Living in Bangkok (with Doggies)

My dad has been living in Bangkok for the past two and a 1/2 years. Although when I say in Bangkok, for me, it seems far away because it takes about 1-2 hours to get to the center of Bangkok, depending on traffic.

I’m glad that Squire and I got to play tourist first because we are now able to relax a little since the whole family works and/or goes to school. My dad lives with his girlfriend, Preaw, his girlfriend’s sister, U, and U’s boyfriend, Pu. They have two dogs, one is about two years old, her name is Lippy (Rippy) and the other is a one-month old orphan named, Lichie (Richie).


Lippy is a riot because she loves to take pictures and when she sees a camera she actually poses for the picture. In the second shot of Lippy (above), she actually took a couple of steps backward and waited for me to snap the picture. I have to say, I was impressed.

Lichie is a cutie though, just by virtue of the fact that she is still a baby. She is so small! I don’t think she even really looks like a dog yet.



Dogs are everywhere in Thailand, though. You actually don’t see as many cats because the dogs rule the streets. It seems like animals in general get treated very well here, whether or not they have a home or are on the street. I think it’s mostly because of the prevalent Buddhist belief that all living entities are created equal and reciprocity is real in this lifetime and in the next.

I really like the Buddhist beliefs but feel like I wouldn’t be able to do it well, the mosquitos and cockaroaches will always do me in.

Traveling Around Thailand

One of the most interesting experiences Squire and I have been having while we are going from place to place in Thailand is the getting from place to place. It’s actually one of the things that have excited me the most about being in a different country.




I’ve had the longest flights I’ve ever had (it took us about 15 hours of flight time to get to Thailand). Our transit days have been the majority of this trip to be honest. First of all Thailand is ahead by 17 hours. Squire figured out an easier way for us to do the Hawaii math by thinking about the time now, minus five hours, and then flip the am/pm to get the Hawaii time, THEN remember that Thailand is ahead a day – believe me, it’s actually easier.

But back to the days:

  • Tuesday, Day 1 – Fly to Thailand.
  • Wednesday, Day 2 – Arrive in Thailand (p.m.) – although technically it’s early a.m. of Weds. (Hawaii time).
  • Thursday, Day 3 – Fly to Chiang Mai.
  • Friday, Day 4 – Taxi riding basically from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. at night.
  • Saturday, Day 5 – Taxi riding half the day (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Sunday, Day 6 – Early plane back to Bangkok, take the airport tram, to the city tram, to the evening train to Koh Samui.


  • Monday, Day 7 – Arrive at Surat Thani, to take a bus (2 1/2 hours), to take a ferry (1 1/2 hours), to get to Koh Samui (taxi ride to hotel).
  • Tuesday, Day 8 – Take a shuttle into Chaweng to look around (laundry day!), take a taxi back.
  • Wednesday, Day 9 – Get laundry from Chaweng (shuttle back and forth).
  • Thursday, Day 10 – Take the taxi, to take a bus, to take a ferry, to take the same bus before the ferry, to take the train back to Hua Lamphong train station.
  • Friday, Day 11 – Arrive at Hua Lamphong, take an hour train to Don Muang station. Then drive all day – we got picked up at 10 a.m. and didn’t get to the house before 9 p.m.
  • Saturday, Day 12 – Drive into Bangkok (3 hour drive-back and forth).
  • Sunday, Day 13 – Drive into Ayutthaya (2 hour drive-back and forth).

And that brings me to the present time. This is probably way too much information, but for me, I think it’s been too interesting not to mention. Half of our trip has been traveling, just to get to our next major destination, and I’ve traveled in ways that I haven’t experienced before. I’ve never ridden on an airplane for the time period I did, never rode in a train before, either overnight or a short day trip, and I never rode on a ferry that actually took vehicles as well ( I missed the Super Ferry  experience in Hawaii).


All of these things are very different. The train ride, especially. The shorter stints have had the better cultural appeal and because of that I found it held a special significance. When you just sit in the regular cars, they have people outside the windows that sell food to the passengers at each of the stops and some of them get on and ride for a while and sell some really interesting and yummy little meals. For the overnight train rides, we were able to splurge and get the first class tickets and because there were two of us, we were able to have a cabin all to ourselves. They were air conditioned, had a little sink, and two beds, with pillows, blankets and added cushioning. I highly recommend splurging because of the air conditioning, although bringing some extra padding to ward off the extra cold a/c (that you can’t control) is also smart. Oh, and don’t forget the earplugs for sleeptime.


I have to admit that I half-hoped that my traveling around would end when we met up with my dad and was able to spend time with him, but nothing is ‘close’ here by car and everywhere the traffic is unbelievably complex. So complex, I feel like I’d be a very aggressive driver.

