Let the Journey Begin


Bangkok. Oh!  I love Bangkok! It has everything you need in it, and I find it easy and convenient to deal with this place.

We spent the next few days wandering around the streets. We explored new types of tasty food at the lunch counters and visited beautiful temples, historical sites and shopping malls.

We liked the local transport: tuk-tuks (a 3-wheeler vehicle), local buses, BTS Sky train and Chao Phraya Express Boat – the best thing since sliced bread – the last two were especially impressive compared to my first visit in 1993. They allowed us to leave behind the heavy traffic and travel easily.

Now that I have some experience with the heavy traffic of Bangkok, I will never ever complain again about road no. 4 at Israel, I promise!

Crossing streets in that huge city sometimes made our hearts skip a beat, since Thailand drives on the left side of the road. As time passed, we developed a special strategy to handle it. Luckily, most of the Thai drivers were very patient, they slowed down and let us cross the street safely.

During the day, we visited the tourist sites that we had chosen together and in the evening we went out to enjoy the nightlife.

For Kfir, his intense homesickness began to show its signs. He missed his friends, his grandmother, his “malaby” – his favorite dessert that his grandmother pampers him with every time he visits her or she visits him. He longs for the Lego piles he left packed away in the house. He misses home and his bed, often talking about the things he will do when he returns. His emotions range from immense happiness to abysmal pain.

Kfir often uses WhatsApp to contact his friends and grandmother whenever he had some downtime. Occasionally he tells me "I'm having a hard time, Mom, I really miss home," or "I don’t know how I can be away from home for a whole year.” I pull him in and hug him to close to me, feeling his heart beating fast. Slowly, his tense body lets go and he curls up beside me, protected and safe. We often talk about our feelings openly. "We can always go back home, if you want," I told him. "We can buy a plane ticket at any time. We are free to choose when to return and where to stay." I asked him to give us a chance for our journey and told him that it is natural to appreciate all that is good and wonderful in our lives, and to feel a bit nostalgic. Deep down, I am happy for him, to know that he is surrounded by friends dear to his heart. I am so happy that he misses them, to see how important and meaningful they are to him, I hope he will find the balance point.

On the other hand, I do not feel homesick at all. I look at my family, my partner who is slowly learning to let go and getting into a spontaneous trip, my tough, eldest daughter who looks like she was born to be a nomad, and my youngest son felt so sensitive. My heart swells when I watch them. They are all my world. It is clear to me that wherever we are in the world, when we are together, that is my home.

In the following days, whenever we walked the streets with Kfir we felt that it was becoming an issue. The locals treated him like an animal in a "petting zoo," often showing him too much affection, petting his hair, giving him an unexpected hug, and even starting uncomfortable conversations with him. We tried to calmed down the enthusiasm around him, and over time Kfir himself learned how to set limits to annoying strangers.

The weather started to change; the sky became cloudy, and the air was hot and humid. Occasionally, it rained, which cooled the steaming air a bit. One day, the rain caught us unprepared, and we rushed to find a shelter. We huddled under one of the narrow sheds and waited for the rain to stop. The raindrops whipped our faces, while we stared in the large puddles created by the storm.

"What have you liked most so far?" I asked.

At the top of the list: the winner by far is Wat Pho "The Temple of Reclining Buddha". (Okay, Okay. I admit, I did not build suspense, because everybody gave the same answer at the same time.)

We arrived at the "The Temple of Reclining Buddha" after a visit to Wat Arun.

We crossed the Chao Phraya River by ferry. (It costs only 4 BHT per person.) Then, it’s only a short walk to Wat Pho.
Entrance fee per adult and children: 200 BHT (update to: 26.8.2019).

In second place: The King's Palace, known as The Grand Palace of Thailand.

We chose to travel to the palace by foot from Rd. Rambuttri.  We used the MAPS.ME app, to guide us. After a short time walking, we stood for a moment at a corner of several quiet and abandoned streets, wondering which way to turn. The MAPS.ME app had suddenly frozen.

Out of nowhere somebody appeared.

"Sababa", "Sababa" (a Hebrew slang word meaning 'great' or 'wonderful,' usually used in response to a question) shouted a loud voice. Ha, ha, ha…he giggled. It sounded so hypocritical.

We finally realized he was trying to ask us, "What do you need," in his very broken English.

I ignored the little voice in my head yelling, ‘hold your horses, it's a red flag right there.’ Instead, I asked him for directions to the King's Palace.

 "Ooooh, the place is closed now. There is a holiday, so only from 2:00PM the place will open. I have a friend who works there," he said, nodding his head.

