and K for planning such a fun day for us! It was a very memorable experience!

Koh Mook

After a few days in Bangkok it was time to hit the beach!  We took a one hour flight south to Trang and were driven out to the coast in a private van.  From there we hopped on a speed boat to take us out to the island where our hotel was.

On our way!
Pulling up to the resort.
Getting used to a life jacket.
We made it!
Upon arrival we were greeted with cool towels and sweet drinks.

 We stayed in little beach bungalows that had big wrap around porches with lounge chairs, windows looking out to the ocean, and came complete with mosquito nets!

The rest of the afternoon was spent on the beach and in the water.  It was great to relax and hang out in the beautiful clear blue ocean.  We ate almost all our meals at the restaurant in the resort.  It was semi-open air and everyone was barefoot.  You leave your shoes at the entrance, dip your feet in a tub of water to rinse off the sand and then step inside.  They had a pretty wide selection of food and drinks and it was much more inexpensive than most American or European hotels.  By the end of the trip, I think as a group we had ordered every item on the menu!

Bangkok

Two days before we were scheduled to fly out to Bangkok, I got a text notifying me that Lufthansa had cancelled our flight!  I had no idea why and spent the entire afternoon trying to call Lufthansa’s German and American numbers to get a new flight.  Turns out the Lufthansa pilots were going on strike, so there wouldn’t be any Lufthansa flights for a few days.  I couldn’t believe our luck that we finally were ready to go, and this little hiccup was threatening our trip!  Luckily we were able to book a whole new flight, and we actually were able to leave the next day.  This was great news because we gained a day in Bangkok, but did make for a bit of a last minute scramble because we were not packed or ready at all.

Our flight to Thailand would’ve been about 11 hours if we had been able to take our original nonstop flights.  We ended up having to take a connection through Amsterdam which added a few hours of travel time onto our journey.  We flew through the night and arrived in Bangkok in the morning.  I wasn’t able to sleep that well on the plane (imagine that, not sleeping well while holding a sleeping baby for 10+ hours…weird).  We were both pretty tired when we got there, so it was a mellow first day for us. K was waiting for us at the airport and helped us get a taxi back to her condo in Bangkok.

Our eyes were wide trying to take everything in.  Bangkok is a massive city, and is bustling night and day.  There are taxis, tuk tuks, and motorcycles zipping through the streets at all times.  We were so lucky to be with J and K who are locals now.  It was nice to just follow them and not have the stress of trying to navigate a new city.  They took us out for a nice lunch and a delicious Thai dinner later that night.  That was about all we could muster for our first day.

The rest of our group arrived the following day.  Our friends all flew in from Philadelphia.  It was so exciting to see everyone, we haven’t seen them for 2 years since they came to visit us in Germany.  Our first stop was lunch in one of the many malls around Bangkok.  It seemed like almost every other building was a mall.  I honestly couldn’t tell you which one we went to, but it was huge and really nice.  Most of the malls we went to there were very upscale.  Much nicer than any mall I’ve seen in Europe so far, but honestly I haven’t visited that many so maybe I’m just inexperienced.

Lunch at the mall next to the huge koi pond.

After our lunch the guys and girls split up.  We went back to the condo to freshen up and give the kiddos a little break.  The guys headed out for their muay thai fight.

Taking a little break for Thomas the Train.

After a little regrouping, we hit the sky train and made our way over to the river docks to catch our boat to Asiatique.  Asiatique is a large outdoor night market and restaurant area.  It’s very modern, established, and nice.  It reminded me of outdoor shopping centers in the U.S.  We had fun shopping around, bargaining for clothes, and having some drinks and dinner.

The guys spent a long time in traffic to get to and from the fight but they all said they had a good time!

In the morning it was early to rise as we set out to Chatachuk or J.J. Market.  This market had everything you could think of and we barely saw any of it.  You could easily spend all day there if you can take the heat!

After spending some time shopping for treasures, it was time for a cold drink and a break.  We sat down at an open air bar to people watch and relax.  We all really enjoyed the market, I wish we could’ve spent more time there because I would’ve loved to keep shopping!  Some of the things our group walked away with were purses, local made soaps, art, T-shirts, dresses, picture frames, book ends, and probably more that I’m not remembering.

The dancing chef in charge of the paella.

That night we went out for another fabulous Thai meal.  Thanks to J and K, we ate like kings and never had a bad dish.

We capped off our night at the rooftop bar at the Hotel Muse.  It was great to sit outside, sip on a cocktail, and take in the view.  Next stop for us was the beach! It was flights from Bangkok to Trang in the morning.