North America, Asia · 12 Days · 140 Moments · March 2018

Mackenzie's journi to Thailand

4 April 2018

Hi everyone ! Just wanted to put one last message out there letting you know that we arrived home safely on Monday afternoon. This was an amazing experience, and I’m glad you all could follow along on this journey with me. Thailand and I will most definitely meet again! ❤️

2 April 2018

Driving back to Madison! Everything went great with the flight, just ready to be home!
8 hours down, 7 to go. Slept 7 hours in accordance to Wisconsin night so now I’m going to try to stay up as it I was morning. 2:20pmish arrival in Chicago.
Arrived in Hong Kong...watched one movie and slept for 20 minutes. I can crash in 1 hour! Yay!!! 🇹🇭➡️ 🇨🇳 ➡️ 🇺🇸
On the plane to Hong Kong...going to try and stay awake, maybe watch a movie. Arrival at about 10:55am (9:55pm in Wisco; HK is 1 hour ahead of Bangkok). My bee sting is really swollen and burning, but luckily I found some tiger balm at the airport and it seems to be helping significantly.
Leaving the hotel for the airport. Flight at 6:40am to Hong Kong.

1 April 2018

Aghhhh I forgot the most important thing in my description of the day...we all got Thai massages! Honestly probably one of the more interesting experiences I’ve had in my life, but well worth it. Full body, 1 hour, only 200 baht (that’s $6), best massage ever. Favorite part of my day by far!
Arrived in Bangkok. 30 minute drive to the hotel for 5 hours, then back to the airport at 3:30am. Will probably try not to sleep in hopes of falling asleep on the plane in accordance to the central time zone. 1 leg down, 2 to go!
(2/2) coffee in Thailand. As a non-coffee drinker, I might covert after trying their iced coffee. We are now in the air flying to Bangkok. We are all extremely tired (sorry if this update doesn’t make sense or isn’t as literarily pleasing) and just want to get home. Today was great, no doubt, but I think it’s just time. We leave the hotel at around 3:30 in the morning tomorrow and will be on a 6:45 flight to Hong Kong, and then a 15 hour flight back to Chicago. As much as I’ve love everything here, I miss my family, pets, friends, and American food. Can’t wait to see you all and actually get some sleep. Love y’all! ❤️❤️❤️ Happy Easter! 🐰
(1/2) Fun last day! We left the hotel at about 8:30, and took the tuk tuks to the Old City of Chiang Mai. We visited yet another temple (beautiful, but again, I’m completely templed-out). After that, we visited the fruit market, where we were able to try durian. Really then highlight of this stop was me getting stung by a bee...luckily the stinger was only half way in my skin and Louis (our tour guide) was able to pull it out with a tweezers. He cleaned it and put on this orange paste called tiger balm instead of ice, and all the swelling and pain went away only an hour after application. Thai medicine for the win! After that little adventure, we visited a silk factory and were able to see how silk is made into clothing, and then had the opportunity to purchase those products. Then after a quick lunch, we rode up the mountains to a hilltop temple (again, beautiful, but very templed-out). Also at the top of hill, we visited a jade and coffee shop which has been said to have the best...
Stung by a bee at the market ☹️
Fruit market (second picture is durian, a really smelly fruit that supposedly tastes like farts, but when I tried it it really wasn’t that bad)
Temple in the Old City in Chiang Mai
Tuk tuk!

