Monthly Archives: October 2017

Pattaya, Thailand–Soak Up the Sun

We hadn’t realized at the time we were making plans to take Matt and Sheree to the beach that their visit was during rainy season.  It wasn’t the best time to go to a beach in Thailand, but it was a must-do on our list and so we made it work.  We chose Pattaya because it was basically the driest place with a beach in Thailand.  We stayed near Jomtien.  It was less touristy and we had surprisingly little rain for which we were grateful.  Once we arrived, our plan was to relax, eat, and soak up some sun.  I think we did well in all three categories.

Our hotel had access to a very nice pool and Sheree and I fully utilized it while Ryan and Matt went scuba diving.  The pool wasn’t actually connected to our hotel.  We had to wander a little ways to find it and we almost got lost in the process.  It made us really appreciate having our boys around to do the navigating, but we were glad that they were enjoying their underwater explorations.  They returned with smiling faces and a full report.  They also had some great pictures to share.  I think they enjoyed their scuba experience even more than they’d expected they would.

Sheree found a tea she really liked and we enjoyed trying the southern Thai food out.  I have to admit that I fell in love with a place that had a great American breakfast.  The owner was from New York and the food tasted just like home.  However, we were in Thailand so we tried to stick mainly to local food.  We were able to find some giant prawns, which are Sheree’s favorite.  We tried a variety of spicy salads and the boys got some beer.  My standard since I’ve been in Thailand has pretty much been pineapple fried rice, because it’s been one of the few things I can find that isn’t spicy.  The good news is that I love pineapple fried rice, so this works out well for everyone.

My favorite part of this leg of the adventure was when we visited the Sanctuary of Truth.  This incredible temple was built entirely of wood.  The carvings were beautiful and intricate.  Part of the temple was still under construction and my understanding is that they are expecting it to be completed in 2050!  We spent quite a lot of time here exploring the grounds and taking in all the details.  It was one of the most impressive temples I’ve ever seen and a great end to a wonderful trip.  Thank you so much Matt and Sheree for flying so far to visit us.  I can’t express how grateful we truly are.  Until the next time we get to see you, we’ll miss you!

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Chiang Mai, Thailand–Brave Matt and Sheree

I think both Matt and Sheree enjoyed the quiet, laid-back feeling of Chiang Mai after a bustling Bangkok.  (I was certainly glad to be back.)  Ryan and I hadn’t been living in Chiang Mai long before the arrival of our company, so we had fewer plans than usual.  Knowing Matt and Sheree’s great love of spicy food, we focused a good portion of their visit on finding them a variety of spicy local dishes.  I was truly impressed with how fearlessly they conquered the food in Thailand.  They were happy to try everything, and I think they liked most of what they tried.  They were both fans of khao soi.  This noodle soup is found in Myanmar, Laos, and northern Thailand.  It consists mainly of a curry soup base, coconut milk, hand cut rice or egg noodles, and a choice of protein (although it’s commonly served with a chicken drumstick).

Khao soi with spicy northern sausage

Aside from the spicy papaya salad, I believe that Matt’s favorite dish was tom yum soup which is considered a “hot and sour” Thai soup.  The main ingredients may include stock and fresh ingredients such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal (tropical spice), lime juice, fish sauce, and crushed chili peppers.  We found an especially good version at a very local place off the beaten path.  The small plastic chairs were not accustomed to supporting a person of Ryan’s size and midway through the meal his splintered beneath him, dumping him to the ground.  His considerable impact with the hard floor scared us and embarrassed him, but the locals sure got a kick out of it.  He was a great sport about the whole thing and after that, he was much more selective with his choice of chairs.

