December 22nd, 2016: Ratchaburi, Thailand

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Although Bangfig3kok was our home base, we began a week long adventure south, with the first stop in Ratchaburi. To be completely honest, I am not sure how I stumbled upon this town; however, I do remember why it stuck out to me so much. Ratchaburi has a rich history with pottery. I read someone’s blog about watching artists hand make beautiful works of art, and that was that! We arrived in the town early evening. It was quiet, and we had a hard time finding a restaurant. We checked into our adorable hotel, and then head out (sweat and all from a long train ride) down the street to the nearest restaurant we could find.

I ordered chicken, and french fries. And I dIMG_0641 (2)on’t know what the significance was, but the french fries came inside of an apple! I did not eat the apple, but I DID feel healthier eating my fries! The chicken was honestly kind of Western seeming, but the sauce they put on it was AMAZING. There were peppercorns, it was kind of spicy (typical Thai). One more thing I remember was how out of place we looked. We hadn’t eaten for hours, it was dark out, and we entered this suburban feeling town, with all of these well dressed Thai people and, well… This is how I looked: IMG_8085Messy bun, you can almost see the sweat on my shirt, and just be thankful you can’t see my face. People kept staring at us, which also may have been because we were speaking English, and looked foreign. In the two days that we were here, we honestly didn’t see any other tourists. Later on at a cafe, someone told us that they see most tourists up north in December, and in the Spring they start to see more tourists in Ratchaburi.

The Hotel: Space 59

We honestly loved this hotel. It was so modern. The pictured I took truly don’t do it any justice. The only bad thing was that it was almost TOO modern. The stairs were so sleek and slippery. I was walking down at a fairly quick pace (I was excited!) and I fell to my butt and hit about 15 steps down along the way. The staff came running out, speaking to me quickly in Thai and I kept saying “I’m okay!” EXCEPT that I just wanted to cry on the inside!! I was sore on my leg, butt and arm the next few days, but I lived.

We ended up spending a LOT of time at Rattanakosin, the pottery company. It took us about 14 minutes on a Tuk Tuk to get there… which is actually pretty far! The Tuk Tuk drivers in Ratchaburi don’t rip you off as much as the ones in Bangkok do. It was HUGE inside. We watched aIMG_8164rtists at work with their dogs sitting next to them. We posed next to the beautiful scraps like hipsters. We bought pottery that would fit inside my backpack (and I carried for the remainder of our stay in Thailand D: so heavy).
<– I bought a vase that looked like one of these, except it was red.

When it was time to leave, we started to walk before realizing it would probably take hours before getting back to town. We asked the staff the best way to get back, and she called a ride for us and helped us get the Thai discount! She had someone finagle the price and ensure that we would pay 50 Baht total for the both of us (the cheaFullSizeRender (3)pest we had ever paid!)

It was so uncomfortable sitting on the motorcycle like this, but this is how
all the girls in Thailand do it!!

DISCLAIMER: I really did like Ratchaburi. It was cute, the people were so nice. There was one thing I really DID NOT like about it though… the wild dogs!!!! We were chased several times by packs of dogs. Every time we turned a corner, a group of dogs were barking at us, with their blood shot eyes. They got close, they growled at us…. my heart pounded in my chest until I could feel it in my throat. I closed my eyes and listened as my travel buddy said “don’t run. They’ll chase us.” I tried my best to keep my calm, but this really upset me for several hours. When we were alone, the dogs chased us up and down the streets. When a native was around, they left us alone. They must have known we were foreign.

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We spent 2 nights in Ratchaburi before hopping back on the train for a new city! Stay tuned!

❤ A

December 17th, 2016: Ayutthaya, Thailand

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Sweet, tropical Thailand…. It’s only been nine days since I left, and my heart aches to be back under your warm sun, eating your delicious food and (dare I say) back on your trains exploring…

On our second day in Thailand, we walked around and found a restaurant. The owner was a young person who spoke great English. He studied in Canada, and asked us about our travels so far, etc. He gave us some advice and explained that we should head to the train station and check out Ayutthaya Historical Park, where we went on the third day. The train ride was only one hour north of Bangkok (it felt long at the time, but it was nothing compared to the 10 hour train ride towards the end of our stay in Thailand).

We arrived fairly early in the day. There were dozens of taxi and Tuk Tuk drivers awaiting the train station, ready to pounce on all the tourists. We walked around for about an hour before I decided to give in and pay someone 200 baht to drive us to the city. Really, the walk was doable, I just couldn’t figure out which route to take to get to the park. The driver was the only girl I encountered as a Tuk Tuk driver. She spent about ten minutes trying to convince me that I needed her for three hours for 600 baht (!!) before dropping me off where I requested for the price I agreed to pay.

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Sometimes this is how I wave to people.

We came on an extraordinarily hot day. I learned to notice that Thai people look fabulous and well put together despite it being a million degrees outside. And in comparison, my eyeliner was running, my hair was damp from sweat and I probably didn’t smell that great.

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Along with everyone else who visits this park, I found that there was beauty in the ruins. Ayutthaya used to be the capital city, an important city for trade and it was attacked by Burma in the 1700s. This Historical park really gave me a good picture on the importance of religion in this culture’s history. Naturally religion is a large part of a culture, but there were temples, and Buddha statues everywhere.

I read somewhere online that Thailand is known as “the land of smiles.” I found that Thai people were honestly the nicest people I have ever met. Perhaps the countries religion has something to do with that — Buddhism is the major religion in Thailand, and the religion promotes peace. (Hm… I know many people in my life who could learn a lesson or two from how these people acted and treated others).

After spending two days in Bangkok, I felt that the break from the hustle and bustle of a big city was much needed. The air didn’t smell like pollution here. There still was quite a bit of traffic, but it wasn’t physically impossible to cross the road. In fact, one of the nice things was that there wasn’t much road traffic in the park, making it easier to get to where you wanted to go.

Before I came to Thailand, I had an image of this park in my head. I saw this image of a Buddha head interwoven into a tree branch on someone else’s blog, and I pictured a fairy-type forest. Mostly, I saw the red brick everywhere. After searching for this darn Buddha in a tree, I asked some people who I thought would speak English if they found it (there were French, and luckily they spoke great English! I really shouldn’t assume that someone speaks English based on what they look like, but desperate times call for desperate measures). Here it is in all it’s glory:

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Finding this was so satisfying. It’s like seeing a story book come to life.

On our way back to the train station, a restaurant owner who spoke broken English asked us where we were going. He gave us directions to get to the train station, although I struggled to understand him. Through body language, I thought I understood, so we headed off in the direction we thought looked right. After a few minutes of walking we were someone calling out at us while running. It was the restaurant owner! He told us, “wrong way! I’ll show you.” And walked with us until we found our way. I was so blown away by how friendly he was, and how helpful. This made me stop and reflect on myself and how I treat others, especially foreigners. Do they feel as welcome in America as I felt in Thailand? I’m not sure….but… my goal after this trip was to try to make sure they do.

Stay tuned for day 4!

-A