by Yim Yam guest, traveler, and yogini Jacinta Harford
After an especially satisfying yoga class at Yim Yam Hostel & Garden on Tuesday, I got to thinking, yoga while traveling really is a great idea. Why? Well, there are the obvious benefits. Sitting hunched up on buses, boats and planes gets a traveler’s muscles all tight and uncomfortable. My back aches after a long bus ride or a plane journey with annoying stopovers on hard plastic airport chairs. Yoga can help to stretch out these muscles and to focus your mind on where the tension is, allowing you to release it.
And another thing, it helps you sleep deeper. This is an excellent asset while in a dorm, with the rise and fall of fellow travelers snoring to contend with. And a good sleep means you’ll be less tired and more awake for the sights and sounds of your destination. Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath and focus on the present, allowing calm and restoration. This is great for travellers who are hounded with new and sometimes stressful situations every day.
Also, yoga drains your lymphs and boosts immunity which is great when eating an array of delicious food that has almost certainly been prepared in a way your body is not used to. It’s great for posture, which is important when taking a myriad of selfies at your destination. And best of all, it helps you focus. Yoga practice is mindful and trains you to think in the present. And that is an excellent way to enjoy traveling and every luscious thing that comes with it.
Come practice Yim Yam Yoga with us! Free and open to all every Tuesday evening at 6pm.
Tuk Tuk Hopis a great way to explore Bangkok’s temples! Bangkok is an enormous city and its public transportation systems aren’t the easiest to figure out for travelers. It seems every destination requires a different and sometimes confusing combination of Skytrain, bus, ferry boat, taxi, tuk tuk, Metro, etc. Some of the most historic and famous destinations in Bangkok aren’t anywhere close to the BTS Skytrain or Metro lines. What’s a budget-conscious traveler to do?
Enter Tuk Tuk Hop! Tuk Tuk Hop is a new mobile app which is kind of like Uber for tuk tuks in the historic old city area of Bangkok. Users pay a flat fee for unlimited tuk tuk rides from 8:30am-6pm. The service area includes 23 available drop-off/pick-up locations at points of interest. Basically, you get to create your own tour by picking and choosing where you want to go in what order and not having to walk the long, sweaty kilometers in between destinations! Just download the free app, pay, and enjoy personalized service by certified TukTukHop drivers! If you don’t have a Thai data plan on your phone, TukTuk Hop will even rent you a WiFi device for the day.
Here’s a short video explaining #TukTukHop!
For our Tuk Tuk Hop tour, we started by getting ourselves to Wat Arun then Wat Pho using the BTS to Saphan Taksin then the Chao Phraya river-crossing ferry boat. Wat Pho is home to the world’s largest reclining Buddha! It was truly impressive.
From Wat Pho, we ordered our first tuk tuk ride to the Grand Palace! It was great not having to negotiate for an overpriced taxi. We just waited at the point marked on our app for our certified TukTuk Hop driver. He knew exactly how to go to avoid some of the traffic around the Grand Palace (“Sanam Luang”) and get us where we wanted to be. Around the palace, we got to witness the massive crowds of mourners there to honor the late King Rama IX. What a special time to be in Bangkok!
After walking through two temples and around the Grand Palace we were starving so it was time to chow! We had heard that there were a lot of good restaurants around The Giant Swing, which was another Tuk Tuk Hop stop, so we ordered another ride and jumped in! Riding in tuk tuks and feeling the breeze as you dodge traffic is definitely the most fun way to get around the busy Bangkok streets!
For those confused by the Giant Swing, we learned that it was formerly used in an old Hindu religious ceremony where men would have a swinging competition symbolizing “swinging their way into heaven.” The ceremony was stopped in 1935 after several people died! Now the huge swing structure serves as a landmark in Bangkok and there are many great Thai restaurants nearby. We found some vegetarian noodle soup from a small shophouse to satisfy our hunger and enjoyed seeing lots of shops selling golden Buddhas and Hindu relics for temples— so cool!
After our late lunch we didn’t have too much time left, so we decided to grab our tuk tuk and hit up one more temple — Wat Benchamabophit, “The Marble Temple.” This amazing place is made completely of Italian marble and it is stunning!
You can go to way more places than this using Tuk Tuk Hop if you start early enough! We recommend starting right at 8:30am so that you can use the service all day and really get your money’s worth. It’s such a fantastic way to experience all the most famous historic sites in Bangkok without spending all your time and energy walking! Tuk Tuk Hop is also offering 10% off their normal price AND free umbrella rental for the rest of 2017!
With Loy Krathong festival happening in Bangkok this week, it’s a perfect time to take a trip to one of the city’s best temples! The Golden Mount, or Wat Saket, is Bangkok’s highest temple, at the top of 344 winding steps! Check out our video which takes you all the way to the top! It’s absolutely amazing at sunset. Below the temple at the Phranfa Bridge, we got to participate in the Loy Krathong festival. Loy Krathong is a special Thai festival taking place during November’s full moon each year. People release “krathong” offerings — little boats made from banana leaves, flowers, candles, and incense — on the canals and lakes as a religious ceremony. The festival originated as a way to honor the river goddess, but it also has Buddhist meaning. “The candle venerates the Buddha with light, while the krathong’s floating symbolizes letting go of all one’s hatred, anger, and defilements.”
In the video you can see a lot of the different, colorful krathongs you can buy. The festival continues for a few more days so make sure to get your krathong and participate at any body of water in the city!
Tonight is Loi Krathong, a special Thai festival in which people release floating candle offerings on the canals and lakes as a religious ceremony. “The candle venerates the Buddha with light, while the krathong’s floating symbolizes letting go of all one’s hatred, anger, and defilements.”
Ask our staff for the best places to go to see the floating candles tonight at sunset!