Thailand Trip Report

Old Apr 26th, 2006, 03:17 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 37
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thailand Trip Report

Thank you to forum members for the great advice. Here is our trip report for our month in Thailand
Flew via Singapore Airlines into Bangkok, arrived late at night and shuffled in excitement around hotel room as we couldnt sleep. Singapore is a fabulous airline with heaps food/drinks on offer + inflight entertainment. We arrived in Bangkok with a sleeping child and 6 pieces of luggage. Customs just waved us through. We stayed at the JW Marriott on Sukhumvit which I obtained very cheaply via Priceline. The staff treated us very well. The room was fine, overlooking Nana Plaza and the skytrain. My husband thought it was great until he saw the other hotels we had booked in Thailand. My 3 + old daughter fell asleep on the last leg of the flight and woke at 5:00 am exclaiming over the new toilet.
First day we booked Ratt who took us to the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Jim Thompsons. She was excellent and made sure we were hydrated and well looked after all day. She even looked after our 3+ yr old who was running all over the Grand Palace at great speed despite all the tourists. We loved the day and enjoyed Ratt's commentary a great deal. The Asian tourists overwhelmed our daughter with photo opportunities (she has red hair/pale skin). Unfortunately our Miss tired early so we retired to the JW pool at 3:30 pm which pleased her mightily.
Next day we went shopping to MBK (oh the choice I wish I had bought more tshirts at 180 baht). My husband bought some great clothes. The food court was some of the best food we ate in Thailand and very cheap. Remember to purchase your coupons from the booth in order to buy food.
Bought some excellent yellow sapphires for my birthday at Rich on Silom Road. Also purchased cheap DVD's in Pantip Plaza - 100 baht each (23 for price of 20). They were much better quality than those on offer in Phuket.
Went to Face for Dinner - Mahanga. Bit hard to find but just off Sukhumvit. Saw some sad looking elephants with white chalk/paint on their backs so the traffic doesn't hit them. We were overtired and probably appeared drunk (maybe we did drink too much!). Food at Mahanga was pretty good although I dont recommend traipsing up the stairs with a pram & sleeping child in tow. Lots of creaking stairs and fear of falling down 3 flights. Very romantic setting - try the Samosas which were great. Cant remember the rest of the food as we must have been jetlagged. We did remember to ensure taxi drivers had their meters on (obviously drummed into us from this forum!).
I must have aggravated the working girls when I smiled and acknowledged them as they screetched at me for a hundred metres down Suk Soi 12. Not intended I assure you - just trying to be polite. Fell asleep and missed Sun Luam - just too tired.
Next day was my 40th - it was hot hot. Spent too much time in taxi's driving 10 kms - demonstrations made it worse. Caught River Taxi and Ferry to Wat Arun (again with pram). Easy to do and well worth the effort. It was beautiful, steamy and hot. Tried out lane next to Bangkok Bank for some kids clothes but not a huge amount on offer. Bought some good quality kids pj's and watches etc. Next installment soon.
Cheers
Dy
DeeElle is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2006, 03:25 AM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 37
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We went to the Oriental for my 40th which was an absolutely treat. Of course we ate the Peking Duck and took along our Rockford's Black Shiraz to accompany the meal. The staff were very surprised that it was red and bubbly. We gave them a taste and they were amazed. We were also amazed that the bottle survived the flight.
The food and ambiance was spectacular. The waiters sang me "happy birvday" and then asked if we wanted "research". It took a while to work out that "research" = "desert". Our Aussie accents challenged the Thai people they are more familiar with Nth American and European accents we understand. It was all very funny and we had a fabulous time. Forever in my memory.
Flew out next day via Air Asia to Chiang Mai.
Air Asia was pretty daggy but cheap so we can't complain. Make sure you are near the gate doors before boarding is announced as everybody runs for the front of the plane. Shoulder, knee and elbow pads recommended - please bring your helmuts also. People are rugged in their attempts to get seats at front of plane. Not sure why but they are well sought.
Will provide Chiang Mai report soon.
Cheers
Dy
DeeElle is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2006, 03:39 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 37
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
ok I'm doing this in stages as I'm worried my computer will stall and then I'll lose my post.
Stayed at the Yaang Come Village in Chiang Mai. This is where my husband becomes completely happy and states our last room at the JW Marriott was crappy.
The YCV was absolutely fabulous. We were in room 221 (deluxe room). It is the best - huge room with great view of the pool and excellent bathroom. We truly loved this hotel. The Manager was intent on pleasing our every whim (my husband's dream holiday) and gave us some great places to shop for silk, cotton, wood, antiques and visits to hill tribes. The staff at the YCV are beautifully dressed and the hotel is quite secluded and beautiful. Pool is great and our Miss began to RELAX.
We ate dinner at the hotel restuarant - red curry was quite good. The staff are so attentive you feel a bit nervous in case you don't like the food. They would probably make it themselves again just to please you.
Not too many tourists here - its a small boutique hotel but worth the price in our eyes. The looked after our Miss and we felt they were reliable and she was in good hands (unlike Phuket where we avoided the hotel babysitters).
Breakfast was probably the best of any hotel in Thailand. Went to night bazaar which was a bit touristy and annoying to be honest.

