A Travellerspoint blog

Great time in Bangkok

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Although our time was brief in Bangkok, we surely made the most of it. I have spent alot of time in Bangkok, so I will let Conrad post about his impressions of the city. All I will say is that we had an excellent time and spent most of it with my extended family. They fed us exceptionally well and did their best to bring me to see NEW things in Bangkok. We went on an evening dinner cruise on the Chao Phaya, and it was a perfect night. We also went to see the Queen's PROJECT handicraft exhibit, which was just stunning. I had a great time and was sad to see the vacation come to an end.

I am, however, VERY excited about our upcoming Match Day! Also excited to sleep in my own bed very soon and not live out of my fabulous bag (that lived up to all of my expectations and then some!).

So I guess this is my last message post on our Southeast Asian adventures. It's been fun! We will post more of our pictures to the blog album once we get home (we are currently in Taipei on a layover) and enjoying the free internet.

Posted by Kellrad 23:21 Archived in Taiwan Comments (1)

Bangkok Whirlwhind

The final leg

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We arrived into Bangkok on the 11th and were picked up by Kelli's aunt. She took us to a delicious Thai lunch and then we checked into our hotel. Kelli and I explored Wat (temple) Arun in the afternoon and then went to her family's jewelry shop in Chinatown. We had a buffet dinner that night with ehr family on a riverboat. Good food and beautiful views of a very busy city. The next day Kelli and I went to the Grand Palace, a pretty amazing place that is the Royal Residence then we went to Wat Pho witha massive reclining Buddha. The temples here are much differenmt from Vietnam and Cambodia, very ornate and large.
After cooling off at the jewelry store with a bag of Thai iced tea we went with ehr aunt to check out a spectacular exhibit of beautiful gold replicas of thrones and boats and other objects and silk embroidery at the queen's palace. The works were commissioned by the queen in an attempt to preserve fading arts of Thailand. Absolutely fascinating and intricate stuff. We then had a delicious home cooked meal at her family's beautiful house.
Our trip to Bangkok was short but it was a good ending to what has been an incredible 6 weeks. Kelli's family was incredibly kind and generous and, while I am not much for big cities, Bangkok didn't feel massive to me. Extremely busy but with lots of character.
I am in the Taipei airport right now waiting for our flight to LA. Once I am home I will post pics and then one last post to end it all.

Conrad

Posted by Kellrad 14:13 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

We are officially poor

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After two unfortunate incidents (1-the boat company we took from Phi Phi back to Phuket promised us land transfer to our hotel in the cost, but supposedly does not go to the one beach we booked on 2-our hotel which we paid for online by credit card only charged us a deposit by credit card and then conveniently does not have a usable credit card machine for the remaining balance of our room tonight), we are officially poor. As in...we have maybe 200 baht (~$5) to our names. We had to use all our cash for the car from the pier to the hotel and then for our hotel room, so we almost couldnt eat tonight. no joke. By luck we passed a nice restaurant that takes credit card. Since we were ecstatic about being able to use credit card, we splurged and got 2 drinks each, soup, entrees and dessert (all for 750 baht, about $22). Then the bill came, we gave Conrads credit card, which "didnt work" so we gave my credit card. The owner told us to just go to the ATM on the corner, but I told him our ATM didnt work. he didnt seem to believe us. i asked him to try my card. it also didnt work...so when i went down to looka t the credit card machine it just kept saying "please try again later." obviously a machine problem. I told him we were leaving tomorrow morning and really had not enough money to pay for the dinner, so he told the waitress to take me on her motobike to his other restaurant on the beach (1km away) to use that machine. Once we finally go there, the card worked in less than 20 seconds, but geez, I was freaking out...

I hate not having money. This is just ridiculous. We are thankfully going to a big city tomorrow (bangkok) so we can go to a bank where people speak English and can hopefully help us with the cash advance. Thank goodness my aunt is picking us up at the airport!! I am so grateful!

It is so frustrating that 1) very few places take credit card 2) even places that say they take credit card dont want to or cant take credit card 3) our ATM doesnt work 4) no one believes me when Is ay my ATM doesnt work.

