“Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”…This was our reaction stepping off the plane in to the Bangkok airport. We left quiet, orderly Japan and arrived in louder, unorganized Bangkok.
Although we and Thailand got off to a rocky start, we’ve grown to love it. The activities have been so much fun, and extremely reasonably priced. The food has been delicious and dirt cheap. Plus, not having to get dressed up for dinner every night was just what the doctor ordered.
The Thai people have been extremely friendly and are just as trustworthy as the other Asian countries we have visited. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect because I had read some things about Bangkok and tourist scams that made me have my guard up (though I am sure the scams/pickpockets even in Bangkok pale in comparison to Europe).
I apologize for the excess of sunset pictures (again)…It was just the photographic equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel with the beautiful sunsets everyday. The rest of the pictures are from Scuba diving. Some have much better color than others; the shallower depth the picture was taken at the better it could be corrected by adjusting the white balance. Deeper pictures (past 40′ without strong sun light) tend to look greenish blue either way.
Some pictures are below. All of them are on the Smugmug site in full size:
Here are the pictures for Thailand…they are in a random order (because of the different cameras used to take them) and some of the pictures were taken by Patara (the elephant place) or Tiger Kingdom. The rest – as always – were taken by us. Some pictures are below; all of them are available in full size at the link to our smugmug site:
I can’t believe how fast Koh Lanta has come and gone! Tomorrow we leave for Singapore!
Koh Lanta has been a wonderful stop on this journey and just what we needed after a few busy weeks in big cities. There is something about being at the beach that makes us relax immediately…..maybe it’s because I’ve been wearing a bathing suit and flip flops everyday instead of 2 jackets, a hat, a scarf, and wool socks! Getting dressed in Thailand has been much easier than Japan.
We went diving a total of 3 days (2 tank dives each time). I really enjoyed all of our diving trips. The dive shop, Dive and Relax, was very organized, safe, and professional. I would highly recommend them to anyone coming to this area. The first couple of days, the water was rough, but once we were in the water, we didn’t have any trouble. Our dive guide, Pan, did a great job at pointing things out under the water and made us feel very comfortable.
Today, we went scuba diving. It has been a while since the last time, so I was a little nervous. Actually, I’m always nervous before I dive, which is not good for air conservation!
There were 8 people on our boat and almost an equal number of staff/instructors. They split us up in small groups. Justin and I were in a group by ourselves with a guide. We left the resort around 9 am. It was about a 45 minute boat ride to the dive site. We dove one of the small island of Thailand called Koh Bida. It is near Koh Phi Phi. Apparently, this is near the islands that they filmed the James Bond movie and the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Beach (neither of which I have seen).
The water was uncharacteristically rough and there was a little bit of a current, but not too bad. Also, the visibility wasn’t as good as it normally is. Our maximum depth was about 18 meters (60 feet) on both dives.
We arrived in Koh Lanta yesterday evening around 7 pm. It was a pretty long day of traveling. We took a flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok then from Bangkok to Krabi. Once we go to Krabi, a car picked us up from the airport, and we had a 2 1/2 hour car ride (that included 2 ferries). We were pretty tired when we got to the resort. Koh Lanta is one of the southern islands of Thailand. We are staying at the Lanta Castaway Resort on the beach.
Even though it was dark by the time we got here, the sound of the water and the breeze was so nice. Our room is pretty spacious with a separate sofa/table sitting area. The bathroom is not the best, but it has everything we need. Also, we have WiFi. It doesn’t seem like all the rooms have it. I’m glad that we do so that I can keep up with the blogging!
For our last full day in Chiang Mai, we hired a tour guide to drive us to see some of the main attractions in the city. It seems like this would be an expensive thing to do, but the whole day with the tour guide only cost 50$. This is almost what we paid the taxi drivers in Japan to take us to dinner!!
The temples in Chiang Mai were pretty different from the temples in Japan. They were much more crowded and louder than Japan (although, I think anything would be louder than Japan!)
The first temple we saw was Wat Chedi Luang. It was a local Buddha temple that had many people praying. The tour guide explained to us that their religious days were based on the moon. There was an area where locals brought food offerings to the temple.
We just got back from the Patara Elephant Farm!!
This was an incredible day that gave us a wonderful and up-close experience with elephants. There are many many different “elephant encounter” type places in Thailand; however, many of those places do not give the elephants the care and attention that Patara provides. They focus on the health care, breeding, and conservation of the elephants. Most of the elephants at Patara have been rescued from circuses, log rolling camps, or from the streets of Thailand. This experience is pretty much the reason why we wanted to stop in Chaing Mai.