December 31 - After a painful 23 hour flight with a layover in Manila, Sam and I got to Bangkok in the afternoon and got a taxi towards Piya's. First poor planning mistake of the trip was not getting Piya's Thai number, so I had to turn my data on to contact her and get that (thanks for the international plan Dad). I'd barely slept the last two days but once we got to Piya's I was so excited I didn't want to rest, so we walked down her street where I was coaxed to dance in the street with some man who was selling CDs. I told him I wanted to buy some CDs (3 for 100 bhat - a dollar each), and he picked one out and shooed me away without paying, so that was a nice welcome gift. Piya then took us to a local market called The Old Siam and we looked at all the local food and desserts.
We took a tuk tuk from the market back to Piya's house and got ready to go out to dinner with her family. We went to a rooftop buffet dinner which was a great way to try different Thai dishes. Around 11pm Piya, Sam and I headed through town to get to the SkyTram, which was difficult since the streets were flooded with people. After a quick ride, we got to a club called Narz about 10 minutes before the countdown. Had a great time with Sam and Piya as well as meeting all kinds of new people. Got about three hours of sleep but so much to do so little time :)
January 1 - Woke up at 7am and headed down towards an area of the city to grab a minivan shuttle to Ayutthaya. Once there, Piya arranged for a tuk tuk to drive us around for a few hours for 1000 bhat for the three of us (approximately $10 each). A young guy that also took the shuttle seemed to be alone, so we ended up inviting him to spend the day with us. His name was Xander, he's from Kuala Lumpur, and when he's not working he's off exploring the world and taking awesome pictures.
We went to Ayutthaya Historical Park, Wat Chaiwattanarm and Wat Phra Mahthat, and also checked out an authentic floating market nearby.
Once we got back to Bangkok we headed to Khao San Road for dinner. This whole time I'd been in Thailand I was under the impression that there weren't many tourists were visiting, but really they all just choose to congregate around this one area. Very glad I was able to experience Bangkok through a local because I really wouldn't have enjoyed the town if this is all I'd seen.
At Khao San one of the most popular stations was the bug cart. We saw a husband and wife eat a cockroach and scorpion, and then Piya and Sam both ate a cricket. I stuck to normal food and had incredible Pad Thai for dinner that set me back a whopping 20 baht (less than a dollar). Street food here is unbelievably cheap but a lot of it is usually too spicy for my taste. We also had Roti, an egg dessert sprinkled with condensed milk, and sticky mango rice which is amazing.
January 2 - Sam and I woke up at 7am to get to the Burmese embassy early. Got there around 8am, they opened at 9am and we were out around 10am. We had gone without Piya so we had to search around for wifi so we could connect with her and ended up wandering into a hostel down a little alley, where the woman who worked there was kind enough to let us use the wifi and answer a few questions we had. We went back to Piya's and the three of us headed out to check out some of the temples in Bangkok. We saw Wat Arun, Wat Pho, and the Grand Palace (didn't actually go inside because it closed).
At Wat Arun we sat down in front of the monks and received a blessing from them, they splashed some water on us and then they tied a bracelet around our wrists. Good thing we had some spiritual powers on our side because those were the steepest stairs I've ever climbed up, and I had some serious anxiety on the way down. On the way back I bought a painting which is now in the mail (expected arrival in two months..). After the temples we took a tuktuk to a mall where we did some serious shopping. The mall was absolutely massive (five stories, hundreds of stores), and you could bargain for everything. I bought some colored contact lenses...pictures to follow.
After the mall we went back to Piya's, had a beautiful dinner prepared by her maids, got ready and headed out to Soi Eleven, which is this awesome area in Bangkok with a mix of upscale hotels and restaurants and VW wagons parked along the street that have been renovated into bars. The three of us shared a bucket of tequila sunrise. Then we took a taxi to SkyBar of Le Bua and saw this absolutely amazing view of Bangkok. Perfect way to end an awesome day.
January 3 - After sleeping in a bit, we went back to the local market called The Old Siam. We got guichai, kanomkrok, foythong thongyip, oleng, saimai, chompoo, kanoon and thangmay. I have no idea what most of those are but I asked Piya to give me the names of what we ate. Once we got back to Piya's we quickly packed our stuff up and headed out to catch a cab. We went back to the Burmese embassy to pick up our visas, and then headed over to the hostel we had wondered into the day before. We were the only two guests in the hostel (she just opened a few months ago), and she was throwing a bachorlette party for one of her friends, so we joined them briefly for pizza and champagne before heading to bed early.