Monday, March 23, 2015

Travel :: Exploring Bangkok


Well hello there! We're back from Thailand with some very exciting news - we're engaged!! So, needless to say, the trip was absolutely amazing. It was by far the most wonderful vacation we have every had and safe to say that I have never felt more relaxed and more happy. As usual I took way too many pictures, so I'll start by sharing a little about our first stop - Bangkok.

We arrived into Bangkok around 11PM and were absolutely exhausted from the trip. We were picked up at the airport by our hotel and whisked into downtown Bangkok in their BMW {it felt a little like we were in a James Bond movie!} Being that it was our first trip to Asia, driving into the bustling metropolis of Bangkok was quite thrilling. By the time we arrived to the Hotel Muse we had gotten our second {or probably, in all honesty, fifth} wind thanks to adrenaline so we decided to check into our room and head up to the rooftop bar for a cocktail. The feeling of arriving into a new place for the first time and not knowing what the next hour, day or week holds is absolutely thrilling - and as we stood seemingly above the city hand-in-hand we felt like the entire world was right at our fingertips.

The next morning we slept in and decided to visit the famous Blue Elephant for lunch, which came highly recommended by my best friend Brooke. We started with cocktails {because why not, we were on vacation!}, then appetizers, then went on to order green curry with river prawns and yellow curry with lump crab, which were both AMAZING. 

After a much larger meal than we had anticipated, and the jet lag starting to hit me, we decided to head back to the hotel to nap and swim. By that time our friends Scott and Sara who were traveling with us for the first half of the trip arrived to the hotel, so we met-up with them and headed out to dinner at Issaya Siamese Club. Voted one of Asia's top 50 restaurants, this Thai fusion restaurant is housed in a 100-year-old villa and feels like eating in an eccentric aristocrat's residence. I didn't bring my camera that night, but it felt too beautiful not to show you so I grabbed some photos off the restaurant's website. We ate the most delicious snapper and drank lemongrass cilantro mojitos which were unbelievably delicious. For dessert we had a jasmine panna cotta with jasmine ice cream and dragon fruit which four weeks later I am still dreaming about!

To finish the evening we went to the infamous Sky Bar, which was where several scenes of the Hangover Two were filmed. While undoubtedly touristy {and very crowded} the views were unbelievable and definitely not to be missed. Again, because I didn't bring my camera I grabbed a few photos from the website just to show you how breathtaking the views truly were.

The next day we booked a private tour of the city through BKK Tours which I could not recommend enough! It was about $70/person and was a full-day tour that included meals, transportation and admission into all sites we saw. But the biggest benefit for me was being able to relax and enjoy the day instead of dealing with the insanity that is Bangkok. We never got lost. We never argued with a taxi driver {though that did happen several other times}. We never had to decide what to do next or where to eat. For a Type A person like myself that always tries to have everything planned, it was absolutely amazing being able to hand over the reins and just enjoy.

Our tour guide, Air, picked us up at the hotel around 9AM. We hopped on the Skytrain and headed to the Chao Phraya River, where a private longtail boat was waiting for us. We rode down the river with about an hour detour through a canal which was absolutely fascinating.  It gave us the opportunity to see how real people live in Bangkok and allowed us to stop at a few off the beaten path markets and food stalls. Afterwards it was on to the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew {Emerald Buddha} and Wat Pho {Reclining Buddha}. We spent about three hours in total exploring these beautiful places and were able to learn about the history and significance thanks to our knowledgeable and incredibly sweet guide. 

