25 Feb - 26 Feb 2010 Chiang Rai

Kingdom of Thailand aka The Land of Conditional Smiles
126 Singhakhlai Road
Mae Hong Son Guest House +6653715367 karencountryside@hotmail.com 
Basic ouble room with wifi for only THB 170.- or US$ 5.15 per night.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Mae Hong Son Guest House in Chiang Rai, which we would recommend, and for directions:








Strolling through laid-back Chiang Rai, the “Gateway to the Golden Triangle”, ignoring the temptations of opium poppy but exploring the diversity of vegetarian rice and noodle food stalls at the town's lively night market (a mini version of the more famous and much larger night market in Chiang Mai).



Taking (i) a săwngthăew (literally “two rows”, a small pick-up truck aka bakkie with two rows of bench seats down both sides of the truck bed) from the hotel to Chiang Rai’s Bus Terminal 2  (“new bus station”) for THB 20.- per person, (ii) thereafter the overstaffed 2nd-class Win Tour bus (one driver and five bus stewards who were standing in each other’s way) for THB 249.- or US$ 7.60 per person for the 450-km long trip from Chiang Rai to Sukhothai and (iii) eventually another săwngthăew from Sukhothai’s bus terminal to our hotel for only THB 10.- per person - thus toughing it out against the local taxi mafia.


Click below for a summary of this year's travels

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24 Feb - 25 Feb 2010 Tha Ton

Kingdom of Thailand aka The Land of Conditional Smiles
Kwan’s Guest House +66819931267
Adequate double room for only THB 200.- or US$ 6.05 per night.

Click below for an interactive road map of Kwan's Guest House in Tha Ton and for directions:









Exploring Tha Ton, little more than a săwngthăew stand and a collection of river boats, local eateries and shop houses along a pretty bend in the Mae Nam Kok river, climbing up the steep hill to Wat Tha Ton and joining the ongoing lively dedication ceremony for the glamorous, latest extension of this Buddhist temple, generously financed by unknown sources, and marvelling, from its balcony, at the views over the poppy(Papaver somniferum var. album)-growing Shan countryside.

Making a pleasant half-day long-tail boat journey for THB 350.- or US$ 10.60 per person to Chiang Rai, over a distance of 80 km, down the rapids of the shallow and just negotiable Mae Nam Kok river, getting stuck a few times on sand bars and rocks and watching villagers from the Lahu, Lisu and Karen hill tribes on both sides of the river.



Click below for a summary of this year's travels

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Photos 2010-05 Northern Thailand III
Photos 2010-04 Northern Thailand II
Photos 2010-03 Northern Thailand I 


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22 Feb - 24 Feb 2010 Chiang Dao

Kingdom of Thailand aka The Land of Conditional Smiles
Pieng Dao Hotel
Rugged and atmospheric double room for THB 300.- or US$ 9.10 per night.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Pieng Dao Hotel in Chiang Dao and for directions:









Wandering through the extensive Tuesday morning market with many hill-tribe people coming down to trade and tasting from the incredibly large variety of exotic, both spicy and sweet, local snacks.



Hiring a 125-cc Honda Wave underbone for THB 350.- or US$ 10.60 per day from Star Café Rental and visiting the Lisu/Akha hill-tribe village of Lisu Huay Ko where the ethnic minorities with their own (Tibeto-Burman) languages, cultures, history (of semi-nomadic origin from Tibet), (opium-based) economy and spiritual beliefs (animism with ancestor worship) subsist - and watching speechlessly how two fat male US-missionaries from the Church of Messiah threw cheap candy out of the window of their souped-up 4x4 Toyota Double-Cab Hilux to these poor villagers.



Getting up close and personal with former working elephants at the Chiang Dao Elephant Training Centre +6653298553 (admission: THB 60.- per person) where, after a three- to five-year childhood, working elephants are trained over a period of five years (under the guidance of their mahouts) to push, carry and stack logs, as well as bathing and walking in procession.



Flagging down a regional bus to Tha Ton and paying THB 65.- or US$ 1.95 per person for the uneventful 2nd-class ride.


Click below for a summary of this year's travels
2010 Map Konni & Matt

Click below and visit the Konni & Matt photo albums 
Photos 2010-05 Northern Thailand III
Photos 2010-04 Northern Thailand II
Photos 2010-03 Northern Thailand I


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09 Feb - 22 Feb 2010 Chiang Mai

Kingdom of Thailand aka The Land of Conditional Smiles
Ratchapakhinal Road 178
Safe House Court Guest House +6653418955
Spacious twin room with excellent wifi for THB 300.- or US$ 9.- per night.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Safe House Court in Chiang Mai, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:








Wat-hopping Chiang Mai’s most interesting inner-city Buddhist temples, decorated with intricate woodcarvings, protective naga serpent staircases, gilded umbrellas, guardian figures from the tales of the Ramayana and fat stupas (solid cone-shaped monuments that pay tribute to the enduring stability of Buddhism) trimmed with gold filigree: (i) Wat Phra Singh which houses the city’s most revered Buddha image, Phra Singh aka the Lion Buddha, (ii) Wat Chedi Luang with its very large and venerable 1441 CE Lanna-style stupa, (iii) Wat U Mong Klang Wiang with a golden Buddha statue that shows nine different facial expressions under different day-light angles, (iv) Wat Duang Dee with its mysterious scripture repository (designed to keep and protect the delicate mulberry paper sheets used by monks and scribes to keep records and write down folklore), (v) Wat Lam Chang with its plethora of elephant statues, (vi) Wat Chiang Man, the oldest wat in Chiang Mai, and (vii) Wat U Sai Kham where we made a wish for our grandsons by Konni placing her hands on the jade statue of pot-bellied Phra Sangkrachai (who represents auspiciousness and prosperity).