Next day went to Elephant Nature Park. OMG surrounded by hills and elephants. This was bittersweet as those who have been are aware of the story of elephant in Thailand. I won't go into detail but please do go to this fabulous park. We took our daughter which was a worry for me but they really looked after her very well and the mahouts and guides were top class. We washed elephants in the river and fed them. There was a very naughty elephant who endeared himself to us "Hope" was his name. He kept headbutting the other elephants who really dislike him. Reminded me of Homer on the Simpsons.
Without doubt this was the highlight of our entire trip to Thailand - best money well spent.
Went to the Whole Earth Restuarant for dinner but Miss was too tired so they gave us takeaway. Best takeaway food I have ever eaten.
Next instalment soon.
Cheers
Dy
DeeElle is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2006, 04:03 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 35
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
is "Elephant Nature Park" the name of this place? It sounds great, and I really want to do the whole elephant thing when we're in Chiang Mai
irishcheer21 is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2006, 04:13 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 37
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Went out on my own to do a bit of shopping for silk/cotton. No idea where the Manager of YCV sent me (she negotiated with Tuk Tuk driver) but the street was full of bargain shops filled with treasures. Will look it up if you are interested. Purchased bags, table runners, silk purses, cushions, scarves and kids clothes. Spent 40 AUD and certainly got a lot for my money. My husband and Miss spent the day by the pool which suited them fine. Tuk tuk cost about 60 baht as opposed to 100 baht in Bangkok for similar distance. Negotiate price first in CM as taxi meters not used often.
We had dinner at Antique House No 1. Food was variable and staff don't speak much English so ordering was a bit difficult. Chicken in mayonnaise was quite nice but we've had better Thai food at home. There were cats sitting on the tables - it was pretty rustic but enjoyable all the same. Walked back to YCV and dropped into night bazaar. Great find was prescription glasses (No 3) for friend which she says are excellent quality for around 200 baht.
Next day hotel driver took us to Hmong Village and Doi Suthep.
Hmong village was excellent - better than I expected given Lonely Planet dismiss it as a bit touristy. I purchased traditional Thai skirts/dresses for 3+ old for 80 baht, handbags for 150 baht and shirt for husband for 150 baht. All quite good quality. Excellent Indian batik and Tibetan Mandala - quite cheap. Winding hillside with shops all along the walk. Miss 3 and Hmong children soon made fast friends despite lack of shared language.
Doi Suthep was beautiful with a great view of CM but it was so hot we didn't stay long. Miss 3+ kept ringing the bells which annoyed the monks so I felt it was time to go and leave them in peace.
Driver then took us to Thai Silk Village - Factory. IMHO this was the best shopping in Thailand - even better than Jim Thompson. Purchased beautiful silk for bedhead at 600 baht pm. This factory is lovely and I highly recommend it for those seeking good quality silk. They also give you a tour of the silk making process - very educational. Miss 3 loved seeing the worms making silk. Would have purchased more but husband was starting to gnash teeth at my "overspending" grr. Never mind I spent as much as my purse would allow and then put the rest on credit card. Will worry about the monthly statement later.
Back to hotel for a swim and husband picked up laundry - 60 baht wash/dry/iron per kg across the road from YCV.
Dinner at hotel restuarant and then Sunday Walking Market which was great but it was very crowded and hot and I became a bit dehydrated. Purchased some nice silver bracelets and few gifts for family and then went back to hotel. Took tuk tuks everywhere in CM. Bit rickety and you feel every bump but it is fun.
CM is a lovely city and we would go back in a heart beat. There is still evidence of the old walls surrounding the city and the Thai kids were playing in the moat. Miss 3+ wanted to play with them and needed distraction. Thai's love children and were very good with Miss 3 - I am sure we obtained good prices for items as she was so cute with her 'sawatdee kah'. They thought she was a hoot. Hint: speak the Thai language if you can as the people really appreciate the effort. Even if it does bring in a few grins at the pronounciation.
Next day by the pool then flight via Thai Airways to Phuket for last 2+ weeks of holiday at Katathani.
DeeElle is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2006, 04:45 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 37
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi irishcheer21,
Yes the name is elephant nature park. If you type this into google you should come up with the park. It is more expensive than the conservation centre but well well worth the price IMO. Our whole family loved the day and would love to volunteer for longer than the day. Truly the highlight of our trip.
DeeElle is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2006, 05:18 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
DeeElle-Thanks for taking the time to include the small details. It's what motivates us repeat offenders. You made CM seem particularly inviting.
Gpanda is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2006, 05:31 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,053
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
great report
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2006, 05:38 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 4,282
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have a friend who spent a week as a volunteer at Elephant Nature Park and she loved it. From her description it is very different from Elephant Conservation Center and on my list for my next trip to Chiang Mai.