The sirens began to blare in my mind, now. I remembered, for sure, that there was no holiday on this date. The receptionist in our guesthouse showed us the direction on the map and said that the best time to visit was as early as possible, before it gets too hot and crowded with tourists.

The guy smiled and made an effort to look friendly, meanwhile he tried to impress us. He has friends who work in Israel and "blah, blah, blah…" I looked in desperation at my phone's screen, the app was still frozen.  He showed us a map and quickly prepared to submit an offer for a stunning trip around town. "Take a tuk tuk, do not pay more than 30 BHT for all of you, otherwise it's too expensive!" He explained “helpfully.”

I smiled and explained that I am not interested in an organized trip. He continued to insist that it is not an organized trip, just a stunning route we simply have to do. A chance to visit a local floating market, not touristed at all, and then to Wat Arun, and back in time for the King's Palace to open at 14:00 (because of the “special celebrations”). And then, with perfect timing, a tuk tuk appeared, slowed done next to us, and he called the tuk tuk driver to approach. "Take them for 30 BHT, not more," he said waving his finger.

"To the king's palace," I said.  I looked at my kids, they were excited about taking a tuk tuk, and we had already promised them that we would take a tuk tuk ride sometime. So, I agreed to take the tuk tuk, making it clear that our destination is only the King's Palace. However, we found ourselves riding a tuk tuk straight to a famous tourist trap: an exclusive (and expensive!) boat trip to the floating market!

We got off the tuk tuk next to a travel agent for organized trips. At that moment 2 men started to rush towards us to get on the tourist boat. I stood there, shocked. I was so angry. I explained to my children what had just happened here. The tuk tuk driver and the travel agent tried to pressure us to take the boat, but finally they let us go when they saw we were not interested.

I looked at my phone screen, fortunately, the app is working now! A short walk takes us back to the King's Palace. It was open and crowded with tourists, and it looked very impressive!

On our way back, we noticed that along the entire main street leading to the King's Palace there are many "kind" locals, who stop tourists and tell them that the palace is closed. They suggest that they should go to the floating market, which is not touristy at all! A "real authentic" floating market.

Insights: When you notice a red flag, do not ignore it. When a Thai person approaches you and tells you that a particular site is closed and it is better for you to do something else- immediately presenting you a perfect solution at a “good price,” be suspicious!

Our third-place choice: Bangkok National Museum (on the street: Na Phra That, within walking distance of the King's Palace).

Shahaf and her new friend.

30 Baht for Thai citizens and  200 Baht for foreigners.
Students, senior citizens older than 60 years old, ICOM ICOMOS members, monks, novices and priests of other religions are exempted from entrance fee.

In fourth place is Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn). By this time we were already beginning to feel saturated in the temples.

And in a surprising plot twist, we found ourselves spending time at the Siam Center, finally celebrating Shahaf’s birthday at a place Kfir had found online a few weeks before the trip. Mo & Moshi is an ice cream parlor located on the fourth floor of Siam Center, with ice creams of enormous dimensions. If someone had told me that the day would come when I would have eaten 10 different flavors of ice cream in a huge bowl with pieces of bread soaked in it, I would burst out laughing. At the bottom of this decadent dish were chocolate and caramel mousse (a bit harder than expected), and on top was a whipped cloud full of Ferrero Rocher adorning the extravagant dessert.

It took us about ten minutes to demolish this whole confection. Like eagles on prey.

And in honorable mention: Another mall, stunning in its beauty, is EM-QUARTIER , which is next to the EMPORIUM mall. One weekend we decided to visit the malls, which were bustling with life. On the first floor, there was an artists’ and food market and the atmosphere was wonderful.

* * * * *

The day before our trip to Kanchanaburi, we walked towards the train station to buy tickets in advance. In retrospect, it turned out not to be necessary, however what started as an easy hike, became one of our weirdest days. We walked on narrow bridges over canals in the quiet part of Bangkok, between deteriorating houses on stilts. Some heads peered out at us, with smiling faces, then waved goodbye with their hands. Occasionally, someone came up and pointed out the right path between the tangle of canals and bridges. Suddenly, we arrived at the local school, just at the end of the school day. Cute children crowded around us enthusiastically. Unfortunately, we couldn't understand their questions. We stopped at the many food stalls in the area we bought delicious sushi. It was so tasty that we returned to buy some more. The vendor was surprised and happy. We tried to tell her that her sushi is super, but once again, there was a language barrier, so we just smiled at each other.

The path towards Kanchanaburi's train station is near a colorful market with many kinds of fruits, vegetables, and meat stalls. The other side the road is deserted along the railway tracks. As we walked down the abandoned path, we suddenly noticed a beautiful, well-groomed wig carefully placed on the fence. The four of us stood and looked in amazement, wondering 'what is this wig doing here? in the middle of nowhere?’ 

