May 17 - June 10: Our Trip to Thailand and China's Yunnan Province

Part I: May 17 - 20 in Thailand

On May 17, we headed off for our long awaited trip to Thailand. Nancy had been hard at work planning the trip for months. Nancy had hoped to eat mangos until she couldn't stand them any more (if that's possible). We were also especially looking forward to the trip because we would be seeing Nancy's elder sister, Frances and Frances' boyfriend, Ben, for the first time in months. We departed Beijing Capital Airport at 8 pm and arrived in Bangkok, Thailand at about 12:30 am Thailand time. When we exited the terminal, we found Frances and Ben, who had arrived on an earlier flight, happily waiting for us. They looked quite chipper for having just flown over 20 hours from San Francisco. After a mild delay, we were eventually picked up by the hotel shuttle to be taken to our hotel just minutes from the Bangkok airport. We all fell exhausted into bed and slept until the early the next morning.

Here's Nancy on the balcony of our airport hotel. We could really feel the humidity in the air. The landscape was also very typical of a tropical region: lush foliage, palm trees, and a lot of small bushy plants.

Here are Fran and Ben after enjoying their first breakfast in Thailand, at the Comfort Suites Airport Hotel. We were all eager to get to Pattaya. We took a private car from Bangkok to our hotel on Jomtien Beach, near Pattaya. It was a quick 2 hour ride in a nice Mercedes Benz.
First we checked into our hotel, the Grand Jomtien Beach Hotel. It wasn't especially grand, but it was quite nice. Both room had beautiful views of the beach. Here we are ready to go to the beach ... well, actually to eat lunch! Our first lunch in Pattaya was a simple, yet delicious meal in a restaurant by the roadside.

Here we are after we enjoyed our lunch of green chicken curry, a great seafood salad, some papaya salad, and a delicious BBQ chicken ... ah, yes, and the fresh squeezed OJ.


Here's a hungry little dog at the restaurant enjoying the chicken that someone else gave him. We kept our chicken for ourselves.


After lunch, we headed off to Jomtien Beach which lay just in front of our hotel. From afar, it was beautiful - the crashing waves, the beautiful blue sky with puffy white clouds, and the sandy beach. So, we were looking forward to a nice walk along the beach.


But then, when we got a little closer we discovered something unexpected. There were all kinds of weird things washed up on the shore, including this cute little puffer fish and, unfortunately, lots of rubbish.

Here's an example of the many temple entrances that exist in Thailand. The entrance gate is always very beautiful and ornate.

So, we decided that we'd rather go for a swim in the hotel pool. And, what a nice pool it was. It was huge!


After a little laying around by the pool and swimming around in the pool, Frances and Nancy decided that it was about time for a nice massage. Luckily, there were ladies at the poolside offering massages. So, for one hour, Frances and Nancy were poked, prodded, kneaded and twisted until everything was stretched, massaged and relaxed. What a nice feeling! Even their face muscles were relaxed.
After the massage, there was some more swimming around in and laying around by the pool. Look at Bryan - he's the only one who's not a health care professional and he's the only one smart enough to be hiding in the shade. How relaxing it was!

Here's the view from our hotel room.

Later in the evening, we headed off to the actual city of Pattaya to check out the town. There are no regular taxis in Pattaya, so in order to get around in the area, you have to take a songthaew: a converted pick-up trucks with seats in the back. They didn't seem terribly safe, but they were cool and breezy and easy to take. While we were walking around town, we happened upon a lot of durian for sale. If you've ever eaten durian, you either like it or you think it tastes and smells something akin to dirty socks, or possibly onion-flavored ice cream. Thailand sure had a heck of a lot of it. As an indication of just how smelly durian is, some hotels forbid people from bringing it into the hotel, including our hotel.
Here's a sign that we found humorous. Yes, Thais know how to spice up even the most mundane of household chores. Actually, the word 'porn' in Thailand is pronounced 'phawn' and means something totally different than what it means in English - it's often used in the names of stores.


That night for dinner we ate at Vientienne Restaurant in south Pattaya. The food was incredible and the service and equally as excellent. We had some amazing fresh fish and huge grilled prawns. Although they didn't have mango sticky rice, they were nice enough to cut and serve us the mangoes that we had bought at the market earlier in the evening.


