Friday, March 29, 2013

Bangkok, Thailand with Dhra

Having a local friend in Koh Samui was great and our next destination was Bangkok to see Dhra, a friend from elementary school, and to try to recreate our own version of the movie The Hangover.

Our commute to Bangkok was a bit easier than other commutes because this time we only used one company to get there. One boat and one bus.

The Thailand Kingdom is mostly Budhhist with a some Islam in the south at the border of Malaysia, which is a predominantly Islamic country. Bangkok, The City of Angels, is the capital city of the Kingdom. Bangkok is known for its temples, the Grand Palace, shopping, outdoor markets, affordable to high end accommodations, massages, traffic (and lots of it!), and best of all their FOOD!!!!

Getting around Bangkok was easy if the trains could take you there, but if you needed a taxi you were in for a treat. First you have to flag down a taxi and try to find one that uses the meter. We were told it was illegal to set a fixed price, but almost all the taxis we came across would not use the meter. Then you had to sit in traffic. Taxis had ways of getting through traffic a bit faster which included driving in the emergency lane, making turns from the wrong side of the road, and taking shortcuts which I'm not always sure were shortcuts. Of course no seatbelts. This is how everyday driving is and it works for them. It was good fun, something to break up the monotony of obeying traffic laws.

Thanks for everything Dhra and Mark! We had a great time.

Hanging out with Dhra's family.

He ate the whole thing!!! Yuck!

Asiatique is a waterfront street market/mall with plenty of shops, restaurants, and activities to choose from. We spent the evening wandering around and then grabbing a bite to eat for dinner.

Below are images from the Grand Palace that was established in 1782. It consists of the royal residence, throne halls, government offices, and the temple of the Emerald Buddha. It covers 218,000 square meters and is surrounded by 4 walls. Beautiful temples, sculptures, tile work and more.

El Guapo, would you say that there are a plethora of monks?

Yup, that is a real guard and a real gun!

Jim Thompson was born in Delaware, and eventually moved and settled in Thailand. He help revitalize the silk industry in the 1950s and 60s. Long story short, he went to Cameron Highlands in Malaysia and stayed in a bungalow. One day he went out for a walk and never returned. Below is a picture of a small portion of his property. It consists of 6 thai-style houses made out of teak.

Silk being made.

Water taxi's behind the Jim Thompson house.

Happy 4 Year Anniversary to us! Ramen noodles for dinner.

Hand-made Magnum ice cream bar for dessert.

View of downtown Bangkok.

Hanging out with Dhra, her boyfriend Mark, and a few of their friends. Good times.

Controlled chaos.

Came across this band competition at one of the train stops we got off at. The guys in the red shirts got served.

This was at a mall in Bangkok. So many people took pictures with this guy, and we couldn't pass up the opportunity either. Malls had great food, not your typical food court, and was a great place to cool down from the humidity.

Didn't your mother teach not to play with your food?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Koh Samui, Thailand

Ah beautiful Koh Samui. We came here to visit a friend of my (Henry) father who moved to Thailand 14 years ago. Marc was a great host and helped us get the local experience. We crossed the Malaysia/Thailand border by land, quite a different experience than flying.

Out travel itinerary from Malaysia to Thailand
> We left Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia by bus to Butterworth
> Then took a van across the border to Hat Yai, Thailand 
> Then a train (3 hours late, some say that is considered on time) to Surat Thani 
> Spent the night at a hotel 
> Woke up and took a tuk tuk (3 wheeler with seats for 2 - 3) to the wrong travel company 
> Took another tuk tuk to the right travel company 
> Took a bus to Don Sak 
> Took a boat to Koh Samui 
> Took a song-taew (pickup truck with bench seats in the back) from Ang Thong, Koh Samui to Mae Nam, Koh Samui 
> Marc took us to his place on his motorbike with a side car
> There was lots of waiting in between, long journey, so glad Koh Samui was worth it

A Typical Day in Koh Samui
1) Wake up at 8ish.
2) Have a coffee or just relax until 8:57.
3) Jump on our bikes and head to the coffee shop to meet up with some other locals and expats at 9:00ish.
4) When stomachs start growling, move to one of the cheap, delicious local breakfast spots. One regular spot was right on the beach and basically served out of a food cart. Another was connected to a local's home.
5) Hop back on the bikes and go our separate ways for sight seeing, exploring the island, or dozing and lunching at Buddha Beach (small quiet spot) or Chaweng Beach (touristy yet beautiful).
6) Head back to Mae Nam for dinner at someone's house or out to a regular spot where we'd run into a friend and end up joining them.
7) Go to Joy's bar for a drink and some pool.
8) Sleep and start all over again.
9) Thursday's are the one late night out in Mae Nam with 50 baht drinks, street food, music, art, and street vendors.

View upon arriving.

This is a song-taew, which is basically a shared taxi. Cheaper than a private taxi.

Marc graciously let us stay with him. Nice place eh?

This is Bubba, the guard dog that would lick you to death.

And this is Booboo.

Coffee spot which has good thai massages next door.

Namwan and Joy.

Breakfast spot out of someone's house.

Another breakfast spot right on the beach.

Our hog. Badass on a bike!

We were one of the few wearing helmets.

Hey good looking.

Coconut oil produced here.


I wouldn't drink this, its bike petrol.

Chaweng Beach.

Fresh juice with lunch.

Chaweng Beach playground.

Chaweng Beach had the clearest water.

Big Buddha.

Wat Laem Suwanmaram

Not the best time of year to see the waterfall, but it was fun ride on the bike to get here.

Buddha Beach.

No big deal.

Always a good time with this group.

Don't let this guy drive.

BIG Thursday night out!

Across from the Chinese temple is where we met up with everybody for some good conversation, drinks, and music.

On our way to Bangkok.

Ooooo jelly fish. We spared you all the other pictures we took of these.