Exploring Chiang Mai’s Thai Chinatown (there is hardly an urban northern Thai without a “civilised” grandparent or two), W of the Mae Nam Ping aka Ping River, with (i) its colourful Sino-Thai markets (the Talat Warorot [the oldest and most famous market in Chiang Mai], the Talat Lamyia and the flower market on the river bank), (ii) its atmospheric Buddhist/Taoist temples and (iii) its many traditional shophouses, and celebrating the Chinese New Year (Thai: Trut Chii) of the Tiger with public performances: (double) lion dance [which symbolises a ceremony to chase off bad luck and ushering in prosperity, luck and fortune], dragon (electrically illuminated like a Christmas tree) dance [which symbolises power, dignity, fertility, wisdom and auspiciousness] and (short) motivational speeches from the ever smiling tai-pan - all three in an atmosphere which was arousing with the sound of gongs, cymbals and drums played throughout the streets and with the noise of fire crackers too - Shin Je Huat Chye.



Wallowing in the small pleasures of Chiang Mai, together with our German friend Martina: (i) indulging in excellent (northern-)Thai food such as phàt thai (a plate of thin rice noodles stir-fried with dried or fresh shrimps, bean sprouts, fried tofu, egg and seasoning), tofu khâo sawy (a bowl of yellow egg noodles in a curried broth with coconut milk) and the ubiquitous yam (a hot and tangy salad containing a blast of lime, chilli, fresh herbs and a choice of seafood and green papaya) - our favourite restaurant: the fancy and clean Big Food Restaurant opposite Wat Chedi Luang, (ii) relaxing with the help of elaborate massage techniques (Thai full body massage for THB 140.- per hour, Thai foot reflexology for THB 120.- per hour, Indian ayurvedic full body sesame-oil massage - free of charge; many thanks, Martina), (iii - Matt only) submitting his throat to one of the masked, razor-wielding barbers of Siam and having an old-fashioned close shave (Thai: gon nuad), (iv) repeatedly tasting the delicious and potent ginseng wine from our favourite street vendor, and (v - Konni only) practising daily Tai Chi Qigong for women at the temple Wat Loi Khraw.



Wat-touring the special Buddhist temples N and W of Chiang Mai: (i) Wat Phra That Doi Suthep with its fine view over the city, (ii) Wat Suan Dok where we practised our English language skills with the help of eager, young Buddhist monks from Nepal, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand (students at the monastery’s Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University), and (iii) Wat U Mong with its brick-lined tunnels and atmospheric underground temples.



Taking a túk-túk taxi for THB 40.- or US$ 1.20 from the “safe house” to Chiang Mai’s Chang Pheuak bus terminal and thereafter the regional bus to Chiang Dao (72 km) for THB 40,- (US$ 1.20) per person.



Click below for a summary of this year's travels
2010 Map Konni & Matt

Click below and see more Konni & Matt Pictures
Photos 2010-03 Northern Thailand I
Photos 2010-04 Northern Thailand II


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05 Feb - 09 Feb 2010 Chiang Mai

Kingdom of Thailand aka The Land of Conditional Smiles
Loikroh Road 70 - 72/1
Wild Orchid Guest House +66844845080 wildorchidcm@gmail.com
Adequate double room with good wifi for THB 350.- or US$ 10.60 per night, laundry for THB 30.- per kg.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Wild Orchid Guest House in Chiang Mai, which we would not recommend, and for directions:








Exploring Chiang Mai, the Northern Capital of Thailand (often referred to as “The Rose of the North”) and founded as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom in 1296 CE by King Meng Rai, thus (i) strolling through the old city of Chiang Mai, a neat square bounded by moats and partial walls, (ii) learning that Chiang Mai was the first SE Asian state to make the historic transition from Mon and Khmer cultures to a new era ruled by Thais and (iii) browsing through the night bazaar, the modern legacy of the original Yunnanese trading caravans that stopped here along the ancient trade route between Simao (in China) and Mawlamyaing (on Burma’s Martaban coast).



Watching (i) the gaudy parade of floats decorated with millions of beautiful flowers and with hundreds of likewise beautiful young Thai ladies (with a few, likewise beautiful, kathoeys [ladyboys] thrown in for good measure) perching atop each parade carriage, (ii) the pretty Thai dancers in elegant Thai costumes and (iii) the traditional hill-tribe performers donned in unique tribal garments at Chiang Mai’s lively, annually held 34th Flower Festival.



Konni: Releasing at the Buddhist temple Wat Bupparam two symbolic wishing birds (THB 50.- each) for our two grandsons Raoni and Tien in Canada and afterwards energising and protecting their flights at the temple Wat Loi Khraw using powerful Tai Chi Qigong movements such as (i) “the shooting of the arrow”, (ii) “the phoenix spreading its wings” and (iii) “the two dragons going out to sea” - oh well.



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04 Feb - 05 Feb 2010 Kuala Lumpur

KLIA-LCCT Sepang
Clean and adequate double room for MYR 54.- or US$ 15.- per night.

Click below for an interactive road map of this Tune Hotel at KLIA-LCCT, which we would recommend, and for directions:
N 02° 44.09' E 101° 43.32'









Flying with Air Asia (“Now Everyone Can Fly”) in an Airbus A 320 from Kuala Lumpur (LCCT Sepang) to Chiang Mai International Airport for all inclusive MYR 172.- or US$ 48.- (one way) per person and taking a taxi from the airport to the city of Chiang Mai for THB 120.- (US$ 3.60), selamat tinggal reliable Malaysia and sàwàtdii khráp/khâ beautiful Thailand - where almost everything seems to be a fake: from questionable smiles to breast implants and on to the Kingdom’s interpretation of democracy.



Click below for a summary of this year's travels

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