Travel

DAY FIVE

IMG_0212Jenn and Deanna had to exchange money so we headed to a local Thai bank. After spending what seemed like hours there, we hopped back on the handy-dandy and free public bus and headed towards The Grand Palace.

Grand Palace, take two.

It was actually open! Surprise surprise, it was already packed with Chinese tourists. When we first got there we entered through to the Emerald Buddha entrance. We saw all of the sights we did the day before and we thought we paid an unnecessary 500 baht (approximately $18.29 CAD). Once we followed the sheep we found a new section of the palace we hadn’t discovered before.

Well, The Grand Palace was most definitely grand. I also can’t describe the amount of tourists that went to see it.

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(Ignore our outfits – we had to cover up our walking outfits. Gotta love the cheap thai pants.)

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IMG_0218After touring The Grand Palace grounds and posing for photos with all of Jenn and Deanna’s fans (one of them pictured left) we decided to head to the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles (also in the palace grounds). I tried to enter the “Chinese tour group” line for fun and got through (Jenn and De didn’t – muahaha). When I went back through the foreigner line I got denied until I opened my mouth.

To be honest, this was one of the museums I found a little boring. The whole museum was dedicated to showcasing the Queen’s dresses. Don’t get me wrong, the handiwork was incredible, but it was nicer to be in the air-conditioning (as Jenn and De would say “bless”).

After cooling off in the museum we grabbed iced lemon teas at the museum’s cafe and sat in the shade to people watch. It’s interesting to see the kinds of things people wear in 35+ degree weather. We saw everything from denim on denim to velvet dresses. My personal favourite were the amount of high heel shoes we saw. To each their own – but how on earth is that comfortable for touring in large crowds!?

We headed towards the Chao Phraya for a 1-hour boat cruise. Last time I was in Thailand (9 years ago?), I saw a dead dog floating in the river and was instantly scarred – no dead dogs this time. I’m always amazed at the way other people in the world live.

IMG_0263The houses are literally held up by wooden posts. Some of the houses have even collapsed due to erosion. Seeing other places in the world remind me how lucky I am back in Canada (thank you mom and dad for moving there).

IMG_2935After the cruise we went back to our hostel area and got Thai massages for 300 baht and it was probably one of the funniest things i’ve experienced in my life. We entered a dark room that had 3 mattresses on the floor, 1 wall A/C unit and a TV. I thought were were in a Saw movie. My masseuse said a total of 7 words but Deanna’s and Jenn’s talked to each other the whole time and even answered their cell phones. They were obsessed with Jenn’s hair and skin and insisted I was from Japan and couldn’t possibly be Canadian. After the massage they also insisted on tips.

We headed back to Udee to grab our bags and cup noodles (yummmm) and headed by taxi to the airport. We were headed to Krabi, in Southern Thailand. Getting taxis are usually pretty easy – but mostly when we don’t need them to get to the airport. The airport process was so fast and we decided to cave 5 days in and eat McDonald’s (instant regret). I fell asleep instantly and woke up in Krabi.

When we got to Krabi we struggled to find our hostel because of translation problems and lack of actual addresses – a huge difference from the streets of Bangkok. The place was called Climb Krabi Inn but our sheet of paper said BRAND NEW DORM and the Thai couldn’t seem to get past that. We had the most difficult time finding the place because the sign was written on a chalkboard and street lights aren’t really a thing in Krabi town. Amy, the hostel owner, was from New Zealand. She moved to Krabi to rock climb, opened a hostel with her Thai boyfriend Zack and was heading back to New Zealand to visit for a couple of months. The people we met in Thailand live the most interesting lives. We went to the “lobby” where our new friend Billy Beach Blues drunkenly sang us Yellow by Coldplay.

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My Trip to the Mountains

Day 1 – Toronto to Edmonton to Canmore

So it’s finally the day to leave and daddy dropped me off at the airport. I met up with Kaipa and Kaela and it was one of the fastest check-ins I’ve had. I’m not used to travelling domestic flights (in fact, I’ve only ever travelled internationally), so travelling without a passport was an extremely weird experience for me.

