My mother came to visit me in Thailand, April 6-23, during the Songkran holiday (or if you’re a westerner then it would be Easter holiday). I booked her flights, she got her shots, I planned the itinerary, and she arrived the morning of April 6. I promised to meet her in the airport at the “meeting point” but due to accidentally taking the subway in the wrong direction, I was a little late. She was already there waiting for me; patience is a good thing to have while traveling abroad.
We had breakfast in the airport and she told me about her flights. They seemed to have gone well for her first long distance international flights. After breakfast and an email back home, we took the airport rail link and the BTS to the bus station. We had three hours to wait in the bust station for our bus to Chanthaburi. The bus ride was about five hours long. It was an old bus that rattled and clanked the whole way and even stalled on the highway ramp as we were exiting Bangkok. We went past my old town; I was able to point out the street where I lived and the back of the school where I taught.
As we got closer to our destination, it started raining. Then it would stop, and then it would start, and then it would stop. When we arrived in Chanthaburi, there was a slight drizzle but it was nice to walk to our hotel in the rain. We stayed at the Baan Luang Rajamaitri Historic Inn. It was an absolutely fantastic hotel. It is a 150 year old historic building. Read more about the place here. Being an old building, the walls were a little thin fortunately we were not in a high traffic area of the hotel. We were in the School Boy room which was just a small room overlooking the breakfast deck with a bunk bed and a bathroom. Breakfast was included in the price so we started our days off by eating breakfast and drinking coffee on the deck by the river. It was a peaceful way to start the day and we really felt like we were on vacation.
April 7, I had a few sightseeing things planned, nothing set in stone but some things I had seen before and would like to show my mother. Our first stop was the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, inside is the jeweled statue of the Virgin Mary. In my opinion, the cathedral is well worth the stop in Chanthaburi and if you do nothing else in the town you should at least stop in. We had to put on wraps because we were wearing shorts but it was a nice visit. We sat admiring the statue, the architecture, the stained glass (it is real stained glass and over 100 years old), and the beauty of the place. I overheard one girl say “it’s beautiful but it’s too much Jesus in your face.”
After the cathedral we wandered into the gem markets and the jewelry stores. We spent quite a lot of time admiring the beautiful pieces, we also had to purchase a few for ourselves. It is difficult to describe the artistic expression found in the jewelry in Chanthaburi. My mother understood what I meant when I had told her before the jewelry here is different than the jewelry back home and I’m not saying the price is the only difference. She described a lot of them as statement pieces and we both agreed that for many of them you would need a special occasion to wear them.
After shopping, we decided to cool off with some fruit shakes. As we were enjoying our afternoon treat we watched a storm approach, thunder and all. We decided to go back to our hotel to wait out the storm. It stormed, thunder, lightning, and buckets of rain. Rainy season has come early. Usually April is the hottest month of the year with a few storms and May is when the storms really start coming. As the rain started to taper off we went back out to find dinner. I had planned on us visiting some shrines and temples while we were there but even though we did not get around to it we still had a good time.
April 8 was only a half day in Chanthaburi before traveling on to Pattaya. We went back to one of the jewelry stores after sleeping on a decision. The woman took our picture and said it was her lucky day we came in. We tried Thai iced tea, Mom said it was sweet and very different than any tea we had back in the States. Then we wandered to King Taksin park and relaxed in the shade, enjoying the water and green space. We got fruit shakes again, this time we were a little more adventurous and had fried flowers for a snack.
We had to travel on to our next destination. I asked the woman at the front desk if there were any busses to Pattaya since I dislike taking minibuses. She said there were only minibuses and then called us a taxi to take us to the bus station. At the bus station, there was the nice surprise of there actually being a big bus to Pattaya. It was a big double decker bus and they gave us blankets, water, and a whole roll of cookies!