SRI LANKA HIGHLANDS AND TEA COUNTRY
Pictures and video following each segment
APRIL 4th, 2015- TRAIN TO KANDY
Today was an early morning, getting up at 5:15am, to head to the train station. We were only taking our backpacks for a few days, and stored our luggage at the hotel. We walked like zombies through the door, with our backpacks in hand and took a short walk to the main road waiting for a ride to the train station. We took two Tuk tuks, and it turned out there “Metors” we’re going up bye 4 not 2, So we got charged double! Cheaters…
It was very busy, and confusing there, but people were very kind and helped.
At around 7:00am it was time to board the train. We booked first class seats and had, 4 air conditioners, reclining seats, three TVs, etc. it included breakfast which was a muffin, samosat, and a fish macaral cheese sandwich with the crust cut off.. Don’t eat the sandwich! Good thing mum brought leftover pizza! It was quit bumpy, with up and down side to side motions. The scenery was amazing with huge rice fields, rivers a milky chocolate color, lots of fisherman and lush jungle surrounding us. At around 8:30, we started climbing up a huge mountain with an incredible view to reach our destination. There were lots of tunnels around 4/5 that were pitch black. After two hours were arrived in kandy. A van was there to pick us up and drive us to our home for a few nights. When we arrived the owners were very friendly They helped us with our bags to only one of our rooms, the other was being cleaned. In the meantime we took the van to a near bye lake and took an enjoyable walk around it. We saw lots of Geese, Monitor lizards, and floating flowers in and around the lake.
APRIL 5th, 2015- KANDY TO NUWARA ELIYA
It is hot and sunny every morning, but by three or four in the afternoon the thunderheads and rain start rolling in, and it get’s quite chilly in the evenings.
It’s so cold that there is mist on the windows and outside. While I was getting ready my throat was hurting like crazy and later on I found out that I had a throat infection and a cold. What a great way to wake up….not.
We went downstairs to have breakfast and it was delicious. We had some fruit, eggs, crepes, and tea. We are only traveling with our backpacks to Ella and it was so nice not to have our luggage with us. Or as my dad likes to say, “traveling with all your sh*t in one bag!”
We said goodbye and left to go to The Royal Botanical Gardens which was a two and a half hour walking tour. It was so beautiful with all of the trees, flowers and plants from around the world, like; Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Sweden and many more. There were pine trees, palm trees, royal palms, oak trees, and the list goes on and on. There were also animals like fruit bats, a very big scorpion, monkeys with little babies cleaning each other, and one that tried to climb up Tyla’s leg, it was so cute!
When we finished our walk through the gardens, we started looking for tuk tuks to get us to Peridinia Railway Station.
The train arrived at 12:30pm. We hopped on the train and were on our way to Nuwara Eliya, which was supposed to be four hours, but ended up being six and a half hours because there was a derailment at one of the stations. Comforting! We were in first class with air conditioning and comfortable seats for only 15 dollars a person. Instead of palm trees and coconuts there were pine trees and pine cones everywhere, and tea plantations that went on forever! They looked like perfectly manicured gardens. Everything was so luscious, green and beautiful. The train was traveling backwards which was a little confusing and weird.
Finally we arrived in Nuwara Eliya at seven ‘o clock pm. We arranged for a driver and van to meet us, and he was there waiting when we arrived. We wanted some groceries to make our own dinner and breakfast, and had the driver stop at a supermarket. We arrived at the Majestic Apartment and it had two bedrooms, a kitchen, two bathrooms and a cute little living room. Mom and dad made their famous hamburger hash with potatoes and corn, yum my favorite. With stuffed comfort food bellies, we all crashed for a good night sleep.
APRIL 6th, 2015- TEA PLANTATIONS
The morning here started with a clear blue sky, NO MORE RAIN!, Everyone was sure happy about it. Since we didn’t have any restaurants near bye we decided to make our own breakfast. At around 10:00 am our van we had rented picked us up, and we were headed to see the tea plantations, the falls, and the tea factory. Wow, the tea plantations covered hundreds of miles of the area, it truly was incredible. On the side of the road, grew a type of plant that if you use the roots mix them with coco oil and apply to women’s hair, it helps it grow long, and strong. YES please.
Our first stop was the Blue field tea mountain Factory. We were given a tour of the factory, and found out they are still using the same machines from 100 years ago, Cool!
The women here at the factory work hard, they dry the leaves, reduce 50% down chute, cut, seperate the steam from the leaf! and ferment, but they do not do this when making green or white tea. And when everything is done, there bagged and sent to auction in Columbo. After the tour was over we had gotten free tea samples, and we were off the see the falls.
APRIL 7th, 2015- ELLA
We arrived at the home we rented, and it had an amazing view, but soon after we arrived, we started to learn that the place was not quite as advertised. We only got about three and a half hours of sleep because it felt like the beds were made out of straw, the pillows felt like cardboard and there was too much noise from the neighbors next door, when the listing stated no neighbors! At two o’clock in the morning we found a new place to stay on the Internet. We ate breakfast, packed up everything, and left to go to Liptons Seat Viewpoint.
Sir Thomas Lipton built Dambatenne tea factory in 1890. 10 kilometers along the edge of the tea estates is the finest viewpoints in the country. There’s manicured tea bushes and stone steps. You could ride up by van, tuk tuk or a long and strenuous seven kilometers hike to the top.
Sir Thomas Lipton came up to the top to view and admire his countryside of tea. The view is gone by the afternoon because the fog rolls in and covers everything, so I would suggest going in the morning.
The women are the tea pickers and the men fertilize the crops, it’s a lot of work. I couldn’t believe that every single tea leaf that I could see, would be hand-picked by someone!
We arrived at Tea Garden Holiday Inn in the afternoon and planned to stay for three days, it was beautiful and so much better then the place we left. We had the view of Ella’s Rock right from our room and deck, it was stunning . Our room has four beds, a terrace with seating, and our own lawn.
For dinner we had a Sri Lanken meal wrapped in a banana leaf served on our deck and it was very good. A nice way to end the night.
APRIL 8th, 2015- DAY OF REST
When we woke up it was pouring rain with thunder heads and lighting rolling in, we had to cancel our excursions. Hopefully the rain will stop so we can look around town. While we were waiting for the rain to die down my sister and I were blogging while my dad was booking our flights and looking for a place to stay in Myanmar.
Everyone started to get hungry so we walked five minutes to a restaurant called Cafe Chill and had the best German schnitzel, with mashed potatoes, and pork sausages ever! Good traditional Sri Lankan food!!!!!
We met some really cool travelers from Belgium who’s names were Tom and Kris. We shared adventure stories and decided to have dinner together. The food was so good at Tea Gardens we ate there again. For dinner we had seven different curries and a big noodle dish for only 16 dollars. These were the best curries we’ve had in Sri Lanka so far. We went to bed because we had some big adventures planned for the next day.
APRIL 10th, 2015- ELLA TO COLOMBO
Today we drove in a van for four and a half hours to Colombo. We said our goodbyes to the hosts which were very nice and helpful and left The Tea Garden Inn. The roads were very windy on our way but the view was incredible.
On our way, we stopped at the oldest temple in Sri Lanka, it was 2000 years old. In the cave there were amazing roof paintings, and framed pictures telling stories about Buddha. Outside there was a massive Buddha carved into the rock.
We made a quick stop at KFC to get some chicken burgers and a bucket of chicken for our dinner later when we arrived at our hotel. It took six and a half hours to get to The Paradise Hotel, which is five minutes away from the airport. The rooms were cute but small, with a washroom that was massive.
There was a huge storm with lots of rain, lots of wind, really loud thunder, and lighting. During the storm, the power went out, which left us with no air conditioning and no fan. It was so hot and muggy in the room that we had to put wet towels over our bodies so we could sleep.
TO BANGKOK, THEN ON TO MYANMAR (BURMA)
APRIL 11th, 2015- THREE DAYS IN BANGKOK
Well here we come Bangkok! We had a 5:00am start today, and luckily the power had restored last night so the fan was working, but not the air conditioner. The drive to the airport was quick and enjoyable since everyone was starting to wake up from their zombie like looks. At around 8:30 it was time to board, it would be a 3 and a half hour flight, and the seats were average but still kind of comfy. After arriving at the super busy airport, we headed to the second level parking area, got a taxi and we were off to our hotel! Finally.
The hotel was called 38 Mansion and we were greeted by a very friendly women at the check-in counter who kindly showed us to our room. It was nice and cozy, it reminded me of my Nana’s house in Canada.
We spent most of the day relaxing in our air-conditioned apartment, away from the heat. We were surprised, in the late afternoon it started to pour rain, huge winds, and raging loud thunder. This went on for a few hours, but thankfully went away as the evening rolled by.
Earlier today we had searched online looking for a good “local” place to eat, we found a nearby street food area and heard great things about it. Great choice, what a perfect place for dinner! It was a very short walk and everyone was excited with hungry bellies to try these mouth watering foods. As we approached the stands, we saw all different varieties of food like; meat, fish, pork, duck, seafood cooked in many different ways, huge varieties of noodles, soups, rice and even fresh fruit juices. Everything was amazingly delicious, what a great first night in Bangkok.
APRIL 12th, 2015- BANGKOK SHOPPING!
Today we were going to check out the Pratinum Mall and it was only four dollars for the 20 minute drive, by taxi. There were six levels with accessories, clothes, hair products, electronics, and anything else you could think of, but we were quite surprised that the prices were so high. I guess you pay more for air conditioned shopping! At 10:00 we ate breakfast at the food court and all the food was authentic. We ordered four delicious soups for four dollars, a pretty good deal.
Outside there were street markets that see over two hundred thousand people every day. The lowest price for the clothes was four dollars, and the average price was six to eight dollars. Everything was busy, confusing, and overwhelming. It was cheaper, but very hot! We bought some clothes and decided to leave for the comfort of our air conditioned room.