Glad you enjoyed Chiang Mai as much as I do. It really is my favorite place in Thailand these days. Also find Antique House at best mediocre -- no longer recommend it.

Also glad you had a special time at China House -- definitely my favorite restaurant in thailand and I think an incredible value.

And glad you liked Ratt. It sounds like people have had some wonderful experiences with some new guides and drivers but, like you, I have had very positive experiences with Ratt.

I've never bought silk in chiang mai. What did you like about Thai Silk Factory more than Jim Thompson?
glorialf is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2006, 05:39 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,288
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the great report! I chose the Yaang Come Village for our upcoming stay in CM, so your review confirms that I made a good choice!
Kathie is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2006, 06:05 AM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 37
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi glorialf
The Thai Silk Village had a huge range of bautiful items on display. I am no expert but the silk felt finer and it was much easier to select items due to the way everything was displayed. I bought silk from both JT's and the Village and on comparison the colour and quality appears better from the latter. IMO it was much easier to find what I wanted. They also have beautiful silk wall hangings (for a price) and make dresses/suits. It really was lovely and I could have spent hours just looking.
Hope this helps.
Cheers
Dy
DeeElle is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2006, 09:18 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,369
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Dee:
Thanks for the wonderful report. Glad you enjoyed Thailand.

Kathie:
You are going to Chiang Mai?
Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2006, 10:11 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,288
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
HT, yes, I am, but don't tell Bob!
Kathie is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2006, 05:41 PM
  #14  
CFW
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 1,482
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Kathie, So glad you are going to give CM another try. I think you like spas, so you should definately try Oasis (the original location - spa suites set in the garden with outdoor showers.) And you might enjoy a day with Sargeant Kai visiting some hilltribes, a country market, or Doi Inthanon. I know you like handcrafts, so if you are there on a Sunday, don't miss the walking street, and also if you like celadon, Baan Celadon is fabulous. You will have a lovely time.
CFW is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2006, 05:59 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,269
Received 33 Likes on 2 Posts
Dy - great report! Very much enjoying it. We loved the Elephant Conservation Center, but next time, I think I'd like to try the nature park. Thanks for sharing!
Karen
althom1122 is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2006, 06:22 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,288
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks, CFW, I will be asking for recommendations once I get closer to the trip.
Kathie is offline  
Old Apr 27th, 2006, 02:36 AM
  #17  
CFW
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 1,482
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just looked at the Elephant Nature Park web site & it looks great. Wish we had known about it before. We spent a day at the Elephant Conservation Center but ENP looks more natural and even better. Next time!
CFW is offline  
Old Apr 27th, 2006, 06:39 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 527
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I loved your report. We stayed at Katatani on Phuket several years ago, before the tsunami. Did the resort experience any damage?
Did most of the beach area seem recovered? Do tell us more.
Barb_in_Ga is offline  
Old Apr 27th, 2006, 07:27 PM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 37
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Next instalment - Phuket.
We flew Thai Airways from CM to Phuket. The flight was great but the landing a bit bumpy (well ok we landed on one wheel and sort of rattled and bumped our way down the runway). Miss 3 thought it was a fantastic landing but the English guy behind us muttered loudly "for God's sake". We grinned.

Easy transit to the Katathani - we were picked up by Mr Mor for 600 baht - brand new 4wheel drive. In fact many of the taxi's on Phuket were new and surpassed those at home!

Phuket was completely different to BKK and CM. Very hilly, green, beautiful views and nice properties. It looks prosperous. Arrived at KT and porters sort of lumbered over to us. We pulled out some of our own luggage as they were pretty keen on looking at Mr Mor's new car.