Tom yum with squid

We did do more than just eat.  Matt and Sheree had come a long way to see us and we wanted to show them as much as we could.  Visiting the “Doi Suthep” temple (Wat Phra That Doi Suthep) was one of the highlights of the trip.  This temple is located 15 kilometers from Chiang Mai at the top of the mountain with the same name.  It overlooks the city and offers a nice view.  To get to the temple from the parking lot near the top, you can either climb the 309 steps or you can take the tram, which was most convenient and very reasonably priced.  Once at the top, we had to remove our shoes before entering the temple grounds, which is customary.  Inside there was a beautiful golden stupa (or chedi) and a lot of people, but we took our time looking around the impressive grounds.

Chiang Mai from Doi Suthep

One of my favorite things about Matt and Sheree’s visits is the girl time Sheree and I often get to spend together.  During this trip, we enjoyed some nice (and for the most part, relaxing) massages.  Although we’d asked for foot and calf massages, our massages were performed on regular massage beds and attention was payed to most of the other parts of our bodies as well.  Towards the end they were even bending me and twisting me in ways that I wasn’t sure I should be bent or twisted, and I’ve always been fairly flexible.  It was a good test to tell me that I probably wanted to avoid actual Thai massage in the future.  I think Sheree had similar opinions about the experience.  We also enjoyed getting pedicures.  There were no surprises here.  Just a relaxing hour spent with the world’s best mother-in-law!

Ryan gets his love of cats from his mom and he surprised Sheree by taking her to Catmosphere.  I’d never been to a cat cafe and I thought it was so cool!  When we arrived we were greeted outside by one of the friendly employees.  We changed into the provided slippers and sanitized our hands.  Then she waited for the escape artist Eve to get distracted before we were quickly ushered inside.  Most of the cats were so used to the constant influx of people that they paid little attention to us.  Sheree however, had a magic bag that she used to entice a couple of the more curious ones over.  There were 26 cats at Catmosphere and by the time we’d left, we’d seen at least 16 of them.  Ryan renamed my favorite Sir Pufferton.  His closely shorn haircut left him with noticeable man boobs.  Poor Sir Pufferton.

Our time in Chiang Mai was mostly relaxing, and that was the intent.  We’d eaten some good food, seen some sights, and had some hopefully memorable experiences.  It was time for the final part of their adventure, so we loaded Matt and Sheree into the back of a songthaew and we all headed to the airport to catch a flight to Pattaya.  We figured they hadn’t come all the way to Thailand to leave without getting to go to the beach.  I don’t know about you, but when I think of Thailand, I think of white sand and crystal blue-green water (and sharks–but that’s probably just me).  With any luck we’d have some nice weather and giant prawns to enjoy once we got there.

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Bangkok, Thailand–Welcome to Thailand!

We were so fortunate to have Ryan’s parents come all the way to Thailand to visit us!  Matt and Sheree have always been so good about coming to visit us wherever we go.  So far they’ve visited us in Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico (twice), and now Thailand!  We met them in Bangkok for the first part of their visit.  Our plan was to spend a few days there so they could see some of the sights and adjust to the thirteen hour time change.  They arrived tired, but full of smiles.  What troopers!

We love you Matt and Sheree!

We happened to be in Bangkok during the one-year anniversary of King Bhumibol’s death.  King Bhumibol Adulyadej was the world’s longest-reigning monarch and he passed away on October 13, 2016 at the age of 88.  He was truly loved throughout Thailand and the country spent a year in mourning.  Then on October 26th, 2017 they held a lavish cremation ceremony.  Many of the regular sights were closed, including the Grand Palace.  However, we still saw some pretty impressive temples.

Wat Pho

46 meter Reclining Buddha

Wat Arun

We visited many of the popular tourist sights while we were in Bangkok, including the renowned Khaosan Road.  A vendor tried to sell us grilled scorpion, but other than that there wasn’t much happening.  There was a temporary ban on alcohol in observance of the holiday and I suspect this was a large part of the reason.  We also visited a floating market.  I’ve heard that the food in Thailand tends to get spicier the further south you get which worked out well for Matt and Sheree.  They have a great love for spicy food.  I think that Matt particularly enjoyed the spicy papaya salad.  It was a good way to start our adventure and now we were ready to move on to the next location.  Chiang Mai, here we come!

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