We’re back in Thailand, at the end of our week-long stay in Bangkok. We’ve been preparing for our journey to Burma/Myanmar. arranging our travel visas and trying to find US dollars that are in mint condition — new, crisp, unmarked, unfolded. Burma has a strange culture with respect to money. It is practically worthless if there are any marks or tears in the bills, or if the bills have been folded or dog-eared (even slightly). This means hunting around Bangkok for perfect US bills. Not fun.

Why are we doing this? Because the other challenge with Burma is that, due to international finance and trade embargoes, there are no ATMs usable by foreigners, and no credit cards either. So we must take enough cash to last for a month. However, we managed all of our pre-travel chores very smoothly, including finding new, crisp US dollars from a single bank branch. And we had time to relax and visit some new places in Bangkok away from the crummy teenage tourist ghetto of Kaosan Road and the area surrounding it.

For a couple of reasons, this has been a special week.

First, we’ve never been fans of Bangkok, but over the last several days we’ve discovered a side of the vast city that’s new to us. A softer side that we’ve never seen before.  Maybe it’s that we’ve been more relaxed since we know our way around pretty well now.  What ever it is, Bangkok has been a real pleasure this time.

Second, a friend of ours from Toronto, who’s been on her own adventure through Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, China and Nepal for the last 4 months, has met us in Bangkok.  It’s been delightful having familiar company along and we’re excited that she’ll be our travel companion through Burma before she heads to India.

We have long wished to visit Burma. And we can’t wait to post an update and tell you all about this wonderful and beautiful country. However, similar to our trek in the Himalayas, internet is extremely slow and unreliable there. So we may be out of touch for the next few weeks and unable to post again until we land in Vancouver for Christmas.  Things are changing fast in Burma, so perhaps we may get lucky and find a good internet connection in Yangon, but we’re prepared to go without it for 25 days nonetheless. So if you don’t hear from us, you know why.

In the meantime, here are some photos from our latest interlude with Bangkok. It’s our fourth visit here, and the first time we actually, truly enjoyed ourselves…

DSC09489Fun! Chatuchak Market: 8000 (eight THOUSAND) stalls. And it isn’t just junk. A very exciting and pleasant place to find local artists and handicrafts not just imported from massive Chinese factories. What a nice surprise.

DSC09492Soup. The universally beloved dish of Thailand. We also like soup. This was at a stall in Chatuchak Market.

DSC09495Getting some pomelo sections and deep fried… thingies at a modern mall on Thanon Ploenchit.

DSC09503A visit to the year 2037. Suspended just below the rapid transit system and high above the busy roads below, these futuristic walkways stretching for miles make Canadian cities seem so… 20th century. Early 20th century.

DSC09504What super mall is complete without a massive Christmas Tree?

DSC09514The indoor Christmas Tree at Central World is seven stories high. Of course the Chipmunks Christmas carols were blaring from the base of the tree What else would you play at Christmas?

Finally! Our Burmese visas arrived!

Finally! Our Burmese visas arrived!

DSC09520Our visit to Bangkok coincided with Loi Krathong, an annual full moon festival. The Golden Mount temple (Wat Saket) is ringed for ten days with a crazy and vibrant market.

DSC09523It’s not often you see this: A ferris wheel at the entrance to one of the holiest Buddhist shrines in Bangkok (Wat Saket).

DSC09524Bangkok at night from atop the Golden Mount, once the highest structure in the city.

DSC09535Karen and Diane enjoying the Night Market during Loi Krathong at the Golden Mount (Wat Saket).

DSC09536The most irresistible thing about Bangkok? Street food! Don’t bother trying to eat responsibly here. You just won’t win. Street gyoza and spring rolls were only the beginning of our final luncheon among the road stalls.

Till next we post.

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