Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Temples & Puppies by jennica hookstra

I'll start off by telling you all that I haven't really done much traveling.  Other than visiting family in the U.S (Oregon & California) and a week long vacation with my Mom to Mexico's, Mayan Riviera when I was 19, there is much I've yet to see of this great world.  I had been saving all of my Visa points and pennies for the past 5 years to finally be able to go on my dream excursion.

I decided to follow in my big brother's footsteps by spending some time in Thailand.  After doing some research, I figured the country had enough culture, diversity, beauty and utter jaw dropping experiences for me to get my traveling feet wet.  Plus being a big foodie and LOVING Thai food, I couldn't wait to explore Thailand's culinary side.

I have broken up my trip into segments, as I have a lot of photos to share and many stories to go along with them.  I hope that you will follow me on my visual journey and live vicariously through my experiences.  The good and the bad will all be shared in these blog posts.

Well here we go!!

Getting there...
After a 10hr plane ride from Vancouver, Canada (YVR) to Narita, Japan (NRT), a 3 hour layover and another 6hr flight from Narita (NRT) to Bangkok, Thailand (BKK), we arrived.  
Stepping out of the airport into 33 degree weather with a humidity of 80% at 11:00pm, was how you say... a bit of a shock to the system.  The chaos of cab drivers trying to wave you down and airport ushers trying to pack you into que was an interesting first experience.  Once in the cab it was a 15 minute ride to the hotel.  We realized later on that the $8.00 we paid was about 3x's as much what should have been paid, but this is Thailand.  It's a "dog eat dog world."  Or should I say "take all of the tourist's money, world."

Waking up the next morning was my first culture shock.  
I woke up after a few hours of sleep with a stiff neck and a sore back.  I stretched my limbs and let in the morning light by opening the curtains.  My first view of Thailand in the daylight was quite shocking.  The view from our hotel balcony wasn't a beautiful city line or a large chlorine filled swimming pool surrounded by palm trees, it was of metal side grating and some large blankets of fabric separating each little hut/home.  It made me feel a little bit sick to my stomach watching a family of 6 live in a space smaller than my cubicle at work.  This was my first cultural slap in the face and it stung.

I showered, grabbed my camera, my day pack, something to eat and a cab.  Again, not really knowing how the whole bargaining game was to be played, we offered the cab driver $40.00 (CDN) if he would take us to Ayutthaya and we could have him for the day to drive us around and explore!  He laughed and quickly agreed.   It was probably more than he would make all week.  Which we figured and didn't mind.

Dealing with quite the language, this made it difficult to describe where exactly we wanted to go.  However, exaggerated arm gestures can often speak much louder than words!  The first place our driver friend took us to was a floating market.  Here, we saw elephants and tourists lined up to go for a ride up and down the street, coy fish, goats, little booths selling mystery meat and other interesting things in bags, all of which I assumed were edible.  
Prior to the market I really had to go to the bathroom.  I had been chugging water all morning trying to stay hydrated. Firstly, I had to pay 5 bhat (about 17 cents CDN) to use the washroom, then once I was in there I realized that they didn't have any toilet paper!  Oh but don't worry... they had a hose!  *Beside ever toilet in Thailand, you will find a hose.  You will also find a hose over toilet paper in most cases, besides hotels.  Relieved and disturbed all at once, I headed back into the cab to reach our final destination,  The Wats of Ayutthaya...
These "Wats" also known as "Temples" were left in ruins.  Surprisingly enough these weren't tourist traps!  We were the only ones there other than a few workers trying to restore the brick masterpieces.  It was an incredible sight to see.  We spent some time wandering around the first one we visited.  I don't think my finger could move fast enough for my camera.

Next, we went to another Wat that wasn't as spectacular as the first, but upon our arrival we had some unexpected greeters!  I looked up from my camera to find the cutest little puppy charging towards me, followed be 3 more in tow!  Shortly after, their Mommy came bounding over the bridge with a water bottle in her mouth, wanting to play.  It was so cute and heart breaking all at the same time.  Once we got closer to the Wat I could see that someone had left a plate of rice and meat out for the dogs to eat.  They looked plump and healthy so that helped put my mind at ease.

The number of homeless dogs and cats in Thailand is astounding.  In other posts to come I will tell you about some of my new animal friendships, near adoptions and much more!  

A fitting song for this blog post (you've probably guessed it!):

Hope you enjoy this post!

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