21 January 2008
When I last posted, I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand, enroute to Pattaya, Thailand.
I boarded the flight back to Bangkok and was picked up by my driver for the two hour drive to Pattaya, southeast of Bangkok. My first impression o f the beach of Pattaya was a bit sour as the beach is all of twenty feet wide.
Imagine driving down a beach road and all one sees off to the right of the car are umbrellas and a very narrow strip of beach. Certainly, not the most impressive beach scene I have ever seen, but I am committed to stay at least three days here.
The Tim Boutique is located off the second road in Pattaya (the first is the aforementioned Beach road) and appears to be comfortable enough to warrant a stay for a few days. It didnt take long to get settled into my room and take off ofor a walk around the town.
This is a very busy place, with swarms of Caucasian middle-aged, pot-bellied men sitting in beach chairs and walking the streets of Pattaya (prononced pat ta YA). I dont know where all of these guys come from, but my guess is Europe, based on their attire and the different spoken languages. The beach walk is known as the the walking street and the local sport appears to be just that-walking the street. My exercise was walking the street several times a day and at the end of the mile long street was an entertainment section, complete with bars and restaurants. It didnt take long to realize that this is a busier place than Phuket, although not as nearly as picturesque.
What I did enjoy about Pattaya is the frenetic pace and the multitude of restaurants and the roof top pool of the hotel. I ate very well-French-Italian and Thai food abound in a very compacted area of the beach, very close to the hotel.
I got into a routine, sleeping late, walking the street several times a day and dining at area restaurants. I liked it so much, I stayed nine days! It sure surprised me as the days turned into nights into days. On my last trip to Thailand, I came down with a case of the Gout, from eating too many shrimp/prawns and local Singha beer. I was very careful to limit my intake of shrimp and merely switched beer brands. Am pleased to say, the gout was nowhere to be felt in the toes!
It is hard to describe why I stayed so long in this place, other than it was very relaxing, comfortable and reasonable. I particularly enjoyed the French restaurant-Le Stroganoff as I dined there three times for their complete three course dinner for 240 baht or eight bucks! The Italian food was good as well and the Thai food was similarly priced.
On the fifteenth of January, I returned to Bangkok for four nights before returning home. Rather than stay at the Shiangri-La or the Peninsula, I stayed at the Jasmine Executive Suites, located in the Sukhumvit area of town. The Jasmine is actually a small apartment, living room, kitchen, bedroom and bath on the fifteenth floor of a high rise building. Considering the fact, that the price is one third of the Shangri-la, I am doing quite well in terms of my living expenses.
I may have mentioned the Princess really died and as a result a lot of the country is in an official period of mourning. Many attractions are closed and that cramped my touring a bit, as I did want to see some attractions , only to be closed. I did tour about and enjoy some fabulous street food in Bangkok. It helps that the NY Times did a story on street food while I was here and I managed to find these food stalls, much to my delight. Pork balls, samosas, crepes, sausages and all kinds of insects- no I didnt eat them! Of curious note was the number of elephants roaming the streets at night with their handlers hawking fod to sell to feed the elephants. As this is illegal to bring elephants onto the streets, they are readily viewable and it is always quite a sight to see. Bangkok is a fun place.
At one point, I stopped to see a travel agent that had booked some earlier trips for me. I was very disappointed to learn that my travel agent friend in Phuket was found slashed and stabbed to death in November. Apparently, it was a robbery or a relationship gone bad and needless to say, it was very upsetting to hear of Soomais murder. I did go to a temple to pay my respects and the monk was very accommodating as he fed me, and included me in a ritual to honor my deceased friend. I now sport a string bracelet and a necklace given by the monk to honor the memory of Soomai, whose murder remains a mystery. Buddhism has an appeal in the serenity it offers and I should read up on the religion. It was quite poignant to visit the temple, meet the monk and observe the ritual.
19 January, I left a wake-up call for 5:00 Am so I could get to the airport for my flight home. My alarm and the wake-up call failed and I woke up at 6:00 and had to make a mad dash for the airport to catch my flight. I made the flight on time, and flew five hours back to Narita, Japan. After a two hour layover, I boarded the AA twelve hour flight back to JFK.
As I got into my car and started back to Massachusetts, I had to reflect on a very relaxing vacation that involved very little high/lows (other the news about Soomai) and how fortunate I am to have to opportunity to travel and enjoy Thailand. I was quickly jolted into reality with the flashing blue lights of a police car in my rear view mirror! 61 miles an hour in a 35 mile an hour zone! $260 bucks-ouch!
The best part was to get to the house, into bed and get up on Sunday and go skiing at Butternut! To go from Bangkok-85 degrees on cloudless days to 16 degrees and skiing within 24 hours is quite a treat. The best part: watch two football games and see the Giants win to go to the Super Bowl!
That wraps up this blog entry and I hope to be traveling again soon and offering blog entries soo. I am scheduled to go and visit Doris in Sarasota this weekend to celebrate her 92 birthday. In three weekends, I am off to San Diego/Tijuana to play some golf with my bro-Jay. Something about the charmed life is appropriate-huh! Journey well-always!