Next weekend we celebrate our 5th anniversary. I’m taking it really seriously since it’s our first “milestone” anniversary and Chris and I will be going on our first trip away from the kids.
Every year on our anniversary we get family pictures taken. It’s a tradition I love and Chris tolerates. This year we went with our old neighbor from Durham to the Eno River State Park and we are so happy with the results. Her website is http://www.hollydwanphotography.com/ She is very talented, got us the pictures very quickly (we only took them this morning), and willing to use Creative Commons Licenses. It was a win, win, win!
Oma Leni came along to help keep the kid’s attention and we also got some good shots of her with the kids!
I think this year’s pictures are my favorite yet. You can check out our old post https://covicovey.us/2015/07/20/family-pictures/ for a compiled peek at our family over the last 6 (it includes engagement pictures) years.
Our plans for the last day in Thailand were only cemented at 3 am this morning when we booked a taxi to Ayutthaya (pronounced U.T.I. by the locals and heard by us), the former capital of Siam that was sacked by the Burhamese. Our intention was to see elephants for Helen Jeanette who was saying for weeks leading up to the trip, ‘I’m going to Bangkok Thailand to see elephants and monkeys.’
We left the hotel at 6:30 and made the hour drive in enough time to not have to pay admission at the first temple, Wat Lokayasutharam . I don’t think this one could qualify as a ruin since it was largely intact, but it was awesome. All the dozens of Buddah’s surrounding the complex had on orange robes and there was a large reclining Buddah in stone with orange robes as well.
The second temple, Wat Panan Choeng, was less impressive and also wouldn’t qualify as ruins. It seemed new and quite kitschy compared to the others we had seen. This one was a Chinese Buddhist temple and you could tell by the gold lanterns and the fat Buddah. Helen Jeanette had a melt down here because she couldn’t touch anything and ended up having to go in the baby carrier, which has been distressing her lately because she ”is not a baby.”
Helen Jeanette really fell apart at the third place, Wat Mahthat, which were definitely ruins. Even in the ruined state it was clearly an impressive complex in its day. We also saw the famous Buddah’s head with the tree roots grown around it.
Our next stop was elephants but we had to have a stern talk about not whining. I knew I would be so frustrated if we drove all that way and she was too tired to enjoy them. The talk was unnecessary though because she completely perked up when she saw the elephants. For 1000 baht we had 2 elephants take us around for about 10 minutes. I honestly really regret going with Killian because he wouldn’t keep still and it felt really dangerous. The driver would turn nervously any time he squirmed too much so I felt like it was affecting the elephants balance. Killian loved it but he didn’t understand why he couldn’t switch elephants mid ride or climb up the umbrella. Helen Jeanette, who was riding with my Mom, was perfectly still and floating on cloud nine. The ride itself was very bumpy and we went in the road so there were cars zipping by us.
After the ride we paid 50 baht each for 2 baskets of food to feed the elephants. Both kids loved this and were so sweet about it. The only scary thing here was that an elephant escaped and came from behind to eat the food directly from the basket. I grabbed the kids quickly but they probably would have been safe staying where they were since the elephant was only interested in the food. For me feeding the elephants was the highlight over the ride because the kids were so into it and it was so cute to see Helen Jeanette carefully alternate between elephants to be sure the food was dispersed evenly.
We wanted to go straight home but the taxi driver convince us to see one more ruin,Wat Chaiwatthanaram. He told us we hadn’t really been to Ayutthaya without seeing these ruins. The kids played in the sand while we took turns exploring. They were magnificent- a [much] better preserved but very similar version of Wat Mahthat.
We had a good lunch by the water and then headed back to Bangkok.
Mom watched the kids and packed while Chris and I walked a km to a mall that had a special food court which include street food. We had avoided street food the rest of the trip because of health concerns so this was a way to test out some famous Thai dishes. They were delicious! Photography was not allowed but I did sneak one picture of this pineapple drink. This was part of Chris’s only glimpse of the city, when he’s there to work he really works. He probably put in 10-15 hours of overtime, plus the travel time was a full 50 hour work week. I really wish he’d been able to get out more but I know he was happy with his conference.
We started our day at midnight when Helen Jeanette woke up from her ”nap” and spent most of the night attempting to nap, playing, or watching tv with Helen Jeanette. We knew this was a possibility so both kids and I slept in Mom’s room to preserve Chris from the insanity. (He’s the one working here after all.)
Chris joined us for breakfast at 6 and then we hit the road using a taxi we hired through the hotel. The drive to Pattaya took about 1 hour 45 minutes and the kids slept most of the way. Mom and I enjoyed taking in the surroundings on the drive.
Our taxi driver found a speed boat (500 baht per person round trip) to take us to the island. Originally we’d been planning to take the ferry (30 baht per person each way) but we missed the 9am and had no idea how to find it anyway. The huge bonus about this was the speed boat stopped at a platform and everyone had a chance to go parasailing for an additional 500 baht (approximately $14 US)! They were incredible efficient at cycling people through and the ride was probably 1.5 minutes and they were getting 6 people through 2 boats every 5 minutes. We asking to be dipped and they stopped the boat during our flight so that we floated softly to the water and then they gunned it once we’d gotten wet. I got wet up to armpit level but Mom got completely dunked. It was awesome and a total bonus to the day because we weren’t planning on it and only had a slight inkling that it would be an option.
While we waited for the speedboat we played with a baby on the beach, one of very few Thai children we’ve seen.