Oh well. C'est la vie!

P.S. Phi Phi Island was very nice. Clearer waters, a bit colder water, but very nice. We enjoyed the sun as much as possible during the day, and then took the boat back to Phuket. Conrad read all of my Patterson book (he is finished all his books) and I am halfway through my last book. Thank God we have Luxor to play once we get back on China Airlines!

Posted by Kellrad 07:29 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Hating on Capital One Bank and still loving Koh Lanta

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So we found out on day 1 of Thailand that my atm card (Capital One Bank) does not have agreements with any banks in Thailand, so we have no way of getting any money. Obviously, this sucks. I thought we would be fine on the little American money we had (~$200 post-Cambodia, which really drained our cash cause everywhere takes American dollar as the standard) and the use of credit cards. Phuket places took credit card, but Koh Lanta...not so much. It is all mom & pop type shops, which is why we love the place. It gives us the freedom to do whatever we want and explore, but since so few places take credit card, we have started to feel the crunch. As in, we have had to not do things we wanted to (like get a massage from the nice lady with a 6 month old adorable boy or buy only one lanta festival t-shirt instead of one for ech of us or rent a moto from a local person) because we have limited cash and need it to take cabs and eat. It sucks cause we would so much rather pay the locals for their services directly than our hotel, where we had to rent our motos from.

Since we have only USD $6 and a bit more than 2000 baht to our name (together), we are hoping we can get a cash advance on my debit card (maybe Capital one allows that!) in Bangkok. We will see...Thank God we have paid for all of our hotels ahead of time by credit card. We may or may not have to pay an international departure tax of $11 each, but I think it is included in our flight ticket out of Bangkok. Hope so!

P.S. in case you are wondering why I let this happen, since I always think ahead, I in fact called Capital one before leaving the country and they said it would be no problem for me to use atms in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. They were correct on the first two countries, but have failed me in Thailand.
-Kelli

And yes, we are still loving Koh Lanta and are sad to leave this place tomorrow. We rented a moto again today and explored the WHOLE island. We also had some delicious food in the Old town and kayaked for a bit near the Sea Gypsy Village. It was a lot of fun. We are going to hang low tonight and watch the sunset on our hotel's beach tonight. Then we head to Koh Phi Phi early in the morning

Posted by Kellrad 02:24 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Another great day

and an awesome Lanta Lanta fest

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So we were told to check out the Lanta Lanta fest in Lanta old town- sort of sounded like a mini jazz fest/school fair with a blend of many cultures (the island is 70% Muslim). The festival was great. After getting lost due to a not so great map, we made it to the festival. Walked around eating delicious and cheap foods and drinking watermelon shakes and frozen mojito smoothies. Delicious food from Pad Thai to beef curry like thing to Thai beignets that we dipped in a sweet coconut sauce and on the way back to our moto, we played a carnival game. The point was to throw a basket at a group of different drinks (cokes, lemionade) and if the basket landed upside down, totally covering a drink then you won that drink. Kelli and I each got two baskets and we both missed our first. After Kelli missed her second one, I nailed one right on and Kelli had to balance holding a 1.5L thing of coke as we made our way up and over the mountain, back to our side of the island.
This morning Kelli and I rented a motorbike and borrowed some snorkeling equipment and we set off down a road that ran along the beach looking to do some snorkeling on our own. We stopped at a pretty big beach with some rocks at the end. After Kelli used her girl charm to get a couple of locals working at a fancy resort to let us rent some life jackets for cheap, we set out to find some fish. We didn't snorkel for very long, maybe 30 minutes and the visibility wasn't great but we saw lots of beautiful fish, made even more beautiful by the fact that we found them by ourselves. Hung out and read on the beach before going to a Thai restaurant on the beach called Same, Same but Different where we split a fish fried whole (sharp teeth and all) and swapped sips of a lemon and a coconut shake. We wanted to make it down to the southern point of the island where there is a national park, but it as too hot so we came on back to the pool and now we are heading back to the Lanta Lanta festival tonight.

