For our wedding anniversary, we decided on a trip to Thailand with our children. Once again, Gate 1 had a great deal, a 24 day Kaleidoscope of Thailand and Vietnam for $3,000, including all the flights.
For the kids we purchased the shorter 15 day Kaleidoscope of Thailand with River Kwai for $1,400.
Tip: if you do a country search for the trip you are interested in, Google will target Gate 1 ads to you, which will give you a $200 per person discount if you write down the coupon code and mention it when you are booking.
The first hiccup in our plan was that China Airlines informed us that our flight had been switched from LAX to Ontario, CA (which I thought was Canada, but it turns out to be about 30 miles from LAX). Getting from one airport to the other is a bit tricky and not cheap. I arranged for a private shuttle van to pick the group of us up and take us to Ontario for $109. On the way back we will call Lift or Uber since we will be returning separately.
The trip to Bangkok went off without a hitch, but our flight was the longest we have ever taken, close to six hours from Orlando to Lax, with an hour shuttle ride from LAX to Ontario (Prime Time Shuttle picked us up outside baggage claim), followed by a 13.5 hour flight to Taipei, and then a 3.5 hour flight to Bangkok. The Ontario airport is brand new, clean, and tiny, all of which was lovely, and China Airlines had plenty of staff both at the airports and on the flights.
We arrived in Bangkok 1:30 am and by the time we went through customs and retrieved our bags, it was 2:30. Luckily, a Gate 1 representative met us and delivered us to our hotel, the Ramada Plaza on the river by 3:30 (3:30 in the afternoon Fla time).
The next morning, we thought it was Sunday and we had a free day but it turned out we had lost a day and it was the first day of the tour. We made it with a few minutes to spare.
The first thing you notice about Bangkok is the heat, high 80’s with humidity that makes you sweat standing still. There are ten million people in Bangkok (with 60 million in the country), and 95% of them are Buddhist. Everyone greets you with prayer hands and a bow.
We drove through Chinatown, which has the largest and oldest population of Chinese outside of China, most of them settled her several hundred years ago. We saw more exotic fruits and vegetables than I could imagine, including jackfruit, dragonfruit, and durian, which is not allowed in the hotel because of the smell.
The stupas (towers) are decorated with elaborate mosaics made from the china that was broken during import. To enter a temple, you must remove your shoes and women must have shoulders and knees covered. Men cannot wear shorts and must remove their hats.
The reclining Buddha is 150 long and 40 feet high.
The temple is not just one building but a group or buildings that contain 400 golden Buddhas.
Outside of that temple is another that contains the six hundred-year-old standing Buddha brought from Ayutthaya. It was one of a pair of statues that once stood in the ancient capital. Many such statues were taken and melted down by the Burmese when they burned Ayutthaya.
That afternoon, we went to a tailor’s shop and the boys ordered suits that will be ready for fitting tomorrow afternoon and will be delivered before they return to Bangkok next Friday. The fabric is a cashmere wool blend that is lightweight and does not wrinkle.
During dinner that night we were serenaded by a Thai girl playing an instrument like a hundred stringed dulcimer.