BANGKOK

I was in a bit of a panic a couple days before we left for our trip. On Tuesday, the Thai Royal Army issued Martial law. We were leaving Thursday. I was scrambling to figure out what this meant for our trip. I contacted the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, our three hotels, and the airlines. I was determined to go on this trip I spent months planning and years looking forward to. I did not want some crazy coup to interfere. Fortunately, it did not. We made the decision to go and just feel it out when we got there. It was definitely the best decision.

We checked into Tower Club at lebua around midnight on Friday. The drive from the airport was eerie. The streets were empty. The city looked deserted. I counted nearly 20 cars during our 30 minute car ride and we saw several checkpoints along the way. During our 18 hour flight, the U.S. increased the travel advisory from a travel alert to a travel warning. The country was under curfew. No one could be out between 10pm-5am unless they had a work permit or were driving to/from the airport. I felt so rebellious. 

The streets of Bangkok are slightly… dirty. But once you get past it, there is so much to see. The houses stacked on top of one another, the infinite number of power lines. The narrow roads and sidewalks filled with vendors. We walked down side streets and through alleys. Our food tour was definitely the highlight of the day.

We met a couple expats on our food tour who guided us to another part of the city. We took the BTS to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. It’s one of the largest markets in the world, covering 27 acres! We zigzagged through 15,000 booths selling items from all over Thailand. It looked like a whole bunch of junk to us, but you would be amazed at the number of people filling up bags and bags full of stuff. We saw everything from clothing to electronics to pets and furniture. Everything is negotiable! We had a ton of fun just grabbing a couple of Thai beers and getting lost in it all.

That night we stayed close to our hotel and checked out a couple bars nearby. We had to be back by curfew. Lebua is known for it’s Sky Bar, the world’s highest open air bar. It was great that we could just hang there the rest of the night.

On Sunday morning we played tourist. We took the ferry up the Chao Phraya River to Wat Po, the temple of the Reclining Buddha. It’s also known as the birthplace of the Thai massage. I would have loved to check out the Grand Palace while we were there but we didn’t have much time and we heard it was heavily guarded. I think the ferry ride was my favorite part! But we were both anxious to make our way to the Green Lung.

Across the river, you will find Bangkok’s Green Lung. Bang Krachao is government-protected land that the mighty Chao Phraya River wraps around. It’s remarkable. Stepping into the smog-free green oasis feels like you have been transported to another country. It’s a stark contrast from the concrete jungle just six miles away. Very few Bangkok locals venture across the river to the Green Lung. But we wanted to experience everything the city has to offer.

We stayed at the Bangkok Tree House, an eco-friendly boutique hotel on the river banks. The owner suggested we take a bike tour through the Green Lung with resident guide, Paul Mueller. We biked through lush, tropical vegetation on elevated paths crisscrossing through the island. It was such a peaceful way to explore a unique part of the city. But the lack of guardrails on the raised paths was a little unnerving!

We were way off the beaten path, peaking into the locals lifestyle. The Green Lung is very under-developed, but beautiful in its own way. I was amazed at the simplicity of the locals life. Children laughed and played, shouting “hello” as we breezed past. I waved back, “sawadee ka”  and received a shy smile in return. We passed several technicolor temples and stopped at a beautiful park. The half-day tour was tiresome, but we left with a new outlook on life.

I did a ton of research when I was planning our trip. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and I wanted to do it all. I came across Bangkok Tree House on a couple travel sites I follow and just had to check it out. After spending two nights in the city, it was a great ending to our time in Bangkok. We stayed in the “room with a view” for just one night. It was incredible. We had dinner in our tree house and watched the sunset. It does not get much more romantic than that!

After dinner a small rocket boat picked us up for a ride on the river. We rode along the edge of the river and our guide pointed out several spots where fireflies were mating. They light up so fast, it looks like blinking Christmas lights are tossed into the trees. It was pretty amazing, and a great ending to beautiful night.

Sleeping under the stars in the middle of the jungle, was heaven. Until we woke up the next day. We had bug bites covering our legs. Don’t get me wrong, I expected bug bites… but not this kind. I’m pretty sure every bug imaginable feasted on me overnight. My right knee was so swollen. I was itchy, but surprisingly it was not as bad as you would expect. 

We’re just trying to remember the great things about the Green Lung, not the tiny nasty ones. Then it was off to the islands!