Today started off very early, with a 545 wake up call and a 7am departure to the airport for our three hour flight to Bangkok. Although everyone was sad to leave Hong Kong, we were quite looking forward to experiencing Thailand for the first time. After checking our baggage and going thru security we made it to our gate. Luckily with the airport WiFi were able to connect to the Internet so many of us were able to FaceTime or Skype our family and friends at home!
The three hour flight went by quickly and before we knew it had arrived in Thailand. The line to get through customs was long to say the least, but many of us enjoyed the people watching experience. Our Thai tour guide, Angela, gave us some helpful traveling tips as well as places to visit for shopping especially.
Because it was such an early morning the decision was made to not do anything the rest of the day and relax in the hotel and by the pool. Many of us went to the Sky Bar, which is only a 20-minute walk from our hotel, and was featured in the movie Hangover 2. Another group walked down Silom Road (the street our hotel is off of) for some cheap goods and dinner.
Everyone turned in early knowing we had to be up by 8am this morning for our first business visit in Thailand. After feasting on our all-inclusive breakfast, we piled into our tour bus. About 30 minutes later we arrived at The World Bank headquarters for Thailand. This business is a vital source of financial and technical aid for countries all around the world. When the demand exists the bank helps countries decrease poverty, increase economic growth, fight corruption, boost agriculture, protect the environment, among many other involvements. Peter Jipp, the Sr. Natural Resources Management Specialist at World Bank Group was able to spend about two hours informing us of the various purposes and processes the bank serves and how he helps them to attain their goals.
After the business visit, we went to a restaurant right on the water where we enjoyed a buffet-style lunch. We were able to enjoy foods including regular pasta and marinara, spicy thai food, and of course some seafood. After this relaxing meal we rode on a two-person tuk-tuk (or little taxi with no doors) for about 20 minutes until we reached the most beautiful of the 411 temples in Bangkok. This temple was built for the royal families in 1972 and took two years to complete. Angela and Lucky (our tour guides) informed us that the material used to decorate the temple actually came from China in 1823. A shipment of ceramic and porcelain was delivered to Thailand, however most if it ended up breaking into a million pieces. Fortunately, all the small pieces were put to good use and now make up the beautiful colors of the temple. We also learned that the many statue animals have meaning. For example, elephants are known to transport the king because once reincarnated the king was believed to be the Hindu God. Also, there was a portion of the exhibit that was surrounded in more demons than monkeys. This is because demons represent the bad in the world and monkeys represent the good; but it is believed that the good will eventually overtake the bad. Finally, after removing our shoes we went into the massive temple. It is tradition for people to say a prayer and make an impossible wish once in the temple. If the wish comes true then the worshipper will return with food and flowers for the king. After leaving this temple we made a short trip to the largest temple in Bangkok, Wat Po, which is home to the famous Reclining Buddha.
Finally, the day was over and we were able to go out to dinner as a group. Most of us took about a 20 minute taxi ride to the restaurant the Golden Dragon. It currently holds the Guiness world record for largest outdoor restaurant. We shared a delicious meal including seafood, chicken, and rice