Aside from NINE, yes 9 flights that we took in 14 days (and I am not including our other modes of transportation in that number; I got to experience something truly incredible in Bangkok.
We left Hong Kong only to arrive at the airport where (and this is where research can save money) our group’s baggage fees cost more than the flights themselves! Thanks Air Asia! We checked into the Marriott Sukhumvit Thonglor, into an enormous and beautifully appointed three-bedroom apartment. By the time we arrived, The Grand Palace and the Reclining Buddha Statue were already closed, and we unfortunately wouldn’t be able to see them as we had a full day planned for the next day. We had refreshments by the pool after we unpacked and then we decided to take on Bangkok. We explored the town, Siam Center (Bangkok’s Harrods’s, I could have spent an entire day there), the Nighttime Market, and of course; the bizarre circus like environment that is the Red-Light District. What we saw that night should have been illegal, but I am damn glad that it was not. That night was crazy and one that I will never forget, but it was our private tour the following day that left the biggest mark on me and deepened my love for Asia.
We woke up early and met our phenomenal tour guide Kiwi. She was funny as she was knowledgeable, and gave us all one of the best experiences of our lives. We started our day at the Floating Water Market, but only after we stopped at her friend’s coconut pancake stand. Heaven for the taste buds! Once we got onto our canoe, our guide sailed us through the canals where you could shop from anything from coconuts to pants from your boat. We passed cobra fights, and also stopped for us to wrap a python around ourselves. From there we went to a big cat animal sanctuary, we played with a young tiger, a baby tiger, baby lion, and two leopards. Having volunteered with lions for over 5 years, I was overjoyed at this. Also given that where I volunteer in Africa we are not allowed to play with the leopards, I was thrilled to have that chance. I would later come to know why and accept what my prior volunteer guides had instructed me, was that they are too wild. I think the scratches throughout my whole back spoke volumes to this. My love of big cats aside, that was not even the highlight of our day.
After spending a couple of hours with the animals, we moved on to an amazing farm to table lunch at Qrua Look Saq, with all the traditional Thai spices infused into our dishes, it was sensory overload. From there we went to the Elephant Haven, which mind you was only a short 2.5-hour drive, and that’s where the fun really began. There was a baby elephant which we all got to play with and feed, but it wasn’t until our grown elephants selected us did we really know what we were in for.
We rode them down to the bush, up and down hills that they selected themselves, and we were at times frightened to be riding the; but they gave us an unforgettable ride. Little did we know they would soon immerse us in a river only to go under water and give us the ride of our lives, better than any roller coaster you’ve been on. I could never have imagined something like this even existed, let alone be able to experience it for myself. After our aquatic adventure we got to bathe our elephants, and then we all had a water fight with the elephants. It was a sight to see.
After riding them back up to the area where we would shower, we parted ways with the elephants, bathed and got dressed. From there we said goodbye to elephants and the staff and departed back to the city of Hong Kong for a 3-hour drive. Everyone fell asleep except me; I was too stimulated from reviewing our time there. Our incredible views of the city from the hotel’s rooftop bar that night seemed dim in comparison to the surreal Jungle-Book day we had, oh Bangkok “I wanna be like you-u-u”…