When we got back to the apartment, it started to pour rain with thunder and lightning, the usual afternoon storm had just rolled in. When it was dinner time we ate street food at Soi 31,and it was delicious and inexpensive. We tried so many things at the different stalls, each one tasting better then the last. When we were walking back to the apartment some locals came and splashed us with buckets of water because it was the start of the water festival, New Years in Thailand.
April 13th, 2015- TO MYANMAR (BURMA)
Well, today we are heading on the next leg of our journey, eleven days through Myanmar, including; Mandalay, Bagan, Inle lake, and Yangon. Since we had a lounge that served breakfast at the airport, we ate there and relaxed as we waited for our flight.
We had left our two big suitcases with our dive equipment and extra gear at the apartment, and only brought one small suitcase and four carry-on backpacks. It was perfect and everything fit just right. It was interesting that my dad told us before we left that we were bringing too much stuff. I guess you need to experience it for yourself before you realize how little you really need. Even now that we were down to tiny backpacks, we still had lots of room. I sure like travelling light!
The flight to Mandalay was short, only two hours. And the airport was also small and quiet…. Creepy..Anyway, there was a taxi there to pick us up and drive us to our hotel. Yay!
We had wondered why there were people throwing buckets, spraying hoses, and later found out that it was their New Year celebration. They celebrate by splashing people with water to wash away any misfortune that may have happened in the past year. They were also super friendly, always smiling, waving, and saying hello. After about 45 minutes we arrived at the Triumph Hotel, it was very nice, had a big pool and two awesome rooms, what a treat!
The rest of the day was mostly spent in the pool, and having a wonderful dinner. Room service, yay!
APRIL 14th, 2015- TOURING MANDALAY
We woke up excited for today because we were going to explore Mandalay. We ate breakfast, and packed our things for the day. Our first stop was the looming factory, it had all these strings lined up on a wooden slat, and it was interesting to see how cloth is made. The next stop was the wood carving shop, where we saw locals carving wood sculptures.
Next we visited a monk monastery. There were about 800 monks lined up with cups and bowls waiting to fill them up with food and water. Wow what an amazing experience!
We went to a monastery school for nuns, we like to call the little girls “nunettes! While we were there, a charity group was donating hundreds of books, pens and crayons. They were so excited and waited in line for their turn for some gifts. There were three cages with birds in them, and the people would chant and set them free for good luck.
We went to an ancient city were there is gold covered temples and inside arches lined with ceiling paintings and massive gold Buddhas. There was a private Buddha where only men could purchase gold leaf and stick it on the Buddha “no ladies allowed”. Another temple had 30 Buddhas in a row. There was another one that had pictures with golden frames telling about Buddhas life.
We decided to head back to the hotel. We took the lake route that was jammed pack with trucks, drunk people, motorbikes, food stalls, and people spraying water. After two hours we finally arrived at the hotel hot exhausted.
We got our bathing suits on and jumped in the refreshing pool. In the afternoon it was 105 degrees, wow it was a hot one.
For dinner we ordered room service and it was delicious. An interesting day we had.
April 15th, 2015- WATER FESTIVAL
Since today was smoking hot, we had decided to go out on the streets and get soaked with water. We had some fun water fights, and there were lots of band stands built, with massive speakers, so that’s were most of the “Drunk teens” hung out. We went to one and we were the only white people there, and it was pretty crazy. One girl tried to kiss my mom, and I was pressed up against a bunch of boys, EWW! The streets were packed and it was hard to move around, luckily we had our bulldozer dad to make a path for us. We never lost him because he was like a giant in the crowd. We eventually had to head back, but splashed people with our water bottles, KARMA, Hehehe. After arriving back at the hotel, we were so hot that we spent the rest of the day in the pool, only getting out to use the bathroom.
APRIL 16th, 2015- MANDALAY TO BAGAN
Goodbye Mandalay and hello Bagan. We started off by packing our things, paying the bill, and heading to the airport, which was 40 minutes away. At 8:30am we were off! The flight was about 35 minutes and the shortest we’ve been on.
When we arrived in Bagan we had to pay $20 dollars per person, a restoration fee for the temples. It was a 40 minute drive to the hotel and there were so many broken up temples, tall temples, big temples, and gold temples.
There is a New Bagan and Old Bagan. The government relocated the people from the Old city to a new location. We are staying at Aye Yar River View Resort in old Bagan, right on the river. When we arrived at the hotel the ladies served us iced coffee and showed us to our room.
We didn’t expect it to look so nice. There was a big pool, a nice restaurant, and a lot of grass and flowers.
April 17th, 2015- SUNRISE OVER THE TEMPLE CITY OF BAGAN
Today was an early morning start. We got up at 5:15, and planned to go to the top of a temple to watch the sunrise. It was very quiet and peaceful in the morning as we slowly pulled into the entrance of the temple. We climbed a steep staircase that reached the top, and there were very few people here. We practically had the whole place to ourselves.
