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Beach Holiday… February 25, 2007

Posted by somelikeitscott in Asia, Bangkok, Blogroll, Expat, Hanoi, Life, Photography, South East Asia, Thailand, Travel, Uncategorized, Vietnam.
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Rather than spend my Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) holiday family and friendless in Hanoi, I took a trip to Thailand to see my favourite Canadian expat in Asia, Aviva.

We started in Bangkok, as always, before taking a much needed and endlessly enjoyed beach holiday to Koh Samed.

Samed is a gorgeous little island, about three and a half hours out of Bangkok by bus and ferry. There are numerous white sand beaches all along the coast of the island, all contained within a national park. We stayed on one of the cheaper backpackery beaches with wonderfully fine sand and copious friendly dogs. We stayed in a rustic little beachside resort, peppered with what are best described as tree-houses, containing nothing more than mattresses and a fan. We splurged for one of the concrete structures with a private bathroom. There was no A/C, but actually the fan was all we needed. The mattresses, however, were rock solid, and I don’t think either of us got a great sleep either night we were there. I will say, it was the least I’ve ever gotten for $20 for accommodation in Asia, but it in no way hindered our enjoyment of the idyllic wonderland that is Koh Samed.

All along the coast were similar resorts with beachside restaurants, a few of them on mats right down on the sand. We tried as many of the restaurants as possible, sampling everything from Phad Thai to seafood to hamburgers and Western breakfasts. And at every turn, there was a sad eyed (but well-fed) dog begging in the sand for table scraps. That is when Aviva wasn’t chasing the dogs around the beach and into the surf.

As the holiday coincided with the Chinese New Year, there were a number of eye popping fireworks displays. They also do something very cool big paper lanterns, which they torch and then release into the sky. Needless to say, sitting in the sand and watching these things float away, it was a very nice atmosphere.

After two days and countless beers on the beach and trips into the sea, we returned to Bangkok to enjoy its unique spirit before I had to turn around and come back to reality in Hanoi.

So, now I’m right back into the grind, but I will say that my batteries are very much recharged. Aviva wrote a very nice travel piece about Koh Samed for ANN magazine, so look out for that if you happen to be flying in the region on a Star Alliance flight. In the meantime, here’s a handful of photos.

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time…

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Bangkok is the future pt. 2… October 20, 2006

Posted by somelikeitscott in Asia, Bangkok, Blogroll, Expat, Life, South East Asia, Thailand, Travel, Uncategorized.
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So after a bit of a delay, here is the photographic evidence of my most recent trip to Asia’s City of Angels.

Let’s start with the airport.

Slick, no? There are lots of very cool adornments inside, including a thrown and multiple shrines and sculptures. Unfortunately, none of my pictures of these things turned out.


They sure do promise a lot. While I’m not totally sure if I “experienced the Mantra of the East,” during my few hours in Suvarnmabhumi (pronounced Soo-wan-a-phum), it is certainly one of the nicest airports I’ve ever been in.

From the airport straight to Aviva’s apartment. How does she unlock the front door of her building? By using the finger print scanner, of course.

For added security, they also keep your colonic map on file (sorry, Futurama joke…).

On Sunday, we took a trip to Chatachuk, the weekend market, where we saw cops doing their patrols on Segway Scooters. Imposing…

I’d been to Chatachuk before, but it’s so unbelievably huge that this was my first foray into the pet section.

It’s dangerous for me to be in places like this because invariably I want to bring dogs home with me. Luckily, I’m well aware that one mutt and one cat are all I can handle at this point.

To a Hanoi resident, even the Skytrain seems futuristic.

Aviva explains modern Thai politics to me over Capuccino at her local coffee shop. Democracy? Well, sort of…

And that was my most recent trip to Bangkok. Next time, the beach, but for now, my focus shifts back to Vietnam’s “Communist” heartland.

Until the next post…

 

Bangkok is the future… October 17, 2006

Posted by somelikeitscott in Asia, Bangkok, Blogroll, Consumerism, Expat, Hanoi, Life, Politics, Pop Culture, South East Asia, Thailand, Travel, Uncategorized, Vietnam.
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At least it feels that way when you’re coming from Vietnam.  From the slick new polished steel airport to the multi-cultural cosmopolitan downtown to the cops scooting around on Segway scooters, the journey from Hanoi to Bangkok traverses time as much as space.

Of course, Thailand is far from perfect, but even under martial law, life in the city appears not so different from the previous time I was there under more stable circumstances.  The mounting protests provide some insight into growing disenchantment with the military authority, but people are very calm and seem largely content with the current situation.  I think, however, they do very much expect the interim government to keep to the proposed timeline for new elections, which would put them sometime next year.

I had a good trip.  It was nice to see Aviva, as usual, and I was able to leave my computer with some technicians who actually do inspire confidence.  The bad news is they were still not able to restore my hard drive, which means I have lost a whole lot of stuff that was pretty important to me.  C’est la vie.  On the bright side, I’ll get a new hard disk and DVD burner so that in the future I will be able to make the backups I clearly should have been making all along.  And because the silver bullet is still under warrantee, the repairs won’t cost me anything.

Please, learn from my mistakes.

I was only in Bangkok for a day and half, so I didn’t really get up to too much, especially considering a sizable portion of my time was used dealing with computer stuff.  I must say, it blows my mind exactly how many different malls are crammed into close quarters around Siam Square.  Westerners need a new pastime besides CONSUMING.  Can I say that or is it too revolutionary a sentiment for this day and age?  We’re exporting these ideals to the East at a frenetic pace, yet they’re just going to NOT FILL the same void here that they already DON’T FILL in the West.  Why do we do it?  I guess misery loves company.

I’m too beat to continue this diatribe just now, so let’s make a deal.  I’ll cut it short and tomorrow, I’ll post some pics from my trip to illustrate the title line of this post.

Until then…