I write this while I’m utterly jetlagged so bare with me if most of this is incoherent, I am half asleep :)
Yes, my first trip to Thailand. I say first because this is a place I definitely want to return to, over and over and over. I am officially in love with this country and can’t wait to explore more of Thailand in trips to come.
Weather: So we went during monsoon season so the weather was on the hotter and humid side. Ironically, Bangkok was quite a bit hotter than Phuket. In Phuket, the storms were very prevalent. The day consisted of a dozen weather changes from warm, clear and sunny to cloudy, downpours and thunder. Of course, I love that sorta thing.
Environment: I think for me this was most shocking and unexpected but my mom kept saying that had she not known she was in Thailand, it could have simply been another city in the US, like parts of southern California for example. She was right. It was a super clean country in every way with a tropical landscape and very beautiful. The streets and city infrastructure is also in pristine shape and maintained very well. To me, Thailand reminded me of the combination of Mexico and Hawaii. There was this constant natural fragrant smell in the air with a tropical, lush green environment like Hawaii, and with amazing food and a cute little historical town like when we went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
(photo courtesy kamran)
People: Vinit always said the people of Thailand are very modest and humble but he was not kidding. It was very apparent right away that the people were super friendly, respectful, gracious, soft-spoken and humble. I was most impressed by the people of Thailand and their warm and inviting nature made our visit even more special. The people stood out from any other place I’ve been to before.
Food: The variety of fruit here is at a level I could not possibly comprehend before this trip. In fact, I did not know so many fruit variations existed like this! It was absolutely ridiculous. The fruit in Thailand such as mango, pineapple, guava tasted so much better than in the US. Awesta and David pointed out that the food in general just tasted a little bit better than what we’re used to and they were right. Seafood is a staple here and that was very apparent which was great for my mom. As vegetarians, we never found issues ordering either and our favorite was always the sautéed vegetables. At all the restaurants we went to, we did not have one lousy experience. The food was extremely memorable on this trip.
So as a country and a first time visitor, these were my first impressions. Now for our trip :)
We arrived on Friday, May 27th and Papaji met us at the airport. I was sort of nervous as this was my second time meeting Papaji and Mummyji but he was very, very warm and sweet in welcoming us and I felt very comfortable right away. We drove to Ang Thong, where he and Mummyji lived and Neda got settled into the bungalow she was staying in, and we settled into our rooms in Vinit’s parents house. The house was full of relatives who had flown in from India and I was shocked to see how many were there, whom I had met last December in India. Mummyji was so sweet and it was also so nice to see my Bhabhi as well.
That evening I had mehendi applied in preparation for the reception the next day and later on Awesta and David arrived. We all had dinner (mummyji’s cooking) and then went to sleep early.
The next day, our friends including Kamran who had arrived late in the night, joined us for mummyji’s Poha and Chai and then we began getting ready for the reception. Neda, Awesta and I got our hair done in the city of Ang Thong and then they went to the venue. Everyone left and I stayed behind so Bhabhi and Mummyji could help me get ready then off we went to Ayutthaya for the reception.
We arrived at our venue and I was blown away to see all the work that had gone into this event! I had no idea! There were posters made of some of our photos, the decorations were gorgeous and it suddenly hit me what we were there for, lol!
We greeted all of the guests which totaled to be around 452 and then the event started. With 2 Thai flower throwers and 2 little girls walking in front of us, we entered the banquet room and were introduced to all our guests. We were seated at our table and two Thai dancers performed a very beautiful love story through interpretative dance. After that, my friends who joined the trip from the US were introduced and thanked by Vinit’s family for making it all the way out to Thailand to be present at such an important event for us. My mom was also introduced to the audience on the stage and she was quite embarrassed you could tell. After that, the MC told the audience I was learning Hindi and handed me the microphone to speak all the Hindi words I could say. Having rehearsed this part before, I said in Hindi that I was happy to meet everybody and thanks for attending the event. I said, while I’m learning Hindi, the words I know best are related to food such as …. then listed out all the different spices, dishes and foods I knew of in Hindi. The crowd was entertained and laughing which we were hoping my poor Hindi would add a little humor to it all.
