Saturday, 20 December 2014

Sawasdee (hello)

It's very strange to see christmas decorations here - everywhere! Christmas songs (non-religious) are playing on the streets, in stores, etc.  This is a Buddhist country so there are few christians.  I thought at first it was for the tourists and expats here, but now I think the Thais just like to celebrate anything - non-religious xmas of course. The stores are packed with christmas gifts and decorations.

Monks are very highly regarded here. I noticed on the train in Bangkok that the priority seating for elderly and disabled also said 'monks'.

We can greet and thank people in Thai.  But that is our limit.  This is the Thai Alphabet.

There must be a million motorbikes on this island. Okay, a bit of exaggeration.  But they are everywhere. They usually stick to the hard shoulder which makes it a bit dicey for pedestrians. They ignore the rules and pass on the right side the left side, go the wrong way down a one way street, and generally drive like they are the only vehicle on the road.  If it wasn't for the motorbikes, driving here would be a piece of cake.  So I've only driven a few times and make Danny do the driving. Looks like the majority of the tourists here drive motorbikes.  Motorbikes get preferential parking on the streets, so it's hard to find a space for the car.

There are many, many Thai massage businesses here. I'm sure some do more than that, but most are for massage only.  I find a Thai massage too rough, so I'm still looking for a business that does other types.

We love the food here!  For dinner we might have red curry, green curry, veggie fried rice, glass noodle soup, and ingredients might be tofu, seafood, prawns chicken, bacon, chilis, every kind of vegetable including many not found at home, pineapple and cucumbers are also common ingredients. Rice is always included whether fried or steamed, unless your are having a noddle dish.

Cooking sauces in supermarket - soy, oyster, fish, etc.

A couple of tofu dishes at our favourite restaurant

Embroidered handbags I found at a local shop.

We pass by this Wat on the way to the Tesco Mall many times a week and is almost next door to our favourite bakery where we go for bread.  But we hadn't stopped in until yesterday.  It is also the cultural hall where weddings and funerals are performed.  It's called Wat Lamai and Cultural Hall.

Before we came, some friends asked us what we'd do with our time while here, as though there wouldn't be enough to do.  Well, this is what we do:
I go to a fitness centre 3 mornings a week
Facebook, a forum, emails, keep up this blog, take photos, share photos, upload photos.
Drive to the Tesco Mall to shop and go to our favourite coffee bar - Black Canyon.  Stop at the French Bakery for bread.
Wander around the street markets.  Sometimes buy.
Go for walks.
Swim in the pool or the sea.
Visit Buddhist Wats (temples), pagodas and other Buddhist and Hindu sites.
Go for a drive and explore.
Eat dinner out every night, rotating favourite restaurants.
Spend 2 weeks with sister-in-law and brother-in-law who are staying in a house close by.
Spend 10 days with friends of ours from home who are staying a couple of miles away.
Drink beer and cocktails.  Chill out.
Get a massage.
Watch DVD's or tv in the evening.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Laem Sor Pagoda

We're enjoying the freedom of getting around the island in a car because we can explore without depending on public transport. I'd like to see every temple and historic site on the island before we leave then end of January.

Photo albums of Thailand (so far)

Yesterday we visited this brilliantly golden Buddhist pagoda which is located on a beach. I fortunately remembered to keep my sarong in the car so I could cover my bare shoulders when visiting.

Laem Sor Pagoda

Friday, 12 December 2014

We've made ourselves at home

We've settled into a rhythm on the island. I go to the fitness centre MWF when they open at 7.  We do our swimming in the pool or at the beach in late afternoon when the sun isn't as strong.  Most days we go to Black Canyon Coffee for a latte or iced coffee, and occasionally a treat with an ice cream and coffee frappe.

We eat breakfast and sometimes lunch at the house. But dinner is always out.  We generally rotate between 3 restaurants that are nearby.  Two we can easily walk to and they are on the beach with a lovely view.  The other is a bit farther so we drive.  It's called Koh Kaew and the food is fantastic, cheap and the ladies who run it are very friendly and sweet.

A couple of nights ago we went exploring for a different restaurant for dinner on the western side of the island so we'd see a sunset.  We found a gem! It's on the beach on the Virgin Coast and has amazing food. It's in an area that has a few resorts but is not touristy - no malls, no fast food places, etc. We intend to go back many times while here.  Danny and I had a vegetarian dinner for two which included 7 dishes, all gorgeous! This is the sunset we saw while having dinner:

We shop at the closest Tesco superstore which is in Lamai and have purchased everything we found lacking in our house...mainly for the kitchen, some organisers, more hangers, and a drying rack for hand washables.

Today, we went out for a drive to investigate some areas that are less populated. Lovely beaches! Here is a place we stopped at to quench our thirst and also a Wat (Buddhist temple) where we stopped along the way. We visited one of the buildings which had a mummified monk and were given a blessing by a monk or lay person seated there.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Wat Plai Laem

Wat Plai Laem is one of many temples on the island of Samui.

Wat Plai Laem

My Photos of Wat Plai Laem

Often called Laughing Buddha, but is actually Bodai. 

Guan Yin or Kuan Yin - Chinese Goddess or Bodhisattva of Mercy

Friday, 5 December 2014


Thai people are very polite and friendly with big smiles.  Thailand is a Buddhist country and this affects the daily lives of many Thais. Bowing as a greeting is standard. Shoes and sandals are removed before entering temples, homes, small businesses. Proper dress is expected when visiting temples - knees and shoulders covered on both men and women.  However, many tourists don't realize this and enter in shorts and tank tops. Thais, however, will never tell you when they feel insulted or shown a lack of respect.

Traditional Thai food is delicious, healthy, and made without all the additives as is commonly done in the west. Lots of vegetables, rice or noodles, fish, meats, tofu, etc.

We prefer to go to traditional, smaller Thai restaurants.  Delicious and inexpensive.  A dinner without drinks can cost as little as $2.00 US.

Driving is on the left and the roads are in pretty good condition.  The only issue is the massive amount of motor bikes and many will pass you on either the right of left sides and many are simply too daring.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Winter in Thailand

Danny and I are spending a good portion of the winter in Thailand.  Our journey began with a very enjoyable overnight stay at the Dubai Airport Hotel.  During this trip we decided to see Bangkok for a couple of days since we missed it on our trip earlier this year.  Loved the Bangkok Airport Hotel - the room, the service, the pool, the gym, the breakfasts, the easy access to the terminal for shopping and meals and getting our android phones packages sorted for our stay. 

We traveled into Bangkok on Sunday morning with plans to visit the Royal Grand Palace, the three temples which have the emerald, golden, and reclining Buddhas, and the national museum. However, it was very hot and humid (about 36C/96F) and the Grand Palace which is the most visited place in Bangkok was swarming with visitors - literally tens of thousands. All were trying to get photos of the magnificent buildings, get the best views of the emerald Buddha and other places, and the extra body heat made it unbearable.  So we cut our visit short and went back to the hotel.  

The rest of our holiday is being spent in a bungalow on Koh Samui, one of the larger islands in Thailand. Our introduction to Thailand was in January/February this year when we attended a niece's wedding. We loved it!

A few photos from the Bangkok visit - Palace photos are not good because of being jostled by the crowds.

Stay tuned. 

On a beach on Koh Samui

Grand Royal Palace

Grand Royal Palace

Grand Royal Palace