The sunrise was truly amazing, with bright colors stretching throughout the sky, and hundreds of temples surrounding us. After half an hour we headed back to the car to continue our four hour tour of other temples such as; The biggest temple, Oldest temple, and the Tallest temple, also some smaller ones on the side. They were all pretty incredible with huge Buddhas, old paintings, and massive ceilings with different patterns, in many shapes and sizes. So here is a little Bagan History; it was founded in the early 2nd century, it was a walled city with twelve gates and a moat in 849 AD. The twelfth century is Bagan’s greatness, the river Ayeyarwady river linked to the sea and to commerce of the Indian Ocean. Buddhism flourished in the 11th century because the king was very religious, had great power, and devoted to building the Temples, and Stupas with Buddhas.
As we came to the end of the tour, we thanked our guide and were lucky because it was cooler in the morning, and as we arrived back it was smoking hot. We enjoyed the pool, and met two great couples from the USA who gave us great information about Inle Lake, our next destination. As the evening rolled around everyone was exhausted from the day, so we ordered room service, and after that fell asleep right away. What a great day.
APRIL 18th, 2015- BAGAN TEMPLES
It is a nine ‘o clock start to the temples today. The first temple was Manhua Phaya and it had the biggest and widest gold Buddha We went to another temple that had carved stone sculptures. Outside there were two sand painters whom my mom and dad bargained with for some monk paintings.
The next stop was Lawkananda Phayar, which was an amazing huge pagoda situated along the river bank at the entrance to the temple. There were lots of food vendors and souvenir shops, and we could feel the temperature starting to rise.
The next stop was our favourite, Minnanthu Village. A lady took us on a tour through the whole village showing us things like a cutting tool for cows food, weaving picture frames, how they collect rain water, making a paste from sandalle wood and put it on our faces, a looming table, how to spin cotton, and silver making.
Our last temple was Thatbyinnyu Phaya, one of the oldest and currently being restored.
We arrived back at the hotel for a swim and lunch. An educating day today.
April 19th, 2015- INLE LAKE
Today was an early morning travel day to Inle Lake! We were up at 6:00, already packed and ready to go! At around 7:00 our taxi driver picked us up for a short fifteen minute drive. Once at the airport, we sailed through customs and immigration and were on our way!
We’re taking a small propeller plane and it was only a 45 minute flight! During the flight, I saw huge mountain ranges, big lakes, and an old volcano that had erupted years ago. After landing and stepping off the plane, everyone was struck with a cool breeze, what a different climate change!
After collecting our luggage, our van was there to pick us up. The drive was amazing, it looked very similar to Canada, with pine trees huge mountains and cool breezes.
We saw many plantations of sunflowers, corn, leeks, tomatoes, and roses.
The hotel was pretty nice, and had a pool right in front of our room. Not bad for 100 dollars for two junior suites, and complimentary breakfast.
The afternoon was spent mostly in the pool and having a great lunch and dinner at two nearby restaurants called Green Chillies and Htoo Muat BBQ. What a great day at Inle lake.
APRIL 20th, 2015- INLE LAKE BOAT TOUR
This morning we had to get up at 5:00 for an early morning boat tour. It was very brisk during the boat ride, but we saw amazing things like houses on stilts in the water, floating gardens of tomato, and locals net fishing while paddling an oar with their foot on canoes.
We went to a local food market that also had local crafts and we bargained for a map of Buddhas life. He wanted $45, but we eventually got it for $15! There was so much food like rice patties, dried out fish, corn on the cob, fresh vegetables, spices and so much more. We hopped back on the canoe and headed to a pagoda.
This pagoda was the cleanest we’ve ever been to, but also very busy. People were praying and chanting touching gold shaped orbs, but no Buddha We went to the “hole in the ground” washrooms and headed to our next stop which was the cat monastery.
The cat monastery was supposedly full of cats, they used to be called jumping cats because they were trained to jump five feet in the air, but not anymore. The monastery was full of gold statues with jewels and ornaments. There were some clothes stores down a walkway, and dad bought a white shirt and some sarongs for a good deal.
We headed to the boat and made our way back to the hotel. During the ride back, there were very friendly people from other boats waving and yelling hello. We arrived back at 11:00, and jumped in the pool just as the day was heating up.
April 21st, 2015- BIKE TOUR
We were up at 7:30, had breakfast, and had planned to take four bikes on a little tour of the area. We took a scenic drive along an old road through the countryside. We saw lots of villages, goats, ladies drying out garlic, and little Nuns. It was not too hot out and there was still a nice breeze, so we enjoyed the ride.
As we neared a small town, a guy asked us if we needed a boat to cross the lake, but we said no thanks. He kept chasing us for 10 minutes until we reached the dock at the river. We finally realized we do need a boat to cross the lake and get back to our town, so we put our bikes on his little boat, and hopped on. We had noticed during the boat ride, that thunder clouds were approaching us, but were still far away. After arriving back at the town, we paid the driver, took our bikes, and rode 5 minutes back to the hotel.
