Thursday, March 30, 2017

"Crashing" an Akha Wedding in Chiang Mai

March 30, 2017
Chiang Mai, Thailand

The farangs (that's us), with the happy couple in their traditional wedding finery
[Scott] Waking up early for a change today, at 6:30am, I went out for a walk before the heat moved in. While rounding the corner near our condo building, I noticed that they were setting up for a wedding, with tents, tables, pink and white balloons, and a "curtain" of photos of a happy couple in combinations of western and hill tribe wedding costume.  I snapped a photo of the setup, then headed back to the condo to start our day.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Silly Farang! Or Getting Settled in Chiang Mai

March 27, 2017
Chiang Mai, Thailand

In case you're wondering where we've been lately, these last three days have found us getting settled in Chiang Mai, located in northeastern Thailand.

We arrived at our Chiang Mai AirBnB rental at sunset. It was 102 degrees F. It is hazy here, as the farmers are burning the fields in preparation for the coming rains but it was still a lovely sight from our balcony. It didn't come out in the photo, but the sun appeared as a perfectly round, bright red ball - simply gorgeous!

After a couple of weeks of moving at a reasonably speedy pace while island-hopping, we came north to the small city, popular with western expats, in order to take care of the necessary business of life and to plan our next steps.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Magnificent Railay Beach

March 18 - 20, 2017
Railay Beach, Thailand

Railay's two shorelines from above, at the top of a jungle hike/climb
After a long and trying day getting from Koh Tao to Railay Beach, we were rewarded with a magnificent karst landscape, perfect turquoise waters to swim in, amazing jungle hikes to viewpoints and hidden lagoons, macaque spottings, delicious food, a beautiful hotel, and a most gorgeous sunset.  There's no point in trying to get around a run-on sentence when describing even the shortest visit to Railay.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Travel Day: From Koh Tao to Railay Beach

March 18, 2017
Koh Tao to Railay Beach, Thailand

How we got from Koh Tao, in the Gulf of Thailand, to Railay Beach, on the Andaman Coast.
Three pick-up trucks arrived at our hotel, the Montalay Beach Resort, on the island of Koh Tao at 8am, to take us and several other guests across the island to the ferry pier. One truck was loaded with everyone’s luggage, as all of the tourists piled into the other two.  The tower of luggage was piled so high in the back of the one truck that we had to wait some time while the taxi crew searched for a string to tie around some of the bags.  Not quite sufficient, the employees piled a few of themselves on top of the bags to keep them in the truck on the extremely steep (twenty-something percent) incline over the middle of the island.

Departing the Montalay Beach resort in a taxi pick-up truck

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Everybody Else Was Doing It...

March 16, 2017
Ko Tao, Thailand

If all of your friends were jumping off a cliff into jagged, coral-filled water, would you?  Well, in this case, sure.  Maybe it was that I’ve given up coffee (as of today – it’s soo bad at this hotel!) that I needed a shot of adrenaline to replace the caffeine.  Or maybe it was because it just looked fun.

All The Fish In The Sea: Snorkiling on Koh Tao, Thailand

March 16, 2017
Koh Tao, Thailand

Lovely Tanote Bay on Koh Tao. Sorry, no silly pic of me/us in snorkel & mask. :-P
Our first full day on the island kept us busy with snorkeling and travel-planning.  Scott's co-worker/replacement Jacqui was spot on with her advice - the snorkeling right off of the beach immediately in front of our hotel is amazing! 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

An Island Boat Tour to Ang Thong National Marine Park

Ko Pha-Ngan, Thailand
March 11, 2017

The view from the first lookout point on the hiking trail in Ang Thong Marine Park
After two completely lazy days of lounging around on the beach, we decided to take an organized tour out to Ang Thong National Marine Park, which is located about an hour-and-half's boat ride away from Ko Pha-Ngan.  Promptly at 8 AM, an enclosed, air-conditioned van (fancy!!) came to Pingchan Hotel to collect us and take us to the boat dock.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Bangkok, Thailand
March 8, 2017

Riding the canal - Bangkok's best attraction!
We have fallen in love…with the water taxi boats that ply the canals of Bangkok!  Bangkok is huge.  Really, really huge.  Typically, we love to explore on foot, but it's just not possible in this expansive city.  And while we love our neighborhood, it is not especially well-served by the underground or above-ground trains here in the city, making it necessary to take a taxicab or tuk-tuk to get around town.  While admittedly inexpensive, those two modes of transport have been a cause of frustration for us, as the drivers tend to try to overcharge western tourists (or maybe they try to cheat everyone who climbs aboard!).  Even more antagonizing, however is the fact that none of them use GPS of any kind and never have any idea where our hotel, or any other destination, for that matter, is located.  As such, Scott, the expert problem-solver, went in search of a better way. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Errands in Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand
March 7, 2017

One thing about being "homeless" while traveling is that there's never any reason to wait to get home to do something - such as errands. Which means if you think you need a haircut, go find somewhere to get a haircuts. If you need to do laundry... you get the idea.

This can sometimes prove tricky, as you have no "go-to's" that you know you are reliable.  But, it almost always proves to be an interesting and sometimes rewarding experience.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Street Eats in Bangkok's Chinatown

Bangkok, Thailand
March 5, 2017

Eating street food in Southeast Asia seems to be one of the primary draws not just for Western travelers - with their steady diet of food, travel, and food travel TV shows - but for other Asian travelers as well.

Being in the biggest city in food-crazed Thailand, we had any number of places to go for a sampling.  On Saturday we spent the better part of the day at the gigantic Chatachak Weekend Market, where there were quite a variety of food offerings, in addition to just about anything else you could possibly want to buy. We opted for lunch in a sit-down 'pop-up' place specializing in Tom Yam Kung, a spicy and sour soup served with giant prawns.

Spicy Tom Yam Kung Soup

Seeing the Sights in Bangkok - Wat Phra Kaew, Grand Palace, & Wat Pho

Bangkok, Thailand
March 5, 2017

On our third full day touring Bangkok, we decided it was time to see the requisite sights where all tourists are directed.  The famous Grand Palace compound, including the ornate temple complex of Wat Phra Kaew, and the nearby giant reclining Buddha at the Wat Pho temple.  Our hotel, situated in the 'Old Bangkok' neighborhood of Banglamphu, was well situated to easily access both of these popular attractions that reside on the man-made Rattanakosin Island on the banks of the Chao Phraya River.  Our hotel offered a free tuk-tuk ride to these sights, which we took advantage of at the earliest scheduled hour we felt we could commit to, 9:30am, with vague fears of jetlag still in our heads.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

One Night in Bangkok (To be Followed by Many More!)

Bangkok, Thailand
March 2, 2017

Tuk-tuk ride to our hotel, the Villa Phra Sumen
Hallelujah! The flight that I had been dreading for months was finally over!  After almost exactly 24 hours of travelling, we arrived in Bangkok.  The 16-hour flight from New York JFK to Taiwan was far less unpleasant than I had feared and even Scott proclaimed it to be even more fun than he had anticipated. (Fun??? Really???  What a weirdo!).