My brother and his family moved to Thailand for three months for his work this Spring. And because of a little magic involved, Dave, Lucy and I got to go visit them for Spring Break. Dave had to get there and also to Vietnam for work, and Lu and I got to tag along. Since we didn’t get to stay long, we gave ourselves a speed-course lesson on the best way to spend five days in Thailand! Beware, there are a LOT of pictures in this post. But there is also a LOT to do in Thailand! And Bangkok quickly became one of my all-time favorite cities.
Buddhism and love fill the air:
Incredible views going from place to place!
I was so fascinated by the wires tangled in mass along the streets, and also the murals of the king (and often the queen too) at all the sacred spots:
It’s against the law to say anything not-so-nice about the king, if you do, you could get stuck in jail. For real.
Anyway, it was all so fascinating and we love that place!
The “magic” that got us to Thailand with Lucy
Now, let’s skip back to the “magic” part that got us there before we delve into what we did there. This trip involved some magic because of this: We’re down to the Three Musketeers in our family.
And the things we can do together are pretty different from the things we can do with the older kids. Lucy’s vision is, to put it bluntly, pretty awful right now. Traveling to a foreign country is not the easiest thing to do when you can’t see much. But when we mentioned this option to Lucy, that girl JUMPED right on that bandwagon. One of her very dearest cousins is my brother’s daughter after all. She was all over that adventure idea if it meant being with Lyla! She would jump through hoops and walk barefoot over molten lava for that girl! (The rest of the family isn’t so bad either:)
Loved their sweet reunion the night we arrived:
That excitement you see in her face for this traveling opportunity didn’t ever fade the whole trip. Even with jet lag and the need for bravely maneuvering so much uneven terrain, her cane guiding the way, she was an incredible travel partner. She politely engaged with everyone, was up for any adventure, and even gave all the delectable Thai food a fair chance. She was a champ and it makes me tear up to think about even now, all these weeks later.
I loved getting to spend some one-on-one time with Noah and Kristi, We never get that anywhere else, Sure, we’re at Bear Lake with them in the summertime, but there are so many distractions with a family of nine kids and all their families! These two are pretty exceptional.
The best of the best. We had some good “talking deep” conversations through all our travels and loved getting that time with their six kids as well.
Fun to see where they live and explore their stomping grounds.
Ok, let’s get down to business and talk about what we did. That first night, after a pretty happy reunion with this family we love so much, we headed straight to our first stop:
This is a place that spans 27 acres andd has over 8,000 stalls selling all kinds of interesting things. It is also filled with over 200,000 interesting visitors per day each weekend.
Since we were there on a Friday night we didn’t get the full effect, but we sure had fun in our disco van en route…
…as well as finding our first yummy Thai food of the trip.
So happy to be reunited with this crew!!
Our first day we took a half-day trip 1-2 hours outside Bangkok to the famous Maeklong Railway Market as well as the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
Maeklong Railway Market
After a long van ride, we got on this old train, fans whirring above (it was SO HOT!), and headed to this pretty fascinating market.
They sell all kinds of goods from meats to seafood to vegetables at this market, but it’s pretty unique because all the stalls are attached to the Mae Klong-Ban Laem railway. The vendors set up their stuff right up to the railway, and have awnings to protect them from the sun. But when the train is set to come through they roll away their awnings and roll away all their wares for the train to go by. Then as soon as it passes they go back to business as usual.
Here’s a video to show from if you want to check it out.
After we passed the market, we got out at the stop and got to go explore it.
It was hot. It was chaotic. It was a tad bit scary trying to keep track of all those little kids in the ruckus. But I LOVED it. We had a mini food tour and walked through the steamy streets taking it all in.
Then we got back on our bus and headed to our next stop:
Damnoen Sadauk Floating Market
This famous floating market wasn’t too far away…this huge market that you get to from boats.
When we got there we sat in this open-air street-food restaurant place with the best Thai food I’ve ever had.
