Published: July 11th 2012July 11th 2012
Taken with my little ole point and shoot while on the lake in Khao Sok. My favorite picture
Ok, so I am antsy, which is why I am posting this so far in advance to leaving!
Well, I told myself I wouldn't plan anything the next time we go to Thailand, but due to the fact we are travelling over one of the busiest times of year (Christmas and New Year's), I have resorted to yet again booking things in advance. So I can comfortably post my itinerary now, or at least the rough framework. I have contained myself somewhat on the anal-retentive planning!
Departure this time will be from Minneapolis for a number of reasons. The cost difference in flights this time is only a $100 or so per person. Before it was almost a $400 per person difference. It will save us a trip down to Chicago and the dreaded drive back when we return. That drive back home after landing was BRUTAL! We ended up taking a nap in a gas station parking lot because we could barely function. Plus, I can leave my vehicle in the safety of my garage. Z's mom will be housesitting so I don't have to worry about pets or burglars (because Debz can beat them off with her cane!)
We are leaving on December 19th and will be flying Korean Air again. Flights are so ridiculously expensive I don't even want to say how much they are. Two years ago, we paid around $1900 for the both of us. This time, it's double... I know, it makes me sick to think of it, but I just keep picturing the beach and I stop caring! We will be staying until January 22nd. I keep tossing around coming home two days earlier so I don't have to get visas, but if I can get 2 extra days in Thailand, a visa is worth it. A person from the US who is flying into Thailand gets an automatic 30-day visa stamped in their passport. If you are entering Thailand by land (crossing from Cambodia on the bus, for example), you get a 15-day stamp. Because we are staying for over 30 days, I am going to have to send our passports to the Thailand embassy in Chicago and get a 60-day visa. I really really really don't want to send my passport to anyone, but everyone has to, so I shouldn't worry so much. People do overstay their visas all the time, but if you get busted, it is a hefty fine and possible jail time. Once you come back to the airport to go home, you have to pay around 1500 baht (I think, I may be off by a few hundred baht) per each day you over stay (about $45 USD or so).
During this month in Thailand, we are visiting a few new places and returning to our favorites:
December 20th: Arrive late in the evening in Bangkok. Spending the night here then getting out! We are saving Bangkok for the end because I will buy so much we wouldn't be able to take our luggage anywhere.
December 21st: After sleeping in at some guesthouse yet to be chosen and then gorging ourselves on street food and massages, we are taking the night train from Hualamphong (Hoo-ah-lam-pong) Station up to Chiang Mai.
December 22nd: Arrive in Chiang Mai in the morning and head to the bus station. By now we will be so sick of travelling that we are going to kill each other. It's all part of my plan muahahaha. At the bus station, we are going to Pai (Sounds like Pie mixed with Bye). Pai has a reputation for being a hippie community, extremely laid back and "chill" <-- This is not a word I use frequently, but if you google Pai and don't see this word at least once, I will poop my pants. Some say it is over-touristed now and doesn't have the same magic as it used to. I say, don't listen to what other people say and experience it for yourself.
December 22nd-27th: Christmas in Pai. Booked a place called Happy House Pai. It has good reviews on Trip Advisor, and (fairly) cheap rooms. 600 baht a night (about $18 USD or so). Frits and Tor just sent me a lovely reply back regarding my reservation request, so I have a good feeling already.
December 27th-January 4th: Head on back to CM for News Years and then stay at my Number 2 favorite place in Thailand (number 1 being in Koh Lanta): CM Blue House. And this awesome service is for around $12/night. Here's a taste of their friendliness:
>> Date: Fri, 6 Jul 2012 07:31:23 +0700
>> From: email@example.com
>> To: (Me)
>> Subject: Re: Reservation Request
>> Hi Natasha & Zachary !!!
>> It will be a pleasure to welcome you again on next december !!! And,
>> be honest, even if I don't remember your "faces", I remember your
>> !!!!!!!!! ;-)
>> So, no problem concerning the room......still the same price : 400
>> Baths/night. Would you prefer to stay on ground floor, 1st one or
>> one ???
>> Looking forward to hearing from you,
>> Kind regards,
>> The Blue Team !
January 4th-January 7th: Fly down to Phuket and do something. I don't know what. Maybe go back to Khao Sok? Absolutely no plans and we are just going to do whatever we'd like. We just have to be in Khao Lak the evening of the 7th.
January 7th-11th: Head over to Khao Lak for our snorkelling liveaboard with Poseidon Bungalow's Similan Tour. Our liveaboard is 3 days, 2 nights. I creep around Tezza's blog (you can just google Tezza Beaches), and he posted a great review. Tezza is kind of a legend when it comes to the Thai beaches. He gives good reviews and feedback on most of the islands, since there are soooo many. I wish we could dive, but alas I am still not a good swimmer and probably would drown, while Z is scared of getting eaten by a shark. Snorkelling though is awesome and we will still get to see lots of sea critters. I want to see a manta, whale shark (one in a million I am guessing), and sea turtle. What would take the cake is if I can see Z scream like a little girl when something big and scary swims by him :)
January 11th-19th: Back to Koh Lanta to stay at Banana Garden Home. If you go to Koh Lanta, you will never regret staying here with Annie and her crew. The cost is a little more (1500 baht a night, or around $45 USD), but then again, everything on the islands is more unless you stay in the pits of hells (ok, ok, I am sure there are many pleasant places to stay on the cheap, but I would find it hard to believe their service would be as good as BGH). BGH to me is home. Sitting outside on the little porch each morning, getting served coffee and toast. Coming back in the afternoon to little snacks (spring rolls, watermelon, etc). Lucky and Buddy following me around wanting a good scratching (side note: they are dogs, not creepy stalkers). Annie always giving us advice, setting us up with a motorbike, and giving us great deals on outings. The beach only steps away; the best sunsets over the water. And who can forget Pas, the owner of the Indian bar. I could go on and on, but I will save that for when we actually get there :)
January 19th-22nd: Back to Bangkok to stock up on lots and lots of stuff. I am going to brave for the first time Chatuchak Market (also referred to as JJ because the "Ch" sounds like "J") and hit up the Medical Museum with all the gross stuff, which is right up my ally!
And then we go back home :( I already am sad and we still have like 5 months to go before we take off! Half the fun is the excitement before leaving. You can build things up so much and then feel let down when you reach your destination, not because it isn't wonderful but because you lost the feeling of looking forward to something. It feels almost surreal when you get there and then you start to feel the arrival depression: it's here already, which means it will soon be over. Never stop travelling and always have something to look foward to!