The World Overseas- in Ancient and Modern Thailand

Ronald McDonald doing the wai... or, why McDonald's is going to take over the world.

I know that I promised prompt and speedy service in delivering the details of our trip to Thailand, but… I lied. The delay is partly due to the fact that our arrival was promptly met by a heavy workload and catching up with our friends who also went on vacation for Spring Festival. The other part was that I needed some time to wrap my head around… everything. But a month later, I’m finally dedicated to updating family, friends, and fellow blog stragglers.

Somewhere along the lines, Ben and I had learned that we have very different definitions for words like, “vacation” and “travel.” He tends to dream about sleeping in, sitting on a beach, and enjoying a beer in the afternoon. I, on the other hand, hate to waste daylight and get up early in a rush to see everything- temples, historical sites, or something else I’ve read about. Fortunately, somewhere along those lines we have come to find a compromise in these definitions. The first day fulfilled mine. Despite landing in Bangkok late the evening before, we met our first full day in Thailand in an early-morning rush out the door to catch a bus heading north to Ayutthaya.

We hired a tuk-tuk driver to take us to all of the scattered ruins of the city,

Even at ruins, these guys wear the sacred yellow and are cared for by monks daily.

hoping that it would live up to its reputation- it did not disappoint. This ancient city was the second capital of Siam (changed its name to Thailand, ‘land of the free’ in 1939) and was abandoned in 1767 when Burmese invaders burnt it to the ground. This city is filled with the preserved remains of temples, palaces, and memorials. Many of the temples contain dozens of decapitated and/or scorched Buddha statues- souvenirs from the Burmese. Not surprisingly, Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also not surprisingly, most of our pictures are from this part of our adventure.

The next day we were back on a bus… this time headed to Pattaya- the closest beach to Bangkok. We really enjoyed our stay here, although our hostel was actually in near-by Jomtien, but we spent a fav

These tasty little guys seemed like a good idea at the time... :p

orable amount of time on beaches and in tourist attractions in Pattaya. We even spent a day the close island of Koh Larn, probably a highlight of our trip. For the most part, we spent this part of our vacation enjoying delicious Thai food (where has it been all my life!?), marveling at Thai spirituality (many companies offer paid leave for those wishing to offer their time as monks and every building has a spirit house complete with offerings), swimming, and playing speed on the beach. However, if we went back to Thailand we wouldn’t waste time here. The beaches aren’t of the pristine condition that makes Thailand famous and, unfortunately, Pattaya has a reputation- a bad one.

 

We were told that we could avoid the seedy nature of Pattaya… but that really isn’t true. The truth is, Pattaya is nicknamed “the town that sex built.” And you can see the influence of this ‘fading industry’ very easily. There are all of these creepy old, fat Russian guys walking around with young, attractive Thai girls. If you go out towards evening, you’ll see well-primped local girls hanging out at bars hoping to snag a date for the night, the week, or for her visa out of there. We passed one office with a large sign:

Immigration Services

If you love her, take her home!

Good for:

Your Thai fiancée

Your Thai girlfriend

Your date from the bar

etc…

 

Next time we’ll just have to venture further from the seedy parts of Thailand to better beaches. 🙂

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