Amazing Thailand! January, 98

<At The Emerald Temple>

The first wonderful thing about Thailand is the moment when you step off the plane and you take your first breath of that lovely hot, humid air. Sorry, I don't have a picture of that. The next wonderful thing about Thailand is the smiles; not all the time, but often. I should have a picture of that somewhere, but Tomo is in charge of the pictures, so we'll just have to see.

I arrived a week before Tomo as I had a short contract arranged by good old Kaneyasu (Tomo's cousin - it's all who you know). So, for five days, I was taken by a driver to various embassies and agencies, where I interviewed development administrators or their equivalent. Some were interesting, some were hurried, and a couple were quite weird. It was the kind of job that you knew could result in an informative and useful report if you had the time and resources to do the research; unfortunately, we didn't have the time. Hopefully, they managed to find something useful in the end. Kaneyasu thinks they did.

p-parents.jpg Of course, the really nice part of that week was staying with Pimthep (Kaneyasu's wife) and her family. Luckily, Pimthep's Mom (like me) doesn't like coconut milk (a common ingredient in Thai cooking), so I was able to enjoy delicious food every evening. I also played a lot with Kei (Pimthep's son) and had long talks with Pimthep.

<Kei and His Grand Parents>

Pimthep and I also went shopping. After Pimthep assured me that working conditions were quite good, with strict labour laws, I went nuts and bought a lot of clothes. Thai pants for the whole family, and plenty for Tomo and me too. An amazing about face for me, such rampant consumerism, but Thai clothes are just my style, you know? Anyway, one shopping spree in 10 years ain't so bad.

At the end of the week, Pimthep went north to attend a conference, and her poor parents were stuck with me and no translator. Actually, her father's English was quite good, but her mother and I could only smile at each other. We managed okay, and on the weekend, I checked in to a luxury hotel to await my hubbie.

When Tomo arrived, he was slightly suspicious of the price of the hotel I had chosen, but I assured him that Kaneyasu's company would pay. They didn't actually, because I was an in-country employee, but I did get the JICA discount! Anyway, it was only two nights of luxury. The room itself wasn't much different from a room in an average hotel (in Canada, anyway), but the lobby was spectacular.

I like this hotel.jpg I like this hotel.jpg
<"I like this hotel!">

Tomo and I also went shopping. We were walking by a store and I said, why don't we buy one of those luggage carriers with wheels? So we found one of those, and we also bought another suitcase set with wheels (to carry home all the new clothes I'd bought). luggage.jpgAnyway, we were just thrilled with that luggage, especially when we went to the airport!! Why did we carry our luggage for all those years? Wheels are the only way to go.

<"What a nice suitcase I bought!">

Tomo was fascinated by Bangkok; it was his first time to visit an Asian city outside Japan. (Actually, he did visit Korea, but not as a tourist, which I guess makes a difference). Anyway, he wanted to spend more time in Bangkok and really explore, but I had us booked on a plane to Phuket, so away we went.

Once again, connections make a difference, as a fishing friend of Kaneyasu picked us up at the airport and took us to our "resort". We had a bungalow at the southern tip of the island, very remote and very quiet. Trees all around. Lovely. The beach was small and secluded, basically used by fellow guests. The restaurant served good food: Thai and European. We stayed there a week.

We stayed in the bungalow doing nothing except one or two activities a day. We read, ate, read, swam, read, and finally read. We were trapped basically, as our resort was very remote from anything. The most serious problem junk food there.

So, on the second day, we walked up to a big hotel next to us to get big bottles of drinking water and junk food. We thought it'd be only a 10 minute walk so we started off in a casual mood without really thinking about it. IT, WAS, HOT. We realized how stupid we were to leave at the hottest time of the day, but it was too late, we were already too far from our comfy bungalow to go back. Gotta get to the big hotel or die. We barely survived through the heated road after walking for a feel-like-forever distance, then had a cold drink at the big hotel. Man, it was a hot walk.

<Atsui, Atsui, Atsui! (H H HOT! - Japanese)>

We rented a jeep one day,(and the heavy steering wheel gave Tomo a hell of a lot of work to turn around) and toured the island. It was a great drive. We drove around and stopped wherever we saw something interesting (usually temples). We found a nice picnic ground but it was too hot to sit and relax for us. Only local people can relax in such heat. We also went in to Phuket city and got a bit lost, but nothing major. We shopped for omiyage (souveniers) and ate chahan (fried rice).
At the end of the day, we found a big festival at a temple. It was a Chinese New Years day festival. Terribly interesting.

We saw so many kinds of food that we had no idea what they were (didn't have the courage to try), toys and gadgets (Tomo bought a battery charger), cheap clothes (I bought a shirt), kids, dogs, and tons of local people. Fascinating.
<a kid interested in Mel>

Yes, for those of you who followed our adventures in Hawaii, we tried snorkeling again. We were much better at it this time, and Tomo even went out beyond the rocks. I chickened out. But we saw lots of cool fish and one long, black, scary looking thing (edible, according to Tomo's Sushi knowledge).

<Tomo snorkels>

<The sea cucumber (edible)>

My problem is, I can't see without my glasses, and they don't fit in the mask. If we become regular snorklers, I'll have to do something about that.

Except for the day we rented the jeep, we spent our time around our bungalow and on the beach. It was hot, sunny, and very relaxing.

So , when our week was up, it was back to Japan, back to winter, back to snow, back to a new full time job... sigh. It's time to plan my next vacation.

<Just before the Nagano Olympics>

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