Thailand 2021-2022

December 2021 - March 2022
I’ve paid my dues
Time after time
I’ve done my sentence
But committed no crime
And bad mistakes
I’ve made a few
I’ve had my share of sand
Kicked in my face
But I’ve come through”
  • 38footprints
  • 2countries
  • 118days
  • 117photos
  • 1videos
  • 27.6kkilometers
  • 27.3kkilometers
  • Day 1

    On Our Way Home

    December 3, 2021 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 2 °C

    You and I have memories
    Longer than the road that stretches out ahead

    Two of us wearing raincoats
    Standing solo
    In the sun
    You and me chasing paper
    Getting nowhere
    On our way back home
    We're on our way home
    We're on our way home
    We're going home

    It might sound odd to hear that we’re going home as we depart Vancouver for Chiang Mai, but there is nowhere else on earth that makes us feel so much at home as that northern Thai city.

    It’s been 639 days since Brenda and I have been on an international flight and four years since we last set foot on Thai soil. The pandemic has confined us first to our city, then to our province and lastly to Canada. Finally, we feel that we’ve completed our sentence and are once again free to travel the world. I should state that the fact we are both fully vaccinated has eased our trepidation of venturing afar despite the news of the Omicron mutation of the virus. That and the inconceivable thought of spending yet another winter in cool and rainy Vancouver .

    In fact, the number of hoops we had to jump through, the reams of paperwork we had to complete, the brief quarantine we must complete once we arrive in Thailand and the nervous anticipation of waiting for our Covid test results, all attest to just how eager we are to resume our globetrotting.

    As we make our way to YVR for our 1:30 PM departure, the temperature outside is a chilly 2 °C.
    See ya in March, Vancouver.

    Here comes the sun, do-do-do-do.
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  • Day 3

    One Night In Bangkok

    December 5, 2021 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    We arrived at our Bangkok accomodations, The Berkeley Hotel, at 1:30 AM this morning. Because of the pandemic, we were obliged to quarantine here for one day while we await the results of the Covid rapid test that was performed this morning.

    Our flights to Bangkok were both quite lengthy, but uneventful. The Vancouver to Tokyo leg was about 10.5 hours in the air, then we had a 1.5 hour layover in Tokyo before embarking on the 6.5 hour flight to Bangkok, arriving almost 45 minutes ahead of schedule. Considering that we had to leave home at 9:30 AM on Friday to be at the airport three hours before our flight, our total travel time was 25 hours! Fortunately, the food was good on both legs, there were plenty of movies on the entertainment system to keep us entertained (FYI: do NOT waste your time watching "The Green Knight") and the wine and beer was offered generously on the second leg of the trip! Hats off to ANA for their in flight service.

    Since we were officially under quarantine from the minute we stepped off the plane, we had to book a hotel package that included a private car ride from the airport, the covid test and three full meals. Needless to say, after all the travel, we were both very happy to arrive at the hotel, get out of our travel clothes, particularly the flight socks, lie down and drift very rapidly off into dreamland.

    The weather outside is partly overcast and 23°C and we hope to be able to get out into it later this afternoon, once our results are in. We'll stay here for one more night before flying off to one of the southern islands for a few days in the sand.

    Looking out our window, I can hardly wait to get out there and explore this great city once again.
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  • Day 4

    Off To Koh Lanta

    December 6, 2021 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Having completed our one day quarantine and successfully passing our second Covid test in less than a week, we decided to get outta Bangkok on Monday morning and head south to Koh Lanta for six days of beach and sun.

    Once we received our negtive test results on Sunday, we made arrangements to meet up with Ernie, one of Brenda's yoga buddies, who happened to be in Bangkok at the same time as us. Before meeting him, Brenda and I scouted out the neighborhood around our hotel in search of a pub or bar where we could have a beer with our friend. Because of the pandemic, there were no such establishments to be found. We did, however find a back street that was lined with several local eating spots serving Thai, Sri Lankan or Indian food.

