Our last few weeks in Bangkok, January 2016, part 2

 Fiercely and I went to a wonderful half-day Thai cooking class. We started out at the market with our instructor, who showed us Thai herbs and other ingredients. Here is lemongrass:

  And cilantro and Thai basil:
Next, we went to their adorable classroom building.

 We made coconut cream and coconut milk. She showed us a special stool with a type of coconut grater on one end. We squeezed the grated coconut meat with water to make the milk. After standing for a while, the cream separates on top, just like it does with cow’s milk.

The rest of the day we cut veggies and cooked on gas stove tops. We made five dishes, including mango sticky rice for dessert!

This is a green curry (right)and the dessert:

Koh Larn

We went back to the island for more snorkeling. It was just as nice the second time, but it was relatively cold and windy. The water was nice and warm but it was downright chilly getting out! We had a great time. Those are the twins in the foreground:

We rented motorbikes again and explored some areas that were new to us. It really is a nice getaway, and so close- under four hours from our apartment to the island beach. That includes the 40-minute ferry ride and everything!

Biking We spent a day on rented bikes at the “lung of Bangkok”. I loved it so much I wrote a separate post about it to help others find and enjoy the place! Relatedly, we went for a THIRD time on the Bangkok bike tour with GoBangkok. It is just such a great way to spend a day and it never gets old. There’s Really in the center wearing bike helmet in Chinatown market:

There’s Truly and Cleverly, also in helmets:

Here’s a lady with her baby in backseat basket who inadvertently joined our little bike parade for a block or so:

The gorgeous Wat Arun:

Here’s a decorated Bodhi tree ficus religiosa believed to be the species under which the Buddha achieved enlightenment. Large ones are often decorated with fabric.

 This one happened to have a shrine at the base as well. You can see a picture of the king at top left,  lots of flower garlands, a Thai flag at center, and offerings of drinks to the Buddha (complete with straws!) at bottom center:

Other than moving out of our apartment and finding the right bus station, that’s about it for Bangkok. We’re sad to go, but excited for our next stop- Myanmar!

Some random notes that didn’t fit anywhere else:

Thais stop what they are doing and freeze in place at 6pm in train stations for a playing of their national anthem.

We heard of this and saw it in our last weeks in Thailand: the child angel phenomenon. Adults are buying dolls and treating them like babies or deities, buying them food in restaurants and airplane tickets, for good luck. It caught our attention at the subway.

3rd gender: Thailand has a noticeable number of transgendered people, known as ‘kathoeys’. They seem unremarkable in day-to-day life and we often saw male-to-female ones working in shops and restaurants as women. Thais don’t seem to give them a second look.

Orange robed monks: they are all over Thailand. When we got to Myanmar, the monks wore scarlet colored robes.

Koh Larn, Thailand, November 2015


 We were in Pattaya, land of ladyboys and a ferocious red light district, and we did go through the ‘walking street’. When we were there it was a sunny Tuesday morning and not much scandal was to be seen, and I was ok with that as I held my nine-year-old daughter’s hand and navigated the giant neon bar signs with images of scantily clad women. We were there for the ferry to Koh Larn, an island off the Pattaya coast.  We had first spent a night in Bang Saray. We were at the beach there for a few hours in the late afternoon and the kids made an excellent fort. We watched a lovely sunset there.

But back to the ferry. It runs from pattaya to Koh Larn several times a day and was easy to use. It was made of brightly painted wood, and there were similar style fishing boats at the pier.

We took the pleasant 40-minute ride and looked around at the crowds on Tawaen Beach, where the ferry dropped us off. We decided to catch a tuk tuk to a smaller beach, Samae Beach. It was a good decision. We drove up a hill with beautiful views of the ocean and then down to Samae.  Below: the pier, kids onboard ferry, view of island, kids onshore, ride to Samae


  As I looked at the white sand and turquoise water, I realized I had wanted to experience this kind of beach on this trip. I hadn’t considered it before but it was our first time at a beach with white sand. It was powdery, like flour, and the clear blue water was mesmerizing. There were the usual beach chairs and umbrellas for rent. We had lunch and decided to get goggles and snorkel gear because the water was so clear and there were fish about.  


That’s my foot on the clear water (above)   

 We spent a few hours there, but eventually had to go back to the pier to find a place to stay. Samae had a resort, but it was out of our budget. We took a tuk tuk back to the pier and had a look around. There were many options. Mr. Fantastic found a nice place we could afford and we settled in. He also found a local restaurant where we could get our usual rice/veggies/egg dish for a reasonable price.  


 Later as the shadows lengthened, the kids and I headed to the pier to find the beach, but it turned out we were at a different pier called Naban. There was no beach, rather buildings on piers in the water. It was lovely, but not so good for swimming.  



 We took another tuk tuk to the closest beach back at Tawaen Beach. Only now the shops were closed, chairs stacked and umbrellas folded. Though there are many hotels in the island, a large number of tourists leave by 6, the last ferry, so the beaches become much quieter. Locals played volleyball and searched for valuables with metal detectors.  We saw an almost full moon rise over the hills.



 We stayed until the sun set and walked back over the hill about 1 km back to our hotel. The view of the ocean was nice in the dark, with boat lights visible on the water. We enjoyed seeing the life of the locals as we walked- cozily lit buildings, some with little shops, families having dinner, children playing. Away from the piers, there were fewer hotels and restaurants, more open space, and a different feel to the island. Here are the little streets I liked:

The next day we decided to get motorbikes so that we could get around the island more easily. For the six of us, it was also more cost-effective than paying for tuk tuks. We got two, so just Mr. Fantastic and myself drove. Fiercely declined, though she did try it out.  




 The motor scooters are easy to operate, though I admit I got stressed out when there were too many other drivers around or on steep curves. I had two kids riding with me also, which could make balancing difficult. I’m just more comfortable on my bicycle, I have to say. But for getting around, it was wonderful!  

 With our freedom and wider range, we found a cheaper hotel, saw more tranquil roads, went to several beaches, and got up at sunrise the next day to scooter to a beach and snorkel before the ferries arrived with more day trippers. We went to Naul Beach, known for monkeys, and another beach at the tip of the island- not sure of name-we snorkeled at both, and the monkeys did make an appearance at Naul.  

That night was Loy Krathong, a lovely Thai holiday in which people float lanterns in bodies of water to honor the water goddess and to get blessings for the coming year. The kids had made floating baskets (krathongs) at a library activity and we had been carrying them around. We saw plenty of similar ones for sale, and a different type made of bread dyed in bright colors.  They have incense sticks and candles on them. Here are the bread ones for sale at a supermarket:

 Ours were a little worse for wear as the banana tree base began to get mushy. But we were able to launch them that night off the pier, and we were pleased. Though some towns have large events with krathongs taller than me, parades, fireworks and beauty pageants, the scene at the pier was more subdued. Five or six families sent their little offerings afloat with prayers and plenty of giggling since the wind made it hard to light the candles. It was nice thinking about the celebrations all over Thailand that night.  Here are my pictures of krathongs on the water that night- hard to see but the upper one shows a pink krathong and the lower one shows five lit ones heading off into the night.  The next day, we would see many krathongs in various states of wear, on the water.


We called it a night and the next morning was our sunrise snorkeling adventure with the twins- the older kids opted to sleep late so they missed a quiet beach and lovely sky. 


We headed back on a morning ferry and then back to Bangkok on a day that turned out to be Thanksgiving! We had a wonderful surprise of a vegetarian Thanksgiving feast at the beautiful home of a homeschool family. The company was excellent as was the food- pumpkin pie and all! What a great end to a great trip!