NOTE: The Grand Palace asks that all visitors, as a sign of respect cover, their arms and legs. I thought, like the cathedrals of Europe, that a shawl would suffice to cover my arms - but you are not allowed to enter unless you are wearing actual sleeves. So if, like me, you choose to wear a tank top to try to stay cool in blisteringly hot Bangkok, you will be forced to rent a questionably clean and unquestionably unfashionable oversize shirt to wear over your clothes. I'd highly recommend wearing short-sleeves and either long pants or a maxi skirt to avoid being the fashion faux pas that I was all morning :)

By the time we had finished visiting the temples and palace we were famished. Air took us to one of her favorite local restaurants on the river, which to be honest we would have never chosen ourselves, but it was absolutely delicious! She ordered nearly a dozen different dishes for us to sample, plus plenty of Singha beers for the boys and coconuts for Sara and I. Feeling reinvigorated, we hopped on the back of a tuk tuk {SO FUN!} and went to our next stop - the beautiful flower market. While we didn't buy any flowers {we were only going to be in Bangkok for one more day}, we were able to purchase some spices for a great value; our most exciting find being a bag of saffron, the world's most expensive spice, for less than three USD.

By that point we were all quite tired so we decided to return to our hotel for an evening swim and to get ready for dinner. We chose to eat at Nahm, which was just voted the best restaurant in Asia and one of the world's 50 best restaurants. The ambiance was chic and our poolside table set the scene for an absolutely perfect meal. The food, led by chef David Thompson - the first chef to even be awarded a Michelin star for Thai cuisine, was sophisticated but approachable. We started with several canap├ęs, our favorite being the grilled mussels, then went onto share several entrees including scallops stir-fried with spring onions & chillies and coconut and turmeric curry of blue swimmer crab with calamansi lime {YUM!} The only dish that left us a bit perplexed was our coconut ash pudding with poached bananas, which just didn't please our American palates. 

Our last day in Bangkok we took a day trip to go waterfall trekking and visit an Elephant Rescue Sanctuary, but more on that later :)

15 comments:

  1. Congrats on your engagement!!! ps- you're making me miss Thailand!

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  2. Wow, what colorful, vibrant pictures. Nice work, Molly!

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  3. Congratulations on your engagement, Molly! I loved seeing all of your photos on Instagram - I almost felt like I was on the trip! Beautiful shots. Glad you had a great time!

    www.livinginsteil.com

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  4. gorgeous pictures and so many congratulations!

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  5. Aw congrats on your engagement!! What a beautiful location to get engaged! I was following along on Instagram and really enjoyed all your photos. Can't wait to read more about your trip!

    Taffeta & Tulips

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  6. Looks like you guys had a spectacular trip Molly! And congratulations again on your engagement! Your photographs are looking fantastic, I have to ask, what camera/lenses did you use on this trip? They are so sharp!

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  7. Congratulations on your engagement! Bangkok is gorgeous, I must visit.

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  8. Thank you so much Sara! I know, wasn't it just amazing? I miss it already!

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  9. Thank you so much for the kind words Vanessa! So glad you enjoyed my photos, it was really fun being able to document everything (especially now that I'm home in the gloomy weather and able to just look at them again and again)!

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  10. Thank you Kate! It was absolutely magical, I'm pretty sure I haven't been able to stop smiling since it happened :) I'm so glad you enjoyed my photos, it was really fun being able to document everything!

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  11. Thank you so much Melinda!!! I brought my Nikon D5200 with me and used a new lens, the Nikon 18-140mm f/3.5-5/6. I thought it would be a good walking around lens for travel as it allows a little more flexibility than my typical 35mm lens which I brought but I actually didn't even end up using :) Definitely recommended and a pretty good price point!!

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  12. Cool, thanks so much! That's funny, I actually had the Nikon D5200 before, but I switched to a Canon 6D, since I wanted to go full frame. I love my 50mm lens 1.4f, and I also have a wide-angle 16-35mm, but I didn't get the "package lens" so I'm missing out on that wider range, I think a travel lens that goes up to 140mm would be my next purchase. You've got a great eye! I'm trying to be better as using manual mode, but when I'm traveling, I get stuck on auto (fear of missing out while I change settings!), which I feel is limiting me from taking full advantage of my camera. Do you have any thoughts on that?

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