Thailand Trip Report

Dec 5th, 2004, 03:20 PM
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Back in Phuket for our last day there. Up early, run along the roads, huge early breakfast and in lobby for 8:30 pick up by Bike Thailand for Bike trip. This was arranged online with We signed up for a full day tour. Morning on Northern Trail, lunch and then afternoon on Southern Trail, coincidentally ending at Nai harn Beach. Pick up in car, driven to a meeting place where we were picked up by van with 6 bikes on roof rack. Other guests were a single man in30's from Switzerland and a couple in their 20's from England. Our guide gave us an intro using a portable loudspeaker, so he did not have to turn around to face us. 50 minute drive to Northeastern corner of Island. Off loaded at shore, where we tried out our bikes. We had given our heights when we signed up, so bikes were correct size. They were mountain bikes with wide knobby tires. We got a little info on the people at the stop and their making of shrimp paste using very small dried shrimp.

A short 1/2 mile ride into a village, where we got info on local lives. The high point was that we got to observe a "monkey" climb a coconot tree and drop 7 coconuts. He twisted the stems until they fell to the ground. I had read somewhere that these were actually macaques that performed this feat. We then rode on a dirt road through some rice fields.

After we went on the side of a paved road for several miles, we then began our first of several off road rides. By this time, the riders had sorted themselves out in this order, guide, swiss man, English man, English woman, a gap of 30 yards, Beth and me at end. I'm a triathlete and a very experienced bike rider. If I had gone at speed, Beth would have been at the back all alone. The guide would periodically point out various things to the 3 people that were close to him, but he never closed ranks or dropped back to engage us. This was a huge failing on his part. We stopped numerous times along the ride and he had many opportunities to sort this out. He did not. Also, Bethy was having difficulty on the off road portions of the ride. She is an occasional bike rider, but she does go to the gym 2 or 3 times a week. The guide only came back once to assist on the hardest portion of the trip. By this time, Beth had grown frustrated and tired. Too little, too late.

Before we took the tour, I had written to the Seacanoe people to inquire concerning the difficulty of the ride. They said it was easy and people in their 60's and 70's had done it without any problem. Beth and I are in our 50's and in reasonable shape. Whiule this ride was not arduous, it was not easy. Our enjoyment was significantly reduced by the lack of assistance from the guide.

Towards the end of the ride, I informed the guide that we would not be doing the afternoon portion. He did not inquire as to why. We did get a bit lucky because the English couple had only signed up for the morning and they wanted to do the afternoon portion. I made a deal with them where they could have Beth's ride for free and they reimbursed us for my portion. This seemed fair because there was no way that beth was doing the afternoon, but I might have.

At the conclusion of our morning, I had an opportunity to speak to the guide alone. I told him that I thought that he had been lax in his duties and had essentially ignored Beth and I for the entire morning. I tipped him nonetheless. He did act somewhat sheepish, but I was not scolding and did not seek an apology. It was merely a way to vent a little frustration without causing a scene.

Ride back to hotel. Cool shower, restful lunch. Nap for Beth and pool for me. Dinner at the Quarterdeck. Oh, I forgot to mention that there was music nightly at the Q-deck. The first night it was Thai music with Thai dancers. the other nights it was a combo with a female singer. The combo was fine, but not superb.
Gpanda is offline  
Dec 5th, 2004, 03:49 PM
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Next day, run, pool, transfer to airport, fly to BKK. Pool and cigar. Upon our arrival back at the ROS, we had them book reservations for 4 at the Mambo Ladyboy show. Our guide book recommended this over the one at the Asia Hotel.

Cab to Cabbages and Condoms. We got stuck in stand still traffic and decided to walk the last 3/4 mile. It was much faster than the cab would have been. The 2 newbies had not been to C and C. The meal was really good and everyone enjoyed shopping in the gift shop. We had some blue dumpling-like apopetizers that were especially good.

Cab to Mambo show. It's right on Sukhumvit betwen Sois 22 and 24. We sat in the "VIP" seats for 800 Baht each. After we were seated we noticed that almost the entire audioence was Japanese. There were probably only 4 other farangs out of sewveral hundred.

The show was very amusing. It lasted 1 hour and 10 minutes. It had many different numbers requiring fast scenery and costume changes. Several of the performers had been surgically enhanced. All were very "ladylike". There were several comedic numbers. The songs were evenly divided between English and Japanese. It made little difference as we had not gone for the storyline.

One really peculiar thing was that none of the Japanese audience ever clapped after a number concluded. We were the vast majority of the cheering. However, when the performers would strut into the audience, the Japanese patrons were very enthusiatic and responded effusively without clapping. I'm ignorant of Japanese custom. Is applause not acceptable or appropriate?

After the show, the "Ladies" made themselves available for pictures in the lobby. This was greeted enthusiastically by all patrons.

The cab ride back to the hotel was very amusing. After picking us up, the cabbie proceeded to let every available car cut inb front of him as well as several tourist busses. We travelled 6 feet in 20 minutes. All of us are from Boston, where even nice old ladies drive with a death wish. No one ever allows anyone to cut them off. After the 20 minute/6 feet transit, one of the newbies loudly suggested that I drivew so we could get home that evening. We began to giggle. The cab driver giggled backj at us. We began to laugh loudly. The cabbie laughed back at us. Things pretty much got out of hand with laughter rocking the cab. Somehow, the cabbie understood what we were laughing about and he transformed into a Boston driver. This elicited ebven greater mirth. At several points on the accelearted ride back to the ROS, he flat out ran red lights. By this time, we are uncontrollable. One newbie claimed she was about to wet her pants. When we aarived, we spilled out of the cab laughing hysterically. The cabbie laughed and smiled and gladly accepted tips from several of us. The doorman looked on witha flat expression. he probably thought we were drunk. We were not. Beth and the newbies had each had 1 glass of wine with dinner and I none. Maybe we can make BKK more like Cambridge.
Gpanda is offline  
Dec 6th, 2004, 12:40 PM
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gpanda...thanks for the ROS report. I too am using points to stay in the towers. is there a way of getting those junior suites you spoke of with miles-- and, are they part of the towers?
Jim0884 is offline  
Dec 6th, 2004, 01:01 PM
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Jim I'm not Gpanda, but here is some info on the suite/Towers issue. There are suites in the Towers section, I usually stay in what is called a "Towers Theme Suite." Some suites located outside the Towers do have Towers privileges, but only if they are book as a suite in the Towers. I'm sure Gpanda has the info on use of points, I don't use points there.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 7th, 2004, 04:45 PM
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Jim- I suggest that you call Starwoods and inquire concerning the use of points for a towers suite. As noted above, while we had the Towers privileges, using 4500 points per night. The rooms were the same as the deluxe rooms we had stayed in for 3000 points last year. My guess is that the Towres suites cost more points.
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Dec 7th, 2004, 05:15 PM
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Last day in Thailand. The two remaining newbies had shopping plans and we arranged to meet them for dinner at 7:30 p.m.. We found throughout the trip that picking a dinner time to meet prevented communication problems throughout the day.

Beth and I decided at the last minute to go visit Ko Kred. An island in the Chao Phraya River, north of BKK. It was apparently formed when a canal had been dug in the CP for navigation purposes. The draw was that there were supposed to be Mon people doing pottery work. We had no planning for this. We had a vague idea of how to get there from a NYT article and some loose info from the desk.

We took a river ferry to its northenmost point, Nothanburi. It takes about an hour on the local ferry. The express did not seem to be running at 9:30 a.m. After getting off the ferry, our information led us to believe that we were to take a bus to Pakret and a ferry to Ko Kred. However, when we exited the ferry, we were approached by a man who offered a long-tailed boat to Ko Kred for 1000 Baht. We kipped the thrills of bus travel and took a l-t boat for 700 baht and a 2 hour wait at Ko Kred. I think I could have bargained harder, but I had little energy for it. The l-t ride was very pleasant. The houses are much more spread out than in BKK. We saw a group of 3 very large new houses that would have looked at home (house at home?) in Beverly Hills,CA. We arrived at a dock on the northern portiuon of the island.

Again, we had no idea of what to do and no map. Poor planning, but hey, it was our last day. We wandered through a nice Wat where there was no one else at all. The monks were apparently eating lunch. No tourists. We further wandered into a parking lot where we were approached by a man offering to take us on a scooter tour of the island. Not having any better idea, we arranged for rides on the back of 2 scooters at 50 baht per scooter. Off we set, Beth clinging to the bar on the back and me weighing down the rear tire to an oval shape. My driver kept laughing at how difficult it was to balance with me on his scooter. I must say that these rides were unbelievably great. We followed a twisting concrete (mostly) path in a clockwise direction. We had been told that the circuit was abbout 6 kilometers. The ride was relatively slow and we could see wonderful houses and farms and such. It was a high point. The drivers stopped at several places for us to look at pottery sales or Wats. The first pottery place was owned by an elderly Mon man who was dead ringer for Ho Chi Minh. The pottery was interesting with much use of negative space. We bought several small items and a ridiculously impractical dragon. Off we set on our continuing scooter ride. More stops, but not too many.

Evewntually, we completed our loop with aboy 1/2 hour left on our 2 hours. We went to a suspicious looking restaurant with outdoor tables and little else. We figured Pas See Euw was safe and ordered that. Our food was accompanied by a dog who observed closely the eating habits of farangs. Beth relented and gave him some scraps. Back to the l-t boat and we reversed our trip up there. Back to the ROs at 3:30 p.m..

I will say that thetrip to Ko Kred was definitely worth the time and energy. It was extremely interesting and pleasant to be somewhat secluded so close to BKK. The scooter ride was a high point. If you've been to BKK several times, give this a try.
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Dec 8th, 2004, 12:38 AM
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Back at ROS. Cigar by pool. Massage upstairs at the Gallery Cafe around the corner. It was a very good massage. As good as the ones from Wat Pho for only 600 Baht for 2 hours. It's done in a nice wood-paneled room.

Met newbies in lobby and cab to Shangri-la. I had wanted to eat at the Gallery Cafe, but everyone else wanted Angellini's, the Italian Restaurant at the S-la. They were right. Ther food at Angellinin's was super. My lamb was perfect. The calamari was great. Snowfish in rice paper was really good. Everyone was pleased. While we were eating, great music came from a combo upstairs. It was not obtrusive, but a nice addition.

Up at 3:00 a.m., transfer to airport. Flights on United on schedule with a little turbulence to add excitement. Movies worked. Back in Cambridge at 8:00 p.m., 28 hours door-to-door.

Thanks for your patience in reading. Giant Panda.
Gpanda is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 02:22 AM
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Loved your report! Some interesting different experiences. Glad you had such a wonderful trip. Thank you for taking the time to report it all for us.
CFW is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 01:40 PM
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andy---great report...try the marriott tower rooms next time...interesting observations..

the queen says hello..that's liz, not karen
rhkkmk is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 02:00 PM
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Gpanda, This is a truly enjoyable report. Thanks for the insights and the laughs.
brendafaye is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 04:01 PM
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It's great to tell the story of my trip to fellow travellers, who have similar experiences and hopes. About 1/2 the usual people I talk to about my Thaiand trips listen for a short while and then say "How long is the flight?" When I say 28 hours, their eyes glaze over and they stop listening.

Bob, I'm guessing you and Karen did not get to Twickeham to watch a rugby match. Did you notice that the Boston Fodrites on the Europe board are threatening another GTG? Ciao.
Gpanda is offline  
Dec 11th, 2004, 12:50 PM
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As a post-script to this report, it's a week since we returned and I'm still not over the jet lag. This may require a separate post, when I've had the chance to regain form.
Gpanda is offline  
Dec 16th, 2004, 12:29 PM
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I am back from Caribbean (warm there!) and enjoyed your report. Re: Pro-Ket, we were there and bought some pottery at very low prices. Good buy. Visited temple/museum I think it was? Museum looked like antique store. Our guide explained to us what was this about but I forgot.
I admire your energy to get there. When we went there, we were only farangs.
We had an easy way - on Manohra Song barge, few hours away from Bangkok,
and we stopped there for few hours and continued to Aythhaya (sp?)
emtravel is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 09:11 AM
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Sophia-The thing that we have found about guide books is that even a small mention of a place or site often results in a wonderful experience. Ko Kred was virtually an aside and had little description, but because it was in there (I don't remember which one) at all, we were willing to invest the time and energy. It's sort of like trusting the editors to only include worthwhile things. It should be noted that this only applies to small mentions in guide books. For the large entries, the guide books will all describe the place or thing because it's expected. Sometimes these can be disappointing. Patpong is a BKK example.
Gpanda is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 02:41 PM
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It took me at least a week to get back to normal after our return home. But my wife slept the whole flight both ways and still slept when we got back home and didnt even notice the jet lag!!!!!!!!! its annoying to sit in that tiny airline seat looking at my wife just sleeping away, then when we land she asks if we are there already! let me know when the jet lag finally goes away!
travelduo is offline  
Jan 17th, 2005, 03:17 PM
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Enjoyed your report!
Thank you for sharing your trip.
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