By the time we arrived back, the clouds rolled in and the sky became black. It started to pour, and lighting struck from the sky. It stayed like that until around 5:00, and the thunder and winds increased. A small palm tree was blown down at our hotel! The power went out, but came back on at around 9:00 and everyone was tired and ready for a good night sleep.
APRIL 22nd, 2015- TRAVELING TO YANGON REGION
Today we started off by eating breakfast and enjoyed huge puffy and long doughnuts that looked like giant crullers. We walked to the local market which was only five minutes away, enjoying the wonderful smells of flowers, fresh herbs and spices, as well as the perfectly placed fruits and veggies. All the streets were quite busy for seven am., especially the local restaurants.
After a one hour flight, we arrived in Yangon. We asked our driver what is the green packets the men chew, he said it is beetle nut it’s like a drug to keep them awake, and it makes their teeth and gums red and rotten, so disgusting! While we were driving I noticed that in Myanmar the people drive on the right hand side like we do in Canada, but have left hand driving vehicles. it’s a Challenge to pass.
The must see attraction in Yangon is the The Shwedagon Pagoda. The land belonging to the pagoda is 114 acres, the main pagoda is 326 feet tall, the weight of the gold umbrella was 500 kilos, the number of diamonds was 4,351 with a total carat of 1,800. The very top diamond on the pagoda was 76 carat. On the terrace there were four pagodas, 18 images of Buddha, and many museums. We went as the sun was setting and the cooler hours made it a little better, but still very hot with black tiles that burnt your feet! I can’t imagine what it would be like in the day time.
After the Pagoda, we caught a taxi to a fantastic food street. Lots of cart food, hot, smelly, and super fun with lots of things to see. We found a small hole in the wall restaurant that had a fan and quickly jumped to get the table beside it. All of the food we sampled was so good, and the prices were almost free!
CHIANG MAI, NORTHERN THAILAND
April 23rd, 2015- TRAVEL DAY
We had a relaxing morning enjoying breakfast and overlooking the beautiful city from the rooftop restaurant. Our taxi we had arranged was supposed to pick us up, but didn’t so the staff at the hotel called another. Luckily we had avoided traffic, but the taxi driver had Happy birthday in a baby voice playing in the car over and over and over. My dad was ready to throw the radio out of the car, and so was I.
The wait at the airport was not too long. We were flying on Air Bagan to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. The plane wasn’t very nice, the seats were worn and small, the flip down tables were dirty, and everything looked like it hadn’t been cleaned or repaired in years, but what can you do? We were also served a green bread sandwich with cucumbers inside, and dried fruit… Yummy!..not.
Once we cleared immigration and customs in Chiang Mai, we caught a taxi,, well actually an open backed truck with chairs. It was infested with mosquitoes, so most of the drive was spent swatting them away. We arrived at our apartment building called The Tree Boutique, it had a pool and nice cozy rooms. We rented the apartment though AirBNB and it was very comfortable, with two bedrooms, living room, kitchen and eating area. Since the last few places we spoiled ourselves, it was time to get back on the budget. Mom took a bike and went to a nearby corner store to get lunch and breakfast for the next day, it was nice to actually cook some of our own meals for a change.
Most of the day was spent hanging out inside until a huge storm approached. It was pouring yet again, and the winds were high causing the trees to crackle and the power went out. After awhile the winds stopped but the rains continued, so we took two bikes and doubled to a local restaurant near by. We were the only white people there and couldn’t read the menu, so we asked the waitress to just feed us. It was delicious, and there wasn’t one thing we didn’t like. The ride back was so much fun, and everyone got soaked with rain. When we arrived back everyone was tired, we had hot showers, and went straight to bed.
APRIL 24th, 2015- MOM’S BIRTHDAY
Today is mom’s 51st birthday! For breakfast mom went out and got some eggs, rice, “real” bread and pork on a stick, it was very good. She loves riding around on her bike. For a birthday surprise Tyla and I gave mom a full body massage and she fell asleep right away.
We rented two scooters to get around easier because using a two seater bike with a flat tire isn’t the way. We rode around in the town until we found a good looking place to eat it. We decided to spend mom’s birthday dinner in the apartment, nice and quiet with some movies and a dinner in. It was very relaxing and everyone ended up asleep pretty early.
April 25th, 2015- NIGHT MARKET
The morning was pretty relaxing, at noon we took our two scooters to a near by mall. It was pretty big, had five floors and a parking lot for only scooters and bikes. It had a lot of high end fashion and makeup stores such as; Mac, Bobby brown, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and many more. We looked around, got a few things, and it wasn’t long before we were already heading back in the smoking hot heat. We mostly watched movies and avoided the heat till around 6:00.
For the evening, we rode our scooters to a nearby night market. Let me tell you, it was packed with people, but was so cool with a hundred different carts of food, drinks, clothing, shoes, etc. It was awesome and the food was delicious. We bought two pairs of pyjama shorts for only four dollars for both! Later in the evening it started to get very muggy so we decided to head back. We picked up a few snacks like Pork, and chicken kabobs and they were delicious. We were all pretty tired
after that so it was time for bed.
