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The Road to Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Independent travel can take its toll- you have to make all the arrangements and count on things to go wrong. Normally we don’t mind but before we departed for Cambodia we saw numerous signs on Koh Maak offering direct minibus service to Sihanoukville, our next destination.

Inquiries were made, associated costs discussed and eventually we settled on a package that would include high-speed boat to the mainland, pick up by deluxe minivan at the dock and onward to our next destination. Keep it simple.

On the appointed day, we headed to the little dock next to our Makathanee Resort in a downpour. To the east a magnificent water spout was rolling across the water, backlit by morning sun- it was eerily beautiful but dissipated before hitting any land mass.

Our high-speed motorboat was an adventure as we bounced along over the waves at a record pace. I enjoyed watching the passengers seated in front bounce about as if they were bobble heads.

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Koh Maak Photo Gallery

Wish I had a tiny island, floating in the sea
Palm tree sway won’t get in the way
It’s a tropical ease.
Lea Kottke, Tiny Island

We are trying a new photo gallery tool as I am unhappy with the one that comes with WordPress.

KOH MAAK PHOTO GALLERY- CLICK HERE

Click on the link ABOVE- if you click on one of the photos in the gallery they get bigger. You can follow the arrows and see the entire gallery.

 

Koh Maak Attack

Koh Maak, Thailand, near the coast of Cambodia: Jan. 25 – Feb. 2, 2013

Red dragonflies. Blue pool. Green palms. Violet flowers. Golden sand. Bright sunshine. Rolling surf. Twittering birds. Sizzling fish. Ahh… what more could one ask for?

Chris celebrates our arrival…

It was the day before the full moon. The tide was up, the water a bit rough, but the air was hot and the sun shone bright. Lots to look forward to at our newest destination: Koh Maak, a quiet 16-square mile jungle and rubber tree covered volcanic island about an hour speedboat ride from the pier near the town of Trat. We picked Koh Maak out of the many islands that hug both coasts of Thailand because it promised little in the way of activity except tropical breezes and good eats, and after the pace of Chaing Mai we were ready to scale down the excitement level.

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Chiang Mai In Photos

A gallery collection of some of our photos in the busy but nonetheless enchanting city of Chiang Mai- the gateway to northern Thailand. Click on any photo to view slideshow.

 

Changing Attitudes in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Jan. 18 – Jan. 25, 2013

masked policeman controls traffic during a typical afternoon in Chaing Mai

After a mellow and spiritually uplifting couple of days in the nearly 800-year-old city of old Sukhothai, arriving in Chiang Mai was a bit of a shock. While we were certainly aware things had changed since our memorable first visit in 1989, when we had traveled here from Bangkok (a slow, hot, long train ride) with Chris’s mom Ange, merely travelling the short distance from the train station to our hotel revealed how incredibly busy the city had become. No longer a peaceful haven from loud, busy, polluted Bangkok, it seemed that “progress” and tourism had turned this northern hill tribe centre into a smaller version of the capital.

close call on our train from Sukhathai

Our spirits sank, especially as the nearly 10-hour train ride here from Sukhathai had exactly been a picnic: cramped, slow, dirty, cock roach invested, and it even caught on fire about an hour and a half outside of Chiang Mai! Fortunately, no one was hurt and there was no structural damage as the fire started underneath the carriage of one of the cars. No bus or other alternative transport was provided; we were all loaded back on and the train carried on.

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Old Sukhothai in Black and White

The Sukhothai ruins seem to lend themselves to black and white imagery. Taken with our iPhones and trusty Nikon, here is a tasty sampling of our many photos- click on any photo and follow the arrows left or right.

 

Back in Time in Old Sukhothai

After a four-night stay, we looked forward to departing noisy frenetic Bangkok – eastern city of angels and devilishly dirty canals. We were booked 2nd class express air con but were dismayed to see our train pull up. More like a worn out subway car, the seats cramped our long legs and the journey north was not the pleasant experience we had played ahead in our minds.

Eight long hours on – and 2 hours late- we arrived in Phitsanulok, yet had another couple hours of travel ahead of us. First, a TukTuk (or as we call them – souped up golf cart) to the bus station, then a mini van for the one-hour trip to new Sukothai city, and after protracted negotiations, a Songtheaw (pick-up truck taxi) to the Orchid Hibiscus, a charming small guest resort managed by our second congenial Italian proprietor Paolo (the first being Guido in Amman).

Our Guest House

In his surprisingly strong Italian accent, Paolo informed us that our timing was impeccable as the old city would play host to the Festival of Lights the very next day in honour of King Ramkhamhaeng, noteworthy as the founder of the modern-day Thai alphabet and Theravada Buddhism; it was meant to be an auspicious occasion.

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Bangkok Photo Gallery

A selection of images from four days in the Thai capital.

One Night in Bangkok

Elaine’s Journal, Midnight, Jan. 15, 2013

Damn it.  A nap before dinner to try to catch up on sleep turned into a 4.5 hour snooze – again. So now it’s too late to venture out to Khao San Road, the nearby tourist ghetto  for dinner. A banana in our room will have to suffice.

Chris checks out the sights and sounds of Khao San Road, including the ubiquitous Tuk Tuks during one of our day-time explorations

My body continues to fight the affects of jet lag three days after arriving in Thailand’s capitol. Combined with the woozy, disconcerting roll which lingers following our latest and hopefully last harrowing ride on a packed-to-the-gunnels Chao Prya River taxi yesterday afternoon, sleep at normal hours remains elusive.

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Bangkok Bound: 1987

Note: This previously unpublished story chronicles our first visit Bangkok in 1987- we thought it would dovetail nicely with our current trip nearly 26 years later…

See also: Travels With Barney (Bangkok, 1996)

Bidding adieu to our latest favourite paradise – the southern Thai island of Koh Samui – Elaine and I traveled by boat to the port of Surathani. There we boarded a second-class sleeper on an overnight train to Bangkok. Chugging out of the station at around 6 p.m., we discovered our latest mode of travel to be surprisingly comfortable. Our two seats faced each other and we had half of the aisle to ourselves.

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