Well, dear readers, you may have noticed that I haven't written for quite some time. Jane and I have returned home and it was a long trip with a visit at the end to celebrate our son Jeremy's birthday in St. John's and visiting with Jane's sisters in Conception Bay South. It has certainly been busy catching up with friends, trying to get into a proper sleeping rhythm because of the jet lag and getting into a normal daily routine.
Now that we are back in Twillingate it has been very gratifying to receive the compliments from people who have read my blogs and newspaper articles in The Pilot. It was really a pleasure having the opportunity to share our holiday and experiences with an audience and I especially enjoyed being able to answer the questions from the Grade 10 English class at J.M. Olds Collegiate in the Pilot.
This trip to Thailand was a completely different experience for Jane and I. It was our first journey in an Asian country and I must say that it surpassed my expectations. Overall the trip cost us a bit more than what we normally expend on a holiday but this had to be expected because of the cost of air travel and the more luxurious accommodations that we opted for. We certainly have no regrets.
It is difficult to pick a highlight because there were so many things that we did that were absolutely wonderful. I enjoyed riding elephants so much that I convinced Jane to try it and had a second ride myself. The splendour of the scenery, the lush green of the tropical environment is something to behold. The friendliness of the people, the adventure of sampling the Thai cuisine made us feel welcome and comfortable. Even with the difficulty of different languages the people had sufficient knowledge of English that it was easy to share a story, enjoy a laugh, and to generally get around.
The markets were enjoyable and we were quick to learn that you never pay the asking price for anything. I enjoy bartering and we think we got some good deals and the vendor seemed pleased. You cannot ask for more than that. I had to laugh at the times when we were the first person to buy at a vendors stall they would take the money and wave it around, touching all their wares in the hope of having more good luck for the rest of the day.
There is certainly poverty to be seen and in my discussions there was often complaint of the corruption in their economic system. It was explained to me that it is impossible to bring the corrupt to justice because it permeates throughout the whole way that things are done. When I ask questions about why things were the way they were, the exploitation of the political and economic system by the unscrupulous was normally the response. Certainly this is hard to understand but in my limited interaction with the Thais they seem to shrug and are resigned to this as being the way that things are done.
If I was to discuss getting value for your dollar I would certainly put Phuket at the top of any place that we have visited. The funny thing is that those people living there find it more expensive than in mainland Thailand because Phuket is a tourist economy and the locals think that everything is overpriced. I guess it all depends on your point of view.
I would like to give you some examples though from my perspective. Going to a nice restaurant, having a meal for two with cocktails, appetizers, entrees and desserts, with drinks and a generous gratuity at the end never cost us more than $35. If we wanted to go to the shopping mall or street vendors and pick up some takeout to eat at home on the balcony we could have a full meal for the both of us for less than $10.
Our excursions were ridiculously well priced and if we were gone for the day it always included drinks, food and transportation as part of the fare. Normally on vacation Jane and I would organize our own excursions, sometimes packing our own lunch while we take in the sites, but in Thailand the prices were so attractive that it is worth it to pay the money, relax and be pampered.
As I mentioned in my very first blog, Jane and I take these vacations to bask in the warmth of the sun, to relax, enjoy the culture and have new experiences. If you have the opportunity I will give Phuket a top recommendation for a warm getaway. We had an exceptional five weeks and I already miss the heat and the bliss of lying by the swimming pool or on the beach.
It will be a few more months before Jane and I start planning for our next vacation. We will probably be staying closer to home and have been discussing Costa Rica or Panama. We are disappointed that we will probably never get to Egypt because of the Middle Eastern politics and concerns for safety as this has been one of our dreams. Regardless, we will be going somewhere and if the Pilot editor allows me, I will happily share our next vacation with you as well. It has been fun.
Thank you all.
Jim and Jane
Snorkeling in the Andaman Sea of the Indian Ocean was fun and there were a wide variety of tropical fish to see.
The salt water was pleasingly warm and soooooooo relaxing that I could fall asleep while floating on my back.
Wow, I loved riding on elephants. Here I am on BMW and Jane is on Opel.
One of Jane’s favourite excursions was our trip to Phang Nga Bay. Here she is pictured in front of James Bond Island.
Fantasea was a huge spectacular. Pictured is the entrance to the theatre. The park was huge and there was a huge Thai buffet before the show. The show had performing elephants on the stage (I counted at least 14 at one time.) They entered through the audience. It was astounding. There was traditional Thai dancing, music and costumes as well as trapeze artists performing over our heads. An absolutely magnificent colourful production. Outside in the park there were also elephant rides and a small zoo, and lots of stores to sell souvenirs. A bit too commercial for my liking but still a must see for the show.