Thailand – Elephant Hills

The very best day that we spent in Thailand was at Elephant Hills. It happened to be my husband’s birthday. Even thought he took me to Thailand for my 40th, he managed to celebrate his birthday in Thailand as well. We almost got in a fight just before this photo because I was asking him to hang out in the common area and he was insistent that we go to the tent. We were trying to surprise him with a cake for his birthday, and he was asking far too many questions.

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We had to get up super early to catch our flight from Bangkok to Phuket, and then after the flight we had a three hour drive. But it was so worth it. Upon arrival we were treated to a yummy buffet, and got ready for an afternoon with elephants. Our accommodation was a luxury tent, it rained all night on the metal roof and I had the best sleep of our vacation.

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The elephants were the best part of the whole trip to Thailand. I’m not even sure that I can put into words why I liked spending time with elephants so much. Even thought they are so large, they seem so gentle. Their eyes are so sad. When I talked to them I felt like they understood me. It was interesting to see their personalities, and how they interacted with each other. Some were friends, there was a gang of three that were “the bad ones”, and one that followed another around like a shadow.

We watched them play in the pond, we bathed them, petted them and fed them. It was an experience that I won’t forget any time soon. When we were booking I didn’t really want to be involved. I wanted my husband to surprise me, but he knew that even though I want to be surprised, I am not very good at being surprised. He also knew for the good of our marriage that he wouldn’t get the surprise right, and he was correct on that. I’m a bit of a pain that way, I want to be surprised but only if you have super human mind reading powers to surprise me with exactly what I am thinking.

When was the last time that you spent a few hours doing something that touched your life in a memorable way? There are lots of things that happen in life that touch us, but they are often negative events. A death in the family, a job loss, a brain tumour, bad surprises, things that you don’t see coming. This elephant experience was up there with the news of being diagnosed with a brain tumour, it was a shock to my system but in the best way possible. If you have the chance spend the day with an elephant, do it! Watch them sway to music that only they can hear.

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Floating Market

In addition to temples, and tuk tuks there are many markets in Thailand. The Damnoen Saduak floating market was about an hour and a half out of Bangkok but it was worth the drive for the experience. There are a few floating markets in and around Bangkok which are primarily for tourists.

We were dropped off at a boat dock where we boarded long tail speed boats. The ride was terrifying. We rode through man made canals and saw homes, temples and shops. The boat driver was a bit of a speed racer. It was rough and the water was a lovely shade of brown. We ended our speed boat ride at the floating market.

Boats full of everything imaginable could be found in the floating market but most vendors were selling food. Anyone want a banana? How about a mango? Coconut?

 

 

Next up the Sampran Riverside Village followed by a day at Elephant Hills.

Railway Market

I think that I love to be surprised, but I am not good at accepting surprises. The truth is that I love the idea of being surprised. When we go on vacation I painstakingly research everything, so that we can make the most of our time and money. This vacation was different, I asked my husband to surprise me.

Which went something like this;

  • Him: where do you want to go for your birthday
  • Me: surprise me
  • Him: can you narrow it down
  • Me: somewhere I have never been
  • Him: how about you pick a continent
  • Me: Asia, or South America, or Central America, or how about Europe
  • Him: how about we look at potential vacation destinations tonight
  • Me: then it wouldn’t be a surpise

The moral of the story is that I am a pain in the ass, and he is not confident that he could pick somewhere that I would like. He was right, he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell (my dads saying). BUT, my super smart mom said why don’t you contact our travel agent. That was an AH, HA moment. Vacationing old school.

We used a travel agent, they did all the work, and we had all the fun. We were picked up at the airport by our guide and driver and spent the next few days getting a private tour of Bangkok. There is no better way to travel. I have done bus trips, train trips, cruises, backpacking, you name it I have probably tried it, and a private car and guide can not be beat.

On the second day Rose (our guide) arrived to pick us up at our hotel, and decided that she was going to alter our itinerary to include the Maeklong Railway Market. I didn’t fully understand everything that she was telling me, so most of the time I just followed her around. We were dropped off in the middle of the street, and she walked us down train tracks. She started shopping as we walked through the narrowest market I have ever been in. Rose stopped to buy dried squid. Not my idea of an afternoon snack.

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Then comes an announcement to get off the tracks and behind the red line. Up to this point my husband and I fully believed that there was no train. How on earth could a train come through this market? There were people, canopies, tables, baskets, and garbage can lids full of products everywhere. The market was full of vendors and shoppers, where was everyone and everything going to go to make room for the train. I’m thinking that a tiny little train is coming through, until I saw a full size train.

It was amazing. Bonus – I was surprised.

Up next, the floating market, and an Arts & Crafts village. Followed by Day 3 at Elephant Hills.

