Escape to Pattaya

During my visit home (in Bangkok, Thailand) this past winter, we decided to do an impromptu day trip to Pattaya, a beach city on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand. It's about 1.5 hours away from Bangkok and, because of its distance, a popular destination for both tourists and city escapers for a weekend getaway. We used to come here (and to Hua Hin) a lot growing up, but it's been a while since I've been back.

This time round, a few cousins, aunts/uncles, my siblings, and I randomly decided to drive out to Pattaya to take the yacht out for the afternoon. This was also something we did often growing up, but it's been a while - at least 5 years! - since I remember being here on the water. At least half of us live in the US now, so it was a pleasant reunion with the ocean :)

 Treats on board!

Treats on board!

 He never let go of that bag of spicy squid snack.

He never let go of that bag of spicy squid snack.

 We started heading back to shore when the sun was setting.

We started heading back to shore when the sun was setting.

 Made it back to Ocean Marina right before the sun went down!

Made it back to Ocean Marina right before the sun went down!

This happened a day before my immediate family headed out to Phuket to ring in 2017. Since I was back home for only 2 weeks, I actively spent most of my time with family and close friends. It was a tiring trip, with jet lag and all, but very refreshing and heart-warming. Stay tuned for more sea-side adventures in the coming posts!

Photos by me.

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Forever In Our Hearts

Today marks one of the saddest days in Thailand: our King, after 70 years on the throne (the world's longest-reigning monarch) has passed away at the age of 88. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is very loved by the entire nation.

To others, this may sound like some twisted propaganda but the people's love for King Bhumibol is for several good reasons. Not only was he the figure that united the nation which has suffered through multiple political crises, he was known to be one of the most humble man. He has done more good to the country than any politician/public figure has ever talked or campaigned about. It's a shame that his most active years were times long before things like the Internet and social media became so integrated in our daily lives that several of his projects and innovations have gone under the international media's radars (while political violence, for example, is much juicier news unfortunately.) If you read more about his sacrifices and pioneering work in agriculture and education, his passion for solving environmental problems in Thailand, or his love for jazz and music composition that has inspired millions, it should come as no surprise to why this loss has shaken the entire nation.

Today I stopped by Harvard Square, home to His Majesty's birth place, to pay my respects for not just my King, but a man I truly looked up to for his keen intellect, creativity, and selflessness.

I'm truly honored to have grown up with a king that is so loved by his people for his humbled personality, hard work, and dedication. Rest in peace, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. You have been loved and will always be.

Photos by me. Please give credits if used elsewhere.

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Spend A Day In Ayutthaya

This past summer, I had the opportunity to take some of my MIT friends who were visiting Thailand around. Since two of them had already spent quite some time around the country (and Bangkok), I decided we should go on a half-day trip to Ayutthaya, an ancient capital of Thailand located 85 km north of Bangkok.

This post is a combination of the few things we visited, plus additional tips & suggestions of mine based on personal experience, research, and family recommendations. I hope those who are interested in visiting Ayutthaya find these information useful, whether you're a foreigner visiting Thailand or just a local looking for a break from the big city!


 

Food

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We only had a couple of hours in Ayutthaya, so we hit up what I think are Ayutthaya's must-haves: river prawns, old city historical ruins, and Roti Sai Mai. We had lunch as soon as we arrived at Pa Porn's Noodles, one of my mom's favorite spots. I called in advance to reserve one set of river prawns - these are famous and limited in number depending on the day, so it's safest to reserve your share! She's also famous for her traditional noodle dishes, pictured above.

Apart from the river prawns, Ayutthaya is also famous for its boat noodles. There are so many amazing food options to choose from in this town, so here are some of my suggestions:

Sala Ayutthaya (Hotel & Restaurant)
Trendy hotel with a restaurant boasting one of the best views you'll find in Ayutthaya!
9/2 Moo 4, U-Thong Road,
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand
+66-35242588 / Facebook

Pa Porn's Noodles (ร้านก๋วยเตี๋ยวหมูโบราณป้าพร)
Pictured above, a family favorite river prawn and noodles place.
121/2 Moo 8, Uthong Road
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand
+66-35251676 / Facebook

Ruan Thai Kung Pao (เรือนไทยกุ้งเผา วัดเชิงเลน)
Amazing & fresh river prawns located right by the river. Gets incredibly packed, so be sure to reserve your table way in advance!
Moo 4 1/2 Thetsaban 10 Alley,
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13190, Thailand
+66-35367730 / Facebook

Rim-Nam Boat Noodles (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือริมน้ำ)
Affordable authentic noodle dishes with a view and seats where you're dangling your feat over the river.
Map / Facebook

 

Temples

My friends have had their fair share of temples from traveling around Thailand for the past month, so we only visited one small temple: Wat Phra Ram. It was quiet and small relative to the other sites I've visited, but it was a nice taste of the Ayutthaya battle ruins without the tourist chaos. It was conveniently located near the Rama Public Park, which was perfect for a little post-lunch stroll.