    Once Ernie joined us, we made our way to a little Mom and Pop Thai restaurant, filled with locals, where we were promptly offered beer and green papaya salad. Even though I had already had a dinner of Pad Thai at the hotel, I couldn't resist ordering a dish of the house specialty salad to go along with my Chang beer. And I was not disappointed. It was every bit as good as the ones we get in Chiang Mai and it whetted my appetite for much more of the same over the next three months. After spending a delightful evening with Ernie, we headed back to our hotel and hit the sack almost immediately in anticipation of an early wake-up for our 10:00 AM flight. Although we fell asleep quickly, our circadian rhythms had other plans and we both slept sporadically after 2:30 AM, eventually giving up trying at 5:00.

    Unfortunately, getting to paradise requires a little effort as there are no flights directly to Koh Lanta. We have to fly 90 minutes to Krabi then ride a shuttle bus for between two and a half and three hours to the island.

    Sigh....as if the 25 hours it took us to get to Bangkok wasn't enough travel for this week!
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  • Day 5

    Sun and Sand

    December 7, 2021 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Yesterday was a write off because of travel delays, credit card issues, room changes and a disappointing dinner.

    But today's a new day. We took a long walk to explore the local markets, bought some AMAZING tropical fruit, and finally made it to the beach. A dip in the bath-water-warm ocean with the sun beating down on our bodies is pretty sweet. However, sweeter still is knowing that we got out of Vancouver just before the first snowfall.

    We almost feel bad for the folks back home............ Almost.
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  • Day 6

    Lanta Old Town

    December 8, 2021 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Today I gathered up my courage and agreed with Brenda that renting a scooter to tour the island would be a good idea. It costs less than $8.00/day, including helmets, which is much less expensive than local taxis. The fact that I had not driven a scooter since the late 80's and have never driven on the left side of the road gave me pause, but I gritted my teeth and soldiered on.

    It turned out to be an excellent decision.

    After a detailed briefing on its operation, I took the bike out for a couple of laps outside our hotel. When I felt well enough at ease to invite my favorite biker chick, Brenda, to climb on behind me and we set off on our adventure. Slowly at first, but faster and faster as I gained confidence. Despite my bravado, I didn't let my "Hardly" Davidson run any faster than 60 km/h.

    We crossed the mountains to the other side of the island to explore Koh Lanta's Old Town, one of it's original fishing villages. Comprised entirely of clapboard houses with corrugated tin roofs and built on stilts, it is a fully functioning town that offers a glimpse into the islands past.

    We stopped for lunch at the Shine Talay Restaurant where we dined on Fried morning glory, spicy tofu, glass noodles and fried rice. Yum. All for the price of one dish back home.

    The two Easy Riders then left Old Town thinking we'd tour some of the beaches on the southwest coast. Unfortunately, at 2:00 PM the sun was so strong and the temperature so high, we had to abandon our exploration and leave it for another day.

    Who knew I had to travel to Koh Lanta to find out I was born to be wild?
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  • Day 8

    Wiiillllmaaaaa!!!

    December 10, 2021 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    BREAKING NEWS:

    Archeologists in Koh Lanta have confirmed the discovery of a dwelling dating back to prehistoric times on the western coast of Koh Lanta, Thailand.

    Found inside the stone-age dwelling were the remains of a man, a woman, a very young female child and what appears to be a small dinosaur. They are also examining what could be the first use of the wheel on a rudimentary vehicle also located on the site.Read more

  • Day 8

    A Four Island Tour, A Four Island Tour

    December 10, 2021 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
    A tale of a fateful trip
    That started from this tropic port
    Aboard this tiny ship.

    The mate was a mighty sailin' man,
    The Skipper brave and sure.
    Twenty passengers set sail that day
    For a four island tour,
    A four island tour.

    We were picked up at our hotel at 8:20 and were carted across the island and back to the Old Town pier that we visited yesterday. We and twenty two other people set off in a large, wooden Thai long-tail boat for some snorkeling, touring and beach time on or around four of the islands on the eastern side of Koh Lanta.

    As soon as the boat got into open water, we knew we were in for a rough ride. The swells were three to four feet high, the boat was rocking and rolling and those seated in the front of the craft were all treated to complimentary sea-water showers. After about forty-five minutes of this, several of the passengers were a little green around the gills when we arrived at our first stop Koh Cheok, where snorkeling was a little underwhelming. Because of the choppiness of the water it was very cloudy on the reef and visibility was poor. We saw a few fish, but nothing to get excited about.

