Saturday, April 3, 2010

Asian Adventure_Thailand

Part 3-Bangkok and Pattaya, Thailand

The flight we caught to Bangkok was pretty late but when we got there it was still about 90 degrees
and scorching. None the less we were still really excited to get the the hotel and of course I was
really excited to see Mansour (he had flown from Rome to meet us for Spring break)
Well as soon as we landed we made it a mission to basically run of the plane and be the first in the customs
line. Giulia, the Italian, was a riot she was actually running like hauling past Hannah, Kate, and I. We couldn't stop
laughing for like 30 minutes. But we made it through customs, and I set on a mission to find my main man-Mansour.
Finally after about 15 minutes of panic I saw him and naturally the two of us made a scene. It was hilarious.
Then Hannah separated from the four of us and she was off to Cambodia while we grabbed a cab and were off
to the hotel. We got to the hotel, and it was kind of in a sketchy area( expedia had been a little deceiving) but
it was still really cute. The four of us settled in and then sat outside for the rest of the night, Mansour brought us
a ton of American candy that he had gotten while he stopped in Dubai.
The next day we woke up decently early, ate breakfast at our hotel and were off, ready to explore Bangkok.
Well we began walking and exploring and figured we would go the the Reclining Buddha. We hailed a tuk tuk-originally
the four of us were in 2 separate TukTuks but one of the men was trying to scam us. So the four of us crammed into one of the tuktuks and began our adventure. Little did we konw that our little tuk tuk adventure would take us directly through the protests by the red shirts. It was insane thousands of people actually wearing red shirts. Our tuktuk driver pulled from his back pocket a little red bandana and put it on, and we all started laughing. We spent about 30 minutes in red shirt traffic before we realized that actually getting to the reclining buddha would be impossible. So we settled for the Grand Palace which was still really amazing. We started our adventure through the grand palace which was huge!! We went into a few temples and searched for the emerald buddha for about 2 hours before we realized we had already seen it. It was really hot and the four of us were exhausted and ready for lunch. After leaving the Grand Palace we hailed a tuktuk jumped in and headed for MBK which was part of Siam square- a really big shopping center. We ate a quick lunch and ventured through the three malls in order to avoid the mid-day heat. Then we figured we should try out the sky train and head to a different part of the city. We figured Nana would be the best place, mostly because Mansour really really wanted to go there(Nana is the arab part of Bangkok) so we made out way to Nana and it was amazing. We went around through all the street vendors before we stopped to get a Starbucks. Then we ventured into the streets of Nana and found a massage place and the four of us got foot massages. It was amazing, and I think we paid about 4 euro per person. An hour later when the massage was finished we all wanted some food so we went to a Thai/Arab restaurant. I ordered cuptsa which is basically chicken and rice with a red sauce. Amazing one of the best meals I had throughout the entire trip. When we finished dinner we went to get a hookah and some coffee. We had intended on going out that night so caffeine was in order. Finally after a whole day out exploring Bangkok we returned to the hotel got ready for a crazy night in Bangkok. Well listen to how sketchy this is, after getting ready and actually getting to the club they wouldn't let us in because we didn't have our passports. The LAST thing I am going to be carrying to a club is my passport especially in Thailand. ( can you say human trafficking) So after we didn't get in we went back to Nana and hung out for a few hours and smoked hookah again and ate alot of fresh fruit.
The next day we woke up really early in order to be out of Bangkok by 10 am, we were heading to Pattaya-a crazy beach city. We got there by taxi- a short two hour drive through the country. Thailand seriously is so beautiful, but so poor. Driving out of bangkok was sad. There were slums covering the outskirts of the city. But the mountains and the trees and the green made it so beautiful looking. When we finally got to Pattaya we were all freaking out and so excited. When the taxi dropped all of us off, all I could think is I am on vacation. Our rooms weren't ready yet but we were starving so we ate at the hotel resturant. I ordered a pina colada because well-I had to! I had been speaking about pina coladas for a good month. The lunch was delicious and as soon as our rooms were ready we got changed and hit the pool. Amazing and there was a swim up bar and a slide and everything. We tanned but couldn't handle the heat for very long we ended up befriending the bartenders and they let us play lady gaga and all of our music and we went crazy and made a huge scene in the pool-it was hilarious and so much fun!
After the sun went behind the buildings we booked an excursion for the next day-Coral Island and then ventured to go get another massage. It was relaxing and so nice to be in this little beach city. Then it was go time, we hurried back to the hotel and got ready for dinner/venturing around the walking street. We got a recommendation from the hotel and went to this restaurant where you basically just point at a fish and they fry it up for you. It was so good and I got a fresh snapper. We ate on the water and everything was illuminated and gorgeous. When dinner came to a close Giulia and Kate opted for going back to the hotel while Mansour and I figured we would go up and down the walking street. We saw everything you could imagine on this street. There were food stands to concerts, anything was possible. We spent a good two hours venturing and seeing everything. PROSTITUTES EVERYONE. it was ridiculous at one point in the night when we were heading back to the hotel we saw an old man ( probably 75) just point to a girl and she followed him. Mansour and I both looked at each other and were in shock.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped in at a little shop in the arab part of Pattaya. We found the most fabulous shoe stand that I have ever encountered in my life. Green,blue,orange, name a color they had it. They were awesome we both got a green pair and were super excited considering green is both of ours favorite color. Not to long after our shopping spree in the late evening we opted to head back because we had an early morning tomorrow.
The following day I literally had to drag everyone out of bed...but it was worth it. The bigger version of the tuk tuk came to pick us up from our hotel and we ended up picking up several other people who were also going to coral island with us. When we got to the beach we were met by a little family. Mom, Dad, and three children who took care of us for the day. We got on the speed boat and headed towards the island. On the way there was a little pit stop where Giulia and Mansour went parasailing.
When we finally reached the island we were ready to relax. Immediately we rented some chairs for about 2 dollars each and the girls headed towards the water. When we got back from the sea we noticed Mansour is covered in oil, instantly he offers us some...coconut oil in the Thai sun is NEVER a good idea. All of us cover ourselves in the oil. After a few hours of sunning we were invited by the family to eat at their little hut, which was AWESOME. authentic food and fresh fish, it was so great and we finally got Mansour to try fish. Right after lunch Mansour starts talking to a guy about renting mopeds to go see this monkey sanctuary. We all agree seeing as we had a great portion of the day remaining and were already pretty burnt. The separate onto two mopeds. Kate and Guilia...Mansour and I. I would like to say I saw my life flash before my eyes about 40 times in that 1 hour span. Mansour had never driven a moped ( just a four wheeler) and tried to explain to me that they were the same thing. It ended up being hilarious we got lost and drove the entire island trying to get back to the correct side. Finally after a lot of searching the Moped guys finally found us. I was never so happy to touch ground again. The mopeding was an experience to say the very least. After returning from the mopeds which in the end we didn't get to see any monkeys :( we relaxed a bit more, but this time in the shade seeing as all of us were already visibly burnt. Around 5 pm we started heading back on the boat towards Pattaya, it was a successful day on Coral Island. When we got back everyone was exhausted and seriously burnt. Coconut oil was a mistake to say they very least and Giulia was so burnt we had to take her to the pharmacy.
Since Giulia was burnt she wanted to stay in for the evening so Mansour, Kate, and I headed downtown we grabbed a Tuk Tuk and headed towards the mall that a friend had recommended. We all ate dinner quickly and then figured we would hang out in the air conditioning for a while. On the top floor was the mall was Ripley's Believe it or Not-Haunted House. Since we had nothing better to do the three of us went inside. I think the haunted house should have taken us ten minutes to complete but it took about 30 we were screaming at everything and the three of us were freaking us out. At one point a family passed us and they had two little boys. We were freaking out and it was hilarious. The people who worked there were laughing at us because we were THAT pathetic. It was even better because the haunted house took pictures of you while you were inside and the one of the three of us was hilarious and the customers at the mall were laughing at our faces.

