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This is my second trip to Thailand. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite countries in the world. Whereas Bourdain has an love affair w/ Vietnam, mine is w/ Thailand.  You have the mountains like Chiang Mai, and you also have the beaches like Krabi, Koh Samui… the list goes on and on. Also the “wai” greeting people do I really love. It’s just such a peaceful gesture, and so much more unique and cooler than hand shake, fist bump or bowing.

Margaret and I have very limited time in Thailand. If we had more time we would’ve gone out of Bangkok a bit. We got in right before Songkran starts and also there was activity to commemorate the anniversary of the protest. It could’ve affected our schedule much more, but luckily it didn’t.  Personally I was quite curious what was happening and wanted to go down and check it out. Also just to be able to say that I was down there and it was no big deal (hear that Mom?). From what I hear it’s just bunch of road blockage and guys hurrah-ing on bull horns. We did still see some activities when we went down to Ratchadamnoen Stadium for muy thai the day after. None of the taxis we hailed on the street wouldn’t take us down to that area. At first I wasn’t sure if it was b/c I said Khao San Road or maybe it wasn’t worth their time… we eventually pretended we were guests at the Intercontinental and hailed a cab from there. If Margaret wasn’t w/ me I would’ve gone down by myself probably, but I did promise her and her mom that I’d keep her safe so it wasn’t quite worth the risk.

Although Songrkan is supposed to start officially the day after we leave, some businesses do close early. Again, it didn’t affect us too much. We thought we might get to see a muy thai fight because of people taking off early for Songkran but that became a non-issue as well. During Songkran I know there’s tons of water gun fights or people just douse each other with water. The hotel we stayed at, Conrad Hilton (Margaret used her points again), did have a mini celebration where people jump/get thrown in the pool, etc. If that wasn’t enough, we also got caught in a rainstorm our first night in Bangkok w/out our rain jackets and ended up soaking wet from head to toe.

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unfortunately, me being a big guy and having to wear the pant legs at the Grand Palace means that my convertible pants and shirt end up drenched in sweat as well. It’s quite embarrassing to hand my clothes off while getting a massage at Wat Pho and have the masseuse go: “ahh… water.” To be fair, I did warn her it was soaked and she might not want to touch it.

Speaking of massage, the last time I was here I had a masseuse compare my calves to elephant legs. I had learned that elephant is “chang” in Thai and kept asking the driver to take us to one in Ayutthaya. There is also a Thai beer called Chang, so I know exactly what she was saying when she got to my calves and said “chang” to her masseuse friend and started giggling.

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I do love elephants though. Conrad Hilton gave us these little elephants when we checked in. I got the Chang beer tank top I’ve always wanted at the Chatuchak market. Margaret also got some boxers, coin purses, and tie w/ elephant on them as presents for her family. They’re such gentle animals. I was surprised the first time I petted one that their skin is rougher than sand paper… I wish there were more humanitarian elephant camps instead of the ones that is strictly for profit, or even worse I hear there’s a keeper that would bring a baby elephant to the Soi Cowboy area. That is just plain wrong.

I have not been to Chiang Mai yet but I’m pretty sure I’ll love it. Here’s to the next visit, Thailand!

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