There were picturesque corners everywhere, and we took a boat ride through the whole thing and got to see some of the houses nearby as we cruised by.
attending CHURCH in Thailand
I love going to church in foreign countries. I love that in some ways these wards and branches all over the world are so much like mine at home. But in other ways they are so different!
Loved going to Noah and Kristi’s Bangkok ward and first of all feeling the spirit in the same church as I go to in the desert but filled up with so many different stories. Love that the youth stood up there and sang the most beautiful song, complete with Noah and Kristi’s kids beaming.
Loved the messages shared and meeting people from all over, spilling out their adventurous lives. A few couples I talked to had been there for a couple years. Some others were in the process of traveling the world. There was a couple just visiting to watch a family member sing, her from Ukraine and him from Germany along with her grandpa who had fled recently from Ukraine. There was a little linger-longer after church to hear more stories. Reminded me so much of our branch when we lived in Shanghai, so many good families living such interesting lives!
LDS Temple in Thailand
After church we walked through the steamy streets like ducks in a row under that never-ending mass of tangled Bangkok electric wires. We followed my cousin-in-law’s mom (who is serving as a missionary in n&ks ward…I know, such a small world!). She had invited us to her apartment that actually overlooks the new Bangkok temple that looks all done but isn’t quite open yet.
I love that they worked to make the architecture match the spires in the Buddhist temples that blanket Bangkok. I loved thinking about all the people who will come to that place and it’s light.
We decided since it was Sunday we may as well explore some other temples too. I was so antsy to get to these places! And Wat Pho was at the top of my list. It is home to a 46-meter long “reclining Buddha,” and the most gorgeous architecture.
And it did not disappoint.
Dave hired a tour guide so we could try to understand more of the background but I don’t think any of us could understand a lick of what he was saying. Still, it was pretty incredible.
What about that 46-meter long “reclining Buddha” you might ask?
Well, this one can’t even fit in a picture, but here’s the head and the feet for perspective:
There was this cool gong our tour guide showed us how to make vibrate with just our hands, and is there anything quite as awesome as the sound of a gong?
I think not.
We took a really old, picturesque ferry over the river to check out Wat Arun (“the temple of dawn”) just as the pink sunset sky was starting to encircle it.
To me it was magical.
Thinking of all that history and all the reverence that went into creating such a place.
We stayed and basked in it as the colors of the sky deepened and the lights came on to make it glow and we started to hear the chanting of the monks (85 live there).
Trying to make a “maximizing decision”
I decided before this trip I would do my best to go with the flow. I do this mentally manifesting slowing down before most trips. Sometimes it works but its hard to go slow in a place like Thailand. We arrived and my maximizing heart started pumping! And then there is a fellow Eyre in the mix who feels the same as I do! This resulted in some hilarious eyre-type trying-to-fit-it-all-in.
Dave had asked about beaches close-by before we arrived and Noah had researched this little island (Ko Samet) that was a few hours away and proposed we head there overnight. This sounded like the perfect adventure to me, but I think Dave and I both knew this would cause us to cram in some other things while in Bangkok to maximize what we could see there in less time. Do we give up two of our 4.5 days in Bangkok to go to an off-the-beaten-track island?
But, after lots of deliberation, WE MADE THE RIGHT DECISION! Ha!
We headed to the island.
Ko Samet Island
I joke about the “right decision” because really, either would have worked, but two things: 1) Lucy needed this. It was the perfect option for her for us to slow down and hang with her cousins on a beach not having to maneuver those tricky uneven sidewalks (or lack thereof) and 2) there’s nothing Iike a good road trip for talking. It was pretty special to have all that driving time to delve deep into life and thoughts and Jesus.
When our driver got us to the beach city, Dave and Noah figured out a private speed boat to get us to the island and we were all pretty delighted to be bumping along those big waves, the air whipping all our hair with sea spray, cradled in every variation of blue from the boat to the sky to the turquoise water stretched out as far as we could see.
