The nice thing about taking the bus rather than flying is that we don’t have to worry about how much things weigh, and can pack really quickly using the shove-it-all-in-there-and-lock-it-up method. Quickest packing to date.
Happy Birthday, Sal!
I took this picture of Sal at the Cat Bar in Chiang Rai. We were laughing about something or other, and his eyes were twinkling and I asked if I could take his picture. I captured it. I absolutely love this pic.
I love you, Sal. You mean everything to me. Happy Birthday!!!
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:
Right in front of the entrance to the temple
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!
First Full Day Tour (Jogja Day One)
The locals call it Jogja, not Yogyakarta, so I will as well.
We had planned a tour that wasn’t going to start until 2:30 p.m. and that was a wise move. We were tired from the travel day before and it was nice to relax and catch up with some people, get laundry sorted, etc. We needed a bit of a rest. Or at least I did.
Bali-Sanur (Bali Day 4)
These posts are about a week and a few days old as we had very little and slow WiFi in Indonesia.
On our transfer day between Ubud and Sanur, we decided to stop at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. I suspected after a monkey incident last time we were in Thailand that maybe monkeys just weren’t my thing and I was a big chicken around them, and it proved to be true at the sanctuary.
On the ride to the sanctuary the driver talked about things the monkey’s steal. I had read about most of them (food, hanging items, etc.), so wasn’t surprised until he mentioned glasses. Of course it made me paranoid that the rascals would steal my new specs and run around looking like Sally Jessy Raphael or something. I mean, I have an extra pair of glasses, but still. My fears (well that one at least) were put to rest when the person at the ticket booth answered, “no” after I asked about it. I’m 84% sure she understood the question.
Full Day Tour (Bali Day 3)
After two relatively empty days to get over jet lag, we finally had a full day tour. Our host at the villa gave us a private tour, and it was really fantastic. He took us through more of the back ways to see more villages, even though it took longer, as opposed to using mostly larger roads. It was definitely more beautiful to see that way. We started out at 7:30.
Walking Through The Rice Patties On A Spring Day.
The highlight of our first day in Bali was a walk we did from close to the villa where we are staying to Ubud center. It took about 45 minutes, and the views were hard to beat! The WiFi here is very bad and I can’t get to my photos, but if I remember (it’s probably not going to happen) I will add them into this post later. In the meanwhile, you can see them on Instagram here. I had read before we came that WiFi is spotty on Bali, so expect to see more on Instagram for the next few days until the situation improves.