Masterpiece Trip 2017, Naka Island, Thailand

Naka Island Review/Summary

Because we did almost nothing for four days (and it was bliss), I’m condensing everything into one post. I’m doing this the same way I did the Wakatobi post, with a few comments/pics.

⅓ of Naka Island is owned by the resort. They have bikes that you can use to ride around and go to a nice-ish beach, or explore the nearby village. We didn’t do that. It was either hot & humid, or I was lazy. I just wanted to relax. Our villa was number 45, which had the best view, but out of 60-something villas was the 3rd furthest away from the restaurants. It was still under a 10 minute walk, with a couple small inclines. They had golf cart transfer service that we used at the beginning of the stay until I figured out we really weren’t that far away.

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Masterpiece Trip 2017, Naka Island, Thailand

Chiang Mai -> Naka Island (Transfer Day)

As luck would have it, our flight to Phuket was a little after 6AM, which meant the cab had to get us at 4:30 a.m. We had not gotten to bed early the night before; there were occasional firecrackers from the festival and we had come back later than expected thanks to the goofed up dinner. Ah well. We could catch a nap on the plane.

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Chiang Mai, Masterpiece Trip 2017, Thailand

Tuk Tuk Tours (Chiang Mai Day Three)

While it’s next to impossible to follow-up two great days (ellies, lanterns) with anything that doesn’t pale it comparison, I gave it my best shot by booking a full day tuk tuk tour. Paul, the driver, had gotten great reviews and English was his first language because I believe he’s from either England or the US. Not positive, actually, I just know he’s farang. I emailed him a couple of days before the tour, which I scheduled months earlier, since I hadn’t heard anything from him and I wanted to confirm. I’m glad I did as he bailed and we would have been sitting there waiting in the lobby of the hotel for lord only knows how long. From his email it sounded like he had lost his assistant and everything was very disorganized — he didn’t even have our tour on record (the email thread clearly showed it, though). He said he had a fever and was on medicine, but if he felt better the next day he could give us the tour and we should be fine as long as we didn’t touch hands. What now? We have another month left of this trip, so I’m not taking any chances going on a tour with a sick person. Sorry, not sorry. It was a really weird exchange and just from that alone I wouldn’t recommend him; he was pretty unprofessional.

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Chiang Mai, Masterpiece Trip 2017, Thailand

Pamper A Pachyderm (Chiang Mai Day One)

Note: if you’re not an ellie fan you might want to just skip this post. I talk about them. A lot.

We hadn’t originally planned to come to Thailand again on this big trip, but things got shuffled around and we loved it so much the first time we decided to come back. There were two big attractions: 1) ellies, 2) the lantern festival; both took place in Chiang Mai or nearby.

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Chiang Rai, Masterpiece Trip 2017, Thailand

Sal’s Birthday Adventure With the Number One Guide in Chiang Rai (Chiang Rai Day Two)

After another good breakfast at the hotel we were off for our private day tour with Jermsak. I bet you’ll never guess how I found out about him. How about this: any time the contact is *not* someone I found out about on TripAdvisor, I’ll point it out. Spoiler Alert: that will never happen.

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Chiang Rai, Masterpiece Trip 2017, Thailand, Uncategorized

Hanging Out With The Second Best Guide In Chiang Rai (Chiang Rai Day One)

We got up early and went to breakfast, compliments of the hotel. There was a nice selection, but while there I discovered I had forgotten the key and locked us out of our room. Do’h. It wasn’t a problem for them at the hotel, and it was slightly embarrassing for me.

Our guide, Charlie, was someone I found on TripAdvisor. Shocking, I know. He came highly recommended. Before meeting him he was very good at promptly responding to questions and offering suggestions for our half-day tour. Charlie was a good guide. One thing that made him different was he asked us questions; no other guides had really done that up until that point. He seemed very interested in our lives, and that was a nice change and helped the interaction feel less one-sided. He picked us up in his car, which was perfectly fine, but certainly not fancy at all; it felt like getting picked up by a friend and not like a hired service, which I liked.

Our first stop was the White Temple. I saw a picture of this when planning our Thailand trip the last time we were in Thailand and really wanted to check it out. This time we made sure to include it in the itinerary. It’s just so different from any other temple you see anywhere. You can read more about the White Temple here

I also took a few videos:

The creepy front hell hands…

Right in front of the entrance to the temple

A panorama

The front of the temple with the hands from hell was creepy. Charlie made sure to point out the only finger that was definitely female – it had red nail polish and was giving the bird. Hahaha. Like other temples, when you go in you take off your shoes. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pics, which is really unfortunate because there were some unusual (to say the least) things you wouldn’t expect to see. Most temples have a story of Buddha, but this temples had more of a current events theme on one side with the twin towers burning, Elvis, a minion, an angry bird, George Bush, Osama Bin Laden, and some super heroes. A lot of strange stuff. The temple is still under construction, and the artist said it will be another 60 years before it’s done.

One thing I’ve noticed in Thailand in general is how they really believe in luck and do things to better their luck. There are a lot of people just going around selling lottery tickets, at the temples you can do the sticks to find out your fortune, you ring the gong three times for luck, etc. At the White Temple you could get a leaf for luck and write on it to dedicate it. I wrote one for our friend, and Sal took a video of it being hung with the others.


After the White Temple we went to an art studio. Every month there is a new show. I think Charlie said there were 32 artists in Chiang Rai. This month was a feature on Japanese Manga.

From there we went to the Black House, and you can read about it when you click the link. The Black House is really a collection of buildings, so we walked along the grounds and Charlie explained several of them to us. 

After the Black House we went to check out a local pottery studio and store. It was OK. Not really my cup of tea, but they can’t all be winners, right? On the way back to the hotel Charlie told us that Jermsak was the best guide in Chiang Rai. We have him as our guide tomorrow. He did say he (Charlie) was #2. Sorta funny.

We got back to the hotel and rested a bit, having thoroughly enjoyed our ½ day tour. It was just the right length of time, which makes me slightly worried because tomorrow is a full day. We went and got linner (early dinner, late lunch) at Barrab. Tasty and very reasonably priced.

We then went for a beer, waiting for the Night Market to open. It’s pretty spectacular people watching. After our beer Sal suggested going to a rooftop bar that was supposed to be nearby. We were almost there, then ran into this place.


Yup, it was one of those cat cafes. Turns out my allergies were mostly fine and Sal’s were definitely worse than mine. Almost immediately after we sat down a small tuxedo cat walked to me, then barely accepted a few pets before going straight to Sal’s lap. He/She didn’t get up again until we had to go!


Sal was clearly the cat whisperer. 

I had a buddy, too. 

It was really nice to pet some cats you weren’t afraid you’d catch fleas or worse from. We miss our cat(s). I think the cats had a really nice set up and the establishment took good care of them.

‘Our’ cats were the only ones who laid in our laps on their own, though, so nanny nanny boo boo! We strutted out when we left. Just kidding.

We headed to the Night Market and did a tiny bit of shopping. I didn’t think it was as good as the Happy Street from yesterday, but we didn’t see the whole thing. We’ll probably check that out tomorrow. After walking back to the hotel, it was again called a day!