I was pretty giddy when we got dropped off at a little dock near where we’d have to get another shorter ride to our hotel. We stopped in our tracks right there to take in that perfect white sand, crystal clear water and an outdoor Thai restaurant surrounded in a canopy of trees.
Arriving at the Beach
This was my kind of adventure! We all crammed into an open-air (makeshift seats in the back of a truck) taxi that took us to the top of the hill where our hotel hugged the beach below.
Loved watching those kids and Lucy all bask in the glory of our own little beach. Lucy was in her element.
And so were these other kids!
We walked a ways down the beaches to an excellent outdoor restaurant for dinner, all the kids at one table talk, talk, talking.
The adults sat in our own little twinkly-light cabana sitting cross-legged on beanbags at a low little table. Kristi offered to pay cubby a whole dollar to keep the other kids entertained so they didn’t come and interrupt every other word we were saying. Ha!
We played a few rounds of scum, much to Lucy’s delight, all crowded around a tiny coffee table in our room before bed.
Morning on the Island
I got up early for the sunrise, and sat on the beach in awe of this world.
Of this opportunity. So grateful for Noah and Kristi. I was filled with gratitude for Dave and how he helps maneuver these trips and is the best travel partner. And that Lucy? I was in awe of how she maneuvers life, especially things like this.
We spent the whole morning basking at the beach. My favorite was watching a conversation unfold with McKay and Lucy and a few others. They were sitting on these rickety beach tables talking all about science and colors and how the world works. Kristi was there to keep the conversation going and everyone was so invested.
Also, I thought the bathroom in our little beachside hotel was pretty awesome.
And let’s not forget this cookie…if you know Eyres you know we love our cookies. I love that Noah brought this bag of cookies he had made to the beach. They came in handy to get our cookie fix:
Just a couple pictures to show Lucy’s amazing maneuvering skills:
It was a long trip back to Bangkok. We took that same little tuk-tuk taxi to the speedboat.
Then transferred to the van. Again, lots of good talking en route through that traffic.
Love the faces of these girls.
And also deliberation about booking a food tour.
Bangkok Food Tour
We booked the food tour and then the race against the clock and the Bangkok traffic. We had ten minutes for a turn-around by the time we got home to situate the kids, change quick and speed back out into the oppressive heat (and a gorgeous orange sunset-sky) to maneuver the above-ground trains to get to the food tour meeting point along with a couple from Australia and a guy from Germany.
But it was so worth it riding around the city in these things:
We rode all around the city in tuk tuks, visited food markets, had a sit-down dinner and ended in Chinatown with mango sticky rice for dessert.
I loved having the time to really delve into Buddhist thought, especially in the midst of my meditation-for-Lent deal:
They also took us to the Flower Market, which stretches on for miles and is filled to the brim with every flower you can imagine.
We bid goodbye to Noah and Kristi after that since they were heading for Vietnam the next day for work.
The Grand Palace
We hit The Grand Palace as our last stop the next day.
That place did not disappoint either.
It was incredible.
The king used to live there, King Rama the first up until king Rama the 5th when they moved the palace to a new location. The temple and pillars and emerald Buddha were all so beautiful.
Mission Call Openings
We listened to two of our nephews mission call openings as we walked those majestic and sweltering grounds (see Dave and Lu on the phone above watching in anxious anticipation? One is headed to Mexico and one to Chile).
We marveled at modern technology that we could be involved from so far away, and also marveled at the grandeur and intricacies of that whole place.
Yes, we did that up there 🙂
Suddenly it was time to leave. Dave headed to Vietnam for some work meetings. Lu and I sat in a middle seat in the very back of the belly of that gigantic airplane amidst a sea of people in various stages of trying to sort out time zones. My heart was spilling over with gratitude for the adventure we just had: The best way to spend five days in Thailand.