After a good night's sleep, we headed to a different beach the next morning. We went to a small island near Pattaya called Koh Larn, or Coral Island. First we took a songtheaw to the boat area. Then, we took a speed boat for a wet and bumpy 30 minute ride to the island. Upon arrival at the beach, we found that it was beautiful! The sand was clean, the water was clean and the day was beautiful. Here we are in the songtheaw. Here is also a picture of a typical Thai family of three on a scooter. What an efficient means of transportation.
Here's that really bumpy and wet speed boat ride. Thank goodness no one was seasick during the trip.
At the beach, we spent most of our time laying around and relaxing. We also went for an occasional swim in the calm, beautiful water. Our view of the beach was fantastic!
We also had a lot of fun riding around on a floating banana. Unfortunately, we didn't bring the camera along for the ride. The large inflatable 'banana' had four sets of handles attached. It was dragged around in the water at surprisingly high speeds over the choppy water by a motor boat. The unstable banana bouncing around makes for a thrilling ride. We laughed hysterically as we held onto the handles until our until our knuckles turned white to avoid being thrown off. Despite our best efforts, we felll off quite a few times, which added to the fun. At the end of the ride the boat operator made a sharp turn at high speed to unceremoniously dump us off. What a great time!


Aren't they just so sweet! Just perfect together.
That evening we went to another seafood restaurant by the seashore. Originally, we had planned to go to a restaurant recommended by the hotel receptionist, but our songtheaw driver convinced us that there was an even better, and less expensive, place just down that street, where local Thai people ate. We enjoyed yet another delicious meal of crab with curried vermicelli, fish, tom yam and some other savory dishes.


That night we went to the Alcazar Show, a musical revue with an all-male cast. Some of the men were transvestites and some of those actually had breast implants and who knows what else. It was quite a spectacular show. The costumes were just amazing, and from afar, the men looked so feminine. Here's Nancy lounging in the foyer before the show started.
These are some very poor quality pictures of the show. The lighting situation made it difficult to take good pictures. You get the idea...


EEK! There's Bryan with another woman! Oh wait, never mind, that's a man.


The next morning, we woke up early for a day trip to Suan Nong Nooch, a Thai-village-style recreation park. Upon arrival, we were greeted by an array of friendly animals. Fran and Ben went closer for a better look at them. Bryan and Nancy were a little shy. Who knows, maybe they forgot to feed the tiger.


Unfortunately, we forgot to feed Nancy this morning so she was quite hungry. She decided that the elephant's feed looked quite tasty. After some discussion with the lady selling the bananas, we decided that the bananas were edible for humans so here's Nancy munching on the elephant's food. We can't take her anywhere!
The poor liitle elephant looked so sad that Nancy ate all of his food. So, Ben bought him some bananas. Then, Bryan decided to also buy the elephant some bananas. Oops, the tiger ate Bryan's head.


After a little bit of walking around, we happened upon some chimpanzees. They were so playful, just like small children. We think they were trying to massage Ben's shoulders. Nancy also had a chance to play with them. Hey, why does that monkey keep kissing Nancy?!?!


Here we are enjoying the orchid nursery. How beautiful the orchids in Thailand were.


Here we are enjoying the airplant (can't remember the real name) nursery. It was nice and humid inside so all of the plants looked like they were thriving. Nancy took a moment to feed the koi some food.
Here are some more nice pictures at the park.


Later, we went to an amazing elephant show. Here's one of the baby elephants walking along a plank.
Here are the elephants doing some more tricks. Would you believe that an elephant can ride a bicycle? They can also play basketball.
They could also play soccer, walk over audience members and paint! They were all so well trained.
Here's Fran going for a ride on the cutest elephant of the show. He had a little bell on so when he was painting his little bell would jingle.
Here we are enjoying the beautiful butterfly garden.
A last look at the baby elephants before we leave the park.
Back to: Parks and Forest

On to: Bangkok and Ko Samet (Part II)

Back to Bryan and Nancy's Trip to China Main Page