"I have a meeting in Bangkok, I think we should make this a family trip."

Or

at least that was what I got out of it when my dad came to me about

going to Thailand in 2004. I had proven myself quite able to make good

travel plans, so it was a joy to be able to plan some of this trip too.

The best part about planning trips, even if you don't get to go, is

that it is like traveling though your internet. Fortunately for me, I

got to go on this one. Me, Mom, Dad, Tai, my friend Sam and Tai's

friend Kelly.

For later reference remember that Dad is Asian,

Mom is Caucasian, Tai and I thus look Asian, Sam and Kelly are

Caucasian. This will come into play later.

We flew from Denver

to San Francisco then San Francisco to Tokyo. After a nine hour flight

from SFO to NRT with a puberty changing boy constantly going into the

overhead storage right above me (equals very robust smelling armpits),

I thought that we were in Asia and thus almost to Thailand. Well, I

forgot just how big Asia was about 5 hours into the 8 hour flight from

Tokyo to Bangkok.

I don't remember a whole lot about our Bangkok

hotel, only that I love it when Continental Breakfast in Asia means

congee and dim sum! We only had a couple of days in the Thai capital

before we ventured out so we thought a river taxi tour would be the

best way to start.

Bangkok is a great place to see a plethora of

amazing Buddhist temples. Between the colors, the jade, and the

elaborate decor you just stop for a minute in silent awe. In one temple

(sorry no pictures were allowed), there is a large jade Buddha who has

different jeweled outfits for each season. And each day he is stripped,

cleaned, and then ceremoniously dressed again.

No

trip to Bangkok is complete without venturing into the streets for the

flaring night life. Food, shopping, live scorpions for sale. And yes,

the red light district is as crazy as you'd imagine. But as for photos,

I'll stick to food.

Dad

unfortunately had to stay in Bangkok for his meetings, so the rest of

the troop hoped a plane to Phuket and later a very hot ferry to the

small paradisaical island of Ko Phi Phi.

Ko Phi Phi is a dumb

bell shaped island. Two little mountains connected by a thin isthmus.

One side of the isthmus is deep and serves as the harbor. The other

side is very shallow and sandy. On this end, swimmers can wade out 100

yards before even getting their neck wet.

I

had booked Mom, Tai, Sam, Kelly, and myself beach cottages with the Ko

Phi Phi Princess. Once a quite little beach resort, destroyed by the

tsunami, and it is now a much bigger plush hotel. But when we arrived

they strangely thought that Mom and Kelly were married, Sam was their

child, and Tai and I were "the little women." ala. Blues Brothers.

One

would wonder what there is to do on a tiny island with only one little

town. But let me tell you. There is row after row of stalls offering

multi-lingual books, $2 Thai foot massage, pirated movies, and Thai

pancakes... A must if you ever find yourself here. Imagine a Mexican

sopapia, but with jams, honeys, and other tasty treats.

After taking a hike to the little mountain tops what else could you possibly do but SCUBA dive!

...sorry I didn't have a underwater camera at this time.

And if you're not into being under water, just laying on a boat can be just as much as a treat.

Even

when you don't have plans for the day, Ko Phi Phi is such a great quiet

island that we all spent hours at just the breakfast table, because we

could get ourselves to move from our view.

Or check out the sunsets

After

a few amazing days of beaching it up it was time to meet Dad back in

Bangkok and then shuttle us all up north to Chiang Mai where I had

arranged for us to trek and elephant ride for a couple of days.

The

day after landing we met with the tour group I had booked to lead the

trek. First thing they did was ask us to hand them our physical

passports. We looked around at each other wondering if this was a good

idea. Any traveler knows that while abroad their most valuable

possession is that passport. Was it for safety? Or were these guys cons

looking at stealing and selling American passports on the black market?

Or worse? Well, we shrugged and handed over all 6 passports.

No

worries though, we hope in the Jeep and start driving out of Chiang Mai

and up into small dirt roads before we randomly stop near a grove of

trees. Fortunately, this wasn't the kind of hot jungle trek were we

slave under 40 lb. packs. Oh no, there were roads somewhere around here

and somehow or another our gear would meet us at our homestays. So off

we started down a vibrantly green trail into the jungles of Thailand.

Northern

Thailand feels remote. It feels like you've stepped back in time and

enter a calm way of life when things are simple and life is quite on

the farm.... Only starvation and water borne illnesses are rampant

among the local populations and getting medical help quickly is nearly

impossible.... But seeing all of this just makes you appreciate the

clean water and porcelain toilet a bit more when you get home.

After

a couple of days spent hiking, it was time to meet the elephants. The

Asian elephants are smaller in size than their African brethren, a

trait that is most noticeable in the size of their ears. These

elephants roamed the local forests but came in for care every so often.

Kind of like your domesticated outdoor cat.... well, not really.

Riding

elephants is just a little trickier than you'd think. Just imagine

going down a steep slope and your sitting on a bench on an elephant.

It's pretty easy to think you'll slide right off. Unless your Dad

sitting on the head of the elephant, in which case, wear pants. Their

skin is rough and you're sure to get some chaffing if you don't.

Funny

thing about elephants. While you may think they're dirty creatures who

shower themselves with mud and dust, they happen to be very picky about

where they step. The refuse to step in poop. If an elephant ahead takes

a dump in the trail, they will always step their huge feet around the

equally huge piles of dung.

The last section out of the jungle

would be via bamboo raft that they carved and made right before our

eyes while we were making lunch. And while the river was only a couple

of feet deep, Tai still didn't like Sam and I rocking the raft trying

to get everyone wet. Fortunately for her the wild orchids growing on

the passing trees were a welcome distraction.

On our last night

at a homestay, Sam had just about had his fill of local foods and

decided that it would be a good idea to eat only bananas for dinner.

About 10-15 bananas. He would find out two days later on the flight

home what that many bananas can do to you. Remember the long flights

between Bangkok and Denver? Well, Sam remembers them even better.

I'd

like to say Sam was the only person to suffer food problems after a

couple of weeks of eating at farms and street food, but sadly that was

not the case. The night before we left Thailand, we decided to hitch

some crazy tuk tuk rides to a nice restaurant in Chiang Mai.

Unfortunately, about 30 minutes after dinner Dad turned green. Not

figuratively. Literally.

Well,

despite the food poisoning, the family + friends trip to Thailand was

successful, memorable, and definitely worth the trip back should anyone

ever be so fortunate.


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