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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.