Well, I certainly just had a spring break to remember. We had about 2 and a half weeks off for Passover (Easter too) and I sure did a hell of a lot during that time. I left Haifa for Rishon L’tzyyon with a friend of mine, Meghan, to spend Shabbat with my family there. Since I knew I wasn’t going to be in Israel during Passover, I figured it would be nice to spend Shabbat with them once more before I began my trip, and I was right! It was a great time to see them as always, and I was able to finally meet the third son in the family, Zeev. He lives in New York City, so whenever I’ve been in Israel he’s been in the US. But since Passover was just around the corner, he came home to celebrate with his family. Luckily for me, he flew in the morning of Shabbat that weekend.
After leaving the Shalev residence, Meghan and I made our way to Tel Aviv to meet up with some friends who had just run the half marathon in the city the day before. Unfortunately, James had to leave almost as soon as we got to Tel Aviv, but Jon, Valerie, David, and Freddie stayed. We spent two nights in the illustrious Hayarkon 48 youth hostel, and spent the weekend hanging out around the city and laying out on the beach. It wasn’t quite beach weather yet, with somewhat of an overcast and a slight breeze. But even with that said, we managed and enjoyed the semi-warm weather.
When Monday morning came, there were 7 of us: Jeff, Bekah, Freddie, Jon, Meghan, Eva, and myself. We were all off to the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station to start our long day of travel to Amman, Jordan, en route to Thailand. The trek to Amman went relatively smoothly. The only hiccup along the way involved a malfunctioning of the missile alarm system at the border. Meghan, Eva, and myself got rushed into a bomb shelter along with many other people that were there with us. Jeff, Bekah, Freddie, and Jon had already crossed through no-mans-land into Jordan, which is why they weren’t with us. It was a little concerning at the time, but it was a false alarm. It ended up foreshadowing events soon to come. Let’s just say it wasn’t the last time the three of us heard sirens that prompted people to run…but I’ll get to that later. We got to Amman in mid afternoon and still had plenty of time to explore the city. Later that afternoon, Annie and Mitch met up with us in Amman. They had been traveling around southern Jordan and met up with us for our flight to Thailand the next morning.
Here is an old Roman Theatre embedded into the hills that make up the city of Amman.
The next morning, we were off to the airport. We had an 11 AM flight out of Queen Alia International Airport to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, our next pit-stop on our way to Thailand. We had a 6.5 hour layover in Abu Dhabi so we decided to leave the airport and check out the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which was only a 20 minute cab ride from the airport.
Walking up to, inside, and around this amazing display of architecture was simply breathtaking. It is the most beautiful structure I have ever seen in my 21 years.
We returned to the airport after roughly 2 hours here, and awaited our flight to Bangkok.
We landed in Bangkok around 8AM local time, and had the entire day to roam around the city. But before we left the airport, we all made sure we had some coffee and food in our stomachs and our Thai sim cards all figured out for our phones. We were all pretty groggy from the overnight flight, so it took a few hours to get everything situated. When we finally did leave the airport around 11AM, we were all pleasantly surprised that it was not excruciatingly hot like we had anticipated. We made our way over to one of the malls, which was enormous, and walked around for a little while.
From there we hopped in Tuk Tuks (see picture below) to an area of the city that Jeff had been before to get our first street vendor pad thai. It was amazing. I won’t be able to eat pad thai in the US ever again without being sad that it’s so inferior to the pad thai from Thailand. After lunch, I went and got my first Thai massage for $10, or 300 Baht. Unfortunately I was so tired from being up so long (I didn’t sleep on either plane) that I fell asleep many times during the massage, somehow. The Thai woman that was giving me the massage, as well as the 2 women that were massaging Bekah and Mitch, found this to be particularly funny.
After our massage ended, we made our way over to a very large Buddha in Bangkok. He was pretty big. Still is actually. You can say hi to him yourself…
When we were done with Buddha, we headed over to Khaosarn Road, which is a huge backpackers area. We spent our remaining hours in Bangkok there waiting for our overnight bus down south.