"In memoriam." Kfir determined so dramatically we couldn’t help but laugh.

The sound of local music rose from the nearby market. As the stalls closed one by one, teenagers began to gather, climbing on one of the empty stalls and starting to dance enthusiastically. Very quickly, the king and queen of the group can be spotted, taking their place in the center of the circle and dancing sensually. We turn back towards the ferry and go to the hotel.

We were struck by what sounded like quite sombre music coming from the direction of the river. As we get closer, we noticed a lot of people around. Very quickly, we realized we could not get on a ferry, because there was some ceremony on the river. One of the policemen kindly approached us and tried to explain what was happening. He led us to a better vantage point overlooking the river. At this point, many people were already flocking to the banks of the river and taking pictures. Beyond the fact that these are “rehearsals for the ceremony that will take place in October in honor of the King” (hopefully I understood Google Translate from Thai correctly), I was not really able to follow the explanations. 

"Two hours, rehearsals will continue," the policeman informed us via the app. At the end of rehearsals, the area was completely emptied. We turned towards the ferry to cross the river but ran into another obstacle. 

"Impossible" says the policeman from before. “Tonight, the boat traffic in the river is stopped until the next morning.” 

I sigh, ‘Couldn't you say first?’ I thought to myself. Where are all the taxis when you need them? How is it that everyone disappeared?


Getting to Kanchanaburi is possible by train from Tenbury Station in Bangkok. For those staying near the Khao San Road area it is advisable to head towards the main street to stop a taxi and ask for a meter run. The cost is about 60 BHT. The advantage of exiting the main street is that you can find an alert taxi driver, who does not fall asleep, or get drunk, or try to bring you to the floating market that is “not at all touristy.”

The Thonburi Train Station, looking like it was stuck in time, was a memorable sight.

The usher will strike the bell to signal the locomotive to stop or set off. It is advisable to arrive about half an hour before the train leaves. The first train to Kanchanaburi leaves at 7:50 in the morning; the tickets can be purchased at the ticket window and there is no need to book in advance. The first car is a " VIP " carriage with upholstered seats. The rest of the train has wooden seats. The journey takes about three hours. 

Luckily, we had thought to bring food and water with us for the way. The selection offered in carriages by women with large baskets was not particularly appetizing.

We stayed a short walk from Kanchanaburi train station at Siam Guesthouse. The place was small and cozy, and we had 2 spacious rooms connected by a door. The owner of the place is young and friendly, and we felt very welcomed.

On a walking tour of the quiet town, we visited the War Museum, the famous “bridge over the River Kwai”, and the military cemetery, which was built in memory of soldiers from the British and Dutch armies who were captured by the Japanese during World War II. Most of them died during forced labor while building the railway leading to Burma. 

"Mommy," Kfir called me excitedly, "look, there are gravestones of Jewish soldiers here." I took advantage of the day to give them a history lesson. Some experiences can achieve us what can’t be taught with textbooks and classrooms alone.  

In the evening when we returned from the restaurant back to the hotel, I suddenly saw a cockroach very close to Kfir's leg. Having learned from experience the excellent climbing abilities of the cockroaches in Bangkok, I jumped heroically to save Kfir from a similar fate. Kfir jumped right after me with a shout, and Shahaf and Itzik, who did not understand what it was about, jumped up and screamed as well. So, for a few seconds we stood on the street corner bouncing on our feet and screaming, when in fact no one but me understood what the fuss was about. When I noticed the cockroach disappearing lazily in one of the manhole’s covers. I stopped jumping and immediately everyone calmed down. 

"What happened?" Everyone asked in panic. 
"Ahh, a cockroach almost climbed on Kfir’s leg," I reply calmly.
"Mom, you caused a ‘panic-chain-reaction'," Kfir giggled.

The area was beautiful, immersed in green. We made our way to one of the most amazing places we had seen so far:
Arawan Waterfalls- The Seven Waterfalls Nature Reserve. We hired a Grab driver and made an agreement with him that he would wait for us, four hours, in the nature reserve.

The Seven Waterfalls, spectacular in a turquoise hue. Most tourists concentrate on the two lower waterfalls. However, we did not get lazy and climbed to the seventh waterfall and there we were rewarded with our own private paradise.

Chiang Mai

The trip on the night bus passed us pleasantly. We even managed to have a nap from time to time, sleeping surprisingly well. We left the Central Station for the main road and boarded a local bus on our way to our next accommodation – The corner Inn 2. The owner of the place greets us with a smile, and gives us the good news that our room is ready early. The room is free and clean, ready for you. He accompanies us to the room, puts four bottles of water in the fridge for us, and leaves. The hostel turns out to be quite a pleasant place even though the appearance didn’t quite live up to the pictures on the It was very basic but comfortable.

