Tag Archives: boat

Hoi An . . . in the top three

Hi Everyone,

This lovely town on the coast of Vietnam (and about a 45-minute drive south of Da Nang) is a shopper’s paradise. Yes, a shopper’s paradise. “Isn’t practically all of SE Asia a shopper’s paradise?” you ask.

Well, yes it is! For most travelers. Though there is so much more to do than just shop.

But this particular town is known for its vast collection of tailors. Yes, tailors. People from all over the world were having custom clothing made: suits, dresses, skirts, shoes, etc. (Yes, even shoes!)

But for moi, I just didn’t feel like having anything custom-made. I’m nearly at the end of my 5-month journey in SE Asia, and I have plenty of souvenirs already. And I have plenty of clothing.

Also, I think that’s an activity that would be more fun to do with a friend (yes, Mom, I agree with you on this one : ).

So what did I do?

I walked around the quaint town in the evening. (It became much more interesting when the sun began to set.)

It was pouring and pouring on my first full-day there; so I hung out in my comfy room and got caught up on things. AND I swam in that fabulous pool. Fortunately, it wasn’t thundering and lightning (like it is now in Bangkok where I’m currently sitting and typing).

When I got hungry, I walked a short distance and found a cozy restaurant with a nice mix of decor (honestly, it felt more European than Asian) where I broke my no-chicken eating and had Pho with da kine (noodle soup). It was the perfect dish for a cool, wet day.

And the second day? The sun was shinning, so I rented a bike and found the beach (and even got a little sun burned on my shoulders : ).

For enjoying Hoi An as much as I did, I took very few pictures (another sign that this leg of my journey is winding down).

So, without further ado . . .

Enjoy!

These are some of the most unusual boats I’ve ever seen! They reminded me of big rice cups. And yes, I helped carry the second one up the beach.
What’s that for ???
Right in town was a rice paddy.
A sample of the clothing that one can have made in Hoi An.

And oh, I forgot to mention, I just happened to be in Hoi An on the one day of the month when they hang lanterns everywhere (and coincidentally, the last night of my solo journey before joining my friend in Bangkok) in honor of the full moon which appears the following night. I left my room a little before sunset to walk around town. Along the way, I saw vendor after vendor setting up a personal altar in front of their shop. Soon, women were selling small lanterns to the tourists, as well as cooking potato, banana, coconut things. (I  tried part of one; it was okay, a bit bland.)

When the activity seemed to be at its peak, I parked myself at a table for one, ordered fried noodles and veggies and a glass of the local merlotish red wine, and enjoyed the show! “Perfect!” I thought as I sat and sipped . . . “Perfect. Thank you Hoi An. Thank you . . .”

-sj

Ha Long Bay . . . for you *Larry! : )

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

“Ha Long Bay (Vietnamese: About this sound Vịnh Hạ Long (help·info), literally: “descending dragon bay”; 下龍灣) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a popular travel destination, located in Quang Ninh province, Vietnam. Administratively, the bay belongs to Hạ Long City, Cẩm Phả town, and part of Van Don district. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. Hạ Long Bay is a center of a larger zone which includes Bái Tử Long bay to the northeast, and Cát Bà islands to the southwest. These larger zones share similar geological, geographical, geomorphological, climate, and cultural characters.”
Okay, nuff with the words, here are SJ’s pictures . . .
Enjoy!
She was working! And not just at rowing.
Floating village.
It often felt like they were driving these things for the first time!
They passed that baby along like a sack of potatoes! lol And the kid seems just fine with it. Nice. ; )
We didn’t have a lot of sun . . . but for this instance we did!
Another working gal. Only saw women drivers.
Had 30-minutes at this man-made beach, made a running dash up the hill. That’s the boat I stayed on.
Nice Danish family hanging out while it rained.
Going on a tour of the “floating village.”
Driver in training.
Ma chambre. See my bat/angel?
Pretty sunset one of the 2-nights that I was on the boat.
The moon!
The ubiquitous flag in Vietnam.
These kids from New Zealand were having fun; he’s teaching her how to fold the napkin. How’d he learn? A Vietnamese worker on the ship showed him one rainy afternoon.
In front: my new gal pals from London, Emma and Jane. Had dinner with them one night in Hoi An. In back: Nat and Gerry. Was supposed to have dinner with them one night in  Hanoi, but I went to the wrong restaurant! But, I just happened to run into them the next day while passing the church shown above . . . yep, keep loving those “coincidences”!
Ze “floating village.”
Ditto.
Pretty cool.
Well protected.
He’s taking a shot of the school.
See?
They seemed happy as they looked my way.
Back at the industrial harbor.