APRIL 27th, 2015- ART IN PARADISE
I was excited today because we were going to Art In Paradise. Art In Paradise is an illusional 3D museum that is loads of fun with different sections like underwater animals and mermaids, ancient Egypt Pharaohs, extinct animals, and so much more.
We ate breakfast and left on the scooters which we were renting for the rest of our time in Chiang Mai. We arrived at the perfect time… not! There was hundreds of kids on a field trip screaming and running around everywhere, great! A lady that worked there suggested we come back in 30 minutes, when the kids would then be gone, we happily agreed to come back!
We spent about two hours in the museum. It’s better to have two or three people to take pictures of each other in the scenes,there is a red spot on the ground that tells you were to stand to take the best pictures. We had so much fun, laughing and goofing around.
After the museum we went to the mall to have lunch at Oishi Shabusi which is a conveyer belt with raw fish, seafood, mushrooms, noodles, meat, and veggies. There was a pot attached to the table that you could cook all the food in, and you had little bowls that you would put all the different things in to make a soup. There was also a little bit of sushi and drinks.
April 28th, 2015- THE PENTHOUSE
Our morning was very relaxing, and there was no rush to leave. We took our two scooters with four backpacks and a suitcase to the next place, what an adventure that was! Imagine my dad with a suitcase on hos back, two backpacks in front of him, and one in the basket! Then imagine my mom, sister and I on the other scooter with one backpack on my back! Quite a sight, but we made it across town. When we arrived we looked at the building and it was horrible, and looked super dirty from the outside. Of course my dad made it sound horrible, like he did with every place we went too!
But as we arrived at the 15th floor we entered the Penthouse and were amazed at how fancy and expensive everything looked. It looked like a million dollar apartment, and it was only 120 dollars a night, amazing right? Everyone had their own master bedroom, and an amazing deck and view of Chiang mai. The furniture was super chic, everything was black and white and very modern.
We were in absolute love with the place so we spent most of the time watching movies until around noon, then we headed to a near by mall called Maya. We found a great lunch place that was cheap and had the best soup of our trip! Only five dollars for all of us!
We made a nice home cooked meal in the fully equipped kitchen,which was nice to cook for ourselves since we have mostly been eating out for three months. The beds were super comfy so it wasn’t a bummer to have to go to bed.
APRIL 29th, 2015- TIGER KINGDOM
Today we were off to Tiger Kingdom which is a beautiful and scenic 25 minute drive on the scooters through the country side. This is definitely a must see if you are in Chang Mai. The prices for the tigers and the photographer all together was 100 dollars for four of us. You can choose if you want to go in with big tigers, medium tigers, or small tigers. Mom and dad went in with the medium tigers, and my sister and I went in with the small ones. We could touch their tails, lie our heads on them, snuggle with them, and touch their paws. Same with my mom and dad. All the tigers were in cages and there were always trainers and staff around to make sure things were safe. There were white tigers, and a lion too. What an amazing experience that I will never forget! They are so cute, I wanted to steal one and take it home!
April 30th, 2015- ELEPHANT SANCTUARY
We had a lot of difficulty deciding whether we should do an elephant trip or not. As a family we discussed the controversy surrounding this practice and we researched all of the companies that offered trips. In the end we decided to take part in this adventure but chose a company that we felt cared for the animals and didn’t use the wooden platforms to ride them. In the end, we were very happy with our choice and we never felt that the elephants were mistreated or harmed in any way.
We were picked up at 8:30 and driven to the elephant sanctuary. We had a few other people with us since they were doing the full day as well. We were greeted by a friendly staff and introduced to the fifteen elephants that we were to spend the day with. We changed into there traditional mahout clothing and were taught the commands that we need to work with our elephants during the day.
Before riding them we fed them bananas, sugar cane, tamarind and in no time we were on their backs and ready to go. For the first 10 minutes one thought kept running through my mind, “Wow,I can’t believe I’m riding an elephant in Asia!” We rode them bareback so no harm was done, they didn’t even realize we were there. It was so cool we rode them throughout the forest and they splashed us with muddy water. It was so much fun.
After we got off the elephants we then headed to an outdoor picnic table for an included lunch. After eating we fed our elephants again and took them for a really adventurous ride through the mountains, what a thrilling experience. I was amazed how easily the elephants handled steep terrain and narrow trails on the mountain. When we headed down the mountain the staff sprayed us with water, then headed to a little water hole to bath our elephants. Our elephant walked into the water with us on her back, and as she lay down on her side, of course I fell off right into the water. Don’t worry it didn’t hurt, but it sure was funny.
We got to wash and scrub them for awhile,then hopped back on them, and exited the water. Sadly when we arrived back it was time to go. What an amazing experience this was, and we hope to do it again. A worth while experience for 400 dollars for 4 people, including pictures and lunch. We took a long van ride back to the apartment. For dinner we went to some local food carts right beside our building, bought some tasty snacks, and headed back to our penthouse for a relaxing evening.