"I’m going to check my messages," Kfir declared giddily. I smiled at him and turned to arrange some clean clothes for myself after a shower.

"Why is Kiki's screen cracked?"

I will never forget Kfir’s voice mixed with horror. I turned slowly, looking at the shattered tablet screen. Kfir's broken look is reflected to me through the shards. I hurried to hug him to me and blinked quickly to expel the tears that began to accumulate. I tried to organize my thoughts, running quickly in my head. I could not understand what happened, Kiki had been placed with reverence in a tablet case. We did not take our eyes off it, and carried it very carefully throughout all our journey.

Kiki had been purchased about a year before we set out on the journey. One hot summer day, we decided that we needed to arrange our back yard. Representatives from three separate landscaping companies came to our house and gave us a price quote. One of them even started to dig and, suddenly, he disappeared without saying a word nor taking his salary for the hours he had worked.
Itzik and I were very confused. We were willing to pay any amount, including meals and drinks! We really tried to give the best hospitality for the workers, so we could not understand what went wrong? Why was no one willing to take on that task?! 
Helpless, we decided to carry out the task ourselves and soon the nightmare began. Beneath the pile of soil was buried building rubble left over from the construction of the house (which is illegal in Israel). We started cleaning off the area with our hands. Kfir saw our efforts from his bedroom window. He came down quickly to help us. Soon his sister joined too. Within a few hours we finished filling up four large garbage sacks and sending them with a truck to a place designated for disposal of building materials. 
With some of the money we inevitably saved by completing the job ourselves, we decided to go on a short family vacation. With the leftover money we wanted to share with our children. When Kfir turned to pamper us with chilled ice cream from the freezer, we plotted with Shahaf.
"We plan to buy Kfir a tablet with the money divided between you," I share. Shahaf was happy to join in our plan, even offering to contribute some of her portion to purchase the tablet.
The next week, we all went the mall together. Upon entering an electronics store, we finally announced to him, "You can choose a tablet for yourself." He beamed happily, leaving the store embracing his new Asus tablet, a touch screen that would later be called "Kiki." Kfir cherishes his Kiki with great love. He kept the device with great care. 
As our trip approached, we purchased a SIM card to allow him to connect to WhatsApp so that during our journey he could keep in touch with his friends.

Helpless, we decided to carry out the task ourselves and soon the nightmare began. Beneath the pile of soil was buried building rubble left over from the construction of the house (which is illegal in Israel). We started cleaning off the area with our hands. Kfir saw our efforts from his bedroom window. He came down quickly to help us. Soon his sister joined too. Within a few hours we finished filling up four large garbage sacks and sending them with a truck to a place designated for disposal of building materials. 

When I realized what had happened, I galloped down the stairs. I consulted with the owner of the guesthouse on where we could fix the beloved Kiki. He marked, on a map, two shops he knew and recommended.

And so it began, as we attempted to find a repair shop. In both shops they looked sadly at the screen and informed us, "We do not repair Asus. Try another shop.” They then gave us another address, but alas we were told, “Try the Asus Repair shop." They gave us yet another address to locate. The fourth shop we arrived at, belonged to Asus. We traveled there with hope. Kfir entered with confidence and extended Kiki with both hands to the technician. The guy smiled at Kfir. "Wait a minute," he said. Finally, a technician who could understand English, I whisper to him, "Please, no matter the price, just save us the tablet." In my heart I whisper, ‘save us Kfir's smile.’ He bowed and disappeared into the back.

A few long minutes passed. Finally, he returned with our dear Kiki in his hands. His body language informed me that the situation was difficult. He approached Kfir, leaned over and carefully handed him Kiki. "I'm sorry," he said in a quiet voice. He looked up at me, "I'm so sorry." After a moment he added, "We do not have this model in Thailand. I tried to check with the manufacturer what can be done. Try in your country. Where are you from?" 

"From Israel," I answered. 

"Maybe there they will be able to repair it," he lowered his voice so that the next sentence could only reach my ears. "It is better to buy a new one, I think, the repair will cost much more than buying a new device." 

I thank him and we leave the shop with a heavy heart. How can we explain that our Kiki is priceless?

The rain fells and mixed with the quiet tears that ran down his face. I offer him a hug and he curled up next to me. Now his young body is shaking with tears.

The following week, Kfir’s mood would crash from time to time with intense longing for Kiki. After some days, he approached me and said, "I want to do a farewell ceremony." 