Aloha Ha Long Bay!

Hope it brought back good memories Larry!

So long from the Hanoi airport enroute to Bangkok.

Sending love to all of you wherever you may be.

-sj

* and Kay!

In Honor and Memory of our little Fido . . . born September 26, 1995

Along the Mekong River in Luang Prabang, Laos.

Part 3 . . . now to Railay Bay & then Koh Phi Phi

This was last month, July 2011 . . .

Took a 15-minute boat ride from Ao Nang towards the east to Railay.
Cutest darn puppy!
The tide goes really far out! This poor guy hurt his foot, I think.
Loved the pink slicker. : )
Fascinating to look at.
Sacred phallic rock.
Moi. Went for a dip. Felt good, but it was chocolatey water.
This was the nicest beach I experienced in Thailand. Could actually hang out here in peace in quiet . . . it was lovely.
Good thing I took the dip when I did. Yep, stubbed my toe on my way back to the hotel.
Had the most lovely next day just hanging out. How often do you just sit and think? It was such a perfect day. So thankful for the private lanai looking out at teak trees.
When I ventured out that late afternoon I found the coolest crab art.
There were literally hundreds of them!
From my perspective, beaches in Thailand are mostly nice for looking at . . . the swimming? It ain’t Hawaii.
A small sample of the pollution.
Took a ferry to Koh (island) Phi Phi.
That’s my green backpack on the hotel worker’s back. He met me at the dock. It was about a 10-minute walk inland to the hotel.
This was a common site during this portion of my journey. See the “no water”? Later in the evening the tide rose up to where I was sitting (in a restaurant on simple boards raised over the water).
This is where I hung my hat for a few nights. I had my own bungalow. Would be perfect for couples. Had a TV, which was fun at times . . . some English programs to watch when I was getting dressed to go out.
I’d heard about this and enjoyed watching it. The little fish nibble and clean their feet (or so I hear : ).
One of the nicest things to do (in my humble opinion) while on Koh Phi Phi, hike up the hill to the vista.
I found many ways to get up here . . . let’s just say I found places where I don’t think a tourist is “supposed” to go. Needless to say, I was very happy when I found LOTS of people at this lookout rather than NO one at the obscure lookouts I first found! And then to see that the way down was so easy . . . yep, that’s me, always finding alternate routes rather than the “main” one . . .
It rained and rained one morning. I had the most relaxing time sitting in a guesthouse restaurant drinking coffee and eating muesli with yogurt.
My bungalow. See my visitor?
Luckily the weather and seas calmed so that I could take a boat excursion. That’s the viking cave. Vikings in Thailand? Reckon so. Or was it Pirate Cave . . . ?
Our tour guide/boat captain . . . that’s pineapple for a snack on the platter.
Moi at the famous “beach” from the eponymous movie. Thanks Michele for the use of your little “dry” bag.
This critter was hanging out on the beach. ! ! !
I think this is the well known location shown in the movie. Why think? Haven’t seen the movie yet, but I saw lots of people posing here and taking their picture.
Hi Mom!
This is where I heard a German yell out “Ganz allein in Paradis!” All alone in paradise!
We’d swum from our boat to this ladder to then walk to “the beach.”
The surge wasn’t too bad . . . fortunately!
Jelly fish in the water as we snorkeled! Luckily they didn’t sting. But there were LOTS of them.
Last stop before heading back to Koh Phi Phi: monkey beach.
These are “professional” monkeys.
Swam/snorkeled wearing my turquoise and citrine bracelet. Even had it on when I swam to “the beach.” And then it broke right on the boat over a black backpack (so I  could easily find it). One citrine decided to stay on the boat. Or maybe it jumped ship and is swimming around in Thailand. Who knows? Just know it was time for one citrine to take a walk about.
A ubiquitous mannequin in SE Asia.
Left Koh Phi Phi for Ao Nang beach.
The Aloha Inn was absolutely perfect for one night!
It dumped rain outside and I watched two movies in. And my clothes which were soaked were dry by morning. : )
Aloha Ao Nang and the “Krabi” area of Thailand.

There’s no time like the present . . .

Here are shots I took on Friday during a several hour bike tour around Bangkok (and across the river). Our guide was absolutely adorable! She bubbled over with laughter, stories, and a general joie de vivre.

You can read all about this tour company here: www.realasia.net; we took the afternoon tour.

See you in a few weeks!

What a difference some sun makes!

Here are an assortment of shots taken this past week when we were treated to blue skies.

The Rama VIII Bridge crosses the Chao Phraya River.
I was told that they weren’t racing but that it had to do with something spiritual.
I hoped off the boat for a little lunch.

The after shot. Not much of a difference was it?

Nice looking place

Interesting looking place

Respectful place. They love their king; he’s a good man.

Laundry day!

Waiting for the boat. They sounded American.

That’s Wat Arun on the other side of the river.

It’s hard to take only one shot.

It’s the wat with the porcelain pieces. Remember?

Boats are all over the place on this river!

Flowers for my friend

Such a great variety of orchids!

Didn’t make it to this museum.

But I liked the building.

Got my bracelet back! It’s fixed with ultra strong wire (I hope!).

See the BTS Skytrain?

Such a contrast from the river shots

Thought this was pretty cool looking (plus the blue sky is so wonderful!)

That’s all for now . . . next will be the shots from the bike tour I took yesterday. Was that ever exciting! I’m not bringing my computer with me though during the next two week adventure; I don’t want to have to “worry” about it going for a walkabout of its own. These things can walk on their own. Haven’t you seen those little retractable feet they have?

Okay den, until we meet again . . .

The elephants arrived each morning.

First, they got a bath.
Then came breakfast.

I never saw the dogs get anything in the morning (they did later), but that didn’t stop them from hoping that they might!

It appeared that everything on the rafts came by way of that bridge.
We would go up stream to the last raft, hop in and float to the end. The current was VERY swift!

Which is why I almost lost this!

But I didn’t! I ran down the floating hotel from one raft to another until I was able to grab it. Yep, I was the afternoon entertainment that day. I think I’ll be in a lot of scrapbooks in Holland under the heading: crazy lady running after a little green plastic tub.

And what was in that green little tub? This wonderful smelling something that the Mon people put on their skin to protect them from the sun and mosquitoes.

We all gave it a try.
Here I am with my new friend from Holland.

Then we went to Hellfire’s Pass . . .

The story

The memorial

Japanese soldiers burned fires on the top of the walls as the POWs and Asian “slaves” worked chipping away the hard rock. 
The hellfires were meant to keep the mosquitoes away.

There were many of these little plastic flowers placed throughout the memorial.
And then it was time to leave our floating hotel.
I found the motors fascinating.

No, I don’t know how they work, but I just like the way they look.

Our trip concluded with an hour-long ride on the very tracks which cost so many lives.

And with that, the sky began to fall. Fitting, don’t you think?

It’s Saturday and I’m going to head south tomorrow . . .

Hi Friends,

A week (or so) has passed since my last posting. Oh, what fun I’ve had! My girlfriend (whose wonderful apartment I’ve been enjoying) and I took a 3-day, 2-night jungle river rafting trip on the River Kwai. It felt so good to get out of the city and onto the water.
We were picked up in a luxurious mini-van promptly(!) at 6 a.m. at a hotel close-by. Soon after, we, and fellow passengers, were taken to the heart of the city by the Grand Palace where we met other tourists who also sprouted from mini-vans. We were then collected into a large tour bus for our journey to the west.
The pictures which follow will tell the tale . . .
Also, I haven’t forgotten that I owe you shots from Wat Arun. They will hopefully follow shortly. I ended up going into town this past Wednesday (to go to the German Botschaft and ask about a visa which will allow me to stay in Germany longer than 3-months next year . . . more on that to come later) and taking a public transportation boat again. It was as much fun as the previous times, but this time, there was BLUE sky! So you’ll notice some boat/river/Wat Arun shots with blue sky and some without; now you’ll understand why.
From the title you can see that I’m leaving Bangkok tomorrow. I’m heading south to the area called Krabi; it’s a little east of Phuket. I decided to go there because it sounds interested and a little less developed or touristy than Phuket; I’ll let you know how I like it. When you google the area and look at a map, you’ll see that there are lots of beaches. I’m literally going to stay in 4 different hotels over 7-nights: 1 for 2 nights in Ao Nang, 1 for 2 nights on Railay beach (supposed to be a rock climbers’ beach), 1 for 2-nights on Koh (island) Phi Phi, and then lastly, I’m spending a night at a hotel called the Aloha Inn—seemed like a good idea. It’s in the little town area and should be a fun place to be before I then head out for Chiang Mai . . . but I’m getting ahead of myself . . . For now, it’s time to post some shots.
Aloha Everyone! Hope you’re having a good summer and enjoying the company of friends and family.
-sj
The River Kwai

Picking up where we left off long ago

Time to board the long boat

The pink Barbie bag cracked me up.

It felt so good to be on the water!

It looked a lot like Kaua‘i.
Then we began to see the critters

of all shapes

and sizes!

Photos galore from Bangkok . . .

Enroute to yoga . . .
School kids heading home . . .
I learned that they just keep adding wires without removing the older/non-used ones!
The ice man rolleth.
Kindof like at home . . .
Flower market . . . alas, to late to buy anything.
Those wonderful hot peppers!
Ze canal
Ze crêperie
Nice barista
Refreshing iced cocoa!  : )
Wires at 3 p.m.
Outside the reclining Buddha’s pad at Wat Pho
Ze little Buddha
Coins for rows and rows of jars
One of the jars
Check out his toes!
Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho from inside
Beautiful fruit! Mangosteen, rambutan, and mountain apples.
The docks move UP and DOWN constantly!
The protector of the temple
Rama at the National Museum’s temple
Tourist takes a tuk tuk.
This guy was focused!

Shots from Wat Arun to follow . . .

Been decompressing and/or Happy early 4th of July . . .

Dear Friends,

In the past week I’ve been decompressing.
“Decompressing? What do you mean by that?”
Well, kind of like a diver, who’s been under high pressure, has to slowly return to the “top,” I too have been rising step-by-step, a few feet at a time, heading to that place called “normalcy.”
“What the heck is *normalcy?” I have no clue. But I can feel that I’m just about there. I think it’ll hit me upside the head when my friend for over 30-years shows up this evening at her own doorstep. (Remember, I’ve been crashing at her beautiful Bangkok pad while she’s been slaving away at her demanding job in Singapore.) She’s practically a sister (even though it’s been almost 9-years since I last saw her in the flesh). Anyone who backpacks across Europe together and uses each other’s feet as pillows while sleeping on a train (in order to save the cost of a hostel so that there’d be money for food) is family. And family has a way of bringing you back into “normalcy.” Yeah, you get it now. I can see it on your faces. (don’t ask me how, but I can) : )
So what have been the decompression stages? (oh, that rings just too, too similarly to “and what are the lesson plan stages?”)
Well, first there was celebrating with friends. You saw the shot of me with my renegade certificate. You saw the glow of relief on my face. Here’s another shot from a birthday party the following day with my new ex-pat friends.
The beautiful blonde woman’s husband was celebrating his 50th.

Yeah, pretty cool “Miami/Bangkok Vice” bday cake.
And somewhere in there was: watching movies. What movies? I have no idea. That wasn’t really the point now was it?
And lots of meditating. “Meditating?” Yes, meditating. If that word makes you uncomfortable, just plug in “praying” instead. And if that makes you uncomfortable, just plug in “sitting or lying quietly and giving thanks.” ‘Cause I gave lots of thanks that the intensive course was over and that I passed. And yes, of course I gave thanks for plenty more than that . . . but that was the first item which bubbled up to the top.
And then there was shopping. Yes, shopping. I went to the huge and legendary Chatuchak market at the end of the BTS line. I didn’t follow the advice of the guidebooks and go early. It was about 1 p.m. on Sunday when I arrived. “It’ll be too hot and crowded!” all the guidebooks state with such confidence. It didn’t deter me one bit from having fun.
My first stop was at a massage place just by the art area. For 150 BHT (remember, a dollar is worth about 30 BHT) I had a foot and leg massage; it was heavenly. And I sat right next to the fan, so the temperature was pleasant.
I had a rough sketch of a shopping list imprinted in my head: rubber slippers, a skirt that goes past my knees (for when I teach in Cambodia, it’s one of their rules), and white clothes for Kundalini yoga .
(which btw are currently pink and hopefully less so as they wash again with lots of bleach added! Being the tomboy that I am, I threw in my fav red t-shirt I got for my birthday from my big sis–it says on it: “Not all who wander are lost.” Tolkien said that apparently; yeah, I like it too. I’ve had the shirt for over 6-months. I didn’t think it’d do its thing! But it did, not too heavily, but still. You’re supposed to wear white when you do Kundalini yoga. Is slightly not white but slightly pink okay? I’ll let you know what I find out.)
Somehow I managed to maneuver my way through that massive, massive market and return to my “starting point,” find the route to the BTS and head on back home. It was a grand day.
“What’d I see at the market?” You name it. And I’m serious. Fine art to cheesy crap. (Literally, this woman was throwing down these amazing plastic things, which would almost immediately reconstitute themselves into their original shape. And yes, one of them was, um excuse me, crap!)
There was clothing of every style, shape, color . . . things for dogs, puppies, lots and lots of puppies, yes, live puppies . . . beads, jewelry, food booths . . . musicians, a boy bouncing a soccer ball almost non-stop on his head, knees and feet . . . this is your chance to plug in a n y t h i n g . . . I betcha it was there!
And then came the yoga (in the then white clothes). I managed to go several times this past week; it was very, very enjoyable. It’s nice to have met some more people who live here. “Where are they from?” you ask. The teacher is originally from Canada, several ladies are Thai, one lady moved here from Korea, another from the U.S., another from France, and one lady is passing through who is from Austria. She graciously offered to put me up if I visit Vienna; sounds like a wonderful gesture, doesn’t it?!