We woke up early this morning with the intentions of being productive but everyone was so burnt. I finally convinced Mansour and Kate to come out and adventure Pattaya during the day with me and the three of us headed towards the walking street. About halfway there when Kate and I were stopping for some postcards Mansour had to turn back because he was sweating/burnt to badly. So Kate and I continued on our little adventure for the day, stopping for some fresh fruit smoothies that were served up to us quite quickly but a lady gaga singing transvestite. Life was good. After filling ourselves up on smoothies we just had to try out the fishy massage. Basically you pay 15 dollars to put your feet into a tank full of fish and they eat the dead skin off. Kate and I could not stop laughing it tickled so badly and it honestly did nothing for my feet. When we were done with the fish we ventured down some side streets and picked up some souvenirs. When we were wandering down the street we noticed a sign for Mango sticky rice..something a friend of mine had recommend strongly before our trip to Thailand. And although we were full, we had to try it. The place was adorable it was called MangoGaGa and was pink all over. The place was empty though... expect for us and a man from Dubai with his young male prostitute... yummy. The day was getting hot and Kate and I needed to get back and jump in the pool before our skin nearly sizzled off. While in the pool we faced an important life lesson. DON'T ever go to Pattaya,Thailand SINGLE and alone with your best friend. We got hit on about 30 times and called prostitutes it was terrible. One man even chased us around the pool After nearly running to our rooms we were again asked how much we cost and couldn't stop laughing under our disgust. After an eventful day in downtown Pattaya we all got ready for the evening of a life time...AN ELEPHANT RIDE. I couldn't wait. The taxi came to pick us up and the four of us took off towards the Elephants. As soon as we got there we could hardly contain our excitement. The four of us paired off Kate and I taking one elephant and Mansour and Giulia taking another. This was hands down the highlight of my entire trip to Asia. Riding an elephant was a dream and it was perfect. The sun was setting and our guide was amazing. He was our personal photographer and we took about 100 pictures of the two of us going crazy on the elephants. We even got to sit on the head of the elephant and drive it around. In the end it was a great experience and we got rings made from elephant hair ( or so we think :) )
After our fabulous elephant adventure we grabbed a tuk tuk and headed downtown to show the others MangoGaGA and get some more mango sticky rice. We spent the remainder of the evening laughing and bargaining around Pattaya for souvenirs.
Early the next day we left to return back to Bangkok... but not without a little drama. The previous night we were in a market where we discovered this oil that would help our sunburns. It was yellow and to say the very least it ruined the sheets in the hotel so we had a little drama with the hotel but after getting it sorted out we were off to Bangkok. Once arriving back we checked into our hotel and headed off to see some sights that we had missed the first time around. We stopped at several temples and finally made our way to the river. We got a bit lost trying to find this one buddha and had to walk past this terrible dried fish market about six times it was TERRIBLE...but not as terrible as stinky tofu. After getting nearly kicked out of a temple for Giulia's skirt with a hole in it we figured it was time for lunch. We looked in our handy dandy book and navigated our way to one of the recommend places it ended up being amazing just like the book said :). After that we took a journey down the river in an over crowded boat search of this famous market. Finally we found it and began bargaining...or Giulia did. She was amazing at it!! After a couple of hours at the market Kate and I wanted to head back to Nana for a massage and eventually dinner. We split it up and Giulia stayed at the Market while Mansour, Kate, and I grabbed a tuk tuk ( our last tuk tuk ) to Nana. As soon as we got there... which ended up taking a while since we drove in the evening traffic. Kate and I went in for our final foot massage of the trip, it was amazing and relaxing after such a long day of walking around. In the end we all met up for our last dinner in Thailand. When dinner was finished we shopped around for a few hours and Giulia and Mansour bargained like crazy. When we finally got back to our hotel we figured we should go on one last crazy adventure for Mango. 6 blocks and 40 sketchy Thai people later we settled for snacks from 7-11. On the way back I realized how terrible my foot felt and by the time we got back I seriously thought I had broke it. NIGHTMARE. In the end it was nothing but it was fun to be dramatic for the last few hours in Thailand.
The next morning we all left for the airpot... we were heading back to Taiwan for just one night before returning to Italy. :(