31 March 2018

(3/3) We were also able to shop their local markets. After returning to the hotel and dinner, we headed out to the night market in downtown Chiang Mai. Thailand is a bartering economy, and it has definitely grown on me. Being as shy as I am, I never really like to push people, I’d much rather be a people-pleaser. But now that I’ve picked up this skill, it has given me so much more confidence. We are pretty much let go on our own during this, so instead of the bus, we ride a tuk tuk (Thai taxi). It’s like a motorcycle with a riding cart attached, and because of the non-existence of traffic law enforcement, it is an absolute blast to ride in. Again, it’s something that can be understood much better by my videos. I’m so sad we’re starting our journey home tomorrow night...this experience has changed me in so many unexplainable ways...Thailand will always have a piece of my heart 💙❤️🇹🇭
(2/3) Despite Asian elephants having a slightly smaller build than African elephants, my jaw literally dropped when we first pulled up to the park. Again, this app won’t let me post videos, but I took so many because the elephants truly try to socialize with you: they walk towards you (and then you have to get out of the way so they don’t smother you ☺️), stick their trucks out to you, etc. Also in the those videos, they all look so majestic, like they’re moving in slow motion. I could go on and on about how great of an experience this was, but I’ll save it until I get home. After spending most of the day with our new friends, we drove further north and visited the various hill tribes of Thailand. They’re are around five or six tribes that all live together in one village, including the Pa Dong, or long neck tribe (pictured in the collage). Some of these tribes are native, but others have come to Thailand seeking refuge from the chaos of their homeland, such as the Burmese civil war.
(1/3) Unforgettable last “full” day in Thailand. During the morning, we spent time with the elephants at the Elephant Nature Park, about 1 hour out of Chiang Mai. As described with the pictures, this is a free range (meaning animals roam where they please, and the staff and visitors accommodate to them) wildlife sanctuary for elephants who have been abused and/or neglected in institutions such as circuses, labor, and have been injured by other elephants or landmines/traps in the wild. The only reason they would be confined or separated from a certain space in this park is if they are dangerously aggressive (most of the males are) or are injured and moving freely compromises their wellbeing. This is also serves as a home for recovering dogs, cats, and water buffalo. The setting is absolutely gorgeous (as seen in some of the pictures), nestled between giant forested hills up in the highlands. I was able to feed, pet, and bathe elephants throughout...the definition of a gentle giant.
Chiang Mai Night Market...again! Love this so much!
Traditional Hill Tribes
Elephants continued...although I don’t remember her name (they all have Thai names), her foot was mangled due to a landmine, and now walks with the left front foot/ankle bone sticking out horizontally (can kinda see in the pictures). My favorite ❤️
Elephants continued
Elephants continued
Elephants continued...some of her ear was taken off by another elephant, so naturally she gets to wear a special flower on it! 🌸❤️
Elephants continued
Elephants continued
Elephants continued
Water buffalo
Elephants continued
Elephant Nature Park 🐘 (free range rehabilitation center for abused, injured, and special needs elephants, along with mistreated water buffalo, dogs, and cats. Such a amazing place!)

30 March 2018

Today was another travel day, stopping for the Sukhothai Historical Park, lunch, and snacks. Not much more to say other than I’m exhausted and templed-out. We are now in Chiang Mai, a city slightly smaller than Bangkok (but more spread out) and will stay here for two nights. Tomorrow we will spend most of the day at the Elephant Nature Park...aghhhh I can’t wait!!! I think we also stop to see the hill tribes of northern Thailand which should be really interesting. Hope everything is good with everyone back in Wisconsin!
Chiang Mai Night Market
Roses given to all the girls at dinner by the pretty!
Peanut crisp
Sukhothai continued
Sukhothai continued
Sukhothai continued
Sukhothai Historical Site - A UNESCO World Heritage Site

29 March 2018

Today was pretty much a travel day. We left Kanchanaburi in the morning and traveled by bus to Phitsanulok. We made stops at a sticky rice stand and Wat Pa Lelai, featuring a 22 meter Buddha. Once we reached the hotel later in the day, we took a rickshaw ride through the city...absolutely awesome. The rickshaws took us to a bug tasting, where there were worms, termites, crickets, grasshoppers, and scorpions. I ate a worm...glad I did it but never again. Then we went to another food stand area, where we sat down and enjoyed a surprise show by the rickshaw drivers...I’m just gonna leave it at that; if I were to explain further it would only confuse people, I’ll show the video when I get back. Although I wish we had done more today, the night was so fun and definitely one of the highlights. Off to Chiang Mai tomorrow!
Police escorted rickshaw ride and bug feast! This app doesn’t allow me to post videos but if you want to watch me eat a worm I’ll send the video to you 🐛
View at lunch!
Wat Pa Lelai continued
Wat Pa Lelai continued
Wat Pa Lelai
Sticky rice continued
Sticky rice in bamboo...super yummy!