MAY 1st, 2015- OVERNIGHT TRAIN TO BANGKOK
Today was Tyla and I’s first time going on an overnight train. It was to be a 12 hour ride from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. Before heading to the train station, mom, Tyla and I went on one motorbike with two backpacks, dad went on the other motorbike with the other two backpacks and the big suitcase on his back. It was risky but we made it to the rental place safely and got a taxi from there.
We arrived at the train station and waited for about 15 minutes before we boarded and our journey began. The compartment on the train had four beds, two came from the ceiling, and the other two were seats and beds. Each bed had their own curtain for privacy, and there were four small trays and one big table that came out of the wall. It was pretty cool “camping” in our little room, we were cozy and comfortable.
The scenery was gorgeous with all the lush plants and trees. We chose to eat dinner in our air conditioned compartment. We went to bed early because we had to get up at 5:00in the morning to get off the train. Our sleep was good, but a little jiggly and bouncy.
SIEM REAP AND ANGKOR WAT , CAMBODIA
May 2nd, 2015- SIEM REAP
Last night was a bit of a rough sleep, so we were all pretty tired having to get up at 5:00 and exit the train. It was great that there was a train station right at the airport, so no taxi was needed! We were quite early so we had to wait a little while until we could drop off our luggage. In the meantime we had a nice breakfast in the airport. The flight was very short, only one hour. As soon as we exited the plane, it was extremely hot out, so we quickly headed to the air conditioned airport. Everything went smooth and waiting outside was our taxi driver. I knew that I already liked Cambodia just by seeing the town and scenery on the way to our Hotel.
We arrived at a very nice hotel called Model Anchor Resort. We were served frosty lemon grass juice, and cold scented hand towels. We were showed to our room and were amazed at how gorgeous it was. It had two queen beds in each room, huge flat screen in each room, and gorgeous bathrooms. We enjoyed a swim in the beautiful pool, then as the evening came by we went into town to look for a nice place to eat. As we were walking we found a little massage place and got a foot rub for 30 minutes for 3 dollars. Dad was unlucky and got the 11 year old boy. After that we went to Pub Street and found a delicious restaurant twhere you cooked your own selected meats, seafoods, and vegetables on a little burner at the table.
MAY 3rd, 2015- SURROUNDING TEMPLES OF ANGKOR WAT
Our first temple was Angkor Thom which was built in the early 13th century. There is a three kilometer wall and moated royal city that was the last of the Angkorian Empire. There are five gates to the city, one for each cardinal point, and the victory gate leading to the royal palace. Each gate has four giant stone faces. I can’t believe these temples are still here in our era.
Our next stop was the Bayon Temple which was constructed in the late 12th century.
Here is some information I copied from a book:
The giant stone faces of Bayon have become one of the most recognizable images connected to the Khmer art and architecture. There are 37 standing towers, most but not all have four carved faces oriented toward the cardinal points. The best of Bayon are on the exterior walls of the lower level and on the upper level where the stones faces reside. It was fun walking through the temples and seeing all the old face carvings.
The next temple we went to was Chau Say Tevoda which was built in the early 12th century. In recent years the temple has undergone an extensive restoration project, which is now complete. Most carvings are Hindu-themed, there are also some Buddhist-themed reliefs. The eastern walkway from the temple leads to the Siem Reap River a few hundred meters away. It was nice to see everything was put back together and complete.
Our next temple was called Kleanings which was constructed in the early 11th century. “Kleang” means “storeroom” but it is unlikely that this was what it was used for. A royal oath of allegiance carved into the doorway shows that they may have served as reception areas or even housing for visiting nobles and ambassadors.
Our last temple we went to was Prasat Suor Prat which was constructed in the early 13th century. The original function of the towers is unknown but in the 13th century the bad people were kept in the towers for a few days and the one to come out in ill health was declared the loser.
Tips; bring lots of water, hats, sunglasses, a towel to wipe the sweat off, wear good walking shoes, and go early in the morning. These temples were amazing and historic, but the heat takes a big toll on your body and you can only last so long.
May 4th, 2015- MORE AMAZING TEMPLES
Today was a pretty early morning getting up at 6:00, having breakfast at 6:30,and getting picked up at 7:00. The first temple we were going to visit was called Banteay Srey, built in the late 10th century. This temple was discovered by French archaeologists in 1914. Banteay Srey was built at a time when the Khmer Empire was gaining power and territory, constructed by a powerful king named Rajendravarman, and later finished under Jayavarman V.
The temple displays some of the best examples of classical Khmer art, the walls are covered with some of the most beautiful, deep and intricate carvings of any Ankorian temple. I could not believe how amazing this temple was, great start to our second day in Ankor Wat. We took a short drive to our next temple called Banteay Samre built in the mid 12th century. Banteay Samre was constructed around the same time as Ankor Wat.
