Fell Asleep in Milan, Woke Up in Bangkok

It was hard to believe that after two months in Europe, it was time to move on to a new continent.  Everyone was excited to experience something new! We flew out of Milan and had a four-hour layover in Bahrain, which may be the coolest airport ever.  They had an enormous play area for kids and adults with a trampoline, jungle gym, and several bean bags set up with video games—for free! It was the easiest layover as a result.  We then had an overnight flight on Gulf Air and arrived in Bangkok around 9am local time. 

Kids taking a break in Bahrain, waiting on the second six hour flight to Bangkok

Excited to spend his layover jumping on the trampoline and playing video games in Bahrain!

We chose Bangkok as a first stop primarily to receive several vaccines required for extended Southeast Asian travel.  Bangkok has a tropical disease hospital that specializes in administering and treating the diseases of the area.  Prior to leaving, James did countless hours of research to find the most cost-effective way to vaccinate our family.  In the US, it would have cost about ~$17,000 to get all our shots!  The tropical disease hospital in Bangkok is a frequent stop for travelers for this reason as the all-in cost for five was $379.

Upon stepping outside the airport, we met a wave of intense heat! We headed to our hotel to drop our bags then onto the vaccine clinic.  The combination of the travel and the time change was exhausting so none of us were in the best spirits.  We made it through the shots with lots of tears and spent the rest of the day swimming.

Goose showing his bravery as the first kids to get the vaccine shots

“Is this going to hurt?”

Our first full day in Bangkok, we headed out to the MBK mall.  The best way to beat the heat during the day in Bangkok is to find ways to get indoors.  The Michelin food guide contains so many Bangkok restaurants, one of which is the entire food court at this mall.  We each tried something new, and the kids all had amazing fresh fruit smoothies. 

James and Goose both got much needed haircuts and Bingo opted for a mani/pedi.  James boldly proclaimed, “This may be the only mall I actually like!” We later found out from a friend that this is the lowest end mall in Bangkok.  I guess James is more of discount shopper 😊.  That evening, we had authentic Yakitori meal at Jidori Cuisine Ken

Our first stop (of many!) at the delicious MBK Center Food Court

MBK Center Food Court

Mani/Pedi for Bingo

The following day we took our first tuk tuk to the pier and ventured on to a longtail boat along the Chao Phraya River.  All the longtail boats are housed with a car sized motor, truly unbelievable! We stopped at Khlong Bang Luang Floating Market and then rode by the giant golden Buddha, as well as, the Grand Palace

Check out that motor!

After our boat ride, we made our way to Khao San Road night market for dinner.  We had traditional Thai food, saw alligator and scorpion skewers (none of us were brave enough to try!) and haggled with several street vendors.  One lady even followed Manji around trying to get him to purchase a wooden frog that made a “ribbit” noise, but Manji couldn’t be persuaded!

Our family's first tuk tuk ride in Bangkok

First tuk tuk ride!

On Saturday, we met our new friend PJ and his family, for a day of family fun. That day was probably the best experience our kids had during our whole stay.  PJ and his wife have two children, ages 8 and 4, and our kids loved having other playmates besides each other! They graciously planned the day and we spent the day at an indoor activity center called BEAT active.  They had EVERY sport you could think of—rock climbing, biking, skateboarding, trampolining, boxing, ice skating, basketball, soccer, baseball, and virtual reality games.  We all had a blast and ended the night at Fatboy for sushi ala Manji’s request.

Dinner with new friends at Fat Boy

The next day we headed to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. They sold everything there from food to clothing to home goods and medicines.  It was a very popular place to be for locals and tourists.  Throughout the market, they sell the most amazing fresh fruit smoothies and we indulged as a way to keep us cool as we browsed the shops. 

Alas, the day had come when we got to spend some time relaxing! In Bangkok, there are massage spas everywhere. Thai massage is where a masseuse stretches you and provides a deep pressure at the same time.  We opted for all of us get a foot, head, neck and shoulder massage at Lek Massage. The ladies were so sweet to the kids and were amused by their reactions, especially Bingo.  She was the cutest with a big smile on her face. 

Relaxing at Lek Massage

After massage, we went to visit Chinatown, known for its amazing night market.  We went there to have dinner, but also enjoyed strolling the streets of a major vegetarian festival they had going on.  Along the way, we stopped and tried what tasted like peanut butter brittle. We saw two men use giant paddles to take turns mashing the peanuts into a paste, then another added caramelized sugar.  It was delicious!

The following day we went to the Grand Palace.  It is no longer the home of the king but is a place where ceremonies and government activities occur.  It is also home to the temple of the Emerald Buddha.  As you enter the temple, you must take off your shoes and make sure to sit on the floor with your feet not pointing towards the Buddha.  The Buddha is perched high upon shelves of gold. Truly a site to behold! 

The Grand Palace

Afterwards, we attended a traditional Thai dance at the local Royal Theater.  We were all astonished by the dancers’ abilities to bend their wrists at such an angle that their fingers almost touched the back of their arm! That evening, our friend PJ, helped us with a babysitter and James and I enjoyed an evening eating mango sticky rice, having beers at Soi Cowboy (IYKYK 😊), and dinner at a local Thai restaurant.  The best part was that the kids got to spend time on google translate chatting with their Thai babysitter!

During our final two days, we visited the Jim Thompson house and the famous temple, Wat Arun.  Jim Thompson was an American entrepreneur who globalized Thai silk.  He died mysteriously in the jungle of Malaysia and his house is a museum and homage to his work.  At Wat Arun, also known as the “Temple of Dawn” we meandered the site and entered two temples where the kids received bracelets and a “good luck” blessing from one of the monks.  We finished our day at Naam1608 with a beer over the river as a way to say “goodbye” to our wonderful week in Bangkok!

Wat Arun is a perfect place in Bangkok to explore with kids.  Here are our three enjoying a break from the heat with their newly acquired fans.

Wat Arun

Some final thoughts on Bangkok—the evidence of the importance of Buddhism is everywhere.  It can be seen through the many Wats that are prominent throughout the city to the Spirit Houses, or San Phra Phum, placed in front of businesses and homes.  The people are so helpful, kind, and respectful, even if they are all trying to make a baht!

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