 

One Night in Bangkok

Today is my 40th birthday. It’s a big deal. Every birthday is a big deal because I am still alive, and that’s worth celebrating (at least in my mind). My lovely husband took me to Thailand for my 40th. I know that I am fortunate, I am not taking my life for granted. On top of the great gift my amazing parent flew to our house to take care of our kids so that we could go away without the kids, how fantastic is that?

I’m not going to focus on the fact that the day before we went on vacation my husband got a letter informing him of the end of his employment in the new year. It’s only a job, right? He will find another one, no biggie. That’s what I tell myself so that I can sleep at night. But I am digressing from the celebration.

I mentioned that I am now 40 which means that I was a kid in the 80’s. One Night in Bangkok is a song from my youth. If you don’t have any idea what I am talking about (you spring chicken) click here. We didn’t go to Thailand because of the song but we did see plenty of muddy rivers, temples and a reclining Buddha.

I took way too many pictures, the ones below are my favorites. I did have a little help from my 5 year old who either said “that’s beautiful” or “delete”. Warning – his favourite colour is GOLDEN.

This was day 1 in Bangkok, Thailand. Coming soon, day 2 where we headed to a train market, floating market and an Arts & Craft village.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

I mentioned in my last post that we traveled to Vancouver as a family for a week. My husband had a conference and I though that it would be a great time to take the kids and spend some time playing tourist. We went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge on the last day of our trip after spending three nights in a hotel as a family of four. It was just what I needed after spending most of the week inside hiding from the rain.

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Moat Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Florida has been on my mind of late with all of the news about Hurricane Matthew. While we were there earlier this year we visited the Moat Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota. I hadn’t been there before but my parents had, and they suggested it as a good place to spend the day with the kids, and it was. The kids got to see fish and marine mammals that they can’t see locally. My oldest pet a sting ray which was a pretty big deal for him, and there was lots and lots of talk about the sharks. My favourite was the jelly fish, I can watch them all day.

Butchart Gardens – Victoria

Butchart Gardens 37 Making A LifeLast week, I was writing about being a tourist in my home town, so it’s only fitting that today I write about exploring Victoria. My first trip to the Butchart Gardens was a magical memorable day. My boyfriend had just moved to Victoria, BC and I visiting from Toronto. We were young, childless and carefree. We woke up on a Saturday morning and he told me that he had to run out for a bit. When he returned, without any words he tied a string to my finger. Just a plain beige string, nothing fancy. He held the other end in his hand. I looked at him with a puzzled expression not understanding what was about to happen. Next I felt a ring on my finger. My ring finger. Still no words from him. He never officially asked but that was the moment that we got engaged.

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Living in the Age of Airplanes

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Yesterday, I took my kids to see “Living in the Age of Airplanes” at the IMAX theater. The movie provided a history of travel and got me excited to see more of the world. I take airplane travel for granted as I have been flying my whole life.

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Tourist in my Hometown – Welland

 

 

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It has been years since I lived in my hometown of Welland, Ontario. In truth, the second I had the chance I moved away. I packed my bags and headed to school in Toronto. I have since settled in Victoria, BC but I still make a yearly trip to Welland to visit with family. Victoria’s main industry is tourism, as hundreds of cruise ships dock over the summer months and bring thousands of tourists to experience all that Victoria has to offer. I play tourist in Victoria all of the time, as there are so many excellent things to see and do.

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Family Day and Legoland

LL2.jpgThis year we spent Family Day at Legoland in Florida. In case you are reading this in another part of Canada family day in BC is a week earlier than Family Day in other parts of Canada. I have no idea why.

Our kids are 3.5 and almost 7 which is the perfect age for Legoland especially when our 3.5 year old is really, really tall. Even though he is young he was tall enough for all of the rides (42″) which definitely made for a more pleasurable experience because we didn’t ever have to tell him that he was too short to ride on a ride.

We headed to Legoland on superbowl Sunday which I consider to be very smart planning (as a football fan my husband didn’t agree). The park wasn’t super busy and we didn’t wait in line very long for any of the attractions which meant that we could see a lot in the time we had. After a Lego overload at the park we checked into the Legoland hotel for a little more visual stimulation.

The hotel was a fantastic for place for kids. Inside the lobby there was a castle with moats filled with Lego, a pure delight for kids. The rooms were very well designed with a kids bunk area which made for some happy travelers. In the room there was a short quiz that unlocked a treasure chest with some goodies for the kids. I signed my oldest up for a master builder workshop where he learned how to build a shark from one of the parks master Lego builders.

After a restful sleep we attacked the park for another day of fun, but only after a swim in the heated hotel pool. The kids were excited to swim with Lego blocks. It was an awesome way to spend Family day, and I would highly recommend it if you get the chance.