First of all, the wheel is to the right of the car and the left lanes are for my traffic. Also there are many types of vehicles that travel on the same roads here; tuk tuks, buses, little buses, motorscooters, motorscooters with side cars,mopeds, trains, bicycles, cars, and huge 18 wheelers.


However, I feel like it’s the motorscooters that scare me the most because they drive around cars, in between cars, and if you’re at a stoplight and at the front, expect about 20 of them to find their way in front of you. And then there are the regular cars, that weave in and out of lanes, half way in lanes, and over the solid orange line of the on-coming traffic because they don’t want to be in the correct lane. All of which really makes you feel like the lines on the road are merely a suggestion versus an absolute.

The beauty of all of this is that people are still very nice and even if they’re irritated that you cut them off and nearly kill them, if you smile, look apologetic and nod, they will just wave you away and maybe even smile back.

I don’t quite get it and am very happy I don’t have to drive here, but it makes me smile wryly as I write about it.

Koh Samui Recap

Okay, so it’s been a while. Koh Samui for the most part was uneventful because we hardly left the resort. The resort was the type of place where they give you everything you want so you don’t want to leave and we didn’t also. I will say that this is a resort we normally wouldn’t have even entertained staying at because the rooms were over 600 USD a night but Squire’s brother works at a Starwood and we got a decent discount, it was still a little pricey but for a few nights . . . we decided to splurge. Everyone needs a little bit of pampering, right?


This is a picture of the backside of the lobby, I didn’t get it from the front because I found it to be way more impressive from the back. Each of the circles are sofa settings where you can lounge at get a drink from the bar that sits on the left (out of the picture frame).


Here are a couple of pictures of the walkway that stops abruptly but overlooks the resort and the Gulf of Thailand. From the top it’s not as impressive looking down (so no pictures) because there are some areas that are still in construction but it’s worth looking out at from each of the little sofa sets. Although at the time of the day we were there, it was HOT! But only a little more than Hawaii summer hot.

A couple of days before we got there we heard that a three day storm had passed through. We met a couple from San Francisco that were there on vacation (without their children) and they said that they were very worried to be so close to beachfront (and high up) at that time. They later found out from the General Manager that they had to close the resort twice because of inclement weather. I’m so glad we missed that and just got to experience the beauty of the island instead. So off to the room.

The first picture below is the walkway to our room. Straight ahead is the beach. The second and third picture are views of the hotel pool and at the very top, the hotel lobby that we had come from.


It’s definitely a walk trying to go back up there and most times we take the elevator to the pool and then walk up the rest of the way.



But back to the room. They take care of you here and most times you don’t even have to leave the room. A highlight for us was our own swimming pool! Because of this we only went to the beach to look at the spectacular view. So I’ll just show you the pictures.


Then it’s off to the beach.


This place was definitely dreamy. One thing I thought was very interesting was that room service actually cost less than a 50% discount at all the hotel’s restaurants. I didn’t get a picture of some of the other perks of the place but a great one was these things called “Sweet Spots.” They were refrigerators and freezers that had an assortments of juice, coffee, water, gatorade, ice cream cones, and ice cream cups. Also the views everywhere were fantastic though. Squire and I ate at a breakfast buffet that was just beautiful.



I have to admit some of the décor had me wondering though. Some of them I had to decide for myself what it was actually for.


Someone came by and I didn’t get busted. So I guess it was okay, just for the photo.

Sigh. Koh Samui . . . .

Picture Time–Chiang Mai – Day 1

I’ve promised pictures so here are a few from the first full day that Squire and I were in Thailand. Specific to our trip up North to Chiang Mai.

When we first got there, we met a taxi driver who gave us his card and some pricing for touring around the city. Tourism in Chiang Mai (and Thailand) is big. So big it’s government sanctioned and the services provided are bonused back to the locals. Which is why it seems the hospitality to tourists is sincere.

Our hotel, although beautiful, was definitely overpriced, or at least the taxi services they provided were. We asked for a couple of stops that we were hoping to do and the price that they gave us was 800 baht but when we called the number the driver had given us he gave us the same trip for 500 baht and then stopped a few more places to boot. (By the way when in Thailand (before you get into the taxi) make sure that you agree on a price beforehand, I think it’s an etiquette thing but it also helps keep everyone honest).

So on our first day of travels we first went to the elephant camp. They had a baby elephant that was only three months old and so cute with the mother. DSC_0040Although the mother ate all the food we gave them people made sure that the baby had some bananas. Yep, we were able to hand feed them sugar cane and bananas.


We also saw one of the elephants named Suda paint a picture of an elephant. Both Squire and I agreed that Suda was a much better artist than we were.


Next stop, we went to Tiger Kingdom, which was a must on our list. At Tiger Kingdom you get to spend some time petting semi-tamed tigers. I do say semi-tamed because there are quite a few rules to follow and each tiger had a person specific to each tiger to make sure that all the rules were being followed and to ensure that if anything amiss occurred someone was on hand to manage the situation.