We wanted to support him in the ceremony. He smashed to pieces what was left of his beloved Kiki, leaving only the memory card in his hands. Decisively he descended to one of the trash cans on the street and quickly dumped the debris. He whispered something, gathered himself, and turned to me smiling a sad smile.

We drove to Buathong Falls – The Sticky Waterfalls, and had a wonderful day. Kfir was busy climbing the rocks of the waterfall. ‘He found his smile again,’ I thought with relief.

Near our place of residence there was a night market, which offered wonderfully delicious local cuisine. We enjoyed going every evening and choosing different dishes for us to eat. The stallholders already recognized us by our names and were happy to see us there. 

The market is located next to the Ping River on the banks of which are scattered benches. 

I sat down on a bench in front of the river, handing my wallet to the children. "Treat me to some Thai Roti with a banana," I said in a flattering voice. Itzik and the children turned and went to the Roti booth.

Facing the river, I sank into contemplation. However, my thoughts were quickly interrupted by a whimper. I look up. Shahaf ran to me, her face red and teary. I got to my feet and opened my arms. She threw herself into me. 

"What happened?" I asked in a panic. 

Her voice choked in tears "A bee stung me." She raised her hand to show me a large, swollen bite on the back of her palm. "Dad took out the stinger and Kfir brought me ice from the stall next door." 

Shahaf had graduated the previous year from the "First Aid" course at "Technoda" in Givat Olga (Israel). She understood the need to calm down quickly and wait to make sure she would not develop a severe allergic reaction. She stayed curled up in my arms. I continued to hug her. I inhaled her sweet scent, noticing the ironic cheerfulness that filled my heart. My baby had come back to me. How much I missed her.

Shahaf scolded the bee. I nodded in agreement. But, in my heart I loved the bee with all my soul. Forty minutes later we returned to our room and the magical moment had passed. Thankfully, beyond the swollen and sore palm for a few days, there was no acute allergic reaction.

One evening, we chose to walk to the main night market. Once again using the navigation app that occasionally gets stuck and entangles us in dark alleys. We unintentionally interrupt a man who was urinating under the cover of darkness. Kfir and Shahaf broke out into rolling laughter, the first in a long time. My pity went out to the guy, but very quickly the sound of their contagious laughter made Itzik and I burst out laughing as well. 

We exited the dark alley and found our way back to the market. Kfir wiped his lips with a napkin. "Mom, this is exactly what I needed!" He said enthusiastically. "I’ll order another tray," and he turned back to the stall. 

I looked at him attentively. It seemed to me that he had aged. As if feeling my gaze, he turned back, our eyes met. He signaled the "thumbs up" with his hand and returned to have small talk with the girl at the booth. Minutes later he returned with an Italian pizza tray in his hands. 

"Let’s come here again!" He suggested.

In Chiang Mai, we found a cooking class. After a conversation with the instructor of the course, I (a person who wholeheartedly hates to cook) decided, in a particularly brave moment, to sign up. 

The next day, early in the morning, we met our smiling and patient guide, Tiki. She took us to the local morning market to get acquainted with the cooking ingredients we would purchase, according to the dishes we had chosen to prepare ahead of time. From there, we continued to an organic farm where we learned to make the authentic Thai dishes. The ever-helpful Tiki ran back and forth between the four of us explaining in fluent English every step of the cooking instructions, and soon we had a beautiful and delicious meal in front of us.

Going out to pick fresh vegetables and fruits on the farm

The day passed so quickly, it was delicious and fun to cook. At the end of the day, we received a recipe booklet. In the booklet an exact list of ingredients for each and every recipe, and a clear explanation accompanied by detailed photos of each step. I could see for a moment in my mind's eye how I would stand in my home kitchen, preparing fine delicacies. Well, not really…

I looked at the clock, it was already late at night. Only a few more hours before we would be saying goodbye to Chiang Mai. Our backpacks were packed, except for last items that will be put at the last minute. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Just before I fell asleep, I thought to myself that in only the few short days that have passed since we set out on this journey, each of us has already matured a little in his or her own way.

“there ain't no journey what don't change you some.” (David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas)

As I drift off, I wonder where else the journey will lead us…

להשאיר תגובה

הזינו את פרטיכם בטופס, או לחצו על אחד מהאייקונים כדי להשתמש בחשבון קיים:

הלוגו של

אתה מגיב באמצעות חשבון שלך. לצאת מהמערכת /  לשנות )

תמונת Facebook

אתה מגיב באמצעות חשבון Facebook שלך. לצאת מהמערכת /  לשנות )

מתחבר ל-%s