    After another twenty minutes of riding the waves, we arrived at Koh Mook where we had to swim 100 meters through a pitch black tunnel, guided only by a flashlight held by our guide. Emerging on the other end, we found a beautiful sandy beach and 360° liana-covered cliffs. We also found scores of other tourists who ruined any possibity of getting some nice photos. At least the one looking straight up at the sky turned out!

    Thirty more minutes in the boat brought us to Koh Cheuk where the thirty minutes of snorkeling was a little better than our first stop, but nothing to write home about. Oh, wait. I am writing home about it?!?

    Anyway, then we headed off to the last stop on our itinerary, Koh Kradan, where we had lunch and were told to enjoy ourselves as we pleased. Brenda and I decided to stroll along the beach, which was quite long, and enjoy the scenery. Before we set out, we wanted to ask our guide what time we'd be departing, but he was nowhere to be found. I asked another one of the crew, and he said, "Two hours here". SInce we arrived at 1:30, we figured we'd return for 3:00 and would have plenty of time to get back on the boat, which was anchored at about the middle of the beach. We sauntered down to one end of the beach, stopping to look at shells and chuckle at the antics of the hundreds of small crabs and hermit crabs we encountered. We then walked all the way down to the other end of the beach and just as we turned around, we saw our tour guide frantically waving at us. As it turns out, we were misinformed about the departure time which was actually scheduled for 2:30!!! The time was now 2:40 and we had a good twenty minute walk back to the boat. Our guide explained that he discovered our absence when he made a pre-departure head count and would have been fired had he left us marooned on the island.

    Thank heavens he came for us, since I'm not sure what we would have done without The Professor there to help us through the night!
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  • Day 9

    Innocence Lost

    December 11, 2021 in Thailand ⋅ ☁️ 27 °C

    As soon as we arrived in Koh Lanta we were struck by the surprising number of women wearing hijabs. And then, when we arrived at our hotel, the call to prayer resounded over loudspeakers nearby. Wait a minute, isn't this a Buddhist country?

    Well, since you asked, here's the situation:

    Islamic Malay migrants arrived on the island about 300 years ago. These settlers, many who came from  the opposite Thailand coast, referred to themselves as Orang Lonta. “Orang” is a Malay term meaning “people” and, on old Malay maps, the Koh Lanta is named Pulau Lonta.

    Today the island is predominately Muslim although, in the rest of the country only a little over 5% of the population follows Islam.

    Koh Lanta is also home to the Chao Lay people, seafaring gypsies who first settled here 500 years ago, and Thai-Chinese, many of whom follow Confucianism, Taoism or other traditional Chinese religions. Despite appearances of harmony between the different sects locally, there is a long history of discord and persecution of the minority Muslims, particularly in the deep south of the country that borders Malaysia.

    The following is an excerpt from an article published by TRT World, a Turkish news organization:

    "The deep south was formerly known as the independent Sultanate of Patani until it was conquered by the Kingdom of Siam in 1785. Siam directly controlled the appointment of Patani’s sultanate leadership which led to the rebellion and constant cycle of revolution and suppression until today.

    On October 25 2004, Thai security forces suppressed a large protest by Muslims in the town of Tak Bai by rounding up 1300 protesters, stacking them face down in military trucks and transporting them to Patani camps five hours away.

    At least 78 protesters died from suffocation in Thai military trucks, and several others were shot dead while protesting outside the police station for the release of detainees."

    When I started writing this post I intended to explore the reason for the predominance of Muslim culture here. Yet, as I researched the subject, I was saddened to learn that this peaceful, Zen and welcoming country is not without its prejudices.

    I have changed the original title of this post from "Harmony" to "Innocence Lost."

    My innocence.

    Imagine there's no countries
    It isn't hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people living life in peace,
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  • Day 9

    Sunrise, Sunset

    December 11, 2021 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Sunrise, sunset
    Swiftly flow the days...

    In the short time we've been on Koh Lanta, we've quickly gotten into the habit of starting and ending our day on the beach. We're normally up before dawn, walking or jogging on the nearly-deserted 2.4 km of Long Beach at sunrise. At around 6:00 pm, we find ourselves once again on the beach enjoying an aperitivo as we take in the spectacular sunset on offer each evening. What a beautiful rhythm of life.Read more