It was pretty hot so we escaped to the cool Thani reception. A reserved but lovely Thai receptionist asked us to fill out an extensive information sheet. There was a marked difference between the YCV sign in and KT. At the YCV they said hello Mrs ... and didnt want to see any details. They knew who I was before I walked up the steps to the hotel. The KT asked for every detail and it felt a bit anonymous. I think we were spoilt by the boutique style hotel of CM. The KT really is huge in comparison.

We had to wait 2 hrs for our room even tho' it was 3:00 pm when we arrived. The hotel was overbooked. There was a few problems with the room, but I wont go into details. The hotel sorted it out which made us all happy. We had a great room - Grand Thani Suite on ground floor closest to the beach. Gorgeous view of the ocean and grounds. Smelt a bit damp but they told us it was underwater during Tsunami. The smell didnt bother me and my husband didnt notice it at all.

We loved the hotel, surf pounding on the beach at night was disconcerting especially when the guys who came in to fix the tv told us the room was mostly underwater during Tsunami. I could see no after-effects of the Tsunami except in Rawai where it was pointed out by our guide. You really have to look hard to see any evidence at all.

The ocean and beach at the KT are spectacular. My husband was a bit annoyed that he had to wake at 7:00 am to reserve a lounger by the pool or we would have to spend a day on the beach (what a tragedy!) We did agree with someother reviewers that the staff in the Thani wing are a bit aloof but truly it was a small price to pay to stay in this hotel. I ALWAYS get homesick when overseas and although we spent a month away I never once missed home. Of course now I miss Thailand terribly and will sit on this forum in my miserable ugg boots reading all trip reports voraciously.

First night we ate at the hotel which was average. In fact most of the hotel food was expensive and fairly average - but we ate there a fair bit as we had our 3 yr old who didnt always want to leave the pool so it couldn't have been too bad. There is a cheap food alternative down the southern end of the beach. The restuarant is owned by the most southern end bungalows and the food was quite good and cheap eg 600 baht for 3 including entree/mains, few beers and a couple of cocktails.

Spent a couple of days by the beach / pool and Miss 3 went off to the kids club. Had to sign her in as Miss 4 as they won't accept kids under 4 without parental supervision. Miss 3 is nearly 4 so we juggled the facts just a tad (hmm naughty I spose). She liked the kids club but only spent a couple of days there - it is in the Bhuri wing so bit of a hike for a couple of lazy Aussies. Some of the older kids thought the kids club was not so great.

PhuketRichard from Trip Advisor took us out on a day trip to see the Chang Elephant Conservation Park (up on hillside overlooking KT). They have a couple of gibbons and do elephant rides. We felt awkward not going on a ride. Given our trip to ENP we should have said no and paid the money anyway. We cowered under the expectations and went on a ride with the elephants. They seemed well looked after, chubby and content enough but the mahouts were a bit mean at one point and belted the elephant with a pointed stick. Apparently the elephant was hot and squashed the mahout against a tree. I was hot too and felt like jabbing my husband to move over coz those metal seats sure are uncomfortable.

The view during the trek was stunning - right across Kata Noi, Kata, Karon and Patong. The gibbons are gorgeous and the owners of the park look after the animals quite well. We played and groomed the gibbons and fed the elephants. Apparently I didnt feed our elephant enough as he sprayed unmentionables all over me. Miss 3 sat on the elephants head and that is all she would talk about for the following week. Richard then took us to Rawai and we sat on the beach with the locals drinking beer and eating great bbq seafood. Cant recall the name but Richard would know. Bought some hand made silver & pearl earrings from Thai guy with dreadlocks at top of Rawai hill. Another beautiful lookout over the bay & Meridien Yacht club. It is here we saw the only leftovers from Tsunami - battered stone cottage at base of cliffs. Miss 3 lay down in the hammock and drifted off for a while as we drank some cold beer/water and took photos of the stunning view.

That evening we met up with English friends from forum at the bar/lookout over KT. Had the best red curry of the trip at this bar. Miss 3 played up at the bar and the staff helped us chase her all over the lookout (overtired no doubt). Fabulous view and sunset. Food really was xtremely cheap and excellent.

Next day by the pool and following day we went on John Gray Sea Canoe trip - Hongs by Starlight. Will post again.
Cheers
Dy
DeeElle is offline  
Old Apr 27th, 2006, 07:52 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,053
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
this too is great...they have made great progress in less than a year becuase as recently as june 05 you could still see lots of damage all around phuket, especially in patong...
rhkkmk is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -