Vicki's Thailand and Cambodia

November 23-- Koa Samui

I have been taking it easy hoping my shoulder would mend itself. It has gotten much better but I did make an appointment at an English speaking hospital in Bangkok for next week. Of course we are now watching the Thailand network to see if we can even go to Bangkok due to the demonstrations there attempting to overthrow the government. We may be spending a very long time on the beach.

We got here really by accident. We arrived in Thailand with no plans other than to try to buy the cheaper airpass that Bangkok Airline sells outside the country. We could find no way to purchase it in US, China or India. I have a feeling it is not a product they sell a lot of. We had asked in Bangkok before with no luck==this time they said yes, but there were no seats that day for Phuket, which is an island on the west coast where the tsunami hit. I asked where else she could suggest--she said Koa Samui and we were here two hours later. It is an island off the the southern east coast. It was "undiscovered" until about 10 years ago. We spent 4 nights at a boutique resort which was small but very, very nice but also $80 a day after the various discounts. So we scouted around walking up and down the beach and found Seascape. It is exactly a cheaper imitation of the upscale small resorts except it is older. It is also $30 a night with breakfast buffet. It is low season on the east coast as this is the rainy season and they mean it. It pours about 8 hours in 24. However it stays over 80 degrees and usually turns partly cloudy in afternoon and evening. So we sleep late, eat breakfast at 10, walk on the beach in the afternoon, have a drink, wash the salt spray off in the pool, laze around and go out for dinner aroun 7 or so. Live is good.

November 27--Thanksgiving

Some times it is hard to remember particular holidays. This is one that Mark and I won't forget soon. He is off at a Thai cooking class and I am going to join him for the dinner he cooks. When he siged up we didn't even realize that it would be Thanksgiving--no turkey for us. We spent the morning trying to change our air reservations but no luck. Bangkok's airports have been taken over by the PAD party which wants the elected government to step down. Neither side seems willing to compromise. We are supposed to fly from here to Bangkok Sunday, spend a week there, then fly to Cambodia and back to visit the Anghor Wat temple complex. Our flight to Sydney, Australia is supposed to be Dec. 11. There are not a lot of alternatives available for international flights so right now we are in a wait and see situation. At least our hotel room is quite cheap and we can keep it as long a we need it as no one else can get to the island.

I feel really sorry for the people here as reception told us this morning that they were already getting many cancelations for their busiest Christmas season. I know the tourist industry in India is also going to go into a complete nosedive. It is sobering to be in a part of the world where something like this can easily mean starvation for many people--we may have a lousy security net in the US, but most people in the world have nothing at all. The future certainly looks different than it did six months ago for all of us, but Mark and I still have so much to be thankful for that it takes my breath away. I hope all of my friends and family reading this have a wonderful holiday and know that I miss you. Vicki

December 6, 2008—Siem Reap, Cambodia

Obviously we made it out of Thailand—in fact, on the day the demonstrators finally left the airport. We flew through the alternative set up outside of Bangkok and it was a zoo. However, Cambodia has been a delight. We are using our Starpoints from our credit card to stay at a 5 star hotel. I really like the lap of luxury! In Asia we can stay for 25-35% of the points that would be needed for a hotel in the US. This will be the end over here since both Sydney and Auckland want way too many points for a hotel stay. We had a car and driver with guide for 2 ½ days to see the many temples and also a trip to the floating village. Though it has been 90 every day, the ruins have been terrific. Mark is describing them in detail in his blog.

Tomorrow we fly back to Bangkok and hope we can leave late Thursday night for Sydney without more demonstrations getting in the way. We considered just trying to go out through Cambodia but the things we really wanted to see were in Bangkok and not here. We have had two very good Khmer meals—however, they tend to be heavy on bananas—at the buffet the other night there were at least 9 different preparations.

So off to Bangkok.

December 7—Bangkok, Thailand

We made it here with no problems and were able to book a reasonably priced hotel in central Bangkok from the tour desk at the airport. It certainly isn't a 5 star, but so far clean and quiet with tv, fridge, and even a nice bathtub for only $46 with breakfast and taxes. It is a few blocks to the skytram but only 1 block to McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Yes, we will eat lots of the wonderful Thai food, but tonight we had KFC, which tasted exactly right. When everything is so different and everyday an adventure, you have no idea how important a taste of home can be! My arm is considerably better—still achy, but I am not taking double pain meds every four hours to get through the day. That means I can answer email again and would really like to hear from any of my friends and relatives willing to write. Take pity on a woman who has had no one to talk to for 14 weeks but her husband!

By the way, I promised to comment on the practical from time to time. One of the most important things away from home is the toilet or lack there of. As you know, Nepal was awful. It has been interesting that in India, Thailand, and Cambodia all the facilities for tourists have been Western toilets—no squatters, but they have all had hose and spray attachments next to them attached to the wall—exactly the type that we use to rinse dishes with at the kitchen sink. Of course Japan has the best in the world—wash and dry with warm water and air, freshener, and even sound effects to cover up any bodily noises you don't want to inflict on the neighboring stall occupant. And all that was just at the airport! When Mark and I win the lottery, a Japanese loo will be a definite purchase.

I also did a recent tally of our expenditures and so far we are staying within our budget—except spending more on gifts than I thought. We divided our budget into one part for Asia where costs are relatively low and one part for Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii, where costs are much higher. Once we get to New Zealand I will run the final figures on the Asia part. Mark and I were just talking today about how if we wanted to come back, we could travel so much more cheaply the second time around. This time we have been willing to spend more in order to avoid uncertainty since we have never traveled in Asia before and really never done the hotel type thing either. (We still think camping is by far the best way—just not available in Asia at all.) Also we wouldn't be going back to India and that ended up costing the most per day as traveling independently there is for the young or the crazy.