Asian Adventure_Taiwan

Part 2- Taipei, Taiwan

Finally we arrived at the conference location. We had two days to explore
around the city before we had to get serious about MUN. So after finally figuring out
our messed up reservation at the hotel, we all showered and got prepared for our first SAFE
asian adventure. We started walking around and ended up in a really cool park. Asians are all
about the fitness and this park was basically an outdoor gym, which we all ran around and played
on for about an hour. After that we set on a mission to find Taipei 101-the second tallest building in the world. The map we had was only in Chinese so it took us about and hour and a half walking in one direction to realize we were walking in the wrong direction. We gave up and got in some taxis and finally reached Taipei 101. Ohmygod. It was so amazing and we went at the perfect time the sun was setting and it was basically empty there was no wait to get to the top. Well it took us 36 seconds to get to go up 90 floors, you go up so fast that your ears actually pop, intense. When we got to the top you could really see how big of a city Taipei was, Rome seemed tiny compared to this city. Amazing though being able to see the sunset and then watch the city virtually light up. After we finished exploring around the top two floors we were all intent on getting some good Chinese food. I had an obsession with getting spring rolls which no restaurants actually have :(. Well the food was amazing at dinner we had to go to a restaurant that had a lot of pictures so that we could actually order something. I ended up getting this amazing fish dinner that was so spicy my face turned bright red and I was basically crying, but it was still really good. Then we all decided to get beers from the 7-11 and throw a little fiesta at the hotel. It ended up being so much fun and all 10 of us laughed the entire night.
The next day the guys went to a baseball game and the girls decided to go shopping/exploring. Kate, Hannah, and I woke up really early and hit the streets. First stop this amazing bakery, I seriously loved this bakery they had so much garlic bread I ate it every day. After the bakery we ventured into a million shops and ended up getting a few things but at this point it was raining and our umbrellas were back at the hotel. On the way back to the hotel we stopped in this shoe store, which was selling all italian shoes anyway but we met a guy who was Taiwanese and he had lived in Texas for 12 years. His english was perfect but it was a riot because he spoke with southern accent and said ya'll but he gave us some good places for shopping and some information on the night markets. When we reached the hotel we rested for a few minute and figured we wouldn't let the rain ruin one of the only free days we had left in Taipei. So we walked in the opposite direction in search of some cool shops markets, or something. After walking into a random spot, we did find a market, It had everything. There was a man getting his hair cut right next to a butcher who I watched kill a chicken right before my eyes. I was shocked. This area was clearly where tourists rarely venture. After walking all around the market we started out again and this time we found a park with chickens and cats running everywhere, this is how I imagined Asia ( Thanks to Mulan) After we figured that we should try some of the street food, honestly it was one of the best decisions we made. The food was incredible. I kept it on the safe side and just ordered the noodles, the meat was too intimidating. The noodles though, AMAZING. They were cold noodles with a sort of creamy peanut sauce, I ended up adding a ton of this spicy sauce, which only made it better. My first street food experience was to say the very least, a success. As the adventure continued we stumbled about The National University of Taiwan. This is the University that was hosting the WorldMUN conference. So we too it upon ourselves to invite ourselves in. CLEARLY, we didn't go there, everyone was starring at us but we didn't care. It was really cool to see how a university in asia works we event went into classrooms. Well finally Kate decided she had to go to the bathroom so Hannah and I waited outside for her. Out of the blue we here this alarm going off( coming from the bathroom) and Hannah and I just thought it was some sort of bell system the university used. Well, we were wrong. very very wrong. Kate came running up to Hannah and I and said "we need to leave right now" In a very worried voice. She had set off the alarm!! We very quickly left the university but not without laughing our heads off first. After a bit more adventuring around we called it a day and went back to the hotel to grab the others for dinner. That night for dinner we went to a sushi restaurant which was amazing and I got dumplings, (Yay!) They were amazing, and after a few us went out for drinks at this bar that was covered in animal fur.
Day 1 of the Conference. The venue was the Taiwanese International Conference Center, everything was basically perfect, except that it was hot and we were all sweating haha. After we registered it was time for the opening ceremony. You would never guess who came to speak to us. The President of Taiwan came and it was amazing I was ten rows away from the President of the Republic of China. Who am I? Well listening to him speak, and being at the opening ceremony got everyone fired up for the conference and it all started that night at Global Village.
Global Village isn't that hard to explain, its more or less a house party for nerds. It was amazing to say the very least. Our team represented Italy, along with two other Italian universities. We were all dressed head to toe in Italian jerseys and Roma shirts. We went crazy dancing, and met a ton of people from all over the world,hence the name WORLDMUN. It was amazing and really set a precedent for the rest of the conference.
Moving on, the next day the conference got started and I was in the Social and Humanitarian Committee. I made some serious moves and worked with the African Union and we got our draft resolution on the board first. After a long day of debate I was ready for some fun in the evening.
All of us figured the famous night market would be the best choice. So we jumped in cabs and made our way to this amazing night market. We had a spice-off between all of us;it ended up being that we all LOVED spicy food so we made it a point to always out spice each other. After our little dinner we all wanted to do some shopping in the night market. We walked around to a bunch of stands and shops, it was really cool and everything was really Asian. When we figured it was time to head out we stopped in a bakery and got a ton of this pastries and cakes. I love cake, seriously. Anyways we went home because the next day was a big day for the conference and we had to focus on the rights of refugees.
Day 3 of the conference was an early day (again ) and we had a morning session that flew by quickly. Kate and I ended up sitting next to some really sweet girls from Abu Dhabi, and I impressed them with my amazing arabic speaking skills. They laughed, naturally, and we ended up hanging out with them for the rest of session. After the debate was over for the day we wanted to go to the biggest night market in Taiwan. But first we had to do some laundry, ( 20 days is really hard to pack for) We found the laundry mat and it was empty so it was really easy to get out stuff done quickly. While we were waiting for our stuff to wash we ventured to this little side street. We saw a little stand with fresh dumplings. I tried the one that looked green, because green means vegetables and that is less intimidating than meat. It ended up being the most amazing thing I had the entire trip. It was this green vegetable I had never had before with noodles. so good. When we went to check back on our laundry we found out that there was a dryer that was HUGE, it probably could have fit like 4 people in it easily, it was hilarious and we couldn't stop laughing when we actually did fit 4 of us in there. When we finished the laundry, we went back to this dumpling place, and this time being more brave I tried the meat dumpling. Best decision I made all day, It was some sort of pork and was delicious.-Kate and I made it a point to come back to this dumpling place, almost every day until we left Taipei. Finally we were off to the biggest night market in Taiwan. The shopping was amazing since it was only Davide, Kate, and I it was really easy to get around and look in a million shops. At one point I spotted a spring roll stand. Since I had this long running obsession with getting a spring roll in an asian country I was so excited to finally eat one. Well no thank you. When they mean sweet and sour, they really mean sweet and sour THEY PUT SUGAR IN EVERYTHING. why? I dont know? but I don't like it. Anyways after i took a few bites of my terrible terrible spring roll, we were on to the next. This market was huge and we found the section with the animals. They were so cute all these little puppies who looked so sad and adorable and I just wanted to take them home. When it was all said and done and we were exhausted we made our way back to the hotel.
On the final day of the conference we had a session really early in the morning which ended early because we finally passed a draft resolution. With the spare time, the entire committee took the time to have a talent show, which was hilarious. It was sad too, a whole week together and now we had to separate. BUT not without going crazy at a club first. After the session we went to this crazy mall with all 10 of us. It was in the shape of a golf ball which I thought was funny. We ate and then walked to the closing ceremony where all the awards were given, it was seriously an amazing week. With the conference officially over, Kate and I hit the streets in Taipei once again. We shopped till it was time to get ready for the final social event. We all went to this club and everyone from the conference was there. I seriously went crazy dancing, it had been a long, stressful, but fun week.
The next day we woke up early in order to get the most out of our last day before heading off to Thailand that night. We all packed and a few of the members of our delegation left early on in the day. We went for lunch all together before the girls left for Thailand. One last stop at the bakery and then the final stop at the dumplings spot. Taipei, Taiwan was amazing and the experience was incredible.