We were able to go in a petting area with tigers of various sizes. We decided to go in with the smallest (not the newborns) and the largest. There were different packages you could take and the newborns were always an extra fee on top of the various packages.


There is quite a bit of controversy surrounding these exhibits. Mostly because people feel that the animals are drugged. I don’t know if that is the case, I can’t tell how an animal drugged or not looks, I have to say I didn’t think their eyes were glassy, but I know that they are nocturnal animals so being awake in the day is not common for them and they do like their sleep.


Although it’s not as restful as it could be with people petting them all day and wanting to get pictures with them. We didn’t push for the tigers to be awoken but for the most part they seemed to be semi-active while we were there.

If you notice in the last picture of Squire petting the large tiger, his knee is blocking another tiger that came up behind him. I was taking the pictures at the time and although I could have gotten a pretty good picture of a Squire sandwich, I decided on playing it safe and at least warning him of the fact that there was a tiger behind him. If his knee wasn’t in the way it would have been perfect. I will say, Squire was very interested to find out there was the tiger behind him.


We have a ton of pics that we’ll post to facebook soon. Also it looks as if once we get back to Bangkok and spend some time with my dad and his girlfriend, we’ll get to go to the Tiger Temple and pet more tigers. A definite plus because this is a highlight to our trip thus far that we wouldn’t mind doing again.


Now to the Monkey Centre.


Squire and I really like monkeys and we really wanted to make sure we got to see some of them here. These monkeys are smart, they can play basketball, ride bikes, read, and are just all around cute. After a very quick show a baby monkey and an older monkey (that drank Squire’s Gatorade during the show) came out for some photo opportunities.


After the monkeys we moved on to the snakes. This is the same snake team that worked with Sylvestor Stallone in the latest Rambo movie.


The snake trainers/performers, were very fast, from the looks of it you definitely have to be that and crazy to boot.


We were given the opportunity to come up and have our pictures taken during the show with a python. Both Squire and I took advantage of it with the performers around it felt safe.


After these four stops we went to the mall to eat and we rounded off the day with the Night Safari. So many of the animals are nocturnal and I hadn’t realized it before. It wasn’t the best opportunity for picture taking because the flash needed to be used and that was a no-no once we could understand the tour guide which didn’t occur until we were in the second car, so in the first one we were able to get at least a couple of pictures of some of the animals.


We ended the evening with a very beautiful light show and then it was back to the hotel. Just in time for a much needed rest for two more must see stops in Chiang Mai the next day.

Picture Time–Chiang Mai, Day 2

We did so much the day before that we wanted to take it easy on day two and we assumed that meant doing the things that I wanted to do, which was visit the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of the most revered Buddhist shrines in Northern Thailand, it is located on a mountain that overlooks the city of Chiang Mai.

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Wats serve many purposes in Thailand. They function as a community center, temple and a buddhist monastery. In Thailand you can find 30,000 of them, but what makes certain ones of noted interest are if they were founded by royalty or if they house revered objects, such as bones of Buddha, as Doi Suthep does.

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Legend has it that Doi Suthep was created 600 years ago so high atop the mountain because the king used his own royal white elephant to find where the chedi (sacred pagoda) would be built to house the important relic, a shoulder bone from the Buddha himself. The elephant continued up the mountain where the chedi and temple were built. It took him three days to reach the spot where the wat was built and he died shortly thereafter. To commemorate his important contribution they built a monument in his honor that is left of the temple once you reach the top of the stairs.

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Outside the walls of the temple are many bells, people are allowed to ring these for good luck (softly) and should not push them, the hooks that hold them up are old and breaking a bell would be very bad. They also had some etiquette rules up here that we were sure to abide, we couldn’t wear shoes in the temple, women had to have covered arms and knees (they had skirts and shawls available for those not dressed properly), no public displays of affection, and you had to maintain a lower demeanor to the monks of the temple.

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The temple is amazing.

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This was definitely another highlight place for me and a great calves workout. Squire and I also were able to get blessed by Buddhist monks they did a mantra for luck and tied string around wrist. We were told to leave it on for seven days at least.

Next stop was the zoo. This zoo was amazing.

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All the animals were closer than what I’m used to and there weren’t many enclosed displays so we could get some great pictures. It was also the hardest zoo I’ve been to. It was hot and hilly. I felt gross and after the temple my legs where already tired. On it’s own this would have been exercise heaven but with another leg workout stop it was HARD.

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And to finish it off we visited the panda exhibit. All three of them were up and about when we made it over and I took way too many pictures but here’s a few.

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Every zoo has something different to offer and this one was worth it. It was a work out to boot but definitely worth it.