Thailand (Part 1)
Our last few days in Bali we spent preparing for our first leg of our Thailand trip, eating raw fruits and veggies to prepare our livers for a fasting. We spent ten days on the island of Koh Samui (within the gulf of Thailand) at a resort called Spa Samui (www.spasamui.com). Seven of these days we spent on a "cleansing" program. I won't go into too much detail, but it was both challenging and educational. Jen and I had little or nothing to eat except herbal pills, detoxification drinks, coconut juices and veggie broth. The first two days seemed to be fairly easy with little hunger pains. On day three we both felt incredibly lethargic with headaches. By day four I started to bounce off the walls with energy. We were told it takes a few days for your liver to clean your blood, once it has a time to cleanse you begin to feel great. Jen had another day (at least) of not feeling well. By day seven we were really excited to have food again. We finally indulged in some raw food and cooked veggies. We did not have much time or energy to see the sights while on our program but we loved hanging out on the beach and just relaxing.
As we began to finish up our "cleansing" we were also preparing to crash our friends', Rick and Esther's, honeymoon. They of course knew we were meeting up. We spent two days exploring Koh Samui with them. We rented a Suzuki Samurai and headed out to find "The Magic Garden" and a neighboring waterfall. After climbing the top of a lengthy mountain and a little 4x4ing we reached the Magic Garden (see pic). Our waterfall was elusive and we decided to head out and see a different one, this one bigger at 300ft high. Jen and I were did not have our hiking shoes on, so we went up halfway and then decided to wait for Ricky & Esther to come back down.
After two days of exploring southern Thailand we headed through Bangkok to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Chang Mai is in a valley surrounded by hills and over 700 Buddhist temples. Chiang Mai is built around the "Old City" which consists of temples, hotels and restaurants all protected by an ancient wall and moat (not much of the wall remains). Our hotel was in the hills in an area called Hang Don (40 minutes away). The Newhauser's booked the rooms, which were incredible, but a little far out of the way. In hindsight, the location actually turned out to be a very good because we were forced to plan out or days. Chiang Mai has a great night market where anything you can think of is sold. There are many "upcountry" villagers selling hand crafted goods and traditional jewelry.
On one of our "night market" excursions, Rick and Esther bargained for a pair of designer jeans that needed a slight adjustment. They ducked into a tailor shop (these are everywhere in Thailand) to have the adjustment made. We entered to see what was going on and then found ourselves walking out with custom shirts, jackets, suits and dresses between the four of us. It was pretty funny how we ended up in the store to get a $3 hem and ended up spending quite a bit more. Anybody need the contact info for a custom tailor? I'm sure Sonny would be glad to hook you up with custom-made clothes.
We spent a day getting acquainted with the Old City, walking around and visiting temples. We toured some of the Buddhist temples within the city walls then headed to Doi Suthep. This is a very large temple that resides on top of a mountain, which is high enough to watch airplanes land at the airport and provide sweeping views of the city.
Our next day's excursion started off with a trek up to a Hmong (Chinese hill people) village to learn a little about their culture. We then rode around on elephants through the jungle for an hour. Ricky & Esther decided to sit on the elephant's necks...turned out to be harder work then they thought. These guys are so powerful and big (see pics). After feeding the elephants some much deserved bananas we headed for some lunch at a local restaurant. This helped prepare us for the bamboo river rafts we would head down the river on... An adventurous day!!!
We spent Thanksgiving in Chiang Mai with Rick and Esther. Jen found a great turkey feast for us at The Four Seasons. It paled in comparison to home cooking, but it was a nice reminder of home.
The following day we headed to Bangkok for a few days with Ricky & Esther. On Saturday morning we decided to stick with tradition...Dim Sum!!! It was so good, although Jen missed eating off of Jason's (Rick's younger brother) plate as usual. We went to the Weekend market where Esther filled up on all sorts of goodies to lug back home. The market is a massive (15,000 stalls, with 200,000 visitors a day) area with everything you can imagine; pets, clothes, electronics, housewares, food, you name it...it's there! A must see place when in Bangkok.
Our time with Rick and Esther came to an end back in Bangkok. They headed back to San Francisco and we began to prepare for our trip to Laos.