This was followed by hanging at the pool with other CELTA trainee women. We had a lovely afternoon flipping through stacks of English language women’s magazines, which were in the apartment when my new friend moved in. We visited and ate lychee, chips and rambutan—followed by lunch at a local Thai place.
About this time I decided to take my role as a tourist much more seriously and go explore Bangkok! Wednesday I headed first to the Jim Thompson museum followed by a stroll along the adjacent canal. (That was how one used to enter Mr.-former-CIA-agent-turned-entrepreneur-who-single-handedly-brought-Thailand’s-sinking-silk-market-back-to-life’s home during its hey day. Boats still travel along the canal at amazingly HIGH speeds!)
Then I went on a search for a jewelry shop that would fix my turquoise/citrine bracelet that I had broken (for the 2nd time!). A new friend and savvy shopper told me to just keep walking down the same street where the school is and I’d find a place; I did. They gave me their card and the receipt showing the deposit I made, but I also took a picture of the store and street signs . . . just in case. One way or another, I’ll find my way back to this very same store! (BKK is really, really big, if you haven’t been here before, but yes, of course it has street names and numbers like anywhere else . . . ).
Then I hopped in a tuk tuk and got taken, uh, I mean I driven around town.
First stop was a “friend’s” store, second stop was the Golden Buddha,
third stop was another “friend’s” store, and the fourth stop was the pier, where I hopped on a boat (which runs like a bus going from stop to stop).
***This was the highlight of my non-school portion of the trip thus far! I paid 19 BHT (remember $1-30BHT) for a “round-trip” ticket, i.e. I got on where the BTS stop is and went to the end of the line and back for 19 BHT (it’s normally all of 14 for a “normal” ride one-way). From 5 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. I sat, listened to music and enjoyed being on the water. It is so very, very healing to be on the water—even if it is full of trash and is “chocolate.” It was still very soothing. I did have to hop off at the “first” end (along with a large group of Chinese kids who rode both ways as well) and get on another boat for the return trip. We had so much fun watching a storm come in, complete with thunder and lightning. Fortunately we didn’t get too wet before the side-walls were lowered.
You could see through them, but I chose to stand in the back where I had an even more clear view as the rain continued to fall and the sky slowly darkened. It was sooo much fun. A group of kids from Germany happened to stand next to me, and being the responsible people that they are, they kindly told me the names of some of the wat (temples) along the way.
Yesterday I continued to take my role as tourist seriously and headed to the National Museum for one of the two English speaking tours of the week. It was interesting . . . my Mom’s code word for alright . . . a way to be polite in her genteel Southern style.
 The kind tour guide from Brooklyn certainly loved to talk and had lots of stories. On the tour I also met a young Swedish gal who’s heading to Burma for a month where she’s working on her master’s thesis on the Karen people. Now that was really interesting.
Next, I went wandering past the Grand Palace (just wasn’t up for another tour) and made my way to pier #8 and the ferry across the Chao Phraya River to Wat Arun. This was another big-time highlight for me. It was so much fun climbing the steep stairs on the outside of the temple up and up to two different levels. There’s ceramic all around the temple that I was told by a friend was part of the ballast added to ships (which were returning home empty after having shipped other items to China). You can read all about this temple here: http://www.watarun.org/index_en.html. I took a zillion pictures here, so I’ll do a post with just pictures from there.

I followed that with a delightful lunch at a local dive right on the water and adjacent to the ferry; the food was very good. I heard lots of different languages while I ate (besides Thai). I met South Africans and heard Scandinavians.
Then I wandered through the flower market where I was obviously too late for purchasing flowers. It was still intriguing to look at though. The sheer number of stalls and wares sold throughout Bangkok is mind boggling, well, at least for this Kaua‘i-girl, it is.
From there I managed to find the pier by the Memorial Bridge and head on back by boat to the BTS (skytrain) stop and home.
As I’ve done my meandering through this charmingly chaotic city over the past 5-weeks, I’ve stopped and snapped a shot whenever something caught my interest. What interests me (really interests me) isn’t exactly the type of shots that they want to show you in guidebooks. Also, I’ve noticed that with all the pollution here (i.e. lack of blue sky and unobstructed sunshine) that it’s more of a challenge to take a picture that isn’t swallowed up into a harsh lack of contrast. I’ve done my best to include only pictures that I imagine will have a semblance of appeal for you. Some were very obviously taken just for me; those are the ones that you’ll shake your head over and say, “What the?”
Next to follow will be loads and loads of pictures . . .
Best wishes for a great Fourth of July weekend! To my friends kayaking to Miloli‘i, I wish I was there also. If you feel me in the breeze, stop and say hello! In the body, I’m heading to the River Kwai with my gal pal; we’re taking a jungle raft adventure trip (even staying on a floating raft for the 2-nights). Should be fun; I hear it’s beautiful! Looking forward to breathing some none city air : )
Aloha All!
sj
* per the dictionary in my computer: Normalcy has been criticized as an uneducated alternative to normality, but actually is a common American usage and can be taken as standard: : we are anticipating a return to normalcy.