Change of plans..

So after a blur of a day we made it to the much warmer Bangkok and instantly was happy with our decision – finally our backpack full of summer clothes will actually get worn! We caught a taxi to our accommodation for the night which was just a standard hotel close to the airport. I was still crook so the fact it had a bed and I didn’t have to board another damn plane was a dream. I fell asleep immediately with hopes of a settled stomach in the morning.

The next morning the sun shone in through our room and I woke feeling hungry! Yes! Things were looking up! We had a lazy breakfast and booked our next few days accommodation. The Splendid Resort at Jomtien Beach was picture perfect from the reception, to the pools and surrounding areas – unfortunately this stopped as soon as we walked through the doors of our rooms. Definitely didn’t look like the photos on their website! It was rather dodgy and dirty but we had already paid for the four days so we had to make do. We dropped our gear off and headed for the beach, our tactic was to spend the least amount of time in our rooms as possible. The beach was nice, the water clear and the sand littered with hundreds of umbrellas and old men in Speedos. Palm trees swayed in the breeze and the street vendors were selling all sorts of goodies. Being the festive season the place was absolutely packed with people – it seems half of Eastern Europe was there. We felt a little out of place being Aussie – everybody was talking in jibberjabber but hey, we were at the beach and the sun was out, we couldn’t complain. We had a quick swim and settled into a cafe for some lunch and a check in with the virtual world. I was feeling a bit sick still so while the others went for a bit of a wander I went and had another sleep which lasted through til morning.

Today we were being the ultimate tourists, first stop was NongNooch Garden. From what we could gather from the brochure it was a huge gardens with elephants and a Thai cultural show and other various things. Very touristy and we were a bit doubtful but it had been recommended to us so we found a taxi and headed there. The place, turns out was about 100 acres of incredibly well kept and designed gardens. There was also a small zoo, sky walk, temples and massive food court. It was so very ‘Asian’ but fun. My family and I being huge animal lovers absolutely melted over the elephants, they are honestly the most incredible creatures – we spent the first half an hour just looking at them, patting them and feeding them the bananas we bought from the little Thai kids for 40 baht a bunch. Eventually we dragged ourselves away from the elephants to grab a coffee before going back for an elephant ride around a bit of the park. Dad and I had a big mumma and her baby so we got the speed version, Mumma was keen to get back to her bananas! After our ride we walked along the skywalk and down through the various parts of the garden. The upkeep of this place is amazing – everything is so detailed and well looked after. This was definitely a good way to spend the day. We had a bite to eat and decided to watch the elephant show. Having been to Phuket Zoo a few years earlier we weren’t so keen because of the appalling way the animals are treated but this seemed different so we gave it a go. We arrived at the show about half an hour too early so we sat and appreciated the shade and the seat. Suddenly some of the trainers came out with their elephants who were very keen for some more bananas and to show off. We were then lucky enough to do some tricks with the elephants.. Both Mum and I got lifted up by their trunks for the best photo opportunity! I got to cuddle with the babies and rode one of the sweetest ones around. It was amazing! I was over the moon! By the time that was over people had filled the seats and the show was about to begin. It actually was a great show, the elephants were very clever and seemed to be enjoying themselves. K and I even got to be apart of the show! We left the Gardens very satisfied with our day and with a camera full of awesome photos!

As it was New Year Eve and we had to attend this gala dinner for the hotel we dolled ourselves up and headed to the banquet. Similar to the hotel it wasn’t that brilliant – i’m not sure whether because of the food of the capacity of the crowd being rude Euros. We ditched the gala soon after dinner and headed back to the hotel where we played cards until midnight when we walked across the road to the beach to watch the fireworks bring in the new year. It was one of my less exciting New Years but it was still nice – being sober and surrounded by my family was actually a pleasant change from a crazy night that I wouldn’t remember.

The next day we woke late due to lack of sleep from the thumping music and ear splitting sound of fireworks that sounded like they were going off just outside our windows. We had a slow start after deliberating over what to do – finally deciding on Underwater World. It was pretty shit to be honest, the aquarium was dirty with lots of dead coral and sad looking sea creatures. Definitely not the same as the gardens yesterday. We didn’t stay long and headed back to the hotel to veg out by the pool for the afternoon. We had a delicious Thai dinner later and went to bed reasonably early to make up from the late night last night.

This morning we headed to Bangkok not before a final swim and fruit shake. It took about two hours to reach our hotel – the Oaks Hotel was the mecca of hotel rooms for our trip. Everything was pefect, a great way to finish my part of the trip. We headed into Siam Paragon and MBK for some shopping for the afternoon where I got some knock off Dr Dre headphones (i’m a cool kid now :p) and set my eyes on a new phone which i desperately need! Bangkok is wonderful, everywhere you look something different is going on. You could easily sit and people watch for a whole day and not get bored. We had drinks and a light dinner at the roof top bar at our hotel before falling asleep in our super comfy beds.

Today was my final full day of the trip so we intended to make the most of it. We had brekkie and found a taxi to take us into the Grand Palace. Before we got there we were stopped by a happy young chap claiming to be down from Chiang Mai. He told us that because it was still New Year the Palace doesn’t open til 1pm but heres all these other things were should see and to go and oh heres two guys that can take you around for the day. Gullible as we are, we were ecstatic over the help and gladly climbed into the waiting tuk tuks. They took us around to these temples and Buddhas as well a requested Starbucks stop. It wasn’t until they took us to a tailor and insisted we had to buy something did it feel like a scam. We finally got our driver to take us to the Palace after much persistence on his part only to find out that the Palace had in fact been open all day and the pieces of the scam started to come together. Though these guys must have only been starting out because after it all they took us all around Bangkok for five hours and only got the 70 baht we first agreed on. Buchans 1, Bangkok 0! So by 3pm we got into the Palace which was absolutely mind-blowing. The temples were magical, I can’t describe it. The walls were individually bricked by little square tiles which glistened in the hot sun. They were painted with delicate patterns and the ornamental statues of foiled gold sparkled in the light. The extravagance of the entire place was unbelievable, definitely fit for King! We paid our respects to the Emerald Buddha who was perched on top a huge pile of golden ornaments and jewels. The building was similar to the Sistine Chapel with its mural painted walls and carvings. Overwhelmed by the decadence of the place we finished up in the textiles museum where outfits that the Queen of Thailand had worn over the years were stored before catching a taxi back to MBK so I could pick up my new phone and Mum could get the screen of her iPad fixed. We finished up the day with a much needed foot massage and manicure before retreating to bed.

The next morning was a rush to get to the airport where I was flying back to Holland and Mum, Dad and K were flying onto Chiang Mai. The morning went by without any hitches and after a few tears by all of us I was boarding my plane for a 12 hour mission to get back to my second home.

My Christmas break was wonderful, not in a relaxing, problem free way but it was an experience that I won’t forget and it made me appreciate my family even more – even though they drive me crazy sometimes – they are still the most important thing to me and I love them dearly.

Now back to my au pair life!

From the girl who wants to be an elephant trainer when she grows up

J. x

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