My Parents Came to Thailand!

It was so nice having my parents in Thailand visiting. They arrived late in March and were able to stay for 2 weeks. The beginning of our time together featured adventuring around Bangkok, which was fun for my mom, but noticably less exciting for my dad. Granted, Bangkok definitely is an acquired taste for most. We were in Bangkok for the first three days that they were here, visiting Chatuchuk on the third day. Chatuchuk is a massive market, similar to the likes of Saturday Market in Portland but 3 times as big and 10 times as crowded. Luckily, we arrived right as it was opening around 8am, so we largely beat the crowd. My mom and I shopped until our arms were completely full of bags and fully exercised our bargaining skills. We found everything we were looking for, including granite mortars and pestles and other odds and ends only a place like Chatuchuk could offer. 
Then later that night, we were off to Chiang Mai. We took the train, and arrived around 9am the next day. As we were pulling into the station, my father's attention was turned to the window, gasping. He looked over at my mom and I, and said, "don't look." Of course, I couldn't help myself, but to come over and do just that. Strewn across the road was a person, a woman I think, who had recently just been hit by car. A man was stooped over the body praying and sobbing. I felt so ashamed for looking, but couldn't look away from the tragic scene. People were gathered around; everyone in the train starred quietly. My heart goes out to whosever family this person belonged to. It was a pretty tramatic start to an overwhelming positive experience in Chiang Mai.
We checked into our hotel, and were very pleased with our suite. The hotel was lovely, our suite was quite spacious and our beds even had comfy pillows (a rarity in Thailand trust me)! They would bring breakfast to our room every morning, and my dad was hard pressed to believe we had to eventually go back to Bangkok. Our first few days in Chiang Mai were spent exploring the Old City. First, all three of us walked around the town breifly, then my mom and I walked to all of the temples, then we walked to dinner, and after dinner, my dad and I walked all through the Sunday Night Market. On that first day, I walked a total of 15 miles, which I was able to calculate thanks to my iPhone Health app. The next day, we decided we had had enough of walking and rented 2 motorbikes. I had never driven a motorbike before, but hey, when in Thailand, do as the Thais do, am I right? Well, turns out motorbikes are pretty fast and it's a little intimidating getting on them for the first time ever. I drove around the parking lot of our hotel and became a little nervous of whether I was ready to go out on the main roads. I ended up chickening out, and asked my mom if she would drive it instead. Turns out my mom was a little more nervous then I was. After positioning herself on the bike, she quickly gased-panicked-kept gassing-and skidded out. Don't worry she was fine, no major injuries, but she did acquire some pretty heavily scraped up limbs. I ran over and helped pull the bike off of her. My dad at this point is minorly freaking out, asking, "Are we gonna be able to do this?" I jumped back on the bike, drove around the parking lot a little more, and decided then and there that there was no way I would be falling off of this bike. Plus, I was in a tank top and shorts, so my self-preservation instincts were on high alert. I convinced my parents that I could do it, and off we went. After an initial jolt of nerves as we pulled on to the main road, I rather enjoyed motorbiking! We drove over to the Thai Silk Village, where my mom and I stocked up on Thai Silk goods. Then we headed back to our hotel, met up with my dad, who had decided he wanted to drive around instead of shop for Thai silk, and motorbiked to lunch. At this point, I was feeling pretty confident on my new ride, and felt really Thai as I cruised in between cars at stop lights to get to the front of the line. We went from lunch up to Doi Suthep, a temple located about 25km away from the center of the Old City. The ride was simply amazing--full of winding turns and stunning aerial views of the city. We parked our bikes and began our ascent, climbing a copious amount of stairs. The temple was very charming, with monks of all ages chanting and walking around the temple. They even let us write good luck messages and our family name on a Chedi wrap, which will be on display for the rest of the year. Our return to Chiang Mai was just as fun going down the winding road as it was going up, only slightly more chilly. It was night time after all, and I was still cruising around in my tank top and shorts. 
The next morning, we were picked up by our tour guide to go on a mountain biking tour around the national park. Mountain biking was so much fun! Strenuous for sure, but nevertheless, tons of fun. At one point, we were told that there was going to be a steep hill coming up, and that anyone who made it to the top without walking would earn themselves a Coke as a trophy. We were in a tour group of about 10, ranging around the age of my parents to just older than me. My dad was the only one who made it up the hill without stopping to walk. WHAT A BEAST. We stopped several times along the way to look at local coffee, strawberry and other types of farms. When we finally got to the final flat paved road, my mom and I were biking beside each other in the front of the pack, trailing only our guide and one young woman from Spain. My mom whispers to me that as Team USA we needed to take gold and silver, so for the last stretch, we sprint-pedaled and beat the Spaniard. USA! USA! My mom got gold, and I got silver. By the end of the trip, I realized that this mountain biking excurtion had really proven that my parents were in better shape than me... We ate lunch around a beautiful lake and my dad recieved his trophy Coke can. Then, we were taken back to the bike shop to start the second half of our adventure. 
The next part of our tour included driving out to a rural village in the mountains, where we stayed at a homestay with Ms. Poog and her family. She had a cat that was really friendly; I greatly enjoyed snuggling it even though it kneaded its claws into my bare legs. She cooked us dinner and then three women came to give us Thai massages, which were greatly appreciated after our morning workout. The next morning, Poog made us a delicious breakfast and then we were off to start our zip lining tour through the jungle! I strongly recommend the Flight of the Gibbon to anyone who finds themselves in Chiang Mai. We had a blast zooming through the canopy of the jungle on the 17 different zip lines, crossing rope bridges and climbing up nets. There was one zip line where they attached the line to your back and you were expected to superman jump off the platform. My dad was the last to go, and my mom and I joked with the guide on the our side that he looked a little nervous. He took him a moment to courageously dive (partially) head-first off the platform and be carried to the other side. 
Chiang Mai was a stupendous adventure. We filled our time so thoroughly that it went by way too fast! All of the sudden we were back on the train, and headed back to Bangkok. 
We spent the night in Bangkok and then headed to Koh Phra Thong island in southern Thailand the next morning. Unlike many of the other islands in and around Thailand, Koh Phra Thong is one of the last non-touristy destinations. It's remote. Remote may not even cover how deserted this island is. I'm hesitant to even mention it because it was such a lovely, quiet, charming, peaceful, eco-friendly place. We had whole beaches almost entirely to ourselves. Little to no boat traffic. And no trash, except for trash that was brought ashore from the ocean after high tide. The woman running the place we were staying was incredibly kind, and the cook at one of the two restaurants available to us made the best Thai seafood I have ever eaten (and ever expect to eat) in my life. Her cooking was simply unbeatable, full of complex flavors and delicate preparation. After four days of lounging about, it was very sad leaving Koh Phra Thong on Monday morning.
My parents left on Wednesday, April 8th back for Portland. It was heart wrenching to watch them leave. I loved having them here and adored being able to share such unique experiences with them. As of today, I (only) have 6 more weeks left in Thailand, but the highlight of my whole trip will surely be the two weeks my parents were here.

I really have been slacking at putting photos up. However, I will eventually update my photo album, I PROMISE:)


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