The day spent getting to Thailand seemed endless, and I was so anxious to arrive in the country that I had been dreaming for so long to visit. After a long 22 hours of traveling, Nick and I finally made it. We arrived in Bangkok at 2am, and though I should have been exhausted, I couldn’t sleep. I was too impatient and excited to begin wandering the streets of Bangkok.
Our first tuk-tuk ride the next morning was exhilarating. Lanes were painted on the road, but they seemed to be a mere suggestion that were never followed. If there happened to be a few feet of space between vehicles, you will surely see a local squeezing through on their motorbike, missing you by inches. Car horns can be heard on a single second basis; each person letting another know that they are about to bud ahead in the line of traffic. It was a whirlwind of chaos to process, but the culture difference was quickly welcomed by all my senses. From that moment on, I knew this trip would be life changing.
Before stepping into the sacred Grand Palace, we had to stop along the street shops to purchase some clothes to appropriately cover ourselves. We bought 100 baht ($3 USD) harem pants, and made our way into the palace. The temples were absolutely breathtaking. As a photographer, you can imagine I was in heaven, capturing the colorful craftsmanship of the famous landmark. Later our journey continued on to the ancient temples of Ayutthaya. We hired a cab driver for around 1300 baht ($40 USD) for the day, to take us to each of the ruins in the historical park.
After a few days of exploring Bangkok, we hopped on our flight to Hanoi, Vietnam for our scheduled boat tour of the magnificent Ha Long Bay. Our trip was booked through Vega Travel, which I would absolutely recommend to anyone considering a tour of the bay! We were picked up by Vega at our hotel, Noble & Swan Boutique, and began a 3.5 hour drive West through the Red River Delta to the wharf of Halong Bay. When we arrived, we were welcomed aboard a small cruise ship, and quickly served a freshly prepared lunch by the boat staff. We set out into Ha Long Bay, and sat back in amazement on top of the sun deck while passing through the thousands of limestone cliffs.
During the first day of our 3 day/2 night cruise, we kayaked among the cliffs, swam in the emerald waters, and eventually anchored in the tranquil lagoon of Bai Tu Long Bay. When we woke the next morning, we were brought to Tip Top Island, and climbed 340 steps to its peak to see an amazing 360 panoramic view of all the bays, and the ships that sailed their waters. Afterwards, we all were taken on a small junk boat to Cat Ba National Park. Here we grabbed bikes, and cycled to Viet Hai Village, where we learned about the life of the locals. Cycling through the island of lush trees, majestic cliffs, with the sun and gentle breeze upon my face, I felt complete bliss.
After hopping back on board, the boat led us through a floating fishing village during sunset, while ultimately making our way to Hung Long Harbour Hotel for the remainder of the night. Our tour guide, Tiger (he is the best!), invited us to come watch him play in a ping-pong tournament with a few of his friends in town. So we sat back, enjoyed a local beer, and watched an intense game of ping-pong, which was definitely a first time experience for me. Tiger then brought us to a friends home, who had prepared us an amazing Thai meal. Following our meal, we continued our evening with a few more drinks and karaoke at a floating bar near our hotel.
Soon our tour came to an end, and we sadly had to say goodbye to a country we had fallen so in love with. Nick and I promised ourselves we would visit Vietnam again in the near future, and boarded a plane back to Thailand. Each day was filled with just as much excitement and exploring as the last. From Phuket, to Koh Phi Phi Island, to Krabi, to Phang Nga – we welcomed each and every new experience with eagerness. We even rented a motorbike to take on the challenge of driving in Thai traffic, AND second shot a wedding of a wonderful couple at the Anantara Layan Phuket Resort on the last day of our trip (pictures coming soon!).
We were enjoying our time in South East Asia so much, that our trip seemed to come to an end within a blink of an eye. Before we knew it, it was time to pack our bags, and make our way home. If there is one thing that I learned from this trip, it is that I never want my feet to settle. I will always long to explore the places that I have never been, meet people I have never known, and capture life on my camera as it passes me by. That desire is only fueled more with each adventure I embark on. There is so much beauty in this world, and I want to explore every bit of it.
A few from the iPhone: