A Travellerspoint blog

Thailand

Jet Lag and the 2nd Day Slump...

...no it's not an 80's rock band....

semi-overcast 91 °F

03-06 April 2017

I'd really forgotten how jet lag can affect one's general well being...

We left Tucson at 0500 embarking on a long trip that ended in Bangkok - Tucson to San Francisco to Tokyo and on to Bangkok...arriving just about 30 hours later. There are different theories as to how to avoid jet lag. I've decided the only way is to "not travel" which is not in our playbook. We know it will go away...but you just never are sure how long that will take. And it definitely affects each person differently.

As I write this from Sri Lanka, I'm feeling pretty good. But even after two days in Bangkok, Jim and Brenda are still feeling that "2nd day slump".

Bangkok was not all sleep. We arrived late on the the 4th with a winning smile from Karan, the owner of Focal Local.

I can't usually sleep on planes and this trip was no different. I did catch about an hour on each long leg but not enough to impede sleep when we got to Bangkok. It was right to bed and we all crashed..until about 0600.

Yes, we've stayed at Focal Local on a past trip. This time we are staying in their new building - and it's all Karan - light, comfortable and very welcoming. Right next door to their original building, this one works in the outdoor space that building #1 lacked. Having coffee on the third floor patio, watching this small neighborhood wake up, made us feel immersed in a slower paced area of this crazy city.

Focal Local

Focal Local

Focal Local - the new building

Focal Local - the new building

We started our first day in Bangkok with a local dish - Chicken Basil and rice and a plate of sweet succulent fruit....yes...breakfast.
Patty and Brenda - First tuk tuk ride of the trip..

Patty and Brenda - First tuk tuk ride of the trip..

Brenda hadn't visited the Golden Buddha so our goal is to make our way to Chinatown. Tuk tuk to the ferry to cross the river and another ferry up the river ....but we miss the ferry stop #5 and end up at #6. That gave us an opportunity to wander the morning flower market to the color and fragrance...most being made for temple offerings.

Golden Buddha

Golden Buddha

With the Golden Buddha still in mind and our trusty map in hand, we knew we were headed in the right direction. We did decide that before the afternoon got too long that, maybe, just a little lunch would work. There is no science as to how we pick places to eat....it's more like "this looks good" and I have to say there haven't been too many that weren't. We were the only three for lunch today ( it was about 2pm) which meant we had the chance to chat with the owner of this family run business. She shared that her family was Chinese and she was the youngest of 10. Her two young sons (5 and 2 1/2) played in the dining area while we ate - grabbing quiet glances at the "customers". The young proprietess shared info about the photos hanging on the walls and also pulled out her five year olds class picture and proudly shared that he is going to school at the "Grand Palace" - which is as one would assume, on the grounds of THE Grand Palace. With photos taken..we were off.Chinatown lunch stop

Chinatown lunch stop

Jim and I had visited the Golden Buddha on our first trip to Thailand in 2002 and the temple complex has definitely changed. The temple itself is still small but now shares the area with a museum. The story of he Golden Buddha is quite interesting.

The hot weather drove us back to our guesthouse for an afternoon nap and our goal was foot massages early evening and then dinner. A stroll down the busy local street brought us to the massage parlor (though that sounds really bad ...it's just a good foot massage) :-) There was a wait for the massages so we decided to forgo and head to dinner - local Thai/Chinese place just around the corner from our guesthouse...good local food at good local prices. Hopefully it will help us sleep tonight.

Day 2 - sleep was restless but we enjoyed coffee on the balcony waiting for the rest of the guesthouse to wake up.
(Travel tip - I pack coffee packets called "3-1" which have sugar and creamer. I get them at the LeeLee's Asian Grocery store but I know that Starbucks also has them without the extras. Most guesthouse rooms in Asia have a electric tea pot. It's nice to have that option)

Having missed our massage the night before it was Jim's job to find a place for some relaxation for later this afternoon.

Destination today...Jim Thompson House. Jim Thompson was an American who was integral in bringing Thai silk to it's present day status. Again, we'd been there back in 2002 and the whole complex has vastly changed. You used to be able to just wander through on your own before or after visiting the silk shop. Now, there are guides and one is asked to secure bags/backpacks in a locker before the tour. I have to believe that valuable items may have "gone missing" over time. The young woman who was our guide was very informative and on this trip I really appreciated the items in Mr. Thompson's collection.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim Thompson House

Around the corner from JIm Thompson's house is a main shopping area - Siam Paragon/MBK etc. Huge shopping, eating, cinema complexes. I realized when I got here that I had forgotten to pack my SD card adapter. FYI - MBK sells "everything". If they don't have it ..you don't need it.

From MBK it was off to find Asia Herbal for our hour foot massages ($15).

Hopefully our relaxing massages will help with sleep tonight as we will be off EARLY for our flight to Sri Lanka. Originally, our flight was scheduled to leave about 10am but the airline changed it to 0515...aghhhh. So we're up at 0230 for a 0315 pick up and a 0400 check in.

We're really excited about Sri Lanka..beaches, mountains, lush and tropical and our first time....

Posted by pjburke 19:54 Archived in Thailand Comments (4)

Still Beachin' It

Koh Samui - Part II

sunny 90 °F

22 August 2013

Found another new place for breakfast – little shop called the Coffee Cup, which was another suggestion from Apple and again...really good food.

After breakfast, Jim and I took a walk this morning down to Bophut. It’s an Old Fisherman’s Village which now seems to be more hotels, shops and restaurants – a little more upscale (read: more expensive) than Bangrak. It’s a couple of miles away, or maybe it just seemed that way in the heat. Our thought was to walk down and take a songtaew (open sided pickup trucks that run all along the road) back. One stopped for us and we told him Big Buddha. We should have been more specific because he gave us a price of 100 baht – which seemed a bit high until we realized he meant to “the” Big Buddha. Not having visited the local spot, and with nothing else on our agenda, we continued past Boardroom and out to the end of the small peninsula where we visited….the Big Buddha.

Main Street at Fisherman's Village - Bophut

Main Street at Fisherman's Village - Bophut

Old Fisherman's Village

Old Fisherman's Village

Big Buddha Temple

Big Buddha Temple

Big Buddha Statue

Big Buddha Statue

View of Boardroom from Big Buddha Temple

View of Boardroom from Big Buddha Temple


After a quick visit, we were walking just outside the Big Buddha temple area and two guys on moto stopped us. We thought they were looking for directions. Well, no, what it turned out to be was a time share presentation. With nothing else to do and with no intentions of buying a time share we agreed to go. Also, Jim had won a t-shirt and I “won” a big prize. We’ll see!!! They flagged down a taxi, one of the guys goes with us and the other follows on the moto. Within a few minutes, we arrive at a new construction site set up to impress customers. We’re seated and offered refreshments and a young lady comes out and asks for some basic information. She tells us someone will be with us in a few minutes. In a very few minutes she comes back and tells us “no one is available to see us right now but that I will still get my prize”. I could tell she was nervous as she scraped off the little sticker to tell me which of four prizes I had won. It showed I won a week at one of their holiday resorts. I’m not sure what she would have done if I had won the Ipad, Iphone or the $1000. I was given a certificate, Jim got his t-shirt and we got a ride back to our hotel.
Note: When I tried to sign in to claim my free week, we found out, the promotion was limited to citizens of Australia and New Zealand. We didn’t really care, it was just a diversion for us but this company might want to tell their employees what are the qualifications. The guys on the moto (two French guys, very polite and professional) were expecting a commission – which I doubt they ever got.

So much for our daily excitement……it was time for a swim and dinner at Frenchy’s……really good! Early night for us – we’re off on a snorkeling trip tomorrow.

23 August 2013 – Snorkeling trip

We’re up early to grab a quick breakfast and it’s off to 100 Degrees East. We met the rest of our group, get fitted for fins and we’re off.
Our group of 11 was Jim, me, Cameron from California (born in Scottsdale-small world) and a family of eight from the UK near Manchester. This family was very unique: beside Mum and Dad, there were three adult children and three younger adopted children, two with special needs. Any worries I might have had about the younger kids on the boat were baseless. We had a wonderful day!!!! The staff from 100 degrees could not have been more gentle, caring and professional with all aboard. We all participated in all the activities and the crew members helped a lot with the kids. Wonderful family, wonderful trip, wonderful day!!!

100 Degree East

100 Degree East

100 degrees east.....

100 degrees east.....

Kayaking in Angthong

Kayaking in Angthong

Angthong National Marine Park

Angthong National Marine Park

P and J in Angthong National Marine Park

P and J in Angthong National Marine Park

Long tailed langur monkeys in Angthong

Long tailed langur monkeys in Angthong


My only downer, yes, I’m getting another cold!!!

24 August 2013

Restless sleep due to my head cold!! Shit,shit,shit!

We decided to go to the Coffee cup for breakfast because there is a pharmacy close by. Hope the cold pills will help. Apple taught me a Thai phrase “Mai Sa Bai” (not sure about the spelling) – means “I don’t feel good”.

“Do nothing” day. We were going to go to Daetong for dinner but when I feel like crap – why spend the $$.

Boy Thai Food instead – nothing like noodle soup when you’re not feeling great. We stopped at the Chill Out on our way home. Joy was patiently waiting for customers, so we had a lovely chat with her before wandering back to our bungalow.

25 August 2013

Still…really don’t feel well but one does need sustenance. We stopped by Frenchy’s for breakfast. He told us that on Monday (coincidentally, our last night), he was making a special dinner. It would be a set menu with family seating and the menu would include fish, lamb and other items for 500 baht ($15). We love his food and can’t think of any better way to spend our last night but I was glad it would be Monday and not tonight. We’re looking forward to Chris’s Aussie Steak BBQ at the Chill Out.

Spent the rest of the day in bed or reading – I wanted to have a little energy left for the evening. It always feels good to grab a swim. On our way to the beach, we met the cute couple staying in #1. We really couldn’t miss him; he was the guy with the cast on his leg. Now that’s a real bummer…. They were over in Koh Pha Ngan, on motos and had a bit of a mishap – all without benefit of alcohol. They were heading home (Paris – but she is from Virginia Beach) tomorrow. Hope the flight went well.

We headed over to the Chill Out about 7ish – good crowd already there. 120 baht (about $4) for a great grilled steak sandwich with grilled onions. We haven’t had much western food at all, so this was a special treat – especially being done so well.

The Chill Out is closed on Mondays so this was our time to say farewell (yes another, “until we meet again”) to Joy. She’s already told us we need to come back next year. You never know!!!

Aussie BBQ at the Chill Out

Aussie BBQ at the Chill Out

Aussie Steak BBQ

Aussie Steak BBQ

Chris the BBQ chef!!!

Chris the BBQ chef!!!

Chill Out - friendly place in Koh Samui

Chill Out - friendly place in Koh Samui

Chillin' at the Chill Out

Chillin' at the Chill Out

Joy and Jim

Joy and Jim

Chill Out on BBQ Night

Chill Out on BBQ Night

26 August 2013- last day

We were supposed to go on a snorkeling trip to Koh Tao today but cancelled yesterday due to my cold. We did talk with Cas and Ivan (from 100 degrees) last night and they were able to fill our spots. So I guess us canceling gave someone else an opportunity to go. Gotta look for the “up” side!!

I laid low for the day, took a swim and finished the Chiang Mai portion of the website.

7ish we wandered over to Frenchy’s. He had his special menu posted outside with some new information – it was his birthday.

Happy Birthday Menu at Frenchy's

Happy Birthday Menu at Frenchy's

I guess when chef’s want to celebrate they do what they love to do…cook and he sure did.

We joined a table with Jean-Paul and Jean-Paul and three Brits (Lucy, Steven and Adam) from the Manchester area. The night turned out wonderfully. We started with a yummy rum/coconut drink, served in a coconut invented by Ta, Frenchy’s 2nd in charge. Our first course was a spicy Burmese Pork Rib Salad, followed by a beautiful Sweet and Sour Tilapia. There ended up being three fish for the table and Jim took the helm thus naming him “the fish sommelier” by Frenchy. As if that wasn’t enough, then arrived the leg of lamb…the juicy, beautiful leg of lamb and to accompany it, some nice red wine (which was also a special treat for me). Crème caramel would finish the meal and with it, the third (or fourth) round of “Happy Birthday. What a lovely way to end our stay in Koh Samui !!

Burmese Pork Rib Salad

Burmese Pork Rib Salad

Jim and Jean-Paul

Jim and Jean-Paul

D516A1242219AC6817606E7EB801DBD9.jpgSweet and Sour Tilapia - Frenchy's Treat

Sweet and Sour Tilapia - Frenchy's Treat

The chef and his leg....of lamb

The chef and his leg....of lamb

Creme Caramel - Frenchy's

Creme Caramel - Frenchy's

Patty and Patrick

Patty and Patrick


27 August 2013

Breakfast again at Coffee Cup and farewell to Pang.

Coffee Cup

Coffee Cup

Jim and Pang at the Coffee Cup

Jim and Pang at the Coffee Cup


Our flight isn’t leaving until 315pm so we still have most of the day in KS. Thanks to Chris and Apple who were able let us stay in our room till we needed to go to the airport.

One last swim, packing and hugs with Chris and Apple ….very sad. We’ve really enjoyed our stay here. Chris and Apple have made us feel so at home, Jim was trying to figure out how to stay longer …but time marches on, as must we. On to new cities and new adventures!!

Recommendations for Koh Samui (Bangrak, Big Buddha Beach area):

Boardroom Beach Bungalows: www.flyinghighsamui.com (or book with hostelworld.com or hostels.com)

If they’re full, try Frenchy’s (http://frenchys-restaurant.com) and even if you don’t stay there – eat there – you won’t be disappointed.

Snorkel/Dive Trips – 100 Degrees East (www.100degreeseast.com)

Seafood and a great view at Daetong Seafood, Antica Locanda for great pizza, Coffee Cup for breakfast, lunch or an early dinner and last but definitely, not least – a cold one at the Chill Out!! You won’t find a friendlier bunch of people.

Sunset

Sunset


Posted by pjburke 21:55 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

We're havin' a Beachin' Time

Koh Samui, Thailand.....Part 1

sunny 92 °F

18 August 2013

Up way too early to make our flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, four hour layover and then on to Nakhon Si Thammarat (south of Surat Thani on Thailand’s east coast). From the airport, we’re herded onto a very interesting bus for an almost two hour bus ride to Donsak Pier where, due to a short stop with a police officer, we missed the ferry to Koh Samui. Fortunately, the ferries are quite frequent and we’re off to KS without too much of a delay. As always, a cold beer helps our parched throats and we spent our time chatting with a great NZ couple who had been on island for a few weeks for their honeymoon. I did find it interesting that one of the passengers felt it necessary to yell at the ferry rep because we missed the ferry and she would be getting in late…hmmm – nice attitude to start a holiday. Glad we weren’t traveling with her.

76E0F6FA2219AC6817AD26E051CCAC09.jpg

The ferry ride was another two hours and it was dark was we approached the island; a sprinkling of lights could be seen sporadically edging the island. A short “discussion” with a cab driver (we agreed on 700baht) and we’re off to Boardroom Beach Bungalows which is on Big Buddha (Bangrak) Beach. We thought it would be about a 30 minute ride but actually it’s about a 45 minutes even with very little traffic. I had a contact number and our driver used it to locate the owner of our accommodations. The driver pulled over as we were waved down on the street by a rugged “Curtis Stone” look alike who turned out to be the owner, Chris.

With a friendly “Hello Mate”, we were lead down a dark, garden path arriving at a cottage #3 which would be our home for the next five nights: not too big, not too small - just right. A trip that started at 0600, ended at about 10pm, with two tired, hungry and thirsty people. Two of the three were easy to take care of: the small Thai café next to Chris’s bar – The Chill Out, was open – good food . A quick stop at 7-11, and with beer and snacks in hand, we were back to our bungalow, almost falling into bed. The only small problem was that when I “fell” into bed – so did the bed…fall apart that is. Jim, who is known to sleep just about anywhere, changed sides with me, only saying “we’ll talk to Chris tomorrow”. Now, that is tired!!!!

19 August 2013

We woke to a beautiful blue sky and warm sea breezes after a rather lopsided but good night sleep. First things first….Jim walked the 100 feet down to Chris’s small beachfront home and chatted about the bed. No worries, we’ll have a new one for you this afternoon. Really??? Hmmmm….and with that and a recommendation (from Apple, Chris’s wife), we wandered down road for ,what would be more than a few, breakfasts at Frenchy’s. Three different types of breakfast: Irish, French or Thai – for 99 baht (about $3). We had the Thai and it was soooo good. Thai breakfast is well cooked rice soup with chicken, pork or shrimp and usually some scallions and whatever the cook decides to add. Patrick’s recommendation was to add a raw egg to Jim’s, which he mixed in with the broth. The egg made the soup rich and silky – I guess I’ll have to try that next time.

Paradise at the Boardroom

Paradise at the Boardroom

76E2F1642219AC6817BC49E1CD2E0731.jpgMenu at Frenchy's

Menu at Frenchy's

Frenchy's

Frenchy's

Thai Breakfast Rice Soup

Thai Breakfast Rice Soup

The New Bed

The New Bed

We also wanted to do a tour out to the Angthong National Park (a beautiful highlight in KS) and were really looking for something other than the 50 person group tour. Chris suggested the dive/snorkel shop next door: 100® East. We stopped by and talked to Kas – just what we were looking for - 12 people vs. 40 or 50 of our closest friends, 4500 baht – all inclusive (boat/water/soda/good snorkel equipment/kayaking/lunch/2 stops for sightseeing). Yes, more expensive but well worth it. The tours for the next couple of days were already booked but they had an opening on Friday – I guess we’ll have to stay another day. (I know, you can just hear my heart breaking.) Back to the bungalow, talk to Chris to see if we can book another night – he’ll let us know. Breakfast was a bit late, so no need for lunch but we did notice Happy Hour at Dreamers (the large beach bar a couple doors down), 80 baht for beer and you get a nice beach side lounge and towel and a dip in their pool if you so desire. Some beach time - just what we were looking for.

Jim enjoying the beach

Jim enjoying the beach

This is the life!!

This is the life!!

A beautiful view

A beautiful view


Dinner that night was at Daetong Seafood: right on or overlooking the beach. Being a bit windy we opted for a balcony table (which they staff moved so that we could have a nice view). The manager made some recommendations and we had a lovely dinner. It was a little expensive (not really) just more expensive than what we usually spend - $40 for a seafood dinner (squid curry and grilled tiger and river prawns (both huge with a slightly different taste). Great food and sea breeze – only thing we forgot was our camera.

In front of Deatong Seafood

In front of Deatong Seafood

20 August 2013

Good night sleep in new bed plus the addition of earplugs. The music from Dreamers has this low thumping beat that, after a while, lulls you to sleep. Frenchy’s again for breakfast – this time I tried the Thai breakfast with egg – really good.

Beach time…..

A little more reshuffling of our schedule –Chris let us know that we could stay another night and then we asked him…”how about an additional 4 nights” which would extended our stay til the 27th. That would work out because we scheduled a snorkeling trip on the 26th to Koh Tao.

Now – where to go from KS? We have to be in KL to fly to Yogyakarta on the 31st (early). I really didn’t want to do the taxi, ferry, bus, plane route again. There is an airport on Koh Samui but Bangkok Airlines owns it and are the only airline which fly in and are a bit expensive …or so we thought – Chris lets us know that Fireflyz (Malaysia Airlines low cost carrier) also flies there but they only fly to KL or Penang. Hmmm Penang???? We’ve never been to Penang and have heard they are famous for their food – sounds like a plan, flight booked…now ..more beach time!!

Staying for a few days we see people come and go. I chatted with our new neighbor “B” – Belinda – friend from Chris’s hometown in OZ. Traveling solo for a bit – joined us for dinner at Thai Tian – only OK. After dinner and B went her way, we ended up at Chill Out for a few beers. Primarily expats and Joy the lovely Thai bartender – she and Jim are getting along “great” – nice people – had a great time – got some good info on the island. Only problem ….scratchy throat – I cannot be getting another cold!!

21 August 2013 - Full Moon

Full moon parties last two nights here –one in Chewang with the next night – the “big Party” is one in Koh Pha Ngan – tons of people heading over to KP on the ferry and a hug, naked, day glow paint drunk fest….or so we’ve heard – not what were into…anymore!!!

Breakfast at the French Bakery – next to but different business from Frenchy’s – pretty good.

…back to work on website!!!

Also worked on some travel plans – found “really good” air prices from Bali to Singapore and then the best price so far – Singapore to SFO – I guess we have to decide when we’re going home.

Decision made: 09-12 Oct – Singapore
12 Oct – Singapore to San Francisco
....from there - we're still not sure how we'll make it back to Tucson. One thing at a time!!

……..more beach time!!!!

Dinner at Boy Thai Food,a small place – but really good food. Stopped on our way back for a couple of beers at the Chill Out – quiet night – just us, Joy, Alan (guy from UK) and his friend Teak.

Chill Out

Chill Out

Joy - the most beautiful bartender in Koh Samui

Joy - the most beautiful bartender in Koh Samui

Posted by pjburke 02:36 Archived in Thailand Comments (2)

Back to Thailand

Chiang Mai

rain 88 °F

06 -18 August 2013

Up early and off to the airport. Even though our flight wasn’t until that afternoon – we decided to head out to LCCT (KL’s low cost air terminal – hub for Air Asia) with Brenda, who had an earlier flight. Being a few days before Ramadan…it was crazy!!!!

Brenda is such a good friend, was an awesome teaching partner and made a great travel buddy. It was fun for us to show her a little of the Asia that we love. But it was time to say “see ya”. It was hugs and “safe travels” as she was off to a new adventure in Bali. No tears this time, she lives close by in Chandler – we’ll probably see her shortly after we get home in October.

The morning passed quickly into afternoon and we were off to Chiang Mai. Upon arriving, it was back through immigration “again”, a quick taxi ride and we found (or rather our taxi driver did) Elegant Lanna down a narrow lane outside the moated Old Town area.

Jim and the elephants

Jim and the elephants

Gold leaf Bhudda

Gold leaf Bhudda

Temple with tribute to Thailand's Queen and her birthday

Temple with tribute to Thailand's Queen and her birthday

Temple in Chiang Mai

Temple in Chiang Mai

Colorful painting from temple in Chiang Mai

Colorful painting from temple in Chiang Mai

Temple Wats

Temple Wats

We’d been in contact with another guesthouse, but being full, they referred us to Elegant Lanna. Initially, we thought we wanted to stay about a month and thus wanted a little bigger place but as usual, things worked out, in the end, how they were supposed to.

The room lacked just a couple of things, but Elegant Lanna helped us out by bringing up another chair and a table for me to work. In addition, the street (I hesitate to really call it a street) was very quiet and the views from our room were beautiful.

Down the lane towards Elegant Lanna

Down the lane towards Elegant Lanna


Also, not serving breakfast turned out to be a blessing. The Cat House and Kamala’s (very close by) were our usual “go to” places. For lunch and/or dinner, we tried a variety of different places – most of them good with only a one or two being only “ok”. As well as the Cat House and Kamala’s, I’d recommend the Bamboo Café, the Swan Burmese Cuisine and the New Delhi Indian for dinner. They all had consistently good food.

Deep Fried Bananas with Ice Cream at Swan Burmese Cafe

Deep Fried Bananas with Ice Cream at Swan Burmese Cafe

The Cat House

The Cat House

Omelet and Salad Breakfast at the Cat house

Omelet and Salad Breakfast at the Cat house

Heart shaped French Toast at the Cat House

Heart shaped French Toast at the Cat House

My breakfast partner (at the Cat House)

My breakfast partner (at the Cat House)


It rained quite a bit the “almost two weeks” we were in CM which again made it good weather to work and organize and also for ….massage. Yes, again we indulged – we just can’t help ourselves.

Another highlight of our time in CM was meeting two ladies from Australia: Margarite and Irene. They were in town for a little over three weeks to have some dental work done. Many Aussies come to Thailand (Bangkok and other cities) for dental work and get the bonus of a nice holiday. Margarite was/is an artist and Irene a film maker…it was wonderful visiting with them.

It turned out that the amount of time we spent in Chiang Mai was just about right. It gave us time to relax and also to evaluate our future travel plans. Referring back to my journal, it was on the 10th that Jim and I were talking about “where to go?” He asks….”Where is Koh Samui?” I let him know that it’s off the east coast of southern Thailand….and within an hour we had booked flights and a guesthouse for five nights. Decision made: that’s just how we roll.

With those plans made, the question is what to do between 23 Aug and 11 Sept? Then, more questions from Jim. “Have you heard of Borobudur?” My response “no” – “well, it is the most visited tourist attraction in Indonesia.” Imagine that!!! Guess that’s where we’re headed. We booked travel from KL to Yogyakarta on 31 August and then into Bali on the 10th to leave on the 11th for Australia… but that means we still had some open time after Koh Samui….what to do ….what to do??? Not to worry, we always figure something out.

It’s time to leave Chiang Mai and with sunscreen in hand, we’re on our way to south eastern Thailand and some beach time.

View from our room

View from our room

Posted by pjburke 00:37 Archived in Thailand Comments (4)

Travels with Brenda

Bangkok

sunny 95 °F

Our time in Wuhan was not quite over yet. We (Patty, Jim and Brenda) had an 1815 flight from Wuhan, to begin the next part of our travels, in Bangkok, Thailand. Alas, our “til we meet agains” were not over. Charles, Wendy and Joy met us at the hotel and road with us to the airport. The hour long ride from the hotel to the airport is always “interesting”. As a passenger in a vehicle in China, especially on the highways, in my opinion, the ride is usually better done with one’s eyes closed or in conversation to avert your attention. Truly, I don’t know why white lines even exist on their roadways as they are not generally used. We laugh and say there are no rules of the road, only suggestions. But really, suggestions don’t even exist.

I knew it was going to be another sad farewell but I think Joy was a little excited about the trip. We learned on the way over, she had never been to an airport. Another lesson learned for me during class: air travel in the US is taken for granted. Of the 40 some students in my classes, less than a handful had ever flown.

Arriving at the airport, Chas, Joy and Wendy insisted on making sure that we got in ok. And then the time came for them to leave….and yes, more tears. I was ok until I looked at Joy and her eyes were full. We walked outside and spent a few minutes together, no words…just hugs. Good luck, my sweet girl…I know you’ll do well!!!

Farwell Charles!!!

Farwell Charles!!!

