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SEA LIFE Bangkok Ocean World is one of the world’s largest aquariums and this was the last stop on our trip. We usually always have a good experience when we visit aquariums, and this was no exception to the rule.
There are more than 31,300 Buddhist temples in Thailand and Wat Pho is one of the oldest, largest, and most admired ones. It is also known for being the place where Thai massage was born. The biggest attraction of the Wat Pho temple complex is the Reclining Buddha, a gigantic golden Buddha statue, which is lying down. It was built in 1832 and is 46 meters long and 15 meters high, the largest Buddha in Thailand. Other than the reclining Buddha, the Wat Pho temple complex houses more than 1,000 Buddhas, which is more than any other temple in Thailand.
Tuk-tuks can be found everywhere in Thailand and it’s estimated that there are around 35,000 of them cruising around the streets. Even though the tuk-tuk drivers are infamous for overcharging and driving like mad, it’s part of the adventure to try riding a tuk-tuk. On our first tuk-tuk ride, the driver squeezed us through countless traffic jams in a steady and comfortable pace with plenty of time to breath in the hazardous fumes from the engines all around us. The next trip was with a bit more of an aggressive driver. He seemed to get a big kick out of the fact that his female passengers had some very nervous facial expressions during most of the ride. After arriving at our end destination, he invited Elliot to sit behind the wheel.
After a week outside of Hua Hin, we drove north back to Bangkok to spend a few days exploring the world’s hottest city. First stop was Bangkok Snake Farm which is a working snake farm where they breed snakes in order to extract venom for anti-venom production. The handlers brought out around 10 different snake species and told us interesting facts about them. We got front row seats, which meant that some of the deadly snakes were dangerously close to us.
We made very few visits to McDonalds on this trip, compared to what we normally do when we travel. The selection of food was both very diverse as well as affordable, and for the first couple of days we even managed to convince the kids to try out some new things. Thai food has a lot of texture, colour, and good flavour. Shawn, in particular, was very adventurous when it came to trying out something new. Several of his dishes were served with the eyeballs still attached.
As part of an ATV ride/tour we went to the Khao Takiab mountain, also known as ‘Monkey Mountain’. Not named because the hill is shaped like a monkey, but because there are hundreds of rodent-like monkeys roaming freely. The guides had brought a bag of food with to feed the monkeys and they definitely kept after us when they found that out. There was a lot of monkey screeches and scampering going on which at times was overwhelming. While enduring the bacteria soup and the stink from the somewhat aggressive macaque monkeys, we got to enjoy a really nice view over the area. Once the food was gone we headed back down to leave the monkeys for the next set of tourists.
The Hua Hin Sam Phan Nam Floating Market has a lot of bad reviews on Tripadvisor, and rightfully so. It’s not a floating market at all, just a bunch of souvenir shops on a raised platform around a man made lake. Being foreigners, we had to pay an entrance fee to get in to the market and potentially do some shopping. This fee also covered a 5-minute boat ride in a very noisy old boat where we got to rush by all the shops that we had just walked by. It was so bad that it was funny, and the kids had a good time patting some goats and feeding the fish.
One morning we made our way to the Hutsadin Elephant Foundation. This is a place which provides care and support for Elephants who suffer from ill health or have been abandoned by their owners because they are unable to work any longer. We took an elephant for a little walk and the kids each got a bag of bananas, which they fed to the elephant along the way. Upon returning from the walk, the kids hosed down the elephant.
Winter in Thailand is not comparable to the dark and cold winters that we are accustomed to. During the cold season from November to April, temperatures are fairly constant around 30 – 35 °C. We made sure to exploit the nice warm weather by making many trips to the ocean and to various pools. We also spent a day in a water park.
One of our first trips in Thailand went to Pran Buri National Park. Here, we took a stroll on a 1 km long wooden boardwalk that crisscrosses through a dense mangrove forest. The Pranburi River winds through the forest and along the trail you could rent a long-tail boat. We did a tour of the river passing a small fishing village and spotting a lot of colorful fishing boats and a big Monitor Lizard on the way.
On Thursday the 23rd of November 2017 we boarded a plane heading from Copenhagen to the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. We arrived in Bangkok the following morning and after a long wait at the rental car agency we finally got our car. We drove 225 km south and shortly after passing through the city of Hua Hin we arrived at Villa Vista, a little “Swedish village” in Thailand. Our villa was conveniently located right next to the pool, so the kids quickly pulled out their swimming gear and jumped in.