Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Masterpiece Trip 2017, Thailand

Bangkok -> Chiang Rai (Transfer Day)

We got up, finished packing, and had some of the yummy apples Mr. Oat gave us for breakfast. Thank goodness for the larger suitcase; packing was much easier. We listened to the World Series a bit, too, which is something we’ve done pretty much every day it’s on. Sort of funny to be listening to baseball in the morning here. We checked out painlessly, and got a cab to the airport. There wasn’t any traffic, so we ended up getting there very early. Fine by me. I hate rushing on travel days.

We did web check-in the day before, so only had to go through getting the luggage tags and doing the self check-in of the actual luggage. There is always someone there helping, which makes it easy. After we were done checking the bags in, we made our way to security. That had gone remarkably easy and it was so nice having that new suitcase – everything felt light! We were almost to security when Sal asked, “Where’s your blue bag?”. Good grief! I had left it where we checked in the luggage. I ran back and found it where I’d left it. The Air Asia worker barely blinked at me; I think they are running on autopilot there. According to Fitbit, my heart rate was 125. I haven’t sprinted like that in quite some time! I was so embarrassed. I didn’t think I could get more embarrassed until this happened after we ate breakfast at the airport:

Oh, Sal.

Someone has a little addiction problem.

I used the restroom before the flight and there was this sign: **pic** wat?

Wat? Stockings?

Eventually it was time for our flight. We were in row 27 because we hadn’t paid extra for seat assignment when we bought the tickets. Luckily the flight was only 1 hour and 20 minutes long, because our knees were touching the seat in front of us. Our flight was a bit late, again, of course. What else is new with Air Asia? I figure anything less than an hour late is on time when you have very low expectations.

Speaking of Air Asia, I forgot to mention that I got an email from them the day before saying one of our upcoming flights was cancelled. We spent some time figuring out what our options were and researching other flights and got sorted almost painlessly. Almost. But really, when you have this many flights you can’t possibly think they are all going to run smoothly. Especially on budget airlines.

We made it to Chiang Rai and some young girls were doing a dance routine near the baggage pickup, raising money for education. Very cute.


We found our hotel driver and got in a van that had a video that was basically a promo about things to do and see in Chiang Rai. I was quite shocked the vehicle had the name of the hotel  (Le Patta) on it, because I thought this hotel was quite small. We got to the hotel and I realized it was more midsized. The check-in people were very kind and after some fresh juice they took us to our room, which was really three rooms – a living room, a bedroom, and a bathroom. Very nice. And we were told our minibar was free and they restock every day. Nice surprise as there was water, snacks & beer.

We chilled out on the patio for a bit, enjoying the pool view and reading. It was quite pleasant. After a bit we decided to head to the bus station and get our tickets for our next destination. The bus station ended up being more of a bus parking lot. I didn’t get a picture, but I’ll get one the next transfer day…

We walked from there to a bar called Cat Bar, for a couple of beers. I thought maybe the cat bar had real cats. Nope. Very hole-in-the-wall. And weird. But I liked it. 


After some refreshments we walked the long way to the Happy Sunday Street which was their big Sunday market. On the way walking there, there was this incredibly loud noise and it took a second to figure out it was birds. Wow. Nic, skip this one. We finally got there and started browsing. Sal and I think the market was ½ mile long. It kept going and going, then at the end you turn around and look at the other side. It was much busier than expected, too. A video to show you how crowded it was.

By the time we finished my dogs were tired. I had emailed the hotel asking how much a tuk tuk was from the market to the hotel and was told 50-60 baht (it was less than a mile). When we got to the tuk tuks the man said ‘100 baht’, which was exactly what Sal said he’d say. Sal countered with 40, and the man scoffed and said 80. We eventually settled on 70, so although we got ripped off, it was for $0.30 as opposed to $1.20 and that feels like a small victory. Yes, we argued over less than $1. It’s just the way it is here and part of the fun.