Our last photos

Our last photos

Bangkok bound……

Our flight was effortless and arrived into Don Muang Airport (Air Asia hub) without a hitch. We passed through immigration very quickly, nothing like the madhouse at BKK. Our bags also arrived quickly and our driver was waiting for us. A short drive (with a wide eyed Brenda in the back seat), we arrived at our home for the next four nights: Focal Local. www.focal-local.com It was late and dark but a kind gentleman met us and escorted us inside the small bed and breakfast. We were offered a refreshingly cool lemongrass tea and were escorted to our room. Akoon (I’ll apologize right now because I know that I’ve spelled that incorrectly) gave us directions for some local food and we were off. Brenda’s first taste of Tom Yum started what was to be an addiction. After our bellies were full, a good night sleep on an “oh sooo” comfy bed wa just what we all needed.

Down the street where we lived

Down the street where we lived

Street Market near our B and B

Street Market near our B and B

26 July 2013 (Friday) The next morning, breakfast was a huge hit. Wonderful Thai food – just what we needed to start our day and we were off…The photos to follow are from our visit to Wat Pho. Our day was complete with each of us getting massage and then off for dinner along the river.

Rush Hour on the Chao Phraya

Rush Hour on the Chao Phraya

Brenda's First Day in Bangkok

Brenda's First Day in Bangkok

Beautiful wats at Wat Pho

Beautiful wats at Wat Pho

Jim and his new buddy

Jim and his new buddy

Brenda and her new friend

Brenda and her new friend

Wha Pho

Wha Pho

River View

River View

27 July 2013 (Saturday) Again, yummy breakfast to start the day. We finally met the chef, Koran, who is also the owner, manager and the person I had been in email contact. He is a young man who had a dream and convinced his family to follow. With his father’s help, they rehabbed an old building in the Klongsan area into a wonderful B/B – just like the three bears: not too big, not too small but just right. If you need somewhere to stay and want to be away from the tourist areas: www.focal-local.com is your place. It is not the least expensive but well worth is…I’d stay there again in a heartbeat.

Off to the Grand Palace…(Note: Regarding appropriate dress in the Wats and holy areas. Dress appropriately which is no knees or shoulders. I thought I was ok with long (Bermuda type shorts) and a scarf for my shoulders. Nope – I was sent back from the entry gate. I had to return to the area of the front gate and be attired in a long skirt and shirt with short sleeves. You are not required to buy or even rent the clothing (which appeared to be laundered after each use) but you will need to leave a deposit. Due to the heat, I thought I would melt but actually, the clothing was pretty comfortable. The only problem was that Jim and Brenda were already through the gate when I was sent back. My attempt to find them upon reentry didn’t happen. I thought “somewhere” along the way I’d find them. Long story short, I made my way through and then out the “do not return” exit before I found Brenda. We pleaded with the powers to be and finally they let me back in to rejoin my incredibly patient husband who had been waiting (off to the left side – one area I didn’t look) the whole time. The promise of a really cold beer made up for my delay…I think.

Grand Palace

Grand Palace

Brenda and new friends

Brenda and new friends

Grand Palace

Grand Palace

Gold demons

Gold demons

Brenda and Jim....tourists

Brenda and Jim....tourists

On to another adventure!! Our late morning and early afternoon was spent at the Chatuchak Market which boasts “the world’s largest weekend market”. When in town, we usually head there for the experience and this trip thought Brenda might enjoy it. It’s all very crazy and with a couple of small purchases we left to return to Focal Local for an afternoon rest but not before meeting with Jim’s cousin’s daughter, Tara Milutis. Tara has lived in Bangkok for about three years. When we were in town last year we tried to meet but she was not available. We had a wonderful visit.

The evening brought a massage for Jim and pedicures for the girls and dinner ended a really nice day. (Note: Massages in Thailand are a great bargain. Focal Local recommended a little place that was just a short walk – 1 hour massage: Thai, oil or foot, 200 baht, which is about $7.)

28 July 2013 (Sunday) Our last day in Bangkok started again with an incredible Focal Local breakfast. Then we were off to Wat Arun (aka The Temple of Dawn). An early morning visit was definitely the way to go. It really wasn’t crowded at all and It was as beautiful as I remembered from 2002.

Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun)

Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun)

Ceramic Flowers

Ceramic Flowers


From Wat Arun, we made our way up to Siam Paragon Mall. There is a nice food court, a gourmet grocery store and also a Lamborghini dealership. Being as hot as it was, it was a good day to wander inside.