It is hot as blazes here!

Posted by Kellrad 16:34 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Ko Lanta

Now this is what I'm talking about...

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We arrived in Ko Lanta today after taking the boat from Phuket to Phi Phi and then on to Ko Lanta. We checked into our place and I already like this island much more than Phuket. There are still almost all Scandinavian tourists but they are much fewer and all the resorts are pretty well spaced out. This seems like much more of what I was expecting/wanting: beautiful not so crowded beaches, a pool with a nearby bar and some local street food. We will be here for at least 2 nights. Tonight we are heading to a a festival in the old town with lots of music and food. Tomorrow we will be renting a mortorbike and travelling around the island to snorkel on our own and maybe do some hiking.

Posted by Kellrad 17:23 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Sawadee Phuket

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For those who don't know, I LOVE thailand. I have loved it ever since my 6ish months here in 2003. Everytime I come to Southeast Asia I want to incorporate a trip to Thailand into the visit, and so far I have been pretty successful at doing so. Conrad has never been here, so I definitely wanted to show him a bit of the country so he can really see why I love Thailand so much and want to eat at Siamese Thai, the most delicious thai food in the Greater New ORleans area, multiple times a week.

Since I have seen most of Thailand but not yet the Westernside islands and Conrad wanted to enjoy some beach time, we decided to go to Phuket. Phuket is Thailands biggest island, and a huge tourist spot. Having been to Samui and all those islands on the eastern side, I figured Phuket would be really similar, and in a way it is. Pristine beaches, friendly always smiling people, and lots of tourists. I just underestimated the % of tourists and how much the city caters to them. Samui was touristy, but I never felt like I wasn't having a thai experience. Here, that is not the case. Our hotel is swarmed with Dutch people, and the streets are lined with dutch restaurants, signs, etc. There are also a ton of scandinavians, russians, italians, and israelis, but not many americans. The vendors on the street always try to talk to us and guess where we are from, and not once has anyone guessed American. Most people think (or claim to) that we are Aussie, cause I assume there are alot of Aussies here too. Anyway, the short end of the story is, when I walk down the major street near our beach (Kata, which is a beautiful beach), I don't even feel like I am in Thailand. Conrad and I made good effort to find some authentic thai restaurants (where thai people eat) and one that doesn't serve Weiner Schnitzel or other European foods. We did a good job. We got lost, but it was a good lost. Our first dinner was at a place that didnt even have a menu. Just a husband and wife with some food laid out on the counter. Since I am obsessed with thai food, I know alot of names of dishes, and I knew what we were both craving. I asked them if they had a few of them, and a few minutes later we had some delicious food. The wife thought I was thai since I knew so many thai words (all food related) and so she told me she was going to leave, go to the market, but if I want anything else to order it in thai to her husband (who only speaks thai). I laughed.

Today we found an even better place for lunch, and it was so delicious we went for dinner too. Another mom and pop stall that made delicious curries and tom kha gai. Conrad had an awesome watermelon shake, and I finally found some yummy chai yen. Also, I bought some som tam on the street that was dang good.

Other than eating delicious food, we visited Kata Noi beach (a 15 min walk but in the blazing heat it felt like forever to me) which was awesome and less crowded than Kata, where we were yesterday. We spent the afternoon reading by the pool. I lost to Conrad in HORSE ;-( but I had a good showing. He just kept bouncing the ball off the turtles and elephants that lined the pool, and then made a ridiculous shot. It killed me. We enjoyed some more mai tais and pina coladas by the pool. The bartender let us drink the coconut milk before and eat all the carved out pineapple. it was delicious and juicy.

We are definitely enjoying the relaxation (we even slept in til 8am today!!) and are looking forward to heading out of this uber-touristy island and exploring a more low key one. we settled on Koh Lanta first and will spend a few days there. Its farther away than Phi Phi, but should be more relaxing and has just as great snorkeling (some say better, since there arent a ton of people to scare all the fish away). We will be there two nights, then decide whether or not we want to stay another night on Lanta or head to Phi Phi for a day and a half. I don't really think we can lose...both sound beautiful with great snorkeling and natural beauty. Phi Phi just sounds overrun with tourists for its size.