Burst_Cover_GIF_Action_20171029193843.gifBlurry, but in case you aren’t familiar with what a tuk tuk looks like:

img_20171029_194036269725139283844523.jpgAfter a long day, we called it a night.

Bangkok, Masterpiece Trip 2017, Thailand

More Adventures With Mr. Oat (Bangkok Day Three)

We were pretty excited for our last day in Bangkok. Not because we were moving on the next day, because we really have enjoyed our time here and with Mr. Oat, but because we had a theme for the day: Shopping! Now I’m not much of a shopper, but I love the Thai markets. I love the energy, the unusual offerings, and the prices; they are so much more preferred than the mall to me. But again, I’m getting ahead of myself. The plan for the day was to take a private car to the train market, then the floating market, then go back to Bangkok to the crazy market.

Continue reading “More Adventures With Mr. Oat (Bangkok Day Three)”

Bangkok, Masterpiece Trip 2017, Thailand

The Adventures With Mr. Oat (Bangkok Day Two)

We got up early and again picked up breakfast at the cafe in the hotel. Pretty tasty. Not cheap, but definitely yummy. Mr. Oat was waiting for us when we got to the lobby, and after saying our hellos we talked about what was in store for the day: the golden Buddha, the flower market, the golden mount (that was closed yesterday), and Jim Thompson’s House (that was also closed yesterday). We would be taking taxis or tuk tuks (yay!).

Continue reading “The Adventures With Mr. Oat (Bangkok Day Two)”

Bangkok, Masterpiece Trip 2017, Thailand

Quiet Day – RIP King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Bangkok Day One)

Last night Mr. Oat, our tour guide and friend from the last time we were in Bangkok, sent a text confirming what time we’d be meeting and asking us to wear black if possible, as most people would be since the King’s cremation ceremony was that day. Sal washed our darkest shirts (not a lot – generally you pack very light colors because of the heat) so they were mostly dry when we got up. We went to the hotel cafe and got a pastry and juice, ate quickly back at the room, packed our bags and off we went to meet our friend.

I learned about Mr. Oat on TripAdvisor a few years ago before our only other trip to Asia. We really enjoyed our time with him as a guide-turned-friend. Mr. Oat is a character. He is quite proper and very petite. He covers his mouth when he laughs, which is quite often. I was very much looking forward to seeing him again; it’s nice to see a familiar face after three weeks!

We met Mr. Oat in the lobby, amid bows and hugs. He gave us two bags of fruit. This was not surprising. Mr. Oat is generous, as well as everything else I said above. We headed out of the hotel and pretty soon saw the long line of Thai people who wanted to honor the King by giving a flower. There were already so many, and it was only 9:00 a.m., the day the King would be cremated. We are across the street from one of the big malls, and the place with the crowds wasn’t even the King’s Palace, just another designated spot people who make an offering. It speaks to the deep love the people have for their late King that the turnout was so overwhelming.

Just a small example as there are many larger pictures of him elsewhere. There are yellow marigolds everywhere – yellow was his color.

Our plan for the ½ day tour was to go see one of the temples with the Big Buddah, and then go to the Jim Thompson’s house. Mr. Oat had us taking a public boat to get there, which was a first and quite an experience; we were the only foreigners on it! You have to hop in quickly and hop out quickly, which is interesting when you’re not all that limber/coordinated, like me. Ha! The workers are telling people lord-only-knows-what, but it sounded like a lot of shouting. We just copied Mr. Oat unless someone told us differently. Come to find out that today all boat rides were free in honor of the late King. Mr. Oat & I were separated from Sal on the first ride and he sat a few rows ahead of us. I was on an end and had to help hold up the clear tarp to keep the river water from splashing into the boat (it’s very dirty and people get sick from it).

img_20171026_0922065976460454878325727.jpgSee that rope on the upper right side? That’s what you grab on to get into the boat. Now imagine me doing it. OK. Now stop laughing. I could not get a pic of the boat from outside as it was controlled chaos.

Here’s a quick little video I took of the ride. It’s short because I was paranoid about getting splashed with the filthy water and ending up sick. And I thought the Hudson was bad!

