สวัสดี – Hello in Thai.
Andrew and I celebrated our first Chinese New Year with the help of our first guest – Molly! Our dear friend flew over to spend two weeks with us split up between Thailand and China. When Molly first arrived we had about a day to show her around in Shanghai. One sight we definitely wanted to take her to see was the Lantern Festival at YuYuan Gardens. The festival itself was held on February 11th, but we went two weeks before. The Lantern Festival is the last day of the Chinese Spring Festival and also the first full moon in the lunar new year. We went with Molly on her first night here, nothing like fighting jet lag by joining a crowd of thousands of Chinese also looking to see the Lantern Festival. This is the year of the rooster, so we saw this symbol everywhere during this time.
(Click on an image to make it bigger and scroll through).
There were SO many lanterns here and the attention to detail was amazing. The Lantern Festival is a must-see if you’re in China during this time of year.
The next day we left for Bangkok, but not before stopping at one of the best ice cream spots in Shanghai: What Is Your Flavor?
This ice cream shop usually has a line down the block, so when we saw the line was only about 20 deep we knew we had to get some despite the freezing temperatures. They’re known for their salted caramel flavor and it didn’t disappoint. And we definitely needed some ice cream before heading to the beach in our bikinis, right?
We arrived to our hostel in Bangkok extremely late, around 2:00 AM Tuesday morning but we still managed to get up for a full day of sight-seeing since we only had about 36 hours in the Thai capital. Being that Thailand is a Buddhist country, there were so many temples sprinkled throughout the country. These temples are stunning, like jaw-dropping, stop you in your tracks type of beautiful. The first temple area we explored was called the Grand Palace. Construction began in 1782 and was home to the Thai King for 150 years, this giant complex of buildings holds a lot of history right in the heart of Bangkok.
The Grand Palace is a must see for some Thai history and architecture. Just don’t forget to dress appropriately otherwise you’ll have to buy those sweet elephant pants Molly and I are rockin’.
After leaving the Grand Palace we got a delicious meal at Ming Lee which is a small, unassuming restaurant which appears to be run by two older women. At first glance of the menu we were going to play if safe by just ordering a noodle that sounded similar to Pad Thai (of course), but a Thai professor and her students were sitting at the table next to us and gave us some menu recommendations which were fantastic. The professor said that a lot of university students came here many years ago and now some wealthy/famous alumni still stop in here to pay respect to the owners.
After the Grand Palace we went to Wat Pho, a Buddhist temple complex and home of the Reclining Buddha. Wat Pho is just as amazing to see, with beautiful sites everywhere you turn. This complex is home to more than 1,000 Buddha images with the largest being the Reclining Buddha. Coming in 15 M tall and 46 M long, this Buddha statue is the largest in Thailand. The image of the reclining Buddha represents the entry of Buddha into Nirvana and the end of all reincarnations (thanks, Wikipedia, for the extra info).
Comparing our visits to both the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, I think all three of us preferred Wat Pho more as it was less crowded with so many more buildings and things to see.
We ended our long day getting dinner and drinks with my classmates by the water. The next day we explored in the morning and then jetted off to Krabi in the evening. Another post coming soon!