28 March 2018

Best day yet! To start out the day, we trekked through the forest to Hellfire Pass. This was supposedly the most difficult area for the POWs to construct the Death Railway through as they had to cut through a solid mountain. We were supposed to visit the accompanying museum, but unfortunately it was under construction. Next, we took another longboat ride down the Khwae Noi River. After a bit, we were able to jump off the boat and float down the river. Definitely my favorite part of the trip so far. After lunch, we boarded the Death Railway train and rode on the Bridge on the River Kwae and through the surrounding area. I got to sit next to my favorite Ms. Kindschi, so of course this was a highlight as well 😊. After that, we went to a monkey feeding area and got to see lots of them...some were very aggressive, so it was kinda scary 😆. We then returned to our resort and had an afternoon to rest and swim. Big travel day tomorrow!
Monkeys! 🙈🙉🐒
Wooden railway built by POWs in WW2 (same train we rode on in the previous pictures)
Train ride continued
Train ride continued
Train ride continued
Train ride continued...with my favorite Ms. Kindschi! ❤️
Train ride on the Death Railway
Khwae Noi continued
Khwae Noi continued
Khwae Noi continued
Khwae Noi continued
Khwae Noi continued
Khwae Noi continued
Khwae Noi continued
Khwae Noi continued
Longboating and floating down the Khwae Noi River
Hellfire Pass continued (unfortunately, the museum was closed for construction ☹️)
Hellfire Pass continued
Hellfire Pass continued
Hellfire Pass continued
Hellfire Pass
Hilly/Mountainous Terrain of Kanchanabhri

27 March 2018

Travel day! Today, we made our way up to Kanchanabhri, our first stop being a coconut plantation. We were able to try coconut sugar, candy, and water...not a huge coconut person but it was still a great experience. Next, we went on a longtail boat ride to the famous floating market. It was absolute insanity and of course super hot. It is a bartering economy in Thailand, so the vendors are very “in your face” and there is definitely a set technique to purchasing. After a quick snack break (Pamela, dragons eye, lady finger banana), we went to The Bridge on the River Kwae (or Kwai in America), the famous bridge that was built by Japan using POW slave labor in World War II (you may recognize the name from the movie as well). We also visited the Death Railway Museum (railway that was built along with the bridge, runs across the bridge). I love museums, so naturally I read every display and was the last one back on the bus ☺️. After a long day, we reached our resort for the night.
Special treat at dinner...mangos! “Best in the world!”
Our new digs in Kanchanabhri! Up in the mountains right on one of the main rivers in western Thailand. Basically the middle of nowhere 😆
JEATH Museum or Death Railway Museum and River Kwae POW Cemetery (not allowed to take pictures inside)...lovely museum
Bridge on The River Kwae continued
Bridge on the River Kwae continued
Bridge on The River Kwae (Kwai)
Lady Finger Banana...super delicious! 🍌
New fan!!!
Dragon’s Eye Fruit Tasted very sweet and had the texture of “an eyeball” or an orange.
Pamela Tasted like cantaloupe/nail polish/corn...honestly not too bad.
Fried Banana 🍌 Definitely a new fav!
The Floating Market in Kanchanabhri
Floating market continued
Floating market continued
Longtail Boat Ride (like a jet boat on a river)
Longtail boat ride continued
Coconut Plantation 🥥
Daily bus selfie 🤳