Our stop was the final stop and it was near the King’s Palace, which is where the crowds were even larger than by the hotel. People were offering free drinks and food, in honor of the late King. Quite interesting. Just as we had gotten to where the temples was, we were told it was closed. Poor Mr. Oat. He had called the day before and they told him it would be open. Mr. Oat then called our next stop and it, too, was closed. He was embarrassed and worried we would think he wasn’t professional. We had no such worry – it was unusual circumstances. From my limited time in Thailand I do understand that sometimes things aren’t communicated all that well. It was OK. We decided to just add these stops on our tours the next two days instead, and go back to the hotel since most things would likely be closed. We got on the boat again, and it was slightly easier for me this time as I knew what to expect and how to maneuver it. This time Sal was on the end and his job was to hold up the tarp.

img_20171026_1002115179022158844906519.jpgI really like that pic. I grabbed a quick selfie with Mr. Oat on the boat. As soon as I got my phone out to take the pic he quickly changed the side of his head that would be photographed and said, “more hair there”. Hahaha.

img_20171026_100018_179037770841777.jpgBefore we knew it we were at the last stop near our hotel, and we climbed up off the boat again, onto solid ground, with one of the workers lending me a hand. It was a mini-adventure and I actually enjoyed it. It was fun being the only tourists. 

Mr. Oat was going to get in the line to offer a flower, and we headed back to the hotel. I heard from him about three hours later, and he had finally gotten to the front of the line. Wow! Apparently in the evening they will gather his flowers at each of the places people met to honor him and then burn them with his body.

Thai people truly loved their King. We definitely got that idea last time we were here, and this time it’s magnified. So many people were in black. So many people wanted to offer him a flower. I asked Mr. Oat if it was normal to wait a year to be cremated. Apparently not. He said it was usually three months. He said the people asked the Royal Family if they could please have more time as so many wanted to go and offer their respects, and some live so far away. Their wish was granted. I think most all stores closed by the early afternoon.

We spent the rest of the day doing a few chores and then spending some time at the pool. We ordered lunch and this was a first – my pad thai had a coat on.


We spent the evening reading and watching some of the cremation ceremony on TV. I think they said there were dignitaries from 42 different countries attending. Prince Andrew was there; he was the only one I recognized. I think this also explains why security was so beefed up around here and we have a security guard at the elevators. I sent a text asking Mr. Oat if we were still supposed to wear dark colors, and he said yes, until the end of the month. I have one black shirt I brought, so this should be interesting since it’s the 27th ! Good thing there are mega malls nearby.

A quiet day, but still with some adventure.

Bangkok, Masterpiece Trip 2017, Singapore, Thailand

Singapore -> Bangkok Transfer Day

We set the alarm so we would make sure to get an early start on the day. We weren’t sure if we wanted to go to the pool again, or go to the airport early, as the airport is consistently rated #1 in the world. Sal didn’t care which we did, so I decided we should go to the airport early. Mostly I didn’t want to deal with wet bathing suits. I’m glad we chose the airport, because it took us quite a while to get packed up and make sure everything fit in our suitcases and carry on bags. It wasn’t a problem with the checked in luggage as it was quite underweight, but the hand luggage and personal items were a different story. Air Asia has a weight limit of 7 KG, which is a little more than 15 pounds. This is supposed to be the combined weight of your personal item (purse/laptop bag) and the carry on item. One of us (the cute, usually smarter one) before the trip was against larger luggage and thus we have two pieces of luggage with wheels that are pretty much carry on size even though we check them in. The other one of us (the realistic one who wants to do some shopping and wanted easier packing) wanted to have a regular sized checked suitcase and a carryon sized suitcase, so we have room for gifts. We have only gotten a few very small things so far, and let me tell you our bags are stuffed to the max and each time we pack it’s a right pain in the butt to fit everything in the bags. We have at least 8 more times we need to pack, too. Last night Sal suggested we buy a big suitcase at the Mall. I love Sal dearly. I love Sal dearly. I love Sal dearly.

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