Thailand: A Way Home

In December 2009, three years before I was meant to meet my husband, I found myself trying to heal from a recent painful breakup. And because the timing was right & I was looking for an escape I planned a last minute trip to Thailand with my two best friends – Jackie & Sara. Or more like they planned it & I went along for the ride. And while I ate mostly peanut butter & jelly & tuna sandwiches, this trip ended up providing more nourishment for my soul than actual food.

We can start with the TSA man who took away my peanut butter & mayonnaise. While I was freaking out on the way to Thailand about my food being taken away, it all worked out in the end. We found a store that sold American products and replaced my taken items – for a heftier price than I would pay in the states. C’est la vie.

Jackie happened to be good friends with Davina, a girl who had attended college with us and was a native of Thailand. She helped us along the way giving us guidance and helpful tips that I will share with you in this post. After the eighteen-hour flight we checked in to our hotel. Jackie was able to get us a $50/night rate which split between the three of us amounted to $17 per person for the night. There was a refrigerator in the room that I was able to store all my kosher goodies.

Like true early 20 year olds we were quite the penny pinchers. And that’s why we utilized the public transportation system in Bangkok as much as we could. The morning after our arrival we woke up and took the Sky Train from our hotel to Siam Square and then transferred to Saphon Taksin. And then we took the local riverboat to the Grand Palace, which was jaw droopingly beautiful.

Grand Palace

Helpful Hint: Make sure to cover your elbows & knees when traveling to the Grand Palace or Wats. I carried a wrap around skirt in my backup.

Helpful cultural signs

We scurried our way over to Wat Pho and then took a ferry to Wat Arun for an equally beautiful view. Wat Pho is actually considered to be the place of origin of Thai massage and houses a functioning Thai massage school. And lucky for us we walked in and were able to get an hour massage for the equivalent of $5.

Wat Arun

The next day found us at The National Gallery, which although beautiful was not necessarily worth the out of the way travel. We met up for lunch and dinner with friends. Where my friends ate and I snacked on breakfast bars.

Tour packages are popular wherever you travel but particularly cheaper in Bangkok (at least at the time). We bought a tour package to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya. This is an absolute must. Wondering through the ruins and viewing the artisan craft that it took to build this beautiful place turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.

Ayutthaya Ancient Ruins – Wat Mahatad

Helpful Hint: Make sure to tell the taxi driver to turn on the meter.

The next day we bought another tour package to visit a local farm in Baan Kwian. We rode a traditional ox cart through the paddy fields. After the ox cart ride we did some light trekking through the ‘jungle’ in Khao Yai National Park. At the end of the trek we found ourselves inhaling the mist at the picturesque Haew Narok Waterfall. And finally, we rode elephants through the jungle and fed them bananas. We went to the Chabad of Bangkok Friday night and found ourselves amongst mostly Israelis. I don’t remember hearing an English word being spoken. Even the Rabbi’s Friday night speech was in Hebrew. And while I understood chunks here and there, I found myself mostly lost. But even in the haze, I was so overjoyed that in a place as foreign as Thailand, I could find myself amongst my people, breaking challah & eating sufganiyah. The day also happened to be my birthday, which was also the day my heart began to heal.

Riding an elephant through Khao Yai National Park

Hint: Go to Chabad on an empty stomach. The food was amazing!

Saturday night found us at Vertigo Grill and Moon Bar, the aptly named rooftop bar at the Banyan Tree hotel. It was a bit cloudy when we went, but still had an amazing view. It’s a must see.

On one of our final days in Thailand we headed over with Davina to Maruekhathaiyawan Palace, the summer palace of King Rama VI. Afterwards we made our way over to Hua Hin beach which was quaint but as not as beautiful as some of the more exotic beaches Thailand has to offer (think Phuket).

Maruldshathayawan Summer Palace – Rama VI

We also made a visit to the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace. School children were everywhere in uniforms chattering all at once. It made the place more alive.

Bang Pa In Summer Palace

Day/Night water markets is where all the action is happening. During the day we went to Damnern Saduak Floating Market where you could feel the buzz. At night we went to a night market which had a much slower pace to it. But no matter where you go – make sure to bargain. The price given is never the final asking price. 

Damnern Saduak Floating Market

Damnern Saduak Floating Market

Damnern Saduak Floating Market


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