Saturday, May 3, 2014

It's a Family Affair…..

I've been waiting so long….. to be where I'm going….. in the sunshine of your love….
(Cream… February 1968.  I've got song lyrics stuck in my head)

It's hard to believe that ten days have come and gone!  I can't remember being so busy and staying out so late.  Good thing I have a few weeks to recuperate before school starts (my guests can't say the same).

The first to arrive were my very dear friends Rudy and Jerry.  They were here for a Thai adventure and we met up on the first night for dinner.

Dinner was at Bo-lan in Bangkok.  1000 baht fixed price Thai gourmet meal.


Sorry…. I completely forget what we ate!



A link to Bo-lan's blog

Stephan and Christina arrived while we were out, but the 20+ hour journey put them to bed as soon as they arrived.  I got to see them for breakfast.

We had a few hours before Katrina and Mathew arrived, so after breakfast, we headed over to Chatachak Weekend Market for a short shopping experience!


Food and drink…. I skipped the photos of the retail stuff this time.

And at last….meeting Katrina and Mathew at Suvarnabhumi Airport!
(Did anyone notice my painstakingly drawn Thai characters saying "welcome"?)


A quick transfer across town (about an hour) and we were on our way to Songkran in Chiang Mai!!!

Before dinner and the night market, there was a present to open…. combination Christmas, 60th birthday, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and any other one you can think of.

YIKES!!!! All this technology! (and a lot of learning to do)

I love the LiLu Hotel as it's small, and right around the corner from where we wanted to be.  We did a little shopping, but everyone was starving!  The nice thing about traveling with my family is that we all love food.  That means no 30 baht meals….

Gotta start with a tower of Chang!


Katrina got a little excited abut picking out her crabs and decided on two!


Shark fin soup with all the rest of the seafood!




Well fed and anesthetized, we wandered the market for a bit before getting a good night's sleep for Songkran Festivities!!!!

Little did we know that Mathew was watching and learning as we began to bargain.  This was his first time!  I only wish I had been at the karaoke bar later that evening when he asked the bartender,
"How much for a beer?"
 "100 baht"
"So…. how much for 3 beers?"
"300 baht."
"I'll give you 250."
"We don't bargain for beer."

There is absolutely no way to describe Songkran, you really do have to experience it.  I guess, putting it simply, it's a religious holiday/new year, where the entire country is involved in a constant water fight for days.  I think it's fair to say that is no exaggeration.


Mathew and Stephan scoping out the activity….


Everyone takes part!

How many can you fit in a tuk-tuk???

Stephan and Mathew were well-armed, but were they ready for the competition???

This is not a parade down one street, every street is subject to festivities, and anyone who dares leave their house is a potential victim!  People are thoughtful, however, and more gentle with children and seniors (yes,…. me).





As Mathew pointed out…. Who sells cotton candy in the middle of a water fight????


My favorite part was by the Thapae Gate….  there were stages set up with people dancing, music blasting, and foam being spit out into the crowds!


And everyone is a part, regardless of age!


In the background, you can hear Stephan's plan for three year cycle family vacations!

If the video doesn't work, here's the link…

All this activity is just too much for some of us!

Katrina and Mathew went back to nap for some much needed rest (they still hadn't recuperated from the flight).  After a short power-nap, Stephan, Christina, and I went to The Whole Earth restaurant, not far from Lilu Hotel.

Starting dinner with drinks has become a treat for me.




One day of Songkran was plenty for me…. Tuesday's plan was cooking school!






Stephan and Matt made friends with two other guys in the class.  They were hilarious, and naturally, their commentary on everything was slightly obscene.



You'll have to ask Stephan and Matt about the spring roll humor.






Making coconut milk.


fried bananas….

Most of our photos are on the new camera.  Katrina brought the card home with her to make copies, so I am without a few key shots…. like the end of the meal…. fried bananas with coconut ice-cream, and mango with sticky rice!

Class was over at 4, so we had a little time to stroll through the market again.  No one was feeling exceptionally hungry, but there's always room for libations!

I'm sure the rest went out that night, but I think I stayed in and collapsed!  Wednesday was elephants, trekking, and rafting!

Another plug for a great business.. our day was fantastic, and should you ever use this company, ask for See.  He had us laughing the entire way, and we've come home with a new expression.. OMB!
Oh My Buddha!

A very long rides into the hills of Chiang Mai, and we first came to the elephant camp.  Since we were an odd number, the couples got to share a basket seat, while I rode on a third elephant bareback!  A little freaky!  Stephan and Christina's mahout didn't ride on the elephant except at the start.  They were on their own, but with a very well trained elephant.  Katrina and Matt's mahout stopped and took pictures of them throughout their journey.

The elephant ride was followed by some trekking to a beautiful waterfall.  The hike was not for the feint of heart!  Not so challenging that I collapsed, but it was a good workout.  See, our guide, kept us going the whole way with his sense of humor and crazy antics (like poking in a whole and jumping back as it the tarantula had actually bit him).

The waterfall was beautiful and still gushing over the rocks despite the dry season.  Christina has posted some beautiful photos.  Mine are still on the card, now home in West Newbury. 
(Technology sharing has been a challenge for me!)

Our already fantastic day ended with a raft ride.  I was expecting a raft like the one I had taken back in October.  No, these rafts were about 8 bamboo poles wide, held together by old bicycle tires, and 10 feet long.  I have never "done" the Saco River in Maine, but the kids said it was a lot like this, but with real rafts, and way more responsible people.

While waiting for our raft, Mathew naturally made new friends.  They couldn't speak a word of English, but shared a few shots of Hong Thong and a couple of beers!





libations along the way!

Our adventure came to a close and the ride back to our hotel didn't seem nearly as long as it had that morning.  We were exhausted, but after a short nap, naturally, we were ready to eat again.

Around the corner from the Lilu Hotel is The River Market Restaurant.  I mention these places in case you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai and are looking for a solid recommendation.

Well, those 4 days simply flew by!  I will continue our story in another blog about our time in Koh Samui!