26 March 2018

(1/2) Day 2 (Day 4 overall) in Bangkok! We started our day early at The Summer Palace of King Rama IV. Absolutely stunning! Then, we headed to the ruins of Ayuthea, the ancient capital of Thailand which was vandalized and destroyed by the neighboring Burmese (this is why some of the Buddha heads are cut off). We also visited the Reclining Buddha, where many Buddhists still come to make offerings. Upon admiring the massive structure, I was lucky enough to be taught by elderly Buddhist woman how to worship and pray to their spirits. Despite the silver cross around my neck, she shared a piece of gold foil with me, which I placed on the smaller Reclining Buddha shown in the pictures. I bowed three times facing the head of the large Buddha, then thanked her as she wished “the Buddha to bring you good luck”. This is really a lesson of acceptance for me. It’s amazing how much Buddhist cultures encourage you and are honored by your participation in their traditions, no matter your beliefs.
(2/2) Throughout the day, we visited various ancient temples, including Watt Chanwatthiaram, one of the most famous in Thailand. For lunch, we took a river cruise, starting at Ayuthea and ending in downtown Bangkok. After resting at the hotel for a hour or two, we walked to a restaurant and had a traditional Thai meal, complete with traditional music and dance performances. If the entire travel party hadn’t been so exhausted, we probably would have enjoyed it more ☺️. Looking forward to another great day tomorrow!
Traditional Thai Dinner, Music, and Dance
Chao Phraya River Cruise 🇹🇭
Chao Phraya River Cruise continued
Chao Phraya River Cruise continued
Chao Phraya River Cruise continued
Chao Phraya River Cruise continued
Chao Phraya River Cruise continued
Chao Phraya River Cruise and Lunch...and kids on climbing and jumping of the boat dock.
Rice Fields 🍚
Thai families in traditional Buddhist dress at Wat Chaiwatthanaram.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram
Reclining Buddha and offering table
Pineapple break 🍍
Ayuthea Ruins, featuring Buddha head in Banyan tree.
Ayuthea Ruins continued
Thailand moped license plate
The Summer Palace of King Rama IV
Summer Palace continued
Summer Palace continued
Summer Palace continued
Summer Palace continued
Garden on the outskirts of Bangkok

25 March 2018

Awesome Day 1 (or Day 3) in Bangkok! I had to put my pictures in multiple posts...just had too much fun! First we went to the Grand Palace, which features The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, one of the most sacred places of worship for Buddhists in Thailand. Then, we went on a boat ride on the Chao Phraya River, which runs right through the city. We stopped at Wat Arun, one of the more well known wats in Bangkok. We’re now at the hotel resting and will head out to dinner in about an hour. Tomorrow we’re off to Ayuthea, the ancient capital of Thailand located about 55 miles outside of Bangkok. We plan on busing there and boating back on some sort of cruise, so we’ll see how that goes. My ankles are still swollen but I have them elevated now. Fairly tired, mostly do to the heat. Hopefully the swelling will minimize and I get a good night’s sleep tonight.
Our room and flower necklace from Nancy (former Oregon exchange student from Thailand)
Happy Buddha and Chao Phraya
Wat Arun 🏯
Chao Phraya River Boat Ride continued
Chao Phraya River Boat Ride continued
Chao Phraya River Boat Ride continued
Chao Phraya River Boat Ride 🚤
Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha continued
Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha continued
Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha continued
Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha continued
Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha continued
Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha continued
Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Ride through Bangkok
More bus pics!
Ride through Bangkok’s Chinatown
Hotel lobby
Well, we made it! Hotel is lovely and the ankles are grapefruits. I have some “cold” wash clothes on them so hopefully that helps. Looking forward to a day of temples and palaces tomorrow! Luckily we get to sleep in a bit...breakfast at 9:00 and departing at 10:00.
Arrived in Bangkok! Insane humidity even at 1:00 in the morning. Exhausted to the point of insanity. Gotta love it! 🇹🇭

24 March 2018

On the plane to Bangkok (with Brooke as my seat buddy again). I totally forgot about compression socks so my ankles are fairly swollen. 3 hours to go! 🛩🇨🇳
On the ground in Hong Kong. Flight to Bangkok at 9:55pm. Can already sense the change in temperature/humidity cause my hair is blowing up...and I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.

23 March 2018

8 hours in and we’ve slept half of it...not really sure whether that’s good or bad 😄😴 Flying over eastern Russia right now, just served dinner and going to try and stay awake for the remainder of the flight (Arrival at about 7:55pm Hong Kong time, 6:55pm Bangkok time, 7:55am Madison time), so about 7 hours to go, then another 3 to Bangkok. Considering it’s nighttime in Asia by the time we get on the Hong Kong ➡️Bangkok flight, we’re thinking we can allow ourselves to sleep then. My body is definitely confused but other than that it’s all good!
Departing at 3:15...Brooke, Shannon and I are all in the same row together (talk about luck 😆), with our whole travel fam in one section of the plane. Flight is 15 hours and 10 minutes. So excited! Woot woot! ✈️🤩😁
Steak pita at the airport...boarding in 1 hour!
On our way to Chicago!!! 🚌💙