From Langkawi, Maritza and I flew to Bangkok via Kuala Lumpur. We had a great little nest in the airport in Kuala Lumpur.
From there, we hopped in a taxi to our hotel, King Royal, with a massage salon, hair salon, and a street food buffet outside. Maritza bravely tried the rooftop pool, but it was awfully cold. Our room was huge, and in true Thai fashion, beautiful.
Maritza got a cold the day after we arrived, but slept through the long taxi drives to a floating market and back to the train station.
Since we had to wait an extra day for the train, I searched for and found half price tickets to Siam Niramit, a small village replica downtown Bangkok with a spectacular show depicting the various cultures and historical and religious traditions of Thailand. We even managed to navigate the sky train and subway. Of course, she made a friend as we waited for the shuttle bus to the subway. We were glad to attend, but it was a bit tough for Maritza to be feeling miserable. So, we had hour long massages in the middle of the night after the show and went straight up to bed.
Before we headed to the train station, we enjoyed a hair cut. In Thailand this means, several shampoos including head massages, several conditions with head massages, and a long brush and cut. Quite puts a person to sleep. We even napped before a final packing to get to the train. Check out our laundry. I paid about $5, and it all came back folded so very pretty. Here is also a picture of our ‘stash’ for the long train ride.
We got on the train a little early and found our spots! This time we knew how to buy the 2nd class sleeping seats. (Two years ago, we bought 3rd class seats on an 18 hour train trip….meaning regular airplane style seats for 18 hours without air conditioning, seriously uncomfortable). We were in a ‘women and children’s’ car, so no men allowed! We bought some orange juice and mixed fruit to enjoy while the other passengers got on board. t Maritza was thrilled. She had her very own cubby on a rocking train.
I slept fairly quickly, but the attendant told me that Maritza slept very little. She wandered around a bit, had some snacks that we’d brought along, and watched all of the movie Little Women. The bathrooms in the women and children’s car was spic and span. It even smelled good. In the morning, we brushed our teeth and packed up our stuff. We put away our night time socks and packed up our backpacks. They brought us the Western breakfast of toast, eggs and orange juice. I’m not sure how 1st class would have been different. We felt quite pampered. Finally, we arrived at the Chiang Mai station.
There we found a red bus driver who took us right to our condo where Lin, the condo owner, met us with instructions. We’re the first people to stay in this sweet tiny condo. It was all ours! She gave us lots of instructions, which I was worried might go right through my tired brain. We had several security codes to remember and keys not to lose or forget.
However, after a shower, we felt awake and ready to shop. I knew that for our two week stay, we’d need a few things like towels, a pan (for pancakes), and some groceries. We weren’t sure how transportation worked, but we felt ready to take a little walk to a store and find these things.
We had along several IKEA backpacks to carry things home. Off we started! Luckily, we bought some better walking shoes in Langkawi. We found an ATM for money right away and thought we were on a roll. I didn’t realize how far out of downtown Chiang Mai we were. We kept asking people along the way for a supermarket, but they weren’t sure exactly what we were asking for. After hiking for about 3 kilometers (thinking that the supermarket must be just around the corner), we found a little outdoor market. We did need a toilet, so were pointed towards the toilet just beside the market stalls, in the midst of the slabs of beef, fish, and durian. Yup, it smelled pretty strong. We bought our way in (less than one cent). I decided to use the squat toilet, and Maritza went to the Western style toilet. As I finished, a lady waiting was horrified at my uncouth non-washing of the toilet. So, I apologized, embarrassed at not knowing how, and scooped some water up and threw it down the toilet. She kept yelling at me, so I shrugged my shoulders as she threw three scoops of water on, around, and over the entire toilet and floor.
Off we trudged to the Tops Supermarket, just down the road. A few kilometers further down the road, we finally arrived. We bought our vegies, fry pan, towels, cereal, milk, shampoo, and conditioner and stuffed our IKEA backpacks. Everything fit, and as we had a coffee and ice-cream before heading back out, I hoped we’d see the tuk tuk sitting there to take us home. Of course, there was no tuk tuk waiting.
Instead of standing there, we decided to start walking. After a kilometer or more of hiking with several pounds of provisions (think fry pan, milk, cabbage, carrots, shampoo, and conditioner), a tuk tuk stopped We explained that we needed to get to Himma Condo. He didn’t seem to know where we were going, and we weren’t 100% sure, but hopped in anyway.
As we rode along, we started recognizing places we’d just walked by. There was a 7-11 (of course, there are 7-11’s on each block or so), another ATM, places with mopeds for rent, and many many places we recognized. As we kept going, we became pretty sure that he’d passed our place. He made a U-Turn and let us off.
Thinking that our place was just around the corner, we resumed hiking with our heavy backpacks. This time, I began to giggle in frustration. Maritza was hiking like a trooper (remember, we’d just hiked over 5 kilometers to get to the supermarket, and now we were hiking again with heavy backpacks under an extreme lack of sleep the night before on the train). We passed a 7-11, mopeds for rent, and many ATM’s…..still not seeing our condo. Finally, we sat down to rest and have another cup of coffee. Later we went back to this little coffee shop retreat and became friends with the owner, Pim.
After fueling up, off we went, trudging along kilometer after kilometer. All of the sudden a huge sign appeared (HIMMA PRESTIGE LIVING).
We were nearly home. We trekked up the driveway, peeled our backpacks off, and put our tired feet up.
The point of this blog was enjoyment. Maritza managed to enjoy Bangkok even through a cold. She slept on the train, and I limited our activities. Even though the train really wasn’t luxurious, we both enjoyed the little cubbies for sleeping, reading, snacking, and watching movies. It seems everywhere we go, Maritza manages to find friends and enjoys meeting people. And even though it was a terrible several hour long trek to the supermarket, we managed to laugh later at not knowing how to properly scrub down the squat toilet. We rested in a beautiful little coffee shop where we found a friend, who would become an important part of our time in Thailand.
It is possible to find silver linings!