A presentation was then shown and as hard as I tried to fight the tears I couldn’t help it. The presentation started out in showing my child hood and baby photos with some text around my favorite hobbies and other things I enjoyed doing as a child with the “Barbie girl” song. The show then switched to my college graduation at UW showing photos of me playing the song “Pretty Woman” and the collection forwarded to my life as an adult with friends and family. This same sequence took place for Vinit – first his childhood photos and then young adult to current photos. After that, came the photos of us together which told a really beautiful story about our relationship.
I was so touched and emotional I just could not hide it.
We were then asked to come to the stage and that is where Papaji’s boss greeted us, gave us his blessing then gave a speech/toast about us. He talked about how our relationship was a special one, we come from two very different worlds, and the odds of us finding each other were not great, unless we were absolutely destined to be together in which case there was no doubt about that. Another family friend presented a speech and talked about how we had been together for 4 years and how important it was to have approval of our relationship. Then the MC spoke and told us that we are not alone in this world, that although we live far, with marriage there will be our tough times and that everyone in the room was our family who we could turn to whenever we needed them. That we need not feel alone.
It was truly the sweetest thing.
After that, we cut the cake and danced the rest of the night. At one point Vinit dj’d a little bit since there were some music difficulties and it was just too much fun! I was just very touched by every part of the event and it could not have been more perfect. I truly felt lucky.
On to Bangkok.
The next morning we woke up at the resort and just us friends headed to Bangkok. We checked into the Banyan Tree in Bangkok city and were blown away by this hotel.
We went and had lunch nearby at a nice restaurant then went shopping at MBK which was a popular mall. Later that evening we went upstairs for drinks then took a cab to Mango Tree, a yummy restaurant, and then moseyed throughout the night market where we saw a lot of *interesting* things to say the least. Ping pong is quite popular in Thailand apparently. My mom stayed behind because she wanted to nap so as soon as we entered the hotel we saw my mom patiently sitting in the lobby of our hotel. Wondering what was wrong she looked at us and said “you’re never going to believe what just happened.”
Oh no. What happened, we inquired.
She told us that the room she was sharing with Neda did not have working A/C so she told the front desk. After 5 calls to the front desk, due to her inconvenience, they upgraded her to the Presidential Suite! They also gave her and Neda 2 vouchers for a free dinner! It was hilarious! The suite was PHat with a capital PH and we were all laughing at what just happened. My mom just looked shocked and didn’t know what just happened!
Here is a silly video shows my mom giving a tour of the presidential suite that night! You’ll get a good laugh out of it for sure!
The next day our driver came to pick us up and after thinking we were going to see the Emerald Buddha, we found ourselves at the Human Imagery Museum, aka Wax Museum. We were annoyed at first since we made it clear where we wanted to go but ended up somewhere else, then decided to make the most of it and had a lot of fun with the museum! We decided to just flow…
After that we went to see the real Emerald Buddha and palace in the center of Bangkok but it was so hot that day we felt like we were melting.
This is a photo of Vinit and Kamran wearing some super silly pants. Upon entering the palace we were told that we could not wear sleeveless or shorts so I put on my sweater and Kamran and Vinit were forced to rent pants. THESE PANTS. The funniest part was I thought we’d see quite a few people at this attraction wearing similar pants. NOT. Not a single person was wearing the outrageous pants and in fact even the Thai’s were staring at Kamran and Vinit as if they were clowns. It was just too funny.
After that, we went back to the hotel, snacked, and Vinit, Kamran and I ordered room service which consisted of pizza and phad thai. It was perfect!
That evening Vinit and I went for a very luxurious couple’s foot massage at Banyan Tree and decided this is our new favorite hotel chain. We were addicted to the Roselle tea, the scents in everything they used on us (lotions, oils, etc) and we came home with a few nice Banyan souvenirs. This hotel is off the hook. I highly recommend it!
That evening we met with everyone at Saffron for a lovely dinner then headed up to the Moon Bar at the top of the hotel. It was mind blowing! The view overlooked the city and we could see everything!
That night we sadly said our goodbyes to David and Awesta since we were off to Phuket the next day and they would be returning back to Canada.
