The sun was beating down on me, it was mid-afternoon, and I had been walking through the ruins in Ayutthaya for all of ten minutes, and desperate for some shade. Of course, I didn't want to sound like a wimpy tourist in front of my Thai friends, so I plodded along, praying for a wee break.
Sukhothai is not a Thai restaurant in Toronto (although a Google search may tell you otherwise). It’s the former capital of the ﬁrst Kingdom of Siam.
Located five hours (by bus) northwest of Bangkok, Sukhothai is home to some of the most beautiful 12th and 13th-century ruins in Thailand—and it should be on everyone’s travel itinerary.
While flipping through some photos today I was reminded of my first adventures in Bangkok, the people I met, and one of the reasons why I fell in love with the city. In many ways, Bangkok changed the way I travel. It was more than just another destination to me. It was in this city of disorganized chaos that I forgot about myself and put my shoes into those of another. Well, several others to be exact.
I cried the day I had to leave China and fly back to my retail management job. I cried while I sat on the curb under the dark morning sky in Xi’an, waiting for a taxi. I cried when I boarded the plane in Beijing. I cried when I stood on the escalator in Calgary and realized that I was about to step back into a life filled with stress and exhaustion. I gave my heart to Asia.
In 2011 I paid to volunteer at Elephant Nature Park (located just outside Chiang Mai, Thailand) for a week. When I initially saw the cost for a week of volunteering, I wasn't sure. Four hundred dollars is a lot of money for one week in Thailand. Hell, if I was really good with my budget I could live for an entire month on four hundred dollars. So why should I blow a month's budget by paying to volunteer for a week at an elephant reserve?
It started as an innocent train ride. I had bought my ticket the day before, which meant I ended up with a private first class cabin, as the other options were full. It was a bit pricey, but still cheaper than flying, so I booked it (yes, I could have taken a bus, but I would have never slept, and you can’t move around as much).
Thailand is cheap. It’s one of the reasons (there are several, which would warrant a separate post) why foreigners flock to this country every year. You can spend very little money in Thailand, and still live a comfortable life. It’s a dream come true, especially in today’s economy.
In the past week, I’ve had a few conversations with travellers about cost of living in Chiang Mai - as my current plan has me living in the city until the end of June. It’s a key part of travel research, and since guidebooks are generally published almost a year after the information is gathered, it can be hard to find up-to-date costs.
This evening I had the opportunity to participate in the Urban Adventures Chinatown tour in Bangkok. Can you believe that I've never been to Chinatown in Bangkok? It doesn't seem natural! I've spent so much time in this city, yet Chinatown has eluded me! Okay, Chinatown has not eluded me, I've just been too busy or too lazy to go. There, I said it. We can move on now.
Ah, Chinatown and the nightmarkets. This is something I have been looking forward to.
Although I've shared this story briefly with some friends and travelers, I have never written about it on here (I don't think I have, sure can't find it...). At the time I thought that if I told the story (the whole story) I would be crucified for it. Okay, maybe not crucified, but definitely mildly shamed for it. So I more or less kept it to myself. Now that I've sat down to put a finger to keyboard I realize how ridiculous I was being. In fact, this may be a bigger intro than this story actually needs! Oh well, may as well go for the gusto and spin my tale.