Ko Larn was beautiful and crowded! Normally I would hate this but for what the kids wanted to do it was fine. What wasn’t fine with the kids were the endless strings of people wanting to take pictures of them. Groups of 6 people would come and each one would want a selfie with one of the kids. They were both sweet about it at first but eventually adopted a ‘I’m here to play’ attitude. Killian loved the water and kept wanting to walk or crawl directly into the ocean, with no regard for whether the waves were completely going over him or not.
I neglected to negotiate for a cold coconut and got laughed at by some old ladies. They wouldn’t even accept the money I’d agreed to pay and took 100 baht instead of 170. This included a 20 baht bottle of water, but still Mom said the coconut in Bangkok had been 40 Baht.
The ride back was choppy but Killian slept anyway. We walked briefly looking for a shower before deciding that it was better to just dress in the streets and then eat at an Irish pub for lunch. The food was actually delicious and the group at the table next to us was talking about an orgy they had been to, so we got to experience Pattaya’s main reputation.
The taxi took us to the Pattaya floating market, one of the main things I was looking forward to. It was a bit of a let down but still a really cool area. We took one little open boat and wove in and out of the market. I was disappointed there weren’t more people selling things from their boats, that must be more common on weekends. The next boat was an amphibious vehicle and took us to a little farm area for a monkey show. Killian adored this but Mom and I found it a little sad. The monkeys were on leashes and didn’t seem all that well trained. I had also hurt my eye and taken out my contacts so was a little too grumpy to be positive at this point (remember we’d been up since midnight).
One highlight of the floating market was we got to put our feet in the ‘fish spa’. For 100 Baht for adults and 50 for children we got to feel little fish eat the dead skin off our feet. Helen Jeanette was reluctant but the store owner talked to her and I’m so glad she did. It tickled and we told Helen Jeanette the fish were giving us kisses.
The kids (and adults) slept on the 2.5 hours ride back to Bangkok and we couldn’t wake the kids up when we got back so they both ended up sleeping 5pm-4am. Mom and I got room service and passed out shortly after arriving at the hotel. It was an exhausting day but I’m really glad we got to experience the beach here in Thailand.
We had great plans for after nap on Tuesday but we were defeated by the nap monster. Helen Jeanette slept from 2:30 pm until midnight and then stayed up until 8am on Wednesday.
So the only thing that happened after the Part 1 post was I got a fantastic massage and facial from the hotel spa after the kids were in bed. 2.5 hours was about the same cost as a 1 hour massage in the states at a non-fancy spot. I think if I were visiting without children I would spring for this multiple times during a visit, if I had gone someplace that wasn’t as fancy it would have been even cheaper, but maybe not as luxurious a setting.
Chris’s coworker Veena joined us for our morning outing. She was a lot of fun and it was interesting hearing her thoughts on Thailand since she is from India.
We took a long boat to the Grand Palace. I’m not sure how we swung this and paid normal ferry prices but I guess it just worked out timing wise. We couldn’t repeat it on the way back.
The crowds here were unbelievable and I think 90% had to be Chinese. It was also sweltering hot so mixing with those crowds was awful. The complex was awe inspiring but would have been a lot more enjoyable if it were less crowded and hot. Helen Jeanette peed all over me in the carrier when I couldn’t make it to the restroom in time. She actually made it to the restroom but not through the line we were waiting in. I could hardly tell though because I was already soaked in sweat.
We had to leave a deposit and borrow skirts so our legs weren’t bare. They let Killian go uncovered though.
We got a quick lunch at the first place we came to with air conditioning and then hopped a TukTuk to the flower market. Eventually Helen Jeanette threw her flowers into the river and took great enjoyment in doing so.
Veena split back to the hotel and we continued onto the Jim Thompson outlet which was super fun. I picked up fabric for living room curtains and Mom got fabric for several dresses and a shirt for herself. We also picked out lots of gifts and a shirt for Chris’s gala tonight.
This morning we ate breakfast at the hotel buffet which was a sight to behold. They had breakfast items from all over the world, including dim sum dumplings that I stuffed myself with. Helen Jeanette was being fussy and didn’t eat too much but Killian scarfed down all kinds of food.
We took the sky train just 1 stop to see the Jim Thompson house. On the walk there we ran into the perfect opportunity to recreate one of the photos of Mom here in Thailand when she was 8. Helen Jeanette loved getting to pose like Oma.
We stopped into a little store on the way and attempted to barter with the woman. She wasn’t interested in classic negotiation and just wanted to keep rattling off discounts, so the longer you remained silent the better you did. We looped back through after the Jim Thompson house and both parties ended up very pleased with the transaction. The woman even sent her husband to carry our bags for us to the SkyTrain which was 4 blocks away.
The Jim Thompson house was beautiful and fascinating. Tours were required which was great because we probably would have opted out and really missed out. Killian was very loud and happy during the tour and Helen Jeanette fell asleep in her baby carrier. We transferred Helen Jeanette to a chair in their cafe after the tour and enjoyed drinks and smoothies. The watermelon juice was nice but the lychee smoothie was worth the trip to Thailand. Even Killian thought so and when we tried to give him watermelon juice after the smoothie he spit it out.
Helen Jeanette ended up having another accident because I couldn’t get her to the bathroom fast enough and I had to buy some expensive but beautiful little shorts at the gift shop.
The highlight of the Jim Thompson house for the kids was the gravel driveway. Those kids love to play with rocks! The highlight of our visit for the Jim Thompson house staff was our kids. They completely doted on them and took them to see the fish.
After the Jim Thompson house we headed to the pool for lunch and swimming. I got to check one of my life goals off my list by sitting in a ‘sunbrella’ and it was everything I had hoped it would be! The kids had a blast swimming and the lunch was excellent. Helen Jeanette even got a little bowl of Rock Road which she devoured.