Thailand Part I
I had to break this entry into two parts because it was overflowing with information.
After Hawaii on the spring tour, was a swing through Jackson, WY to pick up Beth on our way to Thailand. This trip has been one of her lifelong dreams.
After about 27 hours of travel, we spent a few days in Bangkok to adjust to the time and meet some of my divers. When we arrived in Bangkok we headed to The Grand President Hotel. To be in a foreign place so far away and feel like you've arrived home is the reason I frequently stay at Grand President. When we weren’t lounging by the pool we were touring the big city. We ate marvelous meals, went shopping for souvenirs, and leisurely boated down the river.
My first errand generally starts with MBK Shopping Center. I like it because it is conveniently located on the BTS light rail at the National Stadium stop. MBK is known for its wide array of offerings and cheaper prices. I always come here for cell phone issues and purchases, custom-made business cards, and souvenirs. If you need or want anything you will probably find it there. Once the errands were done we took a river tour.
To get to this particular company we took the BTS to Saphan Thaksin stop (Thaksin Bridge) near Mandarin Oriental and Peninsula Hotel. Then you can walk, 20 minutes, or taxi/grabcar, 10 minutes, to Jacks Bar. We had some great spicy Thai food and a beer on the dock next to the boats. We departed from Jack’s Bar on a low-key river tour. We took pictures and stopped at one of the temples. If you prefer to make more stops and view more of the temples and attractions just let them know.
Besides Jacks Bar and the great breakfast at the hotel, we enjoyed two meals in particular within walking distance of Grand President on Soi 11. One was at Pizzeria Limoncello and the other at Oskar Bistro. Pizzeria Limoncello offers wonderful Italian food with a decent wine selection and of course homemade limoncello. This was the first place outside of Italy that I actually enjoyed the limoncello. Oskar Bistro is more of a social gathering spot with great food, wine selection, and surprising craft cocktails. Well-made drinks are not always easy to find in Thailand. I always enjoy my favorite signature cocktail, the Spicipirinha, it's a caipirinha with spicy Thai chilies. After a few well-spent days and meals we headed south to Koh Tao.
Considering the luggage we had and the adventure I wanted to show everyone, we took the train south overnight and then the ferry in the morning. The train, although timeworn, is one of my favorite things to show people on a budget. I have been on trains in other countries and this one is very old school. It can be cheaper than flying especially with luggage but please do not “save money” and buy a 3rd class ticket. Get a 2nd or 1st class AC sleeper ticket. This way you will have a good night sleep on your travel south. Like I said, the trains in operation right now are not new; do not expect a luxury sleeper. I think they are comfortable but they are definitely showing their age.
Koh Tao was hot as usual and had beautiful weather when we arrived. The following day Beth enjoyed some beach time as I went diving with clients. The highlight over the next few days of diving was seeing the Whale shark. These animals are filter feeders and are so big and amazing to watch underwater. The dive experiences everyone had were great and some fears were left behind. Another water day spent around the island was snorkeling off of Aow Leuk beach. The water here is a turquoise color. On this particular day, visibility was good, and the corals and fish were bright and abundant. Days of diving, eating amazing food, seeing a Whale shark, and snorkeling on beautiful reefs fulfilled everyone's desires. After Koh Tao my group of divers travelled to the Andaman coast while Beth and I went north.