We walked around the terminal, got one of the best smoked meat sandwiches ever, and got on the plane. Kaela had the aisle, I got the middle and Kaipa wanted the middle. We slept most of the way and finally landed in Edmonton. We got Booster Juice and slushies – the perfect road trip beverages – and then headed to Enterprise. After a long ass time at Enterprise, we put on my GPS and headed to Windtower Lodge & Suites.

I drove the car first and then Kaela rode shot gun. As we were driving it was really hard not to speed, or get distracted by the endless skies. We played the alphabet car sign game Kaela taught us and made a pitstop 2 hours later. I don’t think I’ve ever driven so much in my life before – but luckily it was an easy drive (not to toot my own horn but I made a great playlist).

We got to Windtower Lodge at 160 Kananaskis Way in Canmore. Canmore is the cutest little Collingwood-looking village ever! Our reservation at Crazyweed (a recommended restaurant to us) was at 7:30 so we rushed over there only to get distracted by a double rainbow.

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Our dining table was right next to the mountains and train tracks and our waiter was a gorgeous French man who we did not know the name of. Most of the dinner was spent playing the name guessing game – we obviously guessed the most French names we could think of, only to find out on the bill that his name was Freddy… I had:

  • pan fried thick cut pork chop – parmesan potato cake, pickled fennel, green apple, peconno, hazelnut salad, with cider dijon gravy
  • white sangria

Although the meal was quite expensive it’s definitely a place I recommend – as Drake and my mom always reminds me, “you only live once!”

Bedtime.

Day 2 – Canmore to Banff

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After enjoying a super cheap, but great, breakfast at the Wandering Elk (the attached restaurant), we packed the car and headed to Lake Louise. Lake Louise has been my number 1 travel destination for the past couple of months ever since a bunch of my friends have moved out West to work. Only an hour away from Canmore, Lake Louise was the most breathtaking view I’ve ever seen in my life (you can tell by the large capital letters in my travel journal).

We spent forever taking photos at Lake Louise (how could you not). The view is super hard to take your eyes off of. It makes me sad that we can’t see the view everyday and tempts me to quit everything and move out West (too bad I love my job way too much for that – and it’s the reason I had the amazing opportunity to travel out West in the first place).

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Next up, time to go to our free gondola ride up Sulfur Mountain – we have the hookups, nbd. First we went to the Banff Hot Springs but it turned out to be a really lame hot pool on the side of the mountain. I can pay $8 for a pool (actually less) in Ontario…

IMG_0152We took the gondola ride up the side of the mountain and the view, yet again, was gorgeous. There was an option to hike up the mountain but we didn’t want to die thank you very much – and our ride was free.

The mountain view looked like a painting. We took a 1km walk up Sulfur Mountain where we saw Asian tourists walking up in heels – this always perplexes me, WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU PUT YOURSELF THROUGH THE TORTURE, I CAN BARELY WALK IN HEELS ON FLAT GROUND.

We got up to the top and took in the view.

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Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.

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We were also at the very top by ourselves for a while there – so we obviously took the opportunity for selfies (the only time I wish I owned a selfie stick – they’re all the rage now… legit everywhere, and nobody ever needs us to take a photo of them anymore, which makes it awkward when we need to ask someone to take a photo of us…). After spending time at the top we needed nourishment, so obviously we got Icees.

The way back down from the gondola is kind of like a Canada’s Wonderland Ride. What I mean by that is, they make you take a ride photo and then look at it when you get down.

We headed to our hotel, Banff International Hotel, after our trip up Sulfur Mountain. We were really lucky with travel and accommodations throughout our trip – knowing people and finding Groupons definitely cut back on our costs. We also took the wrong route to Banff by accident, but ended up finding Storm Mountain, another gorgeous view where I sang a lot of Pocahontas…JUST AROUND THE RIVERBEND.

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We went to the Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner and Kaipa and I got convinced into ordering Fishbowl Bellinis (okay, we didn’t really need convincing…). The spaghetti was alright… but it’s about the experience right? We decided to head to Ardenes and I found a new love of scrunchies. Kaela wasn’t feeling the greatest so Kaipa and I explored downtown Banff. We had the most horrific experience at The Body Shop, but I still somehow ended up buying things anyway.

The people in Banff all speak French or have French accents – like our waiter Jeff, the sassy French-Canadian. Some also have Australian accents. It’s funny how we go to Australia (and other places) to escape and they come here. After exploring we headed back to the hotel, got tape from Safeway and started to work on our travel journals.