I am proud to report that Conrad is losing his paleness to a certain degree. He has officially lost his forehead tan line (thank God) from his hat and our Mekong Delta bike riding tour. He is even starting to lose the t-shirt farmer's tan that has plagued him for many years I suspect! I am turning quite dark, but sadly have my raccoon eyes (from my sunglasses) already. I will try to get rid of that before I come home.

Posted by Kellrad 06:34 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Last bit of Cambodia Details

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Since I never got to finish my cambodia post, I will try and recap the enjoyment we felt there from where I left off...We LOVED angkor wat, and I was so glad we could fit it into our already busy SE asian schedule. We climbed up and down some less than sturdy and less than level stairs to see the sunset at Bangkeg Mountain, as did several other tourists, and then a weird storm rolled in so we went back down...and back up when it passed. The sunset was sadly not a clear, crisp one so we opted to go down the scary stairs before the herds also did. We also had incentive to get back to our resort, since we pre-ordered some delicious Khmer specialties, which take 2-3 hrs to cook, and scheduled some relaxation massages to soothe our overworked muscles from the long day at Angkor.

I was thoroughly impressed by all of the Khmer food I ate throughout out time in Cambodia. I had a chicken curry the first lunch, some khmer flat noodle dish that night, and then the Cambodian specialty Amok (delicious fish cooked in cocounut milk and wrapped in a banana leaf), followed by a very delicious sour pineapple chicken soup. It was sooooooo delicious. My new goal is to find a Cambodia restaurant in whatever city I end up moving to this summer.

our massages were great. As were the pieapple pancakes we had for breakfast by the pool before leaving for the airport. We sadly had to say goodbye to Cambodia, but were excited to get on to the last country on our trip. The flight to Bangkok was super short (maybe 35 mins) but Bangkok Air made the most of those 35 mins. We were served plenty of orange juice & water, as well as a yummy tuna sandwich lunch pack. In the States, I dont think they would even give us a drink in that short of a time. I was very impressed with Bangkok Air. We had a tight (1 hr) connection in Bangkok before our plane to Phuket (also on Bangkok Air), and we had to go through immigration and customs. We were a little worried we wouldnt make it, but they put some stickers on our shirts, so we were flagged to go by as quickly as possible. We did it all and still had time to stop into the transit passenger lounge with had free internet, popcorn, delicious fresh juices, and conrad had 3 pieces of pineapple upside down cake.

An hour later we were flying over the Andaman Sea and landing in Phuket!

Posted by Kellrad 06:24 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Thailand

Neither Vietnam nor Cambodia...

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Thailand is quite different from the two places we have already been. I knew coming in that Phuket was quite touristy, even since the tsunami. I think I slightly underestimated how touristy it would be and also it is magnified since we are coming from a month in Vinh.
Phuket is what it is, a vacation destination. It doesn't make excuses, lots of tourists (seems like 85% at least are Scandinavian), prices much higher than in Vietnam. We have been forced to be even more frugal since Capital One ATM cards don't work in Thailand.
But on the other hand, it is still a beautiful place and a great vacation. Wonderful, sunny beaches and amazing sunsets. It just has taken me some adjusting which has been smoothed over by yummy Mai Thais and Pina Coladas (though not as good as my Harbour Island specials). We also found an amazing local Thai food place with incredibly flavorful dishes for dirt cheap by Phuket standards.
Tomorrow we leave for 2 and maybe 3 nights on the quieter Ko Lanta, then maybe one night on Phi Phi before heading back to Phuket for a night and on to Bangkok.

Conrad

Posted by Kellrad 21:15 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Safe in Phuket

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Sorry we haven't posted much but we got to Phuket today and have been busy drinking Mai Thais at the pool.

Posted by Kellrad 21:03 Archived in Thailand Comments (2)

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