Another visit for a massage (yes, we did indulge) and a very basic but good dinner would be our farewell to Bangkok. Off to Cambodia and the mysterious Angkor Wat tomorrow.

Posted by pjburke 03:46 Archived in Thailand Comments (3)

Bangkok

Our Myanmar Visa Adventure

sunny

21 December 2011

Our main reason for putting Bangkok on our itinerary was to get our Myanmar visa. From what I had read, Bangkok was one of the most convenient places for this process.

The BTS (Skytrain) was a simple ride from very close to our guesthouse. We arrived about 0830 and there was a short line (about 10 to 15 people) ahead of us. As time passed, the line behind us grew and grew. Having paid attention to postings on line and the experiences of others, we had our paperwork in order (passports, a photocopy of each of our passports, two passport type photos with white background, the visa applications, which we had downloaded and filled out and our 2562 Thai Baht ($80USD) for two people) when we got to the embassy. Once we got inside, we all lined to get a number which is coordinated with the type of visa one would be applying for: Myanmar citizens, foreigners and/or business visas.

Having our number in hand, we sat for no more than 10 minutes before our number was called. Up we go, we handed in our paperwork in, paid out Baht and we were told to come back at 3pm. Pretty simple!

Back at the hotel, I worked on the website and Jim headed over to Siam Paragon (huge, modern mall) to check out movies for that evening. He came back with tickets for the IMAX showing of the new Mission Impossible movie. At $20USD each, we both thought they were a bit expensive but the young lady told Jim they were really good seats. (At most Asian movie theaters, you get to pick you seat, similar to picking airline seats.)
1445hrs and we’re back at the Myanmar Embassy and this time another short wait and we were out the door with our visas. Yes!!! My thoughts? – “I guess we’re really going to Myanmar.” It didn’t seem real until that moment.

Siam Paragon has a nice food court on its first level. You name it, they were serving it: Thai, Indian, Sushi, etc., etc., etc. We stopped by for a late lunch.

The movie time was 1930hours and upon entering the theater we noticed that the rows started about “N” and kept going up to “A” (where our seats were). We kept climbing and climbing until we hit the very last row, right at the top of the stairs with a 180 degree view of the IMAX movie screen and there was our love seat with a comforter. I couldn’t believe – we actually did have the best seat in the house. It was a good night, the special effects for the movie were great and on IMAX.

22 December 2011

We had given ourselves an extra day in Bangkok just in case the visa process wasn’t as smooth as we were hoping. Fortunately, we didn’t need it. What to do, what to do??? On our last couple of visits, we had done the tourist route and we knew that Myanmar would also have their share of temples so we decided on a “Pamper day” 90 minute foot massage for both of us and then fingers and toes for me. We found a restaurant for lunch called Secret Garden, not such a secret but the food was really good.

The rest of the day was spent packing, a late dinner at Pisces (a little place down the street from our guesthouse that we’d visited on a previous trip).

23 December 2011

Bangkok to Myanmar
(Wendy House to Motherland 2)

Considering the traffic and an afternoon departure, we decided to take the new Express Airport Link train. It was quite efficient. From Wendy House, the Skytrain (National Stadium stop) is just around the corner. We changed trains at Siam Station – just one stop away and then two more stations and we got off at Phaya Thai. The local train to the airport is 45TB (about $1.50), we splurged for the Express Train at 95TB (about $3), and it was an 18 minute ride to the airport. Very easy!!

One hour from Bangkok (via Air Asia) and we landed in Yangon. I’m not sure what I expected but it wasn’t the clean, modern Yangon International Airport. It was an easy process through Immigration and then on to baggage claim. It was a bit more disorganized with people claiming their own luggage as it was brought in on carts and then in to a scanner before we left the airport.

We easily found our guesthouse rep, who was waiting just outside the arrivals area. Unfortunately, we were on an early flight and had to wait for people getting off one or two of the flights arriving behind us. When we were finally organized we made our way out to the roadway and we were picked up by the guesthouse bus, and a very interesting bus it was. I’m not sure how old this bus was but I think it was probably older than some of the guests it was transporting, of course, that didn’t include us.

Our ride through the dark streets of Yangon was bumpy but unbelievable. We passed golden temple after golden temple that just got bigger and bigger.

Arriving at Motherland 2, we were greeted by the smiling Kin and shown to our room (twin beds/private bath $21).

A couple beers, dinner and we’re off to bed. As guesthouses go, Motherland 2 is a good one. Customer service is great. The only downer ….they have the hardest pillows I’ve ever slept on.

Posted by pjburke 23:17 Archived in Thailand Comments (2)

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