We arrived in Phuket and were a little unsure about it since it seemed like a small town. We arrived at the Amari hotel which was okay but being we just got spoiled rotten at Banyan Tree we were being a bit pricy at first with our accommodations and started looking for a villa to rent, lol!
Distracted by the weather, we got situated in our rooms and the weather outside went from sunny and clear skies to monsoon type conditions! It was totally crazy! We ventured out into the pouring rain and went to an ocean side restaurant which was fantastic with the monsoon rain and winds in the background, it was quite fun! The next day we planned to go to Phi Phi so we went to sleep after that.
We woke up and the monsoon like weather was still going on. Unsure of how the day would progress, we talked to the concierge who told us to wait an extra day before going to Phi Phi. The latter half of the morning the weather started to clear very nicely so we went shopping in the town and then headed to the beach. Suddenly the weather shifted again and we found ourselves in an Italian restaurant ducking for cover, where we had some good ol’ Italian food. We ran back home and decided to eat in at the hotel and called it a night. We decided rain, shine, monsoon or blizzard, we were going to go to Phi Phi no matter what the next day.
We woke up ready to go and a driver picked us up for our private boat tour. We were then told the waves were going to be around 6 ft high so it was important we all be prepared for sea sickness and to take some Dramamine to help with it as it was an hour boat ride. We took the pills but I was super nervous about the whole thing. We got into the boat and the first half of it I felt terrible! Once I started slowly feeling netter (Dramamine kicked in) then my mom felt terrible, then Vinit felt terrible… We arrived to Maya Bay and my mom and Vinit lied down on the beach in trying to fight off the nausea.
We then headed around the islands for a boat tour a little bit more and were dropped off at Phi Phi where we strolled about the little market there and had pizza for lunch. At this point the weather was taking form yet again so our boat driver found us in the market and said we had to go back to Phuket right away before the weather got any worse. We all took another dose of Dramamine and were all fine on the way back even though the water was definitely choppier.
The night we went to a restaurant called White Box and had a nice modern restaurant experience and then off to sleep we went!
Back to Bangkok we go!
The next day we dropped Kamran off at his hotel as he was leaving early in the morning on Saturday and Neda went shopping with us before catching her flight. We realized our trip was coming to an end and we were all quite sad about it.
(photo courtesy kamran)
We were a bit pressed for time so we didn’t get to do the shopping we had wanted to before Neda had to rush to the airport. We then headed back to Ang Thong for some quality time with the family but before that we did insane shopping. This is the part I wish my friends could have done with me but we had not discovered it then. We finally found the cheap and amazing shopping there we heard so much about!
The next few days were spent with the family while several of the relatives left for India. I had some nice chats with Papaji and one night Mummyji told us childhood stories of Vinit which were just hilarious. Papaji kept stressing the fact that he felt I was working too hard and to just take it easy, money wasn’t everything. I assured him I was enjoying everything quite a bit but that I would watch it. He and Vinit went to get haircuts one day and after they got back Papaji said that Vinit was a really great guy and that if there are ever problems in the marriage to please never give up. It made me sad on one hand, that the fear of divorce was apparent not just to his parents but to others in the community being that I was American. On the other hand I could not have agreed and understood those fears better since rates in the US are so much greater than other places. I could appreciate the reinforcement of "through thick and through thin" and I realized our relationship is a first time kind of thing for them so there were some very valid concerns.
It was a really special bonding time and I would not have traded it for anything.
It was sad when it was time to leave but I left feeling like we had a very fun filled and happy trip. It could not have been any better. I’m in love with this country and I am getting to know my in-laws more and more.
It was nice to be able to be in Thailand and spend some time with my in-laws though it felt very short. The time was very endearing and I’m so happy with the time spent with them. I am excited to see my relationship with my in-laws growing and there is so much love I feel between us.
As for my friends who accompanied us on the trip, they absolutely MADE this trip for me. It was so nice having them there and I am beyond appreciative for their presence. Each one of them who came along, made it so special for Vinit and I and I will be forever grateful to each of them. In fact, as each friend departed, I really missed them and it made me realize just how much I treasure those close to me. The dynamics of the group were a lot of fun too and I’m pleased with how everything turned out.
This was indeed the most wonderful trip full of moments I’ll never forget.