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For those seeking to visit the greatest of Ayutthaya's temples and take in as much of the UNESCO World Heritage Site as possible, I've listed some alternate temples here. I wouldn't recommend Wat Phra Ram if this is your first time in Ayutthaya, unless you're looking for a quick quiet site to stroll around to kill time. (Quick fact: Wat is the Thai word for temple!)

Wat Phra Si Sanphet (วัดพระศรีสรรเพชญ์)
Largest temple in Ayutthaya, located inside the former royal palace. Home to the iconic "Ayutthaya" photo of the 3 distinctive stupas (jedi's).
Map

Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon (วัดใหญ่ชัยมงคล)
The name literally means enormous. Its stupa (jedi) is visible across Ayutthaya. Also home to the giant reclining Buddha.
Map

Wat Chaiwattanarm (วัดไชยวัฒนาราม)
A larger and more impressive version of Wat Phra Ram (pictured) with its towering prangs and stupas which are accessed by steep steps.
Map

Wat Phra Mahathat (วัดมหาธาตุ)
Home to the famous Buddha head nested in tree roots.
Map

 

Desserts

Ayutthaya is very well-known for its Roti Sai Mai, a Thai version of cotton candy 'Sai Mai' (or candy floss) wrapped in a thin sweet crepe 'Roti'. It's very light and not overbearingly sweet (unlike most American desserts!) There are several famous stalls that sell Roti Sai Mai in Ayutthaya and you'll be in pretty good hands trying any of them.

We visited my grandma's all-time favorite stall "Roti Sai Mai Mae Pom" (simply translated to Mother Pom's Roti Saimai) where the owner greeted us with a huge smile and even invited us to try several wraps for free (even though we insisted on paying!) We ended up buying several bags for ourselves and as gifts for my family. The best part of all this is that Mae Pom sells these for only 80 Baht/Kilogram, whereas you'll find that some other stores sell these for up to 200 Bath/Kilogram!

Baan Kao Nhom (บ้านข้าวหนม)
Foreigner-friendly dessert cafe. Well decorated interior serving various traditional Thai desserts and coffee.
Map / Facebook

Roti Sai Mai Mae Pom (โรตีสายไหมแม่ป้อม)
Pictured above. Affordable and my family's favorite Roti Sai Mai stall!
Uthong Road
+66-897896931 / Facebook

 

Because we wanted to make it back to the city before rush hour, coupled with the fact that it started raining, we spent the evening back in Bangkok wandering around Siam. Our evening was filled with ice cream, tea, beer, and a dinner feast. We then proceeded to burn some of our dinner with karaoke, which was a nice end to our day.

 Roxy got her fix of durian ice cream!

Roxy got her fix of durian ice cream!

 Bing-soo! (Korean shaved-ice dessert which is becoming very popular in Bangkok)

Bing-soo! (Korean shaved-ice dessert which is becoming very popular in Bangkok)

 Our dinner was at Som Tum Nua, a popular spot serving northeastern Thai cuisine (Issan) with famous dishes being their papaya salads (som-tam), sliced BBQ pork neck with spicy dipping sauce, deep-fried chicken wings, along with a basket of sticky rice. 

Our dinner was at Som Tum Nua, a popular spot serving northeastern Thai cuisine (Issan) with famous dishes being their papaya salads (som-tam), sliced BBQ pork neck with spicy dipping sauce, deep-fried chicken wings, along with a basket of sticky rice. 

 Last bite before I sent her off at the airport: durian ice cream from  Eathai at Central Embassy !

Last bite before I sent her off at the airport: durian ice cream from Eathai at Central Embassy!

Ayutthaya is a famous destination for Bangkok schools to take young children on day-trips because of its rich history. This makes Ayutthaya one of those places I've visited several times but, apart from the history, don't actually know much about. It was not until the past 5 years that I've come to appreciate and remember travel and food, so it's my mission to explore more of my home country every time I go back for a visit. It's not far from Bangkok at all, but gives you a completely unique environment and is a great chance to escape from the city life. Hope you found this post useful and if you have your own Ayutthaya favorites, definitely let me know in the comments. I'd love to check them out!

Photos by me.

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