Day 3 – Banff to Jasper to Edmonton

Wake up, climb a mountain. 

On the way to Jasper we passed by Moraine Lake and took a 1.5 hour detour. Greatest 1.5 hour detour, ever. It’s only open in the summer because it’s way up in the mountains (14km to be exact) and it’s probably super deadly to get up there in the Winter. Some people chose to hike but I’ll pass…

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We climbed up the rocks to get to the gorgeous view at the top above the lake. It was super windy and I totally felt a bit like Pocahontas with all the colours of the wind in my hair (I’d also been singing a lot of Pocahontas the day before…).

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We drove to Jasper after – only 2 to 3 hours or so away. We took the Icefields Parkway to Jasper and ended up passing marathon runners we learned were running from Banff to Jasper. BANFF TO JASPER. I can barely walk up the stairs at work without feeling out of breath (kidding, but you get my point). I fell asleep because the altitude was giving me a headache (to be honest, I blamed a lot on the altitude that trip so who really knows why I had a headache…) and woke up to Kaela turning the car around to see the Jasper National Park Sign.

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I got to be in two places at once “A Walk To Remember” style. We took tons of photos on both sides of the sign (Banff National Park and Jasper National Park) and headed back down the Icefields Parkway. As much as we all wanted to go deep into Jasper we needed to head back to Edmonton. On the way back we ran into some rams, more runners and the most expensive gas bill I’ve ever encountered in my life (gas was at 146.8 because it was the only gas station for kms…). I then took 4.5 hours off my life and drove back to the Edmonton airport where we returned the car in 1 piece with 4 wheels (the Enterprise lady’s words, not mine) and met up with Kaela’s friend Brooklyn.

We checked into our home for the next week, the DoubleTree Hilton in Edmonton and tried to go to The Cheesecake Factory – only to learn it was actually The Cheese Factory.

I then ate approximately 9 Olive Garden mint chocolates with a side of shrimp Alfredo (they’re good okay…)

Our adventure was over and it was time to get to work.

I’m a pretty lucky girl for all of the opportunities I’ve had to travel this past year. We did a whole lot in a short period of time – I’m still recovering from sleep for the past two weeks. But I’m so glad we went out a couple days early.

I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

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DAY FOUR

Still a little jet lagged, we woke up, navigated public transit again, and headed towards the Grand Palace. Here’s a little tip for someone going to Thailand during a holiday … be sure that the sights you’re going to see are open. Luckily for us the Emerald Buddha Temple was still open and jam-packed with Chinese tourists (I know how ironic that is considering I am Chinese, but I mean the “Chinese tourists that get banned from sights because they’re messy and use selfie sticks” tourists).

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Although hard to get a look at due to tourists – the architecture is absolutely gorgeous. The amount of detail put into each structure puts our buildings to shame. It’s sad to see the amount of tourists (regardless of ethnicity) that disobey certain customs and traditions in temples. Tourists that blatantly ignore “DO NOT TAKE PICTURES” signs annoy me. Also, being in a family that has a temple, tourists that disrespect temple dress codes make me so angry. I myself do not practice myself, but when you visit a sacred and religious place you have to respect their rules and customs.

11187147_10152836104446935_110869220206757068_oWe ate in a shaded hocker store restaurant area with the loudest tour boat salesman ever. After yet another pad thai lunch, we headed towards Wat Pho – The Reclining Buddha. The Buddha is 15m high and 43m long (thanks Wikipedia!) and absolutely spectacular.

On the way back from Wat Pho we sat in a shaded area by the park (because I’m pretty sure we were going to melt) and got hit on by a Russian man via a terrible phone translator (he asked to “company us”). Morale of the story, never sit down in the middle of a park and allow random men to hit on you. However, sitting by the park let us meet a sweet couple from Venezuela. They asked for directions to Khao San Road and we shared a taxi back. They were so grateful to us for helping them, they paid for the entire ride! It’s always nice to meet people who are interested in where you come from, what your careers are, etc. rather than those who just hit on you.

After a long day of line hopping and melting in the sun we decided to eat at a hocker stand on the side of the road, grab Chang beers from 7/11 and drink on the rooftop at sunset. Not a bad way to end the day.

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