Asian Adventure_China

Part 1: Beijing, China Well, Beijing was strange. Eventful to say the very least. We arrived there early afternoon and it took us almost 2 hours to get through China's intense security. They check your temperature when you are walking through customs. odd. Finally we were on the metro systems Kate, Hannah, and I split off from the others and started our adventure. We navigated to Tiananmen Square. It was amazing. Walking in to the square gave me chills, just thinking about what had happened 20 years ago. And that protest made so much sense, China is beyond communism. It was just so gray, very had to explain but if you imagine the worst possible communist country, there it is. While we were in the square we went through to the Forbidden City, breathtaking, everything (in the square) was painted red and gold. We were starting to wander around when all of the sudden the guards started screaming in Chinese, obviously we didn’t understand so we ignored it (woopsies). well they were yelling at everyone to leave the square so we exited. When we were outside in front of the Mao portrait about 50 people asked to take pictures of us, we were basically the only westerners in site. At one point people started lining up towards the exit so we joined in, about 30 guards were marching out of Tiananmen square and when they came right in front of us they halted quickly, pivoted, and started pushing everyone. it was crazy, and scary. Kate and I started running and screaming but laughing at the same time because i could never imagine people in the United States doing this, ever. After this we met up with everyone again and went to go get dinner, which cost about 50 euro for 12 people and we all got about 3 courses. the food was not what i expected at all but it was still very good After the dinner we separated again and I went to this area that looks exactly like how we imagine China. Red with lanterns hanging everywhere it was amazing. We shopped around and got starbucks and then headed towards the hotel. It cost us less than 10 euro for almost an hour cab ride, it was ridiculous and i was so shocked at how cheap everything was. Apparently everything smelled bad in Beijing, I had a cold so I couldn’t really smell anything ridiculous. Overall the experience in the actual China was interesting. Asia is so different than anything I had ever expected. So far Ive had so much fun and when I get the time I will write about Taipei and then Bangkok.