Many of the carvings are in great condition, and they are definitely worth seeing. We only saw two temples that day because it was already starting to heat up. The day was spent in the air conditioned room and in the refreshing pool until the evening. We took a tuk tuk into town and while looking for a restaurant to eat, we found an air conditioned massage place that had mega plush super comfy chairs for only 5 dollars an hour. Trust me, best massage I’ve had. After that we went to a local restaurant that was really cheap and had good food. We met some nice locals and ordered some food and drinks with them. One of them owned a tuk tuk and offered to give us a ride back for free, so nice! What a great night and day.
MAY 5th, 2015- ANGKOR WAT TEMPLE
We woke up at 5:00 in the morning to go to Angkor Wat to watch the sunrise. We decided to go early because we heard that it could get very busy with thousands of people there to see the famous sunrise.
Angkor Wat was constructed in the early mid 12th century and was visually breathtaking. It is a massive three-level pyramid crowned by five towers rising 65 meters from the ground level. Angkor Wat is a magical place to visit and I will never forget my time there.
Angkor Wat is surrounded by a moat with an exterior wall measuring 1300 meters x 1500 meters. The temple itself is 1 kilometer square and includes three levels surmounted by a central tower. The walls of the temple are covered in carvings which are very ancient and spectacular.
A guide can be quite helpful in explaining the stories of many chambers, statues and art forms. We chose to do it ourself and it turned out to be just fine. Some say that it is good luck to bow down to all four Buddha images before leaving Angkor Wat, which we did. This was the best temple we’ve been too and I would definitely recommend going here.
While we were driving, we spotted monkeys on the side of the road, so we stopped and gave them our breakfast. The monkeys were on top of the car trying to get in and we could feed them from our hands. There were baby monkeys with their moms, and really fat monkeys too. We stayed there for about an hour playing with them and laughing.
When we got back to the hotel we relaxed until it was time to go out for dinner. We went to a local market that our tour guide recommended which had clothes and lots of food carts….and no tourists, we were the only white people there! While we were looking around the wind started to pick up so we went to go look for something to eat. We went to this place that had barbecued quail, chicken, liver, and quail eggs, so we ordered everything and sat down to eat. Five minutes later it started to pour with rain. The locals quickly put up a home-made umbrella and began to tie it down because of the wind. It was so much fun to be snug and dry under the shelter, eating delicious food with the local people.
After dinner there was some little carnival rides that my mom and I went on like the bumper cars. We went back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.
BANGKOK, HONG KONG….AND HOME
May 6th, 2015- BACK TO BANGKOK
We flew back to Bangkok and spent one night at the same hotel where we stored our luggage. Most of the afternoon was spent organizing and re-packing our luggage. Now that we have travelled for awhile, I must admit I was kind of embarassed at how much stuff we packed when we left home. What a learning experience! Pack light, it’s the best way to travel! We enjoyed our last food street evening and headed to bed. In the morning, we headed to the airport for our flight to Hong Kong.
MAY 7th, 2015- HELLO HONG KONG
Once at the airport, we went to the Cathay Pacific lounge and waited for our flight to be called while enjoying a complimentary breakfast.
My dad surprised us with business class seats for this two hour flight, so awesome! There was a flat screen tv, lie down flat chairs that have a kick out stand, a little cubby that had a mirror inside, and charger outlets. If we were old enough we could have had champagne but we had orange juice instead.
When we arrived in Hong Kong it was cold for us at 29 degrees. We did not mind the cold because it was a nice change from sweat and 42 degree weather. We went to another lounge to eat lunch and after a while we jumped in a cab and headed to our hotel which was 20 minutes away. The Royal Plaza Hotel was very nice and cozy. We were sharing a room that had a couple beds, a flat screen tv, a bathtub and shower, and of course it had air conditioning. This was a five star hotel for our few days in Hong Kong.
May 8th to 10th- SICK IN HONG KONG
Wouldn’t you guess? After eating in the streets throughout Asia for three months, we get sick while staying at a fancy hotel in a major world city!! Fortunately for us, the hotel was on top of a huge mall so the kids could go explore a little while Adriana and I licked our wounds and felt sorry for ourselves in the room. We did manage to spend our last day seeing some sights. We rode the subway to the business district, walked through the city, rode up to Victoria Peak on the tram, caught the ferry back to Kowloon at night, and made it to the airport just in time for our flight home.
On behalf of all of us, we would like to thank those of you that took the time to not only read the girl’s blog, but to also comment and encourage them on the way. It took a lot of time and dedication and I am pretty proud that they stuck to it and finished what they set out to do, heaven knows there were plenty of distractions and reasons not to do it!
This trip was all about the girl’s. I felt they were old enough to really appreciate a journey like this, and also smart enough to grasp the bigger picture of the world and their place in it. I witnessed some profound changes in both of them as we progressed through the trip, and I can honestly say that they are changed people. I can’t wait for them to come to us in the not so distant future and say, “Dad, we were thinking of traveling to South America…without you guys, how would you feel about that?” I can’t wait!