To be a tourist again

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April 2nd 2012
Published: April 2nd 2012
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It's easy to get into a lazy routine here in Bangkok. With the giant and always empty swimming pool below us, delicious and inexpensive food a few minutes walk away and school for a mere eight hours a week, life is cushy here. Sure, there are activities and sights in Bangkok we haven't seen yet. There are hundreds of islands in Thailand we've yet to set foot on, waterfalls we haven't swam in, national parks with exotic and endangered animals we haven't seen yet. But it would be so much easier to get a latte and sit by the pool. And that's what we did for the first term of school. We also did that for spring break, despite our intentions to go do something else. But for the past two weeks we've actually taken the time, effort and small monetary amount to become tourists in Thailand again. We have our good friend Emily to thank for this. She came to visit us for two weeks, which gladly forced us into finding new things to do with our days.

Our one journey outside of Bangkok was to Koh Samet, the island closest to Bangkok. For $4 each way we took the public bus to the Ban Phe pier and then a 20-minute speed boat ride over to the island. About a four and half hour journey and we had left the bustle of Bangkok behind and were walking on white sand beaches and swimming in bathtub temperature water. The beach we stayed on, Ao Nuan, had perhaps a dozen other tourists on it during the peak sun hours. We stayed in a bungalow steps from the beach and spent our days eating, swimming, eating more, swimming more, playing with the dogs that lived at the bungalows, watching lizards and snakes buying fruit from vendors that come to you on the beach and then swimming more at night with spectacular phosphorescence.

Back in Bangkok Emily wanted to see a temple, an activity on every tourist's list for Bangkok. Problem is Bob and I have been to all the major temples and while they're cool to see, repeat trips aren't very desirable or enjoyable. But given that we love Emily and this was her first time in Thailand we set off to the temples.

Lucky for us we live next to the klong (canal) and a main mode of transportation in Bangkok is by klong taxi, giant boats that troll up and down the klongs making numerous stops. For 50 cents we hopped onto the boat and rode it to the end of the line which dropped us off within walking distance to the temple we planned to head to. But along the way we walked into Wat (temple) Ratchanada and Loha Prasat. It was on the way and free so we figured it was worth a look. What we found was perhaps one of the best Wats we've ever been to and for the right price. There was even a great little cafe serving drinks and roti (a sweet flat bread fried with fruit or peanut butter inside). From the top of Loha Prasat at 118 feet up we noticed another temple nearby we wanted to check out. However, the weather was against us. Caught in a downpour with roaring thunder we hung out at a table at the cafe. Coincidentally the cats living at the temple had the same idea. So with a dozen cats, we waited out the rain.

Across the street was the Golden Mount, another temple we had never been to and again free. Again incredibly impressive and in my mind much more worth the time than some of the more popular temples that are overcrowded and littered with pushy hawkers outside the temple grounds.

It was great to have Emily here, and it was hard to see her go. However, we now have six weeks left in the second term of spring semester to focus on. Then we have three months off which will involve a trip to Japan and Malaysia and hopefully more plans in the works.

Up next is Songkran, the Thai New Year celebration that will turn all of Thailand into a giant waterfight for three days. Here we go!

Additional photos below
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And having some coffeeAnd having some coffee
And having some coffee

Our bungalow is in the back on the right, beach on the left.

Koh Samet had more butterflies than I've ever seen before. And lots of butterflies means lots of caterpillars.

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