Published: January 14th 2006January 14th 2006
This is my last entry of my December 6, 2005 to January 6, 2006 Thailand journey. I have been back home now for for several days now and almost totally recovered from my jet lag. Even though I enjoyed my journey, it's great to be back home. It's nice having my own computer, high speed internet, and hdtv again. Not to mention being able to sleep in my own bed! I have gone through most of my mail that I had held while I was away. It's surprising at the amount of junk mail I get! The only real loss of the trip was that my Creative Zen Micro mp3 player stopped working. I sent it in for repair today and should get it back in about 2 weeks. It was still within warranty but there is a $25 evaluation charge which I have to pay. I ordered online from Circuit City a 2 gb SanDisk Sa nsa for $128 inc tax and picked it up at the store in Danbury as a replacement. This mp3 holds 32 hours of music and is a flash memory unit so it is smaller and uses regular batteries so it should be a better option for traveling.
I waited several days to write this recap to give things a chance to settle in my mind. One thing that continues to bug me if the fact that the Thais will try to cheat us farangs every chance they get. The only solution is to be vigilant and only purchase things that have a price listed for all to see. In talking to others about this I have found that it happens all over the world, the USA included. There are many stories of New York cabbies taking people for ride!
I enjoyed my time on the islands very much. I would go back to bath Koh Samui and Koh Samet again. On Koh Samui I would stay at the Aloha Resort on Lamai Beach, but I would try to get a room with a sea view. I really enjoyed the nice pool there and the breakfast buffet. Also, November and December are rainy months there; January is probably a better choice. Kae Saew Resort was nice on Koh Samet was nice but the new resort Samed Village was even nicer for about the same price. The only issue with Koh Samet is the presence of malaria and the need to take pills. Every time I got a mosquito bite i got a little nervous. I think that I will check out Koh Chang to see if it is a better alternative. It's a little further from Bangkok but the lack of malaria may overshadow that. You need to keep in mind that things are more expensive on the islands than in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. For example, internet access cost $0.50 an hour in Chiang Mai, but cost $3.00 and hour on Koh Samet. Food from stalls was equally expensive. I used to buy a bag of sugared popcorn in Bangkok for $0.25 but cost over a dollar on Koh Samet.
Regarding travel in Thailand in general, I will definitely avoid taking overnight buses again. They are too draining. Flying is cheap enough there and less stressful on the body. Minibuses for 3-4 hour trips are ok. In fact taking the train from Chiang Mai was
ok but took 12 hours vs. 1 hour + on a plane. Both buses, minibuses, and trains are very cheap but you are trading time in exchange for money as compared to planes.
I don't think that I will use travel agents as extensively as I did this trip. The problem comes when you need to make a change. It is difficult to get a hold of them and end up spending a lot of time on the phone. By going direct on the net is preferable and perhaps a little cheaper and gives you much more flexibility. Plus I found that my travel agent did not answer her email which I found frustrating.
I found Chiang Mai to be a more agreeable city than Bangkok with much lower costs. Jogging around the old city in the morning was very nice. Internet access was the lowest I found in Thailand, about $0.50 an hour.
Bangkok is an interesting place. I especially enjoyed jogging in Lumphini Park in the mornings. Taking the Sky Train and Chao Phraya boats were enjoyable too. I also liked the restaurants and food stalls near the Khao San Road area. Bumrungrad Hospital is very impressive and I will return there to get my dental implants done.
If anyone wishes to see my photos, I have loaded them on Yahoo Photos. Just send me your email address and I will forward you a link. I need to add that my Yahoo home page was invaluable to me. I could not have easily been away for a month without the easy access it afforded me. I had my bookmarks and access to several of my email accounts there.
That's it for now.